Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

Why? So That…

I had an interesting experience this week.

I interviewed for a job.

Not to change jobs, but more to add something to my already rather full plate.  But even though my plate is already quite full, when an opportunity comes up that has been on my mind for quite some time, I would be foolish not to go for it.

As I applied, I put it all in God’s hands.  Truth be told, from the moment that this particular position came to mind, I have left it in God’s hands.  Because, even though this would be a really cool thing, I know that if it isn’t in God’s plan for my life, then it will not happen.  And I will be ok with that.

To be honest, knowing that I’m doing my part to be willing, and leaving the rest up to God has given me a sense of ease and peace throughout the entire process.

So here’s the deal:

I suck at interviews.

Seriously.

Historically, I just have not been capable of presenting myself in the best way possible.  I get nervous, and even more awkward than normal.  And it’s just a flop.

I walk away feeling dejected, because deep down, I know that I just blew it.

So, to say that a great deal of prayer happened before this interview is an understatement.

My prayers basically went something like this:

God, give me the words.

And guess what?

He did!

But that’s not even close to the best part.  Because, I walked away from the interview knowing that I wasn’t the best candidate.  Not that I wouldn’t be amazing.  But I know that I am not the best candidate that they are interviewing.  I’m far from the most qualified.  I don’t have the experience.

There is a 99.99% chance that I will not be getting this job.

But I walked out of that interview with a huge amount of satisfaction about my part of the interview.

And we’re finally closing in on why this was such an amazing experience…I promise.

The person who interviewed me is someone I have known nearly my entire life.  She was one of my teachers growing up.  And I have worked with her, and for her now for almost 3 years.  But even with such a long history, she didn’t know me all that well.

She laughed at the fact that she asks everyone the same questions, to keep the playing field even.  She asked me to tell her about myself.  And as soon as I started talking about myself, and some of the things that I did after high school, her jaw hit the floor.  So in asking the question that she felt foolish asking, she found out a lot more about me.  In a really good way.  She didn’t realize that I had moved half way across the country.  Or why I made the decision to move back home.

She definitely didn’t realize that one of my most memorable moments growing up came during one of her classes.

But here is the really cool thing…

We talked about my motivation for applying for this job.

Which led to my motivation for doing many of the things that I do.

And that specific motivation has been on my mind a lot lately.

Why do I do the things that I do?

What is the outcome that I hope to get from doing the thing that I do?

To the point where I have written the following on my desk calendar at school:

20200131_105545.jpg

I did this so every single time I look at this, my own personal motivations come to mind.

Why?

Well it certainly isn’t money.  As I stated in my interview, if money were my greatest motivation, I would go down the street and work at McDonald’s because I would make more money.

Would a larger salary be nice?  Yes, yes it would.  To add a little more cushion to bank account.  So I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents for some help and support.  Yes, that would be fantastic.

But I do love my job.

So what is my motivation?  Besides the fact that this is where God has placed me for right now.

The “why” that I bring to work every day, the “why” that I take with me to youth group every week, is that I want to be able to give the kiddos that I work with something that I didn’t have growing up.

Yes, I had amazing parents.  I had youth group.  I had people that care about me.

What I didn’t have was the self-confidence in myself.  Nor did I have a firm understanding of who God was.  Or who I was to God.

So that…

So what is my expected outcome?  What is my goal?  What purpose could I possibly have in doing the things that I do?

I want these kids to be able to stand firm in their faith.  I want them to turn to God when times get tough.  Not to turn their back on their faith when life gets real, and things get hard.

I made bad, really stupid mistakes growing up.  I made bad, really stupid mistakes as an adult, too.

I want better for the people around me.  So they don’t go through the same struggles that I went through.

Because I truly believe that even though used the free will that God gave me to not just turn my back on Him and run away.  I lashed out.  I swore up and down countless times that there couldn’t possibly be a God.

I was dumb.  I was selfish.

Even though I did a lot of things that God isn’t thrilled about, I believe that He can turn all of those mistakes around, and use all of them for something positive.

