Last week a friend asked me, “Who has the most influence in your life? Who is your model?”
For most of us, our parent’s are the first people we depend upon to validate, accept and love us. As children and teens, others come into our lives, like a friend, grandparent or mentor. As we mature into adulthood, professors, bosses, co-workers, girlfriends or boyfriends, spouses, or someone else might make an intentional decision to invest in your life as a mentor.
Whoever it is, most of us have had at least one person who has made a difference in our lives. Can you think of someone who has been there for you? I’ve had almost all of the above influences in my life, either in a negative or positive way. Yes, sometimes the influences can be very negative. The negative things that happened or were spoken taught me to know that I didn’t want to do or say the same things. The positives I saw in people, I wanted to emulate.
All of this was good for me, but it wasn’t the best. It didn’t empower me to live and love well. I still made choices that were harmful to my children and myself. I didn’t know where to turn for help, or whom to depend on without judgment.
Because everything I write is to educate and empower, I want to share with you the One person who over the past 10 years has become the greatest model in my life. I have diligently sought to follow His ways and it has made an incredible difference in the trajectory of my life, my children’s and my grandchildren’s lives. I believe it can do the same for anyone.
Jesus is my model and the One who has the most influence in my life. He is the One I seek to be with and listen to moment by moment. By learning about God’s love through the parables, Jesus’ teachings and how HE did life, I have found that His actions, principles and attitude are what I desire to emulate. Like you, I want to live in that same healing love and peace that He offers to all people.
Until I chose to allow Jesus take the ownership of my heart, soul and mind, I didn’t understand the fullness of where He could take me. Jesus reveals that as we come to him in childlike faith, He meets us there. A child depends on a parent to provide food, love and shelter. Jesus invites us to come with the same childlike attitude and be
confident that He will accept and care for us. As we grow in Him, we become confident that our names are written in heaven. Have you ever questioned that?
Jesus teaches us that this confidence does not come from brain knowledge, intellect or because one is rich or powerful. Isn’t that great news? It is through God’s grace, not our personal qualifications, that we gain entry to His kingdom. It isn’t something we can purchase our way into. He has invited us into fall into His arms for eternity. It is a free gift available for anyone.
I’m so thankful for each of us having equal access. When in my most broken place, I called to Jesus for help. He scooped me out of the darkness and confusion and took each of the broken pieces of my heart and healed them one by one. He can do the same for anyone.
Since that time, there have been a few close friends I let into the guarded place of my heart. But Jesus continues to be the greatest model, mentor and leader I know. I am amazed when I think about how He turned the world’s way upside down by modeling a servant heart. He washed the disciples feet instead of them washing His! He went to our Heavenly Father in prayer to seek His will in all He thought, said and did. He went to the cross to die for us! Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, He came to save us and give us an opportunity to live eternally with Him.
He died for us. He forgave us for our sins once and for all, yesterday, today and tomorrow. And, then He rose again. He conquered death. He let nothing stand in His way of fulfilling the mission He came to earth to fill. He did it by being loving, peacemaking and prayerful. He healed people and loved them back to life. And for those who believe Him, the Holy Spirit dwells in them to guide them to do the same.
I can’t think of anyone I want to be like more like. And with Jesus as my strength, I have found that we can become more like Him and fulfill our mission and purpose. It takes great willpower and great strength to look back to Jesus for everything. When we keep our eyes on the prize, the gift of being with Him eternally, it’s hard to look to anyone else as our model. The greatest part is that He tells us nothing is too hard for Him!
It’s through my personal relationship with Jesus that I wrote a book, speak, coach and mentor women. This was nothing I ever did before knowing Him! He helps us find our purpose and mission while we are here on earth. There is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than walking in that. As I read this morning, it’s like having one foot in heaven before we get there.
What I love is that we can all get there! It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done, He understands and offers us a new life with Him.
Who is it that most influences you? Have you thought about that?
If you haven’t asked yourself that question lately, take some time to sit in quiet and ponder on it. Get a pen and paper and write down your thoughts as you think. You might find that you need to eliminate some negative influences in your life and seek the way of Jesus to grow into the new life He has for you!
Allison Miller is an author, speaker and coach. To learn more about who she is, who it is she helps and why click here.
Heads or Tails?
On any given weekend of Football season the game does not begin until the coin toss. The official, looking at the Captain's of each team gives the choice to the visiting team, Heads or Tails?
Of course this is not the only time this happens as we have adopted the coin flip as a way of making small bets, choosing first, deciding whose turn it is to take the dare, or even whether or not to accept a deal. It is a chance we take with 50/50 odds that it will go our way and as that coin twirls in the air there is an exciting anticipation of the outcome.
When you think of it, people who avoid the will of God live life as a coin flip, never really knowing what the end result will be. Certainly when we are headstrong and full of pride we act as if that is the way we will always live life. It is exciting as long as we don't tap out or as we call it, hit bottom. It is only then for some of us that we look to follow the head instead of virtually being dragged around by our tail.
