Monthly Archives: October 2015

Sticking it Out

“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” ~ Lilo and Stitch

When ancient armies left soldiers behind, it was because they were sick or wounded; they were considered a burden and no longer a benefit to the campaign. Their problems were too much for their fellows to handle anymore. And so they were abandoned, because someone gave up on them. Someone decided they weren’t worth the trouble anymore.

Every family has its problems, and I know mine is no exception. But when my sister moved out earlier this year, I felt like she was giving up on our family. Like she’d decided our problems were too big for her to handle anymore. Sometimes I’ve felt the same way. I get tired of dealing with the same old stuff time and again. The burden can be heavy, and sometimes I wish I too could escape it. But I can’t. Not just because I don’t have the money to move out. I have this awful feeling that were I to move out I would be giving up on my family. Running away from our struggles instead of facing them like I ought to. Leaving my family, one of the greatest blessings God has given me, behind.

On the flip side, you have someone like Sam Gamgee (who is, by the way, my absolute favorite character from Lord of the Rings). Faithful friend and stubborn supporter, he wouldn’t leave Frodo even when Frodo tried to make him. He stuck it out all the way, and when Frodo lost the strength to keep on, he carried him the rest of the way. That’s what I want to be like. I don’t want to give up when the going is tough. I want to stubbornly stick it out. Because I love my family. No matter what our struggles, I love my family. And… “That’s what you do in a herd. You look out for each other.” ~ Diego, Ice Age

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Categories: Ponderizations | 2 Comments

Choosing Between Two Goods

I know quite a few people who view October as “prepping-for-NaNo month”. Well, this time around, it’s “indecision month” for me. I’ve never gotten to do NaNo before. I would love to try writing a 50,000-word novel all in thirty days. But November has never been a convenient month for me to attempt something like that. If it wasn’t school it was school or college or school or homework. Well, this year I really want to do it. I have a story. I’ve finally mostly figured out the personalities of my main characters. I have quite a few pieces of the plot taped together in an outline. I might could do this thing. I would love to try. I’m really tempted to.

And so comes the hard decision. A bunch of my friends are going to do NaNo, and I would love to join in and get to write alongside them. It would be super neat to get to churn out a story that I love in a short period of time, especially since I’ve never gotten to do it before even though I’ve wanted to for years. Sounds like a good thing. However, I have some other great opportunities happening right now, and I could really stand to use my time to invest in them instead of typing a few thousand words a day. That’s a good thing too.┬áDecisions like this are hard. I hate having to decide between good and good.

Thinking through all this reminded me of a book I worked through this past spring. It’s called The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst, and in Chapter 5 of it she talks about having to decide when either option sounds like it could be good. She talked about taking stock of her assets in four key areas of her life to see if she really could take on the extra thing. The four areas she looked at were physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional. The extra thing fit into the first three categories, but when she looked at it from the emotional aspect to see what it would ask of her, she realized she couldn’t do it. Because even though the thing itself was good, emotionally, she knew she would not be able to handle it long-term on top of everything else she had going on. She realized that over time she would end up, not glorifying God by doing it, but rather spreading stress and snappishness just because it was too overwhelming to maintain.

That’s where I did a double-take in pondering whether or not to do NaNo. See, I have a job. I’m working three to four half-days a week (and by the way, I love it and don’t want to stop) and attempting to hone my art through a correspondence art course. I have several other activities that take me away from home throughout the week, and I also need to spend time cooking and cleaning. Not to mention there’s a little brother who needs me to spend quality time with him. I also have a high tendency to get overwhelmed with life. What would it look like to add several hours a day of trying to meet my wordcount? Not pretty. Not pretty at all. There would be a boy hammering on my bedroom door asking me to come play with him, a Mom needing me to pitch in and cook something or wash some dishes, and a very exhausted and frazzled-snappish me not enjoying any of the wonderful things I have going on in my life right now. Does that glorify God? Uh, no.

