In Theory….

We all have “those days” when we feel like we just cannot get it right no matter how hard we try. Those tough days are inevitable. It’s when they are strung together for multiple days that I find it really hard to stay centered.

The way I look at it, I can put up with a lot for a day. Two days is pushing it. By the time day three arrives, it’s time to reevaluate things. It’s been about nine days…..

In theory, I know that I was created for a purpose and that I am loved. However, that is hard to remember as ideas are crushed one by one and I find myself sitting alone trying to figure out what happened. Alone. Again.

Whatever. Can’t please everyone, right? So…. now I have a choice to make: accept the task I’ve been given or hide. Hiding sounds great, but I have to do what I need to do and honor God. Even though it’s a challenge, I need to praise Him. But – WOW – is this hard to do. In order to praise God through my trials, I have to have faith. I have to believe that He will deliver me. This isn’t an issue for me because I don’t just believe that he will deliver me, I know he will deliver me. His time, not mine. Another hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. God’s timing is perfect. He never fails. He knows my heart.

When we are able to stop and praise God despite our difficulties, He will shine His light through us. No matter what this world says or does, God works it all for good. It doesn’t matter what my coworkers think about me. I know I will be just fine. Deep down, anyway. Count it all joy, my friends. Count. It. All. Joy.

Sometimes it just takes me a few days to process things and get back on the same page as God. I don’t know if this is “bad”, but it is what it is. God knows what we need. He supplies those needs when we ask Him to do so.

When we try to go out on our own and ignore the will of our Heavenly Father, that is when we face challenges. I hadn’t even realized I had done these things, but as I reflected, I realized that I did ignore the calls I had heard, which means I did not adhere to God’s plan for me.

When I walk away, why should I be loved and valued? The answer is simple: because He said it is so.

James 1:2  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, (NIV)

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)

 

 

 

Weakness and Strength

I have managed to destroy a weekend by ignoring a single word placed in my path: “vulnerable”. The worries that should have been non-existent arrived camouflaged as anxiety and anger. Why? Because I chose to ignore a thought that had been planted a day (maybe even two days?!) ago.

I detest the word “vulnerable”. It doesn’t look pretty and the meaning scares me to death. To be vulnerable, you have to be willing to let someone else have control over you and you have to be willing to open your heart up to hurt. Yeah. Soooo. That’s a “no thanks” from me. Why in the world would I ever give anyone that power again? How could I make that shift?

In my past, being vulnerable meant allowing someone else to control me and my actions (even my finances). If I deviated from “approved” ideas, then I had consequences to face. Asking permission was never big on my list of fun things to do as an adult. Yet, I did it. Why? Because it was survival. <eyeroll> I clearly needed to open myself up to learn how to be an awesome human. </eyeroll>

I’ve allowed people in my past to exploit my vulnerabilities and use them for their gain. Not cool. However, in my mind, I know that Christ would never corrupt those areas of softness, but would use them only for His gain and to build my faith. Never for evil. Yet it’s still absolutely terrifying.

Why would a person like me, who has struggled to rebuild her life and earned success, be eager to adopt a position of weakness? On paper, it makes no sense. In theory, it’s also a ridiculous notion. However, in real life for a walk with Christ, it’s necessary.

Even though we know God wants to use us for His glory and needs us to follow His plan, we struggle with displaying any weakness. We perfect appearing brave. However, when we are tossing out those false signals of bravery, we are missing His calling. Then we complain about how He doesn’t love us or how unfair life is to us. He does love us, but He wants His best for us.

The reality: we have to be still in order to hear His voice. We cannot be still if we are trying to show everyone how brave we are every second of every day. In order to hear what He wants for us, we have to submit our hearts to Him. God will never harm us. He will use us only for His glory, but He WILL give us what we need in order to sustain and elevate us – IF we choose to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and surrender to His will.

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. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

No Comparison

It’s funny, but not funny. Some people simply get a shot based on some quality that radiates from them. You know these people because they. are. everywhere. They can speak what’s on their mind without fear. They can repeat the same thing you’ve said four times before and it’s suddenly heard and a “fantastic idea” and “forward thinking”. You stand there with your head cocked to the side biting your cheek trying to figure out what separates you from them, and you realize that you’re always coming in last behind these people.

What you don’t realize is that it’s not YOU. It’s whatever charismatic trait draws people to THEM. This manifests itself in many ways in different environments…

At work:

Maybe you aren’t the type to interject yourself into every conversation around you. Perhaps you don’t give your a career summary before explaining where you’re coming from. It’s even possible that you don’t jump up and down shouting, “I did that!! That was me!!” every time you do your job. You get passed over for promotions and job changes, even though you’re well-qualified.

At home:

Suppose you aren’t heard when you speak. Maybe you’ve realized that you’re not part of the “cool moms”. You may even be a single mom who has nothing in common with other mamas. Maybe you just want to nap and feel antisocial.

