I was at the funeral of my friend’s wife when my phone began to light up. My son-in-law was texting me, asking if I was busy. I replied, “I’m at a funeral.” Thinking he would get the hint, he continued by saying, “Do you have time to meet.” I said, I can meet for lunch or supper, which is best?” I was simultaneously attending a men’s retreat, which I already missed most of it. He said, “lunch.” Now I am at a funeral, a men’s retreat and a counseling session.
When I looked up from the texting, I was hoping the minister didn’t see me (I was in the second row). A scripture flashed on the screen that I wasn’t expecting to see. I have attended quite a few funerals in my life. While various hymns are used, the scripture is predictable. Many use I Corinthians 15. Most use Psalm 23. It begins with, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” This was neither one of them. In fact, I wasn’t familiar with it. I decided I would look attentive at the minster and read the scripture verse later.
This is what it said:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
What struck me were these words, (my paraphrase) – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me. I began to wonder if I fully tapped into it? Was I living with limited power, trying to change my life in my own power and strength? I decided to take God on His Word and asked Him to change a part of me that I was powerless on my own to change. I asked Him to make me an assertive person.
I’ve always been a passive person. When I did student teaching, I was told I was “too nice.” I researched my family and realized that every aunt and uncle on both sides of my family including my parents were passive. I had two uncles who were aggressive. I had no example of healthy assertive behavior to emulate when I was growing up.
I also met with my Employer Assistance Program counselor. I told her I wanted help with assertive communication. What does it look like, sound like, etc. What about facial expressions and body language? How do I stand and sit? I believe God uses anything and everything to accomplish His plan to change me.
In my “day job,” I work with drug addicts and alcoholics, asking them to change a lifetime of unhealthy learned behavior. I was asking God to do the same in me. I asked God to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
I’m not going to tell you I am 100 percent assertive. I do know I’m not where I used to be. I’m also not where I want to be. It’s a process. We don’t like the word “process” in Christian circles. We want to flip a light switch and everything is changed. I see God doing his best work through this concept of process.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.
Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Find more information at www.charlotterescuemission.org.