I have them. You have them.
I am one. You are one.
- …you are constantly battling the thought that they can’t do anything right
- …you are tempted to believe is unforgivable
- …you wish they’d just move on
- …you wonder if there’s such a thing as too much grace
- …you’re convinced doesn’t have a clue
That person(s) that you’re thinking about right now is your that person.
As a recovering judger and teller, I’ve labeled many people as that person. The more I own and understand that I’m also that person the fewer people I label. We have to resist labeling in our minds and hearts, and we need to be aware when we’re spreading our labeling to others by talking about that person. Not easy work.
How do we do this work? I’m doing it by asking myself three questions:
- How am I praying for that person?
- How will I stay engaged with that person?
- When’s the last time that person…
- …had an arm around their shoulder?
- …heard, “I forgive you”?
- …believed they weren’t alone?
- …experienced grace from another human?
- …felt safe with those who knew them well?
It’s hard relationship work. But that person needs it. And as someone else’s that person, I need it.
Five weeks ago I self diagnosed a need. I had a need for a day unlike any day I’ve experienced before. This need was driven by various things. Did I need rest? Yes and no. Did I need time with God? More yes than no. What did I most need was my question. I took this to my coach and what I came up with was this: I needed realignment.
I’ve never heard of a realignment day, but it resonated with me. Since it was self diagnosed, that meant I had to come up with the “treatment plan.” I went into the day with some structure, but very loosely held. I knew prayer and reading would play a major role, but how long and with what content I wanted to be fluid and hopefully spirit led. I’ll share some of how the day went and give you something to consider for your own realignment day.
- To establish why the title of realignment, I considered these definitions: 1. To place back in line, to bring back into line. 2. To rejoin as an ally. In the consideration, I looked at biblical examples of folks who needed and received realignment such as Adam and Eve, Samson, David, Jacob and Esau, Hosea and Gomer, Moses, Jonah, the prodigal son, and Peter. This led me to a personal conclusion: I need to realign with how God sees people, with his grace, and with who I am in his eyes. This foundation led the rest of the day’s activities. These activities including reading, praying, and worshipping through music.
- Reading: four scripture passages and portions of two books about these passages. Some of this was planned and some not. I knew that I was drawn to reading prayers and conversation between Moses and God. But in the moment I was led to other passages from Daniel, Job, and I John. These passages illustrated what is needed for realignment and how to pray for it.
- Praying: confessional and covenantal. The truth about realigning with God is that he isn’t the one that got out of line. So realignment should include confessing where you got out of line and covenanting about staying in line. But before I wrote out those two prayers I started the conversation with God by asking him this: “What messages do you want to share with me?” To my surprise, he had a lot to say-a full page, a total of 13 clear and specific messages. Those alone were worth the effort and intentionality of the day.
- Music: listening and creating. Again, to my surprise I was led to listen to one particular song throughout the day. Then as a result of reading and praying, a new song was birthed in my spirit. By the end of the day, where I ended up at a bayside park, not only was I realigned but I also had a song of offering to give back to God and to others what my realignment day had given to me.
Not everyone requires the same type of realignment, but I’m convinced we all need it occasionally.
- Are you due?
- What could assist you in realigning?
- How vital should a realignment day be in order for you to make it happen?
- What surprises could God have in store for you on your realignment day?
(A final thought from No One Gets There Alone)
In giving helps for mental toughness, Dr. Bell says that consistency is the key.
Remember, we first create habits, then our habits create us.
Whatever we want to get better at, we must consistently do. Don’t mistake action for achievement. If we want to get better at swimming, then swim; if we want to get better at public speaking, speak. If we want to improve our sales, get a coach. Period.
Whenever I’ve led discussions about spiritual disciplines like prayer or taught on following the leading of the Holy Spirit, comments are always made about not feeling confident on how to do either of these. Let me suggest that Dr. Bell’s encouragement to swimmers and public speakers applies here. Create habits. Be consistent. Just Keep Doing It.
What could some habits be that would create you into a confident disciple?
