Friday, April 30, 2010
Do you ever catch yourself second-guessing your lifestyle decisions? I do regularly and that's where I have been.
Back in my 20's I was oh-so-confident. I was unbudging and unyielding in the beliefs and ideas that I held dear. I lived my life with conviction that my choices were right and good and true. They say (or rather He says) that pride goes before a fall. And boy did I fall.
I found myself in the midst of a very abusive and controlling spiritual situation. It didn't happen overnight...it happened over a period of years. This was years of my spiritual life and beliefs being slowing eroded and undermined and replaced by someone else's way of thinking. After I left this situation, I was a spiritual and emotional and physical train-wreck. Post-traumatic stress disorder in all of its ugliness. I had been broken and humbled. I had been the one who knew I would never fail at anything in life...and now all that self-righteous pride was shattered. I had failed as a wife, a mother, a family member, a friend, and as a follower of Jesus.
The good news was that my "failure" brought me to a place where I could finally taste the goodness and greatness and sweetness of the grace of the Gospel of Jesus.
However, an unfortunate consequence of that situation has been that I don't trust myself or my decision-making. I realize how easily I can be deceived so I want to live humbly and trusting in God. In every decision that we make (whether it's about work or housing or education or ministry or whatever), I feel a bit terrified. I wonder and question whether or not I am hearing God or being misled by man's teaching or following a self-path. As a result, I find it difficult to find joy in the paths that we have chosen because I fear that I am being duped.
This double-mindedness is wearing me down. I want to walk in a humble confidence in the paths that we have chosen through prayer and process. I want to have clear, singular focus and not anxiety, questioning, guessing at every turn. I want to trust God's gentle lead and the intuitive gut that He has given me (that I rejected and ignored over and again through the years). I want to rest in the truth that even when I fail, His gentle correction is there to steer me back to straight paths.
I want to walk by faith. And faith is tough when you had faith in lies that you thought were truth. My faith has to ultimately be in the Person of Jesus and not in my decisions, ideals, or lifestyle. Looking to Him as my Shepherd is the only Way. He really is THE Way, THE Truth, THE Life. So when the doubts and questions come, I look at Him. And I seek to follow Him in His character and ways....and trust in the freedom that He has given His children to choose many different paths/lifestyles all of which can glorify Him and keep us humble in the process.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
If you have followed my thoughts for several years, you know that I will encourage "self-care" over and again. It's so vital to be walking in this place of humility: we are dust. We need each other. We can't do it all. We don't make up the whole Body of Christ in and of ourselves. We are broken and get weary and down and drained...which is a blessing in disguise: we realize that real life is lived in a state of dependence on God and others.
Going at life alone was never His plan. We were made for Him and each other. Look at the Trinity! And going at life alone is guaranteed to make you overwhelmed, tired, depressed, and nuts because we weren't designed for that!
It's taken me years to learn to ask for help. And I still struggle with it. It's as if I feel like I have to hang my head and grovel to others and acknowledge what a failure I am....that I should be able to do this mothering thing alone!
I hit a wall a few weeks ago. We took an emergency weekend to Myrtle Beach to get my head on straight :) Sometimes you gotta get out of Dodge to figure out what the heck is going on in your mind and heart. Mike and I needed to come up with some tweaking in our schedule/expectations because I was beginning to feel the rumblings of depression/exhaustion/burn-out again. And I don't want to go there again.
So this past week, I asked a dear friend to take my three oldest children for the day on Wednesday. On Thursday, Mike took the day off and my sister kept our three oldest children that day. And then Mike gave me some extended periods on Saturday and Sunday alone in my home to decompress, read, write, rest.
I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. Really. Having several days in a row of help with my children really relieved much fatigue and pressure. It was like a mini-Spring Break for mama.
