It’s not about me

Last night I started The Purpose Driven Life as part of Lent devotional. Rick Warren suggests that you mark up the book and use it as a place to meditate on the things discussed in each chapter. While I can’t bring myself to do that, I thought I might use my blog as the place to process these thoughts. That way, I can pass the book along to a friend if they are interested when I’m done- and won’t feel bad for having marked it up so badly.

At the end of each day there is a summary, which I think I’ll include and then I’ll contemplate it’s meaning.

Day 1: Thinking about my purpose

Point to ponder: It’s not about me.

Verse to remember: “Everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” Colossians 1:16b (The Message)

Question to Consider: In spite of all the advertising around me, how can I remind myself that life is really living for God, not myself?

I almost feel like the point to ponder ‘It’s not about me‘ would better serve as a mantra than a temporary point to ponder. I feel like in some ways it is much bigger than a thought you consider for a day, but is rather something you need to constantly be telling yourself. I’m not saying to abandon all selfish pursuits because I think that those are incredibly valuable tools, but what I mean is that I think it’s important to focus more on the questions of what does God have planned for me, than what do I want to do with my life.

When an opportunity passes you by I think it’s important to contemplate whether it is something God might be asking of you. I can’t really figure out how to make this more tangible and easy to grasp. I guess it means that God created you with a purpose for your life in mind, and some choices you get to make, and others were set out by Him. So in addition to doing things that will enrich your life you need to be on the lookout for those things that you can do to please God.  

I think that in this day and age, where so many twenty-something’s are leaving college with the impression that they can have exactly their dream job, and to settle for nothing less, it’s hard to not become self-focused. It’s hard to not consider yourself first because we did grow up in a day and age where we got trophies for everything, where we were told daily how unique and precious we are, and where we are told to dream big. There is nothing wrong with any of those things except for that we were never taught how to put living for God first. Again, this is something that I find somewhat hard to reflect on because I feel like it’s just something you need to remind yourself daily, but I did want to try and contemplate it a little more deeply.

Let me know if you have any thoughts, I really would love to hear them.

 

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God Let’s Us Make U-Turns

This blog wasn’t intended to solely be about my spiritual growth, but as a part of making myself a happier person I did decide I wanted to work on it, and thus it’s getting shared a lot. This morning at church our pastor said something that really sunk in with me. “We believe in a God who allows U-Turns.”

I had to take a moment to think about what he meant by this. Basically what he was saying was that our God knows we make mistakes, but every day is a day to start over. Yes, people do make bad decisions, really bad decisions, but they can come back from that. 

Before he had gotten to his “point” – which was that God allows U-turns he’d been talking about things like adultery, murder, addiction, and other “big ticket” sins. And I found myself thinking on a certain situation I’d been witness to and wondering, well how does that person live with themselves. I can understand that life moves on and so do people, but as a Christian how can that person not feel like God is “mad at them.” Or more than that, when they go to church and hear the preacher speaks on their sin (in general), how do they not just feel red-faced and shamed? Not that I would want them to, but how do they not feel that way

And then it kind of all clicked. They don’t have to. People do make mistakes. They can even make really bad mistakes, but it doesn’t have to define them as a person, they can move on from them. That is the power of forgiveness and God’s grace. 

That’s a tough concept to swallow.

It is very much my gut instinct that those who have harmed us, or who have done blatantly wrong things, should have to suffer a reciprocal hardship. It’s not even that we really want bad things to happen in the world, it’s just that we’re almost looking for a sense of justice. As if to say that something terrible happening to a person who harmed us would make us feel better about the whole thing. The thing is, it’s a wasted thought. Even if something bad did happen to that person, it doesn’t really make us feel better. 

When you hear that Jesus died on the cross so that we might all be forgiven for our sins, you kind of take that for what is is. You think about it in the sense that if I judge, or if I miss an opportunity to witness, that I will be forgiven for my sin. I think it’s a whole different thing to be able to see that Jesus died to forgive others of their sins. And that you really do get to start over fresh with him each and every minute of every day. 

