Posts Tagged ‘honesty’
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Hidden Feelings Come Out
I was going to Sears to check out something I was interested in but I was a little early so I was sitting in my car waiting for the doors to open. I looked across the lot and saw a young lady get out of her car. She checked out the back seat where her young toddler child was belted in and shut the door leaving her child in the car. She locked the door and proceeded to walk towards the door to Sears.
I was astonished at what had just happend! I felt a responsibility to protect that child who was motherless in the car in a shopping mall parking lot! I quickly called the police to inform them that a child had been abandoned! I was experiencing nerve shattering, exasperation! I wanted her to be taken to jail no matter what else happened that day, I desired judgment to occur – right then!
I am very protective of little children and the times in my life when I have come out of my skin with carefree confrontation of others has always been when I perceived children were being wounded, or neglected. Oh, I have the stories but never saw anyone get the penalty and today I wanted to see that occur.
So I waited, looking all over the lot for a police car to drive up.
About five minutes later this young mother came walking out of the store moving towards her car. Well, I was ready for bear! I got out of my car and moved towards her with intent to harm on my mind. I approached her and out of my mouth came all of those anxious feelings:
What in the HELL!!!! do you think you are doing?
You walked off and left your child unattended in your car!!!!!!
The lady looked at me with eyes wide open, shocked at the intensity that just flew out of my mouth.
She said: “I am so sorry you were afraid”.
I responded, Of course I was afraid! You left your child! That is how kids get stolen, burned alive, abandoned! You should never leave your child like that!
She said, “I am sorry, I won’t do it again”. ”Thank you for caring enough to say something and to be so protective over my child”.
She got in her car and drove off. I was still shaking like a leaf.
That was quite a shocker for me as well! I never expected her to be so rational about what had just happened. When I got away from the situation I saw something really interesting about myself and about what had just happened.
I do a lot of teaching that almost always includes learning how to communicate our feelings in ways that are honest and effective. That day, this young mother called out my deepest feeling, fear. I was expressing deep anger through my overt words but I didn’t know myself what I was really feeling, I was just reacting!
How funny, this mother who is at the other end of a tongue lashing was calm enough to know more of the truth in this situation than I was.
Lady, I feel fearful and anxious about you leaving your child in the car unattended! I feel incensed that you would put your child in harm’s way! I felt protective over your child’s welfare because she was alone and potentially in line for severe danger! I feel confused as to why you would have done that and over how important it was that you left your child in the car to do something in Sears!
I felt embarrased that I had just left my sanity, swore at this young mother shaking her to the core. I also felt some indignation for what had happened because honestly, the lady was careless and did in fact put her child in harms way.
Well, God has His ways of bringing us into teachable moments of life. Fortunately, nothing happened to the child and hopefully the mother won’t ever forget:
Whatever the HELL she was doing that morning!
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
How did I end up selling cars?
A while back as I was praying about how God might be able to provide a living wage for my family I was reading a magazine that showed an ad for a new car called the “SmartforTwo”. The ad mentioned a dealership in Memphis so I opened my eyes to the possibility of selling Smart cars because of their unique design and market. I thought surely this might be an open door to an unseasoned sales person.
So the next week I got ready to apply for a job and went to the Mercedes dealership where they said they were sold. When I got to the desk I mentioned why I was there and the man standing by returned my comment with a strong response, “NO, we don’t sell Smart Cars. WE TURNED down that dealership.” I wasn’t sure how I had offended him by my comment but there was something under the rug in his world for sure.
As I was driving away I asked God why in the world He led me there as I knew He did. My own thoughts wondered if it was just a test of obedience. I felt relieved because I really didn’t want to work there anyway. So, while I was out I went to two Starbucks coffee shops and gave them applications. They seemed more to fit my schedule and need for benefits.
A couple of weeks later I heard an advertisement for sales help at a local Toyota Dealership on our local country music station. I felt strongly that I was to go and apply for a job there. Maybe God had prepared me earlier in my heart by sending me to the Mercedes dealership.
Since I didn’t have a resume’ I quickly prepared one and got dressed in respectable clothing and went to the dealership. I handed my resume’ to the lady at the desk and she asked me to fill out an application. She said I would likely have an interview right away.
I was introduced to the General Sales Manager who was kind and affirming of me and of my skills. He assured me I would do well at this job. He handed me off to the Sales Manager who likewise was very affirming and said that due to my history I would likely be in management in a short amount of time. He said that he wanted me to interview with the General Manager of the dealership so off I went to another office. His first question was, “John, do you like to read?” He recommended that I read a book on leadership called “Built to Serve”. He thought I would enjoy reading it and after a few other affirming words sent me on my way.
