If we’re honest, when we hear the word “responsibility,” we sigh about the impossible length of our to do list, how tired we are, and how we’ll never get it all done. Our days can be long and time always seems short.
But what if we viewed our daily mundane duties as gifts and opportunities? As Ann Voskamp so beautifully puts it, they’re response-abilities. The opportunity to respond and the ability to make a difference. The ability to help, serve, care for, and react to the needs of others. A source of heart connection. An act of love in the name of Christ.
What if we viewed our responsibilities as gifts and opportunities? As the opportunity to respond and the ability to make a difference. @allison_wixted
When we appreciate our abilities, gratitude moves center-stage. We’re more thankful for things our minds and bodies can do and our hearts beat in rhythm with his grace. We cherish our hands that can wash dishes, load laundry, and prepare meals. Our feet that drive and chase children out of the street. Our minds that make the decision to move our hands and feet even when they’re weary.
Sometimes it takes a loss of ability to fully value our daily responsibilities. An injury, a job loss, or simply aging can jolt us back to gratitude for our former obligations. When we find the need for others to do what we once could, it can leave our servant hearts longing for past abilities taken for granted.
What response-ability are you thankful to be able to take on today?
How are you feeling about our post-pandemic world? Are you half-happy and half-stressed? Struggling to release the restorative rest of quarantine, while relieved to move forward into the distraction of pseudo-normalcy?
Honestly, it has been a bit of a bumpy ride for me, friends. The tension between under-stimulation and over-stimulation is real. But what I’m finding is that hidden under all my angst about the seismic shift in our daily lives, there are saplings of significant growth.
The pain and strain we survived made us raw. It stripped away the veneer we usually wear with the world to reveal our most primal desires, needs, and wants. At the time, it may have felt like a root canal with a blunt butter knife, but looking back, we’re able to see the seeds of progress…
The tears we cried turned into advocacy and action.
The anxiety we felt channeled into innovation.
The deprivation we despised transformed into greater gratitude.
The obstacles we overcame became opportunities.
Opportunities to see ourselves and our lives more clearly. To view relationships and kindness as essential, not just add-ons in our busy lives. But most importantly, to seek our Creator as our constant True North, not simply a safe haven on Sunday mornings. To let Him seep into the searing pain and bind our souls’ wounds as we mourned lives lost, schools closed, and events cancelled.
To remind us that when we are weak, we are strong. That in that moment, we were meek, but still blessed. That when the world threatened harm, God meant it for good.
And there it is. God’s promise to be our light in the darkness and transform what human eyes often see as hurdles, distractions, pain, and obstacles into a glorious gift filled with goodness and love. And for that, I am forever grateful to the One above.
Thoughts careen off the corners of my mind faster than I can capture them. What do I need to do tomorrow? What do the kids need from me? What is urgent and not? What is my husband’s schedule? What help do I need from my parents? What’s priority for work?
As I pull the covers up tightly, I beg God to stop my thought barrage so I can catch some much-needed sleep. To place me in His sweet embrace so sleep will soothe my shredded mind.
Does this happen to you too? Your day is done, yet your mind is mulling. You long for sleep, yet your thoughts flail aimlessly like the tentacles of an angry octopus…
This is when I try to seek God’s whispers of self care. To obey His call to rest and slow my pace. I ask my in-dwelling Holy Spirit to cover me with calm and patience so I can care for myself and others in a way that honors Him. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, it opens the door to great gifts!
The beauty of complying with this call is the fruit patience produces. Invite patience – this beautiful fruit of the spirt – into your life. Allow God’s timing to rule over the world’s. Even better – patience can produce another fruit of the spirit: peace. (Galatians 5:22)
You’ll be amazed at what can happen once patience, and then peace, prune back your excess thoughts and the anxiety that accompanies them.
