You yourself have recorded my wanderings.
Put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
This I know: God is for me.
Psalm 56:8,9b (CSB)
Have you ever considered how a past experience or principle can serve you in the here and now, even when its original application might have been very different? For example, when we were in the throes of parenting our three children, we did our best to instill values that mattered to us. A few? Loving God and esteeming His word, considering the preciousness of others, telling the truth, doing your best, using manners, and especially as they got older, not assuming a victim mentality. Blaming others for perceived injustice didn’t sit well with us if we sensed our child, in reality, wasn’t a victim of someone else’s cruelty, unfairness, or wrongdoing, like when a teacher “didn’t tell us that was going to be on the test” or “Coach never lets me start.” A victim mentality sure sounds a lot like whining, and we didn’t tolerate a finger pointed outward if three fingers were pointing back.
So, it was particularly shocking as I was writing For All Who Wander to realize for the first time — at least for a season — I had assumed the role of “victim” on occasion, when no ill will had been intended. It didn’t quite look the same as it had in my children, though. For me, victim mentality manifested itself in a pattern of being offended.
When you’re wrestling in your faith, I imagine it’s also common to be wrestling in life. This was the case for me, and maybe you understand it from the inside out, too. I was struggling and striving in faith and life, and I was looking for worldly success and approval from people to fill the voids only intended for God. I’m embarrassed to admit there were times I was outwardly critical of people while inwardly jealous of their accomplishment or acclaim. If others were doing well or excelling in places I wasn’t, I was sometimes overly sensitive to the things they said or did. I was judgmental toward and skeptical and cynical of others.
A while back, my friend Diane helped me see a profound truth about being offended: it’s always a choice. We can choose whether or not to take offense, and that means we can choose not to receive it! That thought was new to me, revolutionary even, and I’ve held onto that golden nugget ever since. If I sense feelings of offense creeping in, I purposefully and categorically reject them.
In her book, The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Alexandra Robbins says, “Someone else’s success is not your failure.” This is undeniably true, yet sometimes someone else’s success can feel like a personal failure. It happens when we’re looking inward or focusing on ourselves.
Slights, marginalization, rejection — I suspect little more than vain imaginations most of the time. In my case, my perception was all askew because I was focusing on pretty much everything but God.
Life grows increasingly dark when our back is to the light.
But here’s the thing that blows my mind: God still loved me when I was wandering. When I was so stinkin’ unlovable, He loved me anyway! Isn’t that good news? Isn’t that great news?!
Scripture tells us that God records our wanderings and treasures our tears. God is for me, and He is for you too!
I mean, really, “if God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31b)
We know that God created us in His own image, but we act like we’ve forgotten it. We’re created to be like Him, to be His image bearers in a broken world. And one way we can emulate Christ is to be “for-you” kind of people.
I share a lot about the tension between belief and unbelief in For All Who Wander. Remarkably, God used a spiritual desert in my life to demonstrate His no-matter-what kind of faithfulness and instill in me a greater understanding of His character. After lingering in Psalm 56 a while, I realized what is true of God is what I long to be true of me — for the people in my life to be able to say, This I know: Robin is for me.
What does it mean to be a “for-you” kind of person? We learn a lot when we look at Jesus and how He walked out His life as a man. He always spoke truth in love. He extended forgiveness again and again. He lived a sacrificial life, serving others, even up to and beyond death. He was compassionate. He invested in people. He sought out the outcasts and marginalized and invited them into His life. He sought the favor and approval of God, not man.
Being a for-you sort of person means we celebrate the successes of others as opposed to receiving it as an indictment against ourselves. We give the benefit of the doubt rather than receiving offense after offense. For-you people look for opportunities to care for others in word and deed. We share in the joys and hardships life throws at us. We listen with our ears and eyes and leave our phones on the table or in our bag. We’re quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). We consider others’ needs more precious than our own, and we do whatever we can to reconcile and restore relationship. A for-you woman lives at peace with everyone, as much as she has anything to do with it, anyway (Romans 12:18).
For-you people simply follow God’s example.
So, who’s in? Let’s be for-you kind of people.
Scripture tells us that God records our wanderings and treasures our tears. God is for me, and He is for you too! -@robindance: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace says
Thank you for sharing, Robin. You shared a lot of great nuggets of wisdom and truth. Your post reminds me of the popular Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace prayer. I have been reflecting on this prayer over the last week or so.
I love how you remind us of how Jesus served others, “even up to and beyond death”. I have been praying along those lines as well. I want to be an instrument of God’s peace – in life, in death, and even beyond death.
May God keep speaking His truths to all of our hearts. May we all be instruments of His peace, love and joy. May we be shining lights, drawing others to God with our love, mercy and compassion. May we always wish the best for others. May we celebrate others as God celebrates us. May we follow God’s example in everything we say, do and think.
