Do you find yourself butting heads with someone? Maybe it’s with your husband, your wife, or your boss. You have a conversation … but it feels more like a tug-of-war. One person says something, then the other … and before you know it both of you feel frustrated. You both want to get your point across … you both want the other to understand … your view … you both want something … and neither one wants to give in to the other … neither one wants to be the one to concede the underlying fight … the underlying battle. However, unless one person chooses to become willing to yield … willing to submit… willing to surrender their need to be right … their need to have the last word … their need to have the final say … the end result will be like locking horns … with no way in sight of how to get untangled. You see, there can’t simultaneously be two heads … it will just lead to chaos, confusion, and catastrophe. That’s why there is usually a chain of command or an order to how things are run. Perhaps this is why the Bible says in Ephesians 5 that we need to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. When we are revering Christ we show that we are respecting His way of doing things … and His way of doing things is always rooted in love … the kind of love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 … love that is not rude or self-seeking but, rather, love that is patient and kind. In any relationship both individuals need to be willing to submit … willing to yield to the other as necessary. This doesn’t make one person better than the other. This doesn’t make one person a doormat and the other person dominant. This makes both people responsible to care enough about the other person that they are willing to show true love … they are willing to let it go when a conversation becomes heated and it is clear it’s better to drop it rather than insist on being the one to be right … the one to win. In reality, the only way to win is to surrender. In that regard you are winning the war against animosity, anger, and anguish … you are winning by showing true love … you are winning by keeping your relationship with the other person intact … knowing that your relationship is worth far more than being right … far more than being the one to dominate. So, how in the world can you do this? How in the world can you find the strength of character to actually submit to one another and show that you are revering Christ’s way of doing things? Only through a personal relationship with Christ Himself. Only by allowing yourself to submit to Him so that His unconditional love will be able to flow through you to other people. You see, we can’t do it on our own … in our own strength and in our own power. Galatians 5:16 lets us know that when we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit we will not gratify the desires of our sinful nature … desires that include selfishness and bickering … desires that may make us feel good but are harmful to ourselves and others. So, the timeless truth for today is this: If you don’t want to butt heads with those you care about, lock horns with Jesus … connect yourself to Him in such a close and personal way that His love flows through you to other people … then you will truly be able to submit yourselves one to another and enjoy peace.
I’d like to share a letter with you that I recently sent to my Pastor’s wife this week after an unexpected turn of events brought me out of retirement and back into writing. (Names have been omitted to protect privacy.)
Hi (Pastor’s wife), How are you? I wanted to thank you for all your prayers, support, and encouragement recently … especially the encouraging words you spoke to me that Sunday after I “screamed” in Sunday School about how if I was going to write again I’d basically need to tell God it had to be different (so it wouldn’t consume my life in an unhealthy way and hurt me, etc.). Well, since that Sunday I retired from writing and let it go completely and moved on with my life and focused on having my identity be in Him (not writing) and basically learning how to get back to “reality” and living a real life that was much more balanced, etc. I lost the emptiness and void that had come from not writing and I eventually learned to enjoy just living again in the “real” world and getting reconnected with people. I had also lost all desire to write … I just wanted to live – and so I was doing that right up until this past Sunday when I went to the altar. I actually wasn’t sure why I even went to the altar to be honest. I didn’t really feel led to go. But I did hear something in my heart about “you can’t change if you don’t go (up)” – and I had been “working on” trying to change one aspect of my thinking (that had been bothering me and had been making me feel like I was wrong all the time even if I wasn’t wrong, etc.). So, I went up to the altar and tried to pray, etc. and then you came and prayed for me too and then I heard (another woman) stand behind me after the singing was over and I don’t know if she was praying for me or for herself but I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence really strong in either case. Then, I just did whatever I felt led to do and pray, etc. (still not even thinking about writing). When I went back to my seat, (another woman) came over and told me something the Lord had told her to tell me (right then – she said she’d asked if she could wait until after service and God had said no – that’s why she told me right then). It was about how if I surrendered more to God and I sat and watched He would make a way for me, etc. That was when I began thinking about writing again and wondered about if it could mean that. Then Pastor asked people to come forward who wanted fresh fire and passion, etc. and I was already shaking in my seat and more than willing to be surrendered to God, etc. so I went forward. I felt like I was going to fall down immediately but also like I was supposed to try to stand up for a little bit anyway so I did for a little bit then saw Pastor go way at the other end to start praying for people so I knew there was no way for me to stand up that long so I just let myself “go down.” I wasn’t sure exactly what God was doing or saying to me but I was trying to be surrendered to whatever it was. My right thumb got extremely hot and the heat went up my arm and my fingers were moving (almost like typing motion) and that hand was banging on the floor and I knew from my past experience that usually had something to do with me writing and with God sort of putting “something” in me. But this time I was upset because I didn’t want to feel a desire and passion, etc. to write again because I didn’t want it to take over my life – the life I was just starting to enjoy having again. So I was basically having conflicting feelings even as I tried to be open and surrendered to whatever God wanted (somewhere in there you and Pastor came and prayed over me too – thanks for that also). Eventually, I just tried to exercise faith that, basically, if God did want me to write again that it would somehow be different (’cause it HAD to be – I knew I couldn’t go back to the way it was). So, I chose to speak in