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Archive for October, 2006

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.” James 3.14

So speaking of Esau and accepting what God has allotted for us…

Through a course of events this morning I made a realization. I’ve had a couple people tell me that they can see bitterness in me. And I hated it because I don’t want it to be true and I don’t always see it and can’t understand it. And yet today I think I found what causes it. I’m envious. According to Georgetown University psychologist W. Gerrod Parrott, Ph.D., envy occurs when a person lacks another person’s superior quality, achievement, or possession, and desires it–or wishes that the other person lacked it. Envy includes: Feelings of inferiority, Longing, Resentment of circumstances, Ill will towards envied person often accompanied by guilt about these feelings, Motivation to improve, Desire to possess the attractive rival’s qualities, Disapproval of feelings. Usually I don’t wish bad things on others, though sometimes I find myself heading there, too….

I’m envious of: “normal” people; people who don’t wake up with pain every morning, people who can get good sleep at night, people who don’t constantly have frantic nightmares, people who aren’t always suffering from headaches, or stomachaches, or bodyaches, or fatigue or brain fog, people who have good medical insurance and understanding doctors, people who don’t have to take so many medications, people for whom the medications actually work right…. sometimes (though it makes even less sense) I envy people who are more obviously sick or disabled, for not having to struggle with disbelief and “you don’t look sick” comments and “why can’t you do this or that” comments, for having a name and (though not always) a plan of action for what is next.

I also envy: people who have a good job that they love, people who were able to work their way through school, people who are debt free, people who have enough money to help others, people who are really gifted at something, people who are able to dream big and work hard at something and find success, people who can speak more than one language, people who love little kids, people who have husbands, people who have kids, people who have lots of good supportive friends, people who have their own cute little houses, people who can cook well and clean well and run computers well and do math in their heads and are good at gymnastics or martial arts or dance or mime or swimming or flying or saving lives or writing or taking pictures or singing. People who have something that others don’t, a gift, a talent – something special.

People who are or do or have something I am not or can’t or don’t.

Once again, I come back to that need to be special.

I dream big, but nothing seems to come of it. I have some talents in creativity, writing, crafts, organization, teaching, perhaps even mime. But nothing that stands out. I have interests in languages, arts, music, movies, books, learning, helping, baking, encouraging, dance, scrapbooking, costumes, drama. But nothing that lasts. It’s all paper thin. I seem to fall in the cracks. I use both my right and left hands, both my left and right brains. I have traits of the “baby” and the “eldest” child in a family. Every personality test I’ve ever taken has left me equal between at least two traits (often opposing). I am insecure – physically, emotionally, financially, socially and, too often, spiritually.

And I don’t want to be.

And it’s not that I think I’m worthless or that nothing has ever gone right or I can’t do anything right. Though it feels that way at times. I have yearbook entries and notes and e-mails from people who have been encouraged by me or by something I have done. Always small things.

And when that occurred to me while taking a walk today (when all this was going through my head), a Scripture came to mind. A long time ago someone quoted a snippet of a verse to me. “In quietness and trust is your strength.” And as I looked it up (Isaiah 30:15) I realized that the context didn’t match their attempted application to me. But that it came back to me today at that particular time has caused me to think that perhaps God did give it to that person to give to me. After all, who I am and what I have and what I do is hidden, reserved, quiet. Doesn’t stand out at all. And I do need to be trusting God – with who I am and what I have and what I am to do…

In quietness and trust is my strength…

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on being special

i’ve always kinda liked Esau. one of those Bible guys that people don’t talk about much. i mean, his mother favored his younger brother, he sold his birthright for some stew, pouted when he did not receive his father’s blessing and then became very angry towards his brother who ran off fearing for his life. and that’s about all the further we go.

no one really talks about the fact that in Genesis 33 Esau and his brother reconnect. now it’s not one of those wonderful family reunions where they have a big party and move into the same cul-de-sac. Jacob was terrified when he heard that Esau was heading his way (though God had told him to return to his homeland). he expected Esau to still be harboring a grudge. and he sent lots of gifts to appease his brother, though Esau at first refused them (which i’ve heard is merely a part of that culture – it’s cool nonetheless). my point? Esau wasn’t still holding a grudge.

Caedmon’s call has this song called “prove me wrong” and there is a line in it that says “and i am sad that Esau hated, crying against what’s fated, saying ‘father, please, is there any left for me.'” and we who have the privilege of being able to read God’s Word and see some of the bigger picture know that God had told Rebecca that Jacob would be chosen. and the Edomites (Esau’s descendents) didn’t always treat Israel (Jacob’s descendents) well… and in Romans 9 Paul brings up the quote “I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated.”

and Paul points out that this isn’t about God playing favorites. (me genioto!) but God had certain plans for Jacob. just like Paul speaks later on in the chapter (and elsewhere) on how different pieces of pottery and different household items have different uses.

i find within myself a need to be special. a need to be chosen. and when i see others being chosen and used by God for things i think i would like to do, sometimes i get jealous. like Esau did. “crying against what’s fated.” and it’s not that i don’t think God has a special plan for me, it’s just that sometimes i want what someone else has instead. and so i look at Esau in chapter 33 and how he has matured, no longer holding his brother’s blessings (and faults) against him (and no longer making excuses for his own). and i admire that. his resignation to be a part of God’s plan whatever it may be.

i want that.

trust.

