Earlier this year, I wrote about how "the Holy Spirit has been leading me in how to do life with the people He has placed around me" and today I want to talk a bit more about what that looks like. A huge part of this change has been learning to choose me. My default is generally to please other people and unfortunately this sometimes means pleasing other people at my own expense. Whether this means missing out on sleep, putting my own plans on hold or even something as simple as eating out at a restaurant I don't like. Interestingly, this only tend to apply to my desires. If it’s at work or with regards to my faith, I have no issue being assertive, but if the only thing in question is my convenience, then my default has always been “yes please, let’s inconvenience me”.
In the last year, learning to choose me has meant learning to prioritise my desires and to be confrontational. Now I don't mean to say that I've spent the last year aggressively getting up in everyone's face saying "I don't wanna do, it, so I'm got gonna do it" (pause for dramatic effect) "now let me see you try and make me". That kind of confrontation only exists in my head and probably isn't the healthiest way to handle any situation. By learning to be confrontational, I simply mean that I’ve been learning to give my opinion, even it doesn’t align with what other people want to do. I’m not even saying that I’m enforcing that things must be done my way, but I’m simply learning to say that my point of view and desires is just as important as everyone else's. It deserves the same consideration that I give to other people’s desires. This might not sound like a big deal to others and in the moment most people wouldn’t even recognise it as being confrontational, but for me it feels confrontational. Simply saying what I want requires a lot of effort on my part, but I'm learning to make the effort.
In addition to voicing my desires, I’ve also had to learn to voice my displeasures and actively engage in conflict resolution. Again, my natural inclination is to keep everyone happy and to avoid conflict, so when I’m hurt, angry or disappointed with someone I tend to suppress my thoughts and emotions till I get to the point of no return. Instead, I've been learning to work through areas of conflict. I've been learning to have the uncomfortable conversations such as saying, "when this happened, it hurt my feelings". It's simple, but not easy to say. It has been uncomfortable having to communicate my hurts, but I’ve been learning that my emotions matter and brushing things under the carpet isn’t how God tells us to deal with disagreements. In Matthew 18: 15 - 17 we are told to go directly to a person and tell them why we’re offended by their behaviour. We even have examples such as in Galatians 2: 11 - 13 when Paul confronted Peter about stepping away from the Gentiles in the presence of the Jewish community. The Bible encourages us to deal with disagreements honestly, directly and lovingly by always keeping the truth as the focus.
Last but not least, I've been learning that it’s okay to ask for help. I don’t know if it’s a pride issue, a privacy issue or both, but my natural tendency is to do it all by myself. I’ve always been happy to be there for the people I care about, but I’ve rarely afforded them the opportunity to do the same. Well this year, I have embraced the truth that I am not superwoman and I can’t do it all by myself. I’ve been learning to discuss my plans, fears, goals and worries with people in my life apart from the counsellor I pay to listen to me. This doesn't necessarily involve sharing my deepest darkest secrets with my loved ones. Sometimes, it has been as simple as admitting I’m having a bad day or asking someone to pray along with me on a desire or even simply admitting that I’m working towards a goal. Once again, it hasn’t been easy, but it is growth and it's been rewarding to partner with the people that love me and vice versa.
These 3 changes are part of recent and upcoming lifestyle changes in line with my goal to live life as God intended. It is an ongoing journey, it is in no way shape or form easy, but I’ll continue to work knowing that by the grace of God I can change the bad patterns in my life to God’s pattern.