This past week has been a little crazy. (Naturally, can it be anything but crazy when you throw learning to drive a stick shift into the mix of things? 😉 I’m mostly kidding. The stick shift hasn’t been that bad.) Emotionally I think I’ve been just about everywhere at some point in the week, and I’m not necessarily sure why. (So please don’t ask.) But the one thing that kept sticking out to me this week was the little blessings. One of my coworkers calls them “Godwinks”. You know, the little things that cheer you up or remind you that He’s taking care of you. My personal definition of “Godwinks” is anything that we humans think is too small for Him to care about. I got a lot of them this week. Whether it was Him giving me the courage to open my mouth when I would have rathered not say anything, or just bringing the ring I ordered on that particular day to surprise me and make me smile.
Friday morning during my devotions time I realized something: God loves me in the little things. We talk about love being an action; well, that’s how God loves us. It’s by caring about not just the big important things, but every teeny little detail that we adults tend to think is too stupid to ask Him about. He doesn’t just take care of the necessities and call it good, like a grudging caretaker. He arranges the little things to bless us as His way of whispering sweet nothings in our ears like a devoted lover. So I asked myself this question: How can I do anything less than love Him back with all the little things in my life? If nothing is too small for His notice, then shouldn’t I be seeking to make every infinitesimal thing I do be an act of love to my Savior?
Love isn’t just warm fuzzies, whether it’s love for fellow humans or for God. Love is always tied up in action, and I think that’s how we love Him. We don’t just love Him by spending time with Him on a regular basis. We love Him by consciously acting in a way that would please Him, even if it’s in a small thing that we’re tempted to think “doesn’t really matter”. If a sparrow cannot fall without His notice, do you think He doesn’t see the little things? He does, obviously, because He constantly gives us little things that “don’t matter” to brighten our day and remind us that He loves us. Our little things matter for the same reason, and we should be constantly giving Him little things that “don’t matter” but brighten His day and remind Him how very much we love Him.
So what are the little things you can give Him to show Him you love Him? Is it putting down that comic paper that you like to read but that ends up giving you a negative sense of humor/attitude? (Real life example, by the way.) Is it choosing to smile and talk to the cashier instead of just paying for your purchase and leaving? Is it choosing not to let something annoy you and drag you into a bad mood? Is it biting back that sarcastic comment that you know would make some people laugh but would hurt the person you said it about? How are you and I ‘whispering sweet nothings’ back to Him?
Those are some of my favorite times – those three-and-a-half-hour drives with just him and me, and the prospect of a week of the same at the other end of the drive. When it’s just us, and we can talk or not, just as we please. It’s one of my favorite ‘traditions’ – to spend the week with just my dad in the state capitol, whether it’s hanging out in his office or trailing along to committees (I hate trying to spell that word) or riding with him to the various and sundry dinner receptions wherewith legislators are generally fed too well and too much. I love the capitol building and the people that work there, but even most of all I love the one-on-one time with my dad that happens when we’re driving. I love the open atmosphere that whispers I’m welcome to strike up a conversation if I feel like it. I love it when we pass by a hang glider getting launched and he explains the physics behind it to me.
This morning we discussed prayer in Sunday School, and someone brought up 1 Thessalonians 5:17. (“Pray without ceasing.”) As I was thinking about what it means to pray continually, it brought to mind memories of riding in the car with my dad. It seems to me that ‘praying continually’ can be like that. We’re going on a journey together with God. Spending time in each other’s presence along the way, taking time to discuss the events of life as they pass by, listening as He teaches us about them, explaining to us how it works. I wonder if praying without ceasing is really more this open conversational attitude between Creator and created, in which nothing is too small or too great to mention and discuss as we travel along the path of life, while we anticipate eternity together at the other end of it. What’s your take on it?
Have you noticed how people like to get ‘worked up’ these days? Americans especially, it seems. We feed off of the latest scandals and shocking videos. We get all fired up and post paragraph upon paragraph of Facebook or blog rants about some horrific thing… And then eventually the emotion of the event wears off and we go back to our normal routine and think nothing more of it until something new pops up. Repeat. Does it ever bother you? We’re so free about hotly broadcasting opinions about issues, but we rarely ever do anything to fix the issues. (Guilty…And just this week I got reminded of that fact yet again. *Sigh*)
Several years ago we as a family listened to a Chip Ingram series on emotions; Chip talked about how emotions are not inherently good or bad, but what we decide to do with them can make them one or the other. Anger, he explained, is not bad, but often we allow it to become bad by our reactions. Yet anger can also prod us to action in order to change what made us angry. (Take Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple for example.) I was thinking this evening, and I believe the same is true of basically any emotion.
