God has been teaching me a lot about listening lately.
For so much of my life, I have listened to the wrong things, the wrong people... I have allowed negative people to speak failure over my life and to criticize me on multiple levels, whether or not the criticism was justified.
He has taught me to stop listening to the voices of ridicule, fear and worry and to start trusting Him more, my own strength, less.
This is not something I have learned overnight; His good grace has been patiently teaching it to me (or trying to!) for some time now.
I will openly admit, I'm kind of a control freak.
I'm also a perfectionist.
If things are not going the way I want them to go -- or how I expect them to unfold -- then I become stressed.
If I don't have a clear plan of action to escape any potential problem, I start to worry.
And when people don't respond to my genuine attempts to do the right thing, I become very upset.
Obviously, this has caused me more than a little grief in my life. It has also made me somewhat guarded.
I guess, in a way, we are all kind of like this -- putting on our protective shells so that people can't get too close and hurt us (again).
But when our fear of failure immobilizes us from realizing our full purpose and potential, it really becomes a tool of the enemy, used to keep us unfruitful.
I am learning to limit the influences of negative people in my life; some I have cut out of my life, entirely. When I do become hurt or feel betrayed by someone who I thought was my friend, I try to give it to God and stop obsessing over the why's and what-for's. After all, it's really their problem, not mine. Offense is totally counter-productive to the life I want to lead.
Listening to the right voice involves a good deal of trust.
Just as Jesus asked Peter to do the unthinkable and step out onto the waves, so too, we will be called upon to take steps that make us squirm...
And it's interesting to me, how Jesus just patiently keeps on reassuring us... and lifting us back up when we do begin to sink.
A dear friend and her husband are about to travel half-way around the world to pick up their newly-adopted son. When they first began this journey, there was NO logical reason to believe it would happen.
The adoption process for this country costs a minimum of $18,000! This is not something that she had. What she DID have was the absolute belief that this was what God was telling her to do. And because she was listening to Him, instead of all the nay-sayers in her life, she was confident that He would provide the funds.
And He did.
For me, the fear of failure or ridicule has stopped me in my tracks at some of the most opportune moments of my life. I am so glad that God didn't get tired of waiting on me. Every day now, it seems, He is showing me more and more ways to rest in Him.
Don't take it personally.
And a little more each day, I do.
I gotta tell you, faith tastes a whole lot better than worry and regret.
You should try it sometime.