Banana-Benders and Tik Tok Tics

Last week I took a jet ski tour around the island of Key West. I got to see the second biggest house on the island which used to be Pablo Escabar’s home/headquarters. And who has the largest? None other than Taylor Swift who has just completed construction. Apparently it has a lazy river running around the perimeter. Very similar to my own…

Anyway, as soon as the water laws that be allowed, I “floored” it and was cruising along nicely at 47 miles per hour. To be honest, I was slightly bitter when they informed me that another guy on our tour was riding on a newer jet ski that went all the way up to 51! I jokingly suggested that we should switch but in reality I was dead serious. He didn’t cooperate.

Next time I write I have some insights that have occurred to me since that day about riding life’s waves safely. But for now, I want to take you down a rabbit hole and enlighten you about bananas. Well, perhaps I should start from the beginning. Here is how I got to my point. If you already bored, go ahead and skip to the end and have a nice day. 🤗

So, as I was cruising around, basking in the sun, my mind was open and free, thinking many random thoughts. I started singing a song that I had listened to several times over on my trip (It took me 48 hours to travel from IL to FL on planes trains and automobiles…don’t even get me started). I forgot my old MP3 player that I usually listen to on vacations because it uses so little battery life and has some old/sentimental music on it. My only option was to listen to an album I had purchased while in the hospital with Leukemia; Amy Grant’s first album. She has a song about the beauty of God’s creation and that naturally rolled around in my head while exploring crystal clear waters on a Jet Ski.

This song reminded me that I was first introduced to this album in about 5th grade at a church camp in Oregon. Remembering this caused me to reflect on how I have listened to Christian music and read Christian books about growing closer to God since I was pretty young. That also made me a little weird; I am aware. I have hundreds of sermons, lessons, songs and verses that have been wired in my brain from sheer repetition. I used to go to sleep at night listening to Christian music. Whatever your opinions are about Christian music, the lyrics are positive reminders of God’s grace and love and goodness. Those messages imprinted on my soul. Wore grooves in my heart.

This triggered a memory of a book I read years ago. I can’t remember the title, but I do remember the main character went through some bad stuff and as a result, left a funeral on his bicycle (like one a kid would tool around his neighborhood on, not a fancy road bike for cross country travel) and took off across the country. He had limited resources and soon figured out that bananas were super cheap and fairly substantial and filling. Every day he would buy a bundle of bananas and eat them throughout the day. After following his story for a week or so, I could not stop craving bananas. I went on a “banana-bender” one might say, simply because he talked about it over and over and over.

And that memory caused me to reflect on a recent interview I did to promote my book but began as an interview about women who were developing “Tik Tok Tics”. These women had watched so many Tik Tok videos about Tics and Tourettes that they were literally developing Tics of their own. True story. Look it up.

My point to the listeners was that it matters what we repeatedly put in our minds. It will eventually come out somewhere. Chances are, those women, and probably men and women we all know, are unsuspectingly inviting outside sources to mold and sculpt their beliefs about God, themselves and others.

I think I am finally seeing the light at the end of this rabbit hole.

The conclusion I came to was that there have been times in my life where I have allowed outside sources to shape me in positive ways. Most of those have been fairly intentional: going to conferences, studying God’s word, reading positive messages from leaders and teachers, listening to mentors, seeking insight from wise people, saturating myself in scripture or music that feeds my soul and points me to God and encourages love, compassions and tenderness.

But so often I unintentionally allow certain types of media or toxic people/environments to infect my mind, heart and outlook on life. When I immerse myself in any outside sources that cause me to doubt the goodness of God or people or myself, I am training my mind to receive those as my default settings. Eventually they will come out of me. Eventually I will develop that “Tic” that needs to be eradicated.

These days, we hear a lot about how we can re-wire our brains, our neuropathways. I believe it. It’s possible and takes a lot of practice and focus and work. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we would prevent that hard-wiring in the first place?

We can start today.

