Anxiety

How would I define anxiety? How would I describe my anxiety to another person?

Anxiety is having limitless questions with no answers–and seemingly very high stakes. No answers because you don’t trust yourself. You don’t even have a gut to follow because you don’t trust any of your own thoughts, so they become only more noise in the swirling tornado.

Not having answers becomes very serious when you ask questions like “Is this issue even important?” When you don’t know which issues are life-changing and which won’t matter three seconds later, the fear is that you’ll let something go that really matters–that you’ll screw yourself over by dismissing something that was actually lifeblood.

Granted, you can ask other people for their take, and there is relief when they can confidently make a decision or offer an answer …unless for any reason it comes into question or conflict. Like when my counselor says one thing and my dad says another, but my gut offers no direction. I am paralyzed.

How do I know who is correct? I can get a third opinion and ask my boyfriend and then majority wins, if I’m lucky enough for everyone to give clear and distinct direction. But what if my dad questions my boyfriend? Then, somehow again, it’s one against one–now in two different scenarios and everything is multiplied!

tornado on far side on plain

There is no sense of confidence and every question spiral becomes eternal. Especially when someone suggests that perhaps the biggest issue is my overthinking it. “What if I am overthinking it? Would I know? Is something wrong with me? How do I stop overthinking it? If I try to ignore it, am I stuffing it? Will it come back to bite me later? What does my counselor say? But is my counselor trustworthy? Should I just make a decision? What if I make the wrong decision? Is this an important issue? Would a wrong decision really hurt me? I don’t know. How do I find out? Maybe I just need to make a decision and stick with it. Maybe it’s the sticking with it that will make it work. But now dad asked me a question that questions my commitment! Abort! Abort! This is probably a bad choice! So what do I do instead? Should I just stop thinking about it? How? If I don’t think about this issue, what happens to it? Am I becoming a victim because I’m just letting it happen instead of being proactive about it? Wouldn’t the responsible person be proactive? Maybe I’m not responsible. If I’m not responsible, maybe I can’t trust this decision. How do I know?…”

That is anxiety. That is the string of questions that I can’t shut up. Partly because they haunt me of their own accord and partly because I fear they speak some truth and to shut them up would be to silence wisdom. And wisdom is what I’m so very very desperate for right now.

Am I ashamed of this anxiety? Sometimes. Am I crippled by this anxiety? Certainly. Does this anxiety take my emotions and whip them around like a Jackson Pollock painting? Without a doubt.

AND my worth remains the same with or without anxiety. With or without shame. With or without any sense of confidence. With or without feeling valuable.

My very existence is pleasing to God. And in my weakness he is strong.

As I wrote in a previous blog post: “[God] is here in me. In me. And I do not have to fear. And when I do fear, I do not have to shame. And when I do shame, I do not have to believe it. And when I do believe it, I am still enough. I still have God in me. I cannot get rid of God.”

two persons sitting beside body of water

I want to be real and to be honest. I want to be a safe place where you can be real and honest.

Maybe this is what it looks like to pursue the path of trusting God, rather than the path of trying to please God.

So today I will speak truth to myself, whether or not I feel it. Because faith is not a feeling and truth is not dependent on emotions.

Dreams-and Lack Thereof.

rectangular beige board

Living in the land of dreams where you can do whatever you put your mind to, be whoever you chose to be, and pursue the American Dream, to feel dreamless can feel like failure. My lack of direction, dreams, and pursuits has filled me with a steady sense of “not-enough” and “wrong,” whispered (and sometimes shouted) by shame and anxiety on a sometimes-daily basis.

Ben Carson didn’t wishy-washy his way to greatness. Martin Luther King Junior didn’t achieve through average life. Bill Gates didn’t stumble upon success. These people all followed their dreams with a motivation that only comes from having dreams that call your name.

So, clearly, my day-to-day life–focused more on holding back tears in the midst of anxiety as opposed to smiling broadly into mid air while a dream swirls around inside my head–leads me into the life of a failure, as I see it.

man standing

And then sometimes God speaks through a song. Casting CrownsDream for You” is speaking from God’s perspective.

