Mistakes

I have been reflecting on my past relationships. I wonder if I could have glorified God better in those friendships. I wonder if I lived out the Gospel well during those times.

I often think back to my best friend in 5th grade. We had so much in common and we did everything together. I remember the day she told me that she became a Christian. She said she wanted to be Christian, and after talking to God, she was now “saved.” Unfortunately, I was neither encouraged or delighted to hear this news. I told her that she couldn’t simply become a Christian just because she all-of-a-sudden decided to (not quite sure where my logic was here…). I had made following Jesus an elite club with membership that even my best friend had to work to be a part of.

I mourn when I think back to this experience. We are no longer friends. We no longer have much in common. The most heartbreaking part is that we do not have similar beliefs in God or about Jesus. I can’t help but feel ashamed and guilty for missing this opportunity in my selfishness. Thankfully, God is bigger than my mistakes.

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. –1 John 3:20

I tend to question if my failures to walk with Christ serve as a catalyst to someone else’s heart growing cold toward the Gospel. Since most people know that I am a Christian, I feel like my flaws are magnified and my mistakes are judged with higher cost because I am associated with Christ. The truth is everyone needs Jesus. The difference is that Christians (hopefully) recognize their need for Jesus as their savior. If you place expectations on people, Christian or not, you will eventually be disappointed. Because we all fail.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. –Romans 3:23-24

I am actively learning that I can not carry the responsibility for someone else’s salvation. I have been told that I can not change one’s “soil type” as Jesus talks about in Matthew 13 in the parable of the sower. I need to recognize my limits and let God be God. I need to live out the acceptance that God is greater than any action that I could ever do to truly show Christ’s love to somebody.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. –Proverbs 3:5-6

People see the mistakes that Christians make very clearly. But what is overlooked is the evidence that Christ accepts everyone and pardons them when they mess up by the blood of Jesus. When we feel we are not representing Jesus well, we are actually proving His sovereignty. I posted these verses in the last entry, but they are so good:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

His unconditional love for us is revealed–whether we choose His way or ours, whether we suffer well or not, whether we choose to have joy in Christ or embrace bitterness. His love is independent from what we do.

I know I have not served the Lord in all of my past relationships but I pray that I am more intentional with this in the friendships to come. I pray for wisdom and for the ability to learn from the past. Praise the Lord that He is merciful! He does not hold my failures against me and loves me as if I were perfect in His sight. God will be glorified through our mistakes. Praise the Lord!

Let my life be a thank offering unto You Lord. Amen.

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My Harmful Pride

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” –James 1:2-3

God is grace. He is pouring out love into my life and in my struggle of leaving a profession for which I thought He created me.

I am learning. I am always learning because I forget too quickly the lessons I am taught. When I feel that I finally grasp what it means to trust God completely with my life, a new situation arises and I struggle all over again. It feels like climbing a mountain and reaching the “top,” to see that, in actuality, you are only  at the bottom of another mountain. Thankfully, I know that God does not waste our trials and uses them to turn brokenness into beauty and help us build character.

This week, I realized that I am proud. It has been a shock because I believe pride stems from selfishness. Ironically, I have been proud of myself most of my life for not being selfish.

“But, Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” –2 Corinthians 10:17

As much as I believe the Gospel, and everything that Jesus Christ has done for me, I still have the misconception that it is because I believe that I am great. No, I don’t sit around and tell people that I think I am awesome, I act like it. Let me explain.

I graduated in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Shortly after, I took the national licensing exam and passed making me a Registered Nurse. I had heard about the nursing shortage but deep down, I doubted that I would have any problems finding a job. I figured I probably wouldn’t get hired in my preferred area of nursing, but I did not believe that it would be long before I received a job offer.

