Image by Yannick Pulver

The Writer

Blog ~ Art ~ Poetry

gifted.jpg

Is it me or is it my gifts (choosing me part 1)

December 4, 2020

Sanese Pippen

Hello. Hello! Welcome back to part 2 of the conversation "Choosing me?" where we are investigating why God is socommitted to us. In part 1, titled "Why do you even care?", I shared the story behind how God insisted he wanted adeeper relationship beyond my obedience which prompted me to ask why he even cared about me at all. His responsewas the breakdown of all that goes into pre-planning parenthood. The concept not only revolutionized the way Ithought about relationship with God, but it also exposed several of the traumas blocking me from being able to see Godthe way he wanted to be seen. To those who aren't quite caught up on the conversation and want to read where it allstarted, click here. To those who are caught up and ready to dive into part 2, let's get to it.

Most of the articles I've written, and plan to write in the future, are on topics that I've had full revelation on and am nolonger in the midst of processing. So when I say I wasn't expecting a new question to pop up while I was working onpart 1...I mean it. Only God would jump right in the middle of my plans and rearrange everything like I wasn't alreadyworking on something. Nevertheless, I can honestly say I'm glad this question came up now, as opposed to later,because the question itself triggered me in a way I wasn't expecting. As I was nearing the conclusion that God doesindeed want me for me, I couldn't help but keep wondering:

 

Is it me he wants or just the purpose he put in me?

 

I've never been one to run from a question, but I was low key running from this one because I thought I knew theanswer and for once, I didn't want to hear it. I've spent my entire life being used for my gifts or my wisdom. I canhonestly say that I would've felt betrayed by God to find out that everything I've gone through, from his pursuit of me toour intimate conversations, was all to serve his benefit alone without actually caring about me as an individual. Themore I thought about how committed God has shown he is to my purpose, the more I couldn't imagine God really justwanting me for me. Especially since, the voice of my favorite pastor had gotten stuck in my head.

My favorite pastor is constantly talking about how God is committed to nothing more than he is to his will and hispurpose for your life. The way he preaches often comes with a connotation that God really doesn't care how you feelabout what he wants out of you. God only cares about his will for your life. If you are unwilling to cooperate, he willfind someone else to take your place. It is true that God is dedicated to his will above all else and will keep looking forsomeone to fulfill his plans if you are unwilling to participate. However, the heartless, empathy lacking, slave drivingperception loaded in the way this pastor sometimes preaches God, leaves one to believe that God doesn't really careabout how his will makes you feel.

My own personal experience with God has disproved that perception on numerous occasions. He spent the first severalyears of our relationship teaching me how to be honest about how I feel regarding what he said. He will even go so faras to stop me from executing an instruction until I'm honest about how it makes me feel. So I know, for a fact, that Godis very much concerned about how his will makes us feel and will work us through those feelings until we are on thesame page. My question went beyond that.

I started questioning the motive behind his sudden increase of attention to my needs. I wanted to know if the therapysessions, the intimate father-daughter moments and the conversations was all just to further his long term agenda for mylife. To bottom line the question into a harsher light, I wanted to know if he was just manipulating me to get what hewanted from me. I think somewhere along the line of this conversation, my inner movie buff was worried that God wasreally like the silent villain in the movie, who befriends and gets close to the kid with all the power. He starts giving thekid gifts and promises to train him. Suddenly the villain is the answer to all the kid's prayers and becomes something ofa father figure to the kid, giving the kid the impression that the silent villain really cares about him...Until the kid gets tothe end of the story and realizes the villain was just manipulating him for the villain's own personal gain.

For someone who's been used, abused and manipulated by people she thought really cared about her, you can see howand why I started to freak out at the thought that God really just wanted me for the purpose he put in me and not me asan individual. After all, he does intentionally create us with a specific purpose. The reason he has as much grace andmercy for our mistakes is because he knows those same mistakes will work to the advantage of our purpose in the backend. Why, then, would it be so hard to believe that God doesn't actually care about me as an individual? Why would itbe so hard to believe that all this careful time and attention to me was really just him doing what he needed to do toensure he got me to execute my purpose to the best of my ability?

This train of thinking worried me so much, God had me stop working on part 1 and go for a drive so we could talkabout it in depth. Pause. Picture me parked in a planet fitness parking lot, at night, 25 minutes from my house, lookingat God like fam this ain't cool. How are you going to explain this one? You already know how I feel about being used.The answer? Insert the movie Gifted, starring Chris Evans, here.

