Life gets so hectic. It gets busy. It gets overwhelming.
Many times, I sit with two children screaming their heads off and I don’t even know what to do. Or, I look at a pile of work that needs to be done, but I have no time. Or, look at the Mount Everest of trials and I have no idea how to ski down.
In these moments, I have to wonder – what do I send?
Do I send love?
Or, do I send irritation, aggravation and frustration?
Because a lot of the time, the world seems to act on me. It seems to send me into a tailspin. One where I just spin in circles trying to grab hold of a tail I can never quite reach.
And, my aggravation, at my lack of control, often sends me on a rampage to dump frustration on those I love.
My environment becomes a result of my circumstances.
I know God calls me to rise above this, but why can’t I? What holds me back?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)
Is it that I send my mind down roads of thought that they shouldn’t be traveling on?
When life breaks down, when circumstances come to topple – I can choose to send my heart to Jesus. I can choose to send my thoughts to the Word of God. I can choose to send out to others a heart that ministers to their needs, instead of one that is being swallowed up with mine.
Jesus will help me.
He understands trials.
He knows the chaos of life.
He has the right answer for me.
He can get me through.
Jesus, you have told me to go. Send me down your paths, send my according to your ways. Send me, so that I may find true, joyful and meaningful life – because when you send, no one who is encountered by you is ever the same.
***Sign up for Purposeful Faith blog posts by email for an almost-daily dose of encouragement. Click here.
My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.
My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.
I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.
Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes? He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.
His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.
How much of our attitude is just like his? One of discontentment?
How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s? How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?
What does God think about this?
It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own. We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.
The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it. He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.
Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”? Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.
10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:
10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)
If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t. Why? We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.
9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.
Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ). However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.
While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)
7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.
We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods. God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)
6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.
If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short. He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.
Frankly, we may have less than another today. But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow. If we are always playing the comparison game – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa. Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle? It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)
4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.
He will provide for our deepest needs. We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.
In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface. It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)
2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.
“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security. What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)
1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.
The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted. The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)
We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift. We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.
Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting. She only held a drop of milk. His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.
What has the Lord placed in front of you? Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift?
***Sign up to receive an almost daily dose of encouragement. Get these blog posts by email. CLICK HERE!
Please know that you are loved. You are greatly adored. You are special. You are encouraged. You are seen. You are powerful. You have a sound mind. You have a future. You have a hope. You have purpose. You are secure.
Because of me. Because of your God. Because of Christ, who accepted every ounce of pain, so that he could grant every ounce of grace. Grace has been lavishly poured all over you. Do you know what this means? You are entirely secure.
I am the definition of love. I take joy in my creation. I give life. I show the way. I offer you truth.
Know this, dear child, know this:
I won’t leave you, ever. I won’t abandon you, never. I won’t forsake you, no way no how. I will help you, always. I will lift you up and exalt you at just the right time, just see. I will hold your hand in hard times, I will. I will guide you in all of your days, trust me.
Come. Come and receive.
Stop striving and come.
Stop trying and come.
Stop worrying and come.
Dear child of God, I love you. I won’t stop loving you.
Your Lord and Savior, your King of Kings, your All-in-All, your One and Only
SIGN UP FOR PURPOSEFUL FAITH BLOG POSTS BY EMAIL (and for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card): Click here.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)
I scurried into the store and made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.
There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”
I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”
Someone bigger than me got the better of me.
Just as the key verse from Proverbs states, the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.
What made her act that way? I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.
I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.
I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well. Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash. I didn’t necessarily like some of the tones played out in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.
But God does.
In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake. Needless to say, my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”
The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.
Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.
Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.
I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.
1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.
2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.
3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.
Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.
Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window, or a hysterical woman in a department store.
What about you? At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?
We have a choice to make. Do we believe the World or do we believe the Lord? We have to live in this world, but we are smart to discover how not to be of the world.
Because the fact of the matter is that you can’t serve both. You will either serve God or you will serve the world.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
The world tries to tell us that we need to be rich, powerful, successful, beautiful, funny, outgoing and (fill in the blank).
But, as Christians, the World is not our maker – and it is certainly not our master.
Yet, sometimes we act like it is. It tells us what we need to believe, how we should act and what we should say. And we follow in step. Its words can become louder than the Word of God – especially if we aren’t taking time to hear the Word of God.
