My Greatest Struggle

Thursday, October 26, 2006 11 Comments A+ a-

A few weeks ago I wrote about a women’s conference that I went to where Jennifer Kennedy Dean was the keynote speaker. I’ve been anxious to share my thoughts about the weekend but have been waiting for some kind of inspiration; something that would show me that the words were not coming from myself, but from someplace higher; something that would indicate that the words and meanings are truly sinking into my daily life. I think I’m there… I think.

Ms. Dean was an extremely powerful speaker, one who obviously knows the bible intimately and was willing to share her knowledge with us. It was one of the first times where I was on the edge of my seat, my heart and soul begging for more, and I still find myself amazed at the things I learned. Usually at these conferences, especially women’s conferences, emotions and feelings tend to overshadow the intellectual; my husband calls them “camp” or “spiritual” highs but such was not the case at this conference. While my own personal faith tends to identify more with the emotions, feelings, or the music that stems from such conferences; I was surprised to be engrossed with what she shared. I’m not usually looking for the intellectual discussions regarding God or the bible but that weekend, she was sharing such intellectual jewels with us that I just wanted to hear more!

She touched on so many subjects that weekend from prayer, God’s plan for prayer, the crucifixion, and even maintaining faith in trying times. But there is one session that stands out in my mind and probably the one that I needed to hear the most, she talked about “dying to self” or “crucifying our flesh”. It’s a huge concept, one with many facets and depth; I’ll do my best to explain. Since we’re all human and all sinners by nature, it’s hard to put on the Christ-like mindset because our sin nature is constantly getting in the way. She talked about the need to constantly “crucify our flesh” to truly shed our sin nature. Sin nature, she explained, is the inherent way we react to life’s circumstances around us. It’s the way we always react in moments of fear, exhaustion, surprise, hardships, and the list goes on; that one reaction that makes us cringe and wonder why we did that. Dying to self, she said, is re-programming our bodies to react in the ways that bring glory to God; making a conscious effort to abstain from our gut reaction and strive for a more holy reaction. Does this make sense to anyone else?

What is my hardest struggle? What do I have the hardest time trying to tame? What is my sin nature? I cringe as I write this because it’s the one thing I’m ashamed to admit, the one thing that I’d love to see go away forever; it’s my temper and my tongue. Oy! Just admitting that makes me humbled and want to seek forgiveness from those I’ve hurt. This is my biggest, daily struggle in life. I have the temper of ten Irish men and a tongue of swords; my words hurt deeply and even as I’m saying those hurtful, hateful words, I’m cringing inside. In my teen years, I had many head-to-head fights with my dad, my mom, my sisters, or friends. The words that came out of my mouth make me shudder to this day. Am I getting better? I’d like to think so and I sincerely hope so. The moments of lost tempers and outbursts are getting further and farther between; its taking a lot more to get me going but I still have major moments of weakness. Take for instance that same weekend. I shared a room with all three sisters, one of whom is exactly like me and therefore knows just how to bait me. We, of course, got into a fight and the things I said to her were atrocious and the minute they left my mouth, I knew I’d have to seek forgiveness. This is my daily struggle; this is the sin nature I’m trying to shed. I know it’ll never be gone, it’s too much a part of my pattern, but each day that I can resist losing my temper or each argument that I can control my tongue, is one day closer to victory.

I want to end with this, Jennifer Dean made it very clear that everyone’s sin nature is going to look different and therefore we have no right, or way, to judge one another. While my sin nature is temper and tongue-lashing, someone else’s sin nature is allowing them to be walked all over without standing up for themselves. So, while I’m practicing self-control, the other is learning to assert herself. I have no way of knowing what someone else’s sin nature is and it’s not my job to tell them. Only God can speak to His children, through the Holy Spirit to convict anyone of anything. And all I can do is work on myself and do my best to “crucify” this tongue of mine.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:9-10

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

11 comments

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The Artist
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8:49 PM delete

Great thoughts, Jenn. I too struggle with my temper and tongue and I totally identify with what you are going through.

