“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:24-26
“Love suffereth long, and is kind: love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Our weekly Christian devotional
“How come we don’t talk anymore?” It was the inevitable question that I knew would eventually come.
I gazed straight ahead of me; a total loss for words.
For me, this is a very foreign feeling. I’ve always been the gal who knows exactly where she stands on any issue…and I’ve never been shy at voicing my opinions. But today was different.
Just this morning I had asked the Spirit of the Lord to rule my decisions—even the ‘little things’ that I took for granted as part of my ‘personality’. It was my personal experiment to see if God could really change me. I needed His touch more than I needed air.
God gave me exactly one hour and forty five minutes until the challenge I had asked for hit me like my grandmother’s purse—the one loaded with tea bags, Benadryl, and every other thing under the sun.
“Grace.” Whispering the word under my breath, I hoped only God could hear my desperate plea.
“What?” Sylvia’s voice on the other end of the phone reminded me that thoughts spoken were actual words that could be heard.
Sylvia’s history is similar to mine; at one point in her life she answered to the name Dallas.
When I close my eyes, I can still see her on stage—those long legs and that thick mass of shiny straight black hair. It would cascade down her backside like a dark waterfall with purple highlights. That girl could jump on the pole as if she were mounting a horse. She would gracefully swing her body as if it were the simplest thing to do— suspended upside down while collecting tips.
I’m sure that all the other dancers wanted to be just like Sylvia; I know that I did.
Through mutual friends, I heard that Sylvia also found God and abruptly quit dancing as well. For the first time the elegant pole-dancing ballerina and I had something in common.
We chatted on the phone and prayed together, bonded by the horror of our past lives. Awkwardly, we shared a new kind of sisterhood: Christianity.
We texted each other when either of us were having a bad day or when we were struggling with our faith. Of course we friend-ed each other on Facebook to keep up the encouragement.
Christianity can be a lonely experience for an ex-dancer. The typical church community doesn’t embrace most of us warmly. But, eventually, cutting ties with our old dancing friends happens. It makes it much easier to stay away from the nightlife. Over time, one gets used to living an isolated existence.
For so long, Sylvia was one of the few that truly understood my battles—simply because she was the only person I knew who was fighting the same ones.
But, our friendship began to morph into something completely strange, utterly different from how it began. Whenever I shared my struggles, Sylvia snapped it up an opportunity to chat about her latest triumph. Our friendship became less and less about godly support.
I started to feel like we were being thrust into a competition–one I didn’t ask to be a part of. Of course the beautiful Sylvia was the shining, victorious one. I was still struggling, still broken and now…defeated. Why couldn’t I be whole and happy like her?
Hearing her voice on the other end of the phone no longer made me feel loved, it made my stomach churn. Sylvia always seemed to know exactly what to say to discourage me—in way that ‘sounded’ Godly and supportive–of course.
This dichotomy left me so conflicted. I wanted a good friend. Actually, I needed one. And despite this elusive ‘thing’ between us, Sylvia had many moments of pure sweetness. It was all very confusing for me.
Why did relationships have to hurt so much? When I was dancing at the strip club, I had grown accustomed to this kind of pain from the other girls. I never expected that it would follow me out here in this never-never land; a place I was still trying to navigate with my awkward Christian baby feet.
Eventually, I stopped answering the phone when Sylvia called. Even her posts on Facebook felt as if they were designed to provoke jealousy. “I’m so blessed. Bla, bla, bla…” Sometimes the last thing a person (even one who loves God) wants to hear is how blessed and highly favored you are.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so sensitive. But my personal struggle with depression and low self worth didn’t affect my girlfriend’s behavior at all. It seemed the sadder I was, more she flaunted her Pollyanna life. There was little restraint or concern with what I was going through. Over time, I found the courage to block her posts on Facebook.
But here stood Sylvia today, demanding to know why she wasn’t a part of my life anymore. I pictured her fiddling with the ends of her perfect hair as she waited for my simple answer. But, there was no quick resolution to our dissolved relationship.
I felt assaulted on so many levels and it was awkward that I had to even explain myself. Perhaps a stronger Christian would have hunkered down and dealt with the painful friendship. Maybe they would have even found a loving way to tell her how hurtful her behavior was. Deep in my gut, I knew her intentions were never purposely malicious. So, what was I supposed to do with that?
God knows I wanted to give her my peace of mind about the matter… But, I found it impossible to find a ‘loving’ way of doing this. Sylvia had become such a source of much pain for me. I really wanted to be like Christ–yet my emotions were anything but Christ-like.
What if I shared my thoughts? What would happen if I let those feelings out? Sylvia herself had been already been wrung through the ringer in life. Was it really necessary to take my personal depression and expect her to tip-toe around my nose-diving emotions?
I honestly didn’t trust myself enough to openly share my struggles–I couldn’t bear the thought of becoming the source of another’s pain. So, all that guilt painfully sat in my stomach like a slice of Chicago deep dish; heavy, meaty…acidic.
But the fact remained: The way I did ‘life’ needed to change. That’s exactly why I pleaded with God earlier in the day to help me find His way of dealing with things! And, of course, today was the day that Sylvia called. So, this was my golden opportunity to just grow up.
“God, what do you want me to say? What do you want me to do?”
With the phone cradled to my shoulder I caught a glimpse of my reflection. This was my answer. The most crucial key to ending my torment was right before me. I needed to look in that mirror and discover why I saw life through such a broken filter.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
The Christian walk has been the hardest obstacle course I have ever been on.
There are so many twists and unexpected disappointments. For some reason, when I first became a child of God, I figured that everything would work out perfectly. This has not been my experience.
I don’t want to be overly sensitive. I know I can learn from the pain that others have caused me. Please show me if I have hurt others in the same kind of way. Give me the opportunity to be brave and apologize for my harmful actions. Help me to remember to give you the glory for changing me, help me to remember that you will continue changing me until the day you take me home.
I realize that other Christians are on their own personal journey of growth with you. Help me to be sensitive to the needs of others who may be weaker in their faith than I am in this moment. This is why it is crucial for me to stay hooked up to your Spirit. You promised if do that you will lead me step by step, around the obstacles that seem to pop up when I least expect them.
Lord, your word is my mirror. It will tell me the truth about myself. Help me to be strong and brave in dealing with the truths revealed to me through it. I give you permission to operate on my broken heart. Fix it so I can have a life filled with happy moments that I can truly enjoy–moments that won’t be clouded by a filter of depression.
Lord, help me to be a mature friend. One who will encourage others to grow in their intimacy with you. I bind the spirits of jealousy and resentment from my relationships. I will operate in the spirit of love 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says that love is kind and does not envy. True love does not think the worst but believes and hopes for the best in others. If I want loving friends, I must be a loving friend. Help me to remember this.
I give my heart to you. Cleanse it from all envy, strife, jealousy and competiveness. Help me to be an encourager, exhorter and up lifter of souls. This world needs more of that kind of Christian. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: Galatians 5:24-26
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan