Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

~Proverbs 25:28 NKJV~

I used to carry myself like a tough girl…always cussing people out and daring anyone to call me out of my name.  I was angry about everything and I wanted to make sure that everyone knew it.  Keep your distance; don’t even think about trying to hurt me.  This was the attitude I had and it was born mainly out of a fear of abandonment.  I was scared to death that someone was going to pretend to love me and then end up leaving me.  The funny thing is that throughout that time, I couldn’t seem to get people to leave me alone.  There were always people who wanted to be close to me and who wanted to show me that I was worth being cared for.  I just wouldn’t believe them and I really wanted them to just back off because the fear of being hurt was more compelling at the point in my life than my need to make a connection.

Over the years, things happen.  You build walls, you tear them down, you put them back up and others knock them down.  You reinforce them and still others come to take them apart; brick by brick.  Sometimes it’s the same people who come back over and over, testing you and looking for the weak spots in your fortress.  And there really is nothing you can do to prevent it.  But there is something you can do to overcome it.  You can pray.  You can come to understand once and for all that the only foundations that stay strong are those built in Christ.  Without faith and trust in His power, anything we try to build will crumble.  Sometimes we’ll see it as clearly as if someone had taken a wrecking ball to us; sometimes it’s like they’re digging through those walls with a teaspoon.  No matter how obvious the damage, you can be sure that it is actually happening.  Even when we are walking with Christ, the enemy never stops trying to destroy what He’s built in us.  The difference lies in how we respond.

So now, some twenty years later, I look back on my reactions to the attacks I’ve suffered.  When I reacted from a place of anger, I got back more anger.  When I reacted from a place of hate, I only bred more hate.  When I reacted in fear, which wasn’t as often as it probably should have been given the situations I found myself in; the end result was something more to fear.  It was only when I began to respond with grace, mercy and a peaceful heart that I began to reap a sweeter harvest in my life.  Yes, I still have problems.  I still run into opposition and difficult times.  I’m still challenged at every turn on most days.  The difference is that now I turn to Jesus and ask Him to guide my steps.  I ask Him what I need to do to bring about the fruit that He has promised.  These things that happen aren’t an opportunity for me to lash out and prove that I can be just as hateful as the next person.  This is not the time for me to sucker-punch someone with my sharp wit.  This is the time for me to prove that God’s way works every time.  It’s time for me to show that I have no fear because my heart belongs to the one who wins every battle.

I look at my daughter and I can see that she doesn’t have a hateful bone in her body.  Her presence makes the world a better place.  I can’t say that my presence always has.  In fact, I know at least a handful of people who might say they wish they’d never known me.  I can’t go back and fix the damage that I’ve done to those relationships, but I can put forth the effort and the energy needed to make all of my future interactions something that will make a positive difference in a world that is so quick to offer up the very worst that it has on any given day.

This means that I don’t present myself as someone you don’t want to mess with.  It means I don’t think it’s cool to tell everyone all of the awful things I’ve convinced myself that I’m proud of doing to myself and others.  It means that I don’t look for any and every way possible to sabotage myself and others.  It means that I don’t take pride in running away from the plan God has for my life.  It means I surrender.  I give my life to the One who made me.  I ask Him which way is up and I avoid looking down.  I move forward with the knowledge that I am covered by His grace and mercy and that no one can take that away from me.  No one has to take it from me because He offers it to all without prejudice; without requirement, without limits.  I don’t have to defend the grace He extends to me by building walls to keep you from seeing what I’ve got.  On the contrary, I want you to know what He’s given me because I want the same for you.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

~Revelation 22:17 NKJV~

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