The world’s magnetic pull draws us close and we tend to get consumed us with its standards rather than getting consumed with the one who holds all life, all love and all power.
The truth is, we can’t focus on two destinations. It’s impossible. You can’t drive to two places at once. And that is exactly what we are attempting to do. We say we are driving towards Christ, yet that enticing off ramp pulls us off our course.
We continually get distracted when we take our eyes off the road leading to Christ.
We follow signs that direct us to pleasure and enjoyment – and we get sidetracked. We see the stop sign that offers a perfect moment to look at our needs in the mirror – and our voyage is halted. We see a billboard that advertises a perfect face of beauty, riches and power – and we get thinking. Then, we get lost.
Let’s not set ourselves on a crash course. In order to do this, we must think about what we are thinking about – and we must think about what we shouldn’t be thinking about. Likewise, we have to look at what we are believing – and not believing. Because, we either have our eyes set on Christ or we are swerving down the roads of the world, ready to head straight into a ditch.
God calls us to focus. To keep our eyes on Christ.
To avoid looking at what everyone else is doing, being, and saying – and to instead see Him.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)
When our eyes are on Christ, they are not on the world. And, when our eyes are on the world, they are not on Christ.
Lets fix our eyes on the One who provides all direction, all hope and all purpose by keeping focused eyes.
Focused eyes understand He is the One who provides all good things.
Focused eyes, let the world become blurry.
Focused eyes allow God to magnify the right ministry opportunities.
Focused eyes spend time connecting with God on the daily basis.
Focused eyes see those that need love.
Focused eyes are focused on the needs of others before themselves.
Focused eyes are not just focused on TV.
Focused eyes understand that God has big plans for them.
Focused eyes know that God is greater than any circumstance.
Focused eyes know that God has not forgotten them.
Focused eyes know that God is alive, well and aware of all things.
Focused eyes know God will rescue and restore.
Focused eyes do not veer off the road. They steer clear of potholes. They avoid dark areas.
The result is a life that is full of Christ, abundant in love, strong in purpose, weak in pride, engaging in relationships, authentic in grace and powerful in faith. We all want this.
When we meet Jesus, we want him to turn to us and say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)
When our eyes are focused, we won’t miss out on what God has for us. The opposite happens – we see ourselves and our lives with amazing clarity. We receive the goodness, the peace and the love that God has in store for us as believers because we are not sidetracked. We need not fear because the Lord will keep us safe.
Stay tuned for Part II where we will discover who we are in light of our God.
God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.
We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance. We may think blessings – he says endurance. We may think money – he says contentment. We may think appreciation – he says love.
I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…
After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting. Let me explain…
I love a good race. I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord. Why?
I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels. I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all. I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.
I want this so badly. But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.
God knows this. He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me. He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom. They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.
Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?
And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful. It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”
God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight. I have a part in this race.
Sin weight slows me down. It trips me up. It keeps me from Him.
And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy. It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up. We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.
God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it. When we do, we grow. If we don’t, we fall.
I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”
I didn’t want trials. I didn’t want pain. I didn’t want rejection. I didn’t want humiliation.
God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”
I confess Lord, I have sinned. I want all of you. I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.
It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings. It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty. In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.
He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful.
We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.
What baggage holds you back? What do you need to confess? What trials might God be using to train you?
When we confess, God has a greater gift in store. The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.
I try to so hard to “do good”. I try so hard to keep everyone happy. I try so hard to keep things in order, to make others feel good, to do things the right way, to be all that I can be – and to be who others want to see.
I try and I try and I try. But, I fail and I fail and I fail. It can be tiring. It leaves me worn, discouraged and wishing I could be better than – me.
Even worse, I notice that in my pursuit of perfection, I tend to hurt others. I don’t want to do this. But, I do.
It is a common day, when simple words of feedback, turn into living giants of criticism. They come and tower over me with pointed fingers, telling me that I am not “good enough”, “talented enough” or “wise enough” to handle life. They push me to strive harder and reinforce the idea that I am failing.
Why do we let these giants hold so much power?
When we seek to set our own worth, we fail. Because only One defines worth.
Any worth found outside of Him is worthless.
