Category Archives: The Lesson I learned…

Posts that talk specifically about Lessons I have learned in life, and how I that learning came about.

The Lesson I Learned from a Long Drive and a Trip to the Beach.

 

This semester has been rough. That’s the nicest way I’ll put that. No one factor made it rough, but then again, when things are rough, it is rarely for just one reason. To sum it up, I took some difficult classes, held executive positions in both student government and a social club, was in a Makin’ Music cast, and served as a seamstress for said Makin’ Music cast. I had all sorts of crazy things going on in my family life, I was working part time, and I was struggling with the depression end of bipolar. By the end of the semester I was burned out, wound tighter than a compressed spring, and stuck in a cycle of anxiety that I coped with by sleeping, watching Netflix, and obsessively reblogging things on Tumblr.

 

I was a mess.

 

Then, finals were over. I finished packing up my car, and on Friday, May 16th, I hit the road. I was headed to the Carolinas to spend the summer with my grandmother again, and even though I know that is going to have a whole lot of stress that goes with it, as I got further from school, I started feeling better. It was me, my music, and the road. By the time I hit Atlanta, I was belting to music and just felt joyous. I was asking myself questions, and thinking “Oh, I should research that this summer,” or “Hmm, that’s an interesting thought, I’ll have to see what So-and-so thinks of it” and all kinds of things.

 

That drive allowed me to clear my head, and drop some of the baggage off on the side of the road. I’ve been thinking about baggage a lot recently. I helped with a Ladies’ Day in Hohenwald, TN in April, and we did a modified rendition of the Skit Guy’s video “Baggage.” I played the main character, the one who had all the baggage. It hit close to home, because I carry a LOT of baggage. I like to think I carry less than I used to, and I probably do, but I still have a lot of it, and I don’t know when I’m going to get rid of it all.

 

I left some of it on the road though.

 

I realized how therapeutic long drives are.

 

They aren’t that way for some people, and that’s okay. Driving isn’t the only thing I find therapeutic. I went to the ocean on Tuesday night, and I frolicked in the waves for a while like a 5 year old. I didn’t go out very far, (mostly because I’m afraid of being bitten by a shark, even though that isn’t very likely to happen) but I waded far enough to wave jump and swim around a little bit and get thoroughly soaked by the tide washing in. I felt free, like I did when I drove from school to my grandmother’s. I felt alive, and whole. I sang “Step By Step” and I talked to God, and showed Him the joy that I had again.

 

There isn’t a whole lot to be done about the past. It’s over and done with. Learn from past mistakes. Stepping out from your comfort zone and asking for help when you need it, saying no, and maintaining boundaries are all lessons I had pounded into me this semester. Those three things were more important than all the lessons I learned in my classes. And stepping away from that experience and doing some self-care has got me back to relatively normal.

 

Find the things that are therapeutic for you, and do those things from time to time. Do something to get yourself out of the rut. Work in the yard, read a book, do something spontaneous, take a drive. Do something that will relax you, something that is fulfilling. Sometimes you have to push through the bad times first, but once that time passes, do something you enjoy. God got you through the rough patch, do something to show Him your joy. Create something. Serve someone. Encourage others. Spend time doing something productive.

Whatever you find therapeutic.

 

That’s the lesson I learned from a long drive and a trip to the beach.

 

 -Jax

The Lesson I Learned about Love and Tolerance

Source: http://phillipgonzales.com/2012/08/love-and-tolerance/

We live in a world that cries out for tolerance, but what it really needs is love.  Not tolerance that masquerades as love, but REAL LOVE.  The kind of love that calls others to become better people, but shows grace and mercy.  The kind of love that God so freely provides.  The world isn’t missing this love because there is no one to give it, it is missing this love because people do not want to receive it.  People are quick to cite Matthew 7:1, (Judge not, that you be not judged) and are quick to say “God loves everyone,” or “No one is perfect,” as a way to skirt confronting sin, especially when it is personal, or it makes us uncomfortable. These arguments do not excuse sin, and do not make us any less accountable for our own sin, and our responsibility to exhort others to repent.

