What Does Your Future Hinge On?

I grew up when the home computer was becoming popular and accessible.  My parents first purchased a computer when my brother was in high school to keep better track of the books for our family farm. It had a green screen, no color. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying a good game of Test Drive.

In high school, there was one game I thoroughly loved though it frustrated me to death. “Myst graphic adventure puzzle,” as it’s called, was a game I was addicted to. Trying to figure out why in the world you were in this place; how to get from one place to another- it was so puzzling it made my head hurt. Yet, it was so intriguing that it captivated my attention. Why was it so frustrating? Oh, let me count the ways. It would often happen that as I would play, I would get pretty far down the game, only to realize that I was stuck. Why? Because I passed up a button, or turned a lever the wrong way 2 hours before and had to therefore go all the way back in order to move on and finish the game (a feat I was never able to do without a cheat book or sheet). This is probably why I haven’t really played video games in the last 15 years.

I’ve written before about my tendency to future trip. It’s part of my default, my way of escaping, my way of controlling–to future trip and try to come up with every possible situation so that I am prepared for whatever comes. Those of us who future trip know that you never fully know what is to come and therefore end up getting blindsided at some point. Or, perhaps by future tripping, we get stuck in the fantastical situation with villans, plots both major and minor, and in the end we defeat the enemy and become the conquering hero. But it is all fantasy. It’s things that have not come to fruition or realization and therefore, my emotional investment in it, let alone my time, is worthless.

Well, at least I have the tendency to live that way. And it sucks. It hurts. It causes anxiety, worry and grave concern. It definitely does not bring out the best in me, and I would assume, it doesn’t bring out the best in others around me either. This is control at it’s worst.

When it comes to over-working towards the future,  CJ Casciotta writes in his short book “Branding is for Cows. Belonging is for People,” that “It turns out the cost does not come close to justifying the kind of Return on Investment we were hoping for, because the investment we were hoping for was fixed on the future, at the neglect of the present. It was 100% focused on doing without any regard to ‘belonging.'” Neglecting family and friends now in hopes for a great future for all of you together,  just doesn’t add up. We’ll never see a return on that investment. This can also be seen in future tripping. At times my thought is that if I can control the future, then life will be better and easier. The problem is that we can’t ever, fully, completely, totally control every single thing in our future.And in order for me to actually try to control everything to that extent, will only push away everyone I love around me.

People get sick, pass away and lose their jobs. There are wars, economic down turns and factories close. We can’t change these things and we definitely can’t control them. And if we focus all of our energies on these things in hopes that there will be no chance for a misstep in the future, we have sadly missed out on the life that was being lived around us the whole time. We missed out on belonging. When we missed out on the present and focused on the future, we realize that the future we wanted won’t happen because we forget about everyone around us along the way. Perhaps the future we wanted may very well be living out in the present around us…we just can’t see it.

Jesus warned us of this danger by simply stating “don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” He was showing us that this way of life isn’t good for us. He was gently reminding us to simply trust in him. How simple yet so very hard.

For me, I realized that for too long I was running my life as if I was playing a computer game, a game of Myst-constantly doing, trying to get to the next thing, all the while disengaged with what was going on around me. Disengaged with the present has caused me to overlook Iris or important things to her that she values, time with my children or what they are excited about, even missing God in the moment because I was too busy thinking about next week. With the exception that Myst is not reality, the only difference between it and my life is that in life I can’t go back to change things. But I can chose to change things from this moment forward. We are given that opportunity thousands of times a day.

Do I chose trust every single moment or every single day? Nope. I don’t. I downward spiral into the “what ifs” and scramble and hustle for control. Just yesterday I did it and had to go make amends with a friend. I’m thankful for their grace towards me. It is a constant, continual choice to trust in Him, to believe in Him. God invites us on the journey of self awareness and of God awareness. Engagement is the only way that happens. May we all choose engagement for this moment, this day.

be blessed today

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Are You Savoring the Finer Things in Life?

I like watching the food channel on tv. To me its up there with design shows both fashion and homes-it always amazes me what people can come up in their creativity. Seriously. Watch anyone of those shows and I’ll bet you can list off at least 30 different ways you can make a hamburger differently. Or what someone can do with a couple yards of fabric draped just so, over someones body. Or how a simple piece of wood can become an original, one of a kind piece of art in a home. It is amazing. As I have grown in my hobby turned profession as a coffee roaster and barista, I have also come to enjoy the fine subtle flavors of food and drink. I’ve come to appreciate craft made delicacies. I’ve also come to understand what the word “savory” means. It’s the richness or lushness of a particular food, that’s the savory aspect that I’ve come to appreciate and desire. Savory food is something to be savored-enjoyed, slowly in all of it’s complexity.

