Tag: identity (page 1 of 4)

What’s Your Super-power?

“If you could have any ‘super-power’ what would it be?”

That was the ice-breaker question posed at a women’s gathering I attended. Peals of laughter could be heard from different small groups around the room as women shared a desire for everything from a “Bewitched” nose twitch to clean their kids’ mess, to a cloaking devise, to the ability to be “beamed up” out of uncomfortable situations.

It’s a fun question to think about, but unfortunately we often seriously compare ourselves to others and think “Oh…I wish I had THAT ‘super-power’!” The gifts and talents others have can seem so “SUPERior” in light of our own that can feel so ordinary.

There are two reasons comparison is so dangerous. When we compare, the result is either pride or despair. Neither are pleasing to God, right? 

As women, I think we’re more prone to the despair end of the spectrum. Satan’s kryptonite seems to be that diabolical little word “as”.

He whispers,

“Not as pretty as…”

Not as good a mom as…”

“Not as popular as…”

“Not as smart as…”

Recently, my small group did a book study, and there is one line from Genesis 3:11 that we have gotten in the habit of repeating to one another when we feel discouraged or “less than”,

This is from Genesis 3: 9-11  when God is talking to Adam:

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked;so I hid.”

 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?

God knows HE  didn’t tell Adam he was naked.

Is the message you’re hearing really from God? Or is it from someone else? 

After all, God is the One who said you are fearfully and wonderfully made, the One who said He has created good plans in advance for you to do, the One who said He has called you by name, you are His – His chosen, His beloved, the one He sings over…

So today, instead of comparing, let’s remember this…

One Thing We Have in Common With John

It’s weird to think of having anything in common with the people we meet in Scripture, and yet, what an encouragement, right?!

A couple weeks ago as I was preparing an Easter sermon, something struck me that I hadn’t really thought about before.

In John, the apostle, I notice something positive I aspire to, and a weakness we share. Read what John wrote…

John 20: 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

This is both cool and comical!

I love it that John is so grounded in the unshakeable knowledge that he is the one Jesus LOVES!

We are too – each of us as if we are the ONLY one! Like a proud parent, if Jesus carried a wallet, your picture would be in it and He’d want to show it to others with delight! This is the mindset we aspire to – that we would walk into each day with the assurance that we are beloved. No matter what we do or don’t do.

But then, the part that makes me laugh. Here’s he’s writing about the resurrection, but John makes a point of telling us TWICE that he beat Peter to the tomb. He ran faster!

I might be tempted to say “What a guy thing!”, but in our family the women are just as competitive as the men. There is this temptation in each of us to compare what we DO to what others do, even though Jesus tells us it’s not about what we DO, but about what He has DONE for us.

No matter how fast John or you, or I run, we can’t outrun God’s grace.

When we compare, there are two pitfalls. We either get sucked into pride because we’re better than, or despair because we’re worse than. Jesus wants us to know that we aren’t better or worse, but unique and beloved.

John isn’t the only one. Peter compares his life to John’s too.

John 21: 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believersthat this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?

When I’m tempted to compare myself to others, this is what I hear Jesus whispering in my ear: “What is that to you?”

Later, Paul writes, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Phil.4:11 NIV

One writer notes, “The Greek word rendered ‘content‘ here denotes more than just a throwing up of arms in reluctant acceptance. At its root it literally means: ‘to be satisfied to the point where I am no longer disturbed or disquieted.'”

“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Phil. 4:13 MSG

May we live this day secure, not superior.

Confident without comparing.

 

What Do You Give the Power to Wreck You?

Question: What’s one thing that if, taken away from you, leaves you feeling hurt or even devastated, insecure, “less than”, not yourself, invalidated?

What is it that wrecks you?

  • A note from your kid’s teacher about an “issue”?
  • A breakup?
  • The loss of a title, or job?
  • The lack of invitation in a certain area?
  • Crickets rather than “likes” and affirmation in an environment where you thought you were gifted or competent?

How dependent are you on that “thing” for your sense of well-being?

I like to think of myself as “teflon” (don’t we all?), but then something big or little will surprise me the way it brings up all the yucky feels.

We want to be seen as the super-mom, the competent colleague, the successful host, the dynamic team leader.

“One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are, and waste a lot of time to prove what doesn’t need to be proved.” Henri Nouwen

Confession: One of the reasons I took a sabbatical from writing this blog and one of the reasons I’m throwing out the “rules” of when and where and how to post now is that I recognized that it was sucking me into measuring my worth by the response I was getting. I needed to pursue a “holy indifference” to anything other than joyfully stewarding my gifts for the Lord alone.

 

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In 2015 the Barna Group did  a study that showed that women 18 and older in the United States, go to social media, trying to connect and feel better about themselves, but only 14% come away encouraged.

