Oh, Lord – It’s Hard To Be Humble (Step 7)

Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings,

I grew up singing two songs about humility. One was a Christian camp song that said, “Humble me, humble me, oh Lord; humble me…humble me, so I can do Thy will…” The other, sung by Mac Davis, went something like this: “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.”

College Daze

                                              On top of my little world ~ Before the fall

As an ‘80’s teenager, popular music both shaped and reflected the person I was. Sometimes I pretended to be perfect in every way, while refusing to come to Jesus with certain corners of my heart. Other times I truly wanted to follow God’s will and His plan for my life. Living with me was like flipping through every radio station on a long road trip. One day, I was like, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.” The next, it was more the Def Leppard version, complete with the mentality that “it’s better to burn out, yeah, than fade away.”

I wanted everything life could offer and I wanted it “right now!” I had planned out my future while still in grade school. As a young adult, I refused to wait for life to unfold. I forced it. I forced my way, my will, and my ideas onto other people. I tried to control them through manipulation, guilt, or fear. I tried to force broken boys to love me. I forced myself into relationships where I didn’t belong. I forced myself to reach impossibly high goals, expecting others to work as hard as I did, with little compassion for their shortcomings. I was often full of myself and empty of humility.

Then I fell. I not only physically fell from the roof of a barn, shattering several vertebrae; I also crumbled emotionally. The road to recovery was excruciating. My physical body healed more rapidly than my psyche. All pride had been crushed. I had to learn to walk in humility, just as I had to learn to walk with my new crutches – one step at a time, one day at a time.

Decades later, as I take a close look here at Step 7, I’m wondering if the Mac Davis song still sometimes describes my stance toward humility. Do I ask God to remove my shortcomings, while clinging to the falsehood that I am somehow perfect in every way (or at least in some little way)? I’ve been down this road countless times! Why does pride still rear its ugly ugly head in my life?

Isn’t it PRIDE that keeps me from going to God the minute something goes wrong on the inside of me? Oh, it’s not a big deal. I can handle it. I lie to myself, while ignoring the Spirit’s “still small voice.”

The book of James holds a promise for people like me in chapter 4, verse 10. James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” If I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings, He promises to lift me up. When I am puffed up with pride, full of hot air or a hot temper, God cannot lift me up. He can barely wrap His arms around me when I’m so full of my “my way or the highway” attitude.

In 2004, I was twenty years from being a headstrong teenager, trying desperately to control my tiny world after it came apart at the seams with my mom’s divorce. By then, I’d been married for ten years to a chemically dependent spouse and I carried a ton of guilt, anger and anguish around inside my head. My own thoughts of divorce crept across the borders of my mind as I struggled to find feelings to match my marital vows after addiction’s roller coaster had robbed me of so much. When I flipped through the radio and found Norah Jones singing, “No matter how hard you resist it, it never rains when you want it to…You humble me Lord… I’m on my knees empty…” I identified with that humility. Although God hadn’t handed me an addict on a silver platter, He definitely used being married to one to teach me to walk in humility.

Today, I live in a different world – far removed from the chaos of cocaine addiction. But I don’t want to forget the lessons learned in that valley. Forgiveness. Humility. Patience. Courage. Honesty. Surrender. The valley of the shadow of addiction is a deep one. It will mold a character. It can make us or break us, maybe both. I think the brokenness is what calls me back to my knees when I get too big for my britches.Step 7 Meme

I need Step 7 every day of my life. It’s an exercise that transforms me from the me-I-don’t-want-to-be to the me-the-looks-like-Him. When l admit my shortcomings and humbly ask God to immediately remove them before they embarrass or humiliate me, or misrepresent Him, my life flows so much smoother – fewer regrets, fewer do-overs. Why I so easily forget that, I do not know. But, tonight, I just want to make that little camp song my bedtime prayer, “Humble me so I can do Thy will.” Will you make it yours, too?

You humble me Lord
You humble me Lord
I’m on my knees empty
You humble me Lord
You humble me Lord
So, please, please, forgive me
You humble me

Kevin Breit/Norah Jones

 

 

Overwhelmed with Yesses? Just Say No

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE. (http://goo.gl/bQVJW0)

“When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”  (Taken from The Best Yes Chapter 3: “Overwhelmed Schedule, Underwhelmed Soul” by Lysa TerKeurst)

Between Lysa’s The Best Yes and Dr. Henry Cloud’s Necessary Endings, (which could easily be called The Best No) I’ve recently been brought face to face with the fact that I still experience fallout from my past.