Last month I was gone for a week traveling with a friend through the Gobi Desert, the lower mountains and the massive sand dunes of Mongolia. I was so very thankful for this trip as it not only gave me the opportunity to see some incredible landscape, but also to spend time with my friend. A couple of days later, after returning and getting back into life, Iris and I were sitting down talking one night. “I’m so glad you’re back, I really missed you,” she said. “It’s not that I didn’t have a good time without you I did. And, it’s not like I couldn’t have enjoyed my time without you present. I could. It’s just that……I don’t know, It’s just that it seems…..it seems that life is more savory with you than when you’re not here,” she continued.

Savory. Not flavorful…though that is probably also true as I tend to be a little more crazy than  her. No, savory is what she said. But savory is the aromatics, the herbs, the right blend of spices that leaves that enjoyable flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Life is more savory. I guess savory could be a word used towards a work of art as well. There is something that is pleasing when looking at art, something that catches your eye and holds you fast to it. I, for one, enjoy Monet’s paintings as they are pleasant to my eye. The brush strokes, the somewhat muted colors, it is relaxing and peaceful to me. But in regards to something holding me fast, where I can’t move and, yes, even brought to tears…..Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. It draws me in to all of it’s subtleties.

And I guess that is where I have landed with this place, this world, this life. This world is just not savory without Christ in it. Or, perhaps, life seems to be bland if I don’t have the savoriness of Jesus enhancing or even adding to the beauty that is creation. It’s black and white instead of in technicolor. It’s muted somehow. It’s like eating “dry toast…no butter, no jam, just dry” to quote a line from the highly theological My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Savoring isn’t just the “finer things” in life….it is life itself.

Today, I sat down to finish this post. I usually write my posts a few days (or weeks) in advance and do a simple edit the day I post them. But as I was thinking about this one today, I was trying to figure out what made today so savory. It came down to relationship. Not just relationship with “my people” be it face to face or via some app on my phone, it didn’t matter, it was simply relationship that made my day savory. Of course the whole day wasn’t savory…traffic, traffic isn’t savory at all. But the time in the car talking to a friend while in traffic, that was savory. Lingering, which I’ve written about before. To savor. As with anything, I’m learning that there is always something to be thankful for and now I’m learning that there is a savory part of life because of Christ that I’m beginning to become aware of. What is it about today that made it savory for you? Just curious.

be blessed today

 

Photo Credit: here

 

How Surrendering This One Thing Might Change Your Life

Last month, we decided to take a trip out West. What was to be a six hour drive on paved roads, ended up being about 10 hours, taking an accidental wrong turn and driving 125 miles off road. At the end of the day, I realized our rear tire was low, so I ran over to a tire repair place to have it fixed after we arrived at the guest house we were staying that night. They fixed the tire, but he next morning before we departed, I noticed it was low again, so I took it back and had them replace it. They ended up putting a cheap tube in it and sent us on our way. Three hours down the road, we hit a pot hole hard enough that it pinched the tube and air started to escape quickly. I got out, jacked up the car and began to remove the lug nuts from the bolts on the wheel.And that’s when the real problems started.

When the tire repair put the wheel on that morning, they cross threaded not one, not two, but three of the wheel lug bolts which ended up breaking off when I went to remove the wheel. Please keep in mind AAA doesn’t exist here, our Mongolian is nowhere near fluent and there was no cell reception. Not to mention we were an hour, easily, from any type of village/town/city. After a brief moment of me losing it (some words we shall not mention and a few punches of the tire of which I’m not proud of), we were able to call an expat friend of ours at the guest house who sent out a mechanic. Several hours later, we were on our way to continuing our vacation.

Reading that, I’m assuming some of you could feel the tension and frustration and may have reacted similarly. But why?

Very generally speaking, North Americans are pretty planned out people. I know I am. I’m not to the extent as some people (funny how I automatically disassociate myself from extremes :), but I still do like to plan. Planning in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s good. It’s when the plan begins to dictate everything that it becomes a problem. For example, I used to be the kind of guy who could never relax on any vacation we went on. Why, you may ask? Because I was too busy planning our next vacation.

Sad, I know.

