Wednesday, September 20, 2017

because we all need to gain a little more perspective

As another Wednesday morning comes up there is a bit of an anxiety within.  Do I have anything to share, anything full of purpose, encouragement, helpfulness?  Anything new?  And then I am reminded of this verse from Ecclesiastes, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new?"  It has been already in the ages before us."

The only newness we see on a daily basis are the new morning mercies we are gracefully given and the new ways we are able to comprehend the age old things that have been around for eternity.  The additions that are forming and restoring our Inner Dispositions.  The struggles that have been here have always been here along with all the joys.  Sure, they are relived over and over in cyclical ways with different people, different settings, different results, but the base remains the same.  We are all forever learning the same Truths, just in a million different ways.

I have been given a sweet reminder this morning that my job, my purpose, what I am being asked to do, is not to create fantastic new ways to handle life or new thoughts to be remembered and written on reclaimed wood and placed on the wall above a beautiful entryway vignette.  My purpose is to remind, just as I am constantly being reminded.  It's why we need community, why we were built for it.  We learn from one another, feed off one another, take one idea and expand it, one creation and tweak it, become inspired by another so that we can inspire another still.  Build skyscrapers together instead of struggling over and over on one level alone.

There was a time, quite recently actually, when I would judge the "goodness" of a day as I was laying in bed at night.  Pondering over the days events I would subconsciously add tally marks to the good side and the bad side and then see which side won.  One day last week, school had been cancelled yet again due to post Irma-ness and I was determined to get out of the house and do something fun.  We had already had a watch the Hurricane through the windows all day day, then a lazy day, then a post Hurricane clean up day, and all parts of us all were needing a get away fun day.  

Without giving you a play by play of the mornings events, and a list of all the parenting moments that ensued, just know that for many different reasons, NOTHING went as planned that day.  By late afternoon in a moment of desperation--more for my sanity because I could feel negative emotions rising quickly within--I grabbed my phone and ear buds, put on my running shoes, and ran the small length of road in front of our home back and forth, over and over, while my sweet and temperamental boys played football in the yard spanning between our home and our neighbor's.  Somewhere in that 30 min jog, and the numerous interruptions of boys needing their mama, I was reminded that life is not an average of bad and good, we don't have to take both numbers, add them up, divide by two.  Life is one moment at a time.  One good moment at a time.  While plenty of yucky and not so fun ones are mixed in, they do not have the right, and should not be given the ability, to minimize the good ones.  Learn from them yes, allow them to overtake, no.  Nothing is strong enough to overtake the Good we are given.  There are better ways to be overwhelmed. 

As if I needed to be reminded of this lesson immediately, literally right after I was done running and mentally planning an instagram post about appreciating one good moment at a time complete with a picture of three finally happy boys playing football together, one of them fell and scraped his elbow in a pretty ugly way on the driveway.  In the next overly dramatic filled moments of injury fixing and using a ridiculous amount of bandaids because the proper first aid items needed were not on hand I was still holding on to that moment from earlier.  Letting the good shadow the bad, instead of the other way around.  Maybe that should have been my post.

This was going to be the end of my intended sharing for the day, short and sweet, and a bit of food for thought, but then in the car on the way to my new Happy Wednesday spot, I was brought to tears by the recent earthquake in Mexico and the news reports of children in a school texting from underneath the rubble praying that a rescuer would get to them before it was too late.  The suffering of others is all around us.  

A line from a recent study by N. T. Wright has been a constant in my mind.  When reading through 1 Peter and the amounts of suffering from these Christians Wright challenges with the statement that "those of us who read 1 Peter in comfortable freedom have a deep responsiblity to help our brothers and sisters for whom persecution of which Peter speaks is a daily reality"

At first there was more than a bit of guilt from my first world, love of making all things pretty and clean self, for all the times I complain or struggle.  What gives me the right to ever think that what I am going through is hard...just look at what "they" are having to go through, whomever they might be at the time. --For the record, I know this is not true and that struggles we have are very real to each of us and a part of the way God is redeeming us--

While I 100% think that the responsibility he mentioned is true and required, quickly added to it was another thought. This concept needs to also be put into practice right where I am sitting now.  

The whole idea of nothing new is under the sun, the whole idea of living in community, takes place under the command of bearing one another's burdens, wherever that person happens to be.  Constantly looking to one another and looking out for one another.  God will place someone in your life to grab your hand and pull you higher just as you will have another lower than you who needs the same.  Down the rope it goes being helpful and being helped.  Sometimes simultaneously, sometimes pulling up the dead weight of a severely injured soul, sometimes being the desperate one that just can not help with the way because of the heaviness you are in.

