31 Days...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Trust - Learning to Once Again

So I woke up this morning with the word "trust" nearly being screamed in my head. It's not everyday that I wake up with some word blaring in my brain...most days I wake up to the dog endlessly whining to get up and FEED HIM...because he IS about to starve to death. (Have you seen my dog..he could go a while without eating and BE JUST FINE). But he gives me a good lead in to the whole trust issue that is foremost on my mind this morning.

See, Bruce(my dog), trusts me to get up and do two things every morning. He trusts me to feed him and to let him out to do his business. Now my order of priorities with that and his are different...he wants to be fed first - I would rather him pee first! It's a thing I have about my carpet! Anyway, that is what trust is...he has placed his confidence, his hope to be fed, in me. He completely expects me to be at home and get up when he decides it time, which has been later than usual the last few weeks, and let him out the back door and fill his bowl with his favorite yummy dog food. Seems simple enough. But what if I'm not home, what if something happened to me? I think of the story of the man and his dog in Japan - if I weren't lazy I would look it up...but the dog met him coming off the train everyday from work...then one day the man died and the dog continued to meet the train - hoping, trusting that the man would finally come home. Makes my heart hurt just thinking about it.

So here is where I am going with all this. Trust is something some of us do very easily, some of us do it too easily, and some of us seem to be unable to do it at all. A friend recently told me that they tend to trust the people they don't have reason to trust and don't trust the people they should. I had to think about this for a minute - but it makes sense really. We trust the people we know the least because they haven't had the opportunity to cause us to NOT trust them. Yet, more than likely, those we are closest to have had more than their fair share of times that they have broken our trust - be it intentionally or not.

I have always considered myself a fairly trusting person. I have always given people the benefit of the doubt in most circumstances. But then there are matters of the heart...it's one thing to trust someone to take the garbage out, clean their room, make you dinner, pay for something, etc...you get the idea - these are more or less physical things that, sure, people might NOT do, but for the most part you know whether you can trust them to do it or not. But when it comes to less physical things and more emotional experiences this is where trust gets a bit more interesting.

The definition of trust according www.dictionary.reference.com is - reliance of the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing, confidence. In my Bible(NIV) it is described as - to place one's confidence in, to hope.

When you get to be in your mid-40's you have certainly experienced having your trust broken, especially in relationships. I have trusted friends and others I care about with my heart, with my feelings, with my deepest desires, dreams and needs many times in the nearly 46 years of my life. Many of those with whom I have placed my trust have proven to be steadfastly trust-worthy. But there have also been times of great heartbreak from my trust being broken by someone. I know that I have broken the trust of those who trusted me as well. It's part of being human, that human condition thing again. As imperfect beings, we are subject to failing others, others failing us and even failing ourselves.

So how do you allow yourself to put your heart out there and trust again? This is what I found myself waking up to this morning. Can you trust, do you trust - not only the other person, but myself! Can I really trust myself this time? It's a risk I know I am willing to take. But not all of us are willing to take that risk to trust others or ourselves in areas of our lives that have caused us hurt and pain before. But for me, in my desire to live a life that is bold and courageous I don't think I have any other choice but to trust again. But there is one I know, without a shadow of a doubt, whom I can trust - God.

The Psalms and Proverbs are full of the word trust. The word trust appears to be mentioned more in those two books of the Bible than nearly any of the others combined!

Proverbs 3:5 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Ah, there it is! That's the verse. If I trust in God, not myself or someone else, and stop trying to understand it all - which I do to my own demise - and simply acknowledge that HE is in control - He will make my path straight! OK - this sort of makes me laugh because my path has been anything but STRAIGHT! But if I had lived a life on this super straight path would I have what I have now? Would I be who I am now? Not likely. Which is where I realize that I have to trust that God is in control and that by leaning on him and acknowledging him as best I can - He will guide me down the next path...and from His point of view the path is straight.

Psalm 56:3 - When I am afraid, I will trust in you. David had been through some STUFF...but he knew above all he had to trust in the Lord. He had experienced the pain caused by human - but he knew time and time again that he could run to his Lord and be safe, protected from the pain and suffering of mortal man.

