Beliefs equal Certainty

I hope I can, I think I can, I hope I can… begins many a conversation with myself when it comes to making changes to my life in a SIGNIFICANT way. While HOPE has often brought me a positive inspiration, I realize only HOPING for something is not a STRONG or COMMITTED as BELIEVING.

Today, this jolted me to attention:

A belief is nothing but an idea with a feeling of certainty…

So what have I felt CERTAIN about in life?  What are those things that I have walked into a room with confidence, clarity, and an UNWAVERING belief I knew, what I knew, what I KNEW?  The first thing that comes to mind is my work.  I have developed a confidence in my ability to train, teach, educate people.  So when asked to present, teach, train, speak in front of a group of people I may get the initial stage fright before the curtain comes up; but I KNOW I can do it and I’m EXCITED TO DO IT.  I know I’ll be good, and I KNOW I’ll enjoy it.

The next memory that rushes to mind is my most confident audition EEEEEEEVER!!! In High School, my senior year, we did Oklahoma! and our Drama teacher showed us the movie prior to the auditions.  It was in that viewing, that I saw the Aunt Eller character and in the core of who I am I said, “That one’s MINE!” And I worked as hard as I knew how to: prepare the audition, study the lines, practice singing, bring my personality into her character, be full of ENERGY, and PROJECT! PROJECT! PROOOOOOJECT!!!  And when I stepped on stage, I was so full of confidence I could touch each corner of the auditory with my voice.  I even forgot a few of the words during the song (Simon Cowell would NOT have been impressed), but I stayed in character and brought to life an aspect of Aunt Eller that the director had not seen in any of the other 8 callback actresses.  It was exhilarating, it was amazing, it was a belief I had developed, nurtured, produced in me so deep that even through my mistakes it didn’t deter my resolve.

Royal Family LogoThen I began to search my life for a more recent example, and I IMMEDIATELY pictured CAMP.  There is a Strange confidence that fills my soul when I think about doing camp and preparing for camp.  The confidence I have in regards to working with the kids.  I KNEW I was going to enjoy them, I KNEW I was going to focus all my efforts on doing it for the kids, I KNEW that this was my niche, strength, skill set, gifting, natural fit (however you want to put it), I BELIEVED: “I got this!”

Now most of the time, I was in constant prayer asking God for help, support, peace, wisdom, words, and ideas for how to survive.  But I don’t worry about Him not answering me.  He always gives me answers at CAMP, I feel his presence there and I am completely confident that success was right there within my grasp.  When the very next moment arrived, I would have the answers I needed. And this is the ONE place I am at peace that EVEN if it’s not perfect it’s not wrong.  Even when conflict arises and I didn’t do things perfectly, its ok because God knew and knows what’s next.  There was the general nervousness about the week, worrying about the new responsibilities (I was responsible for directing the drama) and whether I was gonna do it right, whether people were gonna like it, enjoy it, approve of it; but outside of that part of CAMP, my BELIEF that this would be a success was unwavering.

There truly is a shift in the inner most part of your being when you KNOW you are doing the right thing.  When you BELIEVE you are in the right place at the right time doing what you were created to do.  Insecurity has no place, worry seems to fade away, and negativity just seems absurd.  That is how I feel when I am AT Camp actually doing it.  I don’t just HOPE it will work out, I BELIEVE it will be amazing.  Of course, I work with a FANTASTIC team of people that allows me to flourish in my strengths and experiment with my ideas and support me in my imperfect moments.

So in my struggle with food, weight, exercise, new habits… How can I become certain about anything before I do it?  Need to create certainty for success.  Remembering my past does not equal my future. Actually view the success, feel the success, imagine the success.  What is it like to EXPECT that success?  How would I spend each day KNOWING I will have victory with my eating each day?  How would I feel if I BELIEVED I cannot fail, I am CONFIDENT that I will make good choices for myself to build a healthier life?

That wasn’t me… Or Was it?

