Five Minute Friday: Reward

Gentle Reader,

When did life get so heckin’ busy?

It’s weird, though. I am so very tired, and yet I have this bubbling energy. Perhaps a new facet of this thing called “joy.” Definitely need a nap or five. Wouldn’t turn down a day at the spa, complete with full-body massage. But I want to go and do and see. Have some adventures.

That’s why I get mad at my body. It consistently lags behind my spirit. Recently I decided that I’d like to climb a mountain, but these bones and muscles are all, “Yeah, how about no?” Annoying. But I’m gonna do it someday. Just you wait and see.

In the midst of all the busyness, I really have missed my writing people the last two weeks. You all speak grace, life and love into my soul. You are the Jesus-kids, the God-folks, the Spirit-poets.

Kate says: reward.

Go.

I can’t see for crap in the dark. Not that I see that well when it’s light; depth perception is not something I’m known for. Hashtag running into things and hashtag always a bruise somewhere. That’s why I suck at sports. Oh, I’ll play, and I’ll have fun, but I’m not going to score the winning goal or anything.

I’m also easily frightened. I’ve seen a grand total of two horror movies in my life, and don’t plan to see any others. Once made the mistake of watching a documentary about Jack the Ripper one night, all alone, because history is great, and I couldn’t even finish it. Give me comedy, always, or give me drama, but nothing scary, please.

So when I got invited to a young friend’s birthday party yesterday, and found out that she wanted to play a game inspired by the movie The Quiet Place, inside the pitch-black church…I was the opposite of into that. But this friend is awesome, and I love her so much, so I accessed what little bit of courage I have and joined in.

As the lights went out and I went to station myself in the sound booth, the first thing I did was smack into a wall. Much grace. Such style.

The game progressed. At one point I made my way cautiously down the very not-up-any-building-code-ever stairs. Because some new people in my life have discovered that it’s easy to make me jump, and this is funny to them, I about fainted when I came around a corner and encountered one of the “monsters,” who walked away chuckling. A bit later, this same monster made a noise and hit me with a pool noodle, which resulted in me gasping and kicking, and my ankle connected with a table that was inconveniently placed.

Honestly, it was pretty funny – once the shock and the “I’m going to die!” passed.

And so I’m full of warm, fuzzy feelings today. Relationships – they are the reward. Possessions, they don’t matter. I’m not going to look back and think, “I’m so glad I bought ______.” I will, however, always remember fondly the night I played a silly game with some teens and a few adults who consistently behave like teens. (We do have our serious, mature, adult-y moments). I will always be glad to have spent those hours eating cake, laughing, conspiring with my soul mate and wrapping my arms around the birthday girl.

That’s a shift for me. Not the understanding that people are what counts. But desiring to fully invest in new relationships. Insecure, shy, timid – those have all been words for me in the past. I’m working out what it looks like to break through those self-imposed barriers and be a woman who embraces life. Because I just want to love. And love is bold.

Stop.

Of course that was longer than five minutes, but everyone in this group constantly breaks that rule. Sorry, Kate!

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Five Minute Friday: Support

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

First, apologies to my writing buddies. I have neglected to interact with your comments and visit your sites for the last two weeks. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

Second, we are slowly but surely sliding into Autumn. I can hardly contain my glee. Cooler temperatures, overcast skies, sweaters, boots, warm socks. I love it all.

Not chat party for me tonight. I put off exercising until late in the day due to yet another smoke invasion. (How I hope and pray that these fires die down soon). While the gang was tapping at the keys, I was yelling at my television, telling the lady leading the program that she’s a sadist and that no, I would not do another set of push-ups.

Kate asks us to: support.

Go.

Antéchomai: to hold before or against, hold back, withstand, endure; to keep one’s self directly opposite to any one, hold to him firmly, cleave to, paying heed to him

StudyLight

Remember, the New Testament wasn’t written in English, not even that of King James I of England (VI of Scotland; it’s complicated). It can be helpful to study the original language – Greek – in order to gain a deeper understanding of the text. One needn’t be a scholar; being able to read or pronounce the words in the ancient tongue is definite bonus points territory, but all that is required is access to the internet, the ability to use a search engine and a desire to learn.

So, an-tekh’-om-ahee.

We find this word in 1 Thessalonians 5:14,

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

– NKJV

Uphold the weak.

What does that look like? What does it mean to support the weak? And why is this a command given to us?

Maybe it has something to do with these verses, quoted in this space before, quoted so often in Christian culture,

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

– NKJV

Jesus is our example. Through the process of sanctification, the Holy Spirit makes us more like Him. As our Lord was humble, patient, kind, loving, all the things we think of as good, so, by grace, must we be. It’s a “go and do likewise” thing. We throw ourselves onto His lap and beg Him to carry us when we just can’t take another step. So we, receiving strength and grace from the Source of life itself, are then able to support our brothers and sisters who can’t take another step. We help them come to the feast table, the mercy seat. Then, when we ourselves are weak, our brothers and sisters help us. On and on it goes.

