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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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What I Know About Rejection

Today is a “rubber meets the road” type-of-day. Love will get me through, this is what I’m told. Love is the sustainer of ALL things. Even crappy, senseless things.

One thing I’ve been learning about rejection is this:

1. It hurts and it never gets easier to cope.

2. Learning NOT to take things (especially rejection) personally is hard.

3. Not everything someone does or doesn’t do is about you. Most times, in fact, it is not.

So for today, I will suffer through my hurt with a smile on my face. I will shower, eat and enjoy the day as best I humanly can. I will try, also as best as I can, not to dwell. Not to reject back. My world is full of more than just one person.

I’ll choose to believe that it’s not about me. Rejection likes to finger point and say it is but Truth tells me that is not true.

I’m also learning…

4. That if someone else feels rejected, they pull away like I often do and I then come into agreement with them. It’s like I believe the lie and that perpetuates the welfare system and then behave accordingly. Reject the rejector makes sense, it’s a safe way to stay safe but ultimately I give away my power which pretty much just says I think the lie has more weight than the truth.

Then Truth Himself.

That’s bullshit of course and I know it.

So when rejection comes, as it is today, it’s pretty much because I have this “idea” in my head how things are to go and they aren’t, because I feel someone’s hesitancy when I want to feel anything other than…

Expectation surely can be the death of me.

But it won’t.

Sometimes God invites us into a storm so WE can calm it.

I can do this.

Learning to love beyond what I see in the natural is hard. Learning to love as Jesus loves me is harder because He makes it look so effortless and easy, even though I know there are days where our choices pain grief Him deeply. Those days, it must be very hard to love.

Hard but not impossible.

So what am I being redirected towards?

Something better indeed. That something is someone. I’m becoming deeply rooted in the Father’s love, rooted in love for others and for the first time in a long time, rooted in love for myself.

 

 

 

 

freedom

As many of you know, our oldest two children are serving our country’s military. Our oldest son is a United States Marine and our oldest daughter is a United States Navy Sailor. I have heard countless times many people thank them both for their service and as their mother, I have watched and listened to their response. “Thank you for your support.” That’s the response that has stuck in my brain.

“Thank you.”

They would never brag about their sincerity of gratitude for support but as their mother, I will.

“Thank you.”

It is hard not to think about them both and not think about the word “FREEDOM.” Maybe because I’ve heard it spoken so many times. Maybe it’s just a natural thought that comes instantaneously when one thanks another for their service and willingness to defend our freedoms.

Freedoms. What exactly are we free from?

Some of my favorite quotes about freedom are the following:

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” – Mahatma Gandi

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” – Jim Morrison 

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” – Soren Kierkegaard

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:13-14

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”  – Maya Angelou 

“Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.” – Judy Blume

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” – Sigmund Freud

“Walking in true freedom means that everyone around you feels just as free.” – Sherri Fleagle Browning

My friend Sherri wrote the last quote. She actually lived it before she penned the words but I found it the other day and to be honest, I’ve been praying about it. Seriously. If I am walking in TRUE FREEDOM, what in the hell does that look like?

*Am I giving myself the freedom to make mistakes and when I do, am I really hard on myself? Do I walk in shame and guilt. Do I do the same to others when they make mistakes? Do I shame or guilt them and hold them to an impossible standard of perfection they cannot meet?

*Do I give myself the freedom to be myself? Am I being WHO I was created to be? Do I even know who I am outside my roles, responsibilities, idiosyncrasies, insecurities and personalities? Do I see others, like REALLY see them and do I give them the freedom to be themselves?

I could go on with my incessant questioning. I wish would my brain would shut off and I could dwell on other things, simple things like buying milk and bread and if my shoes matched my outfit but I don’t. I think of inside things that constantly keep me working inside myself. Am I walking free?

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Because how I walk affects other people. I wish it didn’t but it does. I recently became incredibly aware of how walking in rejection was affecting the relationships around me. I felt rejected so I projected back, “Fine. Then I will reject you.” 

I am forty-four years old and a grown ass woman still playing high school games.

So if I am seeping rejection, which is really just a form of modern-day slavery of the mind and heart, then those around me are most-likely feeling rejected or thinking that there is something wrong with them. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe most people are way more mature than I am but if my hunch about my fellow humans are correct, even Jesus-loving-knows-better-than-this humans, than I have heaped a generous load of coal on other people’s heads.

But burning is good, so I have been told.

