Parenting can be really hard. It is one of those overwhelming responsibilities that goes beyond food and shelter. Most of the time it’s a lot of trial & error & asking for forgiveness…. There is a love stronger than words can express, and you’re not getting it all wrong, keep going! The fight is going to be worth it. Look in their eyes and see who they are right now and who they have the potential to be. You are a part of them as much as they are a part of you. I am thankful every time I think I have taught my girls something, just to find out they have changed me.
Do you ever get impatient with it? I mean, you have worked really hard in what seems like forever and no one is noticing. Promotion isn’t coming, marriage is still not what you want, kids still misbehave. No one says anything to you. Is it worth it? Do you question why you do it?
I often get on my soapbox at home about how important it is to always put in your best effort. Study hard and you will do better on the test. Practice your instrument and it will become easier. Put in the training, go to practice and you will improve. It’s all about character in my mind. Does it work every time? No, it doesn’t. Sometimes you still fail at a test. Sometimes the friend you invested time in just isn’t the friend you needed.
Is it always about the end result? Is it just about the “bling”…. the big shiny medal you earn at the end?
Or is it about always giving your all, good or bad results, there is never a doubt you are being you. You give 100%. You practice when it’s time to practice. You persevere when it’s time to persevere. You volunteer to give back, not for the accolades.
Hard work is great. But, being a hard worker is better.
I worked really hard the last few months to finish well in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 2-person relay. And yesterday, I earned two medals. I earned the race “bling,” which I love. Then I received what will forever be one of my favorite medals.
My good friend BJ finished his first 1/2 Marathon yesterday and he has worked really hard to get where he is today. When I crossed the finish line, he came up to me and gave me a “thank you” medal for inspiring him. I can’t say much, I’m not sure what I did exactly. I am still in awe. Because, I didn’t do anything, BJ did all of the work. I was just being me.
Sometimes our greatest victories are because of our character. Because, we choose to live positive lives. When you choose to give back regardless of the reward.
I know you and most people want to see change in the world around them. They want to see change in their families, they want to see change in community. Your families hope, your communities needs all start with you. You decide to be the change you want to see in the world and someday, you may just inspire. Or, you may never know who your life has affected but it should be worth it anyway. Because, it’s just you, being you.
The Switchfoot song, This Is Your Life, came out just about the same time that I was doing some serious reevaluation of who I was and who I wasn’t and what I was going to do about it.
Life can consume us with our failures, our iniquities, and our sheer complacency. We look in the mirror and we may say to ourselves, “This isn’t the plan.” “This isn’t who you are.” but in only rare occasions do we take the steps to be something else.
I took up running a few years ago. It was how I stopped smoking for good. I trained for my first 26.2 mile race, the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. It taught me that even though I didn’t know what the end result would be, it was worth the hard work. Somewhere along the journey I became a runner. I didn’t just run out of obligation or weight loss or escape, it just became a part of me.
I often joke and call myself a Mid-Life Crisis Athlete. I wasn’t an athlete as a kid. I rarely exercised as a young adult. But, somewhere in the crisis of saying “Are you who you want to be?,” I became a runner. I want to run faster. I want to be strong. I want to place in my age group. And, I want to run the Boston Marathon.
The most interesting thing to me, is that being a runner affects my entire life. My schedule, my attitude, my hopes, my goals, my parenting, my marriage and my ministry. It teaches me about impossible things and I can do way more than I ever thought possible. When I look in the mirror, on the days failure overwhelms me, running has taught me that one bad day doesn’t destroy the whole but makes me stronger. The investment of my time in something is worth every moment to see the reality of hard work happen. I don’t rely so much on what others think of me, it turns out someone will always hate what you’re doing. And even though I call this journey mine, I have been blessed with many friends on this adventure. I can persevere longer, endure more, laugh louder because it has taught me it is all worth it. Life is meant to be lived fully.
