(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 14 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)
It's amazing how one little chapter of a book can mean so much to a person. It's also amazing how one prayer in a chapter can totally define a chapter. I do have to warn you all that I, like most of you I'm sure, am feeling the stress and frustation that can come along with this most magical time of the year. This chapter brought it all home to me.
In Chapter 14, Your Secret Weapon, Joyce Meyers gives us the ammunition we need to make it through Satan's games. Here's a re-cap.....she starts off Chapter 14 with a story of Vincent Newfield. God spoke to Vincent one day and clearly told him he would work for Joyce Meyer. Over a time span of about two years, Vincent suffered set backs, let downs, and devastation. He felt the anger and the frustration and couldn't figure out why this wasn't happening. He questioned whether he had really heard from God. But he never gave up. He pressed through all of this doubt, anger and confusion and finally has the job that God told him about. (How awesome that must feel to know what he heard, to know that he obeyed and to be rewarded for his work.) Joyce then encourages us to always press through the anger and frustration. She says that the Bible tells us that we will be angry. On page 194 she writes "Scripture plainly tells us: 'When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.' (Ephesians 4:26)" She then continues with "We can be angry, but we must not stay angry; we can be disappointed, but we need to get reappointed. God will always give us a new beginning when something did not work out the way we planned." One other important point that Joyce makes is that it's so easy to push anger, frustration and others feelings we don't want to deal with, deep inside of us. However the problem is these feelings will eventually begin seeping out. (She makes a wonderful comparison to old nasty smelling food in your refrigerator that eventually spoils and smells up the entire refrigerator.) Joyce then encourages us to not "stuff our stuff". We need to deal with these problems now and not later. On page 197, Joyce says "God uses the truth to set us free (see John 8:32), but it is not the truth about someone else that sets us free, it is the truth about ourselves we need." In other words, we need to deal with our own stuff. We need to lay it all out on the line with God. He already knows how we feel. Joyce encourages us to stop blaming others and look at ourselves instead. Joyce then wraps up Chapter 14, by giving us our secret weapon. She says the best way to get rid of anger, hurt and frustration is to be good to the people who may have contributed to this. On page 201 she writes "God, by Your grace and mercy, I am going to be good to that person. I am not going to tell others what he has done to me. I will not speak ill of that person, but I will pray for him, as You want me to. If I see the person who hurt me, I am going to walk right up to him and say hello. I am going to be kind and obey Your Word and overcome evil with good, by Your grace."
Wow! What a prayer! And you guessed it, that's the prayer that really defined this chapter for me. How true this prayer is! I can name a lot of crazy hurried shoppers who have made my angry list. I'm going to memorize this prayer especially this Christmas season. I mean think about it, if we stay angry at this person and let these feelings inside of us grow, which is just want Satan wants us to do, we will be hindered from doing what God wants us to do. However, if we pray this prayer and let it go, how free we will feel inside! If we keep all of our frustrations inside (which I'm sure if you're like me you have tons of frustrations during Christmas time trying to get everything ready) we'll blow up. I came close to it tonight. I was trying to bake over 7 dozen cookies for a cookie swap. (I've already made a note on next year's calendar to give this whole cookie exchange thing to God to see if He really needs me to do this. Very stressful.) My kids are going crazy telling me what they want for Christmas. My husband calls wanting to know what's for dinner. The dogs want outside. The power bill is due. Oops, garbage day was today. I got to the point where I just slammed my spatula down, yelled at the kids, locked the dogs outside and tuned everything out. That's when God grabbed a hold of my heart and said "Did you just hear Sean tell you what he wants for Christmas?" I immediately thought "yes, he told me last week too. I've got to get these cookies done." Then I hear "But he couldn't tell you last year." It's time to clean out the refrigerator. I realize that for me to get so upset over being pulled in so many directions that I totally miss out on truly appreciating my kids mean there's something deeper going on. So, I pray. That's when I realize that I'm trying so hard to make our Christmas' like "the Joneses" and every other "typical" family out there so that maybe for just one day we don't have to think about autism, what we're eating, what supplements to take, etc...But you know what, no matter how hard I try, my family is not "typical". Even without an autism diagnosis in the family, I still don't think we're typical. I need to let go of this jealousy I have over "typical" families and embrace what God needs me to or their childhood won't be much fun for them. I want my kids to one day tell others how much fun they had as children, like Joyce's husband did to her one day. I want my kids to have the best memories possible. At the same time, I feel like I have so much pressure on me that our "fun" times end up being frustrating. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that we all want to be good moms. We all want our children to remember how wonderful their childhood was. However, for this to happen, we have to give God our anger, our frustrations and our hurt so that we can raise our kids the way He wants us to raise them instead of letting Satan whisper lies in our ears. Our children with autism can have wonderful childhoods. We just have to help them a little harder to create them.
This is my goal in life...to raise my children the way God wants them to be raised. For them to have a wonderful childhood, for my son with autism to reach his absolute fullest potential (which I believe he'll be healed one day) and most importantly that they know God. There will be days where it seems so far away, but like Vincent Newfield, I'm going to push through the anger, the frustrations, the hurt and even the let downs so that we can get what I believe God has spoken to me.
So, in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of the year, before you start all of your holiday baking, clean our "your refrigerator" so nothing can spoil. Take a break from your cooking and your shopping and be a child again. See the Christmas lights with your kids, go caroling with your kids, even write a letter to Santa from you with your kids. Most importantly, be with your kids. That's the best gift we can give them! (Especially when our fridge is clean!)
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,and give thanks to his holy name.For his anger is but for a moment,and his favor is for a lifetime.Weeping may tarry for the night,but joy comes with the morning.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I pray that this Christmas as we all start preparing for our favorite time of the year, You will help us keep our refrigerator cleaned. If we need to clean it out beforehand, please show us this. Help us stay strong in the plan You have for us.
In Your name we pray,