Testing

Someone in my family is going through a tough time right now. I found myself thinking last night about whether I should reach out to her or not. It seems like it should always be a good thing to reach out to help someone, but I thought I should test it first. “I want to help her,” I thought. But then, as I let the sentence echo in my mind, I heard something else: “I want to be the one who helps her.”

“I want to help her.”

vs.

“I want to be the one who helps her.”

Not the same at all. And with that realization, I realized that I’m not in a place right now where I can help her, because I’d be doing it to build up my ego instead of doing it out of real compassion for her.

Two weeks ago, I had a scheduling conflict with my Meeting’s Worship and Ministry committee. It seemed very possible that I’d have to withdraw my membership from this committee. I found myself thinking, “I want to serve my Meeting.” Now, thinking back, I wonder:

“I want to serve my Meeting.”

vs.

“I want to be the one who serves my Meeting.”

I’ve been in a period of discernment about whether to take on a second term with this committee (my first term ends this December). While eating breakfast several weeks ago, I offered up the following prayer: “May I do Your will, Lord.” And then I thought about what I’d just said and was struck with discomfort.

What if God doesn’t want us to do His will all the time? I couldn’t help but think that if God had wanted us to do His will all the time, He wouldn’t have given us free will. He would have made us as puppets. Is it even right to ask God always, “What do you want me to do here?”

I’ve found myself recently saying things like, “I’m waiting to see what God says,” or “I’m waiting for a leading about this” when I’m asked a question that I already have an opinion about, but know that my answer isn’t the one the questioner wants. I used to do this with Rob, too: blaming unpopular decisions on him when it was me who made them.

Before I can follow God’s will, I have to be able to stand up for and follow my own.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under compassion, daily life, discernment, ego, emptying, faith, family, God, leadings, obedience, pride

4 responses to “Testing

  1. Good observation about the difference between I want to help/serve… and I want to be the one to help/serve…

    I wonder if you can say more about the last sentence of your post: “Before I can follow God’s will, I have to be able to stand up for and follow my own.”

    How does that jibe with the idea of being low, of laying aside our will in order to be obedient to God? Am I missing something?

    Blessings,
    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  2. RichardM

    This spoke to my condition. Sometimes we want to help and cannot. It’s a lonely feeling, but we must recognize the limits on what we can do. It makes us feel powerful to help others and sometimes we just have to feel powerless.

  3. Tom Smith

    Thanks for sharing an open feeling.

    I believe that God “wants” us to do his will all the time, but he also “wants” us to CHOOSE to do his will.

    I think this seems like what Friends have referred to as “Quaker Perfection.” That is the belief that we can choose, with and by the power of the Spirit, to do God’s will. The reality is that we, especially I, fall far short of that. However, there are times when I have felt the Power over all my shortcomings. (Not very many but enough that I am convinced of this Power.)

    I think it is important to recognize that we need to recognize “our will” and know that there are times when our will and “Thy will” do correspond. There are also many (most?) times when “Thy will” is not clear at all. In those times we need to discern our motivations for our will and trust ourselves!

  4. Liz Opp: You asked: How does that jibe with the idea of being low, of laying aside our will in order to be obedient to God? Am I missing something?

    I think there’s a difference between laying aside one’s will in order to be obedient and ignoring one’s will completely because it’s easier to be a bit of a doormat (which is how I was feeling about some of my interactions with my Meeting when I wrote this). If I can’t find the strength to stand up for my own will, how will I have the strength to stand up for what I perceive to be God’s?

    RichardM: Thanks.

    Tom Smith: I think you hit the nail on the head with your second sentence, that following God’s will has to be a choice. And if one is not clear about what one’s own will is, then it’s less of a choice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s