Monday, May 20, 2013

Confession 278: When You Face an "Epic Fail"

Praise the Lord! He is good.
    God’s love never fails. 
 Praise the God of all gods.
    God’s love never fails. 
 Praise the Lord of lords.
    God’s love never fails.
Psalm 136:1-3

A few weeks ago, I interviewed for a teaching position in a district I have desperately wanted to become a part of.  This was my second interview in three years.  I prepared myself for the interview, going over questions and answers in my mind.  I prayed continuously, asking God to make me appear favorable in the eyes of the hiring committee.  I felt confident, allowing myself a vision of the future with me in that position.  Everything I'd desired for the past three years would finally be coming to fruition!!  I couldn't wait to get started!

 As you've probably noted by my use of the past tense, things didn't exactly go as planned.  Despite my preparedness, despite my prayers, I was less than my best throughout the interview.  Ready answers weren't there.  Important points failed to manifest themselves at the fore front of my mind.  I remember, at one point about halfway through, actually thinking in my head while my mouth was responding to a question, "Wow!  I am totally bombing this!!"  I walked out of the interview room dazed and reeling.  What just happened?  I found myself looking to the heavens asking, "God, where were you?!"  I had just had another "Epic Fail".  

Walking home, I felt ashamed, wary of facing my family eagerly awaiting good news.  I felt sad and depressed, worthless to an extent.  And I was angry.  I had just finished reading a book about prayer in which I encountered story after story of God's amazing acts of power and might in the lives of the faithful who turned to Him.  So, where was that power and might for me?  Why wasn't God acting on MY behalf?  He knew how much this meant.  He knew how much I wanted/longed for this.  So why did He sit back and let me fail?  How did this happen?

My initial response when dealing with an "Epic Fail" is to try and escape the negative feelings zooming around throughout my being.  In the past, I used food to cover up those feelings of failure.  I thought that a big banana split with chocolate, strawberry and butterscotch syrup would fix it all.  However, as I've worked my tail off (literally) to re-develop and maintain healthy habits, drowning my sorrows in sugar was not going to be an option.  My second thought was to go shopping.  However, I know the dangers of replacing one unhealthy habit with another.   As I was praying that night, letting God have it would be a more accurate description, I felt the Spirit move in the quiet of my heart. 

Lying in bed, surrounded by all of those awful feelings, I realized that instead of trying to run from them, replace them with something else, push them over onto something or someone else, I was just going to have to face them and accept them.  I was sad.  I was embarrassed.  I was angry.  And that is okay.  

Moreover, I realized that the "Epic Fail" moments in life are the ones where we truly test and grow our trust in God.  It's in our "Epic Fail" moments that we ask ourselves: "Does God really have a plan?  Can God make something good out of this?  Is God going to see me through this failure?"  Answering those questions requires us to dig down deep into the very marrow of our spiritual bones.  And if we can answer with even the most feeble "yes", then it forces us to relinquish our feelings of bitterness, despair, injustice and self-pity.  We can't hold on and wallow in negativity if we sense a bigger and better picture.  If we answer "yes" to God and His sovereignty, then we have to trust, and trust can often feel like a free-fall from 50,000 feet.

I'm still a little bitter about not getting that job.  However, God has shown me in many small ways that it was for my own benefit.  And although I don't understand the full plan, or know quite where we're going on the grand map of my life, I trust that God has the path laid out and I know that even though there will be other "Epic Fail" moments in my life, God's love for me never fails.

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Confession 277: Purging

My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.
Galatians 5:13

During Teacher Appreciation Week, our school puts banners up throughout the school with enlarged pictures of every staff member on them.  In looking around at all of the banners, I didn't see my picture.  The idea that I wasn't on any of the banners only surprised me in that my principal is very dedicated to making all of the staff feel valued and respected.  When I mentioned to a friend that I wasn't on any of the banners she said to me, "Yes you are.  You're right over here."  Leading me over to where my picture was, my jaw dropped.  I didn't recognize myself at all!!

You see, over the past 8 months, I have been working on getting my body back into optimal health condition.  After maxing out at my heaviest weight ever, I decided that it was time to PURGE my body of all of the unhealthy things I'd been feeding it.  In so doing, I have lost 51 pounds and dropped from a size 16 to a size 10!!  Clothes shopping is actually fun again! :-) 

Yet my picture was taken pre weight loss--hence the non-recognition of myself on my part!! The thought struck me that sometimes, in order to get back to who God intended us to be, we need to go through a period of purging.

There are several definitions of the word purge.  If you're looking for a laugh, check out the definition at the Urban Dictionary!!  For my purpose, the best definition of the word purge is: "to rid, clear or free from"...  It is the complete and total opposite of gorging, which we in America have created a lifestyle out of.  Most of us are pretty good at gorging ourselves, whether it be on food, entertainment, gossip, activities, technology, etc.... 

The problem is that when we continue to put all of this extra stuff in, we lose sight of who God has called us to be.  We become defined by our career, our kids, our activities, our dress sizes, our economic status and fill our days trying to maintain and add to all of these things.  Well, most of us probably aren't intentionally trying to add to our dress sizes!  But the point is, the more we fill our lives with the excesses of our culture, the less room we have for God to live and dwell within us.

Hence, the need to purge, to rid, clear and free ourselves from those things in our lives that pull us away from being the person God created us to be and to refocus our time and energy on those tasks God has called us to do.  Sometimes, we need to downsize.  We need to take a moment to reflect and take stock of our surroundings.  We need to look at where our time, our talents, our resources, and our focus is going and determine whether or not the paths we are pursuing are the ones God has asked us to follow.

In my life, my weight loss has been the impetus for a season of purging in my life.  I've felt as if I've woken up to my life again.  I'm reclaiming the dreams and goals that God has planted in my heart.  And in order to follow them, I need to give some other things up.  I need to make time and space in my life to do what God has called me to do.

When we take the time to purge/clear/free ourselves from the things that hold us back from God, we give God room to create.  As the apostle Paul writes....

 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2