Searching

It’s been over 6 months since my last post.

The main reason it’s been so long? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

NO IDEA.

Life has definitely handed me a lot of changes in the past six months to a year…

Quitting the ministry, two deaths in the family (My Aunt Jan in September and my Grandma the day after Christmas) moving twice er, three times if we are going with the year time frame. With one more move to come!

Oh yeah, and I’m gonna be a mommy in April.

I’m normally pretty good with change, but I’ll admit, all this has definitely been a stretch for me!

Right now I’m sitting in the Toronto airport, ready to fly back to Thunder Bay… Having just flown back to Southern Ontario for my Grandmothers funeral this Thursday.

I’m TIRED. I am very glad I was able to fly down for the funeral, and grateful for the added bonus of being able to see my husband for a few more days (oh yeah, did I mention that until I go on Mat Leave my husband and I are now living in different cities?) But still. I’m tired. Honestly, I think that whole side of my family is tired, so prayers are appreciated.

I had the honor of speaking at my Grandmothers funeral, and as I was writing my little speechy-thing, I realized that my Grandma was a ripple-maker.

Grandma was what you’d call shy, she was never the centre of attention, she would have hated that – and yet, I know that there are people she made a lasting impact on. Even if you only count her kids, they have her fingerprints all over them! They are all some pretty amazing people, and who they are was impacted by who she was. That’s pretty cool.

It’s an interesting thing to think about, especially now as I am looking forward to being a Mom myself… At a time when, for the most part I’m feeling pretty lost and wondering anew what my purpose is.

Anyway, it’s my hope that for the next couple months as I’m preparing for baby’s arrival and my own move (AGAIN) I will have more time to think some things through. Here’s hoping! If I do, I’ll be sure to keep you guys in the process.

Until then… May your own quest for answers in life be fruitful as well!

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Light & Easy: Personal Application

I believe that the only way to truly learn lessons is to live them.

I also believe that unless you are able to apply the things that you think God is trying to teach you (and others) you are just blowing smoke when you talk about them all the time.

I don’t want this blog to become a place where I ramble on about ideas I have, and let the thoughts take over my life, the writing down of the thoughts take over my life, and not spend the time ACTING OUT what I believe I am being taught.

As a result of that desire, I am going to try and have at least one post a week that isn’t just talking about the ideas that I have for walking with God/churches, but sharing my journey as I try to apply them to my life.

So – right now I’m going to share my personal journey of trying to improve in my listening to & obeying the voice of God (no matter how good a person is at this – I am sure there is always room for growth). That listening is the basis, if you have been reading, of the Light & Easy series – that I believe if we can learn to plug into what God has for us, what He wants us to do, (and only what He wants us to do) much of the weight of our lives can be dissolved.

I think I’ve been doing okay so far – just okay though, not great. I still struggle with the follow-through on some things.

My biggest issue? Fear. Not in everything, but, really, I think fear has always been my biggest weakness and has been what has caused 95% of the times that I have not followed through with something I thought maybe God wanted me to do.

The stupidest thing that’s ever held me back? My fear of phoning people.

Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have this thing where I HATE phoning people I don’t know very well. I actually get kind of panicky and LITERALLY have to psyche myself up before the phone call in order to be able to do it.  Yesterday I caved and didn’t phone someone that I think I should have because I was too nervous about it… how silly is that? Looking at in perspective it seems ridiculous. It is an irrational fear based on nothing, and I let it prevent me from phoning someone up and trying to encourage them. There should be a big L on my forehead for that.

So, that’s where I’m at in my journey at the moment. Other than that, I feel like I’m doing pretty well – I’ve had some good quiet times with God, I’m being really encouraged in my quest by the book I’ve mentioned before, The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels, and there have been a few times when I thought that God was prompting me to do something and I did it. I’ve felt great in those moments.

I try not to beat myself up too badly for the times that I failed and just use them as more motivation to be better in the future.

I am determined that each day that goes by my success rate will get higher and higher – with the big things and the little things. I think it’s the little things that get me  – the things I can convince myself don’t REALLY matter if I do them. Like the phone calls. I tell myself I can do them later, or I don’t really need to talk to that person… when maybe I’m just supposed to be letting them know that someone cares.

But like I said, I’m determined to keep getting better at this.

