My childhood best friend loves barbecue sauce. She dips her french fries in it, chicken nuggets, and of course she adores it on grilled (barbecued) food. She absolutely cannot, however, stand ketchup or tomatoes. When I discovered this, I had all kinds of questions. “You don’t like ketchup? How in the world could that be? Don’t you know BBQ sauce and ketchup have almost identical ingredients?!!” Regardless of my protests, illustrations, and sound reasoning, she remained devout in her position: I love barbecue sauce and I hate tomatoes and ketchup.
It’s interesting how the addition or subtraction of one thing can make all the difference in our reality and our perception. I just could not wrap my mind around the gravity of preference, at the time. It honestly doesn’t matter if the ingredients are identical, she doesn’t like ketchup. That takes nothing away from ketchup and barbecue sauce isn’t hailed supreme condiment all over the world, either. That day she just picked barbecue sauce and probably would the next day and the next. Why we focus on the contrary is fascinating. I could have asked her what she liked so much about it, but I spent that time arguing how silly it was to not like ketchup since the two were so similar. I saw her non-conformity as an affront to reason instead of seeing it for what it was, a preference.
How many of us go on personal crusades, campaigns, and tirades against people and concepts that are merely acts of preference? It is that Earth shattering that I want things packaged/presented differently than you? My choice to pursue life in the order of A, B, F, C has no bearing on your A, B, C, D, E ,F way of life… unless you allow it. My action is what I choose, hopefully because that is what works best and makes sense to me. It doesn’t have to make sense to you because it isn’t for you. We take the decisions of others, in regard to their personal lives, very personally. It’s amazing! How dare you go and cut YOUR hair! If I identify beauty as long, wavy or straight hair for all women and now you’ve cut off your hair, I must either change my definition and description of what a woman is or attempt to make you conform to my view. Many choose the latter, enlisting criticism, gossip and inappropriate jokes, jibs and other conversation/behavior to shame and force compliance. When this doesn’t work, we may try manipulation, recruiting others to our cause, or turn up the heat on previous efforts. How often is this done in the local church? How many souls have been driven away by our legalism and traditions that boil down to preference? Do we really want to say to people, “Jesus loves you, but you can’t come in here with pants or jeans, especially if you’re a woman. He accepts you, but our church protocol doesn’t.” Hmmmph. If you think about it, at that point we’ve really relinquished our power to someone who couldn’t possibly care less and misrepresented the King. If your friend wanted your input about her hair, she would’ve asked before she cut it, and maybe she did… but the choice remains hers to make. It is her hair. Her hair doesn’t make you a woman, does it? Did you ascribe her value or beauty to her hair? Well then that’s your issue, not hers. Why are we on a relentless quest to fashion a world of circles when there are places for every shape: squares, octagons, pyramids, tetrahedrons… boggles my mind.
What I experience in this life, my personality, and countless other things may fashion the shape I present to the world or maybe not. We are endowed with the ability to adapt, but generally what we endorse and enforce is conformity. Something is “not right” with you if you aren’t for instance, a circle. Never mind that this person may have never seen a circle and came from a family of squares; their squareness threatens me so I must cut them down to a circle! Oh and they better be happy about me attempting to do it, too! I’m helping them, don’t they see that?! No one likes squares! They want to be accepted, don’t they? They want a job, right? No one is going to allow you to be yourself because, well, they aren’t being themselves either! What gives them the right and gall to be themselves? Aren’t they worried what people will think and say? The thing is, we are unique, by design. You and I are fearfully and wonderfully made and we’ve even been called to be a peculiar people (Psalm 139:14, 1 Pet 2:9). The hilarious tragedy is that even if we conform, we talk about each other anyway. “Look how awkward he/she looks, what does she have on, etc.” Could it be because they are lying? A well disguised lie and an awkward lie share something at their core… it’s all a lie. For some reason, we regularly celebrate the ability to suppress the truth; wow.
