Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Insecure Sower

I had a conversation with someone the other day that launched me into this crazy train of thought. This person is unbelievably awesome, but insecurity has infiltrated the way that they live and see themselves. Now I could say that this person used to be me (and it was) and you all would be like "Whoa, crazy writing technique where she described someone else and was like psych it's her." But, that's not exactly where I'm going, so calm down. This was an actually different person then me and you know, I bet some of you are reading this and are saying that it applies to you, or your best friend, or your parents, or your sibling, or whatever. I think it's safe to say that we all know someone who struggles with insecurity.

I was praying for this person and The Parable of the Sower popped into my head, so I read it. But, this time I read it from my old perspective. My old perspective of self-doubt, relational validation, and radical insecurity. Now the parable can be found in Matthew 13, and Mark 4, and Luke 8, yes it's popular. If you don't know it I definitely encourage you to read it, but essentially it's about a farmer who is sowing seeds in his garden and it describes the fate of the seeds in different environments: the path, rocky places, thorns, and good soil. Jesus uses it for a metaphor of how people in this world will react to the Gospel message. It's a beautiful message, full of hard truth. But you see I used to read it like this (putting myself in as the farmer sowing the seed, spreading the Gospel). When the seed fell on the path and the birds ate it, I would say, "how stupid! I threw the seed too far (I tried too hard to get these people to convert) and now look what I've done. How pathetic am I?" When the seed fell on the rocky places I would say, "how lazy! I didn't take the time to lift each one of these stones and make a good soil patch (devoted more time and efforts to these people's problems) for these seeds to grow. How selfish am I?" When the seed fell among the thorns I would say, "Where was I to protect them from all these thorns (hardships in life). What a terrible person am I?" And when the seeds fell on the good soil and took root I wouldn't even notice because I was so fixed on my failure OR I would take it as my "month fix" of the good-Christian high until it all faded and I felt like crap about myself all over again.

It doesn't have to be that extreme though. Think about it, how many times have we beat ourselves over the head because we tried too hard and we turned people away, or simply didn't care enough about other people's problems (Christian or not), or didn't protect people from feeling/going through terrible things and now we feel responsible for their pain or their emotions? How many times have we said, look what I've done! And then felt guilt, shame, and self-loathing or even pride and self-righteousness for the success or happiness that they feel.

Notice how Jesus explains the parable. He doesn't say, "See, the reason these people suffered and rejected me was because of that incompetent, selfish, lazy believer who was spreading my message of love and wholeness all wrong!" He says to the disciples that this WORLD is full of affliction and trials (sometimes even caused by our belief in the Word) and the influence of the evil one. He explains how these things get in the way for these seeds, that they are robbed by the world, not our actions or lack of action. We are not responsible for other's change! Contrary to popular belief, we do not control other's emotions, either good or bad! We can influence them for sure, but ultimately it is a choice on the person's part to feel a certain way. And the way that someone changes is based off of a relationship between them and their Father, their God. It is a unique relationship for THEM, just as YOU have a unique relationship with YOUR Father. So often we place our identity in where the seed fell and how people reacted. Did they reject you? Did they accept you? Have you failed in your ultimate purpose and thus failed as a person, or have you succeeded? It is so circumstantial, an identity placed on others. It is risky; it is hard; it is impossible to have a security in who we are, based off of other people, no matter how awesome they are. I am not saying, don't pour out and care about others. Please don't take that away. I am saying pour out and care about others because you know how poured into and cared about by God you are. Love others because you know you are loved. Be selfless because you know how valuable you are and you don't need to drag that question into every scenario in your life. Be selfless because you can, because everything in your life does not center around finding your own happiness; because you don't need to be seen by others, because you are ALREADY SEEN by God. That is why we should care for other people. That is how we can become selfless.

Imagine what it would be like to have your identity placed in the Gospel message that you are spreading, on the God that you are working for. Imagine what it would be like for someone to be having a crappy day and you don't immediately jump to what you did wrong to make them feel that way. Imagine the freedom you would have to love others and not have to think about yourself in it! Imagine the way that you would get to spread God's love - through sincerity and joy, not out of obligation or a necessity to feel like a good person or to have God maybe love the wretched person that you think you are. GOD LOVES YOU NO MATTER WHAT YOUR ACTIONS ARE. He loves you right now as you are - struggling through that sin, being that much of a mess. He loves you. Just sit in that. NO, don't do anything. Let it sit with you. Let it sink in. Let it infiltrate your brain and your heart. Hear it from God himself. My friend. My family. Don't let insecurity rob you of the FULL life that God has in store for you. Don't let it rob you of the Woman or Man that God is making you into. Don't let it rob you of the journey He takes you on; don't let it rob you of joy. Because it is a genius ploy of the enemies. But it doesn't have to be. "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." - 1 John 4:4.

