When it is tempting to get my eyes on people or circumstances, I am learning that I can either “go with the flow” (NOT a good idea) or “romance” a heart tender to the Lord–setting my sights on restoration, nurturing whatever it will take in my life to be at that place where I want the Lord…desperately, even if I don’t feel that way now.
Practically, this means I don’t let just anything have access to my affections. I am more prone to wander so far from the Lord. Some who know me may think mistakenly that daily quiet times are my habit because I am “so godly.” Or that I set my timer on my watch to check in with God hourly (or more often) because I “love the Lord” so much. The truth is, I am so NOT godly. The truth is, I am so prone to love the things of this world that I have to do these things to survive without sinking into a horrific pit of sin and despair.
Knowing that about myself causes me to guard myself…even to the point that movies, books, magazines, music, and the company I choose to keep during this time simply must contribute to a godly mindset.
For example, while there may be nothing wrong with secular music for most people, *I* know where words bathing my mind can take me. Do I really want “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” (Linda Ronstadt in the 1970s) to be going through my head again and again, even during the night when my mind is idle? Or would I rather have something going through my head like what I woke up to this morning: “God has a perfect timing, God has a perfect plan, He’s asking you to trust him, even when you don’t understand. Our God is faithful, what he promises he will do, Our God is able, his truth will see us through…” (Thank you, Michele Wagner!)
Which do I want washing over my mind as I sleep (or don’t), as I go through the day, as I interact with others, as I am faced with sadness or surprises or disappointments? It is clear that “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” is likely to resonate with me more, but what is TRUTH? I am a daughter of the King! I have an amazing inheritance kept for me in heaven! I am NOT poor or pitiful. God IS faithful!
I have to choose truth right now, even if it feels like a reach for me.
This is a time when even if I don’t FEEL the truth of a song, I make it a prayer: “Lord, I want to see Your faithfulness afresh today. Help me to see with new eyes.” Music is either an expression of praise for me or a prayer beseeching God to meet me and flood all my empty places. For me, music that can’t be used this way is often detrimental to fixing my mind on truth–at least during a season like the one in which I currently find myself. This may not always be the case–and this is just a season right now, where I must be exceptionally cautious.
Further, right now I need to guard my heart from people who, in an effort to be supportive knowing my situation, will encourage an attitude of entitlement or “you have a *reason* to be mad!” I don’t need help digging in my heels, “donkey-legging” or being prideful.
This is also a really good time for me to get to know God afresh. Who is He according to His Word? If I allow my *feelings* to define my God, I am, in effect, creating God in my own image. This is a temptation right now more than ever. Instead, I want an accurate view of God. I have to approach the Word *assuming* that I have a warped view of Him and invite His Spirit to give me fresh clarity–a view of what is *truth*.
It is so clear to me that my mind is the battlefield and if I don’t guard it zealously and jealously, the enemy *will* invade it and/or my flesh will take command. So being paranoid, if anything, about what accesses my mind is vital to me. I would rather err on the side of caution than walk on in arrogance and in error.
It has also been helping me to pray verses that God has used to encourage me, putting many on a spiral bound set of index cards.
Even if God “disappoints me,” I have to nurture an awareness of His presence. I *have* to because it is my life line. If I don’t have Him to cling to, I may as well flush my life down the toilet. There, simply, is nothing I want to live for apart from God. No, not even my kids. They are human, too, and that means they can wound and disappoint. But when God is my all, when He is the only one that I pin my hope to, I have a better view of the things that people do that would otherwise disappoint or wound me. In other words, by fixing my eyes on God and allowing Him to orient my entire life, the rest is put in a better place, too.
Oh, goodness! Do you see what I mean? I have to romance the tenderness. I have to DO the things that will cause me to WANT the Lord and not my own way.
I have seen tangible benefits of doing this…enough so that it keeps me hanging in there. For instance, I have been surprisingly filled with gratitude for people in my life who God wants to use to refine me–the very same people who wound and disappoint! Apart from romancing the tender heart I *know* where I would go, instead–toward bitterness and resentment. If I let down my guard for even a moment, that is where I end up. Resentful. Filled with bitterness and maybe even hate. By romancing the tenderness, I have been able to see my own mistakes and foolishness and to ask others to forgive me for the things that have contributed to conflict. God is sanctifying…making holy through this process, but apart from romancing the tender heart, I would be in a very different place–defensive, much more arrogant, angry, totally depressed. Who wants to go there? I certainly don’t. That is a pit that is hard to get out of.
This isn’t easy, certainly. But God’s Spirit enables. I personally would rather go the path of least resistance. But I refuse to stop fighting for what I know is truth. I refuse to give in. In fact, I am in all out rebellion against my flesh and my culture that says “If it feels good, do it.” This does NOT “feel good.” This is hard. But if I let go, if I allow the hardness to have its way with me, I will stop living–or I may as well.
How about you? Do you need to romance a tender heart? What would help you to practically do this?