This summer, as I very adamantly refused to sign up for summer school, I have had a bit more time on my hands than normal. I am not one of those people who has a difficulty relaxing and doing nothing at times, so this has not really been a problem for me. In fact, I’ve quite enjoyed the break, and am actually almost feeling recovered enough from the insanity that is grad school that I am (almost) looking forward to school starting back up again. (Hardly short of a miracle, really) At the same time, I’ve tried not to completely waste my free time, so along with a few other various activities (including, but not limited to, tanning and eating sno cones) I’ve picked up a couple books over the past few weeks. And what do you know, both just so happen to be on the topic of relationships! (But then really, what did you expect? I’m a girl, thus I am relationally driven. I’m single, so naturally the topic comes up every now and then. And also, I kind of like watching stupid tv shows like The Bachelorette, and yelling at poor Ashley, telling her exactly what she’s doing wrong, according to my book.)
Between the books and different life events that have happened in the past few months and years, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about relationships lately. But today in particular, something hit me especially hard- one of those “aha!” moments that seems to come out of the blue. And here’s what struck me: I really believe that fairly often,
the devil is not my problem. I am the problem.
And here’s what I mean by that. Sometimes as Christians, we go through difficulties and assume that the spiritual thing to do is to try to figure out whether this difficulty is the devil attacking us, or God allowing something in order to make us grow. Sometimes, it’s one or the other, or a combination of both, but sometimes, and probably more often than I’d like to admit, the problem is ME! I have done this to myself! Very often, it is my own destructive behaviors that caused this relationship to crash and burn. My own lack of self-control is the reason that I am experiencing this heartache. My own choice to defy wisdom and common sense is the reason I am going through this difficult experience (and perhaps forcing a few other people to go through it as well!)
Of course, I am not denying the fact that a person’s past often shapes their current mindset and behaviors. Of course, the devil will use anything possible as a foothold, and perhaps manipulate circumstances and feelings in such a way that they cause more pain, or create an opportunity for poor behavior. Nonetheless, quite often, I am still the problem! My lack of maturity, or lack of understanding of scriptural principles, or my lack of discipline to do what I know is right is the problem.
But you know what truth struck me equally as hard today? I truly, truly believe that all of this self-inflicted pain absolutely grieves God. Not in a “get it together you idiot, you’re making me look bad”, kind of way. Grieved in the way that any good father would be, while watching his beloved child go through pain. Certainly, He does not put us through pain for some sort of sick enjoyment on His part. Conversely, He does allow pain in our lives for a number of different reasons. But through it all, I believe He is grieved when He watches us put ourselves (and others) through unnecessary pain. Why? Because He loves us, and there is a better way.
We all make mistakes. Most of us make the same dumb mistake more than once, before we really learn from it. And God’s grace, love and healing are there the first, second, third, 10,000th time we make that mistake. But my suggestion is simply this: perhaps we could spare ourselves from another broken heart or damaged relationship (be it a friendship, parent-child, boss-employee, or romantic relationship) by simply taking responsibility for our own actions. As simple as it is, I believe there is tremendous growth that can take place when we truly take a step back and say, “How much of this mess is my own doing, and how can I keep from doing it again?” Perhaps one reason that God allows us to continue in these destructive behaviors is because eventually, (hopefully) we learn. We stop!
Friends, there is a better way. Search the scriptures and find out what it is. Find a good book to help you. (I can recommend one or two haha) Build a relationship with someone older and wiser. Pray. But don’t stay where you are, because in this case, the grass really is greener on the other side.
And now that you’ve waded through this somewhat heavy blog, please enjoy this video.