Ok, God…I Get It

“What comes out of your mouth is an overflow of what is in your heart.”
-Jeff Michael

“It is because of the hurt we have experienced that we are capable of showing great love towards others.”
-Me

I have a name that has been mispronounced so many times, I’m not even sure I pronounce it correctly any more.  Honestly, it shouldn’t be that difficult to pronounce.  But clearly it is.

As a result, I intentionally make sure I try to pronounce other people’s names correctly.

I have a digestive system that is high maintenance.  Which often leads to feeling left out.

As a result, when I know someone else has issues, I make the appropriate accommodations, and make them something they can have.

I have a birthday that is difficult to celebrate.

As a result, I try to make sure I am joyous over other people’s birthday.

I have been having a long talk with God this morning, because I feel the hurt this week.  I feel the hurt today.  I feel the hurt right now.

But in life, hurt will happen.  We will be both the recipients and the deliverers of the hurts.  I’m not perfect.  I know that I have hurt people in the past.  Not that I’m a horrible person and purposefully hurt other people.  But I’m human.  And it happens.

And when that hurt happens, we have to choices.  Two polar opposite choices we can make.

1. We can let that hurt and hatred settle in our hearts, lash out at others, and try to make others hurt as badly as we do.

OR…

2. We can let that hurt and hatred settle in our hearts, and try to make sure no one else ever has to feel that way ever again.

Both choices define you.

I can’t say that I am grateful to have gone through the things that I have.  But I also know that experiencing and surviving some of the things that I have have defined my character.  It was a conscious choice to choose the God path in my life, and realize that the only way to combat hate is with great love towards others.  The only way to combat violence is with great love towards others.

When asked about what the greatest of the commandments were, Jesus answered quite simply “Love God, and love other people.”

He didn’t say to love them when they loved you.

He didn’t say to love them only when they were worthy.

He didn’t say to love them only when they agree with you.

He didn’t say to love them only when they were the same race as you, the same gender as you, the same belief system as you.

He just said to love them.

Love them all.

Love them fiercely.

Love them without condition.

Just love them all.

You may be struggling today.  You may feel like no one cares.  Like you’re no one special.  Like you’re the only one that feels this way.

You’re not.

Read that again.

You.  Are.  Not.

You ARE special.

You ARE loved.

Want to know what you are not?

You are NOT alone.

Take a deep breath.  Take a step forward.  Then take another step forward.  Use the hurt you feel.  Use it for good.

Because the benefits you receive from that will change your world.  Change it for the better.

Ugh, Seriously???

I am annoyed.  Mostly with myself.  A little bit with God.  But seriously, it’s with myself.  This is not the story that I want to tell.  But this is the story that I need to tell.  

My mom has the absolute best intentions in the world.  She really does. And I appreciate the intent, even if I don’t always appreciate the actual thing she does.  For years, she would buy me books, or forward me stories of women who had similar stories to mine, in that I’m an old lady, and I’m still single.  Even though I REALLY don’t want to be.  So she would give me these stories of other women who were in similar circumstances for years and years and years.  And then they meet their soulmate, and life is wonderful.

Those stories annoy me.

Because that is the life that I so desperately want to live.  

Because that’s great and fantastic and wonderful that life has worked out for them.  But here I am. And I’m not in the place that I really want to be. And there are days that I just don’t understand why.  Today is one of those days.  

Except, I really do know the reason why.  Because God is telling me to write the story that I needed to read years ago.  The story of how it’s possible to not be exactly where I want to be. But to still live a life full of joy and wonder and love.  

At the end of the day, I am happy.  I really am.  

And there are days (yesterday, and today) where the loneliness weighs a little heavier on my shoulders.  

Because let me tell you about my weekend.  My cousin, who is seriously more like a sister to me, is amazing.  Her husband is amazing. Her kids are the best, except when they shot me in the eye with a Nerf dart.  Over the weekend, she was telling my mom and I about an event that they had been invited to, and someone that has hurt her was also going to be there.  And her husband’s response to this was so simple, yet so powerful. They had decided that they never wanted this person to ever set eyes on their children.  But beyond that, her husband told her that he didn’t want her to have to experience going to this event for her own mental health.  

