Death to Pride

Well, howdy. It’s been a long time. I dare say eons. I’ve been gone for many reasons, but it all boils down to one. An excuse, really. Fear.

Fear of unfulfilled promises. Fear of unanswered prayers. Fear of failing. Fear of giving up. Fear that I’ve been going in the wrong direction and somehow didn’t have a clue. Fear that nothing is turning out the way I planned or intended.

Like most of you, I had my life all mapped out. Or so I thought. In my little boat called Pride, which ironically only comes with one oar. And for those who are marine minded, you know that paddling a boat with one oar will only move you in circles. Maddening circles.

Here you are putting in all this effort, burning nine million calories, and you’ve gone nowhere. But in certain seasons, that’s what life can be like. And what’s even more maddening is that God will allow you to paddle in circles for a while.

He’ll even sit in the doggone boat with you. He’ll offer you an extra oar. Offer to help paddle – with the extra oar. Offer to take over so that you can rest. Offer to put a motor on the thing so you don’t have to move a muscle. And your response every time: “Nah, I got it.” With your one oar and a hint of agitation.

And then you look up and realize that the shore, and you, have remained stagnant. Moving exactly nowhere. And that realization can be both a fearful and humbling epiphany.

You suddenly comprehend that in order to move forward, you have to let go. Not just of assumptions or expectations of what you thought life would be like. But you also have to relinquish control.

But what no one tells you is that in order to lose control, something has to die. And that something is usually you. Your ways, your thoughts, your preconceived notions, your one-way prayers, your ego, and all those beautifully mapped out plans.

This process of death smothered my pride, and rather than feeling free I felt stifled. I wanted what I wanted, and watching my own desires die threatened to kill the faith I thought was so indestructible. Because when the plans you’ve made for yourself fail, it can alter how you perceive the love of Christ – even if He’s not the one who made them.

Despite how clearly I can see my hand instead of His in hindsight, when you’re in the midst of heavenly anger and doubt, pride never points the finger back at itself. But God never minds your pointing the finger at Him. Because acknowledging His presence, even in anger and frustration, leaves you open to His love.

I usually close these things with something super uplifting and happy. But this story isn’t over yet. I have yet to reach the other side of my anger and frustration. I’ve yet to really hand over control, even though I know the illusion of freedom it can create. But I know it’s coming.

When I get to the other side, I’ll write something cute and corny then. My hope is not crushed and Jesus still sits on the throne. So there’s that 😉

Until next time (and hopefully not months from now)!

Roz

Broken Vessels

Last month I decided to do something crazy. I am reading the entire Bible in 3 months. And what makes it even crazier is that this isn’t my first time flying through the pages of the Word. It’s actually the third.

And I’m not sharing this to earn a badge of honor or to impress you. Because as many times as I’ve read it, you’d think I’d actually know how to do what it says most days. But being a human person with more logic than faith, those days of “I did everything the Bible said to do the first time I read it” are nonexistent. In fact, that’s not even a goal of mine. I know I could never achieve it, but I attempt to live as if I’m trying to get there.

Continue Reading…

5 Things We Should All Stop Doing

Sigh.  I miss the good old days.  When we could leave our cell phones, our (un)social media, and our myriad of electronic devices at home without going into a total panic.  I mean, we could actually spend an entire day having conversations with actual people and needed to have pocket change if we wanted to engage in non-face-to-face interactions.

But no.  Not today.  Today we have the opinions of every idiot, smart person, and ‘expert’ being constantly downloaded into our spirit.  We pretend as if continuously being fed the opinions and images of others won’t hurt us, but that in itself is a dangerous assumption.

And no one has change.  Ever.

It’s no different when it comes to dating.  We listen to our hearts, our thoughts, our friends, our family, our Instagram feeds with their #relationshipgoals, Google, our *ahem* baby making organs, and possibly even these blog posts.

Allowing these things to influence my decisions in the past (and also the present) has only crowded out God’s best for me.  And possibly yours too.  So here’s a list of the top five things I’ve lended an ear to that I think it’s time we give the boot.  A “Don’t Do This” sort of list, if you will:

Curious?  Continue reading on Modern Ruth Project!

Unexpected Conversations

Loves Jesus? Check.

Respectful? Check.

Good breath? Mostly.

Has a sense of humor? Uh, something like it.

Six feet tall? No, he’s precisely 1.7 millimeters taller than you.

Makes six figures? Well, not exactly.

Owns a home? The way his life is set up right now.…

Wait wait wait, Jesus.  I think you got my order wrong.  Maybe you misheard my prayers?  Because I was very specific and I was sure that the man of my dreams would line up with your will.

No, I heard you.  And I know what you desire and what you think you want.  But more than that, I know exactly what you need. 

Continue reading on Modern Ruth Project!

