Where’s My Miracle?

As I was driving to church this morning, a story came on the radio of a woman who prayed over her dead son. After an hour without a heartbeat, he came back to life. It should be encouraging but it just made me cry.

“Where’s my miracle?”

How selfish is that? Here’s a mom celebrating the life of her son and all I can think about is how unfair it is that her son is alive and my father is dead. My soul is in a dangerous place.

The danger to my soul is not the losses I have endured this year. My soul’s danger is the allure of selfishness and desire to grasp everything I can in response to that loss.

If I don’t trust, my trust can’t be broken.
If I don’t share my heart, you can’t betray me.
If I keep Community Group superficial, it won’t hurt when it falls apart.
If I don’t love, losing you won’t wound me.

But when my eyes are on myself, there’s no hope for my rescue. The path out of my depression is found in reaching out a hand to others. If my world is all about me then my world will keep getting smaller and smaller till I suffocate.

Ironically, my father would have given his life for that boy. He would have done anything to save his life and he would have died a hero. Nothing mattered more to my father than children and I should be able to celebrate his miraculous resurrection.

Instead I’m crying and moping and asking, “Where’s my miracle?”

God set me straight. This is the loving rebuke He gave me.

Where’s my miracle?

My miracle is 8 years ago when God introduced me to Tony. Through Tony I gained access to an association that helped me learn my value and establish my core doctrines to prepare me for the challenges I’d face. Because of Tony I have met Stephen, the primary voice of reason in my chaos.

Where’s my miracle?

My miracle is 6 years ago when God came to me in a dream and told me to go to WBCC. At WBCC I forged many relationships that have been my support and lifeline this year.

Where’s my miracle?

My miracle was born 5 years ago and miraculously is strong and healthy today. My Princess is the brightest light in my (physical) life and on my hardest days I just find her and hold her.

Where’s my miracle?

My miracle is two years ago when I found the Cotton Community Group. This was my “family” when everything started to fall apart. They cleaned my house, washed my laundry, cooked me meals, and were the hands of Christ when I needed it most.

Where’s my miracle?

My miracle is last year when Julie offered to disciple me. I was untrusting and wounded and difficult but she never gave up and kept trying to break my shell. She organized a group of people to bring the ornaments in the header image and has consistently been an encourager to me.

Where’s my miracle?

My miracle is this year, when Bob* asked me to find “safe” people and God led me to Ranae. I couldn’t have imagined someone as perfectly suited to be the friend I need in this season.

Where’s my miracle?
What have I needed that wasn’t provided?
When have I lacked for anything?

Maybe it’s time to stop asking, “Where’s my miracle?” and instead ask, “Whose miracle am I supposed to be?”

*Bob is the name my cousin gave my counselor.

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What Story are You Writing?

I hate losing.

Losing bites and the more I give to a goal the more painful it is to fail.  To give everything and then lose is to be told that everything I have is not enough.

That I am not enough.

I spend my life seeking to prove I am enough, so I do everything I can to avoid losing and I hate losing more than I hate Jar Jar in the Star Wars prequels.

It’s ok to hate losing but I hate losing so much that I have developed a dangerous habit to avoid it: quitting.

Where losing is giving it all and being found wanting, quitting is the forfeit, the slink away, the snake. It’s lying to myself, my fans, and my team that I don’t really want the prize anyway.

My parents always taught me that quitting wasn’t an option. I remember begging them to join soccer. Then three days of practice later, and all the running involved, this chubby little girl wanted out. But my parents had paid the $40 (or whatever) so I was sticking it out through the season no matter how many fake injuries I conjured.

In hindsight, it was never really about the $40. My parents knew the dangerous allure that quitting can become and that once the door is opened it is very hard to shut.

Now, this is not a treatise on why we should never quit. There is wisdom in dumping a boyfriend, quitting a job, or even abandoning a goal. Don’t print out this blog as proof you should hold out until he changes. Get into a mentoring relationship and figure out what your situation is… my situation is that I quit too easily.

And I don’t mike-drop and walk away either… I just fade.

I slink away in a myriad of excuses that are all valid and hollow at the same time. My house needs cleaning, my car needs an oil change, my plants need water, and my closet needs to be sorted. It’s been a busy day, a rough week, a long month… and by the time the deadline comes and goes the goal has been forgotten, buried under 100 little excuses all sourced from the insecurity that the fear of failure birthed in my soul.

Currently I have a goal that I am passionate about.  The goal was set 8 months ago and given serious attention about 3 months ago. But as the deadline gets closer and the process demands more faith, I find myself avoiding the actions necessary to make my goal a reality.

Today as I cast about for excuses to avoid working toward my goal, I had a moment of perspective where I realized that it’s really about my story more than it’s about my goal.

Last night God asked me a question: “What story are you writing, Jenn?”

