TRUTH THURSDAYS 20: VERSUS

I was talking with a friend about hopes and dreams one day and mentioned that I would give up my career in a heartbeat to start a family.  She was beyond surprised.  In fact, she’s not the only one who’s been surprised when I bring this up.  Most people see me as this strong, career-driven individual.  Someone who knows what they want and has a detailed timeline and roadmap to get to the finish line.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  The things that I want – really want – they’re beyond my control.

I want to be a wife and a mother.  If I could be those people today I would.  What I have now however – what God has entrusted to me in this season – is a career.  In particular, a career where I must be strong, tough (but kind), and decisive.  My heart however, longs to be nurturing, loving, tender.  It’s a dilemma I wrestle with often.

“Lord I don’t believe this was your original design for me.”  “When can I stop playing at a career I don’t really want?”  “When do I get the chance to start my own family?”  These questions run around in my head constantly.  Often I try to bargain with God – “if You don’t make this happen soon, I’ll get used to being independent and won’t know how to adjust to living with someone else.”  There’s some truth to that argument.  The more I have to function this way – the tough, strong career woman – the further I feel from the woman I long to be.

But that’s always been the great struggle of my life – honoring the season God has placed me in now while yearning for the season I know He has promised for me in the future.  I’ve used this analogy before and it still seems fitting…at times I feel like I am in a tug of war with myself – only I am also the rope itself – pulling myself apart in 2 different directions.  What do I do when discontent and frustration creep in?  When I know who I could be and yet see nothing of the promise on its way?  I remember who my God is – the God who raises the dead.  Who calls into existence the things that do not yet exist.

“As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.” – Romans 4:17 (AMP)

He can give life to my dead dreams.  Especially since He planted those dreams.  All I have to do is trust Him.  In the face of hopeless circumstances and staggering possibilities, I am reminded…

“Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord” – Genesis 18:14

 

Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

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Of faith.

17 As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.

18 [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be.

19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb.

20 No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God,

21 Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.

-Romans 4: 17-21 (AMP)

I’ve been going through the Ray Stedman devotionals on Romans lately and today’s reading/devotions really blew me away.  Basically he was discussing the topic of faith.  Specifically using the example of Abraham to define what faith actually is, and what the obstacles to faith are.  (Please note, I will be lifting copy directly from his devotionals so if it sounds like I have suddenly become an amazing writer – those are most likely his words and not mine 🙂 )

What is faith?

Verse 17: “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed

The key here is not the AMOUNT of faith you have but rather the OBJECT of your faith, which is, drumroll…God.  Again – the amount of your faith has nothing to do with it – Jesus himself said “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20).  Rather the quality of your faith depends on the object in which that faith has placed its trust.  It’s not about your faith but it is about GOD, in whom your faith is fixed.

So – what kind of God is He?  What is it about God that will allow you to fix your faith in Him?

 Verse 17: “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

He is the God who (1.) gives life to the dead.  He takes things that were once alive & vibrant but have died and become hopeless and brings them to life again.  He also (2.) “speaks of the non-existent things that [He has foretold & promised] as if they [already] existed” (AMP).  He calls into existence things that do not exist.

What are the obstacles to faith? 

1) Hopeless Circumstances – In this particular example the hopeless circumstances are Abraham & Sarah’s barrenness.  They were promised that they would have numerous descendants, and that out of their descendants, the Seed (Christ) would come, He who would make possible the gift of righteousness.  Basically, everything hung on the birth of a baby – to a couple for whom this would be impossible.  So what did Abraham do?  He faced the facts.

Verse 19: “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

Faith is not escapism!  It is NOT about evading facts. 

Verse 18: “[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be” (AMP).

YET, Abraham had hope!  Why?  Even faced with the facts, he remembered he had a God who raises the dead & calls into existence the things that do not exist!  Against all hope, he believed in hope – because of the God in whom his faith was fixed.

Now here is the 2nd obstacle to faith – the one I wasn’t expecting that really blew me away.

2) Staggering Possibilites – the promise given to Abraham, was in itself an obstacle to faith.  Why on earth would God’s promise to him be an obstacle to his faith??