Here are five ways I’ve found patience can produce peace…
1. Inner peace – Inviting patience to preside over our lives produces an inner peace. It reminds us to take a breath when we feel anxiety and “rush-mode” coming on. To slow our thoughts and capture one at a time. To recognize that multi-tasking is actually a myth, as science shows our brains can truly only tackle one task well at a time. To forgive ourselves for forgetting the five thoughts that wandered into the wilderness of our minds.
2. Peace with others – When we are more patient with ourselves, we become more patient with others. We realize that the same thoughts racing an Indy 500 through our minds are running through everyone’s minds! That we all are desperately trying to catch up with our thoughts and that some just happen to escape the holding pin of our imperfectly human minds! That we all can be a little kinder and gentler with each other, knowing the battle we all face inside.
3. Clarity of thought – When we recognize our minds are treadmilling, our hearts are racing, and our breath is beyond its normal pace, it‘s God’s invitation to slow our thoughts, capture one at a time, and seek God’s grace to catch the ones that most honor Him, while leaving the others behind for now. Once our minds, hearts and breathing have slowed with God’s help, we find that He has provided us with a beautiful white space on which we can create His masterpiece. We enter a highway of thought motivated by His way, light and truth. One that is unfettered by the ways of this world but infused with the gifts God has for us.
4. Ability to hear God’s voice – Once we’ve accepted the call to clarity of thought in line with Christ’s, we’ve course-corrected our soul’s steering wheels, and we’re ready to ride alongside God. Clearing the clutter of our minds allows us easier access to our indwelling Holy Spirit, where we can curl up and let Him guide us down His path. Down a path where His voice shines brighter than any worldly worries coming our way.
5. Focus on eternal peace – When God’s voice is the loudest one in our minds, we’re sure to win. With His guidance at the helm of your heart, your guaranteed destination is Success Lane. Not success as the world would see it – but better – success that will lead us down the path to eternal peace. To a place beyond our wildest dreams where all the hurt, pain, and tears of this world are gone forever. Where peace abounds and love presides. Where hearts connect and divisions disappear. Where ultimate peace and patience reign.
Christ invites us to “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 28) I’m in! Want to join me as we invite Him in to pace our race? Let’s embrace patience so we can seek His incomparable peace!
Make a comment on this blog post or on any of my social media and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith by my super sweet friend, Lauren Gaskill. The winner will be notified by Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Good luck!
About this powerful and restorative book: Be prepared to be inspired, moved, and empowered by Lauren’s message! She leads us through her real life faith struggles with unabashed honesty, humor and warmth. From times when she professed to have less than a mustard seed of faith to learning to fully embrace Christ with steadfast courage, she offers empathy, inspiration, scripture, and practical steps to deepen our faith walks so we can live out the courageous faith our hearts desperately need and desire!
Lauren’s ministry: Learn more about Lauren’s exciting work as the founder and President of the nationwide ministry, She Found Joy! I’m honored to have been invited to work alongside her and the talented She Found Joy team! We invite you to join us for one of our Ladies Night Out events where Lauren and her ministry team provide a special evening of worship, food, fun and fellowship! See you there as we cross the country to a city near you! In the meantime, tune in to our weekly Podcasts and get all the latest She Found Joy updates by visiting our Facebook Page!
“You’re going to have an ulcer by the time you’re 20.”
Across the pitted black lab bench, my favorite seventh grade science teacher lovingly declared my future downfall. With wounded heart, the little perfectionist in me continued to white out three lines at a time and re-draw blue binder paper lines with a ruler. I remember thinking, Why would anyone do anything without the intent of a perfect outcome?!
Over thirty years later, life’s storms have tossed me enough to know that perfection is an illusion, but I still fall into the trap of seeking it. As an Enneagram 3 – The Achiever – when I stress, I strive. I’m blinded with an overwhelming need to control. And worse, I’m deluded into thinking that I can actually control everything around me. I turn up free will to max volume and think that God must be on vacation today. I forget that He is beyond my understanding and that multi-tasking takes on new heights on His watch!