- Pair up with another growth-desiring person. You could do this in many ways. Ask God to bring that person into your life. Be real with them and start pursuing growth together. Chances are that person is already in your life and you just need to take the first step.
- Develop your strategy. If you want to read the entire Bible, then find a reading plan that works for you. If it takes you one month, one year, or many years, who cares. Figure out your plan and start moving.
- Say hello to God often. What if you turned off the radio in the car going to or from work just to be alone with God? What if you paused midday to talk about your morning and your afternoon? What if you didn’t get out of bed before saying good morning? What if one day of your weekend you didn’t ask for anything in your prayers and just said thank you? What if you prayed as often as you texted your spouse or best friend?
- Test your nudges. It’s possible that thought about that person you rarely think about was a Holy Spirit prompt to reach out. It’s possible that thought to bake your neighbor some cookies was a Holy Spirit avenue to relieve loneliness. It’s possible that cry for sympathy by your waiter’s comment was a Holy Spirit opening to offer a prayer with them.
Here’s a personal example from a different life arena. By nature, I’m not a morning person. I hated my teenage years when my mother would come in my room every morning turning on the lights and declaring it was breakfast time. But you might say, since I began running over ten years ago, I’ve been recreated by developing new habits. The discipline needed to properly train for races has slightly altered me. I now have little problem getting out the door to run by 6am several times a week. I can even meet people at 6am for a group run and actually enjoy it, occasionally. Let’s not push it.
Who do you want to be? Who is God prompting you to be? What are the habits of that kind of person? Work to establish the habits of that person and let the creating begin.
In my experience, if you ask God a curious “I want what you want” question, he is happy to reply. And he often surprises you with his answer. And I believe he enjoys whispering to your heart, “Bet you didn’t see that coming.”
When I opened the winter issue of Facts and Trends a few months ago, I read about an Arkansas church that has a unique approach to engaging their community through the arts. The Article (see pages 16-19) describes their intentionality of establishing an art gallery in their new building as an avenue to connect worship and community. After reading it, I had a “Hmmmm…” moment.
That moment was a connection between the answer to an earlier question (see It Started With a Question) and another question, “Where could this go?” The connection was the expansion of a one-time showing of work from Ballard students to an ongoing gallery that involved all facets of our community. No, I didn’t see that coming.
So I did two things. I called the church in Arkansas. Then I visited the Arts Center. Between those two things, we felt equipped and eager to follow what God seemed to be up to. Long story short, we now have a gallery that will continue to go after wanting what God wants. And pretty much all I can say is, “God did this.”
How might you incorporate curiosity into your prayer life?
What area of your life needs a “I want what you want” attitude adjustment?
When’s the last time you could only answer, “All I can say is, ‘God did this'”? What if you prayed for it to happen again?
How might you prepare to receive what you don’t see coming?
Scripture encourages us to include statements of thankfulness in our prayer lives (Philippians 4:6). In my prayer of thanks today, two things came to mind: forgiveness and loss. One sounds positive, the other negative. Why did those come to mind? What’s the basis for being thankful in good and bad, joy and sorrow, positive and negative? This is the first of two blogs sharing those thoughts.
Thinking on those two things led me to words that began with the prefix re-. Re– often begins words that indicate a return to a previous condition, often verbs that indicate restoration. Such words include replace, remake, realign, redeem, and reform.
When forgiveness occurs, several doors may open for a return to a previous condition.
- Rebirth – a child offers their mother forgiveness for giving them up for adoption and their relationship is reborn
- Renewal – a spouse offers their mate forgiveness for keeping a secret and their trust is renewed
- Restart – a boss offers their employee forgiveness for a misjudgment and their work is restarted
- Reunite – a church offers their pastor forgiveness for sin and their communion is reunited
These examples are certainly good, joyful, positive outcomes. Good, but not easy to achieve. Forgiveness takes hard work, just like getting anything back to its previous condition. If you’re wrestling with the hard work of forgiveness, think on the re-. Look forward to being thankful for re-.
When have you experienced the thankfulness of re- through forgiveness? How did you get there?