POTENTIAL AND OTHER UNACHIEVABLE IDEAS THAT CAUSE ME TO WHINE (A LOT)

Welcome to my pity party!

Welcome to my pity party!

By Lisa Huddleston

I’m throwing a little pity party, and lucky you are cordially invited. So what’s the problem? Oh just more of the same: feeling as though I don’t fit in any category I can find and knowing that unrealized potential is worse than no potential at all.

Haven’t I written about this stuff before? Sure I have! And that makes my party even more spectacular. Balloons, banners, confetti–the works!

What’s  today’s cause for celebration? Let’s see: a less than stellar grade on an assignment for my Evaluation and Remediation of Reading class, a growing recognition that I am wasting time and money by taking these classes to renew my teaching license because odds are that I will never really teach, and a general sense of failure and despair. Yeah, that covers and smothers it pretty well. (Why yes, that IS a reference to Waffle House’s menu.)

Oh well, what’s a girl to do? Get over herself, I guess.

I did read a wonderful passage from Galatians this morning, chapter 6, verses 4-5, that contains some pretty good words to consider right about now:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (The Message)

Who am I? (THE question of the ages.) What is my given work? (Don’t I wish I knew.)  Am I sunk deeply into it? (Probably not–unless that explains that sinking feeling I’ve been experiencing–no.) Am I too impressed with myself? (Sometimes.) Am I too hard on myself by comparing myself with others? (Very likely.) Am I taking responsibility for doing my creative best with my own life? (Ah, God knows I’m trying, but this isn’t a game of horse shoes.)

And as is pretty obvious by my quick and snarky responses to Paul’s deeply probing questions, I still have a lot of work to do. Work that starts on the inside and hopefully works its way out to the world.

Change my heart, Oh God,

Make it ever true.

Change my heart, Oh God,

May I be like You.

Real. Honest. Thinking neither too highly nor too lowly of myself–nor too often. Deep. Hard working. Responsible. Creative.

Okay. The party’s over. Please, turn off the lights on your way out.

MAINTENANCE MONDAY

Keeping everything running smoothly ...

Keeping everything running smoothly

By Lisa Huddleston

Some times Intentional Living requires maintenance, and that is exactly what today has been dedicated to. Yes, I did ride my bike and walk on the treadmill for a while–both maintenance related tasks for my physical person–but that’s not all. Because today is President’s Day and Chuck is home, we have scheduled all sorts of long-needed repairs on our aging house.

To start with, the plumber arrived early this morning to work on several old and leaky toilets. Nothing glamorous about that job, but oh did it need to be taken care of–and it makes me very, very happy to know my toilet will not be falling through the floor and into the basement. That would not only be painful but more than a little awkward. I’m glad and thankful to know I have a firm foundation!

Next, and hopefully very soon, the electrician will arrive to do several  jobs that have needed to be done for years. I can’t even explain the technical situation, but for many years one nook of the house has been without power, and I simply cannot wait to have it restored. I’m tired of running extension cords to my desk lamp, stumbling through the dark when I need to head into the kitchen at night, and worrying that we are all going to one day go up in flames. I will be absolutely delighted to flip the wall switch and have the ceiling light fixture turn on and to sleep without midnight worries over fires. Oh yes, simple joys are best!

And it’s not just the old broken things that we hope to restore. I am also thrilled to be putting a brand spanking new outlet in the butler’s pantry so that I can move the microwave and toaster off of my too-crowded kitchen counters to this discrete location. Yay! I truly can’t wait! Tis a joy to be simple!

And, of course, all this physical maintenance reminds me of my need for spiritual maintenance, as well. I mean there’s always a lesson to be learned and here it is: Sometimes my faith gets worn, my resolve leaks out all over the floor, and I can’t for the life of me turn on the light of truth in my dark and dreary heart. (See yesterday’s post for a prime example.)

When that happens it’s best to call in the experts: spiritual plumbers and electricians to plug my leaks and jump-start the power of my faith. Who are these experts? The Holy Spirit who prays for me when all my words fail, the Word of God that stops the leaking of my resolve by showing me that I am in good company in the flawed and floundering family of God, the Body of Christ revealed in my friends and family who constantly seek to encourage my resolve and build up my faith, and, finally, my Heavenly Father who knows what is best for me and desires that I get it in a timely manner. What trustworthy workers!

Yes, maintenance may not be glamorous, although I tried to tidy up every area where these workmen will be serving us today so that at least it won’t be too nasty. But maintenance is one of the most important ingredients of Intentional Living–especially in the second half of life where so much is prone to needing repairs.

