Sunday, February 22, 2009

Something New

Lent is a time for freedom. Since this wonderful season has begun, I've been hearing that from a lot of people. This is a time to break free from our sins and let Christ begin something completely new in us. We, with our simple human intellects, cannot comprehend God's plan for us, because it is something that is always different from anything else we have ever experienced. He is in control and as our pastor said, "If you sneak a peak at the last page of the Bible, He wins!"

So, now is the time to let go of the things that are keeping us from Christ. Now is the time to really take a long hard look at ourselves and determine what it is that Christ is asking us to change. We are all called to be saints. It is not acceptable if our spiritual lives do not have the same intensity as those of the saints. God understands our weakness, of course, but that is no excuse to get comfortable where we are at. As the saying goes, God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. We must search our hearts and listen to the truth about where we are on our spiritual journey. We must not get discouraged by our own shortcomings because He is in control. His strength will support us. As we recognize our failures, we must humbly submit them to His care and joyfully open ourselves to a great transformation.

You and I are called to extraordinary greatness. We must not settle for mediocrity. This time has come to let fall our chains and move forward. The pain, the misunderstandings, the fears, the failures, and our plans of the past must be abandoned. We must blindly trust in His plan. Let him free us from our spiritual paralysis. He, the healer and lover of our souls, will not spurn our feeble efforts. Rather, He will strengthen and enrich us for the journey. Let's walk ahead! Let us together experience this new glory that Christ is offering.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

When I was a little girl, I loved the book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". I felt so bad for poor Alexander as seemingly everything went wrong. His day is so bad that he repeatedly says that he just wants to move to Australia. It seemed a silly story to me as a kid, but now as I am having a rough day of my own, I find myself remembering this book.

Everyone has bad days. That's a simple enough truth. Well these past few weeks, I've had them in spades. They just keep coming and coming. Last week I got my feelings hurt and spent the rest of the week reeling from it as I tried to adjust to a new schedule that made room for my new job, committee meetings for a few organizations, social time, schoolwork, and sleep. I spent much of last week playing catch up and was determined not to have a repeat.

That plan was an epic failure. With two days that I used have free for whatever I wanted now promised to my babysitting job, I am finding the adjustment to be a lot more difficult than I expected - a lot more difficult than it should be. I spent this entire week being behind on my schedule. A good bit of that is my fault. It's always hard for me to give up time with my friends for schoolwork and so I procrastinate on the schoolwork. The result is a stressed and frazzled self scrambling to finish the work in time.

Last night is an excellent example of this. I had to write a paper, which required some research, and the first draft was due this morning. I've know the topic for a week. I didn't really start on any aspect of the paper, including the research, until yesterday morning. Needless to say, I should have started much earlier. Because I didn't, I ended up staying up until one o'clock in the morning working on it and reading the assigned reading for the class. Two years ago, or even one year ago, if I told you that I was in bed by 1 a.m. that would mean that I got to bed at a "decent" time. Oh for the days when I could get by on five hours of sleep! Now I need eight hours. Well, I set my alarm, but forgot to turn it on and I missed my first two classes.

I feel so angry with myself. Any illusions I had of being an in control, hard working student have been completely stripped away. I am so discouraged. There is so much that I have to do, to improve myself and to get back on top of things. No matter how hard I try, though, I just can't seem to push myself past the laziness.

Maybe that's the point. Perhaps I can't do it and I'm not meant to. My strength will never be enough to make me successful at anything. I feel as if God is stripping away everything I love about myself and my life. Things and people that I treasure and cling to so much are slipping away. Deep inside me there is a voice that invites me to stop leaning on myself or others and lean solely on God. Still, I'm frightened to let go of the people and things that I love. I don't want to lose them. I'm not good at letting go. I know that I mustn't resist, but I want to very badly. I want to reach out to someone, any of my closest friends, but something stops me because I sense that I must deal with this alone.

I don't want to. I'm like a spoiled child resisting the will of her parents because she doesn't understand and because to a certain extent, doesn't want to. My fallen self resists what I am confident is God's hand working in my life. I hate growing pains. They make me ache all over. Like my fictional friend, Alexander, from the book, I want to run away. Maybe not to Australia, but to any place where I won't have to face this confusion, this pain, this loss, and my very self. Right now, when I look in the mirror, I don't like what I see - and I am not talking about body image. I am learning very tough truths about myself and how I live my life and I'm terrified to face them. To anyone who still reads this blog, please, please pray for me!'

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Gate to the Unknown

Life is constantly changing. There is so much to take in. As elements of my life fly past me in a seemingly endless swirl, there occasionally comes a moment of epiphany. In such moments as this, it seems to me that I must leave something behind in order to continue on this life journey.

I come to a gate that marks the end of one part of my way and the beginning of another. I cannot have both parts. A piece of the child in me grows up a little bit more and I feel the change. Like leaving behind something warm and familiar, this change does not come without some pain.

Yet to avoid the change, to stay in childhood, only hurts more. As I linger to catch the last glimpses of how things were, I am overwhelmed by a sense of no longer belonging. These tender memories of my childhood, these ways of thinking, dreaming, and behaving do not have a place for me. Nor I for them. We must mutually depart from one another. Like a person who has been away from their old haunts for many years, I have become a stranger to my old self.

While I can still vividly recall these lost things, they are like wisps of their former existence. It's a little bit scary for me when I think about it. I am changing. I am growing. More will be expected of me. I will expect more of myself. I need to take more responsibility. I see it and I am frightened by it.

Even so, it is exciting! A new chapter in the book of my life is a special thing. In some small way, it makes me feel important and adventurous. I feel a little bit like anything could happen. Anything is possible and some wonderful awaits me somewhere down that path on the other side of the gate. The beautiful unknown in the untamed beauty of the wild reflects the mysterious twists and turns just beyond my reach on the road ahead of me. How thrilling!

I am, of course, not alone in this journey. My beloved Lord is ever before me. He takes my frail hands and gives them strength. He steadies my clumsy feet and fills me with new energy and zest for this beautiful life, which - hopefully - brings me ever closer to Him. He is the light of my existence and I owe everything to Him. I trust Him because I love Him and because it would just be silly not to. He has carefully laid out special plans for me that will fulfill my deepest longings.

So, whatever happens, I do not really fear the gates to the wondrous unknown future. I often look for them in eager anticipation. Recently, I have come to a new one. I was very unhappy when I first encountered it. I did not want to leave any part of my old self behind. I still have struggles with change. But now, I am beginning to see the beauty and the necessity of that change.

Though the road may be long, hard, and sometimes terrifying, we go on, my sweet Lord and I.