Saturday, October 29, 2016

Buried Talent

I have a lot on my mind - things which may seem disconnected, but I am fairly certain are not. I need to be upfront and honest here; I am controlled by fear. It not only grips me but takes away any semblance of self-confidence I have.  I read a short article the other day on Forbes.com (one of my absolute favorite on-line magazines, by the way) about traits of unsuccessful people.  Why I felt compelled, I do not know.  Yes, actually I do - mostly because I see myself as an unsuccessful person. Anyhow, to my point.  It said, and I paraphrase, "unsuccessful people use misplaced aggressiveness to mask a confidence that is wrapped in insecurity." The WHAT you say?!?!  I know.  As if that wasn't profound enough to get the brain spinning, just last night the Mr. and I were watching an absolutely adorable British movie (another thing about me - I love British TV and movies, perhaps it is their unrequited desire to push all social envelopes and still meet the needs of all demographics?  Who knows but I am getting off task.) about family and bonds and time travel and, well, you get the picture.  In this movie, the Patriarch said to his son, and again I paraphrase, "a man who is so easily led will never have men to lead." People!

Then today as I was doing my devotions, I read this:
"Not only does the chatterbox spin endless tales about the awful things that might happen to us. It also creates infinite illusions about the terrible way God will respond to us if we fail." (By the way, my biggest fear is the fear of failure.) ... "Now, instead of turning fear out of doors, we have let fear shut us out of opportunities to use the resources and gifts we've been given to honor the God who gave them." (My spiritual gifts are teaching and knowledge.) ... "In order to walk past your what-ifs and into God's plan for your life, you can't just count what it might cost you if you do attempt to obey God and fail. You must consider the cost of playing it safe in an attempt to avoid what God is calling you to do - and succeeding." (I have been asked to lead the Hospitality Team at church. But I am wrought with the fear of failing, of not doing it right, of people not coming anymore because of me, of not being accepted or even liked and...do you see what I deal with in this head of mine?!)

Now, while I may not be "doing" my dream job on a professional level - yet, I am still super scared to try.  What if I fail?  And this team at church?  What if I fail at that too? I have asked God for years to show me a ministry that I can get into, that I can help with. (I always wanted to do Women's Ministry, and co-teach with my spouse a couples class...you know all things teaching.) Instead, this is the opportunity that has presented itself and I think I know why.  (Here is where God is probably smirking because I'm trying to define a known...His known!) I'm not good at all with hospitality.  Don't get me wrong, I want people to come over and I will do everything in my power to make the house look good, buy the snacks, food, beverages, decorations, etc in an effort to keep them from having to worry or spend a dime...BUT...I constantly fear they do not really want to be here or even come for that matter, which causes me to fixate on the "doing" all that much more.  So much so, to the point, I do not enjoy being hospitable.

The root cause?  FEAR!  It is just like the parable of the talents.  You know, where the servants were given money (talents) to work with while the master was away and 2 of the 3 did, but the last dude, in his fear, buried the money and didn't expand upon it for his master.  The master gave props to the first two, "Well done my good and faithful servant"; while the fearful one was turned out and chastised for his inaction.  You see, I resonate with him.  He was scared.  Like I am.  He did what he thought was right, which was to do nothing at all.  This stopped him from receiving a blessing and growing personally.  I am constantly doing what I think is right, out of fear.  I don't do bold things.  I don't try to do what is in my heart, that which I have the passion for doing, (help at church, teaching, etc) because I'm so incredibly scared that I will fail at it. So I just keep on, keeping on.  And in that keeping on, where I am, I substitute the confidence of my actions with aggressiveness because I want to be strong, I want to show I can lead, that I know what to do - because I want to be successful at it. In the end, I am really just being led by my fears.

It is going to take much effort to work through the *gasp* nearly 40 years of learnt behavior that formed the person I am, but I know with the strength of the Lord and His ever so patient (and understanding) nature, He will guide me (even when I stop letting Him at times) towards the place He wants me to be.  Until then, I will work my talents, not for me, but because they are the ones He gave me and they should not be buried.  Beware, people, this will be messy, it will be broken, and it will most definitely not look like progress while it is happening.  Not to say God can't make beautiful happen from broken, but that broken is a natural progression and progression of this nature is messy.  That is a long way of saying - we're going to be revisiting this lesson a few times before we succeed! :)

I encourage you to work yours....

Much love,
M

Friday, October 21, 2016

Today Just Was

I know life is about change.  I also know that life is going to be wrought with ups and downs, victories and defeats, joy and sadness, and so on.  I know, too, how we think plays a huge role in the outcome of each day. You see, today I could tell was going to be a rough day.  You know, one of those days where you wake up and you just "feel" it?!  That is when it happened.  Instead of thanking the Lord for giving me another day, I woke up, looked at myself, and felt instant disgust.  This feeling trailed me out the door and into the van.  Then at Starbucks this morning they messed up my drink, seriously who on earth forgets the double shot of espresso?  Sadly I didn't catch it until I was already on the interstate and took a big swig of my caramel flavored frothed milk...YUMMO...NOT!  But that wasn't even the clincher.  Here I was, finally going to get to work BEFORE 8 am and no...that coffee-less drink I just mentioned...took them over 15 minutes to make and I sadly arrived at my normal time.  This, of course, left me with feelings of failure.  But wait, there is more!  No, really, there is.  I started talking to the Mr. through text, and you know when you are having a conversation with someone and it is most definitely one-sided?  How can one tell?  Well, your multiple sentence texts are replied to with a single word and there is no sharing from the other side.  And this was the final blow, the one that left me feeling unimportant, unloved, unnecessary, and forgotten. 

