Sunday, April 20, 2014

Six

Dear O,

Today is your sixth birthday! It is also Easter. I was worried that you would not like sharing your special day, but you couldn't be more excited about it.

EASTER 2010
I can't begin to express how proud I am of you. You have accomplished so much this year and have been brave through it all. I am so happy that you have found a best friend and love seeing you enjoy kindergarten so much. Even though life is still unpredictable for you, you are learning how to handle the twists and turns.

This year, my prayer is that I can let you go just a little more. I know that I have a tendency to protect you more than I should. I worry that you will be too scared or uncomfortable and it is hard for me to see you feeling that way. But, I am learning to trust God, knowing that He is with you always, even when I can't be. And, that He loves you even more than I do.
 
Even though, I know you have so much more growing to do, I can't help but look back at how much you've grown and wonder how you got to be such a big boy. Most days you take life seriously and are eager to learn as much as you can. But, you are also becoming more comfortable with being silly, which makes me smile. Unless, of course, you are talking about gas and boogers, which just makes me say, "EWWW!"


I love you, son. Happy birthday to you, my boy!

Love, 
Mama

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Do Something


I just began reading Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted. Although I'm not sure what kind of passion God is raising up in me yet - maybe it's the thing I already wrote about or something completely different. However, as a result of Jen's honesty and inspiration to move beyond our own walls - figuratively and literally - I know I must do something. 

How can I do nothing?

This book tells the story of social injustice and our responsibility to do something - anything - about it. It started with a prayer, which began a journey of discovery and led to action.

After Jen describes some of the reasons why we choose to ignore the poor and oppressed - fear of disappointment or betrayal, frustration, and possible misuse of resources - she says this... 

"When Jesus' followers asked him what to do about the weeds in the harvest field, He said to treat them the the same as the wheat...I assure you, for every weed who will take advantage of your mercy, there are fifty stalks of wheat who will shed tears of gratitude for it. There was one Judas, but eleven disciples who were forever transformed by Jesus' broken body. The risk of encountering a few weeds is not sufficient reason to avoid the whole field of human suffering." (p.58)

What did this make me think of? My nine year old daughter who wants to give blankets to the homeless in the winter. Why? Because it's cold and they don't have blankets. Nothing more. Nothing less. She wants to meet a need and doesn't have any fear about when or how the blankets will be used. She doesn't even consider that this won't be appreciated.

Then he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, 
you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 18:3

I know we say that life is complicated. But, maybe we're the ones that make it that way. We over analyze. Over think. Even Jesus expressed the importance of exhibiting childlike faith.

See a need. Meet it. Is it really that simple?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stop Comparing

One morning last week, as I was working out, I began praying.

As I was mentally going through those on my prayer list, I started thinking about my own struggles, wondering how they compared to the struggles of those I was praying for. Were they as big or significant? How does the possible loss of a child compare to needing to get a better handle on my eating habits? Or, a broken marriage compare with a tween with a bad attitude?


When I realized what I was doing, I stopped. Then, I cursed Satan for being able to distract me, even during my prayer time.

In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

He doesn’t say, “Some of you will have greater troubles than others” or “You will have peace in me only if your troubles are significant.” There is no distinction, making one type of struggle more important, more meaningful or more worthy of prayer than another. 

Although some commentaries suggest that the use of trouble in this verse speaks of the hardship Christians may endure as a result of following Christ, others suggest that the word trouble comes from the Hebrew word tsarah, which can be defined as, among other things, distress.

Again, there is no mention of one tribulation being worse than another. It’s simply, that trouble will occur. So, why do we continue to get caught in the comparison trap, even for something as painful as the types of problems we encounter? This seems ridiculous. Yet, I would argue that it is not that uncommon and that I am not the only one who has done this.

Not only do we want our “goods” to be better than the person next to us, we want our “bads” to be worse. And when they’re not, we feel insignificant and wonder if God will even notice our struggles when put side by side with our neighbor’s.

This is a dangerous trap. In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul criticizes the false teachers of the time by saying, “Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as a standard of measurement. How ignorant!”

As Christians, we are called to compare ourselves with God’s standards, not against the standards of other people. Instead of asking yourself, “How does my life compare with my neighbor’s?” Ask, “How does my life measure up to what God wants?” Likewise instead of comparing our burdens and struggles with those of our peers, we should look to God and his word for the standard of measurement for trials.

So, I started looking. You know what I found when looking for scripture related to the “standards” for trials, problems and struggles? Nothing.

While I found many verses about how God helps us to endure our hardships, I found nothing about one struggle being worse or better than another.

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits our crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Psalm 34:17-19 (emphasis added)

My friends, let’s continue to recognize the struggles of others. Let’s do as is commanded in Galatians 6:2 and share each other’s burdens, lifting our friends, neighbors and loved ones to God in prayer. But, let’s stop comparing our struggles. Because…

God sees them all. He rescues us all.