And it isn’t just that he can use all of those stupid mistakes.

He is using them.

 

New Year, New Fret

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t because historically, most resolutions fail.

In an epic way.

So I don’t make them.

I also believe that if I am going to try to improve myself, I don’t need the turn of a calendar page to make that decision.

But as the end of 2019 approached, I had an overwhelming sense of unease.  And I couldn’t really quite put my finger on it for a long time.

Until I did.

And then I wish I hadn’t.

The fear, the trepidation, the unease was because I was worried that 2020 still will not be the year that things happen for the better.  That I still won’t find that perfect guy God has all picked out for me.  That I won’t make some huge breakthrough on what it is God wants me to do with my life.  That I won’t feel like a success, yet again.

The answer to all of this, that I am still finding it difficult to accept is that no matter what this year brings, God will get me through.

Deep down, I know that I will be just fine, and that even if all of those things do not end up happening this year, God’s perfect plan for my life will still be playing out.

I know that.  Of course I know that.

But the longing for all of those things is still there.

So, of course, God has to tap me on the shoulder as I’m reading my Bible this morning.

“Ahem, *cough, cough* this is for you, my dear.”

I was reading Psalms 37.  And in Psalms 37, David, yet again, perfectly describes the anguish that we, as humans, often feel.  And then he directly follows it up with what we, as Christians should do.

“Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.”
Psalms 37:34

Basically, there is a huge amount of wisdom in Psalms 37.  How we shouldn’t look at what evil people (people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason) who end up succeeding, temporarily, with envy.  Not to look at them and wish that we had their successes.  Because in the end, their successes will be revealed to be ultimate failures, as they don’t get to share in the eternal prize of Heaven.

It’s difficult to do.

Because we know that their success is a result of evil things.  Evil intent.  Evil purpose.  And often, those people don’t care who they run over to accomplish their goals.  But the results of some of those evil things look oh so tempting.

I get it.

But we must keep our eye on the true prize.  The prize that gets us eternity in Heaven with our Father.

And until then, keep relying on His strength, guidance, mercy, grace.

And hope in the Lord, and keep His ways.

Imma Pray for You

I had to pray for someone yesterday, someone that is not a very nice person.  Someone who created a current, horrific situation affecting people that I love.  And this same person has created horrific situations for other people that I love in the past.  This person is selfish, and mean. Long story short, unless this person has a profound change within their soul, she is going to hell.

And I HAD to pray for her yesterday.  Not because she asked me to pray for her.  But because I felt in my heart that she needs a profound change in her life, and we needed a miracle.  

I have no idea what has happened in her life for her to be such a mean and hateful person.  I know her parents. I know the area she grew up in. I know a great deal of her family. And nothing explains why she is the way she is…except Satan has got a hold of her.  

Satan…man…that guy is just bad news.   And when he gets his hooks into someone, really digs in deep, bad things will happen.

I have known for a long time, and personally experienced, Satan tries to throw things my way because I’m a Jesus girl.  Satan doesn’t like it when Jesus girls continue turning to God, no matter what hardships or war Satan tries to throw our way.  So sometimes the more we turn to God during a temper tantrum from the evil one, the worse the temper tantrum becomes.

And that’s exactly what happened.  Satan has tried throwing a temper tantrum, in human form.  And havoc ensued.

So how is it possible that I can pray for such a hateful person?  Well, the Bible told me to do it.

I look to these 2 verses for direction in how to pray for people you just don’t get along with.

“You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:43-45

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-”
1 Timothy 2:1

Paul isn’t telling us to just pray for our friends, and people that we love.  People that we get along with, and the ones that are nice to us. No, no, no.  Paul is telling us to pray for ALL people.  

So while I fully understand that when you pray for people who just haven’t been very nice to you, you may start off doing so through gritted teeth and a locked jaw.  I get it. Been there, done that, gotten the souvenir t-shirt.

I feel you.  

