I started this year reading through Psalms slowly. I was learning to sit alone with God to pray, making it a practice to adore God each day. I quickly understood it wasn’t coincidence at all that I had begun this reading plan along with the desire to grow in prayer.
The Psalms filled my mind with ideas and images about who God is and what He does.
God is the One enthroned in heaven, Most High, maker of all, majestic, righteous ruler & judge, our Rock, our refuge, our strength, the One who sees, and these are only the beginning.
As for His actions, in the first few chapters alone, God surrounds the righteous with His favor like a shield. He watches over them and leads them. He blesses all who take refuge in Him. He listens to their prayers and answers them. He delivers, gives relief, disciplines, and judges evil. He fills hearts with joy and peace and brings prosperity.
God is King of kings, who made the world and owns the world and rules the world and sustains it.
So then, what does all this mean about us?
God chooses to be involved in the details of our lives, we learn in Psalms. And also?
He is worthy of our confidence and trust.
David, who wrote many of the Psalms, had such deep and abiding confidence in God. I’m convicted by it, in the area of belief.
Don’t get me wrong–I don’t usually struggle with doubting God. But sometimes I struggle with doubting me. Deep down, that’s an issue of confidence in God—that He is who He says He is, that He does what He says He’ll do, and especially, that He does it for me.
I do believe; Lord, help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)
I don’t think we need more confidence in ourselves. Because at some point in life, even the most self-confident among us will experience their confidence shaken. We are human, and in this state, we are dependent on God, whether we admit that or not. It doesn’t matter how much confidence you were born with or how much you developed through the circumstances of your life.
What matters is that we hope and trust in God.
At the beginning of our school day one morning, I asked my kids what they think it means to have confidence in God.
One of them said, “You just trust Him, because you know He’s God.”
Another said, “It’s like Hope. You have confidence because you hope in God.”
Doing a quick word study using confidence, I found the Greek word parresia, and the Hebrew word, mibtach.
Parresia allows us to look ahead with confidence–because we know Who is in control. With parresia, we have freedom and boldness, but only because of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Mibtach carries the idea of security, trust, hope, and certainty.
Mibtah assumesour confidence is based on the object of our confidence.
It’s the word King David used when he prayed in Psalm 71~
Lord, You have been my hope, my confidence since my youth.
That was David’s beautiful confession, and his story. Because of what Jesus has done for you and me, this can also become the story of our lives.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. Jeremiah 17:7
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Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
I find it’s easy to go through life focusing on the next destination. To move from house to gas station, gas station to grocery store instead of from hope to hope, life to life. It’s easy to allow people, places and problems to become distracting diversions that keep you from deep devotion.
I know, because between morning devotions and evening prayer
I seem to get stuck in an afternoon wasteland.
Operating in this mode makes me feel like I am driving around with a zoned out head and a fogged up window. It makes me feel like I am going through the motions of life on yet another ground hog day. It makes me wonder how I find God in the mundane, in the streets and in my head.
God, how do we get through the craziness of life
and still keep the magnificence of you?
15 Ways to See God in Ordinary Life:
1. Pray through your day.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. Ps. 145:18
2. Make the choice to rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Phil. 4:4
3. Let gratitude rule your attitude.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:18
4. Dwell on the good.
Hold on to what is good. 1 Thes. 5:21
5. Protect, project and inject love.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Jo. 13:34
6. Shine forth the source of your light.
Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thes. 5:19
7. Be patient in pains, with people and through persecution.
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. Prov. 16:32
8. Find the complete joy in expectation.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Ro. 12:12
9. Dwell in humble places.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Eph. 4:2
10. Submit every particle of your being to his authority.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Ja. 4:7
11. Seek to do good all the time, for all time.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9
12. Get still in the face of busy.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes. Ps. 37:7
13. Keep heart and know God will arrive.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Ps. 27:14
14. Meditate on God’s Word through the day.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Ps. 1:2
15. Do not worry.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink… Mt. 6:25
When we live with God,
we live branded with his acceptance, approval and adoration
marked all over us.
We start seeing the things that our fogged up soul windows could not see before.