So why flip a coin with the only life we have and why not follow the one who is inscribed on the coin "In God We Trust"? For our purpose in this message, look at the head as the angel sitting on your right shoulder encouraging you to do the right thing, and the tail, sitting on your left shoulder as the rep of Satan whose sole purpose is to get you to do wrong.
How many times have we said, "the devil made me do it" when in reality we just lost the coin toss, sometimes over and over again. Tired of losing and being in the wrong place at the wrongest time? (sorry I just made that word up for blog purposes of course!). Think of this part of a very important step:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God........
And if we are in conscious contact we will avoid the toss and listen to the boss, "go this way, do that thing and you will see my blessing". No guessing, look in the direction of the blessing. If we pray in our own quiet time and meditate on his word of truth, the way to the will of God will be illuminated in our heart and soul.
He says so, I am the way, the truth and the light...., and I might add, no coin toss necessary
Ain't No Fortunate Son
It's funny I used to sing this Credence Clearwater Revival song in a most rebellious and mocking way, not having grown up with my Dad around to teach me those things a Dad does, like how to use tools, how to fish, toss the ball around or teach me how to be a husband and father. I became angrier as years went by and then something bad happened, I became absent like my Dad.
The two oldest boys now had someone else to take my place and in shame I tried to drink my life away. I sang those words in pity because that is what we tend to do as addicts, have a pity party and blame everyone else for our troubles. Yeah, I sang it then in despair, I ain't no fortunate son!
Not until I got sober and was reunited with my oldest, Tom did I begin to see the damage caused by me not being there for them in their formative years. Then Paul was born and I had another chance to get it right, and this time I did. We did so many things together and all the while I thought about the second chance God had given me and though filled with gratitude toward Him my anger was still there.
When my father passed away I set a chair beside me and followed the instructions most AA folks will tell you to do when someone you need to forgive is not present. I looked at that empty chair and I forgave my Dad and an amazing feeling of being forgiven came over me as the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "I am your father now, I will teach you what to do".
And I began to understand what a real Dad is supposed to be, loving, kind, encouraging, but also capable of helping a son get on the right track if he falters, and teaching him about forgiveness. When Paul ran into some difficulties as an adult after High School, he sought me out to help him understand some things and we spoke openly and honestly man to man what needed to be done.
Tom and I spent alot of time together and those same things occurred and more recently with Derek. Then along came Logan who has not seen his Dad since he was 3, and I have realized once again that God has opened a door for me to be a mentor, one who does things with him every time I come back to ATL and I realize this whole thing has come full circle, and a scripture came to mind:
God rewards those who earnestly seek him.
To the men who have struggled as I have to get to this point, don't waste anytime for a moment after you read this to go hug your son, tell him how proud you are of him, toss the ball around for awhile and cherish every moment you have to be with him and be his Dad. It is a great privilege and honor to be a father, and it has so many rewards.
As I traveled back to Alabama on Monday I carried the cross from one of Paul's flower arrangements from the celebration of his life and as I placed it on my dresser tonight before I wrote this I cried both tears of sadness and joy. Surely for his loss, but also for the gain of being his Dad the way a Dad is supposed to be.
I am not singing that song again but I am keeping those two words because I have now become, through the grace of an incredible Father, a Fortunate Son!
The Love Bugs
Anyone who travels to Florida or near the Gulf Coast beaches is familiar with ever menacing Love Bugs. Yesterday someone told me the season was over so they were gone, but today while traveling in Alabama and Mississippi (especially around Biloxi) and headed toward an auction, the little bugs did a number on my windshield and hood. Not gone, just moved west.
That alone is not so bad, but because they can penetrate the paint of your vehicle with their acidic qualities a quick clean up and removal is necessary or there will be lasting consequences. When we appraise trade ins if the bugs have penetrated the paint we must account for a repaint of the panel affected. In some cases it could run into the thousands to fix.
Naturally this got me thinking today, which I find to be compelling because I try not to think too much unless God is giving me instructions. So it became a good God day and here is what came to my mind:
The Love Bugs of life are those moments others spend with us that take our breath away, the times when little children twist our hearts with joy, the elation we feel when we succeed, the hug from a friend or loved at just the right moment, a surprise gift that was unexpected, an answer to prayer at just the right time, and on and on to any moments we spend that inspire us with love.
Here's the problem, we seem to always want more instead of letting what we just received sink into our heart and soul. Anything that special may only last a short while, but when it does we need to let it be like a Love Bug we never wash away so that it penetrates our spirit and lifts us up at various moments of life that may be difficult or give us a smile when we are lonely.
If, like the acidic makeup of those Love Bugs it cuts through all the layers of our life experiences and stays with us then we will be happy with what we just received instead of doing something that we regret to do more. To quote a Beatles song, "There will be an answer, let it be, let it be".
Seems like I have had a number of those moments lately and they have been so special and uplifting that I just keep walking around with a smile on my face., waiting for the Lord to bring another one my way. I hope he brings some to you as well.
And, in answer to your question no I am not in love, I just have the Love Bug!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.