When we choose to follow Jesus, He makes us new. Our identity is transformed. We are now a child of the King. He gives us the Spirit of God within us to help us live up to who we now are in Christ.
But to grow to become who we are in Christ requires making the right choices – no matter how small they are each day. The journey may be 1 step forward and then 2 steps back.
The last few days we were in the car a lot visiting extended family and an old high school friend. I figured out since Wednesday, I have been in that car at least 12 hours. Now I love my family, and I enjoy road trips BUT I was wearing down.
- On trips like this I’m not spending time with God as much as I would at home.
- There is all the stress of seeing extended family and the tension of some of those relationships.
- All that to say, I relapsed.
- I lost my temper on Friday.
Many of you might remember when we went through the 12 steps together as a church family a few years ago that was originally the struggle I was wanting to overcome. The cause of my short fuse I discovered doing the recovery work was anxiety and a desire to control things and people. After losing it for the first time in awhile, I asked my family for forgiveness, and privately I asked God for forgiveness. And I made a mental note. July 6, 2019 will be the last time I lose my temper like that.
Only problem was July 7th was coming.
Everything on the afternoon of July 6th was much better thanks to ABBA – you know the Swedish band from the 70s with hits like Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me, and my new favorite Super Trouper! It’s hard to stay mad with that pop music from that Swedish band.
ABBA and the fact my family was so gracious to forgive me.
Even still, we still had more time in the car yesterday, and at one point I lost it! Maybe worse than ever before. I admit was so ashamed of myself. I was so mad at myself. I cannot undo those moments in time when I was yelling at the people I love the most. Once again I apologized, and once again my family was kind enough to forgive me.
But it is hard not to feel defeated.
Dark thoughts swirled around in my head.
- You sounded just like your Dad!
- You will never get past this!
- You will always lose it!
- You will never overcome this struggle!
It’s easy to start to believe that especially when looking at my track record over the last couple of days.
In the midst of that, I felt Abba reminding me (this time I am talking about God the Father not the Swedish band), I felt God reminding me that I may have sounded like my Dad and the way he used to yell at me and my brother, and he may have sounded like his Dad the way he used to yell at his two boys, and my grandfather may have sounded like his Dad the way he used to yell at his two boys and so on and so on, BUT that’s not who I am anymore! I am free! I may have relapsed into a generational sin, but I have been made new! I was then reminded how rarely I have these angry outbursts now. I have probably gone months without blowing up! That is extraordinary!
On the road trip home last night, ABBA helped us feel better (this time I am talking about both God the Father and the Swedish band), and we listened to a podcast about the enneagram that was extremely helpful.
Ian Cron explained to Don Miller: “Each of the 9 Enneagram styles has a self-limiting story that it tells themselves and others about who they are and what the world is like…. We create a real or perceived story that whether you know it or not is the driving force of your life…. That’s what makes great movies or novels so great, we can see the story that character has appropriated or taken on as their own, and we can see that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not true. That story that person is living is not true…. Are they going to wake up and find their true self or continue to live in this fiction forever? Enneagram is meant to do deep inner work…. The story we tell ourselves is the native soil out of which we grow. The Enneagram gives us clues. As a Jesus follower, every single one of these stories are direct opposition to the story of grace. You don’t have to be successful to be loved….”
You are loved! Just as you are!
Because you are loved by God who gave His life for us, we have the opportunity to know Him. Ask Him for forgiveness. Surrender your life to Him. Ask Him to lead you in every area of your life. When you do, you are new in Christ! Out of gratitude, we live for Him. With His help, we seek to stop living in any way that does not honor Him which is the most loving way to live for those in our lives!
When we blow it, when we relapse, we start up again! That is not who we are anymore! That may be who we were raised to be, but we can stop the cycle with us!