Archive for July, 2011

Who are you?

“I’m not really a runner,” I said to my training partner. 

Baffled by my response, she said, “You’re training for a marathon and at this moment you are running.  Therefore, you’re a runner.”

“Well, I’m not a real runner,” I protested.

She shook her head and chuckled, perhaps thinking that I’m a lost cause.  But I’ve thought about that conversation many times over the past couple of weeks.  Then, yesterday, I made another discovery about myself.  I don’t consider myself a writer either.  Although I write and have even been published, it’s difficult for me to the claim the title. 

And then there’s homeschooling.  I have completed one year of homeschooling my kids, yet I don’t consider myself a real homeschooling mom.  Yes, I educate my kids at home, but I’m not the whole package.  I don’t grow our own food, organize every inch of my home, use homemade cleaning supplies, or even say the pledge of allegiance every morning to start our school day (gasp!). I even miss some things about the public school system, and I send my youngest son to preschool – maybe that’s what disqualifies me for real homeschooling status.

I’m not sure why I wrestle with accepting these roles as part of my identity?  Maybe I’m trying to reject labels and stereotypes.  Perhaps I don’t feel like I’m a complete success at any of these roles.  Or, maybe I’m afraid of the expectations that will come with such titles – expectations to act and think a certain way. Maybe I don’t want to box myself in.  Who knows?!  (I’m sure there’s some sort of therapy that would help me unearth the root of my issue, but letting it roll around in my head and using it as fodder for my blog is much more fun.  I’m thinking I could get some serious mileage out of this one!)

Regardless of how I feel about the many dimensions of me, one thing is for sure.  I know I’m a child of God.  I’ll accept that one, even savor it.  What’s not to like about it?  It’s freeing place to be.  It lightens my load to know that my Father is taking care of me and it excites me to know that He blesses me with His good things – redemption, mercy, grace, and love.  It’s here, as His child, that I find rest.   I don’t have to do or plan or strive.  I don’t have to measure up.  I just have to be. 

If you find yourself struggling with the many hats you wear, balls you juggle, or the many facets of your identity, I pray that you find rest in His arms as you remember that first and foremost, you are a child of God.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17

A Steakhouse with Steak?

My husband scheduled his annual company Christmas dinner at a local steakhouse.  And all was going well until it came time to order.  The waiter informed us that they were all out of steaks.  No steaks of any cut.  We could have chicken.  We could have pork.  We could have seafood.  But no steak. 

The entire party looked at the waiter not knowing how to respond.  Was he serious?  It was only 6pm.  And we were in a steakhouse after all.  How does that happen? I shot a quick glance at my husband, trying to assess how he might respond.  I knew he would be embarrassed, but how would he handle it?  He managed to contain his irritation and all decided to make light of the situation, viewing it as a funny mishap and minor inconvenience instead of a major crisis.

That steakhouse is no longer in business, but I will never forget that night.  I still shake my head and laugh when I think about it.  I felt bad for the waiter actually.  How hard his night must have been telling each customer the news with a straight face – thank you for coming to our steakhouse where we have no steak.

So, my steakhouse experience begs the question:  What about us?  Are we steakhouses with no steak? Are our churches ones without evidence of God?  Are we a temple of the Holy Spirit without yielding any fruit? 

I know it’s not a pleasant thought, but I think we need to seriously consider it.  If we are the hands and feet of Jesus, what evidence do we show to our community and our fellow brothers and sisters that God is present in our midst?  Are we gracious and forgiving or quick to judge? Are we snippy and always pushing to get our way or do we kindly yield?  Do we attend church for the entertainment value, always wanting to be fed, yet never serving?  Are we open to the leading of the Holy Spirit?  Are we committed to growing in our relationship with God?  Are we reaching out to others in the community as Jesus would have done?

I challenge you to consider your spiritual health.  Then, ask God to reveal to you one way He wants you to reach out to someone to demonstrate His love.  I pray that we’ll never find ourselves in a position that someone would say that we’re a godless house of God, personally or as a body.  Let’s not be that steakhouse – let’s show some real meat and substance with our lives.

Blessings, my friends, as others see Jesus in you!

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. John 14:20-21

Disguised

The outside packaging touted the quality of the product within.  No preservatives.  No trans fatty acids.  Only three ingredients.  Vegan. 

All true statements, yet deceptive in nature.  The snack within the bag was far from the healthy portrait the marketers were trying to paint.  The corn chips actually had a whopping 160 calories for a mere ½ cup serving and were more than 50% fat.  Not exactly a masterpiece of health. 

Now, I’m not trying to pick on corn chips.  They can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.  But, I’m trying to make this point.  Often times, we are busy trying to perfect our outside packaging.  We want to project an image that is worthy of others’ approval.  We want others to see only our good qualities, not our struggles and imperfections.  We even try to hide our flaws from God, who sees all.

People appreciate the genuine and will eventually detect the deceptive. Yet, I struggle to be authentic and transparent at times.  I fear that people won’t like me if share my issues and quirks with them.  I fear that I disappoint God with my attitudes and raw emotions. 

And so, my thoughts run laps in my head, and I lack clarity on a resolution.  What am I to do?  Do I risk everything and strip away every inkling to protect myself and stand confidently in God’s grace?  Or do I lay another brick in the wall around my heart in hopes of shielding myself from the pain of rejection?  I really just wish I could be free from flaws.  Yet, I can’t.  So I have a choice to make.  We each have a choice to make.

Today, as I fight the reality of my emotions, I’m choosing to lay them before God.  No more bricks.  Instead, I’m inviting His grace to wrap me like a swaddled baby.  All of my internal conflict, I’m giving to Him.  I’m giving up trying to get it right.  I’m giving up the self-induced beating for the emotions I think I shouldn’t feel.  I’m trading my exhaustion for His promise of rest.  It’s been far too long, but this weary soul is running home, into the arms of Jesus.   

I pray you choose to do the same.

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28