We are enough

So last Monday morning I did something I hoped against hope I would never do. I dropped my iPhone into the toilet. I tried to save it from a watery death, but alas, even rice could not revive it. I was so bummed, I stood in the kitchen crying to that poor husband of mine because I’M SO CLUMSY IT’S STUPID AND HOW CAN ONE PERSON BREAK SO MANY THINGS?? My sweet man wrapped his arms around me and said, “It’s ok, everyone does it, it’s really ok! I promise!” “NO IT’S NOT! I’M LITERALLY THE WORST! WHY DO I ALWAYS DO THIS?!”, I cried back to him. He just kept hugging me and made me laugh, and I felt safe there but in my brain, man oh man, I was tearing me apart. “Sarah, when you will you learn? How do you break so much stuff? No one will ever trust you with anything important because you’ll just mess it up. What is wrong with you?” You’re probably reading this and wondering how I can be so completely dramatic about a phone, and I don’t blame you, but let me help you understand just a little more.

I am notoriously hard on myself. I am insecure, and unsure of who I am and I feel certain that I am failing at whatever I’m supposed to be. I’m too much and too little at the same time. And I have a hunch that I’m not alone here. I think maybe you feel the same way. Maybe not about the same things I do, and maybe not as intensely, but I’m fairly certain you have an insecurity, and maybe you feel like a failure sometimes. Maybe you think you aren’t thin enough, or successful enough, maybe you feel like you don’t make enough money, or maybe you just killed a garden (that’s me!). Maybe you feel like a bad mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, or friend. Maybe you feel stuck in your job, stuck in your town, stuck in your choices. Maybe you feel suck in self-condemnation, stuck in pornography, stuck in having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend, stuck in your mistakes. And maybe because you’re stuck you feel like you are a failure. You believe failing is what defines you. I feel like that so often, so I understand. I ignore the good in my life, because the wrong things I do feel so much bigger and they become all I see. But I think God is trying to teach me something in it, and it’s something that you need to hear too.

I fail sometimes, and so do you. I let people down, I break things, I hurt people, I make mistakes. But I am not a failure. I am not a letdown. I am not a mistake. And neither are you. It’s important to differentiate between those things. One tells you you did something the other says  you are something. But the bible says that we are conquerors and co-heirs with Christ, we are His friends, His children, and His bride. The bible says, because Jesus came and died for you that you are now righteous, your sins are cast away as far as the east is from the west. You are not your sins, you are ENOUGH!

My friend Leigh and I have this thing where every day we will text message each other or chat each other on office communicator and say, “Today, YOU ARE ENOUGH!” Because honestly we need a reminder. Honestly, most days we don’t feel that way. But the truth remains, we are enough and you are enough. Even when you feel like you are lacking the facts are that you are enough and you are dearly loved.

I’m not saying that we should be content in our sin, or we shouldn’t look for change. One of my favorite books in the bible is James because “faith without works is dead” is like my life mantra! BUT most people I know aren’t really content in their sin, in fact they hate themselves because of it. I don’t think, for most of us, our problem is not hating sin enough. It’s that we don’t trust God enough and we don’t trust that He meant what He said about freedom and we don’t trust that He loves us without condition and we don’t trust His grace and forgiveness. It seems too good to be true, and we think we need to earn it. We think we won’t be enough until we measure up and that feels very far away. But I have good news, the things you do or don’t do are not what give or take away value. You value is not found in the size of your jeans, the success you achieve, or the number of things you don’t break (praise HIM!!). Your value is found in something that can never be changed or taken away. You are a child of the Living God, and that is enough.

