This is from Coldplay's most recent album and the song is titled, "Paradise". This line is one of my favorite lines in the whole CD. It reminds me of hope. How you can't give up. Even when things seem like they couldn't be any worse, you have to remember this concept. The sun sets. That's just life. Sometimes everything gets a little harder. But the sun always rises, but first it has to set! Also, there's a line in a Switchfoot song that goes like, "the shadow(s?) prove the sunshine". To me, this reminds me of how trials and tribulations make successes and peace evident. Would we cherish relief and peace and happiness so much if it weren't for those shadows? If it weren't for the times when we were scared? If I were never scared, I would never have the opportunity to be courageous. If I were never sad, I would never have the opportunity to persevere despite the pain.
Sometimes it's hard to think about this concept positively, because we're tempted to think things like, "why couldn't we live in a world without fear or pain?" It's because we live in a world with sin. We have to try to focus on the good things so we don't get caught up the night fall. We have to keep looking forward to the sunrise, and looking past the shadows to see the sunshine. We have to look to God, to the afterlife where everything will be without sorrow. If we are only focused on our problems and how hard everything is, we won't be able to find the solutions. We won't be able to help others. We will lose sight of heaven.
Don't be too afraid to fight. You have to ask yourself, you have to honestly ask yourself, "Am I fighter? Am I fighting as hard as I can?" If you are always running from your fears and always running to sin to escape these things then you aren't fighting with the right weapons. Sometimes my anxiety isn't really that bad. But others times it pops up like a thorn in the flesh. It rears its ugly head in my face, trying to scare me. Honestly... I don't always fight like I should. And sometimes it is hard for me to accept that I have got to face my fears.
But there are some really great passages for this, and even for other weaknesses. I think I'll share a few.
1 Sam. 17 has some great verses in it. Goliath taunted David before David killed him. In vs 45 David says, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled." Imagine! Talking to FEAR the same way. "You come to me with adrenaline, sweat, and shaky limbs. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of my soul!"
In vs. 46, David continues to say, "This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." And in vs. 47, "Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." ...The battle is the Lord's, y'all. Whatever your battle is. If you're submitting to the Lord, it's not just your battle. You can ask God to help. And He will help you. You may not win as easily as you want to. You might have to throw more than one pebble to win your battle. But it is still the Lord's battle, and He will make sure you win.
I also really like the context of 2 Cor. 12:7-10. Whatever it was that Paul had, his thorn in the flesh, he had pleaded with the Lord three times that it could go away. What was His answer? "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul accepted this. Because he writes after that, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." --Is that not true today? That when we are weak, then we are strong? It sounds a bit mixed up at first glance... but our strength doesn't come from ourselves. Christ's strength is evident even when we fight while we're weak. Even when we are really struggling. When we fight we glorify Christ. Christ is who helps us stand up against sin, and against our weaknesses.
Don't. Give. Up.!
That's how long I have until my FIRST plane flight, for my FIRST year of college, where I will be doing a ton of NEW things. Obviously, there is phenomenal change coming my way. I will have a routine unlike I've ever had before. I will be around a ton of people my age, and have several opportunities to work and do things that will help me develop as a person and make that transition into adulthood. But hopefully, more importantly, I might develop as a Christian.
I know I will learn quite a bit. Firstly, I'll learn several academic things. Some of those things are things I will be more interested in learning than other things. But I will probably forget much of what I learn... Haha. --- BUT, secondly, I will be learning LIFE LESSONS, which are the very best--especially if they help me as a christian. I'm a little scared, because sometimes life lessons include a sort of regret, like, "I wish I'd done that differently." Which isn't so bad if, say, I felt that way because I stayed up too late one night. But I hope that will be about the extent of the mistakes I might make while I'm there. I can, at least, do my very best to make the right decisions and behave as a christian should, even when it might be more difficult.
I know that I must be careful about what to expect from FC. For instance, it won't be FC that will make me a better person, exactly, should I be a better person by the time I'm done there. But, really, it will be God working through the things that happen while I am there, or the people around me, and the lessons that I learn. Should I be better by then, God is always the One that deserves credit because He knows what tools to use to shape me.
There are quite a few specific things I'm excited and nervous about and looking forward to experiencing:
--Some of my classes
--Joining a society
--Making friends/hanging with friends I already have there
--Being a Suttonite
--Learning to serve, instead of wanting to be served
--Doing various activities, like going to the beach, going to a place with puppies, going to DISNEY?
--Going back home for Christmas!
