This is going to be a post about nothing, but I really wanted to write today. Mostly, because classes are starting up again soon, and I won’t have much time for writing anymore . . . for fun that is. It’s okay, life won’t always be like this, and that’s a good thing. But it got me to thinking about how in life it seems like we’re always waiting for the perfect conditions. For this, that, or the other to happen. We think if we only have this, we’ll be happy, or if our circumstances changed to this, life would be good.
I think what I’m learning in life is that you don’t have to be in a certain situation to have happiness, you don’t have to have so many cars, a big house, the right kind of job. In other words, you don’t have to have it all together to be happy.
In fact, happiness in and of itself is an elusive thing. That’s because I think there is something even better than happiness waiting for us out there. It’s called joy. In the past, I never really got joy. What does it mean to be joyful after all? It’s such an abstract word. But joy, real joy when you have it, when you experience it, well there’s nothing abstract about that.
It’s something, too, that can’t be taken away. Situations in life change, my family knows that all too well. In fact, everything can be taken away. Job security, loved ones, even your own health. None if it lasts forever, but joy is so much better than all of it. It goes so much deeper. It’s like a seed planted deep in the ground, growing and stretching and putting down roots so that no matter the changes that life brings, it thrives.
When I was younger, I was afraid of so much. Afraid of failure, of loss, of pain, of sickness and of losing those I love. But I’m learning that fear isn’t of God. And I can’t explain how I came to this place, this place of no longer being afraid. It’s a remarkable feeling, really, and it stems from joy and peace. His peace—the kind the world can’t give. The kind the world can’t take away.
Proverbs 31 was always a place in the Bible that I turned to when I thought about what kind of woman I wanted to be. One of my favorite verses in there, is verse 25:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs with no fear of the future.”
Laughs with no fear of the future. I can honestly say I’m there. Don’t ask me how or why. I chalk it up to God, a God whose perfect love drives out all fear.
I hope you know that fear is not of God. Faith is. Hope is. Joy is. Rest in his perfect love for you and know that you don’t have to be afraid of anything anymore. God’s peace and joy be yours in abundance. ‘Til next time.
“Grace mercy and peace from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
These were the words the pastor at the church I grew up in uttered at the beginning of every sermon, every Sunday, for as far back as I can remember. Even as a young child, I admired the phrase. There was something so comforting and familiar about the words. It was like an utterance of God’s love reaching out to me. It wasn’t a benediction, but rather an invitation to sit back and soak in that love. The dust dancing through the sunshine mesmerized me as I settled into the creaky pew ready to hear the message that would encourage, inspire and, hopefully, remind me of how much I was loved.
But though I appreciated the words, I’m not sure that as a child I truly understood their significance, or even their meaning. In fact, until I stumbled upon them again the other day, I really hadn’t given much thought to the phrase, grace, mercy and peace. In the past, I thought of that phrase as a sort of holy greeting—a religious hello you might say, but nothing more.
But the neat thing about God’s word is that it’s always teaching us, always training us, always leading us into new knowledge. So, the other day, when I read these words in 2nd Timothy, I gained a new understanding and appreciation for the phrase: grace, mercy and peace.
To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2nd Timothy 1:2 )
In two days, I will begin not one, not two, but three master’s level courses. To say that I am a bit worried would be an understatement. In a summer session, the content of a semester is crammed into six short weeks and, for me, that intensity will be multiplied times three.
While I’m not sure how it’s going to go, here’s what I do know. God’s grace is there for me. He’s going to be there to help me through the difficult days ahead. His mercy will be there, even when I mess up or feel I haven’t done something well. And maybe, most importantly, his peace is there for me.
You see, I don’t think God wants me to be a nervous wreck over this situation. I don’t think he wants me to be afraid. I think he very much so wants me to trust him and rest in his perfect peace.