Don’t wait until you start your steady diet of bananas to figure out that you need to redirect and be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. ( Romans 12:2 NIV)

You go first

Someone’s gotta GO FIRST. It might as well be me.

I have a confession to make: I watched the move “Bad Moms”. Yep. I was eating dinner while watching TV (another confession…sorry mom!) and it was on some chick-channel and I got sucked in. I am not necessary encouraging you to watch it (it was on cable and there were a lot of dubbed in “fudge” and “friggin” words, for those of you with sensitive cursing nerves 😉), but for the purpose of this post, I wanna share with you a profoundly spiritual lesson I gleaned from it, so hold on tight!

Before we get too far into it, let me gently encourage you boys who are reading to hang in there. I promise it is not just for moms! You are not off the hook.

You might argue with me, but I think this movie came to my attention because God wanted me to have some good material to back up what I have been pondering for a couple of weeks now. I recently brought it up to my husband and told him I was considering starting a movement called: “You go first!”

Ya see, I write regularly because I am willing to go first, to confess my ugly, embarrassing, faithless, doubting, desperate thoughts and fears, so that YOU know you are not alone in your own struggles with the same. Once I put my failures and flaws out there, my prayer is that you will feel the teensiest bit more comfortable about sharing your own.

In the Bad Moms movie, they start out rebelling against the expectations placed on moms to be perfect and create perfect children who always look good, bring healthy lunches to school and can speak 3 different languages and play the violin by 1st grade. The pressure caused them to snap! But, after they went cra-cra for a bit and even their children were questioning their parenting, they came back to the middle and realized that there has to be a balance.

Bad Moms trailer

The final scene is what impacted me enough to enlighten you with this movie review. One of women was running against a domineering/bossy/judgy/intimidating woman to be the president of the PTA. In her speech she confessed that she is a “bad mom”. And then an interesting thing happened as she hung her head in shame: other moms randomly stood and confessed their own “bad mom” moments.

They did this because someone went first.

When we try to present ourselves as perfect and always “together”, we may have a good reputation and others may revere us, but we do not develop authentic, vulnerable relationships.

I know this because I used to be this way. Ask some of my friends if you want confirmation. I am so different now, after the cancer, that I occasionally worry that they will run for their lives for all my honest sharing about how I am a hot mess!

I have a distinct memory of a conversation between me and my husband several years ago. I had been with some friends and it became clear to me that they all knew some inside information about each other that I was not privy to. It hurt my feelings. When I shared it with my husband he asked me if I had ever shared some of my brokenness in a vulnerable way with them. Areas I had failed or struggled in. I had not. Then he said something very wise and annoying: “You are going to have to choose between looking good to your friends or having true and honest friendships.”

I am mortified to admit that I actually had to consider my answer. Did I really want them to see me as an average messed up girl? My ego said “no” at that time. I continued to hide and share just enough to stay connected but not as intimately as they were with each other.

But, as a friend of mine always says, “I don’t have to live that way any more.”

Today, not only do I share in the messy with my friends, I share it with thousands of other people in books and blogs. Because someone has to go first if we are going to cut through the façade of perfection and posturing.

Hasn’t it been lonely for you long enough?

Maybe today is the day that YOU choose to GO FIRST.

Eject the Rejection

Does anyone else have to pause and consider what day of the week it is since the pandemic started? I thought today was Saturday but it turns it is actually Wednesday. Also, I have been home sick for a few days and hibernating in my basement with no windows, so now I am also disoriented and have no clues what time of day it is. I typically am at my sharpest first thing in the morning. I just sat down to write and am questioning my judgment since it is actually—let me check—oh sheesh! It is 4:37PM. This could be rough. This one’s going to involve a lot of actual thinking and even, like in elementary school, a few definitions or vocab words, so consider yourself warned.

