Maybe it`s my personality, maybe the way I was raised, maybe my sin nature... or a combination of everything... the reason why being offended bothers me to the core and makes me automatically want to defend myself. This is something I hate about myself and wish so desperately the Lord would just take away completely. Yet the Lord has greater plans, to use my sin nature and selfish ways to draw me closer to him and to remind me that I am nothing without him and I can do nothing apart from him.

       "Have you not heard? Have you not understood? The Lord is the everlasting God! The Creator of all the earth! He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless."

       As many of you know in May I took over the responsibility both legally and emotionally of a dear 92 year old woman whom I cherish every moment with. This responsibility has really brought nothing but blessings as far as getting to know her more, speaking German all the time, eating amazing German foods with her all the time, watching German TV with her, going swimming together, and much more. And yet this responsibility has brought much frustration and difficulty in relation to the people around her and somewhat involved in her care, although she has no living family members. In the past few months of caring for her, I have been offended perhaps more than any other time in my life. It seems everyone "has it out for me" and automatically assumes the worst about me. They often view my intentions with much skepticism and are quick to challenge and question my decisions. This has deeply hurt and also caused so much stress in that I am forced to feel unsure of my decisions and constantly asking what I should and should not do.

     My hope has been from the start about doing this for her because I truly want to see her home and well-cared for. Little did I know that the Lord had even greater or even funnier plans? I see now how he has dropped me into this situation where some days I feel stuck and want to escape in order to teach me these lessons that I have long-time fought against learning. Like I rambled before... my personality, my childhood, my sin nature, I don`t know why but I know that I am horrible at dealing with personal offense and I am horrible at patiently loving the offender, rather I am constantly trying to defend myself. I think I hate this so much because it is an area where Jesus was so incredibly gifted and humble. The ways in which he was offended I cannot even imagine yet he always dealt with the situations calmly and patiently. He was longly to give grace and gentle patient to each and every person who came to him with only offense. He never defended himself, instead he defended God and the glory to which that demands.

    A couple of days ago I read these words from my devo: "The enemy will do virtually anything to steal our focus as we serve Christ. In his attempts, he often sends something more powerful than an outbreak of boils. He sends criticism, and he never lacks a willing vessel. The world is filled with amateur critics. Satan just instructs them to do what comes naturally." And yes it comes naturally, because some days in the past few weeks I`ve just had to put my hand over my mouth and walk away!

     "If we successfully accomplish our God given tasks, we must learn to deal with criticism. Nehemiah was a wise man. He knew exactly how to deal with his critics. He told God about them. Look at his words. Nehemiah went straight to God and said things like, 'Turn their insults back on their own heads!' Nehemiah didn`t direct his statements to his critics, however. He shared his feelings with God. He poured out his heart until he felt better. 

     The enemy`s attempt to steal our focus is actually an attempt to remove our hearts from our God-given tasks. The center of our focus fills our hearts. If we`re focused on criticism and the subsequent feelings of bitterness and inferiority, our hearts will give up the task. Our effectiveness will suffer terribly."  

    These words paint a perfect picture of my life over the past few months. Unfortunately I have often not been as wise as Nehemiah but rather I have let bitterness and inferiority deter me and steal my affections from the Lord. The moral of the entire thing is: only God knows my heart, my motives, my intentions. I am only accountable to him. I have to stop giving the time and energy to worry over what other people say and think. Especially those who don`t know me at all. And I pray through this all that I will grow in wisdom as Nehemiah and learn to run to God with my concerns, hurts, and worries alike. That I will vent and yell to him and not at others and that he will restore the given tasks he has placed upon my heart and life and he will give me the power to complete them.

   It is all for him. It is all about him. I am just an empty vessel for his glory.

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