Wednesday, June 27, 2012

the problem with being a thinker

I tend to over-think things. I'm sure that statement causes the jaws of those who know me to just drop straight off. Just kidding. I'm painfully aware of the fact that I over-analyze most situations. I'm pretty sure that causes me to try to handle things that I really should be leaving at the feet of Jesus. Therefore, my tendency to over-think is a problem.

I love texting so much because it gives me time to think before responding. Most of the time, I still say the wrong thing. Go me. Super effective system, huh? If I had to guess, I'd say my wrong responses stem from moments of over-thinking. I'm so concerned with how my words are going to affect the person on the other side of the conversation. I don't think being concerned with how my words affect others is a bad thing. The problem is, I'm putting myself in their place and trying to figure out what they're thinking. But they are not me. I am not them. So they won't respond like I would. Do you ever play out conversations in your head before they happen and then get disappointed when they don't happen like you planned? Have you realized that the other person was not present at your little role playing session, so they obviously have no idea what their lines are? It's becoming clear to me that most of my disappointment in other people comes from my having unrealistic expectations. People will disappoint you. We live in a sinful, fallen world. The one constant is God. Everyone else falls short. No matter how perfect a person seems, there will come a time when they will falter and not live up to expectation and they will disappoint you. THIS IS NOT THEIR FAULT! If I have not made someone aware of what I expect from them, they are not responsible for not living up to that expectation. Even if I do make someone aware of my expectations, that doesn't mean they're capable of living up to them.

Sometimes I  Most of the time I  I always create these perfect versions of people in my head. And then I'm audacious enough to blame them for not being the Stepford versions of themselves. How boring would it be if everyone acted like I wanted them to? I haven't created anyone. God has. He's WAY more creative than I am. I can say that I love the little nuances that make people different from each other all day long, but until I start really appreciating those little differences, I'm just blowing hot air.

So. If I have to stop holding people to my crazy, unrealistic standards...what standard do I hold them to? What standard would I want other people to hold me to? The answer (both "Sunday School" and legit...) is Jesus. I would want to be compared to two people: me and Jesus. The marching band I worked with in Tennessee had a mantra that we all lived by. We would always try to make each show better than the one before, and only strive to beat yesterday's band.

Compare me with yesterday's Alicia. Am I better than I was yesterday? Even just a little? Am I more like Jesus than I was last week? I'll try to do the same for you. Only compare you to yesterday's version of you and to Jesus. I can't promise that I'll always be perfect at this. Or that I'll always be better. You won't either. And you know what? That's okay. Because, as Ann Voskamp says, "All is grace." I'm really starting to believe this. And I love what that's doing for my relationships. Thank you, Jesus, for grace in all its forms.

PS... Ann Voskamp has had some of her friends guest blogging at her place this week. Yesterday's post (aside from the fact that I am not a mom or a farmer's wife in Iowa) could've been written from my heart. If you'd like to read it, you can find it here.

PPS... THIS SONG! Yes. Right now. I love it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Anti-Fairy Tale.

Have you ever felt like something wasn't real until you put words to it and wrote it down? That's how I feel about most things. There's an idea I've been wrestling with in my head. I've only vocalized it once, and it was really scary. I don't know if I'm really ready to write it down, but I'm trying it today. So bear with me.

"And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need 
according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:19 (AMP)

Do I really believe this? I'd like to say that I do. But I don't know if I'm living like I believe it. Actually. I know I'm not. There are two huge areas of my life that I've noticed this lately. The most tangible is my finances. I know that God can and will supply all of my needs because He says He will, and because I've experienced His provision before. Over and over again. [Oh, how easy it is for me to say that. Lord, help me to LIVE IT.] So, if I've experienced God's faithfulness before, and I say I believe His Word...why do I still worry about money? When I give something up to God (even though it's already His anyway...), and then continue to worry about it or let it consume my thoughts, haven't I just picked it right back up again? It's like I'm saying "Here, God. I'll let you handle this...but just in case you can't, I'll keep trying to figure it out on my own over here on the side." I must be really dumb. Compared to God, I know nothing. Nothing. But I still like to pretend that I do. That's so much extra work! It would be significantly easier for me to give everything over to God and just rest in His provision. Instead, I fight it. I try to stay in control of something that has never once belonged to me. Why am I so afraid of relinquishing control?