Later, my only comment to my mom about this was that I love how he defends her, and protects her.  

I want that.

I’ve never come close to having that.

But that is how it is supposed to be.  

The other thing from this weekend is even more ridiculous.  Because Sunday at church, my pastor was talking about his niece, whose husband just had his fifth brain surgery in just a couple of months.  But through it all, how her faith has never wavered. And she is struggling, and is tired, beyond anything you could imagine. 

And one of the first things that went through my mind was “wow, I want a love like that.”  

Yes, I was jealous of the love that this woman has for God, and for her husband.  Not the situation, mind you. Because no one should have to experience anything like that.  But the love that they have is what everyone should have.  

Last night, I went for a walk.  Honestly, I was content to sit at home and do nothing.  Mindless, nothing. But I forced myself to go for a walk.  And it was so hot that I didn’t take Cheese with me. So I walked.  And I prayed. I almost wrote that I walked alone. But I really wasn’t.  God was with me. And I spent a lot of time praying. Praying for God to guide me on what to do.  On what to say. And praying for a miracle.

I have decided that that is exactly what it is going to take for me to find my husband.  I need a miracle.  

I am not one of those people you often hear about where they receive the overt and obvious miracles.  I never have been. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that God isn’t working in my life. I feel Him working in my life every single day.  Just in a more subtle way.  

So right now, where am I at?  

I am still praying until something happens.  At least, I’m trying to. PUSH. Pray. Until.  Something. Happens.

I’m going to be really honest, I was really hoping that I wouldn’t still be praying about that miracle I need.  But I am. I pray every single day for the ways God is working in my life. And to prepare my heart. And to prepare my husband’s heart.  Whoever he is.  

And I am weary from still needing to pray about it.  I still am. But my patience is wearing thin. And I’m not sure how much longer I will need to pray.  But I also know that if I stop praying for this miracle, I won’t get it.

So, annoyed as I am.  I’m still PUSHing.

The Curious Q-Tip Incident

Do you ever look back at events in your past, and realize that though they seemed horrific at the time, they now just seem utterly ridiculous?

I know personally that my brain often doesn’t shut down, and I relive events from my past.  Wishing that I had done something differently. Sometimes in a more positive way. More often thinking that I was just a moron.

And I don’t know if any other survivors of abuse have done this, but recently I have been thinking about one particular “fight” (we’ll call it that) that my ex started with me.  Over Q-tips.  

Yes, you read that correctly.

Q-tips.

For most of my childhood, I was plagued with ear infections.  Plus, I have wet earwax (I honestly didn’t know that there were different types of earwax, until I was in Biology class with my students last year).

According to him, I was “wasteful” and an “idiot” because I chose to use 2 Q-tips after I showered, to clean my ears.

And because he decided I was wrong, yet again, I must be punished.  And I was only allowed to use 1 Q-tip from now on.  And he would be keeping track, and counting exactly how many Q-tips I used.

Absurd, right?

Even more absurd?  Get this, 5 years after I removed myself from the situation, I still only used one Q-tip.

Recently, I have been thinking about the burden that I carry because of what I went through.  And often, the weight of it does not feel as heavy as it once did. But then, I realize why I continue to do some of the things I do.  And the weight all of a sudden feels a little heavier.

One of the things that I have realized over the past 5 years is that forgiveness in these circumstances is vitally important.  It is important because carrying the weight of the lack of forgiveness weighs on my heart. So turning all of that over to God, and allowing him the vengeance that already told us is His, and His alone, frees that weight from my heart and shoulders.  I take comfort in the fact that he will have to face God for the things that he did.

But the other thing that I know for certain is that even though I have forgiven.  Even though I know that I never have to experience anything like that again, I catch myself doing something as a result of the abuse I suffered, and I realize that no matter how much healing I go through, I will continue to carry pieces of that me around.

That isn’t a bad thing.  Not really.

I am a far different person that I was then.  

I am stronger.  I am healthier. I am happy.

