Monthly Archives: July 2014

Margins

Rose heart

 

This week has been a blessing for me.  A while ago I heard someone say that she tries to live with “margins” in her life – meaning that she tries to live with a bit of extra time in every day to be able to appreciate the beauty around her.  I’m sure she was quoting someone famous, but I don’t know who, and she didn’t cite her reference.

Over the past year I’ve begun discovering the importance of “living with margins”, and what exactly that means.  Sometimes this is a conscious choice (and battle) to not schedule every moment of her day; sometimes this is simply a choice to look for the beauty found amongst the unavoidable busy.  It’s a way of living life.

Starting a week ago today, I’ve had the gift of very large margins.  Last week Friday did not go as planned.  Not that it was a bad thing (hence the reason no post last week – sorry)!  I got to see people I hadn’t planned on seeing, chat with them, and took a friend grocery shopping.  And then I got to go to a (planned) game night.  It was a great day – just not the blog-writing, sewing, productive one I had planned!

Most of my days since then have been similar to last Friday, mostly because other plans were cancelled.  It was absolutely brilliant.  I have time to spend catching up, and not feeling guilty as I sit and listen to the rain, or taking pictures (can someone say ‘therapy’?) of pretty flowers, or hanging out with friends and youth kids, or really soaking in some wise words of a book, or of a song.  The week has not gone according to plan A…or plan B…or sometimes even plan C, but since I have the time to discover what plan D is, it’s really no big deal.  And I love that.  I want to live my life – as much of it as possible – this way.
I need to learn how to schedule such time into each day; I need to learn that I don’t have to schedule each moment of every day.  It’s NOT a waste of time if there aren’t plans in my calendar.

It’s a different way to spend time, a healthier way.  It’s good.  I cannot tell you how relaxed my spirit is.  I can breathe again.

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“Love thy neighbor”

“And love your neighbor as yourself.”

The first time I actually thought about that verse must have happened sometime in middle school, because I remember thinking, “Huh, I can do better than that.  I don’t love myself, but I love others.  I can love my neighbor better than I love myself.”

I’ve heard quite a few sermons and theories about this particular verse over the years.  Everything from, “Well, it actually means to love yourself as you’d love your neighbor” to “You know, try to love yourself, try to love your neighbor” to “Love God, that’s what really matters”.

I wonder if loving ourselves is a uniquely Western culture problem (where very few people actually love themselves, actually are comfortable in their own skin – everyone just pretends) or if this is an age-old human problem.   I think maybe, if it were a universal problem, perhaps the scriptures would have been worded differently.  Maybe.

Because we pretend we love ourselves.  And sure, we’re selfish, we still take care of Number One before we take care of everyone else.  And if that’s what the scripture means – to take care of everyone else to the same extent that you take care of yourself – as some of my professors think – than it’s an easy scripture.  I mean, no not easy.   Taking care of someone else to the same extent that you take care of yourself, or protecting someone else as much as you protect your own well-being is never “easy”…but it’s rather surface-level if you ask me.

I have come to realize, over the years, that if I don’t “love myself”, than I can’t love others well.  And this gets tricky.  Because, yes, without fully being comfortable with whom I am, without liking my quirks, strengths and weaknesses, I can still be nice to people.  I can still be kind.  But…it is not the same as if I am fully embracing myself.  If I’m not a fan of who I am, I can only be nice or kind or giving or date someone so long before things start blowing up.  Whether I suddenly start showing my judgmental thoughts, or just stop showing up to hang out, or start getting super depressed (this is NOT the only reason for depression, mind you) or dependent on others or any number of super unhealthy things, something awful is going to show up.  Guaranteed.

But even bigger than that is the simple thing that love is generally meant to be reciprocated.  So, if you don’t love the person you are created to be, than how can you allow anyone else to love you (because yes, to some extent you have to allow and accept love from others)?  If you don’t love yourself, you can’t allow someone else’s love for you to really penetrate the depths of you that love is meant to penetrate.

The tricky thing is – that you can’t.  You just can’t love yourself, love the person you are, without God’s help.  Sorry.  It’s just not going to happen.   Only through the knowledge that you are Christ’s kid, and dearly loved by Him, specially created to have the quirks, strengths, weaknesses and passions you do, can you begin to really, truly, embrace the person you are.  And it is only by His strength in this world of brokenness that is trying to get you to believe the lie that you are never good enough and must be constantly doing something else; that you can even begin to accept the amazing being you have been created to be.

So, again, start praying.  Pray that God opens your eyes to see yourself as He sees you – as much as He’ll let you.  If we could see how deeply loved and precious we are in God’s eyes, than I’m pretty sure we’d be able to enjoy and hold close the person God is calling each of us to be.

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Filed under Personal Image, Relationships, Self / Emotions

freedom

I sit on my bed, a puppy curled up next to me, my laptop on my lap, a thunderstorm rolling in (which, if I didn’t live in Colorado, I might worry about interfering with the fireworks later on, but the storm’ll be gone in a couple minutes here), a familiar ache in my heart (again, don’t worry – I’m used to this one, the pain will also pass in a few minutes here), and I’m rather uninspired to write.
Which is sad, because I’ve had an awesome week.  Camping with teenagers, getting to know some new friends a bit more, finally sumitting a 14-er (an over 14,000 feet above sea level mountain), some relaxation time, some good ministry, sensing God moving, and just so much.
I could talk about the necessity of community, or how God loves each and every one of us, how His grace really is sufficient for each of us every day, how, with God, our history does not necessarily dictate our future, just…so much.
But the familiar ache is rather overwhelming in this moment.  And none of the above feels right.
So, instead I’m simply going to tell you to enjoy your 4th of July.  Enjoy the family and friends, the food, the crowds (somehow), the fireworks.  If you’re odd like me, go buy a pack of black licorice and eat it as you watch the fireworks explode in gorgeous colors above your head. Enjoy the deliciousness.  Enjoy these moments.  They are priceless.
And while you are enjoying the summer holiday, I challenge you to be “real” with one person.  Let one person see the mess you are (because, be real, we all are messes).  God uses messy people in awesome, powerful ways – especially their stories.  So go share your story.  Experience the freedom in letting someone really know you.  Be willing to open up, that God might use your story to reach into someone else’s heartache moment and heal or encourage or free them with what He’s done in you.

 

 

PS – I have a new tab up there. It’s meant specifically for any teenage girl reading this blog, but feel free to go check it out even if you’re not!

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