Thursday, April 21, 2011


In our society, being broken is a negative thing. If you are broken, there is a pill for you to take, a therapist for you to see, there are support groups for you to attend… being broken means that you need something or someone to help you figure out how to be fixed again. How to repair everything in your life, how to pick up the pieces and glue yourself back together…

So why do I find myself wanting to BE broken?

Every now and then I get a song stuck in my head… you know the feeling, it loops around, you sing the same couple of lines over and over again and nothing that you do distracts you from this repetitive chorus in your head. This is what I find myself doing with this phrase “I want to be broken”. I have no idea where this phrase came from…

I feel very odd writing this post, as if it’s something to be ashamed of, something to tiptoe around and avoid, but I still feel like I need to write it. I’ll be honest that I have no idea where this is going. It’s just that the world has coaxed me into being so cautious and cynical even though I try to fight against it… I want to come up with reasons why the homeless shouldn’t be asking for my money, why the welfare system should be run differently, why the murderers should be behind bars for the rest of their lives, and why the drug addicts should be left to their own devices. I argue that they all made choices. They all got themselves into the situations that they are in… so why should anyone else pay for their mistakes?

I get in this rut of worrying about all of the injustices in the world. I think about all of the people that are taking advantage, of all of the people that are just not even TRYING to be good… I get overwhelmed by it. I get so caught up in the emotion of how wrong it is and how unfair the world is and how there are so many broken people that need to get it together and do the RIGHT things…

And then I remember all of the poor choices I have made in my life… anyone who knows me well knows that there have been MANY, and even those who know me very well likely don’t know all of them. I joke about my bad luck and how if something is going to go wrong, it’s going to happen to ME… but if I’m being honest, I’ve come out of some pretty tough situations with definite consequences, but nothing too devastating. I’ve been fortunate that the poor choices I have made haven’t landed me in more trouble than they have. Now this is where I need to point out that even if this hadn’t been the case, it isn’t my place to say who deserves what. I am not BETTER than anyone else and that is something that as much as I try to fight it, I forget. Not everyone has had the advantages that I have in my life. Regardless, I am not better or worse than anyone else in the world. If Jesus came to the world to SERVE others and not to be served, then why do I feel like I have any place to decide who is worthy of what?

I listened to part of a sermon tonight about God’s calling for people, and the speaker said that we are naturally afraid that someday God is going to ask us to give up something that we love and enjoy to do something that we don’t want to do… I guess I have always had a bit of that fear too. It’s more about being asked to step out of my comfort zone though. In dealing with all of these light consequences for my poor choices I have tended towards carving out a little niche for myself, sitting in a corner in the shadows where I can’t get too uncomfortable or be noticed too easily. For the past few years of my life I have thrived on being invisible. For a girl who is “freakishly tall” as one of my best friends calls me and has red hair, this is quite a feat but I’ve managed it pretty well… but I am so sick of worrying about what other people think of me and deciding what to think of others…

I’ve been feeling recently the desire to be humbled, to be reminded how small I really am and how unimportant my problems are. I want to be in awe of God’s grace. I want to meet people who have done so much more than I have in their faith with so much less in their favor. I want to know that I have been taking for granted every good thing in my life so that I can work towards not doing it anymore. I want that fresh new perspective—that awestruck wonder of “how could I NOT see this before?!” I want to take myself out of the center of my life and put God’s will there instead. I don’t want to hide in the shadows anymore, I want to stand in the glory of God’s light… and I want people to see that light shining in ME…

I want to be broken in such a way that God can put me back together with less selfishness and desire for the things that I think I need and instead replace it with an insatiable thirst for His will for me.

I want to be broken.

