Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More Than Conquerors!

What does it mean that we're more than conquerors?

How is this possible?

Romans 8:37 says, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors."

The words "more than conquerors" jumped off the page at me when I read it recently. I've these words lots before, but it was like I was reading them for the first time.

As I looked at the context of this verse, I realized the whole passage is about the victory we already have in Christ! We get to live from a place of victory, not a place of defeat. The passage around this verse (Romans 8:31-39) talks about the victory we have in Christ.

This isn't a victory brought about by what we have done. It's brought about by the work of Christ on our behalf. This means there is nothing that can separate me from it. This victory isn't going away. It is secure.

When we fully understand this, it changes the way we live. It changes how we approach the daily battles when we know our ultimate victory has already been secured. We fight differently when we're not fighting from a place of defeat. We fight confidently when we know the outcome is victory.

It doesn't mean it suddenly becomes easy or that we don't have any battles to fight. We still have hard and bloody battles to fight. It's still messy. But, it does give us hope in the middle of long and difficult battles. A hope that helps us to keep fighting.

What battle are you fighting that you're ready to quit?

Are you fighting it from a place of defeat? Or are you standing in the victory that has already been achieved for you through Christ?

God's Word tells us we are more than conquerors. We get to fight from a place of victory.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Blessing in the Struggle?

I've written a lot about the struggles and challenges of living with an anxiety disorder. I've tried to share honestly about what it looks like. In doing so, I've also started to see a side of it that I hadn't thought too much about before now. In the midst of the daily battle, it's easy to just see the challenges. But, as I've written more about it, I've begun to more clearly see the blessing in it and the way God is using it in my life.

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." I've always struggled with this verse - especially in regards to this part of my life. If God is about working for my good, then why do I have this struggle in my life?

But, I've recently come to see that this verse isn't about God only allowing good things in our lives. It's about God taking all that happens in our lives and using it for good - for His purposes. He will take it and use it to bring Him glory in and with our lives.

As I've begun to grasp this, I still don't think I would say I'm thankful for this particular struggle. But, I am thankful that it doesn't mean God can't use me and I'm thankful for what He has done in me through this. I'm sure God could have taught me some of these lessons in other ways, but I know I've learned them, at least in part, because of living with social anxiety disorder.

One of the biggest things I've learned is that there's nothing that prevents God from using you. I know that in my own strength, I can't do a lot of what I do. It's all God choosing to use me that way despite something that would seem to disqualify me from doing that.

I've had to learn to rely on God in a deeper way than I would without this. On the days when I'm really struggling to just keep going, the only way I can do it to rely on God. Sometimes all I can do is pray and trust Him to do it when I can't.

As someone who likes to be able to do it well on their own, this hasn't always been easy. And I haven't always seen it as a blessing. For a long time I saw it just as a weakness. But lately, I've been learning that it's a blessing to be completely dependent on God for everything. It's how we were created to live, and it's a much better way than trying to do it all on our own.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sometimes I Just Want to Avoid this Part of Church

Greeters at the door when you walk in the building.

Ushers at the door when you go to find a seat.

At some point during the service someone up front will tell you to introduce yourself to the people around you.

I get why. I see the importance of making sure everyone feels welcome. And it's part of being the family of God to actually get to know each other, and that often starts with a simple greeting. It is an important part of what we do as a church. If you came to the Bible study I lead on a Monday night, you would find me doing exactly these things.

But, it's also the part of church I struggle with the most. In a typical service, at least three times I feel like I have to make brief conversation with people I may or may not know. I'll be honest that I do my best to avoid it sometimes. Sometimes that's just easier for me, because of how I'm managing that day.

And, the unfortunate reality is that, sometimes, the responses of people when I do need to avoid that part that time are far from helpful. When I've chosen to sit down while everyone else is greeting each other, I've had some people make it a big deal about coming over to shake my hand then. Of course, I smile back and shake their hand, but inside I'm dying. I've had greeters follow me to make sure they say hi to me and shake my hand. Again, I respond in as friendly a manner as I can muster, but inside I'm wishing I could just run.

I don't assume people are trying to make things hard for me on purpose. My assumption is that they have a desire to make sure everyone feels welcome. And, in the process of doing so, they don't even realize that they're actually making me feel unwelcome. I can end up feeling singled out or overwhelmed - like there's something wrong with me because I sometimes have a need to avoid these types of interactions.

For me, it's the reality of living with social anxiety disorder and still being a part of a community. Some days when I go to something at church, I don't have the capability or capacity to engage in these sorts of interactions because it is taking all I have in me just to be there. I know I still need to be in church community, but, to manage, I will do my best to avoid these situations. I'm not trying to be rude, although I know it may look like it sometimes; I'm simply trying to have as normal a life as I possibly can.

And there are other times when I'll engage with these parts of church more readily. They may still be difficult for me, but that day isn't a struggle just to be there, so I have some capacity for this. And I know that the more I do so, when I'm able to, the more it will help to manage in the more difficult times.

I've spent a few days trying to figure out how to end this post, but really haven't been able to come up with a way to end. I'm not even sure there really is some neat conclusion or helpful advice I can end with. This is one of those things where we need to keep doing these things, because they are important. But, there are also always going to be people who struggle with them and try to avoid them.

When I think about my purpose in writing this post, which usually gives me some way of ending, I think it is about sharing an experience of things that falls outside of what many people experience. This isn't about just not enjoying these sorts of things and wishing they wouldn't happen. This is about an anxiety that comes in social situations that actually makes it more difficult to engage in these "normal activities."