I want to unpack a threatening word that has come up among several of my conversations recently: REJECTION. Just typing that word gives me an unsettled, oogy feeling in my being.

man in black shirt and gray denim pants sitting on gray padded bench
Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

How did it make you feel? Here are some other words for rejections, just to add to your nausea:

  • Abandoned
  • Shunned
  • Ostracized
  • Snubbed
  • Dismissed
  • Forsaken
  • Excluded
  • Refused
  • Ignored
  • Deserted

Now, if you aren’t in a fetal position, and especially if you are, after I triggered you with all those deeply disturbing words, keep reading. Trust me—there is light at the other end of this twisted tunnel.

I mentioned the theme of Rejection has been rearing its pathetic head lately. I didn’t even realize how much I needed to investigate this until I was listening to a speaker the other day (I watch pastors/speakers on YouTube while I curl my hair in the mornings because, well, have you seen my hair? It takes about a half hour to curl and I refuse to waste that time just standing and looking in the mirror mindlessly. Thus…I will share with you some good stuff I heard while doing so this week!).

Steven Furtick, teaching pastor at Elevation Church, got distracted from his original message and seemed to “bring it” just to me regarding Rejection. The rest of his talk went a totally different direction! I knew God was trying to get my attention.

Furtick suggested that when we experience Rejection of any kind, be it from a boss, a friend, and spouse, a child, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a church, a family, we need to learn to ask God some better questions than “Why do I have to go through this?”

Maybe try asking Him:

“Where are You redirecting me because of this rejection?”

Or

“What are you using this rejection to protect me from?”

When we finally calm down and look up, most of us know that one of those two questions has a pretty firm answer. We just didn’t think anyone, including God, who knows better than we do what is best for us, was noticing we needed redirecting or protecting.

As I was digging a bit deeper into the dreaded visitor of Rejection (dismissing someone or the act of pushing someone or something away) that seems to drop by uninvited from time to time, I became a little obsessed about it’s root word, “-ject”. “-ject” means “to throw”. So naturally, my brain ran down a rabbit hole to find out the meaning of several other words that we use often and contain the same root. Fascinating!

Bear with me on this, I promise it will make sense eventually!

Object: to THROW your opposition to something

Reject: to THROW out

Inject: to THROW something into something (like a shot)

Eject: to THROW out especially by physical force, authority, or influence

Project: to THROW forward

Traject: to THROW through the air along a path. To cast ( to cast a vision)

(From bespeaking.com)

So, when you are feeling rejected, let this little prayer roll of your tongue:

“God, I OBJECT to this REJECTION and ask you to INJECT me with the power to EJECT this pain and PROJECT a new TRAJECTORY.”

In other words, as Furtick put it, “focus on what is left, not what is lost.” Ask God the right questions: “Is this rejection for my protection or my redirection?” Then, and this is important, lean in to what God thinks of you. Don’t let the Strongholds of rejection hold you hostage.

What are those, you might be asking? Well, lucky for you, as I was mulling around the idea of writing a blog on Rejection, I opened up a random book and found a piece of paper with notes I took from a study I did two years ago with a guy named Robert Morris. The title at the top of my one page of notes was: 6 Strongholds of Rejection. I’m dead serious. Here is what I wrote: 1) anger 2) insecurity 3) pride/EGO (or Edging God Out) 4) over-independence/isolation 5) easily offended 6) control and manipulation. Um, no thank you, friend.

I am acutely aware that moving past Rejection with these pithy tips is easier said than done. Feeling rejected hits our most sensitive and vulnerable nerve. It can make us feel like we are walking around boneless and skinless. And I have been there, friend. Many times (read Boneless & Skinless). But by applying some of these truths and talking to ourselves (about what we know is true about us) instead of listening to ourselves (telling ourselves that we are indeed worthless, unlovable, stupid, annoying, needy, lazy, ugly, high maintenance, flawed, unforgivable, etc.) we have a fighting chance of recovery ( also read Start Talking To Yourself ).

