Two days ago I blogged about what spiritual growth looks like and how it leads to humility in Part 1. One of the things I said was, “When I think back to the lessons I have learned they seem to fall into two categories: either times when God surpassed my expectations, answering prayers overabundantly, beyond what I asked Him or times when I tried hard and God let my efforts fail.”
On this post I wanted to give you some examples from my life where I have learned lessons and grown spiritually.
A few weeks ago, I was in one of those try hard and fail moments.
Lost and stuck. That’s where I was. Not where I was suppose to be and stuck in the mud. Not alone either. I had a van full of 5th and 6th grade girls, and where did I lead them? Lost and stuck in the mud.
How did I get here?
Anxiety was rearing its ugly head that morning. The reasons are too many to list. For one, I was starting a new study in my Sunday school class. I was nervous about it. I wanted it to go well.
I was feeling all the physical symptoms of anxiety. I was light headed and my stomach was churning.
Walking into Sunday school, I was asked the question that began my “try hard” journey.
“Could you drive a van? The other ladies are taking their own cars.”
My thoughts were “I am feeling like the odd woman out.” And, “I’m not even sure how to get to this camp.”
But instead, my voice said, “Ok. I’ll do it.”
All during church the physical reactions from anxiety were compounding. I couldn’t see anyway out of driving. I jump in and tell myself that all I have to do is follow the person in front of me. I can do this!
When I lose sight of the person in front of me and accidentally take the wrong highway, I should have called someone, told them to wait for me, but that’s not the move of a girl who can do anything.
I got this. I’ll use my GPS on my phone. (“I” is the key word here.)
So an hour and a half later, where am I? At the exact dot that my flawed GPS tells me the camp is located.
And that silly dot is in the middle of a muddy field. Maybe it’s time to call someone?
No. I still got this. I’ll just turn around. With a big 15 passenger van. On a muddy dirt road. With a dozen pre-teen girls. What could go wrong?
Now I’m lost AND stuck. Maybe it really is time to call someone.
I take out my phone, and after a dozen tries, I finally get a call through.
And here comes a farmer with a shovel to help us out.
I want to say that I was gracious to that farmer, but I honestly am embarrassed to report that I gave him a passive aggressive report on how I shouldn’t be there at all. I said something about no one waiting for me and no time to look at a map. And then I gave him a cold shoulder thank you before I drove backwards half the length of the dirt road to a place where it would be safe to turn the van around.
By that point, help was calling trying to give me directions, trying to find us. I really hope I was grateful and friendly, but I can’t imagine that I was. I was shame spiraling hard.
After driving another 10 minutes in the wrong direction, (of coarse I would turn the wrong way when I got to the main road), I finally found our help waiting to guide us to camp.
I was so upset, not about the van incident in particular, but with life in general. Shame spiraling can cause you to look at life in an “all good” or “all crappy,” black & white sort of way. I used my anxiety induced upset stomach to give myself an excuse to go home and not even help with camp that week.
What did I learn about God? How did I grow?
I went home and spent some time reflecting on my bad attitude, my shame, and my anxiety.
I journaled, and I listened to audio books. I kind of had a camp for one.
I did learn some things, but they were mainly about me.
On the other end of the spectrum there have been times when God blessed times of ministry and times in my life personally so overwhelmingly that I was awed by God’s love for me and for others.
I had a hard time narrowing down which example I wanted to share because there are so many times God has shown Himself to be trustworthy, faithful, and abundant.
Last year when I went on mission trip to Ethiopia, God accomplished so many miracles to provide for the orphans. I was blown away watching God move to provide for those children. Not just small things, but also big things like 350 mattresses and a latrine for the government orphanage. This Christmas when I joined a group of just a few women to raise money for orphans in Uganda, I saw God provide $20,000 to purchase land for the orphanage. After Christmas I joined another group of ladies to plan an interdenominational gathering for women in our city, I watched God provide every penny we needed to accomplish the event. He also filled every seat that rented, set up, and prayed to be filled. At Citychurch, I’ve watched God miraculously provide too many times to count. I’ve also watched him change hearts and lives of children we minister to.
One of my favorite times God has blessed me was when God provided the money for my husband James and I to go on a vacation to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.
It was the spring of 2012. James and I had gone through a rough couple of years, losing James’s dad, my mom’s hospitalization, having a newborn baby - i.e. sleep depravation, and losing my brother to suicide.
We were dreaming of getting away by ourselves for our anniversary. Unexpectedly, God provided the exact amount of money that matched up with the vacation we had priced on Travelocity.
I was floored.
What did I learn from this? How did I grow spiritually?
I learned that God loves me, and because He loves me, He gives good gifts. I learned that God treasures marriage. He cares about my marriage. He puts value on it.
Just to contrast, when I tried hard and fell on my face, I learned something about me. When God surpassed my expectations, answering prayers overabundantly, beyond what I asked Him, I learned about God.
Learning about me and my fleshly issues and learning about God and His faithful provision leads me to the same lesson. That lesson is humility. My humanity reminds me that I need God, and God’s magnificent graciousness reminds me that I need God.
My efforts are so futile, mind-numbingly futile. God is awe-inspiring, and I am humbled at the grace His shows me.
Humility. I’m there now, and I hope to stay.
...And I lost it. That lasted five seconds. Oh well, I hope to visit as often as my flesh will allow.
I like to post a song with each blog post because music makes me happy. Sadly I'm not humble about my good taste in music. This song by twins sisters who grew up in France and Cuba is from my favorite album released this year (so far.)