Want What You’ve Got! (bully)

Person, Homeless, Bullied, Hiding, Alone, Sadness, Male

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When I was in elementary school – fourth grade, to be exact – I was bullied by a kid named Chris. Chris singled me out early in the year, choosing to call me names other than the one my parents had chosen for me: Burrito and It.

The fact that I can still remember Chris’ face and the names he called me hints at just how deeply I was wounded by his childish and unrelenting teasing. People would tell me – especially well-meaning adults – that boys only tease girls this way because they like you…

Really? I didn’t believe it then. Still don’t.

In high school a bully named Clyde chose me from a pool of classmates. His stares violated my personal space for months – usually followed by whispers to his friends, their stares joining his, and then laughter or inappropriate comments. Or both. He so rattled my self-confidence that I actually sought help from the school counselor to make it stop (which is a big deal in high school – seeing the counselor meant that you were either in trouble or wimpy). I don’t remember it helping – in fact, I think it made things worse. After nearly failing a semester of chemistry with Clyde in the room, one of us had to go. I can still remember how his cruel oogling pierced my fragile self-image. Obviously – scars remain.

Joseph knew what it was like to be bullied – he had endured it all of his life. It probably didn’t help that he was Daddy’s favorite, sporting a colorful testimony of his father’s affection that day as he joined his older brothers in the fields. Joseph was dropped in a deep hole and sold as a slave to travelers by those who ought to have been looking out for him instead. Betrayed by those closest to him, Joseph began a life-journey that he did not choose and that he did not want.

Fast-forward to the scene described in Genesis 50 – Joseph, reunited with the family bullies, has just buried his father. Afraid that their now-powerful and influential little brother may be ready for payback, the clan begs Joseph not to retaliate. In a decidedly poignant foreshadowing of God’s redemptive plan, Joseph responds to his brothers with these words:

“It is true that you planned to do something bad to me. But really, God was planning good things. God’s plan was to use me to save the lives of many people. And that is what happened.” Genesis 50:20 (ERV)

Joseph had learned what our Savior Jesus knew as He hung, dying – a victim of brutality – bullying unto death. Jesus’ words, as recorded in Luke 23:34, are a glimpse into the truth Joseph spoke years before:

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

They think this will shut me up. It won’t.

They think they can get rid of me forever. They can’t.

They think they are doing this to me. They aren’t.

Let’s be clear – there is a bully at work here – but the enemy of Christ, of Joseph, even the enemy of me isn’t Chris or Clyde or jealous siblings or military powers or church leaders. These folks don’t know what they’re doing! Mistaking the power they wield as their own, these bullies think they are causing harm and inflicting pain.

The bully – the enemy of God – has been rallying troops of broken, hurting, insecure people since the Story began. Jesus knew, Joseph discovered, and I’m slowly beginning to understand that while bullies participate in the work of the enemy, they aren’t him. My battles aren’t against people any more than Jesus was put to death by the power of some nails and a couple of pieces of wood. The person calling me names and reaching out toward me with ill intent is a piece of clay, just like me. Only, I choose to be shaped by the hands of the Potter rather than worked over by a craftsman whose commitment to his workmanship ends when it’s usefulness does, too.

No one Wants What They’ve Got when it’s a bully who’s dishing it out.

Joseph didn’t. I surely didn’t. Jesus didn’t, either. He even asked God to let Him pass on sipping from that cup.

But in the hands of the Potter and the Author of our faith, backwards is the new forwards! God is planning good things, and evil intent can be appropriated and used to shape a vessel that holds Living Water in quantities generous enough to quench the thirst of the whole world. Or fill the tummies of an entire famine-inflicted nation.

So – Want What You’ve Got, bullies and all, and wait for it…

Because no matter how things look today, God’s intentions are very, very good.

Daily Questions: Who are the bullies in your life today? Are you down in the trenches – or down in the dumps – struggling with an enemy you can see with your eyes? Think again. The world thought that the enemies of Jesus got the better of Him on the cross, but the real bully was waiting for Him on the other side. The resurrection proves that Jesus fought that battle and won! Choose today to want the eternal security you’ve got in Christ; stop giving so much power (and credit) to the bullies in your life! They really don’t know what they’re doing!

