Trust

One thousand and eighty two days ago, I put this recurring reminder on my phone: trust God to do what only He can do.

At the time, I needed the reminder every afternoon before I went to one of the after-school programs I was directing. The group was particularly challenging and in a lot of ways I was at the end of my rope. The reminder was needed as a deep breath before walking in with love in my heart and firmness in my voice.

I needed the reminder that God is the only one who can actually change my heart my for the better – and the hearts of the kids. I needed the reminder that God is at work in ways I will never see and my role is faithfulness. I needed the reminder that my plans for those kids were small-minded in comparison to his plans for them. I needed the reminder that I am weak and He is not and more often than not (okay, always), I should trust Him to run the show.

The reminder shows up on my phone to this day. Mostly because I never took the time to take it off. I guess I can be somewhat of a virtual hoarder.

But, now I find that when I actually take the time to read the reminder and let it into my brain (instead of it going in one neuron and out the other), it always applies to something in my life. Always. There are things that only God (not me, a human) can do and so often I don’t trust him for them.

I want to trust God to do what only he can do to the point that it creates excitement in me. Excitement because although I don’t know what he will do, I trust it and wait expectantly to see what it will be.

I want to have such trust that it creates a deep well of peace that’s never dry. I want to have such trust that it creates an emotional fullness and security that allows me to be vulnerable and offended without fearing rejection. I want to have such trust that anxiety has no power over me. I want to have such trust that hope stays alive within me.

So, I lead my heart to imagine what God could do, whatever my current situation is. What is it that only he could do? Then I tell my heart to stop trying to imagine that, because I can’t even begin think up all that he wants to do! Trust him to do what only he can do, even if I can’t imagine it.

I counsel my heart to trust in the God who has already given me everything; who, in Jesus Christ, has already come to me, a person designed to be close to God but incapable of achieving that myself. I remind myself to trust his heart, trust his intentions, and trust him to do the things that only He is capable of accomplishing.

“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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Esta bien no estar bien

Llorar en el aeropuerto. Me ha pasado varias veces y no lo recomiendo. Nadie quiere ser esa persona llorando por el terminal, pero si te pasa a ti, hay que aceptarlo.
Hace un par de años, estaba llorando en el aeropuerto justo antes de subir al avión – gotas grandes y no pararon. El chico escaneó mi tarjeta de embarque, me miró y me dijo, “Esta bien no estar bien.”

Empecé a llorar más porque en ese momento no estuve bien y no tenía la energía para ponerme una sonrisa y decir, “Estoy bien.” Respiré y cabeceé con una sonrisa de agradecimiento. No había necesidad de presentarme como una persona perfecta con la vida arreglada para subir al avión. Está bien llorar por el terminal. Está bien no estar bien.

Da algo de libertad cuando alguien te da permiso no estar bien. Un día una conocida me pidió disculpas por ser un Eeyore y no un Tigger ese día. Dijo que estaba desanimada por varios motivos. Le dije, “No me pidas disculpas. Está bien no estar bien.” Me miró y lo reiteró, como si nunca hubiera estado segura de la idea: “Si que esta bien no estar bien, verdad?”

Después me preguntó si la podía usar la frase en su próxima obra de arte. Quizás me haga famosa. O debería ser famoso ese chico que trabaja con la aerolínea, que no me conoció, pero no se encogió al ver mis lágrimas.

¿Por qué te abates, oh alma mía, y te turbas dentro de mí? Espera en Dios; porque aún he de alabarle, Salvación mía y Dios mío.” (Salmos 42:5) Dios puede con mis tristezas y quiere que esté con él, esté como esté. No tengo que arreglarme antes de acercarme a él. Pero tampoco me quedo así, compadeciéndome. Hablo con mi propia alma, dando importancia a lo difícil que estoy viviendo, pero también diciéndome que hay que esperar, hay que cantar, hay que alegrarme en Dios.

“Oye, Rebecca, escúchame, que te tengo que hablar. Te voy a recordar de algunas cosas, alma mía.” Allí está la diferencia. Se puede tener dolor, y reconocerlo, pero aun así tener una paz profundo que solo Dios me da y una alegría que no cambia con las circunstancias de la vida.

Estés donde estés hoy, pases lo que pases, acuérdate que está bien no estar bien. No hay que fingir. Déjate pasar por el duelo. Rodéate con la gente que te va a abrazar sin palabras y después, en el debido tiempo, va a ayudarte a sanar, a aprender del duelo, y a seguir adelante. Y después da a alguien en tu vida el permiso no estar bien contigo si realmente no está bien. Compartamos las alegría de la vida juntos y también las cargas y tristezas.

Wasting Years or Wasting Moments

We sat at dinner. The sun had already gone and the day was almost over. We sat in silence and we also talked and I replied: “Thinking about the future only overwhelms me because it makes me want to be sure I’m living well right now. Down the road, I don’t want to regret how I’m living now, or what I did or didn’t do.”

I don’t want to waste the years. And that is good, but my guess is that we get caught up in not wasting the years and forget to make sure we don’t waste the minutes.

In the end, I wonder if its that the years can’t really be wasted, only the minutes can be wasted.

La imagen puede contener: flor, planta, naturaleza y exterior

The years are part of our story, so they’re never really worth throwing out. Because when we look back at the fabric of our lives — the years woven together, the string that runs through them, God’s hand through it all — we see how it all works together. The years, they weren’t wasted even if at the moment they felt like it. Even if they were filled with suffering or plans that didn’t work out or experiences that others would label a “mistake” or “failure.”

