Have you ever done something you wish you could take back? Made a comment, did a thing, chose one option over another? It’s a pretty crummy feeling, what’s worse is that most of the time, we could have changed the consequence by our original choice. I love working in children’s ministry, and one of the main points we talk about is that we need to make the wise choice. But, how exactly do we make the “wise choice?” Sure, some options are easier to see, like, if I need to be up at 5, I probably shouldn’t get to bed at midnight if I want to be alert the next day. Pretty straight forward, but what about the other choices in our lives. Relationships, jobs, living situations, what we spend our time doing; the list goes on and on. It would be easy to say, just do what the bible says, and wash my hands with this question, but the reality is, the bible doesn’t say anything about if you should move or if you should pursue a relationship. Or does it?
Have you ever been in a season of new? The past year of Danielle and I’s life has been filled with new. Since we got married last September, we thought it would be great to do all the things. From moving to job changes and doing life together, it’s been a wild journey. Everything is new, and new often means that fear begins to creep in. This is a perfect concoction for anxiety, isn’t anxiety just the best? I’ve talked about it on here before, but I’ve dealt with anxiety for a long time. The hard part was is that I was never really open about that fact, I tried to put on a face that I had it all put together, but the truth was, inside I was letting fear rule me. There were situations in high school that made me feel like if I didn’t have it all figured out I wasn’t enough. That led into college where everyone seemed smarter than me, and I would feel inferior to ask for help. I had been in a church job where if I wasn’t “cool” enough or got enough attention, I was seen as someone who wasn’t cut out for ministry or that I didn’t have enough “woo.”
I don’t say this to gain sympathy from you, reader. I simply talk about this because there was a moment during that college phase that helped me realize that the root of anxiety is fear, and fear is a punk.
I really love people. Everyone has a unique story, because all of us are unique. I love meeting new people and I really love when people can get together and have fun. I am loving my new job, and I really love every person I’ve had a chance to meet. We are all experiencing a new massive opening, so all of us are having to figure out the details and rely on each other to get it all done. I am loving every second of it, and love being able to encourage the people around me. I’ve been in environments that are completely opposite to what I’m experiencing now. In both work and outside of work, people can quickly become judgmental and start drawing lines in the sand of people they just do not like. We begin having this mindset of making those we don’t always like or get along with, become this idea of the “other.” This is just a concept that occurs when we begin to de-humanize others around us. We take stereotypes and turn them to the extremes. I think as of recent, we have seen the escalation of this idea. By the time of writing this, there was another mass shooting, and the driver behind the murder was hatred of other people. Now, I’m not saying that everyone who has ever acted on or believed a stereotype of someone else will commit a murder of that scale, what I want to talk about is the importance of empathy. There is just a general lack of empathy that I’ve noticed, and I’m sure you have too.
“Make mistakes, learn from them, and when life hurts you (because it will), remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.”
– Jim Hopper (Stranger Things Season 3)
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know how weird the past few months have been. I was let go at the start of the year, and that left me with a lot of hurt, feeling unwanted and unappreciated. It sucked, but then, we got a little message from God. Our time in Greensboro didn’t seem to have anything for us, and a door opened to come down here in Orlando. My dearest Danielle started the Disney College program, and it was such a unique blessing for our season. While we’ve been down here, I didn’t have a job offer waiting. I applied a lot, but nothing seemed to be biting for me. Ouch, kinda stunk to have a cool transition to a new place, but still deal with feeling of being unwanted.
In the midst of that, Danielle helped me choose to view things differently. I started trusting God. My prayers were pretty much, “this doesn’t make sense but I trust you.” You see I’ve learned that God’s plan is unexpected and often doesn’t make sense, and that’s beautiful.
I love jumping into the pool. There are different kinds of people, those who gradually ease their way in, those who test the water before deciding to go in or not, and then there’s me, diving in like a hooligan. My thought process is, if it’s cold, might as well get used to it quick and have fun while doing it than nothing. I hate long buildups. Danielle and I recently went on a roller coaster, it spun you all around, was really tall, and very very fast. My dearest Danielle loves adrenaline, and I enjoy roller coasters, the thing is, the waiting kills me. The lines always crawl and, in my head, I build it up to be worse than I know it is. What if I die? No one has ever died before, but what if I’m the sucker who kicks the bucket this time? What if my glasses fly off? I know physics literally says that they will stay on my head because of the force, but what if I defy physics? I have the best time when I just jump into it, and not allow room to worry.