In relationships:

You are passed over because you’re loyal, but not classically beautiful. Perhaps you’ve been friend-zoned more times than you can count. You come in second because you’re not “as pretty” or “as thin” or whatever reason as the other person.

It’s all about comparisons. We compare ourselves to others. Others compare us to different groups. We alienate ourselves – and each other. How is it possible to compare two unique humans created by God to serve individual purposes? Can we really say God loves one person more than another? The answer is no.

God created us all to be unique. He didn’t create clones. He wants us to be His hands and feet, to grow His Kingdom. Period. He needs us to be who He created us to be so that we can fulfill His plans. We each have our unique talents and gifts. To say a gift is better than another is ridiculous because I am convinced each of our gifts fits together to form a beautiful picture.

You have people who are not afraid of being the face of His purpose, and people who would rather remain behind the scenes. Some people are unafraid of approaching others to evangelize, where others would rather show God’s love through silent actions.

He made us this way; not to compare, but to complement. One person’s strength paired with another person’s weakness fits together perfectly, and the relationships that are built based on this kind of partnership encourages both people in their walk with Christ.

We. all. fit. together. Perfectly. In His image.

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Galatians 1:10  Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (NIV)

2 Corinthians 10:12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (NIV)

Those Enemies, Though….

I cannot control how people act. Their actions are their own. The only thing I can do is to temper my reaction to their actions. Sometimes, I can extend grace easily. “They surely didn’t mean that.” or “They’ve had a rough time lately.” I will cut those people some slack and will refrain from reacting to their actions.

However……. There are some actions that get me every single time. Anytime a person negatively impacts their own children, for instance. “No grace for YOU!”, I hear in my mind. I’m suddenly judge and jury over someone’s actions. Not that I’m perfect, mind you, but “I would never”…. Yeah. So. I’m guessing this is an “opportunity for improvement” in my walk, yes? Um. Seriously. I can be ruthless and self-righteous and judgmental and mental and so much more when I think someone is messing with kiddos.

Watch the kids. They practice grace, even when we don’t deserve it. They forgive it all: broken promises, snippy replies, comments made from the end of a figurative rope. They have it down. They don’t think twice about extending grace to those who’ve done wrong by them. Adults, though? We tend to keep score.

I think children are so close to God and His will. Kids see things we cannot see in people we’d never dream to imagine as children of God. (Why do we have that right anyway?) They practice faith and forgiveness effortlessly.

As we walk with Christ, I think we have to learn to be more like children. We have to focus on extending grace rather than becoming bitter and harboring a grudge. We have to forgive others who’ve sinned against us. Why? Because we are forgiven. I don’t think it’s meant to be easy, but when we can respond with grace rather than anger, we pull closer to God and walk in the light. We become who we want to be because we inherit His grace.

We are told to pray for our enemies. We don’t get to choose who gains the favor of God. This is not our place. God wants us all to come to Him, so we cannot skip over some people merely because we don’t like their mindset. All we can do is pray for these people, that God will soften their hearts and that they will choose to follow Christ alongside us. This is definitely easier said than done, but God is clear on this point. We cannot allow our humanness to impact others’ eternity.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

 

 

Inside My Own Head

Sometimes getting inside of your own head is the worst thing you do, but sometimes it’s the only solace you can find. Sometimes you beat yourself up over the “ifs”, but sometimes it’s where you can escape all of the noise.  It could go either way; it just depends on what you need to do.

When I try to process a lot of information at once, the noise inside of my head (like a buzz, but louder) becomes so overbearing and can really spur on my anxiety. Such is the case today. I did not sleep well last night because I was processing a lot of information (along with emotions). The inner turmoil remained into the morning. The enemy came in and almost convinced me to skip church today. It almost worked. If I had not been on the service schedule for today, I would have skipped church for the first time in months. Why? Because I was stuck in my own head. Needless to say, I made it to church and fulfilled the commitments I had made. I was also influenced by an amazing message that I needed to hear. I was also able to spend time with people that have become my family.

Later in the evening, I retreated into my own head again, but this time there was peace. I was able to spend time in the presence of the Spirit and gain clarity into the issues I am facing. I was able to “get my head on straight” and enjoy the peace to process the information I had floating around.

I believe I am finally at peace with who I am, as well as my current situation and status. While my views may differ from those of my Creator, I am certain that I need to trust what He has in store for me. If that means creating my own peace inside of my head to remember that His plans for me are better than I could ever imagine, then that is what I have to do. I will create my own peace so that I am able to listen clearly. I will be still. I will listen and hold my tongue.

Psalm 62:5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.

 

 

Why Obedience Matters

We are all called to do things outside of what we want to do, and we have a choice of whether we do these things or not. If we do them, we are obedient. If we refuse to cooperate, well…. There are consequences for  each of our actions. If we do what is asked of us, we reap the rewards. If we disobey, the consequences can be punitive. For the child who obeys his mom and picks up his toys, he may earn screen time or some other reward. The child who ignores what his mom asks of him and does what he wants may be grounded from screens or be limited on his playtime. He has a choice to make. 


