Relying on our insecurities will never make us strong

Everyone in insecure about something. Some people are insecure about getting up in front of people. Other people are insecure when they deal with numbers. Others are insecure about dealing with people.

You can be the most talented person in the world, but when you are faced with the one topic you are insecure about, you’ll shut down.

Regardless of what you’re insecure about, when you’re thinking about it calmly, you recognize that your insecurity is a weakness. It’s an area where you need to be stronger. You know that. But in the heat of the moment, when you are faced with a situation that frightens you or when you have to make a snap decision, it’s easy to fall back on what we know, and the one thing we all know is our own insecurities.

But insecurities make us feel not secure. That’s why they’re called insecurities! And maybe it’s comfortable to fall back on them, but what if you had something stronger to hold on to instead? Wouldn’t that be a better idea?

InsecureTurtleToday’s verses are 2 Peter 1:3-4.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God has given us all a list of promises miles and miles long. God has made so many promises that we don’t have time to talk about them all. And, what’s awesome, is that He’s kept all of the promises that He’s made.

He always keeps His promises. That’s who He is.

So instead of falling back on your insecurities, what about trying to fall back on God’s promises instead? It sounds like it should be easy to do, but it’s a difficult habit to get into, especially when you’re accustomed to relying on your own strength.

How do you live by God’s promises? Or, as the Bible says in the next verse after these, respond to God’s promises? That part is easy in theory. It means you put weight to what God’s said. It means you put your money where your mouth is. It means you take God at His Word.

Example? God has promised that if you give to His work (i.e. tithe) that He will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings so numerous you won’t be able to contain them all (Malachi 3:10). This is a promise. And to take God at His Word, that would mean you would start giving to God, whether you think you have the finances to give or not. And then you just trust that God will provide for you.

That’s all there is to it. You live life trusting that God will do what He says He’ll do. You make decisions based on what God has promised to do for you.

I don’t like speaking in front of people. I despise getting up and talking in front of crowds. But it’s part of this career path God has me on right now. I don’t like it because I can’t always think of the right things to say, and I’m terrified that I will come off looking like a fool. I get so scared that I will be a poor representation of Christ because I babble like an idiot. But God has promised before that He will give His children the words they need to say when they need them.

So when it comes down to the choice of speaking in front of a group or not, what do I do? If I’m going to fall back on what’s familiar, I’ll lean on my insecurities. Those insecurities tell me I’m a horrible speaker, that I’ll say stupid things, that I’ll make mistakes and confuse people. Those are my insecurities. And they’re not helpful.

But if I choose to believe God’s promise, I’ll get up in front of people and God will help me. He’ll give me the strength to face my fears, and He’ll give me the words to speak when I need them.

See the difference?

So what decision are you facing today? Are you leaning on what your insecurities are telling you about yourself? Or are you thinking about what God has promised you instead? If you’re cowering in fear, I guarantee, it’s not God you’re listening to.

Hold on to God’s promises. He always keeps them. Trusting your insecurities will only leave you insecure and unfulfilled. Which choice do you think is better?

The double-edged sword of a bad decision

At first, I thought someone had turned on a television set somewhere. After all, it’s not normal for people to just start screaming in the middle of a restaurant. But it didn’t last long, so I went back to my hummus and my conversation with my friend across the table. Only moments later, the woman at the other side of the restaurant started screaming again.

From the angle where I was sitting, I couldn’t see her well. But she was pretty much just telling someone to leave her alone. I don’t know who it was. Honestly, I was a little hesitant to look. It went on for a little while until she left, pushing someone out the door with her. Again, I was trying not to pay too close attention.

The only think I could think and say when she left was that somebody was having a really bad day. I’ve had days like that, where I really just wanted to scream at everyone. But does screaming really help?

Shouting womanToday’s verse is Proverbs 9:13.

The woman named Folly is brash.
She is ignorant and doesn’t know it.

