A Can’t Do Attitude

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This week y’all, it’s been a doozy. While it may not compare to others’ weeks and what some are currently working through, it’s been a week of coming to bear out some things I have been wrestling with for a good long stint.

One of those being the mindset I have clung to that I can do it all myself. For a while I was claiming Philippians 4:13 in the midst of my doing, and fretting, and frustrations. Oh yes, I CAN do all things was what I would tell myself. My word did I misuse that verse to do things in vain and in my own way.

This week I went in to a couple of coworkers and said “I have to admit defeat and ask for help on some of these responsibilities.” To which one of them lovingly looked at me and said “It’s not defeat to ask for help, and we’ve been waiting for you to ask.” So y’all, I was wearing my weariness, anxiety, stress and CAN DO-ness out there for all to see. And it was not pretty…believe me I see it.

But from then on, I felt lightness as if a burden had been lifted from my back that I didn’t have to trudge along with. Over the last 24 hours I have thought about that and my attitude of “I can do this, and this and this and this.” I realized that I had made it a “had to” attitude instead of a “can but will ask for help” attitude. I made it the mandate to do it all, no one else did.

You see when I go back into Philippians 4 and point to verse 13 that I can do all of this through Him who strengthens me, I found that I hadn’t really looked for strength in Him first of all. Secondly, when I read the verses surrounding it in context I see that others were sharing in Paul’s distress, they were seeking to care for him in the state he was currently in and they had not had the opportunity to do so.

In my striving of can do-ness on my own, I wasn’t allowing others the opportunity to live out their God-given care for me. I was pursuing my own definition of success through a “have to” attitude that I had put upon myself instead of stepping into His strength, putting on humility and leaning into the beautiful community of care from those around me. Pursuing the right things with the wrong attitude will get us to the same spot as pursuing the wrong things.

I had to realize that I cannot do it all and I have to relinquish that sinful mindset. I can ask for help, I can be weak and seek strength that can only come from Him, and I can understand that it’s an opportunity for others to come along in my journey as well. It’s in fact not about me at all, and the more I realize that the more I’ll see it’s all about Him.

He can do and He does.

That Year in Birmingham

In a couple of weeks I’ll be headed to Birmingham for an event. At one time, just after college, I called Birmingham home for a year. I have been back once, for a little over 24 hours, in those 13 years since I packed up a that Uhaul trailer with my dad and grandfather and booked it back to Tennessee.

In planning my trip back down, I couldn’t help but recall the first time I went to B’ham as a freshly-educated college grad knowing I had a job in baseball. One week in I was crumpled on the floor of my kitchen telling my sister it was a mistake to be there. That I had somehow made a terrible decision, living five hours from anyone I knew, and I wasn’t possibly going to be able to make it in this city that didn’t offer me much.

Part of me cringes at that memory because of the emotion of it all, remembering how bleak my outlook was and how incredibly alone I felt in that city. The other part of me rejoices though, because I am 13 years wiser from it. God drew me there, whether I wanted to recognize it or not, for a purpose and a reason. He led me there, to get me right here. He did some significant work in me over that year that I can only see in hindsight, and allowed me to work out who I was in some difficult moments.

Throughout my time in B’ham I made some poor decisions, I will own that entirely. My way, my will and my attitude won out on several occasions but I am also able to see how I needed to work out that in an environment where it was me dealing with Him without distraction or other voices bringing solace. Being there allowed me to see where He was not leading me and I was taking my own path and my own way. It brought me back to Him in a way which if I had remained in Knoxville I would not have seen nor chosen.

In so much hurt and grief we cannot possibly see how it’s for our good while we are in it. We cannot see how being alone in place, a place we don’t like and the circumstances aren’t how we would craft them could bring anything remotely resembling His good for us out of it all.

But it does.

It did for me. I am pretty sure it will for you too, if we let go of our expectation of the situation, our will and our way and accept the work God is doing without knowing what it is. The end result isn’t the point, it is what you are going through that’s refining you and making you who God intends you to be in His image, as His reflection and not your own.

The whole process, in the circumstance, in the location, in the job, in the relationship…all of that is the point. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of distance of years or miles to see it. To see how one of the worst and hardest times of your life was also one of the best parts of your relationship in Christ, with God through the Holy Spirit.

But we have to allow it. We have to accept it. We have to be willing to go through it, even in the ugly, even in the lonely, even in the longevity of it all. It’s never about us. It’s about the work He’s doing, we just have to receive it.

Unmet Expectations

Back in February I wrote on quitting expectations, and over the last few weeks I have continued to have conversations about that same topic with different people. The most recent happened in the last two days with someone who is having a rough season of life.

When you are younger, you have these dreams of where you will be at 25, 30, 40 and so on. Then as you grow into adulthood, you find those dreams tend to morph into an expectation in your heart. To be at this goal, to have this, to be in that, to have that title. For many, including myself, I think the expectation underlying it all is to have life figured out at a certain point. I laugh when people think college graduates should have themselves completely figured out, the future planned entirely, and a mate to share it with upon the day they graduate.

For some that might be a reality, but in most cases it is far from it.

Somewhere in the dialogue yesterday, as unmet expectations of life at this point unrolled themselves, I found a different thought train leaving the station of my mind. All of these dreams, that changed to expectations, ultimately became idols of my life whether I realized it or not. When I compare them to the Biblical standard of expectations, I realize just how unholy (and ultimately unworthy) they are for my life. The expectations that God says are good and true for my life look vastly different than the ones I have crafted.

  • The Expectancy of His Command-Psalm 119:131
  • The Expectancy of His Reward Awaiting Us in Heaven- Colossians 1:4-6
  • The Expectancy of Eternal Life with Him- 1 Peter 1:2-4
  • The Expectancy of His Return- 1 John 3:2-4

I have to say, my expectations look like rags compared to this. They look cheap and meaningless when compared with eternity. Are expectations bad? I don’t necessarily think so. But I do think when they are set up as idols, when they are what we look to in order to measure the goodness of our life instead of Christ, they are bastardized for our own good. We naturally gravitate to the things which will bring us comfort, that we define on our own terms. We do the same for our expectations…we want them in our plotted way, on our terms, in our timing.

God wants nothing but good for me. Sometimes that looks like wildly unmet expectations that I have held too close to for security, as a measuring stick of my life. While I am no where near where I want to be in this, in releasing every single expectation I have crafted for myself, I am seeing now that it is a work that God is doing in me to allow me to see it first, and then to tear down the strongholds they have on my life, and in relation to God.