Failing Well

This week I am rereading a book I blew through several years ago as a book club I participate in is reading it this month. The topic of failure came up and it got my mind to really dwelling on that topic, something I am not too comfortable with if I am honest.  

You see I prefer succeeding, and don’t we all right? Failing at something, whether big or small, can chip away at ourselves. At our reputations. Our egos. Our mattering. Our perceived failures, or outright ones for that matter, should be bringing us in closer to God. To chipping away at the veneer of who we’ve built ourselves to be instead of who He designed and created us to be. 

Here’s the bigger thing, we all are a bunch of failures. (Encouraging right?) 

Paul tells us exactly that in Romans. We have all sinned and fallen immensely short of God’s glory. It’s staggering how big of failures we are when it comes to getting God’s glory. We can never meet His perfect way, and we display that failure every single day. (I really am not writing an uplifting post huh?) 

But God (my favorite two words in the Bible) gave us faith through Jesus Christ, right smack dab in the middle of our failures so we could see that He meets us right there in them. He recognizes we fall short and comes right out after us, just like the prodigal son’s father. And so now we look at failure as a means for grace, for God to display His patience with me, for learning on my part. 

 “It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so that we can swing for the fences again.” (P.28)

Just like the author of the book I am reading, I too am learning that I would rather fail at the stuff that matters than succeed at the stuff that doesn’t.

What’s Wrong With Being Confident?

Do you ever find yourself working over a particular word or idea and then finding it everywhere you turn around? Lately the term “confidence” has been swirling in my mind. The thought of it, the intentionality behind it, where it derives from within us and where I actually place mine.

The more I have given space to confidence, the more I have wrestled with my own. What it is defined by and what it is placed in.

I think over time we find ourselves putting our confidence in alot of things don’t we? The relationship, the friendship, the beliefs we were told, and even in ourselves. We become really good at putting our confidence, this firm trust in everything outside of the one thing we should.

And that’s where I find God.

His steadfast nature. His true and faithful promise. All that He is exactly where my confidence should be. Where I should remain, knowing, trusting, believing.

I look at David’s words, as I stumbled across them, scribbled in the margins of a book I am re-reading as he cried to God in the cave, as Saul sought his life. He cries out in praise of God: “My heart is confident in You, o God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing Your praises” (Psalm 57:7).

Can I say the same? Do the praises I pour out come from a confident heart in Christ? Or do my words betray me? Do my actions and life lived out point to a heart confident only in self, in what I can do and accomplish, in my own merits? Or is it confident in that position, that title I have or want? Is it placing a good and beautiful gift of steadfast faith in something that is bound to perish and fall away? That will never fulfill the expectation that confidence heaps upon it?

I have placed my confidence in many ridiculous things over the years, including myself more times than I’d like to admit. But when I come down to the root of it, to the root of me, I have to be consciously aware and choosing the steadfast faith I have in the God who is forever the same, and not a changing, flitting heart of my own.

So what is wrong with being confident? Not a thing when it’s a confidence that comes straight from Christ Himself, and a confidence that is in Him alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

sarahs!!

So there’s the real case of seasonal affective disorder. Mine typically falls in the summer. Most everyone else I know has it during the winter. But y’all, for a woman with a diagnosed sweating disorder summer is zero fun in the south…ZERO. So summer tends to be on the grumpy side for me in some ways, but alas, there’s not a thing I can do about the seasons except wait it out and look forward to fall.

The same holds true in seasons of life we find ourselves in. I was thinking about it this morning, as I am wrestling with a particular season I am finding myself in. I am attempting to wrestle my way out of them but just like the weather seasons, I am seeing I have to work through them and be patient for the next season of life.

What I am finding out though is that deep sadness about the changes of season are overtaking me, just as they do for those with S.A.D. in relation to the weather. I have wanted to socially withdraw, and have for a large part over the last few months. I have chosen a mindset of hopelessness rather than being filled with hope at the view of the season. And very similar to S.A.D. it is caused most commonly by the lack of Light.

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation-whom should I fear? The Lord is the Stronghold of my life-whom should I dread? (Psalm 27:1, CSB)

 

In the season I am currently in, the lack of Light that I have allowed to affect me has been rather unsettling. It’s led to some old behaviors I thought I had turned from years ago, and much of my former self is starting to seep back in…a self that was about controlling the outcome and future, a self that was reliant only upon itself and not upon God, a self that chose it’s own whims over the priorities of God and the urgings of the Spirit. It’s been a season of quiet in many regards that has left me wondering whether I am alone in this, but finally realizing that I have chosen that for myself…and only for self has that been the choice.