I reconnected with a friend of mine over a year ago and while we were at coffee he was retelling a story from an afternoon conversation we had in my back yard oh so LONG ago.  He spoke of my incredible faith and the confidence in which I spoke it.  The conversation was about worry and the future and what to do about both.  He says my response stays with him still today, “If I lose my job, God will provide another.  If I can’t teach anymore, God will show me what is next.”  Simple, confident and full of zeal those words seemed to me. So contrary to where I was in my life at this time, I asked him if he was sure that was me?  I mean there were a lot of Christina’s in the group back then, “Are you sure that was me?” He was POSITIVE he promised, that it was me.  He even gave detailed account of where we were sitting and the sunshine day that it was. 

Even though I politely, accepted his recount of the events; I still drove away thinking, “That couldn’t have been me.  I am sure he must have been talking with that other Christina. That just doesn’t sound like me.  It doesn’t sound like words I would say.  It definitely could not have been how I was feeling, because I don’t ever remember feeling that certain about anything.” 

As I retold the story to a few of my friends who still knew me from back then, one dear friend reminded me, “Yes that sounds like you.  Yes that is something you would have said back then.  I remember how you talked to us about God and life and everything.  Yes that was something you would have said.”  So here I was in quite the quandary.  I believed I had a very good grasp on my memories of things: me, places, people, ideas, etc.  But now I was having to try to reconcile my memories with his AND her memories of me.  I would have NEVER dreamed my idea of the past would be so different from others. 

This started to remind me of how much my life had changed from those days.  How when I moved to Seattle my world fell apart: my “family” went away, I experienced the “crisis of faith”, my friends disappeared, the confidence I once oozed out of my pores had evaporated from my soul, and I couldn’t build new real friendships in this strange silly place.  Who would have thought a simple move 3 hours north of my whole WORLD, would have brought such chaos and disaster into my emotional, social, spiritual, and physical life.  But it did.  And the consequences are still ever-present in my life today. 

As I was leaving that meeting with my friend I took a quick inventory of my life: relationship with God, Faith, Church, and the like and it was immediately clear to me, “I am never going to get back there.”  Back to that place where I had that faith and confidence in God like I use to.  That my WHOLE spiritual life would never return to a simpler, safer, securer time as I had back then. 

Then I signed up for CAMP – Royal Family Kids Camp – Tualatin.  The details and background on this are soon to come, but fast forwarding to a week after camp and I am talking with a friend on the phone.  And it happens, right there as natural as it was 15 years ago.  The statement of faith… “If that happens then God will just have to take care of the details.” And in a moment I was transported back in time to a place I had lost.  And through the shame, guilt, sadness, hurt, and despair, I had returned back to a confident place of faith that I thought was gone FOREVER.  And in that moment I realized that comment that was said so long ago… was me.  And now in this next step and in this next moments, it IS ME.

My Companion in this Life

The view we have looking at the events that have happened in life is spectacular.  My memory is not perfect, but I do remember details, pictures, situations.  And with this memory I have the ability to judge, evaluate, and cast an opinion about why or how come I did what I did.  So as I sit today, I can look over the last 10 months and realize I got off track.  I forgot who I was living for and why.  I got distracted by a boy who liked me and wanted to be in my life in every way.  Ironically, just like I had always wanted and just like I had been asking God to provide for me for years.  But upon looking back at that time period that he was in my life, I can see how out of touch with God I had become.  How my life became chaotic and confusing, full of noise and distraction.  How I could not hear my own self think let alone hear God’s still small voice?

But in the last 5 weeks, my life has seen a dramatic change.  With his exit from my daily life, I have returned to a place I like: a place of peace.  Life still exists and whirls around me at a lightning pace.  I am still traveling for work, going to church, attending friend’s weddings, and attempting to find time to do laundry.  But my mind is at peace and my heart is at rest.  My time spent at CAMP was a HUGE part of getting me here.  So as I returned home to continue my life anew, I found this blog post and believed it was worth a re-visit. 

