Monday, April 9, 2012

Is This My Stuff?

Dear Friends,

I was at a retreat center and it was raining, as we say in the UK, ‘cats and dogs.’  The women, knowing my heritage, teased me.  “I expect you’re used to being wet!” said one.  “You’re British!”  Another added, “You must love it when it rains!”  I’m sort of used to being blamed for bringing the rain!  Actually I do love the rain.  I love the gentle dew that falls from heaven and the aftermath, as meadows misted with the breath of God lie refreshed in all their emerald splendor, clear shining after rain!  Yet experiencing the rain and being held responsible for it are two different things!  Learning I am not responsible for the rain has been a lifelong lesson.  I have seemed to take personal responsibility for the circumstances of life, the actions or non actions of other people, and trouble in the church, community, and the world!
I have found myself taking responsibility not only for the weather, but a teenager’s hostility – “It must have been the way I approached the delicate issue.”  Even the bad behavior of our Golden retriever!  “Well, we didn’t go to obedience school and teach him not to collect everyone’s doormats and bring them home!  It’s my fault,” I murmured, as I left the dog at home looking really depressed after a scolding, and tiptoed around the neighborhood at dark, trying to match the mats with the porches!
Now perhaps I could own a little responsibility for Prince, or for a botched try at communicating with an antsy teen, but I have constantly taken on responsibility for things that are clearly out of my control altogether.  Women’s relationships with each other in the women’s ministry in our church, for example.  Trouble between a husband or wife, or the breakdown of a marriage.  Things that are clearly ‘not my stuff’ are collected like Velcro as I roll along through dry days and wet days alike.
Reading again Judy’s and my book on the life of Hagar and Ishmael, Desert of Hardship, Water of Hope, I was reminded of little Ishmael in dire straights, lying panting in a hot desert where he and his Mother had fled.  He was dying of thirst.  Sarah had got Abraham to throw “That bond woman (Hagar) and her son (Ishmael)” out of the tent, and they had wandered in the wilderness till the water was spent in the bottle.  The boy I am sure was wondering, “Was it my fault?  After all, the reason I’m here was I was giving my small brother a hard time!  It seems such a big punishment for such a small thing.”  What kid of divorce today has not owned the parents stuff?  “I must be responsible,” they say to themselves.  “If I’d been a better big brother, or kept my room tidy, or got good grades…”   Hagar must have been thinking, “Is it my fault?  Why does Sarah hate us so much?”  But this whole situation wasn’t their stuff!  They were in their dire straights because of other peoples’ choices!
And maybe a lot of the pain you carry isn’t your stuff either.  You can’t make things ‘Hunky Dory’ as we say in the UK (you can tell I have been back to the homeland to polish up my English!) for everyone.  We must all own our own stuff most certainly, and confess our manifold transgressions on a daily basis, seeking to make amends where we can.  But that is enough for anyone to deal with without confessing everyone else’s sins!  Learn to go to God when trouble comes, and ask, “Is this my stuff?”  If it is, deal with it the best you can and move on.  If not, say really loudly, “This isn’t mine to own Lord.  If there’s anything I can do show me, but otherwise I commit it to you in prayer.  And I will move on.”  And then do it!


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


  1. Thank you so much, Jill, for this blog post. God led me to it today. I am struggling with a relationship with one of my daughter-in-laws (I have three). She and my son have 3 little boys and we love them so much. But with my strained relationship with her, we rarely get to see them. I attempted to deal with it as if it were "my stuff". I have tried to deal with it the best I can, but now I realize that I must move on. Today, I told the Lord, loudly :), "This isn't mine to own, Lord! If there is anything further that I can do, please show me. But otherwise, I am committing "it" to You in prayer. And now I must, and will, move on!!!" And now I have to do it!
    So, thank you so much!!!
    I also listened to your message on "Living Above The Circumstances!" and that really helped me, too. Love, Dona

  2. I so identify with this issue of taking on "stuff" that is not mine. Thanks so much for putting into words for me and encouraging me to ask Jesus if it's mine, and if not, to seek His will for me in the situation. Walking in freedom is a gift we must daily put into practice!