I Want to Be Radical

That’s right, I want to be radical.  Have you watched Darren Wilson’s films?  If you haven’t, see them.  They are amazing and life-changing.  But what I want to say is, someone said that the people in Darren’s films are “radical.”  I want to be like that.

I’ve said in my About change that I’m “sold out” to the Holy Spirit, meaning that I want Him to lead my life.  No one else.  Period.  That’s why I quit my job.  I felt God leading me away from accounting and it was a big “put up or shut up” moment.  I might even go so far as to say it was radical.  But that’s how I want to live my life.  I want to live from one of those moments to the next.

I can’t really think how my life could have gotten more boring as it was.  Now I finally feel excited to be doing things.  I get up expectant for what He has for me.  I do have a few tentative plans but nothing major.  And that’s just fine with me.  Here’s to being radical.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.  ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

Rebel With(Out?)…Whatever

This summer has been hard.  I’ve been really listless and bored.  I just haven’t wanted to do anything or go anywhere.  Some of it is the oppressive heat but a lot of it is me.  I’m a home body.  I’m not a very social person.  I just prefer to stay home and watch Netflix or read.  I know I need to get out more.  I just haven’t had a lot of opportunities.

A recent sermon about mentors really hit me hard.  Our pastor said to be living a Biblical life we need to be making disciples.  We need to be mentoring someone and someone should be mentoring us.  And I bristled a bit at that.  Mentoring takes two.  It takes someone investing time and love into you.  That’s a little beyond my control.  I can’t just ask someone to do that for me.  It made me realize the lack of people in my life.  So I started praying about it.

Last Saturday we had a women’s one-day conference at the church.  At the end they announced that a woman who had just moved to the area was opening her house to women who wanted to connect.  It was answered prayer.  A small group met at her house the other night for fellowship and I didn’t have any anxiety about it.  Usually, as soon as I sign up for something, I immediately regret it.  It’s easier to just stay home and do my thing but I really felt like I needed this.  And so did the other women there.

Our church is pushing these kinds of groups in homes because that’s the Biblical church.  People connecting outside of church and becoming family.  It is sorely needed.  Our church has over a thousand people attending every Sunday and we come and go like ghosts.  We want to connect with each other in a real way.

I’ve finally reached the point where I’m fed up with being a ghost.  I need more people in my life.  I have my family and my church fellowship group which are great, but I need more.  I’m rebelling against myself.  I’m rebelling against the urge to stay where I’m comfortable.   My 30th birthday is coming up and I have actual plans for a celebration.  That never happens.  I went from having nothing to do to having a pretty full social calendar this fall.

I don’t know if taking myself on makes me a rebel with or without a cause but I do know it’s time and that God is faithful.

It’s Not About Them

Why am I different?  Why do I always have to be the odd man out?  Why am I on a different path from everybody else?

Of course why is irrelevant.  I’ve already talked about that. But I seem to always end up on a different road.  And sometimes that’s uncomfortable.

It’s so much easier to be seen doing the things God calls you to do.  When your calling matches up with what church folks expect, it’s pretty easy.  You get to talk about it and share it with the people around you.  You don’t get funny looks or the “What are you doing for God?” kind of questions.  It’s so much harder when you’re the one God called to abide.  Harder when you’re called to a solitary activity.

I’ve been hearing a lot of noise around me lately.  Noise about what everybody’s calling is and what they’re doing.  My church preaches relationship and obedience to God.  No matter what that looks like.  And yet when you know you’re being obedient, people still expect you to be something else.  In my church lately it’s been all about creating extended family through home group fellowship and study, becoming a prayer servant who prays for healing, and hearing the Father’s voice and giving prophecy to others.  These are all great things and I’m so happy that there are so many people participating and building family and reaching out to the community.  It’s awesome.  But I do not feel called to any of that at this time.  In fact, the Father has been quiet lately.  And that’s okay.

That’s okay.

