It Really Is About Balance


Forget itOne of my favorite words is balance. It reminds me that staying in balance is a key goal for my life. Life can seem like tightrope walk of trying to keep from straying too far in one direction or the other. When I get out of balance, it impacts every area of my life. Extremes in any area of your life can cause you to lose focus on what’s really important.

This is why I love this picture. It’s all about balance. We all go through difficulties in our lives. People hurt us and let us down. We make mistakes, some with lasting consequences. We make choices that prove to be wrong.

And when those times occur, we have to remain in balance. Life’s hurts and challenges have a way of pulling us to extremes. Sometimes we are so wounded that we carry the pain or unforgiveness for far too long and it holds us back from moving forward with our lives. It can take over our thoughts and cause us to lose our joy and lose our focus on God and His goodness in our lives.

The other extreme is when we fail to learn from our mistakes. For some of us, we continue a pattern of poor choices that keeps us bound in a cycle that never allows for progress and change. Many times we blame others when in fact it’s us that keeps the cycle going.

The key truly is balance. Bad things will happen. You will experience hurt and disappointment. You will make mistakes. But let those times be a lesson. Ask God what He wants you to learn from those times. He will show you. And forgive others and yourself during the difficult times in life so you can move on. Don’t stay stuck because you can’t let go. Stay in balance.

Out of Balance


We all have a past. We all have things we are ashamed of or wish we could change about ourselves. We all have people in our lives who have hurt us, rejected us and played a role in forming who we are today. The degrees of our brokenness varies based on our past, our wounds and our current circumstances. But no matter who you are or what you’re going through, you feel like your pain and your unhappiness is the worst and no one else can possibly understand.

thMJT7OP2AAnd so we seek happiness. We want to put our pain, our regrets, our shame and our mistakes behind us and wipe the slate clean. We believe that if only (fill in the blank) could happen then we would be happy. And sometimes it happens and we are happy, for a moment. But then we find that the happiness doesn’t last so we seek something else that we believe will bring us happiness. And many of us spend years, some their entire lives searching for that one thing that will bring them the peace and happiness they so desperately desire.

And we know those people and we know their struggle and we hurt for them and we desire for them to find their happiness. We love them through their darkest times as the Bible calls us to. Even when we know that what is really making them unhappy and the real reason they can’t find peace is because the sin in their life has caused them to be separated from God. But we love them and continue to point them toward the answer they seek but are blinded to.

They are blinded because until they find their identity in Christ, they will be in a constant state of trying to discover who they really are. And that desire to be someone other than who you currently are stems from not knowing who you are in Christ. God designed us to seek our identity so that in our search we will eventually be pointed toward Him. And He is where true happiness is found because apart from Him there is no such thing as true happiness.

But in our love for the hurting and our compassion for them in the midst of their struggle, we cannot lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day they don’t have a happiness issue, they have a sin issue. They are lost and are in desperate need of a Savior. My concern is that we are out of balance as Christians and in our attempt to love people and have compassion for them, we have become desensitized to sin and the things that God says are wrong. We are becoming over sensitive to our fear of not wanting to offend people and in turn it’s causing us to become soft toward sin.

This is a subtle way that the enemy is deceiving Christians. We must have empathy and grace toward the lost sinner. But we cannot be deceived into simply feeling bad for their struggle and forget that at the end of the day the real issue is that they are a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. We can feel bad for all that someone has been through but we can’t forget that what they are doing is still wrong. Their sin is not their right. It’s not what they deserve to make them happy. It’s sin.

Let’s love them, but let’s love them to Christ.

50 Shades of Honesty


thLA1T6KWERecently I posted a personal opinion on Facebook about the movie “50 Shades of Grey”. I got the usual comments of support from my church friends but it was the unspoken comments that spoke the loudest. It made me think about why I felt the need to post my reasons that other people should not see this movie.

I realized very quickly that my reasons had everything to do with me and nothing to do with other people. I began to think about myself and the labels (some chosen and others placed on me by others) that impact how people see me. One of the biggest labels I place on myself is “Christian.” And I know that with that label comes the understanding that people are watching. If you are going to call yourself a Christian, your actions better live up to the label.