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Want What You’ve Got! (shhh!)

8ELEVEN-silencePeople can be so infuriating, can’t they? Even in the church.

I was once referred to as Saint Brita by a co-worker who had a penchant for gossip and tiresome chit-chat, often at the expense of those who were not present to explain or defend themselves. I guess I had established myself as someone who wasn’t keen to participate in these third-party tirades, so as I was approaching one day, he called out – Hey! Here comes the Saint!

I wasn’t really sure how to take that.

On the one hand, I was actually offended, at the very least by the tone in his voice.

On the other hand, though I am far from being saintly, I suppose I prefer that label to a variety of others he might have used.

I really can’t recall how I responded at the time, but I’m pretty sure I opted to smile and keep on moving toward bigger, better and more meaningful things. But I stewed about it later. He got under my skin.

Rules of engagement for believers are challenging at best. Sometimes it hurts much more to bite my tongue than it would to spew poison right back at those who hurt and maim with their unkind and provocative words. I tend to move relatively gracefully through such war zones only to find the wounding rhetoric looping in my head for hours – even days – afterwards. I think of all sorts of comebacks after the fact, which riles me up and distracts me from seeing what is really going on: how easily I’m hacked by an enemy for whom no method of intrusion is off-limits.

I stumbled upon these words after my “sainthood” was established, and I have literally clung to them for dear life ever since:

“Excuse yourself from any conversations that turn into foolish and uninformed debates because you know they only provoke fights. As the Lord’s slave, you shouldn’t exhaust yourself in bickering; instead, be gentle—no matter who you are dealing with—ready and able to teach, tolerant without resentment, gently instructing those who stand up against you. Besides, the time may come when God grants them a change of heart so that they can arrive at the full knowledge of truth. And if they come to their senses, they can escape the devil’s snare and walk freed from his captivity and evil bidding.”  2 Timothy 2:23-26 (The Voice)

Sometimes the best response to the one who picks a fight is silence.

So today, in the face of immaturity and insensitivity, excuse yourself. Preserve your strength. Respond gently. Teach tolerantly. Instruct without resentment. Keep your wits about you. Walk free. Want What You’ve Got.

Daily Questions: When was the last time your patience was tested by someone whom Rick Warren would call an EGR – Extra Grace Required? Were they being foolish? Mean-spirited? Opinionated? Judgmental? Speaking out of turn? Un (or Under) -informed? Critical? (Or just annoying?) Shhh! What is the quietest response you can muster under the circumstances? How can you avoid burning a bridge that might be an EGR’s most direct route to the foot of the Cross? Will you meet them there this week?

 

Want What You’ve Got! (backwards)

backwards 3 The cover of Cosmopolitan magazine caught my eye as I waited my turn in the checkout line. A smiling Kim Kardashian was flanked by the words:

Get What You Want: The Man, The Money, The Baby.

Wait a minute! Do we have it all backwards – or does Kim? Is it possible that our Lenten refrain – Want What You’ve Got – is as opposed to Kim Kardashian’s mantra as it sounds?

I know that the way of Jesus is counter-cultural, but we can’t get much more opposite than this.

Permeating Jesus’ teachings is the revelation of a backwards Kingdom with an economic system based on the sharing of resources and the generous exchange of love. Unlike those who reign in Kim’s consumeristic economy – ruled by acquisition, competition and power – a successful Kingdom subject lives in polar opposition to the wiles of this world, sold out completely to the Gospel.

Hear Jesus on the subject, from Matthew 19:28 –

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

In light of this month’s Cosmo cover story, don’t Jesus’ words sound exactly backwards?

My daughter babysits for good friends of ours whose boys are a constant source of laughter, insight and drama. One night at our house, one of them was decked out in clothing that was on backwards – tags in front. My daughter told him:

“No big deal, dude. Backwards is the new forwards.”

Later that night, after they had returned home, my daughter received a text message from their dad: “What did you tell my boys?”

“Um – I’m not sure. Why?” she responded tentatively.

