It was an “us” versus “them” situation. And not in a friendly, competitive kind of way. It was a battle, the lines were drawn.
Actually, it was an “everybody” versus “the others.” If you weren’t an “everybody”, then you didn’t count. We were the others. We weren’t invited to certain events. When we asked who attended, we were told “everybody” was there.
We weren’t told information that we should have been privy to. When we asked why we weren’t made aware, the answer was “everybody” knew. Yep, we were the others.
And then it happened: we had six deaths in our family and circle of friends within one year. The hardest was my mom, and then two weeks later my father-in-law.
My world was rocked to it’s very core. I wondered how people could carry on, doing the same old things. Carrying the same grudges. Never changing. Life is too short!
Something needed to change. However, it was obvious everybody didn’t feel the same way I did. After a time of grieving, things returned to the old normal. But I wanted and needed a new normal.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:17-19 (MSG)
I stopped hitting back. I stopped playing everybody’s the game. I tried to live with a reconciliatory attitude. I tried to see the beauty that God saw in everybody. I tried to get along. And, if I found I “didn’t have it in me,” well then, those were the times I would opt out of situations with everybody.
Most of all I prayed. For everybody. And for me. For my heart to be changed and softened.
Truth be told, I’m still a work in progress with this. My outward actions have improved. But my heart is slower to change. My heart is hanging on to the hurt, still judging.
Have you ever been there? Wanting to change. Needing to change. Praying to change. And still slipping back into your old ways? Just like the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, we want to do what is good, but we don’t. We have the intent and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Romans 7:18-19 (NLT)
If this is you (and it CERTAINLY is ME!), you may recognize this list from Romans 7:21-25 (MSG):
*It happens regularly (wanting to do right, but not doing it)
*Sin nature taking charge
*Trying everything and nothing helps
So what’s a gal to do? Give up? Find help? Who can help?
Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Romans 7:24-25 MSG
But there is hope, and this is it: Christ in me, hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
Jesus is in me, waiting for me to call on Him. It’s a choice I make to turn to Christ and follow the path He has for me…the path of sanctification and change He intends for my life.
Yes, something needs to change. And it needs to be me. With the power of Christ in me, I can be transformed from the inside out.
Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. Romans 12:2 (CEV)
Until next week,
Joining these lovely writers. Be sure to visit their pages, you’ll be encouraged!
Suzie Eller, Live Free Thursday
Susan at Dance with Jesus
Barbie at The Weekend Brew
Kelly at Purposeful Faith
Holly at Testimony Tuesday
Holley at Coffee for Your Heart
Jennifer at Tell His Story
Jana at Sweet to the Soul
Suzie Eller says
What an honest, insightful look at transformation, Ellen. Thank you for showing us by example how to change. Love this!
Thanks for stopping by Suzie! Praise God, He’s not giving up on me!
Kristen Johnson says
You are so right, Ellen, that you can only change yourself. You have to give the rest to God in prayer. But it is hard to stop yourself from judging others! Thank goodness for the help God gives us! Visiting from #livefreeThursday.
Yes, Kristen, without God’s strength and help, there would be no hope of change! Thanks so much for stopping by!
~ linda says
Ellen, you have worded this so very well. I found, through my own experience with just one “everybody,” that I could not change her, but I could change me. By trusting in and praying to God I was able to be an image of Christ before this one over a three plus year period and things began to change between us. God has given us a surface relationship and that is okay. We were never real close, but we can communicate nicely on surface subjects. I accept that and know that God knows what we need/needed and He is with us, with me in this. It was not an easy three years, but it is past now.
Thanks for your words.
Linda, what an awesome testimony of perseverance and God’s timing in your life! Thank you for sharing!
Christine Duncan says
I’m so familiar with what you’ve described Ellen, really. I too am letting God change my heart and attitude. To show me what everyone looks like through His eyes… some days are easier than others, lol. Your honesty and openness are what I needed to hear today 🙂 Blessings for your week dear friend!
Hey Christine! Thank you for your words today! Some days ARE much easier than others! Praise God, He won’t give up on us!
Beautifully written Ellen. I am in need of a heart change in many ways. Thankful for God’s patience and grace.
Oh, yes, His patience and grace! I wouldn’t make it without them! Thanks for stopping by, Barbie!
Hi Ellen! Sometimes it takes outside circumstances to change the inside of me. I can relate to that for sure. I am so sorry for that time of loss in your life though. Six people? That’s a LOT. And yet God used it for good. It transformed you, and you didn’t have to feel like an ‘other’ anymore.
I can still struggle with that feeling from time to time, even though I am old enough to know better! I think my life is one of constant learning and then relearning everyday!
Happy Mother’s Day 🙂
Constant learning and then relearning everyday! So true Ceil. And yes, it was a hard season, but so much good came of it, praise God! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Constance Ann Morrison says
How hard it must have been to pray for “everybody” while you were grieving your losses. God was good to answer your prayers. Even the act of praying changes us.
your neighbor at Barbie’s link up
Hi Constance! Thanks for stopping by! I think the biggest lesson I learned through this was that life is too short to hold on to petty grudges. He’s still working on me with this!
A candid look at very real struggles…thank you, Ellen. We all have our areas; mine reared just yesterday. I’m thankful for an all-powerful God that, even in the face of our desire to change and lack of ability to do so on our own, can do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. Thanks for turning our eyes to that God in the heat of the battle.
Oh yes, Kristi! He can do more than we could ask or imagine, and I’m so very thankful for that! And that He will continue to do a good work in us!
Sabra Penley says
How very fresh and real this is in my own life right now, Ellen. I question every move with my Everybody, I pray to make the right choices and do everything out of love, and still I come up short–falling into old patterns. It can be so frustrating and discouraging. But I know God is at work in my heart, and I will continue to pray…for obedience to His will, for love to move my actions, and for reconciliation. Thank you for speaking up on what so many of us struggle with.
Yes, Sabra! Reconciliation! That’s what we need to work toward, with Christ’s help!
Oh Ellen, I myself came up short today on something that I didn’t want to do! (reflect irritation to my family on an issue) Thanks for sharing so transparently about transformation, Sweet Ellen. I feel like I’ve gotten a lesson on “how to do a blog post right” by reading this today! (You’re giving some strong encouragement, but sharing so transparently, it doesn’t come u p as know-it-all or preachy! Great job!)
Wow, Betsy! I’m humbled by your comment! Thank you! The very posts I think are just ok or less, are the very ones the Lord uses for His glory!
Amy P Boyd says
So true that we have to begin all changes with the woman we see in the mirror each and every morning. Thanks for reminding me that is exactly what my goal each morning should be. I need to draw closer to Christ instead of pointing out how far away others are.
Thank you for stopping by and for your comments, Amy! Happy to have you here in my virtual home!
Karen Del Tatto says
Ellen, I can certainly relate to that feeling of wanting to change, but knowing that my heart is not changing because I am still so easily falling into old thought processes and ways.
It really is a daily, hourly, minute by minute surrendering of the heart to the Lord that effects that true heart change in ALL circumstances.
Thank you for spurring me on to do just that. 🙂
You’ve got it Karen! A minute by minute, second by second surrendering to Christ! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments!
The hardest part is getting our heart to catch up. The struggles are real. I appreciate your honest words and sharing your struggles with us here, Ellen.
You are an inspiration to my heart! Blessings, Tammy
Thank you for your encouraging comments, Tammy. I’m so glad you stopped by!
Sarah Donegan says
Oh I so know what you mean, especially about needing a new normal. Thank you!
Yep, new normal! And I have to be the one to make the changes…Thanks so much for stopping by!