30 Days of Celebration: Rest is Okay

30 Days of Celebration: Rest is Okay

I’m thankful today, on Thanksgiving, after 6 months of absolute insanity in my life, that I don’t have to be anything I’m not.

My mind has literally not been able to keep up with it all, but I’m learning that that’s ok. I didn’t realize, growing up, how much pressure I put on myself all of the time to be a certain version of myself, one that’s capable and goal-driven and gets things done on the daily. These days, I just can’t. It takes all of my energy to transition my entire life to South Carolina, and in the moments of rest I’m just tired. 

But of course I’m tired! I slave-drive myself into thinking that tiring things shouldn’t make me tired, but they do, and that’s ok.

And today I’m thankful that’s it’s ok. It’s ok to need to rest, and it’s ok to rest.

It’s a bit of an act of humility, I’m learning. The world will keep spinning if I take a day to read a novel for fun. Why do I think I can’t?

 

So today I celebrate because I don’t have to take myself too seriously. God just doesn’t require from me what I require from myself. So I can rest, and breathe, and be thankful for the woman I am today, even if she’s not always the person I would choose to be

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Micah 6:8

30 Days of Celebration: Home

30 Days of Celebration: Home

Home. Today I celebrate home.

After 3 months in South Carolina, the car rolled back into my Pennsylvanian driveway last night. It’s a weird feeling, to come back to your family’s home when you’re making your “own” somewhere else. This in-between time can be so overwhelming at times (ok, pretty much all the time), but now I’m home. And I pray that I can take it all for what it is, not what I expect it to be.

But today, I guess I celebrate the things that don’t change. Same house on the same street in the same town in Pennsylvania. Same grumpy old dog. Same floor lamps and bar stools and bed that I’ve slept in since I was 8. Same crazy family with the same inside jokes, and the same way they always have a way of reminding me of my story, just being near them.

New is good, but old is home. New will become home, over time, but I’m learning that it’s ok that it isn’t yet. It will take time to make my South Carolina town home. More than 3 months, and that’s ok.

But old is familiar, and it helps me breathe and think and laugh in a way that the new can’t all of the time. It helps me figure out how I feel, what parts of my heart are still broken over all the change. What parts of me are changed for the better.

It helps me be honest with God, to cry out as the disciples did in the boat – “Do you not see? Do you not care that we are perishing?” Do you see my broken heart in a new state? And I know He does. Home reminds me of that. Home helps me remember.

 

30 Days of Celebration: The Unappreciated Gift

30 Days of Celebration: The Unappreciated Gift

Sometimes it hits me how very little I deserve all that I have.

My very life is a gift, for starters. It was given to me. I am not my own, I was bought with a price, in every way.

But even more than that, I have been very overwhelmed these days by how undeserving I am of my day-to-day. The house I’m living in, the job I have, the friends I’m surrounded with. They are all gifts, none of them earned. I think, in the past, I have convinced myself that I “deserve” the things in my life. But I don’t.

Sometimes I don’t know what to do with all of these gifts. How can I receive them, if I have nothing to pay in return? Why do I have them all in the first place? And I will spend all of my time questioning all that I have and not celebrating it.

God has lately been urging me to think of it all as Christmas morning. It is as if He is giving me gifts, wrapped in beautiful bows, and instead of tearing apart the paper and delighting in what’s inside, I stare at the box. And I ask Him why He gave it to me. I question His motives. And I tell Him I don’t deserve it.

And so the present sits there, untouched, unopened, unappreciated.

And God, the Giver, the one who put intricate detail into it, the one who thought it all out especially for me, is sad. I can imagine, at least. I can imagine the feeling of giving such an incredible gift and to watch it go unappreciated.

And that’s what my life is: an incredible gift. I want to appreciate it. I don’t want to stare at it, I don’t want to question it, I don’t want to neglect it. I want to tear the paper open, rip into the box, behold the wonder of it all, and jump around the living room with a smile across my face because I have been given something amazing.

Something worth celebrating.

