Before I go into it though, I thought I'd also share with you two amazing bloggers and two very inspiring posts today. I really encourage you to check them out. And if you fall in love with them, the way I did, follow them. :) Because it'd be doing you a favor to read their amazing writings and posts.
1. http://sweetnessitself.blogspot.com/2012/09/sweet-simple-real.html This is from Sweetness Itself, and she talks about beauty in the simple, little things. Which is an important lessons these days as we often get caught up and distracted by the big things.
2. http://extraordinarylifeforme.blogspot.com/2012/09/live-on.html This post, is about living on even when times get hard. It's about not giving up even when all else fails and people tell you too. It's when you feel weary and tired but you keep going knowing the journey will and is worth it. This girl is amazing and inspiring, and her writing you saw there, she wrote herself.
Now before I go deep into what I learned, I want to be honest with you. Before I went to the retreat I was having a grey week. What i mean by that is that I didn't really see life as bright and blue and beautiful. But at the same time, I didn't see it as dark and black and daunting. It was just plain and grey. No substance. I read my Bible, I did my chores, I did my school, I read some books and all that jazz, but none of it stuck with me. None of it made a difference. I wasn't sad but I wasn't happy. I was grey. Life was a routine. Life was grey. It was starting to get a bit dangerous I realized once I snapped out of the grey this weekend. You see, we all have human enemies. But for me, I only have one major one. And that's myself. I battle with myself a lot. I don't like blaming others, I'd much rather blame me. I can punish me. I can get mad at me. But I don't want to do that to others.
But you see, I can't live like that. I can't live hating and blaming myself. I can't beat myself up over the wrongs. I can't expect myself to be perfect. I need to forgive myself, and move on. I need to accept the fully covered white brand new sheet that Jesus Christ paid for on the cross and has so wonderfully given to me. I need to let it go. Not only this, but there are some things in life that I have prayed for for years. And they haven't been answered. And I realized this week, that I was slowly losing hope in it. I didn't realize it or pinpoint it but it was happening. I'd pray my routine prayer but there was no freshly beating hope inside of me. I felt like an empty vessel. I said the words, but I didn't think they'd come true.
Oh, how fickle we are. Sometimes I don't even know where I get the idea of doubting God's faith and power to overcome things. I knew things were going to change when i heard the topic we were covering. Our main topic was Faith. Our side topics were worry, fear, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, self-pity, pride, wrong priorities and dealing with trials. I don't know, but I found it mind blowing that the topic would be the exact thing I was struggling with that week.
Faith - Faith does not look the same in everyone's life.
There is no set course of action to show our faith. Just look at Hebrews 11. It's not about the here and now, and we're just passing through in this life. We have faith that there is something more and better than this for those who put their trust in God. God has better plans for us, and the reward in Heaven is so much better than any reward on earth.
Bitterness- God does not do wrong. So why are we angry at Him when things go wrong? It's our actions and our mistakes. Being bitter about the way things turn out, is like telling God that His plan is not good enough for us. Even though God has our best interests in mind.
Forgiveness- God forgives every single one of us, no matter what we've done, no matter how much we hurt Him, no matter if we do it again and again and again. Therefore, shouldn't we forgive in that same manner? Without trying to hurt them back or guilt them or be angry at them? Shouldn't we let it go. Hanging on to unforgiveness ultimately hurts you. We cannot change the past, other people or circumstances. Only God can change, fix and repair, so give it to Him. God was in control then, He's in control now, and He always will be. Why do we doubt His ways or think He doesn't have whats best for us, when He's the one who created you and has controlled your life and guided you through the sand, sleet and storms?
Matthew West's lyrics from forgiveness says;
"It flies in the face of all your pride,
It moves away the mad inside.
It's always anger's worst enemy,
even when the hury and the Judge,
say you've got a right to hold a grudge,
it's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set it Free'
Trials- Our trials bring glory to God no matter how we react to them. Our response is a test of our faith. I really realized that my lack of week's hope and trust in facing my trials was not a good test of faith. I thought I was justified because I've been hurt. I thought I was justified because it's been years of saying the same prayer and the prayer hadn't been answered. I was totally and thoroughly wrong. God's faithfulness is everlasting, and so is His love. And I should never give up hope, because even if my prayer never gets answered, and trials keep coming and I don't see things get better in this life, there are still 10,000 reasons to praise God. He still has my life because He died for it and brought me it. There are still better things to come. And I can still impact other people's life. And even hating myself, and blaming myself, is not glorifying God or standing up through that trial in itself. I should not be focusing so much on me and what I've done, but more on who I can be and who I am through Christ. Degrading myself and getting upset at myself for being less than perfect, just creates destruction and unhappiness because I'll never be perfect and I can always come up with excuses of things to blame myself for, but that does not mean they will be true or right or that my life will be God centered if I'm focusing so much time on me and what I do wrong. My life will improve so much better if I look to Him and focus on being more like Him every day.
Worries and Fears- Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It keeps you busy, but you go nowhere. Nothing is accomplished by worrying and fear. Worrying about something happening will not change it from happening. And if God holds everything in the palm of His hand and illustrates and writes our life stories, how in the world can we justify our worries? Are we better fit to control our life? Do we know what's best? Do we see the bigger picture? Can we create a human being? Can we create an ant? Can we form a speck of dust? No? Then why are we acting like we know best and could solve it better. Why do we worry that our needs or wants won't be taken care of? Why can't we give up control to the one who already has it?
Anger and Self Pity- "We get to choose- either to embrace God's plan to develop us, or to rebel against Him and "act out"." There is no use in anger or self-pity. There is no room in our hearts to let it flourish. If you want to live a Holy and beautiful life, getting rid of anger and self-pity is a good way to help you get there.
Pride- Humility is a beautiful thing. We are mere humans and we can't fix, repair, or change things. And realizing this, is a beautiful thing. We can't do it, but God can. Because He is holy and mighty and all powerful. And we are so undeserving.
Wrong Priorities- It's so easy to seek wisdom and advice from the World around us, but it is far from helpful or useful. Check your priorities and focus. What is your mind consumed of? Because what your mind is consumed of will most likely reflect what your heart and life is consumed with. And if you let it, there will come a time where you don't control those things, but those things will control you. Make sure God is your focus in every little thing. I know recently that week too, I was concerned with appearance. With my imperfect crooked teeth and my not model sized body. But those are outward things, and things the World focuses on. Not what God focuses on. He loves us for our true inward beauty and He thinks we're beautiful just the way He made us. And I am beautiful. I just had wrong priorities.
To sum it all up, I was strongly impacted and rebuked. I had all the wrong mindsets. And while it's sad that I messed up so badly, it's also something to learn from. I feel so much better, renewed and stronger because of it. I feel in my heart a big change. Where my focus lies is now on God. I have Hope again. Its beautiful. The World is Blue and Bright again. I have forgiven myself and anyone who I may have held grudges or waited months for apologies from them. I have learned to let go of hurt and feeling wronged. I have learned that I am so undeserving and I am humbled. I have set aside past worries. I have changed in my heart. I encourage you all as well, to take some time in prayer today. Reflect on what has been going on in your life and see if you like the way you've been living. There may be dusty corners you've neglected to taken care of to. You may not have noticed them there. Now, I know sometimes I will fall down and mess up. But I have verses, and papers, and quotes, and reminders to help me through it. I have God's Word and I have help from Him. Even if I lose my way, I will find it again.