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?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Sadly this is not the most defining proof of my laziness. No, the most unfortunate example became apparent the other day at school when I opened my back cabinet in search of old magazines. In this hodge podge of supplies for my students I found the containers we used to hold our class earthworms last semester. With dirt still in them… With the dead worms still in them. EWWW! Throwing them away sounds like the obvious and easy choice right? Well, maybe so but I have to inventory the containers holding the worms back to the science department. Which means cleaning. Cleaning hard, dried old worms. And well you see you the dilemma. Anyhow, clearly I have made the case that my laziness has reached a pathetic state. And in case you are wondering, yes, the earthworms are still in the cabinet.
I have another laziness that goes beyond my lack of cleaning skills. Laziness in doing what I know I am supposed to do. Maybe apathy even. I find that God asks me to do a lot of things and though I constantly remind him of my inabilities, it would seem that He can be rather persistent about some things. It’s not that I don’t want to obey or follow God’s desires for my life. Sometimes though in realizing the impossibility of God’s expectations, I stop trying.
How am I supposed to be kind to the co-worker I overheard gossiping about me? How am I really, I mean really, going to make enough money next fall to keep the standard of living I am used to? How can I stay disciplined to get up every morning to “spend time with God”? Lately, I find myself constantly praying for the desire to do what I know God wants of me rather than actually doing whatever it is. And it occurred to me, with my co-worker, I might be waiting a long while before I passionately desire to love my enemies. (Matthew 5:44) I may not be completely certain where God is leading my career path so does this mean I wait to research and try new things? I do not mean to suggest a black and white world where every decision appears abudantly clear, but I wonder if waiting sometimes becomes another form of not trusting God.
So if this prayer and my inaction is evidence of not trusting God then I guess the solution would be to trust God. Why is that never as simple as it sounds? I think if I could ever get that trust thing right somehow the rest of life would perfectly fall into place! A male friend of mine once said to me that instead of praying about whether to do something that obviously glorifies God maybe I should just do it and ask God to stop or redirect me if He has other plans. That has really stuck with me. Maybe guys in general think about actions while girls think about emotions, but I really appreciated this thought. Sometimes I confuse what is essentially worry and distrust for meditating the ramifications and meanings behind my future actions. So rather than wait around for a desire, my new prayer is for strength as I take actions towards trusting God. Maybe I can start by throwing away the dead worms?! Ha! No. Baby steps.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I’d like to think I’ve matured since then considering I’m quickly approaching the big 3-0 but the other day when I saw obedience as the title of my daily devotional I cringed a little. "Oh yay! A lesson on sin!" However I was taken back a little by the opening statement: “The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for thus being dominated.” (Oswald Chambers) Then I looked up the reference chapter, Romans, and found this verse:
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness
Interesting. One can obey sin? Isn’t that some sort of oxymoron? Like the two words don’t belong in the same sentence. If you are sinning aren’t you going against a rule and not for one? I thought obedience was the submission. Maybe we are always, whether we want to or not, obeying something?
Obeying God usually makes me think of a list of don’ts. Don’t lie. Don’t get drunk. Don’t have sex. Don’t have fun. Oops…ignore the last one. All of these rules equating to restricting my freedom and opportunity to enjoy life. I’ve started to have a new perspective on obedience though. Sometimes obedience means doing something. Do love someone who may not be loving in return. Do give your money to someone in need even though you have little to spare. Do quit your job. God has told me to do all of these things at one time or another, the last being the most recent. And somehow that’s exciting. Exciting because I know I can’t do it and now I will have to fully rely on God. I'm finding out that obedience and submission to Christ is not willfully entering a dull life, like I once thought, but living one of wonder and excitement.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I wonder this about my life too. Do I live with a clear purpose in mind? Do my actions draw towards anything so that all the striving means something? I’ve felt very liberated and happy since I decided to quit teaching, but where do I go from here? Several career possibilities fill my mind as I decide what path will bring me joy and satisfaction. I know my passions and desires more so than when I entered college so that is a start. But do I end there? Should what brings me fulfillment be the main dictator of my life goals? And for that matter do I even have life goals?
As I reflected on these questions this morning, I came across this passage in 1 Peter.
