Sunday, January 22, 2012

Are You Strong Enough to Be My Friend?

Dear Darlene,

I am not good at this but I am going to try anyways – I am lost, confused, scared and FULL of bitterness and resentment.  I am afraid that I will lose my husband over all of this. 

I cannot keep my life on track, I fall back into my old ways of being lazy and selfish and out of control.  I want a better life for myself and my husband, unfortunately I have no idea where to start or what to do.  I am   a blueprint type person, where I need specific instructions on how to do something.  I like structure and schedules... but life is not necessarily like that.  I have been searching for so long to figure out what is missing in my life, however I think I have come to the conclusion that I am missing God and I am living a life I want and have no regard for making my life one based upon God. 

I need to know how to start living a life that is God-based, not self-based. I would like for someone to help guide me as to where I need to start and what I need to do. I believe in God, but I do not think before I act or before I speak.  I have become “rotten” to the ones I love and I fear I have become the worst version of myself.  

Do I need to read the Bible every day?  Do I need to attend church?  How do I stop myself from being upset?  How do I become a good Christian? 

Any advice you can provide me with would be so very much appreciated.  I need to get my life right with God and I need to know the detailed steps to take on a daily, almost minutely basis. 

Thank you,

Lost and Confused

Dear Lost and Confused,

Think of yourself like a fire. What do you need to get it burning? You have the spark and that is incredible, I love that. But yes I'd say that in order for us to know and understand God's will for our lives the Bible is a vital part of growing. It's the fuel that keeps the flame alive. Sermons, books, and blogs are wonderful to help you along but I look at all of those things as being spoon fed. So many people go off track because they are fed the wrong message. So while you can enjoy those things and grow from them, see your relationship with God as precious enough to read the Bible and bring it to prayer so that you can ensure the teaching is right.

When I was researching health and diet for Reshaping it All I discovered the power that the subconscious mind has when it comes to mirroring the behavior of others. For example if your friend orders dessert, you're likely to order it too. If your friend pushes her plate away and says, "I'm stuffed." You are more likely to do the same than not.

That's not a serious issue when it comes to things like an extra brownie or a chicken finger, but when it comes to the more serious matters of faith and family, we need people around us who are strong enough to sharpen us and encourage us to grow even in those moments when we don't notice that they are doing so.

You know what I did? I was going to a good church out here--still do--but at the time I didn't feel like I was fitting in so well. I wasn't making any connections with women that I could call up to just go for a coffee or get my nails done. (Some of us women need that! *wink*) So I took a brave step and sought out a friend. I called a pastor's wife from another church that I felt a connection with and asked her to go for lunch. And being the open kind of person that I am I told her I need someone in my life who will sharpen me. I don't need her to be my BFF (although she probably is by now) I just need someone who I can fellowship with over a bowl of soup or a tear stained Kleenex. I need a woman who is strong enough to be my friend. Sounds like the title of a song—ha!

Another way I used to get connected was through a ladies morning out group. My son was about two at the time and the other women had young children too. It was through a good church and we did weekly Bible studies. I developed relationships with those women and they were there to encourage me as a mom, a wife, and a growing Christian.

If I lived in the US, the first place I'd try is Calvary Chapel because I know so many awesome women who attend, and it seems to have a solid doctrine. We don't have Calvary Chapel up here because I'm in Canada and only a few provinces have them. If that doesn't work, feel free to write me again with your location and I'll try to help you find a good church in your area. If you have children or plan on having children getting them connected with other believers that they grow with is such a gift that I've seen in some kids who are now twenty and thirty-years-old. They are so comfortable in the church because they grew up with these people.

And I'm also going to recommend a free online devotional to you. I loved this devotional long before it was free. I'd suggest reading it daily, and then taking the scripture reference that they provide and reading the entire chapter in its context. It's called God Calling.

Or you could start by reading a Psalm a day. But I will tell you where my personal favorite place to start is: Galatians. Here's why: that book and the ones following it are all short, so when I read them I feel like I've accomplished much! And most of the books following Galatians are also letters of conduct and encouragement written to the church.

Now you said, "I cannot keep my life on track; I fall back into my old ways of being lazy and selfish and out of control." Dear sister, that statement reminds me of the apostle Paul, who said of himself "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." And, wow--I too can relate to that.

Paul also said this, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." ~ Romans 7:15-17, NIV

Paul was talking about his sinful nature that is at war with the flesh. It’s the heart and the passion of man that wants to overeat, oversleep, yell at our children and husband, lie, steal, facebook our ex-boyfriend, and the list goes on. It’s a struggle that we all face in the flesh.

But there’s good news, and it’s found in Romans chapter eight where Paul explains that life in Jesus Christ sets us free from that. It’s not always an automatic thing where you give your life to Jesus and your sinful desires fall away. For most of us it’s the process of renewing our hearts and minds through prayer, the Bible, and fellowship, while we take up our cross and fight against temptation. The more that we follow the Spirit and understand God’s plan for our life the less we desire to follow our lazy, self-centered flesh and the more we desire to live righteously. The first step is to repent of our sin, then we start walking in faith with the help of the Holy Spirit.

One more thing about the fellowship: remember that an ember alone will burn out much quicker than one that is placed close to the fire. Your goal is to keep that fire going strong!

I hope I have encouraged you in your walk.

If you want any more information about steps to peace with God, check out the link in my left sidebar and it will lead you to an article by The Billy Graham Association.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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