Sunday, February 23, 2014

Creating Margin: Saying No

I have been mulling over how exhausted and busy I have been these past few weeks (or months).  Almost every night I have had something that has kept me out late or ended with me being mentally drained only to crash on the weekends to start the process again.  The last few months I have had to fight for joy on a weekly, sometimes daily basis and I think it has a lot to do with being over-comitted (and under-caffienated) because I have to fight for Christ being the forefront of my life because I have allowed distractions to take priority.

The presence of busyness in my life is the product of a deeper sin.  Most likely the desire to please people and my high need for achievement instead of resting in what the Lord says about me.  In my life busyness is like a sin.  I start out scheduling a fews things a few nights a week which results in me becoming overwhelmed and dreading the daily grind despite the fact I am content and love my life.  I vow to make changes and then I fall back into the trap a few weeks later.

I recently read a book by one of my favorite pastors, Kevin DeYoung.  He wrote one of my favorite books 'Just Do Something' and he did it again with his book 'Crazy Busy'.  Below is a little snippet of one of my best reads of this year.

“I have often marveled to think that Jesus was so terrifically busy, but only with the things he was supposed to do…He was busy, but never in a way that made him frantic, anxious, irritable, proud, envious, or distracted by lesser things…Jesus knew the difference between urgent and important. He understood that all the good things he could do were not necessarily the things he ought to do…Jesus understood his mission. He was not driven by the needs of others, though he often stopped to help hurting people. He was not driven by the approval of others, though he cared deeply for the lost and the broken.”

I was at a friend's house relearning statistics for my teaching exam last week and I always leave her house refreshed (despite the fact I was learning stats) and we talked about the danger of busyness and the importance of establishing margin.  I want to be available.  I need to be know how to differentiate between urgent and important.

Being busy with good things does not make someone a better Christian or more fruitful.  It just means you are busy and more prone to stress, exhaustion, and anxiety.

So to take this problem head on, I stopped saying yes and started saying no.  I gave up the idea of running a half marathon in May.  I stopped and made a list of top priorities and rearranged my life accordingly.  I have created margin.  I searched the New Testament and created a belief statement on busyness.  Jesus did not fill every need.  He did not heal every person.  He took time for Himself.    So now I have one scheduled evening a week.  I cut things out of my life.  I have room for intentional coffee dates, spontaneous adventures, times of personal refreshment, and opportunities to serve. Most importantly, I have time to focus on what I have been called to do.

Being busy had put my heart and joy in danger.  Dangers that I probably would not even have time to consider.  The great Counselor and great Physician is in the process of healing my overscheduled, exhausted soul.  So daily I pray through what healing looks like. I pray for discernment to know the difference in urgent and important. And to daily look to Christ's example in living my life.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

When Community Becomes a Crutch.

I live in a small town but was raised a city girl.  I have been here for 4 years and I have no plans on leaving anytime soon.  I always said I would be here until the Lord called me elsewhere and when He did, I would pick up and move in a hearbeat despite the deep roots I have here.  I thought it was going to be for about 7 months but here I am.

I have friends from church that push me to the cross and encourage me in ministry.
I have coworkers who encourage me professionally in my pursuit of my teaching certificate.
I have families who have given me groceries or gas money in the moments that I could only afford to pay rent.
I have a group of friends that challenge me, hold me accountable, ask me the hard questions, and laugh with me.
I have women in my life in different stages that offer wisdom and discernment in moments of struggle.

I truly believe community can make or break you.
I know from experience I would be in a darker place without the community I have worked hard to establish.

But I would be in an even darker place if I pursued community as a replacement for the Gospel.

Community can be idolized in Christian circles.  Community can be the end result.  The pursuit of community can take place of the pursuit of the Lord.

At times, I have seen it take place of the Gospel.  In my own life I have seen how I have made decisions based on community.  So many times I have seen how I didn't seek the Lord in decisions but I sought the opinions of my community.  I took a safe approach to living my life and living in other's opinion instead of seeking the Lord.

I never want to be a believer that pursues the idea of community instead of the Gospel.  I want my community to mimic the Gospel, with the Gospel as the foundation.  I recently ran across this quote by Bonhoffer:

“The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the Cross. God verily bore the burden of men in the body of Jesus Christ. But He bore them as a mother carries her child, as a shepherd enfolds the lost lamb that has been found. God took men upon Himself and they weighted Him to the ground, but God remained with them and they with God. In bearing with men God maintained fellowship with them. It was the law of Christ that was fulfilled in the Cross. And Christians must share in this law.” 
-Deitrich Bonhoffer

Communtiy should be the picture of the Gospel, not the Gospel itself.  Community needs to ask the hard questions that points us back to then cross and Scripture.

Dont get me wrong, community is great but it can hold you back fom living life according to the Gospel.

Beth Moore tweeted today and exactly what I have been mulling over the past week:
"Just gonna say it like this: get your hind end into a strong community of believers & yopur head in the Scriptures.  You cannot do this alone." 

We can't just have Biblical community, we have to pursue Scripture and pursue Christ.
HE has the power to transform our hearts.