I can’t begin to count how many criticisms I’ve seen of women, by other women, about their choice in clothing, hair, makeup, etc. Because “I” wouldn’t wear my hair permanently straightened has what to do with someone else doing so? Presumably I am not effected by the process, unless I’m footing the bill. I view my hair as beautiful, just how it grows out of my scalp… well kinda. (I don’t like gray hair, so I either pluck them out or dye my hair.) 🙂 But if I am waiting for all of my family and friends to like my hair, I’ll be waiting forever. We cannot enslave our lives to the preferences of others or waste our lives attempting to force compliance to/with our preferences. Oh and the comparisons to others, particularly when we’re all coming up short just need to stop. It just seems odd to laugh at someone who received a 39 on a test and you received a 59… because you both failed.
The best we can do is follow our preferences from a place of informed consent and authenticity; prayerfully steeped in His truth. Know why you hold fast to this or that position and should you feel inclined, be able to articulate why, intelligently. Much like my heated debate with my friend, in life all the facts are moot in the face of confident resolve. She doesn’t like ketchup because…she doesn’t. She likes barbecue sauce and the sooner I got that, the better off we were. We still shared french fries and chicken nuggets at that kitchen table; she just dipped hers in barbecue sauce when I used ketchup. Now, roughly 13 years later, I hardly even use ketchup, myself. Ah… irony. =)
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have difficulty time to time with uncertainty. I like to know the outcome or at least have a general idea before I proceed with most ventures. What can I say, perhaps it’s a fear of rejection, or maybe I’m just a mild-mannered control freak, but whatever it is, I don’t like walking into anything blindly. I’ve heard lots of times that this walk that we have (with God) is one of faith and that you can’t know everything because there wouldn’t be any need for faith and we wouldn’t rely on God. I do believe that (wholeheartedly) but He gave me another perspective on it, just now.
You can’t know everything because it directly contradicts the essence of God; knowing everything takes away your freedom. How so, you ask? If you knew exactly what were going to happen tomorrow; what you’d wear, who you’d see, what they would say; just everything… how would that change your life? Immensely! Choices that you had made, hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even years ago would be altered because you now “know” what tomorrow holds. It would, in many of our minds take away the freedom to choose. Each morning you wake up, you have a multitude of choices before you… get up or stay in bed, brush your teeth or not, be productive, be lazy, show someone you care, or wait to see who cares about you, the list goes on and on and on. The funniest thing I feel I’ve gotten out of this is a sad but piercing truth; most of us don’t want freedom. We want someone to make all the choices for us because what if we (GASP) mess up?!
We don’t want the responsibility that comes with making our own choices, so if I just knew that “he’d say no to my request for a raise, I wouldn’t waste my time.” Did you ever consider that if you knew, and subsequently didn’t ask, that you may have never gotten the fire under you to go back to school and better yourself? Perhaps you wouldn’t have quit that job and found one where you’re acknowledged for your talents, you’re paid accordingly and you actually like it there?!! Knowing gives you an out to give up or give in, but you have to realize that even if you did know what tomorrow were to bring… you still have a CHOICE. Knowing never takes away your choice, but for whatever reason we (myself included) act like it does. What a cop-out…
As powerful as God is, He is just as gracious. He doesn’t force His will upon us although He can bring things our way that convincingly capture your attention and compel you to listen… haha. He wants us to live life freely, without the pressure of ‘knowing it all.’ I think we’ve all been in situations where we felt we knew too much. Ever find out your friend’s being cheated on and they didn’t have a clue? Ever had to tell someone a friend or family member just died? Yeah… not knowing has its advantages, huh? But honestly… stop using the excuse or rather the fear of not knowing from keeping you from doing. God made you free and He’s trying to keep you that way. Stop running into a prettier cage when He frees you from the last one.
