Somewhere over the past few months, I’ve internally shifted into having more of a performance mentality. I’ve tied my identity many times with how well I’m doing rather than simply with who I’m being. I felt myself failing far more often than flying.
As someone who is passionate about identity, this can be difficult to admit. But it just means that I’m still a work in progress, still learning to live out who God has designed me to be.
Have you struggled with a performance mentality?
God began to stir my heart months ago towards a fresh vision about who I am becoming and where I’ve strayed. I heard a singular word. Presence. My heart leapt. This word summed up everything I longed for, everything I’d neglected leading to those moments of feeling the failing. It brought me back to the Source of what matters.
Both the Presence of God and the presence of me. Recognizing His unfailing Presence in my life. Placing the fullness of my presence before Him and others I encounter each day. Present in this moment, neither living in the past nor dwelling on the future. Presence full in the here-and-now. Living with the longing to discover how each moment is pregnant with His Presence.
It’s always the Presence of God that creates transformative change, that creates life. In His Presence is safety and rest, guidance and strength, cleansing and restoration.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
It’s always the fullness of my presence that reveals the love I have for God and others. How can I show love if I am not present?
On a practical note, I’ve wondered how this offering of my presence to those in my daily life works. As a homeschooling mom who also writes and speaks and plans – who is the wife and mom and friend – how do I handle the interruptions that inevitably enter my day, pulling my attentive presence from one thing to another? That’s what the past few months have brought me to ask as I’ve pondered this single word, Presence…single, yet not simple.
When the Israelites moved throughout the wilderness, they had only one indicator that it was time to move on: the movement of God’s Presence in the pillar of cloud or fire. They may have stayed one night or several months in one spot. But every morning they looked to the pillar of His Presence to follow His direction. When He moved, so did they. It was simple, though certainly not always easy. Attend to His Presence. Move when He does, but never before.
I’m not sure I have the precise answer yet to what this looks like practically. But, perhaps, here’s a place to start:
Holding so loosely to my agendas that they’re easy to set down, either for a moment’s interruption or for a complete redirection, attentive to the movement of God’s Presence.
Training my kiddos, and offering the example, of practiced patience. How to wait on someone else to complete their thought or task before pulling them off course.
Stripping away the things that weigh me down, making it easier to move when His Presence does.
Asking: What’s getting in the way of sensing His Presence? What’s keeping me from giving my presence?
Presence. Remembering that He’s here. Remembering to be here.
There’s something about this week which lies between Christmas Day and New Year’s. For many, it feels like an “off” week…perhaps a different work schedule, the house in chaos trying to find homes for all the new treasures received, travels and family members in and out of the house.
But, for me, this “in-between” week has become the perfect opportunity to vision-cast for the upcoming year. And, it’s not about New Year’s Resolutions, which tend to be broken by January 14th and completely abandoned come February. It’s not about a list of things to do. It’s about a vision to lay out before a new year begins. It’s a guide, directing this upcoming year with intentionality. It’s a vision that turns into a mission.
Last year, I had two points of focus: Freedom and Gratitude. And those two words shifted the way my entire year went. I can look back, not on a “perfect” year, but on one which most certainly witnessed multiple lies being crushed and truths revealed. I can see now how keeping a gratitude list (even though I didn’t update it as regularly as I might’ve liked) completely shifted my perspective to see the things in my life as gifts from God, from the larger, more obvious things to the little, often overlooked moments.
So, with 2014 wrapping up and 2015 ramping up, what is this year all about?
For me, as I’ve prayed about it and sought to hear God’s voice in this “in-between” time, I keep hearing, “Live Today Fully.” You see, I tend to think very futuristically. I plan and make lists, which is great! But, many times, I do this to the detriment and the neglect of living fully in this present moment.
Live – Be here…be present…be active…be aware…just be, experiencing what this moment has to offer.
Today – For this day…as long as I have a “today”…because the only time I truly have is right now.
Fully – Not as little as possible…not “conserving energy”…but giving everything I have to give to the calling I have in this moment.
Live today fully thankful. Live today fully loving. Live today fully serving. Live today fully gracious. Live today fully forgiving. Live today fully hopeful. Live today fully honest (with God, myself, and others). Live today fully Spirit-led. Live today fully responsible (for me). Live today fully releasing (others to be responsible for themselves). Live today fully discipling (myself and those in my care). Live today fully open to God’s unexpected. Live today fully surrendered.
So, this week, I’m spending some time seeking God about what it means for me to live today fully as a child of God, as a wife and mom, for our homeschool, for our ministry, for my writing and teaching, for my extended relationships. What does it look like to live today fully?
Will it be perfect? Nope. Will there be moments I let slip by? Probably. But my goal is not perfection. My goal is living purposefully.
What is 2015 about for you? What does God want you to focus on in this coming year? Who does He want you be (rather than merely what should you do)?
Today, I pray for you that you capture the vision God has for you and this year. And then, that you cast that vision into every arena of your life. May your 2015 be a life-changing and blessed year!
