Sunday, September 23, 2012

Message Received

I visited church with a friend this morning and heard something I so needed to hear, but didn't realize it.  The sermon was on the story of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on the water with Jesus (that's an enormous paraphrase by the way - see Matt. Ch. 15 vs 22-33).

Anyway...the pastor was talking about how in life so many times people stay in the boat so to speak, but how some people actually take a chance and step out on faith and get out of the boat - no matter what the result may be.  Then he said that just by stepping out of the boat to begin with, we alter our future.

That caught my attention.  I love the story about Peter walking on the water to Jesus and it came to mean more to me when I first moved out to Los Angeles.  But after moving back to make a long story short, I've struggled a lot with feeling like I took a leap of faith only to end up right back where I was to begin with, which is a place I couldn't stand to begin with (to be frank - and why mince words at this point?).

I never stopped to consider that, even if I can't see it right now, my future is not what it would have been had I not gone to California.  I knew I was different, that I'd come into my own if nothing else, but I don't think I'd considered that the future I would like to see is still possible.  And how I needed so much to hear that all was not lost.

It's interesting the way that God can prompt us to go somewhere, visit someone, or even check out a church at the exact moment when we're going to hear the sort of reassurance our soul is longing for the most.

The other thing this morning got me to thinking about is taking risks...

Sometimes we are called upon to look at our life - maybe a specific situation or just in general - and assess what (& occasionally who) we have in our life and if the "what" or "who" fits with who we want to be - or maybe more specifically who you know deep in your soul that you are despite your current situation.

Perhaps sometimes we are not simply called to step out of the boat.  Perhaps we are called to jump ship when it's really a choice of thriving or drowning.

Just a thought.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Something Beautiful

I've experienced a kind of re-birth of hope lately.  And one that I have to believe has come from God because all of the outside signs point to the exact opposite.

My favorite verse is one that I've leaned on a lot over the past couple of years especially - Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."  Perhaps it's learning to lean on that trust that actually has helped with the peace I have.

But there's another verse I love - Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." and this verse has simultaneously given me peace and made me furrow my brow more than once.

The first time I heard this verse, or rather the first time it registered with me what it really said all I could think was really God? cause I can imagine an awful lot.  And I have admittedly had moments particularly over the last couple of years where that question changed to are you really sure? cause I'm not sure what to imagine anymore.

But lately, somehow, things have shifted and I have what I can only describe as a sense of possibility again. And that is beautiful.

Perhaps God brings us down rocky paths knowing we're going to ask those questions and knowing also that if we hang onto Him, we'll arrive at a place where peace comes from the one thing we need most at that time.

Just a thought.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's It Worth?

I've been thinking a lot recently about the price of happiness - and if it's one of those things where the price is different for everyone.

I was raised to believe that happy is a choice. One might infer from that statement that being happy - no matter what your circumstances may be - is a choice. Or that it's simply a matter of choosing to have a positive attitude and to be thankful for what you have. To be sure, I believe it is all of those things too. But there's something more...

For reasons too numerous to go into in this post, I've been thinking about how happiness being a choice might be more closely tied to other choices in our lives. Big ones.

Almost everyone I know believes they would be happy if they had more money and found "the right" person and I tend to feel that way too. But I'm beginning to wonder if we as humans have a tendency to stay stuck in one place (location, job, relationship, church, school, etc.) because when we made the choice to go into said space it was the best decision we could make at the time with the information we had. Then one day you wake up (literally and figuratively) and hindsight hits you like a ton of bricks.

Suddenly how your choices "should have gone" is so clear to you. You think "oh I should have..." fill in the blank. Gone to this other school. Majored in that other subject. Taken this other job. Kept dating instead of settling down. Changed churches the first time I felt this feeling. Saved more money instead of buying this or that. Left the first time he / she broke my heart. Run like hell in the opposite direction of where I am now.

I think the choice of happiness comes with what you do after your "wake up" moment. Do you take this new found clarity and stuff it into the back of your mind and let it morph from "aha" to a state of pain and misery.

Or do you take a risk? Do you start to ever so carefully consider "what if I did something different now?"

You might feel it's too risky - that you've invested too much time and energy into where you are now. Certainly, sticking some things out and changing your attitude can be helpful. And I'm not talking about the times when you just have a bad day, but something that consistently pokes at you and needles you whether you're focused on it consciously or not.

Sometimes just changing your perspective is enough. Other times you're challenged to step out on faith and tackle the thing that both scares and bothers you the most. It's that moment when you know that while the unknown may scare you, staying where you are is going to do so much worse. So taking the risk might be your shot at choosing to be happy.

If you're truly unhappy in your life, what price would you pay to change it?

Just a thought.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wide Awake

I recently went on a mini vacation with some friends and have found myself analyzing the effects of said trip since then.

Ever suddenly feel like you've been awakened from a dream?

When I left California I was numb. I had to be. There'd simply been too much crap over the previous year and all I could do was shut off some part of my brain and just put one foot in front of the other. I packed my apartment that way, came back to Texas that way, accepted a job that way and have worked & functioned that way ever since.

You can only stay numb or shut off for so long. Then you begin to wake up. Waking up for me has felt frequently like a panic attack. Leading me toward the conclusion that I needed a break.

Perhaps some I've actually been moving toward this place for a month or so now, but vacation seemed to cement it.

I spent my vacation largely surrounded by creative people, frequently discussing movies, tv, art, music, etc. I also spent time with my cousin who is an artist and anytime we are together we seem to go on what might be described as creative binges.

It was as though a part of me went "oh yeah. I remember who I am. I was made for this."

Sometimes, when we've been hurt or when we are tired or when we've simply thrown our hands up and said "God I just don't know how to keep going forward," that's when God uses something we'd never expect to remind us who He made us to be. And to encourage us to get up and put one foot in front of the other. Only wide awake this time.

Just a thought.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's Next?

What's on the other side of disillusionment?

I believe I'm finding myself in whatever that may be and discovering a strange mix of inspiration, freedom and frustration. It's an interesting place to be and while I believe some of the frustration is solvable - while hanging on to the inspiration and freedom, there is no quick fix (maybe that's true of everything in life) and sometimes that can be very trying.

Things that make you think about integrity; what's right and wrong in a very black & white manner; and making the right decisions so that you can live with yourself.

Balancing what's in your head with what's in your heart is often tricky. Trying to figure out how to navigate the path you're on and where it's taking you (patiently!) is about five steps beyond tricky.

For me, my faith plays a huge role in dealing with all of these issues. I believe God has a plan and that as we make our own decisions and navigate the road we're on, He's always got something for us to learn. Some lessons are repeated. A lot. But once you get it, you go forward. Perhaps that's why you can spot patterns in your life and behavior. As my Mom says, if you're not changing, you're not growing. So here are my questions of the moment:

How do you figure out where you're going when you've become certain that you're in a place of transition? And what steps do you take to keep yourself focused on the future while living in the present - even if you know the present is only temporary? How do you gain the most out of each leg of the journey called life?

Just a thought.