Now, more than ever, more of us have the freedom to care, the freedom to connect, the freedom to choose, the freedom to initiate, the freedom to do what matters. If we choose.

The problem is freedom. Not that we don’t have enough freedom but that we can’t handle the freedom we have. Or more accurately, we believe we can’t handle it. Freedom brings the appearance of risk, freedom brings responsibility, freedom means we must make a choice. Freedom is our problem and freedom is our opportunity. I pray we use our freedom wisely, that we don’t manhandle it or use it for self-seeking reasons that harm or hinder others because truly my friend Sherri is more wise than most when she says, “Walking in true freedom means that everyone around you feels just as free.”

Yes. I want to walk free but I think I want to walk free so badly because I want others to do the same. It is not just for me. I think it is part of my identity. It’s the Jesus part of me. I know slavery’s yoke. I know rejection. I know abuse. I know depression and anxiety fueled by fear that won’t lose its grip but I also know truth, rest and peace. I know love, joy and mercy. I know what perspective can do, what grace can bring and what forgiveness offers.

If you knew the former first hand, you’d want to know the latter.

For everyone.

Non-Negotiable 

There have been times throughout my life where I’ve stood before a Giant shaking in my boots so afraid that I’ve turned and ran in the other direction and times where I have compromised my integrity, my beliefs and my heart because what was before me was so big. But mostly I’ve trembled beneath my own skin and morphed into who I thought the situation needed me to be or who I thought the Giant would accept. I’ve thought long and hard about who I could become that would cause the least amount of waves or which part of me would create the least amount of damage…

Because I have always associated myself with damage.

So over time, I’ve learned to play safe and be small. I know some would not think that because I can talk a good talk (because I long to walk a good walk) but deep inside, I’ve felt it even if I didn’t always show it and feeling it has been enough to keep me in the ring. In the fight.

It’s not necessary to go into the details of how I’ve gotten to where I’m at because back-stories often draw a crowd and a lot sympathy but they often create more of a mess than what they are worth so I’ll forgo the drama and just say I’ve come to the end of my rope.

It will suffice.

I found myself desperately begging the other day. It was a horribly hard and pathetic moment in my life but there I was, pleading. I was desperate. Looking back now, it really doesn’t matter what I was pleading for but the act itself brought me to my knees on my bathroom floor and after a long, hard cry I heard these words.

Stop compromising.”

If Jesus was ever to bring Truth to my heart, it was in that moment.

When I compromise my identity, I find myself much like a beggar along some street corner, pleading for something. Anything.

Love.

Acceptance.

Value.

And so the Father asked me as I sat paper-thin and crossed legged on the cold tile, “WHAT have you been compromising?” I know He knew but I know He needed me to think this through.

Everything was my reply.

“What are your non-negotiable’s?”

And three words came to mind. He then asked if I was willing to compromise myself to get them?

“Even if going after them gets hard and cost you everything, would you stand strong before your Giant or would you accept less than you know you worth?” 

Worth? Haven’t most of the church settings I’ve been in taught that I’m really nothing without Jesus and if that’s the case, shouldn’t I just be happy with what I get instead of trying to rock the boat? Because you know, everyone has their “thing” they waiver in so at some point, isn’t settling just something we do?

I knew my answer to His question. I know going forward what my non-negotiable’s are and that they are not self-seeking so I can be comfortable and content. If anything, I know that standing for them would fully embody and express the Father. I know the questions I was asked were from Him because I feel empowered to stay in the ring. I am free. Not free to be mean, as in “If I don’t get my way, too bad for you”, but free to be me. I know that’s WHO He wants us all to be, even if we create ripples or waves and even if it cost us more than the boat we stand in.

My identity is non-negotiable. It cannot be bartered and it’s not up for bid on an auctioneer’s block. My value is not determined by what someone is willing to pay….set by how far they are willing to reach into to me or if they do or do not change.

I have to keep reminding myself of these Truths because they are His.

Self-acceptance indeed is a small and quiet room. One that’s often padded at the end of long and lonely hall.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

 

You Will Not Have My Hatred

I am not sure where I read about Antoine Leiris but his words “You will not have my hatred,” found a way into my heart and buried themselves deep.

“You will not have my hatred,” says Antoine Leiris in a FB post that addressed Islamic State terrorists behind the deadly strike in which 129 people were killed. On Friday November 13, 2015, Islamic State terrorists struck at multiple targets in Paris including the Bataclan theatre, the Stade de France football stadium and a pizzeria, gunning down people. Over 89 concert-goers were killed at the Bataclan theatre in the worst of the attacks. Mr Leiris’ wife was among them.

“Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you’re dead souls.

No I won’t make you this gift of hating you. You have it coming, but to respond to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to look at my fellow citizens suspiciously, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You lose. The player still plays.

I saw her this morning. At last, after nights and days of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell head over heels in love with her more than 12 years ago. Of course I’m devastated with grief, I grant you this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will be with us every day and that we will find each other in heaven with free souls which you will never have.

My son and I, we will be stronger than all the armies in the world. I cannot waste any more time on you as I must go back (to my son) who has woken from his sleep. He is 17 months old, he’ll eat his snack like any other day, then we will play like every other day and all his life this little boy will dare to be happy and free. Because No, you won’t have his hatred either.”

Let’s be honest, most of human kind will not experience an attack like this. You and I, in our regular lives will not find ourselves being the unlucky recipient of such terroristic acts against humanity. We most likely won’t find ourselves in theatre’s, football stadium’s or pizzerias. We most likely won’t find ourselves in high-rise buildings or airplanes. We may not even find ourselves in schools, churches or outdoor concert venues where mass shootings occur. Whatever our life, Whoever we are; White, Black, Christian, Muslim, Straight, Gay, Upper Class, Lower Class, Democrat or Republican…we may never be placed in a situation where we later write, “You will not have my hatred.”

Or will we?

Let’s take this down to our level, in fact, let me bring this down to mine.

I am a White, Middle-Class Soccer Mom.

I’m straight.

I’m a Christian.

I have no clue which political party I identify with.

I have a college degree. A full-time job. Married with kids.

I vacation every summer. Eat out when I want to. Attend Church when I can.

I have never been denied a job based off the fact that I am a White Female though I have been the recipient of the occasional cat call or random solicitation for “friendships” on FB from male strangers who think I am nothing but “pretty.”

I have never been laughed at our made fun of and have absolutely never been a target of  a hate crime based off the fact that I am any and all of the above.

I know no real persecution, except that which lies within me, and for the most part, have a cushy life.

And yet I sit at times and fester.

I give them my hatred.

Things have been stolen from me.

I have been suspicious and have sought refuge in feeling safe.

I have grieved.

I have done all these things and more and day after day, my hatred seethes and disguises itself…even from myself.

Because I know that hatred starts small. It starts with one moment and then builds to two and then five…five hundred small and inconspicuous moments where fear takes a hold and plants a root.

Hurt can become an offense.

Enough offenses and you give way for hatred, even towards ones self, to reign and rule.

Can we take gut-wrenching events, like the one that happened on November 13, 2015, and make something large-scale small?

Yes.

We have to.

I want to.

I cannot afford to allow my wounds to fester because loving large-scale means I need to love small-scale FIRST. With me. With you. If I miss it here, with the person staring back at me in the mirror or the one standing before me, I’ll miss it there.

And I simply do not want to miss a oppotunity to forgive, an opportunity to love where I know it can have the greatest impact.

You will not have my hatred.” 

These are the words of Antoine Leiris. They are mine.

Will they be yours?

 

 

as is

When I was in college, I fell in love with a leather backpack at a store downtown. It was everything that a leather backpack should be but it had this little defect; the one clasp wouldn’t quite close properly and the one strap was a few inches longer than the other. Minor defects, but still. It was marked, “AS IS” and when I approached the sales associate and asked her to lower the price of the bag, she politely said, “NO. The bag is as marked.”

And I really, REALLY loved that bag. So guess what, I bought it and to this day, I love it still. It is all tattered and worn and the one clasp still won’t close properly and the one strap is noticeably longer the the other, but I don’t care. I love it because it’s an old friend and has seen me on many a journey besides, it’s different and different to me is good.

My oldest son has a girlfriend and they have been dating for almost two years and we love her very much. When your kids grow up, you find yourself wondering about their future so you pay close attention to the people in the lives. Their relationship makes me think of my own with his father,  my husband, and how over the years I have tried to change him. I have tried to make him THIS when he was THAT and I realize I’ve done that on too many occasions to count. It’s a brutal realization but nonetheless, it has helped me learn how to pray for my son; that he would love his girlfriend, AS IS. 

I could have decided that day many, many years ago that that leather bag was not for me. I know it was just a bag, but it is probably one of the first times I remember consciously thinking to myself, “Is this something I want to sign up for?” AS IN, “Is this really worth the money?” because I was in college and was operating without a lot of cash. 