John 15: 1-17

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 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. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Father, may I....?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7: 7-8

Last week I had the pleasure of watching a really cute romantic comedy with Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd called “How Do You Know”. I won’t give away the plot to anyone (although aren’t all romantic comedies basically the same plotline?) I’ll just say that Reese’s character visits a therapist during part of the movie and while she is too proud to sit and talk about her problems with him she does ask him if there is anything in his experience that would be good advice to someone in ANY situation. His response is, “Figure out what you want, and learn how to ask for it.” Reese’s character pretty much says that both of those things are really hard to do.

There was a time in my life when asking for things came very naturally to me. When I first reached the walking, talking, and whining age, I had a squeaky little voice and… well… the same haircut I have now actually. I probably batted my eyelashes and squealed “puhhhllleeeassseeeeee” a lot more than I do now. (Okay, maybe I still do this on occasion but it worked a lot better back then.) My parents and grandparents weren’t suckers by any means, but I’m telling you… I was ADORABLE… and I got what I wanted at least 75% of the time. It was very rare that anyone said “no” to sweet little Sarah. The point is, I saw something I wanted and I asked for it. I bargained for it, I begged for it… and the result was that I got what I wanted most of the time. Now there were definitely some exceptions to this rule. I begged my parents for a trampoline and a slip ‘n slide for YEARS… and I was turned down every single time. Their darling little brat wanted these things and would turn on the waterworks and throw herself to the ground kicking and screaming when she didn’t get her way… but my safety and well-being were more important to them than giving in to my every whim. They were looking out for what was in my best interest. Even if they had to deal with my ridiculous accusations ranging from “it isn’t fair” to “you have ruined my entire life and I will never ever be happy again”. I didn’t stop asking them for things that I wanted though. Sometimes they would ask me to explain why it was I wanted something so bad, or ask me to think about it for a while and decide if it was what I really wanted, but they would always listen to my requests and consider them.

I have been waiting to find out what God’s plan for my life is for a long time now. Every time someone asks me what I want to do, I redirect them and tell them that I’m trying to figure out what I’m MEANT to do. I have had this conversation numerous times in length and detail and have ended up completely frustrated and utterly exhausted by how difficult this task is… waiting for God to get on the loudspeaker and assign me a station in life. I have a friend that is a great listener and is incredibly patient (and has heard some form of this conversation at least 20 times in the past month) who always reminds me:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

Every. Single. Time. I get all upset and screechy about this subject he reminds me that God WANTS me to have what I want the most in my heart. So instead of sitting in the middle of the floor pouting while I wait for God to announce my purpose, I need to do some introspection and figure out what I want… and then I need to ask for it, which I have said before is not something that comes easily to me now that I’m all “grown-up”.

I mentioned in my last post briefly that I’m very careful what I ask God for in prayer. I tend to get my lines blurred when it comes to prayer sometimes and I am afraid that if I ask for something like, “please let this day be short” that I will inevitably be hit by a train and killed mid-day because, well.. I DID ask for the day to be short… so technically I got what I asked for. Fear has taught me to be a very specific person and that has caused me to either pray very vaguely for my life in general, or pray specifically to the last detail about a certain situation that’s on my mind. I think this is one of the unhealthiest fears that a person can develop; the idea that God is waiting to twist your words and requests and that you need to be guarded and “be careful what you wish for…” I think this is something very sneaky that Satan threw at me at some point in my life in order to stand in the middle of that open line of communication between me and God. I just have to constantly remember that God is my Father and He always has my best interest at heart. I KNOW that, it is just easy to get flustered and start worrying about “what if I ask for the wrong thing?!” or “what if I don’t get exactly what I asked for when I asked for it?!”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3: 5-6

When you remember that God is on your side and that He knows what you need, He knows your true desires and He wants to give you the joy of realizing them and using them to glorify Him… well, it doesn’t really seem all that hard to figure out what you want… and ask for it after all.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

You've lost that lovin' feelin?

“Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” – 1 John 5:14-15

It is no secret to my closest friends and family that I have struggled with how to pray recently. Praying is something that used to come so easily to me and lately it feels forced and impersonal. I am fearful of asking for the wrong things, disjointed in my organization, and it never fails that once I say, “Dear God…” my mind goes blank and listless and I start talking in circles and end up frustrated and poor in spirit. I resolved a few months ago to start a prayer journal because I am always able to make sense of my thoughts when I write things down. I wrote in this journal exactly one time. Obviously my dedication and follow-through could use some improvement. I really do believe that prayer is powerful and that it is the way to deepen our relationship with God… but I find myself forgetting to do it. I joked with a friend the other day that I needed to put a sign above my bed reminding myself first thing every morning. I feel like I’m at a loss for words right now, but I also feel like that’s okay.

I was having coffee with one of my best friends a few weeks ago and I told her about this same struggle. I go to church on Sunday, and I feel wonderful after the service. I feel joyful and fulfilled and peaceful and purposeful… I may come home afterwards and share what I have learned with a few people but then I go about my daily routine and before I know it I feel empty and grouchy and frustrated. I cannot for the life of me figure out why I feel so… yucky until Thursday night rolls around and I grudgingly sit down with a cup of coffee for our weekly Bible study. I usually make it through the first part of the lesson before my attitude changes and my mind starts grasping for every little thing that is said. After Bible study I have that Sunday morning feeling again and it clicks in my brain that DUH… that is what is missing. And of course I tell myself that I will remember the next time I start to feel grumpy that it’s because I’m not looking to the right things again; that I have become complacent in my relationship with God… and THAT is why I feel yucky. And I most-often let that grumpiness win out and forget that I have the tools I need to fix it… maybe I DO need to work on making that sign to remind myself…

When I do feel overwhelmed and listless when praying I start out by asking that God’s will be done in my life. Even if I don’t get much further than that, I feel like that does some good. It’s not that I think if I didn’t ask that God’s will be done in my life that it wouldn’t, it’s just that I think it honors God to acknowledge that He knows much better than I do what is good for me. Maybe even more so because I do have this self-admitted need to “control” my life. Ha!

I ran across a book that someone I worked with a long time ago gave me called “God Always has a Plan B” and there was a quote that struck me tonight as I was reading through it:

“Trust that whatever action God is taking—or not taking—in your life right now is for your highest good. God knows what He’s doing.” – Marilyn Meberg

I’m going through a really strange season in my life right now and this quote spoke to my heart. On the surface my life looks absolutely nothing like I wanted it to at almost 29 years old. I have no career, no home of my own, no husband, no children, no idea what I’m going to do one day from now, much less 10 years from now. The funny thing is though I’m the most comfortable with my “station” in life than I have been as long as I can remember. I know that the difference is that I’m not worrying about it anymore because God’s promises to me are sufficient. God’s timing has always been much better than mine, and I’m 100% sure He has better things in store for me than I could even imagine on my own. So I will continue to ask that His will be done in my life in His perfect time.

I came upon a passage tonight that I think I’m going to put somewhere handy to remind myself what to do when I’m feeling lost and overwhelmed or just plain yucky.

The Straight Path

“My son, pay attention to my words;
Listen closely to my sayings.
Do not lose sight of them;
Keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to one’s whole body.
Guard your heart above all else,
For it is the source of life.
Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly,
And don’t let your lips talk deviously.
Let your eyes look forward;
Fix your gaze straight ahead.
Carefully consider the path for your feet,
And all your ways will be established.
Don’t turn to the right or to the left;
Keep your feet away from evil.”
-Proverbs 4:20-27

I also could use a gentle reminder the next time I say to any of you that I’m feeling off that the reason is because I’ve forgotten yet again what I need to do to feel joyful and fulfilled. I can use all the accountability I can get these days. May God’s perfect will be a blessing in each and every one of your lives.

Monday, March 14, 2011

obstacles, and other things to be thankful for...

