Nothing hurts worse than being criticized. Okay, there’s one thing that hurts worse–being criticized behind your back and then being told what someone said about you to someone else. Yup. That’s the worst.

I remember it still like yesterday. Bless her heart, she thought “I should know” what was said about me, so a friend of a friend let me know what another woman (who had been a roommate of mine) had said about me. She told someone that “I was the most controlling person she ever met.” WHAT?????? I was 23 years old, and I was completely floored! I mean, I know I have faults. We all do. But no one in my entire life had ever accused me (to my face) of being controlling. What did she even mean by that? I tried so hard (I thought) to be a kind and considerate person. I took the smaller bedroom. I cleaned more. I took less space in the cabinets and less room in the fridge. How could she even think I was controlling? I was the opposite of controlling.

And my personal evaluation of myself went on and on and on in my head, convincing me that I was not who she said I was. I was a wonderful person! (Pride, pride, pride….) I finally cleared myself of all charges and forgot about her remarks (for the most part). I never confronted my accuser. I even smiled at her after that day! I really should have a chapter in Fox’s Book of Martyers named in my honor!

Fast forward 18 years. I am now married and Mom to three boys. There is nothing in this world as good at revealing character flaws as marriage and motherhood! Oh boy. That wonderful person I saw myself to be as a single twenty-something has long since flown out the window as I see the worst parts of me while living with 4 other people in my home, people for whom I am responsible to help and serve. It was different growing up. I was a great daughter, student at school, friend, employee at the workplace. Most everybody loved me and sang my praises. But, funny thing, take on the roles of Wife and Mother, and your selfish pride reveals itself! Let’s face it, as a child, teen, and young adult, life is pretty much about YOU. Even if you love and serve others, you decide who and when and why you serve. But, when you are called to serve children in your own home, you don’t choose when or how or why. You serve them everyday, no matter what, and you don’t punch out when your shift is over! Christianity (or a lack thereof) gets REAL then!

But I am not bashing myself (I still think I am pretty great-haha). Actually, it is such a blessing when God reveals YOU to you. When He breaks down the image that you had built of who you thought you were, and He shows you who you actually are, it is extremely humbling AND wonderful. It is then you can see how very much you need Him, and you desire for Him to change you. It draws you closer to the Lord.

At this point of self-discovery, I thought again about what had been said about me years before. I took a hard look and realized (not fully perhaps, but somewhat) the truth in what that woman had said. I was controlling. I was super controlling! I was almost the queen of controlling. I had simply chosen not to act that way with those who saw me outside of my home. But my roommate, my husband, my kids, they could definitely agree with the fact that I loved to control-everything.

I am being transparent for this reason. Ladies, we may not truly see our own faults. We may miss basic character flaws about ourselves because we do not show that part of us to our friends, the people at church, our neighbors, our co-workers. Those besetting sins may only be revealed when the Lord graciously, patiently allows us to see what He has always seen. Not to hurt us, but so we can change and become more like Christ.

I am discussing the topic of doing less-striving less, controlling less, working less in our own power, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us. I pause this week to ask the tough questions.

We can’t change until we actually realize we need to. If you have been a Christian for many years, you have heard your fair share of sermons, ladies talks, and Bible lessons. You have read so many books, and articles and magazines. You have heard to the blogs, Christian radio, the podcasts. You and I are filled to the brim with Godly teachings, straight from Scripture Itself. As we leave church, turn off the radio, walk out of the Sunday school class, and close the book, we think, “That was so good!” We may have written notes and discussed it over coffee with a friend the next day. But, there is no change in our lives. We love the truths, but honestly, we don’t change because we may have a false sense of righteousness. We may not have been broken in a way that truly reveals our desperate situation.

You may nod your head and agree that it is a wonderful thing to do “less” in the flesh and more through the power of God. May I ask, how is knowing that going to change you in 2017? Has the Lord been so gracious as to break you, take you to the valley, and show you who you truly are? Do you really know how wasted a day is that is lived in the flesh? Without the power of God on your life?

I’ve had some dark days in 2016, and I thank God for it! I have seen the sinfulness of Molly Audiss in a more clear way, and it is disgusting! But, praise the Lord, I realize more today than ever before that I can do NOTHING in my own power. I can’t breathe, think, walk, talk, stand, or eat without His help. SO much less can I love others, have patience, live godly, and have faith except the power of Christ rests on me. On you. On each of us.

I ask you to do the hard thing. Ask the Lord to show you if you are “going through the motions” in the Christian life. Beg Him to show you YOU. It’s hard, but it’s worth it! Don’t assume that your life is fine because all is well with you and yours. You may be, like me, trying to control everything, everyone, every circumstance of your life, without even realizing it. You may be playing God everyday with your life. Each morning, realize afresh how desperately you need Him. Tell Him. Ask the Lord to work in you as you go through your day.

And one day, you may discover-sometimes being criticized was a wonderful gift, after all.

Until next week, God bless you, Friends!