1 Peter 4:7-11
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Two thoughts lingered in my mind as I read through this. The first, I should have the goal in mind to love and serve others. And the other thought, I must rely on God's strength in whatever I do so to live my life as worship to Him. Both important. Yet neither gives a nice and tidy conclusion to my life. The underlying question still remains: How do I do this? What specifically does this look like in my life? And in the midst of my wonderings, it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter. I don’t need to know exactly how my life will play out in 2 months, a year, or 5 years from now. Even though I'm admittedly curious as to the adventures God has in store for me, I can’t ignore today. So rather than trying to figure out the end or where this current path is leading, asking God how to love others in this moment can be my definable purpose. I think if I start placing all my energy towards that goal, I probably won't have any left to worry about the future anyways.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I wish my desire to go take a risk continued to hold the same pull as it did back then. Sometimes it seems that I am content to linger and play in the shallow end, never bothering to care what else might await me. I don’t want to do the work necessary to figure out what is on the other side. This is all well and good I suppose until it occurs to me that I am bored and that life has grown almost too comfortable and routine. I begin to hold on and safely scoot over to what appears to be more exciting and full of possibilities only to decide it’s not worth the risk and the fear of drowning takes over as I quickly go back to what I know. But lately I’ve been wondering what is the big deal already? What is really at stake? Will life really end if I fail? I never thought of the potential of drowning as a kid. I guess I realized that people do; I just never put too much thought into that risk. I certainly preferred the challenge anyways. I want that childlike carefree spirit again! The one that realizes I could end up worse than when I began but takes the risk anyways.
So rather than continuing to hold onto the sides and make baby steps into deeper water, I’ve decided to cannon ball in. I recently resigned from a job that I no longer enjoy, but has been a source of security and comfort the last few years. Though I will finish out the school year, I’m exploring a new career path. Maybe that sounds foolish to leave a guaranteed source of income, especially with the economy not looking so wonderful. And who knows I may completely fail at it, but I’ll never learn to swim if I never even try. I strongly feel God is leading me here yet I have absolutely no idea what the future holds to be honest. And somehow the uncertainty makes it that much more exciting!
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I usually don't post other people's blogs, but I read this on the Village Church's website today and thought it was worth reflection. Jesus claimed "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6) and his death and resurrection for our sins demands some sort of response or at least thought. Even if that response is to believe He lied and others lied in saying He raised from the dead.
Thoughts worth examination I think. Sometimes I become so consumed with day to day life that I don't take the time to process what I truly believe on an issue, whether Christian or not.
My mom gave me this book, Jesus Freaks, that contains hundreds of different stories, some recent and some in different centuries over time, of men, women, and even children who were tortured and/or killed for their refusal to deny Jesus. I don't know how strongly one must cling to a certain belief to be willing to suffer in such a dramatic way, but I have to believe the Jesus they died for must have had a great impact on their lives. I mean how incredible is that to die for someone you have never even met and some think you are crazy to even believe in? Possibly a few would, but to have people continually willing to suffer each century for the same reason? I think that is amazing!
This causes me to believe that the Jesus they know must really change lives in such a mighty way that not only dying but being physically tortured for Him can be endured with peace and hope for a life yet to come. I will probably (hopefully) never have to suffer like that for my beliefs, but I hope and pray to live a life that reflects the greater peace found in Jesus the way their lives did.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
screams of the hurt inside.
And hope for tomorrow,
drifts from her mind.
The meaning unclear,
as joy and laughter no longer fill the air.
She grows impatient,
waiting to discover where to go from here.
Because waiting for something uncertain,
sounds needlessly foolish in her mind.
She searches for purpose in hidden places.
Her pain makes her selfish
as she holds it all inside.
She hurts those around her
when striving for purpose.
When will she stop
trying to make herself feel joy?
And rest in the One
who gives it so generously.
In desperation she stops
trying to find her way.
And turns to Him
who promises the directions to Life.
He refused to record
all the times she wandered aimlessly.
And graciously shows her the path to freedom.
She still doesn’t know
where she is going.
But chooses to trust
the Light she now follows.
How is this way better?
Doubts whisper in the darkness.
But a peace fills her heart,
when she places hope in His glorious destination.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all you heart.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tossing meals aside barely touched.
With countless hours spent perfecting herself,
She would do anything to be wanted.
Fake laughs, shallow conversation,
Accepted too many meaningless invitations.
“Why are you here?” she wondered all along.
But she did anything to feel wanted.
Hands begged to be held,
as tears flooded her pillow.
She asked to know what love is.
Hearing her faint cries in the night,
A Savior answered her pleas.
And He offered to show her Love.
Filled with joy,
She tried to please Him.
Grateful that she became wanted.
But mistakes were made
As she chased old desires.
She feared she would never be enough.
