Saturday, August 29, 2015

When Insecurity Rears Its Ugly Head

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:3

"Don't turn it off. You should never turn it off."

This from the house manager of the theatre where I volunteer. She had walked two blocks to where I was stationed because I'd turned my walkie-talkie off.

"Now why would you do a stupid thing like that?" you ask.

I don't know. I just do stupid things sometimes and ask myself later why I did that.

The thing didn't seem like it was working. I tried to call the other parking attendant, and she never answered. I didn't hear anyone talking on any channel, so I assumed I was out of range. So I turned it off.

Then Erin showed up. She'd been trying to call me, and I wasn't responding, and she had to leave the theatre to come talk to me. She wasn't too happy about that, nor was she pleased to find my radio turned off. We tested it, and it was definitely in range. Given the fact that I use a two-way radio at work, I should have known better and felt like a big dummy.

I apologized profusely, and she was very forgiving.

Walking back to the theatre, I carried the "Theatre Parking" sign over one shoulder and my guilt over the other. Handing the radio to one of the other house managers, I said, "I guess you heard I turned the radio off."

"Oh, no I didn't. It's no big deal."

So why was I making it one? I'd blown the incident up to an extreme and distorted proportion because I did something wrong. Not even wrong. I just made a mistake. Did something stupid. But in my mind, I was the mistake. I was stupid. 

Earlier in the month, I'd reached out to someone I'd connected with about some writing opportunities in August and September. Well, August was almost over, and I hadn't heard any more about it, so I reached out again. No response.

Had I offended her somehow? Had she moved on to someone more qualified or talented? Had I lost my chance?

I learned that she'd been going through a rough patch with a family member, and her stress level was high. Getting back to me probably wasn't her priority right now. Understandably so.

I don't like being corrected. Or ignored. It makes me feel insecure.

And the worst part is that I thought I had worked through all of that years ago, and I was pretty secure in who I was. So why was this thing suddenly rearing its ugly head?

Insecurity is a strange animal. Many are under the false assumption that those who battle it are quiet and demure, but trust me, us bold and obnoxious ones can be just as insecure. It's not a personality trait, for heaven's sake. Just because someone is introverted doesn't mean they're insecure. Conversely, an extrovert doesn't have it all together. The extrovert's boisterous, "Look at me!" juxtaposes itself against the introvert's, "Please don't look at me." Ironically, it's all the same: 

An overly inflated estimation of oneself's importance. 

You read that right. The insecure think more highly of themselves than they ought to--not less. It's a false pride of sorts. Look at ME. Notice ME. What about ME? What's wrong with ME? Why doesn't anyone ask ME? Are they talking about ME?



The insecure desperately desire to be heard, seen, and loved. Acknowledged, accepted, and validated.  They We want to matter. They We want to feel significant to someone.

The lie is that we don't matter; we're not worthy of inclusion--we're not one of the "cool kids."



Well, guess what? The cool kids have insecurities of their own!

The truth is that our worth and value can never be found in others, because people will always let other people down. We can never get the validation we need from people, because we will always need more validation from more people. And they're too busy seeking validation from everyone else. There's just not enough to go around!

Unless and until we realize that our worth and value come from acknowledging and accepting that our identity is found in God through Christ, and not in imperfect humans, we will never be able to think of ourselves "with sober judgment." Our judgment of ourselves will always be skewed.

The faith that God has distributed to us determines our level of security.

I carried my guilt over not having my radio on, when the truth is the house manager has a thousand things to worry about. My mistake was an annoyance, but in actuality, she probably moved on to the next issue after she left me. She didn't go back and talk about me to everyone.

And the person who hasn't responded yet? Well, she's dealing with her own issues. More than likely, she hasn't set a recurring reminder on her phone to answer my email.

Whether I think I am more wonderful and important than I really am, or I believe that I am scum, I'm still dwelling on myself too much. It's not all about me. And it's not all about you.

So when that ugly insecurity monster comes roaring into your head, remember who you are in Christ. 

Remember that truth. Let it blast through the radio of your heart. Don't turn it off. You should never turn that off!

