Special thanks to my husband, Bert, for sharing the following post.
“If you play the fool and exalt yourself … clap your hand over your mouth!”
Proverbs 30:32 (NIV)
In the late summer of 2003, after spending the better portion of the year since we first met trying to get Cheryl to agree to go out with me, we finally had our first date. Almost from the beginning of our relationship, however, we began to experience conflict at a level and frequency with which neither of us was comfortable. Although I never actually said it out loud, I distinctly recall thinking to myself during those early months of our relationship, “I’ve got way too much going for me for this to be MY fault! Can’t she see how awesome I am?”
As you’ve probably already guessed, the reality of the situation was far different from my decidedly one-sided take on things. The truth of the matter was that I was virtually consumed with bitterness, pride, anger, self-deception and a host of other not-so-nice traits that work together to all but eliminate any possibility of a happy, healthy and productive relationship. So where did my rose-colored self-assessment and reality first begin to diverge?
The answer to that question lies on a crisp November evening several years prior. Aged 35, unmarried and despondent after coming off of a particularly bad breakup, I set out from my apartment for a brisk five-mile jog to clear my head. As I neared the end of my run, I pulled off into the parking lot of a small church on Indian Creek Road, raised my eyes heavenward and said, aloud, “Lord, you said it isn’t good for man to be alone, and, yet, here I am. I’ve followed you, served you, witnessed for you and tried my best to obey your word, and this is what I get?” Although I only see it now in hindsight, it was at that moment that I began my slow, but sure, walk away from God.
As Cheryl has said, time and time again from the beginning days of her blog, the book of Proverbs serves, perhaps more than anything else, to show us the hurt and harm we bring upon ourselves and others when we depend on our own intellect rather than leaning on the true wisdom that God provides. And while all of us are guilty of doing this from time to time, the real damage begins to set in when we set our hearts on isolating ourselves from God as I did in the years following that autumn run.
So, how did it all turn around? While any list of this sort inevitably tends to be incomplete and at least a little subjective, these are the things that helped me return to fellowship with the Lord, and begin walking, once again, in his truth:
- First and foremost, believe that no matter what your circumstances are, God is good (Psalm 145:8).
- Commit yourself to regular conversation with God through prayer (Ephesians 6:18).
- Study God’s word consistently in order to learn what he says about you, himself and the relationship he wants you to enjoy with him (Psalm 119:130).
- Engage in consistent worship, discipleship and other activities with fellow believers (Acts 2:42).
Those of you who are closest to Cheryl and me know how the story ends. I confessed the lies I believed, asked God to forgive me for turning my back on him, started attending church much more regularly and, sweetest of all, wound up getting the girl.
Satan is a deceiver and his chief aim, from the time of Adam and Eve to the present, is to tempt us to believe the lie that we know better than the God who loves us, guides our steps and provides for our every need. When we think about all of the wonderful things God does for us, the choice between taking our own path or trusting the plan that God has for us becomes obvious.