No offense to Forest Gump’s mama-Life may indeed be “like a box of chocolates”; but I believe WE ourselves are more like onions.
“Life is an onion – you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.”Carl Sandburg, Remembrance Rock
Psychologists tell us every human desires to be truly known-for someone to “get us”. We may indeed find those people while we are squishing each chocolate in the box to see what we’ve got. We may even find OUR PERSON-the one who knows us most of all.
Yet NO ONE PERSON knows everything about us. Often, not even ourselves.
But God does! He knows the whole truth about you AND He wants you to know it too. So, as you come to know Him, He shines light in the hidden places of your heart, pieces you may not realize you’ve held back.
Today, I want to offer encouragement and hope: The very best and sweetest parts of the onion often lie at the center. You may detest the process-it may sting a bit-but God sees the final product-and it is good. He wants us to take every thing revealed-the good, the bad, and the ugly-and lay it before Him in worship; presenting ourselves, “… as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is a reasonable act of worship…so we will not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. When we do this, we will then be able to recognize what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2 various translations paraphrased)
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- What do we do with the Good?
- Rejoice and use it for His glory! Lay it at His feet and stay humble.
- What do we do with the bad?
- Repent. Repentance is not some big scary thing. Repentance means to change the way you think and choose to turn away from the behavior associated with wrong thinking.
- What about the ugly?
- We may not be hiding some deep , dark sin, just wrong thinking. Read the Bible. Pray. Renew your mind in HIS presence and HIS WORD. Here is where we grow in knowledge and wisdom.
When Will the Peeling Stop?!
Here’s the Truth: Probably not until we die. I am into my fifties and God is still peeling back layers of my onion. The cutting is not usually comfortable. Believe me-There have been some tears.
Here is a truth: God is a true friend who will cry with you while He cuts. He will even bottle your tears because they are so precious to Him. YOU are precious to Him-every single layer, every single tear.
When I began to write Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust God spoke to my heart with the purpose to cut to the very core of who I had become-the ways I thought, things I believed, and how I acted in response to those thoughts and beliefs. Here we are a few years later and whatever He is making with my onion is still not done. It’s okay, though. It only means He wants more from me. More for me!
In this time, I have learned:
- I am Set Apart and Chosen. I don’t need to compare myself to others, for the lie of comparison will destroy me. Comparison is grounded in jealousy and the belief my difference is a weakness, The reality is, God created you and me to be different than others. We are “one body but many parts” (I Cor 12:18-30). When we weigh ourselves against another we cannot see what God sees and we sit as a judge of His creation while standing upon the scales. We can’t do both. When you receive praise, appreciate the compliments. Believe them and say thank you.
- I am Free. He doesn’t want us to get caught up in perfectionism. Perfectionism is a trap more concerned about other people’s response than our submitted and obedient heart to Christ. Do everything as though doing it for the Lord. Do it with a spirit of excellence-with value and virtue. Remember you are valuable.
- To walk in Peace. Carry peace with you. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so if you abide in Him and He in you, you carny peace. The trick is recognizing it and revealing it to others.
- Rest. There is a principle of rest. Rest is important or God would not have created a whole commandment around this principle. He did not create the sabbath as a punishment or a restriction, but as a blessing. Take advantage of that blessing and do not allow yourself to become a prisoner of time. REST!
- To Forgive. Myself and others. We must learn to recognize and acknowledge the fruit of repentance and then treat that person as though they are truly justified and sanctified.
- To embrace Mercy and Justice. I love justice and truth. Yet where there is justice, there must be mercy. Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ (Matthew 9: 13). I know this: If I fix my eyes upon Jesus, and follow Him, I am surrounded by mercy, goodness, and kindness. It is before me and behind me. Mercy and justice work hand in hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne, but Mercy and Grace are before His face. Because of mercy and grace we are called to lift others out of the dust, leading them to the sure foundation! Let us never leave a fallen brother/sister behind.