Grace, mercy and peace. That’s what God has to offer us each and every day of our lives. Grace for the difficult moments, mercy for when we’ve screwed up, peace to guard our hearts and minds and keep us focused on the truth—the truth that we are deeply and dearly loved and that nothing can every separate us from that love. (Romans 8:38)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what God was teaching me about stress, What God's Teaching Me About Being Stressed Out. That was when I was preparing a big project for the class I was taking. I think I’ll take a cue from those days and remember that stressing out is not of God. Trust is. Faith is. May you remember that as well in the days ahead. No matter what you’re facing, may God’s grace, mercy and peace be yours in abundance. Amen.
I have been struggling again as of late, with depression. It sucks. I am tired of taking medication. I am sick of being bipolar, and I wish I could have someone else’s life right now. Can you tell I am having a pity party these days?
For those of you who don’t know my story, here it is. When I was thirty-one years old, I was diagnosed bipolar. It’s not something I’m ashamed of. It’s a truth that I am proud to share, and I hope it will give you pause to realize mental health is not about mental weaknesses, or lack of character or even about mental disorders. Mental health is about medical health, it’s a disorder of the human body and as such it deserves a post from me this week.
Being bipolar is not something I focus on a lot these days. I admit life is good for me. I don’t struggle often with debilitating depression or spend my days in the grips of mania. No, for me these days it’s pretty smooth sailing, a fact that I am grateful for every day.
But life hasn’t always been that way for me. There were many years that were an absolute nightmare. Really, a living nightmare. I was suicidal. I struggled with debilitating anxiety. I had many a sleepless, manic night. For me, life was one long endless day of agony. I could barely function.
But people didn’t know that about me. I was good at hiding my misery behind endless smiles and “I’m good,” responses to the “How are you’s,” we ask of each other.
I was dying inside, but no one knew it. I don’t know why I didn’t share. I think I was embarrassed and more than a little bit ashamed of my condition. If people saw what was going inside of me, I was pretty sure they would lock me up.
In fact, one afternoon while visiting a friend in the hospital, I stopped on the wrong floor and realized that I was on the psychiatric unit. A sense of shame and embarrassment filled me. This was me, though no one knew. I was crazy and that understanding filled me with shame.
Shame. Embarrassment. Fear. Loathing for myself. These were the emotions that filled my thoughts and feelings about myself every day. And so I suffered on and on in silence.
People have asked me why I’m so up front about my diagnosis. It’s because I’m not ashamed any more. I’m not embarrassed, and I don’t loathe myself. I am healthy. I am on medication that works for me, and I love life.
I don’t want one person to have to suffer silently like I did those many long years. You can recover. You can lead a healthy and productive life. Stop trying to hide behind those fake smiles and “I’m all rights.” Most importantly remember, there is hope. There is always hope. So, reach out and get the help you need and stop living life in the shadows. Step into the light of the truth that being mentally ill is not your fault and let that truth set you, your mind and your heart free forever.
Last week, I diligently sat at my computer eyes straining, neck craned, shoulders tense and fingers poised over my keyboard. In short, I was stressed out. See, I had this big project due for my master’s class and it just wasn’t coming very easily. My words weren’t making sense to me, the research articles I’d found didn’t really fit in with the points I was trying to make. And worst of all, I was running out of time. So, as I sat there in my pool of misery and wretchedness, I felt a sense of overwhelming overwhelmingness. Have you ever felt that way? Completely overwhelmed. Stressed out. Wondering how on earth the thing before you is ever going to get done?
Well, as I sat before my computer, I felt a gentle nudge from God, or maybe it was just a craving for sweets, either way, in my heart—not my head, mind you, because my head never wants to listen to God—but in my heart, I felt this nudge of, 'Okay, Nici, take a break. Walk away, come back to it in a bit. Gain some perspective.'
