Sometimes being an ordinary person really stinks! Most of my friends and family fall in the “ordinary” (however you want to define it) category. During this week I have friends who have had health issues, marital issues, financial issues, and even dealing with suicide issues. Unfortunately, life is bound to throw us all a curve ball on occasion. Sometimes we are a primary contributor to the issues, and sometimes we are are impacted by the decisions someone else has made. In all honesty, life really isn’t fair.
With all the challenges we face in our everyday lives, the potential exists to feel overwhelmed, depressed, lethargic, isolated, and lonely. We build walls to protect ourselves from getting hurt. We pull away from friendships because they are too much work. We start shutting down our emotions because they are too painful. Sometimes we feel like other people just can’t understand our feelings. Sometimes we fall into a pit and we feel like we can never climb out. Sometimes we feel like we are so far from God we can never get back.
Just take a look at the life of King David. When King David let his lust rule his good sense, the fallout was enormous. His sin snowballed from lust and adultery to the murder of a loyal friend and trusted soldier. He lost his self-respect, his integrity, and yes, even the son he and Bathsheba created. Even while God was displeased with David for his sin, God still had a great love for him. The reason? He knew David’s heart. David got caught up in sin, but his heart was still softened toward God. When God used the prophet Nathan to confront his sin, David was grieved when his eyes were opened to his real behavior. I mention David, because there are lessons to be learned from his life. If we focus on the following fiver areas, it can be helpful in avoiding some of the biggest pitfalls we face.
1. Acknowledge there is a problem. That problem may or may not be of your own making. But be willing to do a self-examination and determine if you are at fault. One of the first step toward healing is understanding there is an issue. Whether it is overspending, infidelity, depression, or addictions, negative behaviors eventually take a toll on us. I have a Christian friend who struggled with alcoholism and tried to keep it hidden for years. It wasn’t until something catastrophic happened that he acknowledged he had a real problem. His first step in recovery was admitting he was struggling with an issue.
2. Find a trusted adviser. Nathan was called by God to confront David and help him see the true depth of his sin. Develop a relationship with a godly friend who is not afraid to confront you, as painful as it may be on occasion. Everyone can find a “yes” friend who is willing to say what we want to hear. A true friend will be willing to tell us hard truths on occasion. We all need a friend who is willing to hold us accountable for our actions.
I had a friend in high school who called me on the carpet for the way I was carelessly treating someone. At the time I resented her statements, but looking back I realize she was quite accurate in her assessment of my selfishness!
3. Be sorry for the things you do wrong. In Christian terms, repent of your sin. When sin is at the door and we give in to it, there are consequences. God forgave David, but his family’s whole future was impacted by his sin.
There needs to be repentance in order for there to be restoration. Doing lip service to being sorry for your actions isn’t enough. A true change in heart and attitude is necessary. David was grieved when he finally realized the extent of his sin. He penned some of his most beautiful psalms out of his pain and struggles.
4. Accept (or give) love and forgiveness. I cannot tell you how many Christians I know who keep confessing the same sin over and over and let it rule their lives. If you have already dealt with that sin, move on. Don’t let it mire you down the rest of your life. There is something very freeing in truly accepting love and forgiveness when it is offered. Maybe the thing you are struggling with isn’t of your choosing. Look carefully and see if you need to be the one loving and forgiving. Forgiveness is frequently hard, but there is a great freedom that comes with it.
5. Move forward. Bad things happen to all of us at some point in our lives. We can become victims or we can be victors. Both negative and positive experiences shape us into who we are. I have known individuals who have had some horrible things happen to them. I have heard the heartbreaking stories of individuals who were abused in countless ways. Many have chosen to face their pain, confront their demons (or abusers), and move forward. They are the survivors. But I have known some who have chosen to wallow in their pain. They use it as an excuse for every bad thing that happens, every poor choice they make, and they continue to live as a victim. Make a choice to move forward and put the past behind.
I realize that this list may be overly simplistic. Life is complicated and so are the issues we face. But sometimes, we make it way more complicated than it needs to be. Make a choice to live victoriously!
For the full story of David and Bathsheba, read Samuel 11 and 12