So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you

American culture teaches us that to be somebody, we have to have dreams and plans. If we don’t we are headed toward failure.

Maybe that’s not how God thinks.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying God prefers couch potatoes to ambition (though I will be the first to argue that God loves couch potatoes every single bit as much as those ambitious people. I mean, com’on! Are we trying to please God or trust that he loves us as we are?). I’m also not saying “Quit planning.” Often God gives us dreams and when that happens, my friends, you are so right to jump on it!

But God does all things in his timing and maybe today–this year–or even this decade, my lack of plans and direction and confidence in a goal is my greatest asset–as it leaves me open to whatever dreams God is preparing for me.

You know how in the Lego Movie, despite his total and absolute un-impressiveness, Emmett’s completely empty brain is actually an asset? Despite it’s apparent uselessness, his mind’s lack of activity saves him years of trying to empty his brain to become a Master Builder. I’m just thinking–maybe there is some insight there!

A Lego Movie Review – All that Glitters is Not Gold | simmerings of a saxon

I want to be a someone. I want to be seen as ambitious. Sometimes I even think I could impress God if only I had more direction.

But maybe in His lovingkindness, in His wisdom, and in His timing, He is creating fantastic dreams for me all on His own. And maybe, for now, that means resting in his hand and letting him dream for me.

At the end of the day, would it be surprising if resting in God’s dreams for me is what God wants more than me “becoming” somebody by dreaming for myself solo?

The Impossibly Hard Work of Letting Go and Relaxing

man on antelope canyon during daytime

My God cannot be put in a box. My God cannot be thwarted. My God is a big God.

If I fear that any decision I make will destroy my life, I have forgotten the power of the One I’ve committed my life to. My God is big enough to turn this ship around. He’s big enough to pick me up kicking and screaming and land me wherever he wants. He’s big enough to uproot all expectations and crush my world–according to his great plan.

Honestly, my Father makes the ultimate decisions. My friends or my life may ask me questions and I may answer as confidently or confusedly as I may, but in the end my Father dictates what happens. If one toddler asks another if sh’ed like to set her hand on a hot stove, she may agree that, indeed, she’d love to! But her father will whisk her off the stool and not allow it if it is not safe. Likewise, a child may reach for a piece of candy offered, but it the father disagrees, he will get to that candy first and pocket it for his child’s health.

I am not so powerful as I fear. Yes, we are allowed free will and we may decide to make choices against God’s will that he may allow us to follow through on. But why am I fixated on that fear as if my Father is constantly putting me to the test? God loves me and we are working on a team. As long as I am pursuing after him as best as I know how (however inadequate that may be), I have no reason to believe he’s out to watch me fail and punish me for it.

child and parent hands photography

My God knows my lack of wisdom. He understands the skewed vision with which I see. If he wants to make something clear to me he is every bit capable of literally rocking my world. And, he knows exactly how much rocking it would take for me to notice. My God knows me.

So why should I spend day after day entrenched and fully engulfed and even paralyzed in constant fear of running my life over a cliff when I’m not in the driver’s seat anyway?

How much safer, perhaps, to move forward with confidence that I am where God wants me right now. And I will remain here confidently until he makes it clear that I ought to move. And when he wants me to get a new job, it will be clear. Wouldn’t I rather risk requiring God to speak a little louder–as he’s very well capable of doing, than to spend unknown units of energy, tiptoeing around in worry, fear, and anxiety that I–walking far in front of God–may be leading us down a wrong trail?

Pastor Kirk said that God is leading us. We are not leading God. What if, instead of anxiously trying to predict his will, I simply leaned back into trust and let him lead me with a firm and gentle hold on my hand? What if I settled confidently here for a minute–sure that, for now, I am where God wants me? And, in doing so, opened the opportunity to be fully present, fully grateful, fully alive in this moment, trusting God to guide me to the next one as the time arises?