Planning is great to create strategies, business goals, budgeting and saving for future things. When it begins to power over relationship, or potentially, whatever God has for us in that moment though, we begin to no longer engage with what is going on in the present. We’re too focused on what it “should” be and not seeing what  it “is.” As I often say, “it’s not good to ‘should’ all over yourself.” We can get buried in the law of “should.”

It’s not good to ‘should’ all over yourself

I’ve grown in this area, not because of any great thing I’ve done, but simply because I’ve lived in two separate cultures that are far more event oriented than time oriented. Being from a time oriented culture (time rules the day), it really messes with you and can cause some great frustration if you move to an event oriented culture (more about the event no matter when it “should” start or how long it “should” go on). Why? Because if you are used to people being on time and ending on time and move to a culture where things may start 30 minutes to an hour later, it can cause impatience. The reason- it messes with my plan. In the simplest form, that’s it. It fluctuates, changes, challenges my plan.

I wish this simply applied to the start of work, a meeting or even a date. But it doesn’t. It applies to many aspects of my life. What I’m going to do next week, month, year or even a decade from now…if it messes up my plans, I react. And usually, not in a good way. To me, it is a small (or big) form of control. And control is only a thing reserved for God.

I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. We were talking about recovery, what was going on in our lives and how we can’t control what will happen no matter how hard we try. Then he said “I’m simply trying to surrender what I think tomorrow will look like.” That thought stuck with me. The idea of surrendering my idea, my “design” of what tomorrow will be with all of it’s nuances and intricacies. Huh, what a novel idea.

“I’m simply trying to surrender what I think tomorrow will look like.”

If I am able to surrender what I think my tomorrow will look like for the sake of relationship, I can begin to see how my life would be lived much differently. If I can surrender what my tomorrow should look like for the sake of being present with where I am, who I’m with and where God is in all of it, what a more colorful life I could be living. I am not saying give in and have no boundaries. God also desires that we have healthy boundaries in place for our physical, emotional and spiritual health. But boundaries are much different than holding to a plan above everything else.

Pause for a moment and wonder how your life might change if you began to live in such a way to be present where you are. Surrendering that bit of control may bring awareness of God and awareness of self like you’ve never encountered before. And it’s here we begin to see the world with God’s eyes.

be blessed today

Photo Credit: https://garyunderwood.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/

Is Your Life Too Mundane for God?

Most of us, at least most people I know, have fairly routine lives. Myself included. You may say “Now wait just a minute JB. You live in a country thousands of miles from your passport country, speak a different language or two, and roast coffee.” And, to that I say, yes, that is true. But I have a routine that may seem fairly normal. I get up early, work out, read and journal, have breakfast, help get the kids off to school and then I head off to either work or language school with Iris. We come home. The kids come home, we eat dinner, we hang out a bit and then they go to bed. We eventually go to bed, and then the routine starts again. The weekends are filled with either resting at home, or traveling to the countryside and sabbathing together and others who want to follow Jesus more.

I have a friend who lives a similar life but instead of sending his kids off to school, they home school. Instead of the one hourish I spend exercising, he spends a bit more time as he just completed his 5th Ironman just this past Sunday. And their weekends are filled with camping and gymnastics tournaments for their boys. But, it’s his routine.

I know other people and have other friends that seem as though they are traveling more days a month than they are at their home. Different countries for training or certifying people. Different places for outdoor adventures and spend more nights in tents than in bedrooms. Yet, this is their routine.

Many people I talk to and are friend with, often desire a break up of their routine. “Oh, if only my routined, mundane life could change, then I could really experience God doing this.” Or, “If I was doing that, man God would use me so much more.” Maybe that’s true. Or perhaps it is something that society has taught us about those few exceptionally rare cases of people that just did something completely crazy, it seemed, that are the only ones we hear about.

Regular times of sabbath for me are important. They don’t necessarily have to be scheduled, but they are needed. If I don’t have them regularly, even for a solid unplugged hour a week, it is hard for me to be at peace within which then leads to a non-at-peace person without. That hour, I’m learning, doesn’t always have to be in complete solitude with my candle burning, listening to classical music with journal and book in hand. It can be in the midst of my normal living routine. In the mundane tasks or simply making space among those tasks to be reflective and open to what the Spirit might be saying to me.

This is part of the monastic life. Whether it be brewing beer, hoeing the garden, painting a building or kneading bread, these mundane tasks where meant to also be times of asking what it was God was speaking to them through that particular task. Last summer I preached a sermon on how growing up we picked up rocks from the fields after it had been plowed and tilled in preparation for the seeds to be planted. We walked over ever square inch of every field with my grandpa driving the tractor at walking pace while it was hitched to a wagon. My brother, sister, parents and I would all be lined up behind the wagon simply walking with our heads down looking for rocks. If we found any, and we always found a lot, we’d pick them up, and throw them in the wagon to dump out by the tree line. Why were we picking up rocks? Because they would break the very expensive equipment if we didn’t. Just an hour or two of work could save our family thousands of dollars and several days on fixing broken equipment.

