'Grace' tagged posts

Prone to Wander: A Comparison Driven Life

If I’m being completely honest with myself, much of my misery comes from wanting to live out someone else’s story.

Yes, I am a single woman, living on my own, with a job I enjoy. I have a terrific sister who allows me the latitude to play a large role in my nephew’s lives. I like that I can play the piano and worship God through music.

But comparison seeps in and the lovely aspects of my life lose their luster. What gives me life and light grows dim in the looming shadow that is Comparison.

It’s more than comparing my life to someone else’s. The comparison that gets to me are the “what could have been” and “what should have been” narratives.

I should have been more loving.I could have been a lovely wife.
I could have been a great parent.
I should not have to carry this burden alone.
I could have been more if I had more money, time, space, etc.

Sometimes I want to be all of these things, have all of my wishes, live my best life. And in the depths of my desperate thinking, I protest God because I don’t like the story he’s writing for me.

And I audaciously ask for different one.

Stillness After the Storm

I’ve lived in the Northwest nearly all my life. In this place where the weather is typically a bit on the boring side, our responses to anything out of the ordinary can be truly dramatic. I love the way we embrace sunshine like it may never come again and treat snowstorms like hurricanes. And this year’s snowstorm did not disappoint. The snowflakes arrived at almost exactly the moment they were supposed to, piling up inch by inch just as predicted.

Most years, when February rolls around, I am in full-on hibernation mode. If I could join the bears and sleep from Christmas until Spring, I probably would. Once the Christmas tree comes down, the long, slow wait begins. I never learned to appreciate the short days, mud, and general dampness that accompany our Northwest winters, and last year was no exception.

When the Storm Rises

Photo Credit: Sara Sandefur

In January 2018, I was promoted to a new position at work. It came with a nice raise and exponential increase in responsibility. Last winter flew by in a fog of long hours, countless meetings, thousands of emails, and long, sleepless nights. My fear of getting it all wrong was completely overwhelming. I constantly replayed each day in my mind, second guessing most of my decisions and wondering if I was even coming close to what was expected of me.

The Perfect Idol

Twice in the last few months it hit me that most of my prayers for myself could be summed up something like this: God, please make me better. Even the prayers for closeness to the Father and the efforts to read Scripture are consistently invested toward this goal: More holy, less flawed. Both times it […]

Hiding the Broken Things

Here, in your presence, I am not afraid of brokenness.
To wash your feet with humble tears,
O, I would be poured out ‘til there’s nothing left.

I just want to wait on You, my God.
I just want to dwell on who You are.

-Kari Jobe, “Beautiful”

As a child, I hid the broken things.

One Christmas, I accidentally beheaded a ceramic figure from my grandmother’s nativity set. (It wasn’t Jesus, so I lived to tell the tale). I simply placed the head back on and walked away. Weeks later, as we put away the Christmas decorations, I feigned shock and disbelief upon the discovery of the broken figurine.

Another time, it was a bookshelf. I flipped the shelf over and strategically placed items of a specific weight to balance out the offended side. I had forgotten about it until I packed my room for college – I didn’t have to fake my shock, but I did hide my culpability.

Agree with Grace

I hate buying cell phones.

Well, I hate buying any tech, really, but cell phones especially. I hate spending money on something that will become essentially useless in two years. If I spend over $100 on anything I want to bequeath it to my ancestors. I want the family to gather around the Christmas table and pull out great-great-grandma Erin’s antique Galaxy S7 they usually display in their curio cabinet and reminisce about a simpler time.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, why don’t they make things like they used to? It bothers me that we have built into our lives this rhythm of tossing costly things aside. I notice it most in fashion and tech. There’s an understanding that in a year or two, or as soon as next season, what you have now will be out of style and out of date. We are expected to throw our money at it and then throw it away. This is partly why I have hoarder-like tendencies. I’ll go to toss something out and there’s this tug, “But this cost me something…I gave something up to bring this into my life and now I’m stuffing it into a giant black bag…” It feels wrong, like I should never have bought those things in the first place.

I think this rhythm of cheapening the objects that surround us has led to us cheapening much more important things. Things like grace.

He Has Shown You

I’ll be the first to admit that last Sunday, I almost rolled my eyes at Pastor Jon’s first point in his message. “Get in the pouch,” seriously? But the reality is that it speaks to a heart need in every one of us that in turn has tremendous impact on our sense of identity.

Using a kangaroo pouch as the idea, Jon described our need to get into God’s “pouch.” It’s a place of closeness surrounded by the love and care of God. We all desire to be loved and accepted. And truthfully, we’ll do and be almost anything to gain a sense of being loved and accepted. The crazy, beautiful, and scary reality is that God made us this way. We were made by God to be in relationship with Himself. In that pure relationship there would be no need to strive for acceptance, to prove one’s worthiness of love.

