The Struggle Is Usable

Iphoto-1536598752745-2f04f1111bc0 had a rough couple days.

Among the struggles, I glimpsed the way God was cultivating some things in my life among the trials. They didn’t seem related on the surface, but because of how God was weaving them together and providing for me through them, I knew they were very much connected.

Among the mess, I had a pre-arranged opportunity to talk with high school students and a spontaneous invitation to pour into a community service group. I had a conversation about a reimagined event next year for which I will either speak or attend, and I took a phone call to solidify some details regarding an event later this year with a friend in ministry I haven’t seen in a while.

Despite how I was feeling about some situations in my life, God was reassuring me of his preparation. He continues to use whatever I offer of myself despite my own doubts and distractions.

Offering myself to him every day – multiple times throughout the day – is always worth the humility. Give it a try today.

Too Hot

photo-1454438992604-4a8e59768a5aI often run by my favorite convenient store in the morning before work so I can have my favorite fountain drink to sip on throughout the day. But after I was sick recently, I preferred tea every day for a couple weeks. A couple times a day, I brewed enough of my favorite soothing tea to fill a large lidded cup. I added a bit of honey and a few ice cubes to take the edge of heat out.

But one morning when I got to work, my tea was still too hot to drink. I could wait, I thought. But time passed and I needed to sip on something. I really wanted a sip of warm tea instead of just water, but the tea was still way too warm.

Water would have to do for a while.

Tea was the best thing for me, but not if it was too hot. Sometimes what we need or want and have prepared isn’t available. We need a temporary replacement.

Flexibility and patience are key. Sure, whether or not I drank tea that morning wasn’t a big deal, but there are many more significant times when we need to consider an alternative to what we need or want. We can pout, throw a fit, complain, or ignore the situation. Or we can find a temporary solution.

Something will not work out the way you expect today. Your attitude and response matters. Perhaps the situation itself won’t seem significant, but the way you deal with it will reveal your character.

Flash Forward

2019-03-17 20.29.14I sat in the familiar folding chair in the familiar gym and looked forward at the familiar stage curtain and pit band placement. The sound booth was set up where I remembered it, as well as spotlights on the lower and upper levels. One of my high school teachers recognized me and called me by a nickname I hadn’t heard in 20ish years. I chatted with friends from high school and students who had followed far behind me.

The all-school musical was one of my favorite parts of my high school years. It also brought some of the biggest challenges. I made lifelong friends on the stage. And several years after graduation, I got to invest in the musical and many students as the choreographer, an experience made even richer because the director and I were on stage together as students. Our friendship deepened through the years, and we continue to get together regularly.

So many memories came rushing back to me as I prepared for the production of Freaky Friday to begin. But as soon as it began, the memories slipped aside. It was the same stage and probably a lot of the same process, but these students were experiencing it for the first time. Or for the seniors, experiencing it for the last time. I knew their minds were full of remembering lines, cues, costume changes, and props.

As I watched them, I wondered what they were like off stage. They did such an exceptional job portraying their characters, and I wondered if I would recognize them if I met them in another context. I was impressed by their maturity, and I knew that didn’t come without intentional effort and investment on their part as well as the directing staff.

I was excited for them, that they had the opportunity to be challenged to grow in areas they might never anticipate, develop friendships they otherwise would have missed, and learn about creativity and discipline.

I certainly appreciated the memories of my own experiences, but I leaned forward and glimpsed at the futures of the students in front of me. During intermission, I slipped backstage to talk to the Assistant Director, who was one of the first students I worked with as a choreographer. Seeing his love for the musical process and the students made me pause to appreciate the influence we can have on one another.

We might not take our specific experiences and pour into those who follow in the exact same ways. Even if we try to duplicate the experience, we won’t. We grow and change, and the people who follow us aren’t us. We pour into and affect each other because of our differences and our vulnerabilities. We grow and change because we’re willing to do so. We influence others and are influenced by others because we’re willing to be so.