But I am forever changed because of what I experienced.  

Every single time I pick up a Q-tip, I am reminded of why I only use one Q-tip.  Except, a couple of weeks ago, I stopped cold in my tracks, and it really hit me why I only use one Q-tip.  And I couldn’t move. For over 5 years, I have dealt with my ears itching all day long because I didn’t clean them out properly.  

5 years!!!

Over a stinking Q-tip that costs about a penny.  

So no more.  I realized that I am not, in fact, being wasteful.  I am taking care of myself. But now, because it was so ingrained in my head only to use one, I have to remind myself some mornings that I can use 2 Q-tips.  

The times that I work through some of these issues, I pray and ask God how many more of these incidents do I have to work through.  I thought I was doing really well. I thought I had gotten over the hump on many of these things. But clearly, I am not all of the way there.  So how many more ridiculous nuances of my life that are a result of abuse must I get over?  

At this point, only God knows the answer to that.

Am I the only one that has this reaction?  Laughing at how idiotic some of the reasons he started a fight truly are? Tell me your stories.

Imma Pray for You

I had to pray for someone yesterday, someone that is not a very nice person.  Someone who created a current, horrific situation affecting people that I love.  And this same person has created horrific situations for other people that I love in the past.  This person is selfish, and mean. Long story short, unless this person has a profound change within their soul, she is going to hell.

And I HAD to pray for her yesterday.  Not because she asked me to pray for her.  But because I felt in my heart that she needs a profound change in her life, and we needed a miracle.  

I have no idea what has happened in her life for her to be such a mean and hateful person.  I know her parents. I know the area she grew up in. I know a great deal of her family. And nothing explains why she is the way she is…except Satan has got a hold of her.  

Satan…man…that guy is just bad news.   And when he gets his hooks into someone, really digs in deep, bad things will happen.

I have known for a long time, and personally experienced, Satan tries to throw things my way because I’m a Jesus girl.  Satan doesn’t like it when Jesus girls continue turning to God, no matter what hardships or war Satan tries to throw our way.  So sometimes the more we turn to God during a temper tantrum from the evil one, the worse the temper tantrum becomes.

And that’s exactly what happened.  Satan has tried throwing a temper tantrum, in human form.  And havoc ensued.

So how is it possible that I can pray for such a hateful person?  Well, the Bible told me to do it.

I look to these 2 verses for direction in how to pray for people you just don’t get along with.

“You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:43-45

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-”
1 Timothy 2:1

Paul isn’t telling us to just pray for our friends, and people that we love.  People that we get along with, and the ones that are nice to us. No, no, no.  Paul is telling us to pray for ALL people.  

So while I fully understand that when you pray for people who just haven’t been very nice to you, you may start off doing so through gritted teeth and a locked jaw.  I get it. Been there, done that, gotten the souvenir t-shirt.

I feel you.  

When Satan starts using people to attack you, persecute you, do evil and vile things, his goal is not to get you to pray more.  His goal is not to get you to turn your back on the evil, and pray. Pray for the person that Satan is attacking. Pray for the situation.  Turn everything over to God, and let Him be the one in charge. His goal is to win! He wants you to crumple. He wants you to turn your back on God and think that He has left you to suffer this tragedy all on your own!

I urge you…don’t bow down to Satan and the things that he wants to happen.  

But rather…what an awesome way to thumb your nose at Satan!?!  Tell him that you aren’t going to cave to the pressures he is putting you under.

Turn everything over to God, including the person Satan is using to attack you.

Not today, Satan.  NOT TODAY!!

Here I am, Lord…

…Send me.

So the conversation went like this…

Me: Ok, God, I’m willing to go.  I’m surrendering to your will, and your plan.  But I have a couple of questions.

God: You’re human.  And I’m familiar with you.  Proceed.

Me: How much is this going to hurt?

God: A lot.  But I don’t want you to focus on that.  My strength will get you through.

Me: Well ok then.

I’m on this journey, a journey where I’m focusing on my relationship with God.  And I am feeling it, all the way down to my soul.

