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Resolutions Vs Sanctification

I recently sat in on a sermon series at my church that talked about sanctification. I had heard the word before but never truly knew what it meant. The definition of sanctification is “the act of making something holy”. As I sat, listening to these sermons, I realized that becoming sanctified is one of the greatest processes we could go through. God is always working within us to make us more like Him but I had never thought of sanctification as being that important process.

Another thing I learned about sanctification is that it doesn’t solely benefit us but it also benefits others as well. When we become more like Jesus, others see the change in us and start asking questions. What a great way to plant a seed of faith. But there was one major thought that came to mind when I finished this series. Every year I focus on making myself better through new years resolutions. I set goals in every aspect of my life, try to set new habits and end up failing. By the end of each year, I am frustrated and planning new resolutions I am not sure will even happen.

So what if I look at 2021 differently? Instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, why not set Sanctification goals, work hard in those spots and let God do the rest? If God is the one working in our lives then me trying to do all of the change will always end up as a failing year. If I let God do the work in my life and change me the way He wants to change me, I will become a better, stronger individual. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. My goals of growth are not always God’s goals of growth. Sometimes the things I want to focus on in my life are not the things that God wants to change in me. We always set these end goals of how our life should work, but often times, God has a different plan for our life. When we try to set our own goals that don’t line up with God’s, it is no wonder we fail over and over.
  2. Sanctification doesn’t happen overnight. Often times, we think that we can just be fixed overnight but the reality is, it takes time. If the process of sanctification was easy, no one would struggle in life; we would all be perfect.
  3. The process of sanctification can be painful. Changing is never easy and sometimes, when God wants us to change something that we do not want to change, there can be resistance that is painful. Let God work in your life. In the end, it will be the most rewarding thing you have ever done.
  4. Just because you mess up doesn’t mean God isn’t still working in you. We all mess up and even God knows that. When we mess up, just pick ourselves up again and move forward. Stopping is not an option.

2020 has been a rough year for all of us and I know we would all like to start out fresh, but keep in mind, as you plan for next year, that the process of sanctification is a very important part of our lives as Christians.

My Idols

Currently, I am in the middle of reading a book called “From Grouchy to Great”. The author, Ruth Schwenk, talks about how being cranky reveals your idols in your life. What a powerful thought. After reading this chapter, I stopped and thought of the things that make me cranky and if I am honest with myself, the lack of sleep and personal time makes me cranky towards my family and others. So, I guess you could say my idol is selfishness.

The more this thought lingered in my heart the more I realized it was true. I am the first to admit that I am bad at spending time with God. Why is it so hard for me? Because, at the end of the day, all I want to do is sleep or have time to myself. Wow, how selfish that sounds. I am more concerned about getting my personal care than I am about spending time with my Creator. I don’t put others before myself and I especially don’t put God before myself. It is all about me, me, me, me.

How many times do we do that though? We work a long day, come home, make dinner, do the dishes and decide we are done so we tune out. Our children longing for time with us, our spouses needing our attention, and God wanting to spend time with us too. Yet, we decide that Facebook, TV, or a videogame is more important.

I am not saying that self care is bad. In fact, I strongly believe that self care is the most important thing you can do for yourself and for your family but self care is not just relaxing in front of your favorite TV show or indulging in your favorite book. Self care also includes time with God. When we spend time in God’s word, we are growing, learning, and hearing from God.

What makes you cranky? Could it be possible that those things are your idols? I want to encourage you to reflect on this idea as I have and see what idols may be holding your heart.

The Promise of the Lord in Jeremiah 29:11

It is so easy, in our hectic and fast paced lives, to get worried about how things will turn out in life. AS life gets busier and busier, we become worried and anxious about our future; wondering how we will make ends meet financially and then working harder and harder to defeat that struggle. We rely on our job and ourselves in order to secure our future, we come out short.

God makes a promise in Jeremiah 29:11 that says, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you.’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” With this promise, why are we worrying about life? Why is it so hard to rely on God instead of trying to fix it ourselves? God promises us a future and in that we can have hope.

Recently, I was seeking ways to help me not worry about my future and let God take control. I read a book called, The Mental Toughness Handbook by Damon Zahariades. The book talks about being mentally tough and gives tips on how to accomplish this. One of the tasks the author discusses is the Sisu Mindset. Here is the Sisu Mindset:

  1. Refuse to let your circumstances overwhelm you.
  2. Commit to taking action
  3. Practice emotional resilience every day
  4. Anticipate problems

I want to encourage you to try this but add a bit of a biblical twist on it.

  1. Refuse to let your circumstances overwhelm you. When you feel like things are going wrong and you aren’t sure how they will work out, remember all that God has done for you this far and remember He is the one writing your story.
  2. Commit to taking action. Have you ever heard the story about two farmers who were praying for rain? One prepared his field and the other did not. Who do you think got what he prayed for? Taking action does not mean coming up with our plan to fix things or make our future. Sometimes it means taking care of the things we current;y have action to take care of. For example, if you are waiting on the chance to purchase a home, pay off the debt that you have and work towards a better credit score.
  3. Practice emotional resilience every day. In order to do this one, we need God. When you begin to feel anxious, pray or spend time in God’s word. You will notice a peace in doing this and it will help you fight anxiety and have emotional resilience.
  4. Anticipate problems. As always, bumps in the road will happen. It doesn’t mean you have failed, it just means that life happens. Don’t feel defeated when problems arise. Just remember they will come and when they come, jump right back into these steps to face the problems.

