Ice Queen

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Free Advice Friday: What’s the Biblical definition of self-love?

Published December 7, 2012 by joypatton

This question came via text this week.  Often the basis of this question is the teaching on the passage that we must love others as we love ourselves.  I have heard it taught that you can’t love other people until you love yourself.  I think that we have to able to receive love before we can give love.  But when I ask myself what Biblical self-love looks like, I have a hard time finding examples, especially when I look to the life of Jesus.

I don’t think there is such a thing as Biblical self-love.  The Bible doesn’t directly talk about loving ourselves as something we ought to do.  I’ve been studying John and particularly how Jesus related to the Father as a model for how a Princess relates to the King.  We never see Jesus trying to love himself more.  Rather we know that he loved the Father and that the Father loved him.  His one desire was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).  He sought the glory of the Father, more than glory for himself (John 5:41).  We also know that he entrusted himself completely to the will of the Father (I Peter 2:23).

Jesus didn’t model self-love, but he did model self-care.  He withdrew and took time for himself, but I believe it was because the Father told him to.  Everything he did was submitted to the Father.  The people he healed and the teachings he taught came directly from the Father, not from himself.  (John 7:18)  He didn’t heal every person, cast out every demon or raise every person from the dead.  How did he know where to go?  How did he know when it was time to minister to others and when it was time to withdraw?  The Father told him.  Jesus modeled a beautiful submission to the Father and what it looks like to abide in Him.  When he died on the cross, it was not self-love or self-glorification (Ice Queen) nor was it self-loathing or self-hatred (Orphan).  Rather Jesus obeyed the Father to the point of death on the cross because he loved the Father and trusted him completely.

Likewise for us, the Princess loves the King and desires to please him.  The Princess loves what the King loves, and the King loves her.  But it’s not that the Princess tries to love herself, to protect herself or take care of herself.  Rather she trusts that the Father loves her, that he protects her, that he takes care of her.  In a practical sense, I trust the Father to give me time to refresh.  I trust the Father to give me strength when the list for the day is overwhelming.  I trust the Father to help me know what boundaries to set with others.  I do this because I know that my time, my heart, my emotions are worthy of protection because the Father has made me worthy of love.  I can trust the Father even in the midst of suffering when my world is falling apart because I know that discipline leads to righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

Maybe the struggle is not in loving yourself, but believing that you are already loved.  John says, “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).  He is the one who shows us what it feels like to be loved and how to love other people.  We must “come to know and to believe the love that God has for us” (I John 4:16).  Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child challenges us to “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.”

So my dear Princesses, the love you have for yourself does not come from yourself or your own desires.  Rather you can love, accept, value and cherish yourself because the King Father first accepted, loved, valued and cherished you.

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, you can email me at joy@joypatton.com.

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Lessons from the Wasteland: Sell everything

Published October 15, 2012 by joypatton

“You have found a treasure: the treasure of God’s love.  You know now where it is, but you are not yet ready to own it fully.  So many attachments keep pulling you away.  If you would fully own your treasure, you must hide it in the field where you found it, go off happily to sell everything you own, and then come back and buy the field.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen – The Inner Voice of Love

When I read this, I realized that in the wasteland God was asking me to sell everything.  This feels so counter-intuitive to me.  When you find a treasure, you don’t hide it and then come back.  Don’t you want to show everyone?  But the truth is that this treasure is so precious, so personal, so profound, that when you find it, you hide it.  Not because you are ashamed, not because you are afraid, but because you are not yet ready to fully own it.

I don’t like not being ready.  I don’t like it when someone tells me I can’t have something.  It often spurs on my Ice Queen to take it by force.  I have talked to women who have what I’m chasing after.  It’s so maddening to me when they tell me that they don’t know how it happened.  That the opportunities just fell out of the sky and the doors magically opened.  This is not the answer I want to hear.  I want to hear how God called them to it and through diligence, hard work and perseverance, they obtained the prize.  This is how my flesh wants the story to go.