“The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” –John 14:21

Two weeks ago my Bible study group lesson was about John’s vision of Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation. The part of this particular message that struck me was what happened when John saw Jesus in all of His heavenly glory. John was standing alone on the island of Patmos worshipping God when no one else was around because it was the Sabbath. He had such extreme faith that he stood ALONE on an island where he was sent BECAUSE of his testimony and he worshipped God because that is what he would have done if he was at home. What a powerful message! What a faithful man! So John received a vision of Jesus in his heavenly body, the same John who spent so much time with Jesus when
He was on earth, walking with Him, learning from Him, dining with Him, telling jokes with Him. And what did John do when he saw the heavenly body of Jesus? He fell at His feet AS IF DEAD. He was so taken aback by the beauty of Christ that he FELL TO THE GROUND AS IF DEAD. And Jesus placed His hand on John and said to him “Do not be afraid.” Revelation 1:17 What a powerful message from the resurrected savior! At this point in the Bible study, a Beth Moore Bible study, she goes on to say that every time God tells someone not to be afraid there is always a commission to follow. Not sometimes, not every so often, but always. John’s commission was to write down what he had seen, what was then and what will take place…

I tell you this because God has been telling me to stop being afraid. I had coffee with a dear friend the day after Bible study and excitedly told her about this message. I told her that it was for ME! And she told me to write here about it which I obviously haven’t done yet and the reason is as I told her, I do not know what my commission is yet. I think I just felt silly claiming that God has something He is going to ask me to do because He hasn’t really revealed what that is yet… but I know in faith that it’s the truth, so I’m going to step out and say it anyway.

As I mentioned in my last post, I tried a new church. I know that it might not be a big deal to everyone, but walking into an unfamiliar church building by myself was something that was very daunting to me. I sat in the back row waiting for the service to start and one by one people started coming up and introducing themselves to me, inviting me to sit with them, talking with me like I wasn’t a stranger. It was a blessing to have wandered into a church that was so welcoming because that was exactly what I needed. God is good about that though; and it’s something that I had forgotten since I had spent so much time away from the church and closing my ears off to what He had to say. It was a nice reminder that if you take a step out of your comfort zone for Him in faith He will give you reassurance and love in return. Part of the first sermon that I heard at this church was about using your spiritual gifts to glorify God. One of the verses used was, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” 1 Peter 4:10 Of course, when I heard this the alarm system went off in my mind and I started veering off the tracks again to the BUT WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY GIFT IS YET?!?!! Luckily, the message was explained that we should be AVAILABLE to use our gifts when the time comes to do so. So I stopped freaking out a bit and focused again on the rest of the sermon. It was a very powerful message, something that I needed to hear and I knew without a doubt that I was in the church that I was in for a reason.

Bible study the next Thursday was the same type of experience for me. Part of the message said that God will allow you to close your ears off to Him if that’s what you choose to do. He will never FORCE you to listen to anything that He says. That definitely struck a chord for me! Here I am trying something new, trying to re-learn how to listen to God and do what I’m supposed to do with my life and there are all of these messages telling me that it’s SIMPLE… just be open to it, be AVAIALBLE. Stop worrying so much about why and how and when and where and just open up your heart. What a relief!

This study also talked about how God offers a promise to those who KEEP overcoming… how your life is a series of obstacles but that the will of God is not for you to live underneath the weight of them but to stand on top of them and KEEP overcoming. I know that a lot of people go to God when they are down and out and everything is going wrong, but I tend to be the opposite. When things in my life are good, I am thankful to God, I give Him credit- I thrive in that relationship… but only when things are good. When things fall apart I tend to step back and tell God that I want to handle it on my own. That’s something that I am working on and I think I have done a great job with it over the past couple of months. It is a struggle for me as I have said to let go of the control in a bad situation. It is how I survive loss, grief, anger, all of it… I choose one tiny thing that I can take care of and when I’m finished with that task, I move on to the next and so on and so forth and I operate in a series of concrete linear duties and I shut off everything else. This particular lesson in our Bible study said that if we have nothing to overcome we cannot be victorious. Something about that resonated with me as I had some things I was overcoming at the time. I felt like this was a positive message that I was moving in the right direction.

