Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pollution - Mind, Body, and Soul

There was some drama at my parents' store and I unexpectedly I went from the office to covering two shifts with only five hours to go home, sleep, and return.

I have to say - that as much as I have loved working for them over the past several months, I am really coming to hate people and hate their store. On the one hand, I love that I get to spend time with God and the chance to serve the employees, Papau, and the homeless. On the other hand - the way people treat the person behind the counter is absolutely horrible. However, yesterday as I was driving home, exhausted, with smeared makeup and bird feces on me - I realize that God was truly using this place to refine me, I just have to embrace it instead of complaining and crying out.

I am heartbroken over Ron's downward spiral - from clean shaven, well behaved, yet prideful man who didn't drink, smoke, or do drugs - he has now become dirty, bearded, angry, and as of Thursday drunk and apparently now a user. Yet, as depraved and depressed as he obviously was all I could think of was myself - how foolish I was to believe him, how naive I was to think he wasn't addicted to something, and the worst - how stupid and useless I was to ever try to work with the homeless. In one movement, I allowed him to shake my faith in the gospel and it's ability to transform, myself in what I know God has placed upon my heart, and even God for not changing Ron already. And yet, what I've really seen is that Ron is still hitting bottom, and I have no idea how to react. But God also took this time to really dig up embarrassing heart issues that I didn't know I still struggled with. I harp on my Papau (in blogs not face to face, I'm much gentler there) for not believing that Jesus, the cross, the gospel can radically transform lives, that Jesus reaches us just where we are - as Devin pointed out today, He didn't have life come up to the mount, he want down to the valley, yet here I was in the valley and for the whole night, I didn't believe Jesus would or could meet Ron just where He was. When I realized what was stewing in my heart, in my thoughts - I was so horrified, yet I couldn't stop myself. Even now, while I know the correct answer, I just don't quite believe it. So how to serve Ron? How to best react to him? Every interaction over the last few days has been awkward, and I don't want to do that to him, yet, here I am, unable to unfreeze myself.

The other heart issues God has been bringing out into the light for me, is my ego. I've mentioned before that I heard someone say (it was Rick Warren on an interview Family Life Today recently played), that all conflicts were the result of egos - which actually from a Proverbs verse. I realized, that my issues with people at the c-store were my own. I choose to be offended because I believed self esteem and respect were my "God given right" - when they're not.

As I've spent almost sixteen hours at the store in a less than 24 hour time period, I listened to several sermons - and I have to say, I wonder when I'll stop being amazed at Manna's sermons. Two of them that I listened to really convicted me of my ego. I know I always "highly recommend" sermons - but I really do try to only recommend the best of the best.

The first sermon, "People, Landscape, or Machines" (4/22/07) was just what I needed to hear. I only had a few hours left in my last shift for the day, and I was exhausted, people were horrible, and I just wanted to go home. As the sermon went on, I was nodding, and wishing that the people coming in and out would take a minute and listen to what I was hearing - and perhaps be a little more mindful of the "landscape" behind the counter. I was just so fed up with everyone around me, but as I listened to the sermon a second and third time later that night, I realized that there was a different message for me - it was about my ego. Which then reminded me of the New Year's service for 2006 that Manna had done - called, "Is He less than God?" - a sermon directly for believers and reminding us, that God isn't out little genie in a bottle that we can rub anytime we need something - He's GOD, not our toy, not our holy buddy, and so forth. And while yes He loves us, yes He died for us - He's GOD and we need to remember that. It was an amazing sermon in which it reminded us, that we aren't here for our self esteem or to pursue worldly things (which incredibly Wrecked addressed as well . . . God never ceases to surprise me in the messages He sends my way). When I realized I was almost making an idol out of my self esteem, my rights, how I should be treated - I was in no way behaving as a Christ follower. I was behaving as an "Amanda follower".

At the store, I've been allowing myself to become emotionally, physically (egh, bird poop), and spiritually polluted. I wondered as I drove home Saturday if the LDS church had a copyright on the term, "spiritual pornography" - because I felt like I had been exposed to it non-stop over the last 24 hours. I felt so dark, so horrible - I didn't want to have anything to do with God, Grace Point, non-believers, believers - ANYONE. In fact, I just wanted to go home, shut myself into a room, and not come out. And I've been on this walk long enough (which hasn't been all that long really) to know that when I feel that dark - I must turn to God, or I'll keep walking further and further away. I knew that the pollution hadn't retreated yet when I woke up this morning and didn't want to go to church, didn't want to serve, didn't want to do anything with anyone - except maybe go outside and scream until I didn't a voice. Yes, working at a gas station itself is not hard, it's the people that make it at times, unbearable.

I feel like my world has been crashing around me - which I know is simply because I haven't been keeping the pollution OUT. I go through the motions, without too much faith - which God exposed with Ron. I have a huge ego that is sizzling and boiling inside me ready to scream and demand to be let loosed. And I have this desire to run away from God and everyone and never look back. And I know, it's because I'm a sinner. I know it's because, when I work at that store and person after person chips at me, I am not only allowing them, but I am trying to stay calm and centered and kind based on my own will power. Honestly, I don't know how anyone gets through a day without screaming at least one customer - however, because I'm trying to drive by own strength and will, I'm not lettting God do it. So I become polluted, angry, and withdrawn.

And that trickles over into all other areas of my life. Like worship during singing - something I've struggled off and on with since coming to GP. Steve served on the Crew and was encouraged to sit towards the front so back seats are open for visitors and guests, this change from back of the house to front has made me very uncomfortable. Mostly just during worship because I feel my face turn beet red and heat up as I raise my hands.

My ego, my pride - they're hurting my walk with God because I am allowing them. Then I find an excuse in the store. When really, the store is the resource that God is using to bring so many things to light and in a sense, forcing me to deal with them. Make choices. Will I simply complain about my inability to worship without being embarrassed? Will I continue to judge Papau for not believing the ability of the gospel to change lives? Will I intentionally turn to God and let go of the dirty weight I feel after just a full day at the store? Will I continue to allow myself to be drug back to legalism time after time?

Will I fight for my walk in God? Will I continue to share my faith with Papau even though he has made it clear how little he respects or cares about Evangelical Christianity? Finally, do I have the faith to really understand and accept how God moves in my parents lives? On the 11th, the results are supposed to be in about Mamau's bloodwork - whether these treatments are working or not. I can't help but wonder, am I allowing myself to back slide and become so angry over such simple things because I feel so completely helpless and out of control with Mamau's health? If the treatment isn't working, the doctors have given her a year tops to live - I feel so numb and angry about it. I don't want to confront it and I can't stop thinking about it. And I for sure don't want to believe it.

At the end of the day, I have to either have my palms up or down as they say at GP - I have to give it to him, or continue stewing in my own building rage.

"In with the good, out with the bad." - The Other Side of Heaven. I've gotta drive this bad out.

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