Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Victim Mentality: What My Toddler and I have in Common

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I learn many life lessons from my toddler.  The other day I was watching her play and during the process she decided to crawl underneath one of our dining room table chairs and hideout.  

She was under there for a few moments, and then all of a sudden began to realize that she didn't really like being there.  She tried to stand up, but the weight of the chair kept her from getting too far in her pursuits.  And then she looked at me with the saddest face and made a whine that said "Mommy, help me out of here!".

I didn't help her at first.  Trust me, I really wanted to, but more so, I wanted her to learn that she had crawled in there and she could easily crawl back out of there.  She had the strength to get herself out of the mess that she got herself in, it would just take some work.  I sat there on the sidelines and coached her through the process of working her way out of her mess.   

It's really funny that this situation happened when it did, because moments before I was talking to a friend about the concept of powerlessness and the "victim" mentality that so many of us possess at some point or another in our lives.  I see this in my own life at times. 

We feel powerless to certain people and their emotional toll on us, powerless to our situations at work, with our friends, with our family.  Powerless to stress, to emotional struggles, and even to sin.  I meet so many people who believe that life is just like the wind, you get blown wherever it decides to take you and you just have to learn to deal with it when you get there.  

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm not okay with that.  

I believe that yes, there are certain things that are out of our control.  I want it to be sunny tomorrow, but can't guarantee that it will be.  I want to freeze time when my daughter seems to be growing up too fast, but I guess I can't do that either.  

But you see, so much of our life's outcome lies within the power of our choices...choices in which Jesus gives us the strength to make wisely.  Choices that He guides us through.  Choices that he calls us toward, reminding us that He has given us what we need to make them happen.  

Like my toddler, begging for direction, Jesus is right beside us, gently coaching us along.  No matter our situations, we are only victims if we choose to be.  If we allow the weight of the world to crush us rather than take the necessary steps to get out from under it.  If we allow our own strength to try and lift our burdens, rather than rely on the Giver of Strength. 

Whatever your situation...don't give in to the victim mentality.  Choose to live freely.   



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thank you for my broken heart:

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Now that I'm married, it's fun to reflect back on how I spent Valentine's Days Past:
  1. Girls Night Out...no men allowed.  
  2. Watching a romantic film, crying my eyes out, and realizing much too late that it's not wise to watch a romantic love story when you are all alone on Valentine's Day.
  3. Interesting dates with some not so interesting dudes.  
  4. Valentine's Day coffee house at college with friends
The list goes on and on...and every season of life reflected a new way to celebrate this incredible, awful, amazing and dreaded day.  It's a day that brings on so many mixed emotions.  For some- elation and joy.  For others- depression and isolation.  It's amazing how fixating on love for one day a year can cause so many people to feel so many different things. 

I, for one, am beyond joyful this Valentine's Day.  Married to the man of my dreams and more and more in love everyday, I take this day as an opportunity to really thank God for love- and for the love he's allowed me to experience here on earth.  But please, don't gag and stop reading just yet...because I wasn't always at this place. 

Today, as I look back at my life, I thank God for every Valentine's Day past...even the lonely ones, the confused ones, and the miserable ones.  I look back and praise Him because I know that no matter what the season of my life, He was right there by my side, and His plans for my future were as sure as ever...even though I was clueless to those plans at the time. 

I look back and thank Him for the broken hearts, the rejection, the relationships that fell through, the confusion, and even the moments of feeling alone...because each one of those seasons shaped me and prepared me for that which was to come. Each one bid me to draw closer to Him. 

My only regret is that I wish I would have felt this gratitude back then.  If only I could have seen His plans unfold and get a glimpse into the future that He had for me...a future that sometimes seemed so far away, so ambiguous, and so discouraging...if only I had known, I could have trusted...

It's easy to be grateful looking back.  I wish it was easy to be grateful when looking ahead.

Whatever your struggle today, whatever feelings you may be carrying around with you, however bleak your future may seem....be reminded that He really does have a plan for you.  A plan to prosper you, a plan to love on you, a plan to give you hope and a future. Draw strength from that.  Find joy in that.  Have peace in that...and learn to walk in gratitude, in faith, and in hope. 

For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no doubt and infinite guarantee that your future carries hope...rest in that knowledge today.