Things are Changing

Change has been a constant theme on this blog for the last couple of months. I’ve talked about having an empty nest and what comes next in my life. I’ve talked about courage and bravery. I’ve even talked about fear. But, what I haven’t talked about yet and what I’ve been feeling recently in the recesses of my heart is loneliness.

Let me explain. I’ve been having conversations with my husband about life and about how we are different from other people our age. We’re both very comfortable around technology to the point that we’ve coined a name for it. We’re techno-geeks. Comfortable with superheroes, science, gaming, anime,  and genre fiction. Not so comfortable with frilly dresses, flashy sports cars, home decorating shows, or fancy jewelry. We’re direct with people, and we want to talk about important things–not about the latest antics of a Hollywood movie star or the latest political mess going on in Washington. We want to talk about faith and how God is leading us. We want to focus our lives on what we can change–our thoughts, behavior, and actions.

Other people though aren’t so comfortable with being direct. They would rather talk about the trivial and talk about things that don’t matter. So, I’ve withdrawn to a certain extent which probably hasn’t been the best thing for me, but it is what it is.

The loneliness is deep though, and it’s something I’m having to work through. My husband says I should embrace my small subset of a small minority, and I think I have somewhat. But, I still do stupid things a lot, and I have people stare at me wondering what in the world I’m talking about. I think those things contribute to my feelings of loneliness and not feeling like I fit in.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do have friends though many of them skew 10-15 years younger than me. Remember, I’m a techno-geek. It’s just that life gets in the way sometimes, and I wish I could be more comfortable letting my walls down with people and saying how I really am through all the changes I’ve experienced in the last few months.

I almost hesitate to bring this next part up because it’s probably going to make someone mad. But, the way I understand things in life is to write them down like this quote from C. S. Lewis says. “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” So, here is my disclaimer as I start to write about what brought this on today. . These are all my thoughts and feelings, and I am in no way trying to ascribe wrongdoing or hurt onto anyone else.  With that being said, here goes. I’m part of a community that has a small groups emphasis twice a year. Another one has started, and we’ve heard nothing from the people whose group we’ve been a part of in the past. We’ve assumed that they’ve decided not to do it and that we’re on our own. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Why don’t they just ask? Well, that’s where my problem comes in. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being rejected. Rejected for the stupid things I do. Rejected and not wanted. (Guess I’m not over that fear thing as much as I thought. 🙂 ) Then, my mind spins like one of those twirly-whirls from my childhood, and I’m exhausted with the thought of trying to fit in again. Trying to find another small group. It makes me think serving at the media board with my husband would be better, and I should just stay back there so I don’t have to try to get close to anyone again.

But, that’s not what God wants with me, from me, or from any of us, for that matter. When my thoughts are all topsy-turvy, I can remember these Scripture verses from the Word, and they will ground my feelings and steep me in the truth God wants me to keep in my heart. First, from Psalm 46:10, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” God is God despite all of the changes in my life. He is the only One I can depend on not to change.

Then, there’s Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” God can help me fight these feelings and channel them into helping others not to feel so alone. We think we have it all figured out, and we can handle our faith and our lives by ourselves. But, we can’t. We need a community who is willing to listen without judging.

And finally, there’s Galatians 1: 10. “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I think God meant for me to see this verse as I also saw a tweet from a Christian author while I was pulling these verses together which said the same thing. From author Annie F. Downs, “I can’t be full of the Holy Spirit and full of myself at the same time.”

So, there you have it. I am laying my loneliness at the foot of the cross and seeing what God is going to do with it. He is always with us even during the changes. He is on our side when we feel lonely, and He is on our side when we’re surrounded by people. He wants us, or me, I should say, because I’m the one who really needs it, to wade into the crowd full of His Holy Spirit so we can minister in His Name to those who are alone. I pray He gives all of us guidance as we seek to have a heart like His while living in this messed-up world.

God bless you all today!

Biggest Change in My Life

This was the question asked at the end of today’s devotion. It made sense for the question to be asked since there were only two more devotions after this one. Luckily, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how my life has changed since I began writing this series of blog posts in February.

I’ve become braver like the devotional says, and I’ve gained more courage. I’ve learned I don’t have to bury who I am much as I might feel some people want me to. God made me the way I am, and if people don’t like it, too bad for them. 🙂 The only person whose approval I want is the approval of my Lord and Savior. And if it comes down to it, I don’t need to be approved of by my fellow believers either. That’s not what God made me for. He made me to bring Him glory and not anyone else.

