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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exhale (08/15/13)

TITLE: Shaped By God
By JoAnne Billison


I stared out the window and slowly exhaled. The warm air emerging from my lungs fogged up the cold window pane. The landscape before me was wet and grey, a fitting view for my newly shattered nerves. Exhaling again, I thought to myself, I’ve been here before…I stand on familiar ground…I know this place well. Oh, how I wish I would learn the life lessons God is teaching me more quickly.

Do you remember the last time you encountered a disagreement or painful confrontation? How’d you fare? Did you fight your way out, retreat in silence, or pretend that nothing was wrong so you could keep the peace? Believe me; I’ve had my share of silent sorrows, sadly they left me more battle weary than peaceful.

In the past, I tried to end a difficult confrontation by keeping the peace at all costs. I discovered that by merely keeping the peace, I wasn’t experiencing any real inner peace. Additionally, my peaceful efforts failed to teach me how to become a better wife, mother, friend or devoted disciple of Christ. I realized that I needed to do more than just attempt to keep the peace during a difficult situation; I needed to learn and grow from each encounter. So, I decided to open my heart and ask God to teach me from my difficulties. I wanted God to shape my heart to reflect His goodness and wisdom throughout all my affairs. Wouldn’t you know it; He graciously answered my prayer by showing me how much I played a part in each situation. OUCH! As much as I would love to blame everyone else for all my problems, I simply can’t. I must take responsibility for what I contributed to each issue. My love for the Lord compels me to ask myself, what I contributed to the argument, where I was wrong, and how I must make amends. I must “own” my part of any problem I face.

After my initial discomfort from gazing into my own heart, I found that I benefited greatly by looking inward. To my surprise, the more I learned about my “contributions” to each situation, the better I handled difficult confrontations. I also found inner peace…serenity in the midst of my sorrows.

God can teach us a great deal about ourselves, our sinful nature, another’s pain, and so much more when we “own” our stuff. Growth happens when a heart is teachable. That’s why asking God to teach us as we restore a broken relationship, seek forgiveness, or confront an unloving behavior in truth, builds something beautiful within us. We grow and become better husbands, wives, parents, friends and disciples of Christ.

Nurturing and maintaining a teachable heart creates a God focused heart. This helps us love God more fully with our lives. I believe David understood that well when he wrote, “Examine me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts (Psa 139:23 CJB)”. David openly invited God to search his heart and reveal his innermost passions and desires. David wanted to know if his heart held any concealed motives or selfish desires. Now that is a heart fully devoted to the Lord.

Life is full of lessons; just take a deep breath, exhale, and offer your heart to the ONE who longs to shape you into something beautiful. You’ll find me standing, in that same place, with you.

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This article has been read 761 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/22/13
Beautiful! I loved the concluding paragraph the most...it said it all. Amen.

God bless~
Jan Ackerson 08/23/13
Your writing is very good, and the encouragement you've given here is spot on.

A minor critique--you wrote of 'shattered nerves' and 'difficult confrontations,' but you gave your readers only hints as to what had happened. If you're reluctant to share personal events (understandable), you could write a hypothetical situation, or disguise your own event with slightly altered details. But readers relate to your writing more if you give them a bit of real-world application.

I enjoyed reading this entry, and hope to read more from you--you have a real talent.
Mike Newman08/26/13
Strong writing, well done.

Thank you for sharing it.
C D Swanson 08/29/13
Congrats! God Bless~
Gary Pool09/05/13
Great job JoAnne. JoAnne Billison is a Spirit Driven Author at SpiritDrivenLeadership.org .
She has 3 free eBooks at http://spiritdrivenleadership.org/author/joanne-billison.html