Sunday, June 26, 2016

Learning to Swim

Beginning last summer, I had several different opportunities to take my lovely friends children to the pool.  I dont know if you have ever had the opportunity to teach a child to swim, but it can be total chaos, particularly in the early stages.  Tossing any hope of technique right out the window, the initial goal is to simply move from point A to point B and still be alive at the end of it.  We attempt to teach the child how to move in ANY type of forward motion, and while they are getting the hang of moving both arms and legs at the same time while not guzzling to much water in the process, it can look like a total mess.  I remember my dad taught all 3 of us kids how to swim, and dad was a giant.  But, he was also not easily moved by tears or drama.  Dad taught you what to do, and then he expected ( read "forced") us to let go of the wall and give it a go.  He knew we werent going to drown, looking back now I know of course that is b/c he wasnt going to go far enough that he couldnt easily get to us if we were in trouble, but that we wouldnt learn unless we let go of the wall and applied the skills he had just taught us.  When it came to learning life lessons, necessary skills, and all things safety, one thing I remember from childhood that is still true today mind you, is that we kids could not tell dad "I cant."  He wasnt buying.  "Oh horse!" would most likely be his reply to that nonsensical statement.

As I was driving to church this morning, the thought came to me that walking with the Lord has so many parallels to a child learning to swim.  Just like an earthly father teaching his children to swim, the Lord loves us so much He wants us to learn life skills and get better at doing certain things over time.  And just as a child who is learning to swim for the very first time, the beginning is messy and the sole goal of the whole experience is survival!  All I can focus on in that moment is getting to dad and grabbing on for dear life.

This visual reminds me of the first time I had to walk thru something incredibly difficult in my personal walk with the Lord, trusting Him in new ways that were stripping me down to the heart of what I believed... It was MESSY.  It was HARD.  It was PAINFUL.  But guess what?  I got better.  I got better at trusting my Father.  I got better at reading the signs and learning the skills necessary to survive in new territory.  By the end of that season, much like a child who has just learned to swim but continued to swim all summer, I wasnt nearly as afraid.  I wasnt the same person who had started the summer not knowing how to do this.  The next time we get in the water again, we remember what we learned last time.  We get a little more brave.  We swim a little bit farther.  And it starts looking a lot less chaotic.  Perhaps we even learn to roll over onto our backs and float for a while when we get tired in the middle of a long swim?

Just like my earthly father wouldnt let fear keep me from learning to swim because he knew how much I would miss out on in life if I didnt have that skill in my back pocket, how much more does our Heavenly Father who created every single thing about us know what we need?  To a child who has never swam before, holding onto the edge of that pool looking at their dad 12 feet away feels like an impossible ask... Even as an adult, I have been in that place.  When God is asking me to learn or grow or trust Him in a new way, and I am standing in all I know and understand I am thinking "You want me to do WHAT??"  Child learning to swim or adult on the verge of something new and scary, the thought processes are the same.

But you know what else is the same?  Our Father is there, standing ever so close by, believing that even tho its hard, the reward will be so worth it.  And thru this painful but loving process, we, the child, we get better.  We learn to trust.  We improve our technique.  We grow in confidence.  And one day, thru the lessons we learned, we can teach, encourage, support, and love the many coming after us.

If I can learn and grow and get better at this... SO. CAN. YOU.

Dont stop in the middle of the pool.  Dont throw in the towel before your miracle.  What are you walking thru right now that you can learn from and grow so that one day you can love on and encourage those who may come behind you?  Has there been any one particular take away that has kept you grounded during this season of growth?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Thy Will by Hillary Scott

This is a brand new song that has spoken deeply to my spirit in the midst of hard days recently.  I wanted to include it here because I know it will have a profound impact on so many of you as well.  It raises such good questions about what our response should be when we are walking through life with the Lord and things do not go the way we thought they would go.  

How do the lyrics speak to you?  In what ways can you relate to the message in this song?


I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words
Thy will be done (x3)
I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
Thy will be done (X3)
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done (X2)
Thy will
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
Thy will be done (X3)
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done (X3)
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Illusion of Control

When I was in college one of my favorite new shows on TV at the time was Survivor.  Not only did I love seeing all the different places in the world the franchise videographers showcased so beautifully, I loved watching the interactions of so many different personalities attempt to work together for a common goal.  Sometimes they did that well, but often times, it was a total calamity.  We see with challenge after challenge, and day after day, differing personalities, compounded by incredibly tough living situations, limited food options, and poor or total lack of sleep really exposes the raw heart of each and every contestant, and more often than not, the picture is not very pretty.

Clearly, as it just completed its 31st season, Survivor is not longer a new show on TV. :)  I recently discovered many of the old seasons on Netflix and started watching it again, just for fun. One thing continues to jump out at me over and over again, and it has reached a point where I actually laugh every single time it happens.  In the private interviews done with every single one of the Survivors, over and over and over and OVER again you hear them make a comment to the effect of, "I am in total control of this game."  At any given point you may hear 2-3 different people make an almost identical comment, and every time I chuckle and roll my eyes, because as we watch the game, albeit edited and after the fact, one thing continues to be clear.  They are almost always about to have the rug pulled out from under them.  As is to be expected in a game called Survivor, who's sole purpose is for 1 of the 20 contestants to win $1,000,000 leaving the other 19 people with nothing, every single person there is looking out for themselves, and their position in the game is almost never as secure as they think.

As someone who has seen many a season of this game now, I would expect that as the years went on and the contestants saw more and more of the shows seasons unfold before them (making what I would expect to be a fairly safe assumption that the people who apply to be on the show are in fact super fans and have watched every single episode before going for the SOLE purpose of learning what has and has NOT worked for other people in the past), they themselves would be more cautious of speaking with such certainty into a camera.  Perhaps even more ideal would be not only they not say it, but that they not be so naive as to believe they are in that kind of control??  I mean, as a viewer I sit there and totally laugh, saying to my TV, how can you be that aloof??

But now we have arrived at a place where the truth begins to hurt, and in a moment that if it was to be captured cartoon style would be the stick figure with the bubbles appearing over her head, it occurred to me that while I was laughing at this blatant cluelessness on a TV show, the experience is actually one that I am totally guilty of as well.

All to often, when things are going my way; work, school, family life, social life, pick your x life, I begin to live as tho I am in control of my own life.  If people were to ask us, on camera or off, we would honestly say and believe, I am in control of this game (of life) right now.  We make decisions as if that were true, we set our expectations, both of ourselves and of others as if we have a plan, and we are incredibly frustrated when hiccups arise and wrinkle or all together toss out "our plans."  We were in control!  What the heck is happening to my plan?

Even as I write this post I feel like it sounds so arrogant, but I know deep down that if I am honest with myself, I live this way far more often than I'd like to be true.  When things are going my way, and life is happening on my terms, I get comfortable and begin to live and operate out of a false sense of being in control of my life.  I have a feeling many of you reading this can relate to this truth as well.

I am not sure if you are reading this blog with a church background or context or not.  For me, as a believer in Christ, I am grateful for the truth of Scripture, and for the many ways it points me back to my Creator when I find myself slipping into and operating out of a place of false security. Proverbs 16:9 is so clear that we can plan and plan and plan, but at the end of the day, God is the one in control of how the cards fall.  For a control freak such as myself, for most of my life to date, that has been incredibly hard to accept, and yet, every single time I got to the other side of the hard thing I did not choose, I have been able to look back and see the hand of my loving Heavenly Father holding me every step of the way.

In what ways can you relate to living with a false sense of being in control of your own life?