I believe, it’s in the mundane that God may speak to us more than in those “experiencing God” moments we always read about.

That reflection reminded me of how many times I need to look for sins in my life, ways that I am affecting other people that I may not recognize if I didn’t spend the time to look at myself and reflect with guidance from the Spirit. That mundane task is something God used to remind me of a greater Truth of Himself. And I believe, it’s in the mundane that God may speak to us more than in those “experiencing God” moments we always read about.

Washing the dishes, punching numbers, running that 21st mile, dropping the kids off-these mundane tasks are incredibly divine moments if we allow them to be. God is always present, He has never left us which means He is always there, always present during those moments. What if we were to give Him more space in those times and wait with open ears and eyes as to what He has for us? What if we simply began to think on Him during those tasks? It might just end up being something extraordinarily exceptional!

Let’s try it for a week, cool?  Honestly, let’s do the best we can at giving these mundane moments to Him and then perhaps we’ll have some stories to share. Will you join me? If you have any incredible encounters, we would all be encouraged by you sharing them with us. Please feel free to comment to this post and we shall see how He speaks through the mundane yet divine.

be blessed today

 

Photo Credit: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140203092316-64875646-bored-at-work-here-s-what-to-do

Do You Know How to Love Fiercely?

To love is to lose it all. To love is to willingly accept pain.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.    -C.S. Lewis

Our only daughter finished up her kindergarten career this past Tuesday. The school she attended was entirely in Mongolian, made up of mostly Mongolian kids, a few Korean children and her. There was only one other classmate that spoke English and that’s because her parents spent considerable time in the States studying. She had her final concert performance the week before and did simply awesome. But now it was Tuesday, her final day. Because it wasn’t a state run kindergarten, most of the kids will move on to other schools. But not hers. No one from her kindergarten will be attending her new school in the Fall.

As we walked out the door of her school, the contents of her locker and all remaining art work of hers in tow, the sobs from this little six yer old began to take over. We hopped into the car, she got buckled, and we began to drive out of the parking lot onto the main road. Her sobs became louder, her tears bigger as grief began to set in. Mourning this time in her life and all the friends she will miss and probably never see again, was where she was. She was fully engaged in it. She was fully embracing her losses. As Iris puts it, our little girl loves fierce. But with such fierce love comes a just as fierce pain of loss. She is six and thankfully she hasn’t learned defense mechanisms that hold her back from embracing such grief. At least I think she hasn’t learned them. Perhaps she has chosen to embrace the grief  instead of putting up walls, putting p her defenses or  running. Perhaps that is the case which makes her far more mature than I.

Oh to have her courage.

When we decide to love someone, we decide to lose. Lose what things we want for selfish gain and pride, to simply love someone other than our self. We decide to let down all barriers and accept that pain will now be a part of our lives. We can only love to the extent that we are willing to lose. We can only love to the extent that we are willing to accept pain. In order to love someone, I mean truly love them, we must be willing to lay it all out, bare it all, give the scalpel to the other person trusting that they will return the same openness, honesty and raw courageous love that we are giving them.

This means that we are accepting pain. We are accepting that no one is perfect and we will be hurt by them, just as they will be hurt by us. And it means that we are willing to walk through the path of pain to the joy of reconciliation and peace on the other side.

With this kind of love and pain comes a joy deeper than anything else. Jesus did this. He really did bare it all because He loved us. When He was on His knees pleading with the Father to not let what was about to happen, happen, we are not told if the disciples heard his ongoing prayer and plea. But, we are told of this. How intimate of God to reveal this to us.

To experience more of the fullness of God, His joy, His love, we must love Him like this. The more courageous we love Him, the more we understand the depth of His love. We are not meant to live in this world alone. God has called us to Himself and to those around us. In order to experience and understand more of God’s love, we must also love others just as fierce.

That cost is heavy as it comes with the price of pain. And the reward is something far greater than what we’ll suffer. This life is far more painful to live alone, never having that kind of openness, vulnerability and humility with others. The pathway to peace, they say, is hardship. My hope is that we, myself included, may we all live and love so courageously. Living how Christ lived to those around us. Living to the depth that He created us for.