When dressing for bed that night, the boys had intentionally put their PJs on backwards. When Dad pointed out their mistake, they boldly replied, “Well, Dad, backwards is the new forwards.”

Those kids were clothed backwards for months!

When we as believers choose to embrace the Kingdom of God as revealed by Jesus – when we are willing to live counter to the self-indulgent nature of the world – we may as well put our shirts on backwards because we aren’t going to fit in.

No matter how hard we may try to fly beneath the radar, backwards is the new forwards in the Kingdom of God.

Want more in God’s economy? Learn to live with less.

Want love in God’s economy? Learn to give yours away.

Want peace while navigating this confused and broken life? Leave the Cosmo girl worldview on the shelf where it belongs and Want What You’ve Got today!

Daily Questions: Who do you know that is living a backwards, Kingdom-focused life? What makes them different? In what ways do they stand out? Does the invitation to “get the man/money/baby that you want” have any appeal to you at all? How might you respond to this worldly solicitation? Other than putting your clothes on backwards, how might you embrace God’s Great Reversal today?

backwards 2

Want What You’ve Got! (thrift)

English: The Community Closet Thrift StoreI’m walking into the consignment store with Groupon in hand.

I spent $10 to buy the opportunity to get $20 worth of merchandise – an instant 50% off sale! I don’t really need anything, but that’s never stopped me before.

Searching through the racks of gently worn clothing, I realize that I’m always attracted to the same items – black pants (though I always wear my favorite pair). Shoes (to add to the ridiculous number already gracing my closet). Dresses (even though I rarely wear them). Jewelry (for when I dress up – see dresses). Purses (see jewelry).

Nothing that I’m looking at is even remotely a need, yet that Groupon burns a hole in my pocket. I settle on a pair of khaki pants – similar to my favorites which have long since been laid to rest in their hole-y state – and a pair of black shorts with lots of pockets (for traveling). I avoid the interesting jewelry display at the counter because by now, I know I’m weak. If it glimmers with potential at all, I’m afraid I’ll buy it.

Because it’s affordable. Because I can.

I’m reminded of something I have been known to tell my children while shopping together – “just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it.” Such wise words for the younger generation, right? For a fleeting moment, I wonder where I came up with that, since I so rarely subscribe to that way of thinking myself.

I don’t like to shop retail and I simply cannot stomach paying full price for anything. Consignment stores are great because the clothing is in good shape and probably recently laundered. Thrift stores are amazing because my purchases help to support a cause, which makes me feel better about buying all of that inexpensive stuff that I just don’t need.

It’s safe to say that shopping is my preferred form of entertainment.

But when I look at the stacks of jeans in my closet (which I forgot to mention earlier – I always look for jeans while shopping, too) and the piles of t-shirts beside them, I’m convicted by this season we’re in and suddenly I don’t Want What I’ve Got.

In Matthew 16:26 Jesus reminds us that “it is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost. You could never pay enough to buy back your life.” (ERV)

The Message words it this way, and these words are a fitting reply to my hungry, bargain-hunting soul:

“What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?”

Ouch.

The truth hurts.

Today I am compelled to shop my own closet for entertainment and to avoid adding to the excess already found therein.

Today I am motivated to weed out those things I don’t wear or don’t really like so that I can donate them to my church’s upcoming clothing exchange event.

Today I admit that no matter how found I am, there are hints of a lost soul being dropped here and there – hints that I need to take seriously and respond faithfully to.

Because I Want What I’ve Got in Christ more than what I’ve got in my closet.

Consign that.

Daily Questions: Where do you find duplicates and triplicates of purchases in your home? My husband has jokingly (but rightly) told me that I could open a clothing store with what’s in my own closet. Identify the excess, as I am doing today, and do something meaningful with it! Donate it to a thrift store or charity that you support (shoe collector? Check out Soles4Souls donation programs: http://www.soles4souls.org/ ). Give it to someone who needs or would love what you’ve got! Consider starting a seasonal exchange at your church or even with a group of friends. I’d love to share what our church is doing! Email me for details: brita@pinkshoesministries.me

Want What You’ve Got! (condiments)

A bottle of Aceto Balsamico di Modena, aged fo...I’ve been known to collect condiments.

