God just gave me a gift; my two sweet daughters are napping…at the same time! This is a rare gem of an opportunity so I want to use this precious time wisely, to finally write! Since the title/theme of my Blog and Facebook group is ‘As I Follow,’ I thought I would share with you what the Lord is really working on in me and include you on the journey in hopes that it can be an encouragement and help to you as well. What I learn, I also want to teach, so that we can all grow together.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3
Three words have been heavy on my heart. Each word represents a mindset/focus that I need to make as a priority in my life. I did not set out to do this. God did not “tell” me, nor did anyone else say to me, ‘hey Cari, pick out 3 things you need to work on.’ Rather, these words hit my heart like rain drops on dry soil as I realized many things that were keeping me from being the person my Savior saved me to be and from doing the things He has called me to do.
I will introduce my first word by giving you its antonym: self. Most of what I am constantly thinking about are the things related to my life: MYself, MY husband, MY kids, MY house, MY to-do list, etc. Now, of course those are all good things, but how do I teach my children to love and serve others (outside of our family) if all I am focused on is “us.” Having a default focus on self has a profound effect on my attitude as well; when I focus primarily on me, I find myself to be a more easily disappointed, frustrated, and impatient person . Therefore the word that God lovingly laid at the door of my heart like a beautifully wrapped gift – which, once opened, would give me the freedom from self-consumption – was, simply, Others. It feels like Spring time after Winter just thinking about not thinking about myself all the time! More on that later.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Another thing I started to realize is that I have had a plethora of big ideas, good intentions, visions, etc., all bear-hugged by my immense passion, but very few of those have come to fruition. Why? My lack of… (here enters my second word) Intentionality. The daily demands of life (housework, meal prep, work, etc.), time-sucking distractions (Facebook, TV, Pinterest,etc.), and flat-out laziness are often the guilty culprits that I allow to keep me from doing things that I truly value. When I let a desire of the moment trump a ‘big picture’ desire, I am being ruled by my emotions and not my values and that is the very thing that will keep me from being the person God saved me to be and from doing the things He has called me to do.
I have seen this play out in my life all too often. How do I make sure my need to keep a clean home doesn’t prevent me from reaching out and ministering to women? How do I make sure that my tired, mooshy brain (y’all can relate to having a “mooshy” brain at times, yes?) does not default to long bouts of Facebook scrolling when I could be reading, or praying, or calling a friend, or meditating on all that I have to be thankful for? How do I cause my emotions to take a back seat to my values (when the two are not in agreement)? How do I make sure my husband and I raise our girls in such a way that they can become the women we pray they will be? That is what I will explore in a little more detail a couple blogs from now, but for now I will sum it up with the word, Intentionality.
Teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Mercy. This is my third word. Why not Grace, you may ask. Or Love. That is because mercy is very specific; it is definitely a part of grace and love, the particular part that I believe I need to really focus on. According to Websters Dictionary, mercy is defined as compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or one subject to one’s power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment. In other words, mercy is responding to someone in a loving way when responding in an opposite manner may otherwise seem “justified.” When someone wrongs us, it is easy to then feel justified in responding in a like manner. But God calls us to something much higher then that. He calls us to mercy.
I hate to admit this, and am ashamed to confess it, but I can sometimes have a very critical spirit which causes me to hold on to others’ offenses (whether toward me or others) and to focus more on people’s weaknesses than their strengths. I know it’s awful and it pains me to say it! Lord have mercy on me, a sinner! That is why I know I need to be intentional about being merciful, including to myself. I am sure some of you are able to relate.
Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13
Therefore, I am going to dive more into Mercy, as well as Others and Intentionality, individually over the next few weeks, over the course of three blogs. I hope that sharing these thoughts can be of help to you as well! I love that God calls us to do life together, not hiding our imperfections from one another as to appear better than we are, but sharing our weaknesses and imperfections so that together, we may become more like Christ!
Oh Lord, may I be like clay in your ever-loving hands, allowing you to mold and shape me as you see fit. May I not just know what I need to do to grow and change, may I do it! Thank you for being so incredibly patient with me and not giving up on me!