--And... graduating! ;D
It's a bit scary, not knowing what is down the road. But we know what's down the road at the very end. And that's what helps us move on in our journey despite those questions, despite those things that make our head spin because we just wish we knew. Life is our story. But instead of reading, we have to live it to find out what happens. :)
(Except for the bible of course. We kinda need to read that...)
Hebrews 12 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If you're anything like me... you probably aren't always in the best of moods first thing in the morning. That's okay, I mean, you're kinda transitioning from this completely different form of awareness to another. Talk about exhausting! Well, at least emotionally!
But what if... we challenged ourselves? What if we thought about it every night before we fell asleep? If we thought about what the concept of morning really is...?
So maybe you open your eyes the first time and your first thought is, "oh no, please, no. Not yet. I need more sleep. I'm not ready to face this day."
It is such a blessing that God is long suffering. Because if He really wanted to, He could take us seriously and make sure we didn't have any more days to face. But I'm glad He gives me another chance to challenge my mindset, to challenge the way I tend to think about things.
Every morning is a gift. Nobody can give us the gift of morning. Nobody except God. So why should we cringe when the sunlight peaks through the blinds? Why should we let all of the responsibilities and trials of the day come crashing on us first thing in the morning? What a sad way to start. But that's how I've started sometimes. I'd wake up with a sort of icky feeling. Because sometimes the devil wants to get it in our heads that there is nothing worse than having to start all over again. Having to face another day of all of the things we struggle with. All of the things we don't want to do. All of the things that just turns our stomach.
Every time Satan tries to convince us about things like this, there is always a different TRUTH. Consider how, even your attitude about mornings can improve your attitude about life. What if we tried to think of mornings/new days more like this: A Gift. A special gift. Instead of, "I'm not ready to face this day", what if we imagined how God is ready to face the day with us? Wouldn't that empower us more? Wouldn't that help us be more motivated to make it our goal not_to_sin? To make it our goal to be better?
Nobody likes to give someone a gift and then be rejected. Nobody likes to give someone a present and then find out that that wasn't exactly what the other person wanted. What does God think when we stumble out of bed and sigh and grumble throughout the day? "No thanks, God. I really wish You would just take me now. Nothing is going my way. I've made a real mess of things and there's no way to change it around. I just can't get better. I try, but... it doesn't work."
But everybody loves it when a gift is well received. The light and the joy that you see in your loved one's eyes when they see what thoughtfulness you put in the gift for them. You consider their joy priceless, and might even buy that gift several more times just to see that again. Imagine... imagine if we could somehow give back to God with our attitude about the day He's given us? If our smile in the morning, our best effort throughout the day, was our way of saying, "Thank-you"?
I hope that helps you challenge your perspectives on mornings and just life in general. Now: I realize it's not wrong if you wake up and you just don't feel good. Kinda groggy and nauseated. That probably means you didn't sleep very well. I'm not suggesting that it is a sin to groan and stumble out of bed until you find the coffee machine. But what if we observed our attitudes more? What if we were honest with ourselves? We might find patterns we weren't even aware of being so consistent. And we can discover ways to turn those negative attitudes around. God really doesn't ask a lot from us. Just our best. And He gives so much more than that.
And hey, there's nothing wrong with looking at yourself in the mirror and offering yourself a goofy, sleepy-eyed grin.
Phil. 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Isn't a very easy process. But you can do it! We get stuck in lot's of various things in our lives. Probably some of the more obvious things would be matters like depression, addiction, or even just getting your arm stuck in those crevices in the back of the chair. But if you're like me, you might be stuck in some less obvious ways. Ways that other people might not understand is a big problem for you. But it's alright. Because everybody has their mountain they have to climb.
Did you know that laziness can be a form of addiction? Did you know that thinking of yourself badly can be a sort of addiction? At least, that's certainly how it feels sometimes. You get yourself stuck in the rut of Laziness and Lack of Self Worth. So when those "cravings" come on for such a place, you just want to hold up your white flag and lay down everything you were picking up on the way out of the pit: Diligence, commitment, zeal, selflessness, etc. So you throw it all down at your feet and turn right back around so you go back to where you came from.
It might seem like such a small thing to struggle with things like this. Compared to those things I mentioned earlier: depression, addiction, oh yeah, and getting your arm stuck! But if this is your battle, this isn't a small thing. Laziness, as I am learning, can be a very destructive thing. Also, so can lack of self worth. Imagine, if you were 100% lazy and had 0% self worth. What would your life be like?
Well, you'd never get anything done. Except for those things that you enjoy doing. Eat chocolate all day? Watch tv all day? Read all day? But sometimes aren't we also soo lazy we don't even feel like doing things we would enjoy? Just because it takes too much effort? So, really, if we were 100% lazy, we could be in a really bad place. We might not even eat chocolate...