Is not my big God capable of making his will known? And, if it’s trust–innocent and as best I can–that leads me to stay just a minute longer than perhaps I could’ve, so God himself has to pick me up and direct me–do I really think I will disappoint him? Will he be upset that I snuggled back against his warm chest and let myself find peace in his guidance? Will relaxing into his power and guidance truly offend him? Will I loose his goodwill if I stop trying to anticipate his plans and always be one step ahead?

man holding girl heading towards sea

Is it not my fear of missing out, of falling short, of missing my opportunity what leads me to white-knuckle-grasp this anxiety which, in turn, makes me carry the weight of the world? And then, is he impressed by the unnecessary load his princess is shouldering and does it bring him the pleasure and joy that I hope it will–to earn his love?

Am I seeking to please God or to trust him And does trusting require that I release this burden and instead snuggle surely into his mighty protection and wisdom?

Though it seem like the lazy thing, the foolish thing, the disappointing thing, what if being the most I could be and loving him the best I could really meant sitting here–right where I am in the retail job I have, in my parents house, with a counselor I’m uncertain of. Exactly here. And simply living it up? Finding joy in the here, not because I followed my plans to get here, not because I will impress God here, not because this is the summit of all my dreams, but because, at this point, this is where God led me.

And to trust him, rejoicing in the day he has made, I bring him the greatest glory, though my calendar contains no noteworthy events and my resume no impressive titles, is to bring him the greatest pleasure? Could I humble myself to accept this offer? Could I trust this enough to rest in it? Can I relieve myself of the weight of the world for just today? Maybe just this hour?

person lying on hammock

Is that what trust requires? The impossibly hard work of letting go and relaxing? Am I willing to test this journey and this way of life?

Trusting God vs. Pleasing God

man wearing gray T-shirt standing on forest

As the famous poem goes, 

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference.”

Or at least, that’s the part we all know. Oh yeah, I’m Luke (the boyfriend), by the way! I decided to write a post for once, so welcome to this limited edition of The Adventurous Life.

In his poem, Robert Frost comes upon two roads in a yellow forest. Both of them have inviting features, but he can only take one. I also came upon a fork in the road two weeks ago, and I have been finding it rather hard myself: do I want to please God, or do I want to trust God?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: both! You want to please AND trust God. I agree, however, I have to choose. You may be thinking, “You don’t have to choose, you SHOULD do both!” They sound like they could go well together, but in practical application, when I’m working to please God, I am not trusting that I am pleasing to God just the way I am. And when I do take the path of trusting that my identity alone is pleasing to God, there is no longer reason to work at pleasing him. If you’re striving to please, you’re no longer trusting, so they cannot happen simultaneously. 

yellow arrow road sign

The other day, I was reading Truefaced, and in it the authors were talking of two trails that lead to two completely different places:The Room of Striving to Be All God Wants Me to Be and The Room of Grace.

I don’t know about you, but I was always taught that salvation is through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). No works I do can ever be enough to get me to heaven. They all fall short (remember that cliff illustration? God over there, me over here with the cross spanning the gulf. Beautiful!). So as you can see, we all start our salvation journey by faith (or trust) alone.  However, after I gave my life to Christ, trusting Him to save me, I was placed on a journey that brought me to this sign that marked to paths: “Pleasing God” and “Trusting God”

This confused me because I sang a song in church that said “Trust and obey.” Did I just get the wrong conjunction? No, that’s the way the song goes, and both things are important, but like we discussed before–we have to choose only one to be a priority.

I, however, confused my priorities and I started walking down the path of Pleasing God because, after all that He’s done for me, I want to please Him with my life. I opened the door to the Room of Striving to Be All God Wants Me to Be. In the room, I saw many people, and they looked good, all put together, and really pleasing God. This is where I’ve spent the majority of my life–wearing the mask of good intentions.

It was hard staying in The Room of Striving when I had things in my life that would make it look like I wasn’t really striving to be all God wants me to be. Just being honest here, I’ve got some sins that I am currently struggling with that many Christians would gasp at and maybe even wonder if I’m truly saved if I still struggle with these things. This makes me want to hide them away so I can look like I’m pleasing God. Then I go to sweep up my mess when nobody’s looking. I wanted to be accepted so I had to wear a mask to cover up my scars. 

woman in orange and blue life vest on water

In The Room of Grace, however, I don’t need a mask. When I walk down the road of Trusting God, I find that God says I’m His masterpiece and that He is rather fond of me. He says that he hates it when I put my mask on and asks me to leave it at the trailhead. He wants to walk with me and He wants to enjoy me for me. 

