This word has been jumping off of pages for me, the first half of 2021. I have learned over the years that when things keep showing up like that, I need to pay attention. Willing is my word for 2021. God first revealed the word to me at the end of 2020, but I missed it. In Luke 5, Jesus calls His first disciples. The word willing was not in the story, but it was the heart of Simon Peter. His actions demonstrated willingness. One of the definitions of willing in the dictionary is prompt to act or respond. In verse 11, it says, "So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him." Simon was WILLING to leave everything to follow Jesus. He left a job he had been during for years. He also left what appears to be one of the biggest fish he had ever caught. I honestly don't think Simon knew what following Jesus would entail, but he trusted Jesus enough and was WILLING to leave it all on the shore and follow him.
He had a willing heart.
There are other biblical examples where someone demonstrated a willing heart. They were given a command and, despite not having all the answers or doubting their ability to perform the task, or having uncertainty on how to accomplish the task, they did what was asked of them.
What is God asking you to do that you haven't done yet? I have found this question to be an excellent starting point for reflection. This question causes me to take a step back and do a self-assessment. It's a high likelihood that if you aren't doing what God has already commanded you to do, you won't be willing to do the things He will require of you to obtain what you are praying for or necessary to go to your next level.
Do you have a willing heart?
God may not ask you to leave a large catch of fish on the seashore; however, He will ask something of you.
Again I ask, are you willing? Do you have a willing heart?
In my journey, I have discovered that my desires don't always match my willingness. For example, I have desired to get in shape and tone up. Yet, my willingness to eat better and work out regularly is not there. This mismatch of desire and willingness consistently resulted in me not reaching my desired goal. On the other side, I have also given a proverbial yes to doing what's required to achieve something, but I wasn't willing when it was time to do what was required.
For example, I desired increased self-awareness and personal growth. I said I was ready to do the work on myself and dig deep. As I started on the journey and the time came to dig in, do the work, and go deeper, I wasn't willing. Eventually, when I was ready, I was able to begin to attain what I was desiring.
I'm confident 2020 is a year we can all agree is one to be remembered! It will be a year that will go into the history books and be talked about among generations. No matter your thoughts on 2020, I think in some aspects, it forced us to slow down a bit, to spend time with our families in ways we may not typically have. We also had to become creative about connecting with friends and family for some self-love; you may call it self-care.
I am an advocate of self-care! I would love to say I consistently make time for it in my life, but I do not. I'm working on it. My struggles with self-care are planning it. I know how valuable self-care is, based on articles, blogs, my own life, and shared stories from others. I want to share what I have learned over the years and what I am implementing in my own life.
I want to encourage you and myself to be intentional about investing in yourself. Don't leave it to chance, don't wait at the perfect time; don't wait until you get the invite. You have to be proactive. Sometimes the challenge with implementing self-care is that we feel it has to be a certain length of time or present itself in a particular way. If we wait for these things to happen, it probably won't happen or happen as often as we need it to.
I love getting together with friends and family and taking a break from the everyday responsibilities that wait for me to wake up each morning as I roll out of bed. We need to make time to connect with others! You have heard it 1001 times, so let this be 1002; we are wired for connection. So go ahead and connect; it's good for the soul. What's also good for the soul is quality time alone. It still may be a challenge to find that solo time, especially with the current state of the pandemic, at the time of writing this. However, the need for self-care and solo time doesn't change. The holidays are approaching. Even if the holidays look a tad bit different this year, it is upon us. The holiday season can be chaotic, but that doesn't mean it has to be stressful. Nor does it mean you can't fit in some quality time alone.
Spending time alone may require a new perspective. It may require some thinking outside of the box, depending on your situation.
Spending time alone allows you to calm down, regulate emotions, better understand yourself and your priorities. Taking time to be by yourself benefits the relationships in your life. It's also a time that allows you to evaluate relationships in your life and determine any needed changes. To access what boundaries you may need in your life. that need to be made or boundaries put in place. It's a great time to reflect on your goals and priorities and access if you are in alignment. It's merely an excellent time to get to know yourself better. It's challenging to reflect when you are engaged in conversations or entertaining deeply. It's also challenging to do when you are distracted by TV, cell phone notifications, and email. It's simply good practice to have uninterrupted moments alone with the person you greatly value-yourself.