Sadly, due to sin, that purity is not what we experience. So we strive and we struggle, all in the pursuit of unconditional love and acceptance. Some of us adopt personas hoping it will make us more likable. Some focus on appearances and are driven to constantly improve our own image. Some become self-deprecating because we believe it will be easier to handle the disappointments and hurts if we beat others to the punch.

The Paradox of Parenting

I walked out to the car with my son on the way to his swim practice. It was raining a little. Pattering drops fell around us as we exit the garage to get into my 2006 Honda Accord.

I asked him, “Buddy, did you check the mail today?”

He replied loudly, “Yes.”

“You did?” I asked again.

“Yep.”

“Good job.”

I opened the door for him and as he got in I asked with a tone of displeasure, “Where’s your jacket?” He never wears a jacket voluntarily. I sometimes think he would go out in the Pacific Northwest rain with just a t-shirt and flip-flops if we didn’t make him wear more.

He answered, “I didn’t bring one,” while he crawled into the car.

I closed the door on his leg before he had completely gotten into the car.

He yelled, “OWWWWW!”

Identity

Four months ago it became clear to me that I will never become famous. This may sound odd to you, but I have been holding out hope for decades that I would end up a household name.

In third grade, my reach for the spotlight began as Alice in our third grade play of Alice in Wonderland. In middle school, I aspired to singing stardom as my two friends joined me in the talent show with our harmonious rendition of a Point of Grace song. You nineties church kids know what’s up. This was in addition to our frequent performances in front of our church body, which broadcast its Sunday morning services on the radio, so we had to be halfway there, right?

In junior high it began to morph into options. My singing dream began to dwindle as another girl from our school nailed a Whitney Houston song and moved to Nashville for a record deal. I knew having pretty good pitch and being able to hear and sing harmony was not going to be enough after hearing her wail on that song over and over. So I thought wider: could I model? I was pretty thin but didn’t really have the face or skin for that. My cheerleader legs would always rule that option out for me. Thanks, gymnastics. I was good at school, so maybe I could be a scientist. Some type of researcher for something that would win me a Nobel Prize. That was still in reach, right?  

Teetering

Teeter – To move unsteadily (verb), wobble (noun)  Dictionary App

My son is 15 months old and currently learning to walk. In typical toddler fashion, his head and belly account for 90% of his mass, so his attempts at steps look a lot like teetering. Mostly, he looks like a stumbling drunk, but with his dimpled grin, he can pull it off. My reflex as the hovering mother is to reach out and stabilize him. Sometimes I do, but mostly I let him try. I let him fall. I let him learn. I know it’s how to help him grow. I want him to run and play and take over the the world. We have to start somewhere.

He is resilient. I think the diaper-padded bottom helps, but he often pops right back up after he falls. The fear of falling again has yet to hamper his vigor in attempting consistent strides. When he gets tired, he seems to step harder but with less balance. That can get pretty funny. But he seems to understand the end game. Walking. Then running. Then who knows?  

I can relate to the point of tears to the teetering. At any given time, one or more arenas of my life see me in that form. And unlike my son, more often than not, my instinct is not to pop back up and get right back in the game. I have never been one to feel like I’ve ‘arrived,’ but for me, parenting has wielded an even stronger hammer of humility than any season before it. When so much is at stake, it feels crippling to want to do well with all you have and still fall.

Pit vs. Presence

Have you ever been bad at something? Like, truly, unequivocally terrible?

I cannot skate. Not roller skate. Not ice skate. Not roller blade or skateboard. Heck, I can barely ride a bike. Maybe it has something to do with growing really tall really fast as a kid. My center of gravity never quite figured out where to land. Or maybe because even though they say you can’t walk until you crawl, I skipped right over the “on all fours” stage and stood straight up. I hear that jacks up your balance.

Whatever the reason, I found all those elementary school skate nights and birthday parties at once horrifying and lonely. I’d shove off each wall hoping I’d launched myself with enough force to bump safely into the other side, having the neither the ability to steer nor stop. Or start, for that matter. If I ran out of steam mid-rink, I would have to wait for a kind soul, usually someone’s mom, to give me a tow to the wall or perhaps all the way back to the snack bar where I would sit in a booth and daydream until the party was over.

My last time ever on skates ended with, what I imagined, was me almost slicing a small child in half. It was a youth group ice skate night, I think, and this tiny little girl had been practicing her serious figuring skating skills right in the middle of free skate. It was legitimate practice. She was wearing the tights and the little skirt and was spinning, spinning, spinning. Full-on Nancy Kerrigan.