- To Encourage others. Honest Moment: I am not comfortable doling out praise. Probably because I’m not comfortable receiving praise. Yet, not long ago, Holy Spirit, began to talk to me about being effusive with my praise. This is something I continue to struggle with. The layer on this part of the onion is still trying to stick a bit. I am so very comfortable praising my Father and proclaiming His goodness. Yet, He encourages us to actively look for goodness in others.
- To Have Faith. We’ve all been given a measure of faith. When we practice faith, it grows!
- We can Trust Him. I have a tendency to be more than a little independent. So much so that this, at times, has created barriers in my relationships. They may feel unneeded, unwanted, and even unloved. Independence is good. We want this for our children, so they can go out into the world without us. But when independence becomes extreme it could be a sign of mistrust and show up as a learned behavior from past hurts or trauma. This contradicts His cry for us to lean on our God. Jesus pleaded with His people to come to Him as a child, to abide in Him. He even cried, “…How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Lk 13:34 Yes, there may be things we can do all on our own, but God has called us to partner together, walk TOGETHER. Things are just better when we work together. (FYI: This one’s a toughie for me!)
- God has created us for Relationship and Communion. Sometimes I wear the label of introversion as an excuse to avoid connection. Although I do lean toward being an introvert, I cannot use this as an excuse to avoid the things God has called me to. I must remember the label I truly wear is HIS NAME. His word is written upon my heart. I belong to Him. He has called us all to His table. The goal is connection, not disconnection.
- Remain Steadfast. I’ve been called stubborn and hard headed for most of my life. These labels can be used as insults; but God calls me tenacious and steadfast, like vines clinging to the rocks. Full disclosure? One time I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me the following scripture: ““I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn (like the horse or the mule which must be led by bit and bridle) when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!” Psalm 32:8-9 TPT and KJV We must listen for His voice. Hear Him and follow. Then let us be resolute, faithful, dedicated, and relentless in our pursuit of Him. Let nothing stand in the way of His presence or His call!
- Be a Standard Bearer. God’s called you to be more than a bystander. He’s called you to set standards, to walk in the authority you have been given and stand as an example to others.
- Be Thankful and Grateful. I had many reasons in 2020 to be ungrateful, as I’m sure did many of you. It was a hard year. As I entered 2021 those ‘reasons’ didn’t magically disappear because it was a new year. But I chose to do the following on New Year’s Day 2021 while I was stuck in isolation-alone in my bedroom-recovering from COVID: I wrote a 3 page list to remind myself of the many reasons I had to be thankful. I entitled it, “Why 2020 Didn’t Completely Suck”. I thanked Him for even the simplest of things. But most of all, we have a God who is good no matter the circumstance. Thankfulness takes us through the gates of His presence-my most favorite place to be.
This is my story, my layers-the principles God is challenging me to embrace and walk in, so I may become more like Him.
So, what is your story? Ask God to reveal the secret things for you. Name them! And be willing to lay your life down before him. He asks for your life-nothing more and nothing less. It’s not unreasonable! It is a grand adventure to be set apart and chosen, to be truly free in His peace and rest as we rely upon Him and trust Him and His people. To walk in forgiveness, and in grace and mercy as we stand upon the foundations of HIS righteousness and justice. It is glorious to praise His name and walk in a faith which works. It is a great mystery to forge a true relationship born through communion with our God and with others. To do so, there must be trust and a heart which does not waver in it’s steadfast belief of HIM and in what HE says. Believe HIS WORD, for as we march forward we become a standard bearer as we walk in the authority-given, learned, and earned in His kingdom. And through it all let us remain thankful, grateful for His redemption and faithfulness.
What will it cost you? A great deal. Your very life. But as for me: “I will not offer to my Lord a sacrifice that cost me nothing!” (II Samuel 24:24)
He loves you. He calls to you. He has laid His life down for you. He asks only for yours in return.