Praying for Open Hands

I am hesitant to ask for prayer mainly because my problems seem relatively minor compared to most.  However, I am extremely stressed and overwhelmed.  Things at work have changed supposedly for the better, and yet things are different.  (And even though, in this case, different and better are good; they are still stressful.)  The place where I live is being placed on the market to be sold.  Searching for another place is difficult at best (especially considering my very limited income).  The wonderful people who are a part of my local church and small group are so loving and kind, and yet I still so very often feel alone.  Considering the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (and how God provides for them) is great until my feet have to hit the pavement.  Trusting the Lord, completely, has been and continues to be one of the most difficult things. I am not even sure what to ask you to pray for, but thank you to whomever does pray.

This song by Laura Story featuring Mac Powell from Third Day is one of many that comes to mind:

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“Mrs. Positive” vs. the Ex-Wife

So, my ex is married to “Ms. Positive of the Universe,” and I find myself wallowing in self-pity.  Obviously, something is not right.  Even to admit this publicly could bring shame upon myself.  However, I need to get over it.  (I’m sure “Ms. Positive” would agree with me.  Oh wait… I should label her properly.  It’s not “Ms.” but “Mrs.”  Only those of us who are divorced and not remarried have the honour and privilege of the “Ms.” title. 🙂 )

Do I have a point to this?  Probably not… except to say that I’m attempting to let off some steam.  I struggle with seeing how she claims to be the number one fan of her daughters and includes my two daughters in the (literal) picture (along with her three daughters).  I know I need to probably ‘address’ this issue with her, but I really do not know how to breach the subject.  Will I be banned from WordPress for writing about it here?  I highly doubt it.  Will she ever see this?  Probably not… unless someone who knows her (and me) points it out to her. Will I be upset if she sees it?  Probably.  Will she be?  I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But, will we all get over it?  Will it one day “pass,” like many people keep telling me, “This too shall pass”?  I sure hope so!  Maybe by me writing about it I’ll somehow feel better.  I don’t know.

The longer I live, I’m finding that there are many things that I do not know. And, there are many things for which I have no answers.  To simply say that Jesus is THE answer sounds great!  I’ve been waiting a long time (and reading a lot of Scripture and excerpts from books written by dead theologians) to try and figure out how that applies to real life.

Seemingly endless frustration

I’m frustrated.

Frustrated with myself for…

being frustrated
thinking I can write as good as the best writer
thinking that I’m really not that good
thinking … period
wishing that life could be different
realizing that it can be different, if I make a change
not knowing how to make a change or even where to start
knowing how to make a change and how to start but being scared to death of it

knowing that God is with me and for me and that I can trust Him, but realizing that I must not be fully trusting Him because of how burdened down I seem

thinking
thinking so much that I don’t eat when I need to
being concerned that people who read this will think I’m a terrible writer
being concerned that people who read this will think I actually have something to say
being concerned what others think about me (After all, what difference does it make?)

Frustrated with and yet thankful for those who read my “Real Like the Velveteen Rabbit?” post from yesterday because…

one person commented on the actual post

a couple of people replied via email saying that I don’t need to ask people what to write about (duh, I know that!)

several people replied via text saying…

I follow your blog now; I subscribed
I never knew you wanted to be a writer?!
I knew you had a hidden talent somewhere
I want to go read that again sometime
I wish you the best in your endeavor
I love your picture!

I wasn’t seeking approval! Or, was I? (sigh)  <— Add this to my "frustrated with myself" list (above).

So many clichés about life are true and yet I wish they weren't.  I wish there was a way to 'break the cycle' in a sense.   I don't want to be like the next person.  I don't want to be famous.  I'm tired of taking baby steps like Bob.  I just wish I could express myself and have someone validate me.  And yet, when validation is received, then what?  What do I do with that?  Where do I go from there? What’s really the point of any of this?

Redeem the Time

When and how do we know to move from the time of rest to the time of action?  I posed this question in my previous post.

And then today, I read Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s morning devotion which would seem to indicate we are called to action NOW… not some time down the road in the future.

Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of to-day.