So, what did I do? I shouted for my kids, “Who wants to go for frozen yogurt?” and my kids who would normally ignore me every other time, miraculously appeared at the top of the steps, smiles on their faces and eagerly nodded their assent that yes, they wanted to go out for yogurt. For a fleeting moment as we got in the car, I was tempted to let the guilt monster take over, but then I thought, 'Why not? It can’t hurt to try it this way, maybe I would feel better if I just took a break.'
Later that day, I even posted a picture on Facebook joking about my choice to go out for frozen yogurt when I had a big project due. But you know what, I’m not so sure that in that moment of complete and utter stressing out, I didn’t do the exact right thing.
Why? Because I came back to my computer, ready to try again. I took a deep breath and dove right in. And I did my best. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t, in my mind’s eye, a masterpiece, but it was good. Good enough to get me full points. Full points.
Does it pay to stress out? Does it make things better? Easier? No. In a simple word no. At least it never has worked for me. And I bet if you think about it, you’d agree that, really in the end, it doesn’t do anything for you either.
Don’t stress out. Take a break. Take a breather. Let God get hold of your heart and calm you down. Let God get hold of your brain and slow down your racing thoughts. He’s got this. And in his grace, it really will turn out okay. It always does when we leave it in his hands and stop trying to hoard it in our own.
I’m just going to put this out there. I have gained some weight. Admittedly, not a huge amount but enough that I notice the extra lumps and bumps, the less give in my pants, the tighter fit around my derriere. It’s the kind of weight that leaves me wearing sweat pants more frequently than I ought.
So yea, it hasn’t been a lot of fun. Actually, it’s been kind of depressing. And when I’m depressed, I go into my not so favorite mode: self-loathing.
Wikipedia describes self-loathing this way: Self-hatred (also called self-loathing) refers to an extreme dislike or hatred of oneself, or being angry at or even prejudiced against oneself.
Though Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable of sites it’s accurate as far as how I’m feeling about myself these days—extremely disliking myself, being angry, even prejudiced against myself.
Self-loathing is nothing new for me. In the past, it’s been something I’ve excelled in. Back in the day, pre-diagnosis, it manifested itself in many ways. One of my least favorite phrases repeatedly banging out in my head? “You’re so stupid. You’re so stupid. You’re so stupid.”
The thing is, self-loathing has never done me any good. It’s certainly not helping me now. It’s not making me eat healthier. It’s not improving my outlook on life, and it’s definitely not making my pants fit better. It’s just weighing me down—more than the extra pounds, really.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
The thing is when I’m practicing self-loathing I’m not practicing godly sorrow, because, you see, godly sorrow leaves no regret. No regret over that extra piece of chocolate cake, or that extra helping of chips, or forgetting to work out today. It’s not that I don’t need to learn self-control, it’s that I need to learn to stop hating every bad decision I make and, in the end, hate myself.
Godly sorrow leads to repentance with no regret.
God doesn’t loathe me. He doesn’t loathe every bad decision I make. He loves me. So me loathing myself isn’t healthy, it isn’t true, and it isn’t right.
My grandpa used to play a “game” with me called, Stop Hitting Yourself. In the game, he would take my hands in his, make fists out of them, and pretend to hit me, all the while saying, “Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Why are you hitting yourself?” Though I hated the game, nevertheless there’s a good lesson hidden in it. I need to stop hitting myself.
Are you practicing some downright mean self-loathing? Stop it. Stop it. It’s not doing you any good. In fact, if you’re anything like me it’s only making everything worse.
If you’ve got some things to fix, things to get right, then get before God and start fixing them. But get with God first, because part of turning things around is getting power from the only Source who can truly fix things, truly redeem things, Jesus Christ.
And while you’re at it, stop loathing yourself, stop playing the hitting yourself game. Remember that God certainly doesn’t loathe you. He loves you. Find the truth and beauty in that statement and live in faith, not in fear.
Creativity usually strikes me on the weekend, but it’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday, and I’m feeling particularly inspired. I’ve been watching a new show, This is Us, which airs on NBC. It’s an inventive new drama with many story lines taking place simultaneously. The central theme of the story is family, more specifically growing up—how what happens to us when we’re younger carries over into adulthood.
