I got a nasty-gram last week. She said that I’m spoiled. Indulged. Ungrateful. Whiny. A bad example. And unchristian.
The truth is that I can be all those things on occasion. Can’t you? (If think you’re never any of those things ever, you might want to unsubscribe from my blog today. We’re going to keep it real here.)
I’m not defined by those flaws, though. They aren’t the predominate markers of my character, but that’s only because of Jesus. Without Him and Holy Spirit who lives in me, I’d sink to all the lowest denominators. I’m sure of it.
But because of Jesus, those names don’t stick to me. In fact, I was able to laugh at such a caricature and also to have an achy heart for the hurt of the person who would write such things to me.
How have I gotten to that place? You might want to know since we all deal with nasty-grams in some form, and they aren’t fun.
First, I have compassion on the person that called me those names because I’ve done the same thing to others. I’m not bold enough to write them in a comment, but I sure have thought them. Based on my own flawed perceptions, I’ve labeled others with my own list of negatives. A series of events in the last few weeks have reminded me to remember that there are tender hearts on the other side of conflict. My perceptions don’t always reflect the whole story, so labels and names have no place.
Second, I’m learning to remind myself of the names that God calls me so that the way others define me doesn’t touch me.
I’ve been reflecting on this particularly in the sense of calling. What if my calling is questioned by others? What if the work of my calling is actually stripped away by circumstances? What does that mean for me?
I thought about Paul who constantly started his letters to the churches with a statement of his calling:
Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…
I Cor. 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”
II Cor. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”
Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead”
Ephes. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Look what he did there! Called them by their name too!)
Over and over again, Paul restated his calling. Check out all his letters. They almost all start this way. Why?
I definitely think it was a reminder to the church, but could it be that Paul was reminding himself too? Had people attacked him and questioned his calling?
We know they had! In II Corinthians 10:10, Paul said, “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'” Whew. Sounds like Paul received a nasty-gram or two himself, and the whole chapter sounds like a defense of his calling.
Let’s do what Paul did. Instead of being crushed under the weight of the words of those who misunderstand us or want to purposefully discourage us, let’s remind ourselves of this truth over and over:
[Tweet “God Himself holds our calling. Not people. Not circumstances.”]
Today, if you’re overcome by unearned criticism, the negative commentary of naysayers, or circumstances that aren’t going your way, put your trust in God’s hands and repeat like Paul repeated, “I __(insert your name here)__, am called to __(insert your calling)__.!”
I want y’all to know that I read every comment, and you are each precious to me for leaving it. Although there are too many to reply to them all, I pray over them as I read. You are loved!
Congratulations to Tammy (6.10.16 7:22 am)! You are the winner of a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect from your comment left last week.