Then there are the other labels – wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. These are labels that matter a lot to me and that many people can relate to. Then there are the labels I wouldn’t necessarily place on myself but when I asked others they responded with these – leader, teacher, mentor, encourager. Whether we realize it or not we all carry labels that mark who we are.

mask2But what about the labels you don’t necessarily see on the surface. The ones that I keep hidden from most people. Some, that until now, have been just between me and God – weak, bent toward negativity, insecure, afraid of disappointing others, desire to please others no matter the costs, easily influenced, prone to give in and give up. These are the labels that influenced my thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey.”

I know myself and my weaknesses and aside from the grace of God, I am one mistake away from being all those negative labels I place on myself.  When Jesus became my Lord and Savior, I was made new. The old me was gone and I became a new creation in Christ. But I’m not naïve enough to think that many of my old tendencies aren’t lurking just below the surface.  That the enemy would love to ensnare the new me by dredging up the old me.

I know that if I saw that movie then there would be things that I would hear and see that would influence my thoughts. I know that if I allowed the darkness represented in that movie into my mind, it would impact my soul. I know the kind of things that I need to avoid in order to guard myself from the negative tendencies in my personality. I know that the reason that  I don’t want to see the movie is not because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know I’m worse so I can’t see it.

If I want to be the best of the positive labels, I have to avoid the things that I know will  corrupt those areas of my life. I’m not trying to claim that if you are Christian you should not see this movie. I’m claiming that I am a Christian and I can’t see this movie. I know myself too well to think that I would not be impacted by a movie like that. I believe people see Christians and label us – judgmental, holier than thou, boring, out of touch, unrealistic, bible thumping, pushy, intolerant. And I certainly see plenty of that in Christians and  non-Christians alike. I see it in myself at times and it’s ugly. So when we comment publically as Christians about something like “50 Shades of Grey”, we are thought to be finger-pointing. Which in this case, couldn’t be further from the truth.

thU8P2W1RSThe honest truth is that I am not “that Christian” who’s pointing fingers. I am simply a mix of all of the labels above and someone who is painfully aware of how desperate I am for Jesus. I see myself in the people I encounter and I want nothing more than for them to be brought out of the darkness of their situations and their sins and into the Glorious Light as I have been. I want them to know that God loves us even when we’re at our darkest. I want them to know that the truth is, that kind of love changes you forever. I want them to know that there is a very real enemy of their soul that wants to keep them separated from that love. Does that make me think that I’m better than others? No. It’s just means I know how unworthy I am of the labels God has placed on me forgiven, redeemed, Child of God, set free, accepted, worthy, chosen, more than a conqueror, overcomer, joy-filled, made righteous and holy, full of faith, healed, blessed, blameless, LOVED.

 

 

Filtered


thR6RG5FG5Have you noticed how everything, and I mean everything, is filtered these days? Rarely do we take a picture any more without adding a filter to make it look better. And if I ever saw a celebrity in person I’d probably not recognize them because they’re all photo-shopped in the pictures I see of them.

So it makes me wonder, why we feel the need to filter our lives? Why do we want to try to improve on what God created us to be? Why do we need to change the appearance of our original selves? Are we really that unhappy with who we are? Don’t get wrong. I’m certainly not judging or saying I never use filters. You will not see a picture of me that doesn’t have a black & white filter! So, I am guilty of doing it too.

But back to my thought. People struggle with letting their real selves be seen and heard. People even filter what they say instead of just saying what they mean. Why is that?! I have some thoughts on why we feel the need to filter.

One reason is that we are fearful. We don’t want to say what we’re really feeling or show our real selves because we fear we will be rejected. I believe this is the greatest fear people face today. We are so afraid to show who we really are because we think people won’t accept the real us. That if they knew the truth about who we really are (our thoughts, feelings, struggles), then they would judge us and want nothing to do with us. So we use a filter.

thPNRJ9V7OSam Smith even said it when he accepted his Grammy Award the other night – he said “Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard,” Smith said. “I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.” Wow, why did he feel such pressure to be someone he wasn’t? Was it fear of rejection? Insecurities? And look at the outcomes when he simply decided to be who he was. No filters.