True Intimacy

Have you ever seen those incredibly talented make up artists who can transform themselves into a totally different person with some bomb contouring and eye shadow?  Well, I am not that person.  I can barely color inside the lines with my lipstick.  And I didn’t even know contouring was a thing until I was in my 30’s.

Now regardless of your skill level or how you feel about make up in general, the stuff is basically magic.  I mean, I once saw a woman turn herself into Nicki Minaj.  And in case you’re wondering, she looked nothing like Nicki Minaj in real non-make up life.

On the other hand, there are also millions of YouTube videos for make up dummies like myself.  Tutorials to help you enhance your beauty without going overboard. Or how to create a date night look that doesn’t resemble a Crayola massacre on your face.

And if you really think about it, intimacy can be the same way. It can transform said relationship into something much different than its initial intentions. Or it can enhance what God has already created, but at the right time and in the right context.

For those of you who aren’t following, here’s an example.  You’ve been seeing this guy and you’re getting the hunch that he’s really a creep. But since there are no other prospects or even men looking your way, you decide to take things to the next level out of boredom and desperation. Whether that means kissing, sex, or the whole ‘everything but sex, technically still celibate’ category, you know you’ve crossed a line.

And once that line is crossed, this man’s character and attractiveness levels up from Gollum of Lord of the Rings to Great Gatsby Leo Dicaprio.

Continue reading on Modern Ruth Project!

You are worth being single

Everyone I know on earth: “So.  How’s it going?  Are you dating anyone?”

Still single me: Sigh….”No, I’m not dating anyone at the moment.  Yes, I’m still single.  No, there are not prospects in the foreseeable future or the requisite 15 mile radius.  And, yes, I’m fine.”

Them: -_-

Me: “No, really.  I’m happy and content on most days with being single.  Why?  Do you know someone?”

Them: “Oh, goodness no.  You don’t want to date any of my friends!  They’re so (fill in the blank with some incredibly strange or terrible character flaw)!”

Me thinking inwardly to myself: Why do you have friends like that?

Does this conversation sound familiar?  I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m constantly defending my singleness on a daily basis.

Keep reading here on Modern Ruth Project!

I am that prostitute…

This year I’ll be guest blogging with Modern Ruth Project.  Go check out this post on their site!

alley

I have nothing in common with a prostitute.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had this thought many times in your life.  Or maybe you’ve never even thought about it all.  Which is ok because It’s likely not a common comparison.  But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you, yes you, have many things in common with the ladies of the night.

And I just couldn’t believe that I was so wrong about this.  Because I tend to be right about many things in life.  Which is also a lie.

But let me tell you a story of how I came face to face with my inaccurate thought processes:

There I was.  With all my holy haughtiness.  Sitting in the back of a van with a few other ladies and one gentleman.  Riding around an area in Atlanta known for its high rate of trafficking and prostitution.  I was excited, scared, anxious, and relaxed all at the same time.

I was sure that I was going to venture out into the darkness to bring the light.  That I would touch the souls of men and women who felt trapped in lives where their bodies encompassed their worth.

And that’s exactly what was going through my mind as we approached the first lady to give her a rose and extend a hand out of that way of life.  But as soon as I stepped out of the van to dramatically save her soul, I was smacked by a sudden realization.

Yes, Jesus slaps people.  Right in the face.  And it’s not a gentle nudge.  It involves all five fingers and has the weight of the Holy Spirit behind it.  And also behind that slap was an epiphany that this girl, these women, were all me.

I am broken.  I am a mother trying to make ends meet to raise my daughter in the best way I know how.  I feel overwhelmed by circumstances.  I struggle with keeping my worth in line with my God-given value.  I believe the lie that one decision won’t change my destiny.  I have allowed tiny decisions to add up until the damage was evident to myself and others.  And that damage led me to surrender in the arms of my Creator.

But one more decision could have brought me to those same corners where I came offering roses and hope.  One more decision could have landed me on dark stages stripping off pieces of myself to gain hurt in return.  One more decision could have seen me depending on the cheap approval of men to feel loved.

But that’s the funny thing about doing things for the Kingdom.  You walk in all high and mighty ready to change lives, only to realize that you were the one who needed changing.

And trust me, you’d much rather learn humility through service and putting on the suffering of others than have God knock you down to size.  I mean, have you read the Bible?  He’s been known to rain fire, instant death, and turn folks into a pillar of salt.  No thanks.  I don’t want to be the seasoning on anyone’s meal.

So next time you step out to share life, remember to see yourself in every single person that crosses your path and leave your piety at home. Vulnerability is more powerful than holiness.  And service is much more effective when others can see where you’ve been compared to where you are.  That is dealing hope that their lives can be better, can be different, rather than sending them the message that they could never be you.

PS – If after reading this, you are still of the mind that you couldn’t possibly be that person you’re serving, just remember three things.  One, Jesus slaps people.  Two, God can rain fire. FIRE.  And three, you are not that important (Galatians 6:3).