As far as I know, there’s no particular reason that Folly (or foolishness) in this passage is personified as female. That’s not a sexist statement. Actually, Wisdom in the verses just before it is also personified as female. Both men and women can be foolish or wise. It has nothing to do with gender.

Now, I didn’t know the woman who was at the restaurant. I’m sure she was having a really hard time, otherwise she wouldn’t have reacted the way she did. But I can tell you the times when I’ve snapped or shouted at someone else because I was having a bad day, it never helped the situation. It usually just made it worse.

In the heat and emotion of the moment, anger makes us feel better. Shouting makes us feel stronger. But it doesn’t actually change anything about us. It really just draws more attention to ourselves.

That’s the double-edge sword of poor choices. When you make your decision, you think you know what you’re doing. But it turns out that you don’t. You just didn’t realize it.

Again, nothing against this poor woman, but I’m pretty sure that blowing a gasket and screaming her lungs out in the middle of a restaurant didn’t end up making her problem go away. I wasn’t privy to the conversation, so I don’t know. Maybe I’m generalizing.

But I know what happens when I react that way. When I’m faced with the option of losing my cool or staying calm, and I lose my cool, I end up hurting people, and I generally make life more difficult for myself.

Life is tough sometimes. And there really are moments when it feels like you just have to scream at someone. But you know what? Maybe it’ll make you feel better for a moment, but that kind of satisfaction is fleeting. And in the process, you’ll run the risk of ruining someone else’s day. Are you really so selfish that you would sabotage someone else’s day just to make yourself feel better for half a second?

That’s not a good trade. It’s not worth it.

Take a deep breath. Get your perspective straight. Sing a song, say a prayer, do something. There are other ways to deal with a bad day or difficult circumstances than going around screaming at people. Do yourself (and everybody around you) a favor and try to think of some. Who knows? You might come up with a solution to your own problem.

All day long, I put my hope in you

Psalm 25

O Lord, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.

The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

For the honor of your name, O Lord,
forgive my many, many sins.
Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.
They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land.
The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.
My eyes are always on the Lord,
for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

Turn to me and have mercy,
for I am alone and in deep distress.
My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!
Feel my pain and see my trouble.
Forgive all my sins.
See how many enemies I have
and how viciously they hate me!
Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.
May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in you.

O God, ransom Israel
from all its troubles.

Hoochild on a stroll at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Even small wonders are still wonderful

I love going to the zoo. Wichita has one of the top ten zoos in the country, and I could go there every day and never get tired of it. But it’s one thing to go by yourself. It’s something else to go with a friend. And it’s another thing entirely to take an almost-2-year-old girl along with you.

That’s what happened to me this past weekend. I got to go to the zoo with one of my best friends/sisters and her adorable daughter, who I usually refer to as Hoochild (she used to be Baby Hoo). Now that is an experience.

Just think about it. Put yourself in a toddler’s shoes. Try to see the world from a toddler’s perspective. There’s something new to learn every day. There’s something awesome to explore every moment. Grown-ups get jaded. We’ve seen everything, done everything, gone everywhere. There’s nothing that can spark that feeling of wonder that we used to feel.

Or maybe we’ve just forgotten what it feels like to stand in awe.

Hoochild on a stroll at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Hoochild on a stroll at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 40:5.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

When was the last time you saw a miracle? Honestly, they happen every day. I think we grown-ups are just too busy to notice them. For us to pay attention to a miracle, it has to be something so enormous, so huge, so massive that we could never have accomplished it on our own. Right?

But how many of us can make a sunrise? How many of us can turn the wheat golden overnight? How many of us can turn a blossom into an apricot? There are so many things in life that just happen that we take for granted, because they always happen. If it’s impossible for us to accomplish and it happens anyway, it’s still a miracle, regardless of how frequently it happens.

