Like leaky balloons

 

bc774616af5ac890256258e1a3de0ec8Like accomplices in the night, they tag-team; destructive and deceitful. They create bars on your heart you didn’t know were there, blocking out the only thing that can set you free from the prison you’ve created. They hide, holding hands, terrified of the light. Their shadow lines the concrete walls, stalking and tall. But they know, oh they know, if but a little light is shone on them, that their power will dwindle, losing air. They no longer can govern your relationships once truth begins to speak. And like a balloon slowly leaks its air, they will eventually crumble under the weight of love, powerless.

Pride and fear.

Two things I believe govern us and our relationships more than we realize.

This topic of love is one I’ve been fascinated with, well, forever. Waiting for my husband to arrive for our fairytale to begin; wanting God’s love to go deeper from my head to my heart; how do I truly love others like Jesus commanded me to?

A conversation Troy and I had last night with some friends about relationships got me thinking about how wrongly I have handled so many relationships in my past. And if I were to really reflect, a lot of it was out of either pride or fear.

Pride — Do I feel better than them in some way? They have more/are more/do more than me in comparison, so my worth is less.

Fear — What will they think if I say something? What if it comes out wrong and I look silly?

We may not like to admit it, but that can often be the thought process of our heart. At least in mine. Yuck.

The sneaky thing is, pride and fear can hide in what we think are good motivations – to protect people, not to hurt them (or us), to keep the peace. But it can build over time into resentment or regrets of unspoken words.

As I read in 1 John 4:7-21 this morning, all I keep coming back to is that our responsibility is never to manage the fear/pride, figure out a 10 step program for overcoming it, or write a to-do list of how to go from glory to glory. No. Our job as believers in Christ?

Vs 12 (Message) says, “But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us – perfect love!”

And vs 16 states (ESV), “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.”

My job is to abide in God’s love – dwell, stay, remain and make that my home. And to love others. Sometimes loving others is saying the tough things, confronting. And sometimes it’s just praying for them, holding them up in our hearts. Sometimes abiding in God is staying silent when we really want to have our say. And sometimes it is resting in Him and then going out to do what He’s put on our hearts to do. Either way, it starts and ends with love.

Oh may 2016 look different for us all. My hope, as we are in a new community making new relationships, is that I can learn from the past, and rest in God’s love more; my only hope of change. And as I rest in His love, that He graces me to communicate and love others the way He has called me to, rather than be held back by pride or fear. God knows I can’t do it on my own.

The beauty of it all? Once you shed light on the hidden stalkers that keep you imprisoned in relationships, you can begin to pray into it, and like a leaking balloon, pride and fear begins to fade as His love is perfected in us.

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Monday Minute: First Responders

 

phone-interview-2In an emergency situation, there is someone who is called. Be it your spouse. A friend. Or 911. And more often than not, it is the conversation or response of those “first responders” that largely determines the perspective or outcome of said situation.

Stay with me here.

I’ll be honest… As I finished a short time of reading and prayer this morning, I just prayed a simple prayer, “Lord, please help my first response to situations this week not be of comparison, fear, or control.” And immediately I thought of our first responders, and how important they are. Yet how moldable and changeable they are. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and three times for an advertisement to be seen to really sink in. Repetition, in small quantities, done over a long period of time, is what will cause change.

As I read Romans 6, a chapter I have read multiple times, verse 22 stood out to me anew, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

I had never, until this morning, viewed sanctification as ‘fruit’. But here Paul is saying that the wages of sin is death, but once you believe in Jesus and start walking in obedience to His ways, sanctification is what follows – a reordering of our life and loves. And this is actually fruit!

Sanctification is a process, just as learning to respond in new ways to familiar situations is a process. But walking in obedience to the Lord, situation by situation, day by day, is where change actually takes place.

I finished a short booklet this weekend that I got at the Pursuit Conference I was at a few weeks ago. Written by Jess Connelly and Hayley Morgan, Wild & Free, one thing Hayley said stood out to me: “If we dedicate ourselves to meticulous life management that doesn’t lean on faith in a good God, we are signing ourselves up for a life of anxiety that comes from constantly chasing control.”

Our first response, more and more, has to be one that believes in a good God, otherwise, we chase control in every situation.

Just a simple Monday Minute to challenge you, like I felt this morning, to let our first responders be ones of faith in a good God.

Happy Monday!

Divergent – shut you down or wake you up?

divergent-trailerTo this day, it is probably one of the most satisfying jobs I have ever had. The long days challenged and fulfilled me.  I cried. I felt insecure. And I felt like I was doing what I was born to do, and yet wanted to retreat back from ever doing it again.

