What I Can Do

Do you ever get tripped up complaining about how things aren’t going the way you want them to? Wishing things could just be different?

I do.

I find myself listing off things that aren’t the way I’d like them to be in a perfect world. But, in case you weren’t already aware, our world isn’t perfect.

And worse, it isn’t at all productive to just sit and stew in the midst of a pity party, feeling sorry for myself because things aren’t being handed to me on silver platters.

I’m trying instead to ask myself a follow-up question. When I begin to think, ‘I wish this was different,’ I probe further to ask, ‘What can I do about that?’

Can I change the situation?

Can I change my expectations?

Can I do something to prevent it from reoccurring?

Can I react better?

Can I put on my big girl pants and just deal?

Asking myself what I can do about a situation is productive. It takes the blame off the shoulders of others and puts the responsibility on mine. But it doesn’t burden me with unnecessary worries about things I can do nothing to change.

Sometimes challenges seem really, really intimidating, and I think I’m incapable of doing anything to make a difference. But when I take a moment to think about it, there are little things I can do to make small differences.

I can’t wipe out hunger, but I can donate money and pack some meals with organizations that serve the hungry.

I can’t magically transform the atmosphere of my workplace, but I can choose to be positive regardless of the negativity around me.

I can’t resolve the refugee crisis, but I can support organizations who are working on it.

I can’t stop child labor, pollution, or animal testing, but I can buy products from companies that are sustainable and responsible.

I can choose love. I can choose hope. I can choose faith, perseverance, and humble service.

There are times when I can’t do much of anything except trust that things will work out. There are times when I can only have faith that God will carry me through, believing that He’s doing something even when I can’t understand it.

My job is just to trust. To trust and do my part to make the world (or at least my little corner of it) a better place. And I do that by living like love, pursuing joy, and having faith through it all that while my abilities are limited, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

 

What are you reminding yourself that you can do today?

 

 

Further reading:

How We Can Love Refugees Today- List of Organizations by Jennie Allen

 

Image source: Kathy Jeffords, The Dreamy Giraffe

Moving Madness

You never realize just how much stuff you own until you try to move it all to a new place.

img_0663Playing real-life Tetris with boxes and couches in trailers opened my eyes to the fact that our little apartment really held a great volume of belongings inside. Thankfully our family and friends were able to come help us move things, or we would never have gotten it all done (shout out to all you lovely people– you’re wonderful!!!).

Moving is always stressful, but our most recent experience was made even more chaotic by the fact that we had planned a family vacation only five days after we closed on our new house. I had the day of our closing off from work, but other than that, we had to move everything and clean the apartment after work that week. With stress levels running high and sleep levels dangerously low, we somehow managed to get it all done.

The experience served as a good reminder that I can’t control everything, especially timing. If I had my way, I would’ve set aside a few weeks in my schedule to devote to packing, organizing, cleaning, loading up vehicles, unpacking, painting, and decorating.

But, alas, that is not how this whole thing went down. Instead, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to accomplish too many things in too short of a time. Thankfully there were other people to step in and offer to help, because I realized I couldn’t do it all myself (despite all my efforts to the contrary).

I was less involved in church and community things due to moving logistics and our family trip, and coming back reminded me just how vital having a solid community is. I needed those people when everything seemed like more than I could bear. Who was I to think that I could take such a big step in buying a house without a little help from my friends and family?

But I learned. I realized it’s necessary to acknowledge my limits and accept help instead of trying to do everything myself. I came to see that my own expectations caused most of my stress, and I’m much happier if I set the bar a bit lower and allow myself to rest. I learned that not everything has to get done at once; it’s okay if people come over and see piles of unpacked boxes or blank walls or a room devoid of furniture. It was a humbling experience for someone who typically cares so much about presentation.

Of course, that was temporary; we’ve gotten things pretty much squared away, but I’m still trying to hang onto the concept of not needing to have everything spic and span in order to be hospitable.

We’re certainly not done, but we’ve made some big strides in making the house feel like home. We painted, bought furniture, and unpacked all the boxes, so I’m okay with letting the smaller things take their sweet time.

And for anyone who’s curious, here are some pictures of our new place: fullsizerender_9 fullsizerender_5fullsizerender_6fullsizerender_7fullsizerender_8fullsizerender_3fullsizerender_4 fullsizerender_2fullsizerender_1fullsizerenderimg_0787

Thanks to everyone who helped us move into our new home!

We Need Each Other

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. -Ecclesiastes 4:8-10

In our culture of independence, it can be really difficult to admit that we need one another. We like to think that we can do it all ourselves. Somehow we have equated dependence upon others with weakness.

But can we really do it all by ourselves? I know I can’t, as much as I sometimes would like to think I can. It’s when I’m flying high, thinking I’ve got it all together on my own, that I crash and burn, humbled and reminded that I need to involve others in my life if I want to continue to grow and live a full life. I need to rely on the strengths of those around me, especially those who are strong in areas in which I am weak.

I’m often blind to my own faults, and I need people in my life who know me well enough and love me deeply enough to point them out to me. I need friends to encourage me when I get discouraged, make me laugh when I’m down, challenge me when I’m getting complacent, and motivate me when I’m being lazy. The only people who can do this are those that I let get close enough that they can see the not-so-pretty parts, not those that I keep at an arm’s length.

When I set my default I-can-do-it-by-myself tendencies aside, feelings of loneliness and isolation subside, and shame goes running for the hills. I am no longer pressured to hide my struggles and weaknesses, showing the world only select parts of who I really am. Those kind of authentic relationships give me life and joy, instead of leaving me running on autopilot and constantly making sure my mask of perfection is still in place. And when I’m living in the security of knowing I can be honest and real, I give others permission to do the same with me.

As my sister wrote this week, we learn best together. When we experience life in community, we build off one another, sharing our knowledge, points of view, and experiences, and we challenge each other to continue growing. We see the deep, rough parts of each other’s hearts, and we live life together in the darkest nights and brightest days. We get the benefit of multiple perspectives, past experiences, lessons learned, and knowing we aren’t fighting alone.

As we receive help and love from others, we’re learn to extend the same gift in return. And as we discuss difficult questions, create an atmosphere of safety and acceptance, open up the floor for any and all questions, and struggle to find answers, we forge some of the deepest friendships we’ve ever known.

By having a solid base of people to turn to, we have a support system and firm foundation for when things get rough. We know we can ask them for prayer and help no matter what life throws our way, and that knowledge alone is empowering. Seeing prayers answered and witnessing true change is a powerful force, but one that we only experience when we live up close and personal with one another– enough that we get to see both the “before” and “after” pictures. It allows us to face life’s obstacles more confidently, trusting that although we can’t climb all of our mountains alone, by God’s grace and with the support of those who have our backs, we can continue moving forward.