Monthly Archives: September 2014

Tripping Over the Potholes Of Comparison

This week I have the honor of setting aside my random thoughts and contemplations and instead, I get to introduce you to one of my dearest friends – Meagan!  After much persuasion and a bit of patience (good writing, like wine, takes time and a bit of squeezing), she’s finally graced us with a guest blog post!  I’m thrilled. 
                She has written articles for several well-known publications, has traveled to one or two  corners of the Earth, is a wife to a pretty decent dude, lives in them there mountains, is the friend of a fox or two AND is provider of sugary nectar for several hummingbirds.  But as cool as all that stuff is, those things are merely indicators of the large heart and vibrant spirit this woman envelops – not who she actually is.  She is a woman who has the humility to merely seek the Father, vigilantly deal with her personal healing, love those around her, and enjoy life as best as she humanly can. 
                Meagan has been a major force in my life over the time I have known her, and I am excited for you to meet her and get to know her heart too.  Also, when you’re done reading, leave a comment for her! 

It’s so easy to look at others — and I do it all the time — and see what we don’t have or who we aren’t. “She’s written a book,” “she has a nice house,” “he’s smarter and more capable than me,” “he’s traveled the world, “she has an amazing job,” “she overcame cancer and is a doctor now,” and, my personal favorite, “They all have purpose and I don’t have anything that is special about me.”

The fact is, looking around at everyone else denies and detracts from what God made you. It’s kind of an insult. Yeah, I may not have those things or talents or experiences that the people I look up to have, but we’ve got to learn that those external things are not what give us value. What gives me value is the unique person God made me, simply because he loves me. I have worth, because I belong to the God of the universe. My identity is as His — not as the things I accomplish or the talents or stuff I have.

How could he have made me and not love me? Would he have spent so much time making me that he knows every hair on my head, and not given me a unique purpose in this world to live out? Would he let me miss out on that– if I’m really seeking His will? Certainly not — he’s not a petty, ruthless God out to show you how bad you suck compared to him and everyone else. Instead, he is your champion and cheerleader. Embrace what he gave you, learn to love what he made you.

So stop looking around at everybody else, stop looking down at the potholes in your life — your inadequacies, your circumstances that look to ensnare you in an endless pit of discontent — and look forward to Christ alone.

A wise lady, my counselor of 15 years, told me: If you are running from a monster, and you look back at it, all of your energy is consumed by focusing on it instead of the path of escape. If you are running a race, and looking around at your competitors, they will overtake you.

Keep your eyes focused on the one thing that can keep you going forward, in the right direction. Christ alone.

So that I don’t leave you without any idea of what that means, here are some ways to get your eyes off yourself and others, and on to the place they belong.

  • Instead of waking up and thinking about the day in front of you, pray this prayer FIRST thing: “God, what do you have for me today?” Wait and listen. Tell him your thoughts, feelings and fears and listen. Keep talking to him, keep listening. This will be very difficult to do at first, so don’t beat yourself up, just keep trying. If your mind strays, come back to talking to him.
  • Then, as you are eating your brekkie, or before you leave for school or work, read a Psalm every morning – pick an encouraging one, not a sad one or the ones that have ancient Israeli history that you can’t relate to. As you read, focus on God’s promises and his greatness.
  • Think of what promises he’s kept to you and WRITE THEM DOWN. In a journal, on a notepad, wherever. It will help you remember them. Think of the scripture you read throughout the day.
  • As you go throughout your day and good things happen, or you are encouraged by something, WRITE IT DOWN on that notepad, thank God for it OUT LOUD (even if you work in a cubicle, do it as a whisper). Praising God audibly discourages the enemy’s attacks.

 

That’s a start. We’ll do more next post. There’s lots of help to be had. Keep up hope.

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Pirate Eyes

Pirate hori
Today is National Talk Like A Pirate Day.  No really, apparently it is.  I discovered this amazing tid bit of glorious holiday-ness when I was in college.  So speak with pirate-speak, me matey.  Strrrretch out yer “arrrrrrrrrs” in everrrrrrry worrrrrrd you use.  Yell “Aye” and “Nay” as often as you can.  And, if you’rrrrre super-clever and piratey you’ll slip the quote, “I disincline to acquiesce to your request” at least thrrree times into yerrr speak.

But really.  I’ve felt ratherrr pirrrratey (annnd that’s annoying) for the last three or four weeks.  No, I’m not wearing large gold hoop earrings, I don’t have a strange urge to cover my hair with a bandanna, my personal hygiene is at normal levels, and I don’t have large, length-of-my-leg knives (otherwise known as swords) on a belt, bruising my hip.

No, I’ve been feeling piratey in the sense that I’m rather envious of some of my friends.    I want what they want, and I even have moments when I am green-eyed envious enough to want to just take it.  Not that I could.   I look at their lives, their relationships, their houses, their careers, and I get envious.   I just… I somehow foolishly thought I’d be where they are at this point in my life.  Well, no, that’s not true.  I thought I’d be living in the middle of Africa (somehow still with my curling iron) teaching missionary kids.  And I’m not doing that either.

Instead I’m in my early thirties, going to school to get a Masters that does not guarantee me a job (and definitely not a well-paying one).  I don’t have my own place.  I nanny for a living.  I’m crying a lot recently.  And romantically, well I’m bust.

