Posts Tagged With: purpose

Acceptance Starts With Self

lovethyself_1 At times as a child, I could be a liar.

In 2nd grade a fellow classmate got braces. Everyone thought they were cool, probably just because they were different and no one else our age had braces yet, so they seemed to make her more ‘grown-up.’ So I told everyone I was getting braces too. They started asking me every day where my braces were, eventually figuring out I was lying. But no, no, I insisted I was going to be cool just like the other girl.

In 3rd grade I copied an excerpt from my book obsession, “Lassie.” I wrote it out by hand and brought it to my teacher and told her I found it in my grandmother’s journal from under her old bed. I said my parents wouldn’t let me bring the old journal in because it was delicate and falling apart so I had to copy it to that piece of paper. My teacher read to the class all about my grandma’s desires for a real sheep farm someday.

In 4th grade my parents took me to The American Girl Place in downtown Chicago. One of the perks offered for little American Girl doll lovers was being able to get your picture on the cover of an American Girl magazine. It wasn’t a real issue that people would find in their mailboxes, but it was a real magazine that you could hold in your hand and take home with you as a keepsake. I brought it to school and kept it in my desk and showed half my classmates. I was a model.

In 5th grade I started a journal of funny stories about my cat, Whiskers, and her adventures. I showed my teacher. When my cat wasn’t doing anything very interesting, I made stuff up. It was important to me that I contribute this little dose of humor to my teacher’s life. I thought it would make her like me more.

In 6th grade I decided I wanted a sister, so I told one of my friends that my parents were adopting one for me.

In 7th grade I wore an ear wrap around the cartilage of my left ear, and insisted it was a piercing. I didn’t even have my ears pierced at all. And I felt like I was lacking somehow because I didn’t have any holes in my body.

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I guess the point is, I never thought I was good enough. No matter how much I had, no matter how much my parents gave me or did for me… No matter who I was, or what my cat did… I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t interesting enough, fun enough, pretty enough. I fully believed I couldn’t just be accepted for who I was, so I had to take control of how others’ perceived me by painting whatever picture I thought they wanted to see.

Fortunately, the process of growing up, and the help of a little  a lot of therapy, I discovered that the flaws were not in me, but in my thinking. I discovered I was wrong. I didn’t need to change the truth because the truth was enough. I was enough.

Somewhere along the line, the world feeds us the lie that we aren’t good enough and we eat it up like a delicious afternoon snack. The percentage of people we meet each day who don’t feel like they are “enough” in one way or another is alarming. We’re not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, strong enough, successful enough, talented enough, etc.

In this constant drive, we never appreciate the moment we are in now. We never embrace who we really are. The competition isn’t between us and someone else, it’s between who we are today and who we were yesterday. We are called to take what we have and do the best we can with it, to strive to better ourselves each day, and through that, inevitably leave a positive impact on those around us. That’s all we can ever do. Do the best with what we are given. And that is enough.

I’ve come across some people that still do what I did in grammar school, even as grown adults. For one, it saddens me. For two, it shows me that this isn’t always just some phase one will eventually grow out of. Sometimes it’s more about insecurity and a lack of self-acceptance. People don’t magically know that they were made exactly the way they are for a reason, because that’s not what the world tells us. The world tries to tell us what we are supposed to be, what we should be. But this is what God says:

Psalm 139:13–16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

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So the whole point of this, is to tell you, in case no one ever has, that you were made for a reason and with a purpose. Your life may not look like someone else’s but you have a purpose all your own, even if you haven’t found it yet. You are beautiful, and you are loved beyond measure. The Creator of the universe, the One who placed the stars in the sky and can count every grain of sand on the beaches, knows every hair on your head and He calls YOU by name.

Categories: Self-Improvement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I asked for a hawk, He gave me a turkey vulture

In my process of writing recently the question arose, “do I really want to write a memoir and expose myself bare to the world? Do I really want everyone to have access to some of these things from my past, some things in my life that I’m not proud of, mistakes, my lowest moments?”

I’ve thought of this at times before, and my response has always remained that it’s not about me it’s about God. That I can’t worry about what people will think of me, or what I have to offer through writing a book…. it’s more about what God can do through my story, what God has done in my life. It’s His story, not mine. He’s the author of my life, and I’ve prayed for him to be the real author of any book I write.

If I really believe the whole meaning of life is about our relationship with God, pointing to Him, and furthering His Kingdom, then I have an obligation to shout from the rooftops the level of redemption He has lifted me to and the depths from which He rescued me, despite the future haters or negative criticism I may receive. If I’m just honest about my journey, then anyone who discovers the intricacies and the details of the darkness, and thinks poorly of me for it, then it will be their regret, not mine. All I can do is pray that if I am able to get my memoir published, that He uses it for good, and forbids evil from twisting its purpose. If it sells 5 copies, and is a total fail, but one of those 5 is a life altered and given a renewed sense of hope, then it will all be worth it.

