Friday, July 9, 2010

The Princess & The Pea

Remember the story "The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen? A prince wanted to marry a "real" princess. (There were plenty of princesses around, but not real ones.) One night, a terrible storm blew a wet, bedraggled princess onto his doorstep who needed a place to stay. To test whether or not she was a real princess, the prince's mother piled 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds on top of a pea, and the poor girl slept terribly all night long. The story concludes "only a real princess could be that sensitive."

I have come to realize that, in Christ, I am a "real princess." As God's daughter, I am royalty, and I am sensitive, because He has given me a tender heart full of His Love, compassion and mercy. However, sometimes our greatest strengths can be turned into great weaknesses, and vice versa. For example, God is kind and compassionate; He doesn't despise the weak or the broken, and neither should we. However, scripture also tells us that "love is not touchy, fretful, or resentful." [I Corinthians 13 AMP] I know that I can be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to the needs of others; but I also know that sensitivity can be twisted into something paralyzing or destructive through spiritual warfare, deception, fear, insecurity, false responsibility, weakness, or unhealed hurts from the past.

A few suggestions for the "real princess" in all of us (OK, guys, be the Bride of Christ with your sisters here):

(1) Look to God for truth in any situation. Too many of us act or react based on perceptions, thoughts or feelings we haven't brought to the Lord first in prayer. We need to ask for His guidance before responding. The enemy operates in the natural realm; only God knows the heart and mind of every person, and the whole spiritual truth underlying every situation. Shouldn't we ask Him what's really going on and what, if anything, He wants us to do or say before we act or form opinions based on our own limited understanding?

(2) Believe the best of every person. Unless we have evidence to the contrary (in which case, we still need to forgive and not judge), it's a fairly safe bet that most people have good intentions (or think they do), and don't really mean to hurt us deliberately. We're all capable of making mistakes or accidentally causing harm, so let's be wise enough not to assume negative intentions and, when it's necessary to discuss an issue, " a spirit of gentleness." [Galatians 6:1]

(3) Take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings, and (4) allow God to work in your own heart and life. You are the gatekeeper of your own mind and heart, so - even if you do need to have a conversation to clear up an area of conflict or confusion - it's a good idea not to accuse another person. Chances are, no matter what they might have done better, the reason it's affecting us so much has to do with our own history or something God is trying to heal or refine in us. Sometimes it's OK to ask someone what they meant by what they said, or explain how it affected us; however, we'll grow a lot more if we realize that things which upset us are generally "red flags" pointing to something God wants to teach or heal in us. If all we try to do is avoid pain in the present, we're likely to miss the deeper lesson or healing of an old hurt God may be allowing to surface so we can finally deal with the roots of our emotions or thought patterns through repentance, forgiveness, or simply asking God to heal that wound we buried or denied long ago. Ask God "what's really bothering me?" and see what He shows you in prayer. He can heal the past and the present situation!

Most of the time, I don't mind being sensitive - it inspires my prayer life, heightens awareness of what God is doing or saying, giving me lots of creative and effective ways to minister and relate to others. I worship with passion, experience life deeply, and enjoy a rich intimate love relationship with my Lord. But I also have to be wise enough to see where the enemy may try to take advantage of a vulnerable moment, or how the Lord is continuing to work in my own heart as I endeavor to live transparent before Him. As long as I remember to let His strength fill up my weaknesses, I can live happily ever after as a "real princess" in God's Kingdom.

"He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and He won't disregard the small and insignificant, but He'll steadily and firmly set things right."
Isaiah 42:3 The Message

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