A month from today is my birthday, my 25th to be exact and to be honest I have a lot of mixed emotions leading up to it. I feel like I am not where I dreamed I would be by that age but I also feel like God's done way more than I even hoped for in these years. As I reflected on my birthday last year I kept praying, "God, please let this year be better than last year..." Due to expectations I had for certain people in my life last year and not realizing I was trying to squeeze these people into the mold I "needed" them to be and expectations they had of me, I found myself in a shattered, heart-broken place on my birthday last year.
I am currently in grad school studying global/intercultural studies which is basically just a fancy way of saying missions or non-profit work. Today as I was reading some material for my Cultural Anthropology class, the writer of my textbook explained how in living in another culture we often have expectations of others when we simply don't understand their culture and why they do things the way they do. Therefore, it is best not to come in with a certain expectation and to instead learn what the culture, the people are like. And we often come into relationships the way we come into another culture: with expectations and lots of questions, doubts, concerns, and even anger when things go differently.
As I have been learning more about this in my classes, I have found that I've done this more than I'd like to admit in my lifetime. Sad, but humbling. I am grateful for this learning experience and the revelations God has been giving me recently.
With that being said, God has been showing me that He did not create us to fit in molds. And He didn't create us to make molds for other people either. He has been teaching me how to love who I am where I am and also how to love others where they are. When we actually look at the relationships in our lives, can we honestly say we don't have certain motives for them? Not that all motives are bad, but are our motives for the person to fulfill a certain spot in our lives or is it to truly just love them the way Christ does, in whatever capacity that is which He has them in our life?
These questions are hard, at least for me they are. Hard questions bring our motives, desires, our hearts into the light, exposing the good and bad. I keep thinking back to the Bible verse asking God to "search my heart, O Lord!" And I think it's helpful when we come to God with the honest question of, "God, are my motives pure? Am I loving the way you love?"
When we stop putting the pressure on others to fulfill the places only God can fill, we find that we depend more on God, grow deeper in intimacy with Him, and we are able to love others freely, giving them the space they need to be all God created them to be.
"Look through me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any sinful way in me and lead me in the way that lasts forever." Psalm 139:23-24
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3