Thank you for letting me be myself,
As I look out of my apartment window, I still see the flashing lights of police, paramedics, and firefighters. They have been here doing their best to extinguish a fire that began around 8:00 p.m.; it’s now 11:00 p.m. Living in such a quiet neighborhood, it was really shocking to hear all the sirens and commotion earlier; but multiply that by 100 once we stepped outside on the balcony and saw bright orange flames, lighting up the darkened horizon and billowing clouds of black smoke. The wind was carrying the flames and the smoke, with glittering flecks of debris swirling in its voluminous, swirling clouds was ominous yet mesmerizing. People appeared seemingly from out of nowhere, cars lining the parking lot and residents of all ages and ethnicities gathered to watch and discuss the raging fire. As I watched the fire go from mere smoke to flames leaping towards the sky and one fire engine on the scene to two, then three, then four, I asked the Lord to please be with the residents of that building. “Father, please let everyone get out safely,” I said, over and over and over. I called someone I knew who lived in the complex to make sure she was okay. She lives a building over from the affected one and said that she too was prayerful everyone escaped. She could hear dogs barking and the entire top floor and descending stairwell were engulfed in flames. Again, I asked the Lord to please have mercy on each soul residing in that building and prayed that the high winds didn’t cause the blaze to spread any further.
Roughly an hour into this ordeal, news stories began to emerge and live coverage was readily available on television in time for the 10 o’clock news. It was thought that perhaps 10 people were trapped initially, but that wasn’t the case. A few people were treated for smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously hurt. All of the apartment buildings on the property have 3 floors; that building, at the time of the filmed coverage, was down to its bottom floor of apartments, appearing mostly in tact. Through further study of available information, it’s thought that the cause of this 3 alarm fire was smoking. Roughly three weeks before Christmas, roughly 60 people are without a home tonight because of… smoking. I cannot begin to imagine how that person feels now; it’s a feeling unlike any other, I’d guess. We all have things in our lives we occasionally struggle with, whether it’s weight management, drinking alcohol, using recreational or prescription drugs, maintaining unhealthy and abusive relationships, gambling… the number of vices are practically endless. While on some level many of us recognize that our continued participation in these things is harmful to us, few really correlate their actions against themselves to how others are involved, too. Those who are in denial about their level of addiction or involvement are especially blind to the collateral damage taking place as they go deeper and deeper into that thing.
Why do we love things that are incapable of loving us back in a meaningful way is fascinating and saddening. Desiring to recreate a moment or perhaps escape one, we run to temporary solutions to deep seeded issues. We choose impairment over improvement and dare anyone to call us on our shortcomings, citing their Achilles’ heel whenever confronted with the truth. I’m pretty sure that other than the smell, incessant coughing and glares from non-smokers, the person at the root of this situation tonight thought nothing of their use of nicotine, tobacco, or perhaps marijuana; believing that the effects of that choice effected them, solely. It isn’t until tragedy strikes that the gravity of our choices really stands before us, bringing elephant-like heaviness to bear on our hearts and minds. Hindsight is frighteningly clear, the chances missed to take a different path, make one more or less step, remembering exactly where you made that mistake staring you brazenly in the face now; etched in your mind for antiquity. I’m sure that person wishes they had stopped smoking this year; perhaps that had been a New Years’ resolution they made at the beginning of 2012, or they had it on the list to tackle for 2013. How many of us think we have another day, week or year to get it together? If it’s important enough to see the need for change; don’t wait. Time is tricky… one tomorrow after another add up innocuously until, to your surprise a year has passed and you’ve gained weight instead of losing any. Or perhaps you’re like me and a project that’s been on your heart to do now became ‘tomorrow’ and now tomorrow is reaching into year 5… it’s time to get serious, my brother/ my sister. Extinguish the flames of idleness, creature comfort, mediocrity… perhaps even tradition, if it’s become a vice for you. Oh the countless host that wish they could unsay that last word, pour that last drink back into the bottle, leave that last bite on the plate, leave that last hit of cocaine on the glass or never light that last cigarette. Even if it’s been us a multitude of times before, it doesn’t have to be us, today. Let’s take back our freedom today before it’s too late. So many programs, ministries and other resources exist solely to help us overcome; seek them out, today. Tomorrow is a lofty ambition until it becomes today, rushed through on autopilot and ruefully remembered as yesterday. Your choice today shapes our tomorrow; choose well, friend.