Running has given me the confidence to pursue other things. To overcome a paralyzing fear of failure. I am a work in progress, but progress is the key. I’m moving forward. Am I Who I Want To Be? NO!! I have a long way to go. One day this mid-life crisis athlete will be known as a Boston Qualifier. One day this gal will write a book. One day I will ……… Lets just say that I am willing to put in the hard work to see where this life takes me.
So I Ask: Are You Who You Want To Be? What are you doing about it?
I love this time of year. I love celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The last two weeks my church, Canvas Church, has done a series of videos called #BeChange. The vlogs were created by men, women and families in our church describing their thoughts on the BEautiful exCHANGE. I wanted to share here, on my blog, my video.
I hope you enjoy. Share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you, no matter your opinion. And, if you are looking for a place to discover or celebrate the BEautiful exCHANGE you should join us, March 31st at Canvas Church, 201 N Bst, Lenoir City, TN. Coffee at 10:30, Service at 11am.
Oh no, here it comes. That uncontrollable need to just cry. My feelings are hurt, my toes have been stepped on. I can’t come up with the words to express my frustration. No, maybe that’s anger. It’s just sadness. Maybe it’s everything.
Shame, Shame, Shame.
I shouldn’t need to cry, right?! I mean, it’s 2013, shouldn’t I act like a man, buck up and just fix it. Walk away from it. Logic says crying isn’t going to solve it, not going to change it.
I’m tired of feeling ashamed of my tears. I’m tired of being afraid if someone sees me crying, sees my weakness.
I cry over a lot of things. Things that bring me joy and happiness. I cry when I am angry. I cry when I can’t comfort another or while I’m comforting a friend. I cry when my children make me proud and frustrated. I cry when I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God and overwhelmed by the desperation I see in the world. I cry from grief. I cry from pain. I shed tears for hope and the hopeless. I shed tears in repentance and in worship.
Psalm 56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
I’m tired of hiding my tears. There are too many days that I hide the heart God has given me to feel passion, love, joy, hope, sadness, anger, frustration, compassion, pride, desire because somewhere along the way I started to believe my feelings didn’t matter, they aren’t logical, they don’t fix things. Have you ever seen a man or woman change the situation, change the course of the world, change a neighborhood, a community, or a home with out tears?
I believe that we are driven by our hearts desires, passions and hopes to change the world around us. When we believe those things don’t matter, we lose sight of the purpose we were created for. It is the fire in your heart that will move you to great things. Our tears are an expression of the very things that makes us wonderful, keeps us from complacency and moves us to use our lives for greater things.
Don’t feel shame in your tears my friend and together we will learn to use our hearts cries to make a difference.
I consider myself a fairly confident, strong and independent woman. But, don’t let me fool you. I am confident, strong and independent in the things I already know how to do and do well.
Recently, I had to take a small step of faith. I had to overcome some of the stereotypes I have placed on myself. Sometimes, I believe I am “less than” because I have never been to college. Sometimes, I believe I have less to contribute to the world because I am a stay-at-home mom. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I do and have done as a mother has value and is important and does impact the world, in its own way.
There is just this thing, the way women compare ourselves one to another. Then, the thing where society assumes I don’t have above average intelligence if I stay home with my children. And then there is the guilt of having never gone to college. It can feel too late to start again when the big 40 is just around the corner.
For those of you out there who never feel the insecurity of comparing yourself to what others or yourself may think, more power to you. I just wanted to be honest with everyone. I don’t always feel pride in myself. I don’t always look in the mirror and think, I can totally do that. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with fear. I’m afraid of failure, afraid of judgement, and afraid I just won’t be able to do it, I’m just not going to meet the expectations I have placed on myself.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon
Sometimes, we just need to decide. Decide something is more important than our judgements and stereotypes. Decide what we want is more important than our paralyzing fears. We must decide to have the courage and faith to take the small steps, so that before we know it we are somewhere we never expected, but always hoped, to be.
What keeps you from taking the small steps to living to your full potential?
My first church experience in middle school had gone something like this: church bbq, fun games for kids, lots of running around with my bff at the time and then the big sermon by the preacher where he told us we were all “sinners.” I went home and told my mom he had called me a sinner and she told me it wasn’t true.
