Learning to Live the Life We’ve Been Given

I believe that following the Lord Jesus Christ almost always involves a major detour in life. We hear the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, through the Word, in our prayers, and in worship. And until we surrender to His will, there is a strain that is hard to bear.

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Years ago, although I was still waiting for healing, I didn’t want to completely give up my work in the company that I had established. I was looking forward to the day that I would fully recover and go back to the work I so loved doing. But I could feel the strain my resistance was causing. I wasn’t winning in that regard. Eventually, I relinquished all control of my life and future to God and vowed not to return to my work even when He has healed me. The Lord gave all leadership and management of our cosmetic ingredients company to my mechanical engineer husband. Even he experienced a “culture shock” with the change of his occupation: from engineering and maintenance management of a large food manufacturing company to the Cosmetics Industry. But he willingly and gladly obeyed God’s call. This was the detour of our life.

Since then, we have been learning to live this life the Lord has given us. But more so for me.

In previous posts, I wrote about being healed of all negative, unprofitable emotions (mostly and subconsciously directed towards God) I now call the “horrible bundle”. But it turned out that there are still remnants of them in my heart, this time, the ones that are directed towards others.

I needed to go to the IG page of a “celebrity mom” to get her source of seedlings for our kitchen garden. Back when I still visited her IG regularly, she usually posted photos of them planting and harvesting from their backyard garden. I was hesitant to go back and have a look again since the main reason I stopped visiting was that, my feelings of envy were the more kindled every time I see their photos depicting the full, perfect life.

But I wanted to get their source of seedlings and other gardening materials, so off I went. And again, I couldn’t help but marvel at the wonderful life this family is living: both the parents have exciting, fulfilling careers that bring them to beautiful places from time to time; they run marathons (hence, perfect health and fit bodies); they eat homegrown vegetables; they grow their own vegetables and some fruits; they laugh. They live and flourish. And yes, they are a Christian family.

I marvel each time at how different our lives are.

So, I got my source of seedlings but I also went away pondering deeply. Again. I was careful not to slide back to the “horrible bundle”, but the things I saw made me pause and think: Shall I question God again? No, I don’t even want to go there.

In addition to this, I remembered what Felix told me: a wealthy family from church is going to the spiritual, revival crusade in San Jose, California – everyone down to the grandchildren. We would have loved to go also, but we can’t because I am sick. Has been for the last more than 13 years.

I spent the rest of the day seeking wisdom. If only I were wise enough (a sage perhaps) to live the life I have, maybe I wouldn’t feel like this – was somewhat the theme of my thoughts and feelings through the afternoon. How do you live a life that has an important aspect of it which you hate but can’t do anything about?

How do you live it without trying to compare and not feel envious, dissatisfied, dismayed, discontented? Those latter emotions are brought about by the practice of comparing. Why do I compare? Why can’t I help it? Maybe because I grew up competitive. If you love competition (not athletics for me), comparison is its companion and envy is their begotten child. I hate the whole bunch of them. But I found out that afternoon that I am still their prisoner.

In the evening, I found myself writing feverishly on my prayer journal begging God to liberate me from them. To say that I need His help is an understatement. If I feel vulnerable every time and my peace and contentment are easily shaken and so fragile that they easily dissolve with the things I see, then there is a need for me to learn to live this life God has given me. To learn to live it gladly, contentedly, gratefully, without feeling envious or jealous of others. It would be the biggest challenge in my faith life yet. I desperately want to do that, for to live otherwise is not really living at all. A life that is steeped in envious feelings is a life of misery.

The days that followed saw me studying life and faith and the kingdom of God and how they must be lived in a way that they would bring purpose, meaning, and fulfilment in spite of illness and suffering. This is what I was able to grasp:

This is the life we’re given now. We may dream and hope and pray for a better, brighter future, but our present lives must be lived here, now. And when it is lived, it must not be lived half-heartedly, but with everything we’ve got. We cannot postpone life. We cannot postpone joy to sometime in the future when healing (or answer to fervent prayer) and joy could be had.

For me, that still means deep longings along the journey. Longings to travel with family – to see the beach, to enjoy outdoors life together without sickness. Longings. They are often painful, but I believe that to try to expunge them would be impossible in the first place, so why even try? I am trading the “horrible bundle” with envy, comparison, and competition thrown in, but I am keeping the longings. The longings are what makes me human, alive, with a beating heart. Longings are what brings me to my knees and makes me utter prayers only the Spirit understands.