Thank you for letting me be myself,
I’m from a small town, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, that is no stranger to two conditions; diabetes and high blood pressure. Known as ‘sugar’ and ‘pressure’, these ailments are often attributed to lifestyle, a mixture of eating less than nutritious food and lack of exercise, but they are viewed as evil phantoms, attacking witless victims, without rhyme or reason. Over the years I have heard countless stories of people passing away from their battles with disease, particularly diabetes, and the struggles they experience in learning to manage not necessarily the disease, but themselves. As diabetes progresses, the body begins to deteriorate as the circulation and nerve supply, particularly to the extremities (i.e. feet and legs) decreases. People with diabetes have to be mindful to take excellent care of their toes, feet and legs because a small cut or burn may be present that they were unaware of due to the decreased sensitivity/circulation in that part of their body.
Pride is a major player in too many stories; someone decides to continue on with life as if they don’t have a serious ailment, their body suffers and rather than take whatever steps to move forward, they choose to die. Without even blinking I can name five people I know who passed away because they refused to have a foot or leg amputated. Rather than live 5, 10, maybe even 15-20 more years without that limb, they were willing to die with the semblance of being whole. How many of us are willing to die early appearing whole than to live and thrive without “perfection?”
Please don’t be fooled; we all have a measure of imperfection, whether it’s physically, mentally, spiritually or a lovely combination of them all. People are dying on the inside and outside, every day attempting to maintain an image of “I’m alright” and they’re anything but. Sin starts as a small nick, here or there… it may hurt initially, but we may be able to power through it the first few times and time heals the wound. The thing is, as we continue to make less than healthy (on all levels) choices, we become desensitized to what is really happening. The cuts and burns get larger and larger, but we’re acclimated to small amounts of pain now and go on through life, not realizing we’re severely wounded. Our body does the best it can to address these hurts, but it can only do so much. We can build a scab over lots of things; it doesn’t mean that what’s going on underneath it is healthy, though. Although it hurts, sometimes we have to get into these wounds and really clean them out. Skin will be removed, there are even times that some flesh will have to go, too, but we have to sacrifice a little to save the most. I understand, trust me I do. You don’t want to reveal your wounds, let alone deal with what’s really going on under it all, but you have to… if you want to ever really live.
Letting the garbage of life, poor decision-making, guilt and any/every thing else will only fester in that wound and that brings about death. Much like with diabetes and other situations where gangrene sets in, the death doesn’t stay in one spot… it travels further up the body until each part of you is involved. You can deal with it now when it’s small, or prepare to give up more and possibly your life, later.
One of the signs that it’s time to amputate is that thing stinks. Death has an undeniable aroma; you can’t cover it up forever. What, in your life, mind, or even your body stinks? Is the way you think about yourself killing your dreams and potential? Are you hanging on to a relationship or friendship where you’re constantly being hurt, but you stay because you’re afraid or embarrassed to be ‘alone?’ Life really doesn’t stink, you just have to get to the core of that issue, relationship, etc. and clean it out so that you can be whole again. Somewhere along the way you and I have gotten confused about what it means to be whole. Whole doesn’t necessarily mean that you look uniform or perfect; being rich, popular, or many of the Earthly trappings associated with success and happiness. If that was all that was required to truly be whole, millionaires, movie stars, musicians, and countless other people wouldn’t be committing suicide, addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, or be entirely miserable. Wholeness comes from within, the by-product of earnest work, time and coming full circle. Sometimes it takes losing something precious to you to appreciate what remains. Scabs and scars say that a healing has taken place; that you have survived… but wholeness comes from the learning and appreciation that arises from the process of healing. You don’t have to be happy about a loss to be whole; but you can appreciate the shift that came from having gone through it and the real gain(s) that arose in its place.