So, if it’s now, how does that truly play out in actual life?  We (and by saying ‘we’, I suppose I’m referring to most, if not all, humans) are consumed with ourselves.  We think we have got to have the latest, greatest.  Or, we think that just because there’s a sale on something, then we ought to get it … in case it would be of some use ‘down the road.’  But, what about now?  We’re really only given “right now.”  We aren’t promised the future.  Look at the recent tragedy in Chattanooga.  The six children (ages 6 to 10) do not have a future here on earth.  Neither they nor their family ever expected that their lives here on earth would be cut so short.  So, how do we “redeem the time”?

I certainly don’t claim to have the answers.  However, I believe the Bible holds THE answer, which is Jesus Christ.  That is so simplistic, and yet that is somewhat the point.  The gospel… that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin… IS very simple.  So simple, that many do not accept it.

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We (myself included) must learn to trust … no matter what.  Also, we must continue  on the road in front of us and not grow weary.   (See Proverbs 3:5-6, Hebrews 12:1-2, Galatians 6:9-10, Philippians 3:13-14, Isaiah 40:31.)

Digressing and Trusting

I digress.  My post from earlier this week didn’t make much sense.  But, that’s okay.  I realize that I never really explained why I felt like I wanted to argue with Beth Moore.  And, after re-reading her devotion for October 24, I realize that I’m not even sure about what it was that I thought I wanted to argue.  So, I start telling myself how silly and useless I am… when deep down, I know that I’m not useless.  (Perhaps I am silly but not useless.)

My ongoing depression seems to keep me in a near constant state of second guessing myself.  That’s just the thing that the devil wants me to be doing… focusing on myself and not on Jesus and not on honorable, right, and lovely things (Philippians 4:8).  Thing is, I tend to take all that I’ve ever read (specifically from the Bible) and ‘latched onto’ as things I need to do all at the same time.  When very often, God would have me simply rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

When and how do we know to move from the time of rest to the time of action?  Paul’s writings seem full of action… especially in Philippians where we’re told to rejoice in the Lord always, pray about everything, do all things through Christ, press on to the goal, look out for the interests of others, don’t grumble or dispute, and on and on.  And yet, in some ways, he sums it all up in the first chapter when he says, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (See Philippians 1:21.)  It would seem that the “how” of moving from rest to action is to continually focus on Christ.  And, to continually focus on Christ would indicate that it must be done every moment of every day.

Some would say that it’s impossible to do anything every moment of every day, and yet we breathe every moment of every day.  Is breathing something with which we struggle?  (Those with a lower lung capacity or some other type of respiratory problem do, but I’m talking about the average person.)  No, of course not.  However, we seem to struggle with breathing Jesus in and out.  (I’m ‘preaching’ to myself… as much as anyone else.)  “Consider the lilies” comes to mind.  (See Matthew 6:28-29 and Luke 12:27.) If only we would trust.  As Oswald Chambers said in My Utmost For His Highest for October 27, the “secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with [Jesus].”

Perhaps ‘resting’ and ‘acting’, as I’ve coined them, can be simultaneous as we press on to the goal.  (See Philippians 3:13-14.)

Seeking success through Clarity or Trust?

Those of you who know me and/or have read my blog in the past know that I struggle with on-going depression.  For the majority of my adult life (since I was 21 or 22 years old), I’ve struggled with it.   I’ve taken meds.  I’ve seen doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists (and yes, there is a difference between the last two).  I’ve been hospitalized as an inpatient and as an outpatient.  I’ve gone to several therapists and counselors, stringing out over several years.  I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will most likely struggle with depression in some way for the rest of my life.  Does this mean I’ve given up hope?  No.  It means that I’ve accepted it and am learning how to live and cope with it.

So as one might imagine, when I see things like this video1 which basically say that it’s a matter of my outlook on life, I struggle again.  I wonder to myself, “Is it as ‘simple’ as he says?” I’d never heard of Tony Robbins (a motivational speaker) before seeing this video a few days ago posted on a Facebook friend’s wall.  Based on my new-found knowledge of Tony, I asked myself, “Just because he’s apparently a successful businessman, does that make him an expert?”  Somehow, I think not.  (No offense, Tony, if you happen to ever read this.)  Granted, I don’t think he meant for this to be a cure-all for people who have been diagnosed with depression.  But, he does mention that he no longer gets depressed because he changed his habits.  He says he used to be depressed all the time.  He changed his way of thinking.  He mentions doing it for something greater than yourself.  (Prior to hearing who he mentions, I immediately thought of the Lord.)