I’m going to close with something I just read in Bill Hybels book that I found incredibly encouraging & inspiring:

“If you ever find yourself with a difficult assignment, why not try giving God thanks for trusting you with something that needs your particular strength. He assigns tasks to the right person every time. He did it throughout history and he still does it today.” (The Power of a Whisper, p111)

How can I NOT go through with an “assignment” – no matter how large or small – when I remember that God is of the opinion that I am the exact perfect person to do the job?

Whole New World

I think maybe, I could do amazing things.

Not me really… I think, I could be USED to do amazing things.

See, I believe that God cares about the world. I believe He cares about every single person in this world, and that He wants to bless all of His people – everyone He’s created. He wants them to know how loved they are.

But, He wants to use us to do it. It’s like crazy awesome, but He made me to bless the people around me. He did the same thing with you. He made you so that YOU could be an AWESOME blessing to other people.

Thing is, as humans, we are flawed. We tend to be kind of selfish, and even when we aren’t being selfish, we have a tendency to do the wrong thing when we are trying to help.

So, He is part of the process. He’s more than willing to be with us all the time, giving us direction, helping us to become better people, and giving us opportunities to truly make a difference in the world.

We just have to LISTEN to Him and actually DO what He asks us to to achieve it.

My problem is I have WAY too many voices in my head right now of what I am “supposed” to do, and it’s making it way more complicated. I am stressed to the max worried about what I am supposed to do and HOW I’m supposed to do it, and it’s making it harder to listen to Him, and THEN, even harder to OBEY because I’m so stressed about doing the RIGHT thing or what other people are going to think, that I’m not willing to take His hand, trust Him, and jump.

I don’t really have anything in my life figured out. I mean, I’m 26. Aren’t I supposed to have things at least a little figured out by now? I still feel like I’m 13, and terrified about everything. Sure, I’ve experienced moments of clarity in the past, but they never seem to last long enough.

Well, like my true 13-year-old self… I’m going to take my prince’s hand and jump.

I can’t listen to the do’s and don’ts. Not right now. I’m all about listening to advice and honoring the wisdom of those older than me… but sometimes, sometimes you have to jump.

Tonight, I want to put my hand in God’s close my eyes, and embark on a journey to… yep, a whole new world.

What, I warned you, I’m really a 13 year old in a 26 year old’s body – a 13 year old is allowed to reference Disney.

gifted

Some people are extraordinarily talented. You know, the people for whom everything they touch turns to gold? Everything they put their mind to tends to just work out?

I am not such a person. I do not have many natural gifts. I’ve thought about it, and I may only have one. Being “real”. Calling it how I see it. I’m not saying I’m amazingly insightful, or that I am always right… It just feels like maybe the thing I am meant to do with my life is be blunt. Be honest. Speak truth.

It’s not that I’ve never lied. I have. But it seems to me the moments when I’ve gotten myself or other people is when I stopped being who I was supposed to be – direct & honest.

Seriously. Sometimes I think it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve got going for me.

I’m not that great of a Pastor – to be honest, people tend to scare me. Not for any valid reason, I just get panicky if I have to be social, or if I have to phone someone I don’t really know… Etc etc.

I’m not that good of a speaker either. I don’t do anything flashy, I don’t use alliteration or have three concise points. Or any of the tricks you are supposed to have in your speaking repertoire.

There are many people who are way more talented than I am.

All I can do is be who I was designed to be. To speak what I’m thinking. To communicate, to be honest… To do what I can.

It’s tough sometimes to be who you are supposed to be. There are frequently millions of voices that pop out of the woodwork and tell you to stop – from your own fears and your questioning yourself, to those that are around you, sometimes offering sincere advice… Sometimes simply not understanding.

I don’t know what my life will look like at the end. All I know is to pursue what God puts in front of me. To use the gifts he has given me, and use them to pursue what He wants for me, those around me, and the world.

It may seem silly for me to suggest that simply by speaking truth I could affect the world… But I believe that God does have a plan, a desire for this world, and if each one of us could figure out where we stand and live up to our responsibility, the world could become a drastically different place.

So, to start… I am going to do my best to not be ruled by fear or anything else – I will look to the steps that God lays out in front of me, and take them.

He is my director, He and none other. I need to tie that truth so close to my heart that in the most confusing times, it shines as a beacon for each step.