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Driving Like a Dog

The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps 
Proverbs 16:9

I picked up my grand-dog, Chinook after work to stay with us for a few days, but I had to stop to water a friend's flowers while she was away. Her house is on a main road--and not fenced in--so I left Chinook in the car. Because of the heat, I left the car idling with the air conditioning blasting while I took care of my business. 

After I watered the flowers in the front, I came around to the back where the car was, and saw Chinook sitting at the wheel!



I suppose he grew anxious between wondering why he was in Grandma's car, and then why I'd disappeared. He had made his way from the back to the front (and in the process left a few "presents" in the back seat. I thought it was so funny, that I just had to snap this picture and send it to my son (after I cleaned up the mess in the back--thank God for seat covers!).

So much of what I do in my life is done in the same way. 

I don't wait well.

I'm impatient, impulsive, and impetuous.

I get anxious when I'm idling. I wonder how much longer I'll have to wait until God shows up to drive and we actually go somewhere.

I try to drive the spiritual car that only God knows how to drive and in the process, I sometimes leave a mess for God to clean up after me. 

I'm no smarter than a Golden Retriever. 

I sit in the driver's seat--where I don't belong--and look at the controls. I wonder how to make this thing go. Everything around me is a blur, because I'm so focused on me and moving forward in Me Stuff (I purposely blurred the edges of the picture for that effect). I ignore what's around me. All I see is Ahead. If I can just manage to move forward, maybe I'll find God in the process, because He seems to have disappeared. He was here, but now it looks like He's gone. I'm not sure when He'll be back, and I've got to get going on this (fill in the blank--for me, it's the book I'm not writing, but want to be) or I'll miss the opportunity. Someone else might get chosen over me.

And then God shows up.

I think He chuckles first at my sitting there, willing this thing forward. Then He cleans up the mess I've left in the wake of my anxiety and lack of caring about anyone but myself. 

He opens the driver's side door, and gently says, "Come on, you need to get out and let me drive." 

I comply. I'm tired. Anxiety and needless worrying do that. Like Carrie Underwood sings, I say, "Jesus, Take the Wheel."



I awkwardly hop off the seat that is not the right size for me anyway and out the door. He opens the back door--not the passenger's side door--He doesn't need a co-pilot. I gladly leap in. Truthfully, it's much more comfortable back here. There's room for me to stretch out and relax, knowing that my Master is in control. 

As long as He knows where we're going, there is no cause for concern. 

Whatever it is you're fighting the Lord about today, whatever it is you're trying to do on your own, why not give it up? Let it go. Stop fighting for control. Let Him drive. Stretch out in the back seat. Relax. If someone gets a turn before you, don't worry, He knows where you are; He hasn't forgotten you. He still has a plan for your life. Your life is important to Him.

After all, He is still in charge. We just forget when He's not in our line of vision. 

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mixing Up Scripture Verses

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 
1 Samuel 16:7

I got up early the other morning to do some weeding while it was still relatively cool. I was weeding by the mailbox when I heard the whine of an electric scooter behind me. Turning around, I saw Bob, my across-the-street neighbor making his way over. I was happy for the break, and sat down on the ground to talk with him.

"I seen you out here on the ground, and I wasn't sure if you were praying or weeding. I was gonna say, 'If you're praying, say one for me.'"



"I always do, Bob," I said. I think I tell them that every time I see them---that I'm praying for them. I'm never sure of what they think of that because they typically don't say much in reply.

He updated me on his wife's chemo treatments and prognosis. She had a setback, but the doctors are hopeful. 

I told him I'd keep praying. 

We went on to talk about the typical neighbor stuff--your yard looks nice/what kind of flowers are those red things/I can't cut the ragweed because I'm allergic/those people are in a nursing home now.

I don't remember what was said, but Bob replied, "Well, like the Bible says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and all this will be added to you.' You can only hope and pray that things will work out." 

I nodded my head in agreement. "That's right." But something about the verse sounded funny...did he mix that up?

We chatted a little longer, then Bob sped back across the street. 

Later, I was thinking about the verse that sounded funny, and I realized that he had quoted the first part of one verse and the second part of another.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
and lean not on your own understanding. 
Proverbs 3:5



But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you
Matthew 6:33

Well, bless his heart, I thought. He was trying to quote scripture, and his heart was in the right place, even though he got it wrong.