May God continue to use everything we experience to grow us and mature us. May our lives, words, thoughts and actions bring honor and glory to God. Amen.
Have a beautiful day and God bless,
Robin Dance says
Your words here are such a lovely encouragement! Because of you and that Holy Spirit prompting in you, I joined you in praying Saint Francis’ prayer–your continuation of it is beautiful, too! So grateful for your visit to (in)courage today!
Oh Robin, Thank you so much for your kind encouragement. It means a lot! 🙂 God bless you!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I do pray that the people in my life will know that I am “for them!” What a great servant-minded goal to aspire to. It is so easy to slip into a victim mentality. I agree that it happens when our lives are focused more on ourselves than on God. In society today, we are all so easily “offended.” Could it be that as society as a whole we are wrestling with or have lost our faith and trust in God. When our identity is centered on being worthy because God says we are worthy, we aren’t as easily rocked by the words of others. I pray that we would turn from our ways and seek God with all our heart. Let’s choose to not be offended. Robin, I loved your book and feel so blessed to be on your launch journey with you. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Robin’s new book “For All Who Wander.” #ForAllWhoWanderBook
Robin Dance says
I think our society as a whole IS wrestling and mostly is oblivious. Truly, that’s the sort of thing that sends me to my knees, begging God to reveal Himself so we can’t deny His Truth, His existence, His beauty….
And then a rainbow will appear :).
You’re such a sweet blessing to me, and our community as a whole. Thank you! Is your love language Words of Encouragement? If not, it’s definitely your superpower!! xo
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Yes, my “love language” is words of affirmation or encouragement 🙂 And, since that is true, you have really blessed me here today!! All the best at your launch party!!
Beth Williams says
The trouble now is that society has taken God out of pretty much everything. You don’t have constant reminders of His faithfulness to us. Like the Israelites we are quick to forget His goodness. Perhaps we should build memorials, of a sort, to help us remember what He’s done for us. It seemed easier back in the day because we all acted like a nation Under God. Now we have so much animosity towards one another & easily feel slighted. We as a nation seemed to have wandered off course. Thankfully as Robin states God records our wanderings & treasures our tears. Perhaps if each one of us lived like Jesus always speaking truth, forgiving others & investing in people-more people would feel loved & we can be “For you” kind of people wooing others to Christ.
For All Who Wander was a great book. I was gifted the opportunity to be on the launch team journey with Robin & others. It is a super read for everyone who has ever had doubts about their faith. #ForAllWhoWander.
Robin Dance says
Our country is wandering because her people are…and yet God is still present and with us and for us. That’s so hard to understand, but I’m so thankful he’s patient!! I’m convinced change starts with one…and then two…and then a ripple can be felt across the planet. So it starts with me and you :).
Thank you for being part of #TeamWander (or #WanderTeam…I like them both 🙂 ).
Thank you Robin. I’ve never thought of being offended or not as a choice. I like that idea. As I mentioned a few days ago, our small group is challenging for me and this is another one of the areas. I am offended by the insensitive and sometimes rude comments from a few members. The comments could be and sometimes are very hurtful to others. I immediately get irritated (yes, even in the middle of a bible study) because they are not thinking of other people’s feelings. When I tell my husband later, he says “they mean well.” Grrrr. I think to myself “instead of meaning well, how about speaking well.” (Being judgmental is one of my faults; a hard one to get rid of.) So. When I hear these insensitive comments, I will try to CHOOSE not to get offended but instead I will think…. I’m not sure what yet… maybe “that was rude but I am still for you”???
Nancy Ruegg says
Years ago I read a book with a chapter about basement people (always pulling you down with negativity, complaining, criticism, etc.) and balcony people (always cheering you on, lifting you up with encouragement and positive reinforcement, etc.) That imagery has helped me more than once (though not perfectly!) to choose balcony behavior. I always feel refreshed when responding in such ways as you mention at the end of your post, Robin, whereas responding from the basement leaves me feeling despondent. It’s really in the best interest of everyone to be “for you” kind of people!
Theresa Boedeker says
It is so easy to slip into a being offended mentality. But it is a choice. My choice. I can choose to be resentful and think it should have been me, or I can be glad for them and know God has my back and opportunities for me too. I know I am more prone to be offended when I am in my viewpoint and mind. Taking things personally, and not looking up to God and out to others.
Offense. Ugh. You hit such a convicting spot! I need this with my husband, too. Sometimes I’m so overly sensitive and it could just be availing by choosing not to accept the offense! I love it. I’m going to work on that.
Diane Bailey says
Robin your book is so good. I love hearing your voice. Your heart is laid bare in your book. I hope everyone will have the opportunity to read it.
This is a good post. It ministered to me. I have forgotten those words and you have refreshed then new for me.