But that is my story, not God’s story.  God’s story takes me through the wasteland.  The land of nothing and no opportunities.  The dry and weary land of knowing the treasure is there, but not being ready to fully own it.  The pain of now and not yet.  In the wasteland, I’m tempted to believe that God has taken these things from me by force.  In a jealous rage, he has ripped away everything I have.  But this is not truth.

Rather he has invited me to sell everything.  This past year I thought I owned a position.  It was a position I thought I deserved, that I earned, that was rightfully mine.  In my wisdom, it was a logical next step for where God was taking me.  After all, it all made sense on paper.  To me, this position was exactly what I needed.  And yet, it was taken away.

I believed that God took it, that he forced me out.  But honestly, he gave me the perfect opportunity to sell it.  To let go of the attachments that have kept me from knowing Him.  I could have gone and asserted myself and demanded my proper position.  I could have gossiped and taken my complaint and my hurt other places.  I could have fought to hold on to my precious position.  And yet, God was asking me to sell it, to let it go.

There are other things I’ve had to let go of this year.  I had to let go of some friendships and my desire to be justified, right and loved by all.  I’ve had to let go of micromanaging my teenage son and learn to let him rise and fall on his own as a man.  All the publishing and speaking doors I knocked on were closed.  I had to let go of my self-effort to get to where I thought I was going.  I have “sold” these things so that I could have one thing, the pearl of great price.  The treasure more valuable than all other treasures: Jesus.

Henri Nouwen goes on to explain, “This is often a painful enterprise, because your sense of who you are is so intimately connected to all the things you own: success, friends, prestige, money, degrees, and so on.”  The wasteland is painful.  It looks and feels like everything is being taken away.  But the truth is that he is asking me to let go.  He is also giving me clear direction about what needs to be sold.  It is the painful process of dying to self.  This is not something we do once, but something we must do daily.  Jesus himself said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  Deny self and follow.  That’s what it means to sell everything.

But as it has been said before, living sacrifices tend to wiggle off the altar. I want to wiggle out of the pain.  I want to get to the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness.  But that is my story for my glory.  I want His story to reveal His glory.  This is why we need the Holy Spirit.  In his mercy and perfect timing, he shows us what we must sell.  Invite him into the wasteland to show you what possessions are keeping you from knowing and trusting Him more.  In His perfect love and full of grace, he will show you.  “Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

What is God asking you to sell?  Will you do it joyfully?

What did you eat today?

Published September 25, 2012 by joypatton

Many American women could answer this question with frightening accuracy.  We are obsessed with food in one way or another.  If you don’t think this is true, go look at Pinterest and see all the food that everyone is pinning.  Recipes everywhere of things we wish we could eat, things we wish we could make, things we tell ourselves we will make someday. We watch TV programs devoted to food, even an entire channel of food all day every day.  Some of us control every little thing that goes into our mouths making sure it is healthy.  Some of us swing the opposite way and eat everything in sight.  Very few of us have a truly healthy relationship with food.

Most days I fall into one of two camps: dieting or bingeing.  Currently I’m on a diet (thus the obsession with food).  I like to diet every once in a while because it exposes bad habits (like eating everything the kids leave behind) and helps me set new ones (like eating small meals every three hours).  I focus on eating the “right” things and not eating the “wrong” things.  I follow a book with rules about weights and measures and calories.  It feels good because I see progress and in general I feel better too.  Since it’s about following rules and working a program, it’s satisfies my flesh.  The desire that I want to control my health and not get sick.  The desire that I can control how I look.  This is the Ice Queen end of the spectrum.

Then there’s the other side, the dark side, the binge.  I start to tell myself that God made pasta, especially chicken alfredo, for a reason.  He wanted me to enjoy food, so shouldn’t I be eating it?  When I have a bad food day, I’ll follow it with more exercise and less eating the next day.  It’s the calories game that we have learned to play so well.   I get overwhelmed because there is something “wrong” with everything.  Certain fake sugars cause cancer, even some vegetables are full of “sugar.”  It just feels like I can’t win, so why bother trying.  I get tired of trying to eat healthy all the time and sometimes I just want to EAT! This is the Orphan side of the coin.