As a parent, it’s a theme that scares me to death—this idea that so much of what my children will become is happening right now. Right under our roof. Right under our very noses. It gives me pause. What we’re doing now as parents will stay with our kids for a lifetime.
The Father figure in the story, played by Milo Ventimiglia, is a character named Jack. Jack is an amazing dad; full of patience, kindness, rolling with the punches, loving his kids unconditionally. He’s the kind of parent you’d want to emulate, but he hasn’t always been that way.
There’s a pivotal scene during which Jack must decide what kind of parent he’s going to be. It’s kind of like a “come-to-Jesus moment” for him. I wish I could have found a clip for it, but I’ll do my best to describe it:
Jack has been getting home later and later, spending more time at the bar than he does with his family. One evening after he gets home, his wife, Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore, has this conversation with him.
Sitting next to him on the couch she asks “Hey, how do you think we’re doing as parents?” Before he can answer, she responds, “I think we’re at a 6. On a sliding scale of 1 through 10, I think we’re at a 6, and I think I’m being generous.”
She continues, “I’m trying really hard to get us to a 9, because they are cute kids and they deserve 9 parents.” She pauses, “The thing is I feel like I’m there. I feel like I’m operating at a 9, because I do individualized lunches, and I do individualized tuck-ins so nobody feels jipped.”
Finally, she concludes, “But when you’re home and you’re you, you’re way better than I am. You’re a 10 . . . when you’re you, Jack.”
She confronts him about the drinking and gives him kind of an ultimatum about it concluding with, “Fix it, because I’m done letting you lower our score.”
Have you ever thought about it that way—that you’re in it together when it comes to parenting? You’re in it together. Divorced. Married. Separated. And here’s the deal, the stakes are high. Very high. High enough to scare the living daylights out of you, at least they should be.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the show. I know what I hope will happen—that Jack and Rebecca will make it through the rocky parts and parent together for as long as they have. They’re a couple I’m rooting for.
But I’m going to root for myself and my husband even more. I want our kids to look back with fond memories on their childhood. I want to be the kind of parents that they look up to, the kind that they want to emulate someday.
More importantly, I want to parent with the end in mind. I want to intentionally raise our kids to be the kind of people we want them to be: smart, capable, caring, responsible, resilient. You get the gist.
Who do you want your children to grow up to be? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Parenting is serious business, and it should be. After all, children grow up to be adults. It’s up to us to determine what kind of adults they’re going to be.
Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday, dear . . . me. Happy Birthday to me. Well, it’s that time of year again. Another few days and I’ll be one year older. I guess it’s inevitable that another birthday has rolled around, but it sure feels like they come a lot more often than I’d prefer.
I used to get so excited about my birthday. Weeks, even months before, I’d remind everyone of the special day that was coming up. Just in case they’d forgotten, I’d remind them that December 3rd was a very important day in the history of the world. Narcissistic, yes, but I couldn’t help it. I loved celebrating me.
Thanksgiving was a holiday I looked forward to almost as much as Christmas because celebrating Thanksgiving meant that my birthday was only a week or so away.
A much-anticipated ritual of turning another year older was partaking of the red velvet cake my mom made each year. Mind you, this was before red velvet cake was all the rage which makes us way cooler than anyone else. (Boy, I really am into myself today.)
This year, rather than giving out my usual present requests, I’m going to make a new request, a strange one you might think. I’m asking God to help me live a guilt-free life. Not too much to ask, right?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m saying, “God help me to not feel guilty when I eat the entire cake by myself or steal my husband’s hidden chocolate stash.” No, I’m not asking for a get-out-of-jail free card. It’s not that. I don’t want God’s permission to do things that are clearly wrong and against his laws.
Here’s what I am looking for though: relief, peace, a sense that I am loved beyond imagination.