It sounds stranger than it really is – trust me. It’s just that I’m drawn to yummy ways of dressing up what would otherwise be normal food.

And I don’t relish normal.

Crammed into my pantry cabinets are bottles and jars of things like Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with Fig. Jalapeno Peppers and Vodka Marinara with Mushrooms. Basil Pesto and Artichoke Hearts. Capers and Piri Piri Peppers in Oil. Raspberry Chipotle Marinade and Chocolate/Strawberry Cream Spread.

I don’t set out to overdo it! I just see these deliciously odd accompaniments on the shelves of my favorite stores and I can’t help myself. So the condiment collection grows.

During this season of Want What You’ve Got I have been challenged to re-think my habits – especially those which result in excess and waste. A trip through my cupboards is proof that the dietary needs of my family are not only being met, but exceeded.

There are unopened jars, cans and bottles in my cupboards whose expiration dates have come and gone. I have so much on my shelves that I forget what is there and end up buying more at the store – just in case. Instead of Wanting (and actually using) What I’ve Got, I keep stockpiling and hoarding while folks around me get by with less or go without.

This can’t be what God has in mind concerning His economy of love.

Proverbs 21:26 says that “some people are greedy and never have enough. Good people are generous and have plenty.” (ERV)

I have made it a goal during this season of Lent to Want What I’ve Got in my cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. Instead of spontaneous and disorganized grocery shopping, I am trying to use what’s already there and to be thankful for every single bite.

It’s easy to be greedy – and greed is never really satisfied, is it? There’s always something more, something different, something spicier or sweeter – some new-fangled condiment to add to the collection.

Consider this your greed-therapy session for the week – an intervention via the God who made a better way for us to live. Want What You’ve Got if you’ve already got plenty, and be generous with the leftovers. (Would you like a dollop of Habanero Ketchup with that?)

Daily Questions: Take an honest look through your food storage areas today. Are you utilizing what you already have, or do you have to rearrange the shelves each time you bring groceries home – to make room for the new? Consider a short-term Want What You’ve Got fast and eat only from the current stock in your cupboards. Have lots of extra food? Consider giving some to your local food bank.

Want What You’ve Got! (wall)

20130311-222142.jpgWhen my first-born left home to attend my alma mater – three states and one thousand miles away – a hush fell over our home.

Our daughter is a force of nature, so of course the absence of her energy and activity (plus a steady stream of like-minded friends) left the rest of us sort of reeling in the wake of her exodus. There were days in those first months when I would have welcomed a whisper or a word from the walls inside her room – anything to ease the disconnect of being the one left behind.

On one such day, as I was passing in front of the wall between my children’s bedrooms, the dusty frames displayed there caught my eye. Years before, when our daughter was in middle school and our son a little tyke, we decided to use this wall to display school certificates and awards. Being blessed with children who have given us no shortage of frame-able material, the wall quickly filled and we never were successful at keeping it current.

I wondered how this display made my son feel – the remaining occupant in our partially-empty nest. I thought about all of those articles I had read on how to handle the transition when a child moves away (don’t make their room into a guest room or office – at least not until sophomore year). The ridiculous thought – what if these walls could talk? – prompted me to begin removing frames from this neglected gallery… and a great idea was hatched.

As it often goes with great ideas, however, birthing them is a whole lot easier (and more fun) than actually parenting them to completion. When I decided to make this wall into a whiteboard – so that it could speak – we were in the WalMart paint department while the fumes of new vision were still fresh, with plans for sanding and painting the wall in the hall over the fall break.

That was 17 months ago.

One might argue that my lack of follow-through in this project was fueled by a desire for things to remain the same… the family together under one roof. The comforting buzz of music and noise from upstairs. It is hard to Want What You’ve Got when those you love aren’t where they used to be (even if where they are is where they need to be).

Some of us are in that place where the life-transition grace period has expired and it is simply time to move on.

Some of us have great ideas and wonderful plans that were placed on the back burner far too long ago (can you smell the scorch?).

