Thursday, July 23, 2020

Qualified For, But Doing What's Right




To weary souls along life's road,
Help me, O Lord, to share their load;
To fallen souls enslaved in sin,
Help me, O Lord, their souls to win. —Jarvis



          One of the buzz phrases of our culture right now is 'entitled to'.  What is entitlement?  "The concept of something being owed to or deserved of by someone,"  What are we entitled to and what are our motives regarding that?  "Thomas Jefferson, who in 1776 wrote the first draft of the US Declaration of Independence, took it for granted that all of us possess certain God-given, “unalienable rights.” Yet, even in a democracy, there is fierce discussion about who is entitled to what rights.  Christians can look at rights from another perspective. Instead of being concerned about ourselves, we can think about what others need." [odb.org]  I don't want to get into a debate about what rights we have or do not have, but I want to share my thoughts, motives and entitlements that I did and did not use as an American disabled woman.
        As I begin my story, I will be using the word 'qualified for' instead of 'entitled to', because of the positive and negative connotations with each respectfully.
         When I was 12, I was correctly diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN with the neuromuscular disease, CMT....Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. "Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is the most commonly inherited neuropathy and affects 2.8 million people worldwide and 1 in 2500 in the United States.  The disease is named after the 3 physicians who first identified it in 1886, Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Marie in Paris, France, and Howard Henry Tooth in Cambridge, England. CMT disease is a motor-sensory neuropathy with multiple genotypes."   At the age of 18, I qualified automatically for SSI disability income, because neuromuscular diseases fall under the government guidelines as disabled without question.  That is because it is harder to find and get a job with my handicapped limitations, so its a small amount of money for necessities.  I also qualified for college assisted funding, along with my academic scholarship I earned and received.  My motives and intentions were never to live off of government assistance but to better myself with education and get a job.  When I got married, I lost my SSI income and that was totally acceptable because we never had a desire to live off the government in any way.  
           After college, I seeked a job like anyone else would.  I didn't look or ask for special favor or non-discriminatory benefits.  I applied and interviewed for jobs that were no way suitable for me, like a health inspector job in a 30 degree chicken factory, just for the interview experience.  When I did get my job, I started out as part-time and after 6 months went to full-time with benefits.  Many people don't get that you have to work your way up, not start at the top.
           When I moved back home at a few days from 30, I could certainly relate to Paul's feelings on his imprisonment, I called my new residence 'the dungeon'.  Philippians 1:12  "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel."   My college experience and job as a Lab Tech2, I believe were God given times for me.  I didn't change the world or move mountains, but God blessed me with a brain and enough ability to provide and contribute.  I also believe that God gifted me with a new talent to blog the past 11 years that has had more of an impact on other's lives, than my paid job ever did.  I get feedback from my readers occasionally that let's me know that they've benefited spiritually or in some other way and that makes my heart happy.
         Philippians 1:19-26  "Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,  so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me."
           I write this blog to encourage people to focus on what God has given you to use in this world.  No one has all the pieces to play this game of life, but we are to make the most of our blessings and be purposeful and intentional with them.  It irks me to see people with so much strength and energy to be living like sloths, looking for a free ride and only thinking of themselves.  I don't want to point my finger but instead be an example of difference in the way I live and think.  " First Thessalonians 2:4 says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts”. God is interested in our motives even more than our actions."

Takeaways from what I've learned along the way:

1] You are enough and are purposefully blessed.

2] Don't let weaknesses rule or control your life.

3] Use what you qualify for to make you better for this world, others, and yourself.

4] Loss isn't without purpose in God's perspective and eventually in mine too.

5] Redirect yourself in a new way so that you can continue to be a blessing to others, when God changes your path.

6] Do not ever give up on yourself because God isn't finished using you in his plan.

7] Tomorrow is a new day with new mercies and another chance to bless someone, including yourself.

8] Isolation is the devil's playground, where he feeds your wrong thoughts.

9] The Bible is your best source of encouragement..read and meditate on it.


16 comments:

  1. What a blessing you are. People really believe in "entitlement" and that is terrible. Your words ring true on so many levels. Thank you my friend!

