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This morning, God woke me with the beautiful words, “You are a child of victory, you are defined by me, not by the opinions of others…”
This was precious to me, as yesterday was a day where I again was under the “you shoulds” as to how I should handle a particular situation. But realistically, a relationship cannot be repaired where the other party is going to everyone about me but not to me. As He recapped so many of the lessons I have lived this month, I am trying to put the pieces together – which of course for me looks like writing… but wow, there are a lot of pieces! But then again, this year has had a lot of life lessons… wish this course could have been completed young and then I could have lived happily ever after… yeah.right.

My verse (chapter) this year, 2 Timothy 2, was renewed again this week as it was our retreat topic. I thought I was so prepared because I had studied it and studied it in January when God gave it to me, but life this year gave me a different lesson, because I am different.

Again, I keep going back to the lessons God said He would teach me this year… hard lessons, heart breaking lessons… in order to effect new, healthy, positive growth. Praise challenge, day 85 was a recap of this: “You spoke into my heart that this year will require courage – change does.

You said You will teach me to please God, through showing me the futility of being a “people pleaser”;

You will teach me to Love as Jesus loves, by showing me what love is not;

You will teach me courage by first having me face my fears;
You will teach me forgiveness by showing me what unforgiveness lives like;

You will teach me freedom by revealing my captivity;

You will teach me “yes,“ by first teaching me the necessity of “no;”

You will teach me Your provision, by first walking me through loss;

You will teach me who my friends are, by showing me what friendship is not;

You will teach me strength through my weakness;

You will teach me obedience by sweeping away my excuses;

You will teach me wisdom by showing me foolishness;

You will teach me the voice of truth by quietly speaking above the shout of the lies;
You will show me what Your presence, Your blessings look like through it all.
I praise You precious Holy Spirit for the hard lessons I do not want to face –

Lessons which change life because they change me…”

2 Timothy 2:1 put me on my face for a week this month. “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

So simple… right? The therefore is 2 Timothy 1 about holding on to sound teaching.
Grace, charis also translates as “favor” – a Divine influence on the heart AND it’s reflection in my life. 

“Yes, child” but that’s only the half of it! Grace, my favor, is the first half…

Grace (charis) and joy (chara) have the same root:  Grace and joy are the daughters of chairo – to rejoice.

Grace is rooted in rejoicing, in thanks… grace requires thanks, gratitude to the giver to be complete.

Strengthen (endunamoo) is to be empowered, inwardly strengthened in soul and purpose… by Jesus’ favor.

Lord – Am I then empowered in soul and purpose, when I rejoice, when I celebrate and experience the joy of Your favor?

“Ah, child, live that question inwardly for this next season, as you experience the answers…” 

You therefore must endurehardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2

Avoid entanglements, compete according to the rules of engagement – What entanglements? what rules?

I am defined by Jesus and I am His beloved – His rules.
I am not defined by the opinions or moods of others. I was listening to a Brene Brown book, and she notes that she keeps a 1” square piece of paper with, “these are the people whose opinion/critique about me matters.” As I thought about that… As I compile this list, the #1 criteria is: is this a Godly man/woman whose opinion will be based on God’s truth and not self-serving. If that list is all “yes people”, then I am compiling, as she puts it, “an echo chamber…” a list of people who will echo my words. Yes, I agree, 1” is enough, anything more and it’s easy to get trapped in people pleasing.

What entanglements? Guard my tongue, Lord; Guart my heart:
Gossip is an easy entanglement… but at what point is “sharing” gossip? Often someone will ask, “how is so and so?” To not say anything, “ask them yourself…” would avoid the gossip trap, but can also be rude. I’m working to not say anything I wouldn’t say with them present. I am working on it. Pretty much that could be summed by “don’t say things ABOUT someone which I should be saying TO them.”

When I have to talk about others to feel good about myself, I need to be doing some heart repair time… that is a sure indication of a hurt place that needs attention. Hurt people hurt people… have been on both ends of that recently.

2 Timothy 2 talks about words a LOT… “14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to [strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer.”
Why do I allow myself to get caught up in 3rd party disputes or fruitless babblings?

Jesus, heal those places…Nostalgia: return to pain
At some point we have to talk about the “stuff”… sometimes our memories lie… to rewrite our story and not talk about  the stuff has several harmful effects:
– a rewrite often writes out the miracle(s) that God has done in our life

– our children do not learn from mistakes we refuse to confront… Family history has a big impact on their lives and family members often fall into the same pit because we don’t want to look at those hereditary holes.
– the “me too”, the vulnerability tells other that not only are we willing to grab a shovel and gloves and take care of business, but also that they can count on us when they are the ones needing to take care of business. Pouring platitudes

Jung says, “He who looks outside dreams, he who looks inside awakes.”
Is it not true that when I look outside for affirmation, for someone else to make things/life better, for someone to blame that I am creating a day dream, a false picture? Whereas when I look inside, with Jesus eyes and heart, that I can awake and find and actually put to action the changes which affect my heart, change my thinking, and thereby my life.

Critical spirit: Since critical has 3 definitions, looking for if and what the Bible says about a critical spirit was hard.
Critical thinking – problem solving
Critical spirit – nitpicky, judgmental
Critical – as in terminally ill
I have to revamp my original research on this… the word “critical” is not in the Bible. But, as was pointed out to me, critical thinking is discernment – this is in the Bible a lot!
Critical spirit – how about this one? 15 A continual dripping on a very rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike. Proverbs 17:15
Critically ill thinking – Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 

Abba, Father, create a clean heart in me, renew a right spirit that I may think and behave in a discerning and problem solving manner rather than in a nitpicky or terminal thinking manner.

Lord, I woke thinking this was going to be a light, short, inspiring lesson…
I have been writing for 3 hours and am still processing… looks like another work day… where’s the shovel, let’s get er done! I am a child of victory, I am not defined by opinions, but by You, Abba… and You will direct me to what needs healing, to right thinking, right words, to what matters… and I will be empowered by You, by Your face, by Your grace, by praise and rejoicing in You!

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