It’s easy to overlook the “small” miracles too because they aren’t the miracles we want. We ask for miracles. We ask to win the lottery. We ask to get away with a lie. We ask not to get caught. And we promise all sorts of things if God could just make this one miracle happen. And when He doesn’t give us our way, we give up on Him. We start thinking that He doesn’t do miracles anymore.

No, friends. That’s not the case. God does wonders every moment of every day. He’s so busy doing miracles that we don’t have time to list them all, but if we have our eyes shut, we’ll never see them.

Are you tired right now? Is today going to be one of those killer days where you don’t get a break and where everything just seems to go wrong? Is today the day you could really use a miracle?

Try looking at life from a toddler’s eyes. Think about a little girl who recognized a real live sheep for the first time and put two and two together and knew it said, “Baa!” (And then spent the rest of the time at the farm exhibit shouting “Baa!” in the faces of every sheep she encountered.)

That’s what wonder looks like. That’s what awe feels like. Discovery. Like standing in the sunrise after a thunderstorm.

Look out your window. What do you see? Clouds? Birds flying? Sun shining? Grass growing? None of that could happen without God.

It’s not that God has stopped doing miracles. We’ve just stopped looking for them. And we’ve told ourselves that nothing God does can impress us anymore. We’ve replaced the wonder at God’s creativity with science. And the science isn’t wrong. But is a flower any less beautiful because you can identify pistil from stamen?

So stop being so grown up today. Take a walk and look for a miracle. Maybe the only miracle you’ll see is a “small” one, but a small miracle is still impossible for us.

Sometimes we need the storms

Sometimes it feels like we’re living under a cloud, doesn’t it? Life just isn’t working out the way you want it to. Sure, there are days when the sun shines and life is bright. There are days when you feel invincible. But what about the days when it feels like the rain won’t stop falling?

It’s on those days when the bad news keeps coming. Minute after minute, hour after hour, the bad news doesn’t let up. You owe more on your taxes than you thought. Your car is broken. Your child is sick. The storm damage is extensive. Whatever situation you’re in, doesn’t it seem that bad news never shows up on the happy days? No, it all has to unload on us at once, on the days when we’re already feeling like we’ve fallen in the mud.

But one thing I’ve learned about God is that He never allows anything to happen in our lives that He won’t turn into something beautiful.

stormclouds_treeToday’s verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

There are days when life feels random, like all the little bits and pieces of life are scattered around without meaning or purpose. And I’m not sure if that will ever change for us because we’re so limited in what we can see. But if you’ve lived long enough to look back over your life, you can start to see the picture forming from the fragments you thought were unrelated.

And then, sometimes, God gives you a glimpse of just how much He cares. I mean, we all know He cares. He’s God. That’s kind of what He does. But there’ s a difference between caring and being intimately involved in the intricate workings of your personal life. It’s one thing to call you a son or daughter, but God goes beyond that and treats us like His children too.

It’s one thing to recognize that God made the sunrise. It’s something else to understand that He arranged events in your life today to help you accomplish something. That’s two different levels of caring.

People know they’re meant for more than this life. That’s what the verse means. We all have this inborn understanding that there’s more to life than just what we can see. As we get older and let the darkness of our world cloud our perspective, we lose sight of it. Or we give into the lies of our culture that say God doesn’t care. But deep, deep down inside, we all know that we’re meant for something more. That’s what it means to have eternity in your heart.

It’s difficult to remember sometimes, especially in the dark moments of life, that God cares so much about us. Because if He cared, He wouldn’t let us go through dark times, right? But sometimes we need the storms.

We need to remember that we aren’t in control. We need to remember who sustains us. We need to remember who protects us. And we need to let go of our delusions that success comes from our own performance.

Maybe you’re in an ugly situation right now, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope. But you know what? God will make everything beautiful in His time. Not in our time, because we don’t understand time. Not like God does.

God is the only One in existence with the power to take the ugly and make it beautiful. He can transform anyone and anything, but we’ve got to get out of the way.