killing the god of Expectation

the god of Expectations.
The daily prayer:
god of expectations, hear my cry,
things have to go my way, or i’ll die
I have a plan for my life and how it will go,
if any of this is thwarted, then I will let you know
that I’ll try to take the reigns of control back
because this life is mine and I want it on my track
—————————————————————

I have found nothing but disappointment, anxiety and embarrassing attempts to control situations when I am holding tight to expectations of my life, myself or others.  I look back at all the times I was disappointed in myself and its due to me not meeting an expectation I had of myself: I wasn’t funny enough, outgoing, deep. I wasn’t patient enough, or kind enough, or listening with my full attention. Then, when I didn’t meet my expectation, shame came rushing in.

I do this for others too. As an idealist, I hold people to this unfair standard that they will never get mad, lose their patience, lie, or disappoint me. I view them as God and that’s not fair. All the times I’ve been disappointed in others is the times I’ve held them to an unfair expectation and they being human, failed.

I also have expectations for my life and the way I think it should go. I don’t write a step-by-step plan for my life on paper, I’m way too Type B for that, but I do have a really nice expectation for my future. (Marriage, kids, 2 cats, white picket fence.) So let’s have a chat about what I wanted for my life at this point and how it’s not worked out:
1st grade, I wanted to marry this boy because he was sitting next to me and we both liked the color blue.  (Thank you God for not answering this prayer)

College, I had the expectation of finding my husband.  (I graduated college single and have spent the last 3 years at church in Dallas finding healing, recovery from past trauma in my life. Not to mention, a new thriving relationship with Christ)

After college, I was sure I’d jump into a successful writing career (because i knew so much at 22 😉 )  and start traveling around the country speaking and doing conferences (Um, see previous parenthesis.)

The last 3 years a lot of different things could have happened; could have gotten married, had kids, started a career, moved out of the house. These were all expectations I had. And now as I wait, and wait, and wait, to hear back about this next big step in my life. I look back and see how faithful God has been. And as it’s so tempting to clench my fists tight on what I want for my life, I look back and see God’s faithfulness and see that He has done great things and He will not stop now.  When I wake up, I pray this prayer. When I feel myself getting anxious, i pray this prayer. When I feel myself trying to control a situation to make it go more the way I want it to, I pray this prayer.

God, please help me stop putting my trust and hope in my expectations for my life. Instead, help me put my trust in You and You alone.
I surrender my expectations for my life, of others and myself.

 

 

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5 days under a rock (my life without facebook)

Last Tuesday, I started my 2nd break from Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook almost daily for 11 years, aside from a few weeks off last year. I wrote a blog last time I took a break, and decided to blog again about this break as well because It hasn’t even been a week but its crazy how just a week off reveals so much about why I love/hate facebook.

Desire to Share: I think one of the perks of Facebook is that you do have a platform to share a lot about your life. Stories, experiences, pictures, videos.  At the click of a button you can let everyone on your friends list know that you’re mad at the guy who cut you off in traffic, or that you really enjoyed the Incredibles 2 movie. You can also share your thoughts, feelings, frustrations, opinions, etc with people almost immediately. It’s very gratifying; have a thought>share it on Facebook> have people instantly validate your thought. I think that is one of the reasons its so addicting. We are always thinking, living, having experiences and so why not share them with the world? It’s that cherry on top, not only do I get to go and see my favorite band in the front row, but I also get to tell hundreds of people about it!! What did people do before social media? Just live their lives??? what?

 

The Performance: As a story teller and writer myself, I used facebook as a platform to share my story as I experienced it. I’ve gone through a lot of growth and change and loved getting to share it with others as an encouragement to them. However, I’ve recently hit a stage in my life where change is coming and I don’t know the next chapter, and I’m stuck staring at a blank white page with nothing to share. Then, you are reading the newsfeed and getting lost in all the stories of other peoples lives and you’re looking at your life and their life and wondering what the heck? Why am I not getting my dream job? dream husband? and dream ranch in the hills of Montana? Oh dear friend, remember your friends are only sharing their highlights. Just like you tend to only share yours. Not every family is perfect, not every event is “a blast”, not every friend group gets along all the time. You are not the only one. You are not the only one. You are not the only one who feels lonely, or disappointed or like they don’t have anything figured out.  I try to be as authentic as possible on social media. However, I still catch myself only sharing the highlights, because well, that’s what people do and its sad.

