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COLUMNS

Smile, God Loves You: Living on His page

Tiffany Chartier
Special to Texoma Marketing and Media Group

I once loved popping into a nearby bookstore. Selecting a curious title, I would nestle in a comfy chair with a small cappuccino to warm my hands. My eyes would linger from page to people, and I would often leave thinking I had read pages from two books with something in common: The characters and outcomes are already known despite what chapter I am on. God knows every story, and regardless if I know the full reason, my breath and body are upon today's page.

I still love books and coffee. Yet, popping into bookstores has fallen out of my norm. The pattern of the present is leaving the house for work and to occasionally fill up a grocery cart and a gas tank. I miss the fluidity and spontaneity of self-care. But I must remember, my breath and body are upon today's page: Here I live. This is a chapter in a story only fully known to God.

I acknowledge what was, what is, and what will be is more of a journey of surrender than self-interest. I also recognize that cultivating healthy selfishness is essential on the path of surrender. In a time where "essential" is a buzz word, I have become keenly aware of what this means.

Most can acknowledge some point in their life when they have felt neglected, either physically, emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually. Delving further, we confess, at times, these feelings of neglect materialize from how we treat ourselves. We are not responsible for the actions of others, but our reactions are an integral part of self-care.

Triggers. We all have them. In taking the time to accept the comfort and discomfort of our own company, we know our triggers by name. Mine are few but sure. Boundaries - lines drawn, not out of disrespect or indifference to others, but out of respect for me. I find that I become out of balance when I violate my boundaries, regardless of the trigger pushed by another.

This week a trigger of mine was pushed resulting in deep, internal friction. The push penetrated my peace, and I had to catch my emotions before they hooked themselves to an unhealthy consequence. I had to step back and remind myself that ultimately I answer to God: This is my essential truth.

Am I hurt? Yes. Am I disappointed in someone? Yes. Was I wronged? Yes.

Am I justified in reacting with the same disrespect as was given to me? No.

Am I tempted to respond in an unflattering way? Yes.

There have been people in my past (and probably still now) who think I am too demure and forgiving. Yet, I know who and Whose I am. I am a fierce warrior for Christ, wounded as I may be occasionally from my sins. I am a light who shines only by God’s grace and mercy. And I am forgiven and saved by the blood of Jesus. Nothing I can do alone can save me outside of what Christ has done for me. So why would I dare feel justified in reacting in-kind to unkind behavior?

Thankfully, temptation is not a sin. In my moments of milling around in the mud of justification, I find it easy to get stuck on the misdeeds and motives of others — what a waste of time. And I have wasted a lot of time this week.

Time is an investment that begins to pay out immediately. I can choose to use my time stuck on the mental merry-go-round of frustration, replaying the same hurtful tune until all the good is blurred and what remains is the disappointment. What a sickening ride. This ride ultimately affects my health, purpose, and passion. Dizzy with dissatisfaction, I am vulnerable to becoming unbalanced, discontent, reactive and stubborn in attitudes of entitlement.

In such times as these, I must run to God; rather, sprint to God. I ask Him to root out my need to be right, understood, and recognized as wronged. I ask God to help me to trust that the characters and outcomes in my life are already known despite what chapter I am on. God knows every story, and regardless if I know the reason, my breath and body are upon today's page. And today is part of God’s plan. Here I live - on His page.

How will I respond?

I acknowledge what was, what is, and what will be is more of a journey of surrender rather than self-interest. This does not make me weak; instead, this pattern of living makes me mindful that God is my strength. And His strength is enough for me.

My primary interest is in following the will of God. I understand this is not an easy mission (and I often fail), but it is an essential part of self care. God desires me to think and act like His child. To do otherwise is not to love and care for me as He loves and cares for me. I need to do better. I need to get off the merry-go-round and let God be God. After all, only God knows the full story.

How will I respond? Trusting God. Being kind to myself. Listening and learning, hopefully becoming better and gently wiser from this experience. Remembering I represent more than myself – much more than my wounds or my rights. I serve the source of my strength. And this source is anything but weak, and He is all about forgiving.

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-21).

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.