Sunday, November 29, 2009
I guess the only times I don’t feel the burden of waiting for whatever is “next” is when I have something or someone else to concentrate my energies on. Focusing on me too much can make the days go by unbearably slow. Yet if I’m constantly doing other things how do I ever rest? I don’t know which I prefer at work – a busy or a slow day. On a busy day time passes more quickly, but if it’s too busy and I can’t take a break I start making a lot of mistakes. I get worn out and start bringing out wrong sizes, forget names, or even forget basic product details. It’s like I somehow have zapped my energy and draw a blank. The perfect day has a steady flow, but I still have enough time to eat lunch and sit for a few minutes. Rejuvenate.
Another observation – I don’t mind this “in the meantime” feeling so much when I’m in love. Then even if nothing is going on, my mind and heart are filled with happiness thinking about that person. It’s almost harder to do things that might engage my mind towards something else. The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked in the handbag department at Dillard’s. A new mall had just opened across the city so this one was DEAD. Fill time? Most days I talked to anyone who would listen about my new boyfriend or set up displays while thinking about him. It was new and exciting, and I pretty much lived in my own little world.
I had this weird thought – it occurred to me that maybe I’m supposed to feel that way about God. I know life on this side of eternity will never fully satisfy, but waiting or feeling like “what’s next” could be easier. I used to be more excited about praying and reading the Bible and just learning about God. I don’t know what happened really…did I just fall out of love? I didn’t always have warm fuzzies about my college boyfriend either. He lived in another city and somehow that distance made the excitement last longer than it probably would have otherwise. It was different once we really got to know each other. I wonder if I always do this. Have I kept God at such a distance that the idea of Him is more appealing than the reality? I’ve come to realize that continuing to love God when I’m upset or frustrated by circumstances is unbelievably hard sometimes, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m not sure if I trust Him enough to keep it up after the newness disappears.
How does feeling in a constant transition, but never “there” feel livable? How do I truly enjoy life and not just surround myself with busyness and activity “in the meantime?” Being in love with God for some reason sounds I don’t know a little fake I guess. But maybe it’s not so much the being in love part but my expectation of what that even means. It’s not that I expect constant rainbows and butterflies…I don’t think…but still it seems like a healthy love should be more associated with warm, happy things…right?? Or at least the good times should far out weigh the hard. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and to love God sacrificed his Son (John 3:16) then how come my definition of love never quite fits this picture of pain?
1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
I think the purpose of waiting or life really is more like learning. Learning patience sure, but also learning what love means. Learning grace and forgiveness. Learning to accept and not judge. Learning how to love first and not expect anything in return. Learn to accept being loved and not having to earn it. Learning to love others not because they are kind or “loveable” but because you are loved freely too.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Guilt a cruel thief
While imperfections remain
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
“Happiness doesn’t lie in a certain set of circumstances, but in a certain set of attitudes.”
Sounds true enough. I know that I can easily depress myself when I dwell on the negative. Which it seems I have a special ability to do lately.
At the school I used to work at, one of the principals would recite on the announcements every morning, “You can make it a good day or a bad day. It’s your choice. So stop being a whiny brat!” Ok so she didn’t say that last part, but the implications are clear - Attitude is everything! A phrase, by the way, written on several posters throughout the school.
Is it really that black and white though? What about the kid who suffers from some sort of abuse? Am I supposed to give him a monologue on the power of positive thinking?! Seriously?? That sounds a little insensitive.
How does one “make it a good day” when you feel like no one really cares? Maybe the abuse example is an extreme, or at least I hope, but a bad day, week or month certainly isn’t. Possibly some of our ability to be happy really is attitude. In dark moments it’s easy to forget the good, but sometimes crappy things happen and “looking on the bright side anyways” feels fake and silly. My smile becomes a mask rather than an expression of a true feeling. Are feelings such as sadness and disappointment so wrong that we must always power through them? Where does the balance lie? Can I be at peace with my life even if I don’t feel happy?
One morning, in an attempt to find out if I planned on going to church that day, my roommate found me sitting on my bedroom floor sobbing. The stress over whether to quit my job finally became too much to hold in any longer. I really don’t remember much of her comments to me, but what I do remember is her sitting on the floor across from me. When I looked up, tears had started to stream across her face too. She couldn’t change my uncertainty or my fear concerning the future, but in that moment I didn’t feel so alone. Somehow hope grew on the floor of my bedroom that Sunday morning. Hope that even though I have all these unanswered questions about my life I would be okay because someone felt my pain and cared. Obviously we didn’t just sit there all day crying, but the compassion of a sweet friend enabled a much better day.