God won’t let hearts that dwell within his lands be shaken by the earthquakes that dwell in ours. Ps. 55:22
Seeing God in our day provides us the hope that he will make a way. Is. 40:31
Eyes set on God can’t as easily break down from the mayhem of life breaking down around them. Ps. 16:8
God will protect, you, the apple of his eye, because in him you are restored and renewed. Ps. 17:8
As we are seeking God’s strength, he is strengthening us. Is. 41:10
God is working good tidings for us as we grab his hand and follow. Ro. 8:28
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. Jo. 15:4
All deliciousness, all fullness and all greatness is found, not in the successful shooting around of a day, but in knowledge of the sustainer of our shoot. When we become the needy branch reliant on the vine, suddenly even the mundane becomes glorious.
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As I sat in a group of women chatting one-hundred miles/hour, all I could think was what I wanted to say next. All I could think was how my story was going to impress and bless – so much so that couldn’t pay attention or think about retention.
How do you share with others when your thoughts seem to cover the full parking lot of your mind?
Wow, God. I think about me a whole lot.
My emotions kind of make me want to throw myself up against the wall to say, “What is wrong with you, you selfish little girl,” yet my God would never approach me this way.
His love is patient, his love is kind, his love doesn’t seek to chastise, condemn or criticize my failings. His love stands to heal. Step-by-step, moment-by-moment, he reaches and teaches anew.
He pours out patience and gentleness as I move towards him.
So, today, with this idea in mind, this is why I am proud to introduce to you – International Stop and Share day! I am linking hands with Candice Blomeley for a day that is simply about small beginnings.
For me, it means less me and more love.
Perhaps you want to make a move towards selflessness today too.
It be as simple as sharing…
a cup of coffee
a parking space
your seat on the train
a kind word
your favorite shirt or pair of shoes
your time to help someone in need
a $5 Venmo to a friend
an extra tip on a receipt
your place in line
a tank of gas
your time to help someone move
a text or call to someone who would love to hear from you
Sometimes, changing over night seems impossible, but doing one small task, on one small day, looks entirely possible. This small movement makes all the difference.
I had it all wrong. I always thought family was this ship you had to keep moving in the right direction. One that all crew members needed to approach in tandem, knowing their role and pushing through to the next destination. With this, I figured, it was my job as mom to run a tight ship.
Efficiency was key: Get those shoes on and be in the car by the time I get out of the bathroom. Rules were paramount: I set the guidelines, you follow them. My authority reigned: Don’t question, just obey or else! My voice counted: Don’t express opinions, just express a head nod and move that dish to the dishwasher.
I don’t know when I turned into such a jerk. In the moment, there is always a way to justify it (how else are you going to get things done, the kids won’t respect you, the house will be a mess, perfection will sink into oblivion). Somehow family, for me, turned into a model-toy that I was carefully constructing according to instructions, schedules and guidelines. All parts were required to fit within my needs. I moved them according to my desires.
With this knowledge, my heart has been on a journey to change course; it is pursuing a redirect. Just the other day, my son looked at me to say, “Mom, that’s a mean voice.” My initial response was to say, “Son, that is not mean. If you want to hear mean, I could really show you mean.”
But, if I am going a new path that means I have to try new things. I looked at him and said, “You thought that was mean?” His head nodded.
What he thought was mean, I thought was on level 2 of my stern-voice scale, but still, I was trying and trying counts for something, so I tried some more.
“I am sorry. I will speak nicer, son.”
The day progressed and so did my heart. A heart just trying – trying to be calm, to be present, to be aware, to be humble, to be eager to love, and quick to let go of to-do’s. By days end, I felt shipwrecked, but what happened next brought buoyancy back.
At story time, this 4-year old outer-space pajama clad kid looked up at me to say, “Mommy, I am sorry too for all the mean things I have been speaking to you.”
And, there it was, what seemed like galaxy of distance, came together in a meteor crash of sense. He is just the same as me. He feels the same too. We are in this together.
Family united, rather than divided.
What I build in myself, I build in him. What I forge around me, will be forged around him too. What I lay down, he will have permission to lay down as well. What is hard to do, we can try to do as one.
