The Unexamined Life

Standard

I’m beginning to understand everyone has a story.  It seems we all have had struggles we’ve had to endure which have made us into the people we are today. (DUH)

I walk around the local mall and see the variety of stores and styles available to suit the desires of individual shoppers.  I notice the amount of people looking for ways to uniquely express themselves.  I saunter into the store that has the perfect style for me and spend ample time looking for just the right colors and patterns.  I want to express a bit of what I’m feeling on the inside through my clothing for the outside.

I walk away with a vintage silk wrap made in Pakistan.  Flowers and paisleys intertwine to form an eccentric pattern which distinctly expresses my taste.  Does it really suit me?  What does it say about me?  I’m a whirly twirly girl in love with design.  Baubles and beads suit me well.  A bit of the bohemian, I suppose.  Until I look up the origin of the word…

No, I’m not bohemian on the inside…but those who know me best have made that assertion.  Do they really know me?  So I examine myself…and…get all confused once again.  Discombobulated?  Eccentric?  Distinctive?  Maybe…Unique?  Yes, that’s the word for me.

AND…for you.  We each have a story to tell, but do we know our personal stories?

We (Phat and I) met at eighteen.  We were both desperate for love and acceptance. We knew our parents loved us, but other things, the struggles of life and the “squeaky wheels”, received more of them.  So when we found eachother and knew it was true love, not just teenage hormones , we hung on tight.

I was already in counseling with the college chaplain so, many times, Phat came along.  We joke that we had two years of marriage counseling before we were even engaged. The best advice we received from those sessions: Remain teachable.  Socrates said it another way: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Each of us has experienced “stuff” but not everyone wants to deal with “the stuff of life”.  Some people don’t want to examine things, to look at the source of the wounding or test the bacteria which caused an infection.  They are bound to carry the wound with them, festering and never completely healed.  As hard as it is, I think it’s best to get wounds lanced.  Cut that wound open, let all the “gunk” drain and apply the healing salve of God’s Word.  We do heal when our wounds are treated effectively.

Phat and I have been cutting away at some sources of infection; we’ve spent many years helping one another grow up in the Lord.  We don’t think we have all the answers; we do continue to seek professional Christian help when we need it.  But, daily, we rely upon the Son of God to lead us through our trials.

He will never fail us.  He promised to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us, yet He also commanded us to do some things too.  Please note the bold lettering (our responsibility) and the italicized promise at the end of the 1 Peter passage.

And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him belongs the power forever. Amen.  ~1 Peter 5:5-11

A person should examine himself first…  ~1 Cor. 11:28

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless, indeed, you fail the test!  ~2 Cor. 13:5

But examine all things; hold fast to what is good.   ~1 Thess. 5:21

Have you examined yourself lately?  Do you choose to participate in the sanctifying process God has ordained for your life?

Oh, and I’ll sneak in the meme (Debs and HW)…my memoir in six words…”The Unexamined Life Isn’t Worth It”

Advertisements

38 responses »

  1. I think I read this post last night, so am surprised there are no comments yet.

    I guess everyone else is out celebrating Mother’s Day (including you? –‘hope it was a good one for you and your family =).

    This paragraph really jumped out at me because I’ve often thought the same thing:

    Each of us has experienced “stuff” but not everyone wants to deal with “the stuff of life”. Some people don’t want to examine things, to look at the source of the wounding or test the bacteria which caused an infection. They are bound to carry the wound with them, festering and never completely healing. As hard as it is, I think it’s best to get wounds lanced. Cut that wound open, let all the “gunk” drain and apply the healing salve of God’s Word. We do heal when our wounds are treated effectively.

    It is so true, but sad since there are so many ‘acceptable’ ways to just put a bandaid on the ‘cancer’, pretending it will go away on its own, and expecting everyone else to be ‘okay’ with it too ={.

    The only way for healing is to take it to the ‘Great Physician’ and let Him do the radical surgery needed.

    Thanks for your confirming thoughts.

