That Reminds Me

Do you ever hear a song and feel like it was written specifically for you? Or played at the perfect moment, just when you desperately needed to hear it? That happens to me quite often.

I decided that my word for this year is beloved. I’ve been asking myself if my knee-jerk responses to circumstances, conversations, and actions of myself and others are loving or not as a filter to determine how I should respond. Sometimes I do myself proud and choose a more loving response. Sometimes I forget completely and allow my default reaction to surface– one that is often not very loving in nature.

But I’ve heard several songs on the radio lately that remind me of who I am, and they have served as well-timed and desperately-needed reminders of my identity, regardless of how well I perform or try to respond more lovingly.

So whether I need to remember who I am, who Christ is, or what my purpose is, these songs (and plenty of others) come to the rescue with little daily reminders that I so desperately need.

You are loved
If your heart’s in a thousand pieces
If you’re lost and you’re far from reason
Just look up; know you are loved
Just look up; and know you are loved
When it feels like something’s missing
If it hurts but you can’t find healing
Just look up, know you are loved
Just look up, know you are loved

And you, don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else
You don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else

You are loved

-“You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim

You are essential, not accidental
And you should realize
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved

-“Beloved” by Jordan Feliz

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He love’s you like you are!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

And live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

…Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

-“Live Like You’re Loved” by Hawk Nelson

I’m sure there are many other songs with similar messages, but these have been hitting me square between the eyes lately. If you’re looking for more uplifting, encouraging music to remind you of truth and give you better perspective throughout the day, I suggest you check out Air1 and KLOVE— they’re some of my favorites! In the meantime, look these songs up on YouTube. You’re welcome. ūüėČ

 

Are there songs that have impacted you deeply? Feel free to share below in the comments!

Be > Do

Today I’m deciding to focus on who I want to be rather than just what I want to do. I’ve always had a hard time thinking of an answer when asked “what do you want to do with your life?” It seems like such a complicated, nuanced question, and I’m still not really sure what the answer is. But if I instead ask “what do I want to be?” I have the freedom to interpret the question a little bit differently.

I’m pretty confident my career path will change as I get older, and I’m okay with that. As someone who graduated without an idea of what she wanted to do, that’s actually kind of comforting. I can try different things out and see what works in different seasons. And it gives me the freedom to also try out different hobbies and roles in other places, like with my church.

But when it comes to who I want to be, the answer is not so easily changed. If I think about it, I know what kind of characteristics I want to embody. Now, I’m not for a second trying to say that I possess them already. I’m saying I know what my aim is.

For all the unknowns about what I want to do or how my future might turn out, there are some things I do know. And I found a list from Jordan at Feel Free to Laugh that fits really well with those things:

  1. BE KIND.¬†You want to be attractive to other people? Don’t be a jerk. Choose kindness, because it IS¬†a choice. Not just sort of kind, and not fake kind. Be the for¬†real, actual kind of KIND. Look for the best in others and then¬†tell them what you see. Go out of your way to help someone in need, and do so without expecting anything in return. Speak words of life into those you meet. If you’re someone who is genuinely nice to others, you will instantly be more attractive to them.

  2. BE JOYFUL.¬†No one likes a Debbie Downer, you know what I’m saying?¬†The Word says to¬†be joyful in all things, yet we tend to poo-poo the idea as unrealistic and unachievable. The thing is, I’ve met the person who is joyful in all things. Joyful in health AND joyful in sickness. Joyful in plenty AND joyful in want. It’s an actual THING, and it does exist! To be joyful doesn’t mean to feel happy all the time, which is good news considering we¬†ALL¬†know we won’t feel happy all the time. It’s simply an underlying sense of hope and peace that comes from knowing that all things work together for good, and it is contagious. Solidify where your hope and peace rest, and then share it with others. Joy spreads like wildfire, and THAT is beautiful to see.

  3. BE GENEROUS.¬†Hold everything you have with open hands, and loosely. I’m not just talking tangible things like money and possessions; I’m talking praise, platform, and power. Be generous at all times with the things entrusted to you, and don’t join in the cutthroat competition. Share your finances when you feel led, and share your praise freely and often. Invite others into the things you’re doing, and promote their unique gifts and abilities. Jealousy is hideous, but when others feel safe with and valued by¬†you, they’ll see you as someone whose beauty oozes from every pore.

