I have spent most of my life trying to change myself. Maybe it was the voice of condemnation that I grew up with or maybe the small, well-intentioned Baptist church I grew up in. Could it be because I looked to others to define myself, or how I hung my identity on their thoughts of me? All in all, I had been convinced that I was not enough. I was not enough for those closest to me, and I was not enough to receive God’s love and blessing. I know, it sounds a little crazy. Sometimes even now I wake up thinking about how to win, to embrace the peace and love my heart so desperately needs. I did it all. I memorized scripture, attended prayer meetings, and I even lead worship. All of this coupled with dedicating my actual life and vocation to His Kingdom.
Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church in Chicago asked a simple question about formulating your personal theology or belief systems. He asked, “Does it work? Does what you believe work? Does it do what it is supposed to? Does it achieve the goal it promises?”
I’ve spent seemingly thousands of hours trying to change myself in the belief that the person and personality that I have been given is incomplete. In fact, I think part of why I had a heart attack 2 years ago was because of me climbing this hill, trying to make myself into something I wasn’t for the sake of being looked upon as a success. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in hard work. I do believe it changes us but I also believe that there are some places in our hearts that can only be changed by being in the presence of Jesus. That there are spaces in our inner being that can only be accessed by the Holy Spirit.
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For me, the reality of the tragedy of my heart attack takes me there. Being helpless, surrendered and undone brings us into that still place where we can just be in His presence. It is a place of waiting, a place of stillness, a place to give your heart permission to feel. So many things tell us not to feel, not to emote what we really think. “Don’t be angry, don’t cry, don’t feel sorrow” We’re told to hide those parts of ourselves. People don’t want to see them. It would make them feel awkward and it will lead them to reject you, leaving you alone and unloved.
This place can be so scary but as we learn to trust, and really let our hearts let go and trust the movement of the Spirit, I believe that over time, those are the places where we see the most change. That the battle is really the Lord’s as we surrender more and more of who we are into His hands.
About the Author: Cory Smith is the Executive Director at Training Ground: A Christ-centered, experiential discipleship program located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We invite young men, ages 18-25, to live in intentional community while discovering who they are in Christ and the fullness of life Jesus provides.