Archive | August, 2011

Courage, Mission, And The Awkwardness In Between

9 Aug

Starting a new journey sometimes feels like crossing a river with rushing rapids

After spending a weekend with a Board of Directors for one of the non-profits I work for, Esperanza Scholarship Foundation, I was inspired. I learned about the difference between a vision and a mission. For several hours we workshopped and wordsmithed ideas for what we wanted our vision and mission for the organization to be. We talked about where we have been and where we want to go and eventually, we came up with some new initiiatives.  I learned a lot through this process. Even in my own journey as I’m setting out to write this book about sacrificial love, I realized I need to write down my own mission statement regarding it.

So, here it is:  In order to revolutionize and impact dating and friendship practices within my church community and the extended Christian subculture, I contend for a lifestyle of sacrificial love and outline realistic ways to live it out. 

It’s amazing how quickly my mission was tested just a little over 24 hours later. In conversations I had, prayers I prayed for people as part of the prayer team, and situations I was in, I started to realize that living this out and writing it were two different things.  Especially the “realistic” part. Sometimes I find myself getting into situations just to see if I can handle them (and because I want to be able to write about them later). Often, this is healthy and good and takes a lot of courage. Othertimes it’s hard and painful and seems unnecessary. Sunday night was a mix of both of those things but while driving home, I literally saw a sign that made me laugh out loud.  As I was contemplating dating and friendships in a close-knit community like mine and realizing how awkward it is to actually live out this lifestyle that I’ve chosen, I look over at a church board and it says, “Nobody said it was going to be easy.” “HA! You’re not kidding, are you?” I thought.

It takes many steps to run a marathon but only one to start

And I thought about what I had just heard about courage during that night’s talk. Courage is stepping up and stepping out. It’s taking action before you feel like it. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m stepping up and stepping out despite my fear, challenging others around me to step out with me and attempt to do relationships, friendships, and community differently. Nobody did say it was going to be easy. Living a life of purpose never is though. As I write this book and try to live out what I believe, I’m faced with choices every single day. Will I choose to continue to step out and step up or will I stay where I am and succumb to fear? Somedays, if I’m honest, I stay put. And it’s on those days I miss out. It’s on the days when I get the courage to take a step and have conversations about living sacrificially in community or about how to have a good goodbye with someone you need to let go of where I feel alive because I know that I’m staying true to this calling put before me.

Prime: Am I In It Or About To Be?

2 Aug

I’m finally ready to repaint my room. I’ve chosen a color but had never gotten around to putting it on the wall yet. I didn’t have the man power, the time, or even the courage. I’m getting help and soon my room will be entirely primed and painted so that I can begin the process of transforming it into the home that I need it to be for me in this season.

 

In beginning this repainting process, I wrote words on my wall that I wanted to define me. Peace. Patience. Self Control. Kindness. Joy. Love. They are now painted over ever so slightly with a lighter green. I like knowing that underneath my new green layers, I laid the foundation for what I want my room to be about. Who I want to be. I want to be a woman of grace. I want to exude patience. I want to breathe deeply and take in life. I want to feel my feelings but not have them take me over.

 

Priming is the first step of painting. You get things ready so that when the paint goes on, it will go on evenly. You can’t skip this step or your walls won’t turn out smooth. I think God primes us, too. I’m in a priming season. Being prepared for something that is next. Not sure what that is, but I know I need to embrace this process. Fall is coming. The shedding of leaves. Summer is still here so I can’t look ahead too far, but I know in the distance, there will be something new. And now if I waste all of this time avoiding the priming, the walls of my life will not come out evenly and I will have missed a great opportunity.

 

I heard something today from a co-worker. It was about avoiding grief. Her counselor told her that the reason she has been so afraid was because she had avoided dealing with the loss of her friends, brother-in-law, and others who have died around her. She is now having to go back and re-aquaint herself with this grief in order that she will not become one of those death-fearing people for her daughter’s sake. I get that. I have grieved for real recently. So many times in the past I have avoided pain. I’ve replaced. I’ve tried to mask. I’ve displaced it with anger, excitement, busyness, or something else just so that I wouldn’t have to feel it. Since I’ve tried everything else in the past, I decided this time would be different.

 

In this priming season, I’m walking my grief out. I’m crying when it hurts. Facing the pain and not running away. When I dream of the past, I tell myself it’s going to be okay, even if I still don’t believe it after all of this time. I talk to myself. It’s getting better. Slowly. Too slowly sometimes, which is where “patience” comes in. I need it. So did my room.

 

The can of paint is heavy and yet full of unopened possibility. I will stir the thick contents before applying them to my walls. Paint will cover over where there were dents or holes. It will make everything look fresh and new. And isn’t that like God? To make all things new. Sometimes I wonder how and if he will do this for me. And then I remember all of the times before when he has. People keep telling me and I keep believing that I am in a desert season. But I think I’ll rename that. I think instead, I will call it a priming season. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “in her prime” came from. That’s where I want to be. In my prime. So instead of avoiding the grief and the pain of being primed, I will try to welcome it. Because soon my walls will be refreshed and colored in and I will be able to rejoice in the fact that this process, which has taken so long, will have been worth the wait.

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