    D-

  2. Hey, Laz!

    You probably read it in the comment thread from my last post. I thought I’d add a bit and use it as a post…some people won’t read all the way to comment #189…

    “just put a bandaid on the ‘cancer’, pretending it will go away on its own, and expecting everyone else to be ‘okay’ with it too”

    That’s the part I struggle with…why do people feel it’s OK to stay where they are…we’re suppose to be on a journey toward completion…granted, we won’t be completely sanctified this side of heaven, but my gosh, aren’t we to progress?

    Thank you for confirming my thoughts… 😉

  3. Thank you for sharing the Word God gave you. We all need to hear that Word over and over again to remind ourselves that knowing God means constant change, constant movement, constant restoration and replacement and renewal. I need to remind myself of this Word frequently. I find that sometimes I can get comfortable where I’m at and that is not God’s intention. I praise Him that He gives us rest but He does not intend for us to stay there; we are to constantly seek growth and revelation so that we may progress. Like I said in another post, He wants to take us from glory to glory to glory to glory and He cannot do that if we are stagnant. Praise God for you! Love you so much 🙂

  4. Good day, Gchyayles!

    “Like I said in another post, He wants to take us from glory to glory to glory to glory and He cannot do that if we are stagnant.”

    That’s what I want too – I know He is the one who does the work, but I also see a “cooperating with the Spirit” we are all to do…to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

    Have a good week at work; I’ll be praying for His strength and words as you lead.

  5. “casting all your cares on him”

    Casting = throwing forcefully.

    Easier said than done. When not done – the wounds fester. So much to learn. God is so patient with us.

    The same part that stuck out to Laz also stood out to me as well! So wonderfully written. So true!

    I know so many people. Christ followers, that won’t allow Him to treat their wounds…often self inflicted. it my breaks my heart. Freedom is right at our fingertips. Right there. So close.

  6. Thanks for the prayers Michelle! I definitely need them! I have prayed and prayed and received revelation from God concerning some things so I am going to take a step out in faith and follow His lead. I’m scared but excited to see what God will do in a possibly new season.

    And I completely agree concerning cooperating with the Spirit. God has given us free will. He never forces Himself upon any of us although He lovingly pursues us which I am so thankful for! And yes He does the work, He changes our hearts and moulds us with His hands but we have to be willing. The first step is accepting Him and the second is believing in who He is and in my understanding, when you really come to believe who He is and what He has done, you can’t help but want to try and change and move forward even though I know that can be difficult and a process. PRAISE GOD FOR HIS PATIENCE INDEED TAM 😉

  7. The lancing part got to me 😉 I didn’t lance Aidans infection, but I did squeeze the gunk out when it opened on it’s own…. and he SCREAMED and fought me. He actually hit me and kicked me and screamed for me to stop hurting him, only I knew that even though it was hurting him right now, it would help in the healing process. It would cleanse him and rid him of something that was not good for him. Like you said in my comments on the post about him, God does the same thing with us. I have thought about that a lot since you said that. God knows what we need, and as painful as it is for us, He knows it will make our lives better in the long run.

    When I was pregnant with Dylan, we were in this very close knit group at our church where the men and women split up for personal discussion. The ladies in my group were all much older than me (as is always the case in my friendships it seems!) and they kept using my pregnancy/labor/delivery as analogies for things God does in our lives.

    You are so good at that too. Seeing Godly lessons in normal life events. You truly see with Godly eyes. 😀

    Thank you for your wisdom Michelle! Happy MOthers Day too! ♥

  8. Come to think of it, I have seen A LOT come out of this kid in the last week. 😯 Sorry, I had to get that in there. 😆

  9. “Seeing others doesn’t mean I can see me.”

    How true that can be at times.

    How misleading also.

    What we ‘see’ in others is more often that we like to admit what we know we do ourselves, albeit perhaps in our own fashion.

    Great Post Sis i perhaps seem to extol to others the idea of ‘self-examination’ to an extreme that many do not see the ‘need for’ or find scripture to ‘justify’ to themselves. Hopefully those can see from your view what i have long been asking people to understand.