I want to also leave you with a couple verses that I cling to when I start listening to the wrong voices (and sometimes that voice is my own). Maybe they can help you too:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in al creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Romans 8:37-39 NIV

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8

P.O.P.D. (Perfect Ornament Placement Disorder)

P.O.P.D. In case you missed my social media post, these initials represent a very serious, potentially debilitating, often contagious, disease that effects thousands annually: Perfect Ornament Placement Disorder. Over the years, much of the extreme cases have been lessened due to an inordinate amount of people turning to pre-lit and permanently decorated (fake) trees. Could it be that they had reached their limit of the drama and stress of erecting and organizing a perfect tree…year after year after blessed year?

Well, ever since that post, which received over 25,000 hits (highest in Soul-Selfie history!), I have been wondering why that seemed to resonate with so many people. And naturally, I decided I better dive a little deeper and explore ways we can get some recovery from this serenity-threatening disease.

I considered that it might be a condition that primarily effects those of us with extreme control issues. I think that’s a viable option and I could write for hours about that one. But ultimately, I want to talk about one major component of this prefect placement obsession: BALANCE.

It’s all about balancing out the tree so it not only looks perfect, it stays upright.

person holding rocking horse christmas ornament
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Balancing a tree is imperative. We learned this the hard way a few years ago when a loud crashing sound woke us up in the middle of the night. We ran to the living room to find our giant tree on it’s side with ornaments scattered throughout the living room. We couldn’t quite get it steady, so we just tethered it with fishing wire to the window frame. Problem solved.

Apparently, we didn’t learn our lesson very well. At a new home a couple of years later, Blake’s sweet great-grandma (read: pretty old and somewhat frail and slowish) was observing our Christmas tree, when “timbeeerrr”, it fell over on top of her before she knew what hit her. No injuries. Just a teensy bit of trauma.

Here is the main problem as I see it. Over the years it has been a tradition for each grandparent to get each of my 3 children an ornament that represented something they we obsessed about at the time. We have lots of basketball ornaments, band instruments, ballerinas and in ungodly number of Disney-related ornaments. Multiply 6 new ornaments a year by 3 children and by year 5 we could barely even see the branches.

We also have some that were purchased from craft malls and are made of clay. Clay=heavy. These have to be put on first because, to avoid the whole “tree falling on grandma” thing, you have to balance them out with other ornaments.

So, now that I am 439 words in, I’ll try to land this plane….

Christmas, like no other time of the year, tends to provide us with countless opportunities to get out of balance.

There are parties and concerts and pageants and decorating and shopping. All fun. All good stuff. But even through we are preparing for the birthday of the One who came to give us peace and rest and the ultimate sense of balance, we are frenzied, frantic and freaking out.

However, I am not oblivious or insensitive enough to assume those are the only things that knock us off our center. Our world is riddled with people who are suffering from loss, grief, divorce, addiction, financial difficulties, health crises, depression, and despair—those clay ornaments whose weight can pull down the tree of life we are all trying keep upright. It can be an exhausting and sometimes excruciating expenditure of emotional, spiritual and physical energy.

When I decorate my tree, I always start with the heavy ornaments and then, at the end, I strategically position 20+ shiny red (cheap and cheesy) balls to fill in the gaps. This balances out the weight but also the aesthetic vibe of the overall tree.

Christmas can be a time when the heavy feelings and circumstances of our lives (the clay ornaments) and those we love can override the sparkly light ones (the shiny red balls). We have to be intentional about sprinkling in some fun activities or sweet moments of prayer, meditation or reflection to counteract what threatens to steal our joy during the holidays.

And remember how I got my tree to stay up that one year? I tethered it to the window frame. No matter what ornaments are on your tree this year, you would do well to keep it tethered to a source of strength that can prevent it from falling.

Remember: God is the stronghold that holds you strong. Tether your heart, your spirit, your entire being to Him. He alone can keep you fully balanced. He is aware of all that is weighing you down. He knows you feel like you are running in circles and doubt you will ever get your shopping done in time. He understands that you are dreading your family get together or grieve that your family looks different this year since your loved one passed. He sees your pain, your strain, your sorrow.

As I re-read a blog I wrote at Christmas a few years ago, one particular sentence stood out to me: Jesus didn’t just come to earth as a baby 2,000 years ago…He stayed.