Another reason is control. We get a false sense of being in control when we can hide our true self. We long to be our own boss of our lives. To surrender seems weak. But the truth is there is power in surrendering to God and allowing Him to be in control. There is safety and security in His arms. We let ourselves believe that we’re in control of situations when we keep our real selves hidden. We convince ourselves that people can’t hurt us or control us as long as we remain in control. We keep a wall up and never let them into the inner sanctuary of our hearts where our real feelings and thoughts live. But it’s all a façade. It may appear on the outside that we’re in control but inside it leaves us feeling completely out of control. It’s just another filter that hides what is real.

thVC85JMWZThe final reason we filter our lives is because we think that if we can be someone else, we will be happy. We think that if we can be the person we are pretending to be then our lives will be happy. We believe that if we hide our real self long enough that eventually all the hurts, wounds, insecurities and mistakes will just go away. We think that who we really are will just disappear and people will believe we’re really the person we’re pretending to be. We’re deceived into thinking that if we can just make our real self disappear then all our problems will disappear too.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross and to set us free from everything that makes us not want to be the real us. He never intended for us to feel the need to hide from who He created us to be. We are not a mistake that needs to be filtered because God doesn’t make mistakes. He loves us and accepts us. Without filters. He may be the only person you can trust will your real self but you CAN trust Him. He will never reject you if you let down your guard and trust Him to see the real you. He longs for you to share your true feelings and thoughts with Him. There is nothing about you that He doesn’t already know. So why not just open up and be free to share the real you. No filter. There is peace and joy that comes with being who you were created to be. We need to stop hiding behind a filter. It just may be distorting what God meant for the world to see.

What Would Jesus Do?


thMTNFT8A1I would like to consider myself a “good Christian”. Why do I think of myself as a good Christian? Well, I go to church every Sunday. I give my time and resources to the church and other ministries. I read my bible. I pray. I participate in Bible studies. I have gone on mission trips. Man, I really AM a good Christian. If God were passing out special rewards, surely I would get one!

Now before you start thinking “who does this chick think she is?!”, please know that I am truly just kidding. I’ve been following Jesus long enough to know that my “good works” do not earn me any special rewards or get me extra brownie points with God.

He loves us because He loves us. Period. The truth is that right now I’m NOT doing many of the things I listed. But whatever I do, it’s in response to what God has already done for me through His forgiveness and the gift of salvation. However I choose to honor God is simply a reasonable response of worship to my Lord and Savior.

thN0QHBRQN (2)I also know that anything I do is like filthy rags if my motive is wrong, according to scripture (Isaiah 64:6), because my Christian activities do not help me earn my righteousness.

I need Jesus more and more every day and I became painfully aware of that fact the other day when God revealed to me my own selfishness.

Let me ask you this before I share what happened. This is a  quick little test to see if you are being like Christ – how do you respond when asked to give of yourself (time, energy, resources) to something of which you have nothing to gain and no interest in. Do you act selflessly when someone asks you for help for something that’s important to them but means nothing to you?

Are you willing to give when you have nothing to gain? Or do you try to make excuses as to why you can’t help? If you do decide to help, is it with reluctance? Do you only help because you feel like you have to or you’d feel guilty if you didn’t?

This was my test God threw my way the other day. I was put into a situation where the condition of my heart was tested. I had to decide in the moment if I was going to do something that I didn’t “feel” like doing. I had nothing to gain by giving of my time and it was something that meant nothing to me. But it was important to the person who asked for my help. I said no. I selfishly chose to decline the opportunity to be all that I say I want to be as a Christ follower. I failed.

thUABT9KZCI find myself spending time thinking I’m doing pretty good but then it only takes a moment to see how desperately I need my Savior. My lesson learned is to never get comfortable. Never begin to think that it’s enough. Nothing I do will ever be enough in return for what Christ has done for me. And anything I do means nothing if in the moment I choose myself over others simply because I have nothing to gain from them.