1. Listen for God.
2. Keep overcoming!


On Friday I had a conversation with a friend about the fruits of the spirit which I thought was interesting since I had been hearing messages about spiritual gifts and such in the past week and I mentioned that the one I have the absolute most trouble with is forbearance… or patient endurance. As you’ve likely noticed, I want what I want when I want it and how I want it. I want a clear path, a clear plan, a clear procedure, and a clear finish line. So I resolved to work on this…

Friday afternoon came around and I was informed that I had been laid-off from my job. I cried a little, said goodbye to my co-workers, packed up my things, and drove home. As I drove home I thanked God for the situation. Yes, I thanked Him. I knew that this wasn’t a decision that I would have made on my own for myself and I thanked God for making it for me. I might not know what I am supposed to be doing yet… I might not know what God’s plan is for me… I might not know what my spiritual gifts are and how I can use them to glorify God… but I know that I wasn’t using them there.

“And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

The next Sunday at church I attended my first membership meeting and as I waited for the sermon to start I was surrounded by a huge group of new people who were even more welcoming than the week before. I felt at peace in this new place, I felt completely okay with my situation. The sermon was talking about what God’s “love language” is and the pastor said that it was faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

It never ceases to amaze me –over and over again that God has so much to say to YOU specifically if you just listen for Him. He speaks through people, He speaks through situations, He speaks through His word. The verse at the beginning of the main body of the sermon was, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” -1 Peter 4:12-13 Be thankful in EVERY situation. Rejoice. Praise God for opportunities disguised as obstacles. And again, the reassuring message in the sermon was that we cannot have a victory without a battle. Isn’t it amazing that the same message keeps appearing in completely different settings from completely different sources?! Am I the only one that is excited about this?!?! God.IS.AMAZING. But you won’t notice unless you allow Him to show you consistently.

Lastly, I want to say that I have had a very difficult time writing this all down. I have tried MANY MANY times to sit and write some of it and have been so frustrated with my lack of ability to get these words out that finally WEEKS later I had to just sit down and make myself write it. I feel like it is a lot of information to cover, a lot of events that seem like they are written in a very chronological and disconnected style… but I had to get this part of it out because there is so much more than even this that has happened and it just keeps building and building and I know that none of you want to read a 10 page post! I will I’m sure, address some of these things again in more depth but for now this is all I can do. I already have three more posts in my head just begging to get out, so until then… bear with me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I am a big picture type person. When I put together a bookshelf, I take all of the pieces out of the box, glance at the picture to get a general idea of how the finished product should look, and then toss it aside. I try to put the bookshelf together without reading the directions... only consulting them if I get stuck (or put a shelf on upside down and backwards, which happens every single time!). I know that the end result is a bookshelf and I know what a bookshelf looks like. I can get there! It might take a few tries, but I will MAKE the bookshelf! And it will be WONDERFUL and I will take credit for its wonder as if it was the first bookshelf ever built! Conversely, if someone were to give me a pile of materials and a list of instructions without telling me what I was supposed to build I would FREAK OUT. Even if they assured me that if I followed the instructions I would assemble exactly what was supposed to be built my brain can.not.compute. things this way. I have to KNOW what I'm building BEFORE I start building it. Without that big picture I get mired down in the details, I focus on the wrong things because I don't know what the point is-- I don't know what I'm supposed to end up with. After doing some research, I've found out that this means I'm a right-brained person. Now, I didn't do any research to find out if the majority of the world is comprised of right-brained people, but I'm assuming that it isn't... not because I want to be special, but because it is a scary thought-- our world under the control of the jittery flitting-about-from-thing-to-thing minds of the right-brained thinker.