What was really gained that day of running, was another level of perspective.

Gaining perspective can often feel like being scolded, "Come on, get a little perspective, things are not as bad in the grand scheme!"

Maybe that will be the lesson you learn, maybe you are having a pity party for yourself and need something to snap you out of it?  But I'm beginning to realize the gentleness of God in this scenarios.  As a perfect Father, He rarely uses shock and awe as a discipline tool, scaring us into obedience.  He lovingly sent a son who walked on the Earth.  A son, because of His perfect communion with His Father, knew all things, was told all things, was given the ability to do all things, and yet gently walked alongside the sinful, the confused, the ignorant, the boisterous, the boastful, the depressed, and saved them, restored them, and gave them a different perspective.  How I long to have that same gentle manner.

A shift in thinking is all perspective really is.  Taking a step to the left or right to get a different angle, asking for other eyes to join you to give different thoughts, different opinions, different experiences.

But as much as we were created for community, created to have others alongside instead of living a solitary life, the best eyes to ever gain perspective through are the ones of our Creator made available to look through by the Son He sent, the Spirit He left, and the Words that hold true for eternity.

I will be praying that you not only see the good moments and hold on to them, but that through that there will be a heaven-sent perspective that will lead you through each moment you are brought through in your own life and when walking alongside others in theirs.  Pray for me. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

because small things are a big deal

one sheep.

In Luke, Jesus said to not only leave 99 safe ones to find just one lost sheep, but when we do find it, to celebrate, and celebrate big.

One is not so small a number.

We each know or know of grand people, large personalities, that people gravitate to, that people emulate, that people secretly or not so secretly wish to be.  His perfectly designed history introduces us to great Kings and Generals that led battles for freedom, leaders of countries that spoke wisdom and truths to the masses, artists of all kinds that are now household names because of their reach across social lines, and missionaries and ministers with humble beginnings who have come to make waves that have reached even the most hidden places.

In the midst of a world making statements, taking stands, shouting louder than the person next to them, whether physically or through countless medias, it feels as if the only way to live a life of purpose, the only way to be bold for your beliefs, is to shout until your voice is gone.

It is all too common for me to feel that if my beliefs are not shared in the same venues as other individuals or if my actions are not as grand resulting in gobs of attention or if my voice can literally not be heard above another's shouting then there is an objective not being met and it is a direct consequence of my lack of ambition or determination or knowledge or ability.  There is a feeling that something is lacking somewhere in my soul.  Sound familiar to anyone else?

There was a time where I struggled with showing Joy.  Why did I not seem as joyful as others with a smile on my face in the midst of any trial and an upbeat voice to go with it?  Through conversations with my pastor there was a realization that Joy takes many forms and outlets itself through individual personalities instead of having one face.  My joy was just as real as another's even though it revealed itself differently.  All our actions in light of the Kingdom follow the same rule.

We are not all meant to have the loudest voices.

"Courage doesn't always roar" ~Mary Anne Radmacher

When there are 7 billion people available, quite a few are going to be known, well known, famously or infamously, depending on their impact.  Most of us, however, will not reach that level of recognizability by the masses.  For some that may be a relief, for others that truth is a harder pill to swallow.  It is in these moments where it is imperative to seek contentment in what you've been called to so that you do not begin calling yourself to places not meant for you.

When you only have eyes to see impact and change happening by those deemed important by the world's standards you place yourself in a position for a few different things happening.

          1.  becoming overwhelmed with the desire to reach the same level
          2.  removing God from his place of priority so that you can seek control 
          3.  losing yourself in the process as the dream begins to take that control instead
          4.  missing out on the smaller things right in front of you

God holds each of our futures and yours could be to become a louder voice among the masses to bring glory to Him, but just as meaningful is the quiet voice and intentional actions that bring glory in the midst of all of our mundane.  Actions, for His glory, will speak louder and steadier than any words.

There is beauty in smallness.  There is deliberate, intentionality in smallness.  Small things are just as important.  Small things make wide ripples.

"And every work he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered. 2 Chronicles 31:21"

It can seem easy to get lost in the shuffle, to believe you are but a blip, but in Truth that is actually quite impossible.  We each are known completely, loved completely, planned purposely, and executed perfectly.  We are each small in the shadow of our Creator, rightly so as He provides that wonderful wing in which we can dwell beneath.  

I'll be praying for you to see the beauty in the smallness of life, pray for me.