Wrestling with Rest

Do you ever pray for rest and then when it comes despise it?

No? Just me then?

For a few years I felt the overwhelming sense of busy and hurried in my life. It felt like I was sprinting for an entire marathon, and my entire being was just slap out of energy. I felt drained, emptied out fully in every part of my life. It as so bad that my emotions couldn’t be kept in check on anything and I was at a point of no longer caring if they were in check. I poured out to God that I just needed rest, I needed the breath that could only come in Him. I needed carrying and I needed the quiet of Him.

What I didn’t bargain for was an equal amount of wrestling with having rest over a particular season. The resting season He gave me and that I have found myself in for longer than I had drawn up, was turning into a bit of a wrestling match with Jesus. That I was done with the rest, the seeming quiet and the landscape that felt more like a desert than a dream.

We plead for rest and then when it’s given to us, it’s not how we expected it to be. We start wondering if God’s forgotten us, we doubt He has any good in this time for us, we question whether He is even with us in the quiet, the seeming silence of life. And so we start doing, start filling life with busy again because we have become people who cannot be still and know. We can’t revel in the rest He gives us, that He beckons us to with Him. We would rather carry the burdens than take on His yoke of of easy, His burden that is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Learning about rest in Him means that I am not in control, and let’s be honest, I never have been, but I like to lie to myself that I do have control. Learning from Him in a time of rest means I am taking on a gentle and humble heart, just as He spoke in Matthew, one that doesn’t continue in the fretting, one that knows that I am the star nor am I in any control. What we find in rest is waiting. A silent waiting where security, our security, isn’t dependent upon us but fully in Him.

Rest isn’t thrashing about, pointing fingers and accusing God of leaving us. It’s joy and gladness in being with Him in the waiting, in the giving of this time He has graciously bestowed. It is the very words of David that we can see as rest, what we are capable of in rest instead of wrestling with Him.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will You let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. “

Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)

It takes learning to be in rest with Him, and not wrestling with the feelings of abandonment or aloneness. It takes choosing to rest firmly and securely in Him rather than attempts at a hostile takeover of my life. It means waiting in silence instead of lobbing doubts of His character at Him. The irony is that we were built to rest, and yet when He gives it to us we wrestle so hard against it because the world tells us we shouldn’t be waiting, shouldn’t be silent, shouldn’t be still. But stillness is where we know that He is God…where He is our security…where are filled with joy….where we are in His Presence.

No Filter Friday

So the last few weeks huh? Lots of stuff going on in America, amiright?

If I am honest, I have had my own stuff going on too…travels, sickness, and the like. Topping it off, I had a great little giveaway last Friday that apparently went awry while I was away from technology for a few days. Not sure if it was issues from my iPad posting or what, but the comments never got loaded so I couldn’t do the giveaway.

So comment below and I’ll pick from those to win a NEEDTOBREATHE copy of Hard Love. 

While I am finally pulling out of the mire of the last few weeks of life in my section of the world, I am finding I need to shake off the dust on the bottom of my sandals. It’s collected and caked up, making me feel gritty and worn rather than how I desired to feel.

Maybe it’s that Thanksgiving is just next week, or that the Christmas season always brings joy, or that I am jamming out to the Hamilton mixtape as I write today…but the dust has to come off. This joy I desire isn’t something I can conjure, I have to trust. I have to choose it. I have to see it in One and not in others or things. Those fade, those don’t last. He does.

So even though there’s no filter on this Friday, and no one’s really been using one for a while now when it comes to airing things in the world, I think I want to unfilter my joy, my choice to shake the dust off and dig back in to the One who is the source of it all.

How are you choosing to see joy in life these days? How are you spreading the joy of the One in Whom all joy is found?

Maybe not. 

I applied for the job. I interviewed and felt really great about it. I had the balance of experience and education, along with willingness to learn and grow in the position. I honestly felt like I was the perfect candidate. But several weeks later, after an enthusiastic email to check how the committee was doing on the search I got the pat email from the lead. They’d gone another direction and hired from within. 

Ouch. 

And I wondered why I had even gone through all that to be disappointed and let down. I felt like God had specifically been leading me to this position, and that this was exactly what He had been working on me for. I wasn’t crushed but I certainly felt like God and I were on different tracks. 

I have friends talk about their job disappointment, loneliness, hard situations where they’ve felt like God has left them or forgotten them, or that it’s a sort of punishment. While I don’t think God punishes (only disciplines) His children, we sometimes a lot of times juxtapose our feelings and desires upon God’s will. I’ve even been in these same situations of hurt, loneliness, forgottenness and toxic jobs asking God why He’s left me. 