I also learned God is in control of everything. Yes, I already knew that in my head, but my heart caught up when I was in Honduras last week. I didn’t have control over anything. Not when we worked, not when we ate, not even when we traveled somewhere or when we were waiting to get rescued from the side of the road. God was in control of it all. He gave me the strength to endure at the roadside and the energy to work and play with the kids at VBS. He was present in my trip just like He said He would be.

Trusting the process was my second lesson. I didn’t need to have anything specific to tell people like I thought. The author had some poignant words about courage that I thought applied well to my own life.  “It’s (courage) for your relationship with God. It’s for your dreams and your calling and your work.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) (parentheses and addition mine) She also had this to say about bravery. “You can be brave during all the changes of life. You can be brave in the face of pain. You can be brave with your health. Brave with your money. Brave wherever you are!” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) (emphasis mine) And because I’m brave, I can trust the process as I consider what comes next.

I’m grateful God will be with me through all of this change like it says in Scripture. I Chronicles 28:20 says, “David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.'” God will be with me and with all of us until our work is finished. May we truly believe that promise today!

God’s blessings on you all today!

People are Changed by Scars

For the last six weeks, I’ve taken my husband to work when I’ve needed the car. It’s been a divine detour God has sent me on with a range of emotions – both good and bad. It has been humbling to have this loss of control when I’ve generally been in control of my schedule. It has made wounds out of scars I thought had already healed, and it has made me sad thinking why things never seem to come together for us and why the bad times have been continual. Why has God never given me something victorious I could share at church?

But, today, I heard a quote on a local Christian radio station on my way back from taking him. I had been detoured around my usual route and was sitting in stop and go traffic when I turned the radio on. The host was talking with a guest, and they were talking about scars. This I could relate to, I have a lot of scars. I heard what he had to say about Jesus’ scars, and then, all of a sudden, the host got excited and was saying she wanted to write down the quote. I listened to him say it again and wished I had a way to write it down too. It was that good! But, alas, the line of traffic started moving, and I didn’t have the chance. When I got home, I looked up the radio station’s Facebook page in hopes that it would be on there. It was! Yay! Do I think it was luck that I found it? No, I think God wanted me to read it again and share it with you all. So, from Pastor Jeremy Saylor of Christian Life Church, “Why would Jesus keep his scars on the back side of the resurrection?” I think, because, “When we share our victories others applaud, when we share our scars, people are changed.” Wow! Two thoughts came to me. This makes sense, and my scars are worthy to be shared! God has seen them. Jesus has seen them. And I am still worthy in their sight despite my scars. Grace, grace, and more grace like in Ephesians 2:8-9.

Another question came to me. Why do divine detours generally result in more scars? I understand that if we are believers, we expect or should expect that God is in control of our lives like it says in Proverbs 19:21. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I also understand that scars can happen from our sinful natures, but what I’ve never understood is when something bad happens to someone else or to me, and there seems to be no reason for it. A divine detour, so to speak. What the author says about this though is similar to the quote I heard this morning. “But the thing is, we need divine detours because it’s through the divine detours that God always takes us where we’re supposed to go in the long run.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs)

So, God puts us where we’re supposed to be through the bad times. OK, I do understand it, and it does make sense, but that leads me to another question. If our scar stories are worthy to be shared, why doesn’t it happen more in the church? Why don’t we hear our leaders share their scar stories, and why aren’t we willing to share our scar stories? Sadly, I’m pretty sure I know why. It’s demeaning and embarrassing to have a scar story. We would rather have people applauding our victories than having our scar stories out there for everyone to mock. Because, isn’t that what we do– we mock, and we judge anything we don’t understand?

That is why I believe Jesus kept the scars. He wanted to be able to prove He had been through what He had been through, and He wanted us to know it was okay to have a scar story. Jesus knew it would be the scar stories and how He redeemed them that would eventually spread His message across the globe. So thankful to have a Lord and Savior that accepts me for who I am–scar story and all!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

Positive Change and Negative Change

My post today will have some beginnings and some endings. Before I type up my post and publish it, I usually hand-write it in my journal. I can be old-fashioned in that way. I like seeing the pages of written words and knowing that I’m the one who wrote them down. One of today’s endings will be completing the last page of this journal. This is a positive change for me. I take a picture of all the journals I’ve completed (over 20 now, I think) and a picture of the next journal I’ll start tomorrow. It helps me to mark how much time has passed and to remember how far I’ve come. Being able to write down how I’m feeling has been a game changer for me. I still might not be able to verbalize my feelings well, but writing them down…writing them down, I can do.