Do you love like this? I know that when I begin to tell people I’m fine (which is an acronym most church folk may not like….I can tell you later) or OK, and brush it off like no big deal, I am not loving ferociously. In fact, we have banned that word from our house. I’m not being honest with them, and perhaps not honest with myself. When I begin to “not show up” with all of who I am, I am not allowing the other person to see me. I’m guarded, I’m defensive. These are walls I’m putting up. I am not saying bare everything to everyone around you. Some people are simply not in a place where they can handle that information well, nor treat you well. I am saying set up healthy boundaries where you are still showing up, being honest and vulnerable with others and using wisdom to determine how much is appropriate to share. But to not show up at all is based in the fear that we don’t want to get hurt. That is fear based, and our God is not a God of fear.

It takes being brave to love that courageously. Brene Brown says “It often takes just a single brave person to change the trajectory of a family, or of any system, for that matter.” Love is how we change the world.

Be Brave. Be Courageous. Love Fierce.

be blessed

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/k2i4n6g8/6471148825/in/photostream/

Are You Going In Circles?

     It would be really nice if we could just follow everything in the Bible to a “T.”  Oh, and get a diploma or certificate at the end. Something we could look at and say “I have arrived.” No more issues, dealing with people or dealing with our self and our own stuff. Just a nice little certificate. And maybe a frame. Have a “graduation” party. Or perhaps a plaque. A glass one that looks really cool. Yes, heaven is nice and all, but wouldn’t it be nice to have something in the here and now?
     But, we don’t get a certificate, nor a plaque, not even a party. It isn’t a straight path from believing in Jesus to holiness. It just isn’t. And sometimes as we are on this path of becoming more holy, the changes in us aren’t even tangible. We can’t follow everything because we are us. We’re human. There is no “arrival.” Not in this life, anyway.
     AJ Swoboda writes “ As far as I can tell, there is no streamlined path toward arriving at holiness. Every path I can find seems to endure the same kind of bumpy circles that Israel endured. The real road to maturity is miserably slow. A to B in God’s kingdom sometimes includes lots of circles on the journey, a journey that is rarely linear. It would be nice if we were crows and flew the way they do. But God’s people never travel the way the crows do.” (AJ’s book “The Dusty Ones”)
     The lessons we learn come in the circles. They come in the times when we are trying to understand what is going on, leaning into community, into Christ. Not that we can’t learn when things are going well and God is clearly leading us, speaking to us and revealing Himself to us. But, it seems, that the times we learn and grow are the times when the vision we have isn’t clearly tangible, or at least, isn’t manifesting like we think.
     I do believe that among this circly (yes it’s a real word…that I just made up), ambiguous and sometimes seemingly un-efficient life, God teaches us in the most imaginative ways. I’ve written before about how disruption and holy distractions shake us from our hum drum, tunnel vision, going through the motions life to get our attention and create a sacred space for God to teach us. Sacred space that is created out of no where for the purpose of strengthening our faith and understanding in Him. Perhaps He uses these moments to vindicate Himself to those that mock him or to prove without a doubt who He is. Maybe. Moses is one small example. A burning bush in the middle of a normal, everyday day of shepherding sheep and suddenly the whole course of human history is completely shifted. Go fig.
     The Oh Hellos, a great band by the way, writes in their song I’ve Made Mistakes, “And the sun, it does not cause us, the sun it does not cause us to grow. It is the rain that will strengthen, the rain that will strengthen  your soul. And it will make you whole.” Yes, in those moments of what we would normally call blessings-sitting in the sun, picking daisies, everything’s going great- God is there and with us. However, there are also the other blessings, those times that are so agonizingly hard and sad that God actually does more teaching. More teaching in the Bible is from people going through hardships than in time of plenty, when everything is going well. Seriously.
     I think we forget that blessings are both. At least I know I do. It’s hard to see going through hard things as a blessing. Admitting when we were wrong and making amends with people is hard. But in that, the relationship is restored. Fear is removed. Courage and strength are given. All of those things are blessings. This in no way makes it easier. At all. And it is also something that I need to be reminded of when I am in the thick of whatever difficult situation I’m in. No matter how hard. Seeking out those who are trusted in the faith who have been through hardships and have been honest about them are great people to lean into. Hopefully for a listening ear and shoulder to cry on, but also to help us see beyond the situation we’re in. And see God’s presence has never left us. It’s all in circle.
How about you, have you had someone come alongside you and help to see God at work? Have you been there to simply be the presence of God to someone who is hurting? What did God do through you in that moment? What did He do in you?
be blessed today
photo credit: https://humancyclist.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/riding-fixed-gear-bike/

We Really Are Worthless…But…

We really are worthless, you and I.