  4. BE HONEST.¬†Be a truth teller, both when it’s easy and when it’s not. Tell the truth with grace and compassion, but ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH. Be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, and never leave those around you wondering how you really feel. Transparency is breathtakingly attractive, and it paves the way for others to be transparent, too.

  5. BE UNEASILY OFFENDED.¬†For the LOVE of Mother Teresa, stop taking yourself so seriously! Life’s too short to be uptight, and the only one who suffers when you are too easily offended is YOU! Receive valid criticism well and graciously, and let everything else roll off your back. Keep short accounts and forgive often. Chances are good¬†you’ve offended someone before too (that’s right, I’m looking at YOU), so extend the grace you’d want to receive. Oversensitivity is not pretty, but thick-skinnedness is. Be thick-skinned.

  6. BE AVAILABLE.¬†It’s tough to carve out time for others in the crazy-hectic lives¬†we lead. That said, we are a relational people, and as my mother always says, “People matter before projects.” Be willing to set aside your valuable time to love another well. Be a listener. Be an encourager. Be a helper, be a safe place for the ones you love, and a safe place for the ones¬†who are HARD to love. Draw boundaries, for sure, but be reachable and present. Others will know they can rely on you and you’ll be beautiful to them for it.

  7. BE LOVE.¬†Let love flow from the deepest parts of you in all you do and to all you meet. Love is the single most beautiful quality in heaven and on earth, and love is the only tool that builds an inroad to people’s hearts. Love well, and love generously — you’ll never regret it. – Jordan Baker Watts

Those are the things I want to be. And they are far more important than whatever career path (or paths) I choose to pursue, what kind of car I buy, where I live, or what my family looks like. Those things are circumstantial, and I can’t always control them. But I can pour energy into becoming the best possible version of myself, regardless of my situation.

Will you join me in focusing on what you can be rather than on what you can do?

 

Further reading:

HOW TO BE BEAUTIFUL (A Step-By-Step Guide) by Jordan Baker Watts, Feel Free to Laugh

Great Expectations

What kind of expectations do we have, either consciously or subconsciously for this life we’re living?

Do we feel entitled to certain things? Do we think our lives are supposed to be easy, free from pain? I think it’s very easy for us to get comfortable and assume that we’re secure, ignoring the fact that hard times come, and that’s not a sign that we’re not loved, but an indication that we live in a world fraught with sin.

Do we forget that we were told that we would have trouble (John 10:10)? Do we forget that we were given hope for that very reason? There’s a reason that the reminder that we will have trouble in this world is followed with the command to not fear. Our first response to trouble is often one of fear. But that’s not the end of the story. We don’t have to live in that fear.

Do we remember what lies ahead of us? Do we remind ourselves of how this story ends? No matter what happens here and now, we have eternity set before us, a promise of a life to come with no tears, sorrow, crying, pain, or death (Revelation 21:4). Good and truth will win out. Our God conquered death and overcame sin and evil for us, and we are more than conquerors through Him. That is what we should expectРnot that life will be easy or that we will win every battle, but that in the end, we will be on the winning side of the war.

Do we live in anticipation of God working in the world, and¬†in the lives of those around us? Or do we let our eyes deceive us? It’s easy to think that because we don’t see God moving in our daily lives or working some big, dramatic miracles in the ways we expect that He isn’t at work.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:20

He is at work. He is moving. In big ways and small ways, through some of the most unlikely circumstances and people, He accomplishes His purposes. And He wants us to be a part of it. But I think sometimes we let our expectations get in the way.

Do we expect too much? Do we expect some big, grandiose enlightenment or life-changing moment to happen to us before we can do something? Are we waiting for the next big thing before we really live our lives? Are we holding back in the hope that something has to happen before we can step out and make a difference in the world? What are we waiting for?

Do we expect too little of ourselves? We’ve been blessed with the resources and gifts we have, given a unique personality and calling, a precise footprint to leave behind us in this world. We are all where we are for a reason, and there’s always something we can be doing, even while we wait. Our lives are made up of small moments, and we can always love those around us like He loves us, no matter what our day jobs or present circumstances are. We can live differently. We can be present. We can love. We can have faith. We can encourage and uplift. We can serve. In big ways and small ways, we can live like love.

May you and I both consider what expectations we’re holding for our lives and be willing to let them go in favor of understanding the truth of what we’ve been promised. There is a great inheritance for us ahead, but the road we have to take to get there is sometimes¬†bumpy. If we’re willing to hang on and even adjust our outlook from time to time so that we can see the bigger picture, we might just find that life exceeds our wildest expectations. Now wouldn’t that be something?