God writes the definition of who we are – and why we are.
I may seek worth in bills paid, things in order and a happy family, but God gives us his worth. We are worthy because we are his children, loved and fully accepted.
God has a greater glory is greater than our manufactured version. His glory surpasses expectations. It exceeds our wildest dreams. It is bigger than you or me. But, we miss seeing it when our mind is focused on our perfect ways.
His glory unfolds in the midst of weakness. In the place of imperfection. In the land of mess.
God is greater than our perfect. He shows up in our faults. He is present in our weaknesses.
This is where beauty is unveiled; and I want to see it. Christ makes my imperfect – perfect. Perfect in Him, as I trust Him.
I want this better way. Let’s remind ourselves of God’s truth as we move towards him with authentic, open and receiving hearts. He will be faithful to touch us in just the right way.
Bible Verses for Perfectionists:
1. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32)
His strength is power.
2. “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14)
We are being made holy. We are a work in process.
3. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)
He is greater than any barrier that stands in front of us.
4. Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)
His mercy does not end for us because he loves us.
5. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… (Eph. 2:8)
Grace is always ours, even when we fail.
6. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14)
He made us beautifully. We can believe this.
7. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
He holds us and loves us; his hand won’t let go of us – ever!
8. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
His ways are easy, when we truly are in them.
9. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
We are not perfect. He is.
10. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Let us be weak, because we can then be strong in Him.
God doesn’t view our weaknesses as obstacles to closeness with him; he sees them as opportunities for growth as he loves us.
It is time to step out. To come out of hiding. To let your true colors shine. To be who God made you to be. It is time to be fearless. To be courageous. To be passionate. It’s time to take a risk – to move from your calm safe grounds to unsteady risky rocky terrain. Terrain where you feel vulnerable – where you know, by yourself, can’t stand on your own. Why?
Because too much is on the line not to. And, the idea of not taking that adventurous step means living in mediocrity. It’s so worth it.
I spent a good amount of time in hiding. Sure, I went to church, I was in small groups, I had Christian friends, but I stayed on safe ground. Grounds where no one really questioned me. Grounds where I rode in a perfect straight line, rarely branching off the beaten path. I kept on this straight and narrow for fear of getting hurt. When a conversation veered into sticky areas or when I felt too vulnerable, the warning light would go off in my mind, “do not venture there, you may get someone upset. Don’t speak too passionately; you don’t want to be “that” person. Don’t seem too knowledgeable, others will feel less than. Don’t bring up topics that could make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t run the risk of angering that person, it’s better to just let them continue feeling miserable as they go the wrong way.”
“Hide who you are because you don’t want to be judged, hurt or rejected.”
I did this all the time. But I came to realize something life changing. In my attempt to set others free of their bad feelings, I only succeeded in trapping myself. I locked away the person God created Kelly to be.
When I lived in that closet, I missed the opportunity to love deeply. I missed the opportunity to speak the absolute truth in love. I missed the opportunity to walk in faith, as I felt afraid. I missed the opportunity to rely on Christ when others may have felt irritated at me. I missed the chance to encourage others. I was too worried about preserving myself.
You know, we have one life. One chance to pour out love. One chance to give all we have. To be all in, no holds bar. To share grace. To encourage in truth. To live without fear. To give with faith. To help those in need. This is our chance. This is your chance.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living trapped, beholden to this world. I know at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will never ever regret living all out – full of love – for God. Do I do this perfectly? By no means, but that is the point. That is why I need Christ. And when I rely on him, I find peace. I find safety despite an unsafe rocky terrain.
At the days end, when I come out of the ultimate closet, that is this world. I hope to stand in front of God with full confidence that I shared his love, peace, and joy with all of my heart to people who hurt so deeply. I want to stand knowing that I spoke his wisdom – according to his timing – no matter the risk.
This authentic living is adventurous living. We can’t do it on your own. But, as we rely on him, we will find we are truly free.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
God’s truth is what healed me. If it was hidden, I never would have been touched. I never would have grown. So why do we think we need to hide truth? Rather than hide, we need to lay down our pride. It is not about me and preserving my image- it is about people who are hurting and need to hear truth spoken in love. Take it or leave it. This is Kelly as God designed me.
When we are who God created us to be, we finally find true freedom.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”