When taken in context, Matthew 7:1-5 is not meant to prohibit evaluating another person and calling someone out on their sin.  It is meant to remind us to not judge others more harshly than ourselves out of pride and superiority (as the Pharisees are well known for doing). Note verse 2: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”  Make no mistake, we will all be judged by God’s standards on the Judgment Day (Mt 25:31-46), but if we consistently use harsher standards for others than we do for ourselves, those harsher standards will be applied to us. We are to approach each other with humility as fellow sinners, and with a heart to help our brothers and sisters, not to condemn them.  It is not our place to condemn someone to hell or admit them into heaven, but it is our job to help others reach salvation. (See the Great Commission, Mt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15,16, among other references.)

Christians are supposed to be Christ-like in our actions.  Jesus did not simply let sin slide.  When he confronted sin, he rebuked the sin, and told them to go, and sin no more.es (John 8:11).  Jesus does not shy away from sin, because he came here for sinners. (Mt 9:13) Remember, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but “are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1,2) “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26, 27).  Yes, we will stumble, and yes we will fall, but if we have been buried in Christ in baptism, then we can be forgiven, as long as we repent, and do everything we can to put away sin.  Will that always happen? No.  Should we tell ourselves “Well, I’m not perfect, so what does it matter if I commit this sin or that sin or all of these sins here because I’ve been baptized and can be forgiven?” Absolutely not!  Hebrews 10:26 clearly states that is not the attitude we should have!

Love is not just tolerance.  A parent who loves does not tolerate that child doing whatever they want.  If a parent forbids a child to do something, it is usually for that child’s safety, but sometimes parents make mistakes.  God, who is the perfect father, does not make such mistakes.  If He tells us something is sin, or tells us not to do something, it is because he loves us and knows what is best for us, and doing otherwise would lead to us hurting ourselves.  Sometimes this harm is physical, but it is always spiritually harmful for us.  Why? Because sin separates us from God, and condemns not only our bodies, but our souls to death. (Gen 2:17, Rom 6:23, Rom 8:2, Eph 2:12-18, among others.)  He expects us to follow Christ as closely as we can, but knows that we can’t do it without Christ to pay the price for our failures.  That is what grace is, and that is how we are to look at ourselves and others.

So before you jump to point out another person’s sin, ask yourself these things:

1) Why am I saying this?

If you are saying this to tear someone else down, or make yourself look better, then you are not acting in a Christlike manner.

2) Am I pointing this sin out to someone to help them walk in a way more that is more worthy and pleasing to God?

If that isn’t the reason, and you aren’t willing to help them do so (whether it be offering accountability, or guiding them to someone who can help, or just being an encouragement) then you should talk to someone else about confronting this person.

3) Am I ignoring sin in my own life that makes me just as guilty as this person?

If so, then you need to re-evaluate your reason for talking about or to this person.  Perhaps instead of just pointing out their sin, you should take the time to confess your own, and both of you can work together and hold each other accountable in the future.

4) Am I confronting the person who is guilty of this sin?

If not, then you should only be mentioning this to someone who could help with the situation.  Otherwise, it’s gossip, and therefore a sin.

5) Am I speaking in a way that conveys love?

If not, then you should find a better way to say what you are trying to say.  Remember, you are a sinner too, and you should approach another about their sin the way you would want them to approach you.

If someone rebukes another for sin, it should not be because of hate.  It should be a sign of love and compassion, a reflection of Christ’s love for us.  I am not tolerant of sin in others, because I am not tolerant of sin in myself.  However, I know that I am not perfect, and I know that no one else is perfect, and because of that, I offer them the grace that I have accepted from God through Christ.  I need to work on my own walk, and therefore I know that others do as well.  I know I need someone to tell me what I am doing wrong sometimes, and I need their help in order to do better.  That is why I will call out sin in others, so that I can offer them help.  Not because I hate or fear them, but because I love them, and I want to build them up and help make them a better Christian.  The world does not need more tolerance of sin from Christians, it needs more Christians who are willing to extend Christ’s love.