He got it wrong.

Or did he?

Does it really matter if we combine or mix up verses? If our heart is in the right place, if we know what we want to say, does it still count?

When Jesus encountered Satan in the desert, He responded to each of His enemy's taunting and tempting tactics with, "It is written..." 

If we use that same strategy, saying, "It is written..." but "get it wrong," is it considered invalid?

We may hear a voice telling us, "That's not right! See, you can't even remember the verse. It's all wrong, so it doesn't count."

Yeah, that's how God talks to us...NOT!

It is necessary to know scripture, and commit these things to memory. Otherwise, the enemy can--and will--use our lack of knowledge to confuse us, just as he did with Eve. "Did God really say..."

However, sometimes we do mix things up. But I think that God is nodding His head in agreement, just as I did with Bob, saying, "Bless her heart. She's trying to quote scripture, and her heart is in the right place." 

God loves me even when I misquote, even when I miss the mark, because He looks at my heart.

Unlike me, who was quick to judge, God does not say, "Bless your heart. You tried, but you got it wrong," 

God is not a game show host who appears to care that you're no longer in the game, but in reality is happy to move on to the next contestant and couldn't care less about the one who just messed up.

"Awwww, I'm sorry, that is NOT the correct answer. But we have some lovely parting gifts for you as you descend slowly into hell."

Our Lord is always rooting for us. He doesn't look at what's wrong, but what's right with us. Not just when we mix up our scripture verses, but always.



He says, "Bless your heart. You've got it right, even though your scripture is mixed up. You get it. I know you do. You go, girl!"

And if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Don't buy into the lie that if you are battling the enemy with scripture and you get it wrong, then the enemy wins. Not if God is for you. Because if you believe that lie, then you've already lost. God wins---every time. So that means you win too. 

And so does Bob, bless his heart.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

photo credit: pixabay, Mary Flaherty

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Update on the Book I Am Not Writing

Lately, I've been floundering in my writing. The other night, I was admiring (yes, admiring...don't act like you've never done that) my collage meme from the last post, Trust and Follow, and I thought, "Gee, that looks like a book cover. Maybe I should write a book on this subject and self-publish it. Here's my not-yet-written book cover:



I visit other bloggers' sites on a daily basis, see their beautiful pages, and read about their latest book. They have a program, they have speaking engagements, they have a plan. I have a full-time job, a blog, and a whimsical nature that draws me into the woods on weekends. A pinch of self-pity, a little pride, and apparently, a chip on my shoulder at the moment.

Since I'm confessing, I may as well tell you that I'm a little jealous. Everyone seems to have a book, even if it's a 10 page e-book being offered to all new subscribers. 


When my writing dream got a bit skewed, I decided to ask God, "What do YOU want me to write?" I figured that made me sound holy and genuine (as if I could fool God?)

I asked this question repeatedly over the next few days, but each time, before I gave God time to answer, I moved on to the next writing resource book, a new blank Word document, the stack of blog posts to be compiled into a book.


"Where do I start?" I finally asked the empty room. 

I wasn't really asking God, because I hadn't stopped long enough to listen for the answer to the last question. Probably because in my heart, I already knew the answer and I didn't like it.


When I asked Him again the other night, I heard this:


"Listen."


So I did. For about 10 seconds. God truly has a sense of humor, because He got something in during that 10 seconds.


"What makes you think you're supposed to write a book right now?"


Well, THAT'S not what I wanted to hear! No book? But Goooooood, everyone else has a book. I waaaaant one tooooooo! (can you hear the whining?) If I can't write a book, then what am I supposed to write?


Gee, how about the blog?


I love blogging. Thoughts and stories come easily. I just write about my life and the stupid things I do or say or think (like this), and surprisingly, people actually read it. A blog post is relatively easy to write. There are no deadlines and there is no pressure. Maybe that's why I enjoy it so much.


Until I start comparing. And coveting. And getting jealous. And feeling like I need to do more. Write more. Speak more. Be more. 


I begin to buy into the idea that what I have and what I do is not enough. Therefore, I'm not enough.


I had to ask myself some hard questions.


