Grieving is a funny thing

I don’t think this will be long, but I had a realization about myself.

If there is anything I reference the most, it’s how I reminisce about how I used to be. Used to be really close with Jesus. Used to be more mature (haha). Used to be confident. Used to be, used to be.

When I’ve looked at my present self over the years, I didn’t like it. So I looked back.

I get caught in this loop, and I think a part of it is grieving. Grieving my mistakes. Grieving that I used to “get it.” Grieving I’ve lost 5+ years to this feedback loop.

In grief, there are stages. I haven’t made it to the end of those. I’ve been stuck in the anger, depression, denial, even shock at the change in me. I haven’t been able to accept and turn to Hope.

I think that’s changing, though. Weirdly enough, it’s been through sports I’ve seen this the most poignantly. Learning a new sport, I make a ton of mistakes and I’m my head I don’t think I should make them… But my body says otherwise.

I. Get. So. Mad.

Like cursing under my breath trying not to throw my expensive new equipment and embarrass myself more kind of mad. Because of a game? Because I’m making mistakes?

There it is. All those little mistakes that I hate. That I hate about myself and I shove down so that I can grieve later about how I made them. I grieve that I even wasted my time going out, because my mistakes made me so upset. And then I’m upset about being upset.

Jesus, I think you’re touching on something big, here. A pattern I’ve been repeating for a while, now. Can you reach in and help me accept myself for who I am and who You made me? I mess up a ton, Jesus. I get so mad, depressed, and ashamed about it. I get stuck on remembering that I used to understand at one point. Now I don’t, Father. Can You keep me here in the present with you? Can you teach me what I can do, now?

Amen. Let it be true.

Do – do I do not?

As I talked about in my previous post, my word for this year is do. Simply do.

I’ve already run into a snag, though. I’m pretty bad at it. I had to come up with a pretty terrible title to poke fun at myself. It’s loosely connected to a terrible pun about Yoda from star wars phrase “do or do not, there is no try. ”

All silliness and making fun of myself aside, I’m already starting off this year with one of my biggest flaws. I start out strong for maybe a day with some great ideas I’m stoked about… And then I peter out. I find reasons not to accomplish the things I mean to.

“I’m too tired. I have to decompress from work. I’m too busy. I’ll do it later. I’ve waited this long, so I’ll get depressed about taking so long and continue my pattern.”

I have a litany of reasons why I won’t “do.” I can’t keep giving myself the space to allow that. I thought my first post about my word for the year was going to touch on fears and some ideas, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

It actually sat in my drafts for three weeks completed except this line. 🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️

Jesus, I need you. I’ve treated you like a genie who could just fix me and my problems. Can You draw close to me as I learn to draw close to you to just be with… You. I’m so bad about having other motives, even when I’m not trying to have other motives. I’m broken and messy, Jesus. I need to align with You and learn to do what I set out to accomplish instead of procrastinating my life away. Thank You for Your grace as I learn what doing is this year.

Amen. Let it be so.

A new year, into 2019

Finishing #2018 the way I missed doing consistently.

It’s super easy to think I have so much time and can put so many things off. I’m the worst of procrastinators, and that’s been a lifelong pattern for me. I’ve been proud of it (who says I can’t get that project done in one night and get an A?).

Unfortunately, things that don’t feel immediate don’t ever get done. I forget, only to remember I meant to do those things. I’ve had many ideas, dreams, and little projects I’ve procrastinated on and those ideas are still in my head – even years later. What I’ve learned today by reflecting on this is this: What separates the dreamer from someone who just dreams is one little word. Do.

Think on the word dreamer and those you associate that word with. I imagine founders of charities, missions, church movements, businesses, scientific movements, and space programs have all in some form been dreamers. They have had these wonderful ideas in their heads, and put action to them!

That’s what has separated me. I love to call myself a dreamer. If I’m real with myself, I’m maybe more a romantic with some ideas. I just dream, and like dreams my thoughts and intentions live out their half lives in memory before they fade away because I don’t move for one reason or another.

#2019. Feels like I’m on a bit of a precipice I didn’t see. What I thrilling way to go into the new year! Jesus, I’ve dreamed a mediocre amount this past year and have done a ton less out of those dreams. Help me to remember I’m just a mist in the great rush of Your Spirit. I don’t have the ability to trust that I can just leave stuff for another day. It sounds really scary and overwhelming to actually live out everything in my head. Can you give me the strength and ability to work this out over this next year (and years to come)? I can’t do any of this without you Jesus. If I do it without you, all my actions would be as empty as the dreams left in my head. Thank You for loving me through all my messiness.

Amen. Let it be true.

Love isn’t Transactional

Love isn’t transactional

I work and I earn money. I save it, and then I spend it on something I want or I need. In the end, the money acts as an unemotional agent to purchase what I desire.

I notice in relationships, and especially my relationship with God I think my good deeds and actions are my impartial agent to ‘purchase’ what I desire. For me, that could be the feeling that God loves me and wants me. It could be so that he’ll be more apt to do something I desire.