 

30 Days of Celebration: Wait, Don’t I Deserve This?

30 Days of Celebration: Wait, Don’t I Deserve This?

Ok, honesty hour: I haven’t given very much thought into this endeavor. 30 days of celebration.

Every day of November will bring thoughts on the topic, but I haven’t thought out each post or planned an order. Instead, my fingers type these words as my clouded mind tries to keep up. I write today for me, and although I hope you read my words this next month, most of them will be written for completely selfish reasons.

I need celebration. I need gratitude. I need it all so badly. And so I write.

I don’t sit down today out of any sort of abundance. My cupeth does not overflow. Instead, my head hurts. It’s hard to keep up with the life around me. Anxiety and doubt have been my response to pretty much everything for months. I feel like a sojourner through a harsh desert, desperate for water.

Celebration is that water.

It’s crazy how a critical heart seeps its way into my life. I am often described as a “happy” person, always positive and cheerful. My whole life people have used those words to describe me, but there are so many days that those very words eat me alive. “What if they really knew what was in my mind?” Because I’m tellin you, folks, it is often not a pretty place.

And so today I take my very first sip of water, in what I pray will be a refreshing month.

I think I’ve always viewed celebration as optional in the life of a Christian. Some Christians celebrate things, some don’t. But I am learning that lack of celebration and gratitude is actually a deep form of hideous pride. Who am I? Who am I to tell God that He created a single thing wrong? Who am I to critique the world I was given, the life I was given?

I used to have this idea that I deserved what I had. I think we all do, growing up. Entitlement: the thief of gratitude. This last summer, my sense of entitlement became a beast that began to eat me alive. I distinctly remember the moment I pleaded with God to be free from it. After graduating college, I faced some rejection, had some setbacks, and I got mad at God. How dare He? Isn’t this my life?

And I let it just sit there for months, waiting for God to give me what I surely deserved. Until one day I woke up and realized that I was miserable as all get-out. Nothing would be good enough for me. Nothing would satisfy me. Nothing. I walked around like ticking time bomb, and it took very little to set me off, to make me mad at God for the life I had.

But there came a moment what it hit me like a sack of flour, doubled me over. On my knees. “Jesus, what is wrong with me? Why is everything a disappointment? People expect me to be this optimistic person, but if they could only see my heart for one moment. I don’t know what to say but change me. Change my mind. Take away my entitlement.” 

I thought I could keep criticism as a pet. I thought I could keep it under control. I mean, surely I am entitled to my own opinions, aren’t I? Everyone seems to say so. Everywhere you look, that’s all you see: people and their opinions. And I had a few of my own: I should have gotten that job. He should like me back. I should have been made different. I deserve a more clean-cut world to live in.

And I know I don’t have to tell you this, but that kind of thinking eats a person alive. Bob Goff, in his book “Love Does”, describes lack of gratitude as “seeing something really beautiful as just normal”. What a delightfully plain statement for such a deep reality.

I don’t want to pass over beauty as though I deserve it, as though the intricacies of this gorgeous world should be regarded as nothing. Or not enough. I am learning that celebration springs forth from an earthy, solid realization that nothing we have is earned. What single thing did you or I do to deserve our gift of life? Anyone who doesn’t see life as a gift doesn’t look very closely at its humble beginnings. Every breath, every blink of the eye, every headache, every heartbreak, every trauma. None of it deserved, all of it given.

The world tells us daily that we own our lives, and that way of thinking has held me captive for so many seasons. What a change it is when we realize that our lives are not our own, that we don’t have to flounder around trying to make something of them! When I realize that I deserve the worst of deaths, that I did nothing to give myself life, suddenly celebration is the only logical response. I would be nothing without the God who gave it all to me.

And that’s what this month is about, reminding myself of these things. The Bible says to think about what is lovely and admirable and worthy of praise. I use to read those words as nice advice, but now I know that they are a slap in the face of my pride. A reality check. Who am I to spend a single moment critiquing the God who made it all?

So let’s lay down our pride for a change, yeah? I’m ready for some refreshment, for some healing to my bones. Settle down with me this month. Let’s see it all differently.

I know I need to.