Many of us don’t and won’t do the work. It’s just too comfortable to languish here in our routine. We want to eat what we want to eat and do what we want to do. Some of us even take ownership of our ailment, dis-ease, or dysfunction, “my diabetes, my laziness, my _________.” Do we really want these things? Why do we take ownership of them, then? We’ll do the minimum to stay alive (in every sense) or ask for help in managing our mess, disease, or disorder just enough to continue doing it. We want to change the condition but not the environment and situations that created it. Physical and spiritual amputation requires an acknowledgement that something is awry and that can be a scary and heartbreaking thing, but it must be done. I won’t lie and say that people won’t look at you differently, but honestly, we all have our own amputations to do at some point, so who really has time to stare or comment on what’s going on with you? Sharing how we’ve let go of stories, people, and even parts of us that don’t serve us not only saves us, but it can save the life, perhaps countless lives, of others. Seeing that you can survive without him or her, a particular job or socioeconomic status; these things can turn a person’s life around that was on the verge of giving up. God can use the pieces that remain to make us more effective, useful, powerful and beautiful than we ever were ‘whole.’ Please, dear brother or sister, do the work of healing and becoming whole. You don’t have to remain devout to that pain, addiction, condition, or situation unto death. There’s a way out; cut it off before it kills you. I’m praying that this blog today shines a light on that thing that’s festering in y(our) life; let us be bold enough to amputate it and not only live, but thrive.
Thank you for letting me be myself,
*This is a post I wrote a while back but it is still so pertinent and applicable, particularly to my life. I hope it resonates with and encourages you as well.*
I recently received a book I’d ordered in the mail and I also borrowed a book and a DVD from a friend. I quickly read the first book and started on the second as the title and possible contents had totally captivated my attention. I’m about halfway through the second book and while I don’t agree with everything, several points have really resonated with me. The author was discussing the home and need for balance, order, peace, and tranquility within it to truly heal all parts of oneself. She talked about how a messy/junky/nasty home reveals imbalance in other facets of your life and I couldn’t agree more. I’ll probably share some other thoughts that I enjoyed later but I want to really talk about how I’m feeling about that one area now. First off let me say that I truly believe there are no coincidences and that things happen for an appointed reason whether you understand that at the time or ever truly get it. With that said, on Sunday, Pastor Tony Evans spoke about trash and ‘trash management’. He used the illustration of leaving food out for extended amounts of time and other trash and how it’s a magnet for roaches. It’s an invitation for them to inhabit your space because you have not addressed the trash. You can spray deodorizing spray, put the trash in the trash compactor… you can even spray for the roaches, but until you address the actual TRASH, they are continuously drawn to your home. Many of us (myself included) have trash/mess that we need to deal with and we simply employ trash management. We move the trash around so that others won’t see it, we compact it so that we can layer on more trash, we use candles and other masking agents to give the appearance of cleanliness when there is still TRASH/MESS everywhere, it’s just hidden now. The mess we have in our lives is an invitation for demonic activity… for addictions, any number of other things we honestly don’t want, but again what are you doing about the actual problem? You can try to mask it all you want, but your mess will eek out, it’s aroma catching the air, your roaches coming out to visit when company is over… it’s going to happen (and I think we’ve all seen it happen at least once).
