Posts Tagged ‘ overcome ’

Stepping in.

I just started a new job the other day, my first full-time job since my quarter-life crisis a year and a half ago. Pretty great so far. One interesting experience to share…

Our building is equipped with the best in energy-efficient technology, and I’m told we spend an insanely low amount on energy for the amount of people we have in our building. One of the energy-saving measures is that lights are motion-activated.

Disclaimer: I drink a lot of water/tea/coffee, so I run (don’t walk) to the bathroom pretty frequently. I used to receive comments about that, which did sometimes get strange.

I entered the men’s room and saw that it was pitch dark. Thought process:

  1. Did we forget to pay the bill?
  2. Hmm… this is not going to work…
  3. Hmm… I really have to go…

And so I went forward, expecting to grope around blindly to find the appropriate station for my needs at that time. But lo and behold, as I took a few steps in, the lights came on! It was a miracle!

OK, so why do I share that rather mundane story? Why have I wasted a minute of your time to tell you about lights turning on in the men’s room?

Because I believe that many times, we encounter moments like this in our lives, and the way we choose to respond to those times can either hold us back or help push us forward.

Living and walking by faith, not by sight, isn’t easy, but it’s what we’re called to. If we’re truly following hard after God, we will encounter times when we have no clue what’s ahead. We will run into situations where all we see around us is darkness, and hope is nowhere to be found. We will find ourselves in circumstances we never wanted, with people we never planned on running into, doing things we never thought we’d be able to do.

What do we do when we encounter times, situations, and circumstances like these?

With prayer and wise counsel, we do what I had to do in that dark restroom – we step forward. We ask God for courage, for boldness, and we move toward that ambiguous yet promising future that He’s set in front of us. He doesn’t show us the whole roadmap; if He did, we’d trust the map and not Him. But He promises to be with us and to be the light we need to navigate the darkness.

But the decision remains on us whether we will take that first step into the unknown and trust God to provide the light, or turn back and potentially forfeit that chance to experience the Holy Spirit’s guiding hand.

Jesus went to the cross to provide us the opportunity to walk with Him and live life with Him. What’s your response?

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Starting over.

It’s amazing how long and hard we can cling to something from the past. Equally amazing, though, is the freedom we can walk with when we decide to let go. The less we want to talk about it, the more constrained by the past we actually are. The more we’re willing to talk about it, the more free we become.

It’s a lesson I’ve re-learned recently. After decades of bitterness, I’m finally learning to walk in freedom.

You pick it up. I’ll carry it.

First of all, happy 2012! Hope it’s gotten to a great start for everyone!

I spent Christmas weekend with my cousin and her family in Pennsylvania. At one point, my mom mentioned something she witnessed between my cousin’s husband and daughter.

The three-year-old daughter had left something on the floor, and her dad wanted her to pick it up. She told him that she couldn’t carry it, so his reply was, “You pick it up. I’ll carry it.”

I love that line, not just because it was good parenting, but because it’s such a great picture of what God wants to tell us sometimes. And we need to hear both parts of it.

The part I’ve always tended to hear about in church is “I’ll carry it.” So important for many of us who are high achievers and keep wanting to make things happen. We can become so results-oriented that we leave God out of the picture. And in His love, He won’t let us continue to make results our god, so He will sometimes break down those results we were so intent on.

It’s in those spaces that we realize that results don’t come from our labors and toils but from His grace and kindness. I’ve seen that happen plenty in ministry, and my mind goes to Abraham as a Biblical example. God kept him from having children with Sarah until such a time that having Isaac could be attributed only to God.

But the first part is very important for those of us who have heard the second part and begun to rest too comfortably in it. Taken the wrong way, we can come to a place where we start to believe that God will take care of everything, and we just need to relax. I was there for a while, and although it always felt uneasy, I was quite content to stay there.

The problem with this view isn’t only that we can get lazy and stupid or something. The real problem is that we can miss out on the miracles God has for us. Whenever God performed miracles in the Bible, He required a step of faith. A step into the unknown, where I’m going to fall if no one catches me. Some of the commitments are bigger than others in our minds, but there’s always a commitment on our part. I think the lesson here is that God can do great things with even our smallest step of faith.