His spirit stayed here so He can help you stay balanced. He is available for help if you just ask. We don’t have to obsess about the tree anymore. There is a remedy for the P.O.P.D. We can simply turn over our will and our lives to the care of God and invite Him to balance us out.

He’s got you.

A Thrill of Hope

Last month I did a book signing at Stepping Stones Bookstore in Iowa. The owner, my lovely new friend Mindy, let me take over the front of the store for the whole day and gave a lavish and gushingly grand testimony about my books to each and every customer (You can order from her store on line but it would be worth your time to go to Grinnell, Iowa and visit her in person and stay at Gloria’s quaint Bed and Breakfast–The carriage House).

When I had some down time, I browsed around, grateful to be in an actual bookstore where I could pick up books and preview new authors! In my perusing, the message on a box of Christmas cards caught my eye: “A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices”. I had never before isolated that line from the carol “O Holy Night” and have been letting it roll around in my head and heart ever since.

I mentioned before that I read from a variety of daily reading type of books every day. So on the 1st of this month I added in my favorite Thomas Kincaid Christmas with an entry for every day of December. Between his insights, various scriptures and the persistent melody and lyrics from “O Holy Night”, I have had an epiphany about my own writing: The message of this Christmas carol and the message of my books are one and the same.

Let me back up a bit. For the past few weeks have been doing dozens of interviews and have spent countless hours scrolling though my posts to better define my purpose and passion for continuing my work with Soul-Selfie. In talking with other authors and podcasters, I can hear my own consistent refrain: “We are all in this together and there is always hope.”

I write to let others know they are not alone in their sufferings and that together (with God and with each other) we can get better. We can move toward. We can get unstuck and unfrozen (from fears, regrets, betrayal, angst, etc) and start the healing process.

Last week, one of my daily readings directed me to read 1 Peter 5:6-13. It’s not a verse I have regularly visited but has now become one of the key verses that help me define why I didn’t stop writing after my cancer was gone. We are all chronically sick with the disease of the soul; the plagues of the heart, as I call them. Plagues like worry, fear, doubt, resentment, control, and jealousy, just to name a few. It is a veritable soul-pandemic.

Peter (who, in case you don’t remember, knows a little about suffering, having denied knowing Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed and eventually was told by the risen Jesus that the upon Peter, the Rock, His church would be born and built) urges us: “cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you…stand firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings…and the God of all grace….will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Did you catch that? “We are all undergoing the same kind of suffering.”

Regardless of age or race or location on the planet, we are all created by the same God who gives the same hope—a Thrill of Hope. That’s what God gives each of us, in all our sufferings. We need to embrace the thrill of hope, because we are indeed a “weary world”.

As I prepared to write this, I read through the history of this carol and refreshed my memory of all remaining lyrics. Another beautiful phrase I have sung mindlessly over the years gave me similar pause: “Long lay the world, in sin and error pining…till He appeared and the soul felt its’ worth”. Pining, longing, hoping for change, relief, fulfillment, satisfaction. It had been a long-cold-lonely-winter of suffering and the world was waiting for the coming, the ADVENT of a Savior who could finally deliver what their pining, longing hearts had been waiting for their whole lives.

God has appeared and continues to appear to us, even today. Everyday. How has he appeared to you lately? Maybe you haven’t sensed Him but trust me, He is there. Especially when you feel the most weary, anxious or overwhelmed. He longs to give you the thrill of hope so you can also rejoice.

Fall on your knees friend. Ask for the thrill until it comes. Because even though December 1-24th is the season of Advent, or a time to remind us of God’s “coming”, the reality is, He has already come in full force. And just as we wait for Christmas, He is waiting for us turn to Him and rejoice in what he came to earth to bring us: the “new and glorious morn” of life lived in communion with God and his people.

Recently, I have been contemplating starting a movement called: Life Is.

