LEARNING

Learning At The Potter's Wheel is a collection of articles on home, family, marriage, parenting, natural medicine and herbs. . . along with a few other items of interest. Have fun sorting through my junk drawer of assorted thoughts and ramblings.

AT THE POTTER'S WHEEL

The Potter has persisted in giving me treasures I don't always understand or appreciate. Patiently, He is teaching me to trust that all I really need to know is that I am in HIS hands. . .

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS ONE?

The Creator of the Universe is so wise and wonderful. I cannot express what His grace has meant to me.

There was a time when I was certain that HE could never really care for ME. I am so glad to know now that I was wrong. This is not something brought about by any merit of my own. Rather, it is a testament to His steadfast love that would not let me go.

It is easy to imagine that a person filled with joy is a person that cannot understand or comprehend the difficulties you’ve seen. ‘How dare that person rejoice?! Don’t they know there are people hurting?! How cruel to smile while others weep! What a flippant thing to suggest that FAITH alone could solve THIS!’

At one time, I believed joyful people were happy because they had never known pain. I assumed they were immune to the depth of hurt I had known.

That was before I came to understand what Solomon wrote: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9.

There really is NOTHING new under the sun – not even the kind of pain I’ve known. My history isn’t really all that unique. For what it’s worth, here’s a small portion of where He brought me from:

Dealing with emotionally broken people is not enjoyable for me. It isn't because I don't know how to handle myself. Rather, it's because these situations have a cold familiarity. I know too well what it is like to be at the mercy of those that love explosive conflict, drama, faultfinding and gossip.

Much of my childhood was a bewildering adventure where I tried to reconcile actual events to the interpretations of adults that were convinced every difference must mean war.

I felt more secure at school, but even there I often heard young teachers swapping stories and laughing about other students, their parents, and each other. So, though I was thankful for the predictability of graded approval, it was a relative security.

I learned it was in my interest to NOT cause adults embarrassment by revealing the truth I knew. There were MANY topics we weren't allowed to mention, lots of secrets. It became a matter of survival to learn how to read the faces of the adults in my world. I was always searching for the meaning behind the words, because in my world, words hid coded messages.

I only recall once or twice when I attempted to describe these things to a trusted adult. The people in my day-too-day circle weren't interested in what a child thought, and fewer wanted to hear it. My uncertain efforts met with well-meaning lectures on how I should try harder to be a good girl that didn't disappoint.

Much of my time was spent trying to figure out how to best position myself to stay out of trouble. I often wore a look of concentrated puzzlement. My facial expression meant that photographers were always a little frustrated that I had to be told to smile. I met that frustration with a quizzical stare, wondering why I would smile when I wasn’t happy. I don’t know of any childhood pictures where I wear an un-posed smile.

One day, quite by accident, I discovered a valuable key to navigating this confusing time. I was watching my mother and another woman go through a bag of clothes that were not appealing to me. The colors were faded earth tones, and the reds looked orangey-rusty. There weren't any play clothes in the bunch. For a small girl that liked to climb trees, there wasn’t much there to like.

The women were ooohing and aaahing over all of it as though these items were lovely. Taking a cue, I ventured, “That’s a pretty dress.” Honestly, I did not like the color or the fact that it was a dress, but the cut was nice and it had a ruffle around the hem that made it tolerable.

The change in the room was electric. Suddenly, I was drawn into their circle. They began to include me in the conversation. Their faces lit up, and they asked my opinion on many items. I saw that they only held up things THEY liked and were only looking for an appreciative audience. So, for my mother and her friend, I became a reflection of what they wanted. I offered them encouragement, and it actually tipped things in my favor. It’s still a vivid memory to me -- the day I complimented an ugly dress and FINALLY received approval.

It was a valuable lesson to learn. It served me well, but it made me somewhat cynical of individual motives. I still have to occasionally remind myself that spotlight seekers aren’t always oblivious to the needs of those around them. I’ve often been brought to the place where I had to choose to offer grace to those who enjoy sniping and backbiting – even when my instincts tell me to use the skills I learned surviving treatment by those who were MUCH more intimidating. Yes, HE is a very patient Teacher to His children.

Thankfully, these things are my history. They haven’t robbed me of the present or my future.