And with this we find the answer to our paradox: when we walk down the road of Trusting God with who we are, and stop trying to please God by hiding our sins, He can then stand with us, with our sin out in front of us, and He then grabs His shovel and starts digging away at my sin. What about you? Are you willing to put down your mask with me? God wants to love us for who we are, not for who we’re trying to be. 

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Almost Roadkill; Creating opportunities for trust

I wouldn’t trust my bike brakes. The other day I was out mountain biking on a thin trail and quite nearly ran completely over a living woodchuck. He stood in the middle of the path, obviously stuck in deciding which way to go, frantically turning one way and then the other. I get it. I often don’t know which way to go either. So I would’ve loved to stop for him. But I couldn’t… because my brakes are far from trustworthy. I was so sure of collision in my helpless situation that I had already braced for the impact when he dodged out of the way last second.

With my brakes as an example, let’s talk about trust. Trust is built through the following cycle: you have a need, you express the need, there is a positive response to the need, and the need is satisfied. I have a need: to stop for the uncertain woodchuck. I express that need: I squeeze on my brakes. There is a positive response to my need (best case scenario): I slow significantly. And the need is satisfied: Woodchuck goes on his way without being hit nor having a heart attack from a dreadfully close scare.

girl and boy holding balloon Lego minifugures

Let’s pause for a happy celebration.

Okay, back to real life. In real life, this trust cycle fails us on a fairly regular basis. When any step in this cycle goes south, mistrust happens. Often we blame those around us when we feel we can’t trust. Sometimes this is fair. Sometimes this is us in victim mode, though.

After all, you are responsible for at least half of the steps in this cycle: recognizing and then expressing your need. And this might just be the hardest part.

Recently I wrote a blog post regarding needs claiming that we all have legitimate needs and even have the duty to determine what they are (because we are worth it). However, even once we go through the process of recognizing our needs, it’s a whole other ordeal to express them.

I’m reading a highly recommendable book called Keep Your Love On written by Danny Silk. The author claims that “Expressing our needs and building relational connections are closely intertwined–in fact; they are dependent on one another.” His argument is hard to compete with when he lays the evidence that

silhouette photography of person

“God, the one Person in the universe who knows all things, and knows us incomparably better than we know ourselves, never says, ‘well, obviously, I know your needs, so you don’t need to tell me about them.’ Instead he repeatedly tells us to ask Him for what we need… He won’t meet our needs outside of a connection where we have to show up and crack our hearts open to Him, because that very connection is what we need to have our needs met in the first place.”

Hey. If even God–who freaking created me–asks me to share my thoughts and needs with him, can I expect any human in my life to simply know and respect my needs without me first communicating them? Can I blame him/her for our lack of trust because he/she didn’t somehow just “sense” my needs and help meet them?

Yeah… so maybe I ought to practice expressing my needs.

But to make things a little more complicated, Mr. Silk points out that, not only do we need to express our needs, we need to express them appropriately. We may think we’re expressing our needs when we complain, “I’m hungry” or when we accuse the other person, “you’re not listening to me or helping me.”

black and white tabby cat

These, however, are judgement statements. According to Mr. Silk, “A judgement statement says ‘I’m too scared to show you what is really going on inside me. I’ll only feel safe to show you what I’m feeling if you first agree with my assessment of what’s wrong with you and then promise to never be like that again.'”

When he puts it that way, it’s hard to claim that that approach is exactly fair.

Appropriately expressing needs begins with a focus on what I am feeling. “I feel scared when you yell.” It’s vulnerable. It’s hard. AND it is a demonstration of authentic power.

Once the feeling is expressed, then the need can be offered. “I need you to use a gentler voice when you’re talking with me.” …and, ta-da!, you’ve appropriately opened yourself up for others to help meet needs. And given trust an opportunity to grow.

Easy? Ha! No! But worthwhile. Connecting with others is what creates meaning in life. Connection requires trust. You are not a helpless victim; you have a part to play in building trust.