We’ve turned the Gospel into a matter of addition instead of subtraction. When we are so full of ourselves, we have no room—and no need—for God or others, or otherness in general. Richard Rohr

And this…

If we have not experienced (the) connection, (of) knowing that we are indeed a fragment of the Great Flame, we will most certainly need to accumulate more and more outer things as substitutes for self-worth. This, of course, is the great spiritual illusion. We needn’t acquire what we already have. Our value comes from our inherent participation in God. Richard Rohr

So…a few things that have been helpful to me. Maybe you too…

  • Separate from what separates you from your true identity in Jesus. If a relationship or a TV show, or seeing the posts of someone raises your anxiety or makes you feel less-than, ask yourself why. If necessary, block them from your feed, but better yet, have a conversation with them about it.
  • Major on the unchanging truth of God’s Word instead of the whims of culture and criticism. What’s one go-to verse that is helpful for you? For me it’s:

Find rest my soul in God alone. My hope comes from Him. He is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Psalm 62:5-7

  • Evaluate what and who brings out the best in you. Lean into them, and let them lean into you.

That’s all I’ve got. What about you? What would you add?

Leaving Baggage Behind

My younger brother, David, is an amazing man of faith, humor, kindness, and courage.  Many of you know he has been on a grueling road trip.   As I write this, David has been admitted to M.D. Anderson in Houston. His road is one of ups and downs, medication, and fatigue. Recently, through the haze of pain, he bravely tried to reflect on last week’s post and share some personal thoughts. Here are his words:

Let me first start by saying I love to travel.  Planes, trains and automobiles are my thing.  I’ll bump off the interstate and take a US highway just to roll down the window, smell the alfalfa fields, and look for grain elevators every 6 miles like clockwork.

I know there isn’t much to like about air travel but every time I see the Arrival and Departure signs at an airport my heart skips a beat and I recall the first time I flew as a 12 year old on a Delta Airlines Super DC 8 stretch.

And don’t get me started on trains as there is NOTHING better than a private bedroom with a large picture window and a good book while watching the American west from one of Amtrak’s western long hauls.

They all connote road trips for me and they certainly are a far cry from Abram packing up his tents, livestock and family and putting one foot in front of the other on the way to where?  The Promised Land? With no return ticket?

Monday’s post about Abram, his idols, and his journey struck a chord with me.  You see, I’m on a journey of sorts myself, and like Abram, it’s not one I willingly signed up for.  In January I was diagnosed with stage IV Melanoma cancer.

For those of you who travel a lot, I’m sure you’ve become expert packers.  You know which clothing you can get multiple wears out of. Your carry-on is packed with extra charging chords, toiletries ready in one clear quart plastic bag, and the indispensable People magazine.  You are efficient and have exactly the right amount of “stuff”.

There are those of us, however, who arrive back home only to find six shirts never worn, untouched work out clothes,  and a pair of  Topsider deck shoes and Hawaiian  shirt because “Weren’t we supposed to have a Cruise Night Party?”

Just like Abram, I started my journey with everything I had and yet God wanted me to pare down a few things.  While the word “idol” sounds so ancient, there were things I worshipped that were excess baggage – mainly ego, pride and control. Continue reading

5 Reminders For Your Heart

We’ve been in San Francisco over the weekend for Maggie’s graduation with her Masters from Berkley.  This is that time of year – one of graduations and weddings and new ventures and births of every kind. It’s a season of marking moments. Looking back and looking forward. As I was reflecting on this I thought it’s a time when maybe our heart needs reminding of some things.

So, today, a list of 5 Reminders your heart needs as you launch into whatever new things God has for you: Continue reading

When the Holy Spirit Whispers “What about you?”

This is my copy of a drawing I saw last week that has haunted me.

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At the International Justice Mission Global Prayer Gathering (What a mouthful!), a staff person from India, now a lawyer, shared that he had been born into the lowest cast – a Dalit. He was considered a non-person.

He shows a drawing of what his grandfather was required to do. He had to walk with a broom tied around his neck, trailing it behind, so it would wipe out his footprints, leaving the impression that no one had been there. Because he was “no one”.

My first response is horror.  How could anyone treat others like that??  But then that pesky Holy Spirit whispers to ME:

“What about you?” Continue reading

When You Feel Unvaluable

My top three strengths are “activator” and “achiever” and “woo”. That means I really, really, really want to do ALL OF THE THINGS, to be awesome, and to have you like me.

So it stung, hearing the words. Out loud.  Again. A phrase similar to others I’ve heard over the years.

My husband John was recounting his day and a meeting he had had with a member of the church who had listened and given insight on the future of our faith community. John and his colleague in the meeting asked this awesomely awesome guest to return for another hour of conversation.

Of course this will be pay-rolled!  We value your gifts and talents and expertise, so ABSOLUTELY we’ll pay you for your time!”

“Said no one to me ever”, is the place my slightly over-dramatic mind went to as I listened to him.