How about you? Do you post a “Kick Me” sticky on your own backside when you do a drive-thru dinner for your kids? Or maybe you internalize the voice of a boss, parent, friend, or loved one who always said you weren’t enough? Or you punish yourself for how messy your home has become even though life crises have crushed you for months?
I think we can all agree that this type of thinking sends us down a slippery slope to a place where insecurity, pride, and competition reign and relationships wither. Insecurity is at the heart of perfectionism. Feeling inadequate feeds our need to be recognized. We convince ourselves that striving for perfection will earn us the fame we seek. Pride also fuels perfectionism. It’s our human way of pretending we are God and believing the lie that we are fully in control of our destiny. And competition, while it can be a healthy motivator when viewed properly, can be an insidious beast when we ditch connection and compassion at the expense of winning. Bottom line, perfectionism flouts scripture and sets us against God’s Word.
And this is where I raise the flag of IMperfection in all its glory. I know, you’re looking at me sideways with a crinkled forehead! But just try embracing it instead of fighting it every now and then. It might feel REALLY wrong at first, but eventually, you’ll see God’s truths shining through your initial frustration. Instead of flogging yourself for going through the drive-thru for your kids’ dinner, say “I made sure that my children were fed tonight, despite a crazy day.” Instead of believing your boss’s cruel criticism of your year-long project, say “I really did try my best and I know that there were also good things about my work.”
Eventually, you’ll realize that imperfection is actually the gateway to God’s grace. The place where He meets you in your pain and suffering and lifts your eyes heavenward. Where he reminds you that He is the only One who can fill the hole in your soul you tired to fill with perfectionism. Where He says to you, “You will never be perfect on this earth. But when you’re frustrated with your shortcomings, come to me and I will be your comfort.”
Now, I’m not saying that we should all just give ourselves over to mediocrity and poor work ethics. Rather, instead of striving for an unattainable perfection, we work toward excellence. In Holley Gerth’s book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect, she explains that on earth, perfection isn’t realistic or healthy, but rather, “excellence is doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are. It means given your circumstances, your limitations, your abilities, and other factors, you’ve done what you can to do well.”
By trading in perfectionism for excellence, we actually trade up in our up-side-down Kingdom. Christ longs to send our suffering souls a life vest. He is clearly on the side of the imperfect…
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
At the end of the day, Christ is the only One who is perfect. He is the only One truly in control. When perfectionism attacks, we believe our free will trumps Christ’s sovereignty. Then we skip into the enemy’s territory. Into a wasteland that will leave us treadmilling toward soul exhaustion. Toward a never-ending finish line that continues to stretch into the hazy distance as our weary souls stagger toward nothingness.
While we’re on earth, we are being perfected – becoming more like Christ – but we’ll never be fully perfected until we’re called to our heavenly home (Philippians 1:6). Perfectionism will only divide us from the deep relationship that Christ seeks with us and strangle our relationships with one another. It says“I’m better than you. I’m determined to win. You’re not enough.” And in return, Christ says,“You are all equally loved. You are all my beautiful and unique children. You’re always enough for me.”
Make a comment on this blog post or on any of my social media and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the freshly-released Freedom!: The Gutsy Pursuit of Breakthrough and the Life Beyond It by Jennifer Renee Watson.The winner will be notified by Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Good luck!
About this empowering and encouraging book: Jennifer’s words will move women to shake off the shackles of their pasts to live in the true freedom only Christ can provide. With her trademark and self-professed “sweet and snarky” Southern-girl style, she tackles tough issues with just enough humor to help us toward healing, while still honoring our pain. This book is a true gift to a tired girl’s soul!
Have you ever lost Christ somewhere between frantic phone calls and forms? That was me this past month!
August hit our family like Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Blustery, unforgiving, and abundant in chaos, one crisis after the next landed on our doorstep. Wave after wave, I gasped for air, longing for sunlight with little reprieve.