If you've never seen the movie, the movie buff in me has to recommend it even though I'm about to give major spoilers.The movie itself is about a little girl named Mary, who is a genius level mathematician being raised by her uncle Frank.After Mary's mother committed suicide, due to the emotional and mental strain of focusing all her time and attentionsolving one of the world's hardest math problems, Frank wants Mary to live the normal life of a little girl. Franks plansare interrupted when the new school Mary starts attending realizes how intelligent Mary is. The school calls in herestranged grandmother, Evelyn, in hopes that she would put Mary on the same path Mary's mother once walked. Forcontext, Evelyn originally wanted nothing to do with Mary until she realized Mary was intelligent like Mary's mother,Diane. The entire movie focuses around the custody battle between Frank and Evelyn and the reasons why they wantMary to live the life they think she should live.

When God and I started talking about whether or not God was just using me, of course God said no. He was adamantabout the fact that he was indeed concerned with my mental and emotional health apart from my purpose. I don't knowabout yal, but I debate hard and heavy with God. So you can cool believe I had a counter. My counter was this: In orderfor me to execute my purpose to the best of my abilities, he would have to make sure that I was mentally andemotionally healthy. Which means, his desire for me to be mentally and emotionally healthy was still for the benefit ofhis long term agenda for my life. The debate king of the universe came back with a counter in the form of the life ofMary's mother, Diane.

Diane spent her entire life working to solve this one major math problem. She had no life or friends. She never tookbreaks or went on vacation. Every moment was spent working and it was breaking her down on the inside. Dianeactually wanted a life outside of solving math problems, but her mother, Evelyn, was in the way. Evelyn kept Diane'sentire focus on math, no matter what else Diane wanted to do. At one point, Diane fell in love with a guy and tried torun away with him, but Evelyn called the cops and put a restraining order on him. Over the years, Diane started tobreak down mentally and emotionally under the strain and pressure from her mother to figure out the math problem.The end result? Diane committed suicide, leaving behind her infant daughter, Mary. Evelyn was devastated because shethought Diane hadn't finished the math problem. What you find out at the end is that Diane did finish the problem, shejust didn't want her mom to know.

God's point was that if all he really cared about was my executing his grand purpose for my life, he could've very wellpushed and pressured me into it. He could've very well been exactly like how Evelyn was with her daughter, giving nofreedom or regard for my needs and desires or my mental and emotional health. Still, I would've executed his plan tothe T. He then pointed out, that if it wasn't for his interference, I would've tried to execute my purpose until I killedmyself with it, like Diane was forced to execute hers. Except in my case, I wouldn't have committed literal suicide, butI would've continued to commit mental and emotional suicide.

I told you before, I was born and bread a machine. I was never without a material desire, but I was deprived of mymental and emotional needs growing up. So much so, that I learned early, it doesn't matter how a situation or person ismaking you feel. It's about what other people want, what other people need and what others expect from you. What Iwanted or needed was irrelevant. If I should make the grave mistake of pointing out how something made me feel, thefact of the situation was often thrown in my face and then twisted into half truths, false accusations and blame I hadn'tearned. So by the time I was a teenager, I was locked up and locked down.

I remember having asthma and pushing myself in school runs until I collapsed because, in my mind asthma, was just anexcuse to quit. I remember tolerating abusive relationships because I didn't see abuse. I only saw what the other personneeded. If I thought about what I needed, I would, and still struggle not to, think that it was my fault I wasuncomfortable or unhappy in these abusive relationships. My work ethic was unparalleled. I didn't care how much thetask was hurting or draining me. I was going to get it done. Somewhere along the line, I became oblivious to my ownpain. It took God sending me a new friend, who's work ethic wasn't like mine, to point out how much I was sufferingand struggling. Through her, God had to teach me how to accept help. Yes. I had to be taught how to ask for help andthen sit through a thousand therapy sessions with God to learn it was okay that I couldn't do it all myself.

So when God said his attention to the details of my life and my mental and emotional health wasn't just about meexecuting my purpose, he already had receipts. He'd already interrupted the emotionally and mentally destructive path Iwas on and exposed the pain other people needed me to remain oblivious to so that I could keep serving them. He wasthe one who taught me it was okay to take breaks and enjoy the little moments in life, like the latest movie or eating agood meal at a restaurant.

The clip on the right is literally what I look like with God. He'd pull me away from my obsessive work habits andencourage me to go for a walk or sit by the pool and enjoy the Georgia heat.