3.  Connection: As soon as I had a friend change my password for Facebook, I felt a twinge of disorientation and almost loneliness. Like, all my friends were accessible at all times on facebook and now I have to like call them, or text them or meet with them in person. WHAT. IS. THIS. MADNESS. I found that though it takes more effort to meet with people this way, it means a million times more. A person is not words on a screen, or a picture on a page. They are more than the words they can type or the like button that they click. They have a laugh, a smile, a face they make when they can’t hold the tears back anymore. We are made to connect. Can Facebook be a tool to connect? sure. but don’t forget to call, to meet in person, to do things together.

I need to take frequent breaks to remind myself of this: You are not the number of likes you receive (your stories, thoughts and opinions matter not because someone validated them, but because they are yours) , someone’s status update is not an accurate depiction of their life and neither is yours so stop comparing,  you can connect with people in person and it means SO MUCH MORE than commenting on their status.

-Marlie

 

(6 days till Albania!!!!!)

 

 

 

No Longer Slaves

Joshua 5:9

“And the Lord said to Joshua ‘Today, I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.”

Joshua 5 is a pretty uncomfortable read,   but I imagine it’s way worse for the fellas to read.  Yet, in the midst of the awkward, God said something that really struck me.

“I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.”

Remember your years of slavery? Remember the hours spent in the sun making bricks and building walls? Remember how Pharaoh dehumanized you, and ordered all the first born sons to be killed?  Egypt disgraced you. But, I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.

That verse gave me chills. God has the final say. When the Enemy brings shame, God brings honor. What the enemy destroys, God restores. What the Enemy  breaks down, God redeems.

Odds are you were not a slave in Egypt, but chances are you were enslaved to something.  I was enslaved to people’s opinions of me, anxiety and shame.  The last few years God has been leading me on an Exodus of my own, out of that enslavement and into freedom. Yet, there still is this lingering shame and disgrace. My past says “marlie, you are a disgrace.”  But God has something to say: “Marlie,  I rolled away the disgrace of sin from You.”

When Jesus died on the cross, they put him in a tomb and put a giant stone over the grave. When Jesus rose from the grave, the stone was ROLLED away. That giant stone that was supposed to keep Jesus in the grave? Mere Child’s play compared to God’s power.  Because of Christ death and resurrection, you don’t have to live enslaved anymore.  You don’t have to let the disgrace of your past sin weigh you down for one more second. The Enemy would love  for you to carry around the stone on your back, but God says “I have rolled that stone away.”

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

 

 

A Quiet Place

On Sunday, I was running late for church and was beyond tired. I threw on one of the two nice (but comfortable…KEY WORD: COMFORTABLE) shirts that I own, realized I had put it on backwards, said “no worries, I’ll just turn it around later.”

Later never came, friends. My laziness and poor memory due to stress had led me to have this moment of panic in in the middle of worship that my shirt was on backwards. Marlie, what’s the big deal? I doubt anyone noticed!! Well, see, my shirt has a pocket on it. and a scoop neck. So, my pocket was in the back. DEFINITELY NOTICEABLE.

All this to say, I forget stuff.  For the longest time, I struggled with my relationship with God because I went these long periods of time neglecting to spend any time with my Creator. So, I forgot. I forgot that God had plans for me, I forgot my worth in Christ, and I forgot that He wants a relationship with me. None of this happened over night, much like relationships with people rarely end in a day, it took months.
And I firmly believe it’s because I neglected to have any quiet time with the Lord.  I kept telling myself I’d pray more, read the Bible more, I’d turn my life around later. Well I forgot to turn it around much like i forgot to turn my shirt around and 6 months later I panicked.  Had anyone noticed? It took me long enough to notice and when I did, I took a long look at my life. Why the drift? Let me explain my theory.
From the moment you wake up, to the moment you fall asleep the world has a million things to tell you. Nay, SCREAM AT YOU. We’ve become so accustomed to the noise, it’s become this dull roar of “You are your own master.” (Side story, in my classroom, I overheard a kiddo looking himself in the mirror and saying ‘I am my own master. I am my own master.’) The world tells you money will satisfy, sex will satisfy, traveling the world will satisfy, etc. etc. etc.

Christian, among all these lies, are you setting aside time to remind yourself of the truth?  I didn’t. My bible collected dust on the shelf for YEARS. Years and years of me being a Christian and I never spent time to read God’s word on my own. I kept waiting for some silver bullet, some quick fix, to come and change my my relationship with God. I had all the heart and emotions for God, after a conference or a worship service. Then, Monday came and the dull roar of the world convinced me of so many lies.

Paul talks about this in Ephesians 4: 13-14 (NLT)

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

 

You’re telling me in a world without social media, the internet, and fashion magazines, that the early Church still struggled with being influenced by lies so clever they sound like truth? YOU BET. The enemy is crafty and he’ll use any thing he can get his hands on.

