Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Art of Letting Go

I’m an interfering wench… I mean, doesn’t all of life work so much better if I’m right there to pet it and cajole it and help it along?  No?  Are you *sure*?  Hm.

It’s hard for me to do my work and then let go and walk away.  I wouldn’t write so much about how necessary and blessed it is if I didn’t have it in front of my face!  It is especially hard for me because my “work” tends not to be physical work – I’ve never had a problem just cleaning something or doing work for an employer and walking away when it was done.  Finis!  No, I’m talking about emotional work, or “helping” work – you know, the “I’ll make life nice for this person” stuff.  Figuring out when you’re done and you need to step back is tricky.  

For me, the trick tends to be concentrating on God-as-employer.  God’s my boss – so I want to do all things as unto Him.  But I also must surrender my specific tasks to Him… so it’s not “I should make everything perfect for X” – no, my job is to “bake a cake” or “have this phone conversation”.   Do you see the difference?  I see it, but oh it’s hard to just stop after the job is done.  I can see so much more than needs work!  I’m an emotional workaholic.  -rueful laughter-  You know what that indicates?  That I’m working for *myself* – my own sense of satisfaction – not working for God.  (Ouch, btw).

I have been thinking of this in the context of … well, everything… but especially in the context of BFF and her cancer.  I’d LOVE to go just go barge in and arrange their lives for them.  But that’s *not* my job – in fact, if I start doing that, I’ll interfere with the lessons that God is trying to teach them during this time of trial.  I can do lots of helpful things, but they have to be tasks, not systems.  

The next year of my life is going to be full of lessons.  For one thing, I think I just figured out why all my church volunteerism has been put on the backmost backburner.  Guess maybe I had other work waiting for me.  Heck, even my pastor “magically” decided to preach through Ecclesiastes.  Who’s ever heard of a preacher preaching through that book on Sunday morning?  

God really DOES have everything coordinated.  I don’t like it – so many, many ways in which I don’t like it – but that’s really not my problem, now is it?

Not today’s verse, but the passage that was chosen for the front of our announcement page………

 Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

Play your part in the orchestra of life, play it with all your might, and don’t worry about directing.  Surrender. 

I’m not going to lie and say I’m doing this very well, but I do know what I have to do.  

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God’s Got This

I’m hurting today.  My BFF has cancer and every time we get news, it seems like the news gets worse.  Other stuff going on, just normal stressors that show up because you’re alive.  It’s been a really tense month … and it seems like most of the people I know are going through similar times.  

But because I’m a woman of faith, I keep my eyes open… always looking for the “why” and “how is God working through this” and watching to see how God’s orchestra of life brings in one instrument or another at a particular time and place for a particular reason.

I’ve already seen a couple of things start blooming out of K’s cancer diagnosis, and some really unexpected harmonics are happening.  It’s God’s timing.  He’s got this.

It’s hard.  So HARD to rest in Him and the head-knowledge that He does love us, more than we love ourselves, more than we love each other… and that He won’t ever waste our pain or the rocky places we struggle through.   He will work things ’round so that we’re just gaping at His awesomeness and His glory and His love.

But.  We have to watch and keep our eyes peeled, so that we can appreciate the whole symphony… not just the bits that we find most pleasant or most impressive.  

That doesn’t change that quite frankly, I’m a mess today.  I’m stressed, my shoulders are tight, I didn’t sleep well.  But this will pass.  This is going to be a rocky day – we’re going off to the doc for the Big Appointment, where the treatment plan gets laid out and questions get asked, etc.  Is it fun?  No.  But we’ll come out the other side.  God *does* have this sorted, and if He’s allowing it, it’s for a reason.  Probably reasons, plural.  He’s like that.

I know that.  I trust Him totally.  It still hurts, but I trust my Lord.

God’s got this.

Arrow Not Shield

“When we think we are in control of the results, rather than called to be obedient as we release the results to God, we will experience guilt, tension, and discouragement”. – Dee Brestin, “Idol Lies”

My main spiritual gift is exhortation.  I’m God’s little cheerleader – the friend that will come alongside you and encourage you to do whatever it is that you need to do, the one who always has the optimistic lookout, the one who will smile while she kicks you in the rear.   I do that unofficially, I’m going to start doing that officially soon (finally found the right people to connect with at church… mentorship program here I come).  I enjoy being who God made me.

But it is VERY easy for me to fall into thinking that I have some control over the outcome.  I don’t!  Even when I’m working with someone hand-in-hand for years at a go, I don’t have control.  When I start believing that I control the results, and that the results have something to do with *me*… well, I get discouraged.  (It’s always the reverse of your best gift that is your worst sin – I’ve swallowed despair’s lies a time or two, to my shame).

