Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To be spiritual or be real - that is the question...

It’s once again time to dig into Lisa Whittle’s book Behind Those Eyes and join Lelia’s study as we look at the chapter titled, Ms. Spirituality. And what a chapter it is! Each week the idea of being real is coming closer and closer to home, I don’t always like what I see, but it has been good to take an honest look.

So what is this all about? As Lisa says, “The point is not that Ms. Spirituality does these things, rather, why, she does these things.” Something worthwhile to think about, so take a minute – why do you have perfect attendance at church, why do you teach Sunday school, why do you make sure everyone knows you spend 30 minutes in the word every morning at 5 am, why do you do any of the spiritual things you do? Or do you even know? At times we can even fool ourselves and convince our mind that our heart is right, but the truth is God knows!!

I think we can spend too much time trying to and worrying about impressing others and when all of our focus is there our work gets the short end of the stick. Really what is important - what others think or what God does? Believe me that question is more for me than you!!

You see I’m in the midst of publishing a book titled Letters from Leanne – The Beauty of Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationships. Though the book is about the beauty and power in the Titus 2 relationship, I also realize it’s an in-depth look at my life. The story of my struggle with depression, my realization of what salvation was all about, the tension my faith has caused between some family members and me, my insecurities…the list goes on, but you get the idea.

Honestly I have played the game so long that this is hard. I know it’s what God wants and is only because of Him, but still I have moments when I wonder what others will think. What will those who knew me as a child think? I am no longer the person they knew so how will they react? How about the women I now lead in Bible study? Will they think differently knowing where I’ve been?

All of these answers are yet to be determined, but this morning I’m reminded that the question they answer really doesn’t matter. It’s not what high school classmates, girls I’ve coached, or fellow church members think, God’s opinion is all that matters.

Lisa talks about the idea of surrendering and though it’s not easy that is what He wants. And though the walk is not difficult and down right scary at times, he tells me the same thing he told Moses, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest – everything will be fine for you.” Ex.33:14 There is comfort in those words.

God is real and the only way others will see that is when we are real too. Lisa closes with, “True spirituality is about the awesome power of God showing up in a person’s life to the point that people around her notice a difference.” People who have known me for years have told me I have changed, which is great, but God finally has me at a spot where I’m willing to share why. Though it’s frightening and involves taking off a mask that I’ve worn far too long, I’m thankful. It’s only when they see the real me, that the world can see a real God.

Really that is what it’s all about – not our church attendance or list of volunteer activities or perfect life we lead others to believe, it’s about what’s on the inside, what’s in our heart and when it’s a desire to be real for him, God will bless us and touch others us through our honesty and transparency.

As I write this it all makes sense and seems like an easy thing to do, but in an attempt to be real that’s not always the case. It’s hard and just yesterday I really struggled, just questioning if this was the right decision – moving forward with the book. At times I was working real hard to convince myself that I had made a mistake and every once in awhile I believed those thoughts. But yet God would draw me back. Thoughts of other’s honesty and the impact that made on me came to mind and my prayer is the words I have written and the life I am now living will do the same for those I am worrying about failing to impress.

So as I resign from the role of Ms. Spirituality I look forward to playing the part of Ms. Real. She might have the most challenging script of the cast, but she’ll receive the only praise that matters when the play is done!!

16 comments:

  1. One of the best things about having scripture as our example is that with one exception, nearly everyone is seriously flawed yet we see what God did in and through them anyway.

    (And how funny that I posted about being 'real' just yesterday!)

    "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12

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  2. We are such silly women, those of us who try to please and impress others, rather than living in obedience to please our creator.

    I wish you all the best with your book.

    Blessings, Cindy

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  3. "Really that is what it’s all about – not our church attendance or list of volunteer activities or perfect life we lead others to believe, it’s about what’s on the inside, what’s in our heart and when it’s a desire to be real for him, God will bless us and touch others us through our honesty and transparency."

    I love this, Jill. We are still a work in progress...

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  4. Jill,
    First of all congrats on the book publishing! Don't let satan pull you from what God is leading you to do.

    Ms. Spirituality--she is a tough one isn't she? I like what you wrote in the beginning of your post.

    "so take a minute – why do you have perfect attendance at church, why do you teach Sunday school, why do you make sure everyone knows you spend 30 minutes in the word every morning at 5 am, why do you do any of the spiritual things you do?"

