This week’s verse/passage is Proverbs 3:5-6. The Seeds song is called “Trust,” track 5 on “Seeds of Purpose.” I almost skipped this one because I’ve had it memorized for years, but I decided to go ahead and focus on it this week anyway. The Bible can teach us new things every time we read it, and I think the message of this passage can apply to our lives in very different ways at different times. It has certainly brought new truth to light for me.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
There is a huge difference in what this passage meant to me as a high school student preparing to go to college (I think that’s when I first memorized it) and what it means to me now as an adult. Thank you, Lord, for helping me grow and change and trust you in new ways!
When I read this passage today I felt something like a gentle tap on the shoulder from the Spirit himself, a whisper that prompted me to make a directional adjustment in my walk. Today the conviction I felt was (graciously) gentle, and the changes seem easy enough, especially with help from above. This is how he makes our paths straight! His guidance is such an amazing gift!
I felt that the directional adjustment needed for me is in how I process and share my emotions. Sometimes I let thoughts tumble around in my head too much before sharing, and other times I share without really thinking at all. The danger with both of those choices is that the feelings can turn into something else altogether, and the result is counter-productive to my life and relationships. I will need to make changes in two different areas: the first is in what I do when I first feel something, and the second is in how I voice it, specifically to my husband since he’s usually the first to hear about it. What a lucky guy!
The Spirit shed light on my frequent response of thinking and thinking and thinking when I encounter a more complex emotion. Instead, I really need to pray and pray and pray! Those two behaviors are so close in form (in other words they both feel like thinking), but have really different functions and roots in the heart. They also have different consequences. When I over-think and over-analyze I am being prideful, selfish, and lazy even if I don’t realize it. No good “fruit” will grow from this behavior- it’s like spinning my wheels. It will breed confusion, trouble, and sometimes just plain old drama. But if I pray, I will humble myself by acknowledging to God that I need and want to do what he would have me do. The fruits that come from this behavior are peace, wisdom, patience, humility, and more. This is not to say that I shouldn’t still think! I sometimes swing to the other end of the spectrum, sharing before I have given any thought to the matter at all, which has the same roots and can produce the same bad fruits as when I over-think, strangely enough. Thinking still needs to be part of the sharing process, but my thoughts should be rooted in Scripture and surrendered to the Lord to ensure good fruit.
I was also convicted that when I share what I’m feeling (specifically with my husband, but also with others) I need to be more calm, more specific, and more action-oriented. Often I just spill my guts to Mike, and while this indicates some good things like my trusting him, it’s often not helpful or productive, or even fair. Sometimes when I spill an emotion to Mike I am not even sure what it is yet, and in that confusion things can snowball and turn into something else entirely– molehills into mountains, as it were. This might include bringing up past hurts or blowing up an issue that is not the real issue. When I share these un-processed feelings I am putting onto my husband a responsibility that he should not and cannot bear– that of capital-d Discerner. Because I have the Holy Spirit with me at all times, I should turn to the Spirit as my first source for discernment since his wisdom is perfect and my husband’s is just not. So my new task is to share after prayer and with goals in mind about what I need from my listener. Maybe I will need just that: a listening ear. But I may need encouragement, affirmation, help identifying the next right step, or I may need something else that I’m not aware of yet (like correction– ouch!). It seems like this more prayerful way of sharing will be more beneficial and edifying to everyone around me.
Note: I definitely think it can be okay to spill or vent to a trusted person sometimes. I’m not saying that external processing is bad, or that we cannot benefit from those times when feelings just spill out. Sometimes we are overwhelmed and aren’t even aware of what we’re doing, and I have seen God graciously provide me with wisdom and clarity through that sharing process. But we need to be wise and balanced, and I believe the Spirit can train us to engage in new, more godly responses when we are overwhelmed (aka renewing our minds). And for me, right now, primarily in my marriage, I am seeing that I can serve the relationship by first turning to the Lord to discern what I’m feeling and why, and rely on wisdom from above when deciding what/when/how to share. I don’t want to share something when I’m “turned up to 11” that should be shared at a 5 or 3, if that makes sense.
I think this change in thinking and sharing is part of taking my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), allowing God to renew my mind (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:20-24), learning humility, and just one more way in which I can acknowledge God as Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs.
It was not just Proverbs that inspired this conviction for change. I have been reading Christine Hoover’s blog for a while, and recently listened to a talk she gave to a group of pastors’ wives based on something she had previously written about: 4 Conversations to Have with Your Pastor Husband. One of the 4 conversations was “I need your help,” and it was her thoughts on that particular conversation that started me thinking about how I could be a better sharer. You can listen to or download the talk here, and I also found a link to download a pdf of the talk outline. The talk is pretty ministry-specific, but even if you are not in full time vocational ministry, the blog post is worth at least a quick scan.
I’m sorry/not sorry this turned into such a long post! 🙂 I ended up with more time this morning than I had previously planned thanks to a snow delay that canceled my substitute teaching gig at our church’s preschool, so I’m enjoying my warm house and warm coffee while the wind blows the snow around outside. I’m looking forward to being with the little munchkins for the rest of the week, weather permitting.