I’m a Big Ol’ 5

On a scale of 1 to 5 – 1 being the least, 5 being the most – how much do you trust God?

The “church answer” is obviously…

I’m a 5!

In reality, me personally, I am a 5…

But…

Let me explain.

When asking the logical and pragmatic side of my brain, I absolutely, wholeheartedly trust God with every single aspect of my life.  It has taken a really, really, REALLY long time to get there.  But it’s the truth.

I trust God.

With everything.

But…

I am human.  With human emotions.  With human reactions to what happens in my life.  So there are definitely times where my emotional, irrational side takes charge.  So I have an emotional and irrational reaction to whatever is happening in my life.

I don’t understand why some of the things in my life are happening the way that they are.  Or why God isn’t following my plan for my life.  Or when I think I’m following the plan God has for my life, the rug suddenly gets yanked out from under my feet.  There are moments that I’m just not sure what God is thinking.

But…

Once my emotions have cooled off a little, my rational and logical side returns to control, and I trust God with whatever His plan is for my life.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is this: my path to such complete trust and reliance on God has not been easy.  I have been stubborn, and a jerk, and quite unlovable.  I did (and still do) things that I know aren’t what I should be doing.

But…

No matter what, God has always been there for me.  God has never stopped loving me.  God has never stopped caring about me.

Never.

Period.

No matter what bad things I have done in my life.  No matter how much I have struggled against God, He is still there, loving me.

And no matter what, God will get me through.

So when I tell you that I really am a 5 on the trusting God scale, I honestly mean it.  And I am trying, though not always succeeding, to remind myself when I’m going through a struggle season, that God has a purpose for whatever it is I’m going through.  And that I will continue to love and follow God, because He deserves my love and devotion.

Period.

I Went Wrong

I went wrong.

I fully admit that I went wrong.

But I definitely went wrong.

I grew up going to church.  Every Sunday. Every Wednesday.  I was in church. I was one of the (rare) non-Catholic, non-Lutheran “Church Kids” in town.  

Every summer I spent a week at church camp.

I was a good kid.

And I still went wrong.

I have known this for many years.  I have known that I willingly stepped away from God.  Claimed for many years that I didn’t even believe that God existed.  

But I never dared to ask myself why.

Why did I go wrong?

It’s a dangerous question.  And a painful question.  

Painful, because, I know without question, without any hesitation, that I was at fault.

I finally asked myself the question.  Sitting in church, listening to a sermon, the main topic of which currently escapes me.  But sitting there, I knew that I needed to answer that question. And I finally came up with two separate, yet connected, answers.

I was insecure of my identity in God.  And I was insecure in the identity of God.

First, my identity in God.  Who am I? Who does God want me to be?  Who does God need me to be? Growing up insecure in who I was made me feel unloved.  And it led me to look for love in places that I was absolutely never going to find it.  I know that now. But it led me down a path where I still hoped and dreamed I would find all of the things that I wanted in life.  But instead, that path took me further and further away from the things I wanted and needed.

Second, the identity of God.  Though I thought I knew who God was, in reality, I didn’t.  I thought that having a relationship with God would give me sunshine and puppy dogs and roses and life would be happy forever and ever more.  

Wow, how wrong could I be??? 

Yes, God is absolutely loving, caring, generous, gracious, merciful, and a whole lot of other adjectives.  He is absolutely all of those things. But that doesn’t mean that we will never struggle. That we will never experience hardship.  That we get a pass from all of the bad things that can and do happen in this world. It doesn’t work that way.

Of course, I thought it should work that way.  

But it doesn’t.

So when life got really hard, instead of turning to God, I turned away from God.  Because how could a God that claimed to love me let me go through all of this???  How dare God not give me everything that I wanted?  

It took a long time for me to get over myself.  It took many, MANY humbling experiences. Time, and time, and time again, I have been stubborn, and completely unworthy of God’s love.  

And guess what?  

God still loves me.  He does.  

I have given him a million reasons not to love me, yet he still does.  He still loves me.

How awesome is that?

And guess what?

Life still isn’t sunshine and puppy dogs and roses.  

I still struggle.

Bad things still happen.

But now, instead of turning away from God, I turn to God.  Because I know that I absolutely cannot get through this life without Him.  

Yes, I went wrong.  I went VERY wrong.  

And God didn’t take me back.  Because, that would mean that there was a time that God left me.  So no, God didn’t take me back.

He reminded me that He’s had me all along, whether I acknowledged that or not.

Humble Confidence

I don’t want to brag, but…

I am smart.

I am beautiful.