So, to tackle the gritty part: How do I learn to not compare? Honestly, I do not know yet. But I’ll keep on praying.

After Joni Eareckson Tada had her diving accident which left her a quad, she wrote that to compare her life to others would be an emotional suicide. Perfectly said. So, she learned not to look and compare but to fully depend on Jesus. Easier said than done. I know even for her who has grown to be wise, Christ-wise.

But this is what I will do: To make other people’s beautiful lives inspire and encourage me to do the best I can with what I’ve been given, instead of letting them drive me to envy and self-pity. To remember that a life is most meaningful when lived for God. Faithfully. Everyday.

Let’s then fill our lives and days with things that impact eternity and not the world.

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I’m for the Relationship

There can be a myriad things that can chip away at our relationship with God. When we are exposed to different trials and tribulations, our relationship with Him can also be at stake. It is what I have experienced. Of a truth, there had been seasons in my life (including now) that I had lived in constant war with the things – both internal and external – that tried to rip me away from my otherwise blissful relationship with God.

(image from Google)

Maybe I have been excruciatingly living a harder life than most people (but I’m sure there are others out there that are having it worse) because of the burden brought by my illness and constant suffering. (I’m telling you this so you’ll know where I’m coming from).

I believe the Lord Jesus and I have forged a strong relationship through the years of my suffering. I have known and experienced how to make Him my all in all. That is why it feels more intensely painful when He doesn’t seem to want to deliver me from my suffering. I feel like His hand is heavy upon me while He heaps His favors on others. It seems like He throws His severity my way while He has only blessings for them.

The suffering, the weariness, the stark hardship – these all seem to dry me up and wear away my intimacy with the Savior. I look at other people who always seem to be enjoying life to the full and it would be hard then to dislodge the feelings of envy and jealousy no matter how I earnestly try. There’s also the constant watching and fending off of bitterness that tries to cast a shadow in my heart, defiling me. While others seem to have a perpetual fabulous vacation, I slump on the bed barely whispering, “I’m hurt, Lord.” Hurt, not because my body is, but because life seems unfair.

At this point, you must be thinking I have only grievances to tell. But no. I have the following treasures which I’m delighted to share with you. What must we do when resentments and bitterness, or even estrangement from the Lord, threaten to wreck our relationship with Him? These are what I do:

Persistent in Prayers

When the constant communion with God goes, our relationship with Him will greatly suffer. Even in our desert (and the more so, if we come to think of it), we must pray for our souls’ revival, our hearts’ refreshing, and our minds’ renewal. Even when we don’t know what to pray for because of weariness and sighing, we pray, whatever the Holy Spirit whispers. We cry out for help, even though we have been doing nothing but that for the last many months. When all else fails and quits, let prayers remain. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:6)

In everything by prayer… (Magnify that many times).

Be Willing to “Die” to Self

I have come to realize that the root of the feelings of envy, jealousy, comparison, competition, discontent, bitterness and such, is one’s resistance to die to oneself and to the world. But if we are willing to offer our lives to God in true and complete surrender, not minding the cost, the sacrifice, the pain – then, we will become unaffected by our surroundings. For how can a “dead man” still feel the taunts and temptations of the devil? But when we lose our lives for God’s sake, we will certainly find it in Him. We’ll just have to trust.

24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)

So, when we see people who seem to be “blessed beyond measure”, we just utter a prayer, “My life is in You, Lord, now and for all eternity. What could be better than that? I am Yours, You are mine and I will rest in that truth.”

Profess Your Love

With the Spirit’s stirrings, connect with Jesus moment by moment. Let our hearts be lifted to Him and our minds be ever aware of Him. Instead of sighing, mutter, “I love You, Lord. Thank You for my salvation.” Now, I have learned to punctuate every bout of suffering with a profession of my love. Instead of analyzing my situation and falling prey to self-pity and resentment, I pronounce with my whole heart, “I love You so much my dearest Lord Jesus!” If you can only say a single, short prayer, make it that.

Quench not the Spirit. (1 Thess. 5:19)

Instead of focusing on others and how we can have what they’re having, stalk God. Stalk Him, hound Him on all sides and shower Him with our heartfelt “I love You’s”. Let our love be more fervent that anyone else’s, especially those who profess yet don’t do the will of God. We shan’t be beaten by them! Don’t believe the devil’s lies that God doesn’t love us. He doesn’t simply love us, He does it with an everlasting love.

Yes, Lord, I’m for my relationship with You, in spite of all the trials.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,