Recently, my family spent two weeks in an all Hindu culture. We were there for a bit of rest and family time, it just happened that the culture was Hindu. Watching even the most nominal in their beliefs, be so pious just in case what they believed was true, they might be spared some sort of punishment both presently and eternally. Though the architecture was beautiful and the smell of incense was pleasant, the underlying idea that these acts must be done in some sort of feeble attempt to atone for any possible wrong doing, both known or unknown, was sad and heart breaking.

Iris and I’s first encounter with such piety was when we traveled to Nepal and India for two months, it seems like forever ago. That trip in 2000 was a life changing event for the both of us. Part of that was seeing the complete and utter despair and uncertainty of never knowing what side of their god they were on. It confirmed in our hearts that we were to live overseas and share about this loving Savior we know and have complete certainty in.

We really are worthless, you and I. If we look at all the world religions, there really is absolutely no reason any of these gods would want anything to do with us. All are based on acts of piety, sacrifice and fear. Lots of fear. We make lots of mistakes, hurt people, are constantly at war, even with each other in the same religion, we have little compassion for one another, even the unborn. Other than simply toying with us, why would any god want us at all?

Especially the Living God, the Creator of the universe with the power of His simple spoken word. Born into this fallen world, we see the beauty of the Creator in His creation. We continue to experience His power, His love, His compassion and His wrath. In comparison to Him, we are nothing. We will never be greater than He is. We can never do anything remotely close to what He can do. We can die in an instant and even though revived, our days in this very tangible world are numbered. He is eternal.

I read a verse this morning that was incredibly profound to me.

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”-Ephesian 5:14

There are people who love themselves. There has been much teaching in the Church that loving yourself is bad. It is un-Christ like, it is selfish, it is prideful, it is unloving. I remember hearing this growing up. People who loved themselves didn’t understand Christ nor the sacrifice that He made for us. To love yourself was a sin. I think there is some truth to this, but I don’t think it is all true. Yes, I do believe there are people who love themselves in a way were they don’t care about others, they are trying to get as much out of life for themselves as they possibly can-fame, fortune, sex, attention, good feelings, power, etc. Perhaps it’s not even a love of self, it may be more of an insatiable greed.

But I also believe there are people who love themselves exactly how God desires us to. What do I mean? When we love ourselves because of Christ, we are honoring who we are in Him and honoring the humanity in which He has made us. If we don’t love ourselves because of Him, we do not honor the gifts He has given us, abilities He has given us, our history, past, relationships….pain. All of those things He has given us become pointless.

My journey of recovery started about three years ago. I am a big proponent of recovery ministries, the 12 Steps and other recovery resources. I personally think every follower of Jesus should start down the road of recovery because I have seen more honest, raw, healthy, growing people in their relationships with Christ because they realized their need for recovery, than I have in churches full of “healthy” people.  But that’s just my opinion and experience. In the Step groups and breakout groups I’ve been a part of, I have seen people who have had no love for themselves at all. It seems they are only going through he motions of living because they fear dying, or they want to be their for their kids or spouse. But in regards to having any self love or self respect, they lost it all to their various addictions, hurts, habits and hang-ups. I shouldn’t say “their” but “our” as I am one of those who believed the same.

But coming to a point where you have nothing and realizing how little and insignificant you are, you begin to realize how incredible it is that Christ does first love us. When we realize this and begin to more fully understand (because I don’t think we will ever fully understand), we begin to have a love for ourselves and everything that makes us us, because of Christ. When we come to a point where we can love ourselves, be thankful for what has happened before, what’s happening now, be honest with how we are feeling about all of that with a God who can handle us and our emotions, I believe is when we are at a place of the greatest understanding of God’s love for us and communion with Him.

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

What hit me about this verse today was that yes, the Creator is telling us to wake up from our sleep. Wake up from the idea that we are to deny ourselves to the extreme, wake up to the falsity that how we were made, everything about us is bad. To wake up and rise from this death speak into the truth that Christ loves us. To rise up and see what freedom their can be if we love ourselves because He first loved us. What life giving truth is that. My prayer is that because He first loved us, we love ourselves today even if it’s the the very first time we ever have. Honoring Christ and honoring ourselves, how incredible.

Have you found this to be true? Have you gone from despair to a love of yourself becaseu of Christ? What was your journey like?

be blessed today

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