My favorite quote from the great theologian and philosopher, Lemony Snicket, is, “Do the scary thing first, and get scared later.”
I think we need to live like this in all things, especially as we step into our calling.
I need affirmation. That’s something I’ve learned in the past couple of years. Knowing our worth is one of the hardest things. We know, in our minds, that God made us and that means we are loved deeply by him, but at the same time, we battle thoughts in our head that say otherwise. Maybe it’s due to the comparison in our lives, seeing the best that others post can cause us to look at our own lives and wonder if this is really it. We crave this need, so we start to look elsewhere. Maybe it manifests in a toxic relationship to your social media presence. Maybe it’s the value a significant other gives to you. We all need affirmation. We want to be known, loved, admired. So why do we feel unworthy, unloved, completely de-valued?
The truth is that our spirits have been stolen, killed, and destroyed.
Yet, there is hope.
I think children’s stories capture so much of the human condition. Often these books and tales try to take real life obstacles and put them in the form of something light hearted and silly, in order to help children mature. One of my favorites is, The Little Engine that Could. A story about a train engine facing an impossible task in front of him. In a moment of desperation, our train friend begins to believe in himself and starts saying, “I think I can, I think I can.” I love that. Sometimes in our own lives we are faced with big hills, these mountains of fears and unknowns, but we need to keep pressing on.
I’m reminded of another children’s tale, one that I loved watching growing up. Each week, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would face a nasty bad guy (It was always obvious they were super bad). I’ll go ahead and spoil the formula for every episode, a formula so sound, that they still use it for the current Power Ranger show airing now. The baddie attacks the rangers, they morph into their power suits, taking the bad guy out, only to then have the baddie turn into a colossal version of themselves. Faced with impossible odds, the rangers fly into their robot megazord and never give up. It always ends with the heroes being victorious and blowing up the baddie (never looking at the explosion cause that’s how cool people do it).
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
When we think of worship, most of the time our minds immediately go to singing on a Sunday morning. I mean church services are often referred to as worship services, there is a worship team and a worship leader, but today, I’d like to move away from this common idea. I’ve talked about worship from that perspective here before, but I want to talk about worship that we all possess. You may not be a singer, but you are fully capable of worship. When I look at worship, I think it’s better to see worship as a lifestyle, not just a Sunday morning state of mind (or an occasional mid-week service that happen). We’ve turned the concept of worship to no be a lifestyle but a “thing” we have to do. This often happens in the routine of our relationship with God. Read the bible. Check. Pray. Check. Listen to Hillsong on the way to work. Check. Listen to a church podcast on the way home (mainly to help the blood boiling anger of rush hour traffic, Orlando I4 what’s up). Check.
The thing is, worship was never meant to be a part of our checklist, it was supposed to be a state of being.
You are awake today and that means you should be living a worship lifestyle.
I’m pretty sure all of you have heard the saying, “it’s about the journey, not the destination,” at some point in your life. It’s to help those of us like myself, who really hate waiting. For instance, anytime I go to the movies, even though I know I don’t need to get there a half hour early, I’ll find myself rushing to get to a theater and end up with forty-five minutes of early waiting. I love the destination. The destination is final, not a reference to those cheesy movies, it’s something that is certain and I don’t have to wait any longer. Texts that say, “I can’t wait to tell you something later,” consume my thoughts and make me want to find out what it is now. Cynical people would say it’s because I’m millennial or whatever, but I just like the present, not always the wait to open it. The hard part about me being wired this way, is that I lose sight of the journey. Yes, it’s all coming together, that’s how I like to write.
Another word for journey in the context of life would be, waiting.
I tend to freak out. Especially when it comes to anything technology related. The WIFI takes a second to refresh? I immediately think the router is dead and we are now going to have to be like 1800’s farmers. Admit it, you do it too. Maybe it’s not with tech, but maybe traffic is a bit too slow. Maybe you have to walk behind someone taking their sweet time in Target. Whatever it is, we have the tendency to freak out. A lot of times it’s due to our lack of patience, but what I’ve been learning recently is that impatience is only a small piece.
The biggest reason we freak out is that we have a lack of control.