I wish I could adopt the intentionality of asking those questions on a regular basis but I’m getting there because it’s important to know what is and isn’t you. Not everything or everyone is for me and maybe if I’d take a moment to ask myself what and who IS, I’d be more willing to dig my heels in when the going gets tough, because the going always does. Maybe if I keep practicing embracing the “as is” in my life, I’d be more at peace and find joy outside of a fleeting feeling. Maybe I’d walk a little bit more free if I wasn’t so bogged down by regret or guilt because I said YES when I should have said NO.

Maybe. 

Because I want my YES to mean YES. 

Absolutely.

All in.

Without a doubt.

Till the end and then.

Friends, please make the time to intentionally ask yourself the hard questions like, “Is THIS something or someone I want to sign up for?” If you answer yes…enjoy the journey of learning how to hold them in your hands, open-hearted, not expecting or secretly hoping they would change, but loving them fully as is. If their clasp doesn’t close just right or their one strap is not the same length as the other…

If they never lose weight.

If they never get your jokes.

If they religiously leave their underwear laying on the floor in the bathroom after they shower and they often don’t make the bed and their cups pile up on the counter beside the sink.

Can you love them, all the way through?

Can I? 

We are free to be ourselves when we know we are unconditionally loved and accepted for WHO we are. When I think of what brings me the most joy in this life, it is that. Being me. 

And I am most myself when I love people right where they are at. 

“Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7

 

 

what to let go of and what to hold onto

I, like many of you, are using the days after Thanksgiving to get ready for Christmas. I no longer go Black Friday shopping so I use that time to put my Fall decorations away and bring down my Christmas decorations from the attic.

And according to the amount of decorations that I have, I must really like Christmas.

Growing up, my mother decorated for each season, LIKE THE WHOLE HOUSE, and as her oldest daughter, I have obviously felt the need to continue her legacy. On Friday I brought my bins of snowmen and trees and wreaths all down from the attic and one by one, I got them out and some I just wasn’t so into, but I put them out anyway. Then I took them down. Then I took down some more. 

It’s possible to NOT FEEL a Christmas decoration.

The beginning of October I cleaned out our bedroom. I took everything out in preparation of painting. EVERYTHING as in ALL. I painted our walls, shampooed our carpets and cleaned our windows. Once our bedroom furniture was in, I was left with bins of STUFF and left with the decision of what to let go of and what to hold onto.

Some of these belongings just wouldn’t fit. The walls and the bedding were a different color, the dressers were not the same. Some of the stuff I had really never wanted but was gifted therefore displayed and most of the items were from like twenty years ago; old watches, my children’s first teeth, old notes, socks and belts…pants that would never again see the light of day. Over the years, I had gone through and cleaned out but there is nothing quite like taking it ALL out and then deciding what gets put back in…becuase it all doesn’t have to.

Taking those snowman down that I didn’t want really got me thinking about how important it is not to hold onto to things that don’t carry value or are no longer us. Maybe years ago, cute little ceramic decorations were me, maybe they brought me great joy or maybe they were just THERE and then somehow HERE in my home, but I am no longer at a place in life were I’m looking for fillers. I know what I want and am not going to settle for anything less than. I’m all about compromise but I’m no longer about settling. There’s a difference.

The entirety of my life I have kept things, even relationships with people, because I though I HAD to. I remember my mother gave me my deceased grandmothers ceramic white cat when she passed away because I apparently liked it when I was a child. I brought that thing home and could not, for the love, understand WHAT it is was doing in my house. For a few weeks it sat there all out of place and stared at me and I loathed it each day more and more till eventually I got the guts up to remove it all together. BUT IT’S YOUR GRANDMOTHERS….I could hear the voices in my head trying to make me feel bad. Not having it. All the sentiments in the world could not make me love that cat enough to keep it.

Friends, stuff is easy to get rid of. You just get your brutality on and decide what’s important and what’s not, you grab some bags and open up the back of your vehicle and TA-DAH. You drive that stuff far, far away. People on the other hand, not so easy. You cannot pick up your relatives or your friends and stuff them in grocery bags and throw them in the back of your Jeep …though it’s tempting at times. You cannot go by your feelings, absolutely not. Try your very best to keep yourself open to everyone you encounter and hold each of them in your hands, one-hearted. Some will stay with you over the course of time, some will ebb and flow in and out and there WILL be seasons when some just can’t stay. I’m learning to ask Holy Spirit, the voice inside of me that whispers to my heart, WHO is to be in my life in THIS season. SHOW ME. 

And He always does.

