Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Four Stops

~ The Train Wreck ~

I've noticed that when a train wreck is coming,
there is no way to stop it.  

A series of unfortunate events come, one right after another, and before you know it, BOOM!  When this happens I always go back and retrace the mistakes, errors and half-way, thought out ideas I could have fixed or prevented, but didn't. Hind sight is 20/20, they say...
An example of this "unstoppable train wreck" was one morning's incident.  

To make a long story short, after a series of causes and effects, I found myself slipping onto my brand new family room couch with freshly polished toes flying in the air.  You guessed it.  Before I could even assess what had happened, the new couch had been given a manicure, literally!

"Accidents happen", I told myself
"It's not so noticeable"...
But, then thoughts of, "How could you?".
"You know better!"
"What were you thinking?"

Before I could stop the onslaught of self-disciplinary thoughts, I could see myself getting emotionally upset.  I kept looking at the spot, the spot that was scarred forever.  The spot that would never be "new" again. The spot that, for all intents and purposes, didn't deserve that stain.  The couch did nothing wrong.  It was exactly where it was supposed to be.  Yet, it bears the evidence of my negligence.  So, I kept going back to the stain, over and over again, to see the damage.  Each time trying to scratch out the stain or retrace in my mind what I should have, could have, would have done.  I knew that aside from calling the leather professionals, there was nothing I could do to remove it.  

Then, I began to pray.  "Father, teach me what I need to learn from all of this.  And, please intercept my reaction with your peace because this incident is threatening to steal my joy."
Very quickly the object lessons became clear.

~ LESSONS LEARNED ~

First, we are like the stained couch.  Many times stained by outside influences that perhaps were driven by negligence, thoughtlessness or unfocused causes.   Some of us bear the stains of the mistakes of others.  Their mishaps, their inattentiveness, and their choices have affected and deeply hurt us. We bear the scar of their errors. There is no way we could remove the stain,  no matter how much we try.  I could have tried to remove the stain with nail polish remover.  But, the strong chemicals would have turned a bad situation worse.  Sometimes we use the wrong methods to heal our pain.  The only thing that can remove the stain and restore wounds we have been marked with is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Then I reflected on my reaction.  I noticed I could not stop going back to look at what I had done.  I knew I should have just let it go, but I couldn't stop looking at my mistake.  The more I looked back, the more disappointed I became with myself.   In life, I think we tend to do the same thing.  We keep going back to look at the scars, the stains, the regrets.  Each time we become more and more disappointed.  If we're not careful, we can drive ourselves into an emotional decline.  However, today's incident demonstrated to me, the only way to lessen the sting of disappointment is to stop looking back.  As I stopped looking at the stain, I found myself forgetting about it throughout the day.  And, I could rationally consider that staining my new couch, although unfortunate, is not the end of the world. Couches can be replaced, maybe not right away, but couches don't last forever anyway.  This piece of furniture has been officially broken into and is now a member of our household.  It has been marked. We don't have to treat is as an idol anymore. It's now a regular couch.  

~ Let's Make Four Stops ~

* Let's stop believing the wrong things.  Some unfortunate events in life were caused by the negligence of others and there was nothing we could've done to prevent it.  Therefore, we need to stop the negative thinking that somehow we could have.  Some incidents had very little to do with us. Like the couch, we were just there. 

* Let's stop looking back.  The scar is there, but thank the Lord the worst is over!  Now, let's move on in the name of the Lord.  If we keep looking at the scars inflicted on us, the disappointments will linger and will begin to steal the joy and peace the Lord has given us. When we measure what's worth more, it's a no brainer.  

* Let's stop using the wrong methods to remove the scars of our past.  There's only One person who can transform our scars, and his name is Jesus.  Every other method makes matters worse.

* Let's stop resisting the process of the removal of our idols.   Let's allow the Holy Spirit to show us in everyday situations what these idols are.  And, if he chooses to remove them, it's a good thing!  Actually, keeping idols, can become very stressful and burdensome. Not only does God want us to worship only Him, he also wants us to live a life of freedom.

"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a NEW THING...  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:16

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