A couple of days ago, I was reading my Bible, in the book of Acts.  Oh, you know what, you need, no you really NEED to read these verses.

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

-Acts 20: 22-24

I read that…and my reaction was…

Imma need a minute.

Paul’s conviction to follow what the Holy Spirit was telling him to do is so great, nothing could stop him!  Even his friends that were traveling with him tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem, because they knew what lay ahead for Paul.  But nothing, nothing could stop Paul from what God had called him to do.

I feel insignificant compared to Paul.

But at the same time, Paul was specifically called to this task.  Not me.

I am called to a different task.  One that I am still discovering every day.   I know that God has a plan for my life. To utilize me in a way that he has specifically designed me to accomplish.  Me alone. In fact, we are all put here for a purpose, a specific purpose. Each of us has our own, unique, and sometimes challenging plans from God.  We may work together for a time on some of these plans. Sometimes we will be heading down the path all alone. And the absolute terror of what lay ahead might seem overwhelming.

But there is a comfort.  Though there may be no human companionship along this path, God is always by our side.  

So yes, our path, our purpose, our calling from God may be terrifying.  It may be painful at times. But the challenges, the hardships, the pain, the sorrow, the negativity should never be our focus.  Because, as a Christian, those things are inevitable.  As Christians we are, unfortunately, not promised an easy life.  

That just sucks, sometimes.  

But that’s just how it is.  

So we are called to walk forth boldly, and with confidence and conviction.

I don’t know what the future holds for me.  But I have finally let go of my hold on the future, and the plans that I have made to let God fully lead me in what He wants me to do.  And I know that there will be pain and struggle ahead. But instead of being terrified, so completely terrified that I can’t take a step forward, I walk forward, boldly, with God’s strength holding me up.  Because there will be pain. But God will get me through.

Here I am Lord.  Send me.

What’s the Plan???

Is this really God’s plan for my life?  

I have lost track how many times I have asked myself this question.  But, for me, it is a constant worry/fear/whatever you want to call it, that I am not living up to God’s plan for my life.  

I know, when I was growing up, the age old question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question I still don’t have the answer to.  And honestly, I’m growing older.  I really question the whole growing up thing.  Because, what fun would that be?

Some days, I feel like God is hitting me over the head with a brick, showing me what he wants me to do.  Other days, I feel so completely lost, and the silence that I feel is deafening. Maybe that silence is the answer I really needed to begin with.

I remember the first time I really felt God calling me to work with kids.  I was in church. And they made an announcement about needing more volunteers to help with the Wednesday night youth program.  And I felt God tapping me on the shoulder saying “this is for you.”

And then I started working with the kiddos.  And I went back to God, and asked if He was really, really sure about this whole me working with kids thing, because, have you SEEN these kids?  Do you see what it’s like working with them?  The attitudes, and the challenges, and let’s just be real honest, the downright insanity of it all?

I pouted over God’s response to me.  Because He told me “yes”. That’s really where I needed to be.  He knows the challenges these kids are facing. And I can help.

Ok.  I get it.

But do these kids really need to suck every last ounce of sanity that I have left?  

So here I am, again, trying to figure out what God’s plan for my life is.  Sometimes, a thought runs through my head, and I’m all like, I should write about that.  And then I don’t, because the thoughts never, truly seem to form completely. But if there is a gift, or talent that I have, beyond anything else that is truly God given, I feel like it is writing.  But what, exactly, does God want me to say?

Of course, there is a lot of fear.  Fear of writing the wrong thing, or saying the wrong thing, or *gasp* offending someone.  Plus, the undeniable brain burnout I often feel. Like, my brain just won’t shut off, and the extreme mental exhaustion that is, let’s just be honest, probably more of an excuse than anything else.  

Ok, excuses need to be set aside.  Because this is the thing that I want to do.  Yes, there is fear. A huge amount of fear. Fear of rejection.  Fear of no one reading what I write. Fear of people reading what I write and absolutely hating it.  Or the huge fear of writing the wrong thing. All of these things keep running through my head.

