Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A New You

"Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

If ever there was a verse I needed to memorize it's this one. For several reasons. All little girls dream of being chosen, of having a man sweep her off her feet and shout to the world "I choose THIS girl to be my bride!" And, frankly, I need to be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience WAY more than I am now. Yes, I need to memorize this verse for sure.

When I first started going to church I knew nothing about the Bible, or God for that matter. I didn't know Christian songs, not even old-school hymns. I didn't know how to pray, who to pray too (the whole Trinity thing is very confusing) and I didn't know if I really wanted to pray. What I did know--I was a woman scorned and far from believing Colossians 3:12.

My life had not become what I envisioned as a child. Most days I felt rejected, unlovable, and not worthy of breath. I had such harshness to me, because if I let that wall down I feared I would crumble and, as the rhyme goes, never be put back together again. But even beyond that fear was the fear I'd never be chosen by a man who would truly love me the way I longed to be loved.

But God.

I remember the first time I came across Colossians 3:12. It stopped me cold, my eyes couldn't move beyond the words "God chose you". If you look in my bible today you'll see that I have circled those three words. God. Chose. me.


On my own, when left to my own free will, I don't do very well, "Old Carla", as I call her, comes out to play. Old Carla is equivalent to B.C.--you know, before Christ, Old Testament, before Grace entered the room. Old Carla is the exact opposite of mercy and kindness and humility and gentleness and patience. When left to my own free will, when living outside the will of God, I am ugly.

But God.

Throughout my life I can see evidence of God calling out to me, I can see his hand woven deep within the countless wrong turn decisions and I can see his blessing in the middle of my deepest happiness. Yes, throughout my life, long before I answered to his call, I was fighting him but God was not backing down.

"God chose you."  There it was, in the bible, starring me in the face. God had chosen me. You have to understand, I didn't get to the book of Colossians until I'd been a Christian for sometime. So, by the time I read it I knew it was for even Carla, the girl who had made a total mess of her life.

And that's how I became a new creation. That's why I have an "Old Carla" now. Because I not only allowed the beginning of that verse to resonate with me, I went on and claimed the rest of the verse...and the verses around it, including the end of verse 15 "And always be thankful."

Today I strive to express my thankfulness out loud every day. I strive to be kind, to show mercy, be humble and gentle and yes, even patient. Today I no longer ache for a man to chose me (though I look forward to the day I get married to a man that is my best friend); no, today I am whole inside because I have already been chosen and I can't think of anything more worthy of thanksgiving.

It's so good to be New Carla. I pray that when you read in your bible "God chose you" that you will be taken on your own journey of becoming a New You.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sassy is my name

 I've been called a lot of things, had lots of different words used to describe my personality, but new my favorite is "sassy." Tonight during youth group we were talking about me recovering from being sick and I stated that I'm still so tired and the youth pastor said "don't worry, you'll be back to your sassy self soon." I instantly took that me? am I sassy? is that a good quality? is this something I should work to rid myself of? and so on.

Interestingly enough we are talking with the students right now about their S.H.A.P.E and how that fits into God's plan for them. Spiritual gifts, Heart (passions), Abilities, Personality, Experiences. Sassy is certainly part of my personality and just as the Apostle Paul had qualities that dueled with good and bad, so do I. Sassy is both good and bad. Romans 8:28 is often quoted when something bad happens in a person's life. But I think it also applies to things like our personality traits.

I'm a lot to handle. My personality is demanding, strong, loud, overwhelming, and sassy to name a few. I also cry easily, get flustered instead of remain calm, talk when I should be quiet, and often I think I'm right. But God promises to use all things (including our personalities) for good, not that they are all good, but He'll work it out so that my sassy personality will be tamed in such a way that it's for good.

I also know how to stand up for myself, I trust my instincts, I seek wise counsel instead of acting on impulse, I am light-hearted, generous, quick to forgive, and pretty darn funny. My sassy is something I have to harness, sometimes I do that well, sometimes I don't. But the wonderful thing is God is using it for good by working through people to be mirrors to me, letting me know when to tame it down, when to bring it out.

I like me. I'm comfortable in my skin. I don't have an attitude that says "if you don't like me I don't care, I'll just be alone" and I also don't have an attitude that says "tell me how to be so you'll like me." I fall in the middle and frankly I'm a work in progress and I'm totally ok with that.

My challenge to you...analyze your SHAPE, be gut-level honest about things like your personality and then allow God to mold you in ways He sees fit (understanding the molding won't always feel good and it certainly won't always be easy) because at the end of the day it's not about us, it's about God and if things like our personality gets in the way of God shining then we are failing God.