As I age, I find myself chucking the unnecessary stuff in my life. The value of simplicity is growing larger than my compulsions to have or acquire. My garage has less junk in it than ever; my attic has only the seasonal Christmas trinkets and my closet, only the clothes I still wear.
My heart is less cluttered, too. I don’t hang onto all the emotional baggage like I used to. Past offenses, fears and hurts are still occasionally on the edges of my mind and soul, but they no longer claim me as a place of residence.
It’s more important to slow down, to really understand the reasons behind the reactions… both within myself and in the lives of others. When I make the effort, I find it’s a significant and effective place from which to parent or pastor.
The hardest question I can ask myself centers around my relationship with Jesus, not the cliché marketing slang of WWJD, but deeper than that. What does Jesus “say” for me personally to do about this facet of my life? What is it He’s specifically urging me to consider about the situation I find myself struggling to understand, respond to, or help with?
The moment I take the time to really ask and really listen to God… I find myself quickly decompressing and even relaxing. The pressure for me to handle this, to have a wise response or a Godly attitude suddenly evaporates as I realize I can’t be Jesus to anyone, I can only be Brad. BUT, I can let JESUS act through me. I can give permission for Him to speak with my mouth and use my hands and feet to accomplish what He would have done in the same situation.
The challenge is consciously moving beyond the circumstances of each life challenge. If Jesus gets to call the shots in our lives, He ignores our plaintive, insistent objections that we believe in so strongly. Things like:
- our “right” to be offended,
- our stubborn insistence to be “vindicated“,
- our personal protestations of “injustice” when treated wrongly.
All of the above considerations, although well founded in our minds, are singularly irrelevant to the heart of Jesus. He chooses to love and forgive every time, and so If we allow Him to be in charge… we are giving Him permission to do the same, in and through us, to others.
He moves past the particulars to the heart of each and every situation… my heart, their heart… and His heart. That is difficult to stomach when our powerful emotions and deepest feelings intrude on His divine direction. It means that I have to “trust” in His perspective more than my own.
But, no matter how difficult the decision is to trust Him, I find that when I totally surrender my option to respond how I want to and accept what He wants (before I know the answer) instead… I am completely at peace.