Here’s my own story of doubt.
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Often times we are so desperate for God to change our circumstances, but He is infinitely more wise and HE is desperate to change US.
Take a moment to think of your own life? What might the Lord be trying to use to change YOU?
Hi Friends! This week I had the pleasure of writing a guest post for the Epiphany Station blog. Check it out here.
I had just finished leading worship for the Sunday service and I thought this very kind lady was approaching me to tell me what a great job I had done with the music (It’s true. I’m human and it encourages me to hear I’m doing something well).
But Oh how much pride comes before the fall.
Luckily this woman pulled me aside, apart from the rest of the passerbys, before she proceeded with, “I just have to ask you…when are you due?” She looked at me as though she had uncovered a special secret that no one else in the world had noticed. She waited in anticipation for me to divulge my happy news.
“uh….(sigh)….I’m not”. I tilted my head a little bit and smiled the kindest smile I could muster, hoping it would somehow ease the awkwardness I knew was coming. But this lady did not skip a beat.
“Oh! Are you sure?”
Though it’s hard to imagine, this question was almost more painful than the first. She may as well have said, “Oh honey, I think you’re mistaken. I know what a pregnant woman looks like, and you are one of them”.
“Yeah, I’m sure”.
At this point I was getting more and more embarrassed, frantically looking around for Nolan to barge into the conversation and rescue me. Unfortunately I could see him off in the distance laughing away, undoubtedly at some bathroom joke or youtube video that normally I would have no interest in. I tried to will him to look at me and recognize my agony, but it didn’t work. No, for now I was stuck. Commanding myself not to cry in front of this woman and find a cleaver way out on my own. Meanwhile…
“Oh, so you must just be sitting at the office eating junk food with the guys all day then huh?”
Seriously!? She can’t possibly know what she’s saying.*
“Yup. That must be it”.
Now, think of your most embarrassing moment**. Go ahead. Let all the feelings come flooding back. And remember all that it took to get over it (no matter how silly of a thing it actually was, or how many people said it “wasn’t a big deal”).
Ok, now imagine that scenario happens over and over again for 15 years straight.
Welcome to my life!
I think I would be a tad bit more understanding had this trend of asking me if I am pregnant began once Nolan and I got married, but it didn’t. It started when I was a Sophmore in high school. Since then I have been asked by kids, peers, old people, drunk people, church people, straight-up-mean people, complete strangers. At weddings, at my workplace, at school, at the movie theater, in the lobby of the doctor’s office, in the mall, at public Q&A forums. During my travels I was asked this awkward question at least once a week…for an entire year!
That kind of thing takes a toll on a person. That kind of thing also can’t be a coincidence. I haven’t figured out exactly why I continue having to endure this kind of blow to my self-image*** but I am hopeful the Lord is working in me a quiet humility, and maybe an awareness that couldn’t come any other way.
I don’t know why I have decided to blog about this part of my life now. Perhaps it’s because I already spilled all my other secrets and I figure, what’s one more? And now that you all know, you can help spread the word:
No, I am not pregnant. I am just very unfortunately built. Thank you Cystic Fibrosis.
*Please do not comment on my FB or WordPress about how “horrible” the lady in the story was. She’s not horrible, and I don’t want her to feel worse than she (maybe/probably) already does.
**Let’s commiserate. Email me your most embarrassing moment at firstname.lastname@example.org
***Hear me say this, Pregnant woman are beautiful! I’m simply plagued by a culture that says anything but perfection is unacceptable…shameful even.
Remember Mary? Not Jesus’ mother Mary, but Mary Magdalene, the one who pours all her expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and people get mad at her for “wasting” it. The reason Jesus wasn’t offended that she spent all her perfume on HIM (as opposed to selling it and giving the money to the poor) is because he knew this was an act of Love. Mary knew who Jesus was and she was cherishing her time with Him. I imagine she knew she was in the presence of the Messiah and this was the only thing she could think of to do that would honor Him in that moment. As usual, Jesus saw more than the act itself; He saw the intention (the heart) behind it.
