Continued from…Bibleing Barefoot – Ephesians where you can find a little guide for reading ch 1.
I think the thing I probably struggle with the most in life is the feeling of being a failure. I was born later to my parents, so my brother and sister were in high school when I was beginning my true “formative years”. My brother wasn’t perfect with schoolwork, but he was the footballer who did all the ‘right’ things. His grades weren’t perfect, but they were never bad, and he was involved in numerous church and school related activities. My sister was a straight A student who sang perfectly in the choir, never broke rules and always had perfectly curled hair and a tiny waist. I on the other hand, was the screw up. I spent 6th-11th grade more grounded than not. My grades have NEVER been above average, and I can’t tell you how many D/F progress reports I got, which is mostly why I was always grounded. It wasn’t that I was not smart, I just, according to every teacher I’ve had, “never applied myself”.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents are incredibly wonderful at seeing each of us as individuals and lovely just as we are. They never compared us or did the “Why aren’t you like your sister” bit. But they didn’t really have to because I was blessed with the wonderful gift of self-reflection which can be so satisfying but also so damning. It meant that while I recognized all the wonderful things that made me unique…I also recognized that it meant I would never succeed like them. I know this is an immature conclusion because there are so very many different looks to success but to a youth…there’s only a few versions of and I came up short on all ends. This realization has followed me into my adulthood.
You see, I have what I like to call, a wonderful Jack of all Trades complex. This means that I am full of passions and interests and fairly good at a lot of things. However, I’m not exceptionally good at one thing or fit into any specific life/career path. I also have a tendency to procrastinate like it’s a sport and I lack the skills to finish anything to support my passions. This means that while I LOVE to get into planning and trying new things, I rarely succeed at those adventures and inevitably wind up as a sad sap. Happily, it is not all doom and gloom and this trait also means I am happy in pretty much all situations and I get to see a lot of good in the world. However, it does end up making one feel like a failure quite often. This part of my life is extra rough as many of you understand because I have 4 littles under 8 years old! Which means my whole world is adapting to their needs, while trying to be a great wife, a good friend and kind neighbor. Add in trying to earn money and dealing with this current pandemic…I feel overwhelmed and like I am failing ALL. THE. TIME.
Take school for one example. My kids were pumped to do “homeschool” at first back in March. They were so spirited and had made plans for what our schedule would look like plus they got to use devices ALL DAY. However, that quickly, and understandably, turned into resistance. Suddenly I was a neurotic mess trying to get them to sit and focus. As soon as I’d get L sitting down to do her letters, O would be opening up some game he wasn’t supposed to and H would be doing somersaults over the dog. It was awful how many times I snapped. Which means despite all my best intentions, I yelled uncontrollably and unnecessarily at least two times a day. So much failing.
It’s not just reactionary feelings of failure either…currently it’s preemptive! This week we’ll find out our school situation and thusly, what actions we’ll have to take as a family. We are able, just barely, to send the kids to a smaller private school and LOVE our school. However, I’m out of a job and in the middle of a pandemic and forgot to turn in our financial aid forms on time. All this means we are extra sensitive to the reality that we may need to homeschool this year. I think it’s a reality we’ve been fighting and are now in “well let’s see what everyone is doing” mode. But in reality we know that if we home school, at this point, our kids will be missing out on all the relationships they’ve formed as well as the chance to go through this experience with their peers. If we stay, we risk having to struggle financially each month and they still may end up stuck at home anyways thanks to Covid. Then there’s the loss of our support for the school and our awesome teachers which makes us worry about letting them down as well. So see…no matter what happens this week, it’s easy to feel like we’ll be failing everyone but worst, our kids. Sigh.
So, what about you? What kind of things/thing are you dealing with lately that makes you feel all those tight in the chest feelings?
Back To The Bible…
So, Paul (which is what I’ll call him now) writes first about gifts that we are given from the Father, through the son and with the Holy Spirit. Let’s break it down:
God the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He chose us! His intention for us were always to be His and to be holy and blameless in his sight. But simply put…he gave us Christ, through whom he gave us all His gifts.
So, through Christ we have redemption which is not a new concept for most Christians. We know we are enslaved in our sin. It is innate in our being and we cannot stop it from consuming us alone. In simplistic terms, it’s an addiction. We know we aren’t supposed to sin and that it’s wrong but we just keep going back. No matter how many times it hurts us, we can’t control ourselves. It takes counseling, interventions and a recognition that we cannot do it alone.
Enter Christ who died so that all our “addictions” do NOT hold us prisoner any more. We can breath a little freer knowing that our mistakes will not drown us when we turn to the truth in Christ’s redemption. And with that redemption comes forgiveness. (Can you imagine?) Not only are we not enslaved by the burden of sin anymore, but we are forgiven through his grace! We can run into his open arms guilt free and know that we are truly forgiven. Let’s just take a moment and thank Him in awe. 🙂
Now, this is when Paul brings us into this concept of this big “mystery” that God is revealing to us. In the past God ruled fearfully and justly. We knew there was something coming to save us from our wretchedness but all we knew were God’s promises. Then his promise was made flesh and Jesus, the redeemer, came to reveal all of God’s love and truth. His life and death are the big mystery that revealed how we were ALL his chosen people. (more on that later 😉 ) It is Christ that is the center of this mysterious plan and through Him we are chosen. NOW, those gentiles who were not “God’s chosen people” are INCLUDED in this great gift of Christ just by hearing and believing. We, because we are all sinful gentiles, are marked as His as the Holy Spirt is in us as promised and that is the first deposit of our inheritance. Basically, the whole mystery is that we are not in charge of our salvation at all. It’s ALL God.
So what can we do with all this new knowledge? Here’s how I see it… if we are God’s chosen people and we are predestined to be IN him and WITH him then that means I should act like it. For me that means aiming to be a constant reminder of God’s love and promises. I need to be kind to others with the Grace that He has been kind to me with, understand and forgive when my brothers and sisters have weak moments, and above all, love all of his children. Is this easy? Heck No! I mean, I just spent all that time above telling you how much of a failure I was…clearly loving on THIS child of God is a challenge so think about how hard it is when I don’t even like the person I’m trying to love. But, let’s make an effort to do the best we can huh?
I challenge you to pray the following prayer this week twice a day with an honest and open heart. First pick one person you feel called out to pray for and enter their name into this prayer. Then, either in the morning or evening put YOUR name into the prayer and truly ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you. With the appropriate grammar changes of course. 😉
You are so wonderful and gracious and I am so grateful that ____ is your child. I know that ____ has faith in the Lord Jesus and love’s all of God’s people. I fervently give thanks for ______’s life on earth, and I ask to always remember ______ in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give ______ the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. That the eyes of _____’s heart is enlightened, that _____ may know what is the hope to which he has called them. I pray that ____remembers their inheritance through Christ and reserved by the Holy Spirit which is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. We know that this is all according to the working of his great might. The same great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. Lord I pray thanks that _____ knows this and trusts in you and that we get to be joined in this Church which you put under Christ’s feet for him to be the head and believers like ______ to be in his body and his body in them.
Below is some guidance to get through the next chapter. 🙂 See you then!