I think it greatly helps in the process of learning to forgive others to know that God has already forgiven them. When you find yourself thinking, how do they live with themselves, you can get caught up in that and stuck on that. You really do just want to know how they can go on with their life after doing something so heinous. But the thing is, it’s just a mistake. If people never made them pencils wouldn’t come with erasers. When you drill down on it and can allow yourself that they were just mistakes they made, or even a series of mistakes it helps. When you can understand that they can live with themselves because God forgives you for mistakes, it helps. 

I’m not sure if this post is going to make sense to anyone beyond myself. I just found the simple reminder that “God allows U-Turns” to be incredibly germane to one of my biggest areas of weakness. Hopefully though, this reminder, that God allows U-Turns will be helpful to someone who does need help forgiving either them-self or someone else.  

Getting Things Done: Doctors and Bloodwork

One of the things on my (massive) To-Do List was to schedule a physical and get blood work done. I haven’t been to get blood-work done since I was about twelve. (I know). I did actually had blood drawn when I was nineteen and in the ER for stomach pain, but I don’t know what they tested in that blood test. I just remember that they told me my levels were all normal. I am assuming it wasn’t anything like blood-sugar, cholesterol, or the traditional “clinical” blood-work.

On Monday I decided it was time to bite the bullet. I knew if I went ahead and did it I’d at least have it done before tax-season got into full swing, and I’d be able to go into any baby making with a clear conscience. I normally dread the doctor. I’ve been known to actually cancel appointments because I was having a bad day and couldn’t be bothered with going to the doctor on top of it all.  Somehow though, I didn’t dread this appointment at all.

On the way over to the doctor’s appointment I found myself feeling a little nervous. And honestly, looking back, I can’t tell you what for. I really can’t. (Which is probably a good thing). I was listening to K-Love on the radio. (I turned in on after Christmas since I was missing my Christmas music, and then they kept mentioning this “30 Day Challenge” and I’d already been listening to it for about 2 weeks straight so I figured, why not?) And while some people might not buy it, I just prayed and asked God to please just take away this small bit of anxiety I was feeling and I asked him to please just give me an easy appointment. I was only about 60 seconds away from the doctor’s office by the time I finished my request.

When I walked in the door I was literally greeted the second I walked up to the window. Even though my insurance and name had changed I was processed quickly and given paperwork to fill out. Before I could even finish filling out the paperwork the triage nurse came for me and we started the blood pressure, weight, and entry questionnaire type things. When she finished she told me the P.A. would be in with me shortly and honestly within 5 minutes she was there in the room with me. I got a small lecture about my weight (I’m at the top of my BMI- which I knew, partially it’s because I’ve gotten lazy about exercising, partially because I do genuinely just have a big frame). But that was it. Other than that she had nothing negative to say. She gave me paperwork for routine blood-work which she doesn’t expect to see any huge problems with based on my answers to her questions.

I hate blood work but I am oddly (or maybe not so oddly) at peace about having done. I plan on asking the phlebotomist to just take whichever arm she wants and then asking to let me please just be in my own world. I’m a little worried about what the results might be, but I am trying to again put my faith in God (just like I did for the doctor’s appointment) that everything will come back fine and that even if something is off, it will be easily manageable. I got the (almost) exact appointment I wanted, for 7:45am on Monday.

If you’re wondering why I am sharing this with you the answer is that I wanted to share the fact that I conquered a fear. (Well, I’m technically still in the process of conquering it.) And I conquered my fear by asking God for help.

 

Be Emily

One of the biggest tenants of The Happiness Project book, was to be yourself. The author constantly was reminding herself she just needed to be herself, do her thing. Well here’s a confession. I have no idea who I am. I spent most of my life trying to make other people happy and make friends that I’ve never really felt like I knew who I was. I am super pale and have a visiion problem and so I think I’ve always been too afraid to be myself because I already stood out enough as it was.

Over the last few months I have come to realize though, that I want a baby. Bad. i want a family. I am probably romanticizing it but I really, truly, want to start my family. A few months ago I went off birth control and added short term disability coverage at work. Basically that protects me from having to go on maternity leave without pay.

I find myself being held up by what other people will think. My husband and I are definitely going to “try” this cycle. I am current on the 2nd day of my cycle, and we are hoping that either this cycle or next I will get pregnant. I know it’s not realistic to think it can happen in two cycles but I’d love to have a baby in October and November so I am praying. I have been so much trying to focus on God and hearing His message, and just praying that if it is meant to be I will be a mommy in 2014.