I’ve been in a period of mostly short-term missions, where I’ve been learning to open myself up to just bringing a little of God’s light where ever He points me.  And thus He’s taught me to be an arrow.  Fly swift, straight, obedient to His direction. Do what I’m supposed to do, say what I’m told to say, pray and love and embrace and encourage.  God gave me the gift of love – I love easily and naturally.   It makes exhortation easy – I love very nearly everyone, so naturally I want their best.  It’s not like I can help it.  :p

But love makes me protective.  And I am not supposed to protect.  I got hit with that 2×4 today while doing my study.  I’ve been burdened with unforgiveness for someone who hurt someone I love for decades – I kept willing to forgive, doing the work, praying… and finally it broke today.  I was using that unforgiveness, that old hurt, to hold “strong” so that I could protect.   (Pretty sad source of strength, oh well).

But the Lord is her shield.  Not me.  The Lord is MY shield.  And all my loved ones – if they belong to God, they’re shielded by Him.  He never asked me to stand in His place – that’s His job. I need to let go.    He is the avenger of blood, He is justice, He will protect.  Not me.  Never have I been asked to do these things – I wasn’t made for that.  

To be who God called me to be, I need to be able to give my very best and then leave the results to Him.   To open my hands and to trust in the God who loves more than I could ever imagine loving.   I need to keep my eyes open to opportunities to do right – I’m being challenged to really step up in maturity – but I don’t have to carry the weight of the results.  Not my burden.   I’m just an arrow – I have to drop the burdens so that I can fly whereever the Lord chooses to send me.

So… time to fly!

Boredom

Boredom is much maligned around these parts, but boredom is a useful emotion.   (I certainly am not defending those who say, “I’m bored” and then wait for the universe to provide novelty – the sensation of boredom, however, is worth exploring).

Boredom, or the craving for novelty, is what starts people doing and learning new things.  I, personally, am forever getting an itch to do something different or learn something new.   And what has that got me, you ask?

One year I learned to bake bread, properly.  And I baked so much bread I provided 75% of my family’s bread that year.

One year I decided to stop being afraid of pastry – and learned to make a mean pie.

One year I decided to try my hand at tailoring.

This year it was making corsets.

There was the year I did a proper double-dug garden – in heavy clay.  (I was younger then, but yes – I really did, two feet deep and properly fluffed, every inch).

For me, boredom is the push that makes the difference between, “I’d like to learn about that someday” and “Today is a good day to start”.  If I was perfectly content doing the same things over and over and over… I’d be the same person I was decades ago.  And wouldn’t *that* be dreadful.

Some people find that travel satisfies that itch.  They have to see what’s on the far side of the hill.  And why not?  We need explorers.  We need people who like to bring back novelties to those at home.  

Some people find that serious study satisfies the itch.  They start learning about insects and never stop… sometimes those people make interesting discoveries.  Until the last century or so, most scientists were rich and bored – or monks and bored.  The room to work with, the room to explore… time to “waste” that becomes time not in the least wasted.  The ability to try new things.  

Boredom isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t a bad thing at all.  It’s only bad when you don’t see it as a push to open new doors in life.  There are always new things to do, new things to learn, new things to see, new things to experience, new things to contribute to the world around you.  

It’s only a bad thing when you stop at, “I’m bored” and don’t go on to, “Well, now what?”  No one else can satisfy that itch, you’re just going to have to get off the couch and do something.

Carpe diem!  Let’s go find a rock to turn over, shall we?  -grin-

Otherworldly Thinking

In this world, we’re told to:  Make our own destinies.  Take action.  Steer the course for our lives.  We’re told that we *should* control our situations, our surroundings.

It’s very counter-cultural to be willing to cast all cares aside and trust utterly in God.  And it’s *not easy*.  It should be.  But it is an otherworldly way of thinking, and it is a battle.  Ah, yes.  We’re supposed to take every thought captive.  But those captives can make quite a noise behind their prison walls….

I want to be something I’m not yet.  I want to be like that hermit on the hill who trusts God to bring him food and drink, sunshine and rain, joy and meaning.  I want to soar effortlessly along, flying on wings of faith.

“I want” is always a problem, is it not?  🙂  Are we humans ever satisfied? Satisfied with ourselves, satisfied with our surroundings?