Today I was in a general funk and meditating on the the verse that Jesus spoke “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)  When I think about spiritual food, it’s not about the things I am actually putting in my mouth.  It’s more about my focus, what I’m putting into my brain.  For Jesus, even though he had been sitting in the sun by a well in Samaria and was physically hungry, his focus was on doing the will of the Father.  He told the disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” (John 4:32)  He was satisfied and full because he had watched the woman at the well believe in him.

I must admit that often my spiritual food choices swing both ways as well.  This morning I worked a spiritual diet program and decided what my spiritual food should be.  I sat down to read and study in the book of John.  I wanted to be hit with something profound.  I was trying to eat the right and healthy food and even looked up Greek words and meanings.  I was trying to come up with something profound for my blog this week.  But then my sick little one interrupted my “meal,” and I couldn’t push her off in front of the TV any longer.

I spent the rest of the day stuck in a fog, not knowing what I was feeling or what God was trying to say to me.  So then I kind of spiritually checked out.  I laid on the couch to take a nap, and just as I was getting to good sleep, the little one woke up.  Then the girls did my hair and makeup as I laid on the couch surfing Facebook and Twitter on my phone.  The overindulgence and distraction led to a spiritual food binge.  I started comparing myself to other authors who are getting mentioned and published and wondering why it hasn’t happened for me.  I compared myself to other moms on Facebook talking about their tips for getting rid of pacifiers and talking to kids about sex.  In my self-righteousness, I told myself how good I’ve done on both.  My flesh was in full swing.

When I finally got my butt off the couch, I realized that I had just “binged” and felt guilty.  But then I remembered that “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”  The answer to getting out of the funk was to change my focus.  I didn’t need to focus on what spiritual discipline I could do that would “feed” me.  I didn’t need to ignore my hunger and let my thoughts chase after things that aren’t good for me.  I just need to lift my eyes and see Him.  I needed to be present in the moment I was in.  In this moment, what was the will of Him who sent me?  I was grateful God gave me little girls who love hair and makeup.  I looked around and decided what needed to be done around the house, how I needed to serve my family.

So what are you eating today spiritually speaking?  Where is your focus?  Are you on a “diet,” a strict regimen with lots of rules to follow and spiritual tasks that you should be doing to be healthy?  Are you bingeing, letting your mind chase after every distracting thought that “tastes” good at the time?  Are you feasting the Bread of Life, who satisfies the deepest hunger of your soul?  “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

I’m still not sure how to eat the bread of life, but I know it is the Royal Food of the Princess.  I think it started today with recognizing my bad eating habits and knowing when I’m eating junk food.  I’m still asking him exactly what this looks and feels like in my every day life.  Heavenly Father, teach me how to feast at your table.  May I only be satisfied by you.

So what have you eaten today?

Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

Published September 21, 2012 by joypatton

It’s the first ever Free Advice Friday on my blog!  Every Friday I’m turning this blog into an advice column.  Ask me anything from dating (didn’t date much, but have lots of interesting opinions), marriage (been married 15 years), parenting (have 4 kids), friendships (have had some good and some bad) or spiritual life (I have one).  I’m not sure that I will have great answers, but I know Someone who does.  My hope is that together we can carry our burdens into His presence and lay them at his feet.

Last week a friend texted me this question and I thought it was a good start for Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

My favorite worship album right now is Jason Gray’s “A Way to See in the Dark.”  I bought it because I heard the first song “Remind Me Who I Am” on KLove Radio in Nashville.  “In the lonely places when I can’t remember what grace is, remind me who I am to you.”  This is my new theme song.  When I get stuck in my Ice Queen and Orphan thinking, I need him to remind me that I am His Princess, his beloved.  “I’m the one You love.”

Another one of my favorites is “I Will Find a Way.”  In the beginning it talks about a woman is who so broken and afraid that she has shut the door of her heart.  “How should I come to the one that I love?  I will find a way.”  He loved her so much that he found a way to reach her and come into her heart.  I’m reminded how much the Father has loved us to send His only Son.  My other favorites on the album are “No Thief Like Fear,” “Nothing is Wasted,” and “Fear is Easy, Love is Hard.”  You can see why this is a great album for all my Orphan girls out there.