You see, I am a person guilty of always feeling, well, guilty. Guilt is not just an emotion for me. It’s a state of being—one that’s impossible for me to shrug off. And it’s only taken me forty-four years to figure out that I need to let go of the guilt that hunts me down, haunts me daily, and preoccupies my every waking moment.
As I’ve been contemplating all of this, I’ve mentally noted what types of situations or circumstances leave me feeling shamefully guilty. Some might seem funny but most of these events are things I truly obsess over every single day:
Top Ten Things I Feel Guilty About.
10. I haven’t spent enough time communing with God lately.
9. I’ve eaten way too many pieces of chocolate in one day.
8. I’ve eaten more ice cream than I should have. (9 and 8 are kind of hooked together since I usually top my ice cream with chocolate chips.)
7. I’ve messed up as a parent.
6. I’ve messed up as a friend.
5. In general I’ve just messed up. (5-7 go hand in hand. Basically, when I feel I’ve let someone down, I feel guilty.)
4. I spent too much money on purse number 115 of my all-time-purse collection. (My husband would agree with this one.)
3. I spent too much money at Target. Unfortunately, this makes me feel guilty but also good. Shopping at Target is a blast.
2. I didn’t walk my dog enough this week. (This one is pretty over the top. I mean it’s not like the dog is keeping track of the number of times I walk him in a week.)
And the Number One reason I feel guilty:
1. I feel guilty about always feeling so guilty.
Crazy stuff, right? At one point when I shared my struggles with someone, I made the passing comment that, more often than not, I’m motivated by guilt rather than grace.
This problem of guilt has consumed me for far too long. Really, since I was a child. Back then the only place I felt safe from guilt was in church, but the moment we were headed home from the service, guilt took me captive in its tyrannical grip. I couldn’t shake it off no matter how hard I tried.
Oftentimes, I felt like God was up in heaven shaking his fist at me for screwing up for the 1000th time in a day. Guilt left me cowering in the corner, hiding from the God I was sure was disappointed in me.
But deep down inside there was this place that knew God didn’t want me to carry that great burden of guilt around with me every waking moment of every single day. I mean that was the whole point of sending Jesus, right? Why would God have given his beloved Son for us if all he really meant was for us to wallow in our guilt and sin—sin that Jesus already paid for. Jesus came to set us free. Remember when he said that?
Luke 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus came to set us free.
So what’s the cure for guilt? I think the answer is clear. It’s love. Pure and simple, love. A love that is higher than the heavens are above the earth. A love that is deep and wide—deeper than any guilt I feel, wider than my uncomprehending mind can wrap itself around. That’s what I want to be motivated by. Love, not guilt. Grace, not guilt.
I know I’m not quite there, but in this my 44th year on this planet, I’m asking God to set me free from guilt so that I can run in the path of his commands. Here’s to another year of learning to live in God’s grace. Happy Birthday to me!
The image above is a picture taken three or so years ago when I was heading home after visiting St. Louis for a writing workshop. My seatmate took it after I pointed out how beautiful the scene was. She sent the picture my way and it's now one of my favorite images. The trip to St. Louis was a God-ordained event, a story too long to share at present. Let's just say that as I flew past this beautiful display of God's creation it reminded me that God is, indeed, in the details.
Psalm 37:23 The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. (NLT)
I walk through the living room, toys, games, clothes scattered everywhere. It's like navigating my way through a minefield. The dirty clothes pile is overflowing from the laundry room into the hallway, threatening to take over the entire second floor. In the kitchen, pots and pans have collected in the sink like age-old artifacts. Hardened sauces, soups, and casseroles stick to each one. The floor is covered in pet hair and long past due its regular mopping. Little smudges of fingerprints and hand prints mark the sliding glass door.
Toothpaste covers the bathroom sinks. Chocolate, at least I hope that's what it is, covers the light switches in ooey-gooey ickiness. Most of the bathrooms smell like a little boy with bad aim has frequently visited them. Everything is a disaster. It makes my head swim. I head to bed delaying the inevitable. My messy house is just too much to deal with on a Saturday night.
