When what’s right is wrong: Considering timing

A black alarm clock on a chair

The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

Last summer I wrote a post regarding how our culture encourages us to “follow your heart.” I wrote about how this can often take us where we don’t want to go.  Something can ‘feel’ right and be completely wrong. I wrote this post because while we know this, we don’t think about it. When you’re angry, it can feel right to hit someone, but we all know this isn’t right. So I wrote my post to encourage you to think about your feelings and to gauge if they’re wrong, even if they feel right. This isn’t too complex.

But what happens when something feels right and it actually is right, but is still somehow wrong? Let me explain. I read a quote once that really stuck with me, even after I forgot where I read it: “The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.”

This sentence doesn’t make much sense unless we put some examples to it.

A dog wearing a disguise mask with glasses, a large nose and moustacheStarting simple, pretend I have a good sense of humor (haha.). I’m lighthearted and enjoy taking life lightly. This is good. It’s good to be lighthearted. And it’s right to be myself. But say I have a friend going through a really hard time and I go to lunch with her as she’s really stressed. I might be light-hearted, and that might be the way God made me–it might be right, but, in this specific instance–at this time, being light-hearted is the wrong thing.

This one might make sense, but it gets harder to see as the situations become more serious. Say I committed to a summer job, then had someone approach me begging me to fill a different position somewhere else that fit who I was perfectly. This job would be right. It would use my talents to help someone. It could be glorifying God. This feels right. And isn’t it right? But, because I’d already committed somewhere else and can’t back out, this is the wrong time. So it is wrong, at this time, to take the perfect job.

eric-ward-342202 - Edited.jpgOr say I am very attracted to someone and I desire strongly to support and encourage this person. This feels right. And, isn’t it right? Supporting someone, loving someone, encouraging someone…these are right. These are the right thing. But if I can’t commit to a long-term relationship with these kinds of actions, then I’m playing with someone’s heart. Then now is the wrong time to show these right actions. So it is wrong, in this case, to be loving.

Therefore there are times when doing the right thing is wrong. And this is so hard to wrap my mind around. In some instances, we get this. We get that it’s not always loving to be light-hearted and that sometimes we need to be serious. But, if you’re like me, the circumstances get harder and harder to see clearly. To say no to a perfect job? To quash my loving actions? Understanding that the right thing may be the wrong thing is so much harder than understanding that sometimes that what feels right is actually wrong.

But, as Christ-followers, we’re called to live differently. We are called to speak a different language with our actions. If you’re like me, when that perfect job arises after you’ve committed to one already, or when you have strong feelings for someone who you A black-and-white shot of a pocket watchcan’t commit to, you fight your conscience saying that “this is right. I’m doing the right thing.” because loving someone or finding a job that fits you seems so right. But consider timing.

Don’t fool yourself. The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

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How to be Happy, Seriously.

IMG_20180509_142441718_HDR-EFFECTS.jpgI sat on the edge of my little brother’s bed as I said goodnight to him. “How much money did you make at work today?” He questioned, somewhat randomly. “Sometime could you give me just $2,000 so that I can buy a nice 4-wheeler?”

I chuckled a little, but was completely opposed to the idea. “No.”

“Why not?”

“I love you and I want you to be safe, buddy.”

“But the $2,000 4-wheeler has a seat belt! Please!”

“No, I need the money for school, kiddo..”100_0795 - Edited

The discussion went on for a while as he tried to acquire the cash and I discouraged him. He kept asking “why?” and I had to think of an answer that was good enough to stop the pleading. Finally I realized the actual reason I was most opposed to him pursuing this 4-wheeler: “Buddy, the reason I don’t want you to get this is because it’s not going to make you happy.”

It’s the truth. Sure a 4-wheeler would be a ton of fun, but he’s got a lot of other (cheaper) toys that he’s bored with; a 4-wheeler would eventually amount to the same. But my 11-year-old brother has a hard time believing me.

In fact, don’t we all have a hard time believing that things won’t make us happy? Culture is ready to “satisfy” our needs with possessions. But if we look to possessions to be happy, we won’t ever be satisfied. This is something I have a feeling we all know with head knowledge, regardless of where our hearts are. So I’m not going to try to beat you over the head with it. While it’s important to remember that possessions cannot provide joy, the idea isn’t really new and it’s harder to believe than we’d like.