I have been frustrated with the idea of not knowing what is going to happen before it happens for as long as I can remember. Surprises? Forget it! I do not like them. It is something I struggle with in my faith often. I want a tiny sneak peek at the plan that God has for my life. I want Him to just let me see it JUST ONCE so that I can figure out on my own what the big picture looks like and how to get there. But again, that's my problem... "figure out on my own". I doubt God's a big fan of that way of thinking, but I still have a hard time relinquishing control of everything and letting Him be in the driver's seat. I'm sure God thinks it's hilarious that I think I have any form of control at all! But it remains to me very disheartening that I can't peek into the future and see if my life will be wonderful and happy and full of great things 5...10...15 years from now. That I can't know for sure what I'm working towards NOW. In reality, I don't have to look ahead, because I know that God has already promised me that anything I could come up with isn't anywhere NEAR the greatness He has in store for me. That knowledge doesn't stop the little voice in my head from it's spastic fit-throwing. My little voice almost always resembles a sleep-starved child falling out on the floor screaming about how unfair life is...

buuuuuuuuuut DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WANNNTTT TOOOO KNOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tellmetellmetellme tellllll meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! pleasssseeeeee!

(if you're picturing the "RICKRICKRICK" skit from SNL, you've pretty much got the right idea.)

And most likely, God has already been TRYING to tell me, but I won't shut my mouth long enough to listen to Him.

People tell me that God is talking to them. Telling them what to do with their lives, showing them signs, and my response is something akin to, "well He hasn't been talking to ME!" In fact, I've said quite a few times in the past months that God isn't talking to me. I have said it to my mom, I have said it to my sister, I have said it to my friends. Each one has told me that I need to listen better. I've had anxiety attacks over what my "purpose" is... but again, I get caught up in trying to figure it out on my own... which let's face it, rarely works out. As I mentioned before, I recently read "Cure for the Common Life" by Max Lucado and was not only wildly impressed by the book but I was surprised at what I found out about myself. Part of the book asks you to write out 4-6 times in your life when you felt like you did something that made you feel happy and fulfilled. Four out of my six had to do with being part of a church community. When I have thought on what I enjoy doing before I have always come up with three things: Writing, Teaching, and Learning. These three things were present in each of the six things that I listed, but there was SO.MUCH.MORE. that I hadn't considered. I figured out that being in fellowship with others makes me fulfilled, being connected to a group, actively doing mission work - whether through song or physically building things, HELPING people, ministering to people... these things make me feel fantastic... and they are all things that I've been trying to live my life without.

Essentially I have been approaching my life like I put together bookshelves. I don't bother with the instructions and I end up frustrated surrounded by all of these pieces that I can't make sense of any of... I can't figure out what anything is for or if I even have everything I need to be successful. I don't know where anything GOES because I don't know what I'm trying to build. Every now and then when something doesn't look quite right I stop and read some of the steps and realize that I'm going to have to not only cease all forward progress but backtrack and take everything apart again and build it the right way... and in the past I've only fixed that ONE part I can see for sure is wrong and then carelessly thrown the directions aside again. Because I want to build it MY WAY! (Cause I'm a master carpenter, y'know...)

But I'm getting it all wrong. ALL of it. I'm back to that right-brained place that is stuck in one tiny detail because I don't know what the big picture is. Don't I?

The thing I guess I didn't realize is that God IS the big picture. I've focused on my tiny piece in this big picture and tried to figure out what it's purpose is... I thought that it WAS the thing I was trying to build... and I've missed the entire point. My life isn't MY life... I'm meant to be a small part of something much bigger... not the other way around.

