Friday, October 28, 2016

Remember This When You Can't Sleep

Remember this when your old wound begins to ache. Memorize it and recite it when you're up at 3:00am remembering things that happened to you a decade ago or decades ago. Hold onto it with both hands when you're reliving an old shame, asking God for forgiveness again for things he already told you as as far away from the east as the west itself.

Pray, sister-friend.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

When You're Not Sure "What To Do"

You can always trust that God wants you to be faithful and obedient. Always. When you're not sure what else to do, you can always pray, read your bible and keep your eyes on God. I've been taking refuge in the word like never before. I've got some nerve being amazed at what a huge effect that has on my life...

Be Still

There's so much I haven't shared on this blog yet because honestly, I'm still not exactly sure what I'm doing here. When I purchased this domain name, I didn't even know Proverbs 31 Ministries existed! (Ignorant, much?) Now that I know they exist, part of me thinks I should shut this down immediately.

How could I ever hope to have anything to share that would be an encouragement when all those other (much more educated, much more faithful, much more well-spoken) women are already doing so in such a professional way?

I've also been suffering migraine headaches and extreme pain all summer. I hope this will be healed soon with my next trip to the doctor on October 31st.

In the meantime, I'm determined that if I have to sit around all day when I'd much rather be working or cooking or writing, I'm going to either be still, read my Bible or soak up all the truth I can find. So I've been searching through YouTube watching different sermons and testimony videos.

Last night, my husband and I had a long talk about all the places our careers have taken us. During our ten years of marriage, my work has taken me to so many different companies and crowds. At every place, I encounter a pattern. I have a desire to do what's right. Driven by that desire, people bring me their problems. I advocate for them in the workplace or advocate for changes that might help them. I become overworked and overextended (well past boundaries sometimes) trying to stand up for other people or help other people reach their goals. I inevitably leave companies and situations burnt out and brokenhearted.

I'm haunted by the idea that I may have spent the last decade of my life wasting my time and toiling for nothing.

I'm afraid I'll never heal from my chronic pain and I may have missed whatever calling God has placed on my life because I was too busy working "for him" (in sarcastic quote marks because I don't believe those were always my motivations) to listen to Him. Frankly, with the benefit of hindsight, a lot of it has been self-will and disobedience.

If Ecclesiastes is right (and it is) there is
 a time to shut up.
On days like today, I get stubborn. If I've made so many mistakes in the past, I'm just gonna sit down and stay down for a minute.

I'm gonna stop the bleeding of making well-intentioned mistakes (and then mistakes while trying to fix the mistakes) and just be still. This life isn't about me. It's about God and other people. Literally, the least I can do, is not create any more damage today. Not to my body, not to my mind and not to my calling.

It seems like a pathetic conclusion to reach. But it's the best thing I can come up with today. Sometimes you just have to sit down, shut up and heal.

And while I'm throwing motivational posters out there, here's one addressed to the exhausting mental monologue dedicated to failure running rampant in my brain right now...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

If the Good Lord Gives You Excess Mental or Creative Energy...

I don't know about you, but I've experienced a lot of minimization from well-meaning people. From the time I was small, I knew I was meant to be in arts and communications. I can't tell you how often people, even christian friends, may try to make you doubt your calling. (And in this sense, I mean the calling of your gifts and talents, not the calling of your salvation. Those two are often conflated.)

Listen to me now, I can tell you this for sure because I'm right in the middle of a renewing of my mind, don't you dare listen to anyone except God when it comes to living your life. Work at it. Be certain of it. Pray about it constantly. Ignore discouragement. Press on toward the goal.

Here's a message from Beth Moore that really goes in-depth about this and has helped me a lot lately.

Monday, October 24, 2016

You Are Not The Worst

Once I was at dinner with a dear friend. I was recounting a mistake I made. I don't even remember what it was anymore. (I make a lot.)

Then I said, "But you know, I'm so hard on myself." She nodded sympathetically. Then I continued in complete seriousness. "It's so STUPID!"

My friend laughed. If it hadn't been for her, I would never have caught the irony of criticizing myself...for criticizing myself.

I have a problem letting things go, specifically my own errors. This became a pretty big issue after I started going to church. I remember the day after I was baptized in junior high. I felt so free. Now my life was going to be better. Now I would be good.

Hard cut to whatever I did wrong next that had me sitting my in bedroom, brooding to Jennifer Knapp's "Undo Me" and crying.

Imagine how bad things got when I grew up and started making professional mistakes. Thinking you are genuinely worse than everyone else around you can be a very isolating experience. If anyone likes you, you're ticking down the clock in your mind until they find out what's wrong with you. If people don't like you, it's just further evidence that proves you are a bad person. It's a tricky form of vanity. How can you be self-centered if deep down, you hate yourself?

I feel like this is the part where I'm supposed to allude to the story of Mary and Martha and tell you to stop being so fussy. Or maybe I should list some perfectly valid scriptures about healthy confession, like James 5:16.

But there's something else on my heart. I want you to know that if there is a persistent problem in your faith, like this one was in mine, you should know it can be healed. You don't have to live like that forever. A lot of believers appoint problems that could be solved as their "cross to bear" without ever really trying to do anything about it.

Maybe you need to search for the root cause. Maybe there's unaddressed trauma in your past that's affecting your world view. There are some pretty amazing counselors out there trained to assist you with that. Maybe there's something weighing on you that could be solved with some action on your part. Whatever it is...go get help. If that seems too scary, start with the source that will never fail you. Remember this?

Go get help, friend. Don't live with issues in your life that you think are just a part of your quirky personality. Especially not if those issues are causing you pain. Especially not if they're preventing you from moving forward with your life.

You are not the worst. So stop living like it. And even if, by some incredible statistical chance, you are the actual worst, Jesus can still handle it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When You Finally Feel Connected to God Again After You Were Scared He Was Mad At You

Listen sisters, the truth is that when you want to run from God or you are feeling isolated from Him, you have got to RUN toward him as fast as you can. Don't walk. Don't lollygag. RUN, sister friend! Run like Whitney is singing!

What I Used To Think of the Proverbs Woman

Ah, the oft-debated Proverbs woman. Like many words and concepts from cultures past, she's been through cycles of aspirationalism, rejection as an unrealistic standard and ultimately, reclamation. Especially in Church World.

Was she one person? Was she symbolic? Was she representative of the qualities of several women? How much did she have to bench to get that arm definition?

Like almost every christian woman, I was subject to some bad teaching in my youth. I don't say that to call anyone on the carpet. For all I know, the teaching was good and I was bad. (But it was bad though...)

I was once mentored by a group of married women who taught us about marriage like they were warning us about a horror movie. The culture I was part of at the time was full of bitterness. (That's another blog for a different day.) They looked at it as teaching us about "realistic" marriage. But it felt like Bubble Bursting 101.

They warned us that no matter who we married, we would end up not loving our husbands for a time. They described it in phases. First, you fall in love. Then you succumb to the bitterness of dashed expectations and there will be a general rending of garments/gnashing of teeth, but you married the guy so STICK WITH IT.

It was not very encouraging. In hindsight, I think they may have been accepting a level of brokenness that could've been healed.