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My mom had a way of looking at me and seeing inside.  When I was growing up, I often loved that she could see straight inside me.  I needed someone who not only could, but would look at my heart and help me stay true to the commitments I had made so I could become the woman I wanted to be.

Of course, I didn’t always like her seeing inside me.  I’ll never forget the afternoon I came home from the video store (yes, before DVDs and BlueRays) with an “artistic” film.  I had used my money to rent the film, knowing there were certain actors whose craft I wanted to study further… at least, that was what I told myself.  My mom didn’t judge me for that, but she knew what else would be in the film, she knew the filth I would be exposing myself to.  We stood in front of the staircase in our home and discussed it, and I was getting hotter by the minute.  I was certain, in a way only a high school girl can be, that I was right and she didn’t know what she was talking about.

She never forbid me.

After all the years of sheltering and guiding, she simply asked me to truly think about what it was teaching me, what I was growing inside my soul when I watched movies like the one I was holding.  I squirmed and hated every moment of our conversation, but the memory is precious to me.  She was teaching me to be on the look-out for the darkness that wanted to dim the light of my witness.  She didn’t start when I was in high school, but much younger.  We had evaluated books, friendships, t.v. shows, activities, all sorts of things that I consumed or participated in.  The process wasn’t harsh or judgmental in a self-righteous way, but together we would see what was growing within by what was coming out in my speech and actions.

It was painful.  It is painful.

In the not-so-distant-past I became enamored with an author.  I loved the world this author created, loved the characters.  After years of making little time to read between changing diapers and scrubbing dishes, I feel in love with reading again and snuck away to eat it up every chance I got.  I was shocked at the detail in the love-making scenes, but I justified reading them, telling myself it was okay since the characters were married.  But I was squirming on the inside, I knew my self-centeredness and lustful tendencies were being encouraged and after the Holy Spirit got my attention, I finally relinquished reading any more books by the talented writer.  Since then, He has been opening my eyes to better books, better things to consume and participate in.

Earlier this week, I talked about how we must identify what is toxic in our lives.  You can read that post here: http://how%20do%20you%20detox%20from%20fear  The hard truth is that eliminating what is toxic can leave a void, and I bet you are the same way as I am, empty spaces always get filled.

When I find myself sneaking away to binge on something unhealthy, whether it is food, films, or novels, I have to recognize that I am longing for something.  The longing isn’t a bad thing, I agree with Lysa TerKeurst, we were Made to Crave (reading her book right now).  God placed certain tendencies in me, and I want to encourage myself to grow what is best in my life through the choices I make.  I am striving to eat what is best, watch and read what will help me grow in my faith.  I know many of my weaknesses, but I am also blessed to have a husband and girlfriends who help look out for me.  They have permission to keep me accountable, walking in the truth.

My mom isn’t here to look out for me anymore.  I miss her guidance, her wisdom, but God has been developing other relationships with older, mature believers who are helping me fill the void.  They aren’t trying to fill her place, but they are encouraging me to grow deep roots into what is best for me.  I want the light of my faith to shine bright, but that can’t happen when I’m making compromises with darkness, when I allow it to pollute my witness.

Your turn: What darkness have you left room for in your life?  What “void” do you need to fill with God’s best in order to grow more like Him?

For Further Meditation: Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:1-21; Galatians 5:16-24

This summer I will be encouraging women to fill up on good reading that will stretch their faith.  I would love for you to join us!  Pick a few books on this list and meet with friends monthly in person and online to discuss the implications of these books.  Test each book against God's Word and don't be afraid to see how He challenges you.  If you like, post some favorite quotes across social media with: #VWMsummer2014 and check out what our ministry is discussing on FB, Twitter, etc. with the same hashtag.

This summer I will be encouraging women to fill up on good reading that will stretch their faith. I would love for you to join us! Pick a few books on this list and meet with friends monthly in person and online to discuss the implications of these books. Test each book against God’s Word and don’t be afraid to see how He challenges you. If you like, post some favorite quotes and/or questions you have across social media with: #VWMsummer2014 and check out what our ministry is discussing on FB, Twitter, etc. with the same hashtag.

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