A Break in the Clouds
Although I’m still gasping a bit, God’s steadfast beams are beginning to peek through the angry clouds still hanging over our home. And I’ll bet you might be feeling tossed about as well! Whether you’re rebuilding your life from scratch or knee-deep in back to school craziness, new beginnings can be overwhelming.
Dwell in Him
For me, the sunlight began to edge its way in a few weeks ago upon the wise words of author Micah Maddox. She shared her own chaotic month. Although preparing her children to return to school, launching her new book Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled Worldand having just moved, she still found peace. And that peace resided in Psalm 27. In the simple reminder to dwell in Christ.
Hearing these words, something in me broke. It had arrested my stress. It broke the chain on my heart and released my soul. A door unlocked and freed me from my self-imposed prison.
My soul rejoiced in praise for a reunion with the One who is there with us everyday, every moment. The One who I’d forgotten over the last few weeks. The One who always stands ready with boundless love and a warm embrace. What solace in falling into His arms. I’d missed my Jesus hugs! Why had I forgotten to ask? Why had I ignored His still, small voice?
I’d forgotten Paul’s teaching that Christ provides contentment in any circumstance, not just in the moments when life is good (Phillipians 4:11). I’d forgotten to fling myself at Christ’s feet when chaos first strikes. Not wait until I’ve hit rock bottom. To seek Christ with unrelenting steadfastness at the start. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
A Spirit of Power, Love and Self Control
Author Holley Gerth has also reminded me of truth during this dark time. Just the title of her soon to be released book, Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely, has led me to back to the same verse that God has been speaking over me for the last few months. God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self control (2 Timothy 1:7). That even in the darkness, God has given me the spirit of a fierce-hearted warrior princess. That in my times of distress, I’m to fight to seek Him. That I already have the power within me to fight the darkness. The power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within me and every believer who has accepted Christ as her Savior. What power could be more effective or magnificent? We just have to press our soul’s call button and it’s there! Say a prayer and it is there!
And not only are we constantly blessed with His incomparable power, but His limitless, unconditional love. A love like nothing we’ll ever experience from humans in this world. A love more consistent, dutiful, pure, and complete than any human can ever give. And again, it is there as His offering to us, anytime, anywhere. Isn’t that just soul-restoring?!
As if God’s supernatural power and love weren’t enough, the Holy Spirit also grants us a spirit of self control. Not just self control to prevent us from eating that tasty potato chip to quell the anxiety our darkness brings, but self control to reach out to Him in our time of need. Not to reach for the remote, our credit cards, or something else to distract us from our pain. But to reach for the Word, to pray, to connect with Him in an intimate way that soothes our present suffering. To hand over our fears, anxieties, darkness, and pain to the One who can handle it all so much better than we ever could alone.
So as much as I’ve hated being away from you wonderful women the last few weeks, I’m thankful for the chaos I’m starting to embrace. I’m thankful for the Jesus embrace that produced this post. I’m grateful that I waited patiently in His time to hear it. Because He knew the message that I was to send. He knew the words I’d stopped and started several times before weren’t His, but mine. That my words couldn’t make His difference. That only His could. That regardless of our circumstances, we must remember to dwell in Him always and fight with the spirit of power, love, and self control that He has given us.
I’m praying for you in the midst of your own chaos! Be brave and fight to seek Him through the darkness!
1. How can you fight to find Christ in your present chaos?
2. If you’re not in chaos now, how can you prepare to fight to find Christ when darkness strikes?
Leave a comment by September 30th to be entered to win your very own copy of Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World by Micah Maddox (*THIS IS A CHANGE*)! Winner will be emailed in early October. Bonus for bloggers: If you’re the winner, I’ll feature your blog on mine and on social media during October!
Congrats to our August giveaway winner, Maureen B! Since she’s also a blogger, I’ll be featuring her blog this month! Click here to enjoy!
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