I had gone over in my head many times my insecurities about applying for a secular job. After 22 years in ministry with a sexual recovery program and having never gone to college, I certainly didn’t have the cutting edge for getting a good job! I couldn’t imagine why someone would hire me. But in these three interviews, each person mentioned my resume’ and my job experience with positive reactions. They actually said that these tools showed them that I was exactly what they were looking for. One man said, “John if you can work with sexual recovery, you can surely sell cars!” It was apparent that God was in fact opening up the door for me so I continued walking through it. I had no idea what would happen next.
That fateful day, I was offered a job selling cars virtually on a silver platter. I returned in two days to accept the offer and a week later I began my training. I moved through several courses in Toyota University and asked a lot of questions of the others I encountered. I also heard a lot of comments about life as a car salesman. Most mentioned the “dog eat dog world” and the extensive hours spent at work.
Along the way my energy towards this job waned. Each person in their own way told me of how they had to often console their wives due to the time away from home. They spoke often of how some people were honest but others would go out of their way to get the next sale even it meant running over someone else to get there. Well, this is what I expected so I wasn’t surprised, just shocked that I was moving into something that felt like I was being swallowed up by a beast!
A bright spot during my training was when the sales manager told me to go get the keys to the cars and drive them! “You mean I can drive any car I want to?” I was in seventh heaven that day driving numerous cars to my heart’s content.
When I was released to sell cars the second week I felt comfortable and enthusiastic about this part of the job. I loved people and enjoyed cars. It seemed to be a good combination. I mean, if you have to go to work, it just as well be something you are familiar with and this seemed to fit the bill. My first and second customers were really enjoyable. I took some test drives with them and it seemed I was catching them with my knowledge and my intuitive ideas.
Well, after a couple of days my sense was correct, I was being swallowed up by a beast alight. I was drowning in the belly of a whale and didn’t know how to get out. I felt trapped by the job and drained of my heart. I had nowhere to turn but to the Lord. As I have prayed many times in my life, “God get me out of this!”
Sunday, August 30th, 2009
John, what do you want? You cannot have it both ways.
Jonah 1:17; 2:1-10 – But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”
And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land
I can relate to Jonah!
I have been in the belly of the whale. This week has been one of the most challenging weeks I have faced in a very long time. Monday, my first day greeting customers with the intent of selling a car, started out with pretty good energy. By Tuesday I was experiencing a change of heart. Discouragement and grief replace my energy for the job I had taken. I began to seek the Lord while I was mowing my lawn. I poured my heart out to Him but, through the week of confusion, God hammered my heart. “What do you want John?” I have also been hammering God’s heart, ” You know where my heart is at God. How much freedom do I have to pursue my heart’s desire?”
The grief I was feeling went beyond what I have felt in a long time. As my wife and I were praying this morning, I said, “I sense that I am losing everything that is important to me”. Because of the heavy schedule and overwhelming commitment of this new job I have lost significant family time. I have lost contact with relationships that have become a strong support system for me. And not insignificantly, I am losing the mission the Lord laid on my heart. It has become severely challenged due to a lack of time and focus to put into it. I have experienced a significant number of hours each day standing on the sidewalk in front of the building praying and waiting for the potential of a buying customer. I felt trapped by the expectations and the reality of this kind of job. I felt lost in a world far away from my life calling and my heart’s desire.
When I entered the job at the car dealership, I did so quickly and had clouded eyes thinking that God was calling me to this to meet our financial needs and that He might have something in this for me that is important for my walk with him and for Grace Rivers. As I faced each day I had a different conversation with the Lord and actually I found that He was speaking to me in a fatherly way that I appreciated.
I had to evaluate who I am authentically. How did God create me and what is His calling on my life. I had no question about how I would answer that. Standing in front of the sales lot was certainly not energizing or fulfilling. I questioned whether or not I was just in an adjustment period and needed to stick with this since I started it. But my experience led to a deeper evaluation.
As I honestly looked down the road I could see that being at this job longer would not get better. I was fully capable of doing this job. I was slated for a department of sales that I knew I was capable of and would do so in a productive fashion. I had already made some friends and I knew that would help in this becoming more fulfilling. But as I honestly looked at the bigger picture I could see that the longer I was there, the further away from my heart I would be. I had to ask myself if I was willing to lose more of my heart and if God was actually saying He was changing my calling.
