Let’s get real. Being vulnerable and letting others see the real me is not easy or something I do very often. I imagine I’m not alone in this either. One of my deepest fears is that someone will see past my surface and not like what they see. It’s a struggle with self-confidence, and it’s not only a problem for teenagers.
Some days I can clearly see all of the good qualities God has given me, but other days I feel blinded. So I hide. I allow the lies of Satan to convince me that trusting will only lead to heartbreak. He tells me that there’s nothing inside that is worth sharing. If you’ve had the same thoughts, they’re lies. Maybe letting other people in will lead to heartbreak, but God made us for relationship. Maybe there is some badness inside each of us, but God can redeem anything if we let him.
The truth of the matter is that God, the one whose opinion matters most, has already seen all of my flaws and accepts me just the way I am. Nothing I do can separate me from him now that we’re connected. That truth gives me the freedom to trust earthly relationships. God is holding my heart so even if it gets hurt by someone who rejects me, God will keep it together and mend it.
Even in my insecurities I publicly proclaim, borrowing the words of Tauren Wells, “I’m fully known and loved” by God.
This time of year leaves me feeling drained, which can very easily drain me of my joy. I see the exhaustion taking its toll on my students as well. They and I lack motivation, often complain, and wonder if we’ll ever catch a break in the schedule. It’s the fourth week of school, and it can be very easy to forget Philippians 4:4-8.
This set of verses is the focus for my classes this year. It doesn’t directly relate to my content, but it does directly relate to our attitudes surrounding English class and life in general. It’s very easy to get discouraged, worry, or complain, but these verses remind us that there is always a reason to rejoice in God. We simply need to replace the negative thoughts with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, anything with excellence, and anything worthy of praise”.
This morning I woke up feeling kind of under the weather physically, tired (in spite of going to bed at 9 pm), and unmotivated to face the day. As soon as I recognized that attitude in myself, I realized that I couldn’t let that negativity seep into my students. In order to combat that today, I started each class by asking the students what they could rejoice about today. Many said answers such as waking up, winning a game, or being one day closer to fall break. My attitude took a turn for the positive as a result of this simple exercise. Ultimately, we were able to remember that we can always rejoice in God because he is awesome!
(As a fun bonus, extol was one of our words of the day, so we were also able to talk about extolling God.)
Let me tell y’all, I’m tired. Between teaching, volleyball, speech team, grad school, and attempting to maintain relationships with people, I go pretty non-stop. A lot of times I love it, but sometimes I get into a pity party and just want to be noticed. You ever been there? You just want someone to recognize how hard you’re working to do the good work.
As I read a quick passage tonight before bed, I was hit with some truth. Talking to his disciples, Jesus tells a story of a master and a servant. After working in the field, the servant is still asked to serve his master in the evening. The servant isn’t thanked for simply doing his job. Jesus says, “so you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say ‘we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” (Luke 17:10).
A servant’s heart doesn’t need recognition for doing her job. As tired as I am and as tempting as it may be to grumble about not being recognized, I can rest knowing that I am doing God’s work here. That is enough recognition, knowing that God is pleased with my sacrifice and that I have the opportunity to do his work.
I was just informed that today is international cat day. These holidays don’t mean a whole lot to me, but my friend wanted to know if my cat, Scout, knew that today was a holiday in honor of his kind. My response was that Scout thinks everyday is International Scout Day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my cat, and he brings me great happiness, but he doesn’t understand that he’s not the center of everything. In his mind, I should be ready to snuggle or play with or feed him when he’s ready for those things. Maybe some animals can sense their owner’s emotions, but he could care less if I am laughing or crying. In Scout’s world, it’s all about him.
Don’t be like Scout.
The Bible stresses humility and kindness toward others. In Philippians 4:3, Paul writes “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves“. The center of our world shouldn’t be ourselves; as believers our central focus should be God. After that we should strive to view and treat others the way God sees them. That includes the people we like and the people who get under our skin. We should be slow to judge and quick to serve others. It should be in our hearts to sacrifice of ourselves to serve others in order to glorify God.
