Mary’s Faith

It’s only a few days until Christmas.  The grass is greener than it is in summer, it’s been raining for days and the sky lightens to a dull grey. It’s not Christmasy at all.  Great for anyone travelling.  For those of us who like the snow and cold, not so much.

It’s been hard to get excited for Christmas this year.  Even my boys aren’t excited.  They keep telling me, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”  I know.

I don’t even know what to write so I’m going back to a post I wrote last year about Mary.  Mary was remarkable.  Her simple yet deep faith inspires me during this dull, dreary holiday season. You can read the post here.

Hope Mary inspires you today and the sun comes out wherever you find yourself.

Jen’s

The Demise of the Good Girl, Part 2

I killed her. It had come down to either her or me. I’m a survivor so I choose me and stomped her into oblivion. Her being the Good Girl. She had become a dictator and I needed to cut her loose. A long time ago really. But hey, better late than never, right?

I’ve written about her before. Who she is and what she can make us become. You can check it out here. I find this whole topic rather interesting. Someone suggested to me recently, that I read Lynne Hybels book, Nice Girls Don’t Change the World. Obviously, it got me thinking about it again. I know intimately what she’s writing about.

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Trying to live our lives as the “good girl” or ‘nice girl” is just plain exhausting. She had to go. We can only keep up with the “Good/Nice” standards for so long and then it becomes a contest of perfectionism, lacking all forms of grace or love. She is a relentless master, that good ole nice girl. It’s downright deceptive.

She buries all the truly good stuff so the idol of “Good/Nice” can reign. Responsibility, dependability and niceness beat down creativity, rest and love. We lose our core self in the effort of pleasing others. Of trying to measure up. In striving to be enough. We think our personalities, our quirks make us too different. We tamp them down and dress up a lie.

Letting her have all the say, leads to bitterness, resentment and a feeling of entitlement. We’ve tried to be so good, worked so hard that we think our lives should work out according to our agendas. When they don’t, we get mad. Or depressed. We mentally go through the list of what we did wrong. Becoming our own judge and jury. It’s no way to live. Keeping score like that.

The disappointment when life almost never goes our way is crushing. We’ve sacrificed ourselves, our dreams, desires and sometimes our relationships all in the name of being good, dependable, nice. What we are left with are the remnants of a life sacrificed on the altar of GOOD/NICE. We feel duped. Because we fell for that Good Girl’s false stories.

The Good Girl told me I had to work hard to be a Good little Christian. Working for God is so important. She had taken my faith and made it into a religion. To the point where I didn’t even know whom I served anymore. You notice I wrote serve? It was a unconscious action. To write serve rather than love. Shouldn’t it be about whom I love? But the good girl serves first and maybe has a little bit of love left in her for later. Probably not.

I’m tired of doing because I have to. I don’t believe anymore that Jesus called us to be servants. He called us to love Him first and out of that love, to serve. There’s no have to involved. I have such a different attitude if I do something because I love someone rather than doing it because I feel I have to. Don’t you? I would much rather love Jesus so much that I would do anything for him (what a real Christian lives like) than be so tied to the rules that I do it resentfully (living the Good Girl life.)

The Good Girl is so concerned with appearances that her freak-o-meter shoots off the charts. We’ve all done the Fight-all-the-way-to-church-and-then-fake-it-once-we’re-there scenerio. What is so wrong with just admitting it’s a bad day? People respond to authenticity. Perfectionism isolates.

She told me good girls don’t rock the boat. Ha! Truth is going to rock the boat. Just look at Jesus. He rocked it so hard as he ushered in God’s plan, he didn’t just turn the boat over, he sank it.

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She told me that as a Pastor’s Wife, I had to be the ultimate Good Girl. Which translates: I have to do all of the above plus more. It’s a set-up for failure. Instead I choose to love the only One True God. And tear down the false idol of good.

Good girls/ boys are false images. It’s a burden hoisted upon countless children who grow up under it’s weight and then live behind it’s mask as adults. True goodness isn’t about other people’s perspectives about us. What we do or think we have to do.

True goodness comes from God because He is good. To witness it first hand, go read your bible and take a good long, hard look at Jesus and how He lived his life. He is goodness. Authentic goodness. Once we trust He is good then I think we are able to love Him more. Our relationship with Him deepens and as a result, we too begin to live out that true goodness.