After a few dreams and visions of God in my mind’s eye, I started to wonder what it would be like to have Jesus as my actual constant companion.  Having him actually walk with me to face every situation I encountered.  The ever-present wingman and advocate.  No matter what I was facing: boys, bars, my boss, unemployment, emotions, conflict, isolation, confusion, conflict, uncertainty, or lose.  It brought me heart-felt comfort to think of him with me and a remembering of how much I missed his companionship.  I saw him in various places in my life, where he had been there as a source comfort and courage in the past, but was wondering if he could be there in my life, again.  As I began to embrace these thoughts and images, the more real and alive he became.  He was no longer just an image in a painting, he was no longer just a good idea, or the concept of man who once was. There have even been moments I see him sitting in the passenger seat of my car, there to keep me company, provide support, and even instill that extra ounce of courage when I start to feel insecure. 

A friend of mine once shared with me a perfect illustration of what can happen over time.  He shared that often times (most of the time) we as Christians, get busy doing what we think we are supposed to do.  We rush into situations, run fast into the doing of life, and running of ministries or pushing ourselves into a busy frenzied; but then on Sunday mornings or on those times when we feel the most in despair we cry out, “OH GOD where are you?  What is your Will? What do you want me to do here I am so confused and nothing feels right.”  And it is in those moments when we need to stop and look around.  Look at where we are and find out where is Christ.  And if we are alone, confused, in chaos, or depressed it is likely that we have we gotten so excited about our own ideas and plans that we have literally ran to those THINGS and RAN RIGHT PAST CHRIST.  He was standing barely one or two steps in front of where we were and asked us to join him, but we got so caught up in what we saw ahead of us we just ran straight ahead to the goal.  We saw what we could do with this little idea or suggestion and RAN with it to what WE believed was the end goal.  But if we would just stop, sit, spend time, ask questions, and listen to his voice; we might realize all we are to do is one little thing.  One simple task, one step at a time, one serving moment, one gesture of good will not fill our lives with OBLIGATIONS and DUTIES.  And by taking the one step and not the 23 steps to the ACCOMPLISHMENT, we would allow him to help us in our struggle, stress, fears, and feelings because he would be right there WITH us, in the place he wanted us. 

With my do, make, create, accomplish, fix personality and over-compensating behaviors; it is so easy for me to get lost in my own plans and my own desires.  But after hearing this idea, I am trying to continually ask where is Jesus?  Is he by my side, am I spending the time with him to ask my every move questions?  Or am I so wrapped up in my own plans and purposes that I am in stress, chaos, drama, distress, and depression.  So in my mind, it has been so helpful to imagine him as a real person sitting with me, standing next to me, and at times hugging me as I ponder my purpose and position in life.  He really has become more of a companion, than just a bible story, ancient historical figure, or future figure-head.  There are times I still get lost, distracted, and am out there by myself; but my hope is that I will remember how his life, touch, comfort, and courage can resolve much more than my knowledge, skills, and experience can ever do. 

A Word of Laughter

As I was exploring churches last year, I stumbled into a place that was full of the spirit and the expression of the Gifts of the Spirit were present at every meeting.  And as much as I was beginning to remember the church I missed so many years ago, I got lost in the worship time as I communed with God.  I really did ask him for direction in finding a church, life decisions, my relationship with him, and just a piece about knowing where I was at.  I was troubled with knowing where to go and what to do with my life.  I had been on a path of leadership and testing some of my theories alongside the teachings I had received in college, but in a few short months the whole group collapsed and dissolved.  How discouraging.  I was displaced and disillusioned about what I thought I knew about almost EVERYTHING. 

So there I was sitting in worship and among all the others in the room I felt a move of the Holy Spirit and I began to giggle.  And as much activity as was surrounding me it wasn’t a laughter that was noticed.  And I heard, let yourself laugh.  So I did.  An expression of pure joy and physical release I just laughed and laughed and laughed.  It became a form of therapy by expressing this laughter that resulted in feeling freedom and release. As this joy and relaxation covered my body, I truly felt as innocent as a child laughing as I ran through a park on a sunny day.  