Lately I haven’t had a lot of energy, but tonight I realized that the little that I did have I was using in the wrong ways. I have an ideal of how our apartment should look, but honestly it’s been nothing like that since I was single. Things always seem to get in the way of me making what I see in my head a reality before my eyes. I’ll begin the process well but it never seems to pan out. As I mentioned before, mess in one area often equates to mess/imbalance in other facets of your life. I seem to start and stop on all kinds of things, much to my confusion, dismay, and often disappointment. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason prior to now and will continue to pray for clarity, but now I think it comes down to plain old mess management. As many modern women would agree, I would love to have it all… a great family, a great, fulfilling career that pays me handsomely, and have a beautiful, well-kept home and yard. At present I definitely have the first, but the other two seem to elude me, at present. While I might not have complete control over the job market, I do have a lot of control over that last one (minus the yard b/c we live in an apartment). I have secretly wished and sometimes publicly mentioned to friends that I would love to have the monies available to hire a maid. Tonight a ‘spirit of cleaning/cleansing’ hit me and as I’ve been tidying up my home, it dawned on me that was again just mess management. I want to pay someone else to address MY mess. Isn’t it funny how we want other people to address OUR mess in pretty much all aspects of our lives? As women, we go to the hair salon so that someone else can address our mess of hair. Now I THANK GOD for hair stylists, but I’m just saying… if he/she goes out-of-town, you seriously don’t know how to manage the hair that grows on your own head? Wow. We go to nutritionists and personal trainers to help us whip our bodies into shape… a body you’ve had your whole life and somehow don’t know how to manage; that’s sad. I am not saying that any of these fields/occupations are bad, because they are desperately needed, but the fact that they are desperately needed for me is a cause for concern.
Where did this disconnect between behavior and personal responsibility emerge? If I lost the use of my limbs and were no longer able to move about, that’s an all together different scenario, but how many able-bodied people are waiting for external forces to address internal, self-inflicted problems? I desired for someone who has no vested interest in the sanctity, wholeness, or peace of my home to enter it to tell me what needs to be thrown away, rearranged, and cleaned? A complete stranger is welcome into our homes to address our lack of discipline… hmmm. Now are there situations where it’s necessary to get help, absolutely! I’m not talking about those here. I’m talking about able-bodied, in our right mind, fully functional folks not wanting to deal with their own messes.
I want God’s best for my family and for myself; that includes Him inhabiting not just my body but my home and all other aspects of my life. Clean and dirty cannot exist in the same spot and if you don’t want to live in filth, why are you (we) asking God to inhabit it? Well let me get back to scrubbing this tub… I hope my sharing helps someone else out along their way.
Thank you for letting me be myself,
God is an awesome teacher. He has a multitude of ways in which He presents material so that no one is left behind. I find His most effective and obvious approach to be illustrations of spiritual concepts/truths through human experiences. The one I’ve been seeing over and over again is the situation or paradigm of being a parent. As The Bear grows and our interactions evolve, it is amazing to think about how many children God has and what immense patience He HAS to have! The Bear is still very young, so many of the obstacles we face with him are due to his ignorance of what is right and wrong or how things work which I understand…it’s still annoying though. =) How aggravating must it be to deal with millions of people who KNOW BETTER and constantly disobey, disregard, and dismiss His authority whilst simultaneously expecting an allowance (blessings), security, and acceptance?!! As I am writing I can only laugh at the irony and pitiful but predictable ebb and flow of my writings. Just when I seemingly come out of one valley, another appears or perhaps I’m in the same one but just not as deep in it as before(?) which brings me to today’s thought.
I have noticed that The Bear is going through his “why?” stage. This goes back to the fact he hasn’t been here on Earth long and is rightfully so going to have questions. Why are things this and that way? Why do we do things a particular way? They are generally valid questions and how else will you ever learn if you don’t ask questions? The ‘problem’ seems to arise when it’s the same question, about the same subject, a multitude of times. Again, I understand that he’s young so repetition is expected… but there’s a difference between genuine curiosity or wanting clarity and asking rhetorical questions. There’s also the line of whys that falls under whining, what I call here “why’ning.” “Why can’t I have a pickle? Why do I have to take a nap? Why can’t I have this or that?” Sometimes the answer is long or complicated, but generally the answer has to do with timing. “It’s too close to dinner, your body needs rest now, because we are going to do/buy/get something else or go somewhere else.” Additionally, if he would WAIT, 90-98% of the things he desires would/will be given to him if he’d just be quiet! He totally delays the satisfying of needs and wants by why’ning the stew out of HB and me. How many of us are screwing ourselves up with God by why’ning? “Lord, why me? Why not now? Why him/her instead of me? Why do I have to do this/that?”
