Monday, December 23, 2013

Dizzy Izzes

Here is my suggestion to omit from the slang phrase book in 2014: “It is what it is.”

This phrase has been one of the most irritating phrases to me this year. It smacks of surrender and submission—to the wrong thing. It has tied the hands and made more victims to circumstance this year than I can count. And it brings out the mama bear in me.

Finances? “It is what it is.”

Relationships? “It is what it is.”

Employment? “It is what it is.”

Legal problems? “It is what it is.”

This time of year prompts us to believe in miracles again. The promise prophesied for thousands of years to the human race trying so hard to be good enough. 

And I hear the devil laugh…“It is what it is.”

“But you don’t know what’s happened to me this year.”

I hear you…because I am tempted to speak those same words when I visit my son in prison or the bedside of a dying friend.

And I hear the devil sneer…“It is what it is.”

God takes your “is what it is” and will make something new and wonderful with it. He takes that pain, that sorrow, that fleeting happiness and turns it around into something that sustains, encourages and reveals where Joy blooms.

Yes, well my circumstances may not change, but my attitude towards it surely can. And as I seek more of His wisdom, I start to change.

He doesn’t leave you where you are. Like Mary, He takes you by the hand and supplies what you need if you just grab hold.

“But God doesn’t talk to people anymore like Mary, she was special.”

And I hear the devil mock…“It is what it is.”

God made you; He counts the hairs on your head. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are so precious to Him that He sent His child onto this earth as a baby—not a man on a charging horse to strike fear into hearts. He sent a helpless baby that would grow, and love and live a life that would be an exchange for our own lives.

That is the gift that He gives us. Jesus’ life for our own, every one of us.

Tired of that phrase yet? Let me give you a new one to say: “I am who I am.”

This one is a name, not a catch phrase. God’s name is “I am.” He is not God from Biblical times, He is not God from the Apocalypse, He is the God of NOW. He is active, alive and always ready to receive His children who are tired of the same ol’ “is what it is”.

Got “is” issues? Why not seek the God who is I AM? He speaks to people through His Bible, during prayer and through other Christ followers. Seeking Christ will give the devil a kick in the “is”.

Begin right here if you want.

And I hear the devil whimper…“It is what it is.”

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Herding Hurts

Every year about this time, I see him on my way to work. He's a little more bent, like the pipe in his teeth. He walks his companion--a border collie--who strains at the leash. Every quick movement catches her eye. And every fiber of her being wants to herd it, whether it's a squirrel, a leaf or a dump truck.

When I first saw this pair a couple years ago, he was leaning back and holding the leash with both hands. And with each passing car, she would circle him like a furry satellite. I would imagine the walk for him was draining by the time he got home. She needed to be off that leash in a couple acres of sweet grass with a few sheep to be truly happy.

This year he is more relaxed and she listens to his direction. When a person is talking to him, she lays flat on the ground and is still. When he is ready, she is up and moving.

I have been attending a group called Celebrate Recovery (CR) the past couple months. For years I have tried to bring others who I thought needed it. They would come a couple of times, then other things would pull them away. I realized, how can I ask someone to commit to something I have never walked through?

Most people think CR is for "others". The ones with addictions to drugs or alcohol. Those addictions are actually just numbing the deeper issues and CR deals with it all--layer by layer by layer. I realized you don't have to have a physical addiction to attend.

Like the collie scene I witness when the cool season hits, my "people addiction" strains at the leash. I want to herd everyone to where I think they need to be. I could be ready to "help" when the phone rang or advice was asked for. Some days found me nipping at my family's heels, or obsessing about a wayward child in the middle of the night. 

When I first started attending CR I enjoyed the singing and the lesson for the night. It was afterwards when we broke up into small groups that brought out that herding instinct. The rules for small group say that you have time to speak but when someone else is speaking, you must remain quiet. You cannot offer advice, help or tell them how you dealt with an issue. The first few meetings I had to literally sit on my hands as I listened to others pour out their sorrows and frustrations.

Later I found out you can speak to someone during the coffee fellowship afterwards. But I don't linger too long, because for now I find that a huge temptation to herd again.

God is teaching me to just listen and let Him draw them out. I needed discipline, to know when the right time was to fetch someone back into the fold. I have so much more to learn. And I have so many more people to love--not herd. I have stopped sitting on my hands. I listen while I doodle and I bring tissues. I don't strain at the leash so much anymore. Even when that wayward child calls.

The next phase of CR for me will come in January when we begin a Step Study. This is where I will start peeling off the layers of my people addiction and get at the root of it all. I am apprehensive at what I will find. But my Good Shepherd knows what's best for this woman who has been off the leash way too long.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)