Holy Timing Batman!

It really stinks to suck at something I thought I was good at.  It can be humbling.  It can be discouraging.  It’s a choice to make it motivating.

I’ve had numerous opportunities recently to be encouraging.  In general I see myself as an encouraging person.  But when friends and loved ones come to me during a time of crisis or a low point in their life I can really suck at words of encouragement!  I have caught myself adding to the anxiety or saying dismissive words that do the opposite of encourage.

Why?  Why when the going gets really tough do I resort to cliches?  Or why do I panic and add to the panic?  Or why do I say anything at all?  I’ve lived long enough and walked long enough with Jesus to know way better options.

I know that silence can be golden:  shut up and listen to the person who’s in a vulnerable place.  I know many great people in the Bible did their share of lamenting and God actually invites that kind of honesty in us.  God uses that to build our relationship with him.  It’s often the turning point to living a more joyful life.  So let them have their season of lament!  Timing Carrie, timing!

I know the truth that the trials we face develop perseverance.  And perseverance finishes the work of making us mature and not lacking anything.  That while we are lacking, God, who is generous to all without finding fault, will bless the man who perseveres under trial.  So, why do I add to the fear that comes with trials? Trust God is at work Carrie.  Don’t try to solve the trial for the person!  Just love them and be confident in the goodness of their life.  Timing Carrie, timing!

I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit that I was quick to recognize my recent faux pas.  Recognition gives me a chance to partially correct them.  Partially because I can’t remove the words from the hearer’s memory!  And recognition gives me the opportunity to change my ways.  Actually I’m being generous with myself when I call my blunders faux pas.  A faux pas is a severe social blunder or major breach in etiquette.  Thoughtless words during trying times are a severe misrepresentation of spiritual truths.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11  These are words of truth.  But they may not be words to be quoted to someone in the midst of their pain.  Because timing does make a difference in how words are heard.  Rather than encouraging they could come off as reprimanding or out of touch with my friend’s present experience.

The words in Jeremiah are more important for me to remember than for the person at the height of their lament to remember.  Why?  Because if I know this truth for them to my core, it will inform how I respond to them.  It will give me the confidence to be calm when they can’t be (rather than add words that add to their concern).  And this truth will give me the sort of compassion that uplifts rather than dismisses their emotions.

Yes lamenting can warp our perspective.  There is a time for spurring one another on.  But…timing Carrie, timing!

So, what is it all about Alfie?*

I’ve been blogging for two years now.  Two years after sending a friend a couple pieces I wrote and having her respond “Please, please, please” learn how to start a blog “and then start with these as your first two” posts.

I was concerned because I didn’t have a vision for the end game.  I still don’t.   I just keep writing.  So, besides the fact that asseenbycarrie is an outlet for my love of the written word, why do I blog?  What can readers expect to find on my blog?  As you look over my essays you won’t find a commonality of subjects such as marriage, families, photography, food, technology (that makes for a chuckle given my techno-idiocy), art, nature, etc.

You’ll simply read about my observations of my surroundings, life events (the common and the uncommon), or my internal musings. And you will read how what I observe and experience stirs my desire to ask Jesus to help me interpret my life and our world.

Asseenbycarrie is my effort to not miss out on what God wants to show me as I walk through the everyday and the unlike-any-other-day.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit is teaching me how to be who he created me to be and sometimes he’s teaching me how to enjoy what he’s created.  Sometimes I get to laugh at my weaknesses; sometimes I have a healthy exercise in reprimanding myself for my weaknesses.

In the book of Micah we’re told, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

This life we’re living is tough but it’s not a complete mystery.  Jesus shows us what is good!  But we have to look where he’s pointing.  Our individual histories are going to blur the view.  So, we have to ask him to give us clarity.  Writing with the Holy Spirit by my side gives me clarity.  I hope as you read my blog you’ll be roused to seek clarity from the Holy Spirit in your circumstances.

*Old song reference…another one of my weaknesses.

 

Half Mast

I hesitate to write about this past Sunday because I believe it’s holy ground.  49 lives have been taken and countless other lives have been changed forever.  Evil has grabbed us by the throats again and the “again” of it has us exhausted.  Exhausted, indescribably sad, angry and worn.  My husband and I discussed, as we walked by a flag pole last night, that our nation’s flag seems to spend more time at half mast than not.  We have become a people forever mourning.