When Jesus turned water into wine, it was in response to his mother Mary calling for him when the wine ran dry at the wedding. She didn’t know what he would do, but she knew he could do something. The Bible says Jesus could not (note, it doesn’t say “would not” but “could not”) perform miracles in Galilee because of people’s unbelief. Peter could see Jesus walking on the water, but to experience it, he had to step out of the boat.

We have to understand that when God performs miracles, He wants to involve us. We get to be part of the story. But the first step can often be an uncomfortable one. It’s a lot easier to just stay where it’s comfortable, where it feels safe. But we’re in a spiritual war. Nowhere is safe. Eventually, if you insist on staying in your comfort zone, God in His mercy may draw you out. Or even scarier if you make a habit of it, eventually relent and let you stay.

Imagine being in a bunker on a battlefield. Thinking about stepping out of that safe bunker is an uncomfortable thought. But you can’t win by staying inside. You may not lose, but you can’t win. Your team might win that day, but you didn’t. On the other hand, if your team loses, you’ll be forced out of the bunker, without the opportunity to make a difference.

What’s your biggest challenge today? Where do you need to trust God? And where do you need to act on that trust by taking a step of faith, as uncomfortable as it feels?

Will you choose to move forward, or will you wait until God pushes you? And, what if He stops pushing?

What you don’t need

Considering a career change? Thinking of starting a business? Want to start a non-profit? Want to try something new at work? Great! What’s stopping you?

It’s so easy to convince ourselves that we need something to start working on our dreams and goals. There are a lot of things we can tell ourselves we need before we can start.

  • Funding
  • A chance
  • An opportunity
  • Permission
  • Approval
  • Buy-in
  • Support

What do all of these have in common? They depend on someone else (or many someones else).

But what if you had all the things you’re saying you need? What then? Would you really start, or would you find something else to wait on?

Pointing the finger at someone else may make you feel better (I know I did), but it doesn’t solve anything. So which do you prefer – feeling better about yourself or winning?

Stop waiting. No one’s going to just give you funding. Or a job. Or support. Asking for it is a step in the right direction, but more than that, you need to build a good case for it. You’re not owed anything.

The bad news – the only person stopping you is you. The good news – the only person stopping you is you.

Take the blame

I believe we live in a culture of blame. Everybody has someone to pin the blame on for their problems. Whether it’s in the media, at work, at home, or on the therapist’s couch, we spend a lot of time and energy looking for people to blame.

Now, there are times when others have violated the “human contract” and hurt us inequitably, but sometimes I think we try to outsource blame further than it needs to go. And the only person that harms is ourselves.

Part of the human experience that’s pretty inescapable is pain. Physical or emotional, deep-seated or in-the-moment, debilitating or silently throbbing, we all experience this at some point or another. If you’re not currently in some sort of pain, it’s probably not hard to remember the last time you were. But for those who are in painful situations today, perhaps it’s time for a paradigm shift.

Until we take responsibility and, yes, the blame for our part in landing us where we find ourselves (and our part may be bigger than we’d care to admit), we’re powerless to change our situation. After all, if outside powers put us where we are, it stands to reason that only those outside powers can rescue us out.

My major pain point over the past few years has been spending most of my time working in a capacity that doesn’t utilize the best of what I have to offer. Whether at the day job, at church, or in volunteer, I was engaged in many activities that didn’t tap into my areas of strength. I felt under-utilized and pretty lost.

At first, I wanted to blame everyone around me. Those whose influence pushed me to choose a major I didn’t like, take a job in that field, and even pursue a certification. Those who would tell me to learn to love my job. Those who would tell me not to pursue other dreams I’d had.

But eventually, I had to get to a place where I took responsibility for my part of the mess. I had to recognize that I was encouraged to enter the field I’m in because I wasn’t putting in the time to figure out what direction I wanted to take. I had unconsciously outsourced that major decision all those years ago, and I’ve been paying for it ever since.

The perpetrator of all my problems has always just been me. I’m the reason I work in a field I don’t love and am growing to despise. The main and possibly only person to blame is me.

But if I caused the pain, I can get rid of it too. If I’m the problem, I can be the solution too. And all the help in the world can’t do a thing for me if I won’t be.

What’s a pain point in your life today? Have you been outsourcing the blame? How can you take responsibility for the problem and start being the solution?