January 1, 2011

30 Days of Praise

I've joined a Facebook group called 30 Days of Praise. It was started by a friend who posted a note on her profile wall about doing starting the New Year with a cleansing detox called The Daniel Fast. Many of her Facebook friends expressed interest in learning more, so she decided to create a group where women can come together with the goal of cleansing both body and soul. She has invited many of us to join her to create an environment of encouragement and support. It isn't just for women who want to do The Daniel Fast, but for those who want to start the New Year seeking God in prayer, fasting, and lifestyle changes that promote a focus on praise and thanksgiving. I personally am not prepared to cut so much out of my diet right now, so I'm making one dietary change (cutting out added white sugar) and one soul change (waking up early enough in the morning to take a walk and do an hour or two of writing before my family is ready for breakfast).

My friend is also a writer, and she's blogging a daily meditation with an emphasis on praise. You can read her first post about choosing wisely what we fill our emotional selves with. She is encouraging all of us who are writers and want to blog about our journey in 30 Days of Praise to share our posts with others in our group.

Today is the official starting day, but I have had company for the past three days. I am starting my changes tomorrow, but I did have a few minutes yesterday to start a meditation, and I'd like to share it with you as my First Day of Praise. One of the things my friend mentioned in the description of the group is that she wants to cut out complaining and spend her time with God in thanksgiving rather than asking Him for things. As I was pondering this, I was asking the question, "How do we pray if we aren't asking Him for anything?"

Philippians 4:6 came to mind: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God."

This doesn't exactly fit with not asking anything of God, but it got me thinking about a different aspect of all of this. I love the idea of thanking God for things and praising Him, but I also want to spend some time thinking about how my regular thought patterns lead me into anxiety instead of thanksgiving.

As I turned in this direction, a passage in Philippians jumped out: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..." (2:14-15)

Here are my thoughts about this passage:
  • Complaining and arguing prevent us from being pure and blameless
  • Complaining and arguing are NOT character traits found in children of God
  • Complaining and arguing cast a shadow on our testimony
About a year ago, I started realizing that I was not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in my life. I was shouting at my children, I was a workaholic, I was irritable and negative, and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I don't really know how it came about, but one day I started thinking to myself, "I am not a good witness to Christ's power in my life. It's no wonder that the people I'm trying to witness to aren't interested in becoming a Christian. There must be more than this!"

Up until this point, I was waiting on Him to do some miraculous overhaul in my life. What I didn't understand is that He was waiting for me to give Him permission to act.

In the weeks after that thought first popped into my head, I started catching myself yelling, blaming, or otherwise "acting out," and I would stop and say to myself, "That's not how Jesus would act." This was not an exercise in self-punishment or even an exercise in trying to change my behavior. It was more of an awakening...a recognition that I was not where I wanted to be. I didn't make any sudden changes. I didn't attempt to do anything about it. I just started getting honest with myself.

Several months later I realized that I was more and more exhibiting the signs of His Spirit actively living and breathing within me. I was acting more like Him and less like the irritable she-bear that used to live at my house. I'm not saying I didn't have to change my behavior, and I'm not saying that stepping out of my denial was the only step toward Spirit-led living, but I do know that stepping out of my denial was the first step, the one He had been waiting for me to take, to initiate the breakthrough I've seen in my life this past year.

Now, I intend to apply this same principle of examination and acknowledgement to my bad habits of complaining and arguing. I'm not necessarily trying to stop myself, but I'm stepping out of my denial in an attempt to allow Him to point out where I'm complaining and arguing. In the next thirty days, I will be exploring the hidden ways that I complain and argue. I hope that my expedition will help you begin to see some breakthrough in your life, too!

Peace & Joy,

1 comment:

  1. I love this Angela - all so very well put. I love it when women share their hearts and are real and open. It shows others they are ok and God still loves them and takes us all just as we are - each day if it need be. love it.