Oh, this is why I am feeling grieved. I was losing something. All that I have built up over the last year could be lost if I don’t get my butt up and accept the challenge that God has placed before me. He was asking me if I were willing to put the same energy into Grace Rivers that I would have to put into selling cars. I do not believe in my heart of hearts that God has placed me on this earth to sell cars. I would know that if it were true. He does give us the desires of our heart – He shows us what they are! I also have a responsibility to now engage my body and energy into that desire.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, a Wise Man, asked me what I had learned in my two weeks there. I didn’t have a full answer for him at the time but I believe God was truly speaking through Harvey Rosen. I learned how to step into this job that was clearly an open door, trusting God would lead me where He wanted me to go. I learned that there is potentially a kingdom value in everything we do. I learned that I can make a left turn going a different direction and how to trust God in that decision. I also learned that when I get a little way down the road I could make a u-turn and go back. I also learned that during that detour, God was present, available, and would take full advantage of the experience. I learned more about seeking God for my heart’s desire.
I am now what I believe is back on track but differently than before. I am motivated in a new way to seek something with all my heart. I am more trustful right now of God’s direction and of His plans for me. I also realize that I have some work to do.
I am more willing to be honest with myself, with my wife, others, and not the least, more honest with God. I am learning more about authenticity and transparency for sure.
My journey continues.
Thursday, August 13th, 2009
by John J. Smid
Surely our foes are destroyed, and fire devours their wealth. Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.
My wife and I have gone through a huge transition during the last year and a half. When we made the decision together that I should resign from Love in Action-a ministry position that we had both invested our hearts and souls in over the previous 22 years-it was a major change for both of us, and even more so for me.
My Internal Evaluation
In the process of leaving I had to do a lot of internal evaluating; this required a lot of personal honesty and authenticity. I had to dig deep into my heart regarding my motives, my weakness and my strengths. It was imperative that I left with my heart as honest as it could be and to feel clear about my real motives regardless of what the circumstances at the time looked like. It was easy for me to vacillate at a very emotional level. For all intents and purposes it could have looked like I was leaving a conflicting situation in hopes I would find relief and a new beginning but that was not the real truth.
Five years earlier God had truly begun to change my heart. He dug around in there to see if my involvement with the ministry I was in included an idolatrous place in my life. I was certainly deeply invested. I had received much affirmation for what I had been doing all through the years but as I searched my heart I did not believe it was an idol for me in that sense of the word.
Something much bigger was happening and it was quite a move of the Lord. After I began to seek him for changes that I knew could unearth me from 22 years of investment, I found a new excitement, a hope in something that was quite different for me. This was the true beginning of Grace Rivers and I had begun a new journey for myself. I didn’t know what lay ahead but I began to wonder what it might look like. As I pondered these changes in my heart I tried to figure out a way to incorporate these new things where I was serving, but that didn’t seem to gain any momentum.
The Tearing Began
This is where the trials began. Things surrounding my connection with this ministry seemed to be shaking loose. Much of the shaking looked like the man on the roof with the pronged shovel tearing old shingles loose might look from the street. It was rough to go through and at times terrible to experience. But none the less, the ties began to break and I found myself losing my heart connection to the ministry.
After a couple of years of confusion, shock, misunderstandings, and personal and internal battles it became apparent that God was tearing me away literally one finger at a time while I struggled to hold on out of fear that I may not survive outside of where I was. After all, who would be interested in me? I didn’t have a college education and certainly the ministry I was serving was quite narrow in focus and often controversial. So, what would I have to offer another ministry or corporation? How would I make a living?
I also looked back over twenty years earlier. I worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for 13 years. It was a secure job with great pay and benefits. Many I worked with often wondered if they could survive outside of their job since it paid so well and their qualifications might not get them a job like that. So, I wondered the same thing. Where could I go to get this kind of a job. Maybe I have to stay here forever because certainly I couldn’t get this anywhere else. So, I felt trapped by my circumstances.
I realized that I had gotten to the same place in the ministry. Where would I go? Could I survive leaving this ministry position? I once again began to feel trapped by my circumstances thinking surely I couldn’t get this kind of position anywhere else. The deception in my own heart was a stronghold. Thinking I had nothing to offer another ministry or corporation since I was so “under qualified”. After all, I didn’t have a college degree or a resume’ that anyone would find useful outside of this narrow focused ministry I had been in for so long.
After another year of tearing away I got to the place where it appeared that I really had no option if I wanted to remain healthy personally and to leave before everything exploded internally. So, my heart had changed to the point where I began to ask the Lord to free me or I was going to go crazy. I got back to my roots in my faith where I prayed deeply and simply, “God, lead me out of here”.
