Thursday, October 27, 2011

Out With the Old...

Lately, I've gone through an extended bout of being frustrated and discouraged with certain characteristics I see in others. I've allowed it to get the best of me. And lately, He reminds me over and over,
"Look at me, not at them."
I do okay for a time but then the smallest thing sets me off again and there goes my focus from Him to them. I start to become angry and cynical and distrusting towards others for things that they probably didn't know they did. I simmer inside and I frankly feel out of control more lately than I have in a while--all because I'm focusing on the wrong thing. And then He reminds me again to stop looking at other people's issues to the extent that it causes some to rise up in me.

I struggle with major trust issues, and I have some pretty high expectations when it comes to loyalty. I expect a lot of the people close to me. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with setting expectations. We all have to set some in everything we do, but setting mine so high has often left me disappointed and feeling sorry for myself. To be honest, I don't know how to change mine and I'm not fully convinced that I want to.

We all have "unwritten contracts" in our relationships. They determine the expectations and the very level of the relationship. Usually, the higher the level of the relationship, the higher the level of expectations tend to be. Sometimes, due to the dysfunction of people, our ideals and expectations tend to fall outside of the "normal" range. They can be set too low or too high but dysfunctional expectations always bleed over into our relationships.

My own high expectations have always been a complaint of those close to me, and nevertheless I've always clung to them because in some sense they've offered me protection through predictability. Those standards allow me to feel that there will be no surprises, and knowing what to expect makes me more likely to open up. Unpredictability leaves me paralyzed and confused, and I don't handle confusion well at all.

But having a relationship with the Lord means we have to let go of anything He tells us to. We don't get to hold on to our old ways and still grow in intimacy and wisdom of the Lord. He's the boss. He calls the shots. Lately, not only am I struggling with letting go of old ways, but also with knowing which new ways I'm supposed to adopt.

In studying what kind of man my Lord was, I realize that He also had expectations, but He also knew that humans fail. He expected it. He allowed and still allows room for us to fail and in turn, He offers us forgiveness. He also calls us to forgive one another, not only for them but also to free ourselves of the baggage that comes with unforgiveness. Knowing that I fail others makes it easier to forgive.

Knowing that my own expectations aren't where the rubber meets the road really hits home for me. It's not about what I want, or what I need all the time. Life goes on and people have their own issues to deal with. If someone fails me, I need to learn to say, "It doesn't matter that they fail me so much as it does when they fail my Lord." His expectations never change, by person or the day.

It's hard to do what we're told when our "feelings" tell us otherwise. It's outright painful to go against that flow, even though it's obvious which one is right and which one is wrong. But as Christians, we have a choice between following our fleshly (sinful) natures or His commands. As believers, we have virtually signed an unwritten disclaimer stating that we are fully aware of what choices we make and are willing to pay a price when we choose the flesh.

The Christian walk isn't an accidental walk, or a stumble. Every single minute of it is meant to be intentional and purposeful, and that's exactly why we have the right to choose. In His Word He tells us that it will not be an easy walk. He also tells us that He will not leave us to walk alone. But we have to be willing to let go of our old ways.

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