Pulled Hair

Remember how much it hurts to get your hair pulled (whether by accident or on purpose?) If not, go ahead give a piece of your hair a good tug. After that, try gripping the hair closest to your scalp and pulling from the end of that piece your holding. Does it hurt as much? Or at all? It doesn’t.

When I let the world make an opinion of me, when I let people around me decide who I am, it only leads to pain and insecurity. They tug you this way and that leading you to believe the labels they have placed on you. “Ugly.” “Fat.” “Too emotional.” “Nerd.” Those words and accusations sting. And they can tear us apart if we give them that power.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I was in 5th grade. There was a new student in class and I offered to help be the person she could ask questions to if she was lost or anything. We became friends and trust was built the only way trust can be built between two 11 year old girls: “Tell me who you like. I promise I won’t tell anyone.” She asked me and I told her.

“Sam.”

A pinky promise later and I was feeling pretty good. The next day or so the new girl comes up to me and is holding a letter in her hand. she hands it to me and says “this is from Sam*”

Sam? THE SAM! He had written me a letter. A confession of undying love, no doubt. My heart pounded as I opened it right away. My eyes frantically skimmed the words. It was a hate letter. Well, a hate poem. He insulted me using rhymes. I’m 23 now and I can still remember a few phrases. “Your voice sounds like an alien” and “Your hair looks like hay.” He cleverly ended the note with “Hating you, Sam.” I didn’t cry or even feel like crying. I reported the letter to the principal and he had to sit out of recess for a day (Yay, justice system.) I can’t help but think that God was whispering to me as I read that letter. “That’s not true. That’s not true. I think you are beautiful, and funny and smart. Because I made You. I made You and I love you.” That letter didn’t destroy me or my self-esteem because my esteem is in Christ.

When I  believe that the only opinion that matters of me in the universe is God; when I grip the roots of love, the roots of truth, when people say mean stuff and do mean things. It might hurt, yeah, and that is okay. But it does not hurt near as bad as if we accept what others think about us to be true. Grip the roots today and see what a difference it makes.

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The Ride of my Life

Two things:
1) I remember my dreams for days and even weeks after they happen in very good detail.

2) More than 90% of my dreams involve an amusement park of some sorts.

As great as this might sound it’s not. In real life, I love amusement parks. I love love love rollercoasters. But these dreams I have are never good dreams. Something always goes wrong. I’m stuck in line that never ends. Or once the line ends, I realize I don’t have enough tickets to ride. Sometimes I can’t even find the ride I’m looking for in my dream. And even when I do find it,  once I ride it I spend the whole time wishing I was riding something else.

These dreams started oddly enough when I started writing Facebook notes. i liked writing them because if I had a short little spiel to write about I could and I could tag the friends who I wanted to see it. As soon as I opened up that medium, God started speaking to me. Ideas of quasi-devotionals would hit me at the most random times, and I would stop everything and write. I’d be writing and my heart would pound, I’d get goosebumps or I’d be typing faster than my brain could think. God was saying “This, I want you to do this.” I’d kind of shake it off, but the amount of positive response I received over the years was beyond my imagination. My closest friends and  mentors would tell me:
“Marlie, writing is your gift. You should write a book. God has amazing things planned for you.” . Then, I remember, I had this moment and thought “Huh. Maybe, writing is my thing. Some people can sing. Some can dance. But I can write.”  And shortly after that clicked in my head, I started having amusement park dreams. Why? Well, I think I finally figured it out.  I’ll start with reality and tie it back to my dream just to keep things clear.

1) not qualified

Even with the knowledge that writing is my gift and the immense joy it has brought me to to glorify God with it, I struggle lot in the whole writing process. I’ve written a whole blog and deleted it out of fear. I have like six or seven half written blogs on my computer because I was convinced it’s dumb or no one wants to read it. Or that it is not biblically accurate. I want to write a book but I am afraid. I am afraid that I am not qualified enough. I am too young. I have too much to learn. I have to go seminary if I want to be a christian author or speaker. I am almost positive that I’ll reach this moment when I get to publish a book or go on a speaking tour and fail because I don’t know enough. It’s a silly fear right because God is providing everything I need but I am still afraid. Similar to the roller coaster dreams I have where I reach the front of the line to get on the ride but I don’t have enough tickets to ride it. I’m not qualified.

2) waiting…still waiting. 

I do not say all of this to build me up but to just state the frustration of the matter. I have had so many people from so many different walks of life say: “Marlie, God has great plans for you.” Or “Marlie, you are going to do great things. I can’t wait to see all that God have planned for you.” I can’t count how many times I have heard this. (I know they mean well because I say it to people as well. I’m genuinely excited to hear what they do with their life, too. But, that puts us young people in a perpetual state of waiting. No wonder we aren’t satisfied. We are waiting for our lives to start because in a way people are telling us that our lives have not started yet. Encourage people using the present tense. “You are doing great things.” “I can see God doing so much through you”)  So when a lot of people express how they excited are for me, I get excited too. Wondering what it is going to be like, imagining the future. I am so anxious and eager for this “great plan” to start. It is like my roller coaster dream. I wait in line for the whole dream, seeing other people ride it, hearing about the ride and how great it is, but never getting to ride it myself because I am still waiting for my turn. I am waiting…still waiting. Waiting for that dream of being a christian blogger/author/speaker to become a reality.

