There are times when I’ve felt like nothing was going quite right. Relationships seemed hard and strained. Sickness wrecked my body and plans. And my mind had to fight hard to remember God’s goodness.
In that fight to remember God’s goodness, I’d rehearse Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 8: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31).
A rhetorical question is a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect. It makes a point, rather than seeking an answer.
In this verse and the verses that follow, it’s almost as if Paul is saying, “Come on, look at all the Lord has done. Taste and see. Believe. If he did this, then why in the world wouldn’t you believe him, trust him, and rest in him?
God is “for us” means God is on our side. He is working on our behalf. God is working all things together for good.
If this is true, then who can be against us?
Listen to more of my reflections on The World and Everything In It: https://worldandeverything.org/2019/04/trillia-newbell-you-vs-the-world/
I don’t have many regrets in life. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I do believe the Lord has used them to refine me, teach me, and make me more like His Son.
But if I could go back to the Sunday night before my sister suddenly died, I would have shared something encouraging to her. I would have told her how much I loved her. I would have been less busy with my own schedule and more attentive to her needs. I would have listened to her that night.
But I didn’t do those things.
We don’t know how long our friends and family will be with us, but if we have them today, then we have an opportunity. And I have decided to no longer wait for a eulogy to tell those I love dearly why I love them.
They won’t need that encouragement in eternity. They need it today.
I reflect on these things on World Radio. Listen here: https://worldandeverything.org/2019/03/trillia-newbell-the-wisdom-of-love/.
(This post continues my first draft series where I write the various things on my heart and mind without editing due to time and then I press publish. You can read the first post here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/2019/01/17/first-draft-blogging-series/)
Did I tell you I have a hiatal hernia? I don’t write or talk about it much but if you’re around me, you’ll quickly see and hear the effects of it. I cough a lot and must restrict what I eat. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of your stomach bulges through the large muscle separating your abdomen and chest (diaphragm). I know, lovely. I was diagnosed with it after receiving a procedure to determine why I had so much pain in my abdomen. And although I haven’t been officially diagnosed, I do believe that I also have celiac disease. I have all the signs and the one time I went completely gluten free I experienced a significant improvement in my quality of life.
So, if I know how to help myself, why won’t I? Why do I continue to struggle with the pain and cough and uncomfortable-ness if I know what I need to do? It’s simple: I lack self-control and I’m selfish.
Recently, I’ve been freshly convicted by my lack of care for my health. I’ll say things to myself like, “Don’t you want to be around for you children” or “You will feel better in the long run, dumby” and then I eat that bowl of ice cream and hope for the best. I try to convince myself that it will be okay…if I eat slowly. Yes, I think if I eat it slowly I’ll be okay, my way of trying to reason with myself so I can eat what isn’t good for my body.
I think it’s also difficult for me to control what I eat and exercise self-control because I don’t struggle with my weight and don’t have other medically diagnosed health concerns that seem tangible. But I’m fooling myself and hurting myself. The reason my condition can be dangerous is because in the long run, it’s harming my esophagus, the lining of my stomach and a variety of other secondary issues.
My Future Self Will Thank Me
Last year, I had the opportunity to read and endorse Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck. It is an accessible and helpful book about self-control. I remember when I read it quickly that I’d need to come back to it again. Here’s part of what I wrote in my blurb:
Self-control is something we all need but not something we like to admit we need…Your future self will thank you for reading and heeding this book!
I’ve decided now is the time to pick it back up and read it again. I want to ask my heart the hard questions and ask God to do the good work He loves to do in His children: make me more like His Son. I am confident that God is going to help me, not because I’m confident in myself, but there’s been a change. I guess this is what repentance looks like. I have asked the Lord to forgive me for my lack of self-control and am turning, changing by His glory and running towards Him for help in this area. My future self will thank God.
It Takes a Tribe
Besides self-control in what I eat, exercise also helps. I used to be a group fitness instructor and so exercise came rather naturally: it was my job! But now that I have devoted my work and attention to writing and speaking, fitting in exercise takes a lot of effort. I’ve tried pulling in friends, signing up for road races, and doing a number of other things to build accountability. Although these were good ideas, none of them motivated me because I knew I didn’t have to do it. I had an out and the busyness of writing and travel usually made it easy and excusable to give up.
But, recently I decided to take on a challenge that would cost me if I failed. I won’t share all the details but I am doing a 42 day challenge hosted by a company called Iron Tribe where I’ll have to go to their facility three times a week for a workout, restrict my diet to the things I’m supposed to be eating, and if I fail pay a significant amount of money. Yes, it’s that intense and drastic…and I’m excited! The Iron Tribe coaches will text me to make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to so the accountability is pretty intense, which is also what I need.
