Learning as I Go
That first year after being saved was pretty amazing. I was freed from my slavery to alcohol and cigarettes. My depression steadily decreased. I found a new love for people I had never had before.
I want people to understand something very important. When I surrendered my life to Christ, my life didn’t change. My circumstances didn’t change. Christ changed me. Christ is still changing me.
I am still Michelle, born in 1963 to Robert and Judy. I still have a brother, Bobby, a sister, Sarah, a son, Robert, and a son, Galen. I am still a nurse. I still have the same responsibilities I had before Christ.
After I was freed from the huge addictions in my life, I was left with all the rest of myself. When God freed me from the big things, I realized He had just hit the tip of the iceberg. But in order for me to see the rest, I had to be free of the big things. The big things kept me from dealing with my life.
The lord began in me the process of sanctification. This process involves learning how to develop right thinking in our thought processes and working with the power of the Holy Spirit to develop us into the kind of people God wants us to become in Him. It involves trials and testing. It started immediately after I was saved. But it took me months to even realize what was happening. I spent 42 years thinking one way, now the Lord would change everything.
As I previously said, immediately after being saved, I stopped swearing and cheating at the movie theater. My inward character began to change and continues to change in me everyday.
I learned how judgmental I was. Before Christ I thought I was pretty nonjudgmental, a live and let live sort. To me, being judgmental meant being prejudiced, I wasn’t prejudiced. After Christ, I remember walking around the golf course by my house and sizing up every individual who came my way. I judged their appearance. My thoughts were particularly harsh towards women who had plastic surgery. Suddenly I thought, “woah, who am I to judge these people by their appearance? Look at me. I’m covered in tattoos. I don’t want anyone to judge me this way.”
I learned I was unforgiving. Before Christ I thought I was pretty forgiving. I mean, I finally forgave my ex-husband after ten years. I was working at Cedars at the time. I couldn’t understand why I was so miserable at work. I had the Lord on my side. But I would go to work and complain loudly because I didn’t like my schedule, or my assignment, or having to come in when I was on call. Complaining was bad enough, but I said mean things about the management. I slandered them whenever they weren’t looking. Until one day my words got back to them. I was called into the office and lectured about the fact they were just doing their job and I should just do mine. I didn’t have to be employed by them. Of course, they were right and I was wrong and that’s when I realized I was unforgiving. I was holding some kind of grudge against them. I asked them to forgive me and work got better from that point.
I learned to stop worrying. Before Christ, I worried about everything, especially money. Would I have enough to pay rent and buy food? Would the money be deposited in my checking account? Would my paycheck be right? How would I afford all the things my boys wanted? After I surrendered to Christ, I stopped worrying about money immediately. Suddenly, it wasn’t a priority in my mind anymore. It was such an awesome change. Payday would come and I would forget to check the balance in my bank account. I assumed the money was there, afterall, in the past, it had been there 99% of the time. I became more and more amazed as time went on. Even when I had car problems and needed money to make repairs, I would pray for God to take care of it and somehow, I would have just enough money to make those repairs.
I learned from the Bible, God takes care of the birds of the air and He loves us so much more He will take care of us. I saw this every Sunday at The Refuge. Even the homeless and poor are taken care of. They have the opportunity to eat, to be clothed, to be given shelter, to be given help to find work. I realized how much God takes care of us by using us to take care of each other.
I learned to stop being afraid of people. Before Christ, I was afraid of people. I was afraid they wouldn’t like me, would make fun of me, would talk about me behind my back, would criticize me. After Christ, I learned from the Bible the only One I should really fear is the Lord. What was the worst thing a man could do to me? Kill me, but I am going to heaven! Only God has the power to determine where I will spend eternity. No man can take that away from me. This realization has really freed my mind. The last time a surgeon yelled at me, I cried for about 5 minutes, then I remembered I have nothing to fear because I have Almighty God on my side!
Just recently, I realized I have a problem submitting to authority. One would think at my age I would know better. All this learning is a process, sanctification. I learned about sanctification and that is sanctification. I am still learning many things. All this learning has been a challenge. Just when I think I am doing okay, I learn I am not okay. I take three steps forward and fall two steps behind. I’m okay with that. I have learned as long as trials and tests keep coming, the Lord hasn’t given up on me. He is helping me see the person I was and changing me into the person He wants me to be. He is undoing 42 years of misguided self-learning and giving me something so much better, His plan, His purpose. I pray this sanctification never stops.