Back in May, I was asked to share my testimony at our final MOPS meeting. It was hard to know where to begin because my testimony isn’t just one story. In fact, it’s a collection of stories…a journey.
So then I started praying about which one I should tell. About how I came to know Christ in college at LSU, after meeting an angel… OR maybe how after I strayed away during college that it took a hurricane to bring me back to the feet of Jesus, relocating me from New Orleans to Asheville…
But if I tell you about Asheville then I have to tell you about 78 year old mentor named Grammie, who just so happens to be my ex-boyfriend’s grandmother….yes that can be awkward at times, ladies!!
And if it weren’t for Grammie, I would have never decided to go into ministry, leaving my job at a newspaper to enroll in seminary in Johnson City, meeting my husband on my first day after sitting in a bathroom stall, crying out to God to send me a friend to sit with at the picnic. Phew!
So many stories…
I have a lot of stories to tell but sometimes in the midst of the details, the laughter and the tears, I forget to bring it back to the Author. The one who created these stories I have to tell.
So instead of my usual stories, at the meeting, I decided to share a new one. A story that is NOT. ABOUT. ME. Well, at least I don’t see myself as the main character. And it’s a lesson I’ve been learning over the last year.
If you would have asked me a year ago (December, even) if I thought I were a selfish person, I would have said NO! Sure, I can be self-involved as much as the next person. My comfort is important to me but I would have never called it selfish. In fact, as a wife and mother, I feel like I often give more than I receive. (AM I RIGHT?!) But, I was wrong….
In January, we started a new bible study called Ever After by Vicki Courtney. Our leader had recommended once that we begin each study by writing a letter to God about what we hope to get out of the following weeks with the author. I went into my usual, “God, I feel ____” and “Please God, _______” but by the second day of the study, I went back to the front cover to revise my letter to God. I crossed it out and replaced it with “Help me make you #1.”
Now when I wrote that down, six months ago, I didn’t realize where God was going to take me next. But I quickly realized that this one lesson that seemed to come up everywhere! In conversations, sermons and other books.
It’s. Not. About. Me.
It’s not about my comfort or my feelings or my to-do list. It’s not about my achievements or my past. Because when I’m focused on those things, all people see is ME and my glory and I am not perfect.
I used to think I could do anything I put my mind to. I’ve tackled quite a few goals in life. But it wasn’t until I started my weight loss journey after having Tristan (who just turned 1) that I realized I can’t do EVERYTHING I put my mind to. I couldn’t understand why I had NOT lost the weight as fast as I had after having Jack. And at that point, last fall, I started reading Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst.
In her book, Lysa talks about how we try to do too many things by ourselves. For our own glory. And for me, I had credited my post-Jack weight loss to my own ability. I’d never even considered crediting God. Because I did it “by myself.” But after reading her book, I agreed with Lysa. I cannot do all things through Becky who gives me strength. I can only do things through CHRIST who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13. It is not by my power but by Gods.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 says “ You might say to yourself, “I am rich because of my own power and strength,” but remember the Lord your God! It is HE who gives you the power!”
I realized at that point in my story, that I needed to start calling on God’s power IN EVERY aspect of my life. And to stop trying to rely on my own strength. And it was in December that I found out that my 5 month old baby (Tristan) had a cyst on his brain. I had no control. No Say in what happened to him. Suddenly my To-Do list didn’t look so important. I regretted the precious moments I had wasted comparing myself to others. I realized just how small I was in this universe. Because IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.
So at that point, I decided that with whatever happened, God would get the glory. And even if it meant he would see Jesus sooner than me, I had to give that to the Lord. Because GOD IS OUR HEALER. And he loves my kids so much more than I ever could. A topic that comes up numerous times in our bible study.
But even after giving that over to God, my weight, my son, I still struggled. I felt hopeless again. I hit a weak point where I felt like I failed so why not do whatever I wanted. I felt sad so I wanted to eat. I felt empty so I wanted to shop. I felt like a failure so I would attempt the next DIY project to make me feel like I was worth something. The lies that the enemy tells us is a powerful distraction. And I needed something to take my mind off of it.
And so the cycle of relying on my own power began again. I joined the gym. I started preschooling at home. I started making more effort in my marriage, making sure I got my bible study done EVERY SINGLE DAY. I wanted to be the Best I could be. The legalism of being able to control everything I did fed my idealism that everything would be okay. God was in the picture but he wasn’t the focus. The focus was my comfort. My FEELINGS. My GOALS.
