I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am about the furthest thing from a doctor, but even I can recognize how undeniably miraculous it is that our bodies work the way they do. It simply can’t be an accident. It’s so purposeful with all the pumping and filtering and breathing that happens without us so much as thinking about it. A human autopilot. Seriously…how on earth do we work?
Like I said, I’m nowhere near qualified to answer that question, but since I have a body that is pumping and breathing, I will take a stab at ‘why’.
I think God made us so wonderfully, like the verse says, so that we are capable of being wonderful to one another. To revel in another’s good fortune, or to help pick up the pieces when life gets hard. He gave us the capacity to feel. Too often I find myself rushing through everything to actually feel anything, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m in really good company. You know who you are.
I completely take for granted that I will wake up breathing and pumping blood every morning. I think God’s okay with that. What I think He’d rather I not take for granted is my ability to love, to be loved and to give what I have to offer to humanity. I have more to offer on some days, but it’s tragic when I withhold, when I ignore the pull to do some good because it’s not convenient or it’s uncomfortable.
I’m sure you’ve had those odd feelings, when you feel like you’re supposed to talk to someone and get drawn into their reality for some unknown reason. Being somewhat of an introvert, I get conflicted when it happens because I know it will be awkward.
I recently met a woman in the parking lot of a nice outdoor mall as I was wrapping up a shopping excursion with my daughters. Deanna was her name and she approached me and right off the bad told me she wasn’t going to hurt me, but did I have any loose change? I wasn’t afraid because she looked like the African American version of my 69-year old mother.
My kids loaded in the car and I told Deanna I didn’t have any cash to give her, but asked what she needed. She needed diapers for her granddaughter, and she’d be thrilled with some meat to give the other three grandkids as their mother is in jail and Deanna is doing it all on her own and things are tight. Really tight.
The introvert in me wanted to get a fistful of change from my car, drive away and not think about THAT anymore. I signaled my kids that we would be going into Whole Foods (a ridiculously expensive place to buy anything, but it was my only option) and Deanna, my two confused daughters and I had a shopping experience together. It was the most proud I have ever been of my girls as they carried armfuls of diapers and oranges and other items Deanna thought her grandkids would enjoy. I think they knew somehow it was an important moment of giving for us, we who have a much looser viewpoint of tight times. And important because we showed Deanna she wasn’t invisible.
I left Deanna with a hug and suppressed tears as we made our way back to the car where our shopping bags full of wants, not needs sat waiting for us. Items that seemed much less important than they were an hour earlier.
So… that’s WHY I think God made us. To give of ourselves, whether it be time, money or talents, and to love as many people as much as humanly possible.
Lies We Tell Ourselves
This theme keeps coming up in my life. Or maybe it’s come up many times before and I wasn’t ready to hear it yet.
I heard it in leadership training last month. I read it in one of Anne Lamott’s books this spring. I heard it today after church from a friend describing a miracle to me. Yes, you read that right. A miracle.
A woman from my church was diagnosed with cancer and her doctors said it was 99% in her lymph nodes and said the words, “It would take a miracle for it not to be.” She was at church the week before, and after a moving service people were praying around her. She confessed that she felt like she deserved bad things because of her past…a huge LIE she was telling herself that was holding her back. The people there praying helped her understand that it’s not how it works. The woman was finally able to understand that her past sins were not working in a karmic way against her. The praying continued and my friend who was there said, “I saw her go limp and I knew she was healed, but I didn’t want to tell anyone because they would think I was crazy.” Yes. Yes they would.
Sure enough, the woman called my friend and said her results came back, her margins were clear and there was no cancer in her lymph nodes. A doctor defined miracle.
My friend was so happy (and not surprised) about the outcome, but she was just as thrilled that the woman was able to tear down some walls that she had built around herself—the lies—move forward, and grow.
I nodded, smiled and muttered one and two word sentences, because tears were attempting to pop out of my eyeballs and speaking would be the gateway to sobbing. So I swallowed the lump and pretended not to be on the verge of a break down.
I felt emotional for a number of reasons. The woman’s amazing diagnosis. Hearing about a miracle—because I so long to stand inside the inner circle on this whole faith thing, but I continually find myself on the outside looking in. Because I have an ever-unfurling scroll of lies accumulating that I continue to tell myself even as I’m attempting to cross them off the list, and because I long for my own walls to crack and crumble so that I can be who I was meant to be.
Which brings us back to lies. I think there’s something to this theme that is worth examining. We all have them, some screaming in their obviousness, and some we don’t even realize are lies because we’ve been mentally affirming them for so long.
Clearly it’s a process to stop the lying. Step one is to figure out what the lies are and then why the lies are. The first few will be easy to pinpoint and others may be less concrete, but still stubborn in the way they quietly undermine.
Step two is to replace the lie with a truth. Make a list with a lie column and a truth column. Go ahead, I’ll wait...
Okay. Now rip the list in half, separating the lies from the truth and throw those lies in the trash, burn them ceremoniously or write them on a rock and hurl them somewhere into the stratosphere. Gone, baby, gone. Tape that list of truths about yourself on your bathroom mirror and read them out loud to yourself every day until it stops feeling weird. Then you can start doing it every other day. I mean it.
I read a quote recently that said, “When your past calls, don’t answer. It has nothing new to say.” That stupid message has been on repeat for way too long. Let’s record a new message on the voicemail of our souls. One that allows light to seep through the cracks in the walls we have built up, and then let’s take those suckers down.
The truth is, you are. You can. You will.
Hey guys, good news! I’ve met the Joneses and they told me it was never a race in the first place and to stop following them. Seriously, they live a few doors down, are all about their family and don’t seem to be looking around for ways to be better than the rest of us.
I think trying to keep up with the Joneses happens when we do that ugly thing called comparing. It can start out innocently enough just noticing someone’s fancy house, new car, clothes, accessories, hair, body, career, vacation, social media posts…you name it. But sometimes noticing turns into wanting or jealousy instead of an observation.
I see it happening around me with kids in elementary school all the way to adults who should know better. There’s this pressure to get the “thing” because the “thing” brings with it all life’s happiness and contentment.
Insert screeching record player noise here.
THE “THING” HAS NO MAGICAL POWERS TO CHANGE ANYTHING, YOU GUYS.
And therein lies the rub. Because it brings only a temporary feeling of having arrived, yet becomes a reminder that we still fell short. Even though, even though.
So let’s stop the self-sabotage and try self-acceptance and turn the focus inward, to what really matters. Now make a list of what really matters to you. Not to stress you out, but this is a test. How long is your list?
It should be super short. Besides humans, there shouldn’t be anything else on your list that you can physically touch…because it doesn’t MATTER.
People matter, relationships matter, believing in something bigger than yourself matters. Kindness and love matters and the way we treat people matters.
The Joneses matter. Their stuff does not. So back to the Joneses…the ones on my street. Like I said, they are all about their family. Just imagine if we tried to keep up with them in that regard?