I want to tell you something and then ask if you would please comment on the situation. As you know, I have written to you several times asking questions. I also am doing a Bible study online, through a congregation of the Church of Christ. I refer back to many of your answers for my own personal study. Once, you advised me to begin to talk with those who are outside my home, maybe to begin a congregation here in the near future, hopefully anyways.
In my life, before coming back to Christ, I was known as someone who was kind of 'spiritual', but not associated with any so-called 'established traditional religion'. In other words, I acknowledged that there was a God, and even that I believed in Him. But no one in particular really understood that I considered myself a Christian. That world of Christianity was not really noted in the lives of many of the people I knew. We prayed. We told each other that there was a better way coming to those who sought after it. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, we quoted from the Bible on some sort of event, or situation. But where in the Bible the particular quote was, well, none of us knew.
Now, though, things have seemed to change, in particular for me. My study of the Bible has intensified, and I am beginning to see many things in a different light. But people I knew before, and not really what I would call friends, but maybe acquaintances, now they mock me.
I used to use bad language. It is a habit I am fully aware of, and am trying hard to break. But sometimes, it just slips out. When I correct myself, verbally and in front of someone I used to see often, they say "Oh, so now you are a Christian woman." It isn't said with love, but more of a 'snide' remark. When I say I correct myself verbally, what I mean is that I say to myself out loud, 'Stop that. It is wrong.' Or something of this sort. But I chide myself for it. And others have heard me do this. It seems they don't really understand that I have always believed in God, His Creation, His words. And now, I am turning my life around, and it appears to be affecting others around me.
What words can I use to speak to them, to convince them I am serious, that this new me is the real way I want to live? Are they only seeing what they want to see, not believing that I have chosen a different path in my life?
Well, I appreciate your time and especially your knowledge of the Bible and God. Thank you.
"We toil, working with our own hands. When people curse us, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure. Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now" (I Corinthians 4:12-13).
People find comfort in the familiar and the acceptance of others. Your efforts at improving yourself are making those you know uncomfortable. You're a bit different. Your standards for yourself means you don't approve what they are involved in. "They think it is strange that you don't run with them into the same excess of riot, blaspheming" (I Peter 4:4).
Nothing unusual. It's happened before. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps, who did not sin, "neither was deceit found in his mouth." Who, when he was cursed, didn't curse back. When he suffered, didn't threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously; who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed" (I Peter 2:21-24).
While they say things meaning for them to be derogatory, take them for what they have said and not how they said it. Turn the snide comments into compliments. When they say, "So now you're a Christian woman." Reply, "Why thank you for noticing! I am trying to do better." In other words, purposely be obtuse when someone is trying to insult you. And in the meantime, make sure you do something extra special for them. "If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord." Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head." Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:18-21).
Thank you for your response. I appreciate the way you zero in on certain verses to use to show a particular point. It makes the answer so much more valid and understandable, for me anyways.
(It seems to be that for myself, I must sometimes just look at one verse at a time, in order to absorb and understand it.)
I had to look up the meaning of the word "obtuse." I didn't know for sure what you were saying. As I understand this now, I think you are saying to let the stinging words just slide off, and to give no negative reactions to these words. Kind of like 'developing a thick skin', as I have heard said. Let the pinpricks or little stabs go by, unnoticed, or to give no credit to the pain. I hope I am understanding this now.
One person in particular who has made a few of these types of remarks claims to have some sort of belief in a 'higher power'. God maybe, but he is not sure just what 'higher power', or God, truly means to him. He is constantly questioning - everything. He will even question something such as 'Why is the sky blue?'.
This 'higher power' comes of course, from AA-Alcoholics Anonymous. We are both recovering alcoholics, and he and his wife and I have been friends for some years now. As I am sure you must be aware of this, AA people come together for many of their social needs, as well as the meetings in order to maintain their sobriety.
And for him, he swears by it. And is constantly nagging me that I should go to the meetings.
Years ago, about 1992, when I first was attempting to sober up, I did attend some meetings. But AA never did me any good. I am not attempting to disrespect this group, it has done good for many. Just not me. I can't take all the crying. To me, it seems like it is better to understand and acknowledge the wrong I did, ask the forgiveness and make the amends. Then move on, and do better, do the right thing now. Yes, remember the wrongs done, but don't do them again. And the term 'higher power' was never sufficient enough for me. I wanted to put a name to my 'higher power', and that name is God. But so many others in these groups won't agree to that-they say, 'just a higher power'. This isn't good enough for me. I won't succeed this way, to stay sane or sober. This term could take on a meaning of something such as any force that is stronger or more intelligent than me. I can't accept that. In this manner of thinking, higher power could be another human who has a higher IQ than I do. I also can't accept that.
As it is true that I know many recovering alcoholics, then the remarks and snide comments will probably continue, or at least until they truly do realize that I mean what I say, that God is the only way for me, that God is my higher power.
Staying sober is not an easy thing to do. Nor is it easy controlling the anger, or the multitude of other feelings, and thoughts that come during this recovery. There are the consequences to deal with, and for me, there have been many. Cleaning up the results from a DUI took years and lots of money. The money I did not have, which led me into a state of serious poverty.
This is only one of many problems left over from the 'boozing days'. I am also now dealing with many physical aspects as well. I accept that too. This past week I was also diagnosed as diabetic, which I am sure has its roots in the past. Since the day I was diagnosed, Tuesday, I have gone over and over this in my mind and heart. You know, the question we always ask, 'Why me?'. And it always comes back to one thing. I caused this. The alcohol itself was a major contributor. The carousing, the days on end of being drunk and not eating right, or not at all. I myself ruined my body. Now I have to deal with it, and live with it.
When I began to talk to the Lord again, I told Him that I knew I had done this and that I knew there would a price to pay. I acknowledged that, and I agreed to it. I still do. Diabetes, and other problems as well, are not a burden to my sanity. I will deal with them as best I can, and know how to. Someone once asked me why I quit drinking. I told them that the real truth was, 'I didn't want to die'. I knew I was dying, physically and spiritually.
And I didn't want to have to meet my Lord on the day of His return, and not be able to say to Him, I quit and turned away from that life. I knew whatever state I was in, at the time of my death, was it. It was final. I didn't want to end that way. Nor did I want my kids or my family to have this legacy from me, as I do from my mother and father both. I just simply did not want to die as a drunk, lying in some nameless city, in some gutter, with no one ever knowing my final end.
I think that all through all I have written, what the main point is: I accept that I have to clean up my life, I accept the consequences of my actions, and I also accept the snide remarks, as a marker for me, in my road of recovery to show that I am making progress. Each time I hear this, now I will take it as showing one more step toward God, and one more step away from the past. But, I still have much to do, and much to learn.
Yes, I mean for you to purposely not to notice the subtle undercurrents of people's snide remarks and to take the remarks for what is actually said when it is to your benefit.
Your remarks remind me of another wonderful Christian sister I know who has gotten off of drugs in much the same manner. She too has a no-nonsense approach that works very well. And it shows in the wonderful boys she has raised.