Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When We Stop Struggling

"Therefore if any person is in Christ he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!" ... 2 Corinthians 5:17

Many years ago, Tom and I volunteered to help our pastor with his tiny 'city mission church' which he also pastored. So Tom sang and played the guitar on the worship team and I taught kids' church and a women's home group. I'd done much teaching in the other church and that's mostly what I was all about. Teaching.

But one day our pastor asked me and another woman, 'Belinda', if we'd be in charge of a wedding reception for a couple in this small church who'd been living together for 20+ years but had decided to get married. The reception would be a small affair for only around 30 people.

Well, I'd had a little experience planning parties, but it wasn't my favorite thing (way, way preferring teaching) and I agreed to this only out of respect for my pastor. Belinda and I sat down to make reception plans and mostly my duties were to buy the decorations, including tablecloths. She would be in charge of the rest, including ordering a cake and buying punch. We wrote down our tasks upon paper then parted happily. A couple weeks later we met early at the church to set-up everything together and after the short, simple wedding, the reception and clean-up went fine. No problems.

Or so I thought.

A week later when Belinda and I arrived early at the church, she approached me pretty much all wild-eyed. She accused me of taking over the reception. Of doing nearly everything, including her part.

Ack! I told her I did nothing besides what we agreed to (in one accord) on our lists that first day of planning. And reeling, I stood there trying to understand what she was saying. She then said perhaps I was mad at her because of something else--but when she named that 'something else' she saw by my chin dropping three inches that I'd never even thought of that, so she said, "Well, ok... maybe that wasn't it."

And then she said this, "It's just that I've had to fight for everything I've ever gotten and I resent anyone who tries to take anything away from me."

Oh dear. That's when I calmed down, relaxed my shoulders and just felt sad for her. Her last statement bothered me, didn't sound right, but at that time I couldn't quite pin-point why. All these years later, I think I can. 

I believe God desires that we stop the fighting, the struggling--and instead--learn how to receive from Him.

How to receive His unconditional, just-because love. How to receive acceptance of who we are today with a belief that--with His life-altering help--we'll become better tomorrow. How we miss out on nothing important, but have peace and rest and joy in the meantime, no racing around for approval and respect or trinkets from other people, necessary.

And how to receive trust and a calm assurance that--as long as I have God--everything inside me is going to be ok.

Those 14 years ago God had just begun working those things inside me and I only wish I could have explained them to Belinda. But you know? Only God can make that new creation within us and only after we cease the struggle to make ourselves over, by ourselves. We do not become new by being talked into it. We become new when we let God carry away the old so He'll have room for a new work. 

All these years later I've learned that, experienced it, and I'm believing Belinda has, too.


"Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]."  ... John 6:29


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Elizabeth said...

Very well said, Debra!

Anonymous said...

Some of life's experiences are indeed hard...glad you figured out more or less what happened. WOW and if you'd only known you could have LET HER do it all!!

I was a co-teacher many years ago, with a group of elementary girls in a church. It became so quickly apparent that the other gal wanted to run the whole thing ALONE without help. It was actually a relief to be able to let that go...gave me more time with my infant son!!

Not taking offense is not easy. Easier with non-kin than kin however. Life does seem a journey of letting go, here and there, along the way. GOD blesses us as we can do so. And provides other gifts to us it seems, as we do let go.
Elizabeth in NC

Blu-I'd-Blonde said...

I was in a similar situation probably 15 or so years ago. Hubby and I had a friend from our small town that was divorced, but was planning to get married again. So he and the woman and her daughters from a previous marriage invited us to the wedding and reception. She asked me to help with the reception. We followed them to the church, and on the way they stopped at a quick shop to get makings for the punch and some ice.

So the bride told me how to make the punch, and that was basically it. Accept I didn't know I would be the only one, yes just me, doing the reception. I was it. It's probably good I didn't know that ahead of time. So anyway, while the ceremony was going on I was frantically mixing punch, putting ice in it in a totally strange kitchen. I think I may have had to cut the cake, and I rounded up the daughters and some friends of both the bride and groom to get behind the serving table, 'cause there was no way I could do it alone (they weren't too happy either, but I convinced them).

Luckily there were only 40 guests so at least that was a lucky break. Perhaps this experience gave me the courage to plan a 350-400 guest wedding with our daughter, the bride, many years later.

Anyway, your sharing this brought back a lot of memories.

Judy said...

I love this post Debra! LOVE it.