My friend Hilary recently sent me a link to this diagram, and it has been on my mind a lot since then:
Source: Bud Caddell
I have spent most of my life, especially my career, in the area between ‘what I do well’ and ‘what I can be paid to do’. As you can see, that is the area which clearly instructs me to learn to say no. At first, that bold statement startled me. Say no? But I do it well and I get paid for doing it!
However, existing in that junction means that I completely disregard what I want to do in favor of: what I’m expected to do, what others want me to do, what I’m good at doing, what I am paid well to do, and so on. It’s the area where I use the word ‘should’ way too much. I should keep this job because I’m good at it. I should continue to climb the corporate ladder because I can … because I have something to prove … because what else would I do?
Well, I took the first step and got off the should cycle a while ago. The problem is—I haven’t found the thing (the job, career, project, livelihood) that fits the spot marked ‘Hooray!’. I love to write, but I’m not sure I do it well and I’m definitely not sure I can be paid to do it. I am a financial consultant—I do it well and I get paid to do it—but I don’t enjoy it.
See the dilemma? What do you think? Have you found your ‘Hooray!’ spot? Any suggestions?
I really hate seeing my own sin. At the same time, I know that seeing the worst parts of me keeps me dependent on Jesus. It keeps me from becoming self-righteous and from thinking that I don’t need Jesus. Partly because of the way I was raised at church and at home, it is so difficult for me to show my imperfections. Growing up, I don’t remember anyone in my family or my church admitting to struggles or imperfections. When I mess up, I just want to run and hide so that no one can see me. I get so angry at myself. I can’t stand admitting my sin and apologizing to others. Not because I don’t think I am wrong, but because I do know that I’ve messed up, and it is so uncomfortable for me to own it and move past it. Basically, it is almost impossible for me to be vulnerable. However, I realize that real community and real relationships are all about being vulnerable – messing up and forgiving each other; being honest about our struggles instead of hiding them. I also know that our weakness is what God uses to show his power:
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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
We must come to the end of ourselves – and then we are exactly where God wants us. Exactly in a place where he can show himself and his power.
Recently, I attended a weekend women’s retreat with my church. I love retreat weekends like these where the focus is on spending time with God and other women. My favorite part is always the scheduled quiet time where I can spend hours communicating with God with no distractions. During this particular quiet time, God really began to teach me some things about the dialogue that runs through my head. I don’t know if any of you struggle with this, but I’m specifically talking about the thoughts in my head that are reproachful, condemning, negative. The ones that tell me I’m worthless because I’m struggling with a particular sin. The dialogue that constantly condemns me when I mess up. In particular, God plainly showed me that he is not the one speaking to me in that manner. His voice is gentle and loving – yet powerful. His voice may convict but it will never condemn, because:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Sometimes I struggle to comprehend God’s love for us. How is it unwavering and unconditional? How can he love me when I struggle to love myself at times? I may not understand how, but I believe that he is true to his word. I believe that the God who created me and created this magnificent earth – including the ocean waves that I hear outside my hotel room right now – loves me so much that he provided a way for me to be free and forgiven from my sin. He came to earth as a man and died in my place so that I can be free from condemnation. So, I choose to see my sin through the eyes of the one whose blood covers it completely.
I feel like coincidences are following me these days. Do you ever have a theme that keeps popping up in your life over and over? When this happens to me, I really try and discover what God is trying to teach me. Sometimes I can be quite stubborn and God has to hit me over the head in obvious ways before I get the point.
Lately, the theme in my life seems to be these bizarre coincidences. One example: as I’ve previously shared, my sister recently had a baby. The small hospital where she gave birth is a 4-hour drive from Nashville. While I was at the hospital, we discovered that one of my good friends delivered her baby two hours before my sister’s delivery – in the same hospital. And her room was right down the hall from my sister’s room. The friend and I hadn’t seen each other in about 7 years, since she moved away from Nashville, although we had kept in touch via emails and Christmas cards. We had some really fun time to catch up – and her son and my niece now share a birthday!
Also, I’ve recently been on a few dates with a boy. (I call them all “boys” – it should be no poor reflection on his manliness). So, as I began talking to my best guy friend about the boy, we realize that they had coincidentally already met each other – the day prior to said conversation! So next, I introduce the boy to one of my best girl friends. Yep, it turns out they lived in the same apartment complex for a while – approximately 10 years ago. (Same apartment complex, not the same apartment – that would have been a very awkward coincidence!).
There have been some other smaller coincidences here and there, but you get the picture. So, as I was reading a blog post over at Kelly’s Korner this week, it did not surprise me to read about this coincidence that recently happened in her life (it’s definitely worth taking the time to jump over and read!). One of her readers made a comment that resonated with me. The comment said:
I’ve been going to Beth Moore’s bible study “Esther” at a local church. I wrote down this quote on the first day. She said, “Coincidences are miracles where God chooses to remain anonymous.”
I really like that Beth Moore quote and the picture of God that it paints. In my own life, I believe that God is using all of these coincidences to tell me something. He is saying: I haven’t forgotten about you. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like God has forgotten. Maybe it’s a season of life when I’m just not feeling God’s presence as closely as I have in the past; or maybe it’s a prayer that hasn’t yet been answered (or it turns out the answer is “wait awhile” or even “no”). I know that God loves me and His plan is best, but my human nature makes me sometimes feel forgotten. And I think it’s lovely that God cares about me enough to send along some reminders that He is thinking about me. In the form of crazy coincidences.
There are a few things that have struck me as slightly to moderately disturbing over the past few days…
1) I cannot seem to go to bed before 2 AM. I was always a night owl growing up (no foreshadowing intended – you’ll understand later), but as a working woman, I had trained myself to consistently go to bed by 10:30 PM and to be at work by 8:30 AM the next morning. This discipline has apparently flown out the window during my sabbatical. I’m slightly disturbed by my lack of a schedule right now.
2) I am having dinner tonight with a guy who was my boyfriend (briefly) in 1994. Enough said.
3) I came home last night from coffee/conversation with a great friend and found THIS
demon baby owl staring at me from the parking lot of my condo:
The thing was only about the size of a soda can, even though this photo makes it look bigger. Now folks, I don’t live “out in the country”. I live about 7-8 miles from downtown Nashville…envision pavements and high rise buildings, not rolling hills or wooded areas. Seriously, a little lost demonic-looking owl in the middle of the parking lot?? I got close enough to take several pictures with a flash and the thing never moved (other than some odd head turn stuff and a few blinks).
I’m going with moderately disturbing on this one.