So as I embark on this new chapter of my life, and move forward into living my life with boldness and courage, I cling to the knowledge that God is the One I can trust. He has seen me through the tough times everytime before and the blessings that He offered as a result were greater than any I could have imagined. I can trust Him with my heart, so I must trust Him to guide me on the path He has made for me. I will trust that those He has placed in my path, though they may at some point cause me pain or hurt - be it intentionally or not - have been placed there by God to be part of my journey. And in that knowledge - as long as I am turning to Him for my guidance and assurance - know that the blessings He has in store for me are even greater still!

That is hope. That is trust. That is the promise of my awesome God!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year, New Beginnings, New Hope

I've never been one to be very good at keeping to my New Year's Resolutions. Quite frankly I stink at it! Self-discipline is not my best quality! As a matter of fact it seems that the more I tell myself I WON'T do something - or NEED to do something- the more likely it is I am going to do the very opposite. In Christianity we call this the HUMAN CONDITION.

Paul expresses it so perfectly in Romans 7:15-20...I am using the Message translation.."I'm full of myself -after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary! But I need something more! For I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize I don't have what it takes. I can will it but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but then I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time." Oh boy! Does this describe you? It certainly describes me!

So, it is here that once again - I look forward to a New Year, a fresh new calender - with no marks on it, no scribbles, no mistakes yet. And I have this amazing opportunity to FINALLY GET IT RIGHT!

Oh wait ...see above, Merit - I won't get it right! It's impossible! With every fiber of my being - I alone cannot get it right!

Yet I set these goals for myself today:

  • I will be the best mom I can be - teaching my girls that they can be strong AND loving and caring all at the same time.

  • I will strive to be a good and effective teacher at my school for the rest of the year -understanding how I can make a difference in the lives of my students right now.

  • I will work hard to do my best in graduate school - managing my time more effectively as best I can - knowing full well this is a challenge for me.

  • I will strive to keep balance in my relationships - the new ones and the old ones - allowing them to grow and mature in a healthy way.

  • I will work to clean out the clutter that drags me down at home - but give myself some grace to know that it isn't the most important thing I need to focus on.

It all sounds great doesn't it? No problem - I've been called Super Mom more than once in the past 4 months. But that's not who I am striving to be...remember - See above verse from Paul! Sounds admirable and noble and inspiring and blah, blah, blah! I CAN'T DO IT! So what's the point?

The point is this...I CAN do it! If I keep my eye on the prize - the Prize that sets things right, that in this life of contradictions - where I want to do good , be good and live good - offers me the strength and the hope to achieve the victory. It is only through my devotion and focus on the Prize of Jesus Christ that I can even begin to hope to achieve the very least of my dreams and goals. Yet He has even bigger and better plans for me that I understand!

The verse that follows me around...2 Corinthians 12:9..."My grace is enough; it;s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."(Message again - my favorite!) This, to me at least, says it all. You see that precious list above - those are all the things that I am really weak in...yet - with the strength I have through my relationship with Christ and His abundant grace for when I totally mess up on a daily basis - I have hope! I have the hope that:

  • I will be a positive influence in my daughters' lives even in the times I make mistakes...by admitting them.

  • I will survive the school year without losing my mind(just being honest here) because I feel called into another vocation that hasn't opened up for me yet AND still have a positive influence on the children I teach.

  • I will do the best I can with the time I have to get my work done for school and most importantly enjoy what I am learning even if I don't manage to get an "A" every time!

  • I will be okay even when relationships die or change and realize that new ones are always around the corner.

  • I will continue to have clutter! There is no getting around this one I am afraid!

So as you look forward to your new year...what are your hopes and dream? What is the source that will sustain you when you break your resolutions, fail at something, are broken hearted, hurt someone you love, see a door close to something you had hoped for? Do you have the source that will offer you peace and abundant love, grace and mercy? I hope you do. Let Christ take over! He can handle it! His mercies are new and shiny every morning!