However, an idea that is slightly more novel, and thereby useful, would be something that Andy Stanley said in his sermon serious “What Makes You Happy.” He stated that IMG_20180511_160258995you need a “who or two” to be happy. While spending time, energy, or money on things does very little to satisfy long term, spending time, energy, or money on people is a thoroughly rewarding pursuit.

Over and over I have found this in my daily life. Reading my brother a goodnight story, helping my mom make dinner, folding laundry with my sister, cleaning the bathroom for my siblings, buying someone a surprise doughnut, have left me feeling fuller than anything I could ever do by myself. What are you doing to spend your time, energy, or money on people?

Even just being more thoughtfully aware of others does much to help my attitude. For example, the thought of going to work this morning wasn’t the happiest thought I’ve ever had. However, if I break for just a minute to realize that going to work can be a way to serve others, I suddenly can find meaning and purpose in it–because then I’m making work about other people instead of myself.

There are some simple and entirely reasonable methods for applying this perspective.

  1. Okay, first things first: our God is the God of joy. In order to be content and purposeful, the first thing you need to do is to connect with God!
  2. After having done so, though, there are ways to be more intentional about our attitudes. When I think I’m having the worstest day ever, remembering that other people have problems too is like a taser shock reminding me of my blessings. A recent goal for me is that, when I’m having a bad day, I reach out and ask how other people are doing. Turning my thoughts away from my pity party is not only helpful for me, but encouraging to the others.
  3. img_20180506_143341873_hdr.jpgMy psychology professor, Dr. Geoff Kramer, once informed me of research he’d found which stated that money spent on activities with people as opposed to possessions for oneself were far more rewarding. This is so easily applicable; it’s worth considering. If you had the choice between spending $40 on a day trip with friends or on a new pair of jeans, the former will provide a better sense of fulfillment.
  4. I’d like to encourage you to spend time with other people. Maybe make it a daily goal to intentionally serve someone else–even if it’s as simple as intentionally opening a door or putting away dry dishes from the rack or even just hanging out, honestly. These can take less than two minutes, but this focus can be enough to get your head out of your own little world and to start thinking about others. Whenever I do this, I’m that much closer to “be[ing] joyful always” and living with the hope and love that we, as Christians, should aspire to.

If you want to be happy, start looking for ways to make others happy. How beautiful is it that our wise God set up life in such a way that making others happy makes us happy as well 🙂 Trust me, we all know it’s not always peachy. You definitely won’t always feel delighted about serving others or spending time or money on them. But I can entirely guarantee that it will leave you happier than if you left humans out of the happiness pursuit.img_20170708_153402971_hdr.jpg

Finding True Love: To the Girls Who Want to be Pursued

We girls can be so stupid. We want love. We want to be pursued. We want to be somebody’s. In Christian circles especially, we often feel that finding that kind of love is a significant goal in our lives. Therefore, we put so much effort into dreaming of and looking for such a successful, loving relationship.

But how blind we are! Each and every moment of every day we are already being relentlessly pursued. We have a lover standing just behind us, trying unceasingly to get our attention, calling to us lovingly, longingly waiting, yearning to be everything that we desire a lover to be.

There are a number of songs that express so beautifully the relentless longing that the Lord, our true Lover, has for us:

“The scar that’s in My side saysImage result for heart in sand
As the sea is wide, My love is more so
I’m everything you need
Don’t you know the blood I bleed is for you, don’t you know?

I bridged the gap you see
And I’ll supply your every lack and need
To bring you back to Me
You’re so valuable.”
“I would run to your rescue
But you can’t see through your painSo I’m reaching across the Grand Canyon
Hoping you will take my hand
Wondering why you’re just not listening.
So for the time being
I’ll just keep on reaching for you”

“My hand is the only hand you needImage result for reaching hand
Why do you keep on
Holding on to everything but me?
Why do you keep on
Looking up to find a sign
It’s been right here all this time?
O Can’t you see?
My hand is the only hand you need”
Sometimes we get caught in the ways of the world and assume that romantic love is the end all be all. But girls, the kind of love a man has to offer is only the shadow of the kind of love that the God of the universe is longing to pour out on you. If we first learn to turn to the Lord our God for our fulfillment and purpose, I guarantee, we will NOT be let down.
So yes, we long to be loved and pursued. We are created to desire this. But it is not an empty longing. Try giving some focus to the One who is just aching for some of your attention, who is offering his hand, patiently reaching across the Grand Canyon, who was willing to die to win your heart.
If, after that, you are also provided a man to love, consider yourself blessed. But, until then, I honestly believe we can feel fulfilled, loved, and pursued by opening our eyes to the One who is pursing us already. In this way, we can “be joyful always,” even when we don’t know what’s ahead, and can make right here right now count.

