Rough Road Ahead

A few weeks back as we were traveling home from vacation, I saw a road sign stating “Rough Road.” Now, we were in South Carolina so that’s pretty much all of their roads. (Not sorry Palmetto peeps, because your roads are the worst, and that’s saying something from this Nashville gal) As we bumped along a bit I took a mental note of that sign, thinking more about it in response to life than to the physical conditions of the road.

Two years ago today, I was fired from my job with no explanation or reason as to why. Thinking back on some still fresh memories of that day and subsequent days, the road ahead that picture of the “Rough Road” sign came to mind once again. Because I started wondering if we’d appreciate knowing that a rough road was ahead in our lives.

If we could be warned of rough patches on the road of life ahead, would we want to know?

Would it make it any easier to bear? To live through and be on that road, knowing it was coming? I’ll be honest and say that no, it wouldn’t. In fact the knowledge of impending bumpiness makes it harder in many ways. We start to work in our means, (we do that anyways alot of the times) but we try to control the situation, the consequences or the people involved. The warning allows for preparation yes, but preparation on whose part? And what does that prep look like in our lives?

When rough roads approach us in life, do we grip the wheel and just endure it while we are on it, or do we lean in to see if there’s a change of course needed, or if we need to pull off and rest a bit in how we’ve been traveling that road? A rough road gives us the ability to see what’s lying underneath where we’ve been trodding, revealing to us what we are made of and on what/who we are relying. The signal of a rough road gives us false senses of reliance upon ourselves to avoid it or be able to get through it quickly.

Would I have wanted the warning of being fired? I have to say now, two years later, that while a warning of what lies ahead would be nice, I know that in it all I found that I was more trusting of God, not knowing how the road would wind and move, but I had to trust that it would move me more towards Him than anywhere else.

It was a rough road, and one that required healing, provision and trust beyond what I could muster up for myself alone. A rough road ahead doesn’t so much need a warning sign as it does a belief that the rough road is a part of our journey home.

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.

Worry Wart

I think if I could make a profession out of worrying, I’d be the CEO of the business. A Steve Jobs-level mastermind of it and ultimately creating an empire of worrying. Sometimes I keep my worries locked internally, running through so much in my brain that it overloads. Other times I share my worries, most often in the form of “scenarios” or “ideas” to others.

It provides a safe space for me to share, gain feedback all the while never disclosing how I am worrying over something. If I am asking alot of questions about something, nine times out of ten, it’s because I am ruminating on a worry. The last few months it reached a fever pitch with alot of things going on in life.

Last night as I was praying through a certain worry that has taken root again, my mind jumped back to Saturday night. I heard Ellie Holcomb (go buy her album, seriously) admit to being a worrier too. I also heard her say these words, “But you know, I have never worried when I have gone to bed at night whether the sun would come up the next day.”

Gut Check.

Heart Check.

Head Check.

I keep coming back to her words. (and alot more from Saturday night’s event, but that’s for another time…) Last night especially, and then again this morning as I awoke. Why would I worry about the sun coming up? I know the Creator put the world into motion, the sun in the sky and defined Day and Night. So I trust Him with that.

But not the stuff I believe I can control, right? The stuff I think might be too minute or even too complex for the Creator of the universe to handle…The world gets me wrapped up in circumstances. It attempts to define me (and many times succeeds) rather than allowing me to choose to be defined by God.

_5C_22For with God nothing will be impossible_5C_22_0A_0ALuke 1_3A37

In Luke, as Gabriel heralds the coming of Christ to an unsuspecting Mary, he closes the interaction with the words, “For with God nothing is impossible.” She had just found out she would be the one birthing the Savior of the world into life on earth, as both God and man. She did not stumble in her faith, asking for a sign of this wonder. No, she sought to understand by asking “How?”

That’s not worry, that’s unabashed belief. That’s seeking Him in the midst of circumstance. It is evidencing that God is not defined by difficult circumstances. In fact He keeps His promises despite them.

Instead of being the master worrier that I have worn like a badge of honor, it’s time to start giving the Master credit for His faithful and enduring promises, His acts of mercy, His glorious consistency, and unending grace. Maybe it’s time to give Him credit despite my feelings about a situation.

Maybe it’s time to relinquish my belief that something is far beyond His hands.

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)

Change Not Accepted Here

“I cannot change, and I refuse to change you.”

Difficult words to say, but truth all the same. I wish I had the strength to same them at various points in the relationships I have found myself in over the years. Throughout my dating history, at various points, I thought “I can tough this part out cause he’ll change.” In all honesty with you here, you cannot change someone…they have to want to adapt or grow by their own volition.

Oh I have heard the rationalizations of friends, of family…even my own voice. This time it is different, he loves me, I we are the exception. Having lived through various relationships over the years one truth remains…

You will ultimately change and adapt to the other person…not the other way around. You’ll begin making excuses for the behavior or learn to live with the truth that he isn’t interested in faith or that he may on occasion drink too much. You will look around and find after months, or even years, that it wasn’t him who changed but you. You’ll find the convictions you once held close, slipped through your hands simply so you could have a relationship.

Don’t misunderstand me at this point…there will be times of compromise and giving up seeing that movie in lieu of this movie. Relationships involve navigating negotiation and compromise.

The point I am after here is that at the core, our beliefs, values and principles, should not be compromised on in order to stay in a relationship. We, as women, value security over convictions. So much so that months or years down the road we look at ourselves and are unsure of who the person looking back at us is. The relationship should be complementary, not full of compromise.

It took 32 years of life for me to realize this point of change. That I refuse to change who I am at the core in order to be in a relationship with a specific person. I cannot change my convictions and beliefs for a man’s comfort or companionship. Any man that asks you to forego your faith, who questions your beliefs on a Biblical stance, should be reevaluated for his worth in having your time, your affection, and your heart.

Ultimately you have to decide if you can afford to change drastically for this relationship that doesn’t have the promise of tomorrow, or remain steadfast in a faith that has the eternal promises filled with hope. Give me faith, eternity and hope any day.