This is what I believe, and yet the other day I still asked God for confirmation. It’s been on my heart for 8 years to write a book, a dream that was always lingering in the background and never went away, one I always felt purpose in. And yet I asked again, “God, is this what I’m supposed to do? I just don’t want to regret, some day down the line, exposing private details about myself. I want to know for sure that You are supporting me here.”

I told God that despite my beliefs about this all along that maybe if He just gave me an undeniable sign, then I can dispel any sliver of questioning the unknown, and not have to wonder. I was in my car driving through wooded area headed to the interstate on my way to work. My mind slipped back a few years ago for a split second, where I thought about a moment in which God used a large bird of prey to send me a clear message. I never knew what it was, a hawk, a falcon, an osprey or eagle…. all I knew was that it was massive and symbolized hope and freedom to me, and in that moment, His presence.

“God, just give me a hawk. Let a big ole hawk fly right in front of my windshield and then I’ll know for sure.”

I should have known better. There’s a reason we can’t tell the future. God made us in a way where we must walk through life on faith rather than sight, and I should’ve known it wouldn’t be so easy to get an answer just because I asked nicely. Yet, I rounded the next curve, my little prayer barely having escaped my lips, and there was a gigantic bird eating roadkill on the edge of the road. I thought, there’s no way.

Living out in the woods, it’s not out of the ordinary to see a hawk or other bird of prey. My boyfriend sees them often in the morning headed to work as they sit on a power line overlooking a farmer’s field, watching for breakfast to show itself. But I have rarely seen a bird this big. Maybe I just haven’t been very observant and haven’t seen them when they were within view, or having grown up in Chicago, my eyes aren’t trained to identify them.

I thought, okay, I have to know what this thing is. It’s got to be a scavenger because it’s on the side of the road eating a carcass, but not knowing where to start, I googled “red headed hawk” and the very first picture that popped up was exactly the bird I saw. Except it wasn’t a hawk. It was a turkey vulture.

Now, if the Creator of the universe really wanted to answer my prayer and give me a hawk, he would have just done so. It’s not like, a turkey vulture was the best he could find on short notice. So me being the type of person that finds meaning in everything, this is what I came to…

A turkey vulture is actually bigger than a hawk. Metaphor: God will give me more than I can think to ask for or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

But, even though it’s bigger, it’s also gross. It’s a disgusting bird that eats dead rotting things on the side of the road. It’s part of the clean-up crew. And upon a closer look, it’s head is extremely ugly.

But until I looked more into what this bird was and found a close up picture of it on google, I didn’t see it as this gross ugly thing, rather upon watching it spread it’s wings at the approach of my car, it was sort of intimidating and breathtaking. My first thought was it had a fierce, wild sort of beauty.

Maybe that’s the point too, that’s how God sees brokenness. He looks at our broken parts, our ugliness, our disgusting habits, and yet He still sees beauty and strength.

He still sees something worthy. Something redeemable.

Maybe God was answering me after all. He knows I’d have much more fun finding metaphors and meaning for a turkey vulture, then if He had just given me the hawk to begin with.

Maybe it doesn’t matter what the world sees when they look at the turkey vulture, only what He sees. Just like with each of us.

Categories: Spirituality and Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Help Me Find It

 

This song by Sidewalk Prophets has been stuck in my head for days. It has a catchy tune, but also powerful lyrics that speak a prayer held in many of our hearts. “If there’s a road I should walk help me find it, if I need to be still give me peace for the moment.”

None of us have a crystal ball or can see the future. Though many of us often wish we could. Humans throughout history have searched for the meaning of life and questioned our purpose on Earth. I don’t think that answer is one we can ever fully understand, but there is a simple response. We are here to seek God, to reside in his presence, to grow and learn and evolve, and to spread his Kingdom and bring glory to him.

Of course it doesn’t always work out this way because of a tricky little thing called free will that we all have and a tendency to want to make our own choices.

What we often forget, is that letting go and deferring to God’s will and God’s plan will actually make us a heck of a lot happier, and bring us much more joy and blessings than we could ever achieve on our own.

Learning to come to the well and rest, let go of our anxieties, and have a little faith…. is the key to a peaceful life. And when I say peaceful, I do not mean easy. Life will never be easy. Jesus warned us that it would never be easy. But there is an inner peace, in the midst of utter chaos and stresses, that comes from the Spirit alone.