I notice when I think this way that in the end I feel empty, and that I’m batting at the wind. If I do enough things for a person, spend enough money, fudge my boundaries, or anything else, maybe that will be enough for them. The problem is, I am always in debt to the other person. It’s a debt that I’ve either made up or that they have held against me. I can’t win against that. I earn and I earn only to have to earn more later.

It’s sort of like college loans 😉

I’m always working trying to earn enough so that I have enough to feel like I can ask for something. It is tiring and exhausting.

The beauty of God’s love is that it isn’t unfeeling like money. It doesn’t do transactions either. His love is purely action. It loves me no matter the way I think about Him. In my simple ways of processing His love, He consistently shows me how vibrant and rich it is. I can relax, decompress, and don’t feel like I have to perform around Him. I can be myself, for good and for bad. His love remains the same. I feel like I have wings of freedom because my heart isn’t bound by performance. The burden of trying to be someone else, or even a version of myself that appears to be better than I really am, is gone.

With the example of the way Jesus loves me, I can love others in the same way. It’s a process to learn, but if I can show others that love with me isn’t transactional. I can show them an example of Jesus. I can begin to show them how He loves me. I can show them that they don’t have to earn my love, it’s already there waiting for them to experience it.

Questions for myself

Acts 4:16-22

When you look at my life, does it look as if Jesus is the only reason I can be where I am? I’m not talking about just circumstantially, but also with my character? Does how I live my life reflect what I believe? Does the way I interact with my friends and my family? How about when I’m by myself? Alone in my thoughts? When I’m at work?

Do all these places I question reflect my faith in Jesus or my lack of pursuing Him and letting Him be enough?

Renewal

I am in the process of being reset – financially, church wise, friend-wise, and especially spiritually. Coming from a broken engagement and a year of isolation and healing has brought me on a long, hard road. I’ve seen clearly the ugly side of myself. I’ve seen I wasn’t following Jesus well. I’ve seen what it is like to live out of community and yearn for it.

It has been a long couple of years, but like all things in my life Jesus has used the bad to point me to Him and grow me through it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes but through those I’ve learned about Jesus’s kindness and love. He has shown me grace upon grace. He opened the door for me to transition out of my desert season and into one with soothing rain. It has been refreshing to my soul like a shower on a hot, dusty day.

Everything smells so fresh and new. It has brought about so much growth in me. I’ve been rediscovering my heart for people and for ministry. Before, I was in an isolated shell and couldn’t wait to be out of it.

I’m now in a community (Riverside Church in Ft. Myers) that has shown me again what it is to love and live like Jesus. People pursued me, and wanted me to grow with them in our relationship with Jesus. Slowly, day by day I’m being rejuvenated and healed by Jesus working through the Porch (young adults).

Slowly, I’m feeling like I’m gaining a sense of direction and purpose again. I don’t feel like I’m at the mercy of whatever current is pulling on me, but rather I’m seeing the River I am a part of. It’s beautiful and simple. It’s biblical. It’s what Jesus wants and has called me to do. It’s the mission statement of my church – to make and send disciples who love and live like Jesus.

Something that we talk about frequently is the Upper story perspective and the Lower story perspective. The Upper is the big overarching story that only God knows fully and understands. The Lower is us and our circumstances. For a long time, I was caught and paralyzed in the lower. Being here has reminded me that though I don’t know or understand everything that God has my best interests in mind. HE knows what’s going on, and He’s brought me all of this even though I’ve bumbled along.

I’m so thankful to be in this cool spot, along with many others who have a passion for this. It is renewing to my soul and bringing the passion back to my bones that has cooled over the years from hurt and loss. I’m part of something larger. This week we celebrated our 100 year anniversary. We remembered our past and the hard work the people before us did to get us here. We also looked at the future with hope and a desire to bring Jesus to our community.

I’m excited to see what He does and where He brings me in the coming years. I’m excited for Him to teach me. I’m excited to pour into others and to learn how to make disciples. There is so much good, and that is all because of Jesus. It is His grace and mercy that I am here and in a place to be writing this. And it’s awesome.

STOP

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How often do I treat a stop sign as a yield sign when I drive? Admittedly, quite a lot.

It got me thinking about my life. Where are the areas where I should really stop and look at what is coming before I proceed? What do I miss coming from the other way while I treat it as a yield sign? What does it do to my heart as I don’t take this law (boundary) seriously?

Moving outward, as a culture what does this do to us and our families as we collectively are soft on this boundary? Culture has spoken a lot about free choice but hasn’t given many signs to tell us to pause and look at the implications of our forthcoming actions.

A challenge to myself – stop – look, and continue on the road aware of what continuing in the direction I’m going means.

Kindness

So the other night I learned about God’s kindness.

On Monday I sinned, and then that night I hurt my shoulder working out. My immediate reaction was to think in exasperation, ‘Well I deserve this and it feels like punishment.’ I know enough mentally to move away from that, but the next day I still felt far from God and not good.

