Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What to do when your "yes-es" aren't enough

I used to be a "yes" girl. If you had a thing and you asked me to help, I said yes. Didn't matter if I had time. I said yes anyway. Because that's what nice people do. Right?
Maybe not always.

It's so easy to forget who we are--whose we are--because we are so busy trying to be all that we aren't.

Somewhere along the path of life we come to believe the lie that who we are is not enough--not good enough, not nice enough, not funny enough, not kind enough, not pretty enough--simply not enough.

Who can possibly thrive and live a life full of grace and truth and love when she believes she is not enough? The lie of the enemy creeps and cripples us so we forget all that we are.

I spent years saying yes to a multitude of things because they were good things to say yes to. And I believed if it was a good thing, you should say yes to it--even if it wasn't necessarily the right thing I should be saying yes to. Because isn't that what good people do? We do good things. Lots of them.

But good and right are not always the same things. Good things are not always good if they are not the good things I ought to be saying yes to. You know what I'm talking about. The commitments, the obligations, the activities, the play dates, the meetings, the groups, the committees--so many things until your calender is over full to brimming and you are spent from all these yes-es.
And all these yes-es become the things that control your days and ways until you are certifiably over-committed and undeniably overwhelmed.
And Jesus is hard to find because He's buried in all this stuff.

I thought that I had to prove that I was enough--good enough, spiritual enough, smart enough--

But I forgot who I was.

I forgot that I was loved simply because I was and not because of anything I could do.
I forgot I was His Beloved. That He called me beautiful. Even in my nothing.

Ironically, I had lost my way saying yes to all the good things. And all those yeses meant I said no to many of the right things.
I believe there are those things that sure, we could say yes to, but maybe we shouldn't. 
We have a check in our hearts, a sense in our spirit that maybe we should pause and think about what that yes means.
In terms of time. In terms of investment. In terms of  family.
Because that yes could mean a lot of no's down the line.

I don't have to say yes to every good thing. Sometimes no is a right answer.

But I had bought into another little lie that the things I was really good at weren't good enough, glamorous enough, fancy enough--or maybe I was selfish and thought that they weren't good enough because they weren't the gifts I would have chosen to give me.
Isn't that the point of a gift, though? It's not what we would have chosen.
It's the gift-giver's prerogative because the gift-giver wants to give it. And often it's what we would have never dreamed of asking for ourselves. And aren't those the very best gifts?
The most perfect gifts?
And the perfect Gift-Giver always gives the most perfect gifts.

But instead of gratitude for my gifts, I said yes to a thing that maybe I wasn't really equipped to complete; but since it looked good, I said yes, disregarding my gifts and simultaneously wishing for another's.

I had no margin, no room for the unexpected, no space for grace or surprise or spontaneity because my life was chock full of all these yeses.

I swallowed a hard pill of humility when I saw how all my striving to do good was really not doing much good at all.

I had to prune back all these crazy branches of yeses and let myself be stripped bare so I could remember who I really was. Whose I really was. So I could be clothed with the gifts the Gift Giver had for me, especially for me.
So I could be wrapped up in all this Grace and Love and Wonder.

Spreading a heart too thin is like walking on thin ice. Spreading a life too thin impacts more than just my life. My kids, the husband, bear the brunt or the blessing of my yeses.

When the roots of my life are too thin, too shallow, too close to the surface, there's no deep roots to keep me grounded and safe when the hard winds blow. Too many shallow roots make it too easy to be uprooted and tossed right around crazy. Thus the pruning. So my life, my heart, could grow deep and strong, so the sparseness now might bear witness to more of Him later. 
So that His priorities would become my priorities.

It's hard--we mamas see how other mamas are doing this or that and we qualify it as more or better than how we are doing it.  
Or we Christ followers watch what she is doing and we measure and come up short when really, you can't measure what's not yours.
All I can be is me.
The loud, clumsy, Jesus-loving mama He has planted and pruned and watered and grown.

I'm not gonna be a quiet, gentle mama like my friend N. I'm not really wired to be quiet or gentle.
I, in contrast, am loud and boisterous and somewhat clumsy. My house is often loud. My kids are often loud. And I have learned to be alright with that. Though an investment in ear plugs sometimes seems very attractive.

I'm not ever gonna be a beloved Kindergarten teacher where the students bring you presents at the end of school because they love you like my friend K.
But stick me in a room of high-schoolers and I thrive.

I am still learning how to say yes to those things that the Lord speaks into my heart, to His priorities. It is not every thing. But they are the right-good things. I have learned to pray for wisdom before making really big commitments.  