But then there is just something else in running through the back of my head that reminds me that if I don’t write, my dreams will never come through.  But also, if I don’t write, my dreams also won’t get rejected. And there is a huge difference there. See, if I don’t make an attempt, then the possibility of that dream coming true is still out there.  Still a possibility. But if I try, and I put myself out there, it is totally possible that God is going to tell me “sorry kiddo, this one isn’t for you.”

But see, here’s the thing that I have been struggling with.  Trying to take that control away from God. It isn’t because I don’t believe that God’s plan is perfect.  It isn’t because I don’t trust God. With, what I will honestly say, is most of my heart, I put my faith in God, and his perfect plan for my life.  

Yes, I said most of my heart.  Because I am human.  I fully admit that I have zero knowledge of what God’s plan for my life is supposed to be.  I pray for guidance on that particular matter every single day. And I still don’t have an answer.  

Oh, but guess what.  I know why God hasn’t shared the answer with me.  It’s because I don’t need to know. I need to fall back into that trust that I have with God.  And just let His plan for my life happen.

There is a quote, somewhere out there on the interwebz, about letting go of the life you thought you were going to live, and start enjoying the life you actually are living.  

Though I haven’t ever really been able to answer the question of what I want to be when I grow up, I did have big ideas for what I thought my life should be like.  And sometimes I still do have those ideas.

And sometimes those things not happening in my life makes me a little grumpy.  For example, I’m not married. Not even close to being married. Ridiculously, often painfully, single.  It isn’t that I don’t want to be not single. I’m just not there, yet. And I’m adding in the yet as a note of optimism.  A friend once told me that God wouldn’t have put that desire in my heart, if He didn’t have it in His plan for your life. And I do truly believe that.  Those things that I want to happen, I truly believe that if somewhere along the line, God didn’t want those things to happen in my life, that I would be ok with being a spinster.  

And I struggle with that notion a lot.  Because what if God is testing my faithfulness, and that in order for other parts of the plan to fall into place, what if that one thing isn’t meant to be.  

That thought terrifies me.

But at the same time, it should give me comfort.  Because God’s plan is perfect.  Totally. Completely.  Perfection.

So back to this whole what am I supposed to write thing?  Well, I will say this. Over the years, God has given me quite a lot of things to write about.  And I always feel like God has allowed those things to happen in my life because I’m strong enough (even though I don’t always feel like it) to survive.  And that if I don’t use those things in my life to help others, then I have wasted those events in my life.

So…here we go.  

If you are reading this, and have survived, what is probably a very stream of conscious writing selection, I applaud you.  Also, if you have any advice, pass it along. But if you can’t be nice about it, please rethink your course of action.

I have absolutely no idea what the next step is going to be.  But I’m trusting God to open the next door for me.

The Angels are Bowling

I am not fan of storms.  Never have been. Especially at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep.  I cannot count the number of times that my parents sat up with me, trying to calm my nerves as a child.  So I would just go to sleep.

They tried everything.

Singing.  And praying.  And talking. So much talking.

They finally came up with the reason there was so much thunder.  It’s that all of these angels in heaven were bowling. And someone just got a strike.

Ok, I get that heaven is this super fun and awesome place to hang out.  But do you seriously need to be bowling when a little kid is trying to get to sleep?  

I.  Do.  Not. Think.  So.

It isn’t the rain that I have an issue with.  It’s the violence of the storms. The massive lightning and thunder.  When I get woken up by thunder, that is entirely too loud and ridiculous.  

But still, storms happen.  

For me, one of the more recognizable parables of Jesus is when he and the disciples were on a fishing boat, heading across the Sea of Galilee, when a storm blows in.  All of the disciples start freaking out because they were in danger from the storm. And there is Jesus, fast asleep. Finally, the disciples wake him, and Jesus immediately jumps into action.  He commands the storm to chill out. And voila, the storm complies.