As a final note, not everyone will open their heart to the message of Christ.  Not everyone will repent and be baptized.  Not everyone will accept that they need to be cleansed of their sins.  When you encounter such people, do not be discouraged.  Remember what Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 10:11-15.

“And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.  As you enter the house, greet it.  And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.  And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.  Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgement for that land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

When people harden their hearts, then there is little we can do but pray that God may soften it.  Perhaps what you have done is plant a seed that one day another will water, and God will grow. (1 Cor 3:6,7)

Grace and Peace,

Jackie

Sources:

All Scripture references are from the ESV translation, unless otherwise noted

Image: http://phillipgonzales.com/2012/08/love-and-tolerance/

The Lesson I learned about Satan….

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One of the women I will always look to as a role model is a woman named Cindy.  I sort of adopted her (and her family) when I first became a Christian as a major part of my spiritual family.  Granted, Cindy’s daughter was the one who invited me to church, and they were the ones I went to church with for quite a while, but regardless, I still adopted them, and at one time spent more time with them than with my own family.  I vividly remember a conversation I had with Cindy and her daughter one evening.  We were talking about Satan, and she said “Satan is the most beautiful thing you could ever see.  That is why he is so tempting. You wouldn’t follow someone who was red, had horns and a tail, and carried a pitchfork.”  Now that isn’t a verbatim quote, because this was several years ago,  but I had never heard it articulated that way.

And Cindy is absolutely right.  We have such a skewed view of Satan nowadays.  One of my facebook friends posted to facebook a couple of weeks ago: “If sinners go to hell to be punished by the devil then why isn’t the devil praised?
Also why would he even punish you if he was evil? Wouldn’t he be happy?
Checkmate [******].”  And that got me thinking of what Cindy had said, and to a class I took during my first semester of college.  Satan is not who we like to think he is.  We like to trivialize Satan, and make him into a cheesy caricature of what he really is.

This is what we often think of when people say “Satan.” A cheesy caricature of the Prince of Lies.

Now let’s be real… what threat does this guy pose?  Who would take him seriously?  Who would even seriously considered listening to the things this guy says and think, “Hm, this sounds like a good idea.  I think I’m going to do it.  What is the harm?”  Very few people.  You certainly wouldn’t, would you?

However, if Satan chose to wrap himself up in say… this wrapper:

ryan gosling

Or this one:

Jake Gyllenhaal

Or maybe even this:

hey-girl-meme-generator-hey-girl-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you-d13dae

Wouldn’t you at least pause to listen?  Now I’m not saying that Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Bennett or any of the other men who feature in the “Hey Girl….” internet memes are Satan in disguise.  These were just some of the more provocative and forward iterations that I found in my search.

Satan is beguiling.  He makes himself SEEM attractive.  Then, once you have done his bidding, he leaves you high and dry and kicking yourself because you’ve sinned again.  But, if you’ve accepted Christ into your life, or accept him for the first time, then He will pick you up, dust you off, dry your tears, and tell you that he forgives you.

And since we are talking about Satan and Jesus… another thing I’ve noticed is that people put them on a level playing field, like Satan ACTUALLY has a chance.  Let me tell you, he doesn’t.  He has already been defeated!  He was defeated on the Cross at Calvary, when Jesus took man’s sin on himself, and then rose again.  And Satan was never going to win.  From the beginning he was a lesser being.  Nothing and no one comes close to God’s power and glory.  Take a look at Job!  Satan tries to beat God and win Job for himself, and he has to ASK GOD for PERMISSION to torment him.  And when Satan takes away his children and his possessions, Job doesn’t turn away.  So Satan asks to do more, and God allows it, to prove his own glory and power.  And it doesn’t work.  Satan takes Job’s health, and still he does not turn from God.  Then, Satan uses Job’s wife and three friends to tempt him away, but Job stands firm.  God rewards Job, offers forgiveness to his three friends, and not only restores Job’s riches and power, but doubles it!  Satan made himself as tempting as he could.  He used Job’s friends to make it seem like cursing God and turning away from him would be a good thing!  But Job stands firm because he knows that God is almighty and powerful, and nothing is done without his permission.

