Friday, April 8, 2016

What's Your Story?


This morning I was listening to a song by Superchick called “Hero”, and in it the singer paints a vivid picture of different stories of people who are heroes.  Not one of them was named Thor or Captain America.  Don’t get me wrong, Thor and Captain America are awesome, but I’m talking about your average everyday people, the ones seen as ordinary or the ones people really don’t pay attention to at all.  They are the teachers fighting to keep troubled kids in school because they see them as more than pain in the ass kids who will probably dropout anyway, they’re the people who befriend the shy new kid in school, or it’s the person who chooses to go on even though they suffer from depression or loneliness and can barely get out of bed each day, let alone face the world.  Superchick gave some great examples of who heroes really are.  They are rarely in the spotlight, but they’re remembered by those whose lives they touch.

So, what’s your story? Are you one of the people I described above? Are you someone’s Thor or Captain America in regular clothes, whose superpower is paying attention to those around you and caring enough to make a difference in this crazy world? Are you a hero, or are you one of the villains who make it a goal to bring people down, adding to the faceless, nameless crowd that faces negativity every day?

We all matter.  We’re put here for a reason.  Sometimes, we wonder what that reason is, and at times we get lost and wander around in a kind of daze, all the while thinking this world is just too big for us. But, you could be the one who makes the world a little bit smaller and manageable for those who are lost.  You could be the one who brings someone back down to earth, “a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (see Proverbs 18:24).

We all have a story, and it’s a beautiful, horrible, crazy, hopeful mess caught up in the colorful garden that is our life. In terms of eternity, we have such a short time here.  I don’t know about you, but I want my life to count for something.  I want to make a contribution that hopefully helps and encourages people.  I believe it’s what I was born for.  I feel it, like I feel rain pouring down during a storm.  We aren’t designed to wander aimlessly.  We have treasure inside of us, begging to be found. 

Every experience in our lives can be used to help or relate to someone else, whether the offered experience is good or bad.  We’re born to different backgrounds and economic circumstances for a reason.  Our stories are written by the years we live, and we are brought into the lives of people for a purpose. In some way, we can mutually benefit from each other. Granted, I am well aware some experiences are things we want to tuck away to places we won’t dare reach into for fear of the consequences of doing so. I’m not saying we should bare all to the world.  I’m only saying we should share what we are able to. 

You can be someone’s hero. Imagine what one act of kindness, encouragement, or your strength and wisdom might do for someone who needs it?  You could lift someone up and help them see who they really are.  It’s the best feeling to witness that moment when a person finally wakes up and realizes they matter. Even the smallest gesture can touch somebody’s life.  Plus, you never know who else may be paying attention to you.  The things we do matter, and the words we speak over someone’s life make a difference.  It may not seem like it, but they do. When all is said and done, we will be remembered for how we affected people’s lives, the way we left our part of the world a little better (or worse). It’s how we’ve treated each other and what we believe in that matters.  YOU matter.

Thanks to for Biblical verse help.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Condemnation, Take a Hike!


“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
                                                                                                           -Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Human beings have such a great capacity to see the unique gifts and goodness in others.  We have the ability to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and we encourage each other to dream of things that could be and to push past our fears in order to realize those dreams.  On the flip side, we can also be extremely critical of one another, hurting each other with harsh words and with even the slightest of offenses.  We are a mixture of good and bad, but we are beautiful in what I like to refer to as our flawed perfection.  I admit it took me a long time to come to this conclusion about humanity.  I have witnessed the most magnificent selflessness in people, and I’ve seen and been through things that created the worst of scars.  We all have.  The thing is, though, that some of the worst scars I’ve dealt with are the ones I have inflicted upon myself.  As the saying goes, “We are our own worst critic.”

One of the biggest issues I have always dealt with is guilt.  I used to place myself on a pedestal (as did others, in my opinion), and if I messed up, even in the smallest way, I felt so guilty for it. I hate pedestals. They are for statues that are fake versions of those who couldn’t stand on them for long without falling anyway.  Pedestals should be left to chiseled, unfeeling rock, not living beings.

I’m not quite sure where my guilt always stemmed from.  Maybe, it’s because I used to feel inferior if I didn’t do things perfectly.  I say ‘used to’ because I finally came to a point in my life where I became too exhausted and irritated to attempt perfection anymore.  Perfection is for God alone.  We slowly chip away at ourselves when we try to be everything to everyone all at once.  I have cried to God plenty of times because I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be, a version that was way too hyped up in my own head. There have been too many times when I’ve felt broken down by my own expectations of what I thought I should be.  Plastered on smiles can only last so long.  Eventually, they fall away revealing the pain of false perfection underneath.

I know I’m not alone.  There are so many people who feel like I do, ones who try to live up to the unrealistic standards of others, or worse, the crazy expectations they’ve placed on their own shoulders.  That kind of weight slowly presses down though.  It’s backbreaking, and it’s dangerous.  I say it’s dangerous because if one misinterprets the weight as something they can handle completely on their own, then they very likely could become a victim of pride.  I used to be this way.  I thought I could do things on my own without relying on anyone else.  I sure didn’t want to bother God with my problems.  I figured He had enough to do already without having to deal with my issues too. 

I never doubted God could do what He wanted to.  I just didn’t know Him well enough to understand what His love meant when it pertained to me personally.  I couldn’t understand all of what Jesus’s sacrifice and victory meant for humanity. His love surpassed anything I ever knew, and to this day I am still constantly amazed by it. Romans 8:1 tells us, “…there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…,” but, though I’ve been a Christian for years, I never truly understood the meaning of this verse until more recently.

About a month ago, I was sitting in bed at around 3 a.m. surfing through channels on t.v. trying to find anything to watch besides another infomercial about dancing my way to weight loss or how to get rid of joint pain, and I stopped on Joyce Meyer’s show.  She was talking about God’s love and what it means concerning mankind.  She said, “A lot of people try to get God to love them by trying to behave perfectly.  But, God IS love, and all He wants us to do is act as a receptacle of His love, and to simply take in what’s being freely offered” (1 John 4:16). Wow!

Jesus commands us to love God and to love each other (Mark 12:29-31).  I believe that part of loving God is to allow Him to love us as well.  We can never truly trust Him unless we understand how much He loves us.  Trust in His Word doesn’t come from nodding our heads in church at verses we know we should agree with.  It comes from having faith that God is Who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.  I’ve heard different teachers of God’s Word relay this message in various ways numerous times. Though it may be difficult for us to grasp that there is no condemnation for us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, it doesn’t make it any less true, because even when we don’t understand right away what “no condemnation” means, it doesn’t mean we never will understand what it means.  Each person learns different lessons in their own time and in diverse ways.  To take away from God’s perfect timing for those lessons is to take away a part of what we are supposed to learn in the first place.

It will take this lifetime and beyond to learn all of what God wants us to know, and I know we will never stop learning, but the sooner we are able to develop even a small amount of faith in Him to keep His promises, the sooner we will experience a greater freedom in our lives.  There is no need to keep reliving mistakes we make.  Just confess them and move on. I admit that, though I know this truth, I still struggle with guilt occasionally.  People don’t change overnight after all.  But, I will keep reminding myself over and over until it fully sinks in that I should accept my own flawed perfection, and that’s all I need to do.  God will take care of the rest. And though I don’t have absolutely perfect trust in God yet, that doesn’t mean I can’t take a step forward in faith each day and take God’s extended hand.

Thank you to for help with the Biblical verses. J