Somewhere along the way I have believed the lie that I have to. I have to keep everything…I have to do everything…I have to be for everyone. In reality, the only thing I have to is be true to myself and the only way I know what is true FOR ME, is to spend time with Jesus and continually ask Him…

What stay and what goes?

Who.

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” – Proverbs 4:23 The Message

 

“It’s OK”

I got online and placed the order. I then followed up with a phone call, just to verify. This is what one does when they don’t have much time and they have to drive to another state to pick up a gift. They make sure everything is taken care of on their end so life goes well and planned.

Easy peasy. 

But not really. Absolutely not reality. 

I arrived on time, fourty-five minutes from home on a work day. “I am sorry. Your ticket never printed so your order is not ready. Can you wait?”

I almost died.

“Yes.”

“I am sorry. I’m not sure what happened.”

It took a lot of effort, but I looked her in the eyes and smiled because there are worse things and I KNOW it. 

And I did NOT say it

I’ve come to realize through a series of unfortunate events that I’ve had the life long habit of saying “OK.”

“Don’t worry about it, it’s OK.”

“Yep. I’m OK.”

Every time I speak those words out loud, I discovered I’m not necessarily mouthing them FOR the other persons benefit, as one would think. I mean maybe sometimes in an attempt to people please or smooth things over so there’s not conflict but for the most part, my OK is a learned response so don’t think feel or think that things AREN’T

Becuase OUR perception becomes OUR reality for as a man thinks in his heart he is. 

If I think I’m OK than I am, right?


Because you shouldn’t think or feel any other way. You keep things looking nice. You stay happy. You keep your yard neatly mowed and your house clean so when guest arrive and cross over your threshold and have a seat at your tabke, they have NO IDEA that you are anything other than…

OK

And with thhat one, small word, the battle begins…

“Don’t feel that way.”

But I do.
“Don’t think those thoughts.”
But I am. 
And every time I contradict myself, I burn. I seethe in the fiery flames. But then there’s Jesus, in it with me saying, “OK. Now let me show you another way so you can move forward from here.”

He is Love, Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness and Truth and He inserts Himself into my hole till I no longer have to climb my way out. I just AM out.
Was it the end of the world that they botched my order causing me a thirty-three  minute delay with my day? NO. Did it kind of ruffle my feathers that I showed up having done MY part and they didn’t show up and do THEIRS? 
YES. 

So I DID NOT look her in the eyes when she apologized and say, “It’s OK.

I DID look her in face with all the willpower I could muster and smiled, even if slightly forced, and my heart remained opened becuase of it. In return, I didn’t think awful thoughts as I walked out of the door. Don’t get me wrong, lots of thoughts went through my head at warp speed but pretending I WASN’T having them was not going to do me any good and in return, her good. 

I gave myself PERMISSION to BE, just as I was which totally and completely freed me to be genuine and sincere with the rest of the world around me. If I had said that one, Small word…I most likely would have walked out the door angry and bitter towards THEM because of MY choice not to show up honest and real. 

WITH me. IN my moment. 

Some things in life friends are not OK

Wherever you are at today, be honest with yourself FIRST. I believe if you don’t try to quickly drag yourself out of some hole and just give yourself permission to be there for a moment or two so you can process it all through, you can remain at peace and walk unoffened. 

Progress

Advancement. Growth. Unfolding. Working. Process. Movement. Practice. Stepping.

These are all words I’ve used to describe life and though there are moments when I would use other words, I’d say I consistently choose these ones because they are all relatively positive and enough relatively positive moments mean something GOOD is taking place.

Life is.

But let’s not hung up on my word choices because I’ve seen word choices hang people up ** as in SHUT PEOPLE UP ** So let’s do this…before we go any further, posture yourself to hear my heart more than you hear my words because the last thing I’d want is to trip you up with mine. 

Ultimately, my words convey that I’m somewhere fluid and not just sitting stagnate, decaying in some corner sucking my thumb. I’m developing. I am a work in progress, like film taken from a camera that finds herself in a dark room for a short periods of time behind some closed door. But here’s the thing…the very best moments happen in the dark, like the development of life’s precious ones. 

For the last TWO WEEKS, I’ve been painting. To hear myself say those words, one would think I’ve painted my whole house, but that’s not the case. Not in the least. I have in fact painted my sons bedroom from top to bottom, some doors, a rocking chair and the start of a bench. I wanted to be done three days ago but I’ve found myself standing on my front porch at 7:45 PM more days than not and am tired of wearing crappy clothes and being adorned with grey, red and white hands. I’m slightly exhausted and ready to move on with regular living, but here I am, still painting. 

