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spiritual growth

the practice of internal wonder

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Internal stillness takes practice. It is the fruit of hiddenness — a life that’s lived looking at God, a life of wonder in Him — and it needs to be cultivated. Sara Hagerty, Unseen

Do you ever feel tempted to make your relationship with God about appearances or productivity?

It can sometimes happen unknowingly, and the mindset shift can be stealthy. It sometimes happens under the guise of church activity or mentorship, even bible study and service.

God continues to bring the story of Mary and Martha in Luke to my mind.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Martha, perhaps busying herself with tasks she had deemed more important than gazing at Jesus. She might have even had that internal warring going on many of us can relate to: so many people in my home, it needs to be clean…. I need to appear productive and making things happen…. I wonder what that person is thinking about me… These things need to be done first, then I’ll listen to Jesus.

Can you relate?

I can.

The tendency to believe the lie that work done for God is more important than my friendship with and love for Him.

But I think a greater truth is that our unseen time with Him is what makes all the difference.

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trusting God to be God

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Do you ever wear a garment of worry over loved ones and their decisions?

Have you ever found yourself carrying burdens of someone else’s life that aren’t yours to carry? Do you tend to live anxious about someone else’s opinion of you?

A truth that comes around now and again since I became a follower of Jesus is this: You are not someone else’s Holy Spirit.

Meaning: you are not meant to be God in someone’s life. You are human, and you have limits. But like Matthew 19:26 says, God has none (hallelujah, thank you, all praise to You, God).

“My over-caring shows up when I try to fix everything for everyone. I want to take away everyone’s pain. It is as if I want to be their savior. Recently I realized that when I try too hard to make it all just right, I’m really attempting to play God. It wears me out and sends me into overload. At the same time, it robs those I love from learning the lessons God wants to teach them. I might even stand in the way of them coming to know Him personally. That thought makes me sad. I understand what perfectionistic-overload means for me: It’s when I try to go beyond my human limitations and do what only God and the other person can do together. It is then that I experience exhaustion and self-doubt. Changing the way I relate to the people around me puts me squarely into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory.” Joan Webb

There was something going on at work, a serious Holy Spirit heart tug, and I was on the fence about being obedient. A few days later I decided to trust, and walking out a conversation feeling nauseas I felt God impress, Trust Me with other people’s opinion of you.

Then, with some family stuff going on, my husband insightfully said, “You never know what God is teaching them.” I’m thankful he said that, because I’m the type to run around in circles, wanting to cry at the stress or brokenness of a situation, word vomit until people are confused, and then regret multiple things and go to sleep asking God to forgive me. Just being honest. There’s no way for me to know God’s agenda for someone else’s spiritual growth or how God plans to show His power in their life.

I was catching up with a good friend who was sharing something similar she is learning with her 4 year old. She said something like, “I can instruct, love, guide, discipline, but I can’t change her heart. It might someday create waves in our family, but God is going to have to meet her, and she with Him, to change and be made new.”

It’s like Joan says above, “I understand what perfectionistic overload means for me: it’s when I try to go beyond my human limitations and do what only God and the other person can do together.”

And I realize, isn’t that better?

God is infinitely better and enough for each of us. He knows exactly what we need precisely when we need it.

Man, have I been seriously getting this wrong. Over-caring, over-reaching into a place that only God can go.

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younger me, don’t live so afraid.

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Lately, I’ve had reason to look back into my middle and high school years and self. And those are the words that come to mind:

Girl, don’t be so afraid.

This past weekend we celebrated my only niece’s 13th birthday with a blessing brunch, we dubbed it. My encouragements (things I would’ve told my 13-year-old-self today) to her were:

  1. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, and not everyone will like or love you, and that’s okay.
  2. You will never regret choosing Jesus and His way of doing things, over the temptations, tendencies, and promotions of the world.

In all honesty, I walked through middle school and early high school years timidly, paralyzed with fear of making a mistake or being thought of as out of the culture-loop. I was insecure about my appearance because I was afraid of being confident and feeling beautiful exactly as I was, believing the lie that comparison was better. I was afraid of letting the weight of who I was – my hopes, dreams, quirks, passions, interests – bear on those around me, for fear that I’d be judged or put on the spot.

I didn’t idolize the ‘popular group,’ or even want to be one of them, but I did want to blend in, and be someone other people wanted to be around. 

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