I was picky at first. I was offered a job as a certified nurse assistant (CNA) at a terrific hospital promising to give me a nursing position within six months if it worked out. I declined the offer. If I could get a job as a nurse, why should I work as a CNA for six months first? So I continued applying…and applying. With 150+ applications out in the world, I started to lose faith. No one wanted to hire me. So I tried to apply through the “foot in the door” route and work as a nurse assistant at any hospital that I could around the state. Nope. More than six hospitals rejected me because I was “overqualified” with my RN license. Our savings were dwindling quickly and we prepared to move in with family if I could not get a job.

I was angry. I graduated with honors. I was involved. I even served on the state student nursing association board of directions. I went on a medical missions trip. I volunteered to coordinate a flu shot clinic. I had excellent letters of recommendation. I did my senior practicum at a prestigious Children’s hospital and I had nursing assistant experience in both a nursing home and in emergency situations. I felt like I deserved more than this. My pride hurt me. It allowed me to believe that I was able to do all of these things because I worked hard to get there. But God allowed me to have these amazing opportunities and blessings. He wanted me in those positions of leadership not because I was great, but because He could use me somehow to glorify Him and to love His people (even though in my arrogant state, I may not have done the best job). And in this situation, my pride led me to believe that I was not good enough, I was not smart enough, and that I would never be enough to be a nurse.

My focus should not have been on me at all (hence the connection with selfishness) but on God. He is the only reason why I am where I am today. In school, I felt like I deserved all of the praise for where I stood. Undoubtedly, it was God who got me there. When I couldn’t find a job after graduation, God was there showing me that I was precious and worthy in His sight because of what Jesus did for me. Yet, I chose to define myself by what I did, and not for who I was in Christ. Salvation is for all who accept the gift. We can’t “earn” our way into Heaven by doing good deeds. But God knows how much we try, even after we are saved.

So long story short, I was offered a CNA position at a hospital and worked there for three months before accepting a job as a nurse on another floor. That did not go well for me for a variety of reasons. I knew that the Lord was leading me to quit. It took me eight months to get my first nursing job. I aimed to stay for at least six months; I quit after five.

I have received a great deal of feedback about leaving my job. I am grateful for the sincere support. It has been a huge encouragement in my life because I know that the majority of the world disapproves. Sometimes, I still feel shame as the result of comments and remarks from co-workers, friends, and even family. God reminds me that who I am is not defined by what I do or what I don’t do.

I am a proud person. If I am being honest, I still tell people I am a nurse because I want them to believe that I am smart and know that I am educated. People always told me that I had so much sense. That I had a good head on my shoulders. That I was mature for my age. I wanted people to like me for the things that I did and the idea of me –my determination, my discipline, my work ethic, my ability to make good decisions, etc.

I am who I am in Christ regardless of the approval of others. My decisions and the factors that motivate them should not be influenced by a desire to impress or give people an image of me that I need to measure up to.

Therefore, I am grateful for these trials. God has shown me how to apply humility in my day to day life. If I received the ideal nursing job straight out of school, I would still be walking around completely blind. In my belief that I had accomplished life up to this point on my own, I easily judged others who were not at the same place I was. Meaning, if  someone had told me that they struggled to find a nursing job after graduation, I would wonder what was wrong with them. I would assume that they didn’t work hard enough, didn’t apply to a variety of places, and maybe even had some huge personality flaw that was apparent in interviews. I would attribute everything in their circumstances to them and reason that their unemployment was their fault. By the grace of God, He has shown me how selfish this attitude was! How could I be so cruel? How could I judge others so easily? What made me think I was better than them?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I thank the Lord that He has showed me this weakness so that I may stand firm in the beauty and truth of Jesus Christ. I am so unworthy. After everything that I have revealed in this post alone. I do not deserve the incredible love from my Savior. Yet, I am a beloved child of God and He values me dearly for who I am and not for what I do. He loved me while I was still a sinner! (Romans 5:8) I do not need to have it all together. As it has been so wisely put, “Hallelujah, we are free to struggle. We’re not struggling to be free.” –Tenth Avenue North

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” –Galations 5:1

Let my life be a thank offering unto You Lord. Amen.

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