Life Is: hard, good, beautiful, stressful, sometimes boring, exhilarating, challenging, transforming, mundane, sweet, tragic, painful, inspiring, precious, terrifying, excruciating, frustrating, glorious and exquisite.

It all counts. Invite God in to the trauma, drama and minutiae of everyday life. God gives you His power to walk through all of it as he “restores you and makes you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Remember we are all in this together and there is always hope. Embrace the thrill of it and rejoice, my dear friend.

Watch Your Battitude

Maybe it’s a common suggestion, or maybe people think I am just a brat, but over the years I have occasionally been given the assignment of making a gratitude list. Sounds easy enough, but for some reason my lists are pretty trite. Just the standard stuff that most anyone would be grateful for (homes, kids, pets, jobs, vacations, spouse, etc.). I have to say that I have never experienced the warm fuzzies I was expecting as a result of such an exercise.

I don’t think you can really do a gratitude list wrong, but I was given a similar assignment more recently and the way they broke it down made a world of difference. I thought, “now that, I can do!” I formulated a new type of “list” and have been making those lists regularly ever since.

As a result, I am happy to report that I have even been able to capture a few warm fuzzies.

So what is this revolutionary gratitude list of which I speak?

For starters, it is less like a grocery list and more like, well, a Soul-Selfie Blog post. The main shift in my brain came when it was suggested to me that it is an issue of quality vs quantity. My list may only have one or two items on it, but the items are full, rich and impactful. Instead of merely rattling off people, places or things I am grateful for, the goal is to focus on more soul-level stuff.

Soul-level stuff, for me, might look like a conversation about faith and doubt with a co-worker, a sweet connection with an old friend on facebook, someone who reached out to tell me that my blogs encourage them, or the realization that I don’t feel contempt or angst in my heart when I hear that person’s name.

person holding blue ballpoint pen writing in notebook
Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Or maybe it’s realizing that I have finally had a long awaited transformation or psychic change (more on that in a blog to come): I don’t have my usual angry reaction to things that don’t go my way (flat tires, home deals falling through, kids getting sick, etc.), I “get over it” more quickly when my feelings are hurt, I stop taking things personally that have nothing to do with me, or I realize I don’t beat myself up so badly when I do dumb things or make mistakes.

All these examples are new ways I can choose to live with gratitude (the word used for having a grateful attitude) rather than battitude (my cheeky made-up word for having a bad attitude 😏).

And just in case you don’t get the warm fuzzies from trying this new method, maybe try the pessimists’ version. You know who you are. Those who tend to think of the cup half-empty as a general rule. Never fear…you too can learn to make a new kind of gratitude list!

You get to put all things that “are not” on your pretty little list. Maybe every sentence starts with “At least…”:

At least I don’t have Leukemia anymore

At least I don’t have to work on Thanksgiving

At least “so and so” does have to work on Thanksgiving and won’t be able to come to dinner

At least I have a job

At least I have legs (even if I don’t love the look of them!)

At least my kids aren’t in jail

At least I don’t have to live that way anymore

At least I can FaceTime/zoom with my kids who live across the country

Thank you God, Amen.

Whichever way you choose, even if it’s the grocery list version, just make sure you do it. In your head is good, but on paper is better. I have often caught myself complaining about certain people or situations, only to re-read my gratitude list and realize they are the same! In that case, it’s all about mindset and perspective. Being grateful is always a choice.

So today, I will be that bossy person that strongly urges you to take a few minutes to reflect and create a type of gratitude list that grabs hold of your heart and creates a habit.

“Gratitude enables us to savor the unrecognized good that surrounds us, no matter what the circumstances. As we become accustomed to noticing the positive aspects of our lives, we begin to recognize small, subtle gifts and cloaked opportunities when they appear in our day-to-day experiences.”

IT part 2: You are still not IT

“Write in the messy” she said. Oh, wait, that was me saying that. This morning I am feeling particularly trapped and overwhelmed by the “cares of this world”.