Another song that must be on this list is “One Thing” by Kristian Stanfill. “Your Love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”  When we sing it in church, it sounds almost like a chant.  When I’ve messed up, I need to believe that his love is there, no matter what.

The problem is that when I mess up, it’s really hard to believe that God still loves me.  This exposes the lie that I believe that God loves me because of what I do.  Because I obey him or because I serve him or because I read my Bible and go to church.  None of those are the reasons that he loves me.  He loved me before I knew how to do any of those things.  He loved me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).  So now that I’m “righteous,” has his love grown or changed?  By no means!  God’s love has no levels, no more and no less.  It has always been and will always be 100% plus infinity.

If Satan can get me to believe that God doesn’t love me, he can keep me from the cross, the ultimate sign of love.  When I doubt God’s unconditional love for me, then I am slow to repent because I don’t believe he even wants me back.  Eventually I stop repenting all together.  I stop going back to ask forgiveness again.  I stop bringing the things I did in the dark into the light.  And then I’m right where the enemy wants me, isolated, alone, in despair because I have no remedy for my sin.  This is the place where he is able to steal, kill and destroy this little lamb of God (John 10:10).

But when I am reminded of his great love, that his love for me remains, then I am free to run back to the cross and repent.  When I confess and agree with God that I messed it up again, he is faithful to forgive (I John 1:9).  I can agree with Satan that I am all those horrible things he has called me, “weak, pathetic, unworthy of love and disgusting.”  BUT GOD loves me!  I don’t know why, and I know I don’t deserve it.  This is the great mystery. But I do know that he loves me.  Because I know his love, I can trust that my sin is forgiven.

When I mess up and repent, I invite God in to be the solution.  I can ask him to show me the patterns that keep putting me in tempting situations.  I can ask him to show me the root beliefs that drive my sinful behaviors.  I can invite him in and ask him to heal those wounded places that I keep trying to heal myself.  I can live in the light and be in relationship with others because I know that I am deeply loved.  There is power in repentance because I admit that I am powerless over my own sin, that I cannot save myself, that I need Someone bigger than myself outside of myself to rescue me.

So my beloved, dear Princess, beautiful child of God…know that you are deeply loved today.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)

What songs have helped you when you have messed up?

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, email me at joy@joypatton.com.  If I answer your question in my blog next week, I will send you a copy of my book The Myth of Enuff.

Online Bible Study

Published August 27, 2012 by joypatton

I’m so excited to offer From Ice Queen to Princess as an online Bible study this fall! For the past two years I have been writing a study of the book of Galatians that looks at how the gospel transforms us from Ice Queens and Orphans into Princesses. I’ve found that as women we often know that we are God’s Princesses, his beloved adopted daughters. However this knowledge doesn’t seem to affect our everyday lives. We are stuck relating to God and to each other as Ice Queens, powerful, perfectionist women who love to be in control, and Orphans, poor wandering souls who don’t feel worthy and try to please others. These personas are two sides of the same coin, two extremes focused on self. Sometimes the church and our society reinforce the strong, powerful woman or the Christian nice girl that makes everyone happy. However neither one is pleasing to God. In this study we look at what God’s Princess looks like in contrast to Ice Queens and Orphans. It’s a study that reads more like a nonfiction book than a textbook. It’s a study that goes through the right side of your brain to get to the heart. It’s a study that will help you get “unstuck.”

