Dropping the Façade

I like it when people like me.

Strange right?

I know that everyone likes it when people like them. We were built for community and relationships are really important for our overall health and well-being. But I have to tell you that I really like it when people like me.

It always sort of takes me by surprise. Like I am walking along in my everyday life and someone drops a million dollars in my purse. Surprise!

And I react (inside of course) like I just received a Golden Globe, or the crown at some beauty pageant. “Who, me?” (wave the tears away)

Why is this a big deal?

Because when someone disapproves of me, it throws me into a panic.

This is bad. Really bad.

I have spent most of my life feeling invisible. I can’t say why that is. Perhaps it’s the result of middle-child-syndrome… I am not sure it matters. Sometimes the root can help you deal with a problem, but sometimes it is just a distraction. In this case, I need to deal with this issue more than I need to explore where it came from.

Invisibility can be seductively comfortable. I know how to be invisible. I don’t know how to be seen. Whether in a good light or a negative light.

So praise is a really big deal.

And so is criticism.

It is personal criticism that really brings on the panic. I think it is because as comfortable as invisibility is, there is a part of me desperate to be seen.

To be seen is to be vulnerable, though.

And what I really want is not just to be seen, but to be accepted for who I am flaws and all. So what if someone sees me and loves me for my strengths, but turns when they see my weaknesses?

When I am approval-seeking, my tendency is to hide my imperfections so that people do not have a chance to reject me for my faults. The problem is that what I need is not approval, but acceptance.

Approval is so fickle, but acceptance is forever.

So, here I am World. I choose to throw back the cloak of invisibility and stand fully visible.

I bet you thought I was going to reveal something shocking. The truth is that my faults, like most of yours, are not exceptional. I get grumpy when I am tired. Sometimes I say things without thinking them through. I can get hyper-focused on a subject trying to figure it out, and drive people around me crazy with my incessant need to talk it through. I speed on the highway even when I am not in a hurry…

I am not perfect, and never will be this side of eternity. I am learning to be ok with that. I am also learning to let myself be seen for who I truly am. I believe it is more valuable to be accepted for my whole self than to receive approval for presenting an incomplete picture.

Plus, it gives people around me freedom to be their true selves as well.

Honest relationships, fully accepting (even when not fully approving). That is my goal.

That’s the refreshing life.

Ta-da Lists

One day as I was browsing through my Newsfeed on Facebook, I saw a friend’s post about having a productive day. I misread her actual words, though, thinking she had written, “I have already crossed several things off of my ta-da list for the day.”

Ta-da list? That can’t be right.

And it wasn’t. She had written to-do list like any other reasonable person, but I felt that my misunderstanding had potential.

Why not use a ta-da list? It would put the emphasis on what you accomplish as you cross things off instead of what still remains to be done. A ta-da list would be a list of little victories throughout the day instead of a list of burdensome tasks still to be completed.

Ta Da List

So I resolved right then and there to stop making to-do lists and make only ta-da lists from that day forward, shouting “Ta-Da!” every time I crossed something off… I have not actually been successful in carrying out that resolution, but I am determined to give it another try.

Will you join me in making everyday tasks a little more uplifting by celebrating all of
your ta-da’s as you go? I hope so.

How refreshing!

 

Cheesy Acronyms to the Rescue

I was talking with someone I love and care about this weekend and he expressed that while he knew the truth about a frustrating dilemma in his life, he wasn’t sure how to apply it practically.

This is the trouble with a lot of issues we face, right? We may know that we are worth more than our successes and failures, or that we need to readjust our attitudes about life or family or work or self, but it is hard to know how to apply those changes in a way that impacts our daily lives.

As much as I have despised the practice in the past, there is something about boiling down a plan of attack into an easy to remember word or phrase. Whether through alliteration or the ever-ready acronym, these cheesy mnemonic devices help us take tests in school and remember work protocols as adults. But they are cheesy. And I hate them.

But they work, so what do you do?

I have grudgingly decided to embrace them.

So, for attitude adjustments in general I have devised a useful acronym to help myself and others put into practice what we know to be true.

Time to take a TRIP

T-Tell yourself the truth. Whatever truth you are trying to implement in your life, remind yourself where it comes from. I spoke in a previous post about particular Mind Pirates that I face. In general, I struggle with people-pleasing and anxiety related to a nagging feeling of everyone’s disapproval. At these times of struggle, I remind myself that: I was created in the image of God; I am responsible for being faithful to love Him and others; God’s approval is the only one that truly matters.

R-Reality Check. Sometimes we see through a distorted lens and need a fresh perspective from someone who loves us in order to see reality. Ask someone close to you to help with a fresh point of view regarding whatever you are struggling with. (For me it is often the case that not everyone is even thinking of me, let alone disapproving.)

I-Intentionality. Take the truth about who you are, and the reality check you have just been given and decide what one or two (if any) things you can do to either correct a previous wrong or to handle situations better in the future.

P-Prayer. For me, because I place my value in being loved by God, I find my grounding in both speaking and listening in prayer. Pouring out my frustrations and seeking guidance outside myself in One who loves me unconditionally gives me peace and grace to meet challenges head-on.

I hope you can fend off the mind pirates you face today.

You are infinitely loved and valued!

What a refreshing thought.

Songs from the Heart

My grandfather passed away last week and he left a great legacy of love and faith. For his funeral service, the request was made for his grandchildren to sing “There is a Fountain” by William Cowper. The first four verses seemed very appropriate, but the final two just didn’t really represent our heart for Grandpa. We could have simply sung the four verses, ending with “Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.” I really wanted to sing a song about that redeeming love continuing on after death. So, I wrote a new verse and we sang it on Saturday as we celebrated Grandpa’s life and legacy.

