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.

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?

A different focus

As I’ve seen the repercussions of the SCOTUS decision, I’ve become acutely aware of how imperfect I am. Before I go into this, this isn’t some share my sins game so people think I’m a good Christian who is humble blah blah blah. This is me letting you into my life so you can see a little of how it really is, apart from what I share, funny things, and little nuggets of wisdom God gives me to share. It’s a good facade, but I don’t like those.

There are many things in my life that I need to work on. I’m prideful, struggle with lust, and have been complacent. Let’s not get into my prayer or devotional life for the past year. It’s been spotty at best. Those are the obvious things, and things I could say are wrong with my life. Let’s go deeper than that.

Here is how God is changing and refining me. I still desire to know God, and he’s shifting my focus from being performance based to relational based. That has generally been my desire when I interact with people, is to “be good” for them. In short, I’m a people pleaser. This has gotten me into trouble, because I wasn’t good at setting a boundary as to how much I could give. I would either get hurt, burnt out, or both. I wanted to be good and whatever I needed to be to make people happy because of my fear of the negative consequences if I didn’t. I always feared a break in the relationship if I didn’t do right. I treat God the same way as I do other people. Surprised? Me either.

After a process I’ve been approaching God in a different way. A way that is safe, without fear of judgment. It’s the same kind of safe place I feel when I go to talk to my best friends, that I just want to talk to them because I care about them. I just want to know them. To talk to them. I’m not running away from them because I’ve done something bad. In fact, they’re the very people I can own my mistakes with because they get me. They also know how to say I was a bozo in a loving way, and what ways I can go about changing if need be. They accept me for who I am right now, not some figment of who I think I should be.

You know what I feel when I process that they accept me? Pure, unbridled, deep-tingling joy. I didn’t have to do anything but be me. And it’s not a me characterized by things I’ve done wrong in the past, but a me that is the sum of all the good and bad I am. The me that is included in my personality, gifts, and attributes. It’s the same me that God know so much more deeply in all my intricacies and He not only accepted me, He died for me. How crazy is that?

Think for a moment. Don’t think about your sin, it’s common to hear Christ died so that we can be sanctified. It’s true. We know that. Instead, think about the sum of the individual that you are and that you are loved. Think about the other billions of individuals who each have their own story, just like you who Christ died for as well. It’s overwhelming how God can love this much. It’s hard for us to love just one partner for marriage completely, our family members, and our friends completely. God loves us entirely. It only makes sense because God is love. Love is infinite, because God is infinite.

God gives us that same love and shares it with us. We are given chances every day to be a representation of the infinite love coming from God. The English language (or maybe my vocabulary here) fails to encapsulate all that love is and means. It’s more than romance. It’s more than a good feeling for a cute animal. It’s also when things aren’t easy. We have the chance to ask ourselves, “Is this the right way, the best way, to treat this person?” Sometimes this will require heavy introspection within ourselves, and sometimes it also require setting boundaries with the person of inquiry. Love isn’t all fuzzy feelings of goodness. Sometimes it is rather difficult, and you will bleed.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
-1 John 3:1

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
–1 John 4:7-21

Image

Jesus didn’t see beauty, He didn’t see handsomeness, talent, ugliness, temperament, or anything we humans see as face value. What He did see is souls, and He died for each one equally. And He loves them all beyond comprehension, and He gives us our value. We are made in His image.

Since we are made in His image, dare we see souls instead of the features and personality staring back at us? Dare we see the trove of treasure in front of us? What someone looks like and does on the outside are a unique veil hiding the immeasurable value underneath. I might be failing to adequately describe the value of what the person next to you means in metaphors, but circle back to the One who made this place, us, and all the treasures contained in the universe… He gave His life so we could have it abundantly.

Sometimes the person we need to forgive most is ourselves

I’m the hardest person on me, because I expect perfection out of myself. When I don’t perform the way I think I should I rip myself apart and replay events over and over in my head as to how I could have done different. That cycles into remorse because I didn’t do what I need to, and in some cases deep overwhelming sadness depending on what it is. I don’t usually have issues forgiving others because I can’t control what they do. I have a hard time with myself because I am the one who does those actions.

What I’ve learned is God’s forgiveness extends beyond my own judgement and harshness. His grace and mercy don’t run out. If he has already forgiven me, when He KNEW I was going to do all these things… How can I not learn to forgive myself like he had forgiven me? His love is beyond our imagining and that is directed towards us, who are in the center of the bullseye of our judgement