I spoke about this very thing at a women’s retreat this past weekend. In preparing and sharing I was reminded that it is often the little obstacles and annoyances in life that wreak havoc on my serenity: in my case, it’s been a dead battery in my car which is still sitting 20 miles away, leaving essential items in my car, getting picked up by my husband and speeding to pick up the cat from the vet before it closes, somehow locking myself out of my house while draining the hot tub, and working out this morning only to have our internet fail in the middle of my workout, cancelling it abruptly. I have a few interviews today that require internet so I guess I’ll work on that after I go try to jump start my car.

I know. Sad story. Poor me.

I am writing because it seems like the only thing that might turn this day around and get me some perspective. Anyone else have days/weeks/months like this?

So, instead of focusing on all that really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things that do matter, let’s pause together, pray together, and proceed to some truths that will give us some peace.

Last time I wrote (check it out now if you haven’t read the first part of “IT”) I talked about how you are not IT. The object(s) of the IT was whatever character defect, addiction, or signature sin you battle. It may be an area you need to grow in or give up. But IT does not define who you are. That is a job reserved for your Creator alone.

And speaking of God, let’s shift our thinking and declare that, in the full picture, He is the ultimate IT. Not the kind of IT that haunts and shames you. The kind of IT that encompasses the beginning and end of life and of you. There is a Power that has the ability to banish what threatens to harm or master you, and that Power is God. He is the ultimate IT.

I love the image of God being IT. Not just any IT. The one and only IT.

When we play tag, we declare someone IT. And what is that person’s job? To chase down the other players. To capture. To seek out those who are hiding until he finds them. And no human can play the game with that kind of passion, love or relentless searching. Only God is that invested in seeing every last player be found.

And only God has the power to turn your day or your life around. Only God has the power to instill in you the strength you need to turn the drama, the trauma and the minutia of everyday life into something useful, hopeful and beautiful.

I intend to put my money where my mouth is today. I spoke this weekend about how I want to let God have all of me, good and bad. I want Him to use even the seemingly insignificant circumstances, like car batteries and internet services dying, to help me grow up and learn what I can learn in no other way.

God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving IT. And I hate to break it to you, but you are still not IT. 🙂

IT (You are not IT)

Pretty sure IT is one of the scariest movies ever. The movie IT, by Steven KIng, is about a demonic clown who terrorizes a group of kids. Just watching the previews is enough to give me nightmares. And to be honest, that’s the only part of the movie I have ever watched; the previews. I had to google the plot and was surprised that the point of the movie was not just to cause even adults to sleep with the lights on and do a quick check under their bed before hitting the pillow at night.

The IT is actually a physical representation of their individual worst fears. IT stalks and even kills a few of the kids throughout the movie.

If you have been reading my posts for any length of time, you have probably realized that there are a few “plagues of the heart” that I revisit regularly. The chronic diseases of the soul—worry, fear, jealousy, resentment, image management, control—seem to haunt me. I think it would be safe to define them each as an “IT”. In the same way, the ITs in our life seek to steal, kill, and destroy us.

But God….but God has a different plan.

If you take nothing else away from what I write, please, please, please remember that regardless of the what haunts you, YOU are not IT.

You are not defined by your character defects or your fears or your past mistakes. IT may rear it’s ugly head now and then, but IT is not who you are. Don’t let IT do what IT did in the movie; drag you down into the sewer and terrorize or kill you.

I love how Cory Asbury puts it in a song that has been rolling around in my head for the past few weeks: “Failure won’t define me, because that’s what my Father does.” Feel free to substitute “failure” with whatever shortcoming or sin you battle. If you are anything like me, you might have a fairly steady rotation of behaviors or attitudes that you could use to fill in that blank.

But God…but God has a different plan.

God wants to redeem IT. In this life, we may or may not be 100% free from IT, but we can surrender IT and invite God into IT, trusting that He can work all things out for our good (and the good of others) if we let Him (Romans 8:28).

Stay tuned for the next post where we redefine the IT as the Source of all power, unconditional love, and grace.

And YOU are not IT either.

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