Failing En[courage]d


I’ve been asking for summer hours at work for the last few years, and I was finally offered some recently. Today was my first day of that work, and at 7:15am, I was supposed to meet a group of people and drive out to Yucaipa to do some heavy lifting.

I thought it was tomorrow.

Long story, short, I didn’t have my phone when they called me twice this morning wondering where I was. I didn’t realize it until nearly 9 o’clock.

Embarrassing on so many levels.

I let that team down (who waited at least 30 extra minutes for me), my supervisor down (who helped me get that opportunity), and the ladies who actually offered me the hours. I know I’m one of the youngest employees, so my mistake may affect the way other young people are viewed, and being black and male in a white female-dominated organization doesn’t help either… I sent a couple apology emails and left a remorseful voicemail, all to no reply, and am realizing that I might not get another chance at this.

I’m okay with that.

In the midst of all of the negative that I recognized in myself in this situation, there was a stronger positive. My mistakes don’t define me. A few months ago a mistake like this would’ve sent me into the depression and I would punish myself severely for being a “screw-up” or for “ruining ANOTHER good thing” and telling myself that I deserve my consequences. The last two are still true, but I don’t need to anchor myself to them anymore. I know better now. Carrying that extra weight slows my progress forward while it drains and discourages me. Instead I am tethered to the positive of all of this; the humility I continue to learn, the discipline of using my calendar that I need to stick with, the maturity of acknowledging my flaws and owning up to my failure, a heart that accepts God’s forgiveness and looks forward to the grace coming to help me show who I know I really am beyond the mistake.

In the midst of my shortcoming, I am encouraged.

Downhere | How Many Kings


Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all,
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl,
Just a child,
Is this who we’ve waited for?

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek,
Because we believe.
Gold for his honor and frankincense
For his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?
Is this who we’ve waited for?

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Only one did that for me.

The Vulnerable Journey


Some things that are really starting to change my heart from a video I watched this morning:

 

 

“That’s something people don’t think about often: For all eternity we are loved, and until all eternity, we will be loved.”

— Henri Nouwen

 

“My life and your life are a short opportunity to say to the God that loves you, “I love you, too.”

Life is an opportunity to say yes to God’s eternal love— and an opportunity you have every moment, every second; because sometimes you have something wonderful and you say, “Thank you, God, for your love.” And sometimes, you have something really painful and you have to say, “Thank you for drawing me closer to your heart, even though it is really painful.”

Life, in all its joys and all its sorrows, is a short time in which we can say to God, “Yes, we love you too,” in all our excitement and in all our depression, in our wholeness and in our brokenness, in our well-being and in our sickness. Every time, again, we have the chance to say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I want to be your daughter! I want to be your son! Not only because You say it; I want to be it, too!””

— Henri Nouwen

 

“We need each other!! And we keep forgetting again and again and again and again and again that we are loved, and think,
“No, I’m no good.”
“No, I messed it all up!”
“No, I feel so guilty.”
“No, I feel so ashamed!”
“No, this cannot be good.”
“Look, I lost my dear mother.”
“I lost my job.”
“I lost my ability to walk.”
“I lost my eyesight.”
I’m gonna be angry. I’m gonna say, “No! No! No! No! No!”

And we need each other to say, “Please, keep believing— that all that you’re living can bring you to the heart of God.””

— Henri Nouwen

Boundless. [Be Humble.]


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Our impudence is limitless; standing at the shores of the infinite attempting to catch it in split-second images, like God can be fully understood by reading a book.

Sometimes we think that by reading a Bible, studying philosophy or theology, and memorizing a scripture or quote will give us full knowledge of God or the universe, but common sense should tell us to be more humble because even if the infinite could be contained, there’d not be such an easy way to explain it.

Gain knowledge, become wise, but know that living what you have learned is far more important. Once you try that, you realize that it’s all more complex than you than you first thought, and that you don’t really understand it after all.

#60 Honest to God


The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives— altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the pure from the impure. But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith, or anything. That is what grace means…

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the Heart’s True Home

I’m constantly wrestling to be okay with who I am versus who I should be. I’m always evaluating myself and my situation to determine what qualities I should be expressing and displaying. I’m always asking myself,

“What does this situation demand?”

And rarely asking myself,

“How do you feel? What do you need?”

It’s just part of my nature. Or more honestly, it’s just easier to ask and answer the first question. It’s so much easier to answer an essay question than it is to simply express myself. I just give them what they want. I still don’t know what I want, much less how to obtain it.

The same thing happens when I pray.

I know scriptures and forms, I know what to pray for and who to pray for, but I seldom come to God to ask for what I need. I ask for rest when I’m tired and I know how pray my way through money trouble, but I don’t pray for my deepest desires to be fulfilled. I don’t pray for my little insecurities or my fears, I don’t even pray for joy or success. I typically don’t pray for things that wouldn’t matter to people outside of myself because I don’t want to seem selfish, wasteful, or trivial. But God accepts all of these things. He wants to hear them and wants me to stretch my comfort zone to share them. It’s difficult and uncomfortable, and I don’t always feel that I’m good at it, or that it’s really worth it, but like Richard Foster said,

“That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well. And we pray by it.”

#37 Sight=Lies, Faith=Truth


It’s funny,

How we know exactly what we want until we get it

And how,

We are so sure of ourselves

Until we turn around and see we are not who we thought

Our track records are not what they ought to be

Who are we to say what we’re not if the evidence contradicts it?

Who do we become when we see it?

When despair is a legitimate option, do we find ourselves there?

Do we give in to our reflections or reject them?

What will I do?

Who am I to deny my own track record?

Is my reflection realer than grace?

Am I what I look like if it ain’t what God says?

Should I trust my sight or faith?

That’s why they told me to walk by it…

I see now.

I can’t be trusted.

I’ll try to embrace your words though I don’t always feel that way.

You are more real than my perception.

I believe that.

I’m done making exceptions.

Help me believe that.