When I reduce the Light I so desperately desire daily in a season, then I become akin to this disorder and the hopelessness that it exudes. Seasons are hard to navigate in life, and some last for far longer than we’d like, much like summer in the South. One thing remains though, the need for the Light in our lives throughout the season, to give hope, to draw us to one another and to fight the lies that we are alone in the heat of it all.

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.

Swipe Right to Friend: A Review

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Y’all, I have to say that I haven’t been very good with the female friendships in my life. I am more prone to male friendships over the years, as the guys I was close with in college can attest (except for Brooke and Angela). I found that women often brought drama and I wanted as far away from it as possible, still do.

As I have gotten older though I have found that I crave female friendships, women to connect with and talk with. There are certain things that frankly I just cannot with men-and honestly, should not. So I dug into Never Unfriended from Lisa-Jo Baker, her newest out from B&H Publishing over the last couple of weeks.

This book? Well I was prepared to think it was another in a line of gushy women-love books for believers. I was prepped to read alot of fluff and not much content, and oft mis-contextualized Scripture thrown in for good measure. But that was not the case y’all.

It chronicles Lisa-Jo’s own walk in female friendships, starting first with what we fear about them. Chapters dig into the realities of life lived outside of a computer/phone screen in real life with women around us. What holds us back from them, and what keeps us talking about them long after they’ve departed.

“For better or worse, female friendships take courage to start and courage to maintain.” (pg. 43)

She walks you through being the new girl, and y’all, we will always be the new girl at some point. And we’ll also be the girl to include the new girl. Always.

As you dig deeper into this book you’ll find sections on what you can do about your friendships and what you cannot do. We have to embrace both, as Lisa-Jo points out. There are points of application in some areas, and points to pray and seek further wisdom on. There were points where I had to put down the book and reflect on friendships I had let go of and ones I had so desperately clung to when I shouldn’t have.

This book is a much needed resource for women today. It highlights key areas I see continuously besieging friendships I am in, and those I am on the fringes of. You may disagree with her on some points, but allow the Holy Spirit to convict you as you read as well, opening up the space you have guarded off due to broken trust and hurt in past relationships. I highly recommend this book for women in a single context. I wouldn’t encourage a group study on this per say, as you need space to solely process and work through some areas she brings up…or maybe that was just me.

At the end you’ll find where you can start on never being unfriended, but you already have if you’ve picked up this book. Lisa-Jo provides more than platitudes with this book, she provides opportunities for women to connect and grow in community in real-life friendships, not the ones we see plaguing our jealous hearts across Instagram and Pinterest.


In exchange for this review, a free copy of the book was provided by the publisher, B&H. You can pick up this book at LifeWay Christian Stores or on their website, as well as other retailers nationwide.

Biopsies, Bandages and Sin

This week I had to have a biopsy done on an area that was of concern to my doctor. I was going in for a routine check-up and to ask about something in particular. This biopsy popped up out of no where once she did her check and it was a little startling. Biopsies are routine obviously as I have chatted with a couple of people about them since then, but let me tell you, I was not prepared for the slicing out of part of myself to then be looked at to determine if it was cancerous.

Nope. Not in the least.

I have a sheet of instructions for the next week or so to care for the area that was sliced, and let me tell you, it still hurts.

As I was re-bandaging the place this morning it got me to thinking about the unrealized areas of ourselves that often need to be sliced and put under a magnifying glass for review. Areas we weren’t expecting to get addressed but are brought to our attention rather suddenly and often hurt to have even a small amount removed for further examination.

We can be deceptively content with the comfort we find ourselves in-settled in the routines of life, only to be jarred with the painful revelation that all is not fine within us, whether it is our attitude, our words, our thoughts, our job, our relationships, our home, our hearts. So quickly it needs to be dug into, magnified and dissected to see if there’s a cancerous piece infecting it. It can be small and unassuming but when sin wiggles it’s way into those areas, it will spread and eat away from within.

So we allow God to reveal the deep down root of the sin in these areas, and then begin to apply healing to them. Slowly and deliberately, taking great care to see the cause of it in our lives and setting about through Him to remove it. Not just the spot, but the deep-seeded root of it. Then we seek out the balm and healing that only He can fully cover us in. It won’t be immediate, there will be waiting and echoes of the pain still there. But there will be lasting healing, there will be a space that once was eating away at us that is now filled with Him, His grace, His love, His forgiveness…with Him alone.

So maybe today we sit with our bandages, from where we have allowed Him to dig out the sin within, where we have examined what was within us and brought it to Him to dispose of. Bandages are not to be embarassments, they are proof of healing, proof of our weakness and inability to do it ourselves. Bandages show we are dependent upon something greater for healing, for restoration, for refuge. We wear them, not in shame but as evidence of His work in us.