The thing is, on an intellectual level, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I wouldn’t give up a single year or experience.  Looking back, God has obviously written my story, bringing me here, now, to this pretty painful moment (okay, not JUST to this moment, but to this season of life).  And I know good things are going to come of this time.  And I know I need to stay here, in this pain, in this confusion, frustration and loneliness.  I shouldn’t run from it.  I shouldn’t dwell in it, but I shouldn’t ignore it either.  I’m here for a reason.  I have lessons to learn here.  There are wonderful, joyful memories to be had here.  I need to stay and search for them.

I can’t dwell in the familiarity of the past, and I shouldn’t escape to the mystery of the future.

But my heart…well, my heart is pretty raw right now.  In my envy of those around me, I forget what I know about the character of God.  I forget that He is good (or I run to my “well, God’s good is different than ours” speech).  I forget that He is righteous, and jealous, and can get angry when His children are hurt or get distracted by smaller gods.  I forget so quickly how holy He is.  I forget that He is loving.  I forget that He has placed the passions and desires within my heart for a reason – whether or not I ever actually experience those passions and deep desires becoming fulfilled.  I forget that He is GOD.  That He can make anything – ANYTHING – happen, that He has a reason for everything (even in my piddly little life).  I forget that He moved Heaven and Earth with His love in order to redeem me.  I forget.  I forget all that He has given me (really, I have lived an incredible life).  I forget that He holds me, that He knows how many hairs are on my head, and that He cherishes every tear I cry.

I forget that He loves me better than anyone else ever has, can, or will.  And that as He is the one in charge of my story, He’s writing the best version – director’s cut – of said story.  I need to trust that He’s got this, that the desires in me will either fade away, or be fulfilled and either way they should send me to Him, not to staring at what my friends have.

As long as I don’t have the green, envious eyes of a pirate, life is good.

But even better – GOD is good, all the time.

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The Here and Now

We don’t always recognize the BIG moments when they occur – often they look like all the normal ones that bookend either side.

Which I guess is another reason to pay attention to what’s going on here, now, right now.  Because someday you might want to look back and remember this very moment.

This very moment that you’re living through might be the reason a group of strangers become friends and hang out.  Or the reason you apply for that new job.  Or the inspiration for a new song you write.  Or the moment you find the courage to smile back at him.

And if you’re so focused on the past, you’re not gonna remember this moment.

And if you’re too focused on the mystical future, you’re not gonna remember the details of this moment.

So pay attention.  Don’t wish yourself elsewhere.  Don’t try to just live through it; don’t agree to just survive it.

Pay attention.

 

(Yes, I realize this is just an extension of last week.  Not sure what God’s trying to tell me.  Maybe to stop complaining and to just enjoy the journey. )

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Someday….

Someday, after I make the team.  Someday, when I have that job.  Someday, when I lose that weight.  Someday, when I make more money.  Someday when I have a different boss.  Someday, when I’m no longer renting.  Someday, when I have a dog. Someday when I don’t have a dog.  Someday when I have a better car.  Someday when my prince has come.

It’s such a wonderful thing to dream about, isn’t it?  Someday?  It’s magical.  You think about “Someday” and it sparkles like a toddler’s glitter-covered masterpiece (who ever thought it was a great idea to give toddlers glitter?  At least it comes out the other side.  Which makes me wonder about the stuff that gets stuck somewhere on the journey through.  Sparkly toddler innards.  Hmmmm – okay, I’m done now).  As I was saying, someday is a fun place to dream about.   A whole lot more fun, often, than enjoying today.

The thing is, it’s a trap.  If you are constantly focused on “someday”, you’re missing today.  And when that happens to me, anyway, I tend to miss the lessons I’m supposed to be learning (or those lessons are a whole lot harder than they should be), and I don’t enjoy the experiences that make up life as it is today.  I’m so busy dreaming about the future that I miss the awesomeness of what’s going on now.

And I get it.  I mean, I’m really enjoying school and life right now, but there is part of me that is very ready to be done with school and onto whatever else is next.  I want another adventure, a different challenge, something sparkly.  I don’t want to wait.  I don’t want to “waste” the next two years.  Because everyday – normal, boring, everyday – can seem like a waste when Someday glistens and beckons ahead, just around the bend.

The hardest part, for me anyway, is when other people tell me about Someday, and how wonderful it’s going to be for me when I have sparkly bling on my left ring finger, or I have a diploma on my wall, or I can fit into jeans three sizes smaller, or my car can climb mountains or get better gas mileage, or whatever.  The thing is – their words are only hard or distracting if I let them be.  Usually such things are said with the best, most encouraging of intentions.  And if I listen too closely, or give their kind words too much power, I can begin to think that my life has no value or worth, or I don’t have a valid opinion until mystical someday happens.  So I have to keep in mind that really and truly, they’re being encouraging, and go about my daily life from there.

Because now, because Everyday, because Normal can be magical too, if I pay attention.  It’s a harder skill to learn, a slightly more nuanced flavor to develop an appreciation for, but it’s worth it.  After all, today, every day, is where you live.  Normal is where the lessons happen.  Normal is where the magic actually happens.  Here and now is when you grow.  Day to day is incredibly valuable and necessary.

Don’t get so lost in Someday that you lose the magic and wonder of Today.  Someday will come soon enough, but if you’re so used to looking for someday out in the future, you’re not going to notice when it takes the sly appearance of Everyday.

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