God, and God alone will rule my life. I will do my best to follow him in everything. As a result, hopefully becoming a true ambassador for God.

One full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control… And with the aura of one who walks with God (like Enoch, Noah, Abraham and all the rest).

I don’t have much to offer. Only what I’ve got. But if I remain paralyzed because I don’t think it’s enough, evil wins.

God knows what His plan is even when I don’t.

I’m going to trust him with all my heart – ignore my own logic, chase after him in everything I do… And rest assured that as long as I’m listening, he’ll be making my path straight. As in Proverbs 3.5-6

God. Misrepresented.

I believe in God. I believe He exists, I believe He designed this world. I have difficulty at looking at the immense vastness of what is on earth – and not seeing that someone incredibly intelligent and creative put it all together. So many ecosystems, so many food chains… So many aspects of life “inter-dependent” and reliant on each other – I look at these things and see planning. I can’t comprehend how any one could consider that all these things happened by chance.

I was a physics nerd in High School – and even when I look at physics I see evidence of a creator. I mean, we are all proud of ourselves for finding equations that explain all the “forces”, but to me, that suggests not our own brilliance: to be able to apply math to something, but the brilliance of a creator who wasn’t just a “painter” making pretty pictures or scenery, but a biologist, a physicist, a botanist! There are so many specialists in this world who spend their lives studying different things in this world, and to me, all the ORDER they discover, or even disorder that still has balance, suggests a great planner.

I can’t really look at this world, or anything in it and think “accident” or “chance.” Do I understand it all? No. Not at all. But to me, so much in this world points to a creator that even when I thought He must be a jerk, I still always believed He existed.

Not everyone does though. I understand that. I’ve lived long enough that if someone tells me they are an atheist, I’m not shocked. There are people who look at this world and don’t see any sort of design, they just see chance. Even though this boggles my mind, I don’t understand how they can’t see it, I don’t automatically assume they are idiots for missing what seems plain to me.

The reaction to my beliefs, however, are not always the same. I remember the first time I read about the Flying Spaghetti Monster (link to be added). I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. The inference is that anyone who believes in a Higher Power is an absolute idiot. Yes, it’s insulting. I’ve since calmed down about it – people who don’t believe in God seem to have a tendency to think that everyone who does is delusional and desperately want to knock some ” sense” into them. This is their attempt. At least, I always like to see the good in people, so I’m hoping that’s it. Otherwise, they are just mocking millions of people for fun.

The reason I am saying this is to get to the point that there are so many people in the world who believe different things, and we have difficulty relating to each other. We see differences as larger than similarities, and always try to make the gap bigger – or so it seems. Not only can we not agree whether or not God exists, there are so many who can’t agree on who God is – or even if there is only one!

What has spurred this post? Recently a popular TV show did a “religious episode”, and (at least according to my facebook feed) it caused quite a stir. I read posts from all views, from being offended by it’s treatment of Christianity (Cheesus) to being offended that by the end, all the characters seemed okay with religion.

I liked the episode. Honestly, it reminded me a little of one of my favorite-ever TV shows Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Studio 60 made only one season, I’m guessing partly because of controversy it would have created, and partly because it was way too intelligent in the day and age of reality TV shows. I loved it because it portrayed the difficulty of atheists and Christians to relate to each other quite wonderfully.

I mean, think about it – do you believe that people who believe differently than you have less value? Do you ACT like they do? have you ever acted like their opinions, their concerns meant less, meant nothing?

I see this a lot with Christians because we believe that we know what truth is, and we want to tell people what truth is, but we forget to listen , to hear them, before we say anything at all.

We live in a society that is fairly hostile to Christianity. Christians tend to think that it is a form of persecution, that it is evidence of a world that is hostile to God. Really though… Sometimes I think they have a reason to be hostile. Atrocities have been committed in the name of Christ throughout history. Sure, the go-to example is the crusades. But let’s be honest, there are much more current examples of how the church manages to bungle the “ambassadors of Christ” thing. I’m not talking on a large scale either. It’s the one on one interactions where a lot of people have been burned and decided that Christianity obviously has no value.

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self-control… In Galatians these are listed as the fruits of the Spirit. How evident are these in those that claim to be followers of Christ?