faith that I believed it could/would be different (also still aware of being careful not to presume or assume that God wanted me to write again at all – realizing it might be something else, etc. too). Eventually, I got up and went home because I felt like I needed to listen to God and whatever He wanted to say to me. Later on after sleeping/resting I was still thinking about everything and still felt upset ’cause I couldn’t see a way it could be different (if I was going to write again). So then I prayed and “dared” to pray what you had suggested previously on that Sunday morning (about me telling God if I was going to write again it had to be different – even though, previously, I had felt like if I said that it was like me telling God what to do and back on that Sunday I had felt like it would be wrong for me to do that). So, I prayed about it having to be different (if that’s what He wanted me to do). After that I tried to sort of let it go and wait to see, etc. Not long after I felt like watching a Hallmark movie so I looked to see what was on coming up. It “just so happened” to be a movie about a romance novelist who had to do research for her book, etc. (and the one right before that that was already in process was also about a writer but I’d already seen that one). So, with there being around a half an hour before the movie was to start I found something else to do while I was waiting. During that time, I started out still upset ’cause of not knowing how things could be different, etc. then, as I began to think about the movie that was going to be coming on and began to think about how the writer had to do research for her book, I started to get an idea. I started to think about if I wrote something how I could have it be that I couldn’t write about anything unless I’d actually experienced it myself (like in the real world now) – like how if I gave myself that as a guide how it could keep me in the “here and now” (in the real world rather than in the imaginary world of a future book, etc.). And then I thought about how the writer was a romance novelist … something I’d never done before (I’ve never written a romance book per se). And I thought about how if I wrote a romance that would sort of “force me” to stay in the “love mode” way of thinking and the here and now and would sort also be like a “guide” so I wouldn’t “forget” my own husband, etc. (I could actually use him as inspiration for a character, etc.). That made me laugh. And then it was like I stopped being upset and started to see possibilities that I hadn’t seen before … I started to see ways it actually could be different (and this was before the movie even started!) So, I did end up watching the movie and tried to see how the novelist had a “real life” apart from her writing career, etc. (by the way, I’m aware it’s only a movie, etc. but God has inspired me before through movies,etc. having to do with my writing and this time I was still being cautious to make sure it really was God directing me, etc. no matter what it may sound like as you read this). So, then I started getting a few idea’s and made a few (short) notes. Eventually, I went to bed. Then I woke up about 2am wide awake…. and I said NO… I’m NOT going to do that again!!! And it’s like I got a revelation that it was ok for me to say NO … that it wasn’t wrong for me to say NO (wait until morning to write something now is the time to sleep!!!, etc. mentality – whereas before when I woke up at 2am I felt like I HAD to get up and write something down right then or I’d be disobeying the Holy Spirit – like quenching the Holy Spirit type of mentality). It’s like this time I got that revelation and it was like I realized for the first time it wasn’t me saying NO to God, it was me saying NO to my flesh… it was exercising self-control… it was like the Holy Spirit developing the fruit of the Spirit of self-control as I yielded myself to Him (still trying to be surrendered to Him). And it’s like God was enabling me to change that “I’m always wrong” mentality thinking and was enabling me to see things in a different way/from a different perspective (His). So it’s like two things can look exactly the same way on the surface and feel the same way, etc… but the difference is all in the heart and the heart attitude. So then I was even more happy about that and excited and wanted to share it with my husband but also knew I needed to go back to sleep somehow. (I hadn’t said anything to (my husband) before this about what God was doing in my heart since I wanted to be sure it really was what I thought it was before I said anything… and I had also prayed that God would help me to tell him because He knew I couldn’t keep a secret long from my husband, etc.). Fortunately for me, my husband woke up on his own right after my revelation (unfortunately for him he’d had a bad dream). But it gave me the opportunity to ask him if he wanted to talk to distract himself from the dream (and he was awake too). So, we got the chance to talk right then (at 2am) and then after our conversation we were both actually eventually able to go back to sleep and we both “got back” the time we’d spent talking with actually being able to sleep in (this was Monday morning – Memorial Day – before we saw you at the BBQ). So, now, I “said all that to say this” – I do believe God is leading me to write again, BUT in a much more balanced way (with the mentality being that it’s more like part-time/or an odd job rather than a “business” so it doesn’t “take over and consume me” like it did before). (My husband) can relate to that mentality himself since he used to have a business that did the same thing and now he does odd jobs and it’s much better for both of us… so he can help keep me accountable too this time and I can listen to him and not think I’m wrong to stop and say “no not now” to myself, etc. since I got that revelation, etc. So, even though it might look the same on the surface, I wanted to tell you first that it is actually different in my heart this time (so you wouldn’t be overly concerned for me if you heard I was writing again, etc.). I now know how to have a balance and I’ll continually be aware of needing to keep the balance so it doesn’t get crazy again, etc. (even though I know nothing is perfect and I can’t control everything, etc.). Anyways, I felt like I needed to tell you what was going on “behind the scenes” (so now you know). Also, yesterday, I felt like I wanted to give away the Devotional I had written previously (the kindle version of it anyways) so people could be blessed by it, etc. and so I also wanted to tell you about that. Starting June 1 through next Monday June 5 my Devotional will be FREE to download on the kindle through amazon.com (It’s called One Size does not Fit All 30 day devotional) so you’ll probably see that “advertised” later also). I know this is a long e-mail, so thanks for taking the time to read it, and thanks for your support and continued prayers going forward. Take care and God bless you!!! (Have a great day!!!) Love, Ann
P.S. To reader, In case you haven’t already guessed, I’m Pentecostal and my description of what happened to me involved the moving of the Holy Spirit.