I've been thinking about Linda's and Jan's comments on "Deeply Meaningful". A few things have been running through my mind, and I thought I would share.
First, I misused the term "learned". I can't say that I learned anything new Christmas. It was, however, a time the Lord used to reinforce things He is teaching me and remind me of things I know and sometimes forget or need to value more than I do.
Second, what was represented is the 2007 model of Jerri Phillips. Thankfully, the Lord in all His gracious faithfulness took the 2006 model and worked out some more of the bugs, beat out some dents, and continued the motor overhaul He started years ago. Prayerfully, the 2008 model will be even better.
I realize it seems that I am stating the obvious, but I have found the "obvious" is not so obvious in our own lives. Sometimes it is easier to view our lives by viewing others, so I am laying some of my life out for you to see. Prayerfully, the Lord will show you whatever you need to see in your life not as a way the enemy can discourage you because of who or where you are right now but as a joyful possibility that we can receive as a promise because of the power of God.
By nature, I'm intense. I can't remember a time when I wasn't. I'm a prophetic personality for whom life works in black and white and legalistic performance is a temptation the enemy likes to dangle in front of me. Add to the mix my kinetic drive, and "doing" can be an almost overwhelming compulsion.
Lists can easily slip from being tools to prisons. Schedules go from being guidelines to being chains. Traditions go from joyous times of connection to "just another demand", and frankly, people can go from being blessings to hassles. And any of those things can happen before I realize I'm even on a slippery slope.
I have experienced the effects of a life controlled by the nature to do and become. I have struggled with feeling I have no value or worth because people of influence in my life were controlled by this unchecked drive. I have also been healed of those effects. Based on a promise the Lord gave me 20 years ago, I have committed that those effects will go no further down my family line. That means I have to be the change, and the Lord has allowed me to be just that.
I had ideas of what I wanted for my family, but honestly, they seemed like dreams. Some seemed so far beyond possibility that they appeared to be mere fantasy, but God is the God of the impossible. He has exceeded my hopes, brought dreams to pass, and shown fantasy to be an achievable reality.
It hasn't come easily. In fact, it is a battle I fight daily. I believe lots of people do. It's the nature of the flesh to perform, but the Spirit isn't about performing, and I choose life in the Spirit.
There are different ways to fight the battle, and I can't name all of them here, but I'll share a few things I have found to be extremely freeing...and fun, which is something intense personalities find foreign and odd.
I try to keep some simple criteria in mind.
--Is what I am doing showing someone they have value or lack value? At times, I have been so driven to finish a task, impress others, or feel successful outside my home that my behavior, words, and attitude clearly communicated to my family that they were not important. Any time my family is told they are not valuable, my priorities are out of line. Any time my achieving a goal devalues people, I am not representing God. God devalues no one. On the contrary, He declares we are priceless.
--Is this to prevent someone from rejecting me or to show others they are accepted? With our white Jack Russel Lab mix, white hair abounds. Everytime we vacuum, we joke about dumping the puppy out of the vacuum cleaner. We have a friend who simply doesn't handle dog hair well. If I know she is coming, I do all the cleaning I can to get up the dog hair for her sake. I no longer clean just so I can believe others are impressed by Domestic Diva abilities.
--Am I doing this because I think it needs to be done or because someone else does? If I'm going it just because someone expects me to, my mother did it, the women at church do it, or Martha Stewart of the Fly Lady does it, I don't need to be doing it. If I am doing it because I like it or my husband likes it, then it is for God's glory.
--If I am choosing between two things, which is an investment? If I have to choose between playing Zooreka with my children or dusting my mantel, the time with my children is the greater investment. The dust will be there when the children have their own mantels. We can dust while we chat on the phone together.
That gives you an idea of the crteria I try to use to keep my life ordered correctly.
There are also certain activities I have found useful in overcoming the compulsion to be in control and perform. I'll share some of those, too.
One thing I do is let the children lead. For folks like my husband, this is as natural as breathing. For folks like me, it takes time to learn to enjoy the unpredictable nature of such adventures. It is worth it, though.
The other thing I do is force myself to do something I know I am not good at or know nothing about. Sounds crazy. I know. It is crazy. It has also led to some of the hardest laughter I've ever experienced, some of the greatest memories I could ever hope to have, and some of the most intense deliverance and freedom I could have imagined. Actually, sometimes all of those things exceeded what I could have imagined.
So there you. There is glimpse at my life. Maybe you see yours in there. If so, I hope you see the part that says God is able to take wherever you are and whatever you struggle with and change it to be something that seems to glorious that it might even be beyond what you are able to dream.
The Jerri Phillips of Christmas 2007 is not the one that was here a year ago, and I don't believe she will be the one who is here next year. I believe next year's will be better. I hope by sharing my story you have been encouraged to believe the same for you.