The same is true in the adult world. If you want a promotion, you may need to do as your boss instructs you to do. If you throw a temper tantrum at work and scream at coworkers, however, the promotion is likely off the table. You have a choice to obey or not to obey. The consequences can be either positive or negative based on what YOU choose to do.


When God asks us for our obedience, it’s very much the same. We always have a choice. We can step out in faith and pursue what He has asked us to do, or we can plant our feet and refuse to budge. When God asks us for obedience, it usually means doing things outside of our comfort zone. By doing what is asked of us and prompting our hearts to follow His call to action, we grow as Christians. If we remain planted, our faith stagnates. We remain the same. We willfully ignore the opportunity to grow our faith and our walk with Him comes to a halt. He will surely forgive us, even though we have denied Him.


Thinking back over the past year, there have been so many times I’ve been prompted to step outside of my comfort zone. I don’t like the limelight – or even being noticed, actually – so I prefer to remain behind the scenes in the tasks I have taken on. However, I have had to step out of my comfort zone to encourage others to join the small group I have been asked to lead, to talk to people I don’t know, and to introduce myself when the need arises. All of these things bring anxiety. I am safe if I remain in the shadows and no one knows my name. I can be anonymous and not worry about impacting others. BUT!!! God has other plans. He wants us to rely on Him. To lean on Him. To be near to Him. With Him. In Him.


This effort is a huge leap for me. I will write and keep it all to myself. Even now, there are many other blog entries started that I cannot publish. I am transparent and share more than is probably wise, but the posting is not what I WANT to do. It’s what I HAVE to do. If I allow my fear to rule my life and not publish anything and remain in shadows despite when I have to step into the light, I am denying God. That is something I am simply not prepared to do, so I take baby steps each day into obedience. It hurts. It sucks. It is more than I can take some days. But it is what I am being asked to do to show my faith. If one person is impacted as a result of the actions I take in obedience, it is all worth it.


John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (NIV)


1 Kings 2:3 Observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go. (NIV)


Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (NIV)


Deuteronomy 31:6 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. (NIV)

So I May be a Tad Impatient…

Trusting people is one of the hardest things for me to do. Someone says they will do something and my mind always goes to the “but-what-if-you-don’t” scenario, which also makes it messy because now I have an anxiety attack to keep at bay. I do trust the people closest to me, but trust is scary for me. I’ve been betrayed by people I trusted (as have you, I’m sure) more times than I can count. 

My problem is that I carry my lack of trust over to God as well. Now, in theory, I know that He loves me, has a plan for me, and always has my back. That being said, I try to take back the issues I’ve handed over to Him time and time again. I don’t *think* I’m being distrustful of God, but my actions are testimony to the fact that I am not trusting my Creator to know what’s best for me. Yeah. So…. That’s an issue. 

My challenge is to stop yanking back the issues He has taken from me and to trust Him to work things out. His timing, not mine. So there’s another issue. I’m not exactly patient (*ahem*), so I want things to happen quickly. I don’t want to wait until things are perfect for changes to happen. I want them now (or, at least, “soon”). Like, five minutes after “now” would work. However, our Heavenly Father works in his own time. He may need us to learn something else before we get to the next season. I just want to fly past “GO” and collect my $200, for crying out loud. In the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Git ‘er done!” 

Every time I’ve tried to rush God’s timing, I come to understand that there was a reason I needed to wait. There was something I needed to learn, but didn’t, so I failed. These things I know. In theory. In practice, though….. Man, am I stubborn. You’d think I’d learn…but I don’t. I keep wanting to rush things ahead and skip the lessons.

During the days when I get my quiet time and can just be still, I can feel His presence and I know the waiting is for my protection and success. On the other days, though…. Whew. I turn into a crazed squirrel on espresso….. My mind starts spinning about ways I can get the things I want faster. I want to rush things ahead, regardless of consequence. The thing is, God may want me to have something, but that doesn’t mean He wants me to have it NOW. 

I’ve been really battling the fact that I don’t have someone in my life to hold me and kiss my forehead and hold my hand. Someone to tell me that it will all be alright. Someone who has my back. The loneliness is really a tough pill to swallow because I am rarely “lonely”. However, I’ve been ill off and on for a while and it’s taking its toll on me emotionally. I believe that God wants me to have an amazing relationship with a man of God one day, but not today. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with me. I pray for the qualities I would like to this mysterious man of the future to have, but I catch myself turning it into the mysterious man of the right now. 

I think the hardest thing for me to do is to put control of my life in someone else’s hands, even if that someone created me and knows my plan. The One who knows my heart and everything about me. The One who loves me for who I am, despite my attempts to derail His plans. The One who forgives me daily. The One who sent His son to die for me.

Jeremiah 29:11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Psalm 139:12 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NIV)

 

*originally published on March 18, 2017*