Maturity in Christ takes faith AND knowledge. Tired of getting tossed by the wind? Or as my pastor says “Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?”

Well, there’s a Creator in Heaven who is SO READY to reveal who HE is and His plan for your life. Since February, I have spent almost every day in the Word. And I can not tell you how beautiful, simple and challenging it is. My Christian friends always said “Marlie, are you in the Word? Are you praying? How are your quiet times?” And i always just shrugged and said meh. But after a conference in February, I had a pow-wow with God. I gave up youtube because it was a time sucker. and realized how much time I had in the morning when I wasn’t watching 20 minute videos of strangers’ vlogs. I had to remind myself everyday the truth that God loves me, God has a plan for my life and that God is good. Because that dull roar of the world can really get to you.

Don’t let the enemy Shame you. he’ll use guilt and shame to create this legalistic system that I followed. “Oh, I forgot to be in the word for this whole week, so I probably shouldn’t even try next week.” Foolishness.  God’s not a sunday school teacher taking attendance on a board every morning you get up and have a quiet time. He’s a loving father, sitting down at the kitchen table ready to talk with His kiddo. You.

As someone who never had a quiet time, now to having one daily, there’s some stuff I learned I had to do in order to make it work. So here’s what worked for me and maybe it’ll help you out.
1) Set a designated spot.
Keep a journal, a bible and pen there at all times.  I won this huge study bible at the conference in February and it’s too big to carry around to church, so I keep it on my desk right next to my bed and it hasn’t left that spot.

2) set a time. (Preferably: morning)
I like to get up, get ready and then do my quiet time. That way I have breakfast and coffee already in my system and I don’t have to worry about what i’m wearing etc. I tried it at night and God surely isn’t limited by our time tables, but there was juts something special about starting the day with God in prayer and just giving him the first part of my day.  If you find you don’t have time in the morning, examine your morning. Are you getting up early enough? Are you scrolling through Instagram, or your facebook feed for 45 minutes? Pray for the faith to trust that 30 minutes with God is better than 30 minutes scrolling through facebook, or 30 extra minutes of sleep.

3) Keep the phone out.
If getting up is a problem, set your phone on the other side of the room, or even on top of your bible. During your quiet time, keep it on silent and away from you.

4) have a plan and stick to it!
Whenever I did open my bible, I would usually just flip through it and just land on a page and skim whatever I read. As a type B, go with the flow person, I hate plans and agendas and especially daily reading plans. SO, I MADE MY OWN. I started just picking a book in the Bible and saying “I’ll read this, study it as long as it takes to get through.” Since February, I’ve read through Isaiah and Ephesians and I’m starting Nehemiah now.  There’s the freedom to go at your own pace, yet you still have structure in that you know where you’ll be in the word every day.

 

Again, we are prone to forget. The world shouts, not to mention our flesh shouts at us.

Take the time to listen to the Whisper of God and let Him tune your heart and grow roots of faith and knowledge in your soul.

 

 

 

2 Months In.

Two months ago I set a goal, a small goal: cut out soda for 3 days. I wrote it on an envelope and then wrote a reward on a piece of paper inside the envelope and sealed it. That was the beginning of my new plan to get a healthy life style. Then, another envelope with another goal and another reward. 1 month, no fast food. 1 week, no dessert. Another reward.

I had tried many diets before and failed all of them. I realized I have the self-discipline of a small child when it comes to diets. I happen to spend a lot of time with kids (#preschoolteacher) and they like to be motivated by something. So, I decided to set some clear goals and make some rewards that I can have when I accomplish those goals. My rewards were this: go to pet store, pet the cats. $10 splurge at target. $20 at local arcade. And then my big goal was 1 month without fast food so my big reward was a trip to sixflags (amusement park) with a flash pass that lets you skip all the lines.

Well I did it!!

The rewards gave me something to look forward to and get me through the yucky withdrawal symptoms. Everytime I craved whataburger, I thought about getting to ride my favorite ride over and over without waiting 2 hours. And decided it was worth it to pass on whataburger.

I’m now going on 2 months without soda, dessert and fast food. And the difference i feel is amazing. I have my more energy, I’m happier and the weight has come off! Now the reward is how I much better I feel.

My next part of the journey is exercising regularly. I get about 12,000-16,000 steps a day at work but my body is used to that now. So, it was time to begin. That picture on the right up top is me at my first Cross fit. I was sure I would die. But somehow didn’t die, and somehow no one laughed or judged me. I felt welcome, encouraged and challenged to come back again.

My journey is only beginning. It’s important to look back and see the difference but not settle!! I am so thankful for all of the support from friends and family.