Verse 20: “yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God”

The promise to be an heir of all the world and to have righteousness (undeserved standing with God) was beyond belief.  It was too good to be true – until Abraham remembered what kind of God he had – and so he believed.

How many times do we lose faith because of hopeless circumstances?  What about because of the staggering possibilities?  Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?” (AMP)

I will be the first to admit I’m only human.  I look at my circumstances and sometimes I am overwhelmed and worry overtakes me.  Doubt assails me.  I pray for miracles, I pray for mountains to be moved.  But when God actually gives me fantastic, amazing promises in response to my prayers do I believe?  No.  I look at that promise and pronounce it too good to be true.  I minimize God and trivialize His promise to one my mind can comprehend – a promise I can get behind because it does not require the exercising of my faith.

Ray Stedman talks about this –saying:

“If you have faith like a tiny little grain of mustard seed, but the object of your faith is trustworthy and has promised to do something, then exercise your faith & it will grow.  OBEY.”

Verse 21; “Fully satisfied and assured [persuaded] that God was able and mighty [had the power] to keep His word & to do what He had promised.” (AMP, NIV)

“You will never know when a thing that is dead & dull & lifeless may be touched by the grace of God & brought to life again.  When something that you cannot possibly hope for – something which does not now exist, but which will be called into existence by the God who calls into existence the things that do not exist – when such a thing is promised by a God like this, life is an adventure.”

“Trust against the circumstances that surround us, when we have a promise to oppose against it, the promise & a God who says He will do something & who cannot fail”.

Link to the original article/devotional/sermon transcript here.

TRUTH THURSDAYS 15: FOR YOUR APPROVAL

Growing up I was always the people-pleaser.  My life was dictated by what my parents, family, and friends thought of me.  Hell, my life was dictated by what strangers thought of me.  Do you know what that’s like?  Living life walking on eggshells and watching everything you say or do because you have no idea how it’s going to be received?  How you’re going to be received?  It’s paralyzing.  I was living in a constant state of fear.  “Why did I say that?”  “Was she offended?”  “Do they still like me?”  “What can I do to fix this?”  The result being that I was a quivering mass of insecurities with no clear identity.

I was jealous of people who could just be themselves and not care about the consequences.  People that accepted their flaws and rolled with it.  My best friend in particular was one of those people I was envious of.  She was loud, outgoing, funny, cracked inappropriate jokes at times, and was the life of the party everywhere she went.  I wasn’t jealous of the attention she got – I was jealous of how comfortable she was in her own skin.  I desperately wanted to be that way.

Around 3 years ago I went through group therapy.  During the course of this process I rediscovered myself – identified which parts of my personality were authentic and which parts I had developed to either play the victim or to play the star of the show.  I threw those parts away and focused on being a real, authentic, true person.  I let God redefine who I was.  He showed me the parts of me that I had been suppressing.  And I got really really comfortable in my own skin.

The flip side of that?  I started disappointing people who were used to getting what they wanted out of me.  Because I had no clear identity or personality I had been a chameleon of sorts – giving each person what I thought they wanted to see or hear from me.  All of a sudden I was saying “no, I don’t want to do that, that’s not who I am” and it didn’t go over so well.  But you know what?  Once you get used to letting people down – it just isn’t such a big deal anymore.  I encourage everyone to try it – disappointing people that is.  It’s good for you – you realize you can survive someone thinking poorly of you.  It’s good for them – they realize that no one’s perfect and everyone will let you down at some point.  I’m not saying go out of your way to let people down or hurt them – I’m saying be true to yourself even when others don’t understand.

Obviously, all of that is in context of loving God and loving others.  I don’t want this to sound like an excuse to be a person that doesn’t accept rebuke or correction.  But I definitely think that we should be able to hear correction and go “I’ll pray about that, let me check with God and see if He feels the same way about me as you do”.  Because the truth is, we don’t have to accept everything people say about us.  But we do have to accept ourselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It’s been a while since I cared what people thought of me.  I do have some people in my life that have the power to really hurt me by being disappointed in me.  I am okay with that – being vulnerable and exposed with certain people in my life.  But thank God that I have stopped feeling that way about everyone.  Thank God I have stopped letting the world define me.