Of course we should try to live our years well, with the people we need to be with, doing what we should be doing, where we should be doing it. But instead of fretting so much about whether or not we have wasted years, maybe it’s better to focus on living the moments well, no matter where (or how) we find ourselves in any given year.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:24

More manna comes in the morning

“Don’t resent the moments simple because they cannot be frozen. Taste them. Savor them. Give thanks for that daily bread. Manna doesn’t keep overnight. More will come in the morning.” – ND Wilson

In the Old Testament, God gave his people bread from heaven. His bread for His people, His provision. And it couldn’t be kept overnight except for the sabbath. Basically, they were to rejoice in the gift, accept His provision and follow His instructions for it.

And that is still what I, one who belongs to Him, am to do today: delight in all the sweet moments, perfect provision, and gracious gifts of today. I should not resent them because they’re fleeting or worry about what will come tomorrow. The gifts I’ve been given today are meant for today and tomorrow’s gifts may be different but they will also be good.

“Rebecca, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary.” (Luke 10:41) I want to joyfully collect my manna for the day, spend time with my God, and trust Him and His heart.

He knows me in and out, better than i know myself, and like a good dad, He will give me GOOD things, not just the things I want him to give (Matthew 7:11).

He has given me manna for today and I am thankful for it. More will come tomorrow.

Try and fail

Someone, flustered by disorganization and their scattered thoughts, told me “I’ll get my life together soon.” I just said “We never do. That’s a myth.”

Getting our lives together is a myth. When I was newly out of college (and still sometimes now!) I would get home and just say to myself “you’re doing it, Rebecca! You’re doing this adult thing.” I say that to myself because I realize I’m trying and failing sometimes. I’m playing the game. I’m in the ring. That means I’m doing this thing called life and, dare I say, doing it successfully.

“Adulting” successfully is not doing things perfectly, but rather giving it a go every morning. I’m convinced that sometimes it’s the attempt that matters. That is adulting, this is life, and no one ever actually “gets it together” or figures it out because, among other reasons, life is constantly changing.

In fact, if someone has it so “together” that they never seem to fail.. then I’m afraid they’re not really living life at all, they’re managing and controlling and doing what they can but not what they could.

Assured success: that’s my comfort zone. I want perfection and successful execution of whatever I set out to do, so I tend to pick things that I know I can do. Bad place to camp out. 

Can good habits be cultivated? Can success and excellence be pursued. Yes, and they should be and that’s what I strive toward. But the first step is often an attempt and maybe a fail, and lots of grace and kindness for yourself in the trying-failing-success process.

If you’re engaged and open and feeling and dreaming and trying and failing and crying, you’re doing it. Be brave enough to be vulnerable enough to try and fail.

Quick to do good

Recently I set out on a secret helping mission — the kind where you surprise someone with something they need or secretly do something to help. Secret helping missions are fun.

But this time I was on the bus home, frustrated because my mission had failed. I had a great idea, set out to do it, and it just didn’t pan out. I texted another friend, expressing my frustration and she replied, “So what do you think about the adage ‘It’s the thought that counts’?”

I replied: “Not sure. I think it’s dumb I guess.”

person using smartphone(photo by Priscilla Du Preez)

Because it’s not really the thought that counts, is it? That day on the bus home it wasn’t my thought that counted because the idea in my head meant nothing to the friend I was trying to help.

I’ve said it plenty myself. “Oh well, it’s the thought that counts,” I say when I have a great idea, try to do it, and it just doesn’t work out. It’s the thought that counts.

Or is is the trying that counts?

Good thoughts that don’t turn into action don’t count for much. In the end all the good ideas in the world do nothing to bring comfort, to relieve pain, to encourage, to help, to build up.

Thoughts turned into actions are what count, even if the effort isn’t a perfect, raging success. The trying is what counts. The obedience to do the good thing is what counts. My heart is changed and filled and, if all goes well, the people around me are changed as well.

“Every day you can do one thing you you wish you could do for everyone. We will be known for our actual fruits, not the intentions of our imaginations.” – Ann Voskamp

person washing fork(photo by Catt Liu)

It’s about the trying, the showing up, the being there, the doing, the putting thoughts into actions, even if those attempts don’t have a 100% success rate. Sometimes helping is awkward. Sometimes we don’t know what to say. It’s okay. The showing up is what matters.

A few months ago I was thinking and praying a lot about what it would mean for me to be quick to do good. Quick to help. Quick to love. Quick to serve. So that if an idea pops into my head, I won’t spend time thinking about it, coming up with why it’s inconvenient, why I don’t have time, or why it would be awkward (and my selfish heart is very good at that!).

Instead, I want to learn how to jump into action, to get right to the good that God put in my mind to do. I want to learn how to let the love of Jesus quickly compel me into action. I want to be quick to be selfless. Quick to go on lots of fun, secret helping missions.

That’s what counts, isn’t it? Being ready to do good, quick to act, efficient at turning thoughts into actions. Quick to serve and make it fun, even if it’s a little messy.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

 

 

Cheerleaders

A coworker gave me a gift. A fountain pen. Because I’d never had one before. Because I love pens. Because I write. With this gift and his words, he said, “I like what you write. Keep writing.” A simple gift turned into a huge encouragement.

Just like that we can communicate to another human: “I’m cheering you on.”

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What does it look like to be each other’s cheerleaders? To actually show them that we “believe in them”? To effectively and creatively communicate to them that we’re behind them, that we think they should go for it?

Cheering people on is much more than simply telling them that they can do it. It’s equipping them to do it, giving them the tools for their trade, providing them with the space and opportunities they need to develop, stretch, and grow.