This post will also be published at the end of the month. The ending of a month is usually a positive change for me. I like tearing off the calendar page at the end of the day and seeing all the possibilities of the brand new month coming–the passage of the seasons, so to speak. The ending of this month though will represent something negative for me. No, I don’t mean negative like I don’t want my son to graduate from high school. It just means that I will have less than three weeks of homeschooling left. Twelve years of doing something is a long time, and in a way, it can be negative because I’m not sure of what I’ll be doing next. Let me be honest. Right now, it does hurt because it is an ending, and because I like to know what I’m doing each day. I don’t like to not have the control I usually think I have over my days.

Change can hurt, as it says in today’s devotion. Sometimes, the change is out of our control, and sometimes, it is something we might want, but can still hurt because it represents an ending. I needed to be reminded of what God says about how He works in our lives through today’s Bible verse. From Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God works for our good–in the positive and in the negative. I don’t have a problem with positive change as I’m sure most of us don’t. Who wouldn’t want a better job, a promotion, a new place to live, etc., etc. though these positive changes can come with their own kinds of stress? No, it’s the negative changes that can hurt…losing a job, finding out about an illness, or losing a friendship. The author says this about how brave people react to change which confuses me. “Brave people are okay with change because they remember that change is for our good.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) I equate this with pretending that nothing is wrong so I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

But then, she said that God knows. God knows our pain, and He knows our joy. We’re allowed to acknowledge both parts of our lives with Him which is one of my biggest struggles. We don’t have to have it all together to live bravely in His presence. We might not know the good that is planned through the hurt, but we do know He is working for our good through this verse. May we all acknowledge the truth of Romans 8:28 as we go through the joyous times and the hurting times of our lives!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

 

 

Changing is Constant

When I was growing up, I was envious of the people who had one job in one place. There was no chance they would move, and they would be able to stay in their familiar places all of their lives. It used to be like that in the United States. Moving from one place to another was a bigger deal than it is today, and if moving was necessary, coming back to the old place was not possible.

I, on the other hand, measure my life by my moves. When people ask me where I’m from, I start listing out the different states where I’ve lived and the years I lived there. It was a lonely existence especially when I got old enough to realize what I was giving up. I remember hearing about a particular move when I was sixteen. We had only been in Ohio for one year, and the choices were to go to California or back to South Carolina where we had lived for six years before that year. It’s probably obvious what my choice was. I wanted to go back to South Carolina. I had friends there. I was familiar with the school and the area. I think it’s also obvious what we ended up doing. We went to California because the opportunity was better. Another change. Another new place. For my junior year of high school. It was a struggle although I eventually adjusted.

But, the struggle outweighed the adjustment enough that I chose to go back across the country for college. My heart ached for something familiar, and I thought going to college in my old hometown would ease that ache. It didn’t. Instead, I learned my first lesson about change being a constant thing in life. Oh, there were familiar places and familiar people, but we had all changed in the three years I had been gone. Changed and grown up. I can look back now and say it was a good thing, but I wasn’t so sure then because once more, I didn’t have an anchor.

I did though. I just didn’t realize it. God eventually reminded me, and we started having more talking time. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Our Father does notchange! I hung onto God tightly during my college years, and He brought people into my life who would become mentors and friends some of whom are still good friends all these years later.

The end of college brought more change. I began working and met and married my husband a few years later. Low and behold, the moves continued. First, they were within the same town–into a rental home before our first son was born and into a home of our own when both of our children were small. These moves weren’t such a big deal. We still had our same set of friends, and we went to a lot of the same places. But, then we moved to another city and to another state a few short years later. Those moves were harder. It was the same kind of change I had felt when I moved around as a child. It was weird though. The adjustment was easier. I felt more prepared for the change. It didn’t hurt any less, but it was easier.

I know now that God was preparing me for the moves through my childhood experiences. He was teaching me He would always be there for me even when I acted like I didn’t want Him and even when I wasn’t as close to Him as I am now. He was teaching me how to let go, and I needed to learn how. He was teaching me He was my anchor, and no one else could be. All good lessons to learn.

I’m not jealous of people who get to stay in one place anymore. They have as much to deal with as I’ve had with the constant change in my life. God, not a place, is my anchor, and I wouldn’t want it any different!

May God bless you all today!