Is my sin controlling me?

I came across a verse the other day that caught my attention. “Those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” Dang. That feels pretty clear and direct in a way that feels sort of harsh. But also simple. Here’s the whole passage:

Romans 8:5-8.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God…That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.”

It’s that last line that really hit me. “Jess, if you are under the control of your sinful nature, you can never please God.”

Let’s break that down a bit. I don’t believe it’s talking about having sin in your life, or messing up. It’s speaking directly to being under the control of sin.

Is my sin controlling me?

It’s a real personal question, and one that can immediately make us feel defensive. Or, possibly worse, we can quickly answer a resounding no. Denial can be think, trust me, I was swimming around in a vat of it for a while. So thick and deep was my denial that I probably would have answered no to that question. Because, I’d sin and mess up, ask for forgiveness, and move on. I was truly sorry. I’d truly ask God for forgiveness. I mostly intend to stay away from it, but I didn’t really put things in place to really root it out. And then I’d keep doing it over and over, I’d go back to the same behavior. I had let sin into my heart and ultimately my mind, I was letting my sin control my mind. I couldn’t have articulated that at the time, but that was indeed the case. And because it was in my mind, it was deep in my heart, and by nature, that meant it was hostile to God.

I think what is confusing about all that is during that time I still chatted with God. I had quiet time with Him. But my actual heart and mind were at war with Him because of my sin, and I was like an ostrich with her head in the ground. I wanted to think that didn’t matter. I wanted to believe I could compartmentalize my sin, like ‘Hey don’t look over there at that trash God, it’s no big deal. I’m taking it out Tuesday. I know it smells, but I’ve got the lid on it. And if it gets worse, well, next Tuesday is coming around soon, and I can just take it out again.’ And God’s probably thinking your trash doesn’t bother me or scare me. Your trash is why I sent my son to die. But you’ve got to let me help you so your trash doesn’t take over your life. Or ruin it. So it doesn’t control you.

So based on that verse, I was not pleasing God. Period. No matter what I was doing, what verse I was reading, who I was helping, where I was serving, how much I was giving. I was not pleasing God.

That statement scares me, because I can see it so clearly now. Over a year later, I can see just how thick my denial was, and just how far from God I really was.

And I guess I wanted to chat about it here, because, well, it’s awkward. And I promised I wouldn’t shy away from the hard and awkward things. And really, a small part of me hopes that if we can talk about it honestly, maybe just maybe, as you read this you can be honest with yourself. Because I wasn’t. I know what it’s like to shrug off your sin, to think it’s not a big deal. For too long. And it wasn’t good.

So I ask you, from a humble position of having been there, is your sin controlling you? If the answer is yes, I encourage you to root it out. Don’t passively ask God to forgive you and stop there. Maybe find a close, close friend who you can share it with. Confess it. Say it out loud. That worked for me. Sin doesn’t like light, it sorts of shrinks back. And so when I put a shit ton of light on my sin, well, it didn’t like that. Of course it was hard, and uncomfortable, and awkward, and embarrassing to confess my sins. But it was, life giving. When we confess, there is no room for shame. There is no condemnation in Christ, and we can begin to taste freedom. We can begin, once again, to please God.

Sigh, a New Year is here.

I want to be excited for a New Year. I do. But I can’t seem to shake the more predominant feeling of, well, exhaustion. The last month has been a lot, amiright? The blissful and yet exhausting non rhythm of no school, the Christmas events and traditions, the decorating, the wrapping and un-wrapping, the cooking, the baking, the assembling of toys, the go go go of traveling, all the togetherness, the eating of all things holiday and glorious, the taking down of decorations, the traffic, the staying up late and not sleeping in. It takes it’s toll. And it doesn’t help that I get email after peppy email about setting goals, and resolutions, and all this annoyingly upbeat talk about the New Year.

My heart isn’t ready yet. I’m tired.