A couple of years ago I was the girl that would adapt different personalities to deal with different friends.  I would be lost in groups because I didn’t know how to be 5 different people in one setting.  Today I’m the girl that is herself in any setting.  I won’t apologize for who I am – I can be intimidating, I like to dress well, and I have a sassy strong personality.  I can be flexible and accommodate people – but I’m not going to change myself so others feel more comfortable with me.  I may have a harder time of it because of this but I’m not going to trade the security I’ve found in being who God designed me to just for the desire to feel like I belong.

I’m who I am for God’s approval.  Full stop.

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Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

TRUTH THURSDAYS 19: WITHIN A ROOM SOMEWHERE

I have lived on my own since I was 16, shipped off to the States for my college degree.  That’s nearly 13 years of having my own space, coming home to a quiet 1 bedroom or house.  I am not one of those people that needs alone time – I have too much of it.  I’m constantly alone with my thoughts so what I crave, really crave, is human contact.  Connection.

To that end I’ve become an excellent events organizer.  Movie nights, karaoke sessions, TV marathons…I’m usually the one texting 20 different people and organizing it so we end up having dinner beforehand and coffee after.  I love the fact that I have awesome friends around me and I love that I am usually out for dinner and only home to catch some Law & Order reruns before I turn in for the night.  But one day you wake up and you realize you’re older – I mean OLDER.  The kind of older where the number of people that are free to spontaneously grab dinner with you has dwindled.  People are getting into serious relationships, getting married, having kids.  Responsibilities change.  Careers take off.  If you’re life is not moving at the same frenetic pace…you can feel…a bit lonely.  So you do push your life into that same hurried pace.  You fill up your calendar with activities, hobbies, events.  And suddenly you’re on the opposite side of the problem – you don’t have any time to just BE. 

It isn’t something that I feel too often because I prefer to be in the middle of a bustling storm than to just BE.  Still.  Silent.  Alone with my thoughts.  But SOMETIMES…just sometimes…I do like the occasional “BEING”.  And when I find myself craving that…I take off.  My “room” is my car.  I will drive and drive and drive.  Windows rolled down.  Wind in my hair.  Music pouring through my crappy speakers.  Me singing my guts out.  Sometimes dancing.  Sometimes crying.  Sometimes rapping and headbanging away.  Sometimes all of the above.

I live through music.  My life – I have a mixtape in my head for every event.  Small or large.  Momentous or forgettable.  And I have never been more in touch with myself, with my thoughts, with every emotion running through me – than when I am in my car playing the song that perfectly describes how I feel at that exact moment in time.  Lyrics play a huge part yes, but more often than not a melody can move me to tears.  Or give me goosebumps.  Or warm fuzzies.

I have cried more to songs than I ever have in movies.  Death scenes have a 50-50 chance of moving me to tears but listening to Iron & Wine’s The Trapeze Swinger nearly always has my eyes filling.  Jimmy Eat World’s 23 is still one of the most heartbreaking songs about love I have ever heard.  The Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition causes this weird sense of aliveness to fill my chest.  Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party and Blake Shelton’s Sure be cool if you did give me warm fuzzies.  Joshua Radin’s The Greenest Grass and Glen Hansard’s High Hope leaves me hopeful and somewhat expectant.  Amos Lee’s Colors and Mumford & Son’s The ghosts that we knew makes my heart ache in a bittersweet way.  Switchfoot’s On Fire, Lifehouse’s Breathing and Of Monsters & Men’s King & Lionheart connect me to my God in a way I cannot begin to describe.  I could fill a whole book with the songs that I love – the selection covering bluegrass, folk, country, pop, rock, alternative, r&b, 80s, 70s, praise, indie, rap, etc.

But all this emotion and poetry and sound – the whole reason why I can feel all that in every note, in every lyric – is because I am alone and yet somehow not alone.  I am in my car.  Windows rolled down.  Hand shifting through the breeze.  Speakers blaring.  Somehow making a connection with the world despite the dark, despite the stillness.  So really, even when I’m trying to be alone – I’m really trying not to be.