I think the answer is the same for us in our walk with God; timing. You don’t get that “snack” of a relationship, job, car, promotion, etc. because something He’s been working on for you that is more substantial is coming soon. Perhaps you aren’t mature enough to use what you’re asking for properly and it’d do you more harm than good. Who’d waste their appetite on a pickle when your favorite meal has been prepared, just for you? He realizes that we’re ‘hungry’, but why settle for something to tide you over when you could have something truly satisfying? I thank God for the gift of being a mother because it gives me a glimpse into His world and well… He’s something altogether mighty, awesome, and wonderful to deal with all of us, especially ME. I hope this helps another one of His children because it has really blessed me just experiencing/writing as He revealed it.
Thank you for letting me be myself,
I know, I know… you’re probably wondering, why in the world is she talking about panties on a Christian blog?! 🙂 Let me first say I’m not referring to what my college roommate and I used to call “Boss Hoggs,” i.e., large, comfy cotton underwear that could be utilized as an emergency parachute, in a pinch. As a mother of two young children, I’ve been through the potty training process once and will be soon entering it again with our youngest (please pray for me). One of the approaches we used to appeal to our oldest son, whom we call The Bear, was the privilege of wearing “big boy underwear.” He loved that he would get to wear underwear that looked like his father’s instead of bulky diapers. He also liked the idea of being able to go into the restroom with his father and use the toilet, just like him. As with any process, there were a few hiccups along the way, but overall the transition from diapers to briefs went well with The Bear. As I think about how God uses examples, analogies, and parables to illustrate divine principles, I can only laugh and shake my head; what must it be like for Him to get us into big girl panties/big boy briefs?!!
Much like The Bear, the idea of being considered a big boy or girl is appealing to most, if not all of us. A sense of pride and freedom come with this change in station as well as the chance to go new places and do new things. The problem comes in however when it’s time to manage our mess. Sometimes we’re so busy having fun or doing our own thing that we don’t want to step away to handle business. When you’re a baby this isn’t a big deal because Mom/Dad are responsible for handling your mess. You can go on about your fun and they’ll come and get you, clean you up and send you on your merry way. Have you ever seen your baby playing on the other side of the room, having a ball? They look like everything is perfect until you get a little closer and your nose says otherwise! You think to yourself, “how in the WORLD are you over here carefree sitting in this… stench?!” Way too many of us want the freedom/prestige of being grown but the security of a diaper and being a baby. We want to go out and make a multitude of mistakes, but not deal with the consequences.
Often we know early on we should stop, but it’s so much fun or whatever other excuse we want to make and then… uh oh! Some are better at hiding their soils and stains than others, but upon closer inspection it’s undeniable… we’ve messed up. After a while, our smell catches up to us. Our mess begins to chafe our skin, irritating and eating at us, making us more and more uncomfortable. At this point, many will cry and being the loving Father He is, He’ll come and change us. He understands that we will make mistakes as we learn, but are we learning? Do you only call on Him when you’ve been in your mess so long that it’s hurting you and you can’t stand your own stench? If we want to be “grown” then we have to take ownership and make better choices; step away from idle pursuits and take the time to wash ourselves in the Word and cleanse our hearts. There comes a time when we as parents get tired of cleaning up big boys and girls, so consequences then come into play. Whether it’s a toy that is taken away, time outs, or a spanking, we make it clear that there is a new level of responsibility to go with the fun of big girl panties; should we expect less from our Heavenly Father? We suddenly forget this and only want to be cleaned up, but welcome to go back to our life/games without any responsibility and especially zero admonishment or discipline, but that’s not how it works… sorry!
