This is not a post about the major event that blows up our lives. This is about those days when a lot of little things go wrong. In Mark 4, there are a group of guys who just have that kind of a day: it had been a long day, it’s night, and it’s safe to assume they’re tired (Mark 4:1-35); their boss gives them one last task (Mark 4:35), unexpected horrible weather interferes (Mark 4:37); the effects of the unexpected storm cause damage (Mark 4:37b), their only source of help, Jesus, is sleeping (Mark 4:38) and the oh-so-common human emotions of fear, stress and frustration kick in (Mark 4:38). What’s funny, is I used to think it was only a “girl” problem, i.e. “drama.” But in this text, it’s all guys! So these “lots-of-little-things-go-wrong” days, know no bias. So what do we do? Well, therein lies the problem. Because WE can’t do anything, all at once. WE didn’t know it was gonna go down like this, WE don’t have the resources and mental wherewithal to handle it. And in our humanness, WE doubt that we can! Enter, Jesus. In these kinds of moments, Jesus knew, knows and will know how it works out. He is the ONE BEST thing in those “lots of little things go wrong” days. Yesterday, I had one of those days. I found myself having several “arrow-prayers” of “Jesus, help me.” Now I didn’t have a “POOF” moment where all the little-wrong things vanished. But I did feel Jesus fill me with deep, fresh air and give me peace in my belly to take it ALL on, WITH Him, ONE little, wrong thing at a time. I’ll end with what He said, “‘Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.‘ (Mark 4:29). And today, He can calm you and your moment, too.
My kids and I used to play this app called “Would You Rather.” But I got to thinking about this funny game in a more serious way and wanted to ask some of my own “would-you-rathers:”
1) Would I rather stand in God’s shadow or in my own sunshine?
2) Would I rather be a real screw-up or a perfect fake?
3) Would I rather drown in a sea of bitterness or walk through a fire of forgiveness?
4) Would I rather be something to everyone or everything to the Only One?
These four “would-you’s” came to my mind because I’ve had to face them in my life. Today, maybe take time to consider them in case these “would-you’s” become yours tomorrow!
A few years ago, we took our boys to a park. As I pushed DJ and Andy on the swings they squealed, laughed and yelled, “Higher, Mommy, higher!” There was little dialogue, and lots of monologue: “Whee!” “Whoa!” “Wha-hooey!” And then, in a seemingly ordinary moment, an extraordinary revelation unfolded. DJ exclaimed…“Oh, mommy, my heart is laughing!”
My mental brakes came to a tire-spinning halt, as I considered….my heart has aged, my heart has hurt, my heart has melted, but has my heart laughed? Is there anything in your life so wickedly-cool, so honkin’ awesome, that it would make you exclaim, “Oh, God, my heart is laughing!”? We are living. But are we laughing? I was grateful for DJ inadvertently holding up a mirror to my heart and making me take a good look at it. Today I pray that God give us a swing-set experience–something that will make our eyes look up and our mouths exclaim, “Thanks, God! My heart is laughing!”
It WAS going to be impossible for me to forgive these people who hurt me. There was so much fall-out and pain there was no way my heart could muster up forgiveness. However, I did know, deep down in my heart’s most intimate space, that God said, “with Me, all things are possible.” So with that thread of hope, I set out to forgive. There were 5 things I did. I have to disclose that I am not a professional. Just a girl with a blog. But this worked for me. How do I know? My counselor told me that my heart will know it has forgiven when it gets to a place where it can look at the perpetrators and say, “I wish you well.” And that came to be. And still is, today. 1) Prayed, daily for my pain and for the ones who caused it. Yes, I literally prayed for them. Eventually, pain and angry can’t exist in a heart that is praying for the ones who caused it. 2) Counseling. Period. 3) Journaled, daily. I had major diarrhea of thoughts. Crazy thoughts. Irrational thoughts. Hateful thoughts. Hopeless thoughts. Confused thoughts. But why carry that around all day in my brain if I could spill it out on paper. This was huge. 4) Professed, daily, an undeniable truth I had known all my life (but hadn’t applied til this time): Since Jesus forgives me for the pain I cause Him, and Jesus is in my heart, than together, we can (and will) forgive the sins others have committed against us. 5) I read “Choosing Forgiveness” by Nancy DeLeigh Moss, “Forgive and Forget” by Lewis Smedes, and “Exquisite Agony” by Gene Edwards. These were game-changers. I know this list is short and simple. But forgiving people who have hurt you is not. It took me a couple of years to forgive fully. But I did. I believe in you that you can too.