About the time I was 15 I first heard the redemption story of Jesus. (If you are currently in shock that in the modern US a person can live 15 years, or more, and never hear the name of Jesus, that’s another post for another day. Just realize not everyone around you knows about Jesus…..) I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, or even a religious home. My mom often said she was a spiritual person and someday she would explain to me what that meant. She believed it would be up to us, her girls, to decide for ourselves what we would choose to believe. A good idea in theory, but if you teach nothing then there is nothing to be learned.
Learning about God’s love for me, giving me a purpose, was the greatest gift I could have been given. I am very thankful for the courage of a friend to invite me to church. I had many great influences in my life then. People willing to love the ugly in me, to give when I didn’t give back. People willing to sacrifice, in what I now know, all for the purpose of the Kingdom of God.
It was a tough time in my life. Just like many new christians it was confusing. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t just wake up “good”. I struggled with all the sins of a 15 yr old. My battle with the “good” and “bad” in me was made worse by the freedoms I was given in my home to drink and be sexual active. I would try so desperately to “be” good, to “do” good. Grace is a complicated subject for a seasoned believer but even harder to grasp when first taking a leap of faith.
I wore a lot of masks then. I would be one person with one group of friends, another with the other. A sort of Jekyll-Hyde syndrome. It was literally a tug-of-war for my soul. On Sat night I would be out doing all the things I shouldn’t be doing, just to wake up on a Sunday morning, hung over, guilt ridden and dressed well just in time to make it to service and youth group activities. I would repent, leaving it all on the altar, one more time. Swear, I was never going to do that again. My heart knew better, knew I wanted something better for my life. But, I was too busy wearing masks to find real answers.
I was the girl who was “saved” in youth group. Not the ones that had been there, their entire lives. I was a project. The one with a past, with history. Some parents wouldn’t let me hang out with their kids because they didn’t know my family or where I had come from. I never wanted to disappoint them. I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want to show them how much I struggled. I thought I wasn’t really christian enough by the way I struggled. What would have happened if I had told them I wasn’t “pure”? What would have happened if I told them just how drunk I got on Friday or Saturday nights?
I wore my perfect masks.
A few years into my tug-of-war struggles, things were getting better. I wasn’t making as many “mistakes”. Then, one of my closest friends from the youth, fell off of the pedestal I had put her on. My faith, my beliefs, they fell with her. I had put more of my trust in the way she lived her life than I had on God. When her masks fell off and I saw the real her, I was in shock. “She’s no better than me.” My illusion that Christianity brought perfection was crumbling. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one wearing a mask.
As I reflect on the moments in my life that seemed to be the greatest times of struggle, I have become very aware of the consequences that come with masking who we really are. Maybe, if I had shared with someone my internal struggles they could have shared with me that Jesus died to love me, not to “fix” me. Maybe, I could have learned to rely on God and not put my faith in people. I could have learned how to love people, even in their own imperfections.
I am very aware in this moment, that fear and shame are not from God. My feelings of inadequacy, of self-hatred, they aren’t from God. God desires for us to find freedom in his Love for us. He desires for us to find strength, encouragement and accountability from the “Church”. We do not need to be perfect before we come to God, but the moment we believe in His love for us, we are made whole, already complete in the eyes of God. How beautiful is that? No matter what the tug-of-war feels like, right now, there is hope and a promise and the war has been won.
The tug-of-war between our fleshly desires and our eternal hope is a battle we all face. Do you struggle with the tug-of-war? Do you hide the reality of your pain and struggles? What would happen if you removed the masks you wear that hide who you really are?
This April I will be teaching at the Canvas Church Women’s Retreat: Masquerade. My hope, is that as a community we can learn to remove the masks and live a free, transparent life in Christ. There is freedom in truth. For more info on the Canvas Church Women’s Retreat: Masquerade go to http://mycanvaschurch.com or email me at Angela@mycanvaschurch.com.