One of the major obstacles to maximizing your success and happiness is a lack of self-awareness. You know your friends’ flaws better than they do. It’s human nature to not have an accurate view of yourself. It is not possible to 100% aware of yourself, because we all have blind spots.
Sometimes we’d rather stick our heads in the sand and remain oblivious to our shortcomings. We’d prefer to believe that we’re unlucky rather than taking the wrong approach.
This presents a huge challenge, because if you can’t see yourself and your behaviors accurately, how can you grow and evolve optimally?
If you’re brave enough to develop a keen sense of self-awareness, you’ll be more likely to have a successful and rewarding life.
Try these techniques to learn more about yourself:
How self-aware are you? Do you know how others view you? Do you understand your flaws? What are your greatest strengths? In what type of environment do you thrive? What are your values? What are your goals? How did you contribute to the failure of your past relationships?
If you can’t answer these questions quickly and easily, developing greater self-awareness will benefit you. Until you understand yourself well, your life will appear to be determined by forces beyond your control.
Become more self-aware and regain mastery over your life!
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:19-23
A little bit of background on Lamentations:
The author is Jeremiah, and Lament means loud cry. Jeremiah is in anguish over Jerusalem's destruction from unrepented sins. Much of Lamentations, if not all of it, reads like a prayer. I think it's vital because even in the midst of how Jeremiah felt (the anguish and heartbreak), we see that he arrived at a place where his focus changes. Instead of focusing on the situation, he focuses on God!!
This part of Lamentations is a great reminder and example to be mindful of our perspective and to maintain the proper perspective. It is easy and very natural for us to focus our attention on the situation itself and everything wrong. Instead, we have to pause, step back, and change our perspective. Changing our perspective means asking God what he wants us to learn or show us. Think of it as putting on God's lenses or having God's eyes in the situation. When we are trying to see things with our eyes, we will rarely see the situation from the proper perspective because our flesh usually gets in the way.
Is it possible that the reason we aren't walking in our purpose, fully maximizing our potential is that the things we love/desire are not being placed in the proper priority?
We say we love God, we want to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and He is the head of our life, but we also love self, stuff, comfort, acceptance from others, applause, the approval of others, and living by culture's standards perhaps a tad bit more. Sometimes we can be quick to say no, that is not the case with that question, yet our actions speak otherwise. It's similar to how we sometimes say we trust God and know God will take care of our situation. Then we pray and lay it at the altar and quote, "Be still and know that I am God", but the second we get up, we are back trying to fix the problem–supposedly “helping God out.”
Matthew 19: 21 says, "Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" (NIV) Jesus was answering a young man's questions about how he could have eternal life, exposing the man’s heart when he did, which reflected a sin in his life. The rich young man desired his possessions more than he desired to have eternal life. Because the man's heart wasn't in the right place; his priorities were not in the correct order. Verse 22 says that he went away grieving because he had too many possessions. What Jesus was asking of him was too much for the young man. He chose not to follow Jesus. His love of things took priority over his love for Jesus and desire to follow Him.
When I read this story initially, I thought the young man was just plain silly. Material stuff over eternal life seems like an easy pick to me! But after further thought and re-reading the chapter, I realized that it could have easily been me or any believer in this story. This young man treasured stuff, but it could have been a job, business, relationship, friendship, money, retirement funds, talents and skills, performance, and the list could go on.
To love God is to obey God. (John 14:21; John 14: 15). When Jesus said to give up our own way, take up our cross and come, follow him (Matthew 16:24) it requires that we must be willing to let go of things and follow Him. Letting go doesn't mean you get rid of them so they no longer exist in your life, but rather, you let go of your grip on it. (open hand). Letting go of things is a form of surrendering. We often understand surrendering our lives (as believers, we give our lives to Christ), but it also means our lives in totality. All areas of our lives are surrendered to God, His way and His will. It's not just our eternal destination we are talking about when we say we surrender our lives. We have to surrender our ways, our thoughts, agendas, attitudes, relationships, etc.–fully and completely. Romans 6:13 says that we should give ourselves completely to God. You are giving Him lordship over every area of your life. This is a choice that you have to make daily.
J.Branch is a wife, mother and child of God. She is passionate about helping others live the life they desire, have fruitful relationships and know who they were created to be and to live a life of purpose.
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