This world we live in teaches us to look out for number one, to take what you can get and that everyone else is out to get you. Don’t do for others because they’ll just end up using you and expecting more. We have become cynical and desensitized to doing things for those who can never repay us. We are unwilling to give of ourselves unless there’s something in it for us, and that’s in direct contrast to God’s word.

So  what did I do after I realized I had failed? First, I repented of my attitude and my selfishness. And now, I just keep on keeping on. I try each day to be more like Christ by spending time in His word and in prayer. I keep in mind how desperate I am for more of Him. And I wait. Because I know it won’t be long before the opportunity comes again to do something for someone who can do nothing for me in return.

And in the meantime, I pray that in that moment, I will seek God’s strength to overcome my weaknesses so I can be sure not to fail again.

 

Souled Out


th (2)Have you ever thought about how many choices you make in a day? Think about that for just a minute – we wake up and choose what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, whether to exercise or not, what we’ll listen to on the radio on our way to work or school, what TV shows we’ll watch, how we’ll spend our time, which movie we’ll see at the theater. We make a lot of choices every day. Some of those choices are simple, cut and dry decisions. But others have an effect on us that we may not even realize. Many times as Christians, when we are faced with a choice, we are choosing whether or not to compromise our beliefs, values and morals.

Now that you’re thinking about the compromises you’ve made (maybe today, maybe this week, maybe over your lifetime), what do you think those compromises have cost you? Sometimes it’s obvious. For instance, today I chose to skip my workout. What does that cost me? Well, I could look at it a couple of ways. Today, it doesn’t cost me too much. So, I didn’t work out……there’s always tomorrow, right? But what if I compromise tomorrow too? What if I compromise for the rest of the week? What if those “little” compromises continue indefinitely? Over the long term it can cost me a lot, like good health, energy, confidence, money lost for prepaid classes, possible new friends that I could have made had I gone to work out, ability to build on a good decision to exercise because one good decision typically leads to another. You see, we tend to look at the momentary costs without seeing the big picture.

Bad-ChoicesSo let’s talk about choices that have much bigger implications. The kind that if we choose to compromise, they affect our soul. What if money gets tight and you decide (just this once) to not tithe on your paycheck so you can get caught up. Then you have car trouble and have to pay $200 to get it fixed so you don’t tithe the next paycheck so you can cover the unexpected expense. And then what if something else goes wrong and your spending snowballs and you have to quit tithing just to keep up with the bills?

Or, what if you’ve been dating a guy for a long time and the two of you love each other and have talked openly about getting married? And what if one night he asks you to compromise your decision to wait until marriage? In the moment you’re thinking “we’re going to get married anyway.” And then a few weeks later you find out he’s been cheating on you and you end the relationship. What do you think those compromises cost your soul?

Maybe you’ve made some bad decisions in the past that have had an impact on your soul. Maybe right now you’re making a daily choice to do something that is slowly causing damage that you may not even realize. Sometimes we know there will be consequences to our choices. But what if we don’t realize that the choice we’re making in the moment is truly hurting us? How are we supposed to know what to do and how to make the right decisions without paying the high cost of negative consequences?

th4KSDOQMZHere’s the great part – God didn’t just leave us on our own to figure it all out. As believers, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who is our Helper and our Counselor in our times of need. In those moments when we are facing the choice to compromise or not, He is there to guide us in that decision if we’ll simply ask. He will also convict us when we’ve already made the choice to compromise so that we can stop whatever we’re doing that is damaging our soul.

God also gave us His word as an instruction manual so we’ll know the kind of things that can hurt us that we may have been unaware of. We don’t have to figure this out on our own. There are options and safeguards in place to keep us from the consequences of compromise and that is most definitely good news!

But what if you are already suffering the consequences of compromises from your past? God can bring healing where damage has already occurred. Ask Him through prayer to heal the hurts in your soul caused by bad decisions. Ask Him to give victory over the defeats of your past then trust in His power to heal you.

So, my question is, what compromises are you making that may seem like no big deal? And the bigger question is what are those “small” compromises really costing you? And finally –  what are you going to do about it?

