Thursday, October 24, 2013

Be the change

"We are the problem, but we are also the solution".

I heard those words spoken by Jud Wilhite at the Catalyst conference we recently attended. I struggled to hear the rest of what he said because those words kept echoing in my mind and heart. They resonated within me. 

I'm tired of a lot of talk I hear among the Church today. I'm growing weary of hearing "I don't like this church because....." or "I'm quitting this church because....." or even "I can't worship with (this or that) going on.....". My heart breaks (and I get really ticked off) when someone in the Church feels compelled to point fingers at every imperfection of another, whispering words of poison meant only to hurt. 

Do you want to know why this upsets me so much? 

Because those who are not a part of the Church are watching. And they're learning. And what they're learning is that they want NOTHING to do with the Church. If we can't even love each other, why in the world would others think we could love them? 

And so, it was with these things on my heart, that I listened to the words from Jud Wilhite: "We are the problem, but we are also the solution". 

It was tempting for me to think of everyone I've ever thought has wronged me or my family within the church. But that's selfish and egotistical and well, just plain wrong. This will never change as long as we move forward with that kind of attitude. What I NEEDED to do was look deep within my heart and see what junk was hidden there? What is it within me that needed to be weeded out, pruned away? 

Stuff like this isn't easy. I often feel justified for being angry, holding a grudge, thinking someone is ridiculous..... But here's the truth that God has impressed upon me: I'm a part of the problem too, so I have to work on being part of the solution. 

And so it starts by seeking to change my ways. Stop looking for the fault in others. Stop assuming the worst in people. Stop expecting people to fail to follow through. Stop judgding. Stop assuming I know things I don't. 

Scripture says it clearly: "The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mervy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8)

If we live by that, we will be the solution to a world in need. 

Are you in? 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

the battle within...

I'm restless lately. I feel like there isn't enough of me to go around. The demands, most of which are self-imposed, are heavy. I feel pulled in 12 directions at once, and that stretching hurts sometimes. There are things I want to do that I feel I cannot give the time for, and there are things I don't necessarily want to do that I know I am called to do. There are mornings that I look at my calendar, and I want to crawl back in my bed and cry. My email buzzes all day, beckoning me to "read me now". It's a fight within not to drop everything and do just that.

 My work is demanding. People, living in constant crisis mode, feel that I should take care of their needs first. They don't know that I'd love to do just that, but there is only one of me and hundreds of them. Then I hear their stories, and my heart breaks for the heaviness they bear, and I tell myself that I can bend the rules "just this once" and give in to their demands because I want desperately to help. I know in my heart that my giving in doesn't really help though; it simply perpetuates the cycle of crisis-to-crisis living. The battle in my head rages. And then there's "that caller" who yells and screams and calls me names that I've never heard of and wouldn't call my worst enemy. And I want to scream right back, hike my leg over my high horse and trot right out of that office, never to return.

 I sit with my kids at dinner every night, and I'm reminded that my time with them is so short. And so I begin to tell myself that I am not doing enough, saying enough, teaching enough, being enough... I look at my husband and wish that I were better at managing to keep this house cleaner, the dishes done, the laundry kept up, never nagging him about the time demands of his job. I want to be the perfect wife and mom, whatever that is.

 I listen to Jeff talk about students, and I want so much to be a bigger part of their lives. I love them so much, and I want to know them better. I want them in our home more. I want to spend time getting to know their stories more. And then I get that twinge of guilt that I'd even desire to be away from home, my first calling, to do something else. And that war rages again inside of my heart.

I look at the manuscript that I've sent to the publisher, and I cringe to think that people will actually read that! What have I done? Why would I presume to think that anyone cares about my story? What if they think I'm horrible? What if they think I wrote it for applause? What if they think it stinks? What if it's an epic fail and only sells to  my husband and my parents? What if the demands of editing make me feel even more crazy than I already do, and I lose my mind completely?

 In my time alone with God, I cry and rant and say things like "I can't do this!" and "Why don't you call someone better able to do this?" and "why do I have to work there?" and "when will I ever feel like I'm enough?". And He listens patiently. And I feel Him holding me... really, I do. And I hear Him say to me, "You are enough because I said so, and that's true whether you believe it or not". And I hear Him remind me that He knows and loves me where I am, but too much to allow me to stay there in my self-pity and doubt.

The truth is that I'd rather be refined than rescued. Yes, I said it. Refining is hard. Just like the process of refining gold requires heat, so does refining our lives. It hurts to peel away the layers of self doubt and legalism. It's painful to break off the limbs of perfectionism and comparison that have embedded deep within a heart. But I would rather have that pain, and the peace and beauty that follows, than to be simply rescued from this place. You see, rescue is nice momentarily. But how often do we have long-lasting results unless we've had to work at something? So, I trust and I wait, and I believe that there will be a day when I don't have these battles raging within me. I believe that He who began a good work in me will complete it.  And so, I rest in the knowledge that He loves me right now, right as I am. And His love is enough.