For three summers in my early 20’s I was a Chaplain at an air cadet base in Alberta. It was a 10-week summer position with the Department of National Defence that worked superbly with my schooling and other job at the time. The pay was great and my expenses were low since we lived on the base. It was a world I had never known since I had never been through cadet training.  As Chaplains, we taught classes, counselled, brought kids to a variety of churches in the city, and were the overall ‘morale builders’ of the base.

I had the opportunity to teach Life Skills classes to kids who were, many of them, away from home for the first time. Basic Cadets was their ‘class’. As I stood at the front of my classroom I was confronted with with sweaty ADD ridden 12-year-olds and I was on fire with both fear and exhilaration. Did they even hear what I just said?

There were four of us in the chaplain role, and we would pass off the pager so that someone was available 24/7. I recall getting called into counselling sessions where I would talk to young girls who were cutting themselves, and young boys who were convinced they had seen a ‘face’ in the toe of their polished boot. I learned SO much in those three summers.

In that role, the fear of the unknown and the sense that I was so unqualified for what I was called upon to do – woke me up. It didn’t paralyze me even though it scared me. I realized the state of what youth were dealing with. I realized that I could rise to the challenge of creating a curriculum for 30 youth that would inspire and challenge them. I realized I did have something to say to an Officer who had been in the military for years, but needed a friend to listen to.

I truly felt alive.

This past weekend Troy and I went to the movie Divergent with some family. Well written and captivating, the movie has a Hunger Games vibe to it. The main character, Triss, is called upon to choose which ‘faction’ (a societal classing system) she belonged to. She chose the one that was full of action and adventure, who were called upon to protect the fallen city – Dauntless.  She had to fight and challenge herself in ways she never had before.

You see Triss didn’t fit in any of the class systems that had been created. She was unique and thought differently. She was a divergent. In one scene, the man who is training her (whom she of course falls in love with!) says to her when she asks him why she is different, “Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.”

Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.

It’s made me think how in every situation we have two options when we face difficulty: it can either shut us down, or wake us up.

What challenge are you facing right now that seems bigger than you? I know the thrill of being awoken by challenge. I also know the feeling of shrinking back and regretting my retreat later on.

2 Timothy 1:7 says that, “God has NOT given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”

God never created us to be people that retreat. He actually created us to face challenge, and overcome it. He created within us the ability to meet something that is scary and bigger than us and say, “I can rise to meet this.” Through Him and His strength, we can actually be woken up in every situation. And find a deeper, more fulfilling life in the meantime.

So I ask you…

What will you say to the next challenge that comes – shut me down, or wake me up?

 

Nightlights and Shakespeare

We all had that “comfort” blanket growing up. Admit it. Mine was the hallway light on at night and the door left open a crack. I would listen to Dad and Mom in the kitchen, talking about the day – CBC news playing in the background. It was comforting. Secure.

Your comfort could’ve been a blanket, a sibling, candy or a nightlight. You looked for something that would calm fears and remind you that, “hey, it’s all good.”

I think even as adults we look for something comforting. Especially in the busy demands of society, we look to people or things for comfort. I asked myself recently “So why is it that humanity doesn’t more often look to its Creator for comfort? Why isn’t THAT our FIRST instinct?” And for some, it is.

Doesn’t our very own independence breed the very fears we are trying to overcome?

Imagine Christmas morning. You’ve waited 364 season-changing days for the unwrapping of glorious gifts labelled just for you! You’ve made your wish list, and likely the folks, spouse or kids have gotten something else that made them think of “you”. So what would happen if you go to open the last gift you think is from, say your Dad, and it ends up being a bomb. You look at him with a look of “this isn’t funny!” And he responds “No, I didn’t give that to you. You shouldn’t have opened that, it didn’t even have your name on it. Someone must’ve snuck it in through the crack in the door last night!”

This is me and how my brain envisions scriptural truths, so bear with me.

2 Timothy 1:7 says in the Amplified “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” Of all the good gifts and freedoms God has made available to us, fear is definitely not one of them. It’s not meant to be in our character or nature. It’s a “box” that God frequently says, “don’t open that, it’s not from Me!”

I recently have started teaching a Beginners Drama class to 8-11 year olds. 10 girls greet me every week with excitement, questions and smiles. Feeling at first very unqualified, nervous and scattered, I entered the second session with a changed attitude: “Well, if I totally BOMB as a drama teacher, at least at the end of the day, I still have Jesus.” And you know what? It brought HUGE comfort.

Because I’m not going to be awesome at everything. I’m not going to get it right the first time, all the time. I am going to make mistakes. People may laugh or criticize at my attempts. But I, personally, am learning to embrace that journey of being a human that relies on Divinity to interrupt my mistakes.

So what is that comfort? It’s called hope. It’s the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt” said William Shakespeare. Doubts and fears are traitors that try and steer us from trusting and hoping in God. That He always has our best in mind.

There are many things in this 2010 life that could awaken stress or doubts. But at the end of the day, I know I have Jesus, no matter what.