I have always been an independent person. Not always as a choice, but as a matter of survival. When I was young I was often on my own. My parents both worked and that meant I had to get myself up in the morning, and get ready and to the bus stop all on my own. It also meant I had to get myself to the bus stop after school to get home, and do my homework and my chores before my parents got home. When they were home, we didn’t spend much time together. We weren’t what you would call a close family. When I was a child it saddened me, but as I grew older it was a defense system I had set up to protect myself. Being alone meant people couldn’t hurt me and doing things myself meant it was going to get done.
So after living a long 37 years of life doing everything on my own, it took me awhile to realize that I didn’t have to do it anymore. That is, once I found Jesus. It was a concept that I struggled with for a while. The fact that I could pray and ask God for help with my problems. Or that I could just talk to Him about things that were bothering me. Jesus wanted to be my friend, confidant, counselor, Father. But I did begin to grasp it, and slowly I began to pray about everything. And I mean everything. Should I buy a new bra, should we go to Six Flags, help us get our bills paid, I can’t believe what this girl at church said to me.
It was great – freeing actually – to know that my Heavenly Father was there, eager to help me with every little thing in my life. I mean, I really felt His presence and love and guidance in so many things. But, still I had not achieved this idea of perfection that I had in my mind. Obviously I could never really be perfect, because only Jesus is perfect, but I really, really wanted to be! Because if I was perfect than I would never sin again and never have any more problems. Oh wait – isn’t that the whole point of having God in your life? Because we NEED Him? Yeah…
One of my biggest struggles was, (OK is) my temper. God has done a mighty work on me in this area already. I have grown compassion and forgiveness towards other people who I never knew before. In my past life I would constantly have problems with other people. They would say or do something that really offended me and I would obsess over it for days or weeks even. I would think over and over again about the offense and how I couldn’t believe that anyone would treat me that way. But God has healed that in me, and I am so very thankful.
The problem that I was left with was my temper towards my children, and I hate to say it, even my husband. I was looking to control myself and no longer be a slave to my emotions. I was desperately trying over and over again to stop and be better and be more loving and more kind, etc. etc. Then I was left to realize all over, that here I was trying to do it on my own again. And I was failing miserably. It was so hard to see my problem in this area and not keep taking it back after giving it to God. I wanted perfection and I wanted it now!
I shamed and berated myself over and over. Why couldn’t I change my temper? I begged God for help, over and over. Why couldn’t I change?? Why was I so awful and mean to my kids and controlling and angry? Why?? But no matter how I wrestled with it, change did not come. Change is not something we can just will to happen, nor can we just beg God to change it for us. As much as I would like that to be true, because that would be so much easier, it is not.
It has taken me a long time to realize something very important. We must partner with God. He will do His part, but we must do ours. Sounds so obvious now, but for a long time I couldn’t get that into my head. Sometimes we want to change something so badly, but we also really want to keep it the same. Because it is so easy to just stay the same, and so hard to do the work to change. It is an amazing revelation, though, to find that freedom in knowing that we do not have to do this on our own. Because I know I cannot, and that is a good thing. With the help of Jesus, I can move mountains. The mountains of my own emotion that are distorting the way I see my kids. The mountains of my pain that are blocking my way to opening up and letting my husband love me.
Does that mean I have solved my temper problem? No it does not. My temper is still a work in progress, and I am OK with that. I still have to give it back to God often, but I have come to understand I am taking baby steps towards healing this. And more importantly I am learning to partner with Jesus, through prayer, through reading the Bible, through understanding what being Christ-like even looks like, and through allowing the Holy Spirit to really work inside of me. You know, without letting that mountain I built get in the way.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9