Let me tell you a little about my family. We are the loudest bunch of people God ever put on the earth. When we get together for holidays it’s a test to see which conversation will drown out the volume level of the football game. So we talk louder and the game gets louder, so we talk louder. It’s a competition to see who will win the battle of gab. You’d think there are 100 of us instead of just a hand full. And you’ve not seen anything until my aunt’s and cousins show up.
What can I say…I have a loud family, that I’d fight for every day. You see, I grew up in a household that had seen it’s fair share of battles. Growing up I was the middle daughter of an alcoholic father and later the middle daughter of a single mother. I knew what battles looked like. There were battles that took place inside our home and battles that unfolded outside the home. Battles of “I don’t understand” and “do I belong” to battles of “can I fix it?” and “where will we call home.” The days were not easy as I watched people I love affected by these circumstances. I know my way around a battle and from an early age I learned the lessons of how to fight one…but not always in the most productive ways. So when I saw this chapter about battles I thought…”Now there’s a chapter I know a little bit about.” The one word that I knew what going to give me some big trouble was the little word at the beginning of the chapter….”Wisely.”
How many times have I charged into battles that were not mine to fight? Many times have I charged to the front lines, when I knew Jesus was saying…”stay here with me.” When I see trouble around me I’m am the very one thinking that I’m the one who must fix it. After all…I am the middle child fixer!
So, how do we know what battles to pick?
Susie give us three points to consider:
- We are not called to defend ever ill word spoken of us. What!?! What if people believe the this and that…? She writes “The enemy intends for those words to hit their mark and injure us…” I hadn’t thought of it that way. You mean, it’s more than just about me? What a novel thought. If he can’t get us to fall and lie shivering in a corner, then he’ll try to get us to come out swinging at the air. We’ll get prodded and poked and in the end just make a poor example for others to look toward. She goes on to say “When we are caught in the dust storm of accusation, betrayal and rejection, the best thing we can do is hold our ground and wait for the Lord.” Wise advice…but, my goodness, that is so hard to do.
- We pray. We stay close to Him. And we choose our friends wisely.
I have two teenagers at home who are wonderful, responsible and talented young ladies. I remember those times a few years ago when they were just branching out and doing more things on their own. One of our first learning grounds was when they wanted to go to the mall on their own. It’s a little scary for a mom to drop of their 14 year old at the mall all unsupervised and stuff. Maybe it’s just me. I’m still the mom who doesn’t like them cooking on the stove while I’m gone…they are 16 & 18 now:) Back to the point! We would tell them multiple things before we dropped them off…don’t talk to strangers….don’t leave the mall for any reason…keep your phone handy and call if you feel threatened….and be careful who you hang out with! If they get caught doing something they shouldn’t, you’re just a guilty because you’re with them. “If you get caught in mall jail we are not bailing you out.” We would have…but it made a good threat. Proud to say we’ve never been called to “mall jail.” We’ve been blessed with wonderful girls. Choose your friends wisely. The book “Safe People” by Cloud & Townsend is a great resource on this matter. Maybe I should teach that sometime…I’ll save it for another day. Focus, Jody, focus:)
- We are not called to walk in the fear of man.
“Ain’t no body who scares me but the shaggy haired man in the alley…and maybe Mrs. Rosie, my old 3rd grade teacher with those big ole’ rings that she whopped on your head when you were bad…” and as well they should, but that’s not what she’s talking about. On page 49 Susie shares a moment of her quiet time, it reads “Susie, I want there to be a bigger gap between how people affect you and how I affect you. My opinion should far outweigh the opinions of others.” Ouch…can I not catch a break!
How many of you reading are far too often trapped by someone’s opinion of you? I know I am. Being the flaming co-dependent that I am, others opinions of me matter far too much. So how do you know if this applies to you? Glad you asked…she has some thoughts on the matter. See how many “Yes” answers you’ll add up. (hint…you want to answer “no.”)
- “When our thoughts are consumed with others’ thoughts toward us…we are walking in fear of man.
- When our days goes south because we feel slighted by a comment or a cross look…we are walking in fear of man.
- When we feel the need to get others on our side by speaking ill of another…we are walking in fear of man.
- When our goal is more to impress than to bless…we are walking in fear of man.”
The sad fact is there is no winning the battle of someone’s opinions.
It’s hard to get back to the top once you’ve started down that road. So how does freedom from others opinions look on the uncommon woman?
Susie has this to say on the matter on page 51.
- When we sin and are quick to repent to both God and the one you’ve sinned against…we are walking in fear of the Lord.
- When we are considerate of others’ feelings without giving them the power to decide our value…we are walking in fear of the Lord.
- When we are willing to step out in faith to places that are beyond our reach – regardless of the cynicism of others…we are walking in fear of the Lord.
- When we pursue a holy, obedient life and entrust our reputation to the Lord…we are walking in fear of the Lord.
When we live our lives for the Lord we will be blessed with amazing relationships along the way.
I love what Brennan Manning has to say “Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manupulate our lives. What will the neighbors think? What will my friends think?…In Christ Jesus freedom from fear empowers us to let go of the desire to appear good, so that we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are.”
What About You?
Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class. (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)
1. Read 1 Samuel 15:16-17.
- Do you see the danger of minimizing who God has made you to be? Do you see the impact of your choices when you think wrongly about whom you are and what you’re called to?
- Apply this to your own life. Make the connection between your full obedience and the importance of understanding just who you are.
2. In what ways do you minimize your own value and make light of the subtle sins that you know are beneath you?
3. Read 1 Samuel 15:24
- Saul gives the reason for his disobedience.
- What is the cost of fearing man vs. fearing God?
4. Read Isaiah 8:13
- Describe a battle or a conflict you were tripped up by because you feared the wrong thing.
5. Read Proverbs 12:16
- How do you currently handle insults?
- Is there a higher road you can take? Journal your thoughts.
We’ll finish today with Susie’s prayer on page 52. Wonderful words to pray each morning.
How wonderful are Your truths! I long to see myself the way you do! Fill me up afresh with an understanding of who I am to You. You carry the world on Your shoulders so I don’t have to. Help me to walk away from conflicts that are Yours to handle. If I fight for anything, may it be faith, hope and love. When others come against me, You will be my defense. When evil words find their way to me, You will teach me how to pray. And when I am tempted to prove to the world that I am something, You will hide me in the shadow of Your wing. Give me wisdom when confronted with conflict. Bring a new freedom to me, Lord. Help me to love others, but to put my hope in You. Amen.”
Next week – The Uncommon Woman – Chapter 4.
If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.
Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.
Have a great week!
Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.