Saturday, October 15, 2011

life unedited: funeral to photo-shopped Christianity

Every moment in life is an opportunity to learn and grow, and sometimes the very things that we're begging God to teach us can be found in the most frustrating aspects of life.

Among the many lessons I've been slapped in the face with over the past few weeks and months, is the fact that too often as Christians we put on a happy face, 'photo-shopping' our lives by editing out all the bad things so the world can see seemingly perfect followers of Christ. But as an Air1 DJ wrote in his blog last week, we need to remember that our stories aren't complete. We're not at the end, so it's OK to admit that we're not in a good place right now. So, here's to blogging again. This time, a collection of honest, unedited thoughts.

What started out as a prayer for humility several weeks ago has led me through some of the most frustrating and draining days ever, and I've never felt more uncertain of my choices before (which is saying something for someone as indecisive as me).

All my life I've been a paranoid perfectionist. I cried the first time I couldn't beat my older brother at a video game. In school I would rip out a page of notes and re-write them if they were too messy. My closet is color-coded. I obsess over things until they're just right, and would rather inconvenience myself than disappoint someone else.

The class I'm currently taking to further my education is beating me. As a straight-A student, I'm frustrated to no end with the fact that this class, the one thing I thought I wanted to do with my life, isn't coming easily to me. Despite my best efforts, I'm not living up to the student image I built for myself in my undergraduate career. On top of that I feel burnt out and pulled in a hundred different directions. Between working with a Church on campus, leading a small group, and getting involved in youth group, any chance to relax with my close friends is the only sanity I have left.

I'm sure that God is telling me to let go, but knowing so and doing so seem miles apart.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

be my everything

“And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.” Hosea 4:12

When we think about what is important in our friendships and relationships, words like “honest”, “trustworthy”, and “faithful” come to mind. We empathize with the bitter complaints of those who have experienced the pain of a cheater. How many of us would ever condone or praise the acts of those who are unfaithful?

We shake our heads at the twisted love stories found in Hollywood, not realizing that we do the same thing every day.

The Old Testament is riddled with what seems to be endless stories of the Israelites setting their priorities wrong. As I spend time in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, and Hosea, I'm struck by the similarities between our attitude toward God, and theirs. A common thread runs through each of the books which unites more than just their timeline. Despite being a nation of God’s chosen people, the Israelites exhibit a generational pattern of kings who rise and fall with their choices to pursue the world.

Time after time, God calls out through His prophets, beckoning His bride to turn to Him. Time after time, altars are built to serve false gods.

Most strongly through the prophet Hosea, God speaks to Israel and likens them to a harlot, an adulterer, a cheater. He loves Israel, but that love is thrown to the wayside and ignored as they pursue their idols.

In essence? Idolatry = adultery.

If we as the church are the bride of Christ, anything that we devote ourselves to above Him is adultery. As His bride, shouldn't we do anything to spend time with Him, to hear His voice? Are we committing adultery with the world?

The amazing part? God doesn’t react to me as a spurned lover and turn away. He patiently waits with open arms and forgiveness. His grace is sufficient, and my prayer is that He would be my everything.

God in my living, there in my breathing
God in my waking, God in my sleeping

God in my resting, there in my working
God in my thinking, God in my speaking

Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming
God in my watching, God in my waiting

God in my laughing, there in my weeping
God in my hurting, God in my healing

Christ in me, Christ in me
Christ in me the hope of glory
You are everything

Saturday, March 12, 2011

one of those forwards

I received this as an e-mail forward (which I don't generally like) but thought it was a fun list. It was designed as a "live life to the fullest in 2011" guide.

  • Drink plenty of water. 
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  • Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants
  • Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
  • Make time to pray.
  • Play more games
  • Read more books than you did last year
  • Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
  • Sleep for 7 hours.
  • Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • Don't have negative thoughts or worry about things you cannot control.
  • Don't over do. Keep your limits.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
  • Dream more while you are awake
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • Forget issues of the past. Don't remind people of mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...
  • Call your family often.
  • Each day give something good to others.
  • Forgive everyone for everything..
  • Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  • Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  • Do the right thing!
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • God heals everything.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trivial Pursuit & Perspective

When we slow down and sit in the silence of a moment, what will we find that we are giving our lives to?

Over the weekend I spent a considerable amount of time with my extended family, reminiscing good times as we hoped and prayed for the healing of a member of the family who is ill. As we sat in the hospital together, sometimes talking, sometimes just enjoying the comfort of each other's company and the silence of our memories, I found a fresh perspective.

First, I was reminded of the importance of family. I was 5 years old when I last saw the cousins that I spent the weekend with, and as I talked and laughed with them I wished it had not been that long. Friendships are important, and for some that may be the only family you know. But don't let an illness be what it takes to bring you closer to your family.

Second, I developed an intolerance for the petty complaints of the day. On returning to the hotel one evening I checked Facebook only to find that I could not stand to read the posts. After spending all day in the hospital with someone I love dearly, my first impulse was wanting to punch everyone who wrote endlessly of how they nearly died when the internet was out for a few hours, or how they hate their parents for a curfew.

Are we really spending our time worrying and complaining about these things? It breaks my heart to see where my generation invests its time. Is getting drunk on the weekend and posting pictures on facebook really the highlight of life?

I know that I am equally guilty of quickly becoming annoyed. The list of little things that I allow to control my attitude and perspective is long. If my hope was truly in Christ, would I be consumed with complaints when something small goes awry?

After this weekend, the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 have become a challenge for me: "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

As hard as it is to sit in the hospital room and be thankful, or to sit at home with no internet and rejoice, an attitude of gratitude will help us to be content in our circumstances and to invest our time and energy in what matters most. Don't cry over your loss of internet, find a way to make your time without it meaningful. Don't sit and worry when a loved one is ill, connect with family and celebrate their life.