My bike brake metaphor fails to embrace the entirety of this concept. Yet, even here there is an applicable aspect. I could blame my brakes up one side of the fence and down the other for not working when I tell them to. But I’m perfectly capable of tweaking my brakes so that they are reliable and work correctly. I am not a victim. I just have to get my hands dirty and do some of the hard work.

Acknowledge your needs. And express them through feelings. Perhaps you will discover there are a lot more trustworthy others out there than you ever anticipated.

I have legitimate needs. I need to set up boundaries.

several assorted-color neon light signage

My recent discovery is that I have needs. Legitimate needs. And I need to make sure they get met.

On the one hand, your first thought might be, “Well, duh. Very insightful, girlfriend. Everyone has needs. For example, everyone needs water, food, love…” Or it could be the opposite, “‘Need’ is a very strong word. Most of what you think you need is really a want.” I would know; I’ve tended to ride these extremes.

However, the fact of the matter is that there is a middle ground–one that deserves our attention. Sometimes I inaccurately frame my “wants” as “needs.” But just as likely, I fear, I dismiss my sincere and legitimate “needs” as only selfish “wants.” And that isn’t fair to myself.

I, after all, am a princess of the True and living God, complete with needs deserving much more than flippant dismissal. I am worth fighting for and I–being the one best aware of my needs–have the responsibility to fight for them.

blue wooden dor

Honestly, it is a bit humbling.

It’s humbling to admit I have needs. It’s humbling to put a limit on what I can do for others because I need to take time for myself. It’s humbling to ask for things I need.

But I’m worth it. So I’ve been learning to set up boundaries. Not to control others. But for my own safety–out of self-respect. It’s not easy.

First, I have to recognize needs that I have a right to: Respect. Trust. Truth. Space… 

Then I have to set up realistic, concrete boundaries.

“I need rest, hence I can help you, but only until 10 pm.”

“I need respect so if you continue to use that tone of voice with me, I will walk away.”

“I value our relationship, however, I need it to be grounded on trust and if you continue to lie to me, I will have to remove myself from this situation for my own safety.”

“I need someone to listen, so even if it might inconvenience her, I will call my friend.”

“I need help with dinner, so I need you to turn off the TV.”

“I need your attention, so I need you to set aside your phone.”

green leafed plant near table

While the concepts are always true, most of my specific boundaries are grounded in some time and circumstantial frame; things I need in certain moments, but not all the time. For example, some nights I can stay up later than 10 talking to a friend. Sometimes I can grin and bear it and make dinner alone. Sometimes I can just journal instead of talking in real time to a friend. However, just because they aren’t always a need doesn’t dismiss them as never a need.

I definitely don’t claim to know the trick to determining when a desire is a want versus a need. That’s a struggle I’m dealing with every day. Do I really need time alone or am I just wanting it? And then there are other confusing conflicts; I need time alone to rest and she needs someone to be with her and listen to her. What then? My mom needs to be treated with respect, but her son needs to be heard and loved regardless.

So, no, I don’t have that down yet. But for now I’m giving myself space to recognize that I do have needs. Legitimate needs. And, being a human created in the very image of our great God, I have a right to treat myself with respect. In fact, I have the duty to stand up for myself–to make sure my needs are met. Because I’m worth it.

You’re worth it. And you do have needs. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s right, even. So give yourself space to listen to your needs. And then set up boundaries to take care of yourself. It’s how God created us. Self-respect is not selfish.

Comment below. What are some needs that you legitimately have? What are some boundaries that are appropriate, even though they may sometimes feel selfish? What do you do to differentiate between a want and a need?

brown wooden fence

 

Getting away with what’s wrong; Living differently

Image result for wisconsin license plate

One of the delightful aspects of moving out of state is the joyous process of switching over car insurance, drivers’ licences, and licence plates. I’m so excited for this task that I’ve been putting it off longer than I should.

In all honesty, I could probably get away with putting it off (provided I don’t run into any strict cops) for quite a while still. It would be cheaper, not technically illegal, and easier. Every month I’m paying for my cheaper MI insurance is money saved. With a looming college debt, that’s incentive.

But even though doing so isn’t inherently technically wrong, it’s also distinctly not right. Discussing the topic with my mom the other day, she pointed out that God will always provide a way to do the right thing the right way–no matter how it might feel to us.