When Satan starts using people to attack you, persecute you, do evil and vile things, his goal is not to get you to pray more.  His goal is not to get you to turn your back on the evil, and pray. Pray for the person that Satan is attacking. Pray for the situation.  Turn everything over to God, and let Him be the one in charge. His goal is to win! He wants you to crumple. He wants you to turn your back on God and think that He has left you to suffer this tragedy all on your own!

I urge you…don’t bow down to Satan and the things that he wants to happen.  

But rather…what an awesome way to thumb your nose at Satan!?!  Tell him that you aren’t going to cave to the pressures he is putting you under.

Turn everything over to God, including the person Satan is using to attack you.

Not today, Satan.  NOT TODAY!!

The Angels are Bowling

I am not fan of storms.  Never have been. Especially at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep.  I cannot count the number of times that my parents sat up with me, trying to calm my nerves as a child.  So I would just go to sleep.

They tried everything.

Singing.  And praying.  And talking. So much talking.

They finally came up with the reason there was so much thunder.  It’s that all of these angels in heaven were bowling. And someone just got a strike.

Ok, I get that heaven is this super fun and awesome place to hang out.  But do you seriously need to be bowling when a little kid is trying to get to sleep?  

I.  Do.  Not. Think.  So.

It isn’t the rain that I have an issue with.  It’s the violence of the storms. The massive lightning and thunder.  When I get woken up by thunder, that is entirely too loud and ridiculous.  

But still, storms happen.  

For me, one of the more recognizable parables of Jesus is when he and the disciples were on a fishing boat, heading across the Sea of Galilee, when a storm blows in.  All of the disciples start freaking out because they were in danger from the storm. And there is Jesus, fast asleep. Finally, the disciples wake him, and Jesus immediately jumps into action.  He commands the storm to chill out. And voila, the storm complies.

Do you truly understand some of the great things about this parable?  First of all, Jesus and the disciples were heading to the other side of the Sea of Galilee for a little rest and recreation.  They were on this fishing boat, on their way for some peace and quiet. And instead of getting some peace and quiet, they end up in the midst of this major rager of a storm.  Second, the disciples, many of whom were fishermen by trade, were not unused to storms. And despite that experience, or perhaps, because of their experience, they were freaking out.  I don’t blame them. I would be freaking out too. Luke describes the disciples as being in “great danger.” Matthew and Mark both described the storm as “furious.” So this was not some teeny, tiny little storm.  Realistically, they all could have died.

But they didn’t.

The disciples had ran around, doing the things that they knew to do to protect themselves.  They took down the sails. And were doing whatever else it is that you do on a sailboat in the middle of a storm.  I’m no sailor, so I have no idea. The point is, they did know. And they were doing it. And nothing they were doing was working.  

So finally, what do they do?  

They wake Jesus up, and are all like, “hey dude, we have this little storm raging around us.  You think you could help us out a little?”

And Jesus was like “yeah, bro.  I got this.”

Instantly, the storm calmed down, just because Jesus commanded it to do so.  And the disciples jaw hit the floor. Because even though they had been with him, they did not think that he was powerful enough to calm the storm.  

Let that sink in for a second.

The disciples.  The guys that had been following Jesus around, seeing the miracles he had been performing.  They didn’t think he was powerful enough to take care of them, and keep them safe through the storm.  

But.  He. Was.

Inevitably, we are going to experience our very own major rager of a storm.  It isn’t possible to get through this human life without experiencing some kind of trial or struggle or challenge.  What that specific storm is will look different for each and every one of us. But we will all experience that storm.  

Now, our logical and pragmatic human brains are going to look at this storm, and have a very human, very logical and pragmatic response to such a storm.  

It’s even possible for us to think that God has abandoned us during this storm.  Or even worse, that our storm is far too powerful for God to handle. He has just lost all control, and he’s left you behind to deal with this storm all on your own.  

It isn’t true.

There is nothing that is too powerful or too strong or too awful that God can’t handle.  