Striving to be perfect is a distraction. I get on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and I feel less than. I get distracted by photos, statuses and the next best thing I should be doing and minutes (sometimes hours) later, I haven’t done anything except focus more on striving. I’ve created newer ideals for myself. And it’s a lost cause. Because I will never be perfect.
But the bigger issue is not dealing with our imperfection. It’s with the distraction. Like I said before, God was in the picture but he wasn’t the focus. When we are focused on something other than God, we are keeping ourselves from our purpose. In Ever After, Vickie Courtney said our primary purpose is to enjoy God, to glorify Him and to serve Him.
Our purpose is not to be the BEST there is on earth. It’s not to show people how great we are. It’s to point the world back to our creator. To reflect HIM not ourselves or our achievements. It’s not for my glory but for HIS.
Max Lucado says, “It’s not about you. It’s not about me. The moon models our role. What does the moon do? She generates no light. Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch black rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. Let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration.”
Ladies, we are dirt. How does that make you feel? Do you often wonder why her grass is greener? Well, a picture I found (on Pinterest no less) said “The grass is only greener where you water it.” And I don’t think that it’s about watering it with “things” or even our own time or energy. I think it’s about asking God to water it for us. He is the living water. We have to refocus on Him. It’s not about us.
Have you ever heard the song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Distraction is a thing of the earth. Idealism is a thing of the earth. Self-appointed service, the things we have to get done today is a thing of the earth. God is teaching me that HE NEEDS TO BE MY FIRST PRIORITY. I have to fix my eyes upon Him. To look at his face. His smile. His loving gaze and realize that striving is to be perfect on earth is not my purpose. My purpose is loving my Lord, serving him, enjoying him and giving him the glory.
I don’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t add anything to my worth. Because I am a child of God. We are princesses. Our father is the King. The creator. And his son is the Prince of Peace who rescued us. And when we Turn your eyes to him, the things of earth (the distractions, the idealisms) will grow dim because of his light, his glory and grace. And then we reflect that light to others. It’s not about us.
Now to tie up some of the loose ends. My weight loss journey is still that, a journey, I am trying to bring my cravings to God now instead of food. My son, Tristan, well in March, we went back to the neurosurgeon in Atlanta for another CT and the cyst was gone. Hallelujah!
The Doctor said this doesn’t normally happen. People can live with cysts on their brains for their whole lives. Some people need shunts, some cases are worse than others. But for Tristan, it was just gone. Our God, the creator and the healer, answered our prayers and he healed him so that we could tell others and share his story of hope, giving GOD the glory.
Whether you read this feeling hopeful or hopeless, I encourage you to ask God to make Himself #1 in your life. As humans, we are ingrained to take care of ourselves first. We’re even advised to do that on an airplane in case of emergency. And it’s a natural rhythm. After all, we think we know ourselves best. We know when we’re tired or when we’re hungry or when we feel our needs aren’t being met. But, It’s not about you. It’s not even about our kids. It’s about Jesus. Ask him to be #1. Surrender your priorities and your calendar and your To-Do lists and make him #1.
It’s not an easy task. By all means, I haven’t mastered it because it’s a daily recommitment that I have to be held accountable for. And I’m blessed to have a support system of ladies who are praying for me and are doing the same thing.
Jesus surrounded himself with his disciples but there were the three that were with him most of the time, Peter, John and James. You can find examples of these close knit relationships throughout the bible and I pray that if you do not have a support system of believers in your life, that you will ask God to provide it.
In order to see God’s light and reflect it for others, I have to be surrounded by light. And through bible study, prayer and getting to know God through his community, I can grow closer to him and reflect him more clearly. His light bounces from person to person and shines UP! And I pray that we would daily refocus our gaze upon HIM and not on ourselves or earthly things. Let us pray.
GOD. Creator. Abba Father. You are my strength and my shield, you are the light of the world. You are the beginning and the end. We are but small rocks reflecting you. Sheep in your pasture. Princesses in your kingdom. Show us your love for us. Show us our value. So that we don’t go looking for it elsewhere. God I pray that you would surround us with community to reflect your love. We are not a people to strive towards worldly things but we are here to serve you and the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, love these women and their families. As they shine the light for their sons and daughters, I pray that you will use us as the dirt clogs to grow the little seeds that you’ve put in our lives. I pray that you will use us as light for our husbands, our mothers, fathers, friends and coworkers. God, you are the only reason for living. The creator and the HEALER. Heal us as we grow closer to you and surrender our lives at your feet. Be with us today and remind us of your light as we look up to your sky. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for forgiving me. It’s in in your son, our Prince, Jesus name. Amen.