Friends, today, YOU ARE ENOUGH! Who you are right now, in your sins and shortcomings, is enough. Nothing you ever do will make Him love you more than He does today. He died for you knowing full well the mistakes you would make but He did it anyway because you are ENOUGH! He isn’t waiting for you to lose 10 pounds, He isn’t waiting for you to get your act together, and He isn’t waiting for you to become perfect. He’s already made His decision. When you read that, does it excite you? Does it feel too good to be true? Does it give you the ability to breath freely? Does it make you want to dance because IT’S OK THAT YOU ARE CLUMSY!! Jesus still loves you!! WOOOOO! (Just me? …ok….) You are not a failure. You are not a mistake. You are enough. Please let that take root inside you. Let it grow and grow so that you can fully begin to believe it. I’m still learning to do that. I have to remind myself all day everyday, “yes Sarah, you did just break the espresso carafe, but you are still enough. Yes you did just say that mean sassy thing, but you are still enough and you can do better.” Because we are not our sins. Because we are more than a number on a scale, or the amount of money in our bank accounts. We are broken, but we are being made new. So don’t you forget it! But if you do, I’ll be here reminding you that YOU ARE ENOUGH!!

 

p.s. sorry for all the caps, I just think caps emphasize importance and what’s more important than learning to love to yourself the way that Jesus loves you?? From there flows the ability to love other better.

The year of thankful

This is the year of thanksgiving. The year of noticing the small things and counting them all as grace. The year of remembering that He uses all things for my good, and thanking Him for that. It’s also been the year of forgetting. Forgetting the blessings and the freedom. The year of getting caught up in the hard stuff, in discontentment and transitions. A little key hangs on a chain around my neck, inscribed with the word I need to remember the most… thankful, and somehow that word seems to be the hardest to live out in my real life. Truly living out Eucharisteo isn’t just some lofty concept. It’s real and it’s hard and it takes intentional work.So I’m calling out those places in my heart that don’t really feel like being grateful, and I’m reminding myself that there is much to be thankful for.

To be thankful in Lynchburg, a town that has given so much to me and yet it feels like I’m beginning to reach my expiration date in it. Contentment seems pretty far away because I feel ready for the next place and the next adventure and yet I know that the concept of the grass always being greener rings true. So I’m trying to learn the balance of restless and content, because knowing how to grow where you are planted has value and maybe the expiration date I have in mind and the one God has in mind are different, BUT I think restless contentment keeps one from complacency. After all part of growing up is learning how to balance.

To be thankful for transitions, because my life is chock full of em’ so I better start learning how to like em. Transitioning to a new church. Transitioning into being a wife. Transitioning into a new season, in fact the season I’m transitioning into is the season of transitions. I could either fight them or just learn to appreciate them. Each season has it’s joys and sorrows, and I am learning to see the benefit in it all. There are still times of tears and loneliness because being thankful doesn’t erase those things. It just gives you a new perspective to the pain and the transition. Thanksgiving gives you the lens you need to see there is purpose in the pain, even if you can’t see what it is just yet.

Those are some of the things in life that are harder to be thankful for, and then there are some things that are easy. Like my husband, I see God in Him every day, and I am thankful that through the transition he is there, comforting me and changing me for the better. Like my counselor, who is speaking truth bombs into my life left and right, awaking me to … myself, to the self that God made me to be. Like my boss Theresa, or Mama T as some of our co-workers call her. I know that I’m the luckiest person in the room because I get to work for her and with her. In the past two years we have laughed many laughs and cried many tears and I am better off because I know her. Like our new life group, because they are authentic and hilarious and wise and just plain wonderful. Like friendships that God is  developing, because they challenge and encourage me. Like a book I’m reading that God is using to fill my heart with hope. Friends, my cup overfloweth.

When I look at my life I find that there is so much to be thankful for. I count the everyday graces and they fill up page after page and I realize the things I am thankful for far outweigh the things that I’m not really lovin. It’s easy to miss them though if I’m not paying attention. I don’t want to do that anymore, I don’t want to miss the blessings that are all around me. I want to name them one by one, day by day. My life is filled with beauty, I just have to take the time to notice it.

What about you? Is it easy for you to notice the blessings, or are you like me and it takes some more intentionality to bring them into focus?

giving key

 

 

 

Wisdom and Understanding, where art thou?