Our one job in this life is to glorify God, and in that respect the attitude with which we do things is just as important as what we choose to do. As Christ’s ambassadors, our attitudes are a billboard to the world that proclaims who Christ is…and when we’re doing “good” things with rotten attitudes, they see pictures that tell them that God has a rotten attitude and He does things grudgingly or stingily. (Here’s a hint: He doesn’t.) As a result, the “good” thing becomes a bad thing; whether it’s volunteering somewhere, or writing a story.

Maybe that’s one way to tell what to do when you’re torn between two good choices. Follow the decision to see its effects on your life and attitude and relationships. Does the result bring glory to God, or dishonor?

…And maybe I’ll do NaNo another year. We’ll see. ­čśë

Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Not Easy

“Please give me strength to do this.” I realized the other day that often when I’m asking God for strength I’m really asking for Him to take all the roadblocks out of the way. “Give me strength” really means “Make it easy”. I bet God finds that annoying when I do that. “Yeah, so, I know I’ve said the last three years were the best of my life because they were hard, but could You just make this thing easy for me this time?” Sheesh.

The hard things are when I grow the most. But it’s hard to want the hard things when you struggle with exhaustion that makes it, well, hard. That’s where my desire for easy creeps in, I guess. But I don’t want to want the easy stuff. I still remember the despair that comes with a stagnant faith, and a stagnant faith comes from the easy life. So bring on the hard things. Can’t promise I’ll leap for joy, but at least I don’t have to be the strong one.

Two passages that have stuck with me…”My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Even if it takes walking in His power one small step at a time, you can walk places if you keep taking one more step. Maybe I’m not ready to soar right now, but I can still let Him walk me through the hard things. And He will renew my strength; not to make the hard things easy, but to make the impossible things possible.

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Relearning Love

Sometimes I need to relearn lessons over and over. Loving people I clash with is one of those ever-repeated lessons. What’s worse is that they’re not people I only see occasionally. They’re not coworkers or people I bump into every other week. They’re my family. An in particular, mostly my brother. I think we’ve clashed since he was old enough to have his own opinion. I easily get frustrated with him and say things I would probably never say to anyone else. And when the damage is done and I watch the hurt sink in I hate myself and wonder why I keep doing this. Why do I keep careening in the same destructive circles time and again? I don’t want to. I hate it. I instantly regret it. So why can’t I stop it?

It’s not like I don’t love him. I do. We giggle and cause trouble together and holler songs at each other in awful sour voices while doing chores. I love this kid. He’s hyper and has Tourette syndrome and he’s a genius and an adventurer and a snuggler. Yet here I am, time and again, beating my head against a wall and asking why I just did that. Why did I dump that awful attitude on him? Of course he’s got his issues. But he’s also got as much feeling as I do. The thing that gets me the most is that even after all I’ve done to him, he still runs to greet me when I get home from work. He’s disappointed when I’m gone a lot. Goodness knows why he’d want to be around me after all the mess I’ve made. But he still does. He still comes and asks me to read to him, or build a hide-out, or climb up into his dusty lair where he promptly puts a tiara on my head and makes me queen of his world. Way to heap burning coals on my head.

This week I spent a couple days with just him at home with me, and I realized…If he was ever in trouble I would do anything to get him to safety. So why am I unwilling to do whatever it takes to love him during everyday life? If I love him enough that I would die to save his life, why am I unwilling to die a little bit every day in order to help him learn to live? How will he know what it’s like to love if I don’t first die for the sake of loving him? Even if it’s just my pride and my agenda dying for the sake of an hour digging tunnels in a dirt heap and watching toads hop through them, or my undisturbed art time dying for the sake of building a cool hide-out.

I’ve brought this up before a couple years ago, but the William’s New Testament translates John 15:13 like this: “No one can show greater love than this, the giving of his life for his friends.

In order to love people best, I need to be willing to give of my life, regardless of self – to die a little bit for their sake so that they see Christ in me, and, God willing, learn to want more of Him too. Because in finding Him, they will find life. I need to relearn how to die. I might as well start practicing by dying to self at the hand of my brother’s green flashing lightsaber.

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