My first marriage experienced nuclear meltdown more than seven years ago. I still fall into some of the old unhealthy behaviors I adopted as coping mechanisms during the decade or so before the disintegration of that relationship. Why, Lord, is this still my default when those days are far behind me?

Here’s how it used to be: If I knew that he was on a binge again, I dreaded going home to play the waiting game. (If you’ve ever loved a chemically dependent binge-er, you can identify.) The ache of wanting him to come safely home so I could kill him myself (or at least wring his wiry little neck) always seemed worse when there was nothing to do but sit there and wait.

That all-night, all-the-next-day waiting was the worst, creating a toxic concoction of hope and dread that birthed stomach ulcers that bled and burned for days. Should I make dinner? Call the police? Stay here waiting, or go looking for him? NIGHTMARE.

I hated every minute of that desperate waiting, so I created a coping mechanism. Work. After work, I worked – staying in my classroom until long after everyone else had gone home, made dinner and watched American Idol. I made lesson plans for weeks in advance. Sharpened pencils. Alphabetized scented markers. Rearranged desks; anything to keep my hands busy and my mind semi-occupied until enough hours passed that I could go home too exhausted to lay awake and wait.

Work worked for a while. Years even. Eventually my underwhelmed soul created such an overwhelmed schedule that I became a workaholic. Even during those “clean” months between his rehabs, I continued my addiction to work. More evenings than I can count, when he was home, sitting on the sofa with the TV remote in hand, I was still at school. His sickness had infected me, infected our marriage, our lives. No, I didn’t binge on cocaine. But I did numb the drug’s side effects with busyness.

It was hard to decide what to leave undone. Difficult to have chaos anywhere in my physical world because my emotional world was out of control. I was aching for normalcy, so I created it where I could. I stayed in that groove for a long time. And grooves were formed in my brain. Pathways and patterns and habits that have not broken easily.

Lord, I have to do something differently. I cannot continue to live like this.

I prayed that prayer just before Valentine’s Day as I came out of the valley of indecision and made a decision to stay with a friend when he didn’t come come and wouldn’t answer my calls. Again.

Lysa says, “Not making a decision is actually a decision. It’s the decision to stay the same.” She’s right. For all of those years, when I couldn’t decide what to do, I was making a decision to allow the pattern to continue. I was choosing insanity – continuing to do the same thing, expecting different results. Maybe this time, he won’t use. Maybe this time he’ll stay clean. Maybe…

overwhelmedscheduleSo, what about now? Now, when I’m happily married to a loving, emotionally attentive husband. Now when I no longer have the pressures of a full-time teaching job? Now when I have a flexible schedule and the ability to sleep until ten on a Monday morning? (I don’t.)

I still work. Still say, “Yes” to time consuming projects that don’t fit my long-term goals. I still over organize and over analyze and over do. If tendrils of painful emotions need to be numbed – I work. If I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, I overwork tonight. I’m a binge-worker. My overwhelmed schedule is often created by none other than moi, me, myself!

So, thanks to Lysa, I’m prayerfully looking for my “best yes.” Thanks to Dr. Henry, I’m deciding what areas of my life need “necessary endings.” I’m positive workaholism is one. I certainly don’t need the “underwhelmed soul” that comes from overdoing it. Been there. Done that.

I have a feeling I’m not the only one who struggles with repeating patterns from the past that need to be broken in Jesus’ name. What’s going on with you? Do you need to say “no” to a few things? Do you need to say “yes” to a new way of thinking? A new way of doing?

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

May I invite you to pray this prayer with me?

Father, I believe You deserve my best yes. You know the plans You have for me. Please direct my path, moment by moment. If I am numbing with busyness, show me where the hurt is and help me to trust You to heal it. If I am hiding in work or accomplishments, let me hide in You. If I need to end a harmful habit or a relationship, please give me the courage to let it go. I trust You. You invite me to rest, not to strive. I choose to rest in You. Amen.

New York Times Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst has written a new book about finding your Best Yes. Many call this book “inspiring” and “fabulous.”  I call it a game-changer.  You can grab a copy at http://goo.gl/ZFUZbD

Lysa TerkeurstP.S. You are cordially invited to FOLLOW my blog. It’s a Win/Win deal: You’ll receive an email each time I make a post. I’ll receive one more awesome person to support me and pray for my journey toward publication.