Why in the hell is this taking so long? 

Good question. 

For a bit yesterday, I began to feel bad, like l-o-s-e-r bad. Like I SHOULD have been done, I should have been THERE, but I’m not. I am HERE, still. And since thinking like that was getting me NO WHERE fast, I decided to think about Jesus who says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44 Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy. This is truth. Sometimes I don’t need your opinions of me, I have enough of my own. During times like this, when I start to feel the weight of my own expectations and that I should be further along than I am, I have to choose to step back and remember I AM making headway. I AM advancing, growing, unfolding, working…

I AM IN PROGRESS. 

Matthew 5:44 helps me remember to go easy, to let my enemy off the hook and remove the chains, even when I’m the continued culprit that places them there. It helps me remember to be kinder to myself because in the end, I am commanded to love my neighbor as myself and if I am being a little too hard HERE…won’t I also be little too hard THERE…with you?

YES. 

So I keep at it. Because really that’s all I have to do in this great life **I just need to keep at it** It’s the place between the starting line and the finish. It’s the place between where film is placed IN the camera and the picture is placed ON the wall. Ultimately it is one brutiful and ongoing conversation with Truth Himself…asking Him what is mine. 

You don’t need to be any place other than where you are at. – Jesus

Keep painting today my friends. At least keep takling what’s on your plate, on your mind and in your heart. I’m going to keep takling mine. If that’s all we get done today, it will be enough. 

 

Permission Granted

I remember watching a documentary on television when I was in high school about air traffic control personnel. I vaguely remember hearing the words, “High rate of stress that often leads to anxiety and depression,” and I felt sorry for the poor souls that chose high levels of stress as their career. At the time, I was preparing myself for my first year of college as a Sociology major with the goal of one day obtaining a Masters in Counseling. What did I know about massively large vehicles, traffic patterns and safety, let alone high rates of stress that leads to anxiety or depression? 

I was 18. My parents paid for my car insurance. 

20 years later. Ask me what I do.

My husband and I are school bus contractors for our local district.

Ask me what my job looks like on any given day. 

Air traffic control personnel, but with buses. High levels of stress, not always, but there are days and with a husband out of the country on a missions trip, stress runs high. 

Luckily for me, I am surrounded by amazingly great people. “Can I help?”

“Yes. Yes you can.”

In the long run, one of my helpers is also a very dear friend who when I mentioned attending her Bible study this evening as she helped me from point A to point B, said “Don’t even.” 

Maybe she said something else, like “I hope you can make it,” or “Try really, really hard to come,” but I’m pretty confident she said something that totally let me off the hook because she knew I had a good hour left of work, two hours from Bible studies start. 

**Because she knew I had left my kids home alone. Because she knew my chicken was still laying frozen on my counter. Becuase she knew I’d feel a tinge of crappiness for NOT being able to do all things.**

Sometimes we need someone to come alongside us and see what we can’t. Our blind spot. Sometimes we need someone to say, “Done even.” 

In my case…

Don’t even try to do all things.

Dont even think about trying to do all things. 

Should she have pushed me? Should she of planted the seed that encouraged me to push through so I could sit in her living room WISHING to God I was anywhere but there because I wanted to be at home with my people after the last half of my day went to hell in a hand basket? 

Absolutely not. She knew what was BEST for me. Even if I didn’t. 

If you don’t have a friend like that, find one. Find a friend who knows your season. Find a friend who knows your heart. I’d tell you her name but then I’m afraid you’d steal her from me and that would just make me all sad because I’m slightly territorial and jealous by nature. Do yourself a favor, just find someone who walks with Jesus. Like WALKS WITH because I kind of think in the end, He says the same thing when those “SHOULDS” pop into the picture. You know, all those religious things we all agonize one time or another over. “I should. Because.”

 Sometimes you need a good kick in the pants to get you moving if you are stuck hiding out in your cave too long. Sometimes you just need someone to see your heart and give you permission to stop the crazy for a bit so you can get off your hamster wheel and rest without making you feel badly for it. Sometimes YOU need to know the difference. 

Your value does not increase if you show up and it does decrease if you don’t. Know YOUR capacity then take a moment to see the capacity in others. Give them permission to slow it all down when they need too because chances are, they are caught up in the same vicicious cycle of DO as you are. 

Rest is needed folks. It helps you guard that little ole heart of yours, which is a very good thing to DO. 

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