At days end, I don’t want to give him me as I am today. I want to give him full of grace, sailing with mercy, loaded with compassion, flying with patience. I want him to have all of that. I want more for that beauty. And, in a way, in this day, I gave him a small ride towards this. And, one day – counts. It counts for something; I will take that and own that and relish in that.
Small beginnings matter.
When I simply understand, when I take a minute, when I sit down, when I listen, when I confess, when I become humble, the family makes strides towards godliness. Together we move ahead, not to my pre-set plans, but to God’s pre-set sanctification. We move towards what is greatest, rather than what I deem as great.
Jesus relates to me when I am weak. He sympathizes with that kind of thing. He says, that testing you are going through, me too Kelly, me too.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Heb. 4:15 MSG
What will we choose in the rapid-fire moments of “family”?
Will we choose to to take a stand in our ways or
will we choose to stand in God’s mercy?
Will we accept his help or will we drive the helpers?
Will we chart a course or will we enjoy the ride?
The second we set down the burden of pride set upon our shoulders of despair is the second we rise up in the freedom of surrender that finds itself in the shadow of the eagles wing. Work falls to the wayside and we see things from new heights, with new vision and new hope. We soar. We let go. We glide. We ride.
“What a relief,” we say,
“We never knew it could be this easy!”
And we sail.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31
I pleaded and coerced, ran behind the bike and offered words of encouragement.
“You can do this. You know how. Just keep going.”
But as soon as I let go of the seat, his feet went down. Every time, without fail. And as much as I tried to hide my frustration, I knew it was as obvious as the sweat gleaming on my face.
I wanted him to succeed at this, but I couldn’t do it for him.
We put the bike away for a few weeks and he went back to racing his Dodge Viper around the cul-de-sac. Yes, my six-year-old was driving a nicer car than his Mama, complete with a rechargeable battery, radio and gear shift.
Little brother rode shotgun, occasionally grabbing the wheel and crashing the car into the overgrown flowerbed. A loud mixture of laughter and aggravated shouts poured out of the vehicle.
I buried myself in my latest copy of Hello, Darling and told myself the training wheels would come off eventually. He wouldn’t start high school with them on, right?
Skimming over the pages, one article grabbed me. The authors, both child psychologists, were talking about fear. Yes, this was what I needed. Some sound advice from those who understood how the mind of a child worked.
Their advice? Tell him it was okay to be afraid. Tell him it was okay, but he had to walk through it.
In the words of my favorite poet, Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”
Yet so often instead of confronting the fear, we want to run and hide.
I know. I’m an expert, and I’m sure my son’s behavior was modeled after his mom, the master hider.
When we hide from our fears we do nothing but fuel them.
When we confront them head on and walk through them, we expose them for what they really are: lies. And the father of lies would like nothing more than for us to live life cowering behind a self-made façade of what-ifs.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV
The following day I sat down with my son and the mid-summer heat.
“Hey buddy, you want to give the bike a try again?”
He didn’t elaborate.
He paused, considering his answer.
“Because I don’t want to fall again,” he said in all honesty.
I looked him straight in the eyes and silently prayed my words would sink in.
“Buddy, it’s okay to be afraid. But it’s not okay not to try.”
He stood there, thinking about my words and taking his time. Then he turned on his heels and ran toward the garage, not waiting for me to follow him.
That evening, my son rode his bike without training wheels for the first time. His joy was contagious, and within hours he couldn’t even remember why he was scared.
As I stood there watching, God pressed his message on my heart. While fear of the unknown was as certain as the sunset, my response to it didn’t have to be.
Sometimes we just have to do it afraid.
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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
Do you really know it in a way that will guard you against the I-can’t-do-it moments?
I am beginning to know it in this way and it is making all the difference. I am beginning to see the small cracks in my armor.
I can’t do it. Crack.
I won’t succeed. Crack.
I am losing my abilities. Crack.
I won’t be blessed. Crack.
God’s calling is non-existent. Crack.
I have no purpose. Crack.
I will not be led, inspired, helped, released, forgiven. Crack.
I will never be good enough. Crack.
My deep crack was: I can’t write. God hasn’t called me to do this. He is no longer blessing my work. Underneath this crack, lived surface pressure: God won’t really be for you. He will leave you. Crack.