Once the singing and laughing had calmed down, I heard these words in my mind and I reached immediately for my journal.  In years past, I was completely dependent upon the inspired words of others to be those heart piercing messages from God.  I had not felt God impart on me a special decree or specific word of knowledge to my own ears.  And here it was a specific set of words JUST FOR ME, TO ME, FROM GOD.   

My Laughter inside & out

Miracles happen in the context of laughter.  Your faith is standing right here with you right now!!! Christina, God loves to hear your laugh.  He is not embarrassed, he revels in the joy and music that is your laugh.  It is special and sweet, so unique to who you are.  It is touching to his ears and heart when you laugh.  Allow your laugh to resonate to the heavens; sing in your laughter as the joyful woman you are.

In that moment, I was touched, encouraged, inspired, and lifted about 5 stories from where I was emotionally.  This last week at camp, I had more than 3 people comment on my laugh being an important part of bringing joy to the campers.  They even prayed that the joy that was inside my laugh would fill each child I encountered.  I had never looked at my laugh that way.  I didn’t even think much about how I laugh or why.  I just know I feel it, so I do it. I know that I smile as a pure response to people looking at me because I want them to know I saw them.  I also find that laughing is a good response to just about anything. 

When I first visited the new singles group last year, I was playing speed scrabble for the first time and let’s just say I’m NOT so good with the spelling and such.  I don’t like crosswords or regular scrabble-did I mention I loved MATH? But as I was attempting to just have fun and play along with whatever was going on, I was just being myself.  One of the gals looks up at me and says, “You laugh at everything.  You make me feel like I’m funny.  I like you.”  What an amazing compliment.  My laugh in its natural state moved some one to like me, without much effort.  I had never had that honest a comment before. 

Such an amazing word, as well as a confirmation that who I am and what I do is a good thing.  Some days the natural does come through positively, ahhhh what a nice feeling – finally.

Independence over relationship

Somehow my entire adult life, I have been striving to achieve independence. Independence from my father, independence from debt, independence from food, and independence from men. Now please attempt to take those as they are intended which is a stand of strength, confidence, and accomplishment (not that I was trying to be an island or hide away in a cave). So the decisions I currently make are all based on the intent to further my independence, to prove that I can DO IT myself. In the past I have found myself to be quite competitive in this department, which has led to quite the conflict with most of the men in my life.  Which at the time I found fun, enriching, and exciting; for the men NOT SO MUCH. 

I believe I have generally been driven to  be that capable, confident woman who can live out in the real world and survive. Not necessarily by myself, but that I can do the things I need to do when they need doing. And in my humble opinion and the opinion of some of my trusted advisors; I haven’t done to shabby. I have a job that is in the field of profession I was seeking (not perfect but about 75% there). I live in a house with roommates where I manage the finances, pay the bills, and keep the lights on (now the cable is a completely different story-hee hee hee). I am striving to get my finances under control and I will be debt free (except my student loan) in less than a year. My food is beginning to see the signs of management and control, but alas I am working on it (some days are better than others). Each of these things I have done myself-the independent woman. I have reached out for prayer, support, help, connections, ideas, and a ride from time to time; but in my mind it was still done myself.

So the idea of releasing my independence over my life is a completely foreign, abstract thought that has no place in reality. The idea that this whole time I have been working towards a counter productive goal seems just silly and completely off balance. As I continue my trek through the book, The Shack, I find myself in a state of confused agreement. Why is it that when I read that independence takes us away from God and out of relationship; I admit I was dumbfounded? The idea that this goal of independence in my life, in ALL aspects of my life, has taken me out of relationship with God and maybe even out of relationships with others, has my psyche chasing its tail. It really began when I read:

“When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to one another.  Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness.  Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong ones use to make others conform to what they want.  In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system-political, economic, social, or religious.  One… are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system.  Unencumbered by structure and stress to simply be in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard one another’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy. Broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them but will neither fill them nor free them.  They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers.  When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted.  In their disappointment, either they become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence.”