Once upon a time, a rabbit boasted about how fast he could run. A turtle overheard him and said, “I’ll run you a race.” “Done,” said the rabbit and laughed to himself. “But let’s get the fox for a judge.” The fox consented and the two started. The rabbit quickly outran the turtle, and knowing he was far ahead, lay down to take a nap. “I can soon pass the turtle whenever I awaken.” But unfortunately, the rabbit overslept. Therefore, when he awoke, though he ran his best, he found the turtle was already at the goal. He learned that “slow and steady wins the race.” Do you ever feel like the turtle? Somebody reading this is in some kind of race. A relationship race and you can’t keep up. A financial race and you are grossly behind. A career race and you need a job. A parental race and you’re exhausted. An emotional race and you’re wishing the race would end. I’m in a race too. But if we are IN a relationship with Christ, we may feel behind, but we are not at a loss. Like the fable, we may be the turtle, and we may never be the rabbit, but…God is the fox. God is the Judge. In the bible, Job had the worst turtle complex ever known to man. He lost EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in EVERY area of his life. He was behind. But Job kept his eyes on God. Although others gave up on him, God didn’t give up on Job and Job didn’t give up on God. And Job crossed the finish line, still a turtle? Perhaps. But a victorious one. Today, be steady like the turtle and trust the Fox.
In the bible, Paul wrote, ”Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.” Today, at our creative meeting, I saw this verse come to life! True story! Around the table, we weren’t just twelve heads, twelve noses, or twelve mouths. Today, God assembled motley parts and created one cool body. As a result, great dreams were dreamt, visions were casted, goals were accomplished. Withholding the names of the people, look at this list of one-word descriptors for those in attendance:
- The Visionary One
- The Administrative One
- The Inquisitive One
- The Trendsetting One
- The Hospitable One
- The Lighthearted One
- The Wise One
- The Practical One
- The Challenging One
- The Bi-Visionary One
- The Dreaming One
- The Sensitive One
Now tell me that isn’t one complete body, made up of unique parts, by one magnificent God? Wherever you lead, look for lots of parts, and watch how God moves mountains through them.
Over the years, we have been a misunderstood couple, and we get that. There is nothing normal about us. I (Heather) am the one who is not normal. When I was eight years old I mailed a letter to my grandma confessing that I wanted to take my life. Thus marking the beginning of a lifelong journey battling my mind. This battle has not been easy but over the years, I’ve learned to thrive because of Christ, the solid rock I stand. But to be married to it is an entirely different story. So how has Raul made it fifteen years?! Unlike the ole’ adage, it’s actually NOT “opposites-attract” that keeps us together. It’s our one similarity. God. Raul and I don’t have the luxury of having a plethora of similarities. We don’t have the same childhood experiences, same strengths or same weaknesses. We don’t handle conflict the same. We don’t always love each other with the same intensity. We don’t lead the same and we don’t follow the same. And as established earlier, we don’t have the same mental stability. So when all of these differences are challenged, we HAVE to have SOMETHING that HOLDS us together. We would be a mess without God. God is the attraction between us. We both love God and seek to do His will. Without our similar foundation in God, our differences would rip us apart. Circumstances can divide and humans can repel, but God attracts. So what will keep us under one roof for years to come? One God!
Confession: I have been a drama-mama. The following is my journey from Drama Mama to Recovering Drama Mama. I hope this encourages someone today. Drama-Mama-Heather made a bigger deal out of the crisis than was needed. She told more people than cared or needed to know. She wasn’t always responsible for the trials, but she was responsible for the drama added to it. She stunted her potential because her drama delayed her progress. Recovering-Drama-Mama-Heather makes an ordeal out of a crisis with God first. She proceeds to tell only a few, who will care, who will empathize, who will pray. She expects a speedy recovery. She stays quieter because she doesn’t want to miss God’s whisper.
Here’s the deal, NOBODY has endured a greater trial than Jesus but He forged through it without drama. Before his brutal, humiliating execution on a cross for all of mankind, He CHOSE to: 1) go to God first 2) tell only a few 3) not expect everyone to understand 4) give it all to God. If you are struggling with drama, take some time to study Matthew 26, and let God fill you with the same things He filled His Son with to endure the trial without the drama and experience major victory!
Awhile back, I stepped up to the intimidating griddle in our fairly new kitchen and made pancakes. But I only had a box of gluten-free pancake mix. These pancakes looked like pancakes, required the same ingredients as pancakes, griddled like pancakes. But they didn’t taste like pancakes. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed and my kids were left still hungry. Ya know I used to be like a gluten-free pancake. I looked like a Christian (wore a cross necklace). I had the same ingredients as a Christian (went to church, owned a couple bibles, attended a Christian college, loved God). But get close enough and you would have discovered I was gluten-free: everything was there…but something was missing. Maybe this is you. Maybe this is someone close to you. How did I resolve this? For starters, I went to the store and bought REAL pancake mix. How did I resolve my life? One morning, when I was 23, I had an epiphany: I would no longer LOOK Christian on the outside; I would BE Christian on the inside. I’ve been working at being a real pancake ever since. I’ve had no regrets with the work its required. If you want the real pancake to stand up (YOU!) ask the Master Chef to get involved in your life–and you will!