Do you truly understand some of the great things about this parable?  First of all, Jesus and the disciples were heading to the other side of the Sea of Galilee for a little rest and recreation.  They were on this fishing boat, on their way for some peace and quiet. And instead of getting some peace and quiet, they end up in the midst of this major rager of a storm.  Second, the disciples, many of whom were fishermen by trade, were not unused to storms. And despite that experience, or perhaps, because of their experience, they were freaking out.  I don’t blame them. I would be freaking out too. Luke describes the disciples as being in “great danger.” Matthew and Mark both described the storm as “furious.” So this was not some teeny, tiny little storm.  Realistically, they all could have died.

But they didn’t.

The disciples had ran around, doing the things that they knew to do to protect themselves.  They took down the sails. And were doing whatever else it is that you do on a sailboat in the middle of a storm.  I’m no sailor, so I have no idea. The point is, they did know. And they were doing it. And nothing they were doing was working.  

So finally, what do they do?  

They wake Jesus up, and are all like, “hey dude, we have this little storm raging around us.  You think you could help us out a little?”

And Jesus was like “yeah, bro.  I got this.”

Instantly, the storm calmed down, just because Jesus commanded it to do so.  And the disciples jaw hit the floor. Because even though they had been with him, they did not think that he was powerful enough to calm the storm.  

Let that sink in for a second.

The disciples.  The guys that had been following Jesus around, seeing the miracles he had been performing.  They didn’t think he was powerful enough to take care of them, and keep them safe through the storm.  

But.  He. Was.

Inevitably, we are going to experience our very own major rager of a storm.  It isn’t possible to get through this human life without experiencing some kind of trial or struggle or challenge.  What that specific storm is will look different for each and every one of us. But we will all experience that storm.  

Now, our logical and pragmatic human brains are going to look at this storm, and have a very human, very logical and pragmatic response to such a storm.  

It’s even possible for us to think that God has abandoned us during this storm.  Or even worse, that our storm is far too powerful for God to handle. He has just lost all control, and he’s left you behind to deal with this storm all on your own.  

It isn’t true.

There is nothing that is too powerful or too strong or too awful that God can’t handle.  

NOTHING.

But let me just throw this out there…

God is not always going to stop the storm in our life instantly.  In fact, that will rarely be the case. We may wish for, and hope for, and pray for God to calm our storm instantly.  And it can be really tough when we turn to God for comfort and peace. And he just doesn’t handle the situation how we want him to handle it.

I mean, I can’t possibly be alone in this.  

Right?

But just because God doesn’t resolve and calm our storm how we want him to calm it, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a plan.  Just because he has the power to do something, doesn’t mean that calming our storm is in his plan for our life.  Ultimately, there is a purpose and a plan for everything that happens.

We may not understand or see what that purpose is immediately.  Sometimes, we may never fully understand why we experienced that storm.

But then there will be other times that 8 years down the road, we have that lightbulb moment of realization.  And everything starts to make sense.

No matter what, we need to rest in God’s peace in the midst of our storms and that no matter what, God has our back, and he will get us through.  

One of my current favorite songs is Sleep in the Storm by Unspoken.  The first time I heard this song, it hit home.  Hard. At first, just because sleeping through a storm is something I find challenging.  I mean, praying to be able to learn to sleep in the storm. How preposterous. Especially because of the chorus.  

Let the thunder be my comfort
Let the lightning be my guide
Let the waves that rise around me
Hold me gently through the night

How ridiculous of an idea is this?  Thunder comforting me? Being guided by lightning?  All of it just seems like a ridiculous notion.

But then I started thinking, and listening.  

Ok, God.  What is it you’re trying to tell me here?  

Well, let’s continue with some of the lyrics…

For the winds that seem against me
Push me right into Your arms
Teach me how to sleep in the storm
How to sleep in the storm

See that right there?  Did you read that line?  Did you hear that line? Did you understand that line?

The winds that seem against me, push me right into Your arms.

So when those storms are raging around us, and we feel like we’re being battered and beaten, and like we are all alone in this world, with no safety net to save us.  Those are the moments that we are being pushed directly into God’s arms.

Like the parable we talked about earlier.  When the storms in our lives are raging around us, and we are having a very human, and very logical, and very pragmatic response.  Those are the moments that God has our back, and always has the ability to carry us through the storm.

