Learning to Listen

I’ve beaten the dead horse on the severe head disconnect between truly grasping and accepting where I am in this present moment and not living in the headspace I was where I started when I was in such a place of desperation for God in a new way and the need for change in so much of my life, so I’m going to *try* not to dwell on that.  No promises.

I almost feel like some days that this journey is coming back full circle, as I start to have some of the same thoughts that I had at the outset–but this time, the reaction is far, far different.  I’ve shared this before in conversation (not sure if I’ve written it here), but in my initial encounter with God it was the full recognition and confession that I WAS living the life of a hypocrite–that I could provide the advice and godly counsel for everyone else to live a whole and healthy life, but I certainly wasn’t applying 100% of those concepts in my own.  That was a big problem for me, not only as a pastor, but as a person.  That not only speaks to a whole host of issues, but it comes down to credibility, trust, and honor, and the value of a relationship…so many things that I was sacrificing, living in my sin of selfishness and self will.  Thank God that He doesn’t leave us where we are.

I’ve noticed lately that in my conversations with God, I’ve started to see this hypocrite question creep back into my prayer life and it has really thrown the circuits into overdrive trying to process this on where this is coming from–I’ll be very honest in that it scared me, I was afraid there was a red flag somewhere in the mix that I just wasn’t picking up on and was going to be headed for disaster.  Being the impatient person that I am, I wanted answers then and there, and that’s just not how God works…it was several different but recent unrelated situations, conversations, and events that all have connected together to make these thoughts finally collide, but God reminded me to just shut up and wait (in the most lovingly way possible…which for me, sometimes just has to be blunt).

So here it is…

Feelings are not fact.  There is a difference between actually living a hypocritical life as I was, and feeling like I am now.  The feelings that I have now stem from that disconnect in that I very much struggle and accept to see myself in the true and present moment.  I get so frustrated that I can’t reconcile the reality of side-by-side photographs, not only the clear physical differences of what dropping 165lbs so far does to a person, but the hauntingly different looks just peering into my eyes.  I mean, seriously, was I dead inside?  I’m a pretty wordy person…but right now, there’s really only tears, I don’t have thoughts, or feelings, or even grown-up words (well, I do have some “choice” words…) to even start to explain the struggle of marrying the idea of a healthier self-image that is completely new and foreign to me that I have never possessed before with a healthier and smaller adult body that is completely new and foreign to me.  Let’s remember–while there was a brief (fleetingly brief) period that I weighed about 50lbs less than I currently do right now, I wear smaller sizes in clothing than I did at that point in time, and I am smaller right now than I have ever maintained as an adult–I weigh less at this current moment than I did when I graduated high school.  This is stuff I can’t cognitively wrap my mind around.  I see it in black and white, I comprehend the facts, but it doesn’t compute.

I was a hypocrite at the outset of all of this, I’ll own my sin–I’ve confessed it, it’s been redeemed.  I get the chance to continue now in living the way that God intended my life in the first place, in trust and obedience.  As you’ve seen because I have chosen for a great number of reasons to be fairly transparent, He’s done some pretty darn cool things in the process the last couple years–nothing short of miraculous in my book.  But He still gets to lead the way, and nowhere in scripture does it promise that path is paved in sunshine and roses.  Some days are hard.  Learning is a process.

Here’s where the part where feelings aren’t fact.  I may feel like a hypocrite, but that doesn’t make me one.  There’s no facts to back it up.  In the past, I can haul out the laundry list that made it true…I can’t do that here.  It’s just a feeling.  It’s a feeling of discontent and unease trying to reconcile that which I don’t have a solid construct to filter my present self through.  I’m trying to grasp and understand something that I’m unable to do and it’s driving me bananas.  I feel like a hypocrite because I can’t take hold of it and wrap it into a pretty package and move on, but rather it’s in the larger process of God working to slow me down, tie my hands behind my back, and remind me that IT’S NOT ABOUT ME but His work in me and He’s gonna take His time to do it.  It’s not my work to be done.  And it’s frustrating.

I long to continue moving forward.  I’ve learned the true meaning of biblical joy and doggone-it, it’s incredible.  I want to do everything in my power to not only continue to cultivate it in my life, to share it and help others find it within their lives.  This last weekend I heard someone speak about not staying stuck–don’t stay where you are, that you have to go to others and tell your story, tell of God’s power.  I hope that I do that.  I try to be transparent that it’s not about the successes and the good days and the highlights, but that there are struggles, there more times that I care to admit that I can’t look at myself in the mirror and accept myself for the child of God I am right where I’m at because I’m blinded by the negativity that fills me about myself…but even in that, it’s real.  There’s hope.  There’s hope in it because the Holy Spirit didn’t convict me to the point where I was willing to turn it all over in radical obedience with the confidence that God was going to only take me to a certain point…that’s not how it works…there isn’t a finish line in this one, and God’s still working on me.

I realize maybe I need to learn from my own lessons.  I still don’t really know how to let a compliment sink in…but I do receive some feedback from others, maybe someday it’ll get past that hard heart I guard so well, but I hear how my story so far makes other people think or inspires a bit.  Well, maybe I can pull up a chair and learn from my own story too.  Be transparent.  Tell your story.  You don’t know who you may be listening, moreover, who you may be inspiring for greater good.

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