Two Become One.. but not like that.

I have kept a journal for ages, since I was about 9 years old I think. While during some stages of life I was more diligent about¬†writing in it, I’ve always had one on the go. I remember in high school someone introduced me to the idea of a Prayer Journal and I thought that sounded appealing too. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t want to give up my personal journal and combine it with the prayer one so I have had two on the go for many, many years.

If I examine my reasons for this.. well back in the day I wanted to write in my personal one about .. well “personal” things. It was mostly about boys and friendships and the daily dramas I was going through. I didn’t want to mix that up with God stuff because, sometimes I liked boys that I didn’t want to pray about and sometimes I had very ungodly and mean feelings about people in my life. So I felt like I had this double life of journals going on. I also had the far-fetched idea that I was going to be a famous writer and when I died and my journals were published, I preferred that the public read about my ever-so-exciting life of being unable to decide between two boys and musings about my humdrum life instead of see my inconsistent prayer life. Ridiculous.. on so many levels!

So this kept up for a very long time. I would write prayers to God in my devotional journal and then I would pick up my other one and scribble out anxious thoughts about men, jobs, friendships, etc. Recently, I have been writing way more in my prayer journal and it’s started to turn into a personal journal too.

One of my consistent spiritual struggles has been trying not to balance on the fence.. keeping one foot on either side and I think the separate journals is a very tangible depiction of that. I am now “all in” but my journals were not.

SO… today I started a new journal. Just one. A journal where I can record my life and talk to God about it at the same time. Imagine. I’m pretty excited because not only is it quite pretty, but I finally am at the point where I can see how I need to be transparent and open with God about all the areas of my life. I am hoping that this will be a good thing and I can’t wait to see what ends up being written on the pages. ¬†It’s one life… so one journal.

 

 

“My” Free Time

Lately, I have become rather convicted about my time and how possessive I am of it. Part of this perhaps comes from being a single woman, living alone. (Don’t cry for me Argentina) Part of it comes from being in a ‘people’ job all day. Part of it comes from the ongoing battle between my inner introvert and extrovert. Part of it comes from being so darn tired all the time and lots of it comes from being selfish.

I love hanging out with friends but I also love the freedom of free time. I love when I realize that I can just go home in the evening and relax. I love the thought of a free Saturday. However, when something comes up and takes that free time away from me, I grow resentful.
I was reading in The Screwtape Letters about how one of the easiest ways for a Christian to become irritated is for him to believe that time belongs to him and therefore the world is operating on his clock. He therefore becomes angered by people stealing his time and frustrated when someone interrupts what he thought was going to be a quiet evening. That really struck home.

As with most convicting messages, I was reading a few other things this week that continued to expose this idea and show me that really… my time is not my own. I must not grow resentful of people who take it up or need it. I must look at each day as an opportunity to serve God and others. If I do have some free time, sure, enjoy the heck out of it, but if suddenly it seems that I am required to address something unexpected, then believe that God has this all worked out. The Author of Time, needs me to be flexible and I need to be openminded.

So yes, I still plan on enjoying my free time but I’m going to work on loosening the grip I have on it. I also need to work on paying close attention to my attitude when something “comes up” that changes my original plan. My time is not my own… even though sometimes I’d really like it to be!

Christian Songs Are Kind of Scary

I remember a little over a year ago, sitting around somewhere and hearing a friend start to plunk out on the guitar that ever familiar chorus of Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name: “You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Blessed be Your name.” She was happily strumming along and singing it in a way that I could clearly see she wasn’t actually grasping the intensity of those lyrics. I remember thinking: “No no no! Singing about God taking away things should never be done in that key, that quickly, that upbeat-ly.” That’s a hard thing to praise God for. And sadly, during that time of my life, I was never able to sing that song. In fact it got deleted from my playlist.

It’s funny how a song can continue to haunt you.

Fast forward to now and that song is back on the playlist. God didn’t take away what I was afraid He would yet that song still catches me off guard. Am I really able to say Blessed Be Your Name even when/if He takes away something I desperately hope He will not?

This week I’ve been working on being able to sing that and mean it. I think I’m really nearly almost there. That song does come on some mornings and I somewhat flinch but I’m okay with it and I can pray along with it.

There are other songs that keep playing though and I wonder just how many lyrics I’ve sung over the years with a poor understanding of what they actually mean. It’s so easy to get caught up in the catchy beat or a phrase we find is worth writing down and mulling over but to really internalize these lyrics that we sing…to really mean them… that’s a pretty incredible thing.

While I was making breakfast Chris Tomlin’s song Lay Me Down started to play and “It will be my joy to say, Your will, Your way” started to hit me. It sounds so nice and joyful but what happens when His will and His way makes us ever so uncomfortable? What happens when His will and His way plunges us into sadness and grief? What happens when His will and His way seems so opposite to what we think we need to be happy? It’s tough…

So I can quickly press next and get something a little more upbeat or I can turn to the Bible and there.. promises.

He will not leave us, nor forsake us.

He will not give us more than we can handle.

He will provide comfort.

He will be enough.

He will help us be brave and courageous.

He will hold us in His wings and keep us close to Him.

He will make us aware of His steadfast love.

He will continue to be faithful to us.

And He will help us get to the point where we can sing to Him, no matter what happens in our lives: Blessed Be Your Name.