The bigger issue related to my distrust is my singleness. [I tried to find a better way to say that. There wasn't one.] Again, I know that God can take care of me, and He has promised to do just that. I believe Him. The problem occurs when I try to take control. Sometimes I try to take control because I'm lonely. Most of the time, I'm fine being a single. But sometimes it gets awkward when everyone else is pairing off, and I make the total number odd instead of even. In situations like this, it's easier for me to stay home. Yes, this means I miss out on things, and I hate that. But it also means I don't have to risk humiliation or questions. When you're 25 and single, you inspire a lot of questions. Especially at church.Sometimes I try to take control because I'm just tired of answering questions. No, I'm not married. No, I'm not dating anyone. No, I'm not miserable. No, I don't feel like less of a person because I'm not married. Sure, I'd like to get married and have kids one day, but that's not what defines my life. Sometimes I try to take control because somewhere deep down, I still think my life is a fairy tale. This is honestly the one I struggle with the most. Doesn't that seem silly? No, I don't think I'm secretly a princess... Let me try to explain this thought process to you a little better.
I'm good with being single. Really. Yes, it's lonely sometimes, and I hate answering the same questions over and over again, but I don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything by not being married. There is freedom here. There's freedom to go where God sends me without coordinating anyone's life but my own. There's freedom to spend 5 days in Nashville to be involved with my best friend's wedding. There's freedom to visit my sister in New York City. There's freedom to travel and be there for the birth of my friends' future children and my future nieces and nephews. All of these things (and more) could still happen if I was married, but it would certainly be more complicated. There's simplicity in being single. I firmly believe that the Lord will sustain me no matter my situation. Still... there's something in the back of my mind. This, most likely, can be attributed to the Enemy. Doubt. Pride. Selfishness. That's where that little "something" stems from. Let me tell you what it sounds like...
People always tell me they found "Mr. Right" as soon as they stopped looking. So I'm not looking for Mr. Right. Is that because I'm genuinely not concerned with getting married? Or is it because I think as soon as I stop looking, he'll magically appear? (Fairy Tale life...) I can honestly tell you that I don't know what my motive is in not looking for Mr. Right. That scares me. I don't know which one is my answer. Am I not looking because it doesn't bother me? Or am I not looking because I think that's what it takes to actually find him? I don't know. Either way, I can say I'm not looking all day long, but I'm still evaluating every guy I meet. It's like I'm wondering if he'll be the one to "break the spell"...Like I'm under some kind of curse (think Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or Enchanted or The Little Mermaid, etc.). I'm just waiting for "The One" who will break the spell and release me from the curse of singleness. Wouldn't that be sweet.

Here's the thing though...singleness isn't a curse! If being single is God's will for my life, then it's the best gift! Whether it's His will for now or His will for always, I should treat it like a gift because God has given it to me. It's part of His plan for my life. It's part of His grace that has been extended to me in spite of myself and my shortcomings. I should treasure my singleness. I know the Lord will sustain me. In Matthew 6, it says:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matt. 6:25-27, 33-34)

So I can rest in this. God provides for the birds and I am more valuable to Him than the birds. So He will provide for me as well. I know this in my head. It's time for me to believe it and know it in my heart. Just like the father in Mark 9 cries out to the Lord, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Will you join me in praying that we can live out what we say we believe? More than that though, let's be thankful for our current situations because God will use them to shape us into who He designed us to be.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Good day! (do you ever feel like we've lost some of the beauty of our language? i do...)

I've been wrestling with something over the past week or so. I think I'm ready to put words to it. Bear with me.

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
 he will never permit the righteous to be moved."
Psalm 55:22

Okay. First part of this verse...good. "Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you..." Got it. Good. GREAT, even. The Lord will sustain me. Lots of people stop there when referencing this verse. But there's more to it.
Part 2: "...he will never permit the righteous to be moved." Hmmm. Here's where my struggle is. It's great that God won't let the righteous be moved, I righteous? I mean, I'm a good person. I don't do bad things, right? But that doesn't make me righteous. And. Here's the bigger deal. I mess up. A lot. I definitely do not make the righteous choice every time. So what does that mean? Does that mean the Lord will permit me to be moved unless I start acting righteous all the time? What does "being moved" entail? Is it dangerous? Is it painful? Where am I going? Who's doing this moving? Here's the thing. It doesn't matter. I don't have to worry about what happens to those who are not righteous because, through Christ, I have been given the righteousness of God.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, 
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 
2 Corinthians 5:21

I don't have to worry because Jesus IS righteousness. And because He lives in me, my sin is covered. When the Father looks at me, He sees Jesus. So I can rest in Him. I can cast my burden on the Lord and be sustained by Him and trust that He will not permit me to be moved. I can stand steadfast in Him. So I just have to cast my burdens.
The word "cast" means "to throw or hurl; fling". Wow. The psalmist doesn't say "set your burdens gently at the Lord's feet"...he says "cast". THROW your burdens on the Lord. He is ready. He will sustain you. Get those burdens away from you as fast as you can. Don't stand there holding on to something that hurts you, something that keeps you from doing what God has called you to do...THROW YOUR BURDENS on the Lord. Throw them. Hot potato. Get rid of em. And praise God we have the righteousness of Christ!

So let's work on getting rid of our burdens as fast as we can and not picking them back up again. (i'm guilty of that too...I'm like the Indian giver of burdens to the Lord...). I'll be praying for you, and hope you'll be praying for me too. Let's throw our burdens to the ready and waiting Savior and rest in His righteousness.