I suppose I already knew that. But I hadn’t been looking at the situation that way.

Paying off debt is God’s will. I’m not wrong to want to do that as quickly as possible. But it is not God’s will that I go about paying off my debt in some less-than-wholly-right methods. And if I truly trust God, I will take the inconvience of doing the right thing the right way even if it seems like a slower path to my end goal. Because God is big enough to provide.

God doesn’t just restrict this principle to financial decisions. What are you letting slide–doing not quite the right way–because you know it will bring you to a right thing in the end?

Doing the right thing the wrong way is still the wrong thing. Do I trust God enough to truly put that into practice? Do you?

We Christ-followers are called to stand out and be different. If buying new insurance and plates in a timely manner is part of that calling, well, I suppose I’d better get on it.

Trust Issues: How painful will God’s best be?

I’ve got trust issues.

Right now is a time in my life where a lot is changing and very little is predictable. Having just graduated from a Christian university, arguably the most-quoted advice I received as I started out on this agonizing job-searching adventure was to “trust God.” I’ve heard them all: “God knows what’s best for you.” “You’ll end up where God wants you.” “It’s in God’s hands.” “No matter what happens, you don’t have to worry because God is in control.”

If I’m being fair, I’ve relayed some of these messages to you in previous posts, so I can’t be too harsh on the folks who dish out this advice. But if I’m being honest, I’ll let you know I’m quite a hypocrite.

I do entirely believe that, so long as I’m plugged into God, he will lead me where he

Image result for cs lewis

wants me. However, this does very, very little to put me at ease. I’m 100% resonating with C. S. Lewis right now when he said,

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

When I was in school, grades were an idol. I let them define who I was, and turned to them for satisfaction and worth. There would be moments where I would realize this, but I was scared as heck to pray about it. Yes, God would take care of me. If I follow God’s plan, he will use me, I will have purpose, and I will find great joy–I have no doubt. But what if his plan meant getting anything below an A in a given class?!? I could hardly pray about my grades and school for fear that handing God the reigns would mean giving up something great that I desired. And good grades are great.

But the thing is, maybe good grades aren’t best. Maybe I was trusting the wrong thing.

In my head I believe that–even if God’s best is painful–it is worthwhile. He will take care selective focus photography of pink rose flowerof me and, somehow, he will make every second of pain worthwhile (even if my feelings don’t always agree). But in my heart, I’m scared, untrusting, and very (very) hesitant. What if God’s Best for me is chock-full of pain, discomfort, uncertainty, inconvenience, and havoc. Am I willing to let God lead my life if that is what he has in store for me?

I don’t like pain.

I need to remember that this life isn’t by any means the end all, be all. Even if absolutely every single second of my life on earth were to entirely suck (it doesn’t.), the pain would be incomparably minute compared to the eternal life of the purest form of rejoicing and joy on the new earth. It would be worth it.

But so often I don’t have that perspective. So maybe I can’t honestly find the strength to pray for an all-in kind of submission to God’s “best” right now. But, working together with God (who, ultimately, is actually the only one who can change me anyway), can I find the trust to start to pray for more trust?two person holding hands while standing

I wish I was perfect. But while I might preach that God’s best is to be desired, in my heart, I’m still not even there yet.

God can still use me. He can still use you despite all you may feel you’re failing at. Let’s support each other on this journey of learning trust.

Am I Proud of or Ashamed of Who I am?

unnamed.jpg

I wrote a post on surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you, be a good influence on you, and challenge you. For me, as a Christ follower, that means finding close friends who are serious about their faith and are pursuing a relationship with God hard core. But then the question plagues me: how can I tell if someone is sincere in his/her faith?

As I wrestled with this thought, I had to ask myself what I am doing to show my passion for Christ? This can be a painful question. This post is written as much for myself as it is for you

To get a practical application of how I could see Christ in others or how I could demonstrate my faith myself, I considered people around me who I admire to see how they show their passion for Christ. As much as we might prefer a glorious, mythical answer, the truth is, in those who I admire, I see Christ lived out in the little things.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 commands: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” 1 Timothy 2:2-3 repeats the idea, “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”

Big glorious things for Christ matter, but it is the simple, daily, living-life things that we are commanded to submit to Christ if we really want to live out our faith.

