We often think that we are going no where in our lives. I know as a Christian I am many times disappointed in myself because I don't live up to my expectations of what I should be as a Christian. Of course, I'm giving myself too much credit by expecting myself to be perfect, but that is probably why I'm an accountant at my "real job". I'm anal and a perfectionist at times.
However, when I start getting discouraged because I've let my Lord down once again, I try to do two things. First I make sure to get into my Bible reading and realize the Lord knows we are not perfect, that is why He is mericful and shows us grace. Only He is perfect.
Second, I look back over the past years and compare myself now to myself then. That is when I realize I've grown quite a bit in my walk with the Lord. They are usually all baby steps though that do not appear to be significant until I look at them as a whole.
Therefore, today I'm writing about five ways I've changed over the past five years. Some are spiritual in nature, some are not. All are significant changes that have come about in the past five years.
My oldest darling just turned five and will be starting kindergarten this fall. It is amazing how much this will change the way you think and the way you view the world. Obviously your priorities change quite a bit as well. Climbing the corporate ladder just does not hold the same appeal to me any longer. It has also allowed my husband and I to grow closer to one another in many ways. We now have a common love, other than ourselves!
2. Graciousness/Forgiving Spirit
Now don't get me wrong. I would not necessarily describe myself as a gracious person or as forgiving, but I can see a lot of improvement in this area now compared to five years ago. This became apparent to me about a year ago when someone falsely accused me of something which could have caused me to lose my job. It did cause (and still is at times) more hardship at my job than is necessary at times. However, after the initial shock, instead of being outraged and looking for a way to get vengence, I found myself praying for this person. I actually felt pity for them, because I realized how lonely their life must be to drive them to do this for the reasons that they did. I can't say I 100% forgave the person and have not had any ill feelings towards the person since this. I'm human and imperfect. I have days where I still get very angry and at times bitter about this situation, however for the most part that is not how I feel when I look back on it. The Lord got me through the situation and I became a stronger person for it, so I guess I should be thanking the person. However, I've yet to change that much!
As mentioned briefly above in #1, my priorities have changed over the past five years. Before my top goals were to climb the Corporate ladder to obtain an impressive title and salary and have fun in life. Now my priorities focus on getting to know the Lord better and putting my family (husband and children) first. The impressive title does not beckon me at all any longer. The impressive salary does call my name still at times, but my desire to have a meaningful and rich relationship with my family drowns it out easily. Not to say I don't bring in a decent paycheck, I do. However, in the past five years I've turned down opportunities for a larger salary because they would entail more time taken away from my family. I've actually requested and taken a step down at work in the past five years and have now stepped into a role that will probably necessicate a salary freeze. However, I will enjoy this new position far more and have more time with my beautiful family. This new role is also one that will be easier to 'leave at work' instead of taking home with me each night (literally and mentally).
4. Knowledge of the Lord
Over the past few years my knowledge of the Lord has increased tremendously. By this I mean my relationship with Him has deepened and my desire/thirst/hunger for Him has increased. He has carried me through many situations that have increased my desire to know Him, increased my faith in Him and have strengthened me through Him. These include the work situation mentioned above, a early term miscarriage, financial concerns and other issues not to be mentioned here. I'm truely learning to trust the Lord and understand that He will always be there to take care of me, even when He seems far away. He knows what is best for me and loves me more than I could ever love my own children. I know I would walk to the ends of the earth to protect my babies, so I know He'll do so much more for me. This is becoming a reality for me now over time, not just a warm and fuzzy sentitment.
Once again, like the graciousness above, I would not describe myself as a patient person by any means. However, I've been learning patience over the years and have learned to also humble myself more often. I would not describe myself as humble either. First, I know I'm not and second I know that if we begin to think we are humble, more than likely we are not! However, over the years I'm learning to admit my mistakes and graciously do what is necessary to remedy them. This often means having to go to someone else to apologize and admit I was wrong. This may be very easy for some, but I find it very difficult. I've also learned that when I'm able to do it, it is very freeing. A huge weight is lifted off my shoulders knowing that I've done what is right. The patience is me learning to not get so upset about the little things and when I do get upset to handle myself in a more appropriate manner. Once again, I don't always succeed but this is when the humble apology usually comes in!
Wow! That was kind of hard and took some effort, but I guess I have changed over the past five years. However, that is just how I see myself. Of course, if you actually know me, you may not agree with all of these or may have others that you believe are even bigger changes (hopefully for the better).