Sometimes this looks like dropping off a warm meal. Sometimes it’s listening while resisting the temptation to offer advice. Scrubbing floors, rubbing backs, babysitting, discussing Scripture, praying together, weeping with those who weep.

For we are all weak, are we not? In our frailty and the incompleteness of our sanctification, strength lasts but a short while. We are constantly, consistently having to return to the Lord, crying out for Him to breathe life into us once more.

It is our privilege to help each other do so.

Stop.

Signature

Five Minute Friday: Team

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

There’s a battle raging today, between taking a nap and having coffee in order to power through the afternoon and evening. (And by “power through,” I mean, “stay awake until 8:30 p.m. if possible”). Wonderful as a nap sounds, I think coffee is going to win. It’s mostly hot chocolate, which is very much on the “no-no” list when it comes to my eating and exercise regimen. But you know what?

Sometimes you gotta.

Kate asks us about our: team.

Go.

Your team changes.

I used to have this idea that as I journeyed through adulthood I would have one consistent set of close friends. Not a huge group. Not people who would demand I interact with them every single day, because #intj and that’s not going to happen. Just the kind of tightly knit group that would eventually sit around a beat-up kitchen table while adult children rustled about with their own kids, reminiscing about shared stupid things, meaningless to outsiders.

That’s what we all imagine.

The truth is that closeness waxes and wanes. Some people are in your life for a short season. Others float in and out. As you get older and hopefully become more like the person God intends you to be, you find that perhaps you just don’t have as much in common with that person anymore. Or you go through a crisis and find the last person you’d expect to show up is there every step of the way.

Over and over we hear in songs and sermons or read in books that relationship is vitally important. That we weren’t created to do life alone. That’s true. But really, we wind up slipping into idolatry. We worship an ideal, then feel massive disappointment when it doesn’t turn out the way we planned.

Preachers and authors point to David and Jonathan, going on and on about their relationship and how wonderful it was. While they were good friends, the best of friends (no, they were not gay), they were in each other’s lives for a relatively brief amount of time. David spent more nights in the hills tending sheep or on the run from King Saul than he did hanging with Jonathan, jamming on harps or seeing who could shoot an arrow farthest.

We have to learn to be willing to go with the flow. (How I loathe typing that. Give me control or give me death). I associate with basically the same group of people that I have for the last 5-8 years, but the way it is now, at 32, is different from the way it was when I was 25. I’ve made new friends. I see some old friends less. I have a deeper connection to others than I ever thought I’d have. This doesn’t mean I’ve ceased to care about any one person. It just means that the shape of your team changes.

No longer do I picture that gathering around the table. Or if I do, the faces are blurry. I don’t know who might be there. It makes me a little sad. At the same time, letting go of what I thought adult friendship should be like and embracing the what-is brings with it a sense of freedom. I don’t have the first clue what God has in store for me. I’ve got to enjoy the ride instead of clinging to an illusion that will leave me discontented.

Life, I think, is a constant stream of celebration and mourning, often mixed together. Much as I am a creature of habit, there isn’t really any such thing as routine. Things are always shifting. It’s tough even when it’s good.

Blessedly, there is the One Who Never Changes. The Constant in the midst of chaos. Do we ever truly pause to think about that? If the day utter aloneness comes, when this earthly team abandons ship and there’s nobody to hear the cries or see the tears – it’s not utter aloneness at all. In the invisible, just beyond sight, sits the King of Kings. Remarkably, He bends near. Gathers us close. Listens well.

Forever the Captain of the team.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Photo Credit: Matthew Wiebe

Five Minute Friday: Visit

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Gentle Reader,

Chit-chatting with Kate and the crew about the sacred, the mundane and the in-between. Tonight we: visit.

Go.

I’m fascinated by the Myers-Briggs personality profiles. As an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) person (and a female one at that, which is apparently rare), learning about the different types and how everyone navigates the world is right up my alley. I love seeing how things interconnect. I’m fascinated by both patterns and differences.

Yet as much as people intrigue me, they drain me. If you imagine a turtle pulling himself deep inside his shell, that would be me. I like alone time. I cherish alone time. I jealously guard alone time.

And then all of a sudden I pop out and go, “Where’s the party?”

I got to do that this past Saturday. The hubs and I invited a few friends over for a visit, something I haven’t been able to do since before I had surgery. I don’t dive into friendship quickly or easily, so I’ve had the same core group for about 10 years. Three of my dearest relationships stretch back to high school. When we get together, in whatever combination, the banter flies fast and heavy – and then turns abruptly to matters like politics and theology.

There’s such joy in that.

Such sweet comfort in the bouncing from the silly to the serious, knowing that the jests are made with a gentle heart and the thoughts shared have been weighed and considered.

I may not speak to any one of my friends on a daily or even weekly basis, but there is a love that connects us. If one of them needed a kidney and I was a match, there’d be no questions about it.

My heart swelled with warmth as I sat on my little corner of the couch and looked into those dear faces squished into every nook of the tiny living room. I was tired and sore. I’m always tired and sore these days. But I was so very glad to have arranged that visit.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)