A crack is just enough for the devil’s foot to grab a hold of a heart.
A crack is just enough to forge a distance of space
between us and the God of our dreams.
A crack is just enough for a foothold of discouragement
to break down faithfulness.
A crack is just enough for him to start
ransacking our holy temples of God.
Which he loves to do. If he can penetrate a crack, he will perpetuate all problems. Days, turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and before you know it, the door to dejection is flung wide open. Suddenly, what you realize is that you are standing there vulnerable, naked, exposed and not sure where to run.
Unaddressed lies turn into a dressing of no protection that move us from armed by the power of truth to defeated by the cleverness of lies.
Make no mistake, the devil is a carnivore who delights in eating up anything resembling the temple of God. We don’t have to have four legs for him to take a bite of our flesh. We don’t have to be doing bad things to get chewed up and spit out by the one who hates us.
He wants to take our true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) and make it fake, deceitful, unfair, desecrated, horrible, vile and condemnation-worthy.
When our thoughts move to unholy, we become unholy.The second dirty hands leave an imprint, we grow shame at their touching. The second he raises uncertainty, we become certain that God doesn’t love us anymore.
This happened to me. But then I saw it. I saw what changes it all, the way of flipping my heart back into God’s goodness.
Here is what I saw:
1.) An alone, uncertain and unsure 3rd grader. One who for the life of her could not read or write with the other kids. One who knew she would never succeed. One who would never learn. One who couldn’t progress. It’s no wonder she stayed back that year, she was a loser of a writer. The only comfort she lived with, besides her thumb-sucking habits, was the idea that she would always fail.
2.) A grown woman at the will of an abusing woman. An abusive woman who would rip up time-intensive writing works with an air of “how could you?” An abusive woman who was a nightmare by day and literally a nightmare by night. An abusive woman whose degrading and demoralizing taunts still haunt. A woman who caused an eager-to please employee long-lasting defeat, pain and fear of future criticism because her voice still resounds today.
3.) The devil is one who doesn’t give cause to our small cause, but one who goes after our big, audacious and wild causes for the Lord. He is one who, from day 1, has been trying to savor and steal the blessing the Lord has been baking and preparing our whole life. He is the one who never wants the timer of “ready” to ring and resound.
What has the Lord been baking
that the devil is hungry to burn?
What central lie, from day 1,
has the devil pounded over you to ensure you crack?
For me, he wanted to burn my belief that I could write, so that I never could write for the Lord.
What is it for you? It has likely been happening from the days of old and he will continue it through days of new if you let him.
He wants us handicapped. He wants us crippled. He wants us unable to walk towards real purpose, real value and real transformation. Jesus wants us free, full and ready to say, “This is my body, take and eat.”
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jo. 10:10
Jesus enters into our life to bring life – always and everyday. But, beware, we are being sent you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore we must be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16). Are you this way?
This means, if we are standing firm, we must be careful that we don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12)! Are you ensuring your good standing before the Lord?
We must “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of (us) has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12) Are you turning away as you analyze and consume yourself in the small cracks of your armor?
The cracks we cannot see, we cannot repair.
If you don’t want the tectonic plates of your life to shift beyond repair, the time is now to shift your view on all you have believed to be true your entire life.
Love sees a wrong and rights it.
Love walks into a heart to open it.
Love loves when it doesn’t feel like it.
Love climbs over tall walls that stand before it.
Love crushes the obstacles surrounding it.
Love sets down swords to bring bouquets of flowers. Love beats out pain over time,
to touch the most callous heart.
Love doesn’t count the cost.
Love doesn’t add up the damages.
Love doesn’t dwell in the days of old, but sees to the dreams of new.
Love doesn’t lose its pumping arms of endurance.
Love doesn’t move away from always-there, glimmer-of-light hope.
Love doesn’t part from passionate perseverance.
Love doesn’t see eye-constricting anger, but ever-flowing grace.
Love doesn’t forgive once, but 1000 times.
Love doesn’t always feel happy, but finds smiles through prayer. Love doesn’t always have answers, but seeks God’s solutions.
