Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Time of Reflection, Pt 1

This year, 2013, is going to be a very significant time in my life. It has only just started and I can already feel myself being pulled into thoughts of the past {some good, some not-so-good}. This is year marks the anniversary for so many different things in my life that I cannot help but be pulled back onto memory lane and view it through my current world view {aka, the lens of age and experience - imagine how thick those lenses will be when I am my grandparents' ages!}.

First, it means that 20 years ago, I was a Senior in High School. Ah! I know, I look so young {lol!)! But seriously, 20 years?! How on earth did 20 years fly by so quickly?!  I was not a popular kid or even an unpopular kid. I had many friends and a couple trusted BFFs. Of course, like any normal HS girl, I bounced around the thoughts of "love" for this boy or that boy, but there was not a significant "boyfriend" {until after I graduated}.

At 17, I thought I knew everything there was to know about everything. There are a few HUGE regrets I have {even though I know God uses it all for His glory and for my own good}.

Purity - Not having a good biblical view of purity and understanding why God has all these rules. I wish I had an understanding that went beyond the mean, legalistic, narrow-minded rules to the beautiful, God-honoring, pure view of marriage. When a person has a goal in mind, and that goal is beautiful, sacred, wonderful, fun, and secure, it makes the rules "worth it". But when there is  no goal in mind, the rules just seem unreasonably harsh and are easily thrown out the window with the "everybody else is doing it and they seem to be enjoying themselves - a LOT" kind of excuse. When you see how the beautiful, pure bride represents the church and the handsome, strong husband is Christ, it sheds a whole new light on marriage and relationships.

Knowledge vs. Relationship - Even though I thought I knew everything about everything as a teenager {and if I didn't, I had enough control of the English vocabulary to use an avalanche of words to convince anyone that I did - lol!} I did not have a full understanding about what it meant to be a Christian. Oh, I had read some of my Bible and been attending church, but it was not a sound bible teaching church and they didn't teach {or at least I didn't listen if they did} about what it means to have a relationship with Christ. They taught about sin and hell and that we all need a Savior {that's a good starting point}, but they didn't tell us what to do after we walked the aisle, confessed Christ as our Savior and were baptized.

Mom - One thing I regret most of all is the way I treated my Mom. My mother is a jewel. I know everyone thinks that about their Mom, but mine really is. We did not have an ideal situation at home, but my Mom was determined to keep our family together. She loved {and still does} my father so much and was willing to stand by him through extremely difficult decisions. At the time, I remember thinking {and actually saying to her - unfortunately} that she was the biggest doormat ever and there was no way I would ever let a man treat me that way! I recall times when my Mom would not make a decision about something until she could talk to my Dad and I would roll my eyes and give the big, full-body sigh {you know the one that gives the message that "I am so smart and you are so stupid"} in unbelief that she would respect or even care about what he thought.

Looking back - my Mom is an excellent example of a biblical, submissive wife. She is not perfect, but she tried her best to honor and respect my Dad, even if  I didn't think he deserved it. She loved him when he was unloveable. She took seriously those vows they said 38 years ago - for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to death do us part. The only way she was able to do this was by the grace of God. My Dad did not make it easy on her - but neither did I. That is the part that I regret. I wish I could have seen her through the eyes of Jesus. I would have helped her more instead of condemning her. I would have loved her more to help fill the painful wounds in her heart. I would have willfully helped out more {instead of begrudgingly}with my younger sisters. My mom truly is a jewel and I wish I could have seen her beauty when I was such a "smart" teen.

Dad - Ok, so I talked about my Mom, now I'll admit my regrets about my Dad. You can already tell that he wasn't perfect, but I love him so much! You see, we all have our own personal walks and some of us make decisions early in life that impact our entire walk on the Earth. We make decisions to be involved with things that are addictive or we are exposed to abuses as a child that impact how we handle life - some more than others. It is only by the {common} grace of God that we are not all partaking in the amount of wickedness that we are capable of.

With that being said, my Dad did a number of things that I am sure he regrets that were sinful and not godly. However, he did many good things. He is such a loving father and tried to make up for the difficult times by making sure we knew he loved us. Even though his walk wasn't perfect, he loves the Lord. He made sure that we knew God is the Creator of everything. He made sure we knew that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

I regret not seeing my Dad as a person who was drowning in his own sinful choices. I only saw him through my self-centered agenda and concentrated on how he wasn't meeting MY needs. I didn't see him through the eyes of Jesus - Who loves my Dad unconditionally. Oh, Jesus hates the sin, but He loves my Dad. I needed to just love my Dad, too. I needed to be compassionate and loving, especially when he was broken.

You see, it wasn't that many years later that I was trapped by my own sinful choices and broken. I am thankful that Jesus was there to pick me up, instead of treating me like I treated my Dad - smug, self-righteous, know-it-all, I-told-you-this-was-going-to-happen. I love my Dad and am so very thankful that God chose him to be my father.

Sisters - I was so self-centered that I did not care much about my little sisters. I should have been a good role model and had a desire to mentor them. Did I? Nope. I was so selfish that I looked at them as burdens {since I had to watch them so much of the time}. Oh the regrets!!!  It breaks my heart to think of my daughters treating each other the way I treated my sisters. Amazingly, we are still friends today {even though we are not as close as some sisters are} and I pray this relationship will grow through the years. I would do almost anything for my sisters today, although because of past hurts, they do not tend to ask.

So basically I would have told you I was a Christian when I was a teenager, but I was ignoring the greatest commandments. I did not love God with my entire heart, soul, strength and mind and I did not love others more than myself.

We all have stories of regret. The key is deciding how to give it to God for the glory. Remember, if we are His child, He has allowed all of this for His glory and our good. I hate that all this happened, but God used it to shape who I am today. Without a gross picture of my own depravity, I would not see my need for a Savior.

This was 20 years ago; next up {and even more painful} is what happened 10 years ago...

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