On Sunday, I wake up feeling refreshed and rested. Then I remember the condition my house is in, and I'm tempted to bury my head in the pillow and never come out. Having no options but to tackle the mess, I swing my legs over the side of the bed and whisper a desperate plea heavenward, "I don't know how it's going to happen, but, oh God, please help me get the house back in to order today.”
An hour or so later, the kids are fighting, I've barely made a dent in the mess, and I'm about ready to lose my mind. Then, inspiration strikes. I've called my kids down for breakfast seven times and have been ignored all seven times. So, I try something new. When they finally come down, I mention that they ignored me seven times and now they owe me seven chores.
It works like a charm. I may be on to something. There's a lot of cleaning that can get done when your children each owe you seven jobs. And the jobs have to be done up to Mommy standards—no half-hearted efforts today. If I'm dissatisfied with a job they've done, I supervise them until it's done correctly.
Walking through a much cleaner house, I smile gleefully. Maybe I can make this work in my favor for the entire day. In the afternoon, when they begin fighting like cats and dogs, I implement my plan once more. The extra jobs thing worked pretty well when they ignored me, why not try it again? When another altercation between them commences, I'm ready. "You have too much energy," I tell them, "You obviously need to burn some of that off. Every time you argue, you get a new job."
All afternoon long, all evening long, I give my little minions chore after chore . . . done up to my standards. By bedtime, my house is clean and I've barely lifted a finger all day.
Before I tuck her in, I reveal my important secret to my daughter. "Katie," I tell her, "I prayed this morning that God would help me get our disaster of a house back in order, and He answered my prayer."
She looks at me, a funny expression on her face, "Oh, Mommy, that's ridiculous. God doesn't care about stuff like that."
So, I tell her the story, how God cares about every detail of our lives. What's more, I tell her that He even has the hairs on our head all numbered. "Can you do that, Katie?" I ask, "Can you count the number of hairs on your head?" She gives me a silly grin. I can tell she's intrigued.
I go to bed that night, a satisfied smile on my face. My house is clean, and I know it's more than just a fluke. I prayed. God answered. It's as simple as that.
God's in the details, folks. He is. If you don't believe me, try it yourself. Pray about your problem, no matter how small it may be. Even your most "insignificant" problem is important to Him. Maybe it's time you started believing that.
Matthew 10:29-31  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b]30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
The following is a post that I wrote a few years back about how hard it is to have faith in a God we can’t see, in a God who speaks to us primarily through his word. I do feel the fool at times for believing in things I can’t see, but after all crazy faith is what life is all about.
My family is going through some major changes right now. I’ll be sharing a little bit more about that next week. For now, let me just say that I wish God would have given us a road map for this thing we call life.
In the past few months, there have been many times when I’ve wished that a little map of my life would miraculously fall from the sky. That way when I came to a fork in the road, I would know the right way to go—the thing God wanted me to do.
But whether I believe it or not, God is there to guide me in all types of situations and circumstances.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Still, I do wait for the day when that map of my life falls from the sky and shows me the right path to choose each and every time I come to a fork in life’s road. It would make things so much easier if I had that map. But then again where’s the fun in knowing where to go next?
October 3rd, 2012
Once traveling it's remarkable how quickly faith erodes. It starts to look like something else-ignorance, for example. Same thing happened to the Israelites. Sure it's weak, but sometimes you'd rather just have a map.
From Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.
Reading an awesome book right now and came across this quote. The book is actually fictional although it sounds like a religious book. Intriguing story. Mostly, I wanted to quote this author because what he wrote struck a particular chord with me today. I feel the pain the character in this story is experiencing. How often I feel the fool for believing in things I can't see, things that make no sense.
