“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” ~Psalm 139:14
Do you know who you are?Do you have a sense of your authentic self, the one God created you to be? Do you do your best to live from that core place of authenticity? When we veer off the track of who we are on a soul level, we lose touch with God. We become nothing more than an actor on a stage, pretending.
It takes courage to be our authentic selves. We have to practice vulnerability, and that can be very uncomfortable. What if people don’t like us, or accept us? What if people judge us? Sometimes it feels safer to go along with the crowd than to show our true colors. But God wants us to be authentic. His eyes saw our unformed substance. He knows who He created. He gave us gifts and a particular purpose.
It’s amazing how many people go through life without exploring their gifts and purpose. When we don’t know them, we don’t live the abundant life God has planned for us. We fall short of His glory. If we want to know the abundance Christ claimed He came to give us, we must be courageous enough to know and to be whom God created.
“…he who hurries his footsteps errs.”
I’ve got to get all of this done, I thought to myself. I looked at the mountain of paperwork stacked on my desk. Next to it was my “to do” list that grew longer by the minute. I felt overwhelmed by all that I need to accomplish this week. Just as I let out a heavy sigh, I felt God’s hand come to rest on my shoulder.
“There are more important things than your “to do” list,” God said. “Your peace of mind is more important. Being rested is more important. Being with your loved ones, and sharing a smile or a hug are more important. Slow down. Do your work at a pace that doesn’t destroy you.”
I thought about Jesus’ promise that He would give us rest. We can only rest when we go at His pace. I thought of His dusty sandals trodding the roads. I thought of the conversations He had with people, and the time He took to go off by Himself. He didn’t rush. He wasn’t driven by a “to do” list. I reached over to the list and crossed off a dozen inconsequential bullet points. I wrote, in big capital letters, “SLOW DOWN,” at the top of the list. Instantly I felt lighter and happier.
“There you go,” God said. He patted my shoulder. I sat down at my desk and I called my mother for a long chat.
“Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out
and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.”
~ Matthew 12:13
Stretch. It’s a word we need to become comfortable with if we want to succeed in life. We can’t remain in our comfort zone. We must take some risks and box outside of our weight class from time to time. The trick to moving beyond our comfort zone is to take things slowly. No need to jump into the deep end and thrash about. That can cause too many emotional upheavals. No, the smart way to take risks is to apply the motto, “Easy does it.” We do the next right thing, and then wait patiently to do the next. We don’t rush. We don’t worry. We take baby steps.
We want to grow and thrive in life so we explore new boundaries and edges. We find new things that inspire us. We explore our divine purpose and allow God to help us live it. We learn how to box outside of our weight class one new experience at a time, and we become better for it!
“To every thing there is a season…”
California has been pummeled with rain. I’ve lost quite a few plants in my garden. They couldn’t dry out enough in between storms. But life in the garden goes on. The family of squirrels that I feed still come by every day. I watch them eating in the rain, seemingly unphased by the wet weather. What if I could navigate the storms in my life like that? I wondered. What if I could be unphased by adversity?
I watched a squirrel sitting up on her haunches, eating a peanut. She wasn’t wondering when the storms were going to pass. She was living in the moment. She wasn’t questioning God or her place in the universe. She was simply enjoying a peanut in the rain.
Into each life, a little rain must fall. There is a season for our hard times. How we decide to navigate those hard times are our choices. I want to be more like the squirrels in my soggy garden. I want to be unphased by the storms and enjoy my life in spite of them.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!”
~2 Corinthians 5:17
An old friend stopped by. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We talked about old times. We laughed and joked about all of the crazy things we used to do. Then the conversation turned to the old wounds we had lived through. I found myself sharing the details of old hurts when suddenly I stopped mid-sentence. “I don’t live here anymore!” I said. “This isn’t my address any longer. I don’t dwell on the past hurts. I’ve let them go. I don’t want to resurrect them in a conversation.”
It felt liberating to be able to turn my attention and focus away from the chains that used to bind me. I used to walk around in my victimhood feeling sorry for myself. It was good to catch myself headed down that dark path to my old way of thinking and behaving. My friend seemed to understand my desire to avoid dredging up past trauma. She graciously shifted gears and once again we talked about happier times.
We are in control of what we talk about. We can decide to keep the wounds of the past alive, or we can let them go. I continually strive to let the past go. I have to be aware of where my conversations are taking me. I don’t want to go back to the dark places I used to live in my head and heart.