And what about that self worth concept? I know it's kinda hard to wrap your brain around, the concept that we are all sinners but that we need some self worth. How does that happen, really? How do you have that healthy dose of self worth without getting a big head?
It kind of makes sense, doesn't it? We were created to fear God and keep His commandments, as seen in Ecclesiastes (Solomon, who had just about everything, realizes this. I guess he'd be the guy to know, right?). So if that's what we were created for, we kind of have to pursue that purpose we have. To fear God and keep His commandments. So, in a sense, we are looking out for our best interests. Because there's not anything else so worthy to pursue!
So what does that have to do with self worth, really? Well, it goes back to God again. On our own, we have no worth. Nada, nothing, zilch. There's just no substance there. We're just any other human being roaming the world on our own. Sounds lonely, right? Well, it is. But when we obtain that righteousness through Christ there is finally something there. Something we're living for. Something good we can do. Something good inside us, that changes us. And we realize that God looks out for His children and even wants to bless them in this life. So we get blessing a, b, or c, and think, "uhh, I don't really deserve this." ~~Well, that's true. You don't, really. That's why it's called grace. So really, by self worth, it isn't a matter of thinking you're the most awesome person in the world. It isn't a matter of thinking that you deserve recognition or even a place like heaven. But it's more like a recognition that the Almighty chose to save us, to use us to glorify Him in our lives, sent His only Son for us, and makes us pure.
Doesn't that at least merit feeling comfortable in your skin? Doesn't that concept, when upon being saved, merit a joy in your life that you feel you can do something of more worth now? Not that you even deserve having the opportunity to do something as worthy as living for Jesus. But it's an honor given to you, and when the righteousness of Christ lives in you, your life suddenly becomes more meaningful, more worthy.
Humility doesn't require always talking down about yourself, or even getting to the point where you despise yourself. You're supposed to love other human beings, right? So you sort of need that healthy dose of self-love. You have to have enough self worth, so that you will take care of yourself and try to get unstuck.
Getting unstuck isn't always easy. It requires so much perseverance. It requires looking straight ahead and not backsliding. But we can do it. We can get out of that pit of Laziness and Lack of Self Worth.
I keep re-learning how substantial it is to have this down:
Nothing is more important than God.
I keep re-learning that I can't find as much joy or fulfillment anywhere else than to be at peace with God. When I'm at peace with Him... everything goes where it should. Even if sometimes you can't see the puzzle in its entirety... even if some of the pieces don't make sense.
I keep re-learning that there is nothing else big enough to replace God.
When I need Someone to go to. To lean on. To trust. Someone when I'm lonely, when I'm scared, when I'm sad. Someone to fight for, Someone to live for. What an honor that God decided to make Himself a Friend for me. Me! Even though He knew I would take Him for granted. Even when He knew that I would struggle to keep Him first. Even when He knew I would fail sometimes. He is faithful. He believes in me.
Sometimes I get really nervous about life. I know, I guess that means I'm human! Who knew, right? :D Well, I am! I guess I'm afraid that God will never be enough for me. That if things don't fall in the right place life will be boring and never satisfy this extreme craving that I have for peace and yet adventure. And I depend on some things for this happiness. But I forget that I have to depend on God. Fully and completely and without compromise. God. What's the answer? Take a guess. God.
"What if I don't make it to FC this fall?" I ask myself. "What if I go crazy staying home longer? What if I decide to go to another school instead and make a bad decision?" When trains of thought like these come up... I have to realize that this is me depending on other things than God for happiness.
When we get caught in these webs we weave... we just go in circles. But I guess every christian re-learns a few things. Even the really big obvious things that you knew from the get-go but just weren't taking to heart. Sometimes it takes even failure to help you open your eyes.
A few things I am realizing (or re-learning)
1. If I can make it to FC this fall, that'll be awesome.
2. If I can't make it to FC this fall, that'll be okay, there will be good work to do here.
3. I have so much learning to do about myself. Some of the littlest things are challenging for me. I have hopes of being a help meet for a man someday. But I read Em's blog about this and it made sense to me... it's not fair for me to rely on marriage to be happy or even to like myself. It might help, but I have to prepare myself. If I want to be employed as a wife some day, I have to practice. And part of that practice includes 1)putting God first 2)learning to like myself 3)learning patience, responsibility, and courage.
God speaks to us through the bible. And He has told me not to worry. He doesn't want me to worry. He wants me to work, He wants me to care. But it's helpful to remember... He doesn't actually want me to worry!