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in the vine

you know how when things repeat, it is usually to catch our attention? like how this week in my devos there was a chapter on John 15 and remaining in the vine (Jesus said, “I am the true vine… you are the branches.”) and then the sermon today covered the same passage. same theme, different points.

but something that the pastor said today stuck out. he was talking about God as the gardener and how He is responsible for the health of the plant and for producing the fruit. and because of this God cleanses and prunes and removes the dead wood. and as he was talking about the cleansing process, he gave a picuture of the plant.

see sometimes, hard rains come and the wind and rain will beat the plant into the ground. and the plant gets all dirty and muddy. and they need cleaned. because if they stay there on the ground and their leaves are all muddy, they can’t find the sun. and then they wither and die.

and as the pastor was describing the plant, i took the words and pictured myself there. there have been lots of storms in my life. lots of wind and lots of hard rain. and in many ways i have been beaten down and i am covered in mud. and i need to let the gardner clean me so that once again i can see Son and then i won’t wither and die.

what’s my job in all of this? not to bear fruit (that command is never given there), but to remain. to abide. to dwell with and in the Vine and let it’s lifeblood flow through me. and let the Gardner do His work. then i will grow and be healthy and bear fruit.

abide.

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do nothing

I was reading a Reader’s Digest before bed last night. The very last page was an advertisement. It read:

The average wait for a city bus is 12.8 minutes.
Do something with your nothing.

What? Why? Since when did having a quiet break while waiting on something get classified as wasted time? How about taking that twelve minutes and praying? Meditating? Breathing deeply and taking in God’s creation (either the natural surroundings or the unique beauty of diverse people He has created)?

The advertisement is for Ninetendo. They want you to buy their product and play games and puzzles. Well, at least we’re not talking about trying to cram another business call in on our cell phones or filling out last minute reports or working to cram too much into our lives. Why is it that we plan and schedule and stuff anything and everything into the amount of time we’re alloted, trying to squeeze and ciphon the most “production” out of time that we can in order to be “sucessful”??

Why is it that when we’re not over-stimulated we’re bored?

When did we forget how to slow down and stop?

Granted, being lazy or idle is not ideal either. But shouldn’t there be a better balance?

After all, the Bible does say “Be STILL, and know that I am God.”

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freaky fatigue

okay, this is getting wierd.

monday, after not being able to get to sleep till after 2, i hit my snooze twice at 5:45 and then got up at 5:55 and went into curves. got a lot done that day even though i had some pain.

tuesday, after getting to sleep around midnight, after hitting the snooze countless times, i turned off my alarm in my sleep and had trouble waking up from a groggy sleep. dealt with fatigue, migraines and dizziness all day. plus a sore throat and felt feverish.

wednesday, after getting to sleep around 11:30 the night before, i hit my snooze at 5:45 and then must have turned both alarms off in my sleep because i didn’t wake again until 9. being still exhausted and groggy, i fell back into a weird, nightmarish, can’t-wake-up sleep until nearly 11. dealt with fatigue, migraines and dizziness, plus the sore throat and feeling feverish all day. i made myself take a walk to the mailbox.

thursday, after getting to sleep around 10:30 the night before, i got up at 5:45 because i had set my alarm on the other side of the room on my desk. i turned off the first alarm and then got up 15 minutes later to get the second alarm. was not feeling well, so reset for 7 and brought it back to bed with me. never heard it. must have turned it off in my sleep. up at 9. once again dealt with fatigue, migraines and dizziness, plus the sore throat and feeling feverish all day. plus an increase in pain. did manage a 25 minute walk and some mime practice in the afternoon.

then today, after getting to bed by 10 but not sleeping till nearly 2, i got up at 5:45 because once again the alarm was on my desk. still sleepy, i reset the second alarm for 6:30 rather than 6, left it there on the desk and returned to bed. i woke up at 10. so either i slept through the alarm going off or i got up in my sleep and turned it off.

reading this over, it doesn’t seem like much. i do have a chronic illness with such symptoms as trouble sleeping, fatigue, migraines, dizziness, etc. i do go through cycles where the symptoms are worse at times than others. it sounds like i’m fighting a cold (did i mention the rattling in my lungs when i woke up this morning?)…

but it’s weirding me out, nonetheless. i used to sleep through my alarm very rarely, and only when my body desperately needed the sleep. i used to be able to reset my alarm and get an extra 30-45 minutes that made a tremendous difference and then get up and go about my day. i used to be a morning person. now my mornings have disappeared and the day starts late and i feel as if i am continuously running behind, breathless, and trying to catch up. it feels as though something is off, something is wrong. i hate this feeling…

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America was founded, as we are taught in school and by media, on rights. Why did we declare our independence from Britain? Because we had rights! According to the Declaration of Independence, they are the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

According to Michael Crowley in the July 2006 edition of “That’s Outrageous” in Reader’s Digest, we also have the right to get paid for our own stupidity.

He tells of a guy who sues the city because a city vehicle (garbage truck) backed into his car. The catch? He was the city worker driving the city vehicle that backed into his own car. And then there was the woman in Florida who sued the city because she tripped over a pine cone in a parking lot. And the man who was drunk and trying to outrun a subway train who got 1.4 million because he was hit and nearly killed. Of course we’ve all heard about the McDonald’s coffee incident.

The article makes some great points about how much it costs us as a society – courts are clogged, insurance costs rise, etc. But I think there’s a bigger cost. Our society itself.

When did the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” turn into “I have a right to do whatever I want” and everyone fighting over who’s rights are more justified? The purpose of that clause was justice. We’ve turned it into shameless greed and lack of responsibility.

Makes me think of a line of a Scott Wesley Brown song, “Every nation that has fallen, has fallen from within.”

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“rationalize” sounds very close to “ration all lies”??

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