Sunday, July 24, 2011

If I Can Just _____ Then I'll Be Happy.

This is a good moment.

I’m currently sitting on the carpet in our living room with the coffee table pulled up close so I can type. My husband is playing a variety of songs on his guitar across from me. Mostly country classics, but some original songs he wrote. My absolute favorite candle is burning. (Although it is a little like I’m burning money because it cost $18.) I’m eating chocolate covered raisins, a personal fav. Also, I’m staring at some gorgeous garden roses my friend Sarah gave me when she asked me to be her Maid of Honor this morning. Technically she asked me to be her Matron of Honor, but I told her if she ever called me that again I’d kill her. What am I, 80?

So, like I said this is a good moment.

I’m trying to soak it in because I haven’t been doing much soaking lately.

One of the biggest lies that I believe is that if I can just __________________ then I’ll be happy. 

I tell this to the college girls I mentor all the time. For them it’s: “If I can just get to Christmas break, Spring Break, Summer, past this test, then I’ll be happy. That’s where rest, fulfillment and all my dreams for life will come true!”

For me it’s more: “If I can just buy a house, have more free time, make more money, master this certain aspect of my marriage, get these to-do’s crossed off, then I’ll be happy.”

For many of my friends it’s: “If I can just find a husband, have a baby, have another baby, get my dream job, or progress into this next stage of life, then I’ll be happy.”

And so we all push through.

Instead of stopping and enjoying the present moment that God has given us, we push through with the hopes of tomorrow. But, tomorrow was not made to hold the weight of all those hopes and dreams. Tomorrow just is what it is.

So, when we…
    get the vacation
           buy the house
                find the husband
                              land the job
                                    cross off a few to-do’s
                                                            ace the test
                                                                    make a few extra dollars
                                                                                   we’re left unsatisfied.
And maybe a little angry.

We’re mad at Tomorrow. Livid even. “But, you promised, tomorrow! You promised that this was the thing, this was the finish line and that happiness was on the other side!”

The truth is all these things are great. They are strawberries and whip cream on the sponge cake of life. They are beautiful gifts. But, they are not where true fulfillment and joy is found. So, we can’t expect something from them that they were never created to deliver.

Then where do we turn?

Jesus said this about himself:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

And David found his satisfaction in the One who created it:

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Psalm 63:2-5)

Lord, I will try to go to you and receive your love that is better then life. I will try to stop  placing expectations on future goals, possessions, and relationships to fulfill me. Amen. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Re-learning #3 : How to Rest

Why is it SO hard to sit still? 

Every time I sit still to pray, read my Bible, or just be silent in God’s presence my body basically starts convulsing. I start to think of all the other things I’d rather be doing. More productive, fun, pressing, interesting things. And oooh the distractions. One minute I’m praying and a string of 10 thoughts later I’ve decided to buy a new coffee table on Craigslist. In fact, by that point, I might be on the phone with the person from Craigslist. 

How is that even possible?

I know many would argue that it’s the times we live in. We want things newer, sooner, louder, more entertaining. We have Netflix on demand and You Tube videos at our fingertips. So, sitting still and listening to an invisible God is just…well…boring.


But, here’s the truly fascinating twist. Almost every single time I make myself spend time with the Lord, either in scripture or just bringing my worries and desires to him, I feel more whole. I feel foundationally secure.  I feel lighter and energized. I feel purposeful. I feel free. I feel like He is with me and that means I can take on the world today.

Now imagine with me for a second.  Imagine that you discovered this person. A friend. The best friend you’ve ever had. And after spending time with this friend you almost always felt more whole, secure, lighter, energized, purposeful, and free.

I can tell you one thing for sure. I would be straight up stalking that person. They would have to block my number and de-friend me on Facebook because I would be constantly begging for time with them.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that it isn’t even logical that I react the opposite way to time with the Lord. And that makes me think that it’s ingrained in me. It’s in my nature. In the very deepest darkest corners of my rebellious self. And I have to fight it because it is my default setting.

And God knows this about us. The culture of 2011 encourages our restlessness, but this is not a new thing. God’s been bringing this to our attention for thousands of years.

