An “Aha!” Moment   7 comments

I am often amazed at how long it takes me to come to a realization or understanding.  If someone offers me an idea that does not fit into my present worldview, I cannot use it, and often do not understand it.  When we started dating, Kimberly shared concepts that sounded like Chinese to me.  They just made no sense to me at all.

Last night she suggested something that I have heard from others, “If there are tasks that need to be done, and you don’t want to do them, you can push yourself in a way that validates and supports your needs and feelings—do the task for yourself instead of against yourself.  Do it for the benefit it will bring you.”

Yes, I have heard this before, I agree, but I have a problem.  If it is only me affected by my decision, that is easy enough to do, but if others and their feelings and needs are also involved, I feel obligated to push myself regardless of what I want.  That is, I can’t both listen to their needs and my needs when there is competition (and I downgrade most of my ‘needs’ to simply ‘desires,’ so their needs outrank mine).

But just this morning I started to reconsider Kimberly’s words.  The problem is not pushing myself to do something I don’t want to do, but the thoughts that support that choice.  To motivate myself, I resort to willpower based on obligation.  This has always “worked” for me, that is, I complete the task.  But I can only do so by disregarding my own feelings.  Might there be a way to support my feelings and motivate myself apart from obligation?

It is very hard for me to practice this because my sense of duty trumps every other motivation by sheer weight of ingrained thought patterns.  I do onerous things always and only because I “have” to do them.  I have no choice.  I thought the problem was in the choosing, but perhaps the problem is in the approach to choosing, the why and how of the decision rather than the what.

I realize now that this is the first glimmer of insight in a very long process, years of remaking my outlook, hundreds of attempts at applying it.  I used to think that God’s grace should be gotten fully in one go and applied everywhere, like paint to a door.  I slowly came to realize that I can only apply the grace of God to those wounds that I first identify.  I can’t coat the door with WD40 and expect the unidentified squeak to stop.  I have to locate the rusty hinge and spray a concentrated stream.

Of course, grace is at work helping me to identify my issues, but it works on its own schedule, not mine.  I would like to know all my misguided beliefs now and focus all my time and energy into “fixing” them as quickly as I can.  This would work no better than a first-grader studying night and day so he can graduate from college in two years.  God is far more understanding and patient with my shortcomings than I am.  I imagine he would like to tell me, “Slow down.  Go easy on yourself.  Even 50 years is not enough time to make all the positive changes I plan for you.”   Oddly enough, for me to be more godly, I need to be more understanding and patient with myself; I need to receive this grace he offers me.  Who would have guessed?

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Posted July 2, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal

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7 responses to “An “Aha!” Moment

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  1. What I have had to struggle with is fighting off enemies, or being on guard for the next hit only to realize I couldn’t deal additionally with myself or my inner issues either because of being consumed by what struck me, or evenso there was no energy left to deal with the other stuff in the first place. An “ahhh haaa” moment for me was realizing, I not only had to deal with life and all the struggles that faced me with living (as is for every human), I had to deal with all the negative effects and different, even wrong persepectives those circumstances led me to believe. Believed for majority of my life now there was no way to overcome even with prayer and obedience and continually live in the same pit. It is quite miserable. Reaching out to others has rarely brought much relief or changing in my own heart too as everyone has their own “stuff” to deal with – there goes another of my perspectives, beliefs. Now praying and waiting for God to save me has struck another fear in me. Does he, has he really love(d) me and as I wait for him will he ever answer?

    As to your question, “Might there be a way to support my feelings and motivate myself apart from obligation?” How do you respond to living and having obligations and things to do, things you’d never choose to do without having to (all within boundaries of law) only to survive in spite of anything felt – sacrifices – and understanding the root issues were not realized or dealt with?

    • I am sorry for your suffering. It is a great dilemma that many of us face–we are broken, and our brokenness seems to actively block our healing. I was talking to Kimberly about this just the other day. I need emotional energy to deal with my issues, but my issues seem to steal all my emotional energy. So I find healing is very slow and takes a long time. Finding supportive folks to stand with us is a huge benefit, but often our wounds are so sensitive that even kindhearted folks tend to hurt us more (when we share at any deep level). I have been benefited by counseling, though it is hard to find a counselor that really takes the time to uncover the deep issues. Reading gracious authors has helped me. I am sorry for your situation.

  2. A poet once said, “The calling is revealed a grace: the choice / To follow where we’re fashioned to rejoice.” I’ve been trying to grow in a persepctive of “calling” that understands it as a gift to us, not merely to the rest of the world. If it is only for everyone else, it is not a gift to us, and thus is not a grace, and thus (by that standard at least) is not calling. I’m trying to believe that, but it comes slowly.

  3. Thanks for your comments!I agree, Em. Every form of grace is first given for us to be blessed, and only secondly to bless others. That is the nature of grace, and if we try to be only a conduit, we hurt ourselves as well as the other. That is not the perspective I had most of my life, and I still suffer from the effects of those long held beliefs.

  4. “Man is born unto trouble”…there is no escaping this fact. If Christ had to suffer much, we His followers will not be spared either, by this life. Accept this. But despite the hard fact, His grace will enable us to withstand our difficult circumstances. We will not be overcome by our troubles. Hasn’t he promised never to leave us alone?
    The key is to increasingly rely on him and not trust in our own ways, as often as is possible. If you do this, your life will be in ‘cruise control’ mode. This does not mean life will be devoid of problems, but He will help you find a way through all your challenges – Big and Small (in His time). I had no choice, but to do this – My inner strength and resolve have been sapped by years of depression.
    The solutions designed by God for the human soul are simple, yet effective, both for the scholar and for the simpleton. Just say a simple prayer and turn it over to him, and keep in prayer as often as possible. Do not struggle to find answers to difficult questions by yourself. Do not put yourself in the centre of all things. It will wear you out; instead give Him the credit, turn your controls over to Him and just rest in His grace and WAIT for Him to act.

    -BK

  5. Very insightful- thank you. It is such a relief to discover that God is more patient with us than we are with ourselves.

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