I know it can be a little rough, but we just have to suck it up, take off these diapers and pull ups and proudly don our big girl panties/big boy briefs; we cannot stay babies forever, you know. Go make our Father proud! =)
It spreads faster than any cancer, more sinister and exacting than an assassin’s bullet; it’s influence broad enough to be called a pandemic yet undeniably personal… it’s name is Fear. Fear is robbing people of their dreams, goals, potential, love and at the most basic level, their lives. It will create a picture more vivid of what can go wrong than most put into dreaming of what can/will be by going for it. It has a knack for reminding you of any and every thing that you or anyone you know has done that didn’t pan out, even if it neglects to accurately give an account of what actually happened.
Fear will do whatever it has to do to keep you unfulfilled, overweight, lonely, miserable, lost and/or confused. As cold as that sounds, it really isn’t personal because fear has the same objective for everyone; shut you DOWN permanently. A friend said to me just yesterday that they wanted to kill fear and I responded, “You can’t. You can however kick it’s butt repeatedly.” Fear is just like anything else, it is always present but it is up to the individual whether you entertain it. We have choices, but somewhere along the way we convince ourselves that we don’t have any or perhaps we missed the critical ‘secret’ that should be shared with us as children that we do, indeed have choices. We often forget that even doing nothing is still a choice. Excuses and rationalizations about how the work is too big, expensive, challenging, or whatever looms and it will never clear until you move.
Do you want to run but don’t know how to start? Walk. Do you want to be a prolific writer? Write. I know it sounds entirely too simple, but that is all it really boils down to, if we were to be really honest. I don’t know about you, but I find myself overwhelmed by the call on my life and my gifts. I get so flustered about “how can I use ALL of my talents/gifts?” that I have wasted time and then didn’t adequately use any of them. Another big one for me is planning, re-planning and evaluating every detail until I’m drained of motivation. It can be challenging to just “get out there” but we have to trust that the same passion (vision) which fuels us comes paired with provisions to see it through. I cannot tell you how many things I’ve tabled for lack of funds, direction, energy, etc… but what it all comes back to is I allowed fear to override my faith. You (we) are good enough. Yes, we may fall on our faces. No one fully engrossed in a sport comes out clean. Sweat, dirt… the occasional spattering of blood and some tears may come with it, but with great risk comes great reward.
You’ll forget why you started this journey and fear will bring all types of stuff (people, situations, and distractions) to aid you in doing so. There will come a time (or two or twenty-six times fifty-four) that you will have to slow down or even stop, but don’t be discouraged. Look at where you’ve come thus far, even if it’s just two steps. **Side note** If you’re “trying” you’re not working hard enough. You either do something or you don’t, we often say we’re trying to make ourselves feel better about half-hearted effort. Even if you fail in completing a task, you did the action, it just wasn’t successful that time.
So… you shove fear out and start working out, applying for new jobs, join a social group, church, etc., what now? Gasp!!! You lose weight, get a new job, fall in love, walk closer with God and are experiencing joy and fulfillment, oh no!!! =) Fear will show up and say, “You can’t possibly keep this up! They’ll find out who you really are and it’ll be a wrap! Give up now! Mess this up! Binge on comfort food, you deserve it! Hang out with your old friends who aren’t doing anything positive and while you’re at it, pick up that old habit or vice; you can handle it now.” That same seductive voice becomes unrelenting should you listen to it, though. “See?!!! I knew you couldn’t do it! You’re too weak! You messed up! You’ll never ________________.” So many of us believe that and concede our lives to mediocrity and misery.
We were designed for more but we have to step out and into it. Jeremiah 29:11 (New Living Translation) says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Fear says you have no positive future, that your plans are too lofty or unrealistic. If we can see the truth about fear and ourselves it can make the battles simpler to fight and win. We are more than conquerors and everything we need to win is already prepared for us, we just have to use it. Do you want to fight fear and win? Take a step; now another one. Fear- 0, You – 2. I’m cheering for each of you; go be GREAT, in Him!