Friday, December 20, 2013

Practice What You Preach

Here's the deal, I love words...love, love, love learning new words, writing words, reading words, teaching words...  however, words can be hollow.  I have spent years hearing and reading empty promises.  I have been very guilty of saying one thing and doing another.  I have lied, I have used hurtful language, I have been insincere, I have used words to my advantage.  Words are oh, so powerful.  Since I became a parent, I have been teaching my children the importance of words and how we use them.  I have tried to teach them that once words are out there, they cannot be taken back.  There are conversations I have had, words I have had said to me, that I would give anything to not be able to still hear, even months and years later. 

I have also learned that words without actions can be useless.  Plans and promises with no follow through are my biggest hang up and one of my biggest fears.  With Cecely and Titus, actually with anyone, I think about what I say before I say it.  If there is a chance that I can't deliver on something, then I'm not going to offer it.  If I say I'm going to do something, I want people to be able to depend on me to see it through.  I am a slow processor.  I truly think about what's said to me, and I deeply consider what I say to others.  I want my life to be one that shows I am a person of my word, a lady of integrity.  

Having these standards for myself have proven very difficult as of late.  My sweet Cecely struggles deeply with anger over the changes in our life.  I believe that she is battling hate.  I work to have an open and honest relationship with Cecely and Titus, on their level and with the appropriateness required.  Over the past 11 months, I have had several opportunities to practice what I preach with my children.  The other night, we had a real heart to heart that shook me to my core.  Without giving away too much of our life tragedies, I will say that I had to model things I have been teaching my children since they have been born.

I am a Christian.  I believe that Jesus Christ was born with the specific purpose to save people from their sins.  I believe that Jesus willingly died on a cross in the most humiliating way to give people the choice to believe in Him, to turn away from their sin, to accept His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love, and to believe in the promise of Heaven one day.  If I truly believe all of this, if I truly profess to be a follower of Christ, then I HAVE to act on what I believe and what I teach my children.

I had the chance to share with Cecely that people hurt us and cause us pain.  I reminded her that Jesus was really hurt.  I shared with her the Scriptures that tell of Jesus having a crown of thorns pressed down on His head, nails hammered into His hands and feet, a spear pressed into His side all while people mocked Him.  I asked her how she thought Jesus felt.  Her response was "sad, hurt".  I told her that even in the midst of all the pain He was feeling, Jesus LOVED those people...  I asked her how she is feeling right now.  Her response was "sad, hurt".  I told her that we have a choice, and that I daily have to make this choice.  We can choose to be angry and bitter, OR we can choose the love and forgive.  I told Cecely every time we sin, we hurt Jesus, but He forgives us every time.  If we have Jesus living in our hearts, we have to choose to forgive, too.

Now, please hear me when I say that forgiveness is not easy.  It is so easy to wallow in pity and bitterness.  It is easy to slip into a pit of sadness and loneliness...believe me, I know, I fight being overcome by those feelings frequently.  It is no easy task to forgive, to show love, to show grace and mercy.  I have made a point to teach my children these important truths from Christ.  Now is the time I have to model it for them.  During that conversation, I told Cecely that while I have never been hurt like this before in my life.  I told her I want to show Jesus' love to everyone, even the people who have broken our family apart and changed our lives forever.  I reminded my sweet little lady that when she is not with me and with the other people in our life, she may be the only Jesus they see.  I told her I have to tell myself the same thing when I'm put in the uncomfortable situations to be around the new people in our world. 

It has been my conviction and my heart's desire since the beginning of this year of trial to remain a lady of integrity, to be Jesus to those who may not have Him, and to not be a stumbling block to the same people who are trying to break me.  This is absolutely not a noble action of my own accord.  This is what I know is expected of me from the One who daily forgives me, who always shows me mercy, and who loves me unconditionally.  Dear friends, I know that your struggle may look different than mine and Cecely's...at the same time, I know that you are facing a battle, you are dealing with a difficult person, you are hurting.  Know that you are not alone!  Do you know my Jesus?  He loves you, He died for you...nothing your are facing is too big for Him. 

I have people email me, Facebook message me, text me, and talk with me who say they are impressed with how I've handled this year.  Like I told a friend recently, if I acted out of my own free will, I'd be living out a Carrie Underwood/Miranda Lambert medley.  The ONLY way I have survived is by the faith and trust I have in my Savior and through the prayers of the people who love my babies and me.  DO NOT GIVE UP in whatever you are facing.  Lean on the One who made you, who designed you for a purpose, and who delights in you!

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