NOTHING.

But let me just throw this out there…

God is not always going to stop the storm in our life instantly.  In fact, that will rarely be the case. We may wish for, and hope for, and pray for God to calm our storm instantly.  And it can be really tough when we turn to God for comfort and peace. And he just doesn’t handle the situation how we want him to handle it.

I mean, I can’t possibly be alone in this.  

Right?

But just because God doesn’t resolve and calm our storm how we want him to calm it, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a plan.  Just because he has the power to do something, doesn’t mean that calming our storm is in his plan for our life.  Ultimately, there is a purpose and a plan for everything that happens.

We may not understand or see what that purpose is immediately.  Sometimes, we may never fully understand why we experienced that storm.

But then there will be other times that 8 years down the road, we have that lightbulb moment of realization.  And everything starts to make sense.

No matter what, we need to rest in God’s peace in the midst of our storms and that no matter what, God has our back, and he will get us through.  

One of my current favorite songs is Sleep in the Storm by Unspoken.  The first time I heard this song, it hit home.  Hard. At first, just because sleeping through a storm is something I find challenging.  I mean, praying to be able to learn to sleep in the storm. How preposterous. Especially because of the chorus.  

Let the thunder be my comfort
Let the lightning be my guide
Let the waves that rise around me
Hold me gently through the night

How ridiculous of an idea is this?  Thunder comforting me? Being guided by lightning?  All of it just seems like a ridiculous notion.

But then I started thinking, and listening.  

Ok, God.  What is it you’re trying to tell me here?  

Well, let’s continue with some of the lyrics…

For the winds that seem against me
Push me right into Your arms
Teach me how to sleep in the storm
How to sleep in the storm

See that right there?  Did you read that line?  Did you hear that line? Did you understand that line?

The winds that seem against me, push me right into Your arms.

So when those storms are raging around us, and we feel like we’re being battered and beaten, and like we are all alone in this world, with no safety net to save us.  Those are the moments that we are being pushed directly into God’s arms.

Like the parable we talked about earlier.  When the storms in our lives are raging around us, and we are having a very human, and very logical, and very pragmatic response.  Those are the moments that God has our back, and always has the ability to carry us through the storm.

Now, I understand the struggle of storms in life.  Every single day there is something that I struggle with.  

And every single day, I rely on God to get me through those struggles.  

Some days, it seems like I can manage them easily.  Other days, I feel so broken and alone, and near rock bottom that I don’t see how I can possibly move forward.  To be completely honest, those days suck. I know that God has a purpose for those days. Whether it is a test of my faith.  Or a blatant attack by Satan (that guy is a jerk, and juts needs to go away). Whatever it is, those days hurt. And I feel exhausted by yet one more test of my faith.  

I’m over it.

I don’t want those days.

Ever.

But God knows that sometimes I need those days.  Because clearly, there is a lesson for me to be learned.  Maybe that it’s simply that I need to rely on, and turn everything over to God.  Maybe it’s a consequence for something that I have done wrong. The cause, the trigger, whatever you want to call it, can be different every time.  

But one thing remains true.

God has my back.

There is one final line in the Sleep in the Storm that just hit so hard.  

How will I grow, if I never get rained on

Now, I’m a good farm kid.  

You know what farm kids know?  

Farm kids know that rain is vital and important to the growth and development of crops.  Crops will not grow if there is no rain.

Humans are the same way.  We grow, and become strong and healthy, because of the rain in our lives.  We grow as Christians. We grow as friends. As partners. We grow with the rain.  We may not always agree with the timing of all of those storms in our lives. But as my mom (because my mom is a very wise woman, and no matter how old you get, you always need your mommy) continues to tell me: God’s timing is perfect.

Are you currently experiencing a storm in your life?  You are not alone. You are loved. And you are blessed.  And you are understood. It will be difficult to get through some days.  But know that no matter what, God will be there to wrap His arms around you, and comfort you, and give you strength.  

You can sleep through the storm.