Paradoxically, throughout that day I just felt…. Kindness. It is hard to explain but that’s what I felt emanating in my mind. As I was in worship at church I was trying to work out what this distinct feeling of kindness was. Then I remembered something about kindness leading to repentance, but wasn’t sure if I was making that up because I wanted it or if it was in Scripture.

Since I like the back I could easily Google it without distracting anyone, and I was thankfully stunned to find that in Romans 2:4. Once I read that, Jesus brought me through many of the times I could remember Him being kind to me even though I messed up somehow… Including this time. He also brought me to remember Scripture and how kind He is throughout so many stories… namely the adulterous woman and the cross.

His kindness takes many forms but it is so present everywhere. It has coursed through my life and has been a steady refreshing stream of something I can fall back and remember. I’ve never felt so loved by God until I remembered, truly remembered, how kind He has been to me.

If this is what I consistently experience, I want to know the heart behind this. I want to know this Person who has been so kind to me, because I don’t understand it. It’s beyond my grasp. It’s baffling, but it’s there. I want to know the heart of the One who can be so kind and loving to me. The mystery makes me want to know more. I want to honor His kindness, because I’m so thankful for it.

Mourning

American Christians don’t mourn well. It makes us uncomfortable. We withdraw. We are left alone. Our isolation during our most painful moments is unbearable. We are a haunted people, having hidden ourselves away as others withdrew during our most vulnerable moments.

Our coming to light and community will be through grieving what is lost. It will be through learning to mourn together in a community. It will be through coming along side each other in grief.

Grief will not be a disease or a weakness. Mourning will be a beautiful and intimate process we go through together. We will love in the darkest of times and bring His life into suffering. Christ Himself will complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:10 AMP).

My adventure

What a crazy, crazy past couple of days. A routine drive turned into an adventure I didn’t see coming.

It all started near Jacksonville, FL with a flashing check engine light. My night ended with my car stalling as I thankfully made it off the highway and into a gas station. Since it was so late at night and I needed to get it to a shop early, I decided it was best to sleep in my car. I’m glad I was prepared and had warm clothes, because somehow in FL it was close to freezing!

I managed to get some sleep and got it towed to a shop that had good Google reviews. I quickly realized the reviews belied this shop’s honesty. After getting advice from my dad and mechanic, we decided it best to get it to an honest mechanic and to someone we know. I told them to stop any work immediately. Having paid them an exorbitant amount for doing nothing to speak of and an expensive tow bill, I left.

After managing to get a costly uhaul and trailer for the first time ever (and having a scary moment of having to merge blind once) I brought it to the shop. There I had to back in a trailer with a 20ft uhaul so I could load my car. This was the second time I’ve done that, the first was when my dad taught me. It ended well. Thankfully the guy at the shop helped me push it on the trailer. They put the bolts and little bits in a box. Everything else in the engine bay that they had unbolted unnecessarily I put in the car. This includes a belt literally left hanging, an air box and several bits just sitting there. Not cool. Finally secured it all.

Then began a five hour journey south on about four hours of sleep and hardly anything to eat. It started with rush hour traffic. First time driving a uhaul and being as long as a semi, this was a baptism by fire. It soon calmed down, and I had no incidents. I finally arrived at 11pm.

A kind friend and mechanic helped me unload my car into his shop. Thankfully, there was a guy staying late to help us. Then we went to return the rental truck and trailer.

At the first place we went to, we couldn’t find the entrance. Then a man pulled in front of me and walked up with red eyes and what looked like water coming from them. He was very kind, and told me that this was his shop. It used to be their family business and they had closed it three weeks ago. He’s still looking for work.

He told me about uhaul places that were open and was incredibly kind. He also began to tell me about his wife, Janet, who is in the hospital. After seeing three doctors, her condition is undiagnosed. She is on so many pain killers she is barely cognizant.

After talking to him and learning about how much was going on in his life I realized that his red eyes and wet face were the makings of actual tears. This man, who had gone through so much tonight was helping me. It helped me to realize my problems were completely insignificant to what this man has gone through.

So God gave me and my friend the chance to pray with him and encourage him. He was genuinely glad and my friend gave him his business card so he could update us on how his wife is doing.

I suppose the crazy thing is I wouldn’t have had the chance had all of this not happened. I don’t understand completely why I have a broken car (with an expensive new-engine fix, if I decide to take that route), unforseen bills, and a now terrible financial position because of this (the money I had saved to last me for two months of job hunting is now gone), but I do know the first night I arrived here God has given me the chance to be used through those circumstances and despite them.

It is incredibly humbling to be in this position. It’s also incredibly tough. However, I know I am trusting an old Friend who has Todd’s (the man’s name) and my best interests in mind. I don’t know His ways, but they have been good for my heart. I ask you as my readers to join me in continuing to pray for Todd and Janet.

So things might not be easy, but God is always good and put an incredible capstone of blessing to my adventure down to Florida.