My parents have actually turned into ideal grandparents. I love them dearly. Forgiveness brought healing, and I came to understand that their own childhoods were the things of nightmares. I learned that the world isn't such a frightening place when you are held by the hands of the ONE that spoke creation into existence.

Managing associations and friendships with people one on one and in large numbers has been largely uneventful. Knowing God has helped me to re-focus my thinking to what pleases Him and how He sees me rather than what ugly human imaginations can dream up. However, few people ever get very close to me. I don’t have much appreciation for feigned familiarity.

There are, a few friends that are happy exceptions to this. Along the way, I have been blessed with friends that DO value me as a person. These same friends trust my fidelity and goodwill. They rejoice when good comes my way and weep with me when I grieve. These are friends that pray for me regularly even when I’m not aware of it -- whether or not I ask for it. These are friends I may not see for years at a time, but it’s like we’ve never been apart when we come together. I call them my heart-friends.

When my heart-friends ask my opinion they are genuinely interested in an honest response. They want to know how I see the world, and they delight in and value my perspective – whether or not they agree with it. They aren't so self-absorbed or insecure as to think opinions and points of view must always line up perfectly. They don't assume that my words have hidden meaning or are born of manipulations. They don't demand that I hide myself in order to make them feel better about themselves. When you know who you are in Christ, you don't NEED to hold others hostage to your emotions. You are free to just enjoy each other -- differences and all.

. . . . And, if you ask me today what I think about THAT . . . I’ll smile a wide smile that makes the corners of my eyes crinkle and tell you from the depths of my soul that I think that’s just BEAUTIFUL!!




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STARTING UP MY BLOG AGAIN . . . 50 SINS

I've certainly neglected my blog for some time!

My last post was nearly a year ago. . . .WOW -- That's a long time.
So, I think I'll start off with some excerpts from messages by Michael Pearl. This entire series has been a great encouragement to us because it reminded us of the many ways God has transformed our lives.

These particular quotes have to do with gossiping, telling tales, whispering, backbiting, etc. Why would THAT be an encouragement? If you've ever held a position of responsibility that required discretion while making decisions that affect others, you'll understand completely. It's no fun to be the subject of speculation by strangers (or by 'friends' that suppose they have all the details). It's not pleasant to be accused of maliciousness when the opposite is true. Then again, there's the old saying that if you aren't encountering opposition, then you aren't doing much.

So, if you're finding yourself on the receiving end of suspicion, accusations and those that enjoy strife and conflict, you may find this an encouragement as well. If you'd like to listen to the entire series, you can find a copy here:
50 SINS by Michael Pearl

[. . .]Now the 34th sin.

Sin is whispering about someone. That's one of the sins listed in the scripture. Whispering it's called. That's the sin of whispering. Now, there's nothing wrong with whispering when you're in church and you have to tell your wife to go ahead take the kid out because the diaper's messed up and you can smell it. You need to whisper that. But this whispering is when you are saying something to someone about someone else and you're not saying it where everyone can hear, just this person, or a very small circle. You'll see people do it like this – just two of them. They know they're saying something they shouldn't. They put their hand over their mouth and start talking low.

Telling something JUICY, BAD . . . Oh, so sad!

Oh, we need to pray about SOMEBODY ELSE and what they did.'

Now, dirty news is always interesting – especially if it's somebody that's been haughty, and we'd like to see them brought down – or somebody that's brought us down in the past – and now they're getting their comeuppance.

So if it's bad news about them, we remember to be serious and sober about it and shake our heads and say, 'Oh, how sad!' When maybe we're thinking,'How glad I am they finally got exposed for what they did.'

Man, that's ugly. Do you know how ugly that is?

Now, what do you think the heart of God feels like when we have that kind of attitude?
How does God feel?

And how do YOU feel when somebody's talking about YOU?
When they're acting that way about you – saying something about you – how does that make you feel?

Sin is whispering
Psalm 41:7
"All that hate me whisper together against me:"[/color] David said, [color=purple]"against me do they devise my hurt."

Proverbs 16:28
"A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends."

A lot of times people are lonely and insecure and feel like they're not liked. So they will pick out a person that they want to be their friend and they will tell every dirty thing they know about their friends, so that it just leaves the two of them together to buddy up.

They will tear down the other friends of this individual so that 'I will be the only one they like and trust.'