    It is the elimination of that within us that is what we have created from the time we were born that is deceptive and causes us all to err – sometimes even as we believe we are being in Him when we are only seeing Him through a glass darkly.

    I am glad to hear you and Phat lift each other ( as much as is possible) out of the dross and work to overcome it, expel it permanently from us via His Spirit and sharp sword.

    Love you

    <B

  10. Love how you were so smooth to slide your 6 word memior in on the end! hahaha Love this post too..too often we do not re-examine ourselves and our motives, and that always means being apart from the perfect will of God, I am a wanderer at heart, so self evaluation is a good place for me to be. Hope you are having a blessed day, keeping you in my prayers..Love you!

  11. Good morning, All!

    So many good points and so little energy…forgive me.

    I left this verse out (my favorite):

    Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. ~Psalm 139:23-24

    To leave the examination of ourselves to our own opinion of ourselves, not participating with the Spirit, will leave us in darkness. Note this passage, Paul is speaking to the Corinthians:

    But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. ~1 Corin. 4:3-5

    “Yet I am not by this acquitted”…when we examine ourselves without the Spirit’s guidance we are not free from guilt just because we feel none…we are to ask God to do the examining for us, which will cause godly sorrow, which will lead to true repentance…

    Keep sharing your wisdom…I’m feeling the sharpening… 😉

  12. Wow, wonderful post Miss Michelle….Although the Lord daily calls me to take up my cross, I remember well when He removed the “big” stuff. Asking me to go back with Him…I fought for a couple of days before I did….He showed me me through His eyes…redeemed, clean, forgiven, no more bad memories…just righteousness. Rightness with Him. I was so bent on telling Him what I had done wrong, that I couldn’t hear Him when He was telling me what He did right. So much freedom.

    I examine my heart, constantly ask HIm to break me, and mold me. Quick to confess, and restore (comparatively speaking). Even when I don’t “feel” like it. It’s the difference between leading and effective “spiritual” life, and one that just goes through the motions.

    I am so blessed to call you friend. Praying for you daily….hopefully catch ya on IM tonight!!! Love you! 🙂

  13. I’ve appreciated yours and others’ comments here on this insightful post.

    I read a Henry Nouwen quote this AM that I think is relevant to the topic also.
    His meditations are regarding ‘drinking the cup’ we have been given in order to share in all we were created and called to be/become (see Mt. 20:20-23):

    “After firmly holding the cups of our lives and lifting them up as signs of hope
    for others, we have to drink them. Drinking our cups means fully
    appropriating and interiorizing what each of has acknowledged as our life,
    with all its unique sorrows and joys.

    How do we drink our cups? We drink them as we listen in silence to the truth
    of our lives, as we speak in trust with friends about ways we want to grow,
    and as we act in deeds of service. Drinking our cups is following freely and
    courageously God’s call and staying faithfully on the path that is ours. Thus
    our life cups become the cups of salvation. When we have emptied them to
    the bottom, God will fill them with “water” for eternal life.”

    AMEN!
    D-

  14. “Have you examined yourself lately? Do you choose to participate in the sanctifying process God has ordained for your life?” (Michelle)

    I think examination is such a constant thing – day to day – restoration to restoration…it’s a long process to fully deal with some issues. I choose to examine my actions and motives on a fairly daily basis and to be open to discussing them – since the healing does not happen without some honesty and reflection (and maybe even in the sharing aspect).

    People that do not do this – need to start – or how can we say ‘we love ourselves’ as is part of the command when ‘loving our neighbor’. It’s good to know where we stand and how we think – so we can develop solutions to our own issues.

  15. Thanks for being a good sport. I’ll never ask again.

    As far as the rest… thanks for the great post. I tend to over examine myself. But expressing my heart to other people is very difficult for me. I appreciate your transparency so much. 🙂

  16. Everyone, these are great thoughts!

    It does hurt to do the hard work, but when we know He is the one leading us, it’s so worth the effort. And to know the goal is to be changed from glory to glory to glory, I don’t want the work to stop.

