Thursday, September 17, 2015


--> I'm now on Day 4 of my Faith Challenge for work. If you're reading along, thanks for doing so!

Sept 17

Make a list of things you would like to change
Ecclesiastes 4:9 "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed."
Write down some things that you would like to change and who you can turn to for help and support to make those changes happen.

Change is hard. Making a list of things I want to change is harder.

I also know it’s not healthy for me to make a list of things to change. I go a bit crazy with lists because I have to DO ALL THE THINGS in order to be successful. Leave off one thing or don’t complete something and I’m losing sleep over my “failure.” As a result, unless I’m making one for the grocery or something for work, I don’t really do them anymore.

But I get the point of this prompt. It’s good to make things tangible. A little like what I wrote yesterday about finally verbalizing my loneliness and how that brought about change.

Instead of making a list that’s something like 1–10, I’m going to talk about a couple key things that I’d like to change.

First, my physical health. I was an athlete in high school and college, and while I’ve never loved things like running, I always appreciate how good it makes me feel afterward. When I exercise, I’m more likely to choose healthy food as well because why undo all the hard work with a cheeseburger or a couple of donuts? Jeff and I used to work out together too but my first pregnancy came pretty quick after getting married and I haven’t been able to find a groove since…almost 12 years later. (sigh)

I’ve tried some things over the years: pilates on my living room floor, working out at 24 Hour Fitness (when we got a great discount through Jeff’s job at CCU), and working out while at work. Inevitably, just as I got a good thing going, our scheduled changed due to seminary classes or I had another baby and so on.

Earlier this year, I had to get a mammogram for a lump on my chest. This is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, I’ve had several other (benign) lumps removed from my chest. But this time was a little more scary. I’m not 20 years old this time, like I was when the first lump was removed. I hadn’t been exercising or eating great so I was very afraid something was wrong. (All tests came back okay, by the way.) Then a couple months later, we went on our first family vacation and I did a ton of walking (up Seattle hills) and hiking. Felt the best I have in years so I’ve been continuing walking regularly at work or on weekends. I fight for this time more now. I also have been adjusting some of my eating habits. There is more room to grow in these areas but this is a good start for me.

One other thing re: this area is that the idea of holistic health is fairly new to me. Most of my life, I’ve put emphasis on my spiritual health and believed that is what God cared about most. However, I see how God gave us every area of our life to steward—emotional (God gave us emotions for a reason and I plan to use them), sexual (it’s about way more than purity talks before marriage and avoiding affairs afterward…there is plenty of outrage AND intelligent analysis going around about this in faith circles right now), and of course, physical health (my body is a gift from God, not just something we will cast aside when Jesus returns). I want to care for my body. It matters to God. It’s part of who I am.

Secondly, I am working on compassion. I recently finished Brené Brown’s book on rising from failure titled Rising Strong. In the sixth chapter, she talked about an encounter she had with a rude woman at an event. She shared this experience in a counseling session and received this question from the counselor: What if people are doing the best they can? She was appalled by this thought because people make their own choices and there are consequences, right? I get Brene’s response. I am SO black and white. My motto might as well be “You break the rules, you pay.” But Brené’s words made me think. She polled people around her and eventually came to the conclusion that we can’t know everything about every person’s circumstance, and it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt and offer compassion.

I am sure my propensity to judgment is based on my personality and also my growing up in fundamentalism. Where, as I mentioned in my post on Monday, God is ready to smite thee for one misstep. Plus, I believe that I am SO hard on myself that I find it hard to give others a break when I’m not doing the same for myself. I believe there is no excuse for my mistakes, therefore, same to you. No excuse.

But I decided to be more conscious about compassion and some of what was shared in Rising Strong. Kaelyn joined a new sports team recently and so I was thrust into being around a new group of parents. Ugh, this produces such anxiety in me because I think that right from the first introduction they are judging if I’m a good mom. So, I am also prone to judge them right away. My armor on first so they can’t hurt me, right? Then the parents began talking amongst themselves about some of the other children and families on the team. So….this isn’t helping at all because I’m sure that as I walk away from them, they’ll be talking about me. Plus, this particular group of parents has been together for years and I’m the outsider. However….I decided to say they are doing the best they can to myself and entered into some conversations to ask questions about this new team of kids and find out where people work, how long their child has been on the team, etc.

The parents asked me a little too. Before I knew it, a dad got up to help the coach with a drill and he called Kaelyn by name. I thought that was a pretty nice thing to do to memorize her name right away. Then, I also noticed the sideline was filled with both moms and dads. Not something you see every day, right? By the end of the first practice, Kaelyn had an invitation to a birthday party. How sweet of her to be included. These parents care, I thought. I could feel my heart changing toward compassion.

As I mentioned, change is hard. We all know that. I think the key is to stay aware. If XYZ is hard, then that’s when I ask God to help. Jeff once said to me many years ago to invite God into those things—into all things in my life. That is true discipleship; that is following Jesus in all things. It’s also how real change occurs. I have to ask the Holy Spirit to give me His gift of compassion. Can’t do that on my own. If it were all up to me all the time, it would be ARMOR ON so I can’t get hurt. Change—and the ability to do it—is part of what God gifts to us in salvation. We work out our salvation over time with His help (Philippians 2:12).

He’s also the One who told me no more lists because He knows that’s not good for me. So I listened.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

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