I thought it was a great topic for a blog and started sketching out the idea:

Am I writing a story about a damsel in distress, waiting for someone to rescue me or break the curse with a kiss?

Am I the sidekick, helping the main character with his objective while seeking out the six-fingered man to kill in a side quest and resolve my tragic backstory?

Am I the hero out to shake off my past, rescue the captive princess, lightsaber fight my evil father, and blow up the enemy’s Death Star?

Am I the comic relief, tagging along to lighten the mood of a difficult situation with some fart jokes and a funny outfit?

Am I the heroic figurehead who inspires the real warriors with my empowering speeches and the sword I found in a field?

It was a good thought and I played with it, but the blog never really came together. Today I realized it wasn’t a topic for a blog; it was a question for me to seriously answer.

What story are you writing, Jenn?

Yesterday and today I was writing a story about being a quitter. About how my goal doesn’t really matter anyway and it’s ok if I just let it go. About defying expectations and shaking off the mantel of responsibility to embrace the freedom of grace over the pursuit of perfection.

But all of that is a lie.

My goal does matter and I do care. Sure, failure will hurt less if I can convince myself otherwise … but my soul knows that this goal is important to me.

And my goal is all about defying expectations. My goal is about proving that my story didn’t end when I lost my parents and that there is more in me that the world still needs to discover.

And responsibility? The only responsibility that I am avoiding is the face in the mirror that believes there is more in me than a salesperson at a technology company who blogs in the evenings. It’s not about pursing perfection or avoiding grace; it’s about waking the lion in me to fight instead of roll over play dead like a pet dog.

Failure is terrifying and the higher the stakes the more that failure stings. Easier to stay numb with chores, videos, food, or even sleep and avoid the discomfort of believing in an impossible goal.

Let the lion go back to sleep and enjoy the comfortable life I have built.

That is the safe choice and it’s the choice I’ve made many times.

Choose to believe the impossible; chase the improbable?

Wake up and fight to make something happen?

Give everything to a goal?

Win, or die trying?

Why bother?

Just sleep.

No! Wake up!

Yes! Win or die trying.

Yes! Give everything to my goal.

Yes! Wake up and fight to make this happen.

Yes! Choose to believe the important, albeit improbable, is possible.

If I quit now then it’s back to sleep until another goal comes to wake the lion or the silent killer, Time, takes her in her sleep.

Dust yourself off and write a new chapter today about embracing the process and pressing on toward the goal. Make today count and refuse to quit on yourself.

No one wants to read a story about a dead lion.

Press On

Rhythm and routine have become a vital part of my progress. So every morning starts with Bible Study, reading, prayer, and speaking positive scriptures over my life.

Currently I’m studying A Jewel in His Crown and this morning a few passages jumped out at me:

  • Even if you’ve gotten out of the mud of debt or mistakes in your past, that is not enough. You’ve got to change clothes and stop wearing that pain around or else “your identity is being ruined by the dirty puddle of the past.”
  • “Your friends know that your self-esteem has been demolished by the mud of your past. They probably aren’t going to tell you that. They are just going to pity you right out of the self-esteem that is rightfully yours.”
  • “The God of the universe …  has already given you a new beginning, a new name, and a new purpose for living. “

Wow! It’s important to lean the difference between addressing the past and living there. Pity is an addictive narcotic. It’s easy to hunger for that pity and want to be defined by:

  • Past addictions
  • Past loss
  • Past disappointments
  • Past failures

But what all these things have in common is that they are in the past.

I flipped over to Power Thoughts, which is the book I’m reading right now. The first thing I read is

“Your past can be am unbearably heavy load when you try to carry it into your present.”

This is immediately followed by another:

“If you feel disappointment due to the mistakes of the past, it is time to shake it off and get reappointed. Your future has no room in it for the past!“

Ok, God, you have my attention. What do you want me to learn?

Joyce quotes a verse in the next paragraph so I opened it in my Bible.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ 

Paul recognized that holding on to the past, both its success and failures, is a hinderance to moving forward.

I’m not defined by my battle with addiction; it’s in the past. I’m not defined by my 3.96 GPA; it’s in the past. I’m not defined by my mistakes on Monday; it’s in the past. I’m not defined by losing my father, losing my mother, and becoming an orphan; it’s all in the past.

“You get sympathy for your struggles but you earn respect by overcoming them.”

I have no idea where I first head that quote but it’s one I’ve repeated it for years. And it’s true. There is no glory in suffering for the sake of suffering.

I moved to set the Bible aside and I saw the beginning of verse 15:

“Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…” (emphasis mine).

Wow, ability to move on from the past is a sign of maturity. And today it’s time to grow up.

I told my cousin that I was working on a blog about letting go of the past. She said that she thinks the past is valuable and we shouldn’t forget. I agree. The past should not be forgotten… it just shouldn’t be carried into our present. But that’s a blog for another day. 💖