I look at myself and I am displeased.  I make the mark, “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” and I fall short.  (Duh).   And I grit my teeth and shove hard on that prison door, leaning on it to hold it closed.   Instead I should be holding this verse to heart…

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Instead of holding the prison door with my strength, perhaps I should take those thoughts captive so I can hand the string over to Christ and have done.  Not burying the worries, but surrendering them.  Surrendering them over and over again – as often as they come up.  Talking things out with Him, not just confessing anxiety.

Not every moment of life can be easy.  For me, being patient in a time of change is terribly difficult.   It doesn’t have to be easy, it doesn’t have to look easy.   Because I have hope.  Hope not in the change, but hope in Christ, that whatever comes will be beautiful.   All this *will* pass………………

It’s positively otherworldly, to let it go and not try to hang on and steer.

Right Action, Perfectionism, Control

I like control as much as the next person.  As I’ve been writing about control as an illusion, I’m starting to realize that one of the ways I exhibit my desire to control my life is by displaying the inverse.  When I can’t get the results that I want, I walk away.   I give it my all, do everything I’m “supposed” to do – and when it doesn’t work out, I can say, “Well, I did everything I was told, and it didn’t work, so I’m out!”

I’m showing that my hope is in the result.  That what matters is what I’m showing, not what I’m doing.  The outside, not the inside.

It’s results-oriented.  I’m trying to let God make me into someone far more process-oriented.   There are far too many factors in life that I have no control over – results aren’t my business.  But that doesn’t mean I can just throw up my hands and walk.   Nope.  I still need to do my duty, even if I think my right actions aren’t making a difference.   There’s where faith comes in – having the faith that God’s got it, and He’ll make good from my little mud pies.

And ripping my hope in the results out and letting it burn.  Because God’s “good result” might not be *my* “good result”.  Our pictures aren’t necessarily the same.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

It’s tempting for me to play it safe when I decide to be process oriented.  Why give my all and not get my prize?  After all, if I’m going to sweat, I’m going to sweat for a result, right?   RIGHT?

Wrong.

Colossians 3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

That verse was written to servants serving their masters, but can it not equally apply to me, working for myself?  Am I not a human?  How much stuff do I do *for myself*.  For *my* goals, for my pride, for my glory?  (Yes, I’m wincing as I write this).

There’s no way to rip this desire to please myself out without replacing it with something else.   So then, with what shall I replace this?

With a desire to please my Lord.

And how can I make *that* desire more than an intellectual exercise?   I have to spend more time with Him.   Fall more in love with Him.  Talk more with Him, and listen when He tells me where to reach and when to wait.

Greater dependence on God, less dependence on me.  … And still get up, do what has to be done, and do my very, very best while I’m doing it.  Shine and dance and sing – for an audience of One.

The way out of perfectionism, the way to let go control, is love.  Loving Jesus and obeying Him in all things.

 

 

(In an exhibit of God’s usual humor, I started listening to a CD that I bought my husband for his bday as I was writing this.  The first song and the first paragraph… ah, Lord.  Some days you’re louder than others… -shakes head, laughs softly-)

Love and Courage

I was thinking about the paladining thing again today…. and was called to read 1 John 3.

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (NASB)

Sometimes I get sucked into this world’s wisdom, and wonder, “should I play it safe, should I put up the defenses and concentrate on my own life”?  And … that’s not Biblical.  Sure, we should concentrate on purifying ourselves as He is pure (also in 1 John 3) but … for what purpose?  It’s not for the purpose of our salvation, we know that our works of righteousness are as filthy rags to our Lord.

Looked up the word love as it is used in this verse … Quoting from Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, in regards to agapao (love/charity):

“Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.  Love seeks the welfare of all (Romans 15:2) and works no ill to any, (Romans 13:8-10); love seeks opportunity to do good to ‘all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith,’ (Galatians 6:10).

Love is about putting ourselves out there to do good stuff for those around us.  It doesn’t matter how we *feel* about it.  And we’re *commanded* to love.  That’s the Big One.

God never EVER told us to make nice safe pleasant lives for ourselves.  He told us to go out there and love others, as He has loved us.

God is ultimately in control of my safety and well-being.  He is the creator of the Universe.  Control is an illusion… the gunshots I heard the other night could have come through my bedroom wall and sent me directly to Heaven, no stopping along the way.  But they didn’t.  The wave that I dived under today could have broken my neck.  A shark could have swam up and eaten me.   A car could have hit me – good heavens, I drive on I-5 regularly, that’s probably the most death-defying thing I could manage!

So – since my safety is in God’s hands, what’s really in my hands is what I do with my days, hours and life…………..

I will love.