Those Times

I’ve been living my miracle. I’ve been counting my blessings and finding joy in the everyday minutiae of life. But sometimes . . . .

You know the feeling. It happens when you’re tired or hungry or by yourself– or all three. 

You feel like your friends will all eventually abandon you. Little things, like someone not responding to a text or someone else who usually liked and commented on your posts not having done so for a few days, seem like proof that you’re not really wanted or desired.

You find it’s much easier to wallow in that old mire of self-pity and entitlement than to fight for the joy and to consciously bring to mind the blessings. Sometimes it does feel good (but not in a good way) to feel sorry for yourself and believe that no one truly understands or cares about you. Lies are sometimes easier to believe and more comforting than the truth. Well, most of the time.

It’s at those times when you want to lean on what you’re feeling as a gauge for how you’re doing. It’s times when you want to use your understanding as a crutch for figuring out your life at that particular moment.

But just remember this familiar verse:

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“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding [or feelings]. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6. Amplified)

I added that part about feelings, in case you wondered. But it’s implied in the Hebrew. 

Trust God, not in how you feel or what you think. Those things (thoughts and feelings) aren’t always trustworthy. But God is.

And I know from experience your friends aren’t nearly as ready to abandon you as you think they are. Sometimes, they just get caught up in life, their own pain, crazy work or school, etc. They haven’t forgotten or left you.

Remember even if one or two has left you, God never will. He’s promised with an oath as sure as Himself to be with you, no matter what, not only up to the end, but beyond.

That should help you get past those times.

 

Things I Love 47: When the World Gets in My Face, I Say, ‘Have a Nice Day’

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“…this counting blessings was the unlocking of the mystery of joy, joy, “the gigantic secret of the Christian,” joy hiding in gratitude … God had used the dare to give me this; led me all he way to give me this, live fully, fully live.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

Today, I ran the usual gamut of emotions from “the girl of my dreams is just around the next corner” to “I’m giving up the dating scene and joining a monastery. The truth lies in the middle, though I lean optimistically to the hopeful side. Even on rainy Wednesdays, I can revel in the joy of God’s goodness. I can be thankful for being alive to see eager earth soaking in more rain just as I can yearn for more and more of the presence of Christ that my gratitude and thanksgiving ushers in.

1,461) Another good kind of tired at the end of another working day.

1,462) The fun way Betty Rock does the traffic and weather reports on WAY-FM in the mornings.

1,463) Taking off my socks at the end of the day.

1,464) My Kairos friend’s homemade bread.

1,465) Obnoxiously persistent and persevering hope.

1,466) Those rare moments of genuine undiluted contentment.

1,467) Having a very manageable number of friends on Facebook.

1,468) Still having my memory.

1,469) Still having all ten fingers and all ten toes (even if one pinky is slightly crooked).

1,470) My growing collection of pocket-size Bibles.

1,471) The smell of new leather Bibles.

1,472) Wondering what new features the next iPhone will have on it.

1,473) Not grieving as those who have no hope.

1,474) A little coffee with my creamer and sugar.

1,475) My unique and very unorthodox typing style.

1,476) Being the only person in the entire universe with Spongebob Squarepants hanging from my rearview mirror.

1,477) Anticipating another trip to McKay’s Used Bookstore to trade in some movies.

1,478) Not being broke.

1,479) Words of affirmation in any format, whether spoken, texted, tweeted, posted, messaged, or emailed.

1,480) Getting comments on my blogs.

1,481) People who unfailingly respond to my texts and posts and Facebook messages.

1,482) Being my cat’s favorite pillow.

1,483) Shamelessly plugging my cat’s Facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/LucyTheWonderCat?fref=ts.

1,484) Finally being okay with not getting responses from posts and texts and personal messages.

1,485) Not having watched even one second of any of the episodes of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Big Brother, The Amazing Race, or any of those so-called reality shows.

1,486) Being up to 30,475 views on my blogs.

1,487) Not living in an area affected by drought conditions (at least not this year).

1,488) Being a bit wiser at the end of the day than I was at the end of yesterday.

1,489) Writing letters to my future wife.