How is it that this seems so DIFFERENT than anything I have ever heard, but rings so true to my core. Maybe this is why so many people speak of this book’s value. The idea that independence translates so quickly to manipulation caught me off guard. I have this EXTREMELY negative aversion to the concept of manipulation in word and in deed. But the more I am becoming aware of my surroundings the more I am realized I am manipulated every day without my consent (between the internet and my television not to mention my well-intentioned friends, I am beginning to wonder how much the marketing machine is winning). So if I am independent, I am manipulating and managing people for MY own happiness. That sounds so vulgar and cruel. It sounds controlling and deceptive. It represents something I had strived my whole life not to be.

It even becomes a stronger thought when he writes of hierarchy because that is something I have learned to trust. Official political, business, or even church levels of authority is to be respected and honored because that is how you (we) know who is right. My goodness this sounds familiar. It doesn’t just stand in the way of the circle of relationship, it really does put the will of one over another. But some how I always believed that is how things NEEDED to be in order for us as people to work together at ALL. 

Some days it is amazing to read new ideas and thoughts on the world or even ones own perspective, but other days it just makes me think I have been doing this life thing all wrong.  So how do I make such a significant change to things?  Am I the only one who finds this fascinating and disturbing all at the same time?

Life is Pain, Highness.

Begins a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time.  Not because it is a romance with all the GOOSHY ICKY girlie feelings in it, but because it tells an incredible story.  And in that story there are some of the finest quotes ever spoken, bit dramatic, well just remember who the writer of the blog is.  Yet as I continue my ever so slow read through “The Shack” I am finding that there are certain pieces of perspective that are triggering parts of my own world view.  And this day it was the “Here come Da Judge” chapter. 

In this season of life, I am struggling with meeting new people, believing their input, trusting the sincerity, and leaning on them for support.  Now each of these things are at different levels of relationship (I understand), but my heart’s goal is to have true community and be able to lean on people for support.  In turn also be there to provide support emotionally, physically, and financially as much as I can.  So at times the first thing is completely bogging down the ability to accomplish the end goal.  For some reason the ability to just relax and enjoy the newness of a potential friendship is clouded by the fear of OH SO MANY THINGS.  So in my giant list of REASONS why I do not step out and reach out and initiate just the simplest of HI how are you?  There is this paralyzing wave that over takes me and I am beyond my normal strength to break through it. 

When reading today it occurred me the part that what I fear is the pain.  The potential pain or the fear or experiencing the SAME pain I have in the past.  I worry that these people will do all those things I fear: laugh at me, reject me, ignore me, humiliate me, make fun of me, and yes most importantly LAUGH at me for trying.  Then even deeper is the thought what if these people cannot be trusted?  What if I put in all this effort and energy and they hurt me ANYWAY? What if I believe this is real genuine heartfelt honest to goodness friendship and they abandon me, again.  Again… What a word that is… and it of course launches me into a whole new pile of analysis.  But that one is the heart of this posting ANYWAY. 

Again… Abandoned again… Left Alone again… Even harsher Hurt again… Ignored Again… Rejected Again… Humiliated AGAIN… All of these phrases take me to memories in my head that are specific to some of the most painful, hurtful times in my life.  But amazingly enough these people (most of them) were and are my friends.  The ones at the time I trusted, leaned on, relied on, opened up my deepest of worries and concerns… but they still hurt me.  Not on purpose, not with malicious intent, not to inflict harm.  Yet they hurt me. 

Just recently I had a situation with some of my nearest and dearest friends (at least so my emotions would tell me) and I feel like I trust them with so many parts of my life and soul.  But our exchange was hurtful, their advice biting, and their understanding of my dilemma was completely absent.  Instead I experienced judgement, criticism, unwarranted advice, and condemnation.  It confused my heart, it baffled my emotions, and left me feeling completely depressed and disoriented. 