When at my Master’s feet I bow, lay down my earthly crowns,
I’ll sing my song unending there, through all eternity!
Through all eternity, through all eternity,
I’ll sing my song unending there, through all eternity.

I know that my grandpa is singing his heart songs face to face with his Master.

Alfred Miller:
http://www.penwellgabelhutchinson.com/obituary.aspx?src=value&obitid=77775&fname=Alfred&lname=Miller&city=Hutchinson&st=Kansas
http://www.hutchnews.com/obituaries/article_438cfb31-42c4-5fcf-9fc3-52e6cb2f2398.html#.UwFJ-Wd4Osw.facebook

100 Lives to Give

I wrote about a month ago about transitions, one of which was my last living grandparents moving into the nursing home. None of us knew then what Grandpa seemed to, that time was short and things needed to be put in order before his passing.

My gentle, patient Grandpa died yesterday morning.

I tried earlier to express some of my thoughts about his life and who he was, what he loved, but I kept feeling that though there were a lot of words I was still falling short.

Grandpa’s life was about one thing: he had experienced God’s love and grace, and dearly wished the same for others.

My grandpa was a farm boy. Maybe that is where he learned to love growing things. Grandpa had a garden. And house plants. And gourds growing on vines. If he could find a place for something else to grow, he would use every inch.

He planted seeds, watered them and was patient as they took root. He watched them grow and eagerly anticipated the fruit even while carefully clearing the weeds. He used the same methods as he nurtured life in those around him. His gentleness was evident to everyone.

My grandparents served as missionaries in Central Africa for nearly 30 years, alternating service there with teaching school here in the U.S. Countless people have and continue to express how much their interactions with my grandparents gave them hope and helped them grow.

I remember visits from them as a child when they would bring us African treasures and sleep in an A-frame house, where we sometimes joined them for snuggles before breakfast. Lying in between them and listening as Grandpa would tell stories about The 3 Cats Who Went to See the King, and The Boy Who Killed the Chicken. Grandpa taught me to count to 10 in French with a little story, and told funny jokes about preachers and missionaries that still make me smile.

As an adult, he affirmed my calling to ministry and advocated for me in the process of recording my ordination as a minister of the gospel. Grandpa always expressed his pride at having children and grandchildren who followed Jesus.

Grandpa loved Jesus and said, “I wish I had 100 loves to give to serving him.” (People say things like this, but Grandpa meant it.)

I can’t help but think that while he only had one life to give, the legacy he leaves behind is not a mere hundred lives but thousands of lives glorifying God and serving others.

I am blessed to count myself among them.

Let your light so shine that men see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Love Surrounds You

To Valentine’s or not to Valentine’s, this is the question…
It seems to me that love gets boiled down to a romantic dinner, roses and chocolates each February. It’s sad, really, when you think of all the aspects of love and kinds of loving relationships that add meaning to our lives. Love is not just passion. It does not have to burn. Love is in warm friendship and tender care wherever we find it.
Even though we live in a world that is far from perfect, and full of challenges every day, I believe that we are surrounded by Love.

Love breathes his breath into our lungs, filling us with life.

Love paints the sky with brilliant blues, crisp whites, and fiery sunsets.

Love desires to awaken your soul to the beauty in a leaf and a wild flower placed where only you will see it bloom.

Image

It is winter and Love has blanketed my world with snow, bringing a time of quiet and rest.

Love sits with us in grief and uncertainty.

Love calls our name when we are convinced that no one truly knows us.

Love loves us even when we are unlovely.

So, when we ask whether or not to celebrate a holiday of love, I say why not, but don’t stop there. Don’t limit your scope to just a box of chocolates and a teddy bear.

Open your heart and your eyes to the love that surrounds you everyday.

That’s a refreshing thought!

 

“God is Love.” 1 John 4:8b

 

For more thoughts on Valentine’s Day check out the posts linked to:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/writing-challenge-valentine/

Honestly Speaking about Identity

It is ok to be you.

This is not the prevailing message in our culture, regardless of all the after-school specials that tell us differently. We get a lot of flack for being ourselves. There is constant pressure to look like someone else, like what someone else likes, hate what someone else hates, do what someone else does, etc.

But this is ridiculous.

I don’t know if you are aware that you are the only you that exists. Right now, on this planet, you are the only person walking around with your features, personality, likes, dislikes, family, and friends. And that fact is important.

That means there are people in your life that only you can love the way they need to be loved. There are colors, artwork, houses, clothing and sunsets that perhaps only you will appreciate. There are solutions only you will think of as you encounter obstacles with your unique resources. Those people who first thought of all those genius fixes that we use everyday (chip clips, refrigerator magnets, organizational calendars, bendy hair clips, infinity scarves, shoe strings) were people just like you and me, but they saw the world from their own unique vantage point. (Whoever thought of using a rubberband as an early pregnancy solution to jeans that are too tight before maternity pants will fit, you are a genius!) 

If you are a parent, only you can parent your kids like you. 

Are you a teacher? Only you can influence those students in this subject to dig deeper and get excited.

Whatever you do, you can use your unique view of the world to add to your environment and the lives of those you encounter.

Those other people we are supposed to emulate? They already exist, making their contribution to the world, or not. That is their responsibility: to make their difference with what they have.

Make your difference. Be yourself, because no one else can.

You matter.

Now, that’s refreshing.