Although it is hard to have faith in times of trouble, keep seeking God in the times of trial.

Motherly Expectations at 30

A battle that I face on a frequent basis is the notion of being thankful for what I have but also asking God for the desires of my heart. Growing up, I always wanted a big family. I pictured myself getting done with college around age 22, settling down and getting married by 23, buying our first house the same year and then getting pregnant. I wanted five children when I was growing up. The thought of having that many children brought me joy. They would grow up together, learn valuable life lessons together, fight with each other of course and be there for each other. It was a dream of mine to be that mom to those kids. By the age of 16, I had expectations of what my life should look like at age 30.

Unfortunately, life had different plans. I didn’t graduate college till I was 24, didn’t get married till I was 25, didn’t have my first child till I was 26 and I still don’t own a house. During our first few years of marriage, we struggled financially and, at one point, even had to move back in with family. During those years, I felt like my dreams and desires were falling apart.

Now I am 30, still don’t have a house of my own and only have one child. About seven months ago, we started trying for another child. Month after month, I would be let down by the pregnancy test results. Every time it said negative, my heart would sink. After the 6th month of negative tests, I decided it was time to take different measures in getting pregnant. I bought an ovulation test kit and followed the instructions as given. I notated the “ovulation window” and my husband and I scheduled a day to try and make it happen.

That night, life, once again, took a different turn and we never got the chance to try. I stayed up late figuring out if this was the path I wanted to go down. Scheduling a very intimate time is not how I wanted to conceive and it makes the thought of trying dull. I still don’t know where I stand on the idea of trying more. On one hand, I know I am very blessed in having the beautiful, smart daughter that I have and on the other hand, I want another child so bad, it hurts. My heart aches at the thought of not trying anymore but it is a thought I have had with all of life.

I wonder why I even bother to try for a home when my chances get taken away every time. I wonder why I even went to college if I am not using my degree in the way I dreamed. I wonder why I even bother with the hobbies I have if I never have time to do them in the first place. And thinking all of those thoughts, make me feel empty inside.

An old coworker put a post on Facebook that made me rethink my stance on life. She said, “There is no ‘right’ way to do life. There are no timelines. You are not late. You are exactly where you should be.” and she is right. Our society teaches that you should graduate high school at the age of 18 or 19, be done with college in 4 years, get a job in the field you want, make lots of money, buy a house and settle down around the age of 25, have a few kids by 30 and be set and happy with life. Who on earth came up with this? Since when do we all have to follow the same path as others and why do I have to have all my children before the age of 30?

We, as a society, need to break away from this norm and change that thought process. We live in a fallen world. A world where things do not go the way we want. So when we don’t fall into the norms of society, we begin to beat ourselves up and think of ourselves as a failure.

Another way to look at it is this, if we all lived the same life, had the same accomplishments in milestones, where would God be able to work in our lives? Because I have struggled my whole life, I have a story to tell and in that story, I can show how God worked in my life. That is not to say that there aren’t stories for those who have followed this life. Everyone has a story to tell but just because we do not follow the path of society, it does not mean that your life is a mess up.

Be strong in your desires for life and don’t give up on your dreams just because life did not go the way you wanted it to or the way you expected it to. Continue to ask God for the desires of your heart and don’t give up hope.

The Unconditional Love of a Toddler

I have just sat down on the couch after dinner and picking up a few things when my daughter asks for a snack. I knew the request was coming but wish it would have come before I sat down. I get up and walk to the cabinet to fetch a granola bar for my daughter and a glass of milk. I take it over to her and sit once again to rest.

Then the last straw comes, she spills her milk all over the floor and I snap. I release words of frustration as she sticks out her bottom lip in sadness. “Mama, I sorry…”

There are two things that are a constant through this time of emotional struggle. One, I am tired both emotionally and physically and two, I snip at my daughter more often than I should. After coming home from a long day at work and then cleaning up after my daughter, I get frustrated. I try to ignore the little messes and spills that happen but often times it becomes the last straw. As a mother, my actions have made me feel like a horrible mom. I feel like a failure which, as you can imagine, doesn’t help my mood.

But as the day comes to an end, I find that my daughter still loves me. She still wraps her arms around my neck and asks me to read her a story. She still tells me she loves me and that she wants a kiss. Her love for me does not change because of the mistakes I have made and the way I have treated her.

What an amazing example of unconditional love. And if we think about it, this is how God loves us. How many times do we snip at God, questioning how He is handling our lives? Yet, He still loves us. He still pulls us close and tells us how much we mean to Him. His love for me does not change just because of the mistakes I have made and the way I treat Him.

Just because we mess up in life doesn’t mean we are loved any less. God still longs for time with us and wants to show us how much He loves us. What are you struggling with at this point in your life that causes you to feel unloved? I want to encourage you to take a moment and think about how God still loves you.