Monday, October 11, 2010

Time to get real

I don't blog a lot. I always promise I will blog more, and I think of things to write all the time, but truth be told, I'm hesitant to write. When I first started this blog, no one read it, which was perfectly fine with me - it wasn't for them anyway. Then, as I went through my surgery and recovery process, more people started reading. That was great. It then became a place that I could update about my pending move and job change. Well, that's over. So now what?
I don't have an amazing story. I don't have any dramatic or traumatic life events. I have the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart. My daily struggles, my mini triumphs. I have a God I love, a great family, a job I think I'm good at, a long commute, and a dog. That's about it. The words I do have and often desire to write about, I hesitate with because I am not sure I am comfortable with everyone reading or knowing about. Just being honest. I had a twitter conversation with a friend not too long ago about how comfortable it is to share these thoughts and feelings with virtual strangers, but how weird it often feels to know that family and/or some friends might be reading. I think the bottom line is that I am a pretty private person. I think constantly (not exaggerating!) but I don't like to share those thoughts. There can repercussions when someone knows what you are thinking, and what you are feeling. I also do not always like to be asked about stuff. I might want to say something about feeling frustrated, or lonely, or excited, or nervous, but that's just want it is. A statement. Once you put it out there, people know about it, and then the follow up questions start. For some reason that makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I've even pretty much stopped sharing on Facebook, and have considered blocking some people on my Twitter for these same reasons. Weird enough, what I have found is it is different over email or blog comments.
That being said, there are some things I am just going to get over. I want to blog, so dang it, I'm going to. I'll warn you now, some days it might not be pretty. Some days I might contradict myself. And most days it will not be interesting to you. Oh, well. It's my blog, and you have already been warned that I lead a pretty dull life.

So...why not start this off with a bang, huh? Below is an excerpt of an email I wrote to a friend a while back. I think it explains a lot about me. My friend/mentor Carol posted on her Facebook asking for stories of God's faithfullness. Like I said, I don't have any dramatic life stories - no terminal illnesses, no loss of a job, nothing like that at all, so at first I didn't think I had anything to contribute. BUT....God is faithful all the time - not just in the drama, and that thought stayed with me for a couple of weeks. One day over my lunch break (which I rarely take...) I sat down at the computer and just started typing. This is what came out (slightly edited because orginally there was a lot of rambling):

My story of God’s faithfulness is not spectacular like some people’s. I have never had a horrific or tragic incident in my life. I grew up in an incredible Christian home with two parents who are as much in love now as they were when they married 37 years ago. We weren’t wealthy growing up, but we weren’t poor. I have always been loved and provided for. I am blessed. I came to know God at an early age, and have never once doubted his existence or love. As many people, I struggled through my teenage years to determine if my faith was indeed my own or if it was my parents'; come to find out, it was my own, with a little tweaking as I grew into my own person and set of beliefs. I have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and have always had a good job. On the surface I should have no complaints. However, I struggle. Daily I struggle with one thing many people take for granted. Despite my best efforts or best intentions, despite the words of many, I struggle. My constant battle each and every day is to be happy. It sounds so simple, but to me, it is a large ocean I navigate every minute of every day. Some days the ocean is calm and I become confident things will remain that way; other days the ocean is full of large, crashing waves and I fight to keep my head above the water. On the average days, the waves are not as large, but exhausting nonetheless.
When I think about my life, the things I imagine/imagined for myself, and the reality of where I have been and where I am, many things do not match up. I love people – I love to be around people, to help people, to encourage people, and to spend time with people. I have always desired to have close, significant relationships with others – great groups of friends; kindred spirits to walk through life with. I have always longed to be a part of a group. The reality of my life is nothing like this ideal. For many reasons, most of which I do not know or understand, I have always been on the outside. I have never been one of the ‘popular’ kids – at school or youth group, or even as I got older, but I always had friends in every group. However, I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. In college, I know a lot of people. I was instrumental (or rather God was instrumental through me) in introducing many people who became lifelong friends themselves. I watched as friends I knew became part of a group with other friends I knew, but I always felt like I was on the outside. Maybe no one else saw it, but it contributed to my feelings of being lost and alone, and caused a lot of pain. Through my whole life I have trusted God. I have clung to his words and his promises – promises to never leave me or forsake, words spoken over me reminding me that he has a future for me, plans that he has made specifically for ME. I pray for that and cling to it every day – otherwise the waves will take over, I will lose my battle and sink into that huge ocean of depression and despair.
Now you know the ugly truth – the me that I don’t let people see. You see, I am very good at putting up appearances. I don’t ever want to be the trouble maker, the person who calls attention to myself, or the person who pulls attention away from someone who truly needs it. I know there are people all over the world hurting even more than me, so I push my hurts and pains away, ignoring them and trying not to expose them. I desire someone to rescue me from my pain – to throw me a lifeboat if you will, but I don’t want to take someone else’s place in the lifeboat, because they need it more than me.
I put on a good face when I am around others, and I say all the right things at church. But truth be told? Acting this way challenges faith more than I could ever have imagined.
Since I am being honest here, I have thrown myself in to my work. With a lack of significant relationships, my job is the one place I can see tangible evidence that I have been productive and worthwhile. I sometimes work 60 hours a week so that I can feel like I have made an impact somewhere – but truth be told, I don’t even love my job. I want more than anything to be happy, and I fight for it every day. I have overwhelming desires and needs that I think are not being met. I desire and long for love and acceptance.I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will make a good wife and mother – my heart aches and longs for that opportunity, but I’m 31 years old and have't been on a date since high school.
I know my story is not very touchy-feely, and it doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy ending – yet. I am still very much a work in progress. I tell you all of this because I know deep down that the truest testament of God’s faithfulness is living inside of me. I can feel it every day. He has NEVER left me, and I have never felt completely alone – even in my darkest hours (and there have been many), I could feel his presence in my life. When I have put myself in destructive situations, he has saved me. When I put myself in harm’s way, he has reached down and orchestrated my safety. He has a future planned for me, and a destiny far greater than this world could ever promise. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who my God is and what he can do. I don’t know what his plans for me are, but I know that he has them – I have seen the evidence in my life. In the midst of the drowning waves of the ocean, I know He is with me.
So, yeah, there it is. That's me. Those are my thoughts. And some of my actions.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Light Bulbs, Ah-has, and/or Fireworks