Additionally, I recently saw this motivational video2 by Steve Harvey.  (Many know him from Family Feud.  He also has a national radio program and has been successful in other ways.)  There’s another version of the video that shows him on the set of Family Feud, sharing something with the studio audience.  Basically, he claims that in order to be successful, you have to jump.  You have to take a risk.  I agree.  Risks have to be taken.  I ask myself this, “How can (if indeed it can) ‘jumping’ help me overcome depression?”

But it’s not just these two videos or even the articles and video that I mentioned on Friday that have me thinking.  My own pastor has been talking about “Decisions” this year.  Our biggest decision that I believe any of us will ever make is the decision to follow Christ.  Outside of that, the decision to continue following Him often leads many believers to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”  My pastor puts emphasis on the first use of the word “all.”  If we truly want success in life, we need to strive to trust God with ALL of our heart… not just part of it.

Today, the pastor took it a step further.  He said when we seek direction from the Lord, “a lack of clarity is a wonderful thing.”  That may not make any sense whatsoever, if we’re seeking direction.  But, let me tell you how he explained it.  He read a story from Brennan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God.  (I did a little bit of research, and it seems to be a story that’s been told several times.)  John Kavanaugh, a Jesuit priest, travelled to India from the United States to visit Mother Teresa and asked her to pray for him to have clarity.  Here is how she replied…

She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.”    When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”  When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God.”

My pastor went on to share three things that a lack of clarity will create for us:  1) intimacy with God, 2) leaps in our faith, 3)paralysis (meaning we have to stop and rest… as Psalm 46:10a says, “Cease striving and know that I am God;” or in another translation, “Be still, and know that I am God”).   I guess all of this particularly ‘hit home’ with me because I’ve been telling God I trust Him, but I have also been praying for clarity… using that specific word in a prayer I voiced just within the past 24 hours before I went to church services this morning.

kitaoka_out_of_focus

It’s almost as if we’re waiting for something to come into focus (clarity).  And, until we put on the proper lenses (completely trust), we will continue to fret, worry, and wander around aimlessly.

(back)1How to Pull Yourself Out of a Funk, Tony Robbins, 31 Dec. 2015.
(back)2You Gotta Jump, Steve Harvey, 14 Apr. 2014.

A New Year With MANY Thoughts

What escapes me is how and why a whole year has passed since I created a new blog post.  I have 16 drafts… the most recent one was saved seven months ago according to WordPress.  As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to psychoanalyze myself quite often.

I’ve read and heard several different things just in the past couple of weeks that I feel have been somewhat helpful and insightful, but also somewhat overwhelming.  As a high school friend of mine said, “Being overwhelmed doesn’t mean you get a free pass…” He was referring to discipling our children, but I believe that statement applies to all areas of our lives.

As for an insightful instance, this quote from one of the articles I read recently jumped out at me as I went back to re-read the article to find what I wanted to share with you…

If a doctor uses a treatment with a clinically verified high rate of success but presents it in a negative light, the probability of a negative outcome increases.

That caused my thoughts to jump to an episode of M*A*S*H when they ran out of pain medication and used placebos to tide them over.  One of the doctors was skeptical, and the senior ranking officer ordered him to present it with a positive attitude or it would never work.  After the placebos were administered, most of the patients respond very well, much to the surprise of the one who was skeptical.  So, our attitude toward things (our expectations, as this same article points out), obviously has a great impact on the outcome of events/circumstances.

Honestly, I’m not even sure why I’m writing a blogpost now.  I felt the need to post something.  But why?  More self-analysis?  That leads me to something else I recently read, “The Hyper-Examined Life Isn’t Worth Living.”  There are many good things that the author shared.  Here is one (of many) that I found interesting…

An obsessive preoccupation with what others will think and a paralyzing fear of failure go hand in hand, and both are symptoms of a hyper-examined life.

The fear of failure and the obsession of what others will think is not just a trait of Millennials, as he suggests.  I think anyone with a tendency toward introspection could easily be drawn into what he calls a hyper-examined life.  (Just the fact that I’m bringing this up could prove that point.)

So, what is MY point?  Good question.  I know that I am striving to daily re-submit my life over to Jesus.  The past is gone, and there is absolutely NO WAY to change any of it.  The future is not yet here, and ultimately God is the only One who controls it.  We have the joy, privilege, and responsibility to seek out the best way to join God not only in the future, but in the here and now.   Will we trust?


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