Monday, September 22, 2014


It will create you or destroy you.

The stillness will be either stifling or freeing. It will evoke potential or regret. It will be the calm before the storm or the disaster there after. We choose in the stillness who we will become. We choose our guide, our voice of reason, our God or gods. We choose where we go no further. We choose to cut the rope, or tighten the noose. We choose between fear or courage. 

In the stillness our foundation is laid. Every noise, every movement, every detail is noticed. Every thought, every belief is important. In the stillness we let go or we tense up. In the stillness we run or we fall.

The art has been lost in our world of adrenaline and success. The talent of non-movement, of standing still, has been written off as something of the past when there were no video games, internet, or glowing TV screens. 

As a generation we pound our chests and proclaim: We are efficient, we are productive, we are driven, we are success.                             Well, we are sinking.

We are sinking in our ideals of identity and happiness. We believe that we can control our insecurity and beliefs through sheer force of will. We look to our own hands as the key to a full life and we grow grace-less in our works.

If we avoid the stillness - we avoid decision, purpose, true adventure, and true courage. If we avoid the stillness, we neither tense nor relax, run nor fall, fulfill potential nor regret lost potential. If we avoid stillness, then we successfully avoid risk. And without risk we feel no pain, we feel no love. We are safe in our metal box, filled with nothing worth protecting. If we avoid the stillness, we become our fears swaying in the winds of insecurity and uncertainty.

But, it is not until you stare down the empty road that you begin the journey.

There is a voice, waiting to be heard in the stillness, calling each one of us. Sit, don't move, let the panic settle and subside and know who you are. For when you stand again, it will be with new life.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Rich Life

I am a newbie Coloradan - fresh from the Indiana farmland by two weeks - and have been in the process of searching for a church. Well, I've taken up a terrible habit of sleeping in until like 10am every day because I only have class on Tuesday and Thursday. Needless to say, my morning Sunday habits have become entirely void these past couple weeks. Ergo, criteria for a church = offers a night service. =] There are two churches here who do that. One of them meets at 6pm and the other at 5:30pm. Last week, I went to the 6pm one, and it was great. So, of course, I decided to go back to it this week. I packed all my homework for after church shenanigans (#lifeofagradstudent) and left the house relatively early, for me. I walked into the church at 5pm in extreme confidence that I was right on time. False, the doors were locked and people looked at me like a crazy for even trying to get in. Regardless they let me in and I walked straight to the coffee providing counter (another plus for this church) grabbed coffee and then realized I AM AN HOUR EARLY!!! So, I walked out the other door because who are we kidding I'm not standing around in a church lobby for an hour! I got in the car and spontaneously decided to try out this other 5:30pm church. So I drove over to a different church with ANOTHER church's coffee in my car. That was when extreme coffee guilt settled in and I took action. I guzzled the whole coffee while sitting in the comfort of my judge-free zone car and walked in real casual like.

I tell you what, I have a strong belief that God led me through those doors that day, using my absolute disastrous attention to time. I sat in this church service as the pastor slammed us with the absolute awe that comes with the GLORY of God. The Glory that we get to respond to through worship, right? So we had a great time of worship and I had this moment when I stopped singing and listened to the body of believers sing with all of their hearts to a Glorious God and I couldn't help but goose bumps. After church, I decided to go to the top of this mountain to watch the sunset and took off racing the sunset all the way to the top. I got to this parking lot, looking over a small lake with the full moon already gleaming and the gradient of orange, pink, green, light blue, and dark blue alive in the sky. The foreground was the town I have already grown to love, Fort Collins, and the background was another mountain range where the sun rays pierced the sky. I rolled down my windows and walked to the waters edge as Fix My Eyes by Kings Kaleidoscope blared from my car. I stood, captivated. A stupid grin plastered on my face as I spun in a slow circle taking in the absolute beauty that was around me.

I've known that feeling a few times before in my life. In the times when all of my best friends are in one room or when a particular song has left me dumb-struck. The times when I have stood atop a mountain or in the middle of a forest or on a surfboard in the ocean or in a wide open meadow. It is a moment when time stands still and my heart is soaked in joy. That for me is worship. It is when I am so intentionally present that I can see God's timeline meet mine and it catches my breath and makes my heart swell. It is a second, or an hour, or a day where I believe that everything that God says about me is true; that He is doing something special in my live right now and I can see it. When I know that God is fulfilling a desire of my heart in that moment. It is when God gives me a glimpse of how good, how glorious, and how beautiful He is and it leaves me feeling saturated and alive. It is a gift. A gift that allows me to forgive, to survive heart ache, and to be sacrificial with my life; yet, in that process I feel more satisfied then ever before, more whole, more loved, more pursued...

You know what, it is a rich life we get to live and I for one love living it.