Ok, I’ll Go Along With You God
Once the decision was made in my heart I did feel relief but at the same time the change had not occurred. In the meantime there was even more turmoil that was more challenging than anything I had gone through before. The last of the fingers had to come off.
When I walked through the decision I began to pray differently. “What do you have for me now God? Make it a surprise!” I didn’t want to contrive my future and truly wanted it to be built by Him. I wanted His best. If I was going to leave this 22 year investment then my future had to be His best. I hadn’t a clue what that might look like. I laugh now thinking that I might be able to contrive it anyway. With my history it wasn’t like I had this wonderful experience that would cause churches, ministries, or corporations to beg me to come to work for them!
Surprises? I want to know more.
God did in fact begin to surprise me. Week after week I saw this process like I was opening Christmas packages one at a time. I knew that whatever was in them would be good but until they were opened I didn’t know the content. One surprise after the other felt like dropping breadcrumbs that were leading me down this mysterious path of discovery. Day by day I released more and more of the past I had lived in, because I saw such wonder in the new challenges that were present and that lay ahead.
John Smid will be selling cars. Talk about surprises! Who would have known 18 months ago that I would be working at a Toyota dealership? I didn’t ask for this. I never would have set my sights on this as an income stream.
As I adjust to the idea I am getting somewhat excited about it. There are many things about this job that fit my interests. The hours will allow some scheduling that coincides with continuing to build Grace Rivers and work on The Journey of Thomas. I look forward to working with some people again since I have been primarily alone in my office all year. I like the managers I have met so far.
Surprising to me, they saw my resume’ as a positive thing. “John, you completely fit the profile that we are looking for. We believe you will do very well with this job.” You mean my history and resume doesn’t disqualify me? You mean it is a positive? Well, there goes another lie I believed. It was cancelled right before my very eyes.
The Journey of Thomas began in my life before I ever even thought of the idea. I had been building the concepts of Honesty and Authenticity on a very personal level. What am I feeling? What is really going on in my heart of hearts? If I had not been more personally honest I might have slammed a few people along the way from the deception if it had set in. During the process of the earthquake in my vocational life, I had to continually evaluate the circumstances and filter them through what I knew was really happening, rather than to blame my circumstances and expect the people around me to be what they were not.
If I had not focused on whom God created me to be I could not have trusted Him as much as I did through the process. As I rocked and rolled through the changes I had to keep coming back to who I was rather than what I had done. What makes up John Smid? What do I really want to do with my life? During this time I found that I had discovered a personal mission statement that really wasn’t new but had led me all through the years. While I was working in a narrowly focused ministry, a much more widely applicable mission was moving in my heart. This personal evaluation of my own authenticity saved me and others from a lot of grief for sure.
Then, the idea of Transparency became a reality. Am I willing to say “Whatever Lord” upon my new life choices? Am I really willing to allow Him to surprise me? Is the element of surprise a positive thing? Actually it has been. Being willing to move wherever He wanted me to, added a wonderful journey to this last couple of years of my life. I learned that when I was flexible in my heart I could then ponder the mysteries of my future.
When my wife and I were on a cruise and had landed in Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean I had just begun to open up my heart to the Lord’s changes. I thought, “What would it be like to come here and start a brand new mission to reach the spiritual needs of this virtually bankrupt island?” My wife wasn’t so keen on the discussion but I was becoming free to begin a brand new life, walking in the freedom of the Lord using me, as I am, however He chooses to. Transparency had a brand new meaning for me and I was finally open to a new adventure.
Yes, I want to learn more each day to live in the truth because that is where I have found some of the answers to the question, “Where are you going Lord, and how do I get there.” It is a great place to be.
My Journey continues…………. Come along with me.
Having a more honest perspective on our life, our motives, and our potential can and will help to prevent relationship struggles and consequences. It will also help in our connection with the Lord. Seeing His perspective allows us to trust Him more fully.
I have often heard some refer to the added “beatitude” Blessed are the Flexible. Actually, “Blessed are the Meek” fits this quite well. Meek in this passage really means in its original language accepting God’s dealings with us as being good.
Being honest can help us to accept God’s dealings with us more fully and with less stress and outward manifestations of sinful responses. Honesty is good “preventive” medicine!
Oh, father, I am so thankful for Your working in my spirit today. As I look back over the last five years I can truly be thankful that You saw a bigger picture than I could have imagined. In Your love and care for me You saw into the future something that I would truly enjoy and embrace even when it wasn’t on my radar screen. Help me to continue following You more deeply into the close and distant future.
