Life Lessons: “Making The Grade”
I, personally, have some habits I would like to get rid of, and there are definitely some positive habits that I need to incorporate more into my life; BUT, there is one habit in my life that is so ingrained in my life that I do it without thinking. For years now, I, daily, ask God to show me the “life lessons” from my day. I want to know what truths I can “take away” from the events of the day. My reasons for this are quite simple: I really do want to learn, and I really do not want to have to learn and relearn painful lessons because I am not paying attention. It is important to me to learn these lessons on all levels: I want to apply any and all spiritual truths; I want to see how I am affected emotionally, relation-ally, physically and even financially. I firmly believe that if I don’t learn these lessons I am apt to repeat many mistakes; bring more pain in my life; be less effective; and not be able to clearly see life from a godly perspective.
Everyday at Teen Challenge, there are many opportunities to learn. Though I have ministered with TC for many years, I am still learning. I learn though things that happen (good and bad), through the staff, the students and their families. Daily I am reminded of spiritual truths by paying attention to what is going on around me. Recently a situation with a former student reminded me of a very important life lesson: This student was amazing. There wasn’t a staff or student who didn’t just completely adore her. She was funny, quick to help others; quick to be a listening ear; and also quick to AVOID her own issues. She would get so involved in any and all things that she would not take the time to address her own needs. On the surface she looked great, but underneath there were still many unresolved hurts and pains. Though often addressed on how she needed to take a look at “her stuff”, she would do all she could to side step her issues. There came a point in her program that she felt she was “ready” to face life head on. She just knew she would never use again. No, she hadn’t finished what she started, but she felt she had proved how “healed” she was by her good surface level behavior. She left the program. She went out and almost immediately got back into her addictions – addictions that lead her back down an incredibly dark, pain filled path. This path has not only been devastating for her, but for her family as well.
So, what life lessons do we pull from this? What lessons do we learn to help us in ministering to others? What lessons do we take personally to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes? Though there are many, I want to share a few that stood out to me:
- We need to “check” ourselves. We need to see if we are purposely staying so involved in “other stuff” to avoid addressing issues in our own lives. If we are going to be healthy; if we are going to be able to be all we can be for Christ; we, ourselves, need to deal with our own baggage. When I think about this, I often think of how Moses hit the rock a second time when he was only supposed to hit it once… He knew he wasn’t supposed to hit the rock again. So why did he do it? He was a great man of God, why did he disobey?” If you read a few scriptures above where you read about him hitting the rock, you see that he had some “anger” he hadn’t dealt with. This definitely affected his behavior; and due to his actions, he did not get to enter the promised land! If we are going to be stable in our Christian walks, we need to be quick to address our own stuff. We also need to know we are never above making some big mistakes ourselves if we are not careful!
- When dealing with others – whether it be in our personal relationships, or in ministry, we need to look beyond the surface. If someone does not have a good balance in his or her life, there is usually a reason. Some “super-achievers” are often “super-avoiders”, or those who are still trying to earn their acceptance instead of accepting their acceptance through Christ. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment, and for God given opportunities to help.
- We need to NOT be those who judge. We should not ever think the person was being “phony”, just because he or she fell. No one knows what exactly is going on behind someone’s public persona. There could be fear, mistrust and years of unresolved pain. What we really need to do is love; pray; encourage; and be that one a person a person can come to.
Life lessons – they are all around us, and if we are going to “make the grade” spiritually, we need to pay attention. Life is an incredible teacher. Though her lessons can be tough, God can and will use them for our good and for the good of others. #lifelonglearner