Thanking God When You're a Basket Case
PART 1 CONT'D:
A Tisket, a Tasket, What's in Your Basket?
The "ME" in Our Baskets
Years ago, one evening in the middle of a Bible study I was teaching on Psalm 31 (do not stick your finger down your throat -- I promise, it had a different slant that what you're probably thinking right now), I was introducing the concept that some psychologists refer to as "the four basic temperaments" -- the choleric, the sanguine, the melancholy, and the phlegmatic temperaments -- and discussing the part our individual temperaments play in shaping who we are. With no warning other than her previously pursed lips and a few almost imperceptible head shakes, one young woman who had so far remained silent, could suddenly hold back no longer:
"This is all wrong! This is all wrong!" she erupted, eyes flashing passionately and cheeks flushing. "This is all just too focused on our selves . . . we need to look at Jesus -- we should only be looking at Jesus -- He should be our only focus!"
And with that, she sprang from her chair and bolted out the door, never to return.
I have no idea what else might have been going on with that young woman, but I so wished she had stayed long enough to let me explain my reasoning for taking time to look at ourselves and to examine how God designed each of us, individually.
When Jesus was asked the question, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" (Matthew 22:36), He responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5:
"Love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul, (emphasis, mine)
with all your strength,
and with all your mind."
Most of us understand loving God with our emotional being, our physical body, and with our thought life (our heart, strength, and mind, respectively), but that soul part is sometimes a little blurry. (We often confuse it with our spirit.) What part of us, exactly, is the soul?
An unknown writer once described the soul as "what one is to oneself, [as opposed to] what one appears to be to one's observers."
The soul, as derived from the Hebrew word, nephesh, or the Greek, psuche, is essentially the essence of who we are as created beings -- our innermost self -- that basic "ME," for the purpose of this study, that's in each of our baskets. If we are to truly love God with all of our soul -- with every fiber of our being -- then we need to know who we are, don't you think? Not who the world says we are, but who we truly are.
Knowing who we are is not as easy as it sounds. We live in a society that is continually trying to convince us that we are defined based on any number of superficial values: Our appearance, our income, our age, etc. (Heck, I once figured that seeing as I am overweight, over fifty, overworked and underpaid, in our culture, I'm pretty near worthless!)
Some of the Things Notched Into
The Measuring Stick
- How we look
- How we dress
- Our age
- Where we live
- Where we go to church
- Where we work
- If we work
- Our education level
- Our marital status
- Our children
- Our lack of children
- Our titles
- Who we know
- How busy we are (this is a biggie in some churches)
And the list could go on and on, but you get the idea, I'm sure.
Sometimes the voices of our culture -- the ones with the measuring tapes -- are so loud that we can hardly hear ourselves think -- even, sadly, sometimes within the church. And if we're not careful, we buy into the standards of the world's system of assessment. We begin to look at ourselves in ways that God never intended -- we begin to measure our inner selves -- who we are -- based on outer criteria. (Something our Father, Who is crazy about us, never intended us to do!)
If we fall into the trap of thinking we are what we look like, what we have, or what we don't have, etc., then our view of ourselves becomes skewed. And here's the danger, sistas, when our view of who we are -- our "ME" -- becomes skewed, everything else becomes out of balance, as well. (Been there, got the T-shirt.)
Thankfully, as believing women, we do not have to stay trapped in that kind of thinking. In fact, our brother, Paul, in his letter to the Romans (12:2) tells us outright that we are not to buy into the world's pattern of thinking. As followers of Christ, we have access to truth that sets us free from that kind of thinking if we choose to walk in that truth.
And how do we do that? How do we walk in God's truth?
First, we have to find out what God's truth is!
Paul tells us that we are transformed by the "renewing of our mind[s]," and one of the steps we can take to renew our minds is to focus on the truth of God, as found in His Word. Just look at some of the truths we can find in God's Word regarding how we should view ourselves (and others):
"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart."
1 SAMUEL 16:7b
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view [not even ourselves, sistas!] . . . if anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:16a, 17
"For we are God's workmanship . . . "
And that's just a start!
For now, think about those things you've let define who you are. If they're on any other list but God's, then you've got some mind-transforming to let the Spirit do. Next post, we'll talk more about how to do that, but here's a hint: It all has to do with realizing that we are . . . are you ready? HOT women. Yup, you heard me: HOT women. (But, like my Proverbs 31 study, it's not what you think, so stay tuned!)
Okay, it's late, and this fine, HOT woman is off to bed . . .
Until next post,
Grins and clutches to my (spiritual) bosom,