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Day 29: It’s Not The Thing

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Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19

I remember one hot sunny Sunday afternoon when my girls, then toddlers, were happily playing out back on the swing set. Jim was leisurely reading a book on a lawn chair. And I was inside the house, slaving away, cleaning. With every dish washed, every toy picked up, every counter wiped down, my blood boiled one degree hotter.

How can they not notice I am in here? No one cares about having a clean house. Why am I the only one who does anything around here? Resentment was an ever-present companion. It was a thorn that pierced my thoughts and could not be removed.

I know now that the house wasn’t the issue. My heart was.

In John 2:13-25 Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Approaching the entrance He observes His Father’s temple being used as a marketplace. He goes postal and literally cracks a handmade whip to get people out. Tables are overturned, money is poured out, sheep and oxen are scattered.

Veiled words were exchanged.

“Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business,” Jesus demands.
The Jews ask, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews, confused, replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Jesus was also upset but for the right reasons. He was zealous for His Father’s house. The point is not that emotions in and of themselves are good or bad. Anger, rightly used, can be a tool for effective change and anger wrongly used can destroy relationships. Anger turned inwards can cause depression.

The point here is that Jesus is caught throughout His ministry speaking in a language that confused the crowd. It seems crazy that He would say He can rebuild a huge temple in three days. Is Jesus Construction, LLC coming in to renovate? Say whaaaaat?!

Here is the key to unlocking the mysteries. This one truth will break down walls you’ve built inside your head and help you rebuild your thinking based on the heart.

It is NEVER about THE THING.

Stop focusing on the externals and look deeper. See what the externals are revealing about your heart.

It was never about the dishes or a clean house. If it were then everyone who has a clean house would be happy and everyone with a dirty house would be upset. But is that true?

It wasn’t about my husband not helping out. If that were true then single mothers could never be happy and wives with helpful husbands would always be happy.

It wasn’t about being inside alone. Many women like to be inside alone.

It wasn’t about any THING I was blaming my resentment on in that moment.

It was about my feelings of inadequacy. It was about my feelings of not being seen and appreciated. It was about HOW my inner world was interpreting my outer world and giving meaning to those things.

I was a victim of my circumstances and a slave to my feelings. My heart was hard and my emotions were negative.

It seems He is always using external situations of our lives to reveal internal truths, hoping to connect the dots from what is known physically to what is mirrored in the spiritual world.

The transient matters of life are opportunities showing us where we need to grow.

Is there a mountain you keep circling thinking, if this thing were different, then I would be happy.

If the bills were paid. Once the house renovation is done. When the kids get out of diapers. If I didn’t work so far from home. What is that focus point that you are using as your scapegoat for your unhappiness?

Jesus is charging You to get it out of His temple. Stop buying into it. Detach from the idea that anything you need to be at peace is outside of you. If Viktor Frankel, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, can choose peace and purpose inside a concentration camp during WWII, so can you.

When you soften your heart and have ears that are willing to hear and eyes that are willing to see the Truth, it will be revealed.

How do you go deeper? How can you see what is beneath the surface of your own discontent? What is the quickest route off the mountain of resentment?

Ask. Listen. Read. Write.

That is the simplest formula.

Ask God, “Why am I feeling this way? What inside of me is triggering this repeated response and emotional entanglement?”

Listen to God. Allow space for Him to speak to your heart. Ideas will come. Start using them as your shovel to dig below the surface.

Read God’s word. Maybe a verse came to mind? Maybe a thought you can Google? Read for more clarification.

Write the idea through. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or even one coherent thought. Slow down your thinking with writing and the answers will come.

I also developed a process using the acronym S.T.O.P. to diffuse my emotions and gain more peace which I share in my first book Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living. There is an 8-week companion course as well.

The goal is to stop circling the same mountain. Stop focusing on the externals. Stop thinking that if the THING were different, you would feel different. It is a block to God’s love and that is the foundation of this 40-day mission. Remove all blocks to God shedding His Love abroad in our hearts.

Today I can do the dishes or leave them in the sink. I can ask for help if I need it and I can rest when I’m tired. I am not a slave to my house. Whether it is clean or messy doesn’t bother me anymore. And that is true freedom. To me.

Aim for peace. Aim for understanding. Aim for more patience. Use your physical world as a portal to seeing your inner world. Smile today. You’re here. Your heart is soft. You’re on the right track.

Day 29 Lenten Love Prayer:

Aiming for understanding. Looking inside not outside of me for peace. I understand that conceptually. Seems easy enough. But I often feel trapped by my circumstances. How can I NOT look at them? I pray that you would help me to see where I am not accepting life on life’s terms. I pray that I would be able to let go of control even if it’s just so that I have the opportunity to practice trusting You more. Help me see that I am not a slave to the externals. They are just a roadmap to my heart. Revealing to me the lessons I need to learn today. Do I need more patience? Then I thank you for a long line at the grocery checkout. In all things, I will look for the lesson. I will soften my heart and see that everything is exactly as it needs to be at this moment. To change anything, I only need to look within and seek Your help and guidance. I will.

Day 29 Scripture:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. ~ Ephesians 1:18