Hebrews 4:9-11 says this:
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

The writer of Hebrews brings up two kinds of rest here.

There is rest from work; which often looks like me driving my jeep on a sunny day or snuggling up with Micah in sweatpants for a Friday Night Lights marathon. 

Then there is God’s rest. Which I believe is the gospel. It’s sitting down for a moment of quiet, asking him to speak to you, and then hearing him say, “No more striving today, sweetheart. You are secure in me. You are sinful and broken, but I gave my life so that you might live.” That feels like true rest. Rest for the soul.

And I need it every single day. I need to be reminded over and over and over.

He knows I need that stillness so much that he even, like an attentive parent, rested himself and said, “See. Watch me. Live like I live. Rest from work and rest in me. ”

P.S. The rest of Hebrews 4 is killer. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Re-Learning #2: Feeling like a Failure

Oh Dwight. We are so much alike. Ok, not really. But, yesterday I did feel like a failure. A failure at life. This is one of those re-learning things. I have been seriously slacking by my own ridiculously high standards. Here are a few highlights…

Our fridge is embarrassingly empty.  There is a laundry pile taking on a life of its own in our hallway. I have phone calls to return that are getting to that point where I’m considering concocting an elaborate lie to explain why I’ve been MIA. I have loads of work stuff to do. I up and decided that our house is ugly and I want to change everything. My dog keeps staring at me like those Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA commercials and judging me for not walking her more. On and on….

And yesterday it just got to me. It wasn’t pretty. It felt like I was suffocating. Like I was in a tiny room and I couldn’t get out.

So, I vented to Micah (ah, the joys of being married to me) and he listened to me talk in one very long illogical run on sentence like a loving husband should. But, honestly I didn’t feel much better afterwards.

Then this morning God spoke a much needed word to me. He said this….

In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, 
and your years will never end.
 –Hebrews 1:10-12

And then more personally he said this…


All these things mean nothing. They are worthless and ultimately meaningless. Especially the money and possessions you are so tightly holding onto. It will all be gone one day. These things are not who you are. I AM who you are. You are in me and I am in you. I AM what you seek. Trust me to give you what you need in the deepest sense. My way is better. You are doubting that, but believe me it is better.
Fall on me.
Open your heart, and let me in.
See things how I see things.
Come to me.
I love you, daughter, and I would do anything for you.
I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49)

Your Father

Whew. I really needed that. I hope it blesses you too. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Things I Hate: Running & Re-Learning

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.” – 1 Timothy 6:11-12

I hate re-learning things. You know when you have those “aha!” moments when you realize something new? Some little gem of wisdom about life or about yourself. You realize this new revelation changes everything, and you think, “I’ll never go back to the way I was!” You walk about life scoffing at those who don’t know what you know. How could they be so foolish? You decide that you should probably educate them on your new found wisdom.

Then time passes…

And you find yourself returning to your old ways and forgetting the revelation.

I hate that.

It reminds me of running. Maybe because I also hate running. There has never been a time when I was running that I wasn’t wondering when I would get to stop running. But, many moons ago, I trained for a 10K (that’s right I said a 10K, not a marathon or a half marathon, just 6.2 miles). It took me 6 months to train (ha!), and when I  finished the race I felt fantastic. In my mind I was basically the Lance Armstrong of running. So, I lived off that arrogance for a couple of months and then I decided to go for a run. I barely made it a half mile. I had lost it.

That’s how I feel spiritually sometimes. I like progress, advancement, growth, accomplishment. But, in those moments of re-learning, I start to believe that I haven’t moved even one step.   

Not true.

God is taking us each someplace. A very individual, very personalized path that he has plowed. And when I look at where I was 5 years ago, I am stunned by how far he has brought me.

So, fight the good fight. Don’t be discouraged. If you are turning your heart to His, then He is growing you, changing you, advancing you. His economy, his progress, his advancement is just measured differently than ours.


P.S. Over the next few posts I’m going to list a few things God makes me re-learn over and over…besides how to run. What have you re-learned? I would love to hear!