Love lets the definers and originators
of the word make it come alive.
When our arms fall down and our back falls back,
Father God, the Son and the Holy Spirit step up.
They teach us the real meaning of the word.
Then we see how love wins even when it feels like it is losing.
Love isn’t easy and Jesus proves that to us.
Love sometimes mean being seemingly nailed and beaten by those we love. Love still remains.
It still works out. Love knows the alternative to love is hate and hate is the quick funnel to all pain, agony and despair. So love continues on…
Love never fails.
Love seeks truth.
Love fights for itself.
Love continues to die to self, and live to Christ.
Love brings life. Love wins in the end.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8
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.
I could feel it – but I didn’t want to “feel” it. I didn’t want to deal. I didn’t have time for it.
I was too busy living days of baby insanity –
coping with a screamer who didn’t know night from day or day from night,
that mom sometimes needs 5-minutes without high-pitched wails and
that spit-up is actually the worst kind of perfume.
Babies don’t get all that.
So, even though my legs were going numb and my vision was faltering, I ignored it. Even though it seemed I was wearing 3-D checkerboard glasses of black & white, I said, “Plug on! Mamma, ain’t got time for that.”
Pull, it together, body, you can do it. We have feedings, poopings and sleepings to handle.
But, as avoidance always does, it catches up; it grabs an just an inch of your leg and doesn’t let go. It always leaves you with the stark reality of all that is happening and a feeling that you won’t survive.
The words Multiple Sclerosis hit me like a freight train. I longed for those spaces of denial once again. Safe spaces. Known spaces. Comfortable spaces. But, I found myself in hated spaces – waiting rooms.
My waiting rooms turned into fearing rooms with cool magazines and no windows.
My waiting rooms turned into holding cells where worst-case dreams come true.
My waiting rooms turned into agony for ones who hate being hurt.
And, the thing about waiting rooms, is they don’t have to be windowless to trap you.They don’t have to be small to make you claustrophobic with the thought you will never breathe the same again.
I waited to be tested to see if I was going to spend a good part of my life in a wheelchair, to see if the face of my life would be forever changed and tested by God for who knows why.
I wanted to say, “I trust you,” but all I could mutter was “set me free.”
I wanted to say, “your will be done,” but all I could think was “change my situation.”
I wanted to say, “help all the other people with issues that sit around me,” but I could only whisper “get me out of this torture chamber.”
Aren’t we all stuck in a place of wait – in one way or another?
Waiting for a cure.
A pain to go away.
Deliverance from finances.
A Job Solution.
A legal issue.
An unreachable dream.
A let down.
We are all waiting.
Our waiting rooms can make us feel like an imposition, relying on a paper prescription, that keeps us focused on our affliction. Our waiting rooms seem to hold us captive by an assailant who says, “You will never come through. I will get you.” Our waiting rooms become fights against life, where we always become the projected loser.
What do you when everything is breaking?
When your very body can’t seem to deal with life?
For me, my screaming baby midnight hall walks, turned into screaming midnight baby prayer talks. I called from the depths of my heart for a “great fixing” of all that was wrong. So did my husband, so did countless others.
Sometimes, all you have left to do is pray.
And, sometimes, all you needed to do was pray.
Prayer opens the waiting room door to the Great Physician.
His healing work may not always bind up broken bodies,
but it is always binds up broken hearts.
His surgeries always work,
always bring newness, always surface peace.
His work turns fearing rooms into hoping rooms –
because he clears new room for love.
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 Jo. 4:18
My doctors were positive of MS. My symptoms said yes, but test after test after test – after multiple MRI’s – they still couldn’t fully diagnose me. So, what was a certain reality, became certainly “not MS.”
God hears prayers. Miracles can – and sometimes do – happen. But, sometimes the greatest miracle is not the answer to the prayer, but God’s answer in to what plagued our heart.
He always goes for the greatest healing.
So, don’t give up because you think the great physician has left the office.
Don’t give up because you feel forgotten.
Don’t give up because he is attending to others first.
God has the perfect course of action for you.
He hasn’t forgotten you.
He asks you, will you trust me?
Will you believe that in this wait I have something amazing for you?