When I wrote the first post of this blog, I was only going to send the link to one of my friends. To the friend who told me that I should try writing it in the first place. I sent her the link and then I thought about posting it on Facebook, but immediately thought it was a bad idea- I thought of all of my friends that don't share my same point-of-view and how it might make them feel uncomfortable. I thought about how putting out such personal information would make ME feel uncomfortable... how people who knew me years and years ago might think that it was all a bunch of bologna because I used to be religious and talk about God but I abandoned it so long ago. I thought that they would think of me as a hypocrite... not because they ever said they thought that about me but because I felt like one every time I saw them. And then I realized that this was the perfect way to hold me accountable for what I say and do. Positive feedback, negative feedback, no feedback... it doesn't really matter- the point is I know that there is an off-chance that someone else is reading along, and that maybe God would have me say something that would bless someone else, that someone else also needed to hear. I also realized that it will be a place where I can go back and look at where I started and where I go from here.

...but I didn't realize that it would be an opportunity for God to talk to me in unexpected ways. Especially so quickly. I talked to a friend about it that lives in Arizona, and I mentioned to her that I struggled with finding a church here in the metroplex because the one that I sometimes go to seems to be very difficult for me to get integrated into and involved in... and within minutes she had connected me with another of her friends who lives practically 10 minutes from me who invited me to visit her church. We had a nice long conversation about the logistics and she was super helpful in answering all of my crazy questions. So on Sunday I'm trying out a new church... it may not be THE church that I end up at, but it's a good start! Thank God for small beginnings!

So I suppose I'll surrender to the ways of the left-brained and focus on God's directions for me and see what He ends up building in the future...

Some scripture I found inspiring:

Psalm 118: 21-24
I will give thanks to You
because You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came from the LORD;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Isaiah 30: 18-21
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Jeremiah 10:23

I know, LORD,
that a man's way of life is not his own;
no one who walks determines his own steps.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Small Beginnings

I used to be a very bold person. I never met a stranger, never walked into a crowd with my head down, and never hesitated to take a risk. Somewhere along the way I got scared. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but I became beyond fearful. It was very likely when I got divorced that this change happened, although it was a few years in the making but the result was I convinced myself that I was not special, nor was I loveable. I convinced myself that I was being punished for poor decisions, for bad choices. I convinced myself that I had gotten exactly what I deserved out of life because I had made mistakes. I convinced myself that God was the one punishing me because I needed to be taught a lesson. There were times when I was anxious about walking into a coffee shop because I thought everyone would judge me when I walked through the door… was I wearing the right thing? Was my hair a mess? Was my lipstick smeared? I began to worry about every single move that I made.

My life is somewhat different now, but not as different as it should be. Right now my car is filthy. The outside gets washed when I get the oil changed. Sometimes. See, car washes are not what they used to be. They are so very advanced and automated now, and I find that every time I drive past one I think about stopping in-- and then I remember the track that you have to maneuver your wheels onto, the precise moment you have to shift the gear into neutral and the flashing signs that warn you “DO NOT MOVE YOUR STEERING WHEEL!” and “DO NOT PUT YOUR CAR IN DRIVE”. The moment of entering the car wash sends me into a panic. The idea of leaving my car in neutral and losing control of the situation. The act of taking my hands off of the wheel and taking my foot off of the gas and the brakes. I visualize myself… what? Careening into the walls? Wrecking my car? Breaking the car wash? I am terrified of breaking things in my life now. I have become an extremely careful person. One who does not step too far out of her comfort zone and becomes anxious when others do. Crossing the street with a friend before the crosswalk sign said to threw me into a tizzy. He looked at me and said, “There are no cars, we will be okay” and I spouted off about the rules of pedestrians and how you could get ticketed by the police if you didn’t wait until the sign told you to walk. There really were no cars. We made it safely across the street but I had a FIT. The 18 year old me would have skipped across the street backwards, maybe done a cartwheel, but the 28 year old me was stuck and terrified at the idea of doing something that made me uncomfortable. Please don’t take this as me saying that my friend was right that rules were made to be broken. I think that for the most part rules are in place for a very good reason, but at 11pm with a great view of empty streets on both sides of the crosswalk, sometimes it makes sense to walk ahead even though the lights aren’t flashing you permission.