Satan never had any real power.  He only has power over us if we give it to him.  But we don’t have to let Satan have power, and when he doesn’t have power, he can’t do a thing.  His fate is sealed.  He will not be lord over Hell and torture sinners for all eternity.  He will be right next to them, suffering with them. (Rev. 20:10,  20:15)

So to recap:

Satan is a master of disguise and lies.

Satan only has power he has been given.

Satan uses disguise, lies, and misdirection to get us to do his will (power).

God has the victory over evil.

Satan’s fate is sealed.

And that is the lesson I learned about Satan.

PS: This is my favorite of the “Hey Girl” Memes that I found:

Pride and Prejudiced!

PPS-  I’ve found a lot more Pride and Prejudice Hey Girl memes… They amuse me.

Image sources:

http://hypervocal.com/news/2012/25-ryan-gosling-memes-ranked-from-best-to-worst/

http://www.udesfoodforthought.com/2012/03/hey-girl-you-are-better-than-big-tax.html

http://diylol.com/meme-generator/hey-girl–14/memes/hey-girl-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you

 

The lesson I learned from a pair of shoes….

I have a beautiful pair of wedge heels.  I got them at Lane Bryant, and they have the braided rope on heel, and a pretty texturized upper fabric that covers the toe and the heel and made up the ankle strap.  I adored these heels because they were the first pair I had picked out for myself and could wear and be fairly comfortable.  I’ve had them for about a year now, but back in March I was getting ready to go see an on-campus movie with friends, and when I lifted my left foot to fasten the strap, I didn’t realize I was stepping on the strap with my right heel.  As I lifted my foot, I realized my mistake, but it was too late, and I had ripped the strap clean off the shoe. I picked up both pieces, saw there would be no quick fix before I had to leave, and took the right shoe off.  I was dismayed, but I knew of a shoe repair shop back home and decided to take them in and see what could be done.  I donned a different pair of heels I had not yet worn and went to see The Hobbit.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  I was home from my first year of college, and I was running errands.  As I passed the shoe repair shop on the way to the mall, I saw it was still open, but I figured it was going to cost more to fix the shoe than it was worth, but then I had an epiphany.  I could remove the ankle straps on both shoes, and then replace them with ribbon and tie them like pointe shoes!  The would be just as or more pretty, and I would just have to buy some grosgrain ribbon!

With my new plan concocted, I continued on to the mall.  I figured WalMart would be a good place to stop because they sold fabric and ribbon and other crafty things, and I needed a journal anyway.

I wish I could say that I have pictures posted of the new shoes in all of their diy makeover glory, but I don’t.  I’ll add pictures when they are done for you all to look at.

So now that you know the back story and the plan, allow me to explain the lesson.  That pair of shoes was lovely.  They were well made, attractive, and supportive.  They were helpful when I needed to look nice, even if it took me a while to finagle the strap closed.  But then they broke, they became damaged and unwearable because of a silly thing, but that strap was the shoe’s weak spot.  It would break there before anywhere else.  I am that shoe.  We are all that shoe.  We are all beautiful and do important things and help others accomplish things and carry great loads.  But just like shoes we fall short of expectations.  We break and are damaged, and we need repair.  And Jesus does that for us.  He takes a good look at us, determines what we need, and not only fixes us, he changes us and makes us different and better than we were.  He does to us what we cannot do.  He takes away our stains (our sins) and heals us (fixes our broken straps), and it makes us better than we were.

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” -Mark 12:17, ESV

And because some of you might be saying “Well what if I’m the shoe that isn’t broken?  I don’t need this Jesus to fix me!  I’m perfectly fine!” here is Romans 3: 22b-26:

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.   It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

See that? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  That means me, that means you, your neighbor, your cousin, and that random man you passed earlier today on the street.  We are all sinners, we all have fallen short of God’s glory and expectation of us, BUT, if we have freely accepted Christ into our life by baptism for the remission of sins, then we have been covered by Christ’s blood, and not only are our former sins forgiven, but the ones we are making currently.

So, in essence, we are all shoes with a broken strap.

And that’s the lesson I learned from a pair of shoes.

In Christ,

Jax