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  2. Oh man... I feel this in my core right now... 3 weeks of solitary quarantine, and now maybe 5 I understand “the dungeon” thing.. and how hard it is to find purpose. I never thought to look at it from Paul’s perspective. I knew his letters were written from jail, but never really experienced anything remotely similar until now. And my “prison” is WAY more luxurious than anything Paul would or could have dreamed of. Thanks for the perspective recalibration.

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  3. EG Kelley
    Thank you so much Angie. You're blogs are always there when I need them the most. You must read my thoughts. Thank you again for touching my ❤️ .

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  4. Hi Angie! You don't know me, but my husband and I are friends of your pastor. We've been following FBC since C.B.'s death; we live in Florida and we appreciated the opportunity to watch C.B.'s service by way of Facebook live. I just wanted you to know that I your blog truly resonates with me. While I didn't know the specifics of your wisdom until your recent blog, I could tell that you've not lived a superficial life. Thank you so much for sharing!! You are so right - none of us have been given all of the pieces none of us have been given all of the pieces to play with, but it's the way we allow God to fill in the gaps that brings about eternal results. You are certainly being used for eternity and I greatly admire your willingness! If you would like, please feel free to "friend" me and know that I will join those in your circle who pray for you as we all try to develop a stronger spirit (that which is not seen) as opposed to the physical body (which is wasting away by God's design). You have blessed me by your words, and again I say thanks!!!������ Janet Frierson

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  5. Vera B.
    This is so good. Our youth need to read this to see what is really important. Being used by God is all that matters

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  6. Wow! Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better than the last one; this is so good. I am so thankful that God is the same always—loving, forgiving, caring, wanting the best for us. Faith in Him means trusting Him in the good and bad times. In fact in the bad times is when we need him most and he promises to be our helper and walk with us --IF WE LET HIM. I have no patience with people wanting to treat God like a vending machine—come to Him when you need something and forget Him, His will and His purpose the rest of the time. I don’t like people thinking they are entitled just because . . ., laziness, or selfishness. We are blessed no matter how you look at it. I am so thankful for your God given ability to clearly expound on God’s will and give personal examples; I am also very thankful for your attitude of being thankful and looking to God to be your constant help. If we have faith in Him he promises to walk beside us (and sometimes carry us) through the good and the bad, love us, forgive us and give us the promise of life in Heaven one day with Him. NO ONE ELSE CAN OR WILL DO THAT!

    Love,

    Mom

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  7. Thank you Angie,

    It's such an encouragement to see how you reacted and still do when faced with all sorts of difficulties.
    God bless you and have a wonderful weekend.

    Ferdine

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  8. This is so good Angie!! Love you!!!

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  9. Debra Atkins Stutts
    So much wisdom in this. One time you and I were discussing work and you said something about how many years you “got” to work. That immediately convicted me about my attitude toward working. So many times the witness you give through how you live your life either inspires, encourages or even convicts me. I’m grateful to have you in my life and to witness how the Lord uses your story for His glory.

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  10. EG Kelley
    Angie you have no idea how powerful your words are to so many of us. And I thank God for you. Whenever I need that extra push...there you are with your beautiful blog. You are a beautiful blessing and I praise God for you.������ Thank you.

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  11. Kelly Maltbia
    Well said Angie Riffle Bridger! Such encouraging words and reminders!

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  12. Lou Glenn
    This girl is amazing! I love her dearly!...please read.

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  13. Kim Passmore Guyor
    That is so insightful Angie! So many people don’t even get half of what you expressed. And thank you for your honesty. You’re amazing ��

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  14. Vicki McPherson
    Fantastic! Enjoyed reading this; you are a gifted writer Angela.

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  15. Nancy H.
    Angie, i found a quote from Bob Bland , founder of TEEN MISSIONS i had put down during one of his morning classes with the campers.
    "Life is not just to be endured, it is a a gift from God to be
    enjoyed." good blog.

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  16. Debra D.
    Thank you for all your encouraging words through the years. Always a blessing to me. This topic really hit home as one of the girls in our recovery program left because she didn’t want to work “for free”. She didn’t consider her room and board and encouraging support group she was leaving behind. It always breaks my heart when we mentor a girl and think she’s getting it, then she turns right back to old ways. But I’m reminded Jesus told the disciples to dust off their feet and leave a city that didn’t want the gospel. It’s hard, though because in just a few weeks I grow to love these girls and I want the best for them. Some just want a temporary free ride, I’m afraid. Love you. Keep on keeping on!

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