#IAmNot: The lens of conviction versus condemnation

For this week’s blog post for the A Confident Heart OBS, one of the choices is to “Describe a time when you felt condemned (by yourself or someone else), and answer two key questions: What would the difference have been if you had processed the situation through the filter of conviction instead? and What steps can you take the next time to usher in restoration instead of condemnation?

For the last 2 1/2 years, I have been riding a roller-coaster of emotion and behavior with consequence. I made a mistake in leaving a fairly secure position to take on a title. In the last year alone, I have dealt with the ups and downs associated with caring for a loved one who is undergoing significant medical treatment (open-heart surgery, followed by two major cancer surgeries, and all kinds of follow-up treatments); in addition, I lost a loving cousin and was unable to attend her funeral and grieve with the rest of the family; further, I nursed my beloved pet through toxic shock and surgery, pneumonia, and cancer until her death 4 months ago; and right before her death, we suddenly lost a wonderful friend who had done much in our lives. Finally, I lost my job — and I am really not entirely sure why; but with this latest loss, there was an undercurrent of personal failure, voices of accusers implying that I should be condemned for my actions (or lack thereof). Somehow, it seems that I was entirely at fault that I could not cleanse the toxic environment in which people operated long before I entered, and will likely continue to operate in after my departure.

As a result of all of this, I have felt like I was madly treading the waters (filled with sharks) simply to keep going. I grew to not like myself very much — at least not the me that I had become, wallowing in self-pity, blaming God and others for my misery and condition, and standing mired in the quicksand of my insecurity to the point of being unable to take the steps necessary to move forward.

About two months ago, as my job search seemed to hit a dry spell, I knew that I had to do something — and as I have always done in the past — my first step was try to find my way back to Him. If nothing else — from returning to prayer, reading and reflecting on the Scripture, and joining an OBS — I have begun to take great comfort in the fact that no matter what, there can be redemption — for He loves me! Through research and reflection, I have learned more in the last two months about the precepts of the Church that I was baptized into, along with the depth of my faith and the power of the Divine Truth than I had in the last 55 years. For that, I cannot even begin to express my gratitude!

So to view my situation in the lens of conviction versus condemnation, I sought to understand the difference between condemnation and conviction, and note the following:

Condemnation is not constructive — it is accusatory and critical, and judgmental. It affirms guilt, and perpetuates feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Conviction, on the other hand is constructive and specific in its revelation. Conviction points out sinful actions and attitudes and ways to mitigate negative results and consequences. We have the opportunity to reflect and to change harmful behaviors that impede our relationship with Him and with others.

It gives me pause to think that I have been acting in accordance with my free will, with complete disregard of His — but also hope that I can turn it around and use it to create a better me as I move into the next phase of life.

On p. 129 of A Confident Heart, Renee notes that when we feel like a failure, we should ask ourselves some questions:

Did I do something wrong or make a bad decision that led to this failure? YES — I relied on my own free will and ignored His plan and Will — seeking validation of my worth through position and others — I moved without doing due diligence, from a perfectly good job to one in a very volatile environment, simply to attain the next rung up a ladder.

Am I acting independently of God? YES

Is there anything I am not doing to fulfill a commitment I made? YES — this haunts me, as I vowed to do everything within my power to make things better for all around me. I am not sure however, that I could have done more — because as I noted, the toxicity was deep-rooted, the climate not conducive to positive change — and yet, I know from their own lips and actions, that I did make a difference in the lives of some people.

Did I pray about this or just do it because I wanted to? NO, I did not pray about the decision to make the move, and YES I simply did it because I wanted to — I wanted the title.

Was I responsible for the outcome? Given what I know now about the environment — I could make a case that I was not entirely responsible for the outcome, but did play a role in it.

Did I over-commit myself in agreeing to do this? Again, given what I know now — I would have to say YES, because at one point, I had an inflated sense of my capability. In hindsight, I am not sure that anyone could have done much more than I did or have enjoyed a different outcome.