So, naturally I did what any sane woman would do, I buried myself in my work.  But wait, I'm only three weeks into this gig and there isn't much I can bury myself in - I. AM. STILL. LEARNING!  Oh, the things that can take a day and turn it on its end.  To add the final insult to this injury laden day, I flitted around on Facebook, you know that place where people ONLY post their highlights?  Heaven's I couldn't even find a good political debate to throw myself into.  Instead, I got to see all these fun, loving, caring, things others were doing, how they were being treated by the ones they love, how they had someone to show them attention, how their dreams were coming true, etc. Yep, I did!  Just yesterday, I chose to praise instead of pout...see...human-ness! Right. Here.  All of it.  In two paragraphs.  Sigh...feelings and guck.  But it came to a screeching halt.  Here's why.

Without sharing the personal details, one of the people I love most in this world, and outside of family have actually known the longest in my entire life, experienced something today.  Something that made all the petty little things I felt the right to fixate on fall to the wayside.  She had such an epic level of hurt and pain and sadness present itself and all I could do was cry. So I did.  I cried for her.  And her family.  I expressed my sincere condolences and offered up my words of prayer and then left the conversation at that.  Does something with this much pain have an end?  We aren't to dwell and I didn't want to.  For her sake, but here I am and all I really want to do is call her and cry with her some more.  I want to question God even when I know the answers.  In a situation like this, how do you show love to them without overstepping your place?  And that is it. My friend needs love and prayers and comfort and I'm a 17-hour car ride from her.

And there you have it.  Today. Just. Was.

- M

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Choosing to Praise Instead of Pout

A few months back I made a really big decision. (I shared this in my last post.) It was a decision that was many years in the making.  One that was not easy in the least but was most certainly bathed in prayer.  I submitted my resignation.  After nearly 20 years in automotive and nearly 16 years in the same facility, it was time to move on.  I did this with the sole focus in mind to grow myself professionally once I completed my MBA. I would also like to share I have accepted a position with a company which prides itself on growing people and this is evidenced by the sheer number who work for them who have 20+ years of service and still love what they do!  I can not wait to see what the future holds for me with them. 

That said.  My passion was, and still is, with education and teaching.  It is truly my heart's desire and what I long to do.  I want to teach so badly that when I do something as simple as to think about it I get all teary-eyed.  People, I know in my heart of hearts, with all that I am, I was designed to be a teacher.  Ever since I was a little girl I knew this is what I wanted to do. I can remember playing school with my cousins, my siblings, heavens even with the neighbor kids.  Yes!  I would play school in the summer, on the weekends, during the week...it was my absolute favorite thing to play.  I couldn't wait to share what I learned in school with those around me so they could learn too.  Fast forward to my professional career and in it, I can find the beautifully woven strands of teaching opportunities I had over the years.  It almost seems like I gravitate towards all the opportunities I can find.  It is also why I have no question in my mind on how, or even why, my Spiritual gifts are Teaching and Knowledge.

Then today happened.  You see, when I was in the transition period of my previous job I applied for a substitute teaching position with a rather large school district not too far from here.  I paid all the fees and did all the things I was supposed to do and for three months never heard a word. Until today. Today I finally got the answer. My application was Denied. I wish I could share with you this didn't upset me, but it did - A LOT.  Yes, even though I have a great job, I still cried. Then I started down the path of thinking I was not good enough (I mean, I couldn't even get a job as a substitute teacher, what makes me think I could get one as an actual teacher?) and that I was never going to reach my lifelong dream of teaching.  As I wavered in between self-doubt, self-loathing, acceptance, and sadness I attempted to talk it over with God, but I couldn't keep my focus.  I'd like to blame it on the fact I was still driving, that there was a lot of traffic and some construction, but in truth, it was because I was too caught up in what was the matter that I didn't give the conversation the time it needed.

But...oh how there is always a "but" in the lessons of life. As I approached my exit I got my phone out of my purse and when I pulled up to the stop, I opened my email. There in the queue was today's devotional.  I had overlooked it a few times today because I didn't have time to read it.  I clicked on the email and opened up the words that were meant for me to read. (No I didn't read while driving! I got stopped by a train and began to read.)  People, I have to tell you, God knows what he is doing.  He knows all about timing and perfection and all the details that go into each. As I read I was reminded that sometimes things don't go as we want them to and that sometimes when we stop fighting what has happened and praise God for the opportunity instead, we find the true blessing. And I did.  You see, if they had accepted it, then I would have had to turn them down because I found something else.  And I don't think the door that opened for me was altogether the wrong door.

I think I am where I am supposed to be, for now.  I have a job that takes care of me and mine and doesn't require the crazy hours, the constant on call, the disruption to my family time, and/or the sacrifice of vacation and holidays.  I have a job where I get to learn and grow and even, by chance, make a difference. Better yet, in this job I am being taught things I never knew about things I have always done!  Yes, I am growing my understanding and comprehension and this is the best possible thing for me right now.  After all, aren't all teachers required to continue their education to keep them at the forefront of knowledge in their field of study?

So, while today had the opportunity to become a day where I chose to become sad and depressed (basically pout), God reminded me of Paul and Silas and Acts chapter 16. Here they chose to praise instead of pout and they had so very much more to be sad about.  I guess I say all that to say this:  days are going to have downfalls, dreams are going to take time, steps are going to happen - sometimes in a forward motion, sometimes in a backward one, but through it all, if you look at it from a different perspective there is always an opportunity to praise the outcome.

Much love, M

PS...I will definitely forget this lesson, I am not perfect.  But the great thing is, I serve a perfect God who understands my shortcomings and yet, he still chose me.

PSS (or is it PPS?!)...I am still pursuing teaching positions!  Specifically to start, as an adjunct professor for evening, weekend, and/or online courses.  Don't fret this girl has a plan :)