I guess when I posted the first part of this blog, most people would have rightly assumed that the second part would come next. Sorry about that, but as a loyal reader, you are now being rewarded for your patience with me!
For those of you who are on Facebook, you have probably seen a few posts from your friends using the Timehop app. Timehop is an app that accesses your Facebook and Twitter feeds to bring up the things that you posted on the present day in history. It is a nice little window into what you may have been thinking about, sharing with others, or in the case of many, the pictures of what you ate.
A couple of days ago my Timehop hit on a post from 5 years ago. It was a Facebook post where I mentioned a trip I had to take down to Big Rapids to meet with my District Manager and Zone Manager with Kellogg’s. It was not a good meeting. In that meeting I was cut apart, had my character questioned, and was told that I was not a good employee. They had all kinds of papers and charts to show how their numbers proved it, but many of those numbers were twisted and out of context to the point that they were terribly untrue. The problem was, I was not in the position to make the rules. I left that meeting on probation.
On my drive home that day I remember battling feelings of depression, anger, doubt, and fear. I needed this job. It was a good job, and if I had been allowed to run it the way that my customers were asking me to do things, I could have been very successful at it for them, the company and for myself. The problem was, I didn’t make the rules, and I was not honest enough with myself to admit that I felt miserable in that job. By the time I got home I had closed my fist as tightly as possible around the false security of that job though. I refused to let go.
I went to work with a renewed vigor and did whatever it took to meet the demands that had been placed on me. They were unrealistic and required me to work as many as 16 hours a day at times. I decided it was worth it though. It was something I refused to let go of. I put myself in a position where I was unwilling to look at anything other than what I wanted, and that was to hold that job.
Over the next several weeks I will probably share some more of how God took me through the process of His opening my hand. It will be a bittersweet journey for me. I don’t like to remember the pain, but I do enjoy looking back and seeing how God worked things out and brought me to a better place.
The journey taught me the importance of letting God have access to what is in my hands. I could close them like a fist and keep things, or I could open them to His purposes and see what He wanted to do. It sounds easier than it is. I felt like after God opened my hands through losing that job I was pretty much all set. When you have had your hands opened up like I did, you are reluctant to hold tight again any time soon.
The problem was that I didn’t open up all the way. I had a couple fingers that were still closed. They couldn’t hold much, but in my heart I was still hanging onto things that I didn’t want God to have. Some of them were just things I was unwilling to trust Him to handle. Did I think He couldn’t? No. I just wanted that feeling of control in an environment where I had almost none. I had so much taken from me in a short period of time, and I had such a tenuous grip on the rest that I was living in fear.
I was blessed to have a supportive wife who built into me and was also an example for me as we went through that time. Through her, I saw an openhanded example, and while it took me a lot longer to grasp it, I believe that she was the one that planted that seed.
I also had a mentor and some friends who showed me how they lived an openhanded life, and as I spent more time with them and in my Bible I began to come face to face with the fact that I was still living a selfish life. I didn’t have as many things to be selfish about, but I was clinging to what I had left! Funny to think that I was hanging on to things so hard even then.
Over the last year I have learned that the key to joy in the Christian life is in the simple phrase “Thy will be done.” When I give myself over to what God wants, open my hands to whatever He deems right to put there, allow Him to remove the things that should be gone, I will be a happier person. It might be painful at times, but the result has always proven to be better for me.
Relentless Growth is living in the pursuit of a relationship with God. The way to do that is to approach Him with a humble, open spirit, willing to accept what He has for your life. It is a willingness to ask God to give me the desires of my heart that are in line with what He wants for me. A willingness to accept what might feel hard for a time in order to receive a blessing over time.
Relentless Living requires open hands and an open heart. I know I still stumble in this, but I have some great people that help me in it, and God keeps showing me opportunities to grow.