PDF My Own Journey – Truth
Friday, June 5th, 2009
The Journey of Thomas
By John J. Smid
hen you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Truth? What is truth anyway? At a core level, Jesus is Truth. In this passage of scripture, I am certain that the core meaning implies that if we know Jesus Christ, He will set us free from the laws of sin and death. Knowing Truth in this very personal and redemptive way is the foundation of our lives and the avenue to living life eternally with our Creator; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the Grace Rivers’ Core Values we begin with Honesty. This kind of honesty stems first of all from a willingness to be honest with yourself. It is important to develop the skill of self evaluation. Why do I do what I do? Where do my reactions come from? What were the motives that underlie my actions today? Why did I shut down yesterday when I was talking with my wife? Why did I walk away from my husband when he began to discuss our daughter?
When I was a young Christian I read a little pamphlet titled “Your Reactions Are Showing.” I’ll never forget the wisdom and challenge I read in the words compiled in that little life changing booklet. It challenged me to look deeper into my life to find out what was underneath my unhealthy attitudes and thoughts. This was the beginning of my own pursuit to know my heart. I stumbled through life making many mistakes and allowing poor judgment to enter into many relationships, now is the time for truth.
When I began to evaluate my own motives and unhealthy reactions I saw marked improvement in my own decision making. I found a dramatic decrease in my own anxiety and a much improved process of developing healthier relationships. I also found peace to be the outcome of my own personal honesty.
When I was driving on the Interstate a man in a light blue pick-up truck cut right in front of me to go around the car in the middle lane. My first “reaction” was to feel angry and to wonder why he would do such a stupid thing – I mean didn’t he see me? My heart immediately went to a personal honesty. I had to be honest with myself about having done the very same thing many times. I am sure others had responded the same way when I cut them off. Knowing this brought me to an almost immediate forgiveness in my heart and a release of the frustration and judgment I had been experiencing.
On another occasion I was driving to a Bible study with a few other people in my car. We entered a subdivision of homes and we needed to go down a street that was immediately on our left after the entrance. I looked up and saw a “no left turn” sign and feeling inconvenienced by this seemingly ridiculous sign I decided to ignore its’ instruction and turn left anyway. I didn’t want to have to go any further out of my way since our study was starting very soon.
Well, you guessed it. A police car came immediately up behind me motioning me to stop. I felt so embarrassed in front of my friends. When he took my information back to his car I was drawn to personal honesty. I turned to my friends and said, “I deserve a ticket, I was wrong”. I had accepted my potential consequences admitting my error. The policeman came back to our car and told me he was giving me a warning. In my thankfulness I turned once again to my friends and said, “That was grace”.
In both of these situations, personal honesty gave me freedom; a freedom from the attempt to circumvent truth and live a lie. First, a lie that somehow I was more perfect than the man in the light blue pick-up which ended up in my highly critical reaction to the situation. Second, I was attempting live out a lie that somehow I was privileged to go around the law because I wanted to.
I can go on and on in examples where personal honesty brought freedom to my life. I can mention many times where personal honesty was very uncomfortable and on the surface brought about challenges that I didn’t want to have to face. But, in the end, the truth wins out and honesty really is the best policy.
Some other great scriptures for internal honesty are:
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
I find this scripture particularly interesting since covers two very important sides of this point. Giving through to our ways is exactly what I am trying to bring forth here. Personal evaluation is so important in living an honest life. The last part of this scripture speaks to living in deception and that will lead to folly.
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
I see in this passage the reality that somewhere in our own hearts lays bitterness as well as joy. Both are important to know and understand if we are going to live an honest life. I also find that it moves us to see that if we are honest with ourselves, we will see the truth. We do know our own bitterness and yet, without understanding, others will not relate to it by osmosis, rather we need to share it with them.
Prov. 14: 13
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.
Are we tempted to hide our aches underneath laughter? Living dishonestly is at times hiding our pain in fear of someone else seeing it and putting ourselves as a perception of risk if we open up. I believe it is important to see if we can’t learn to trust more freely in the Spirit of Christ to rise up in His people. Can we trust in people? Not always. But we can trust Christ in people.
For further reading on personal honesty I highly recommend the book, “Telling Yourself the Truth” by Backus and Chapian. This book has laid the foundation for personal evaluation of my internal process. I have never been the same since reading that book.
Prayer for today:
Lord, today, filter my mind through Your truth. Help me to be more honest and less defensive in my reactions toward others. I desire your truth in my inmost parts. In your sovereign grace, help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.
© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 38183
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