She didn’t understand,
After all the pain she caused,
Why He wouldn’t simply leave.
She knew her disappointments,
Would ruin the relationship.
So she tried to run and escape Him.
Through hills and valleys,
and places in between.
She would go anywhere to find freedom.
But she couldn’t escape
The guilt she felt inside.
Exhausted from running,
she finally came back home.
With arms open wide,
He waited at the door.
Joyful to see her once again.
“Welcome back!” He exclaimed.
“I love you so much!”
And in that moment she knew,
she would always be wanted.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
In all seriousness though I do think that we can be “blinded by love” and the damage must be at least a little severe for us or the other person to “open their eyes” so to speak. At least that has been my experience. Suddenly the truth about who you are or can be is made evident and a self-preserving desire for the other person to turn the other way may present itself. Choosing to love someone eventually means choosing to work through the pain.
I’m reading the book of Job right now for my bible study. Job was someone who loved God greatly, and he also led a fairly blessed life. Then, God allowed Satan to destroy a lot of what made his life good. When Job’s life took many turns for the worse he cried out to God in pain and desperation. He didn’t even want to live anymore. (Job 7) I can certainly relate to this pity party as I’ve thrown one for myself on multiple occasions. Not that I have ever had to go through anything even half as terrible as Job did. However, I’ve learned the need to accept that pain just is. I do not mean to suggest that I always accept this truth gracefully; my point is I can recognize the reality of pain. Living in a broken world means having to experience suffering at some point in our lives. Does suffering mean that God has abandoned us? Did God abandon Job? Is God unkind? How does suffering glorify God anyways? What good does hurting bring? These are questions I’ve definitely wrestled with. Maybe sometimes the only benefit is to show others and myself that my strength is in Christ not in happy circumstances. Maybe that alone brings God glory. And as a sweet friend recently reminded me, pain is temporary.
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
I wonder if it hurts God that I don’t always choose to work through the pain. Certainly God has never needed my love per say, yet I wonder how many times I have hurt Him by running the other way. I guess I just like things easy. I hate to admit that my love can be so conditional. I know it’s selfish, and I’m so thankful that God’s faithfulness never relies on mine.
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
I must confess the more I learn about God the more I am convinced of His craziness. I don’t mean this disrespectfully; I mean His love makes no sense to me. Why does God continue to love us and offer us grace? I would have undoubtedly run the other way by now. God always loves though, even when I stray. He always chooses to work through the pain. I think my dad was right to say that when someone loves you they want to stick around. I just find it amazing that God, who is perfect and sovereign, would be the one who always chooses to stay.
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Is it a sign of growth to recognize I can’t live in solitude, or does this mean I am sad and co-dependent? I used to think I was on this team with God and every problem life threw me could be solved with more prayer or bible reading. And if for some crazy reason life seemed to be falling apart anyways obviously I wasn’t really praying hard enough or with a pure enough heart. I just needed to be a little more spiritual. Exhaustion, depression, and loneliness pretty much summed up that period of my life.
I know that God is ultimately where my hope should lie, but does this mean that needing others is bad? There seems to be a lack of humility somewhere when I believe that God has given me all the strength and love life requires. I think there has to be a balance. A middle ground that allows me to accept the love and care of others while still valuing myself and who God made me to be. I can’t believe that desiring love and acceptance from other people makes me a weaker person. At least I hope not.
Is there a line though? When is it healthy to need others and when is it not? Is it okay as long as my self-worth isn’t at stake? I know that by God’s grace I am His child and loved unconditionally. I also believe that no one will love me as fully as Christ. Yet I have to believe relationships with other people also have purpose and one far greater than simply alleviating boredom in this life. I think God puts the people that are in my life for a special reason. Though I don’t make any claims of having it right, I do deeply desire to love and be loved. And yes, I think that is good.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Although if you look around not every plant is dead just because it’s winter. Some have survived showing that the change in seasons has not affected them as severely. I wonder why? Why do some plants die and some don’t? Maybe it hasn’t really been that much of a winter? Maybe they have learned to adapt? Whatever the case may be I think the world is trying to tell me something. Tell me to get over myself a little. My mom told me quite often growing up that I am a drama queen. Maybe this is a right of passage for girls and all, either way she knows me too well. When something doesn’t go the way I expect or desire, I can be very quick to take offense at how life has wronged me. Don’t I deserve a happy and easy life? I think so darn it! Plants may not have much of a choice in okay, "Is this winter going to kill me or not?", but I know I do. I can determine how greatly my circumstances will affect my peace. I think the challenge for me remains having strength in the midst of life’s uncertainties. Maybe my at times dramatic response to life simply mirrors a harsh realization that I am in fact without the necessary strength to survive it. Bleh! I want to clearly see the bigger picture and not get so bogged down by the details. So hard though. How can I have the outsider’s perspective when I’m on the inside? I think that is what God tries to constantly remind me. That only He has a completely outsider perspective.
