Written by Joanna Wu. Artwork by Jasmine Chan.
“Tweeeet!” This morning I woke up to the sound of a text message. Texting can be fun, but not when you’re awakened to yet another request from somebody.
At noon, I decided to save some time by ordering lunch for pick-up via the phone. I readied myself to pick it up in a jiffy. “Sorry, they’re still working…why don’t you pay first, and we’ll get it out to you when it’s ready?” I paid, then sat at the restaurant, glancing at my phone, watching their TV, while wondering why it was taking so long when there were only two other people in the restaurant. Later, I found out that the kitchen staff wasn’t even aware of my order. Gahhh!
Later that day, I saw my friend and apologized for a misunderstanding we had from the week prior. I made the assumption that all would smooth out from there, but we both ended up putting our guards up, wanting to defend ourselves.
People! I’m so tired of dealing with difficult people, meeting their demands and expectations, patiently accepting mistakes made, and accepting differences. The desire to escape then creeps in. “No more doing stuff for people.” “I’m going to take things into my own hands.” “I’m just going to settle for surface-level friendships. This seems like a safe place to be.”
Wow. This doesn’t sound like a record of a bad day. This sounds like an inward issue of the heart. There will definitely be days when things don’t go right, or when our relationships with others seem rocky, but we should never isolate ourselves or flee from God and the people he’s placed in our lives. We are messy, imperfect people who make mistakes. We often put our needs and priorities before others. That’s probably why we’re so often reminded in Scripture to think of others before ourselves (i.e. Matt 22:39; Rom 12:10; Phil 2:3-4; c.f. John 3:30).
If we desire a deep relationship with God, and for this to overflow into our relationships with other people, it requires dying to self, confessing our sins, and letting others see what we want to desperately hide. Sometimes we fear not being accepted by those we are vulnerable with, but rest assured that your identity and security is not placed in the hands of others, but in the receptive and gentle hands of God: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Eph 2:4, HCSB).
1) How do you usually respond when things don’t go right or when relationships with others are rocky? In those times do you make it a point to think of others before yourself?
2) What in your life may be keeping you from resting in the truth that your identity and security are in God’s hands and not in that of others or your circumstances?