If you know me you know that I am a pretty (very) talkative person. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. In fact, in my Freshman year of high school my algebra teacher moved me on a weekly basis. Not the whole class, just me. What she didn’t seem to understand was that no matter where she moved me I was still going to talk. I know now that I should have been more respectful of her and her rules, but then…. well I just wanted to talk. Who needs math anyway, am I right? (I probably should have paid better attention, because in the college math I took I got a D and called it a day.) The moral of that story is that I am a talkative chick, if given the opportunity I could probably carry on a conversation with a brick wall.

I’m also pretty opinionated and argumentative. Bad combo, I know (and so do my parents). I had and have an opinion about most anything, and I would argue with my grandpa, my grandma, my parents, friends, and pretty much anyone else. As I look back at the way I would “discuss” opinions I can see that my approach was obviously wrong. That sometimes I should have just shut my flapper and kept my thoughts to myself. But I thought that wisdom was knowing your opinion and sharing it until everyone agreed with you. I thought it was my duty and responsibility to share my beliefs and opinions on every issue. But as I get (a little) older, and (a little) wiser I’m beginning to see that the combination of talkative and opinionated can be dangerous and polarizing.

One of my favorite catch phrases that I have borrowed from Joy Eggrichs is “seek wisdom”. Proverbs 4:6-7 says it pretty well, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme therefore get wisdom. Though it costs all you have, get understanding.” Wisdom and understanding are sisters are think. They work together to create a safe place. So for the past few years I’ve been trying to get wisdom and understanding. It’s been a slow process, and it’s still ongoing. I’m beginning to think it will be ongoing forever because there is always room to grow and learn and understand better. But I see myself becoming less argumentative, and less vocal in every opinion that I have. It’s not that I’ve stopped having them, I just try to keep them to myself a little more. I try to get understanding instead of trying to get my friends to agree with me. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times where I still talk when I shouldn’t, but wisdom and understanding are working in tandem to change my heart and mind. And sometimes friends, believe it or not, being wise means being quiet. Sometimes it means knowing when to share and when to be silent. Sometimes wisdom looks like respectfully listening and acknowledging, while not arguing or sharing your own thoughts. Sometimes wisdom is pursuing peace through the silence.

I think that in the age of social media that type of wisdom is especially important. Yesterday the Supreme Court passed down a very important and controversial decision regarding Hobby Lobby. Social media ignited like an angry fire, with darts going from both sides of the fence. There was no moderate voice, there was no peace, and there was certainly no understanding. Honestly, it was depressing to read. Did I want to chime in with my opinion? As a recovering opinion junkie you better believe I did! But sometimes when we share our opinion we are just adding to the noise, and it ends up just sounding loud. No one hears the words you say, and they certainly don’t hear the way you want to say it. They just hear the noise. Wisdom is knowing when to speak (or type) and when to be silent. James 3:17 says, “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.” What if when we wanted to comment on a status, or tweet something we ran it through that “filter”? Is this coming from a pure heart? Is this going to encourage peace? Am I being considerate? Am I being submissive or open to reason (as other versions say)? Am I being merciful here? Is this going to show good fruit or produce fruit? Am I being impartial and sincere? I bet this would revolutionize the way we interact with people, not only on social media but in real life. But the benefit of online interaction is that we don’t have to respond immediately, we can take a few minutes to run it through our filter and formulate a wise response. Or we can take that moment to decide not the say anything at all.

I think conservations about the tough stuff are extremely important. We learn to have better opinions when we can talk through them will people that agree and disagree with us. But I think that first of all, those conversations are better to have in person, over a really great cup of coffee or a really delicious meal. Twitter and Facebook leave little room for real discussion, there is no way to tell tone of voice or demeanor. Second, even when are able to have these discussions in person, sometimes silence is still the wisest choice. We can’t be afraid to hold our tongue and keep our thoughts to ourselves. Sometimes when we speak, even when we’re defending the gospel, we do more harm to it than good. Sometimes wisdom means keeping quiet, and friends, I’m learning (slowly) that that’s a-ok with me.