    My husband and I taught 3rd & 4th grade Sunday School for 7 years by ourselves--every Sunday. I really enjoyed teaching but was exhausted from no break and no adult Sunday School class. It was really a hard decision to step down until our 16 year old said one Sunday morning after we had been out late with friends Saturday night "Can we ever miss Sunday School??" I realized that the act of going to Sunday School EVERY week was just an act. Yes, we want to be there to learn but it felt like it had turned into an obligation. Does that make sense? We did step down from teaching at the end of August and are thoroughly enjoying our Adult Sunday School Class and go because we want to be there not because of obligation.

    sorry to be so "winded" but your post really spoke to me.

    blessings from PA
    Kim

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  5. As I write this it all makes sense and seems like an easy thing to do, but in an attempt to be real that’s not always the case. It’s hard and just yesterday I really struggled...

    You are so right. I call it "theory vs. reality." In theory I'd like to be this way or that, but in reality, in honest I'm a different way.

    Thankfully, God loves us in our silliness, our struggles, etc.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Kristy

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  6. My God bless you on your journey with your book.

    I'm learned be real isn't so easy :)

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  7. Will they think differently knowing where I’ve been?

    I've struggled with that thought to, but I just have to trust God. I don't share things unless the nudging to do is from Him. Just last week I shared of the affair I had. First time ever. My parents read my blog~faithfully. Unfaithful daughter. Uggh.
    All for Him though.
    Your life Jill will help women you never even know about. Keep talking about what He's doing in your life. You are making a difference!

    I received my book yesterday!!! Thank you so much, I can't wait to get into it. I flipped through it last night & it is so what I need. My family would agree. :)

    Have a blessed week.
    Love,
    Lelia

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  8. Ms. Real is WAY easier!!!! And, it's easier to walk in obedience...rather than trying to "act" a certain way.

    Thanks for blessing me with this post.

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  9. This study is great, isn't it? Not only is it getting us to look deep within ourselves in order to be truthful in all we day and do, but it's giving us all the opportunity to meet and be encouraged and feel supported... Best wishes on publishing your book.

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  10. "It’s only when they see the real me, that the world can see a real God".

    AMEN! but boy is it tough showing her. It sounds eay but the reality is that it's work. Good luck with your book friend!

    In His Graces~Pamela

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  11. All of this really makes you think, doesn't it? I want to be real, but real is like what the Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit -- it doesn't happen until most of your hair has been loved off and your joints are shabby . . . . Real sounds hard but is so much more appealing (even with the difficulties) than pretending.

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  12. Oh I share that fear if they really knew me would they still like me. Well I think that is what God is teaching us through this book, he really knows us and he really loves us.

    I've shared a lot on my posts more openly than I've ever shared, and have had the same thoughts, but when I ask God what He wants from me that's what comes out.

    I for one look forward to your book and like Lelia said you are helping more women than you'll proably ever know.

    Carol

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  13. Hi there sweet lady,

    I hope to be in your shoes soon with the book thing...but I suspect I will struggle with the same fears and insecurities because I know God will insist that I be "really real" I'm already realizing that I need to go back and rework the chapters I've already written. I was holding back the real me, and I'm done with that! I pray that God will prepare hearts even now to receive what you have to share in your book. To me, one of the best ways to invest in other's lives is to be that Titus2 woman who points others the right way and says...I'm on the journey right along with you..I have not arrived.

    have a great week, Lee

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  14. I also know that fear of
    "if people only knew what I have done" and I would love to say at 62 I had conquered it but I am not sure I ever will. Thank you for asking the question why do you have perfect attendance and why do you teach Sunday School? God has really been dealing with be lately as this past year I have really been busy doing for him but not resting in his presence so I am trying to be still and listen to him before jumping in with both feet.

    Keep on pressing forward with your book and I agree with Kim "Don't let Satan pull you from what God is leading you to do."

    Pat

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  15. Jill~ After reading this post, I want to jump through the screen and give you a big hug. Being real is scary, but when we realize that our acceptance from our Father NEVER changes, we can finally stand and be who God has called us to be.

    The fear of where you have been is a trap and a smokescreen of the enemy. I've heard two awesome analogies regarding fear.

    False
    Evidence
    Appearing
    Real

    -and-

    Fear is the darkroom where you develop the negatives.

    If we are to truly, wholy, and completely become who God wants us to be, we have to stay out of that darkroom, and bring every thought captive and obedient to Christ!

    I can't wait to read your book!

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  16. Jill,
    I am so glad you choose to continue on with the study. I promise if you will stick with it for this next chapter and continue to choose TRUTH, you will not be sorry. The ending of the book is where the beautiful and completed picture of truth will be seen, and I want you to get there! :)

    Stay on your knees, friend. Continue to choose to walk in truth and give your thoughts, motives, and actions to Him. He has an amazing plan for your life!

    Much love,
    Lisa :)

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