And sometimes life happens and the stuff of life has to be shuffled around and I say yes to things because they are people things, and people are eternal so they are eternal things--like taking a meal to a new mama or a sick friend, watching another friend's kids so she can work on her new house, taking coffees filled with caffeine to my friends who are spending sleepless nights at church with the youth group while the youth serve our community.

And that's okay because when I've checked and curbed and pruned all my yes-ing,
there's space and margin and room for the unexpected, for the spontaneous, for the surprise.
And then all these moments, all these spaces, instead of being the last straw or the icing on that proverbial cake, can be wrapped in grace.
And love.
And wonder.

Grace Always Rises,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How to be enough

Last week was Kids Kamp at church--our church's version of Vacation Bible School.

It was a crazy, beautiful, amazing week!

My friend Miss K and I have been teaming up for the last 6 years to co-lead this week and every year, God does some nifty stuff.

We are so blessed. And so humbled.

We had 134 kids on Monday. A record. We had 143 kids on Wednesday. Another record. We gave away more than 25 Bibles to kids who either had no Bible or who accepted Jesus. That's another record. That's not counting the more than 60 youth and adults we had volunteering their week to love on kids.

I know records aren't terribly important in the realm of eternity. But they are indicators of God's hand at work. They are beacons of hope that He is moving in our kids and in their hearts. And when it comes to little people who have asked Jesus into their hearts, it changes their eternity.

All photos taken by our awesome Kids Kamp photographer Sam Ferrand!!!!
I'm always amazed at what God does in my heart during this week every year.

I'm always humbled by His faithfulness despite my faithlessness. 

I'm always overwhelmed by His grace even when I yelled at my kids to hurry up on our way out the door that morning.

I'm always washed away in His love when my heart soaks up the lesson, even as I speak the very words that are ministering to my heart to the kids.

Every year we have always wondered if we would have enough help. Every year God has brought more than we need right when we need it...most often Monday morning.

Every year we wonder if we are doing enough, if we have forgotten something big, and every year, we have kids decide to ask Jesus into their hearts. And making Christ followers and discipling Christ followers is the whole point so nothing else really matters.

Every year we are astonished by what God does, how He shows up, and our kids are watching and our kids somehow manage to open our eyes wider because they see Him bigger.

The whole theme of our Kids Kamp week was teaching our kids that God has made each of us a masterpiece. We are that special just how He made us. And we don't have to try to be someone or something else. We just have to be who He made us to be. He carefully crafted and molded all of those little things that make us unique and different, and which so often can separate and make us feel strange and weird because, well, we are different.

One of my professors in college equated the body of Christ to a very large wheel. We each have a spoke on that wheel. If I spend my days trying to be the spoke over there because I like that spot better, then my spot is empty and the body of Christ isn't functioning as it should because I'm trying to be like someone else and noone can be me quite like I can. Not only that but I can't be that spoke over there nearly as well as the person to whom that spoke belongs.

I know it seems like such a simple no brainer, but in a world that exalts money and power and physical beauty and materialism and not being different or weird or quirky, it becomes very easy to fall into the trap of I'm not enough.

And I think it's the same on a smaller scale for our kids. Whether it's size, color, shape, or skill sets, kids know when they are different.

They know when they can't run as fast or read as well or throw as far.

They know when they are rounder or taller or skinnier than someone else.

They know when they aren't like everyone else, and their little hearts feel that alienation keener and deeper but they don't have the words to explain it. So maybe they withdraw. Maybe they act out. Maybe they overcompensate. Maybe they misbehave.

All because they feel as though they don't belong.

And doesn't it grieve the Creator's heart when the very nuances that He impressed into us become the things that divide and cause us to measure and cut and come away believing we lack something, or yes, that we aren't enough.

When the truth is He is enough. He's always been enough. More than enough. And when we walk in confidence that He is enough, then suddenly our imagined lack disappears and we move confidently in His footsteps. And we realize we are enough because we see who we are through His eyes. We are enough because we are His.

Last week we celebrated our quirks, our foibles, our idiosyncrasies because that's exactly how God made us. And He calls the very things that make us different beautiful. And when we believe we are beautiful because He has made us beautiful, we make those around us feel beautiful too.

There's nothing quite like the person who, because she is free to be who she really is, unconsciously allows others the freedom to be who they are as well. There's nobody quite so, well, nice to be around as someone who embraces and speaks the truth about the very quirks in me that I feel self-conscious and insecure about. As though she is Jesus with skin on, teaching me what beauty really is and what love really looks like.

Oh, to be that person.

Oh, to live in a world full of those people.

Grace Always Rises,