Free stock photo of man, person, dirty, constructionWork

Especially over the summer, the idea of using everyday work to glorify God spoke to me. 40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work?40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work? is a heart-felt post I wrote explaining how our time at work is a chance we have to serve others and find purpose. Work is not simply a wretched torture we must suffer through to supply our needs; instead it is an opportunity to engage with the people and tasks around us–to use the gifts and talents God has provided to serve others.

People will see Christ in me when I do my work passionately, go above and beyond expectations, and work as if it really matters. For my job as a tour guide at Cornerstone University, this means not just leading tours and saying what I have to say, but adding sincere energy. It means memorizing the names of the students on my tours. It means asking what they would like to know about, caring about their needs. It means arriving early to work and being willing to stay late sometimes. It means smiling while I work and going out of my way to find answers to questions. Is that the attitude I have when I head to work?

I want to be a Christian who has a great reputation at work because I am going to work looking to serve others, and not just looking out for myself.

Time management

Blue sand falls in an hourglass on a rocky beachThe way we prioritize also speaks volumes to what we are living for. Am I making time for one-on-one time with God daily (severely important!!!)? Am I making time to spend with others? Am I being responsible with the tasks I have to accomplish?

Everyone needs to waste time sometimes, but when I am tempted to binge watch Rhett and Link, I have to question: is that really the best way to use the limited time I have on earth? When I stay up late and am grumpy at work the next day, it’s not just myself who is affected. Am I viewing my time on earth as a temporary loan, or am I just looking to use it for myself and my personal pleasures? Am I wishing time away or am I looking to use the most of each moment I’ve been gifted with life?

I want to be a Christian whose time management points to a purpose above my own.

Respect for Others

A Christ-follower should believe that each individual possesses at least some aspect of who God is. I believe those who call themselves Christians should not gossip, should not tear others down, and should, in fact, do quite the opposite. The Christians who I admire do a great job of seeing the positives in others and serving others. As Christians, we can speak so much of God’s love by serving those around us. Sometimes this means opening doors for others. Sometimes it means befriending that lonely kid in your hall. Sometimes it means helping a classmate with homework. Or writing an encouraging note to someone. It can mean not dissing a professor, not speaking poorly of that one kid in class, not watching that film that the others are into. It can be small, but respect shows.

I want to be a Christian who radiates respect.

Image result for brokeMoney

How a person spends his/her money will show exactly what that person prioritizes. Again, it is absolutely okay to spend some money on yourself from time to time just for fun. But am I tithing? Am I giving some of it to the expansion of Christ’s kingdom? (Compassion International is a great organization to donate to, you can sponsor a child and see how much that one sponsorship can change the world for a child on the other side of the world!)

I know I’m speaking mostly to college students here. I know that we have very minimal amounts of money to spend. So maybe the question isn’t so much about how you could spend your money differently, but how about considering how much energy you waste worrying about your money? I want to learn to trust God so that, when I’m doing as much as I can, I can lay aside the worry and not let money stress me out.

I want to be a Christian who has enough confidence in my great God that when money is tight (i.e. always), I will never stop giving and will trust God to be in control.

Attitude

I hope that if you’ve been following my blog even halfheartedly that you’ve been slapped in the face with my passion for having a joyful attitude. Attitude is such a choice and it has the potential to be such a huge witness! I believe in a God who grants us hope, peace, trust, and JOY! As I Christ-follower, it is my sincere hope to represent some of God’s great attributes through having a joyful attitude.

Going out on the mission field, draining your savings to support a Christian organization, adopting a whole family of kids from the other side of the world: these are things that glorify God. But walking into work with a smile, writing an encouraging note to your roommate, working hard on your homework: these glorify God just as much.

The majority of our time and energy on earth is honestly spent just trying to stay alive; eating, sleeping, and breathing. It’s exhausting. But God put us on earth to live. And these things are what living takes. It is even these things that glorify God.

The way we do the simplest aspects of everyday living is what truly communicates to the world about our passion for Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”