Some of us need only Want What We’ve Got in order to turn that corner or to light a fire under that pile of old frames, removed from that paint-thirsty wall, so that who we are becoming can emerge and find land-legs.

This past weekend I rallied the troops and we now have a shiny white wall where the past used to be. Who knows what this wall will say now that it’s marker-ready? There are notes to be written, reminders to be shared, math problems to be worked out, art to be created, poems to be dreamed, scriptures to be wrestled with, prayers to be prayed…

Life to be lived.

Some of us need to… Shhh! Can you hear that? I think your walls have something to say!

Daily Questions: What unfinished projects are parked in your queue? Some of them have likely out-waited their usefulness, yes, but which ones are still relevant? Want What You’ve Got when it comes to unfinished business this week! Schedule them or dump them – stop carrying that weight around! What life-transitions are overdue for you? Where are you digging in your heels, waiting for tomorrow to turn this corner or make that change? What dingy walls in your house and memory need a fresh coat of paint?

Want What You’ve Got! (weekend)

Messy RoomFloor.

I’m pretty sure that my son’s room has one, its just that I can’t remember what it looks like (it’s been so long since I’ve seen it).

Guess what he’s going to be doing this weekend?!

Looking around at the piles of clothing, books, sporting goods and teenage-toys strewn across his alleged floorboards, it’s pretty clear to me that our children are doing everything they can to get what they want in this permissive society we live in… and they’re learning from the masters. We are intentional about teaching our kids to use their manners, show respect for others and to do their best in school (aren’t we?), yet we continue to add to the illusion that more is more and enough is actually a four-letter word. We do this – I do this – by example.

Maybe your room is clean and you won’t need to spend most of Saturday and a few hours on Sunday to unearth your bed (actually, that’s not a problem for my son – his loft bed is the only thing you can see right now – only getting to the stairs requires tornado insurance), but maybe there are closets or shelves or piles in your home that are sending confusing messages to those who live with you or will visit you this weekend.

Look around your home today – do you Want What You’ve Got? On this third weekend of our Lenten adventure, we’re beginning to realize that there is always another angle to consider when it comes to faithful living. It’s not all about me for the believer in Jesus who longs for God’s Kingdom Come!

“We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.” (1 Corinthians 10:24 MSG)

If this is true, then our example is foremost in showing others a better way to live. Our kids (spouses, parents, grandchildren) won’t necessarily Want What They’ve Got unless we do. This weekend, let’s take action! Let’s show them how.

Daily Questions: Where does your excess show up around your home? Do others see it? Start with the areas that are most obvious to others and ask yourself what messages you are sending through your stuff. Is there something you need to do in an effort to help others live well, by your example? Maybe it’s been a long time since someone told you to clean your room?

 

Want What You’ve Got! (drama)

red stage curtains

I have this friend on Facebook.

Actually, she’s the friend of a friend and we’ve met only once in real life. I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited her page (and it’s entirely likely that she would say the same about mine), but her status posts to my newsfeed, so I see her there when I log in at night.

And every night it’s basically the same post: Good Night! (or) Sleep Well! (or) something to that effect.

Now, this has begun to drive me nuts. Seriously! If this is the extent of what you have to say, do you really have to use social media to say it? This is what runs through my head – unedited – each time I scroll past the nighty-night post. Where are the stories? Where is the action? Where is the interesting or engaging or heart-wrenching stuff?

I’m beginning to see that what I want from my Facebook community isn’t connections or reunions or cyber-friendships… it’s drama.

On a typical weekend night you will find me tuned in to Netflix with my family. Having opted out of television subscriptions, Netflix allows us to watch an episode of whatever suits our fancy sans commercial interruptions. But lately the things we’ve been watching have been getting under my skin. The violence and sarcasm and disregard for the good of others that permeates pop culture is mirrored so clearly in what we watch for entertainment that lately I’ve been sickened by my own attentiveness to it.

It appears that the world is addicted to drama and I am not immune.

In the spirit of Want What You’ve Got, it’s true that we all have drama. Even in the quietest seasons of life we have family members, neighbors and co-workers whose real-life situations play out like a made-for-tv movie. At any moment on any average day we find ourselves cast in a variety of sit-coms and dramas (maybe even a bit of sci-fi action), because the world we live in looks more and more like the world of entertainment we have chosen to subscribe to.

