Are You Ready to Throw Out the Rules?

Jen’s Gem: Lean in to God always.

Last week my daughter had three wisdom teeth removed. It’s been a miraculous recovery with little to no pain, swelling, or bruising. Prayers answered. A tooth fairy visit netted a “Jackson” and a trip to TJ Maxx for a polar bear blanket that brought a smile a mile wide. Well, maybe a few centimeters given the limitations of her jaw at the moment.

We traded some jabs about the potential loss of intelligence now that these “wise” teeth are tucked away in a plastic baggie. However, I am fully confident that her academic standing will remain intact despite the loss of these pieces of pulp and enamel.
With all four of my wisdom teeth happily residing in my mouth, I have no experience with this dental procedure or any other for that matter, except for braces. The questions I asked of the oral surgeon likely sounded elementary, yet in order to properly care for my daughter, I needed to know what to expect.
I’ll admit there was a bit of trepidation as I brought home a slightly loopy young woman.  I imagine my neighbors must’ve gotten a kick out of the conversation likely overheard as we made our way up the stairs into our building.  
For a few days, my role has returned to caregiver, ensuring meds are taken on time, salt-water rinses are performed, and ice packs are applied. I’m following all of the rules to ensure her complete recovery.

Rules. I have a complicated relationship with rules. I like knowing exactly what’s needed in order to achieve a goal. I’m not a willy-nilly person, throwing caution to the wind and “hoping” for the best. Yet, place too many rules on me and I’m likely to rebel. I like my freedom.

I vividly recall being in high school typing class and told that it was impossible to chew gum and type at the same time. Oh, and I also had my legs crossed, further upping the anty. Challenged accepted!

With a wad of Bazooka bubble gum cracking between my teeth, I tapped away on the IBM Selectric at record speed and put my teacher to shame. Despite proving her wrong, I still had to throw out my gum. Small price to pay in my opinion.

My walk with God has challenged my thinking about rules. I grew up with an organized religion that made it impossible to have a relationship with God without rules. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Pray. Rinse and repeat. These rules were stifling and kept me in fear and at a distance from God, whose only desire was for me to draw closer.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35 NKJV)
I’ve had to unlearn much of the doctrine I carried with me for most of my life. In the beginning, it was mind bending but mostly it was like a cool drink of water on a humid summer day. As I let go of these rules, I was able to see God more clearly.

Instead of the dictator persona I grew up with doling out harsh sentences for rule breakers, I began to see God through His Son Jesus as loving, forgiving, and merciful. Instead of being this far away ‘being,’ I began to see God as my Father in heaven who only wanted the best for me.

His one rule? Love one another as He loves us.

This can be challenging especially in the times we are living in. People disappoint and hurt us. 

Circumstances occur that stretch us to our limits. Uncertain futures give us anxiety. Yet if we focus on the love of God through His Son, we can overcome these difficulties. We can remain hopeful. We can thrive no matter what life throws at us.

It has been my faith in God and my relationship with His Son that have gotten me through the past several years of the topsy-turvies of unpredictable employment, college applications and acceptances, and financial uncertainty. No rules. No recipes. God.

I believe that He will continue to have His hand on my and my children’s lives as we continue to navigate these trying times that will be a distant memory one day.

I pray that you will be blessed today with a revelation of how much God loves you and that this will strengthen you and give you hope for a bright future.

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