I am so terrified of little trivial things that I refuse to make a move. I am figuratively rooted to the ground afraid that any decision that I make will result in disaster. That once again my life will derail and I’ll be left off the tracks in the middle of a car wash paying for damages I cannot afford. This is an unhealthy fear. I have come to terms with the fact that I am not doing the things that I need to be doing to lead a full life; to lead a fulfilled life. I am actively aware of the need to change this but again, I’m scared to choose a path to do it. There are so many options, so many chances for failure that instead of doing something… ANYTHING, I sit still and wait… maybe tomorrow... maybe next week… maybe next year. The time for maybe is over.

I have a fear of failure that is causing me to fail by not trying anything at all. I have a self-actualizing fear complex!!!! How in the world did I get to that place?! Well, I can tell you exactly how I got there and when I do that, you’ll see the solution as clearly as I do now.

There was a time in my life, my younger backwards-skipping-cartwheeling life when God was the center of my world. I practically lived up at the church, I worshipped, I had fellowship with my peers, I sang, I participated, I had a church family. I had a group of people who loved the same thing that I did, had the same desires, the same hopes, and our commonality was God. I had moments of leadership, many late night philosophical conversations, we read the same things, sang the same songs, saw the same movies, we talked about the same sermons. There was camaraderie. There was love. There was hope. There was worship. I felt peaceful the moment that I walked through the doors of the church. I felt a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose. I knew the narrow hallways in the dark as well as I did when the lights were on. I could locate anyone in the church, I knew where I was going, not only in the building but in life because I had these things that made me feel so fulfilled, so special. I had a relationship with God. I talked to Him, I studied His word, I wrote about Him, I praised Him. I looked for any excuse to be up at that church, to be in God’s presence. I was happy there. I knew my place. I knew my purpose. I knew the meaning of God’s love for me.

…And then things changed. I separated myself from the church, I pursued things that I thought I wanted for myself, I lost my core group of friends. I let people down, I let myself down, and worst of all, I felt like I had let God down. I tried going to church a couple of times during this period and I entered with worry and guilt and sadness instead of the joy and peace that was so commonplace before. I stopped going. I stopped talking to God at all. I felt like I had betrayed Him and I should punish myself by removing myself from His presence. Guilt is a very tricky thing. I broke my own heart when I should have known from all of my teachings that God would accept me no matter what mistakes I had made.

There have been moments over the years when I have thought about getting involved in a church again but each time I hear that little voice in my head telling me that I am not worthy of that love anymore. I hear that voice whispering in my ear that I can’t pick up where I left off, that I would be a hypocrite to walk back into church and worship a God that I abandoned for my own will so many years ago. I never stopped believing in God, I only stopped believing in my own worth. I convinced myself that I wasn’t a beautiful child of God anymore, that I was caked with sin and ungratefulness for the things that He offered me and I turned down. The time for that thinking is over.

Over the past few weeks I have started to reignite my interest in making God the center of my life again. Each time I do this I find that I am faced with a trial that tries to derail me. This time I thanked God for the trial set before me. I thanked Him for the opportunity to trust Him and grow from adversity. Immediately after I did that I felt completely peaceful about the situation. For the first time in years I was able to say thank you and hand over the struggle to God and say that I am not in control of it anymore… and to be completely okay with that knowledge. Wow, what a major step for me!

My challenge this week is to continue to let God shape my life, to actively seek Him and the plan that He has for my life. I’ve just finished Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life that was recommended to me by my dearest friend and I am amazed at how clear my purpose feels to me right now.

It is one thing to feel that you have a purpose and another thing to DO what you are being called to do though. And so the journey begins…

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?”
Psalm 27:1

“If we confess our sins he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

“ For I know the plans I have for you—This is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”
Jeremiah 29:11