Mourning love attacked by hate – again.

Mourning loss at the hands of terrorists.

Mourning our ineptness at stopping the breeding of hate.

Mourning our failure to change the script of violence in our country.

Half Mast refers to flying a flag below the summit on a flag pole.  The summit.  The highest point of a hill or mountain.  Summit.  To reach the highest attainable level of achievement.

The USA has its own personality.  Prideful in ways that are positive.  Prideful in ways that are destructive.  Just like the expression, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”, our pride can send us striving to reach a summit or it can be a godless vanity of self-aggrandisement that sends us slipping backwards down the mountain trail (or flag pole).

With each violent assault on our soil we comfort ourselves with the truth that love is greater than hate.  Sunday there were far more heroes than shooters.  There were brave and compassionate people at that club.  There were brave and compassionate first responders.  There were brave and compassionate people at the Orlando hospitals.  Yes, love was greater than hate.

But still, we face a pattern of raising our flags and then lowering them to half mast because hate repeatedly has its way.

From my vantage point the need for changes in gun control seem obvious.  From my vantage point the need for changes in how we hunt down terrorists within our borders seems obvious.  From my vantage point changing how we care for those with mental illness seems obvious.  However, from my vantage point those are only treatment options.  And just like medicine, treatment doesn’t get the final say over disease.

Our ultimate problem is we think the war we’re in is the war on terrorism or the war on a gun culture or the war on mental health or “___________” (fill in the blank).

The war we’re in is much bigger than all of the above battles combined.  We were all born into a love story set in a world at war.  The love story?  A God, who loves his rebellious children.  A love so great he chose to humble himself and come in the form of a man, Jesus, to rescue us so that we may have life and have it to the full.  The war?  It’s being waged by one who’s sole desire is to kill, steal and destroy.

The battles we’re in can only be won temporarily by changes in legislation or law enforcement or health care.  The larger war can be won eternally by hearts that choose to follow Jesus instead of themselves or any other man.  Read Isaiah 61 in the Bible.  Read what Jesus said he came to do.  If the Biblical language throws you, righteousness can be defined as “making all things right”.  Our exhausted, indescribably sad, angry and worn hearts know that the way things are is just not right.

The only way we’re going to get to stop raising the flag only to bring it down to half mast is to raise our own personal flags of surrender.  Because when we surrender our own pride, Jesus is going to take us to the summit of the highest peak.  A peak named Perfect Love.

The Wisdom of Scarlett

I believe Scarlett was speaking some truth when she declared, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”.  I wish I’d remember that when I’m letting stress rule a day…or morning, or afternoon, or hour, or minute.  I’ve always thought that declaration by Scarlett was yet another exhibit of her vacuous, self absorbed, state of denial.  Today I’m embracing it’s hopeful qualities.

I don’t want “after all, tomorrow is another day” as a thought that allows me to give up on the current day or moment.  I don’t want to follow Scarlett’s avoidance of feelings of guilt, repentance or self reflection.  I do want Scarlett’s optimism and ability to survive. And I want the thought “tomorrow is another day” to give me the clarity that this stressful moment is going to pass and it may not account for much once it has passed.

Well, a stressful moment could account for much!  It could account as a time when I grow that much stronger in listening to the Holy Spirit rather than my own insecurities.  It could account as a time when I recognize lies being whispered (or screamed) at me.  It could be a time when I choose to ask Jesus to help me rightly interpret the fear I’m feeling in a situation.  It could be a time when I participate in bringing the light filled kingdom of God into a dark day.  It could be a time when I choose to be gracious rather than snippy.  It could be a reminder that joy and life can have the final say over circumstances of suffering, sadness or discouragement.

Tomorrow is another day.  And God’s mercies are new every morning.  But what about this day?  Even if it sets itself up to be stressful, I think I’ll make something good out of it by inviting Jesus into every bit of it.  He’s the One who breaks down insecurities, speaks truth, gives peace rather than fear, uses me to be light in a dark world, fills me with joy and offers life.

Psalm 70:4  But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”