Tag Archives: Control

Summer Study: Philippians 1

I completed the Ephesians study last week, so the plan is to finish the summer with a study in Philippians.  So, here’s what I learned from Chapter 1.

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I’ve always loved Philippians.  Finding joy in the direst of circumstances.  Plus, the love that is shared between Paul and this church.  It’s just something awesome.  Philippi was the place the Paul met Lydia, cast out the demon possessed, fortune-telling girl, and stayed put in a prison earthquake which led to the conversion of the jailer.  I can imagine that in verse 13 when he mentions the fact that the whole palace guard is aware that he is in chains for Christ, that the same jailer connected with that.

But the verse that really stood out for me, or verses, 12-18.

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What has happened to me.  This unfortunate situation has brought about great fortune.  Because of where he is, what he has experienced, doors are opening for Paul.  He speaks into the lives of those around him.  He makes a difference.  It gives purpose to his suffering.  That’s something that I realized when I wrote Scars after my first daughter died.  

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But the next few verses are really what threw me.

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It’s something that I have been learning recently, not just in my writing, but in all kinds of communication.  I have no control over how anything I say or write or do is received by others.  So much energy is used to try to edit and cultivate a message in order to control the outcome.  But the reality is I can try to be kind, try to keep in mind the feelings of others when I communicate, but in the end, they decide how to receive it and how they share it.  That is their right.

Everything I say will be filtered through other’s emotions, motives, and experiences.  If they are set on thinking I’m hateful, then what I say will be hateful.  If they were having a bad day, or if something I said was said in a way that has been hurtful to them in the past, it might not be taken well.  But if I know my motivations are true, and that I’m doing everything I can to honor God with my words, then I have to let go of the message and trust that God will work through it.

And in verse 18, Paul says, “What does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this, I rejoice.”  He knew that this wasn’t about him, that people were going to do what they were going to do, but he trusted the message.  The truth will always win in the end.  God is already on the throne.  And if I seek after Him, I cannot go astray.

Letting Go

I love my husband. You guys don’t even know half of the amazing things this man has done for me through the course of our courtship and marriage, but especially in the last two months. We have become so much closer over the last year than we ever had before, and I’m so grateful for that.

The reason I’m grateful for it is because God is the one that has given this man and this relationship to me. I don’t deserve it on my own. Before Michael, I made a lot of bad decisions in the romantic area of my life. I was manipulative. I used and was used by guys. I took pride in not crossing a particular physical boundary, but my behavior still led me to do things that didn’t honor God, myself or my future husband. I had to hit rock bottom to finally pry the fingers off my dating life and give it over to God. God took it and gave me Michael. I am eternally grateful for that.

People are sometimes shocked to know who I was before Michael. It would be easy to hide that part of me away, especially since we moved to a place where no one knew us after we got married. Our marriage would still be a great story, but it would be missing parts of the vibrant colors of a powerful God working through flawed humans to create something beautiful. Telling the whole story also allows others who may not have made the best choices in their own life know that there is redemption and hope for them as well.

Sometimes we communicate a different road to redemption and hope. We think if we follow all the rules, then we will have strong marriages and successful families. If we don’t have these things, then it must be something that we have done, and we are being punished for it. Also, if we do mess up, we try to overcompensate, hoping that we do enough right things to avoid punishment for our wrongs. What are we communicating to the rest of the world? The worldly success of our life does not dictate our holiness. And doing everything “right” does not control the path of our journey.

We need to be responsible with our choices, words and actions. But responsibility and control are two separate things, and I think that’s where we get caught up. My miscarriages are not punishments. They are reminders that I am not in control. They are opportunities for me to lean on a God who is in control, a God who loves me and grieves with me.

It is my responsibility to be obedient to God. It is my responsibility to honor my marriage and to take care of the things given to me on this earth. But that doesn’t mean I have any control over the things in my care. It’s such a scary thought to know that I don’t have control. But that is where trust comes in. Trust that God has got this. He knows what is best for me, and His plan is greater than anything I could imagine.

God has a plan for my life, a plan that is already in motion. I see the places where he has taken my flawed, selfish messes and turned them into something wonderful. Because of this, I know that there are some pretty amazing things in store for me and for my family. So, I’m giving my desires for my family up to God, along with the messes and frustrations and failures. And I can’t wait to see the beautiful masterpiece God will unfold.