Don’t you, on most days, look forward to collapsing on the comfy couch at home, leaving the drama of your life and friends and family behind (at least for the night)? Yet what do we do from that comfy seat after putting the day behind us? We grab the remote. Or the iPad. Or the controller.

As one drama junkie to another, we have got to stop tuning out reality and turning on our device-of-choice. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or PlayStation or the daily news, all we are doing by tuning in is trading one drama for another – the real one in which we actually play a role for the vicarious or imaginary one where we can identify with the characters or not because when we’ve had our fill, we can simply shut it off.

You may not want the real-life drama you’ve got, but it’s yours. Yours to affect. Yours to minimize. Yours to transform into stories that can motivate and instigate and inspire. If we don’t Want What We’ve Got when it comes to the details of our own lives, we have to ask ourselves why we mindlessly seek someone else’s drama, too. By turning on the nightly news or camping on YouTube or staying up late to watch another episode (because we just have to see what happens next), what if we are squandering our opportunity to actually live life in lieu of watching someone else live theirs?

Our world is crazy and scary and full of stories (real and fictitious) that capture our attention and threaten to consume our best energy for living. We as a society are so wired-in to the constant newsfeed (and drama-roll) that it’s no wonder so many people are so afraid of so many things.

This insatiable need for drama is addressed by Jesus in Matthew 6:34b (and for some reason the King James Version keeps replaying in my head):

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

What if we say it like this…

My drama is enough for today.

There is enough action, dialogue, tension, plot and character development in my day to satisfy my inner drama-junkie! Today I choose to Want What I’ve Got – simply because it’s mine.

Daily Questions: What stories are being told by your life today? What kinds of drama do you typically choose for entertainment? How might your life tell a better story by your choice to live it (rather than avoid it)?

Want What You’ve Got! (earplugs)

Individual silicone earplug worn at ear with E...Each spring, as women gather for an annual retreat at a local camp, we prepare a packet of pillow treats. This year’s version was a small blue box which contained a chocolate mint and a pair of earplugs.

Sleeping in a room with others whose sleep habits are different from our own can range from unsettling to nerve wracking to disturbing, and yet most of these women find that it’s worth the disruption every time – to be able to experience God’s presence there in a way that they simply aren’t able to on their own. A pair of soft, foamy earplugs can ease the intrusion of night-sounds from others and can enable us to rest in communityeven if everything about that community isn’t ideal.

Earplugs act as a buffer between our senses and the noises made by those we do life with, making it possible to live with the distractions around us.

My family attended a concert last fall in the gymnasium of a small local college. The headliners were the real draw, but the warm-up band was one we were also eager to hear (a new band formed from a long-time favorite group, recently separated). We had an opportunity to sit in the second row from the stage, so we took it! This was the new band’s very first concert and we weren’t going to miss out! But as the music began to rattle the metal rafters of the drafty old gym, my ears began to pop. Then hurt. Then sting. We stuck it out for a couple of songs but ended up moving all the way to the back wall of the room to protect our ears, albeit too little, too late. The damage was done and my ears hurt for days afterward. Earplugs would have been a good idea.

Earplugs protect our hearing and minimize the damage caused by poorly mixed sound and the sometimes ridiculously loud-living of others.

It can be excruciatingly difficult to Want What You’ve Got while lying sleepless next to someone who is snoring the night away. It can be painful to Want What You’ve Got when what sounded like a great idea ends up sounding like something that no human ear ought to be called upon to endure. And it can be awfully hard to Want What You’ve Got when the words and choices and actions of those around you blast loudly through your own efforts to live a peaceful, well-ordered life – and yet, here we are. All in this together.

Earplugs offer a subtle, unseen way for us to be proactive in creating harmony in a dissonant world (unless you go for the hot pink or neon orange variations).

Earplugs can create space in our jam-packed living conditions so that we can think and rest and move about without alienating those closest to us whose habits and volume threaten to create discord.