With that episode firmly lodged in my recent memory, I was confronted with an ugly truth.  They will always hurt you, they will always disappoint you, they will always come up short.  So if my friends that I trust and believe in will, can, and DO hurt me… how is that any different than the strangers I am so afraid of meeting.  How is my perspective in trying to start something new so scary and insurmountable because they can’t be trusted, when really truly no one can be trusted not to hurt me. 

That is not how this world operates, that is not a reasonable expectation in this fallen world of selfish people… myself included. The next thing in realizing that life is pain, highness is to attempt to remedy life inside a world of pain.  How then does someone walk through this life with reasonable expectation of being hurt, but not allowing it to destroy them or deflate them?  How do I embrace the knowledge that pain is coming without being paralyzed by the fear of its coming?

REPOST: Spiritual Mini-Meals

Some where between September and January… I have gone from regular slow incorporation of the regular mini meals to a completely starving myself like I have forgotten how to feed myself.  I am so thankful for books and people who speak and share what they read.  This last month at Horizon it seems that the Pastor took a play book straight out of the Divine Mentor book to remind me how important this is.  So even though I was digging through the archives looking for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, I found this and thought it would be a good reminder especially since God seems to be taking the time to TELL me about it AGAIN. 😀

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How much of my day each week is just a routine? Set alarm clock, brush teeth, drive to work, BUY STARBUCKS, work in my office (no LAUGHING), drive home, make dinner, work out (if I make myself), watch tv, and force myself to go to sleep. On Sundays, I visit with God in the morning at church during service which amounts to 1.5 hrs. And somewhere I believe that THIS is supposed to do the trick? It is supposed to provide me with all the spiritual fuel to change my life, tackle temptation, and share the gospel. I mean, I am a good Christian, I fed the meter, did my duty, got to church, sang the songs, took notes, and fellowshiped with friends, so now I get to sit in the peace and patience and pleasure of God’s grace because I showed up, right?

With this new food plan one of the principles is eating 6 small portion meals a day. We are not supposed to eat 2 gigantically HUMUNGOUS meals just to make the taste buds happy or satisfy the emotional hungry monster. This small injection of fuel every couple of hours is supposed to keep my metabolism up. It keeps the body moving and functioning as it is DESIGNED! So what if I take the teeny tiny little concept and apply it to my relationship with God. I am not supposed to get ONE big ENOURMOUS meal of God on Sunday morning and expect it to carry me through the entire week with no hunger pains or depression or want of more.

I need to see my time with God as taken in small doses. That those small meals or doses of fuel will give my spiritual body what it needs every couple of hours. Now does this mean I stop and read a WHOLE entire chapter of the Bible every 2 hours (I think the people at work might give me the funny eye)? Well I could, but for me I see this as being an opportunity for me to be creative with my relationship with God. After all who wants to put God in a box, he has a tendency not to FIT very well.

Whether it is saying a prayer for a friend I know struggling, asking myself if I have read my CHUNK of the word today, or flipping to a worship song on my iPod… just taking those simple edible morsels of spiritual food could really improve my spiritual metabolism.

I had a wonderful time one sunday morning in December when I felt inspired and reminded of the love God has for me. Yes me, myself, Christina, all for me. The forgiveness and forgetfulness that God ahs toward my past and my sin. There was something else said that reminded me of my NEEEEEED to get close to Him. I need him, I don’t just want to be liked by him or valued by him; but I genuinely honestly NEEEEED Him to function; NEED him to be who I am; and I NEED him to live this life.

With that in mind, I realize I need to incorporate Him into my routine. Whether it is incorporating him into singing while brushing my teeth or praying while sleeping (neither of those work very well by the way – yes I’ve tried); I need to look around at my routine and find the places to put my mini meals of spiritual food.