Live an Uncommon Life
- 2009 14 Feb
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Susie Larson's new book, The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary, (Moody Publishers, 2008).
Following the crowd is easy to do. But that will only lead to a common, ordinary life that falls short of the potential God has in mind for you. If you dare to respond to your circumstances with uncommon faith, however, you’ll become a godly influence on all those around you.
Here’s how you can leave the common life behind and pursue an extraordinary life:
Humbly accept acceptance. When other people reject or betray you, don’t sink to taking the low road of reciprocating pettiness and gossip, building cases, and forming allegiances. Instead, regularly remind yourself of who you are and whose you are in Christ, according to the Bible: loved, called, accepted, chosen, cherished, and forgiven). Accept God’s unconditional love for you while inviting Him to point out anything in you that might offend Him. Pray for your accusers, asking God to bless them, because the more they’re drawn to Jesus, the more like Him they’ll become. Forgive your accusers, with God’s help.
Thank God for everything good in your life. Pray for someone who is dealing with even tougher circumstances than you, and reach out to her through a note or gift. Get enough exercise and rest to stay healthy. Face your flaws honestly, but realize that they don’t diminish your value. Refuse to let other people define you, because God already has. You can understand who you are once you understand whose you are. Embrace the call to become more like Jesus every day. But remember that no mistake of yours or rejection of others can change the fact that your identity in Christ is secure. Thanks to your relationship with Jesus, you will always be fully loved and completely accepted.
Get back up after getting knocked down. Ask God for the courage you need to get back up after the messes of life knock you down. Even though your pain may sometimes seem more real than God’s presence, choose to believe that God’s promises are still true for you, and trust that God can use whatever you’re going through to accomplish good purposes in your life. Pray for the strength you need to overcome fears and discouragement. Refuse to be bound by your past defeats or daily insecurities. Expect God to make all things new in your life as you place your trust in Him.
Choose your battles wisely. Not every battle is yours to fight, and not every wrong is yours to right. Instead of hoisting too many problems on your shoulders (a commonplace way for women to become anxious and weary), ask God to help you discern only what problems He specifically intends for you to handle for each day. Let go of any problems, realizing that God has the power to fix any problem you come across and you might make things worse by taking matters into your own hands when you’re not supposed to deal with a particular problem.
Recognize that you’re not called to defend every ill word spoken about you or walk in fear of what other people think of you. Refuse to respond to gossip or engage in spiteful conversations. Live to please God, not other people. Simply commit every day to living as faithfully as you can and entrust your reputation to God. Even when other people don’t understand you, God does, and that’s enough.
Fight key battles. When you face conflict, ask God to help you win these important battles: to forgive those who hurt or offend you, to receive a fresh dose of God’s grace each day, to stand against evil by guarding your heart, to humble yourself before God and be willing to obey Him, and to persevere in the midst of challenges until God intervenes. Remember that God is with you every step of the way.
Covers others with love. Don’t allow critical and catty thoughts about others to swirl around in your mind. Instead, pray, asking God to help you see others as He sees them. Remember that God has made every person in His image. Recognize that every person – including you – in this fallen world struggles with sin and is a work in progress, but God is at work in everyone’s lives and you need to respect His ongoing work without judging others.
Be aware that you’re especially likely to criticize people who struggle with issues you don’t. Instead of looking at people as a combination of flaws and attributes, focus on the fact that God has good purposes for their lives. Whenever you encounter flaw in other people that irritate you, don’t step away and judge them. Instead, draw nearer and serve them by helping to meet their needs. Overlook minor offenses and forgive larger ones. Refuse to speak negative words and decide to speak positive words to encourage others whenever you can.
Value truth over perception. Step away from the desire to present a certain image of yourself to other people to try to control what they think about you. Instead, just be yourself, drawing your confidence from the reality that God knows and loves you completely. Be more committed to the truth than to trying to make other people think well of you. Realize that you can’t please everyone; determine to please God, because that’s what matters most. Base your daily decisions on the reliable truth of what God’s Word, the Bible, says, rather than on your changing circumstances or feelings.
Choose mercy over judgment. Every day, you walk under the fresh mercies of God. Thank God that His mercy is always available to you. Let your gratitude motivate you to obey His call to extend mercy to other people. When you encounter someone who’s struggling or hear other women judging a struggling person, refuse to speak negatively or listen to others’ negative words. Instead, treat struggling people as you would like to be treated if you were in their situation.
Choose prayer over pettiness. Whenever another woman is rude to you, refuse to respond by talking negatively about her to others. Instead, talk about her to God, praying for her just as Jesus intercedes for you. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Entrust her to God. It doesn’t matter whether or not the rude person deserves a verbal lashing from you. What matters is that God deserves a loving response from you since you’ve committed to live your life for Him. Rather than using your words in negative ways, recognize the tremendous potential they have to heal, encourage, reconcile and restore – and use them for those purposes. Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts that enter your mind, pray about them.
Refuse to be bullied by your fears. In the face of fear, remember who you are and whose you are. Be confident that every battle you encounter is winnable because you have God on your side. Step out in faith to take risks when you sense God calling you to do something new. Remember that God will be with you and empower you to do whatever He calls you to do. Fight fearful thoughts when they come into your mind, recognizing that they come from evil and are designed to defeat you. Take every fearful thought captive by praying about it and exchanging its false message with biblical truth. Decide to serve God – whose perfect love casts out fear – rather than serving your fears.
Believe God’s promises are true. Get to know God well, because the more you know Him, the more you’ll trust Him and believe what He says. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. So pray for more faith when you’re struggling to believe. When you encounter a challenge, consider it an opportunity to please God by trusting Him during that time. Don’t put more faith in your obstacles than you do in God’s promises, or give more credence to your limitations than you do to God’s unlimited capacity to intervene. Whether or not you decide to believe that you have access to God’s power – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead – will determine just how uncommon your life turns out to be.
Stay in the stronghold of God. Respect the boundaries that God intends for you to stay inside when choosing your attitudes and actions, because those boundaries are in place to protect you from harm and give you an abundant life. Trust God, obey Him, and live in such a way that the world will know that you belong to Him. God’s provision protects you, His wisdom warns you, and His peace leads you.
Live what you believe. Don’t be content to settle for taking the low, common road when God has called you to take the high, uncommon way through life. Show others through your life what radical love and powerful service look like. As you do, you’ll be establishing God’s kingdom on earth wherever you go, helping to bring about change for the better.
Published February 14, 2009
Adapted from The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary, copyright 2008 by Susie Larson. Published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, Ill., http://www.moodypublishers.com/.
Author and speaker Susie Larson has spoken to thousands of women about such issues as prayer, balance, and the power of our choices. Susie works as a freelance writer for Focus on the Family and is the author of several books. Susie has been married to her beloved husband since 1985; she and Kevin are thoroughly enjoying their three (almost) grown boys. They make their home in Minnesota.