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"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18: People Ruin Their Own Lives

Fun in the Sun

NOTE TO SELF: I am not one for blaming others for my mistakes and how my life has turned out. I did that for a very long time and all it did was make me miserable and angry at everyone.

Only when I started taking full responsibility for my decisions, actions, and behaviors did my life start to make any real sense. God allowed me to see the messes I had created by revealing my weaknesses and my bad patterns in life, and He was finally able to change me when I surrendered those areas to Him. Anyone will tell you, “Admitting you have a problem is the first step.” Sure, it’s a step in the right direction, but there’s more to it than that. There is a second step: going to God with it and desiring a change.

My mom harbored immense resentment and heavy, HEAVY bitterness in her heart over her past, but more specifically over her last marriage. My mother was to blame for the demise of the relationship and she refused to acknowledge or admit any fault. Instead, she pretended she was innocent, finding unique ways to rewrite history and change the stories everyone knew to be a tall tale created by denial. She dragged her anger around like a ball and chain and she never failed to let everyone know exactly how she felt about it. She refused to let it go because it was easy to blame everyone else for her problems so she could justify her anger and unhappiness. Then she began drinking excessively and smoking almost three packs of cigarettes a day! Her anger and hatred raged like a blazing inferno! She destroyed anyone in her path with hurtful, cutting words. Yet when her cancer came back, she immediately blamed God. (My mom had a clever way of ignoring her own reflection in the mirror.)

I’m a firm believer that my mother’s cancer came back because her bitterness turned into cancer. She ruined her own life with that mentality and then pushed it all on someone else again: God. It was only when she surrendered herself to Christ near the end of her life when that burden was lifted, she was at peace, and she stopped drinking and barely smoked anymore. But it took three years from her diagnosis for her to get to that point and the end was obviously glaring at her. She wasted so much time wanting to cling onto her misery rather than finally admitting she was at fault for the majority of her unhappiness. Fortunately, she didn’t have a sad ending. She gave it all to God, and the day before she died, when she was in a coma, I whispered in her ear that her ex-husband forgave her. I’ll never forget seeing that single tear in the corner of her eye. I bet she felt relief and closure.

We ruin our own lives so easily and nonchalantly, sometimes without immediate cause and effect. Like my mother, it can take time to fester and find a deep, dark place to spread like cancer, quickly and deadly. But it’s not God’s fault. He didn’t make those choices for us. We did. We need to start recognizing the difference between God’s hand and our own.

PRAYER: Father, help us to seek Your guidance in every area of our lives before we make any hasty decisions. Like the prayer of Jabez, let us say: "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain" (I Chronicles 4:10 NKJV). Keep us from making bad choices and silly mistakes that will ultimately harm ourselves or others. Amen.

JOURNAL: Write about some of the choices you are currently making that may have dire consequences in your life or those around you. Admit your faults and surrender them to God. Ask Him to help you change those behaviors or choices that may be ruining your life.

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