What about these: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy? Let’s be honest, sometimes these are WAY more likely to be seen in a church than the “fruit”. And what does Galatians say about these things? “Those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (5.21).

So, for those of you who have had a bad experience with people who are “Christians”, I’m sorry. If you’ve seen more hate and selfish ambition than love, patience and kindness, I am so sorry. If any of you have seen it in me,I am way more than sorry. I am horrified. Please let me know so I can be corrected.

You see, I’ll be honest. I am a weak person. I do stupid things. I have been selfish in the past, I have been jealous… I have been a great many things. I would like to hope that I have never hurt anyone because of my own failings, but I know that isn’t true. It sucks, but I know that I have caused pain. Part of the whole point of being a Christian, I think, is being aware of our own failings and doing our best to rise above them. Too often we are concerned with the perceived flaws in those around us, instead of our own.

This brings me back to more of why I believe what I do. Not only does the beauty of creation suggest to me that there is a God and a creator, but when I look at the majority of pain and suffering in this world, and see how it tends to be caused, or worsened by people – people who could/should be HELPING instead of hurting – that is explained by Christianity to me. Donald Miller explains it WAY better than I ever could in his book “Searching for God Knows What” but knowing how selfish and self-centered we can all get, how we always managed to hurt each other, mankind and the earth by our actions makes sense in light of the fall. We, humanity, are meant to be a people in relationship with God – getting our value from him, learning how to love from him… But that relationship got broken, and in that, our ability to relate to anyone properly seemed to get broken. Try as we might, misunderstandings happen, selfishness happens, fights break out, discrimination and racism pop up, wars break out… starvation happens. The church is just as much a part of this – sometimes more so, than any other place. It is a horrible thing, but it is true. A place that I believe is meant to be filled with love, goodness and peace has been distorted frequently in the past, and present. I dream of a future where it can be reborn into the place/people it is supposed to be.

I look at the world and I see something beautiful, something designed. I look at the people in it, and for the most part, I see a mess. I mean myself as well… We, as humans, tend to be a mess. The most important person in our lives tends to be ourselves, our groups, our people… There always seems to be sides, and a striving for status. This to me, is explained by what the Bible tells us – that we were designed to be a certain way, and through our own choice, opened up a world of selfish ambition that has lead to the pain of today.

I think we need God. I know at least for myself, I totally need God. I’ve heard before that religion is a crutch. That people who believe in God do so because they are weak. I’ve thought about this a lot lately because it has become apparent to me just how weak I am. There is absolutely no way that I could go through life with God. Part of this could be because I’ve recently started trying to live completely as He wants to me, and it (not going to lie) gets tough sometime. The times when I am frightened, the times when I don’t understand what’s going on, I need him desperately. As I said, I’m weak. I honestly don’t know how someone could get on without Him. I literally couldn’t. I would be a puddle of a mess if I couldn’t go to God for comfort, peace and direction. If you are doing life on your own, without Him, I commend you. You are stronger than me – I would become jaded, very bitter, and quite hopeless. I have felt hopeless. I never want to be there again. Even in my darkest times I am able to cling to Him, the fact that He has a plan, and know that I can go on by taking one step at a time and holding his hand. I don’t know where your hope is – mine is in a man, who died to be with me for eternity.

What am I trying to say here is, I believe in God. I believe that something happened in history, and in each of our lives that broke us all, made us people who hurt instead of people who love and heal. And, I believe that Jesus Christ has made a way for us all to approach God – that He is the way, the truth, the life. (Jn 14.6)

I believe this because it has been proved true in my life over and over. I look at the world, I look at my life, and it is what speaks truth for me.

The thing that concerns me is that my own life, and those of others who claim the name Christian, have displayed the very opposite of what our true point and purpose is.

We are consumed by our own natures, concerns and thoughts, more concerned about the moral standing of the person next to us then their physical, emotional, or yes, even spiritual well-being.

How can you love someone unless you know them, unless you, at the very least, are WILLING to get to know them?

I’m not saying I’m great at this, I’m saying that I’m seeing a need. I long for a church that can truly represent God in the way He deserves, one that has a reputation for astounding love instead of hate.

Maybe you think you’re in the clear because you don’t hate, you don’t get mad, you don’t cause trouble… But what about love? Is that abounding?

Are we representing the one true God, or do we use his name to fight our own petty, yes, sinful battles?