How It Works
You register for the class online using the link below. We will use a variety of online tools. Use whatever you are comfortable with.
Email – Each Sunday I will send you a PDF file of the chapters. These can be uploaded into most eReaders or printed off.
Facebook– When you register, you will be invited to join a private Facebook group only for women currently in the study. Each day I will post one of the discussion questions. You can share your answer by commenting on the post.
Blog – I will be using this blog each week. Mondays will be the usual post about where God has me each week. Wednesdays will be a video blog about current thoughts or stories about the chapter for the week. “Free Advice Fridays” are when you can ask me anything about anything. Make sure you “follow” to this blog via email so you don’t miss the good stuff. Click the button under my picture to get started.
Pinterest – I have a board on my account (JoyPatton) that is called “Ice Queens, Orphans and Princesses.” When you find something that reminds you of the three personas, you can send me pictures to post on this board. Each chapter also has a “Royal Fun” activity. You may want to post those on Pinterest or on the private Facebook page.
Twitter – It’s a great place to talk about the study using the hash tag #IQ2P. Post quotes or share a “Princess moment.” I may Tweet a verse for the day…maybe.

The Details
The study starts the week of September 9 and will end the week of November 11. Ten weeks to become a Princess…or at least get started!
The cost is $10 plus Paypal fees. You can register by clicking here.

I’m giving away THREE tote bags with goodies, including a copy of my book The Myth of Enuff. Register for the study before September 1st, and you will be entered in a drawing to win. I hope to see you online and don’t forget to invite a friend! You can read below what women who have gone through the study have said.

From Ice Queen to Princess has helped me understand God more than any other Bible study. Being reminded that He sees perfection in me, because He sees Jesus in me is like a weight lifted!” – Amanda Juillard

“I have been through a lot of studies before, but this one is different! Joy Patton takes the book of Galatians and speaks directly to the hearts of her readers. Many times my relationship with the Lord was based on a set of rules, and other times I never felt good enough for Him. The book, From Ice Queen to Princess, has shown me, God views me as His Princess even in my mess. I really enjoyed how Joy used everyday situations and asked her readers how they respond to those situations. Speaking directly to women’s hearts, this study will forever change them from being Ice Queens to His Princesses.” – Jennifer Thieman

“I loved the personal stories infused in the Biblical application. It was an intimate study that could be experienced by one person on their own or large groups of women. The references to various characters in films help you visualize the Orphan, Ice Queen and Princess. The chapter challenges that incorporate art, nature and self reflection allow the reader to truly become part of Joy’s work.” – Amy Bryan

“This study was wonderful. It taught me to really look at how I can act like a Princess with our amazing Father to help me through.” – Michelle A.

The Wall and the Window

Published July 31, 2012 by joypatton

She stands at the wall and sees no way around it, through it or over it.  The wall stretches for miles in both directions and towers above her head.  There is a small window in the wall, and when she stands on her tip toes, she can see all the way through to the other side.  It is beautiful and full of sunshine and life.  She sees it perfectly poised on the other side.  Her heart leaps with joy at the sight of it, and she knows she must have it.  She stretches her arm through the window, but alas the wall is too thick and the other side is simply out of reach.

She slumps at the base of the wall into a sobbing mess.  “Why would God let me see it and then make it so impossible to grasp?” she silently complains.  She lets out a sigh and her head drops to her knees.  God has bigger problems to solve than trying to help her get to the other side of the wall.  She should just be happy where she is and not complain.  Maybe this side of the wall is all that God has for her.  She feels guilty for even looking through the window in the first place.  She tries to list all of the good things on her side of the wall, but she can’t help but think how much better it would be on the other side.  But she can’t sit in this Orphan frame of mind any more.  She pulls herself to her feet and looks through the window again.

The other side is still just as beautiful as it was last time.  “Why would God let her see it if he didn’t want her to have it?”  She decides that she must do whatever it takes to get to the other side.  She walks for miles in both directions looking for a gate, a door, a giant crack…anything.  She finds nothing.  She contemplates building a ladder to get over the wall.  But that would take too much time.  She decides to climb over the wall and pushes her fingers into the cracks until they bleed.  But she drops to the ground and screams in frustration.  She furiously kicks and pounds the wall.  She tries to dismantle it brick by brick, but it will not budge.  Even the Ice Queen can’t find a way through the wall.