 

Where do I belong?: Defining Our Purpose on Earth

Image result for hummingbird

My boss is like a baby; he screams and wakes me up every half hour.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

She was like a magnet: attractive from the back, but repulsive from the front.

I like analogies. They can significantly clarify things that would be otherwise excessively complicated to understand. One thing about being a Christ-follower is that the God we seek after is way beyond our understanding. When I come across a good analogy related to my faith, I like to savor it. While reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love this week, I came across an analogy worth sharing regarding how we should see ourselves in the world.

Chan said to see the whole of time as a film. Not the whole of time as in your lifetime, but the whole of time as in pre-Genesis 1:1 to post Revelation 22:21. In this film, any Christian would have to agree, God is the main character. The film follows the story of His creation Image result for billy grahamof the world, the Fall, and the conflict following. Slowly the plot builds to a integral part where God sends His own son into a deprived world where His son eventually sacrifices His life because of His love for His creation. Although we’ve not yet reached that point, we know how the film ends as well.

In this whole movie of life, each and every individual created gets to play a part. Some people get more screen time: Moses, Joseph, Paul, even Billy Graham and Martin Luther, others are no less important, but most don’t get to spend as much time on screen. So we’re all extras in a big film about God. But that’s it. We’re extras.

If you were an extra in an actual film, you would undoubtedly play the film for your family and friends and exclaim in excitement for that 2/5ths of a second when you can see the back of your head in the corner of the screen. Your mom or your best friend might get excited with you, but, for the most part, nobody is really going to care about your “big debut.” Similarly, in life we often get waaaaaay too caught up in ourselves, convinced that those 2/5ths of a second was what the film was made for. But it’s not.

David says it well in Psalm 39:clock-3179159_1920.jpg

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.”

This is the attitude we need to retain. We are not the main character and we should not live as if we were.

But, at the same time, that shot needed extras to be complete. The whole story of good and evil on the earth couldn’t be played out without characters–without the extras. While we need to, in humility, remember how small we are, we also need to remember, in awe and the same humility, that we were created with a purpose. We need to remember that, though our life is so short, every breath we breathe is valuable. We matter to God. He sent His son to redeem us. Even extras have specific parts to play.

But even then, our parts as extras are always to bring glory to the main character.  If we do not serve our purpose of directing audience attention to God, we are useless within the film. But if, through living our everyday lives and doing our minor tasks, we point people in Pocket Watch, Time Of, Sand, Time, Clockthe direction of God, how perfectly we are fulfilling our 2/5ths of a second on the film.

So friends, you matter. You have a purpose. But life is short. Use your 2/5ths of a second to bring glory to the Hero of the show. In doing so, you will be faithfully making your 2/5ths everything that it can and should be.

I Don’t Know How: Living Life Without the Answers

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Last night I lay in my bed, staring absentmindedly at the white-washed concrete ceiling hovering two-and-a-half feet above my bed. I was trying to have a conversation with God but, admittedly, it felt somewhat one-sided. Like all college students, I would certainly consider myself to be very busy. But, at the same time, as a single college senior, unsure of what this summer holds (let alone what next year has in store), I have a ton of flexibility and freedom and, considering all, time. That being said, I was trying to get a feel for what God might want me to do.

I know that the most valuable, fulfilling, and exciting life is one of growing in faith and living life the way God wants me to. But this was the third time this week I’d tried having this conversation with God and I wasn’t feeling any more confident. I regularly read my Bible, pray, go to church, volunteer, reach out to others, and try to encourage people. But right now, I’m really not feeling very filled-to-overflowing with Christ-likeness.

So, here I stand, praying to God, but still feeling limp. Jason Gray verbalizes some of my feelings in his song, “I don’t know how.A silhouette man outstretches his arms looking over a valley of fog in Chaing Mai as the sunrise-or-sunset turns the sky orange

“I wanna believe but I don’t know how
Trust what I can’t see but I don’t know how…
When the troubles come my way
I wanna walk by faith but I don’t know how

“I wanna be clean but I don’t know how
I wanna live free but I don’t know how
It feels like I can’t escape
The shackles of my shame
I wanna break away but I don’t know how ”

I wish I could write a paragraph here explaining that I found out how; a section exclaiming the quick-and-easy get-close-with-Jesus method that will work for everyone. Wouldn’t that cause a revival?! But the truth is, I still don’t know how. But, at the same time, however, I can realize that just because I don’t know how doesn’t mean I can’t still be growing anyway. And just because I don’t know how God is fixing “it” doesn’t mean he isn’t.