I am thoughtful.

I am hard-working.

I am stubborn.

I am sarcastic.

I am funny.

I am tough.

I am strong.

I am…a million different things.

Just because I am all of these things, doesn’t mean that you aren’t, too.

The dangerous trend, that honestly has probably been around since nearly the dawn of time, is that to have self-confidence, one must also put others down, to highlight just how awesome we are.  You can’t be nearly as awesome as me, because you suck, and I smell like roses.

And, oh, how many times in my life have I fallen victim to this???

How many times do I still fall victim to this???

Insecurity.  Insecurity in ourselves, in how the world perceives us, in who we are.  Insecurity causes so many challenges.  Some people, like me, respond to this by shutting down.  I start to believe all of those negative comments that people make, because I believe in how they are talking to me, talking about me.  I believe them.  And I shut down.

The other response is to be one of those people who put others down.  There are varying degrees of this.  Sometimes this can come across as a very polite comment, but the truth of what is said is a criticism.  Other times it is very blatant, rude and meant to hurt.  And still other times, an insecure narcissist can be outright damaging, both physically and emotionally, to other people.

  • “You might as well just go to the nursing home and marry an 80 year old man, because no one else will ever want to marry you.”
  • “Why would you wear that?”
  • “That’s hysterical that you think you can write a book.”
  • “You just don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You’re fat.”
  • “You smile too much.”
  • “What do you have to be so happy about?”

All of these things have been said to me, and then some!  And when I heard them, they hurt.  And I started to believe them…

 

One of my own personal struggles is that I don’t know how to walk the very fine line of between being humble and egotistical, confident and coward.  It is a very fine line.  And I tend to fall on the negative side of the line.

Even still today.

I know, and honestly do believe all of the qualities that I listed above.  I believe all of them with my whole heart.

But the tendency to believe that negative inner monologue still afflicts me.

And oh how many times have I stopped myself from doing something because someone else made me feel inferior.  Sometimes, it’s the actions of other people directly putting me down.  Sometimes, I see how amazing other people are, and think that there isn’t possibly a way I could do that, so why should I even try?

Even if I don’t always realize it, even if I don’t always see it, I know, deep down (sometimes way, way, way deep down) that my life has a purpose.  That even if other people can do awesome and amazing things, so can I!

So instead of tearing each other down, let’s just stop.  Stop it all.  Stop the negative talk.  Stop the criticism.  Stop the judgement.  Stop believing that we are horrible people.

Yes, it is easy to compare ourselves to everyone else.

But just because I’m awesome, doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome, too!

Awesomeness isn’t mutually exclusive.  There isn’t just one awesome award that gets handed out in life.

Ope, I won the Awesome Award this week, sorry ’boutcha!

Life doesn’t work like that!

So join me in being a cheerleader for life.

Build each other up.

Compliment instead of criticize.

We just might change the world.

 

An Epidemic is Upon Us

There is an epidemic in our community.  In our state. In our country. In our world.  

As Christians, there are several different topics you might think I’m referring to.  But this one hits home most to me, because I see the effects of it every single day. Our children aren’t being parented at home.  And maybe their parents weren’t parented growing up, so they don’t know how. Maybe life has touched them, damaged them, in a way that they aren’t capable of functioning as a parent.  But the effects in today’s society are prevalent.

Not just prevalent.  They are overwhelming.  

And these effects are seen in both girls and boys.  But, to me, it hits home the most with these boys.

At first glance, even the second, and often the third, these boys come across as with a bad attitude, foul-mouthed, angry, stubborn, disruptive and a menace to society.  And honestly, that isn’t wrong. Because they are boys with bad attitudes, foul-mouthed, angry, stubborn, disruptive, and menaces to society.  Because they have never been taught anything else.

And far too often, these boys are written off as no-good failures at life.  

And my heart is broken.  

My heart is broken, because sometimes, not all, but sometimes, when you take the time to dig deeper, and really get to know these boys, what you see on the surface is far from the entire picture.  Some of these boys have huge hearts, and brilliant minds. But these big hearts and brilliant minds have been beaten down by the hand that life has dealt them.

I know, even though I always have hope, that not every single one of them can be saved.  But I pray that we can reach as many as possible.

And I, as a woman, can love on these boys like a mama bear.  And I do, oh I do. But that isn’t enough. These boys need a man to stand up in their life.  Stand up, and show them what it truly means to be a good man.

But how do we make that happen?

As a society, we can do better.  We must do better.  

Life has handed them a bad start.  But that doesn’t mean they have to be stuck there.