Have you ever noticed that some of your best traits also flip over to your worst traits? The same part of me that makes me cautious, careful, and escape trouble and pain also became the source of my biggest struggle over 2017 as I struggled with fear and anxiety.
When I was younger, my parents taught me a lot about trust. I learned to trust them, to believe them. They also taught me the importance of trusting God. Surrendering. Not having to have it all figured it out. They taught me how to balance caution and planning with my faith in God and the sometimes blind obedience that he requires me.
All of this was tested when God did something totally unexpected and completely beyond my understanding: he took my best friend, mentor, and father to Heaven.
The roller-coaster of emotions I experienced during 2017 is beyond description, and even thinking about what I went through, especially those first few months, exhausts me. I went back and forth between supernatural confidence and faith in God, to crushing fear, anxiety, and an overwhelming, oppressing sense of despair. One moment I had hope; the next I felt like I’d never have hope again.
Why? What was happening? How could I so quickly falter?
The True Love Test is very simple and very profound. All you have to do is take the things
1 Corinthians tells us about love, and insert your name. Then ask yourself, is this true of me?
In premarital counseling, it goes further – you insert your fiance’s name, as well, questioning
if he or she is exhibiting that brand of love toward you, as well.
Here’s what mine would look like:
When I personalize scripture, it makes it much more real, direct, and applicable to my life.
It’s one thing to read about what agape (sacrificial) love looks like; it’s another thing to hold yourself to the standard. As I read through the passage inserting my name, it’s easy to see where I fail and where I need to make adjustments in the way I love the people God has
placed in my life.
But there’s one another tool that has been huge in my life — it’s so simple, but so challenging. It’s something I recommend for homework with many of my counselees and students. However, because it’s so simple, and also so challenging, not many follow through long enough to see the benefit. And to be totally honest with you, there are many times when I myself didn’t see the benefit. Times when I stopped for a while. In fact, there was a period of over a year where I failed to do this. And I noticed the effect most profoundly when I found my notebook from 2014 just a few months ago.
I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I do remember that 2014 had a lot of ups and downs, as tends to happen in life. But as I flipped through this notebook, all I saw were the highlights; and all I remembered was the closeness I had with the Lord during that time; the answers to prayer I was receiving; the joy and the peace I felt. It was my gratitude notebook.
In a word: passionate.