Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 Lessons Learned in January

January, my first month blogging has finally come to an end, and I believe it has been quite a successful start! Thank you so much for supporting The Occupied Optimist and for reading! For this entry, I would like to share with you five specially selected lessons out of many, that the Lord had begun teaching me over the past month. 

One. 

Correction is different from condemnation. Maybe I am just a sensitive soul but I often get these two things mixed up with one another, which then can lead to catastrophic mental and emotional chaos and discouragement. For a performing artist, such as myself, correction and criticism are things that I constantly face on a daily basis. Maybe that is just life? After all, without some good constructive criticism, correction, and learning from mistakes, how else would one improve and move forward to bigger and better things? But honestly, sometimes receiving correction can be hard, especially when it can come so frequently at times for me as a dancer.

God has been teaching me that I just need to take corrections at face value and that they are not the same thing as condemnation. Believing that correction denotes condemnation, can make life very messy and stressful. I was not only applying that false belief to the corrections I received from my ballet instructors, or other authority figures but also when I felt I was being given correction from the Lord! Listen, Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! To equate correction with condemnation is fallacious and a lie from hell. Once I had realized that, I was able to feel a lot more freed up in my dance classes, in life in general and in my relationship with God. Shame and guilt went away. I do believe that occasionally I will be corrected by a mortal peer or authority figure in a condemning manner, but that is when I need to extend grace to that individual, take the correction at face value, and know that "If Christ is for me, who can be against me" Romans 8:31, not taking their condemnation to personally.




Two. 

Making mistakes signifies growth, discovery, and helps you in conquering fears. So don't be afraid to make mistakes! Somewhere along the way, I developed the idea that having to learn lessons from making mistakes is the equivalent to "moving backward", that it is unproductive, and is an indication of failure which is not true. I don't know where I get these ideas from? Satan?! You could imagine with all the lessons that life throws at you at the age of 25 that it was hard for me to not be depressed holding onto such silly notions. My mother would always tell me that making mistakes and learning lessons are just a part of life. She would encourage me by sharing stories about how even at her age, she is still learning, but somehow her exhortations did not sink in until only recently. This past month I have gained a better understanding of how making mistakes is not necessarily a bad thing, but is a sign of a life being well lived.



Three. 

Pride erodes. There were some days at my workplace, when I felt that there was an elephant in the room that no one could see except for me! It affected me greatly causing tension and discomfort; its presence was almost paralyzing to my body and soul. What exactly was the elephant, and why did it appear as if no one else was affected by it? At first, I thought the elephant was the attitude of a specific person I could just not get along with. Then thought perhaps, more specifically, that it was their disbelief in me. But after further contemplation and observation, I came to the conclusion that that individual was innocent of such accusations.

In my very confused state, I persisted through my days still agitated by the elephant in the room, trying to figure out the mystery of what exactly it could be. Next I presumed that perhaps, the elephant was disbelief residing within myself; that I was causing the problem by having a lack of faith in myself and my abilities! Don't you find disbelief to be quite debilitating? So I did everything in my control to turn things around, to start believing in myself, and to reboost my confidence in order to make the elephant go away. But it didn't go away! The elephant got bigger!

Very distressed and frustrated, with thoughts muddled, the Holy Spirit finally intervened and whispered, "Proverbs 16:18 Pride comes before the fall". God showed me that my elephant was pride disguised all along; that it didn't matter how much or little belief or faith I had in myself, or that anybody else had in me, but that my only boast should be in Christ as Galatians 6:14 says "May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." The problem was that I was dealing with all sorts of bitterness, jealousy, and insecurity which were all rooted in pride and that I was trying to fix things all on my own. The solution lied in the basis of humility and gazing my eyes upon Christ instead of myself or anything else. After all, anything that I am is only because of Him and that is humbling! Romans 11:36 says "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

  • 1Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.



Four. 

Counting your blessings and giving thanks for them is most edifying. The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that it is God's will for us to be thankful. Blogging is so good for me. I have discovered with keeping up with this blog, that I have to hold myself accountable in intentionally looking for and finding good things about my day to share with you! It helps me to more often be reflecting on all the good things the Lord has been doing in my life, day in and day out, and it cultivates gratitude within me! Find out what works for you! Genuine thankfulness is key. I used to keep a journal and write down one good thing that happened to me for each day. This is a great idea and works for some people. Unfortunately for me, doing that very quickly became mundane, ritualistic, and void of authentic gratitude, and without true thankfulness and praise to the one who gave me all the things to be "thankful" for in the first place, recording them all down is meaningless!


Five. 

You can never love or seek God enough. I have realized that I have grown complacent in my walk with God, which if you ask me, is easy to do especially if you are in the business of ministry. It reminds me of how a couple of years ago my company did a bible study by Nancy Leigh DeMoss based on common ministry pitfalls. It was really good! Basically, I find myself in the place of "talking the talk and not walking the walk", along with just striving through life and ministry in my own strength. In a sense, I have sort of had this idea that I "have arrived spiritually", that "I could not possibly love the Lord more"

Coinciding with the theme of Humility mentioned in #3, God has challenged me this month with the truth, which is that I could have never had been so WRONG, about thinking those things about myself. I am so glad that God meets us where we are at! I have a lot to learn about ministry. Specifically, God has been teaching me about the Holy Spirit; who he is, how to listen to him better, and also how to pray prayers through him. God has been showing me that I have not been utilizing all the power and kingdom authority that the Spirit has to offer. It is a mysterious thing and I think that sometimes (most times) I am scared or too timid to act on what the Holy Spirit urges of me because of my lack of understanding and trust of it, because my own thoughts of reason and sense override him. Though I was reminded by a fellow friend of mine that there are tons of stories in the bible where the actions of people and/or the requests of Jesus to people, didn't make yet resulted in miracles. I am learning that once I get past my self-consciousness and worries of what other people think about me, I can hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me so much more clearly! I look forward to growing in this area of my spiritual life, and in growing more sensitive and submissive to the Spirit. And also, simply speaking, I am learning that I can never ever love God enough. I am so glad God is teaching me all this before my dance company leaves for tour. I believe he is preparing my heart for ministry because opportunities always seem to increase whenever we set out, on the road! Pray for us!

  • John 14:16-18 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.




Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
 ~Phl 3: 12-14



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4 comments:

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog. Please keep inspiring! ♡

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  2. Thanks for sharing your heart. Those 5 things are something everyone needs to be reminded of as we go along. Great post!

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