And, as we do, he does something amazing.
He changes it all.
Our fearing rooms turn into trusting rooms. Our holding cells turn into praying cells. And, our fear turns into a deep knowledge God is near.
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Occasionally you meet a person you know is an instant friend. Location doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t care and methods of communication aren’t valid – what you know is that this one counts for something. This is how I feel about Rachel Macy Stafford. She shines all things pure and beautiful and it is my delight to know and love her.
In other exciting news, Rachel’s latest book, HANDS FREE LIFE, has permanently marked my heart with awe-inspiring and heartfelt life change. I feel my life going from bouncy ball crazy, to focused and intentional. I feel my attention moving from scattered to attentive. I feel my heart charging from empty to full again. I feel grace speaking, rather than condemnation. This book has reserved a permanent spot on my bookshelf of “keepers;” I will be referencing her words for my whole life, I know that. Thank you Rachel, just thank you. I feel your love in this book.
Welcome to Purposeful Faith as a guest contributor for a day.
Understandably, many people want to talk to me about distraction. More specifically, they want to tell me about the distraction incidents they witness in their neighborhoods, at restaurants, parks, and sporting events. They want to tell me about the texting drivers sitting next to them at stoplights. Many well-intentioned people want to tell me how sad it makes them feel to see distracted people oblivious to their loved ones.
I must admit, these comments make me uncomfortable.
My mission for sharing my Hands Free journey is not to bash the distracted people of the world. My mission for sharing this journey is to bring awareness … namely, self-awareness … the kind of self-awareness I was lacking a few years ago.
Because you see, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about where I came from.
I was that distracted person oblivious to her loved ones.
I was that distracted person texting at stoplights.
I was that distracted person who made excuses as to why I was too busy to spend quality time with my family.
I was that distracted person who couldn’t see my beautiful life slipping right through my busy little fingers.
But I can assure you the judgment was harsh. The judgment was cruel. It was downright unbearable at times. But this condemnation didn’t come from an outside observer, well-meaning friend, or loving companion. Oh no, this ridicule came directly from me.
If you have read my “About Hands Free” page then you know that taking an honest look at the way I was living (or more accurately, not living) was a necessary step in my Hands Free life transformation. In fact, meaningful efforts to let go of distraction would have never happened (or lasted) without honestly evaluating the cost of my distraction.
But despite the fact that assessing my behavior was a vital step in changing my distracted ways, living in regret was not. I’ve come to realize that continually berating myself over what I missed is a waste of precious time. Self-forgiveness and healing have been just as much a part of this journey as my difficult truths.
But every now and then I get waves of remembrance—a taste of “life overwhelmed”, just enough to sting me, just enough to bring tears to my eyes.
It happened the other day. I’d stayed up too late working the night before. I had several deadlines to meet, and I was not as close as I hoped on any of them. I needed to get the kids to a swim meet. We were late. I was tired. The word “Mama” began every single sentence that came from my children’s lips whether I was actually needed or not.
And there I stood in front of the pantry, unable to remember what I came there to get. Part of me wanted to shut the door to that little space, huddle under the boxes of Fiber One cereal, and cry.
That’s when I heard it.
It didn’t use the exact phrase that originated in the years of my highly distracted life, but it came painfully close.
“You are a bad mom”was the token phrase my inner bully liked to hiss during my highly distracted years whenever I felt like I was falling short in the parenting department. I’d almost forgotten I used to say such hurtful things to myself.
But then again, I don’t think I will ever completely forget.
I gave up on whatever it was that I intended to get from the pantry and told my children I needed a moment. I went to my bedroom and turned on my fan for soothing white noise and began reminding myself.
I reminded myself that The One who loves me, The One who took my hand and placed me on this transformative journey, still loves me even when I fail miserably.
I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that even the “best” parents have their moments of self-doubt and frustration.
I reminded myself of how I reacted when a tornado came scarily close to our house. It was the day I realized the fierce love I have for my family outweighs my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections.
I would run through fire to spare them.
I would beg kidnappers to take me in order to free them.
I would offer my plasma, my organs, and every single one of my limbs to save them.