18423792_1754039561279573_8317050167611247718_n“I have no choice
But to cry out for You
Please help, cause I’m helpless now
You hear my prayer
When my whole world comes unglued
I know You can fix it, but I don’t know how
I don’t know how”

I often don’t feel like I’m growing. I often don’t know how to grow. But sometimes we need to walk by faith and I believe I have reason to trust God even when I don’t know. So, in humility, I will continue to pray, continue to seek after him. I don’t know how to grow, but he does. And he is in control.

I don’t want to be afraid; A desperate cry to the God of the Universe

Children's Eyes, Eyes, Blue Eye, Emotion, Feelings

“I don’t want to get stitches.” Pupils dilated with pain, my six-year-old little brother lay tense on the couch while we waited for my parents to take him to the hospital. I gently pressed a rag to a gash on his chest that had long ago bled straight through his shirt. The tough little guy hadn’t shed a tear, but his shaky breathing declared his pain. I looked down into his pleading eyes. He could be a man through the pain. He could be deal with a trip to the hospital. But the one thing he asked was that we protect him from stitches.

My little brother is a beast–he doesn’t let fear stop him and, at the age of six, he had the pain tolerance of an adult. But this attitude landed him in the ER four times between the ages of four and six. By the time this episode happened, he was familiar with stitches. But I had witnessed his blood-stained shirt when my little sister brought him up the stairs, saying the boards he’d been playing with had fallen over on him and gashed him with a 0824172031 - Editedprotruding bolt. I knew what was coming. No matter how much bravery and pain shown through those six-year-old eyes, I couldn’t lie by telling him he would avoid stitches this time.

That was more than five years ago, and yet I still remember the sincere, helpless way he pleaded to not get stitches. In past blog posts, I’ve admitted my fear of the future. I’ve admitted my insecurities and my irrational worries. I can deal with not knowing what’s coming. I can deal with a change of plans. But one thing I am so tired of carrying is my dreadful fear of the future.

Tenth Avenue North wrote a song called “Afraid” which has really spoken to me. Since hearing it, I’ve taken the words on as my own and cried out to God in a helpless, pleading, painful voice: “I don’t want to be afraid!”

“When the world shakes
Feel my heart race.
When the voices start again
Oh, the panic’s creeping in
Who will I listen to?
Fear never told the truth.

“So I’ll wait on You tonight;
Worry’s only wasted time.

“I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
Not like before, oh
I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
I’m safe in Your love, oh, Lord

“…This world cannot take my treasure
This world doesn’t own my tears
My hope is alive in heaven
I will not give into despair!
I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
I don’t have to be afraid
I don’t have to be afraid anymore”

And, despite my struggle with fear, I know my God is real and I have experienced that inexpressible peace that he offers me when I am most desperate. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God, even if all you know how to say is, “I don’t want to be afraid!”

 

Well, I’m ready to call it a life: Persevering with Purpose

dog-2532610_1920.jpgRecently I was making my way through another day. At about 5:30 PM I sighed and commented, “Well, I’m ready to call it a life.”

While I feel far inferior to Paul in most of his godly approaches to life, one attitude of his that I can relate well to is the way he sees our time on earth: “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing…While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh… we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). 

Or one of my favorite verses, which has been scattered as a reminder to myself throughout my journal pages: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phillipians 1:21). Dying is Image result for to dogain and when the Lord takes me away, won’t I ever be rejoicing! But as I learned through years of asking questions, we are granted life on earth for a purpose. While there are many days I wish I could be relaxing and rejoicing in God’s presence right now, I have to remember that I have a purpose right here, right now. While it’s not necessarily fun living on earth, we have many blessings and many tasks to accomplish. Each day we’re alive, God wants to be working through us. That is a very encouraging thought; the Creator of the universe has a plan for each day you’re alive. He’s using you for his great purposes.IMG_0711

So, while we do want to be heaven-focused, we also have the privilege of serving God here, and we can’t dismiss this opportunity.

Therefore, until that day of rejoicing when the Lord takes me home, I am determined to use this gift of life that I’ve been given to serve God and others–through my work and through my attitude, by being positive, joyful, and intentional. If I can’t be home now, I might as well make the most of this earthly adventure.