You may also remember Jesus used this opportunity to remind people that He wasn’t going to be with them much longer, so it was good that Mary was savoring the moments they had together.
There are times even when Jesus walked the earth that he sent his disciples off by themselves to minister to people around them…without Him (he wasn’t with every disciple every moment). Jesus spent copious amounts of time with them, filling them with knowledge and wisdom, and giving them experiences that would verify who HE is. He encouraged them. He prepared them. And then he sent them out.
I’m beginning to think maybe there’s a pattern to how God works in our lives. Perhaps what we think is the Spirit abandoning us, neglecting us, or ignoring us, is really just Him sending us out. In those times of awesome spiritual highs, we need to take advantage of His undeniable presence, because that is when we are going to be filled, encouraged, and equipped. But we need to DO something with all of that encouragement and equipping. If we all just stayed on the mountaintop all the time, nothing would ever get done. No one new would come to Christ, no one new would have those mountaintop experiences because there would be no one to tell them about the One who brings us there.
God graciously pours out His spirit in varying measure, for our pleasure, but ultimately for His glory…for us to be able to do the work He’s called us to do.
A couple years ago one of my teams played at a Generation 4 Justice conference in the Seattle area. The main thrust of this conference was to raise awareness for human trafficking and slavery, but in the end, everything came down to living a life that is passionate. It was a challenge to rise up and to not let this life pass us by without making something of it. And by “making something of it” I do not mean, “living the American Dream”. God did not put breath in our lungs so that we could spend our days making money, paying off debt for things we shouldn’t have purchased in the first place, blinded by our selfishness, and unaware of people around us.
This breath that is in our lungs (that He doesn’t HAVE to give us, by the way) is meant to enable a life of worship.
And so the challenge becomes, for all of us, to discern what that looks like for us, and what passions He’s placed within us to live that out. But don’t assume that the “easy” thing is the thing you’re called to. Perhaps you ARE called to stay in your city, work there with joy, raise your family to know the Lord, and be financially responsible. But maybe you’re ALSO called to use your riches to feed the hungry, tell your co-workers about the redemption found in Christ, or maybe something as bold as taking an orphan into your home. We could become a people who pour ourselves fully into serving Christ and his people… having jobs to simply facilitate that effort.
I want my life to be like this. No matter how long or short it may be.
I think the hundreds and hundreds of pages I’ve been journaling over the years have become my biggest asset. I can learn a lot about myself and about what the Lord is doing in my life (or has already done!) I’m glad I have a record of it all. Sometimes I will read something I wrote a few years back and think to myself, wow, who the heck wrote that! She sounds really smart. Other times I think, wow, who the heck wrote that? She sounds like a total idiot.
Luckily today, when I read a journal entry from exactly five years ago, I was impressed and not mortified:
“Sometimes we act as though we’re going to earn God’s favor, or prove our faithfulness by depriving ourselves, or making bigger sacrifices, or praying, fasting, being healthier, giving more of my time, being more studious, etc. What I’ve come to realize though is that we can become a slave to those things, even though they are good on their own…and that’s a sin.
The Lord Loves us and has favor over us, and approves of us out of grace…because of Jesus, not because of anything we have done (or don’t do!)
Does that mean we should cease to seek wisdom and a contrite spirit, and right intention, and humility, and knowledge? Of course NOT! By doing these things we are living out our faith. But us becoming a slave to those things; us serving those things, is just as sinful as not doing them at all.
That’s why there needs to be a healthy balance between focusing so much on works that we push out grace, and becoming so comfortable with grace that no one can tell any difference between us and someone who has no concern for God at all.
And that is why James reminds us that our faith without any works is dead, while Paul reminds us that we cannot be saved by our works but only through grace”.
*See James 2: 19-26 and Ephesians 2:8-10