 

Lightening the Load

It’s so easy to get pulled down by the weight of the world that we carry on our shoulders. Everywhere we turn there seems to be more and more bad news, destruction, disappointment, devastation, pain, and loss. But what if we didn’t have to carry it? What if we could lay it down and walk freely?

‚ÄúCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.‚ÄĚ – Matthew 1:28-30

We need to recognize that we are not defined by the world. We are not defined by what we do,¬†what happens to us or the world around us, or who others say we are. We are defined by whose we are. And we are God’s. We are His masterpiece. We are His heirs. We are victorious in Him. We are beautifully and wonderfully made.

What if we decided that we will no longer be defined by the length of our to-do lists or the relative weight of our accomplishments? What if we were to choose each day to let ourselves be defined by something completely independent of our striving? What if instead of trying to do more, instead of trying to be more, we simply embrace the fact that we already are enough?

No matter what this world tries to convince us of, we are enough. We don’t have to live the way others tell us to live. We don’t have to believe the lies of the enemy. We don’t have to try to fit ourselves into the box set before us. We don’t have to live in the shadows, where shame, guilt, fear, and insecurity surround us.

In Christ, we have the freedom to release our stress and our heaviest burdens and walk through this life helping others do the same. We get to leave behind the cares and concerns and worries of this world and set our sights on one in which God will “wipe away every tear from [our] eyes. And there will be no more sorrow or crying or death or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

Yes, difficult times come to us all. Bad things happen. We get hurt. We make mistakes and suffer the consequences. We get ourselves in over our heads with committing to too many things and comparing our lives to those around us. But we don’t have to live our lives that way. We can grieve and hurt and heal and keep moving, keep living.

No matter what happens in our personal lives, we are God’s. We can rest assured in our identity in Him. Regardless of what goes on in the world around us, we can be comforted knowing our God is never shaken. He stands firm in the fiercest storm and holds us close. We don’t have to carry our baggage around like dead weight. Through individual struggles and in the midst of a culture filled with fear, we can dare to live differently.

We can show this world that there is more to life than our endless to-do lists and the bleak outlook the news broadcasts give us. There is abundant hope and overwhelming joy for the taking.

Will you join me in taking it?

 

Further reading:

When You Feel Like You’re Not Enough by Renee Swope, (in)courage

Have You Made Busyness an Idol? by Rachel Moreland, Relevant Magazine

Kairos 20’s by Kristyn Emmer, Awkward 20-Something & Surviving It

Tuning In

There are so many competing voices in our world, trying to tell us who we are and who we need to be. We are bombarded with messages from the media, our peers, societal norms, and more on a daily basis. How do we decide what’s true? How do we even begin to filter through the different messages we’re being fed?

What we believe about who we are changes how we behave. If we listen to the multitude of voices telling us we’re not good enough, we will come to believe it and live defeated lives devoid of joy, deep love, worthiness, and peace. We will be stressed as we strive to do better in our own strength, continually sabotaging our own efforts as we engage in self-fulfilling prophecies, telling ourselves that nothing we ever do will be enough.

If we feel the need to change who we are to conform to the messages we receive from others, we will spend a great deal of time and effort trying to fit into a box we were never created to fit into.

On the flip side, if we remind ourselves that we are beloved, cherished children of the Most High God, we are empowered. We know that although we cannot do everything on our own, we can lean on the One who makes all things possible through His strength.

While messages from media and in our culture change at the blink of an eye, the Word of God is eternal and constant. I find comfort in knowing God’s opinion of me never changes. Some truths that I need to remind myself of frequently include:

I am a new creation. My past isn’t held against me. My failures and mistakes no longer define who I am in God’s sight, so they shouldn’t color my own opinion of myself.

I am a child and heir of God. I have a Heavenly Father who deeply cares about me and my life. He delights in taking care of me; I don’t have to do it all myself.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter what the world tells me the newest metric is for measuring beauty, I can remain confident knowing that I am precious in God’s sight.

I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.

For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love (Ephesians 1:4).

I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).

I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works.

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:10). -Kenneth Boa, Bible.org

We can decide which voices we listen to and which ones we silence. We can let the truth drown out the multitude of lies, or we can allow the lies to creep in and crowd out the truth– the choice is ours.

So what messages are you tuning into? What do you have the hardest time believing about who God says you are? Do you have any ways of reminding yourself of these truths that have been particularly successful for you?