 The therapy sessions and dates with God were all necessary to give me back my sanity and take me off the suicidalpath I was on, all by myself. He was quick to point out through Diane, that he didn't have to do all of that, but hewanted to because he wanted me to enjoy life beyond servanthood. Not only did he have four years of receipts, buddycame out of pocket with bible receipts too! He parked me right in front of the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes.

Now I would encourage all of you to read it yourself, but I warn you it does sound a little depressing at first.Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon who was one of, if not, the wisest King in Jerusalem's history. Solomon spendsthe first few chapters basically talking about how he wanted to experience all that life had to offer. So he worked hard toearn all that life had to offer. He built houses, owned land, had an extensive amount of property, was royally rich andhad everything his heart desired. His problem was he was blessed with the wisdom to know that it was all, what thebible calls, "meaningless".

He spends a great bit of time talking about how all the material and in material things of the world, including wisdomand knowledge, are meaningless. After the 800th "meaningless" mentioned, I found myself wondering why God hadme reading this book, until I realized that by meaningless Solomon meant that you can have all that life has to offer butit's all temporary. He was trying to point out that you only live a short amount of time on earth until you die and whenyou die you can't take any of what you've achieved, built or acquired on earth with you. Everything you gain becomesmeaningless when you die. So if you are going to have these things and live this life, you might as well enjoy it whileyou can.

If you're anything like me, you're probably thinking, Okay? So what? Most of us knew that already. We didn't need thebible to tell us that. And you would be right. But if you've grown up in a church that seems to glorify struggle andpoverty as if they are synonymous with humility before God, than it would shock you to find that if you keep reading,Solomon also says that enjoying this life is a gift from God. Ecclesiastes 3: 12-13 says "I know that there is nothingbetter for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and findsatisfaction in all their toil (the work they do) - this is the gift of God."

When I read this part and a few other parts like this, I...hit...Pause! Wayment...Way..ment! You mean to tell me that Ispent my entire life struggling to come to terms with the religious teaching that poverty and pain was the framework ofa life with God, when, in actuality, God made a point to say...in...his....bible...that life can only be enjoyed with him???This ladies and gentlemen is why I always encourage people to read the bible for themselves, not just take the word ofsomeone else, but I digress.

To clarify, yes, there are seasons of long suffering and struggle, but God never intended for the entirety of your life tobe lived suffering as you hold onto the promise that all this pain will be rewarded when you die and get to Heaven. Thebible actually says in Ecc. 2: 24, "A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their owntoil. This too, I see is from the hand of God." You only toil (work) while you're on earth, which proves that Godintended for you to enjoy your life while you're still living.

Now, of course, there is always a second clause. The rest of that same section, Ecc. 2:25-26, says, "for without him(God), who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happinessbut to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This tois meaningless, a chasing after the wind." You can acquire all the things of life, but if you don't acquire them throughGod, and his will for life, than you won't ever be able to enjoy them. Acquiring all the things of life without God will belike the bible says in Ecc 1: 7.  "All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams comefrom there they return again." Without God, you'll never be satisfied no matter how much or what you acquire.

So to sum up all of his receipts, both bible and personal experience, God always intended for us to enjoy life and doesindeed care about us as an individual. Yes, we have purpose. Yes, God is dedicated to the fulfillment of that purpose,but God is so God that he can work you towards your purpose and give you the desires of your heart at the same time.It's actually apart of his will for you to heal and enjoy the small amount of time we have on earth. Yes, there will besome rough seasons, but "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yetno one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecc. 3:11). In other words, on the other side of thoserough seasons, comes something beautiful and fulfilling.

Before you go, I feel the need to clarify something. In Ecc. 2:26 it mentions the one who pleases God vs the sinner.Understand, pleasing God and perfection are not the same thing. I plan on exploring this topic more later, but pleasingGod means giving your best effort to try and live the life God has for you. That effort does include the natural mistakesthat come with being human. There is a difference between sinning and being a sinner. You can sin and not be a sinnerbecause to be a sinner means you've chosen the life of continuous, habitual sin, in complete disregard for the life andexpectations of God. Sinning just means you made a mistake that is considered a sin. All God requires is effort towardsa life with him. That's it. So to those who beat themselves up for making mistakes, put the bat down. You are officiallybeating yourself up more than God ever will.

 

And on that note! Let's talk. What are your thoughts on this topic? Comment below!