So is he just watching me from above then and shaking his head at my foolishness? Does he care?
Hebrews 4: 15-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
A great comfort it is to know that God compassionately bestows His grace and mercy in our time of need. Surely we will never deserve it. Selfishly I’m not sure this is enough for me. Maybe this is the drama queen speaking but why isn’t he alleviating the situation that burdens me. Like completely getting rid of it??
Romans 5: 1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.
Can I be really honest here? Most of the time when I read this passage I roll my eyes and if not literally at least in my mind. We “rejoice in our sufferings”?? Oh really? Who? Who goes on rejoicing I’d like to know? Who is the one saying “Awesome, God is graciously letting me suffer today!” Sarcasm aside, I do wonder what that really means. Maybe I don’t have the mind or understanding to really unpack that passage in its fullness, but I do think there is a lesson for me to learn here. One that quickly informs me of my wavering faith and that if life always came easy where would I place my hope. How would I even know the depth of my faith if it was never tested? (1Peter 1:7)
Why am I so forgetful of God’s love when winter comes? For some odd reason God has always been patient in my doubts. When I leave my stubbornness behind, in an effort to go back to Him, somehow he is always there. Thankfully God remains patient as I learn to trust Him. Eventually that will soak in more and maybe one day I will rejoice in sufferings?? And hopefully find contentment resting in the knowledge that the One who does know the big picture loves me even in the winter.
Philippians 4: 4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
If the tear is on a place easily hidden, like a sleeve, then no big deal. But what if it is somewhere important? What if this snag threatens to ruin the integrity of my outfit? What then? What if a suitable replacement can not be found? I now run the risk of standing exposed in my imperfections! It may have started out as small but once the unraveling starts it is hard to stop. So how do I hide it?
And so this is my experience when an imperfection comes to the light. A fear of embarrassment and humiliation quickly begins, but over time I must choose to either accept the reality of what is or continue to hide. Fear creeps in of others discovering the reality that I’m not perfect; I don’t always say or do the right thing. In fact I do and say a lot of very stupid things to be quite honest. Quite possibly everyone already assumed the obvious. However I’ve tried quite hard to conceal my imperfections. Yet where exactly has that gotten me? Superficial relationships for one! And a disheartening realization that hardly anyone knows the real me.
My alternative? Stand. Exposed. But what if I am ridiculed, not liked, laughed at, and humiliated? Who will be willing to stand beside me?
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
I’ve heard it said that everyone’s greatest desire and fear is to be fully known. So is it worth the risk…to be truly known?! I guess that remains a mystery until I decide it is worth being exposed. And trust that I am not alone.
Isaiah 41: 13
For I am the Lord you God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
In Ephesians 4:22 it says: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
Deceitful desires? So it would seem that not everything that we truly want is good. Sounds logical. I can sincerely want to spend money on everything I see regardless of accruing debt and date anyone and everyone whether they are single or not. I think we can place these in the obvious “wrong/bad” desires category. What about things like a new career or boyfriend? Is it okay to strongly want something I don’t yet have? How do I know which of these is in the clearly marked “good” category?
Ephesians 4:23-24 goes on to say: to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
I take this to mean that somewhere along the way our desires have to line up with Gods. Hmm taking a quick inspection of my heart right now and I can honestly say not all of these yearnings are the holiest in nature. And yet they are mine; they exist. I consider myself to be a Christian. I have my struggles sure, but I feel a change in me. So how come I don’t always want what is best for me?
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
What does this mean? Delight definition according to the handy dictionary.com: a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy. Okay so if I get my joy from God then he will give me the desires of my heart. Sounds simple enough…or at least it was simple enough to type. Can you imagine that though? Finding all of one’s joy in God? I’m not even completely sure I know what that looks like if every step and thought I made were devoted to pleasing and being pleased in God. What I do know is that it would mean taking the focus off myself and that is a step. It might also mean asking God how to find joy in him rather than the distractions around me. I don't know what God has in store for me truthfully. Instead of being too much though maybe my desires aren't enough.
1 Corinthians 2:9
However as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"