I am thankful for the knowledge of all these experts and for their availability to repair what I cannot do on my own. And thankful also for the reminder that life is a daily readjusting to the challenges that only God knows will come.

“Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Could be most anything. An encouraging word. A buffalo herd. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?” –Claire Lynch

God knows! And for plumbers and electricians and the Holy Spirit and the Word and my brothers and sisters on the journey called life, I am thankful that with some careful, intentional maintenance I can be in good shape to meet if not always conquer the challenges that lie ahead.

(Keep your fingers crossed on that whole power outage thingy–and the wires hopefully uncrossed! This ain’t our first electrical repair rodeo, and I admit to being a little skeptical. Some of those past electricians confessed their inability to help, and others just quietly faded away while promising calls that never came. But, hey, hope springs eternal … and I’m thankful for that, too.)

COMFORTABLY NUMB

1277243_10201893710251110_1529264531_oBy Lisa Huddleston

Sometimes painfully bright moments of piercing clarity cut through the mundane moments of my life. Epiphanies. Icy cold splashes of truth. Acid that eats holes in the fabric of the ordinary.

In these pinpoints of recognition, I cannot avoid the truth that life is very, very brief and often very, very hard. Yes, I know–life is also very, very beautiful. Yes, yes, it is painfully beautiful! Yet from the moment we are born, the math is against us. While we think we are adding, time is ticking and subtracting from us the things that we suppose will be always ours.

Born naked, we are wrapped in cloth that moths will eat and arms that worms will consume. Born soft and vulnerable, we build exoskeletons of stuff that rust promises to destroy. Even the tents of our flesh will each in its turn one day mold and disappear. “Life is so meaningless!” this moment screams. And it honestly feels that way in the cornea-burning blast of epiphanal light.

But spirit remains. Spirit lives on. Set free and once again naked and poor, our spirits return to the Spirit that inspires all life. And that is what all the losing, all the letting go is about–right, God? A freeing of spirit to a spacious place where we no longer are about addition or subtraction, or getting and spending, or the wasting of time. Isn’t that the truth? God, let that be the truth.

Then the blessed clouds pass over the sun. Our pupils return to normal diameters and the comfort of normalcy numbs our knowing into unknowing. And mostly we can forget–until the next time the sky splits.

 

“BE-NIGN, VALENTINE!”

candy-heartsBy Lisa Huddleston

“But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up” (Daniel 3:18). 

Many of you are probably familiar with those words from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were about to be thrown into a burning furnace, because they would not worship Nebuchadnezzar and his little ‘g’ gods. The king wanted to see if their god (THE God) could rescue them, and they replied that although they knew that God could do it they did not know if He would–but they cast their lot with God either way.

Their story ends well. God saves them with His supernatural power and “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire … not hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Dan. 3:27). And everyone says, “Amen!”

That’s sort of how I felt yesterday. After undergoing last week’s biopsy (uncomfortable but not terrible), I got the good news that the pathology report showed no signs of cancer. Chuck and I breathed synchronized sighs of relief and thanked God for the good news. Before we even left the parking garage, we texted the word, Benign, to everyone who had asked to be told and began receiving our friend’s happy words: Praise God, God is so good, Thank you, Jesus, Baruch haShem, and my personal favorite, “Be-Nign, Valentine!” It was very good news, and we have very good friends!

But ever the philosopher, I can’t help thinking of what our response would have been if the news had been bad. Even then, would we have praised God?

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: without question, God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

SHARING THE LOAD

A burden shared is a burden halved.

A burden shared is a burden halved.

By Lisa Huddleston

Amazingly, the onslaught of concerns (both small and not so small) continues, and while I can’t share everything I’m carrying in my heart, I remain unendingly thankful for you who help me carry them. Kind words. Thoughtful texts. Snarky comments that make me laugh (especially these). All the ways you let me know you care. Thank you.

And for those of you who don’t know my burdens, I am thankful that you are helping to carry someone else’s. ( As I know you surely are.) People are leaning on you, and that is a good and honorable thing. Thank you for being there for the people in your lives.

And, finally, I am thankful for and honored by those of you who trust me to help you shoulder your struggles. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

And isn’t that why we’re here? To shoulder each other’s burdens, to learn from our own, and to pay forward the comfort we’ve received from Christ? I do believe that, at least in part, it is.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us as we cast our cares on you–thankful to know that you care for us.

Amen.