Would it be another hard word?
Would God want me to do something outside of my comfort zone?With complete transparency, 2016 was not an easy year for me. Not. At. All. (and this had nothing to do with the state of our world, politics, family, or my marriage, solely my personal year was rough). Last year was
On Christmas Eve we planned on going to a small local park for Dutch to go fishing. The park was closed so we started driving around to find another park for him. We found a new park that we've never been to so we decided to just drive around and explore the park first, hoping that we would find a creek for Dutch to go fishing. The deeper we got into the park the more I noticed the trees. There were so many huge trees! Row after row of towering trees. But the trees themselves weren’t what struck me the most. Instead, the roots captured my attention. The roots on these trees were intricate and complex and deep. I was captivated by these roots; I couldn't stop staring. My eyes shifted from tree to tree examining the beautiful root systems. The boys found a fishing spot but I could not shake the thoughts of these roots. So while I nursed and rocked Ellis to sleep in the shade as the boys were fishing, I just spoke with God about my fixation on these roots, and I knew what my word was for this year: I am rerooting.
If you’re like me, this might sound kind of familiar: there are individuals that we allow into our lives, that at first seem perfectly harmless and while they might do a few things here and there that might "rub you the wrong way" or you don’t agree with, they are teeny tiny things that we make allowances for or we brush to the side because they are really just so small, petty, or insignificant. BUT those microscopic offenses add up. Now I’m not referring to the big things like drugs or abuse; those are big things and huge red flags that should most definitely be dealt with immediately. What I’m referring to are microscopic offenses, such as the woman who makes cutting remarks about her husband, or describes how she is manipulating her husband to get her pregnant so she doesn’t have to go back to work outside of the home, or the woman who continually chooses to complain about her world instead of being purposeful in looking for joy. These examples that I am describing are not fictitious, but I honestly heard from several women in my world last year who I would have called a “friend” before now. While these things they are saying are mostly just words, these words speak volumes about their character. If I continue to be around these individuals then what my presence is saying is that I agree with, condone, and support their behavior or motives. This does not help my witness. This hurts me. This also has the potential to hurt my relationship with my husband. If my husband sees that I am friends with a woman who verbally disrespects her husband or describes ways in which she plans to manipulate her husband, what would that say of me to him? In what light would I paint myself for my husband? I don't want to give my husband any reason to even suspect that I have anything but the upmost integrity, ethical code, and honor for our marital covenant. And when it comes to me and God, I want others to see that I am a woman who loves Jesus. And if I am a woman who loves Jesus then that changes who I choose to surround myself with and what types of words and behaviors I expose myself to.
Okay so clearly I want to be aware of who I am exposing myself to and how my associates may impact my witness. Last year I got some red flags from those around me. Again nothing major, but those minor digs add up. Maybe I chose to ignore them at first or maybe I kept giving them the “benefit of the doubt”, but a couple weeks before Christmas I became aware of some behavior around me that completely shocked me (like jaw on the floor) from a "friend", and then on Christmas Eve it really hit me. This has to stop. It matters who I'm surrounded by. It just matters.
This year I am rerooting. I am going deeper with God and away from the surface. I am going to get stronger in my faith and in my relationship with Christ. I am not going to be effected by the superficial stuff on the surface, because I will be deeply rooted in the Father. I am a deep person, and if my relationships don't go deep with me, in a ethical and God-honoring manner, then I don't need them, nor do I want them. The majority of the root system can't be seen from the surface but it is truly a reflection of what is going on inside the tree, and I want healthy, strong, ethical roots without allowing anything toxic to enter the fortress. I want my tree to be the reflection of a life that honors God. I desire for my family to be the light of Christ to others and to demonstrate pure joy and integrity. With going deeper I will be more focused on my own tree than anything or anyone else. There is a fence planted tightly around the base of my tree for protection so that I can focus on the fruit, my husband and babies, of my own tree. I am like the fig tree and my focus is on my fruit, therefore my fruit has to back up my love for Christ without deception (Mark 11:12-21).
So why did I start this post saying that I'm not sorry if I offend you? Because people in my life are going to get the axe (sorry I couldn't pass up the opportunity for the metaphor). Some individuals have had a toxic effect on my life and they need to go because they are hurting my witness. I want to be associated with goodness, morals, joy, and Christ. So with that, some people have to go and I don't feel bad about their exit from my life. In fact, I feel relief for me and great compassion for my family. I know it might sound harsh to just cut someone out, but I don't see it that way. I see this as coming from a place of compassion, where I carry a privileged burden to be concerned with what I expose myself to and who I expose my family to. There was always a fence around my tree, but now the fence is closer and the roots are further established. My circle is shrinking significantly, and I am more guarded, but also healthier, as I protect my character and integrity.
Now of course there is a time for mission work, and reaching out to those who are lost, but there is also a time to protect your tree (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8). Furthermore, with rerooting I'm not opposed to new relationships and I'm not going to be a hermit, but I will be discerning very quickly about those who will continue to remain in my social circle. I need my inner most circle of friends and associations to be purely focused on God-honoring behavior, thoughts, & words. With rerooting I'm more guarded on who can influence me and my family, and I take it very seriously.
I am a disappointment, and I continually mess up, but He doesn't. And I want to do everything in my earthly power to be focused on Him and guarded from the things that may distract me or hurt my witness. I'm focusing inward in a completely unselfish way; my focus is not on other leaves where comparison and jealousy may reside, but with the Father. I want my character, in an age of image, to reflect nothing but Christ in my behavior, thoughts, & associations. Last year my roots lost their luster; they were defeated and lacking empowerment. It’s no surprise that while I was struggling I was more vulnerable to the toxicity around me which brought me further down. If those around me are not edifying Christ-like character then they are out (Genesis 6:5-13; Ephesians 4: 17-32).
So, despite last year being pretty rough, this year I’m going deeper. I’ve heightened my focus on Christ and I’m leaving behind those that may tarnish my witness. I’m looking forward to a year of healing and growing deeper. He will be my vine and I will be branches, and it is my prayer that my fruit will also shine for Jesus (John 15:1-8).