When you hear of someone being tested, what do you imagine? Do you think of a test of something being taught? Maybe you think of someone being tested on the ability to do a task.
Do you ever think about someone being tested spiritually?
Recently, I was faced with a dilemma. A person became upset because of something I didn’t do, even though my plans were not fully known to them. Without one thought to call, that person, in the manner we’ve become accustomed, blew a mental gasket and decided to take his misplaced frustration out on an innocent person…at the same time proclaiming to be doing it for the sake of that person. I know, I was quite confused myself. Before long, the tirade evolved into me not being welcomed around that person for the duration of my trip. By the way, I was not in Atlanta at the time.
I could have taken this rather differently than I did, but I prayed for a calmness to overtake me. What would it have proven if I had taken the same approach as that individual? It would have proven that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I couldn’t let that become true. I have tried my entire life to prove that statement wrong. With a new vision of what life can be, I have to be the better person in a time of trial. Looking back, I could see this as a test of my character, my belief, and my faith. At the same time, I could see this as a test of my willingness to follow at least one of God’s commandments. They’re rather easy to follow, but it would be easier if everyone in question would make that an easier task. I, at one point in time, even questioned the ability of God to change that person from the inside. At moments, I was feeling bouts of anger and resentment towards this person, not because of his opinions, but rather his way of voicing them.
Around my neck, I wear a necklace given to me in high school. I may have written about it before, but it says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) I don’t wear it simply to have something hanging around my neck. I truly believe its words. When faced with a situation we find difficult or stressful or disheartening, we are given the power to get through it, the love to show those involved, and the self-discipline to not do something to either make the situation worse or cause unpleasant feelings in those involved.
When I returned to Atlanta, I had a feeling something wasn’t right. Had I done something that wasn’t thoughtful of other’s feelings? Did I make my own personal excuses as a rebuttal to that person’s issues or did I create them to ease my conscience? Were my actions understood by the person wrongly scolded? I believe that my actions were perfectly fine and my intentions, or plans, were respected and understood by that person. I however was left wondering how I needed to handle the person airing the issue. Do I call to apologize for something I shouldn’t feel ashamed or should I let it go and observe from a distance?
When in times of doubt, confusion, or in need of direction, I was always taught to pray and listen…talking to God as a best friend, telling everything causing trouble and uneasiness, and then listening for the answer in whatever way is revealed. One of those recent prayers was to reaffirm my faith in God that he can move in people, no matter how difficult it may seem. There have been more hardened hearts God has broken. In that time of prayer, I did as I should and prayed for the others involved…that they be comforted and filled with the love that heals.
Sometimes, the hardest thing is asking for help, but the scariest thing is thinking there’s no one there to listen. I may not have a secret telephone with a direct line to heaven, but I do have a soul that feels connected and full of power and commitment. That’s my channel to God and my way to get the message to Him, knowing He will be there to listen and give direction.
And that is what I receive….direction on how to navigate through a life filled with curvy roads and high mountains.