I've been reading a lot lately, and I've been thinking a lot lately. You have a lot of time to think when you average two hours in the car a day. I usually listen to sports radio, and lately they have been playing an "I Am Second" commercial featuring clips of Josh Hamilton's video. It is powerful. You can watch it here - I'm warning you, it's powerful. The word that really stands out during the commercial is "Surrender". I've literally heard it three or four times a day for the past month or two. Funny how it sometimes takes you a while to hear something, ya know? But this wouldn't leave me alone. I'd be thinking about something totally different or working on something, and that word would pop into my head.
In most cases, it doesn't take me long to figure something out. I typically look at an issue/problem/challenge, and the solution just hits me. Or so it seems. This time, the word had to work its way into my brain before I fully figured it out. It took me going to the website and watching the whole video. In it, he says:

"You can do with me what you want to do with me, but I Surrender......"

WOW. Light bulb moment. Ah-ha moment. Fireworks going off. What ever you want to call it. For the first time, this Southern-Baptist-raised-church-every-Sunday-and-Wednesday-camp-every-summer girl realized what it truly means to surrender.
And it just keeps coming....
The next night as I was falling asleep, I was in that stage where I was more asleep than awake, but still had conscious thoughts, and something else hits that moment, if someone were to ask me what I desired more than anything in this world, or what my deepest passion is, the answer I would have to give them is "to be a wife and mother".
Whoops. Light bulbs, fireworks, ah-ha - here we go again. (Needless to say, I didn't fall right to sleep at this point!)

Somewhere along the way, I got it all confused. I convinced myself or decided that surrendering meant I "gave my life to Christ" as in, I'm not going to hell when I die. And that if I loved him and said I loved him, it was okay to have other passions and other desires. The thing is, I know better than this. I've always known better than this, it just wasn't 'clicking' with me. So, it's back to square one - although, it's not really square one. I've got a lot more perspective and experience backing me up.

Surrender. Fully Surrender. Do what ever you want with my life, Lord. I fully surrender. I surrender my desires. I surrender my wants. If you desire for me to be single, I will serve you. I surrender. If your desire is not for me to have children. I surrender. If your desire is for me to have the job I have. I surrender. I fully surrender.

For the past few days, I have repeated some songs over and over in my heart -

Clay Crosse's "I Surrender All":
I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I've constructed by
the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand
In the middle of the battle I believe I've finally found
I'll never know the thrill of victory
'til I'm willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I'm laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours
I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything

I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires
That all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all
If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain
So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay
I surrender all the triumph for it's only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise
Everything I am, all I've done, and all I've known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all

Judson W. Van DeVenter's hymn "I Surrender All": (How many Sundays have I sung this song in my life without every fully 'knowing' and owning the words?)
All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

So much more I want to share, but I am very overwhelmed. I want to share about some of the things I have been reading, because I am so amazed at how I am being fed by nontraditional methods. However, I want to take a minute to thank someone, because she said the right thing at the right time. I have been frustrated and discontent for a while, and those feelings were growing stronger every day. To the point where I have been thinking about making huge life changes - although I just made some HUGE life changes! I posted on twitter one day (Sept 20 to be exact) "I'm in a funk. It has lasted three months. Need solutions. Need inspiration. Have motivation. Need direction." Megan replies to me - "Are you doing church? Getting fed?". She might as well have hit me between the eyes with a 2x4...! So, thanks Megan - I owe you one...BIG Time.

It's getting late and I need to leave the office, so I'll wrap this up with the promise of more soon (I finally have wireless internet at home, so I'm on the computer more - finally!).

Until then...the goal - To Love the Lord, MY God, with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind! (Luke 10:27)