Thursday, March 26, 2015

the redirect.

Monday before last I mentioned I'd recently had a rough night on Instagram. I was texting Cassie about it the day I started my social media sabbatical and she mentioned our friend Kayla had just written a post about blog jealousy.

How fortuitous.

Kayla wrote about using the jealousy you have over other people's blog and social media to formulate your own vision and strategy. While the jealousy I cultivated was over people I know in local life, I thought it was still a critical and enlightening exercise, so I'm planning to do it.

What Kayla realizes in her post, and what struck me anew between the eyes, was that jealousy is a revealer. It strips down the fa├žades we build around our hearts to keep people from seeing what's really taking up space there.

And so, when we identify the seed of what's in our hearts, we can choose to water it, sit underneath the plant, and throw the spiritual version of a temper tantrum, or we can pluck it out, pick up our crosses and carry on.

I've been wrestling with what being jealous over the status of other people's relationships says about my heart; while I know it means I'm thinking too much of myself, I think that's also a simplistic answer. There's more complexity and more depth to my heart and humanity than that, so I want to dig deeper and find an answer that will inform deliberate action steps to fighting for more of Jesus and less of me in this particular battle. But I don't want to step forward with a shield without knowing where the enemy's standing. I want to see him and strike him down with a sword.

To do that, I want to keep my eyes open to how God is using everything for good. Not to how everything is good, because not everything is. Not everything in us is good, nor is everything God allows into our lives. But He can use every circumstance and feeling and experience and emotion for the glory of His name and the building of His kingdom, if we let Him put mud on our eyes and then wipe it and our blindness clean away.

And what I see when I probe this jealousy is the root of my discontent instead of the manifestation of it. I wasn't upset, really, over what I saw on Instagram. What I was really upset with was the lack it revealed in my own life: one of community.

I've blogged on this and captioned Instagram photos on this and probably even tweeted about it, and it's not going away. I've prayed about it and I've wrestled with it and it's still there. I'm still not feeling like I have a solid group of people to ground myself in and my heart aches because of it.

Feelings are deceptive. We're told this constantly in Scripture, particularly in Proverbs. So I have to keep reminding myself of all the ways He's providing for me even when I don't feel it and refuse to see it.

A few weeks before I quit social media, I talked extensively to Jesus about how lonely I felt. I hate to use that word because of its connotations, but it's the only word that fits. Shortly after I had that time of prayer, I drove up to MBS to see Ashton and some of my family. And I realized, as Ashton and I sat in Panera and then walked around the mall, talking about hopes and struggles and happenings, that sometimes God answers prayers affirmatively but redirects our attention because He's not answering the way we've particularly asked.

I wanted a local group, borne out of my church, to live and laugh and grow with, and I still long for that. But really, anybody who's within driving distance is a local friend. So if Ashton and I are close enough to meet for dinner, even that's ninety minutes one way, that makes her a local friend instead of a long-distance one.

In the past month, I've been to MBS twice, due in good part to this change of perspective and also because I have so many people there I can't possibly see them all at once. But it's a critical epiphany for me, and one I never want to forget: that local extends as far as you are willing to go, geographically and otherwise.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

wednesday wreads, vol.20

"2015 || Trust" by Natalie
It's a word I've been latching onto since this past summer. I'm not ready to let go of this word yet, nor do I want to put it up on a shelf all polished and sparkly to begin anew with a new one for this year. To be honest I don't think humans ever get to graduate from learning to 'trust' God.

"How to Fight Fair" by Maggie
The presence of conflict in our marriage affirms that we are both unique humans coming to the table with vastly different backgrounds that inform our expectations toward life. Conflict means we’re being no-holds-barred honest with each other. It means I’m being my unveiled self – with all of my mess and insecurities and failures and mistakes.

"How to Pray Even When You Don't Feel Like It" by Bonnie Gray, for Relevant
I find it easier to take care of others and get things done for God, rather than be vulnerable with my needs.

But God is showing me prayer is an intimate soul conversation to be loved and known, rather than a spiritual transaction to be made better.

"I Wish I Was Black: On Racial Inequality + White Guilt" by Hannah
This is not just a problem for black people. Whenever a minority is oppressed, it is the responsibility of the OPPRESSORS to change – not the oppressed. So it’s not a black people problem at all – it’s a white people problem. Race is a white person’s problem, because we’re the ones responsible for changing it.

And shouldn’t we, the People of the Cross, be leading the charge?