So we left off from “The Pressure Cooker – Part 1,” with the thought that we need to know our design. God made us in an intimate way, knowing us before we were formed , “For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV
I find it awesome that our God and Creator of the universe took His time and effort to personally know us, to personally or Godally (yes I know is not a word, but it should be) “knit” the fabric of our being. Because He created us, I believe He knows what we are created for and what type of environment we are going to flourish in. To tie it all together, He knows the heat setting that’s best for us.
How much heat can we take? You may have heard the label of someone with a type A personality, that refers to someone who is highly driven or “successful”. And although these people may thrive in tough situations and may be able to get stuff done, that surely doesn’t guarantee that they can handle the heat very well. In many situations they are actually just plain stressed out and the “successful” and driven side is very often is a coverup, a sort of manifestation of a protective mechanism that this person is using to not deal with his or her past. They may truly be results driven, but many times there is unhealthy stress and pressure that needs to be removed.
Keep in mind this isn’t a dig at type A personalities, many have said that I am type A. But either way we all have our issues no matter our personality type of traits, “for [we] all have sinned, [are imperfect] and fall short of the glory of God” and need to be “justified [and set free] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 ESV (emphasis added). So no matter the personality type you may have been told that you are, God’s diagnosis and prognosis is much greater, much better.
So, we should figure out a way to remove the pressure. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pressure cookers are great thing, even in our Christian lives, because the heat and pressure can break down really difficult challenges and help us get through tough obstacles, BUT the heat must be removed sometimes for some time. Did you catch that “sometimes for SOME TIME.” this isn’t just 15 minutes a day, although if that is all you can get at the beginning do it. Lets bring back our pressure cooker, if it is cooking away and that rocker is a rockin’ you can take it off for a short amount of time and the rocker will stop, but you can put it back on the burner and it almost immediately picks up where it left off. Why? Although the heat was taken away and the pressure dropped enough to keep the rocker form rocking there is still a massive amount of pressure built up in side. Typically the safety valve is still up even. Are you getting the analogy? The safety valve is telling everyone to stay away do not open up, because bad things will happen. The second you add that heat back it is on again and you truly haven’t received a break, you truly haven’t received freedom from that build up.
This is probably why God told us to honor the Sabbath. I think it is cool that he made it one of the Ten Commandments to get some rest, to chill out, relax and take a load off. I think He may have known what He was doing, what His creation was going to be like, what pressures we would feel especially under the fallen world we are in. It is time to chill and reduce the pressure, to take some time for some time to balance that pressure again. We will examine some ways to do that in Part 3. To be continued….
So, life can be difficult sometimes…and a bit mysterious, right? And when I don’t have a clear vision for what I’m doing, it can get downright frustrating.
A few years ago, my hubby and I (finally) agreed that we would homeschool our kids. (By the way, this post is not about whether you should homeschool or not…so don’t stop reading there if you don’t!) I had about zero desire to teach our kids at home at first. I like my alone time…I won’t lie! As much as I love our kids, I’m a much better mom and human being overall if I get some time away. Yep, classic introvert.
But, then I started to pray about it and slowly God started to give me HIS vision for our family and kids’ education.
For kindergarten/pre-school, we’ve basically just “done life”: counting daddy’s vitamins, reading signs and sounding out letters while driving, doing some workbooks here and there, letting them play with magnet letters on the fridge while I cook…and so forth.
But now that we’re approaching the legal requirements of our state for our oldest to enter first grade, I started to panic…”what am I doing?”…”what if I screw it up?”…”what if I can’t figure out what to teach?”…”what if weeks go by and we don’t have a formal lesson?”…and so the hamster wheel of uncertainty and fear spun around.
I told Steve about my uncertainties and all-over-the-place worries. (I’m so thankful he just listened and didn’t reply at that moment! Thanks honey!)
I was searching information for our local public school when the thought dawned on me: “Hey, maybe I should pray!” So, I did. And, I asked my girlfriends to pray too (thanks, you awesome warriors!) Within the hour, He swarmed me with peace. He gave me an answer…yes, His vision for us is to be a homeschooling family. And over the next few days, He gave me one more little step to take…just one at a time. Step 1: Yes, homeschool. Step 2: Use a curriculum. Step 3: Check that book I have been reading and love for suggestions. Step 4: Research options. Step 5: Discuss top option with the hubs and pray. Step 6: Manage to wait until the paycheck has cleared before I rush to order said curriculum and obsessively check the mail everyday until it arrives! And so on…
I am completely amazed that God has brought me from an attitude of complete dread and fear to a place of renewed excitement. And the way He got me there was to give me vision. He spoke into my little life…gave me an answer…and is providing the steps one-by-one. Vision…that’s what I needed.
Yes! That’s it! And I especially love how The Message version phrases this same verse…
I was stumbling all over my fear of lack and inadequacies…But when I paid attention to what God wanted to reveal to me, He gave me what I needed and I feel that blessing not just in my attitude, but especially in the path we are now walking.
What decisions are you facing in your life right now? It may have nothing to do with your child’s education…or it might. But whatever it is, stop and listen to what God has to say about it. Don’t get caught in the torrent of fear. Let Him speak into your situation and give you the next step to take.