Now, I understand the struggle of storms in life.  Every single day there is something that I struggle with.  

And every single day, I rely on God to get me through those struggles.  

Some days, it seems like I can manage them easily.  Other days, I feel so broken and alone, and near rock bottom that I don’t see how I can possibly move forward.  To be completely honest, those days suck. I know that God has a purpose for those days. Whether it is a test of my faith.  Or a blatant attack by Satan (that guy is a jerk, and juts needs to go away). Whatever it is, those days hurt. And I feel exhausted by yet one more test of my faith.  

I’m over it.

I don’t want those days.

Ever.

But God knows that sometimes I need those days.  Because clearly, there is a lesson for me to be learned.  Maybe that it’s simply that I need to rely on, and turn everything over to God.  Maybe it’s a consequence for something that I have done wrong. The cause, the trigger, whatever you want to call it, can be different every time.  

But one thing remains true.

God has my back.

There is one final line in the Sleep in the Storm that just hit so hard.  

How will I grow, if I never get rained on

Now, I’m a good farm kid.  

You know what farm kids know?  

Farm kids know that rain is vital and important to the growth and development of crops.  Crops will not grow if there is no rain.

Humans are the same way.  We grow, and become strong and healthy, because of the rain in our lives.  We grow as Christians. We grow as friends. As partners. We grow with the rain.  We may not always agree with the timing of all of those storms in our lives. But as my mom (because my mom is a very wise woman, and no matter how old you get, you always need your mommy) continues to tell me: God’s timing is perfect.

Are you currently experiencing a storm in your life?  You are not alone. You are loved. And you are blessed.  And you are understood. It will be difficult to get through some days.  But know that no matter what, God will be there to wrap His arms around you, and comfort you, and give you strength.  

You can sleep through the storm.

All The Feels

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
Ecclesiastes 3:4-6

I am not a super emotional, cry at the drop of a hat type of person.  At least, I never thought I was.

I do not cry at movies.  

I absolutely do not get all sappy and mushy on the inside.  

Except I do.

Now.  

Last year was one of those years will probably end up being one of the most memorable years of my life.  When I start talking to people about some of the events of the year, I start getting the “wow” look from people.  You know the look I’m talking about. The look of compassion and pity for some of the awful things in life that happen.  

And then I keep talking about the year.

And jaws just keep getting closer and closer to the floor.

By the end of the year, I was just over it.  I was tired of death and funerals and loss.

I. Was.  Over. It.  

I truly believe that every single thing that happened last year was designed to test my faith and my strength.  And I would like to think that I passed. Not necessarily with flying colors. But I like to think that I squeaked by with a pass.  

One of the most overwhelming experiences for me during all of those difficult times was the complete range of emotions I felt.  There were good days, and there were bad days. And then there were the really, really, REALLY bad days. The days I cried all day long.  The days I could barely leave the couch because I just wasn’t sure what else to do.

I wasn’t ok.

Those days just sucked.  

I also realized that it’s actually ok to admit that I wasn’t ok.

But sometimes those days are just needed.  I needed those days, when I could just lay on the couch, and veg out, and cry.  Those days allowed me to be ok when I needed to be ok. It’s a balancing act.

I believe that as humans, sometimes, we hide some of those emotions that we believe are negative.  We hide them as if we’re not allowed to have a bad day, and therefore the perception is that everything is just sunshine and puppy dogs.  

News flash!!  Not every single day is sunshine and puppy dogs.  

Even bigger news flash!!  That’s ok!!

Here’s the deal…

We were designed in God’s image.  See, it says so right here in Genesis 1:27…

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And throughout the Bible, we see evidence of God’s range of emotions.  God doesn’t experience just the one emotion.

So we mere humans, created in God’s image, we were created to experience all of these emotions, too.  Not to be controlled by them. But to experience all of them.  

I have to be honest with you.  The verse above from Ecclesiastes has to be one of my favorites.  Because right now, I’m singing the verse. I have known the song for years.  But I honestly don’t think I truly even began to comprehend the enormity of those verses until recently.  