  • Why is it so important to me to write a book? 
  • Do I subscribe to the belief that unless and until I write a book, I'm not a "real" writer? 
  • Do I think that will earn me more respect or favor? And if so, among whom?
  • Is my significance, worth or value wrapped up in "how far along" I am in my writing? 
  • Can I just write for the pure sake of writing?  
  • If I never write a book, will that be okay?
  • If I do write a book, and it doesn't sell, will that be okay?
  • If I do write a book, and it's a success, will that be okay?
  • Would I be content if I never write anything except blog posts?
  • Am I prepared to accept whatever assignment God gives me, regardless of the size?
Not only did I have to answer these questions honestly, but I had to confess my sins of jealousy, greed (covetousness), and pride--and face the fact that I was falling into the trap of insecurity I thought I'd left behind. I called it what it was, and then refused to allow it to grow. I cut it off and looked to God for guidance.



Forgive me, Lord.

When we fall prey to jealousy and ungodly comparison, it's because we're not secure in who God made us to be.

Dear reader, you may or may not be a writer. You may have other dreams, desires, and gifts that you are either putting to use or allowing to stagnate. 

Maybe you're comparing yourself and your gifts and talents to others in your field. Perhaps you are coveting someone else's good fortune, God-ordained appointment, or joy--the fruit of their hard work and obedience to God.

Why not ask yourself the same questions I did, replacing all words having to do with writing with your specific dream, desire, gift, or talent.

If you have a dream, follow it. But when you start feeling disconnected from your dream, ask yourself if the dream you're following is bigger than the God you serve. If it is, your dream, like mine, just may be a bit skewed.

Is your dream your priority or is your God?

If you never get "promoted" to what you think success looks like, will it be enough that you serve God?

Blessings along the path, regardless of its size,
Mare

I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens...I can do all this by the power of Christ. He gives me strength. (Phil 4:11,13)

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Trust and Follow

This past weekend we finally finished the last leg of the New Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail! 72 miles in 9 weeks.

Sometimes I think this series of hikes was more about my learning to listen to, respect, and submit to my husband than hiking. Why did it all have to do with following directions? I've sure come a long way since the first time I decided I knew a better way. Or the week after that--our first week on the AT--when I STILL thought my way was better.

I pretty much knew where we were headed this week, but after 8 weeks of lessons on letting go of control and allowing Hubbles to take charge of the directions and logistics of shuttling two cars, I found myself following him without thinking of where we were headed. 

Nine weeks it took me to get to the point of not caring about directions, not feeling like I needed to be in charge, not wondering how to get from Point B to Point A (because we dropped his car off at Point B, where we'd end the hike then traveled to Point A, where we'd start the hike). 

I didn't think I had a trust issue but apparently, I did. I couldn't blindly follow my husband. I didn't trust him to be right. I needed to know where we were going, how we were getting there, and if it was the quickest way (as if it really mattered?). And I needed to have directions, just in case we got separated.

As we drove down Rt. 80 this week, it occurred to me that I was singing along to my music and following his every move. If he changed lanes, so did I. When he sped up, I did too. When it seemed like he was going too slow, I slowed down and kept singing along to my music. My gps was not on, and I had no directions except to follow.

I finally trusted my husband to lead.


And I thought about how similar that is to our walk (or ride?) with God. 

How long does it take us to trust God? To abdicate control? To blindly follow without questioning?

We are thrilled to be on a journey with God, but we still want to know where we're going, how we'll get there, how long it will take, and if it is the quickest way, because yes, that does matter! Oh, and can we please have directions in case we get separated?

God promises us this:

I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future (Jer 29:11).

But He doesn't promise to give us the specifics ahead of time. Sometimes We just need to trust Him. And follow, often blindly.

Scary?

Yes, sometimes it is. 

What's most scary for me is not so much the unknown, but the abdication of control.

But He also promises us this:

I will never leave you nor forsake you (Jos 1:5).

I learned that my husband would not allow me to be separated from him. He cares too much for me. Why would I doubt that?

Even though he has a tendency to drive through amber stoplights, leaving me behind at the red light, he is always watching, and pulls over to wait for me. He would never leave me to find my own way without direction.