Nobody Likes a Bad Ending


IMG_1951I recently read the book Gone Girl. I could not put the book down no matter how hard I tried. I was consumed with the fast paced drama and the unexpected twists and turns. It was a page turner like no other until the LAST FOUR PAGES! I finished the book and then just sat there in disbelief. How could a book so good end so bad? I don’t think I’ve ever been angry over how a book ended. Disappointed maybe, but angry? I was so mad I vowed never to watch the movie. Ever. It’s been weeks since I finished that book and I’m still not over it. Why? Because I don’t like a bad ending.

The truth is that I am not alone. Nobody likes bad endings – unresolved conflicts, unforgiveness in relationships, broken marriages, failed pregnancies, unhealed hurts, heartbreaks and unanswered questions. We don’t like any of it. We long for everything to be wrapped up nice and tidy with a bow on it. We want everything to end on high note but all too often things just don’t end the way we want them to. So why is it that bad endings seem to bother us so very much?

We were never meant to be comfortable with a bad ending. God created us to long for the happy ending. We were designed to be dissatisfied with the undesirable, the unfinished and the unhappy endings of our lives. We are wired to yearn for all to be right in the world. That’s why people cheer when the underdog wins. That’s why we love to see the guy get the girl at the end of the movie – the one that he didn’t stand a chance with. That’s why we cry when we read stories of redemption, forgiveness and restoration. That’s why ‘Unbroken’ is a box office smash at the movies right now. We want to see others and ourselves overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles we face in life. We crave the happy ending.

159764a32101a639cb65dd81b01fe02fSo what does this mean for those of us in the midst of struggles. Those whose happy ending is nowhere in sight? We are to put our trust in the One who is the author of happy endings. God did not create us to suffer. However, we are sinners living in a sin-filled world where suffering exists. But our endings do not have go according to the enemy’s plan. Our endings can go according to God’s plan when we put our trust in Him. Does that mean that everything will turn out A-ok? Sometimes. But sometimes it simply means that we can have peace even when it all doesn’t turn out according to our plan. So how can we have peace when we’re in the middle of a bad ending? When we have faith that we haven’t reached the end of our story yet.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: “Not everything in life has a happy ending. But this life is not the end of the story.” The peace we find in the middle of our bad ending is knowing that it’s not the end. No matter how our story in this life ends, it’s not the final ending to our story. As Christians going through impossible circumstances, that is the best news we can hear right now. Our story doesn’t end with whatever hand we are dealt this side of heaven. Our story ends when we are called home to be with our Lord and Savior. And friends, our story ends well.

Reality Check


 

thUCGH0M3XI admit it – I like reality TV. I watch the shows knowing that the term “reality” is to be taken loosely but how can you make someone say or do something? It’s captured on camera, right? Well, according to an article I read, here’s the truth from a reality TV insider: “I can manufacture love where it doesn’t exist, hate where it doesn’t exist, I can make it seem like you’re tired or excited or angry, anything.” Nooooo, tell me it isn’t so!!

And then there’s photoshop. Most of us know that the pictures we see on magazine covers are not real yet many women still strive to look the way the celebrities and models in the doctored photos appear. And many times when I’ve helped myself to a few less pounds and when people have commented on my picture asking how I stay looking so great, I explain to them that there’s an app for that!

And don’t get me started on the news media! With parody and satire websites that post fictional articles and media outlets that spin stories like a politician, who knows what’s really going on in the world we live in?! There’s so many conflicting stories, we’re left wondering “who’s telling the truth?!”

In these times of such uncertainty, deception and confusion, it’s vital that we cling to what we know is the truth. For me, there are a few realities that I can be assured of even when everything else around me seems in doubt.

Reality-Check1. Jesus is still on the throne – when the world seems dark and broken and it appears that Satan is gaining ground, I can trust in the fact that Jesus is in control and I am assured of how it all will end. No matter how bad things may get and no matter how hard life may be, Jesus is still the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. One day, when He decides, all will be made right in the world and I find great assurance in that fact.