I once heard, “fear is faith in the devil.” I like that. We have what many call “healthy fear” but I think of that more as knowledge, and wisdom. To not be reckless, and to understand when things are going to hurt you…that’s being wise, not afraid.

If we have faith “the size of a mustard seed” we could tell a mountain to move from here to there and it will move. Faith, allows us to walk on water, to part the sea. The same power within Peter and Moses is within each of us: The Holy Spirit.

I admire that kind of faith, that kind of peace… and I’m not there yet. I pray I get there someday.

Lord, your way has always brought me farther than my way. My way brings struggle and stress, and your way brings freedom and peace. If there’s a road I should walk help me find it, if I need to be still give me peace for the moment.

 

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follow up on Meaning(less)

I realize how tired and dreary my last post sounded. I haven’t written much for several months now, …just a period here words wouldn’t come when I sat down to type. In general, it’s easier for someone to write from pain than anything else I think. But I want to add to what I had said…

Pain is universal. Sometimes illogically. It is necessary, for without pain there could not truly be joy. We all have a yearning deep inside that the world can’t fill, whether we are aware of it or not, placed there by our Creator as a reminder of who we are, what we were made for, and where our home truly is.

I am very vibrant emotionally and tend to feel things intensely. The beauty is, that it comes on both sides of the spectrum. Life isn’t easy, but it is a beautiful and worthwhile ride. I am grateful for this life, and I am grateful that this life isn’t all there is.

Our lives are immensely meaningful and utterly meaningless. Simultaneously. Let me explain…

Every person who ever lived on Earth is interconnected in a spiderweb spanning farther than we can imagine. Every action has a reaction. One decision creates ripples that affect multitudes of others. One smile can change a person’s entire day. One nasty comment or hurtful word can haunt someone their entire life. Our lives-everything we say and do-are immensely meaningful.

We come through life as a vapor in the wind, a grain of sand held next to eternity. Everything material in this world, all of what most of us go through life striving to attain, will fade. Status, titles, money, shoes, clothes, our earthly bodies… it will all fade to dust. It all is utterly meaningless.

Unless…

We walk through life motivated by faith, hope, and above all else, love. THAT is where meaning lies.

If we seek promotion based on making the best of talents God blessed us with …meaningful. If it is because we want to be better than everyone else …meaningless.  If we get plastic surgery or implants out of vanity, because we can’t accept our body or love ourselves for who we are …meaningless. If we exercise and eat healthfully, and want to look our best, because we want to take care of the one body God blessed us with, and treat it as the temple of the Holy Spirit that we are told it is …meaningful.

It is our choices, our intentions, our attitude in this life that matters.

Essentially it is all up to us…

meaningful or meaningless.

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Full of temporary highs

I’ve been in this weird funk lately. I’m just not okay. I feel like a robot going through the motions of this life, wondering if this is all there is to it or if there actually is more? Is there more than every temporary high while on this earth? On one hand some argue that we were never promised good in this lifetime. But on the other hand, you can also argue that, while we were told to expect trials and tribulations, Jesus did come for us to have an abundant life here too. Not just in heaven.

I don’t know what I believe on that issue anymore. I want to believe that Jesus came for us to have abundant life NOW, but then I just don’t have anything left in me to get my hopes up about things, or to expect anything good. I can’t believe how pessimistic and cynical I’ve become. It doesn’t feel very good. But then again, being on an emotional rollercoaster of the endless cycle of hope and disappointment doesn’t feel all that good either. And I got to the point where I literally don’t think I can handle that ride anymore. So intead, I’m robotically walking through my days, praying for the strength to take each step in this mundane, petty life.

I honestly don’t know how people make it without Jesus. People who don’t believe in God, atheists, how do they make it? This world is full of misery and pain and if you have no hope in anything MORE, how do you survive? How do you get up each day? I’m in awe. I do have Jesus and sometimes I go through valleys such as this where I still don’t see the point.

In “The Redeemer” by Sanctus Real, they sing, “I’m still a dreamer, a believer, oh I’ve lost my faith in so many things, but I still believe in You.” How true this is. I am still a dreamer. But it’s a dream beyond this mortal lifetime. And I’ve lost my faith in everything BUT Him. I know God is good. I know He is with me. I hold tight to His promise that one day He will make all things right. People may be made in His image, but I don’t have any faith left in us. In anyone. I don’t have any faith in our economy, politicians, nature….

I feel like a robot.

One step at a time.

My weary heart stays alive hoping that Jesus is using me for something, for glory to His Kingdom beyond what my physical eyes can see.

I’m just going through the motions until the day I can see Him face to face. The only thing, the only One, I have any belief in anymore.

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