Quiet time is hard

The Silence is uncomfortable
i fidget, I shift
Because sitting still is unbearable
Doing nothing, saying nothing.
I Feel exposed, naked.
Shame, fear, desperation soon follow.
What do I bring to the table?
Absolutely nothing but my mess.
Like the house guest who trashes the place,
Why haven’t you asked me to leave yet?
I have nothing to offer except selfishness, pride
and the attitude that somehow I contributed to my salvation
“Of course God loves me, I am a lovable person.”
But deep down, I know the truth.
I’ve heard my own thoughts, much like nails on a chalkboard,
they burn my own ears.
You’ve heard them all, you know every disturbing, hateful and ugly thought
Yet. You love me.
A day full of greatness does not earn any bonus points, nor does a day full of failures deduct points from  the “God’s love for me” score. That score was settled long before I was born. You loved me before I took my first breath and will love me 1,000,00 years beyond my death.
I say this to myself and I desperately want it to sink in.  However, there’s no silver bullet, magic phrase, or life changing conference that will put an end to all this doubt. What’s the point of faith if there’s no doubt? So each day I pray, Lord reveal your love towards me and allow me to reflect your love to those around me.


 

That’s from my journal a few weeks ago. It’s so hard to sit still before God, I feel like I have to be doing something, saying something, or having some emotional response to Him. I want so badly to just be able to rest in His love for me, but that takes a lot of trust. Trust that He loves me even though I bring nothing to the table. It makes me think about my cat. I’m happy to just spend time with her. She doesn’t fetch, offer any ounce of protection, she doesn’t do much except spend time with me and that’s all I want. I want her to sit with me, and sleep with me and follow me around the house. I love her to pieces and I greet her joyfully everytime I see her. It’s hard for me to grasp that God delights in me spending time with Him like I enjoy spending time with my cat. Which is why I think quiet times are so hard. Instead of viewing it as Father, Daughter time, I view it as an ex convict meeting with a probation officer.  The good news is God’s love for me and for us is not based on whether or not we can grasp it. I was talking to a friend yesterday, and we came to a good conclusion that if we could understand everything about God then we wouldn’t worship Him. My kiddos in preschool class don’t know everything about the world, and they mess up a lot, and they say mean things and spit and hit and are rude to those around them. But, I still love them and care for them. All in all, it’s going to be a journey. Like in any relationship, I’ll grow to learn more about God and how He cares for me as I get older. Looking back over the year, He has done so much! I am excited to grow more, to learn more and hopefully to rest better in His presence.

 

Real Talk: Life feels like a performance

Life feels like a performance.

A performance for others, God and myself.

Each day passes, I lay in bed at night and rate myself on my ‘performance.’ I kick myself for any mistakes, and praise myself for the good moments.

When I pray I often pray for God to help me love people better, to be more patient, kind, loving. To be a light. While those are good things, I wonder if deep down, I just want Him to help me perform better.

It feels safe on this  stage. 4 feet, and a few rows between me and the audience. I can pretend to be the marlie I want to portray. Just make a lot of jokes, say all the right spiritual things, and don’t feel TOO much.  That’s my role. And the audience is full too:  God’s in the front, with a clipboard and glasses down on his nose as He writes notes about my show. My friends, acquaintances and strangers all fill in the rows behind him. But off to stage left, is the worst critic of all. Marlie. In between sets, she’s always telling me my mistakes, how I could have done better, how I messed up a line. She tells me that people are going to leave, and never come back. And good riddance, the show was awful anyways. She tells me I was a waste of their time and money.

I know my selfishness, my anxiety, and my desire for approval are a wicked combination that always make me feel like I’m performing for others. First off, “no one thinks about you as much as you do.” That’s a humbling quote. You mean, when I”m done interacting with someone, they are not analyzing everything I said? nope. They’re probably analyzing everything they just said. I’m learning to step off the stage with others. And really connect with other people.
But with God, gosh that’s hard. I can’t see Him, so I’m always quick to assume the worst: He’s judging me, He’s not happy with me, I didn’t do something right so He’s disappointed. those thoughts make me want to act better, do more, and try harder. It’s a vicious cycle. It takes trust to rest in Him, it takes humility to realize I can not and could not ever live this life alone, it takes a lot of prayer and meditation to consider the real truth of the Gospel and that God does care about me, just like an earthly father cares deeply about his children.

This performance thing has been on my heart for awhile now and it’s something God is slowly chipping away at, and I am thankful for close friends who show me that I’m worth it: mess and all. Bringing it into the light helps, and as always, I write in hopes that someone else might feel less alone. I don’t have the answers but I do feel this way and hopefully that helps someone out there feel less like a crazy person.