“I am here,” he whispered in her ear.  “I will be with you.”  She steps back and confesses that she has forgotten that God is present with her on this side of the wall.  “But I want to be on the other side,” she says to him.  “I know,” he says full of love and compassion.  She turns toward him and thanks him for being with her.  She thanks him for everything that she has on this side of the wall.  The two of them sit shoulder to shoulder looking at the wall and being with each other.  She remembers that she is His Princess and that she is with Him.  Her heart wants to be with Him more than anything on the other side of the wall.

This is a picture that my mentor Mary Grace Birkhead taught me a few years ago.  It has stuck with me whenever I see something I really want, but can’t get.  Sometimes it’s a perfect pair of black boots for my fall wardrobe or curtains for my bedroom.  Sometimes it’s children that actually obey the first time or something I want for our marriage.  But at this moment, the thing on the side of the wall is a publishing deal and speaking engagements.

Last weekend I went to She Speaks, a conference for Christian women speakers and writers, in Concord, NC, organized by Proverbs 31 ministries.  In January, I wrote this down as one of my goals for the year.  I saw it through the window, but standing between me and registration was money.  But God provided through generous friends who gave me the registration as a birthday present.  But then I hit another wall when I went to register.  No spots left.  Seriously, God?  I thought the wall was gone.  I signed up for the waiting list hoping against all hope that this wall would go away too.  And I waited.  I couldn’t push or make the wall move; I just had to wait and try not to let my Orphan thinking take over.

At the beginning of the year, I would have gone to the conference ready to promote myself, my book, my speaking ability, etc.  I would have shoved a business card on anyone I met hoping that it would fall in the right place.  But because of the walls and rejections that kept coming this spring, I barely believed that I could write or speak or have anything anyone would want to hear.  I wondered if I had been looking through the wrong window.  I had little self-confidence left and no desire to promote myself to anyone.  I was crumpled like an Orphan at the base of the wall.

But then the call came that there was a spot for me.  The sessions were full, and I was put on another waiting list for a writing group.  God had a spot for me there too.  As I drove all the way to North Carolina, I was thankful for the places God had given me and ready to receive whatever he had for me.  When I asked if there were openings in a speaker evaluation group, God placed for me in a perfect group.  When I asked if there were any openings to meet with publishers, God had a spot for me there too.  I had to wait and trust God with everything, every step, every meeting, every opportunity.  It was not my job to promote myself, it was my job to receive more of Him.

While I still don’t have a publishing deal or speaking engagements, I do have more of Him.  He reminded me of his great love for me and that I am still qualified, still called, still wanted, even on this side of the wall.  I don’t know whether the things I see through the window of the wall will ever come to pass.  I don’t know if he will make a way through the wall or if he will keep giving me more of himself on this side of the wall.  But I do know that he has called me to be His Princess.  At the wall, I can’t take the posture of the Orphan lost in despair or the Ice Queen full of self-determination.  As a Princess, all I can do is step back and worship Him.

Question: At this moment, what is on the other side of your wall?  What has your posture been at the wall?

Three Final Warnings – Purpose Part 6

Published July 9, 2012 by joypatton

Finding your purpose sounds like a really great thing.  But I have to warn you that it is not smooth sailing.  You don’t punch it into the GPS of your life and have clear direction at every turn, advance warnings of detours, and safe arrival at exactly the time predicted.  In this sixth blog on purpose, I have three final warnings.

Brace yourself!  Once you know your purpose and start to live it, you have a target on your back.  After Jesus was baptized, he was led into the wilderness to be tested for 40 days.  After Paul was blinded by the light on the road to Damascus, his new identity and purpose were immediately put to the test.  Paul started preaching that Jesus was the Messiah in the Jewish synagogues, and the people there were amazed because they knew of his previous reputation.  (When Ice Queens, turn into Princesses, people notice.)  But soon the Jews in Damascus decided to “take care of the situation” and plotted to kill Paul.  Paul escaped Damascus with the help of friends who lowered him over the wall in a basket.

Why is it important for a Princess to know her identity and her purpose?  Because some day, her Princess status will be challenged.  It may or may not be challenged by other people, but I know for certain that the enemy Satan will challenge it.  Paul knew where he came from, who he was, and what he was called to do.  His confidence came from his identity in Christ and his belief in the true Gospel.  Paul and the Princess have no confidence in themselves and all the things they are gifted in.  Rather their confidence is in the One who gifted and called them to His purposes.

