Not The Same

We’ve all had our share of stresses: good and bad.  I’m grateful when they spread themselves out and give us room to breathe, however, life doesn’t always behave so kindly.

For me, this past week alone consisted of: parental health concerns, a 911 call, a career opportunity much hoped for falling through, family visits x2, a reconnection with an old friend, two job interviews and two coffee dates – one cancelled. Not to mention work, setting up a new software system for a client, whilst applying for new positions and networking for potential new business.

I give myself such a hard time because I’m not handling all this more gracefully. I suffer under the impression that others would cope and thrive with this much going on. I shame myself into thinking I can do better.

But can I? Or rather, should I?

The past four years have been about owning who I am and living it out, yet I am amazed at the self-criticism and shame I hold on to. There remains something intrinsically flawed in my beliefs:

Action/Doing = Useful/Value

Rest/Being = Useless/Insignificance

 

Yet God is reminding me of another way:

BE

WITH

ENOUGH

“Be. Stop trying to earn your value in commitments, duties and accomplishments.”

“With. You can’t do it alone. You’re not meant to do it alone. I created you for relationship.”

“Enough. All that you are is all I made you to be. In this moment, you are enough. There are no conditions on my love for you.”

 

We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” – but not the same. Never the same. Our uniqueness means we all experience and react differently when faced with adversity. Some take physical action; they work it out. Others have solutions and ideas. Some comfort. Some observe. The point I’m beginning to accept is that none of these are wrong – it’s how we were created.

Diverse.

Beautiful.

Enough.

Thoughts?

(Yes, Bev! There is a comment section on the top!)

 

As Good As It Gets

Remember the 1997 movie, “As Good As It Gets”? Jack Nicholson plays famous writer, Melvin Udall, who suffers with debilitating OCD – and makes those around him suffer right along with him. In one scene, Melvin marches into his psychiatrist’s office demanding to see the doctor. Of course, his demand is denied by the front desk nurse. In his frustration, Melvin turns to the waiting room full of depressed patients and says:

“What if this is as good as it gets?”

What if this is as good as it gets, I wonder.

Now, the “good Christian girl” inside immediately replies, “Of course it isn’t! We are children of God! The best is yet to come!”

Hmm.

Lately, that “good Christian girl” has been on vacation. Instead of responding with positivity and joy, my response is tired and my heart a little bit broken.

I’ve been facing an inordinate amount of disappointment lately. Disappointment is a part of life, but this year it seems to be one thing after another. Plainly speaking, I’m struggling.

And I’m wondering, what if this IS as good as it gets. I mean, we are, after all, living in a fallen world. Our hopes and expectations are bound to be out of our reach, right?

Nothing is utterly tragic – rather little pokes of sadness and disillusionment. Tiny things. Career uncertainty. Struggling with singleness and loneliness. Mild depression.

The nagging thought that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

And there is truth in that – this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

How it’s supposed to be is not about me, rather all about Him.

Earlier this summer, during my regular prayer time, I felt God challenging me to lay down my prayers for myself and instead grow my intercession for others. Specifically, wait on God to lead me to pray for three people daily. This is not to say God wasn’t interested in my needs/desires. He knows my heart. He was instead, showing me how to become more selfless and concerned with the lives of others.

I’d like to say this experience has been a rousing success and I’ve been so changed by the practice.

But I can’t.

I’m not.

Yet.

If I’ve learned anything in my spiritual life in the past few years’ it’s God’s demand on my obedience.

I came across this golden truth today:

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And I do. Love Him. And right now the only hope I can access is found in this belief. That I can’t come close to imagining His plan.

So for right now, that’s going to have to be enough.

(Please feel free to comment or if you’re local you can always ply me with coffee and comment face to face. 😉 )

Tactical Uniform

Ephesians 6:10-20 (New Revised Standard Version)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our[a] struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these,[b] take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I’m walking through the mall. And I’m never in the mall. The bookstore? Yes. The mall? No. (One should note that said bookstore is attached to the “BIG” mall in my city.)

Regardless.

I’m walking through the mall when I notice something strange. At the entrance of each store front one or two women are looking in my direction. At first, I’m concerned. Did I leave my zipper open? Nope. Is my hair standing on end? Nah.

Then I get it. The attention isn’t on me, it’s behind me.

Not one to be discreet, I turn around to check out what’s grabbing their attention and see him. Him, being about 6’6” of masculinity and muscle, dark hair, short beard. Handsome? Yes. But that’s not the reason for the looks.

It’s the uniform.

Not the usual uniform of the R.C.M.P. Highly recognizable to any Canadian. Rather, this imposing figure is completely decked out in a tactical uniform. All black. The tools of defense and offense on display.  I couldn’t tell you what each item was for, but the effect was striking.

This was not a man to be messed with.

The image of this man stayed in my mind for several days. No, not because he was handsome. Rather because of his uniform. His armor.

Without the uniform, he was still an imposing figure. Yet, I think if he had been in shorts and a tee shirt the reaction wouldn’t have been so profound.

~

I’ve been going through a rough patch this summer. As I’ve written before, summer isn’t my most fruitful time. How ironic. This summer it seems to be worse. My prayer life is dull. My enthusiasm is blocked. I’m attempting to be obedient, but I’m faced with opposition.

Worst of all, I am enduring what I choose to call “depression lite” – not full blown clinical depression, but a lasting period of blah. Interspersed with this are attacks of anxiety. Fear for the future. Distrust in God. Hopelessness. These don’t last long, but boy, do they ever take a bite out of my peace and joy!

After an emotional meltdown several weeks ago, I was reminded that my place and role in the Kingdom of God includes spiritual warfare. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power” – let His power and strength be evident in your life.

Remember the police officer in full tactical gear? Big? Yep. Strong? Certainly! But it was the uniform that communicated, “Don’t mess with me.” The uniform made him instantly recognizable as someone that represented justice, protection and in the worst cases, capable of battle.

Does my countenance communicate that I represent the Kingdom of God? That I am a warrior for the King of Kings?

Meh. Lately, not so much.

Underneath it all, I’m suffering. I don’t have it all together. And I’m not going to shame myself into believing I always need to.

Which is why I must dress myself in the tactical uniform of Christ. Truth. Righteousness. Peace. Faith. Despite my frail self, I can cover my head with salvation.  I arm myself with the Sword of the Spirit, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction to the enemy: The Word of God.

I’m not trying to “fake it until I make it,” rather I’m living out the reality – “in my weakness, He is strong.” It is my right as a child of the King to wear this uniform. I choose it. I live it.

God.

I claim the right to wear your armor. I am not at my strongest right now, but I am protected. If need be, I am prepared for battle. You are the giver of life and commander of my soul. Take this life and use it as you see fit. Unending thanks to you. Over and over. Amen.