I want to tell you that works in the reverse. That only works with fourteen year old girls. You know fourteen year old girls that do that. And they'll draw together, and they'll form their clique. And they will run everybody else down, but it won't last long.

Relationships built on that kind of whispering never last, because somebody who becomes a whisperer will one day whisper about you too. And you'll get tired of it, and they will no longer be your friend.

Romans 1:28[-30]
"...even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, . . ." so forth

II Corinthians 12:20
"For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, [b]whisperings,[/b] swellings, [and] tumults"

Paul— coming to the church at Corinth – said I'm ... 'I fear that when I come to you, I will find you engaged in whispering.' There was a sin taking place there in the church. And he said, 'Rather than dealing with the sin, you are puffed up, don't mourn, and you're in danger of just whispering about it.'

Watch out for somebody just whispering sin to you. When somebody starts whispering someone else's sin to you, just start right there and say,'Now wait a minute. Hold up. Why are you telling me this?'[/i] Or, [i]'I don't want to hear it.' Or say, 'It's none of my concern.' Or just say, 'Okay, let's pray right now for the person. You lead off.' *laughs*

That's real difficult, you know?

You got it all up in your heart. You got this evil up there. You got this malice toward them and you start whispering. Somebody says, 'Okay, let's pray. YOU lead off.'
Boy, that's a kick in the face.

Believers response to teaching on sin.
You know when you hear these things mentioned, it's not like you say, 'Okay, I've got to remember that and not do that.' That's not the way God works. And that's not the way this will work in you.

What happens is when you hear teaching like this and it exposes sin in your own heart, there's an automatic cleansing process and purging that takes place. If you're a Christian and your heart's honest, then a repentance occurs at the very idea of hearing it. It's so embarrassing, SO humiliating, so disgusting to see ourselves suddenly that we just – you'll repent the moment you hear it. You'll say, 'Boy, I did that. I'm sorry for that. God I don't want to do that anymore.'

And you don't have to formally do that, but in your heart that takes place and with that there's a shaking loose of that sin in your own life.

So the next time the opportunity or the situation arises where that sin would pop up, you laugh at it then. You laugh at yourself. You look at it and you'll say, 'No. No way. Not THIS time.' And you do, you make a conscious effort that 'I'll not speak’ or ’I'll not listen' or 'I reject that thought.' And you're purged of it. You're delivered of it.

It's not like you've got to go out and try, 'Boy, I'd really like to say something bad about that person, but I'm just going to hold my tongue.' It's not that way.

When God really gets to the root of the sin in your heart, the source of it, then you don't have the desire to talk about that person any more. You don't have the need to tear them down to build yourself up. You don't have the need to be recognized and honored and praised. You don't have the need to try to appear humble any more.

You're just content to let God sift it all out in the end,

An inferior attitude is not true humility.
28th sin is taking an inferior attitude towards those of wealth and position.
Now, this is a reversal. This is not about pride and self-exaltation. This is about thinking of yourself in a mousy way – being humble about yourself. Feeling inadequate in the presence of people of more skill, more education, better looking, in a higher circle than you.

This is about putting your head down and being quiet and kind of getting in a corner because you don't feel adequate in this crowd.

That's sin too.

See? When you know you're God's creature, and you don't judge other people by those outward measures, you're not going to let them judge you by those measures either. It's only when in your own heart, you think there's some great virtue in education, wealth, being able to speak correctly, being dressed correctly, uh . . . knowing the right people, and so forth.

When you think that that really is to be admired then you'll be ashamed and embarrassed when you can't exhibit that in the presence of those that that are capable and able. But when you . . . When you realize that that's not the measure of a person – that people are measured by their heart, by who they are, by the light that's in their eyes, by the lilt that's in their voice . . . When you realize that and you’re in the presence of people that normally others would be awed by, you can be totally relaxed – neither condemning, judging, faultfinding, nor feeling inferior in any way.

Just totally relaxed.

Now, I have seen so many people that have that retiring presence when in the presence of people they think are so much more than they are. And they would NEVER think that is sin. They'd think that was humility, but it is sin.

Come out of your shell. Come out of your hiding.

When you walk with the Lord and you walk in joy and you walk in peace, a filthy rich person – you know, BILLIONS – can sit in your presence and you won't feel any different than you do sitting in front of a pot smoking farmer down here in Perry County.

You won't. You won't feel inferior...
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