I am only 24 (I’ll be 25 next month), and I feel as though my parents aren’t ready for me to have kids yet. And here’s the thing, that shouldn’t have any bearing on what I want, but it does. I love my parents, and I want to always make them happy, and so I worry that if I have kids before they’re ready, that on some level they will be disappointed in me.

My parents have never been the type who were excited by those milestones in their children’s lives. They weren’t excited when I had my first boyfriend, or when I announced (at the age of 20) that I was engaged. I think by the time I was 23 and got around to having my wedding they were happy- but it felt forced on some level to me.

My sister is four years older than me. She hasn’t had much luck in the dating world. About a month before I got engaged her and her boyfriend of about 3 years broke up. I think in some ways my family is still grieving (five years later) for her and that loss. But at the same time, we have to move on. Just because I’ve gotten married before my big sister and will (God willing) have children before her, doesn’t mean that we should all go around walking on egg shells.

I still can’t help but feel as though this would be so much easier if I wasn’t upsetting the natural order of things. My sister should have gotten married and had kids first, and if all of that had happened it would be so much easier on me. The truth is I’m scared. I’m scared I’ll be pregnant and won’t feel the excitement from my family. I’m scared that it will hurt. I’m scared that I’ll always remember it.

When I got engaged I remember how happy I was for myself, but it was shadowed by the fact that I knew my “best friend” would be supremely jealous and wouldn’t actually be happy for me. I still remember that, even more than 4 years later. I just don’t want something like that to happen with my pregnancy too.

I think I am ready to be a mom. I still have a lot of learning to do in life. But I am ready to experience pregnancy, and growing a little baby inside me. I am ready to learn the patience that only motherhood can teach. I am ready to get up at three in the morning and nurse my baby quietly in the dark. I am ready for the dark circles that tell the world I was up all night nurturing a life that might some day cure cancer. I am ready to teach my baby to view the world as a blank canvas. I am ready to cultivate a love for life. I am ready to teach a little girl how to tie her hair up in bows, or a little boy how to make racetracks. I am ready to read to my little darling every night before bed. I am ready to look my husband in the eye, and proudly say, “We made that.” I am.

Are you there God, it’s me Emily?

Growing up my mom brought my sister and I to the Catholic Church (Dad came too, but only because he loves my mom that much!). On Sunday’s we attended “CCD”, which stood for something, but was pretty much Sunday School, really long Sunday School. I went because Mom made me and in 7th grade she stopped making me, so I stopped going. We never really talked about God in our family. We said our prayers at Sunday dinner but I feel like that was the extent of it.

In 9th grade my friend Cindy called and said, “Hey- you should come to youth group with me.” I’m pretty sure somebody put her up to it, but that’s how God works isn’t it? I was pretty active in the church and youth group from 9th through 11th grade, and then when my friends graduated and headed off to college my attendance dwindled. I do believe that church, like home, is where the heart is and without those friends the church didn’t feel the same.

When I met my husband around the end of my freshman year of college it turned out that he was active in the same church I had been in high school, he’d just come in right as I was finishing up there. Church was important to him so after I graduated college and we moved in together I started going to church with him again. But I’ve never really feel anything.

Fast forward to the last few months. I’ve been watching Nikki Phillippi and Rachel Talbott on youtube (Click their names for links to their videos)- and every time I watch their videos I am so astounded by their absolute faith and belief. I don’t understand, how do people reach the point where when someone asks “What’s the most important thing in your life?” they answer “My relationship with God.” so naturally? What am I missing? How do they have so much passion?

I’ve been working on finding happiness and I think a lot of finding happiness and letting go of worry is finding a feeling of safety in God’s arms but I just don’t feel anything, and I feel like I try. I go to church on Sundays because I want to not because I should. Hubby and I are even serving communion at some of the up coming services. I love that feeling when I come out of the gym after a good work-out, or especially after yoga, and a great song comes on K-Love (I’d say that they play “worship” music). So why don’t I feel anything more? Does anyone have any advice for me?