You're Not the Hero of Your Story
I'm not the hero of my own story. You're not the hero of yours. How do I know that? Because we fail to live up to heroic standards all the time. We’re selfish and self-absorbed. Our words and deeds are not always for the good of others. Thankfully, that's a good thing.
In Scott Saul's book From Weakness to Strength, he says, "Jesus came for sinners, not heroes. Perhaps the recognition that we are not heroes can be an occasion--maybe the first one in quite some time--to fall into his healing arms." Being the hero means there’s no one to save us from ourselves.
Identifying ourselves as heroes instead of sinners keeps us trapped in our weakness. It isn't until we honestly identify ourselves as sinners that we allow God's healing to free us from our past and His strength to sustain us in the present.
3 Questions to Ask Before Starting Something New
Even as babies, we quickly learn there are consequences to the things we do. Scratching your face or poking your eye sends signals to your brain that results in feeling pain. The pain is meant to teach us that we shouldn't do those things. Parents use similar techniques to continue to teach; a firm "no" or grabbing of a little hand quickly communicates danger. But what happens when we grow up and life gets more complicated?
When adult decisions and consequences become more complex, it is easy to lose sight of the truth: pain is unavoidable no matter how "good" we are at making wise choices. We understand this to some level as we make lists of "pros and cons" to our choices. We do our best to weigh the positives and negatives so we can choose the path with the least discomfort. Yet, we still often seem to be caught off guard when A + B does not equal C as we intended.
No Perfect Parent
I admit that I can be impatient and impulsive. When I get excited about something, I want to start right away. Whether it's business or ministry opportunities, vacation plans, or the newest health fad, I want to jump right in with both feet.
Other times, I immediately dismiss an opportunity in front of me because it doesn't excite me or maybe it even scares me. My default in this situation is to drag my feet, avoid thinking about it, and hope it goes away. (If I can't see you, you can't see me... right?)
Either way, I am excluding God from the decision-making process.
I have learned through experience that I can save myself from future frustration and disappointment by asking myself a few questions before I say "yes" or "no" to something new.
Unseen: The Quiet Honor of Humble Obedience
There are a lot of ways to be a good mom. It can be really confusing. No two women will live, act, dress, work the exact same way. No two moms will raise their kids in the exact same way. Unfortunately, in a woman's quest to try to find the "one true way" of motherhood, she often starts mentally sorting methods of parenting into "good" and "bad" categories.
Formula feed = Bad
Co-sleeping = Good
Working mom = Bad
Organic food = Good
Every woman will sort things differently and those choices will mold her method of parenting. She'll see other moms making different decisions and wonder "am I wrong or is she wrong?" So how do we know if we have chosen the correct method when everyone seems to be doing something different?
From Christmas Pressure to Peace
Motherhood is often a thankless job. We aren't thanked for sacrificing our bodies, our sleep, our desires, our dreams, our personal space. We don't receive awards for the record number of bums and noses we wipe in our lifetime. We'll likely never be publicly acknowledged for the time we mended a favorite teddy bear or prepared a healthy meal. Most of what we do as moms will go quietly unnoticed, our sacrifices unseen.
As I write this, I am stretched out on my living room couch with my oldest daughter in a feverish slumber on the couch adjacent to me. She'll never know the prayers of healing I prayed over her, the extra time I took to make her chicken soup just the way she likes it, or the care I took to tiptoe past her so as not to wake her.
Motherhood is a sacrifice, yet it is a holy sacrifice. To accept the sacrifice of motherhood is to accept that what we do will be mostly unseen.
We will feel unseen.
Embracing Death Brings Life
Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Except for your house, on Christmas Eve, with presents still to wrap, dinner preparations to make, and out-of-town company to host. Your kids are hopped up on anticipation and sugar cookies, taking their usual volume of 10 to 100. The only thing silent is the screaming voice in your head telling you to cancel Christmas this year. And the only thing holy about this night is the run in your tights that won't be subdued by clear nail polish.
The celebration has turned into commiseration. If Christmas is supposed to be a time to celebrate Jesus, the Prince of Peace, then how have we wound up feeling no peace and all this pressure?