Emotions should not control us, but they should drive us to take action in a positive manner. Do you feel strongly about starving kids in Africa? That emotion should drive you to take some positive step towards tangibly making a difference in that area. Do you feel strongly about Planned Parenthood selling parts of aborted babies? Then find a way to make a difference. See what I’m getting at? I believe God gave us emotions partly in order to drive us to act. If we never felt horrified about anything, we would never motivate to change it.
So here’s my question – what do you feel strongly about, and what are you doing to change the situation? It could be anything, even something as small as finding a way to fill in the potholes that drive you insane when you have to drive around them constantly. (I need to look into an affordable source of gravel…) You don’t have to start big. Start with the smaller ones and it will become a part of your character so that you are more able to act on the bigger ones. But at least start. Please don’t just rant on Facebook. (Now pardon me while I go research where to find gravel.)
Looking back, I realize that the title I picked when I started this blog really reflected some of my major struggles at the time…one of them being the struggle with insecurity and inadequacy. Growing up, I have always been painfully aware of everything I consider to be a failure, whether or not it actually bothers anyone else or whether they even notice it. I want to apologize for them beforehand so people don’t think badly of me (Like that ever worked…) and try to keep them from having too high of expectations about me because “I might mess up”. It’s a real struggle. And looking back, the title I picked for my little blog reflected what I thought of myself then – someone who always made blotches and blunders of anything she did.
Well, since then I’ve decided that’s not who I am, not who I want to be for the rest of my life; someone who can’t be trusted with responsibility because she’s too terrified she will fail. I want to be able to step up and be an adult and take responsibility when I should and be dependable and reliable. Most of all, I want to be confident in who I am and what I do and not worry about the little mistakes here and there.
When I went through STEP Advanced as a student, one afternoon we spent time working on identity statements for ourselves. Part of the process involved looking up the meaning of one’s name. Me being the person who loves name meanings, I went the extra mile and looked up both my first and middle name. Put together (and ignoring the fact that they’re from two different languages), Calista Bethelle means “most beautiful house of God”. It makes me think of the temple in Israel, and further, the verses talking about us being temples of the Holy Spirit. And it’s an incredible reminder to me of who I am in Christ. I’m not a mistake. I’m not just a big blunder walking around waiting to happen. I’m not a failure who will never amount to anything. In Christ, I may make “blotches and blunders” from time to time, but He turns around and makes them beautiful.
The same is true of every follower of Christ. You’re not a mistake. You are not just a clumsy nobody who can’t do anything right. You are a beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit, a monument to the glory of God. By the blood of Christ your blotches and blunders are made beautiful. You are capable of anything, because you have His power in you. Remember that. Live confidently in that.
Note: With that in mind, I’ll soon be updating the title with two important words (and changing the header image to go with it) to reflect what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. So “just don’t…don’t freak out.” (~Rapunzel, from Tangled)
This past week did not at all go as I expected it would. I spent it as a counselor at a kid’s camp, and I admit I went there with some expectations based on last year’s experience. I didn’t expect to end up with a girl who had stomachaches for most of the week, or one who ended up with hand foot and mouth disease. I didn’t expect to end up with a group that struggled with the Bible quizzing and no time to help them learn the questions. I didn’t expect to wind up in chapel on Wednesday morning so discouraged about everything that I wished I could just quit and never come back. But I did.
Then in chapel we sang a song that I don’t normally care for too much. (I tend to be picky about contemporary Christian music.) Part of the chorus said, “We say yes to anything that You ask.” It struck me, because there I was in the middle of my chaos and stress, all because I chose to go to camp. I chose to put myself in that situation. I said yes to anything before I knew what that anything would entail. If I had known I’d get the ‘sickest cabin award’, I might not have gone.
Am I really willing to do anything God asks of me? Sometimes I have my little provisos. “Yes, as long as it’s not that.” I want to be willing to let God use me in any way at all, no matter what. I’m not there yet, but I want to be. I want to genuinely say yes to anything that He asks of me, no matter what it ends up being. Because, even if I end up with the sickest cabin award, that’s where I’ll find opportunities to comfort the one who’s crying about having to go to the doctor, or the one who’s terrified of thunderstorms, or the one who just doesn’t feel like she has any talents. It’s when I say yes to the challenges that He brings the opportunities to reach out and love through them. I don’t want to miss those opportunities.