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Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

TRUTH THURSDAYS 18: PLAN A

Plan A:

  • graduate top of my class
  • become a surgeon
  • make lots of money
  • buy my mom a mansion
  • be married by 25 to a wealthy entrepreneur
  • have 2 kids by 30 and a 3rd one by 32

I have only accomplished ONE of the items listed above.  And at this point it would definitely be impossible to accomplish 2 more items on that list.  Basically my plan has gone to the crapper.

Plan B now looks something like this:

  • build and strengthen the giftings God has given me
  • find a new career and start over at 30, one that glorifies God regardless of my paycheck
  • be married by 30, okay maybe 31 is more realistic lol
  • marry someone strong, capable, and gentle (businessman not required, tattoos appreciated)
  • have 3 kids before 35, raise them in a godly way
  • see God transform my parents lives (with or without a mansion)

My new plan is not so glamorous…but somehow it is more beautiful.  I feel like Plan A is like that first date you have where you are blown away by the fancy restaurant and the sports car and the expensive wine.  But Plan B is that solid, dependable, stable guy that will hold you when you are crying, and be there with you as you push children out of your womb and into the world, and will grow old with you and love every wrinkle and every frown line.  And that’s the guy I want to be with.  That’s the plan I want my life to follow.

 

Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

TRUTH THURSDAYS 14: CAN’T WAIT NO MORE

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I grew up having my whole life mapped out for me.  I clearly remember my mom telling my 7 year old self that one day I would go to university in the States, become a surgeon like my late uncle, and buy her a mansion and a jet ski.  In fact, she used to clip out pictures of the mansion(s) I would buy her.  Not a lot of pressure for a 7 year old.

Well I worshiped my mother, and I’m an obedient kid, so I decided I would roll with this plan.  I did go to university in the States – but I soon realized that I HATED blood and science bored the crap out of me.  Not the best combination if you wanted to get into plastic surgery.  So I tried a bunch of different classes but nothing really interested me.  I ended up changing my major to business because I thought “if I can’t be a surgeon then I suppose being an entrepreneur will be the best bet to getting my mother her mansion.”

The truth was, business bored me to tears as well.  I did have other interests – fashion, writing, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology.  But due to the rigorous training/brainwashing I had gone through in my life I took one look at these subjects that I truly enjoyed and placed them firmly in the “impractical majors” pile.

So here I am, 28 years old and stuck in a job that I don’t really enjoy.  I want to break free and explore what I used to be good at – see if I can make a career of it.  Unfortunately there’s the little matter of surviving to think about – bills to pay, food, housing, clothing – the basics.  If only money wasn’t an option.  If only I could go 4 years without needing to work and just invest in going back to school.  I have all these worries and concerns.  But here’s the thing – I can’t wait anymore.

I’m getting older.  Going to work has become a soul-sucking experience.  I just can’t wait.  I need a change.  I need a MIRACLE.  I need God to step in and say “here – I’m opening doors for you.  This is what I designed you for.  This is the job.  The career.  The calling.  This is what will bring Me the most glory.  Here you go.  This is My gift to you – so you can give back to Me.  For Me.”

Lord, I don’t want to wait anymore.  But if You tell me I need to be patient, that You’ve already set the wheels in motion and all I need to do is sit still and be faithfully present in this season – I will wait.  When I can’t wait, give me grace.  I don’t want to go ahead of You.

 

Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

TRUTH THURSDAYS 13: I HAVE LEARNED

This year I have learned…

  • how to take rebuke & correction
  • how to reject rebuke & correction
  • which friendships I should invest in
  • which friendships i need to let go of
  • how to set boundaries with my family
  • how to say I’m sorry
  • how to be friends with men
  • to love myself
  • to believe I’m beautiful
  • how to act on a date
  • that holding hands with a man is *kilig* *squeal* *dreamy sigh*
  • how to run
  • how not to care about what people think while I am running like a dying sea lion
  • how not to care about what people think. FULL STOP.
  • how to sing my heart out and act a fool – from the heart
  • that I can be an extrovert
  • that I can speak my mind
  • to forgive and let things go without talking it to death
  • how to do quiet time
  • the importance of quiet time
  • to love God more
  • to make no excuses for being a sassy woman of God
  • that God loves me more than I could ever learn to love Him

Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.