And yet, I have all this static around me saying that it’s not “acceptable,” not good enough.  Everybody’s got all these stories, experiences, words, and they feel they have to share every one of them.  And me?  I don’t have anything to share because what God has for me right now is intensely private and quite frankly, no one’s business.  What right does anyone have to tell me that’s not good enough?

I feel like obedience is being lost in a sea of goals.  Life isn’t a video game.  Gifts of the Spirit are not levels to be beaten.  Your growth should never be measured against anyone else’s journey.  You are where the Father wants you.  Turn your eyes to Him, not to your friends or the church leadership.  Don’t join something just because your friends think you should.  Don’t do something just because the leaders preach it from the pulpit.  It may not be for you at this time.  And if that makes you different, then so be it.

Make obedience your goal.  It’s about Him.  It’s not about them.

“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”  Luke 11:28 (NIV)

Deep Water

Back in December a friend of mine suggested that the members of our church group ask the Lord to give us words for the coming year.  Mine were growth and friendship.

Now, I knew better than to try to predict what the year was going to look like based on two words.  But I admit I thought it would look something like God calling me to serve somewhere in the church and I would build deeper relationships with my friends at group.  My dog died in March so I thought maybe that was a sign God was going to send me somewhere. Or send me someone.  I wouldn’t have any strings.  I could go anywhere and do anything.

After seven months of 2016, I feel more isolated and alone than I think I ever have.  I feel distant from my group.  I don’t feel any call to serve at the church.  I haven’t been on a date in over a year and I feel really rejected.  All I want to do is read and write and sleep.  I’m moody, snappish, fatigued.

And somehow, I feel like I’m exactly where I should be.  When I read, I feel like me.  When I write, I feel like I’m moving forward.

I can feel myself changing.  It’s almost like gears and cogs moving around inside me, making me into something new.  It’s very hard to describe.  It’s like I’m becoming a hybrid of my hard, surly teen self and the much more loving and compassionate twenty something self.

I know I’ve been chosen for a different path.  I’ve always been different from everybody else.  I’m getting better at appreciating that.  He’s leading me somewhere.  I know it.  I just can’t see it.

This is deep water.  This is where a lot of Christians fear to go.  It’s much easier to go to church and visit God than to bring Him home with you.

But this is where you find out who you are.  When it’s hard and uncomfortable and you can’t see any point in it.  When the water is over your head and you have nothing but Jesus’s hand pulling you up and Him saying “Oh, ye of little faith.”  This is where you let Him pull you out.

This is where you walk on the water.

I’m That Girl

I’m that girl in class who never raised her hand.

I’m that girl who was never invited to the party.

I’m that girl who didn’t get drunk with you.

I’m that girl in the photos from the Maymester.

I’m that girl in the sorority you never really knew.

I’m that girl you didn’t call to catch up.

I’m that girl you didn’t think was good enough.

I’m that girl who solved the problems.

I’m that girl who always gets it done.

I’m that girl who used to go to your church.

I’m that girl you passed over on EHarmony.

I’m that girl you went on one date with.

I’m that girl who’s only funny if you’re drunk.

I’m that girl who takes the punch.

I’m that girl who gets back up.

I’m that girl who listened to you.

I’m that girl who forgave you.

I’m that girl who still prays for you.

I’m that girl who has Faith.

I’m that girl who Hopes.

I’m that girl who Loves.

Because the greatest of these is Love.

Yeah, I’m that girl.

The Problem of Why

About three months ago, my dog died.  She was only six years old.  She got sick, she was in pain, and she had to be put down.  I only wrote about Patti on this blog once, about how it took me a long time to really love her.  She was stubborn, frustrating, difficult.  I struggled to train her and worked really hard.  I had to improvise a lot.  You couldn’t follow the rules of the training methods with her.  Patti made her own rules.

