That’s just the way I am…
I just like to be in control.
I’m just a yelling kind of person.
I just don’t like talking about conflict.
I just can’t find the time to get into my word every day.
I just can’t help but gossip.
I just tell little lies. It’s for the good of those who I love.
That’s just the way I am…
At the very beginning of my relationship with Austin, we got into a fight over my desire to have control over everything. “Austin,” I said, “It’s just the way I am. We need to figure out how to work our relationship around that.”
“I will not accept that. You don’t have to be that way.”
No one had ever said that to me before. Not that bluntly at least. Many had figured out how to work around my sense of control. Some had walked away completely. But no one had ever told me that I would change and they would not accept anything less.
My first inclination was to walk away, be who I was going to be, and find someone who would just deal with it. Yet I was the one who had hurt him. I was the one who was in the wrong.
Let me tell you, that was the last time I ever said, “that’s just the way I am.” Not because I am any less prideful, but because I was embarrassed. Here I was, someone who proclaimed the Gospel–the Gospel that is forever changing and altering our hearts to look more like Jesus–and I refused to take part in my own sanctification.
It was in that moment that I realized the single attitude that had destroyed my friendships and relationships in the past–both with man and God. That attitude would eventually destroy my relationship with Austin, my family, and anyone else I tried to get close to. It would hinder my relationship with my Savior and completely taint my witness if I allowed it to go any further.
The crazy thing is that I actually believed that I couldn’t do anything about it. Then this passage entered my life and turned everything upside down.
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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
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I was forgetting about my great cloud of witnesses.
Sisters and brothers and all who read these words, let us not forget that the church is not the building we walk into on Sunday mornings to pray our prayers and get a twinge of conviction. It is the body of believers who God has placed on this planet to bring glory to Him. It is the people who love Him more than any pleasure of this earth. If we are in Him, we are part of it. We are surrounded by it. We are to utilize it and be utilized by it. While Austin and I were involved in a romantic relationship, he was acting as my brother in that moment. He was holding me accountable to the God I represented.
Had I ever gotten so vulnerable to admit that fault before, I am sure that someone else would have called it out. Let us be surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses. Let us be involved in families of faith around us that we might not grow complacent in our sin. Let us build interpersonal relationships with people who are not going to allow us to stand stagnant.
I was running my race with baggage.
I really like to run. I try to run at least 10 miles per week and most of the time 15.
For the life of me I cannot figure out the people who run with a sweatshirt on when it isn’t cold! I mean no offense if that is you, but how can you possibly do that with all the extra weight and heat. Heck, I can barely let myself run in long pants. You see, running is most enjoyable when it feels freeing. I love the feeling of a breeze flowing through my shirt and my feet feeling weightless on the pavement. I love the sensation of moving faster than I actually am, pretending that I am running toward my Father and away from the sorrows of this world.
I often forget that I can actually do that in my life. I don’t have to just pretend in my running shoes.
Sin is like that bulky extra baggage that makes running feel weighty. It might seem cool or look cute, but the experience hurts a lot more. You better bet that I was running the race when I refused to throw off my sin, but it hurt. It was harder than it had to be. Until I rid myself of this arrogant attitude, I was not going to feel free in the race I remained called to run.
I was not fixing my eyes on Jesus.
In fact, I was fixing my eyes on myself. I was so consumed in “that’s just part of what makes me…me” that I was neglecting to reflect my Savior.
Had someone walked into that room and listened to the conversation I was having with Austin, no one would have ever assumed I was a follower of the world’s Savior. They would have assumed that I was a worshiper of self. That I wrapped my worth in my own being rather than the founder and perfecter of faith.
Christian, I have good news. That is not my attitude any longer. And I can take none of the credit for it.
We do not have to live in the land of “that’s just the way I am.” That land will destroy the relationships we are called to be in. It will ruin our witness. It will strangle our joy.
Yet Hebrews reminds us that through His power, we have the ability to cast off this sin. We are saved by the One who holds all things. If He has the ability to create the earth with His breath, move mountains with His fingertip, protect a people group with His thoughts, He has the power to take the sin out of our lives. He has the power to sanctify us and transform us from one degree of glory to the next.
Stop saying “That’s just the way I am.”
You may–and probably do–have a lot of sin in your life.
So do I. But we have a Savior who is bigger than those struggles.
You may have struggled with anger as long as you can remember. Yet He says, I can put away your anger (Ephesians 4:31).
You may deal with lust. He says, I can give you the Spirit to quench your fleshly desires (Galatians 5:16).
You may have been taught that one culture is less than your own. He says, I can give you a heart that desires equality for all peoples (Galatians 3:28).
You may have been raised in a family of yellers. He says, I can turn tribulation into peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
You may struggle to find time to get into your word. He says, I can make time for you to spend with me (Matthew 6:6).
My friend, my fellow believer, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I walked down the aisle to the lyrics, “I fix my eyes on you. The founder and the finisher of my faith. I fix my eyes on you. The solace in your suffering is my strength.” The Lord made a way for me to get past this stronghold in my own life, and He promises to do that for all of us when we are willing to give it to Him.
My relationships with my husband, my family, my co-workers, my friends, they’re so much better when I choose to say, “That’s just the way I was. Now the only thing I am is a follower of Jesus.”