2. God’s word is truth. I like to read a lot. Some of it is fiction and some of it is supposedly non-fiction. But really, when I read articles or news stories I can’t be sure if what I’m reading is the truth. In most instances it’s one person’s perspective and opinion and no matter how convincing they may seem, I never really know for sure if they are 100% accurate. But one thing I can know for sure – the Word is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. When the news gets me down or an article I read leaves me in doubt, I can always go to God’s word for truth, encouragement and the building of my faith.

3. My salvation is assured because Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Many people wonder what their purpose is or why they are here. They fear death because for them it’s a huge question of what will happen when they die. Others live their life filled with guilt and condemnation associated with their mistakes, poor choices or circumstances that still hang heavy over their lives. I know because I was one of those people. But the moment Jesus became my Lord and Savior, my life was forever changed. I no longer fear eternity because I know it will be spent in heaven with my Father. I no longer live with the burden of my mistakes because I have received forgiveness for my sins because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I no longer deal with sadness, anger, bitterness and resentment because I am filled with the joy that only the Holy Spirit of God can provide. This is a truth that can be reality for anyone who asks and that’s why this truth is the greatest reality of all.

4. I have biological and spiritual family that love me, accept me and are there for me in my greatest times of need. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are loved and accepted by God but having family that loves you and accepts you is a close second. For many people today, their relationships are in question. Much like everything else in our world, they don’t know how real or how solid their relationships are. They find themselves questioning the authenticity of each person in their life. And even though you may not have biological family that you can depend on, spiritual family can fill a need we all have for authentic relationships.

5. I may not know what my future holds but I know who holds it. I know that if the time comes when I have nothing but God, I have all I need. The reality is that He is the answer to all my fears, all my doubts, all my questions and all my needs. He is my reality.

thXTBUEOJMIf your reality is uncertain, maybe it’s time to cling to what is real. Maybe it’s time to surrender to the reality that God loves you, accepts you and is waiting for you to turn to Him. He desires to be in a relationship with you. He longs to give you the gift of salvation and forgiveness. All you have to do is ask. He is so much more than you could ever ask for or imagine. Don’t spend another day in doubt when the One who is real is right in front of you.

 

 

If Happiness Is Not a Destination Then Why Am I Still Trying To Get There?


happinessMaybe it’s the time of year. No, I’m sure it has to do with the time of year. I’m at that point where I increasingly find myself trying to understand why I’m not happy.  Why is it that after all I am blessed with that I still feel unhappy and unfulfilled? Why am I still trying to reach a place that I know in my mind doesn’t exist?

The question may be a difficult one but the answer is quite simple. The reason I keep looking is because I forget. I forget that happiness isn’t a destination and I easily find myself back in the search for that which cannot be found. Like most people, I’m just simply looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place.

We hear things like “do what makes you happy” and “choose to be happy” but it’s never quite that simple. You can’t choose what you don’t know. I don’t know what makes me happy. Over time I’ve figured out what doesn’t make me happy.

Stuff does not bring happiness. More stuff means more work, more expenses and more upkeep. Possessions can be enjoyed but even the temporary happiness you experience upon getting something new will quickly fade because material things will never truly make you happy.

Relationships do not make me happy.  Don’t get me wrong – I have experienced great happiness in relationships and moments with friends and family that I will forever cherish but sooner or later you will find reason to be disappointed in every relationship you have because people cannot bring you happiness. You may have relationships with family members, your spouse, your children or friends that are a great source of happiness much of the time but overall happiness cannot be found in them because people can and will let you down at some point. We may have some extremely positive and meaningful relationships but for many, they can also be a source of extreme highs and lows.

thQ4E9WCBRPlaces do not make me happy. I use the term “my happy place” when referring to the beach, naps, or reading a good book but those are all temporary. And I’ve lived in many different physical locations and each one had its positives and negatives. So I’ve also learned over time that places can be nice to visit and some are great to live but no place will ever bring me complete happiness because no one place “has it all”.

I asked my friends on Facebook what makes them happy and the answers were as varied as my friendships – they ranged from the simple to the extravagant, from the tangible to the philosophical, from the selfish to the selfless. We all have “ideas” about what makes us happy but at the end of the day happiness is not something to be obtained, not permanently any way. So why do we keep searching for a destination that doesn’t exist? Why do we spend so much time in search of something we’ll never find?

Because we are made to do so. We were born to seek that which fulfills us. We are designed to search for what brings us joy. We end up making wrong turns and heading down wrong paths toward a destination that doesn’t exist when we confuse happiness with joy. There are many things that will bring us temporary and worldly happiness in this life but only one thing that can bring us joy. A relationship with our Creator and Father in heaven is the only thing that will ever completely and fully meet all our needs and fill all the empty places in our hearts. And He created us to seek Him because it is His greatest desire to be in a relationship with us. But when we seek happiness elsewhere, we simply find momentary fulfillment in temporary things like possessions, relationships and places.

thKTQKPTLTThis season when happiness is highly sought after but hard to find, seek joy. Joy is not based upon your possessions, your circumstances, the people in your life or where you find yourself at this moment in time. Joy is found in Christ. He alone is the destination we all seek but not all will find. Seek God and you will find what you’re looking for. When I catch myself in my unhappy place and searching for happiness in the things of this world, it is in my desperation that I’m reminded that He alone is my happy place.

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (Luke 2:10-11)

 

The Parent Trap


untitledRecently a dear friend asked me how to navigate through parenting a post high school child. We’ve all considered the terrible two’s and tumultuous three’s as the toughest years but those years are a walk in the park compared to parenting a young adult. We usually think about parenting in terms of discipline, teaching, providing for needs, guiding and imparting wisdom. But once they become a young adult the terms change. And that’s where things get tricky. Unfortunately they don’t come with instruction manuals and most of us are just winging it.

But as I thought about her question and about what would be involved, I realized that the hardest thing about parenting a young adult is probably not what most people would think. The hardest part has nothing to do with parenting at all. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we still must provide all the normal things that go along with being a parent as long as they are living under our roof or they are dependent on us while attending college. But the reality is that this is the time our children must find their own direction in life. They must be making their own decisions and plans. They will make mistakes but we have to let them. The hardest thing I’ve had to do during this stage of parenting is to let go.

3eb8bdbd9f50f036839664c20d966b71God chooses us to be a supervisor for our children. As their supervisor we train them and teach them about life. We’re responsible for much of their plans, activities and schedule. Another trap we fall into is the trap of thinking that the plans that we have had for their lives will be the path they choose. We may provide direction and support for their God given talents and abilities, but that doesn’t mean they’ll choose the life that we’d hoped they would. I’m sure my parents never dreamed that I would join the US Navy and move to the other side of the country but that’s exactly what I chose to do. It’s not our job as parents to plan out our child’s life. And as a young adult, that’s the time they’re beginning to question what their future will look like, what career they’ll have, who they’ll marry, where they’ll live. We can provide advice when they ask, but what their future holds is ultimately up to them.

Our job as parents is to prepare our children for life. God chooses us to supervisor their childhood years but that is a temporary assignment. They are on loan to us until we return them to God so that He can lead them into the destiny for which He created them. And this is definitely the hardest part of being a parent.

il_570xN.331205967Eventually our children reach the point where they are promoted to work directly with the Master Builder. They no longer need a supervisor to oversee them. During this season we as parents can fall into the trap of holding on to our children when it’s time to let them go. We can hinder their independence and growth by still trying to play too big a role in their life. We must ride out this season from the sidelines and let them discover the path God is leading them to. Interfering will simply delay the inevitable and can cause them to distance themselves from us even more so than they would naturally during this time.

They are now adults and we must see them as such. We have helped them to grow their wings and now is the time to let them fly. The temporary pain of letting go is manageable when we remind ourselves that we are entrusting them into the into the hands of the One who created them and loves them even more than we do. It’s time for us to enjoy watching our young adult find their way and discover their life’s direction. And we can find comfort in knowing that the next season of our relationship with our children will be as friends and there is no greater point to reach in the life of a parent.

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