James 3:17-18 says it this way:

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (The Message)

If you’re finding it difficult to Want What You’ve Got while living with (and sleeping with) some intensely distracting sounds, remember this…

If you have to wear earplugs in order to sleep at night, you are in relationship! You are not alone! Healthy, robust connections with others aren’t accidental – they only happen when we do the hard work of getting along and treating each other with dignity and respect (and by choosing to quietly put the earplugs in place, as needed).

Daily Questions: What are the life-noises that tend to drive you crazy (think actual noise as well as felt noise – like people’s opinions, attitudes, actions, etc.)? What or who is the source of this noise? Is enduring this noise necessary in order to keep relationships/community intact? If yes, what might your ‘earplugs’ look like? What gentle, subtle choices can you make to buffer against the loudness around you? If no, maybe it’s time to cut some cords or turn down the volume on some of your personal live-feeds in order to Want What You’ve Got.

Want What You’ve Got! (wedding)

Wedding bouquetIn a few short months I will be traveling abroad to share in the joy of a family member’s much anticipated wedding. Though we have no real responsibilities concerning the event, my family is making plans for travel, lodging, financing (ouch!) and – of course – what to wear.

I bought my dress months ago (actually, I bought two dresses, just in case I changed my mind), but apparently I’ve over-indulged in comfort food this winter. To the tune of (at least) a couple of pounds, I’ve got some dieting to do. At least that’s what the scale is telling me.

Why is it that I can never seem to Want What I’ve Got where weight is concerned? I look in the mirror and I can’t say that I have real problems with what I see there, but then I jump on the scale and immediately feel the need to pop some appetite suppressants and drink a gallon of water. It isn’t that my dress for the wedding doesn’t fit, so what’s really going on here?

Amy Grant had a song that I listened to in the 80’s – my mind hit the play button just now:

“You’ve gotta know who to – who not to – listen to… They’re gonna hit you from all sides, better make up your mind who to – who not to – listen to.”

There’s a voice inside my head that says perfection is the goal. And for me, perfection was 8-10 lbs ago.

There’s a voice shouting out from the media that says “you’ve gotta look like this” as I walk past the freshly-pressed Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition at the grocery store.

There’s another voice that says I can only enjoy myself and feel good about life if I can manage to wear my skinny jeans for more than two hours without cutting off the circulation to my feet.

And there’s a really loud voice, disguised as the people I love, that says I’m only lovable when I look good to others. This lying voice tells me that looking good is inseparable from things like height/weight charts, the body fat index, how I look in a swimsuit and whether I can still wear my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.

Amidst the clamor of voices vying for my attention comes the still, small voice of the Spirit, who whispers:

“…what matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.” I Peter 3:3-4 (The Message)

Last week one of my sisters in the faith shared an unedited epiphany with our study group. I found myself teary-eyed as she boldly proclaimed (forgive my poorly paraphrased translation) that…

I am beautiful to God just the way I am! This extra weight says that I’ve quit smoking! This gut says that I’m a Mom! These sags and bags say that I nursed my babies! I have a husband who loves me for just being me! How can I not be okay with who I am?

How can I not Want What I’ve Got?

For me – and for my friend – there will never be a shortage of critical voices to listen to…

Scales. Calipers. Pant sizes. Media. Competition. Perfection. Guilt.

The challenge for us today is to know who to – and who not to – listen to.

Because the voices… they will hit you from all sides.The best course of action for living a Want What You’ve Got life in a get-what-you-want world is to make up your mind and tune in to the voices that speak truth, improve your disposition, increase your capacity for grace, and cultivate inner beauty.

I may delight for a moment in being the ‘perfect’ weight, but that moment will pass and my critic (the scale) will remain. May you choose instead to delight the heart of God by wearing your true, ageless beauty on your sleeve – no matter what size that sleeve is.

Daily Questions: Are you satisfied with your current weight and fitness level? If not, what is the source of your dissatisfaction? Is Wanting What You’ve Got an option for you in this area, or is your physical state keeping you from pursuing the kind of beauty that gives glory to God? What can you do about it? Whose voice do you need to listen to today?