The Difference Between Honesty & Vulnerability
"Hopefully you don't miss the party," spoke the woman across the isle. I shifted nervously in my chair as I smiled and replied, "It's okay. It's my party so they can't start without me!" Sitting in the packed waiting room of a medical lab for the third time that month wasn't how I expected to spend my evening, right before heading to my own 30th birthday party. But nothing about this year has gone the way I expected. There have been more thoughts of death than I would have liked, but also way more opportunities to choose life than I would have imagined.
I had high expectations for turning thirty. I was ready for my twenties to be over and was looking forward to an amazing decade ahead. So when an alarming symptom appeared, just days before my birthday, I was shocked. After lab tests and doctor appointments with no answers, the shock turned to fear. What if this decade that brought me so much excitement was going to be ripped from me? What if all of the future plans and dreams I was anticipating were suddenly out of reach?
It took my husband and I several days before we could even speak out loud our greatest fear: this could be cancer.
Moving Forward through Self-Forgiveness
Honesty is not a big issue for me, but it used to be. I would tell "little" lies to save face or cover my mistakes. I would exaggerate my strengths or things I did in order to look better in someone else's eyes. I would tell stories of things that never really happened to that "friend of a friend" of mine.
It took a lot of work for me to become truly honest with myself and others. Full transparency: it's still sometimes a temptation for me. I absolutely hate looking inept or incapable. If I do something embarrassing, my first instinct is to make up an excuse for what I did.
Through continually practicing honesty in all situations, I am amazed at how comfortable I have become in my own humility. When you try to pull a door with a "push" sign on it as much as I do, you become very familiar with humility. I think God may even have given me that unique "ability" just to keep me from becoming too prideful.
So with honesty a well-practiced character quality, it caught me by surprise when God showed me how he didn't just want me to be honest with others, but also vulnerable.
When I Fail, God is Faithful
No one I know answers the question, "How's it going?" with "Oh man, I failed BIG time this week." We often feel embarrassment, and even shame, about our failures. So instead of being honest, we just smile and say "good!" But everything isn't all good all the time, and we know it.
Whether it's a minor error in our work, a harsh word said to a friend, or an affair on our spouse, we will regularly come face to face with the challenges of our sin condition. We won't always resist temptation. We won't always act according to the Spirit. God willing, we will grow stronger and become more resistant to the desires of our flesh, but there will always be things that we do or do not do that will cause us to feel God's conviction through the feeling of guilt.
Beauty for Ashes
I am in the middle of an unexpected season of change. All of the change is ultimately for my good, but some of it is born out of my failure. I still hate to admit that I've failed. My prideful heart has a difficult time admitting failure, let alone accepting it. But at the same time that I have failed, God has been so faithful.
He never once let me crawl into my shell of defeat and hide. In His loving nature, I believe He allowed me to face tremendous challenges this year for the very purpose of breaking down my walls--both to Him and to people around me. He didn't let my heart harden. He sought me. He loved me. He opened up my heart in such vulnerability that I would have not believed I could do it had I not experienced it.
He didn't love me in spite of my failures, He loves me through my failures... all of them.
Focus on the Process, Not the Result
Ashes: the remains of something destroyed.
The fires that raged in my soul and those that surrounded me left me in ashes. With hardly an identity or form, I entered my young adult years unrecognizable to myself. With no substance or weight to keep me rooted, I was blown by the winds of each day, unable to plant my feet or feel at peace. My soul was perpetually unsettled.
I remember clearly the day that I traded the lifeless, formless ashes of myself for the beauty God desired for me. In an instant, God swept up the pile of ashes and lovingly reformed me in His image--in my true image.
The beauty had always been there, I knew. I kept grasping for it in vain, not understanding that I needed to surrender the ashes to God first.
I recently finished reading the book The Miracle Morning for Network Marketers. I have the ebook so I highlighted digitally, took screenshots, and sent snippets to my team a few times. There are some nuggets of gold in that book. The interesting part about all those "nuggets" that stood out to me is that they are all solid pieces of wisdom that apply to more than just network marketing. The biggest piece of wisdom for me is this:
"The secret to success in network marketing is to be committed to my daily process without being emotionally attached to my results. I can't always control my daily results, but as long as I follow through with the process, the law of averages will always play out, and my results will take care of themselves."
Wow. "Be committed to my daily process" but not "emotionally attached to my results."
This can be applied to every area of my life. From running my business, to losing the baby weight, to growing spiritually, to raising up my kids to know and love God... I can get so focused (truthfully, worried) about the future result that it often takes over my ability to be committed to the process.