Even though I can "talk the talk" when it comes to faith it's much more difficult to "walk the walk." I had to smile when I read that "sometimes you'd rather just have a map" comment. I feel that way often. God why can't just spell it out in plain language, what exactly do you want me to do?
Not only do I wish he'd give me explicit instructions about how to live, but sometimes I have a hard time believing everything he says. I do feel naive. I do feel the fool. What craziness to believe in a Maker, a God who created everything out of nothing. Sounds more like a bedtime story than a place to lay a foundation of faith.
It’s then that I realize more than anything that what I'm suffering from is not a lack of faith, but a vain desire to appear more sophisticated, wise, intelligent to the world. I don't want to be the one that everyone thinks is a "little over the top" when it comes to things of God.
Oh, how fickle the human heart. Not hard to see when I look at my own. Of course, to say that my faith is always shifting with the winds of change isn't exactly accurate either. God has brought me quite aways in this journey of faith. But I find that with a more deeply rooted faith come bigger challenges, greater obstacles, and more painful trials to endure.
Sometimes I wish it weren't so hard. For my friends who are runners, I often think of it as a "race" of life. I'm a terrible runner, but maybe, hopefully, in the case of faith I run a good race—a race worth cheering about.
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
Well, it's that time again, time for another post. Admittedly I drug my feet as I walked into my little office this evening. I don't want to write. I'm grumpy (mostly because we don't have anything chocolate in the house.) I'm tired, which seems to always be the case with me. Worst of all, I feel completely uninspired. But, let's forge ahead anyway, shall we.
Actually all that I just wrote above fits in perfectly with what I wanted to write about tonight. I watched a movie this past weekend, About Time. While it's not your typical action-packed, big production movie, the story line is quite beautiful, and, since I love a good story, I decided to give it a go.
Here's the gist of the movie. A young man, Tim, turns eighteen and one day after he celebrates the New Year, his dad gives him remarkable news. Turns out the men in the family have the ability to travel back in time to any day or moment of their choosing. It's a remarkable gift that's been passed down from father to son through the ages.
When Tim first finds out, he is skeptical. But then, on the advice of his father, he goes into a closet and clenching his fists travels back to the night before, the New Year's Eve Party. He wants to "fix" something that he hadn't gotten quite right--the traditional New Year's Eve kiss. You see, rather than kissing the girl next to him when the clock struck midnight, he shook her hand and wished her a Happy New Year.
But, when he travels back in time to that same moment, Tim gives the girl a big, bold, beautiful kiss--one she won't soon forget.
And so it goes throughout the movie. Tim travels back in time to right any wrongs or fix things that went awry, including finding and connecting with the woman who becomes the love of his life.
In the movie, Tim is very altruistic. He doesn't just go back in time to fix his own mistakes; he travels back for others' sakes as well. The biggest one is the night he intervenes for his little sister preventing her from meeting a future boyfriend who is nothing but trouble--a complete deadbeat.
Once you're into the movie, it's not really the time-travel you think about. His character isn’t portrayed as going back all that often. No, the whole point of the movie really has nothing to do with time travel. Rather, it's about life--what we do with each day, how we respond to the beauty of even the hard things in life.
In the end, Tim learns to follow his father's advice, his secret formula for happiness:
I hope you took time to watch that little clip. If you didn't, stop reading this and click on the little play button above. No cheating. Though it won't make sense at first, you'll get why I shared it.
Good for you for watching. Now, to the point of this blog. Time is precious. Even the hard parts. Even the parts we wish never happened. The inconveniences, the difficulties, the struggles. Even in those moments life can be beautiful--if we choose to see it as such.
Though none of us can really travel back in time, I think there's an important lesson to take away from this movie. As you settle back on your pillow tonight, make a promise to yourself. When morning comes, open your eyes and determine to keep the tensions and worries of life at bay. Instead, take time to notice just how sweet the world can be. And next weekend? Rent the movie. It's such a beautiful story--it's worth your time to watch.