    Tam wrote about fear of failure and how it causes passivity…I understand how this affects some people. But for me, I think I was always too confident and wanting to prove my “giftedness”. He has shown me, it’s not about what I DO for Him but what I AM for Him. I can bring Him glory even when it’s not much in the world’s eyes. I can’t bring my “good works” to Him anymore and ask, “aren’t you proud?” He never even wanted me to perform for Him, but bad theology helped me to think I needed to perform, so…perform I did

    Now that I can’t anymore, does He still consider me worthy? OF COURSE!! It never was about ME it was always about HIM. I still struggle with this, wondering how He can pleased with me when I can’t DO for Him anymore…but in my disability to serve, I’m seeing His ability to love more.

    I wonder, did that make any sense? (Oh, and please understand, I’m not saying anything against Tam’s post – it’s GREAT)

  17. I LOVE your thoughts here! You are right on Michelle. You’re coming from a different angle that’s all. Where my “fear” is coming from a lack of self confidence you’re coming from being too confident in ability. And both are a disability. And both angles can camp out on your one statement here…

    “it’s not about what I DO for Him but what I AM for Him”

    while recognizing that…

    “It never was about ME it was always about HIM”

    Perfectly said!

    Thank you!

    i love you!

  18. To leave the examination of ourselves to our own opinion of ourselves, not participating with the Spirit, will leave us in darkness.

    You keep on finding and describing exactly what i understand – but from within Scripture! 🙂

    It concerns me though that many christians appear to be saying… i don’t have to do a thing because nothing i do is of importance – it is ALL about Him – not me.

    To me this is like saying a Marriage is all about the Husband ( for a wife or the Wife for a husband) and nothing about the person i am in this marriage so i don’t need to ‘try’ or make any effort towards it at all.

    Jesus is at the ‘Helm’ – is a VITAL part of our relationship in Him but we can work WITH him or work against Him or do nothing.

    I believe our relationship benefits and increases greatly when we align our will with His and work to understand Him and eliminate from us ( while in Spirit and with Him performing the ‘excising’.) that which is working against Him that we created within us as we grew from an egg.

    WE do this by first examining ourselves – observing what lies behind all our acts and thoughts. Keeping the good and destroying totallly the bad ( which is why we need Him since we do not have the power to completely remove these things from within).

    WE may not have exactly the same understanding Sis – but we are in agreement! 🙂

    Gotcha now NE’er! but my comment still stands as true.

    <B

  19. I’m glad you can see my point, Tam, ’cause I agree that it is the same…He’s our focus.

    I love you, too!

  20. LoveWill:

    You’re right when you say that “To leave the examination of ourselves to our own opinion of ourselves, not participating with the Spirit, will leave us in darkness.” I’ve seen that happen with myself many, many times. That was something I needed to see because I’ve been so caught up in my own negativity in the past few days.

    And your earlier comment is absolutely true–that what we see in others, especially the negativity, is often what we can’t stand or won’t address about ourselves. As I was writing my previous comment, though, I had something else in mind. Needless to say, we’re both right.

    Michelle:

    About Sam…He eats like a king, insists that I take him with me on a midnight ride (even when I want to walk to save gas), OWNS my FUR-niture, AND he starts his training classes tonight to be a therapy dog…and now you want me to put him in my avatar!?!?! Gosh, is there ANY part of my life that I can have without him???

    ……….NNAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! 😉

  21. Thanks Michelle. This post and comment thread reminds me of a favorite preacher’s joke. As people are stopping to say “great message today” someone invariably comments, “I only wish so-an-so were here today!”

    This talk of lancing infected wounds made me think of how we submit to the physician… I am reminded of a poem I read a couple of months ago called Luke 18:25. http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1080/ (warning, not for the faint of heart)

  22. Hey, Love!

    “Jesus is at the ‘Helm’ – is a VITAL part of our relationship in Him but we can work WITH him or work against Him or do nothing.”