I had this student last year who, I’ll try not to be too dramatic on this point, was the worst behaved kid I have ever had and possibly have ever even met! He constantly fought the other students, was exhaustingly emotional and even threw temper tantrums in the middle of class. I’m pretty sure he aged me at least five years! The chip on his shoulder grew each day as he seemed to think the world was against him. It soon became my goal each morning to find something positive to say to him. I’ll never forget this one day when I praised part of his writing, his worst subject by far. Though this wasn’t the first or last time I said something encouraging to him, for some reason this time it meant more than the others. He wore a proud smile and displayed an unusual and refreshing kindness towards those around him the rest of the day. A few simple words changed his afternoon.
I wonder how much our happiness or contentment with life actually lies within our control. Is attitude everything? Unfair or at least unwanted events happen and at times trying to make myself feel good despite it feels impossibly hard. What happens if I’m too exhausted to keep a grip on hope?
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
What does God loving me even look like in practical application? The blessing and compassion of a caring friend? The encouragement and love of those around me? The hope that I can live each day to its fullest if He will give me strength? Happiness may not lie in a certain set of circumstances, but how can my attitude improve if I don't know I am loved?
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protect me.
Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
and rest is now a distant memory.
I want to understand your love for me.
How this silence can be a good thing.
I'm begging you to come near
and be all I need.
Because I can no longer wait patiently.
I've lost my hope
wandering this path alone.
You call yourself Love
but I am left feeling empty.
I'll stop searching
so please don't leave me this way.
I want to know completely
you are all I will ever need.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Pancakes. In case you actually had to go to work this morning and are unaware of the best part of not being you right now, the answer is pancakes. One perk of being jobless - time to make breakfast and sit in my pjs while I have my "quiet time." Eventually I write a to-do list for the day consisting of mainly job related items such as sending out resumes and the like...unless of course I'm being lazy and blogging all morning!
(side note - A bitterness is beginning to fester in my heart towards my at many times empty email inbox.)
Of course the benefit of creating my own schedule doesn't make up for the fact of so much uncertainty concerning my future. The terrible irony here, almost laughable really, is that I asked for this. About two or three months ago I told God I wanted to know what it means to really trust and depend on him everyday. I wanted to know what taking my safety net away would feel like and prayed for faith that stands strong despite circumstances.
If I had a question before as to whether God answers prayers, my doubts have been refuted. You might say I forced my own circumstances, since I resigned, so this doesn't technically count as an answered prayer. I do have a choice though...in where I place my hope. Will I still trust God if I don't have a job by August? Scary thought. I've decided it's fruitless to entertain those thoughts since I can't control the unknown. But am I blissfully ignoring future reality until it becomes present reality or do I really trust that God has a plan for me?
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
According to McKnights conversion theory in Finding Faith, Losing Faith, people tend to walk away from their faith because they can't make "intellectual coherence of life with the scriptures and don't have a place to go to ask questions."
Well my questions are these: When are risky choices acts of faith and when are we confusing our own ignorance for "childlike faith"? How do I know that I haven't arrogantly jumped without a parachute expecting that God will save me? Where do intellect and faith meet? Is intellect the same as wisdom? How do I know that I'm not basing my beliefs and choices on emotional highs rather than truth? When am I acting on faith and when am I just being plain naïve?
Proverbs 4:7 says: Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Then, Proverbs 3:5 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Okay...so how does one "get understanding" yet "lean not your own understanding?"
I'm supposed to acquire understanding but not put my trust in that understanding? And why exactly?? What's the point? If I shouldn't put my faith in my knowledge, why have it? I find it hard to believe though that God would desire simple minded followers. I mean does anyone want a following of idiots who don't know any better? And who would follow a god that did ask for such "blind" believers?
1 Corinthians 2:12-16
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
If the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, then I would assume trusting in the Lord means trusting in His guidance and not my own thoughts. I have to admit that sounds a little risky. How do I differentiate between the two? Is it possible to make a stupid decision but sincerely believe that God led you there? Which voice in my head is mine and which is from God or worse from neither?! Experience tells me to seek guidance in the Bible and from others I trust or respect. Third party perspective! (thank you Shallow Hal)
Most of my friends think, or at least say they think, I made a good choice and have been fairly supportive about my decision to resign especially in light of my unhappiness the past couple of years. My parents on the othe hand have situated themselves on the "you're kind of an idiot" side of the issue. Some of this may be due to the fact that my parents have been through the ugliness of a recession before while most of my friends have never had to worry too much about such hardships. Biblical answers? I keep finding all these verses about trusting God...and give my worries to him. Which is crucial I think, but it would seem that God isn't going to clearly write in the sky the right decision to each choice. Darn it!
So how do I discern between Godly wisdom and my emotional reactions or desires?
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Is it selfish to want something more?
Can I at least take a peak at what lies behind the curtain?
I want to know what's behind the other door.
If I knew, would I be happier?
Or does contentment hide elsewhere?
Did I make a mistake that 1st step long ago?
I can't decide anymore.
Now the worn tracks make retracing hard to imagine.
But how can I love this life I've been given,
when I'm always wondering what's behind the other door?