Recently I was thinking and praying for a friend’s situation, and their heart, when I found that maybe I’ve had this all wrong. Maybe in this God isn’t wishing I’d pray more about changing the situation, but that I’d listen and change my own heart perspective. That my focus inward had allowed me to be consumed with my will and way to fix it instead of waiting, listening and being open to His direction. 

“Look as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My Hand…” Jeremiah 18:6(b)

You see I’m the clay, He’s the potter. I don’t get to tell Him what to make me into….I can try but I’ll be left a messy heap on the wheel. He’ll continue to work me over with His hands and I’ll be a stubborn clay needing more water added as I grow dry. The potter isn’t so concerned with how the clay wants to be worked as He is the need He knows for it and it’s usage. 

I may think this job isn’t what I am supposed to be doing, but He’s got a plan to use me in it for His time and His good. I may see this place I’m in, whether physical location or mental state as not what I can be best used in and He knows the plan for His kingdom is being worked out in me days, weeks, months down the road right there. 

Maybe He’s called me to walk loneliness, hurt, exile or a difficult job out with Him. To bear out His image in those instances, those hard days and weeks, simply so that it brings another into the fold, it advances His kingdom and His will. Maybe it’s about letting the potter decide the use of the clay over and over again, and being formed into His image for His work and not what I think is His work. Maybe it’s about drawing in close to Him and not to my own feelings and will. 

Maybe it really is all about Him and not about me at all. 

#SingleAwarenessDay

snow-heart

This weekend is Valentine’s Day. For many singles I know this is a hard time, a reminder of the singleness and loneliness that are often coupled together. As I type this, I too am single this go-round of February 14th. While I shared a little over on Single Roots this week about approaching the Hallmark holiday, I thought I’d deep dive into my thoughts a bit more here.

Here’s the thing y’all, as I don’t want to sugar coat this. It has taken many years of singleness on this blasted holiday to realize something, just because my marital status says single it most assuredly does not mean I am alone.

I know many who bemoan this holiday and have had some ask me about how to navigate it better, or even addressing their singleness at all in such a way that it’s not all they dwell upon. I can’t say I haven’t been there, or that I won’t be there again, because it has taken 34 years of life for me to get to this wisdom of singleness isn’t the banner determining my life, nor my happiness. Some days it utterly just bites that I am single-like today, when I am sick and would love some cough syrup, or on gorgeous days when I want to take someone hiking with me. I found out that when I let that sink in and latch ahold of my heart though I get focused in on the “lack thereof” in my life rather than the overflowing abundance of it.

Singleness isn’t a definition of my life, or some box to place me in. It shouldn’t be yours either. Because it is not a synonym for alone. Yes I am single, no I am not alone. My life is filled, and more than I deserve, with family, friends and people whom I haven’t met yet that just pour so much into me. They are my story, just as God designed my life to be as it is at this moment, He is working through them to fill my life with so much good that I am never alone.

There are times when loneliness likes to lie to me and tell me that I am alone based simply upon a situation or lack of significant other. But let me tell you, all my others are significant in my life-from the Sara(h)s I share weekly prayer and wisdom texts with, to the sweet friend who sent me a card and gift this week, to my parents who still send me Valentine’s, to the coworkers who make me laugh uncontrollably at the most ridiculous situations, and the friends I get to g-chat with weekly.

For a time I dwelt in the loneliness based upon geography and lack of person in my life, but I found that I was choosing to see the people in my life as than significant, less than loved in my life. I was telling myself (and ultimately them as well) that they  just weren’t enough for me, and even so far as telling God He wasn’t working good out for me by not giving me a boyfriend/spouse.

Ugh, it’s hard to admit that but it’s true. If I can’t be truthful about my own struggles in it, why should I tell you all how to handle it?

So I felt it was timely that Shauna Niequist (hey girlcrush) would share this thought today: “You are significant with or without a significant other.” So true, and something I think we all need to hear and pull into close today and this weekend. We are significant, no matter our marital status. We are significant to one another and to God Himself. Just as you are significant, so are others in your orbit. Acknowledge that goodness He has brought you this weekend (and even beyond y’all).

If you hear it no where else, you matter to me. You took time to read and be a part of this community I am trying to grow out of obedience. Thank you. You matter. You are significant. You are loved.

wading in joy

So if you follow me over on IG then you saw my photo late yesterday afternoon. The last two days have been a bit rough around these parts, with presentations crashing to a busted water heater to server switches and grocery bags falling apart in the parking lot.

Yes, all the things in under a 24 hours happened. To me.