So goodbye Good Girl. So long lies. Hope we never meet again. I choose true goodness and it’s one and only source. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. Luke 18:19

 

What It Means to Live BRAVE

The other night I was watching one of those made for tv holiday movies that causes my husband’s eyes to roll and the words “chick flick” hangs in the air. I’ll admit, they are a weakness for me. Occasionally though, they surprise you.

In the movie, The Christmas Gift there was this awesome line. The heroine, a reporter for a weekly magazine was getting some wise advice from her boss. He told her to think differently. “Don’t just think outside the box. Destroy the box.” (Or something close to that.)

Those words smacked me between the eyes. What does it mean to destroy the box? What does that even look like? I can’t stop thinking about it.
I also can’t believe that it’s December and my year of BRAVE is coming to a close. It wasn’t what I expected.

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What I presumed God had in mind for me when He gave me that word was really only the tip of the iceberg. That’s what you get for thinking you understand how God thinks or works! I thought He wanted me to tackle community and my aversion to it. Being a pastor’s wife and my aversion to it. What I’ve discovered: they are just symptoms of something else that really needed to be dealt with. It’s been a bit of a smackdown, I have to admit. Not necessarily in a bad way and me resisting at every step hasn’t helped.

I thought being brave and facing my fears would be all chest puffing and feeling good about myself. Sometimes being brave is that but for the most part, being willing to be brave and courageous is painful. Staring down fear, hate, unforgiveness, pride, lies and evil to name a few, is not even remotely fun. Or glamorous. It’s messy, dirty and exhausting. So no, Brave has not turned out quite like I thought.

It’s still good. Why? Because although I sometimes think I am alone in this, I am not. With the Almighty beside me, I can be brave. Why do we doubt that?

As I think about being Brave, my thoughts turn back to that line from the movie. “Destroy the box.” I’m thinking being brave destroys the box. God is a destroyer of boxes. With His help, we can attack the box, break it down and then begin to live and grow out from there. His abundance overflows once the walls are down.

Here’s a little review of what I’ve learned about being brave this year and tearing down those boxes. Each act is step towards freedom and healing, moments to be celebrated.

Being BRAVE is not a one time journey. It’s a daily one, like a commute. Each day we have to make that decision to be brave. To be bold. That takes a whole lot of courage!

Being BRAVE is getting out of bed each morning when we’d rather hide under the covers. For some, this is a major victory each day.

Being BRAVE is making the choice to love even when it hurts so much we think it’s going to kill us.

Being BRAVE is opening ourselves to the scary. To go to that place we don’t want to even acknowledge exists. The place where doubts reside. Questions claw to be heard. Memories hurt. Instead of burying them deep, we courageously face them down.

Being BRAVE is owning our mistakes. Saying you’re sorry. And then moving on.

Being BRAVE is choosing to go with truth rather than feelings. The truth never changes but our feelings do.

Being BRAVE is getting up after losing a fight. Choosing to stay in the ring and fight for all it’s worth.

Being BRAVE is following God wherever it takes you, even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when you’re scared out of your wits. It’s leaning into the adventure rather than the fear.

Being BRAVE is being humble. Letting go of pride. Of being right. Of having the last word. Being okay with that.

Being BRAVE is being able to ask for help and receive it when it’s offered. Read that somewhere this week. So true.

These are just a few examples of what being brave is to me. There are so many more. There are many people who live brave everyday. I’m more aware of them now. I’m inspired by them.

We think being brave is a solitary thing. We see it in movies. The lone soldier who saves the world. It’s not. Being brave is made up of many people. We may be the ones fighting but like Moses, there are people who are holding our arms up. Moses prayed, Joshua fought and Aaron and Hur held Moses arms up. (Exodus 17:12) It takes a village to be courageous.

It takes an open heart that accepts not just the love of those around us but the love of our heavenly Dad. Who loves us so much we are written on the palms of his hands. See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. Isaiah 49:16 NLT

So often we are suspicious of it. We think we don’t deserve it. We don’t know what to do with it. We can’t fathom it. But really all we have to do is accept it. In that one courageous act, the box is stomped on. Not just destroyed but decimated. The enemy is driven back and his power has no hold on us. Because we are His Beloved. So we can be BRAVE.

My friend Carrie Guse, who also happens to be our Worship Director at Bethany, wrote a song called Brave.  With her permission I have included it here.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do singing it at church!  Be Brave friends!