1,490) A night of Bible reading, praying, and then sleep.

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A Blogger’s Prayer

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If you blog frequently or even on rare occasion, this prayer is for you. It was both encouraging and convicting for me personally. I hope it will bless and encourage and convict (where needed) each of you as you read it:

“I am no longer my own blogger, but Thine.

Refine me with each post how You will, rank me how You will.

Put me to service, or put me to suffering.

Let me be a follower, instead of seeking followers

Let me post for thee or be put aside for thee,

Lifted high, only for thee, or brought low, all for thee.

Do with me and each post whatever you will, because You alone know best.

Let me not strive but submit

Let me not compete but care

Let me not desire hits but holiness

Let my blog be full of You, and let it be empty of me.

Let me crave all things of You, let me care nothing of this world.

Let my words be worthy of the greatest of audiences: You.

And You are enough.

May I write not for subscribers… but only for Your smile.

May my daily affirmation be in the surety of my atonement not the size of my audience.

May my identity be in the innumerable graces of Christ, never, God forbid,

the numbers of my comments.

And may the only words that matter in my life not be the ones I write on a screen —

but the ones I live with my skin.

I freely and heartily yield every sentence, every title, every post, every comment… or no comments… all to Your pleasure and perfect will.

My only fame is that I bear your name

My only glory is the gift of Your Grace

My only readership, Your eyes that seek to and for to find a heart hard after you.

Make this so. Lord…

Yahweh, You alone are my God, not Google

Jesus, You alone are my Savior, not site meters

And Holy Spirit, you alone are my Comforter, not comments

So be it, today, yesterday, and every post to come.

This is my prayer I have made on earth, over this keyboard…

may it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.”

The Wild, Wacky, (Sometimes) Wonderful World of Facebook

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I’m sure I’ve posted about this topic before, but I forgot what I said, so this may or may not be a repeat.

I’m a fan of facebook. I mean, where else can you see updates of what your friends are doing and where they’re hanging out. You even get to see pictures of their kids, their grandkids, their pets, their cars, their houses, what they ate for breakfast, etc.

Yet, I also know that facebook can be a very lonely place. Kinda like the proverbial “being alone in a crowd.”

If you’re looking to facebook for affirmation, you’re bound to be mightily disappointed. Who hasn’t posted a status update and almost heard the crickets chirping? Who hasn’t poured their heart out and gotten no response? It’s easy to feel ignored on facebook.

Possibly you’ve had a friend or two that seemed to be the ones who consistently commented on and liked your posts, but have seemingly gone silent on you, making you wonder if you’ve done something to offend them.

As I’ve learned, lots of people might read your posts without commenting or even liking. That won’t show up in the oh-so-important little part at the top that tells you how many friend requests, messages, and notifications you have. And when someone doesn’t comment on or like your posts, it just means they’ve got lives to live and their own mess to deal with. That’s all.

On a side note, if you’re looking to people for affirmation, whatever they give you will never be enough. You might think that you’d be fine if people would only just “like” your posts. But when that happens, the next natural step is wishing that people would make comments on those posts. It’s never enough, whether on facebook or twitter or in real life.

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I personally have had to step back and take a break from facebook when I found myself upset that a friend of mine responded to everyone else’s comments on their post but mine. Yeah, it got that crazy. And yes, they do make pills for that.

My facebook philosophy is this: I gotta be real, honest, transparent, and me. It may not be popular (’cause I know deep down that I’m not very popular– it takes special people to appreciate my brand of weirdness). I also make an effort to be encouraging and positive and stay away from political stuff (who has ever changed their politics due to something they read on facebook, anyway?)

I will sometimes go through and comment on my friends’ status updates and “like” what they post because I know that sometimes you need visual affirmation that someone out there knows where you are and what you’re going through. But that’s just me. I don’t expect that from anybody else anymore.

So have fun posting pictures of your dog in tuxedo and of the pasta you ate last night. But keep it in perspective. The only true affirmation you need comes from God, and he’s already given it to you. He loves and accepts you just as you are and not as you should be.

It’s Time To Play “Name That Fear”

I have an image in my mind of that old TV game show where the contestants were constantly yelling, “Big bucks! Big bucks! No whammies!”