I started calling her my “little lesson in acceptance.”  I wanted a Westie because they’re adorable.  I really wasn’t prepared for her energy and her strong will.  She wasn’t a lap dog and wouldn’t sleep in the bed.  She always wanted to be in the middle of whatever was going on.  She wasn’t the dog I hoped she would be but I grew to love her and accept her for who she was, a loud, high-spirited, loving, sweet, adorable, playful terrier.  Despite her anxiety and refusal to be groomed, we had a good time together.  She would “tap” your leg when she wanted something and growl at you when she wanted to play.  We spent long afternoons sitting on the swing outside and evenings throwing the ball around the living room.

Her death hit me hard, a lot harder than I expected.  It was the middle of tax season so I had to get on with the work, get on with life, but I cried nearly every day.  There were holes all through my life where she used to be.  The dining chair no longer sits under the window in the living room so she can see out.  Her blanket isn’t on the left seat of the couch.  Her bowl isn’t in the kitchen.  And I was angry.  I asked God, Why?  Why take my dog?  She was still so young.  It wasn’t her time.  The Bible says you’re good, how is this good?  How is this grief, this hole in my life, this pain, good?

He didn’t answer why.  After a few weeks, on my Saturday morning drive to work, He simply said, “It’s My will.”  You see, He is the sovereign God of the universe.  When we sign up to walk with Him, we sign up to play by His rules.  And we don’t get an explanation.  We are called to walk by faith, not by sight.  I don’t see why as a question anymore.  I see it as a problem.  Every time I ask why He does something, I’m lacking faith.  I have to cut “why” out of my vocabulary.  Because the why doesn’t matter.  What matters is that He is good.

Do I still cry for Patti?  Yes.  Does it still hurt?  Yes.  Is He still good?  Yes.  Patti taught me a lot about dog ownership and myself.  Her death taught me about faith.  It taught me that even when the storm is raging and the pain is so bad that it’s like the world is ending, I still know God is good.  Because three years ago I chose to pick up my cross and follow Him.  Where He wants me I will go, no matter what it costs.

When the God who made the universe said, “It’s My will,” I said, “Okay.”

Yourself or Someone Like You

Recently, one of my co-workers suffered a stroke and because of her other health problems she cannot come back to work. In fact, her doctors have said she’s lucky to be alive. While it’s sad to lose her (she’s a great lady), I’m happy they decided to hire a new person to fill her position. I fretted and bit my nails over who they would choose. We really need another person to do taxes, not just the bookkeeping work our former co-worker was doing. I wasn’t hopeful given management’s track record of late, but they surprised me by hiring… me.

She’s not exactly like me but close enough. She’s around 30, unmarried, has experience doing this kind of work, and most importantly, does individual taxes. That’s exactly what we need. I’m working on training her and I see a lot of myself there. She went to grad school and got the Masters and is still trying to decide if she wants to get the CPA. I decided against all that early on but we have a lot in common. She’s responsible, detail-oriented, hard-working, kind, and respectful. She’s struggled through her twenties, having jobs pulled out from under her. I’ve struggled on one job. Boy, have I struggled. We may not have the same experiences but we agree that she needs the training now. It’s only six weeks to tax season. She wants to know what she’s responsible for and how to do it and I’m trying to make that happen. Management has responded positively to my efforts and I see that trend continuing. I’ve proven over the last year and a half that I’m attempting to improve things for everyone, not just myself. And that seems to be appreciated.

A year ago we were in dire straits. I was sending up desperate prayers that these issues would get resolved, that someone would pay attention, that people would stop fighting me when I was trying to help them. It looks like those prayers have been answered. This time next year could be even better.

There are many things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving but the biggest is this job. There have been a lot of days when it didn’t seem worth it and I wanted to just quit and go somewhere else. It has taken six long, hard-fought years but I finally feel like it’ll be okay. I’ve built a career here and I’ve earned respect. I was even able to clone myself. Now, that’s something to be thankful for.