Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Learning to Recieve

on June 24, 2014
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Courtesy of Aysha Nicole Photography

I am getting married in 24 days.

Throughout this season of planning my upcoming wedding, so many lessons have been learned!  God has been moving in powerful ways for the past year of my life! So powerful in fact, that I am almost saddened to see this season coming to an end!  Can you believe that??  A bride who wants to CONTINUE the planning process of her wedding!!??  I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty unusual to me.

I have to be honest with you in saying that some of these lessons have been very difficult to learn, and the process God used in teaching them was definitely NOT the process I would have chosen.  Some things have been down right painful in this journey! Another confession I have to make is that I have definitely not learned all my lessons perfectly.  However, despite my shortcomings,  God is faithful, and persistent. He will continue teaching me, without fail, until the lesson is learned.  Thank the Lord for that!

One particular lesson He has continued to surface over and over (because I was obviously not learning) is how to receive.  This may seem strange to you, but hear me out.  Receiving gifts from others graciously has not been a strong suite of mine throughout my life.  I am a performance-driven person by nature.  I have an instinctual desire to please people around me, and to do things to earn their favor.  God has done much work in this area of my life.  My performance-based-people-pleasing nature was a huge issue for me – and a significant root cause of my drinking history.  That constant obsession inside of me to keep those around me happy, always feeling the need to be doing something to earn their favor.  It drove me to the point of destroying many relationships.  When I no longer felt like I could continue to perform up to my own unrealistic expectations in a relationship, rather than have that person bail on me (which my mind always told me they would bail when I stopped performing) I split.  I left the relationship before the other person even had a chance.  It was my way of protecting my heart, which ironically, ultimately led to my complete brokenness.

When I got into recovery, God started working on me right away in this area.  I discovered that there were many layers to the brokenness that my heart had experienced over the years.  One of the first things I learned was how to become vulnerable. As I entered into the world of recovery, I quickly learned that the only way for me to stop harboring hurts inside my heart was to become transparent.  God, in His ultimate Wisdom, placed safe people in my path who taught me the power of transparency and honesty.  I learned that I am only as sick as my secrets.  Transparency taught me that my secrets were not as monstrous as they seemed to be.  God’s love started to be revealed to me through people who showed me they were accepting of me, just as I was.  His character was illustrated to me countless times through the grace of other people in recovery,  (my fiance was one of them),  who started loving me without me having to do anything to earn it!  Eventually, I saw the Light, and realized that it was the Power of Christ who enables us to love without strings.  As I came to know Christ’s love at a deep intimate level, I came to learn how to accept the FREE gift of His Love, Mercy, and Grace.  And now, He is teaching me how to accept those same things from the people around me!

Throughout the process of this wedding-planning, an abundance of people have offered their time and talents to turn our Wedding Day vision into a reality.  I mean, people started offering to do things for us that are literally costing them time AND money – two very precious resources.  Blessing after blessing has continued to come our way.  And I’m referring to amounts of money, of time, and of talent that literally will be impossible for us to repay! All due to the gracious blessings of others.  As a result of these amazing people stepping into the planning process of our wedding, I have had to learn how to receive their blessings.  It truly is a reflection of the very heart of God and His plan for our life – to give and to receive – and to do it abundantly!

It may seem like the easiest thing to do, to accept a free gift from someone.  Let me tell you, I used to snag FREE right up!  I felt entitled to it, and I was completely unappreciative of what it cost the other person.  This process is much different.  When I began to fully understand the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, what it truly COST Him to save me, my eyes began to open to people and relationships in a whole new way!  Talk about a humility-building process!  To humbly accept the work on the Cross, as being the most significant and most COSTLY gift I will ever receive – one I could NEVER pay back, no matter how much I try, has been a significant journey for me. One that has created within me an ability to graciously receive without having to earn or repay.  A strange lesson to have to learn, I know.  But a crucial one for me.

Earlier in this post, I touched on the levels of brokenness I have in this area of being vulnerable with others.  This idea of letting people care about and love me without feeling guilty that I can’t repay them, is something that I didn’t realize was such an issue in my heart.  Relating it to my past, I think that it is because I used to be so ungrateful, I am constantly feeling like I must pay everyone back for what they do for me.  It’s like I get stuck trying to overcompensate for my past failures. I actually had one friend say to me ( and she is creating, baking, and delivering our wedding cake, wedding favors, and singing me up the aisle as as our gift) that if I didn’t stop asking her how I could help financially, she was going to start getting offended.  She told me, in a very loving way, that I needed to learn how to accept her gift.  That moment was an awakening for me, and I realized that I needed to be more intentional in how I was receiving gifts from other people.  I know that this is a God thing, because this is just one of countless examples I could share with you in how people are coming together to be of service, to share their time and talents, and to love us.

I am grateful to God today that He is teaching me how to be a more loving, humble, caring, and transparent person – through the process of others speaking into my life.  I pray daily that He will continue growing me, stretching me, and changing me, each step of the way!  I also am excited to see how He will use this growing experience to enable both Ashley and myself to bless others as abundantly as we are being blessed!  Knowing God, He’s already got a plan!!



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