Currently I am watching $1200 worth of pipes and a brand spankin’ new water heater get installed into my home. (insert nervous laughter and increased stress) There have been some tense moments, tears of frustration and worried speech. As the grocery bag broke yesterday I just started laughing.

You see, God and I have been having some amazing times together over the last month. Just good stuff, centered on Him and not me, and a whole lot of getting to know Him more and how He is pushing stuff through my life. I have seen blessing after blessing flow out from Him in the form of friends, work, and even writing.

So the reason I am laughing still, staring at this bill, is because my heart started to worry. It started to question and become frantic over this situation, and then I remembered.  I remembered how He’s provided before, over and over. He has blessed and given in such huge ways, and such small ways, that I can only laugh. Because I feel like the devil saw an “in” with me in these situations, reminding me of the old me who would freak out and get wound up so tightly that I was lashing out on others. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact this time last year, where I would be a bundle of nerves and frustration.

Is the situation ideal? Absolutely not.

But what it is a reminder, a physical manifestation, that I get to lean into Him and be dependent upon Him in everything. That in all circumstances, I get to count it all joy.

My brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

That verse right there used to rub me the wrong way constantly, until I took time to really look at it in the midst of a circumstance, that I get to choose joy in it. I get to count it that way instead of in the frustration column. Out of it comes patience, perfected work in me in fact, if I but choose to be joyous in it, choose to be in Him and not in my self.

Now I may not be joyous at the bill for this new water heater, I am joyful that I get to see this as an opportunity to enjoy the moment, to be with Him in the midst and see this as a perfecting work of patience in my life.

Because my joy, my peace, every bit of it? It’s found in Him and not in me. That’s a choice worth making today, and every day.

Attitude to Gratitude

There are two things I have control over: my attitude and my expectations.

For longer than I care to acknowledge I think both have been far off course. I would inch further from what I had known-grounded expectations and a softening attitude until I really  no longer recognized myself. I let the misery of others sway my life because I chose to keep company with them.

It took some quiet reflection recently for me to note how much I was feeling like the me I was four plus years ago-mentally well and spiritually seeking more. For the first time in a very long time I didn’t feel a weightiness to my life eventhough I would have reason to be.

Choosing my attitude and letting go of expectations has been a big part of that for me as I have learned humility and joy-things I must choose each and every day.

Joy allows me to celebrate the small in each day as I look to count 1000 gifts and get my heart in a place of gratitude instead of the ingratitude it so deeply embodied. Joy allows me to find contentment not in a title or a salary but in what God is doing in me and Who He is to me. Never more have Paul’s words been so true in my life than they have on this journey I am grateful to be on currently.

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

You are fresh and new, like warm laundry out of the dryer. Yes, that’s how I see you…full of warmth and goodness. Your predecessor had a rough time with me, we didn’t mesh all that well and it was evident from the outset. Try as I might, we really just never got on with one another. I was happy to part ways just 30+ hours ago.

But you, oh you 2016 I am happy to greet you-with smiles, high-fives, hugs and cheer. I welcomed you with loving arms to embrace fully and completely. No more will the years be marked with dates of the past but with stones of the present.

For you 2016 I tried to set expectations, assumptions made on what you would be like before I even knew you. Aren’t we like that though as humans? We make judgements, crafting our own expectations in a way to control the outcomes, others. You are different though. You exploded with joy and gratitude in my life already. You are bright and you are big. You are also in the small, in the comforts and in the quiet.

For you 2016 I wanted to gift a renewed spirit, but I think instead I am finding a complete different one within me. One that has long since gone forgotten, ignored and flat-out disrespected. You don’t want that refurbished me, no you want a new creation in me. One that holds excitement, joy and gratitude. One that isn’t defined by what isn’t, but by all that simply is. No one likes a regifted item, so why would you want me with all those resolutions and failed fixes?

For you are worthy of more 2016…but no expectations or assumptions are attached. You just simply are present and here. I won’t try to make you into something you are not, nor attempt to mold you into something of my own desires. Nope, you simply are what you are for the next 364 days. I welcome that and you. And yes, as you can see I still have the tree from Christmas up today when so many others have come down. But I am not rushing this year…I am taking time to relish in the beauty and simplicity of time. The quiet of presence and awareness is what is drawing me to leave it up just a few more hours. To be still and know…

You are new 2016 and it is my sincere desire to relish you each and every day fully present and aware, a heart full of gratitude and joy. I will fail on days-probably more often than not, but I know there’s always a new day just around the corner awaiting me with delight. You have gifted me 366 days this year, an extra to enjoy fully and presently. I will savor each of them for what they are-gifts. Here’s to not binding you up for storage but giving you away each and every day.

With unending gratefulness and joy,

S2