Validation. Whether you’re twenty-something, or….well, not… we all long for it and even when we get it in one form, we want more, or different.  We’re desperate to know we matter.  We add value.  We make a difference. Continue reading

5 Questions About…Forgiveness

This “5 Questions about…” post is by my dear, courageous friend who  would like to remain anonymous for now.  I know you’ll be blessed and inspired by her powerful story.

1.  You have an amazing husband and an adorable baby boy – a healthy, Jesus-loving family, but your own family growing up wasn’t so healthy.  Can you give us a little background?

I feel humbled and grateful that the Lord answered my prayers and hearts desire for this family of mine.  Although the Lord took hold of me and I of Him as a little girl, I have kept many unhealthy secrets along the way. 

I was conceived out of wedlock to  a mother who wanted to abort me and a father who almost did. He has told me, ” I had a vivid dream that God told me to keep you and on the way to the abortion clinic, I convinced your mother to keep you”. Continue reading

A Little Reassurance for Everyday Intimidation

What’s “that thing” for you?  The thing that intimidates you?  The thing that is hard to face…that threatens to undo you?  It might be embarrassing to admit.

Maybe it’s speaking in front of crowds… Driving in city traffic?  Facing your boss on Monday morning?  Or facing your mother?

For me, it’s technology.  Cursed technology.

I’m in the process (and it’s a looooong process) of trying to make this blog and ministry platform better.  Hopefully you’ll notice some positive changes over the next few months, but the first steps I’ve had to take have involved a boatload of technological instructions that have been, shall we say…spiritually formative (read: MADDENING AND SCARES THE PANTS OFF ME).  It has felt like 2 steps backwards when I’m trying to go forward (can you relate?)

I swear I picture a huge curtain like in the Wizard of Oz and gleeful little imps behind it working a control panel with levers and switches designed to send me hurtling into the abyss.images

Anyway, all that to say that some of you were kind to share or tweet about this post from last week, but if people clicked to read there was…a big fat NOTHING.  Sorry!

Others of you missed this post because I was unable to transfer subscribers til yesterday.

BUT, here’s the great thing (and where YOU come in).

What I experienced in this intimidating process is exactly what I hope you experience when you show up at this blog site.  

I was reminded, and I want to remind you: Continue reading

Three Important Truths about Encouragement

Good Morning!  Hope you had a refreshing weekend soaking up God’s goodness.  This is what greeted me this morning as I started to write.

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Now don’t you wish you lived in Minnesota (or woke up earlier :))? 

Since it’s summer and we have lots of new readers to the blog, (and, let’s be honest…I’m ready for a writing break), I thought I’d share a post from a couple of years ago.  Hope it’s helpful to you. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Last weekend John and I preached together on the topic of Encouragement from the book of Acts.

AARRGGHH!  When we do this he is exceedingly kind and because I’m a planner and he’s a “fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants” guy which freaks me out, he lets me study and write the sermon and then he just naturally does his thing, which is always authentic and conversational and makes everything better.

Anyway, I’ve always thought about encouragement as a good thing, a nice thing…

But as I studied it in the book of Acts I began to see it as a crucial tool that God uses to combat Satan in a spiritual battle that is continually raging.  I fear that sounds all hokey/pokey intense and mystical, but think about it…

Satan’s goal is to get us to believe the lies that

we don’t matter,

that God is powerless,

and that we’re all alone.

When we encourage, we remind others of God’s truth – that they do matter, it’s gonna be ok, and they’re not alone.

You can listen, or get more resources here, but what I’ve been thinking about is three things we didn’t say.

1.  Discouragement is personal. Not only does Satan lie to discourage, but he is also crafty liar.  He tailors his whispers to each of us uniquely.  His attacks usually center around our identity.  So if we’re tempted to find our worth in being married, he’ll whisper “You’re not lovable.  You’re not attractive to anyone.”  If we’re tempted to find our worth in accomplishment he may whisper “You’re only a mom, or a secretary, or a barista, or a whatever…  You’re not making a difference.  You’re not good enough.”

Be aware.

2.  Encouragement is personal. The most powerful encouragement is very specific.  When someone says, “Nice sermon.” I tend to discount it as just polite small talk.  It’s like the difference between “You’re terrific!” and “You have a gift of hospitality that helps people experience the welcoming heart of God.  Thank you.”

Be specific.

3.  Timing is personal.  Never underestimate the power of encouragement used in a timely way by God.  Years ago I “randomly” felt prompted to write a guy in another part of the country who had been a mentor in leadership training for me in college.  I hadn’t had contact with him in 20 years.  I wrote of the impact his modeling had made in my life, specifically how his investment had made a kingdom difference.  Little did I know that this was a divinely timed prompting from the Holy Spirit.

I received a response from him saying “Your note came at the absolute lowest point in my life.  I had lost perspective.  I was in despair, convinced that my ministry hadn’t made any difference, that I had sacrificed for years with no fruit.  Your note was the reminder from God that I needed.”  Wow.  Blew me away!

Be responsive to promptings.

In what situations are you likely to be discouraged?  What has been most encouraging to you?

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