So it is with our Lord.



All we need to do is get in our little spiritual car, put on some music and sing along. When he changes lanes, so do we. He sets the pace, and all we need to do is follow, not questioning the whys or wheres or hows. 

Oh, and if you really need directions, you'll find them in the Owner's Manual. 

Blessings on and off the path,
Mare


NEW PAGES ADDED! 

Check out my music page and About Me (still in progress) where you'll discover fun facts about me.
AND...
You can now order my CDs through PayPal!
AND...
There's more to come! Like Freebies and Printables. 
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This post was shared with Laura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His Beauty, Kelly at #RaRaLinkup, Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Winter at #WordsWithWinter, Beth at Wedded Wednesday, Jennifer at #TellHisStory, Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Lyli at Thought Provoking Thursdays, Deb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace and Truth, Nina at Thursday Favorite Things, Barbie and Mary at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lessons Learned While Lying Face Down in the Dirt

Hubbles and I recently took a mini vacation. That term is actually silly, because our vacation wasn't mini. We didn't get into a small car and go to a little resort and sleep in tiny beds. The only thing that was mini was our time. But I digress, as usual.

We opted for the mountains instead of the beach and stayed at our favorite B and B in the Catskills. The first day there was more like fall than summer, in the low 60s, a perfect day for a hike. 

We were walking up a path with lots of small, loose rocks. Nothing difficult. You just had to watch where you put your foot. I tripped on a rock and pitched forward. I kept trying to get my footing, but my center of gravity was off, and I fell forward. Trust me, it's not a pleasant feeling to be flying slowly toward the earth with no wings. 

I waited for my prince to come to my rescue. As I lay among the rocks, I wondered if he'd gotten lost on the way, or perhaps ran back to find his trusty steed, the white stallion on which I would be whisked away.

Nope. I turned around, and he was standing there waiting for me to get up. Since I wasn't being rescued, I did the next best thing. I cried. Yup. I sure did. I wasn't physically hurt. Just emotionally. If you, dear reader, had been behind me, I most likely would have turned around and shared a smile with you until we both burst out in laughter.

Why are the rules different with spouses? Why do I want "saving" when I exude an independent nature? And how is my poor Prince Charming supposed to know when to save and when to back off?

I think it's because we have different rules with our loved ones, especially our spouses. Higher and unspoken expectations. 

But is that realistic? And is it fair?

Well, no. And no.

I expected my prince to...well, to be honest, I'm not sure what I expected in those moments of shock at finding myself face down in the dirt. But I expected him to know what it was I needed, even though I couldn't even name it. And when he didn't, I felt he had let me down.

Poor Hubbles. 

How unfair that was to him. How wrong it was of me. I had to apologize. I seem to do that a lot on these hikes. God is always at work on my attitude in the woods. I suppose it's because that's where I'm quiet and my mind is still. 

The easiest way to avoid hurt feelings (for either spouse) when the white horse is back at the barn is to simply shout from the earth, "I'm okay!" That way, there are no unknowns. It's called growing up.

Navigating through the unknowns: the un-spokens, the un-fairs, and the un-realistics is all part of maturing in a marriage and as individuals.

We need to admit the un-truths so that we don't become un-glued.

Later, I fell again. Face down. In a stream. 

This time, my prince rushed to my aid (a little too quickly) because of my prior overly dramatic post-fall meltdown. It must have been hard for him not to laugh, considering I fell face down in a stream. 

I would have laughed at me if I weren't so busy yelling, "I'm okay! I'm okay! I'm okay!" 

And all the while my prince was yelling, "Are you okay?! Are you okay?! Are you okay?!"

We're both still learning. It's all about balance. 

Yeah, excuse the pun.


Blessings Along the Path
Mare

NEW PAGES ADDED! 

Check out my music page and About Me (still in progress) where you'll discover fun facts about me.
AND...
You can now order my CDs through PayPal!
AND...
There's more to come! Like Freebies and Printables. 
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This post was shared with Kelly at #RaRaLinkup, Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Beth at Wedded Wednesday, Jennifer at #TellHisStory, Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Deb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace and Truth, Nina at Thursday Favorite Things, Barbie and Mary at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness