Wrong

photoI have to give a shout out to my favorite work out community, Daily Burn 365, for spurring this post. If you need workout inspiration, need a community to hold you accountable or simply try something new, I highly recommend giving them a try!

One of the things I love about Daily Burn 365 is that it is so much more than just an online trainer shouting out directions to get me to sweat and get stronger. It’s a holistic approach to health that creates a space that is accepting of who each person is and where they are right now. There is not judgement, just encouragement and that encouragement comes not only through the trainers, but through the discussions that are held after each workout that help members focus on how to make each day better – how to be healthier, happier, and have more blessings each day.

The discussion this morning was about the need to change our internal dialogues that have developed as a result of our past; how the judgments of others have colored the way we view ourselves. The trainer for the day had spoke to how she needed o change her body image after years of ballet training. For her, despite the fact that I’m sure she was a beautiful dancer and highly skilled, she was unable to do a number of the things that she desired to do because she was too big. She took the criticism of her size (which I’m certain she could do nothing about since there is literally nothing you can do about growth) and heard it as a condemnation of who she was as a person.What she heard every time she was told she couldn’t do something was that she as a person was “wrong”.

Wow! Did that ring true for me!wrong-advice

I don’t know about you, but the word “wrong” heavily affects me. Every time someone says or alludes to me being wrong -regardless of the reason – I feel my shoulders suddenly weighed down to by the gravity of the word; like the word itself is a grain of sand that I have saved like a precious stone and carried with since childhood and now all of those grains have grown to be something the size of the Sahara desert that I drag behind me on a daily basis.

No wonder my shoulders are sore!

One of the things that I have noticed about this word is that it doesn’t actually have to have been said for me to feel it’s weight. For example, being an actress, I attend audition after audition and am plagued by rejection. It’s just the nature of the business. When a director doesn’t choose me for a part, I know in my head that the reason I wasn’t chosen could be because I didn’t look the way he or she imagines that character to look or I didn’t have the chemistry with the other actors that he or she is desiring. From a logical standpoint, not being chosen for a part almost never has anything to do with me as a person, but what I feel is it that it has everything in the world to do with me. I’m not pretty enough, talented enough, too old, too short, too…too….anything. I’m just overall wrong as a person and I am crushed by the weight of those grains of sand again and again.

im-right-youre-wrong_1370Now I can’t say this definitively, but I am feel fairly certain I am not alone in the way this word affects me. I believe this because we all become defensive when told we are wrong. We find excuses for why something happened or how some event came about or why we believe the way we do. The word “wrong” has become personal definition rather than just being an objective statement of a fact about something external from you and I.

I think the reason for this actually comes from the way we use that word. Maybe its because of our laziness when we speak to one another, but somewhere along the line we stopped saying things like “you’ve done this problem incorrectly” or “I don’t believe the same thing you do about this” and simplified it to “you’re wrong”. While it may seem to say the same thing, the indication to the other person is significantly different. Being told I did a math problem incorrectly means that this is a fixable problem; it doesn’t say anything about me personally. To say I am “wrong” indicates that I as a person am wrong and there is nothing I can do about that; I am stupid, incapable, not fixable.

While you may be reading this and thinking that I clearly overthink things and need some serious psychological help, let me throw this out there for you to think about.

 

The race issues in our country stemmed from a group of individuals deciding that a darker color of skin was “wrong” and therefore those persons could be treated as less than human.tumblr_m503jcc8fn1qcnmcao1_500

The sexual orientation issue is very much the same. One group of people points at another and aggressively states that what another person feels about themselves – their very identity as a person – is wrong.

We even do this with faith. One group decides that another’s beliefs are wrong and therefore the people who believe those things are also wrong and need to be at best, changed and at worst, eliminated.

 

 

The thing is that God doesn’t do “wrong”. God is perfect and can create nothing less than perfection. I as a human have the ability to make incorrect decisions about my life (as I have proven over and over again), but I was created by a perfect God so I was made “right”; I am who God wants me to be. As a child of God, I need to believe the same for each and every person around me. I may not understand why God made an individual the way they are or why their beliefs are what they are, but it isn’t for me to say they are “wrong”. Being different doesn’t mean being wrong. God created an entire universe full of different things and none of them are “wrong”.

And neither are we.

27musicAs I walked away from my workout this morning, I challenged myself to do something and I would like to challenge you with the same.

I have challenged myself to remove the phrase “you’re wrong” from my vocabulary. Instead, when I’m getting ready to say those words, I want to stop and assess what it is I’m really trying to say and speak those words instead. Do I think someone made an incorrect decision? Was a task done incorrectly? Whatever it is, I am challenging myself to be more specific in my words so that what I say to someone is not that they as an individual are “wrong”. They are not – you are not – and neither am I.

 

 

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The Spider and the Fly

c41b5c273bOne of the benefits of having a great deal of time on my hands over the past few months is that in between the endless adjustments of resume’s and cover letters I have been able to read book after book. Now I would love to tell you I’m reading high-brow, intellectual texts but such is not the case. I love fiction- the ability to get carried away by a story and characters with all of my trials forgotten and my brain working overtime through the endless possibilities in any given story.

Recently, I was reading a book that questioned the idea of what normality is. Told from the eyes of a teenager, this book pointed out that we as individuals often look at others’ lives to determine if we are “normal” or not. There are images of what a “normal” family is supposed to be, a “normal” boy, girl or adult is supposed to be…it’s all very subjective and confusing. I can honestly say that I have looked at myself in the mirror more times than I can count and wondered if I’m normal or not.

bsqttuaicaekxqgThe fact of the matters is, as Morticia Adams said, what’s normal for the spider is chaos for the fly. The concept of normal is relative – relative to our own experiences, our own desires and our own belief systems. Having lived in a number of different places, I have seen “normal” vary significantly from coast to coast, state to state, and even neighborhood to neighborhood.

The thing that crossed my mind when I was reading was that while all of us see normality as something different than the person right next to us, we fail to recognize this reality and therefore use our personal definition of normal to judge – and often prejudge – others and we use these judgements as the basis to discriminate. Take the struggles of the LGBT community. They are often plagued by taunts from conservative religious persons ridiculing them due to their “abnormal” actions or appearances. As a society, we tend to place individuals into a box labeled “normal” or “abnormal” and then work diligently to ensure those in the “abnormal” box stay far away from us. Oh sure, we say it’s for our own safety, for the protection of our loved ones, or to make the other person feel more comfortable, but in the end, it just makes it easier for us to aim our assaults.

Since it seems to be the conservative realm of individuals that prescribe what is normal and what isn’t as far as our individual actions go, it only makes sense to look at the Bible and see if there is a description of what “normal” is.

Nope.

There are many references to how a believer is responsible for their own actions, but no description – detailed or not – of what a “normal” person looks like.

And I think there is an excellent reason for this.

God’s word doesn’t provide a definition of normal because there is no such thing as normal and this is because an extraordinary God is incapable of creating something that would be considered “normal” or “run of the mill”.quote-you-and-i-were-created-by-god-to-be-so-much-more-than-normal-following-the-crowd-is-tim-tebow-46-92-57

The God I believe in is extraordinary and all that He creates is equally extraordinary. All of our individual flaws, experiences and tragedies mold us into the unique being that God desires. The things that challenge us throughout our lives are what make us even more special to our Lord.

So does this mean that we can all behave in whatever way we want and there are no social norms we have to comply with?

As much as it may seem like perfection to say we can all behave the way we want to because that’s who God has created us to be, this isn’t true, either. See, while God didn’t provide a recipe for “normal” for us individually, He did prescribe a way in which we as a society are supposed to treat one another and it’s really the simplest recipe there is – and also the most difficult.

Love one another.  619e458d8da052464efca82f58c2c4ac

That’s it.

Our job as individuals is to love one another regardless of their race, creed, sexual orientation, or their definition of what normal is. “Normal” is indeed different in different neighborhoods, states, communities, countries and cultures – and THAT’S OK! If we simply love one another for who each of us are, whatever changes that are needed will be made because God will work within our hearts and minds to change us.

As I look around at the battles that are being fought today and have been fought for generations, it all boils down to the selfish desire to make others into reflections of ourselves. But the thing is none of this is about us individually. All that exists was created by God and is for His purpose, not ours.

It isn’t my job or anyone else’s to say that my idea of “normal” behavior and lifestyle is better or “more right” than sonormal-quotes-2meone else’s. This means that when I encounter, say, an Aboriginal tribe living off the land as they have for generations, it isn’t my job as a Christian to change the way they live – force them to put on Americanized clothing, start building houses that look more like what I expect them to look like and start acting more like me so that they can fit within my definition of normal. My job is to love them as they are – meet them where they are just as Jesus did for me – and allow Jesus to work within both that group of people and ME to change our hearts in the way that He desires.
So the next time you’re looking at another person or culture and thinking about how terribly abnormal they are, remember this. It isn’t our job to make everyone else the fly in our world of spiders. My normal is not your normal and we have God to thank for the blessings that arise from those differences.

 

Mustard Seed

I came across a post of a fellow writer and its message spoke to my heart. Faith is an interesting thing. We don’t need a lot of it for it to accomplish great things. Our job, as people of faith, like this verse states, is simply to do the planting. It isn’t up to you or me if the faith takes root and grows within someone; its not our responsibility to make sure something actually takes root any more than its our fault if it doesn’t. God will take care of the growth if we only allow it to happen. The problem I usually encounter is that I tend to get in the way. I want to feel like I’ve helped something wonderful occur; feel like I had a bit of role in the wonder. Like it or not, none of us actually do have a stake in that game. Plant the seed and let God nurture it into what it needs to be. As members of the faith community, we can then sit in the branches of the tree of faith that God brought forth – and shouldn’t that be enough?

Hope you enjoy this lovely post.

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:19

If we could see your faith, would it be a strong tree with deep roots? Or would it be a flower withering away under the sun? The Word of God is the seed (Luke 8:11) And when we truly hear Gods word and listen, its takes root into our hearts and our faith begins to grow

Rooted and build up in Jesus , strengthened in the faith as we were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:7)

Jesus taught us about several scenarios when people hear the Word of God : Satan is always trying to distract us and remove the seed before it takes root (Matthew 13:4)

  1. Some people accept the Word of God but as soon as a trial comes along their faith falls apart because they don’t have deep roots (Matthew 13:5-6)
  2. Other people lose their faith because of the negative influences around them become stumbling blocks (Matthew 13:7)
  3. Others produce deep roots and grow strong faith in God and live a fruitful life (Matthew 13:8)

So which are you? Is your faith in God deep enough to withstand trials? Or does your faith wither?

For the grass whithers and the flowers fall, but the Word of God endures forever (Isaiah 40:80 in Jesus Name Amen

Enough

iamenough-brenc3a9-brown-largeThe Olympics have recently finished and I have finally gotten back to feeling a little less like the worst athlete on the planet. I mean, seriously. Where do these amazing people come from? I couldn’t qualify for an Olympic event unless the sport was Olympic power napping or procrastination. I tell ya, if those were events, I would ROCK!

It’s funny, isn’t it? Even with elite athletes like those amazing men and women there are those who returned home feeling as though their accomplishments were “not enough”.  While I can’t imagine how painful it would be to qualify for an international event of such esteem and then not bring home a medal, the mere fact that one qualified should feel like a success, right?

But it doesn’t. Living in a world where nearly everything is competitive, it seems that we have to always be striving to be more than what we are; that we must be challenging ourselves to be “enough” and sadly, our faith doesn’t relieve any of that pressure.

