Issue: As a Christian I feel like I always have to have my act together and never have any problems, but when I hide my problems from others they know I am not being "real" with them. How can I be "real" and still be a Christian?
Insight: This is a question that plagues many Christians so do not feel alone in this. We as Christians often get this preconceived notion that we need to be perfect. God actually calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44-45) which doesn't mean perfect, it means set apart. God wants us to live lives that are different than those around us. He knows we are prone to sin. He knows what we are capable of. I believe that it is us who expect perfection from others.
I was at a retreat and the speaker said that God is never disappointed in us. In order for someone to be disappointed would mean that they had an expectation that we could not meet. God has no expectations of us, because he already knows every thought that we are going to think and every decision we are going to make. God, has no expectations, he just knows the outcome. What if we were to be more like God in this matter. Even though we do not know the future, what if we just stopped expecting things from people.
In the last week, God has shown me that I have a problem with expecting too much from others. The result is that I am disappointed in myself and them, and they feel bad for not meeting my high expectations. This week I tried something new. I trusted God and threw my expectations out the window. I had an amazing week. People did things that were so far beyond what I ever would have expected them to do, because they were free to be all that they could be without the thought of possibly disappointing me weighing them down. It also freed me in another way, when things did not go well, I did not have to deal with disappointment as well as the situation. I was able to keep a level head and coasted through until the situation was ironed out. I also found that when people did things that were unusual, I just trusted that God was in control of everything and the end result was everything worked out well.
I believe that if we trust God, and allow Him to be in control of every single aspect of our lives (not easy), then we are free from expecting others to fulfill what we should be trusting God for. God will make sure every need we have is met, the question is do we trust Him enough to believe He will do it? Do we trust Him enough to give control over to Him?
Back to the issue, do not try to be someone you are not. Be all that God has created you to be. Don't try to be perfect, strive to be authentic. Christianity is not about being perfect; it is about believing in God and trusting Him with our lives. Instead of focusing on what others think about you, pray and ask God what He thinks about you. He may tell you through His still small voice, He may lead you to Scripture that reveals it to you, or He may just send another Christian to share with you God's heart on that matter. God always answers, just not always in the way we expect Him to.
Issue: I find it really hard to trust God. I have trust issues with people I can see let alone God who I can't.
Insight: Believe it or not this is an age old questions. In the days of Moses (read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament for the complete story of Moses) the Israelites also had a hard time trusting a God they could not see, even with the miracles that God had performed for them. So first of all you are not the only one in that boat. I too have had my trust issues with God.
The interesting thing is that if you read the Bible from the perspective of the people, you can identify with their doubts, however if you read the Bible from the perspective of an Almighty God you start to see it in another light.
God creates man and gives man everything he has, man then responds with disobedience, and tries to hide from God. Since this incident we constantly hurt God, and yet He still tries to reach out to us again and again. He even sent His Son to die for the sins of the world so that we can be free to love Him back. Yet looking at the world around us, people hate God, people don't trust God, people judge God, people deny God, people ignore God, and even love man-made gods over Him.
God must be heart broken. His only desire is that we love Him the way He loves us. He wants our best for us, so sometimes He does not do what we expect Him to, instead He gives us something better! I know this from experience. Even though you can't see Him, He loves you more than anyone else does on this entire planet, and He will give you His best and not allow you to settle for your own plans. Do not be disheartened, God knows the big picture and He just wants you to know you are loved and you can trust Him with everything. He will never let you down.
Issue: I am a very independent person and I find it really hard to rely on God the way the Bible shows us too. How can I change that?
Insight: I continually struggle with that. I am also an independent person and I find that many times I try to do things on my own without God's help. The result is not pleasant. I am usually worn out, defeated, and worst of all I end up feeling guilty about not asking God to help me right from the start.
God is our strength and our shield. If we are in the midst of a battle for our lives and we toss our shield down we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to all of the attacks our enemy has coming our way, however if we keep hold of our shield and allow it to protect us, we will be able to push back the enemy and gain the ground of our lives back. God truly is our shield and he wants more than anything to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy but it is our choice to hold onto the shield or put it down and fight on our own. The problem is many of us expect that we start the battle on our own and when we need it the shield will just leap into our hands, God does not work that way. Our free will is what keeps the shield on the ground until we choose to pick it up.
Remember, the enemy is always looking for a way to defeat us. He will wait for the moment that we put the shield down, because he knows he will be more successful if we are weak and vulnerable than if we are strong and defended. I am sure some of you are wondering what battle I am talking about and what enemy I am referring to. The enemy is Satan, and the battle is a spiritual one that rages on every day. As a Christian it is my desire to follow Christ and to live according to His purposes for my life. Satan is our enemy and he wants nothing more than to draw us away from God. The best way for you to start relying on God is by looking at your life and seeing which works better you doing everything on your own or with God's help. When you realize that on your own you end up wounded, weak and defeated; and you see that with God you are protected, strong and triumphant, you will then find the choice easier each time.
Issue: My best friend started dating the person I like, when my friend knew I liked this person. I don't want to tell my friend anything anymore and I feel betrayed. I don't think I will ever be able to trust my friend again.
Insight: My question to you is have you told your friend how you feel since this happened? Your best friend may think you stopped liking that person, or your friend might have thought it was alright if that person liked your friend but didn't like you in that way. You need to find out why your friend did it before you can decide if your friend has broken your trust or not.
If your friend has betrayed you then you need to decide if you want to continue the friendship or not. If you do, then you should probably forgive your friend and move on; however you may want to be cautious of what you share with your friend until the trust is rebuilt. If you decide not to continue the friendship, then I would suggest you still forgive your friend. Forgiveness is not letting your friend off the hook, it is setting you free from the pain your friend caused you.
If you have already expressed how you feel and your friend doesn't care that you were hurt by it, you may want to evaluate the friendship. Once again, you would need to decide if you want to continue this friendship or not. If you decide to keep the friend, you might want to distance yourself from them and find a 'best' friend you can trust. If you decide it is time to move on, you might want to let them know why you have decided not to be friends anymore. Either way, you should still forgive the person, which will enable you to move on from this situation in a healthy way. Always remember, there are consequences for our actions at any stage in our lives.
Issue: I'm scared my life isn't going to work out right. It seems like once something great happens, it gets worse like a week later.
Insight: I know everything is going to be ok! The only thing is sometimes we make plans for ourselves and when they don't work out we think our lives are falling apart. God may just have a better plan so sometimes he has to let us fail in our plans for us to follow his plan for us. I'm sorry things are not going so good, but as long as you keep being you and trust God, you will always find your way back to the right path. The only way to fail at life is to give up.
I strive to help others by being a safe place for others to ask questions and pose issues they face.