There is a time for everything.  A time to experience every emotion.  And without that complete range of emotion, the happy just wouldn’t quite be the same.  

Roll with me on this one.  If you were over the top, exuberantly happy every.  Single. Day. Do you honestly think you would feel over the top happy?  Or would you just feel normal. Blah. Like ho hum, this is just how I feel again today.  Because you wouldn’t know any different. You just feel how you feel.

It’s only when you compare it to a not so ok day that you truly begin to comprehend how wonderful and amazing happiness feels.  

So there is a time for over the top bubbling happiness.  And then there is also a time for ugly crying. And believe me, ugly crying is just my most absolute favorite thing in the whole entire world.  Really. It is.

Every hardship.  Every struggle. Every loss.  It’s all for a purpose. It’s all an opportunity for growth.  We become stronger because of those challenges. We become better people for having experienced the things we have.

And the next time you’re upset and ugly crying…think about this.  You care enough about someone to ugly cry over them. You have enough love in your heart to ugly cry.  That kind of love, no matter how annoying the ugly crying may be, cannot be all bad.

 

I Pity the Fool

Compassion: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortune of others.

Feel compassion, because you never know what the other person is going through.

This is a line that has been said to me many times in my life.  Many. And I would like to think that I try to be a compassionate person.  I realize and understand that the behavior that other people have towards me is not my fault, and that it is merely a reaction to their own life circumstances.

I get it.

That doesn’t mean that I have to enjoy it.

Because I don’t.

I struggle.

There, I said it.  I don’t like to admit it.  But I do. A lot. People suck sometimes.  And I work in a building full of teenagers, who often suck every ounce of compassion, kindness and patience that I have.  So when an adult exhibits behavior worse than that of those teenagers, I am frustrated. Frustrated because they should know better.  Frustrated because they shouldn’t be so selfish. Frustrated because before my day can even begin, they have sucked the compassion and kindness and patience right out of me.

So I have had a rough(ish) week dealing with an adult who tested my limits.

This woman, a co-worker, has tested my patience daily since I started working here.  A know-it-all, who, given the opportunity, will take the information I give her, repeat it back to me as if she just had this profound, life-altering moment of clarity, and will repeat what I just said.  Except this time, of course, she came up with this all on her own.

Those people frustrate me.

A lot.

Please don’t be that person.

Well a week ago, we had a minor confrontation.  I politely stood up for myself. I did not yell.  I did not belittle. But I stood firm. And that might have made her mad.  So mad that she began muttering under her breath, and then refused to acknowledge my existence.

One week later, and my presence has still not been acknowledged.

I honestly do not know what has happened in her life to make her such an unhappy person.  Because before the incident last week, I was already on her bad side. And not because I’m a horrible person that treated her badly.

I am nice, and friendly, and outgoing.  And the students I work with talk to me.  About their life. About their day. About anything.

I don’t treat people badly. At least I try not to.

I’m also happy, and upbeat, and friendly.

Unfortunately, that seems to irritate people that are already unhappy with their life.  So I am not surprised, even though I still don’t understand it.

I don’t understand, because I am not the person that I am because I have an easy and fabulous life, where I have never had one ounce of hardship.

No, no, no.

I am the person that I am, in spite of the struggles and hardships I have been through.  In spite of the struggles and hardships I still go through.

So while I am capable and willing to feel compassion for others, I often struggle because I do not feel the same level of compassion from other people.

But that’s ok.

No, really.  It is.

Because, Mr. T. reference aside, I do not want your pity.  I actually don’t even like the word pity. Especially not in reference to myself.  I don’t want your pity, nor do I need it. And while we should always be compassionate towards others, I really don’t even need that from you.

Why?

Well, let’s take a look at Isaiah 30:18…

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

He will show me compassion!  Whoohoo!

So if you are like me, and struggle with those people in your life who don’t show you any compassion, don’t stoop to their level.  Rise above! Do what the Bible instructs us to do, which is to love other people.

Be the light when there is darkness and negativity all around you.  Shine the light brightly!

Don’t just choose joy, be the joy!

It.  Will.  Spread.