As Christians, we are told from the time we are babies that we are sinners and therefore “not enough” by ourselves; we are unworthy to be loved by the God who created us. The mere act of being born has made us unworthy and there is nothing we personally can do individually to fix this. We must rely on a Savior, Jesus Christ, to cover up our sinful nature; remove our sins from God’s sight so He will willingly admit us to His kingdom.

Now I know I am supposed to feel amazed and in awe of the fact that God’s only Son chose to die a horrible death so that my relationship with His Father can be healed and maybe it’s just me, but this doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Maybe that’s because I bring a lot of baggage with me to this whole being “enough” issue.

As a survivor of abuse, I often felt that being me was so “not enough” that I was really unworthy of better treatment from others. I was so convinced of this that I frequently put myself in situations that were abusive because I felt that was all I deserved. I had thought that attending church would make this better because church is where you find God and God is Good and God is Love.

But, at least for me, this was not the case. While the church didn’t tell me I deserved to be abused, it did say – and does still say – that I am not enough all by myself to be welcomed into God’s kingdom. I have to be more; different; changed. Now, while I understand the purpose of the message is to get people to turn away from doing things that are harmful to themselves and to the community, for a person like me, this just solidifies the internal belief that I and people like me are not enough. We never have been and we never will be.

And then it struck me.635936613667970449-1699337088_music-good-enough

This morning as I was walking and praying, I was reminded of some wisdom that I both read recently and has been shared with me in other ways in the recent past.

I am good enough just as I am because I am as God made me. Period. Am I perfect? Nope, never will be but then that’s not the point of my existence here. God placed me here to learn and grow in my likeness of Him, but because I am created by Him – in His image – I am good just as the rest of this earth and the beings on it are good.

Now before you get upset that and rant about how I sin and therefore make myself less worthy, let me stop you. I fully accept that I fail on a daily basis and am absolutely responsible for my own actions. God does not protect me from the consequences of my poor decisions but rather provides me with the ability to learn from these actions and make better decisions in the future. Additionally, God already knew that I would make these poor choices at the time I was sent down to this lovely planet. As I have said before, I do not believe that there is anything I have done – or you have done – that God didn’t foresee. The Bible says in Genesis 1 that God created the world and all that is in it and it was good. Period. Not it was good until; not it was good, but…nope. God created the world and all that was in it and it was GOOD.

Now, since I believe that God is good and because of His goodness He literally cannot create anything that is bad, that means that you, me, all of us are good just by being who we are. We may make bad decisions, we may do stupid things, but we are all good and therefore we are enough.

So where did this idea come from that we had to be saved?

Man.

Well, ok, Satan started it, Adam jumped on board, and we’ve been in this never-ending pointing of fingers since. The point is that God didn’t need to send Jesus to die for my sins because when I was created, I was already forgiven. God already knew what my life was going to be, how I was going to live it, and what impact it would have on others. The same is true of each and every one of us.

I truly believe that God sent Jesus not because we aren’t “enough” as we are, but for two entirely different reasons.

One, Jesus came so that each of us can forgive ourselves and continue forward on the path that we were created to be on rather than spend time feeling guilty for bad decisions. Second, Jesus came to remind each of us that we all fail in order to curb the need to point out everyone else’s failures as being bigger or worse than our own in order to make ourselves feel more worthy.

We as human beings strive to feel better by making others around us feel worse and God knew this would be a failure of our independent nature and therefore sent Jesus – and the numerous prophets prior to Him – to remind us that none of us are superior to one another.

enoughHere is the bottom line.

We all have the same pluses and minuses on our scorecard but in the end, we were all created by a kind, loving God who’s mercy, love and grace are always enough and created us to be enough just as we are.

We need Jesus because we to remember this life isn’t about us.

We need Jesus because we need to remember that being enough doesn’t mean we don’t need to learn and grow.

We need Jesus because our time on this earth is not about becoming “good enough” but about being a piece of God here on this planet at this time for His purpose.