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Jumping again?

I need explanations - how about you? When something goes awry, I want to understand why, not just that everything will be all right. I think it is because I am a 'process' person - I see the steps it takes and when a step is broken, I need to understand how the break occurred and then implement the 'fix' that will keep the step from breaking down again. There have been lots and lots of times in my life when I thought I knew what 'broke down' in the process - either in my own failure of taking the right steps, or in some other process I was involved in. I actually come to a conclusion as to the 'why' or 'how' way before I understand what was even broken! I think we might all be a little guilty of jumping to conclusions at times. We just don't possess all the facts, but somehow we think we have the whole thing figured out in our minds. We form some type of "story" in our minds we latch onto. In plain language, anytime we don't have all the information (the facts), we are jumping to conclusions which may not be well-founded and will likely lead us down some fruitless paths.

Don't jump to conclusions—there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw. (Proverbs 25:8)

The stories we tell ourselves are often more important than we think - they actually form the steps we will take! An inaccurate story will only lead to inaccuracies in our actions! Learning to tell ourselves the correct story is most important, isn't it? There are many sources of "input" our brains receive each day. The very nature of each source of input lends itself to "interpretation" of the data that then gets added to the mix of other stuff we take in about the story we are being told or are telling ourselves. For example, if we rely only upon what comes in through our sense of sight, forming conclusions based on how things appear in the image we behold with only our eyes, we might miss other evidence which speaks louder like the sounds we hear! If we look in a mirror at how our body appears to us, we might point out the flaws of this dimple, extra inch of tissue here, and that scar over there. To a blind person each of these "flaws" or "points of uniqueness" adds to the "image" they form of us all without the advantage of the sense of sight - oftentimes because they have developed their other senses to aid them in forming their 'image'!

I wonder what stories our bodies tell. Many bear scars which are hidden from view and considered ugly by some. Some of us cleverly cover them with make-up, others with items of clothing, and still others with humor or sarcasm. Yet, in the privacy of the bathroom mirror, they are all visible, aren't they? When you and I behold the scars, there are memories associated with each and every one. The ones over my right knee bespeak the multiple surgeries I've undergone on that knew, the one on my neck the removal of my thyroid, and the one on my chin the falls I have experienced a couple of times that left a visible mark for life. These are not the most serious of my scars, though. In fact, it takes a different set of "eyes" to really see the scars which have impacted my life and yours! Those scars are so cleverly concealed by the stories we have told ourselves through the years....

Stories like....
No one wants a failure - all I do is fail, so what is the use of trying. I always let people down.
They didn't mean to hurt me - they just lost control. I drove them to the point of their rage. I need to try harder next time.
I've done too much wrong for anyone to ever want me. 
If I just try harder, I can succeed - I just need more willpower to overcome this.

Regardless of the story behind the scar, the truth is quite different from the story we often come to "interpret" as the reality in our lives. Take the first story - I know of one really big God who gave his all for more than just one "imperfect failure" - he gave his life so we could have a totally new identity in Christ Jesus. If we never try, we never have the opportunity to succeed - but it takes more than my own willpower to succeed - it takes me walking in that new identity I obtained at the foot of the cross. It often takes a whole lot of failures to succeed. In fact, the scar on my chin resulted from not knowing how to turn the big two-wheel Schwinn I learned to ride as a kid! Guess what? I ride a bike pretty well now! Sometimes I am wobbly a bit, but in general, I do pretty well on that bike. You and I don't realize our identity plays a huge part in how well we will reach the right conclusions in life.

In looking at the second story some tell, the real story centers not on us being who we are, but on what is being done TO us. We are NOT the cause of another's anger - the abuse of the other is NEVER our fault. In fact, scripture is plain - we each own our own sin! Control of our emotions is the responsibility of the one expressing the emotion, not the one on the receiving end of that emotion! Nothing covers over these scars of abuse, right? Maybe not in the natural sense, but in the spiritual and emotional sense, God's grace, his love, and his compassionate "putting the pieces back together" touch will! The 'no one will ever like me' story, although common to many, is really a lie we tell ourselves to cover over our fears of relationship. We have been rejected - so we reject ourselves, as well. I am so blessed to know God never came to the cross for perfect people. He came for me - a wholly imperfect person, riddled with all kinds of stuff I have done "wrong". He came for you - equally imperfect and carrying your own set of baggage! His goal is to teach us to relate to him first - to understand and fully walk in our new identity in him. In unloading the baggage of our past, he sets us up to reach out in relationship again. I am not sure how he manages to do all this, but I do stand here today confident of what he has done in my life and assure he can do it in yours, too! 

Yep, the conclusions we jump to in the moment may be telling us the wrong story! We might want to see ourselves through the mirror of God's Word - it is a much more reliable source of truth! Just sayin!

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