3) Comparison

Lately, I’ve been watching a ton of youtube. There’s a whole culture of people who post videos of themselves and their life experiences and get a huge response. As the world of Vlogs grow, I feel as though the blogging world is fading away. Sometimes I get bitter and say that  the blogging world isn’t as fun, or creative or awesome as the vlogging world. Frankly, I wish I had the ability to talk in front of camera and just word-vomit my devotions into a video. (people do that, and it works.)  I, however, was blessed to be an introvert so I do thrive in this environment of sitting and expressing myself through the written word. BUT, still I struggle with comparison. Wishing I could be a cool vlogger, a singer, a dancer, or good at any thing that people can see right a way. Being a good writer is tough because it isn’t out there for everyone to see all the time. Like with dancers, hey you dance, and then they do and they are good. I heard a quote once: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” How true is that. I am so robbed of daily joy because I am comparing myself, my talents, my life and gifts to those of another person. Last night, I had a dream that I was getting on a ride that looked really fun and I actually got on it! But instead of enjoying the ride I was on,  I was so focused on the extravagant and awesome looking ride that was in front of me,  the ride I was on ended and I realized I had missed the whole thing because I was focused on the cooler/better ride.

Let us not be a people who miss out on the joy of life because we are busy comparing our lives to someone else.

————

The ride is yours.

Enjoy it.

Awake or asleep, it is yours to live.

But really, why?

It’s a New Year and many Christians will download the “Bible in a year” app on their phone with the thoughts of “Yes, this year I will read through the Bible. I will!” And then, if you’re like me, you do so well for a month and by February you forget a couple days and then decide you’re too far behind and will try again next year. I heard a sermon last Sunday all about the importance of reading your bible. I’ve heard it all before yet why do I still struggle to get in the word every day. It’s like Paul said: I don’t do the things I know I should and I do the things I know I shouldn’t do. (my own words) I know I should be reading the bible but I don’t. Instead, I read the whole Hunger games series in a week, or watch episode after episode of New girl. Or spend hours on youtube. I know I shouldn’t be spending so much time doing those things, but I do. So the question I am asking myself and am going to answer honestly is: Why? Why don’t I read the Bible?

I came up with several reasons why.  And maybe you can relate to a few.

I’m very emotionally-driven and so when I sit down and read the Bible I feel like there’s something wrong with me or my relationship with God if I’m not having this big emotional moment like so many Christians talk about. I’ve heard friends come up to me and say “Ya know Marlie, I was reading this passage yesterday and man God just flooded me with a peace and love.” Well, that’s great. But now I have this expectation that if I read that same passage, I too must be flooded with the same emotions.    It’s similar to the feeling of shame you get when you’re watching a movie and you know you should be crying because it’s sad. And all your friends told you they cried when they watched it. But, You watch it, don’t cry, and your friends ask you later about it and you lie and say “OH YEAH i WAS A WRECK. A BALL OF TEARS MAN.” Cause we didn’t want to be labeled as “cruel” or “heartless” or have someone ask us if we had seen what had happened. 

I’m scared to sit in silence or meditate on God’s word because I’m scared He won’t speak to me or that He will and I’ll miss it. I’m scared I’ll walk away from an experience with way more questions than answers. The world makes thing simple: love your friends, hate your enemies, be happy and be successful. Just basically do you cause you deserve it. You open up the Bible because you’re stuck in a tough situation with a friend and you realize that following Christ means forgiving that person, praying for them, loving them.  Cause let’s face it, following Christ is hard. Love our enemies? Pray for those who persecute us? All the while the Enemy and our sinful nature team up against us and tell us all sorts of lies. No, you deserve to be angry at that person. What they did was crossing the line. 

The world also makes things fast. I went through the drive-thru of a restaurant, it was lunch hour so there were tons of people. I ordered, paid and got my food in less than two minutes. It was almost creepy how fast it was. We’re all obsessed with our own schedules and we hate when something is late. Sometimes I find myself treating God the same way. “Oh hey God, I’m going to give you this 5-10 minutes to speak to me via my time in the Word, prayer or in meditation. So speak now or forever hold your peace.” And it’s wrong, so wrong for me to expect God to work in my time-frame. It leads to so much uneasiness on my part when He doesn’t speak in the timeframe I give him. The enemy has a field day in those moments when God (from my perspective) is not speaking.

And finally, I struggle with the why.     Why do we read the Bible? I know it’s God’s word. I believe that. Do we read it to better know God? To better understand His story? To change ourselves? To make ourselves feel better? I was pretty scarred once at a bible study when someone said something along the lines of only selfish terrible people look for comfort in the bible. it’s not about us.  the bible is only so we can know God better.  Do I believe what he said? Not at all. But does it still haunt me, yes.

These are some of the things that keep me from reading the Bible. Aside, from blatant rebellion, pride and laziness which I think are the more surface level issues. These are more of the issues that are beyond the surface. Hence the blog title. I long to be more honest and vulnerable because when you are, someone can say “Yeah, I feel that way too.” And suddenly, the shame and fear of being alone in a struggle is gone. My mom shared something with me on facebook today and I want to share it with you guys too.

“When we are going through difficulties and start to get discouraged, we often stop reading the Bible…and that is exactly what the enemy wants you to do. He wants you to lose hope and believe his lies that say God has abandoned you, that God doesn’t hear your prayers and that God doesn’t care about you. We are in spiritual battles and the Bible is the Sword of the Spirit…it is the offensive weapon we’ve been given to battle back against the doubts, fears and lies the enemy whispers to us. When you start to doubt God’s character and His promises, read your Bible. God’s word is truth and when you use it to fight back against anything that goes against what God has declared in His word, you will start to see mental and spiritual victories in your life.”–Debbie Kay