Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Perils & payoffs of passion (Looking back at January 2012)

This first month of 2012 has been quite a process. In some ways, I feel as if I've made a lot of progress in some important areas. But progress seems to take so much effort, and doubts creep in as to whether I'm on the right track and whether it's worth it.

Perils of passion:
Early this month, someone brought to my attention a mistake in the newspaper
where I work, and asked, How could that happen? I wondered the same thing and, even though it was Saturday, decided to send an email that ultimately suggested a correction be made. Unfortunately, mixed in with my suggestion for a correction were a tone and some words in which I took the side of someone outside the paper instead of one who works there. (The mistake was that the Singing ChurchWomen of Oklahoma were called the Singing Church Ladies of Oklahoma. I wondered how someone couldn't question that, since it made me think of a "Saturday Night Live" skit, which could be considered offensive.) I will say I was reminded when I returned to work many of the reasons someone might not question that. And the most important thing I was reminded of was that this still is an area in which I struggle. I try so hard not to make mistakes, to the point of it making me slow at my work. And I do still make mistakes. But it's hard for me to imagine that I would not have questioned that. I question things constantly at work. I consider it my job. Even so, I need to watch my tone when I respond to the mistakes of others. It brought back to mind the time a superviser described me in an employee evaluation as "offputting." I laugh now, but that was such a shock and insult to me at the time to think someone could describe me like that. But even then, the bottom line seemed to be that I expected too much of people at work and wasn't diplomatic enough in working with others. The funny thing about that is when I think of what I might have been like had I not TRIED so hard to be diplomatic. I really did and do try, even in the deal this month!

Payoff of passion:
One of my dear sweet Facebook friends posted about a relationship change, and it caused me some fear that she might react with some unhealthy choices. I wanted to respond, but I was hesitant to do so. I don't want to meddle, etc. But I did send a positive, encouraging and honest message. And I prayed and prayed. It's another extremely fine line of knowing whether to express anything or how much; what I hear a lot of people say is that they hold back because they don't want to interfere. But my heart sometimes says I just must. And eventually, and so far, there has been a good response. I continue to lift this dear one up in prayer and am trusting she will find her best path.

Perils of persistence?
As I continue to try to make a habit of chewing less gum (that sounds funny was I read it); not be obsessed with certain tv shows; type on my iPhone with my thumbs instead of my left index finger; spend quiet time daily in prayer and meditation (rather than praying as I go, whether while lying in bed, pedaling on my exercise bike, walking down the hall or showering), I can't help but wonder whether it's just a new way of self-obsessing. Yesterday's reading in Jesus Calling said: "Whatever occupies your mind the most becomes your god." Immediately I was convicted. What do I think of most? Me! How embarrassing. I'd already done some prayerful soul searching about this and continue to do so. Right now, I still think God is leading me on the path of developing these more positive disciplines so that I will be freed from some of the bad habits and have more time and energy to love and serve God and others. But today's reading makes me take another look at that, as it suggested: "Instead of assessing your energy level and wondering about what's on the road ahead, concentrate on staying in touch with Me (Jesus)." The focus this month has been on trusting Jesus. On Jan. 4, the suggestion was to learn a new habit. "Try saying, 'I trust You, Jesus,' in response to whatever happens to you." And I've turned to that often.

Power of prayer:
And I turn to it now. Toward the end of the month, I've felt discouraged that some of these positive changes still don't come naturally. They take more time and effort than I think they should. Have they become idols? But again I am reinforced by Scriptures that God gives me as I spend quiet time with Him each morning (and the purring cat He places on my lap). They remind me God gives me all the strength and energy and direction and grace and guidance and love and more than I could ever even think I need or would ask for. He does it through the love of family and friends and the kindness of strangers. And His concept of time is not mine.

Today, I asked Him: Are you directing me to try to fix some things with me (discipline of gum, soap operas, blog, prayer time, etc.) or is this my will and another crutch? I believe You are leading me, Lord. I trust You to correct me if I am going astray. My hope is You. My prize is You. I pray to know and do Your will, Lord, one moment at a time, in all things, to Your glory.

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