Because, I think through it all, for all of us, a few things get neglected. For me, it’s usually my alone time, and my work out time. And when I go too long without either one of those, well, I’m just not as nice of a person. True statement; I pity the people who have to put up with me when I forgo those life giving choices.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you too have had a lovely but full and exhausting last few weeks. And maybe it’s left you wanting to be excited and ready for the new year, but how do we drum up excitement when we’re just plain o’l beat down tired?

(I bet you’re hoping this next line would have 5 simple, get your energy back tips huh? Sorry, I’m looking for the same thing too!!)

So while I don’t have any super secret inside tips or tricks for facing a new year, here’s what I’ve been doing. Not sure if you’ll find it helpful, but maybe it will be an encouragement to keep on, keeping on. To know that you’re not the only one feeling beat down, run down, on the verge of getting sick, plain ol worn out.

~Rest. Nap it up. Go to bed early. Confession: I went to bed last night at 8:30 and it was glorious.

~The whole family took Vit C shots this morning.

~Exercise. I went for a run yesterday and barely made it two miles, so I tried again today and just barely walked. At a saunter, on my treadmill, cue the eye roll. But I keep telling myself it’s better than nothing. -right?

~Find some alone time. Beg for it, trade for it, just get it. Use it, gasp, not to accomplish anything, but to just sit. To be alone with your thoughts. Perhaps even with Jesus. Maybe read or work out. I am doing so right now, and even though I feel slightly guilty, I’m doing it. (How do I even feel guilty after we’ve been together 24/7 as a family for like 13 days straight? I don’t know, I’ve got issues.)

~Stop with the holiday eating. Ha. Easier said than done. I ate cookies and more cookies for dinner last night, I’m a real classy lady. (my husband suggested a cleanse, which I want to do yes, but I am also thoroughly enjoying my sugar binge.) Hmmm maybe this excess of sugar isn’t helping this exhaustion…

~Spend time with Jesus. He’s been getting the shaft lately, due to A. me not wanting to bring my heavy Bible while traveling and B. just not making time for Him while out of my routine. So I’m trying. I’m finishing out the Chronological Bible, which I should have finished Dec 31, but alas, I’m a few weeks behind. Keep on, keeping on!

We can do this. We can face this New Year with excitement, energy, and heck, even joy. I think a good start would be taking the time to self reflect. To think about the good and bad of last year, and what we desperately need to change. Adjust. Add. Walk towards. Embrace. Endure. Or, take away. Cut out. Run from.

Just a warning though, it might be hard. It might not be all fun and exciting; this dream making, pruning, changing. It will be hard work. But I do think it will be worth it. Good change always is. It’s almost always a lot of work and heck even scary, but life giving in a way that’s essential. It has the potential to change our day, our week, and ultimately our year. One day at a time, one change at a time. One goal at a time. When we are ready, when we’ve rested, when our minds are clear, and our hearts are better.

We can do this.

And the winner is…

I told you I’d pick a winner December 20th, and then we were traveling for Christmas, and I couldn’t get it together enough to post who won the drawing! Traveling with everyone else near Christmas time is wild, especially with 3 small kids.

In my defense, I did draw a name on December 18th. In the airport. I cut up names and put them in a ziplock bag, and pulled out the lucky winner. I just didn’t have internet the next few days in order to post and let everyone know! So sorry!

So, the winner of the beautiful, floral, stunning 2020 Cultivate Powersheets is…

Drumroll…

ALLISON WILSON !!!

This is a screen shot of the video I took, of my daughter picking the winner! (I can’t post the video here for technical reasons. IE I’m not technically savvy and don’t want to pay more to update my blog to allow me to post videos!)

Congratulations Allison. I will be getting your brand new, floral print, 2020 Cultivate Power Sheets to you very soon! And thank you, so much, for each of the women who entered to win. And thank you, so much, for those of you who referred my blog to friends. I appreciate it SO much!

Also, I’ll be posting some tales about our travels in the travel section. If you are looking for advice/help/what not to do/encouragement whilst traveling with littles, come check it out!!