Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Imperfect Progress…

Hello, my name is Julie and I am IMPERFECT.  Yep that’s right!  Sorry if you pegged me for anything else.  I fail just like the best of them.  However, in the midst of my shortcomings, unflattering moments, and failed attempts, I want to strive to do something crazy and outlandish.  I want to become better.  I am in pursuit of this thing called…“IMPERFECT PROGRESS”. 

My heart has been challenged recently by a book we are studying at my church called “Unglued”, by Lysa Terkeurst.  It has been very eye-opening. It challenges our thinking when it comes to those “Unglued” moments.  You know them… those moments where you say or do things you didn’t mean to and later regret.  

It always seems to happen when you least expect it with an audience you never intended to be there.  That shining, memory making moment has been forever etched in their minds.  OUCH!  

Have you ever been there?  If you have don’t worry, there is hope!  With God’s help, we can make “imperfect progress”… growing daily to reflect Him better.

I love this quote from the book, “Raw emotions won’t sit quietly awaiting further instructions.  They’ll move – outward if we explode and inward if we stuff.”  SO true!  Our goal needs to be to make wise decisions in the midst of these raw emotions.  With God’s help, we can make choices that honor Him and reflect Him well. Remember we are RE- Presenting Him to others everyday by the way we live our lives.  Live well!

Are YOU a stuffer?  When people hurt your feelings, do you just stuff it down and ignore it?  Do you store up hurt to eventually hurl back at others at the appointed time?  Or, maybe instead you build up walls to keep others out.  You hide behind the walls you built to keep from being hurt again.  Either way, stuffing can be harmful to you and others.  God has a better way.

Are YOU an exploder?  Do stressful situations or people push you over the edge causing uncontrollable outbursts and unpredictable behavior?  Do you blame others for provoking the outbursts or feel shameful later filled with regret?  It may seem like a never-ending cycle, but there is hope for you with God’s help.  He can calm the raging storms of life and give you that priceless gift of self-control.

Is there hope for the “UNGLUED”?  Of course there is.  There is hope for me and there is hope for YOU!  I learned a few things that have been very helpful during the study.  I hope you will find them helpful as well.             
1. “Practice Pausing” before reacting…. Not sighing loudly so others can hear and catch your frustration.  I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work!  I am talking about a “Pause” to gain self-control, listen, and wait on God to help you form your response.  This kind of pausing can save you a world of trouble.  
2.   Choose to REPLY with grace, not react in frustration.  Pausing helps us make wise decisions before we speak.  

Are you catching that REACTING can be bad?  These are great things to practice on your family.  I can’t say I always get it right, but I am trying and becoming better.  IMPERFECT PROGRESS….

When we FAIL to "practice pausing", overreacting to things may occur. This can cause the situation to become bigger than it already is and has the potential to unleash a bucket full of un-lovelies that could wound innocent hearts.

Here is my story of failing to pause recently... live and learn from my mistakes.

Recently while driving my boys’ home from school we got into a heated discussion. On our drive I discovered that they had a disagreement at lunch. It went down like this at the lunch table… A story was shared with friends at the lunch table by one son of something that happened at home. The other son didn’t remember the incident so flat out said to the group in front of the other son, “that never happened!”  In the car he was giving his brother a hard time. I was irate! Just because HE didn’t remember it happening doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! It may not have been described the way HE remembered, but that was attacking the other son’s integrity to call it in essence a LIE in front of his friends. It ticked me off. Why couldn’t HE get this? I began a long lecture on integrity and the proper way to communicate with one another and that we are a team, etc…, but it DID NOT go over well. I left the boys for a few moments and went into a store to grab a few things while I cooled off. In that moment, God opened my eyes. He whispered to me ever so softly in my spirit that my son may have been WRONG in how he handled things, but I overreacted. I didn’t even let the other son explain HIS side of the story to find out what actually happened. I ASSUMED a lot which was my downfall. I needed to take a different approach to get to the bottom of this. This was a deeper, life lesson type of issue.

When we got home I apologized for overreacting and said I approached the whole thing the wrong way and asked if we could try again. They agreed. I asked the son who shared the story first to explain what happened from his perspective. He began to recount the whole event with his brother interrupting saying it never happened. I asked how that made him feel. He shared that it made him feel like he was being called a liar. I asked his brother if he realized he made him feel that way. He said… “No”. I asked if there were other ways he could have said it without implying his brother was a liar if he didn’t remember the story. We went through different scenarios and I explained how we need to protect integrity. I encouraged them with… “if you question something like this with anyone, talk to them privately. Don’t assume the worst. Integrity is important. This is a leadership trait to learn. Guard integrity and talk privately about things that might concern you… not openly for everyone to question.” 

Wow…. The quiet discussion went a lot better than the angry outburst. I assumed they knew all of this which they didn’t. Leadership & character traits are being taught in the everyday living as I parent my kids. This raising kids thing is A LOT harder than I expected, but oh so rewarding.

This “IMPERFECT PROGRESS” is a life-long pursuit.  Each day I am trying to reflect God better by my life choices.  I hope my transparent heart has inspired you to journey with me as I strive to make wise decisions in the midst of raw emotions.  With God’s help there is hope!

Living to leave a legacy,