Is God using this to refine my character? YES — I firmly believe that to be the case — it has served as a giant “wake-up call.”

So, in the lens of conviction rather than condemnation, I cite the following conclusions:

I have been seeking validation through all other means than His provisions and promises. I can thus make a conscious decision not to continue to pursue this course of action.

I have pursued positions with wrong motivation. I can thus seek always to fully understand my motivations and if they are not in alignment with His Will — change course accordingly.

While I have soothed some, I have hurt others through my words and actions. I can thus make a commitment to watch my tongue, obey His laws, and act in accordance with His way — treating and serving others as I wish to be treated and served.

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The Art of Spiritual Warfare (Pt. 1)

In times of trial, when spiritual battle becomes necessary, the best defense is a great offense. And there is none better than can be found through faith in Him. This is particularly true in times of what seem to be extended adversity when you reach the brink of despair.

Remember always #WhoIAm in Christ and that —

Everything is possible for [her] who believes. (Mark 9:23, NIV)

“Don’t Quit,” Author Unknown

When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit.

Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.

Today’s Verse

Be strong! Be fearless! Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared by your enemies, because the LORD your God is the one who marches with you. He won’t let you down, and He won’t abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, CEB)

Exploration

This verse comes from a passage wherein Moses, in contemplation of his impending death, announces that Joshua has been chosen to see the journey through, and seeks to assure his people of the constant presence of God — to encourage them to continue their journey in faith and hope.

Looking deeper at the meaning of key words:

  • Fearless = courageous, bold, determined and confident; brave
  • Afraid = apprehensive, frightened, or hesitant
  • Scared = full of worry or fear
  • Abandon = renounce you or leave you behind; won’t fail or forsake you

Said another way, the promise is full in its magnitude — the strength, courage, and confidence found in total reliance on Him will dispel your apprehension, hesitance, and fear. You are always assured of a victory.

Stay strong! Be courageous, bold, determined, confident and brave! Don’t be apprehensive, hesitant or frightened, because the LORD your God is marching with me always. He won’t let me down, and He won’t renounce me, won’t forsake me, and won’t fail me.

Affirmation

There are numerous passages throughout the Scriptures that reinforce this particular promise, some of my particular favorites are included here:

Be strong — (trust his promises)

But now, says the LORD— the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched and flame won’t burn you. I am the LORD your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Because you are precious in my eyes, you are honored, and I love you. I give people in your place, and nations in exchange for your life. Don’t fear, I am with you. From the east I’ll bring your children; from the west I’ll gather you. (Isaiah 43:1-5)

Stay awake, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Hope in the LORD! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the LORD! (Psalms 27:14)

Fear not — (there is no need to entertain negative emotions or thoughts)

The LORD is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The LORD is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything? (Psalms 27:1)

Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

He will say to them: “Listen, Israel: Right now you are advancing to wage war against your enemies. Don’t be discouraged! Don’t be afraid! Don’t panic! Don’t shake in fear on account of them, (Deuteronomy 20:3)

He will not abandon me or let me fail

because the LORD your God is a compassionate God. He won’t let you go, he won’t destroy you, and he won’t forget the covenant that he swore to your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 4:31)

I am the LORD your God, who grasps your strong hand, who says to you, Don’t fear; I will help you. Don’t fear, worm of Jacob, people of Israel! I will help you, says the LORD. The holy one of Israel is your redeemer. Look, I’ve made you into a new threshing tool with sharp teeth. You will thresh mountains and pulverize them; you will reduce hills to straw. When you winnow them, the wind will carry them off; the tempest will scatter them. You will rejoice in the LORD and take pride in the holy one of Israel. The poor and the needy seek water, and there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will respond to them; I, the God of Israel, won’t abandon them. (Isaiah 41:13-17)

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8:39)

Reflection

By placing all of my trust in Him, I can overcome trial and adversity, be strong and confident in any situation, win all battles, and ultimately attain the rewards inherent in His Word.

deuteronomy 31 6