It’s time for me to name one of my fears, that big ol’ ugly whammy that has always gotten to me– the fear of abandonment.

I’m putting this out there so that 1) it will lose its power over me and 2) so that you can be brave enough to name your own fear and diminish its power over you. So here goes.

My fear is the fear of abandonment. I’m afraid that you will get to know me and then decide that I’m not worth the effort, that I’m really too messed up for you to deal with, and you will go away.

I go through long stretches where I am good and that fear isn’t a problem. But then someone won’t respond to a text or will stop commenting on and liking my facebook posts and that old fear creeps up. That voice says, “See? They’ve given up on you” or “They’re gradually pulling away from you and pretty soon won’t have anything to do with you.”

Or maybe I’m at a social event and a friend isn’t as friendly as usual and I wonder if I’ve done or said something to offend them. I fantasize in my mind how they’re really angry with me and are just waiting for the right moment to tell me where I can go and what I can do with myself (putting it nicely). I’ve actually played out those scenarios to the point where I’ve thought a friendship was over when it wasn’t even close to being over.

Sometimes you can recognize a lie and believe it anyway because it’s familiar. It’s all you’ve known and lived with your whole life. But when you name it and where it came from, it loses its power over you.

So, I name that fear of abandonment from the pit of hell and I claim the blood of Jesus over it right now. I receive my status as the beloved of God, chosen by Jesus.

Now if I could just hit some of those big bucks. . .

Something Good to Remember on a Monday

Matthew 5:1 says, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.”

I’ve read past that a thousand or more times. I’ve rushed past those words to get to the Sermon on the Mount, the good stuff. But I think I’ve done myself a disservice by not paying attention to this verse, particularly the first three words: “Seeing the crowds.”

Did you catch that? He saw the people who came to see him. He didn’t see bodies. He saw faces lined with pain. He saw heartaches and anxieties and unrest. He saw people just trying to get through the day.

Just as he sees you and he sees me.

Do you ever feel unnoticed? Do you ever post on facebook and no one responds? Do you ever comment on someone else’s post and he or she responds to everyone else but you?

Do you often feel invisible in a crowd? Has the thought ever crossed your mind that no one would miss you if you were suddenly not there? Or like George Bailey, do you think the world would be better off if you’d never been born?

You may not feel like anyone knows you or the secret shame and pain you carry. Jesus does.

You may think that you don’t matter to anyone. You matter to Jesus.

You are not alone. You have an advocate, someone who is on your side, who fights for you, who roots for you, who won’t abandon you in the dark or in the storms. His name is Jesus.

I didn’t come up with this, but it’s still true: if you had been the only one lost and in need of a Savior, Jesus still would have gone through every bit of the cross just for you. He loves you that much.

If your Monday’s been awesome, that’s great. God rejoices with you. But if your Monday was horrible and couldn’t end soon enough, this promise still holds true.

This is from a ragamuffin who needs daily reminders of the goodness of God as much as anyone else. God is faithful, even when it seems he is absent. He is good, always.

 

What I want (what we should all want)

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

I don’t want people to know me for being smart or funny or clever or nice or gentle. I want people to see me and be astonished and say “That man has been with Jesus.” I hope that is your prayer, too. That outsiders will look at us and recognize Jesus in us, and see that we, like Moses, are radiant from having been face-to-face with the King of the Universe. Because when we have been with Jesus, we are never the same. We can never again settle. We are “ruined for the ordinary.”

Which brings up a convicting point for me. I NEED TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH JESUS. If I only give Him 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there, I doubt that people will know that I have been with Him. It’s got to be more. If I am to love with the love of Jesus and be His hands and feet to the world, I have to know His heart much more fully than I do now.

Here’s a question that nailed me today. If your witness for Christ was limited to your facebook posts and replies and comments, what kind of testimony would that be? Would it be the kind that would make people want to know Jesus more or would it drive people away? Would people think that we were different or would they think we are just like them and therefore they have no use for what we have to say about our faith.

If we have been with Jesus, our words will match our walk and what comes out of our lips (and from our keyboards) will match our lifestyle.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.