Friday, May 22, 2009

The Theory of Toothpaste

One of the things I love most about myself is my quick wit. I am usually the first to have that perfect crack, the one remark that has everyone laughing. From childhood, I was fed sarcasm until it became second nature; in my early twenties I took great delight in triumph in my ability to annihilate anyone with a few well-placed words. Over the years, I have learned, or started to learn, how to still be the smartass without inflicting damage. I am not always successful, but I try very hard… very very hard.


Despite my toughness, I really don’t want to hurt people… especially those that I love and apologizing is so hard when you know that the words that you speak never really go away. You may receive forgiveness… but nobody ever forgets, and trust can be forever shattered. I don’t want to be the raging bull in the china shop leaving a trail of broken relationships behind me… so I fight my nature, and try to be mindful of my words. Engage my brain before I open my mouth, it’s hard to get my foot in there if my mouth isn’t open.


BUT… I want to win, have the last word, and be the one left standing not be the one who is hurt and angry. It’s not fair that I watch my words when other people don’t. I don’t always want to be the one who is censoring myself… I want to win! My pastor has this remark about not being able to get toothpaste back into the tube after you squeeze it out. So here is my theory (borrowed theory at any rate) about toothpaste. We have all squeezed the tube too hard and tried to work at least some of the goo back in... it doesn’t really work, but we still try. Some people really like to use a lot of paste, others use very little. It’s a matter of preference I guess, but I can’t tell you how much toothpaste is right for you.


I can tell you that like toothpaste, words once said never go away. Once you say something good, bad or indifferent… you can’t really take it back. You can say that you do, but it’s out there and it doesn’t vanish from our hearts. Especially the bad, it really hangs on to our hearts and we always remember the wound. In a conflict, there are no winners. Even if I victoriously decimate you with my words, I don’t win. Oh, I so want to win, I have the words. I can lash out, and end this conversation, triumphantly put you in your place, show you that I am right and you, you are oh so wrong. At what cost? At what point does my righteous (ish) indignation supercede yours? In what world do we live in that this is the way that we interact with on another? It’s me against everybody, and I will take you out before you even have a chance to get close.


It is our fear of being vulnerable that makes us cling to the armor that we know, for me it’s words. I can build walls that even I can’t climb and keep myself removed from intimacy and authenticity. Fortunately, for all of us, God is greater than our worst downside. Not one of is a cosmic exception; we are all redeemable and called to be in relationship with our Father. I don’t have to get it right every time, but I do have to hand it over to Him. The rage, frustration, pain all of it… it is not mine any more than my joy. It is all from Him and for Him. Sometimes I feel like I am being turned inside out and all the yuckies are being shaken loose from corners of my soul that I didn’t even know existed. It is not always something that I am prepared for, nor is it always that pleasant. I don’t really want to know that those things were actually a part of me. Awkward and embarrassing, difficult to explain… like He caught me squeezing the toothpaste all over the bathroom counter. Uhh… it seemed like a good idea at the time? I wanted to be right. I didn’t want to hurt.


Oh, right… I am sorry Father. Please, please help me. Guard my words, let my words be Your words. When I open my mouth let me speak Your truth, let Your wisdom guide me in the darkness. Let your righteousness overrule my need to be right. Bind my words; hold my heart so that I am not afraid or angry. Heal my woundedness that causes me to strike first, last always. Forgive me my weakness and knee jerk reactions, show me Your hand. Abba, Daddy, Father... You are my all in all. Thank You, thank You, thank You. Amen… so be it.


Romans 8:26-28

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Half Empty or Half Full?

Are we not all looking at the glass half full? We can be so easily fixated on the things that are going wrong around us that we fail to see the goodness of life. We succumb to our fears of what is unknown or what can go wrong if we don't have absolute control over our lives. Since, of course, we can't really control everything anyway, all we see is the flaws, what we are 'owed', not an accurate representation of reality... only a perceived reality. A reality where we are not putting God first.

There is a trickle down effect that happens as a result of our actions. It affects our immediate circle and then spreads out to other people. When we are casting our lines out in contact with other people we need to be conscious of what we are using for bait. Are we baiting our hooks with resentment, pain and deceit or are we using God's mercy, love and forgiveness? What we throw out into the world affects everyone, it passes from us to people we have never even met across the world. We are all connected somehow and when we value our relationship with God, that spreads... not like the plague, but like a rapid flow of blessing that can ultimately span the globe.

We are responsible for what mark we leave on the world. What do you want your mark to say about you? Did you love well? Did you learn to forgive? Did you find joy? Did you feel peace? Did you show these gifts to someone else so that they can learn to share it too? Or did you stay stuck in your generational sins, blaming the world for all that has gone wrong in your life?

My life is my example. I want who I am to be what I do. I want my words to brighten some one's day, or better yet be the turning point where they can experience a lightness of being that is not contingent on their circumstances. I want to be inclusive and warm. I want people to like me, and I want to like them more than I thought I could. I don't want to know the 'WHY'... I just want to know what 'IS". The is for me is HIS; His right to rule, His kingdom advanced. I am a passenger on this journey, not the captain. We are on this trip together... so what can I do to make your day easier today?

Proverbs 11:27 ~ "Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Identity... unknown.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I have days when I barely recognize myself. Who is this woman that I see? Who am I to HIM? Physically, it is not that my features have changed. But when I look at myself, in my own eyes, I see a familiar stranger. Like, we have met before but I can't quite place it. I am a changed person. My identity feels like a liquid, intangible, changing element.

Things I know about myself like my past, no longer feels set in stone. I know the gifts that He has blessed me with in my walk, things that He is calling me to use in His name, but the things of my past? My wounds, my scars, my sins, my shame, my LIFE, something is shifting in my heart, coming undone. I don't feel like I have complete ownership over those things anymore.

The areas in my heart that He has healed, restored and released are transforming me. Who is this woman? I have always been the rebel, the strong one, the survivor. I protested against injustice, when things were askew I was unafraid to rock the boat to bring about balance. I have been the loud voice, the bull in the china shop... shoot first, ask questions later. I was the rule breaker, the non-conformist within my own family, the black sheep. Act first, think on it later.

Now however, I feel courageous because of Him, anticipating His right to rule and lead me to speak His heart. I have learned that submitting to Christ and waiting in obedience is not an act of weakness or of fear. These things are acts of freedom and of victory over ourselves. There is so much value to be gained in these acts, identity crisis notwithstanding. I am FREE. My actions are driven, led, and released to Him, Christ... first, last and always.

Who am I? It remains to be seen. What I do know is that I am transformed... or transforming before my very own eyes. The past year has revealed much to me. I have learned to wait and breathe, I don't need to rush around and find God's will. When I wait and am still... He speaks over the din of life. I lift you up in my prayers, may YOU be magnified in His Holy Name!!

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.