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.