    I agree and I think this is what is being described in the passage of spirit vs. flesh in Galatians 5. 😉

    Good afternoon, Ric. That is a powerful poem…it certainly does feel like that at times.

    I thought of the same joke…like minds? 🙂

    Hey, Nor! They steal every part of us…you gotta love ’em. 😀

  23. Ric,

    That poem was indeed powerful, though I must admit I didn’t ‘get it’ until the very end (even having read the verse!). That’s often true of our lives as well, I think =}.

    But, as that passage in Luke goes on to say in vs. 27 re: ‘nothing being impossible with God’, the truly AMAZING thing is that once He ‘tears us apart to get us through’, we end up being more WHOLE than we ever were before =)!

    Thanks for sharing that.

    D-

  24. Michelle,
    Howdy!
    Nice new photo.
    Your post reminded me of the Bible passage saying to examine your hearts before you take communion. Or something like that – don’t have the concordance handy.
    One of ya’ll look that up for me?
    Thanks, and I added you and Ric to my blogroll couple nights ago.
    -Sam

  25. Laz, I know you were addressing Ric but I wanted to say, I love this part, “we end up being more WHOLE than we ever were before”

    That is so true…we think we’re losing everything, that our whole life is falling apart and yet, it’s the discipline we are to endure to be found complete in Him. Thanks! 😉

    Hello, Sam! Good to see you…isn’t my puppy adorable? She shares your name, although it’s short for Samantha. 🙂

    That would be 1 Cor. 11:17-34. We are to examine ourselves before taking communion for in the cov’t meal we are reaffirming our responsibilities within the cov’t with Christ. It’s a great post in itself…hmmmmm.

    Thanks for the addition, I’ll gladly return the kindness. 😉

  26. ‘Glad you found the ‘whole’ thought confirming.

    Re: your 1 Cor. 11 note, in case you don’t make a post of it (or even if you do =), verses 28-29 took on a different meaning to me a while back:

    “That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and
    drinking from the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup
    unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking
    God’s judgment upon yourself.” NLT

    Since Paul was talking about remembering Christ’s institution of communion in vss. 23-26, I was brought up thinking that the physical suffering of Christ’s crucifixion is the only thing we should be focusing on to ‘honor the body of Christ’. But if you look at the verses preceding (vss. 17-22) and following (vss. 31-34) an additional thing we are to ‘examine ourselves’ about is how we are honoring the other members of the Body (church) of Christ. Chapters 12 -14 deal with that as well re: each part being important to functioning as a complete spiritual organism (with love being the most essential ingredient of all ).

    ‘Just a thought that many don’t necessarily see in the ‘WHOLE’ =) context!

    D-

  27. Oh yeah, I meant to compliment you on your latest avatar pic. Great picture of BOTH eyes plus cute puppy. My daughter’s name is Sam too.

  28. Michelle:

    Yeah. They sure do. Every part. There is just no getting around it. 😉

    miss shell;

    i am sam the gratest dog in da woild i fink yer widdle pup is cyoot bud i’m cyoodur so dare ! 😆 🙂 😉

  29. Thanks, Laz, there’s so much doctrine to wade through to get a full teaching on the sacrament of communion. Each time I attempt I find I need to say more, and those posts don’t go over so well…the one’s that go on too long. We’ll see… 😉

    Thanks, Ric. 😀

    Hey, NorEaster, I understand your prejudice, but MY Sam is the cutest. You can try to convince everyone your dog can type but… 🙄

  30. i forgot to tell you earlier how much i like your avatar.

    girl. you are CUTE!

    I mean. you are really a fine lookin’ lady!!!

    hey! someone had to say it!!!

    hot-tttttt

  31. catching up after the vacay.
    my mentor used to ALWAYS say this statement. and i got so tired of hearing it. but now that its ingrained in my memory, i’m so thankful that she hammered it in.
    and thank you for reminding me yet again.
    you have a great perspective on things, michelle. thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s