But you know what? It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't asked for it. People that we love cannot read our minds and can't be expected to intuitively understand our needs. We must take care of ourselves and ask for help. This isn't being demanding or pushy...it's humbly asking others if they can help us. They are blessed by serving and we are blessed to receive. And then we can turn around and do it for others (I am watching a toddler tomorrow for a weary mom!)
This is what being in the Body is all about.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
A Prayer for New Parents
by James Keller
by James Keller
O Lord, give us the wisdom ---
To deal with our children as You would,
To see in each of them Your Holy Image,
To develop in them a Christ-like love of all men, not only a select few,
To teach them to be go-givers rather than go-getters.
Oh God, in training these dear ones whom
Thou hast entrusted to our charge, help us ---
To encourage rather than discourage them,
To discipline with kindness not softness,
To guide them intelligently, not blindly,
To coach, not scold; to nudge, not nag.
Dear Lord, above all, help us ---
To use common sense in regard to their future,
To let them go gladly when the time comes,
To let them lead their own lives while following them with our love,
To pray always that they will be close to Thee,
not only for the few years of this life
but for the endless years of eternity.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
My official "end" of buying nothing was Easter Sunday. And now it's Tuesday and I have no desire to run out to shop. I like that settled feeling. Thursday is one of my son's 7th birthday so that will mean a trip to a local toy shop and sporting goods store tomorrow. My birthday list is intentional and small yet quality and meaningful.
With my Buy Nothing experiment, I can't say that I have found the quick cure for Amazon addiction or that I won't be tempted by cute shoes and pretty bags and funky beaded jewelry. I do however feel strongly about:
- no longer making quick emotional buying decisions
- keeping out cheap plastic toys
- keeping simple wardrobes and being ruthless in our closets
- trying to "make do" instead of buying new
- using more of my emotional energy to love people instead of perusing stores/shopping
- handmade (if possible) and simplicity in gift-giving
- don't buy "the good deal" unless it is a need
- give, give, give instead of spend, spend, spend
For those of you that joined me, tell the rest of us about your experience? If you are in the middle of this experiment, what is the biggest "aha!" moment for you?
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I drive fast. And I like to drive to fast. I don't know why. Sometimes it's from poor planning so I am rushed to be somewhere on time. Sometimes it's because I feel agitated, and I do things fast when I feel that way. Part of it is feeling like driving is a waste of my time, and I want to get it over with quickly. I just seem to rush, rush, rush whenever I drive.
It's all catching up with me. I got a warning from a police officer about seven months ago because I was speeding in a school zone. It wasn't intentional...my mind was on other things (homeschooling books that I had just bought at the thrift store!) and I just didn't notice that I was in the school zone. He gave me a warning, I felt stupid, and gave myself some sort of mental scolding for always pushing it when I drive.
This morning I was late getting Will to his preschool. My mind was very preoccupied as I drove, and so I didn't notice that the speed limit had just changed from 45 to 35...and I was going 49. Blue lights in the rear-view. I thought "Seriously?!" And my next thought was "Lord, you are trying to teach me something and apparently I am not listening". I accepted my ticket graciously and knew I deserved it. Even though my speeding wasn't intentional this morning, I usually DO speed and it usually IS intentional and I just think that I won't get caught. And I rationalize it away too..."the speed limit is 35 here but shouldn't be...it SHOULD be 50 so I'll go that". It's terrible, really.
It was good for me to be honest with my children that what I am doing is wrong and that I need God's grace to stop speeding. It was good for me to be humble before them and admit wrong-doing and that I struggle with sin...I think that God used the situation for good to build deeper transparency and grace in our family relationships.
But at the end of the day, I still want to stop speeding and figure out why I drive my car and myself so hard. I am so weary of having my default setting being anxiety-driven. I want to live out of a peaceful, trusting place not out of a fretful, pushy place. God is allowing something as simple as speeding tickets to teach me to trust, to slow, to relinquish control...to choose in my dailiness to walk by faith in His sovereign, gracious character.
Oh I really want to learn these heart lessons. I really do.