Acts 4:32-33 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.
We all belong to God. Everything we have, the good and the bad, belong to him and yet He has placed us together and asked us to share everything we have.
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
After all I wrote about on Bell Let's Talk day (click here to read it if you missed it) I am feeling most convicted of this... by talking about judging, I was judging. By talking about condemning, I was condemning. And by forgiving, I shall be forgiven.
I wrote two days ago with honesty and transparency and I feel I need to do a bit of a follow up.
First of all I need to reassure everyone that life really is improving, that my faith in the medical profession is being restored, that I am happy and feeling good about life. My life may not be what I dreamed it would be 20 years ago...but then who has the life they dreamed of when they were in their late teens and early twenties. I am so very blessed and can say, with honesty and sincerity, that being affected by mental illness, struggling with the issues I wrote about yesterday and even losing my son and a piece of my heart are blessings too.
But what I really need to share is what I was convicted with the other night when I came across the above scriptures in a novel I am reading. I realized that a community can be made up of anyone, can be brought together for any reason and will always consist of people who have a wide variety of personality traits, skills, strengths and weaknesses. The key thing to a community is it's definition....
a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common as well as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.If we truly have a feeling of fellowship and belonging then we should share everything, we should embrace everything and we should forgive everything...in time anyway.
I realized that after I wrote about how it felt to live with mental illness in my home and how that affects me , I was really writing about feeling like I don't belong.
This is, sadly, something I have felt this for years. I tried to fit in... too hard at times. Maybe more then 'at times'. I just never felt like I measured up to the standards I felt were set for me or in comparison to my friends. There were always people better then me at everything.
At the end of highschool I competed in the 'queen of the fair' competition in our hometown fair. I did it because it was the 'thing to do', because I had an interest in the fair and agriculture and because it seemed like fun. I said right from the start that I was just doing it for fun, that I didn't want to win. I said this because I knew there was no chance I would win. Two of my very good friends were also competing against me. Both were more talented in music, more athletic, more popular and definitely stronger in school. I might have belonged in the contest but I didn't belong under the tiara.
Imagine my shock when they announced me as the winner! To this day I am not sure why I was chosen over my friends but I do know that I shared a piece of my heart in my speech and that just might have been what put me over the top. I'll come back to what I shared later because it actually ties in to another realization that I had the other night. This is just one of many examples I could give of times where I convinced myself that I didn't care or didn't want something so that I could protect my heart from the hurt of failure or rejection.
The feelings of not belonging, not fitting in, not measuring up where all things I controlled, not that controlled me...but yet I let them and I fed them. And in all honesty I should not be writing those statements in the past tense but rather the present. I still do this...all the time.
But the thing about belonging, whether it is in a community or a family is that it is not a one way street. If you expect to be accepted and included then you need to accept and include others. If you want support when times are tough then you need to offer support to others when they are struggling.
And that is something I don't do a very good job of I think... maybe initially, maybe when it's obvious...but as time goes on I get selfishly caught up in my own life and I forget to check in, forget to offer my ear to listen, my shoulder to lean or cry on.
And so now I am feeling completely convicted of being a judgmental jerk and a hypocrite. If I can get busy with my life and be oblivious to the needs of others then why is it ok to judge others for doing the same. And even worse, how can I condemn them for doing something that I do myself. I can say all I want about how it feels to not be supported, understood or accepted for who you are not what you are going through or your actions but I've done it to. I have accused others of not changing their way of thinking and complained of them not supporting me but I am guilty of this too...and I have made a promise to myself to change.
And I apologize to anyone who might have been thinking this all along as they read my last post and felt a bit put off by my attitude.