Dying to our flesh is a day to day process as we try to display Christ's character. Paul says, "I die DAILY." We die so He can live through us and show the world HIS life - not ours.

Bless ya! Great stuff - thanks for sharing!

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Amanda
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9:11 PM delete

Good for you! Good for sharing your guts! THIS is the kind of woman I love, a real one! Thank you.

And you my friend haven't stunned me. That is my struggled too! TOTALLY!

Thank you for being authentic. Maybe you will set an example for so many out there that pretend to have it all together. Life is too short to pretend.

What a blessing you are!

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org junkie
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11:38 PM delete

Your post made a lot of sense to me. I too struggle with my temper and words and my constant battle with being too controlling. As a Christian I am aware that this behaviour is wrong and I struggle to "stop" on a daily basis. I just wish it wasn't so hard. I wish changing these sins were as easy as saying we want to. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting nowhere and other times I think wow I did okay today. I'm hoping one day I'll be able to say "remember when....".
I enjoyed your post! Thanks. Laura

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Tiffany
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11:56 AM delete

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Out of the darkness and into His light. Proud of you for admitting your struggles. I understand this completely.

I lost my best friendship because my negative tongue five years ago. Within the last year, I did a study on my own about the tongue(because I struggle) and planned to write an article about it. I have learned the hard way about my words.

Anyway, basically what I saw over and over again--especially in Proverbs--is how the heart and tongue are connected.

Out of the heart the mouth speaks--Luke 6:45.

Anyway, I continue to ask God to purify my heart by showing me areas of hidden hurts and sins. It's not easy but I have seen victory in this area. God is faithful to answer me. Yet the way He answers is often hard.

Now I try not to hold onto hurts as much but rather honestly admit right then that I am upset. That requires vulnerability and courage. I fail sometimes because I don't want to admit I am so sensitive or that I have needs being unmet.

Lastly Jenn, there is NO condemnation in Christ. :)

Thank you for this post.

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Tiffany
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11:57 AM delete

PS I love this design. So precious!

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erin
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7:45 PM delete

I had to come over and meet you after the comment you left on my blog. I love what you wrote. It is all so true. God is teaching me alot of similar things. Not to judge or to compare myself to others. We are all on our own unique journey!!

About having a boy. . . (Both of mine on Feb. boys, too) they are wonderful. They love mama, and always want to protect me - so sweet!! I am all girl and thought I'd make an awful "boy mama," but God has taught me so much through them. They truly are wonderful and sweet. I think you are in for a treat!!

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Paula
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8:19 PM delete

Makes perfect sense. Thank you for sharing.

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Anonymous
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11:03 PM delete

Your heart is tender to the leading of the Lord and that is awesome! God will honor your efforts. Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable.
Love, Dareth

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Judi
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9:14 AM delete

What a great post! I can identify with it so much. Very thought provoking and inspiring.

Thanks for visiting me. My little boy is only nine months old but he sure has made an impact. He started out being born 3-1/2 months early....and it's been a roller coaster ever since. But he is so sweet. He loves his mommy and I just adore him. We will see how he changes as he grows!

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Amy
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1:48 PM delete

Hmmmm...you've got me thinking.. It is surprising to me that your tongue is something you need to tame because you seem to be very thoughtful in your writing. Maybe blogging is good practice? It is for me, I think. Here is my problem and it is a bad one: lack of forgiveness and judgment of others. Ick...I hate just writing it. Thank you for your post and taking the time to gather your thoughts.

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Andrea
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4:16 PM delete

Jenn - thanks for sharing! This is my giant in my life, too. And it's a lot harder than it looks to keep it under control! Isn't it great that God is bigger, and He can and does help us?! I just read something the other day that said when we focus on our giants, we topple. When we focus on God, the giants fall.

Thanks for stopping by my bolg, btw!

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