(Last Week’s) Five Minute Friday: Ready

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Gentle Reader,

Linking up late (again) with Kate and the FMF crew. Setting the timer for five minutes and I’m: ready.

Go.

I never feel ready for anything. Ever. Even when I was a kid and I’d study for tests weeks before they actually happened, I never felt prepared. I was always convinced that I was going to fail. (And I did on occasion. Organic chemistry. Algebra. I have yet to use either in life. Whatever).

I’ve carried that sense with me into adulthood. I’m always looking over my shoulder, wondering when the fall is going to come. No matter how hard I work or how well I do my job, surely I’m going to get fired. No matter how well I’ve got the lesson prepared (or the game, or the discussion questions, or anything) for the kids on Wednesday nights, it’s going to be a flop. No matter how closely I follow the recipe, when I cook dinner (a rare and well-documented thing in my house), it will suck.

Somehow, somewhere, some time, I came to believe that I’m a weakling who can’t handle anything. I started second-guessing every decision. Re-thinking every word. Clipping my cuticles (nail obsession tends to happen in those who are anxious). Oh, and I analyze. Everything. All the time. From every angle. Until I want to throw up.

It’s something else when you actually make yourself sick.

Looking at this belief of mine, this idea that I’m never ready…well, it makes me shake my head. So many times it hasn’t been true. I make plans and see things through and the failures, while real, have never been big enough to rock my world forever. I’ve worked for the same people for 14 years, for Pete’s sake. It makes zero sense to think that I’m going to be fired every time I walk through the door.

Here is another area in which I must learn to operate out of what I know and not what I feel. There’s a lot I can prepare for. I might not feel ready, but I can be ready. When the times comes when I can neither feel nor be ready – like my approaching visit to the liver specialist – I can rely on the One who goes before me.

The Lord who is always ready.

Grace and peace along the way.

Stop.

When the Hits Keep Coming

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Gentle Reader,

Jesus never said that the abundant life would be trouble-free. In fact, He explicitly told His people that “in this world, [they would] have trouble” (John 16:33). That statement stands today. We will have trouble. We simply cannot escape it. So, how is it possible that an abundant life, a life filled with blessings and joy, can also be a frightening, frustrating, painful life?

I’m dwelling on this. Last week I told you that several of my friends are dealing with some really tough things. We’re talking big things here, like death and abusive relationships. Chris and I continue to scrape by on the seat of our financial pants. There always seems to be more bills than there is money. I lay awake last night wondering how we could possibly make it work. My parents are in the same boat. My brother is recovering from his third foot surgery.

I get the trouble part. I’m living that.

Thus it was a bizarre feeling that rose up within me when we took the dogs for a walk last night and spied the barest hint of Autumn color tinging the trees that line the neighborhood pathways. In the midst of struggle, there was beauty. Splashes of gold and vibrant red, lit by the blaze of sunset. I could not have enjoyed the moment more if everything in my life was perfect. I suspect that I enjoyed it because my life is not perfect.

These little reminders from God are what keep us going. I don’t know how we’ll pay all of my medical bills or replace the engine in the stupid, stupid truck. I don’t know how to adequately comfort my friends. I have no money to give my parents to help them and I can’t make my brother’s foot heal any faster. But I do have the changing leaves. I possess a reminder any time I look out the window, a reminder that tells me that there are seasons. That life is never static. That the hardship of the now will not overtake me for I know the One who has overtaken the now (also John 16:33).

I am a pessimistic, deeply cynical person, so I know how impossible the words I am about to write will seem. Nevertheless, it’s true that there’s always something to be thankful for. I am learning that, if I let Him, God will step in a blow that pessimism and that cynicism away. He will give me little glimpses into something better, something more. I’m learning that I can listen to the Enemy’s lies if I want to and travel the path of discontentment and despair, but what’s the point of that? I’m learning that holding on to hope – really, God Himself – is the only thing that makes sense even as it seems senseless.

Why do people die when they do? Why do relationships turn sour? Why does the car have to break down the same time the body does? Why do people run away? I don’t know. I simply don’t have the answers for any of that. All I know is that the leaves are changing. That, somehow, is evidence enough that God is at work.

Grace and peace along the way.

Brokenhearted

Gentle Reader,

I would normally post today, but, right now, my heart just isn’t in it. I have several friends who are dealing with some very sad situations. So I share the words of our Lord, conveyed through Paul, as a reminder for us all:

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Let’s do that.

Grace and peace along the way.