Monday, September 9, 2013

"...I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses."

2 Corinthians 11:30-31
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 
31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.

Here, I, The Paisley Butterfly, have come to boast:

I have come to see a place where 
I have not invited God... 

Stage: The Rustic Knight and I recently got new neighbors. We share a drive way. 
They are open and outgoing and friendly...and talkative. 
We are private. We are loners. We keep to first. 
We are on top of each other (in my mind).

The Rustic Knight and I are slow to friendships. We take our time, feeling each other out, sharing bits here and there -- over time. We value our family time. We give so much at work, when we are out and about, that when we get home, we just want to decompress...alone. We look forward to our homestead, where we will be surrounded by nature and land that is the middle of no where; where we can choose when to visit with neighbors.

Problem (?): For the first five months we have lived here, the house next door was vacant. 
Our neighbors catch us in conversation every time we are coming or going...
I feel forced to entertain them, and/or explain where we are going -- I don't want them to know.

I sit on my screened porch with a book for some alone time outside...
they see me and talk to me, disrupting me. 

There are issues with sharing the driveway.
Their kids try to invite themselves over. 

There are details I will not share...

Weakness #1: I get paranoid...I am afraid of getting too close to people. 
Better said, I fear sharing myself with people: face to face. 
I fear mistakes, saying something wrong or stupid, doing something wrong or stupid. 

My personal space extends far beyond my physical self.

The new neighbors feel invasive to me, bringing out my paranoid side -- which I had made strides with since working at the restaurant. 
I cherish my time alone, my time with my son, my time with my husband. 
I need my time to reconnect with God after giving so much of myself at work, to my family and friends, and this blog. I have worked hard at inviting God in before/during my shifts at work, believing in His ability to correct my attitude and moods in an instant; bringing Him in to write the articles I post, carrying the story line of my fictional stories, editing as needed, pushing me to share what I don't want to; asking Him to parent my children, manage my marriage, and flourish the few relationships I do have...
I am even aware that if it weren't for my relationship with God, I may have a severe issue with a fear of people, becoming a recluse with a true paranoid outlook on my life. 

Weakness #2: I chose to fill myself up with frustration, fear, and entitlement. 
I have been choosing to focusing my thoughts and energy on how I don't want neighbors. 
I don't want to feel obligated to be someone I'm not. 

I am worried about how I look to them, but don't want to adjust myself within my comfort zone. I have become consumed by the annoyance and disruption this has created in my life. I have become closed off, unforgiving, and negative.

Weakness #3: I have made it all about ME. Not GOD. 

Revelations: These came through my conversation with my sister. She helped me realize that I had yet to pray about this actual situation. That I have not thought about what God wants here. Which led me to scripture: 

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (vs 5 bold mine)
1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know -- God knows. 3 And I know that this man -- whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, but God knows -- 4 was caught up to paradise. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. 
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions  in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Bible Notes vs. 2: "Paul continued his 'boasting' by telling about visions and revelations he had received from the Lord. 'I know a man in Christ' means that he was speaking about himself...'"

Bible Notes vs. 7: "We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, because he doesn't tell us... This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God refused..."

My 1st Revelation: My thorn is my paranoia, the fear that I will get too close to someone. The fear of sharing myself in such a present and daily way in moments I think I just want to be left alone. Fear is the messenger from Satan to me. It started as an inconvenience, then became frustration, where it finally grew to me being afraid to come and go from my house for fear of running into them. How subtle the enemy can be. 

Bible Notes vs. 8: "Three times Paul prayed fro healing and did not receive it.He received, however, things far greater because he received greater grace from God, a stronger character, humility, and an ability to empathize with others. In addition, it benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life. God, according to [H]is sovereign plan, doesn't heal some believers of their physical ailments. We don't know why some are spared and others aren't. God chooses according to [H]is divine purposes. Our task is to pray, to believe, and to trust. Paul is living proof that holy living and courageous faith do not ensure instant physical healing. When we pray for healing, we must trust our bodies to God's care. We must recognize that nothing separates us from [H]is love (Romans 8:35-39) and that our spiritual condition is always more important than our physical condition."

My 2nd Revelation: I have prayed for what I perceived to be the problem, to just go away. While talking to my sister, I divulged how bothered I was by all of this and that I was having a hard time getting out of my head. She told me that for all I know, God allowed them there to help me in breaking my 'need' to be alone. 
This got me thinking about my time in Solitude
While there is a time to be alone, there is a time to be in fellowship. Which my sister, sometimes wiser than I'd like, pointed out that God may need me to get past this discomfort for the sake of ministering. If I believe this is God's plan for me, why would it stop with my blog, or with my job. Well, geesh Sis, wish I could have thought of that first! But this just shows that no matter how vigilant we are at seeking God at every turn, believing that we are doing all we can, we are still going to miss it somewhere. 
My prayers were in vain. I was praying in a manner to alleviate my ailment as it suits me: Go away and leave me alone! How I should have been praying is:

Dear Heavenly Father, I call upon you to lift me up in Your name. 
May You be glorified in all I do. I ask You to bless this new relationship, guiding it as You see fit. 
May I see Your course for me with these children of Yours and not stray. 
Help me set my fears aside so I may walk Your path. 
May the enemy have no place in this course. 
I ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, 
who, through my weakness, strengthens me in all I do. Amen. 

Bible Notes vs. 9: "Although God did not remove Paul's physical affliction, [H]e promised to demonstrate [H]is power in Paul. The fact that God's power is displayed in weak people should give us courage. Though we recognize our limitations, we will not congratulate ourselves and rest at that. Instead, we will turn to God to seek pathways for effectiveness. We must rely on God for our effectiveness rather than simply on our own energy, effort, or talent. Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character; it also deepens our worship, because in admitting our weakness, we affirm God's strength."  

Bible Notes vs. 10: "When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God's work on our own, and that can lead to pride. When we are weak, allowing God to fill us with [H]is power, then we are stronger than we could ever be on our own. God does not intend for us to seek to be weak, passive, or ineffective -- life provides enough hindrances and set backs without us creating them. When those obstacles come, we must depend on God. Only [H]is power will make us effective for [H]im and will help us do work that has lasting value."  

My 3rd Revelation: God hasn't answered my prayer either...not as I was praying. These neighbors are not going anywhere, at least not soon. And we are not staying here forever...this is Temporary! I must remember this. Not to mention, only God knows the benefits for all parties involved in the coming together of neighbors.
What if the neighbors being there has absolutely nothing to do with me? What if there is something God wants for them and has chosen to use me to do it? 
By allowing fear into my heart, I limited the effectiveness of God in me. 
I filled myself up with something unholy. 
There was no room for God in my frustration and fear. 
I kicked Him out by taking on the negative feelings. 
I am no use to God this way. 
I must expose my weakness to God (Lord, I cannot handle the neighbors by myself and am not sure how to be) in order for Him to work through me. 
I need His strength to get past myself. 
If I believe in my prayers for other's to see God in me, Christ in me, then why would I be so quick to close a door to neighbors that hasn't been completely opened yet? 
What example am I showing of someone living in Christ, if I am shutting Christ out in a moment of need? 
I should see this as an opportunity to share Jesus. 
I should welcome the gift of neighbors around our age with children around Kit's age. The benefits to come from this relationship are abundant! 

1 Peter 4:10-12
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 
Suffering for being a Christian. 
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 

My Bible: Life Application Study Bible, New International Version 
Why I like this bible: There are extensive notes on the verses. Each page has more notes:bible verse ratio. 

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