I would sacrifice my life without hesitation, without question, if it meant allowing my loved ones to live.
Even in my most distracted, overtired, stressed-out state, my fierce love for my family is always ready, willing, and able.
Once I was finished reminding myself of these important things, I said a prayer of thanks and released a heavy sigh. I centered my disheveled, puffy-eyed self directly in front of the bathroom mirror and said one word.
As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.
A few minutes later, my children and I were on our way to the swim meet. I turned on one of our favorite songs, which beautifully articulates the value of human scars and imperfections. I felt a slight smile come to my lips as I listened to my children belt out the chorus from the backseat:
“These bruises, Makes for better conversation Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again You’re not alone in how you’ve been Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”
I suddenly feel better.
I just needed a moment.|
Don’t we all?
I think we all do—at some point in our day … our week … our life—need a moment.
And so when I hear someone describing the unbecoming behavior of a distracted person, I cannot join in the condemnation. I once was that person and remain a work-in-progress. And that is okay. That is human.
The other day, someone I love and respect as a parent and human being said something powerful to me. My mother said, “Rachel, even at your most distracted, you were always a good parent.”
With those words, the divine light of forgiveness shined like a beacon for my misdirected soul.
Even on days when I can’t tear myself away from my distractions …
Even on days when I overreact over something trivial …
Even on days that I obsess over bulges and wrinkles and things that don’t matter one bit in the end …
Even on days when I want to lock myself in the pantry and weep …
Even on days when I am at my worst,
I remain that person who would sacrifice her life
to spare her loved ones from pain and tragedy.
Perhaps you know someone who would make the same sacrifice. I bet you do.
So when you see that less-than-perfect woman or man staring back at you in the mirror … or the one at the restaurant who can’t quite seem to put down the phone and see the gifts in front of him or her … I ask that you extend grace, rather than judgment.
Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of www.handsfreemama.com where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA. Her highly anticipated book, HANDS FREE LIFE, releases in one week! It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to live better and love more despite the daily distractions and pressures that try to pull us away.
Those who pre-order HANDS FREE LIFE from now
until September 7 receive the FREE e-book of HANDS FREE MAMA.
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You talk too much. Alone. Your words are simply dissertation on yourself. Alone. You judge others. Alone. You live too far. Alone. You make me feel uncomfortable. Alone. You don’t go deep enough. Alone. You are a square peg in the round hole that I have designed for my ideal friend. Alone. You are only free when I am busy. Alone. You just didn’t end up being who I wanted you to be. Alone.
No wonder I lack friends right now.
I never intended to feel so isolated and so absent of peace in the friend category, but this is what happens when your standards are higher than Mount Everest, when busyness takes precedence over connectedness and when people become more burden over blessings.
I kind of know it is my fault. I do. I have forgotten the fact that unity, relationships and bonds are a calling. When you are called to something, sometimes the jog over to the destination is a bumpy road filled with pot-holes, but all the same – you go the distance – for God.
God will always give the “go,” when all appears impossible.We simply rely on him and he shows us His way.
I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.… Eph. 4:2
Paul tells us we can do it.
We can walk like people who know, in the end,
their God will take care of them.
We can go in humility, making way for people’s weaknesses. What better way is there to show someone you love them?
We can show tolerance – loving others just as they are, exactly as they are. What better way is there to confirm to our heart that God loves us just the same way?
We can show patience that excuses the mishaps that drive us nuts. What better way is there to become a person that doesn’t drive others nuts with high demands?
We preserve the unity of the Spirit knowing that if this person is a brother or sister in Christ we are bonded forever. What better cause for celebration and unity is there?
The result is staggering. It feels worthy of a jump-up-and-down celebration and a big victory arm raise to my bond-decayed heart: God bonds me over again with his bond of peace.
What is better than that? Suddenly, what looks fallen apart has hope for being pulled back together again.
It’s making sense. While I thought peace was found by running from the horribly unpeaceful, I’m seeing, sometimes, it’s about submitting to the seemingly awful. As we release our high demands, our relationships fall into better hands. Hands that heal, rather than steal our joy.
Friendships aren’t just about me; I am learning. It seems obvious, but sometimes it can be, oh, so hard.
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