Sometimes we have flashbacks, and sometimes we have flash forwards. While we need to reside and invest in the present, it’s good to glimpse the future to see the possibilities. We might not know the specifics, but we can lean forward with hope, then pour into others today in our pursuit of the possibilities.

Get Up

photo-1422190441165-ec2956dc9eccI went for a long walk in the park a few days ago. It was the first time I’d worked out in over two weeks because of a lingering cough and busy work schedule. I thought about relaxing on the couch as the afternoon passed, but I knew I needed to restart my routine. It was chilly but sunny, and I had a block of time. Pretty much perfect conditions.

Once I got moving, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it might be. It felt good to push my legs and breathe fresh air. I ran into a friend and joined her for part of the walk. I pushed through ten miles and felt good about it.

It doesn’t seem to take nearly as long to get out of healthy habits as it takes to create them. Sometimes it’s easier to avoid what we know will make us feel better in the long run or what is better for a relationship. Once we get used to the “maybe tomorrow” mentality, it’s hard to take action today.

But today might be the best time for you to stand up and take action. Reconnect with someone. Say no to something. Say yes to something. Apologize. Forgive. Give generously. Purge the baggage you’re storing or carrying.

It might take some effort, and you might end up a bit exhausted, but it might be just what your muscles, mind, and heart need today.

Words You Didn’t Say

I won’t waste another day believing words You didn’t say.

The lyrics were stuck in head for days.

Not in one of those annoying stuck-in-repeat-mode ways. The melody didn’t annoy me as I heard it again and again. It was the words. Every time I’d hear them, they’d sink deeper into me.

I won’t waste another day believing words You didn’t say.

So much packed in a single line. It’s a declarative sentence. No question. It declares believing the wrong things is wasteful. It also declares the necessity to know what God says and doesn’t say. A necessity of knowing truth

We get distracted away from truth. We get lazy or comfortable and end up farther away from truth than we expect, want, or acknowledge. We pick and choose what we want to live by and let that guide our view of truth. We don’t humbly seek truth and let truth change us nearly as often as we’d like to believe.

But…

I won’t waste another day believing words You didn’t say.

 

Good Thing Someone Can

part0When I moved out of the house I’d shared with my ex, a friend bought me a plant as a housewarming gift. We didn’t see each other often, but we’d recently reconnected through my job at the time. She brought the plant to my office. It was around St. Patrick’s Day, and the plant was a shamrock.

It looked delicate, and I was sure I’d kill it. I’m horrible with plants.

I decided to leave it at the office, so perhaps someone else would notice when it wasn’t doing well.

Sure enough. It almost died. It looked pitiful, and I handed it over to a couple of my office-mates, who moved it to another room. It began to bounce back from my lack of proper care.

They sent me a picture of it recently. It’s huge and healthy!

We can’t be good at everything. I’m for trying new things and stretching what I believe I can do. I’m for learning. I love adventures. But I also believe it’s important to trust and rely on others. It might seem like a small thing, but I’m thankful for the people in my life who can do things I can’t, who live life well by complementing others.

Thanks for the gifts you bring to my life!

 

Becoming Real

52883917_2184854794891443_306373284377657344_nThe Velveteen Rabbit was the first book my ex and I bought for our family. We had talked about sharing a life together, but we had no real plans in place.

Until that night.

We bought a beautiful hardcover copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. Later that evening, my ex proposed. It was unplanned and casual, but it was still special. It was almost three decades ago, and I still have the book.

Becoming Real in the book isn’t identical to real life, but there are similarities. In real life, it’s becoming authentic. It’s becoming increasingly humble, willing to be transparent with people and doing life in ways that are wonderful and challenging. It’s letting love seep into your life and pouring it into others.

Becoming Real doesn’t automatically happen. We think as people get older, they’ll get wiser, more generous, at peace with themselves and their lives, compassionate, and loving. But some people become more selfish, stubborn, and bitter. Becoming Real demands a yielding, a search, and a myriad of choices.

Some fall apart in the process. Others become more Real.

What are you becoming?