“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Have Stayed Long Enough At This Mountain

"You have stayed long enough at this mountain."  
Deuteronomy 1:6b

In regards to "Numbing the Pain" please know that I speak as an expert on the subject.  Just recently while working on the Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, One In A Million, I saw it as plain as day.

Priscilla was discussing when the Israelites were leaving Egypt and heading to the promised land... they craved what they left behind in Egypt.  (Numbers 11:4-7) They felt the things of Egypt (because they knew them... and had experienced them... and selectively only remembered the pleasure of them... and not the bondage) would have to be better than anything else that could be offered.  They would stick with what they knew.  It worked for them.  And as I read the story... I wonder how could you ever desire slavery over freedom?  But the truth be told... I do it all the time. 

For me, my bondage has been to affirmation.  Positive affirmation.  Now, please don't get me wrong.  Affirmation is a wonderful thing.  Very necessary and life giving.  We need encouragement.  But for me... it becomes an obsession.  I can't have affirmation from just some people.  It needs to be from all.  And there are some people who need to give me affirmation exactly how I expect it... and if not... I am distraught.  And nothing else matters in life. 

Early on I would find affirmation however I could.  I wanted attention... whether positive or negative made no matter... just notice me.  I grew up trying to find affirmation through grades or guys.  It became addictive.  The Lord helped me to see that the ways I was trying to get affirmation were destructive.  They were not fulfilling.

Then I began to find ways to fill my need for affirmation in ways that were constructive.  Positive friendships.  Trying to change my expectations.  Affirming myself.  And yet, it wasn't enough.  There would always be one or two people who I felt should affirm me, but didn't... and I would be crushed.

Last summer... I came to a crossroads.  As I began mentoring some of my younger sisters-in-Christ, the topic of affirmation would come up.  And I was stuck.  I couldn't help them.  I couldn't help myself.  Some of them were in the same situation I was.  What was I to do?

So, I decided to force the situation.  That didn't work.  I tried talking to others about it.  That became gossip.  I tried to read books on the topic... that helped... some.  I started to pray for that person to change.  That didn't work.  I started to pray that I would change... now... I began to see some movement... in me. 

And I have felt much relief and freedom.  But when I was doing Day Three of Week One-- entitled, "Bound to a Memory" -- I realized I was not yet free.  Completely free.  Because I had exchanged my immediate desperate need for affirmation from a particular person... into a future fulfillment of that need.  Meaning, I was finding comfort in the fact that one day that person would affirm me.  I was able to be content today with that person... and with that need for their affirmation, because I had finally resigned myself that one day... one day... they would truly see me... and they would affirm me.  And I could be patient... and wait for that.

And that's when I felt the Lord say... You have stayed long enough at this mountain, Sheri.  Time to give up that hope.  Time to not rely upon the hope that I would ever be affirmed by that person.  Not that they won't affirm me... but that I was to no longer cover my symptoms.  I still had that desperate desire to be affirmed by that person... but I had covered it up... and that was no longer good enough. 

It is now time for me to stop looking back.  Stop looking longingly back.  Again, let me reiterate that affirmation in itself is not a bad thing.  Nothing is inherently wrong with it.  But I wanted it more than what God wanted for me.  God is offering me an abundant life in Christ... free from bondage... free from insecurity... free from the future hope of someone's affirmation.  Free from the dependence on someone else to meet my needs.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, 
and do not let yourselves be burdened 
again by a yoke of slavery.  
Galatians 5:1

And although there will be times, the allure of someone's affirmation will tempt me... I have resolved to stand firm... and look forward to the promised land of abundant living that Christ has set before me.  And now... as I move from this mountain... I pray my testimony of God's faithfulness will encourage those I am mentoring to do the same.

Post Script
My husband arrived safely home from Ethiopia on Friday.  
I did not attend the So Long, Insecurity simulcast on Saturday 
because he would only be home for two days before leaving for California.  
Photos of the beautiful people of Ethiopia along with their stories will be appearing soon.


Amy said...

Wow...this was a good one. I may have to go back and read it again. Powerful word, Sheri.

Angie W. said...

Ok, so now I've actually gotten a chance to read the post. :) Very thought provoking, Sheri. The mountain, as I understand it, was Mt. Horab or Sinai--the place where God met them. There God made a covenant with them, they sinned, there was forgiveness, more revelation, Moses met personally with God...it was an amazing place in their history. But the time came when they had to move on. They weren't at their actual destination yet. The promised land still lay ahead. They started their journey when God said you've stayed here long enough. Three days into it they started complaining. There are times in my life where God meets me, reveals something to me from His Word, opens up new areas of my life He wants to work on. It is good. Then God says it is time to go--this meeting isn't the promised land. And I have to get started on the journey to ACTUALLY LIVE OUT what He has said. And just like Israel, a few days into it, I'm whining and complaining too. "This is too hard. Where is the joy in changing this aspect of my life God, conforming it to You?" And He says, "keep going. (Work all the way through that pain, that struggle!) The promise land of life in freedom is still ahead and I'm going with you." I struggle to deal with the problem all the way to its root and to believe that the wilderness journey will be worth it (even though I know I don't want to go back to slavery!). So glad He is a patient and persistant God, full of compassion and loyal love.

Patti said...

Great thoughts my friend....ironically I have been drafting a post in my head about a similar topic...I have found the Lord gets gently frustrated from me when I am seeking the approval of anyone other then Himself, ya know? I start looking around for that affirmation, acceptance, etc. and meanwhile He's waving "look up here silly, I am all the affirmation you will ever need". This has rung so true in my friendships, my marriage, etc. A great post and like Amy, I will be re-reading it too. :)

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

I, too, have a mountain that I have been circling way too long. I just started teaching Beth's updated edition of "Breaking free". It is already opening my eyes to some bondage that I am ready to be unyoked from.

thanks for this great post!

Ms.Daisy said...

This post so spoke to me. I wanted affirmation from one person for years when I finally realized that it wasn't to be. Hard to let go and let God...but that is what we have to do. Great post. Thanks!


elizabeth embracing life said...

So wonderful how God is freeing you of those things that keep you from being all He has in store. I had to let go, come down, and accept some of the same this past year. It is FREEING. No more unmet expectations, or dissappointments. I love how God works in our lives. Blessings to you.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Love this post as well... "stayed long enough at this mountain"... now there's a visual I can grasp onto. As we prepare our hearts to leave this place, there are a few people I don't imagine too sad to see us go. It sticks with me, making me angry and bitter at times, but I'm realizing that no matter how I try and spin it, they're not buying me or my family.

So be it. Moving on. Looking ahead. My validation comes from Christ alone, at least it should be.

I'm a work in progress, friend. A constant work of grace. Thank you Jesus!