In essence, don’t be like Scout, waiting on others to serve and love you when you need them and then ignoring their emotions and needs.
I want to see the world through God’s eyes and with the Bible as my point of reference. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about seeing other people with God’s eyes, but lately I’ve been impressed upon to open my eyes a bit more and see everything and do everything through the lens of the Bible. As a Christian, God calls me to act, think, and speak differently. Everything I do must reflect God appropriately. That means that wherever I go, whomever I come in contact with, and whatever social or career roles I serve become a means for sharing the Gospel message.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
Why is this necessary for a Christian? Why can’t I simply go to church on Sunday, maybe serve in some kind of ministry, and read my Bible in the morning? The answer is found in that verse: be transformed. To transform is to change entirely. The kind of change God wants from me is the kind of change that requires me to think about everything from a Biblical standpoint. When I read, I should ponder if the text supports or disagrees with what I know about the Bible. When I speak to people, I should try to be a loving example of Christ. When I pick out clothes, I should remember that God always sees what I wear. When I teach, I must remember that everything I say or do is being filtered by the young minds in front of me as truth; I want to be sure I’m speaking and acting in God’s truth.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 5:45
In order to do this, I must study the Bible and spend time with God in order to discern how his truth guides me. Without God, I am nothing but a feeble attempt at being good. With God, I can be a light that shines brighter than the closest star. I want all parts of my life to reflect God. That means I must examine my heart and ask God to make me clean and pure in thought, deed, and word.
I remember the moment I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I really fell in love with God. When I accepted Christ and his gift of salvation from my sins, I said yes that I wanted to start this relationship with him. I acknowledged his pursuit of me, recognized that he wanted to show me love, and desired to learn more about him. That was a decision, but after that it has been a journey of first learning how to be in that relationship and eventually falling in love. It really has been a sweet, sweet time, but it’s also had its rocky moments when I started to stray.
God designed relationships between men and women to reflect his relationship with us. There is a pursuit, similar to how God draws us close to him, and then a period of mutual attraction and interest, much like the time when we are learning about God before complete acceptance. Eventually a decision is made to establish a relationship (the DTR as it might be called), which resembles the moment of acceptance of salvation. After that, though, the couple has to figure out how to be in a relationship, and the relationship grows to love. Through watching movies and people in my life, I know that part is sweet and can also be rocky. Falling in love and maintaining love in a relationship is an ongoing choice to forgive mistakes and see the good in the other person.
Just like in earthly relationships, figuring out the relationship and falling in love with God can take time and work depending on the individual’s background and experiences. Take heart in your relationship with God if you feel like you are messing up on your end or don’t love him enough: God is better than any earthly partner. He’ll never give up on you no matter how long it takes for that falling in love stage to come to completion or how many times you allow something else to become more important than your love for him. God is faithful to forgive, and his love is deeper than any earthly relationship will ever offer.
**By no means am I trying to trivialize a relationship with God to fully resemble human relationships, which are easily flawed. Know that my experience with relationships is limited to the little I’ve experienced and what I’ve watched in other’s lives, but I pray some of this gives you hope and encourages you to fall more in love with God each day until we reach heaven and can love fully like He does.
Yesterday I heard a metaphor that I think will stick with me for a while. When I go to make tea, I boil the water, pour it over the tea bag, and let it steep for several minutes. Alternatively, I could boil the water, pour it in the cup, and dunk the tea bag in and immediately take it out. That wouldn’t make very good tea, though.
Similarly, I have two options for how I spend time with God. I could take brief and irregular dunks into God’s word and say short prayers sporadically. Alternatively, I could saturate my life with God’s word, spend time pondering the application in my heart, and communicate consistently with him through prayer. Which will make me a better “tea”?
One way to “steep my tea” a bit stronger is to be involved in a good church that challenges me to spend more time with God (and I feel blessed to have one right now).
“I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” (Psalm 26:8)
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
When life gets crazy or my schedule gets interrupted, I’ll make a cuppa and remember that in order to be fully “steeped” I have to spend time in the living water. No one likes weak tea, and God doesn’t like a half-steeped follower.
“Send our your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.” (Psalm 43:3)