Remember that suffering was part of God’s purpose for Paul.  Was Paul any less anointed or gifted when he was sitting in a jail cell?  Was he less called when he was under house arrest?  In God’s kingdom, suffering has a purpose.  Are you ready to suffer?  Will the Enemy be able to sidetrack you at the first sign of trouble?

Beware of the box – Sometimes God’s purpose does not look the way we always thought it would.  Sometimes we look at our gifts and passions and we think we know exactly how God wants to use us. A couple weeks ago, I met a girl who loves Spanish and Latin cultures.  Her grandmother was a missionary to Honduras, so naturally she felt she wanted to be a missionary.   But what if God has a different way for her to use her love of Latin culture?  What if she doesn’t ever become a missionary, but instead works in the United Nations?  Would she have missed God’s purpose for her life?  Or maybe you are a gifted singer, songwriter, musician.  When that is your gifting we automatically see record deals and touring.  But what if it’s leading worship in your local church or teaching music in a classroom?  Have you missed God’s purpose if you never get your Nashville dream box?

Maybe you thought you had the perfect guy who met every one of your requirements for an ideal mate.  You thought you would be living happily ever after by now, but you aren’t.  Have you missed God’s best for your life?  Consider other women who have a passion for children, but never marry or can’t have children of their own.  Have they missed God’s purpose?  Is the passion he put in them wasted?  Nothing is wasted in the kingdom of God.

For me, I have a passion for teaching women the Bible.  I always thought that meant I would be teaching in my local church like I have for the last five years.  But that’s not what I’m doing this year.  If I don’t do it through my church, does that mean I’ve missed God’s purpose for my life?  I’m learning that there are lots of ways to teach women the Bible.  I think God is blowing up my box.  This box held my dream in a predictable place where I was safe and comfortable.  However living with purpose when you don’t know the plan is quite terrifying.  But it takes me to the place where I have to choose whether or not I will trust him more.  The Princess must choose to look to him and follow, no matter where he leads.  Will you trust that he has a purpose even when it doesn’t fit your box?

You can’t please everyone – When you live according to your purpose, you will have to say no.  You will have to disappoint some people, especially people who are used to you saying yes.  One of the myths of modern womanhood is that you can be 100% wife, 100% mom and 100% employee.  This will leave you exhausted and failing 100% of the time.  You can’t be everywhere and do everything.  Something has to give.  Someone is going to be unhappy and feel left out.  Someone is going to get less than 100%.

Some days your kids don’t have a home cooked dinner because you go on a date with your spouse.  Some days your husband has no clean underwear because you had a work project that required extra time.  Sometimes you have to take a sick day to be with a sick child.  So how do you know who you should disappoint?  The Princess asks the King.  The Holy Spirit is the one who knows exactly what you should do.  The King is fully capable of filling in the gaps and picking up the balls you have dropped.  Remember it is ultimately his job to make sure everyone, including you, has what he or she needs.

It is so important to remember whom you are trying to please because sometimes, you won’t please the people around you.  Tamar didn’t look like a nice Christian girl dressed as a prostitute waiting for Judah to come along.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, didn’t look like a good Jewish girl when she showed up pregnant and unmarried.  The woman who anointed Jesus with perfume and wept as his feet experienced scowls from religious leaders, even the disciples, in the room.  But each one was declared righteous in God’s sight.  Each one was exactly where God needed her to be to accomplish His purposes.

Sometimes pleasing Him makes us look stupid or even worse, unrighteous.  But Paul lived a life that was solely focused on pleasing the Father.  Jesus said that he did nothing apart from the Father.  His food was to do the will of Him who sent him.  The Princess lives only to please the Father and carry out His mission for His kingdom.  So whom are you trying to please?

Don’t give up!  My hope is that you will know who you are in Christ, that you will know how he has gifted you and that you will make courageous choices to trust him more with your life.  Dear Princess, you can trust the King with your life.  You belong to Him!

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