Another reason why I’m sharing this with you is because I will need to document my attendance. Yes, I have to post something on social media so that the coaches can track me. Big brother will come after me, y’all! I’m kidding but that level of accountability will prove to be helpful. So, if you are on Instagram or Facebook, you will be able to follow along via my stories and I’ll likely post here once in a while too.
So, here’s to self-control! If you struggle in this area too, I encourage you to grab Drew’s book, your future self really will thank you.
There isn’t much I find more delight in than caring for my children. They are a joy to be with. I could listen to my daughter’s belly laugh and my sons deep, yet still child-like, voice chatter all day long. I have had four miscarriages and I do wonder if that loss has helped me to see just what a gift from God my children are to me. But even still, when I think about this wonderful responsibility and the joy of being a mother it’s not what defines me. I don’t define myself as a mom first and I don’t believe it would be good or helpful to my children if I sought to find my identity in them either.
A New Creation, a New Identity
I am a new creation. The old is gone and with this comes a new identity (Col. 3:10). My old self has died and my new life with Christ means a new identify with him too (2 Cor 5:17). With this new birth comes a new identity. I no longer live for myself. Paul wrote about this new creation in Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2: 19b-20). Being identified with Christ means full and free acceptance by God, the ability to approach a Holy God, no condemnation, complete forgiveness, righteousness before God, and presentation to God one day as blameless and perfect. Now that’s amazing grace! This is an identity that can never be taken away from me. Ever. No one can take it away from you either.
The moment you or I begin to place our identity, our hope, in anything other than Jesus we will be joyless, left striving and empty. If our identity is in our children and they fail, for example, we may be embarrassed and afraid of the opinions of others. If our identity is in our children then any move these image bearers make begins to be a reflection of us—either we feel good about ourselves or we are discouraged. When our identity is in our children our measure becomes their performance. This not only damages our own spiritual health and joy, it damages theirs too. The pressure will be felt and our children will bear a burden they never were meant to bear—they will become figurative gods.
One of the most caring and loving things I can do as a mom for my children is to acknowledge and live as this new creation with my new identity. I love them most, I believe, when I am resting in my identity with Christ and not trying to seek my identity in motherhood. I want to be an example to my children, not of a perfect person, I’m not—I make mistakes and my children see them—but as a desperate person. I want to be calling out to God, spending time in His Word and learning all I can about Jesus. I want my kids to see that I confess my sin, repent and receive God’s grace. I trust that as I live out my identity and pour myself into Christ, my kids will reap the benefits and so will I. I may never learn to sew extremely well, I may not have the cleanest home, and I probably won’t be organized enough to pull off the soccer mom role, but by the grace of God they’ll know me as a mom who loved Jesus first and who found my identity in him.
This is part of my first draft series. You can read about the series here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/2019/01/17/first-draft-blogging-series/
Also, if you haven’t heard, we are doing an online Bible study! Learn more here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/2019/03/01/announcing-god-us-online-study/
Sometimes people ask why we need to have a month dedicated to African-American culture and history. The obscurity of Robert Smalls’ story (see link below) helps provide the answer: our history is often neglected, rarely discussed, and seldom celebrated.
And when black history is spoken of, it’s most often focused on the broken: slavery, the Jim Crow era, and discrimination.
For you and I to grow in understanding our current cultural moment, we must be willing to do some research. For example, when those pictures of the Virginia governor wearing blackface surfaced this month, it wasn’t a mere political controversy. There is a historical reason for the outrage and disappointment.
I won’t give you that history lesson now. But understanding it puts Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s photo alongside someone dressed in Ku Klux Klan attire into perspective. The outcry isn’t some overreaction. Rather it’s the sorrow of seeing a young man ignorantly using a symbol of hate and discrimination for entertainment.
At the same time, let’s be cautious not to narrowly focus our attention on the sorrowful aspects of American culture and history and call it Black History Month.
I share more, including the story of Robert Smalls, in today’s World Radio segment: https://worldandeverything.org/2019/02/trillia-newbell-why-do-we-celebrate-black-history-month/.
Each day, each hour is a worthy fight to remember our greatest love in the world. One way for you and me to fight our temptation to wander toward lesser things is to remember the love and pursuit of God.
Read more of my thoughts on this at Desiring God: https://bit.ly/2HZRIrj
Also, stay tuned for an exciting announcement at the end of February!