Every weekday morning, I'm up around 4am, despite having been woken up by my still-nursing toddler at least once during the night. I'm up taking care of the babe and getting ready for work. After an occasional, quick DECAF coffee run, I arrive at work, sometime between 6:30 and 7:30, where my day is as unpredictable, wild, and eventful as any middle school teacher's might be.
By the time 3pm rolls around, I'm rushing out of the school to get home to the baby. As soon as I've got him, it's time to rush to the other school to get our older son! We often swing by the grocery store, library, or playground on the way home. Then it's time for indoor play or outdoor adventures, depending on the weather and our moods.
Time seems to fly by before it's time to make dinner, feed the kids, and then clean up all of the crumbs and dishes. Then it's time for me to get them both bathed, dressed in pjs, read to, and tucked in bed with a kiss and prayers and lots of love.
At the end of the day, I'm left with only about an hour or so to myself before my own bedtime, and I usually try to cram as much into this time as is physically possible. Pick up the toys. Vacuum the carpets. Finish the laundry. Work on lesson plans. Fiddle with duties for my internship (which has now morphed into helping lead our church's MOPS!). Take a shower. Speed read through one of the many novels on my list. Play a game on my phone.
Eventually, I close my eyes, and by the time I open them again, the routine starts all over.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it. Yes, it's exhausting and full, but I love it.
Nevertheless, tonight I was reading a blog post written by one of my dear friends from church, and her words about God's love for us kept dancing around in my heart, the message lingering long after I closed the tab and put down my phone.
I just kept thinking... what if I just PAUSED? What if I just turned off the internal voice in my head that tells me to DO and GO, and I just stopped? What if I just allowed myself to rest in His Word? To linger in His love?
"Actively seek the Word of God to know who God
The Bible says,
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills."
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
There are many things to be said on the subject of spiritual gifts, but I just want to point out a few key things from this Scripture today.
- We have EACH been given gifts from God. Verse 7 says, TO EACH IS GIVEN. That means that you, me, and everyone else that you know has a gift from God. Keep that in mind the next time you're feeling "less than."
- Our gifts are not for us; they are for everyone. Scripture says that our gifts are for "the common good." That means they aren't given to us to fulfill selfish ambitions; rather, they are God's way of equipping us to make the world a better place.
- We have all been gifted uniquely. God took special care to give us all different spiritual gifts. Though they are all empowered by the Holy Spirit, they are all uniquely portioned to us as individuals. That means we can happily walk out the callings God places on our lives, without comparing ourselves to others because we know that their unique gifts and callings aren't meant for us, but for them!
If you want to discover your own spiritual gifts, check out this super helpful book on the subject. I completed it last year and found that my primary gifts are those of teaching, compassion, and perception. It is filled with personality-like quizzes and enlightening information to help you discover and use your God given giftedness!
Here’s the thing. Over the past year, a lot has happened. I found out I was pregnant and stopped taking all medicine cold turkey. I left the comfort of my job and moved to a different state where I had no friends or family- just my newlywed husband. I went through a painful custody battle for my first son, whom I had never been away from for more than one week, and he began spending multiple weeks at a time at his dad’s. I sank into isolation and a pretty deep depression throughout my pregnancy.
Then, in August, my second son was born, and while the depression lifted, I was hit by an unexpected wave of debilitating postpartum anxiety. Because of that, and because of the trauma of a second c-section, I started having heart palpitations which only made the anxiety worse. It was hard.
Throughout all of this, I wish I could say that I stayed mentally strong. I wish I could say I kept trucking along productively and positively. But I didn’t. I binge watched Netflix to drown it all out. I procrastinated on assignments out of the fear that I wouldn’t be good enough, do well enough. I stopped blogging all together. That book I was writing? Haven’t opened the document all year. And I did it all under the notion that I was giving myself grace.
But here’s the thing. At what point does “giving yourself grace” turn into “living with a victim mindset”? Because that’s exactly what happened to me.
I don’t want to live a life suppressed by limitations I put on myself because I’m thinking and operating as someone who is a victim to life’s circumstances. I don’t want to be defined by problems or inconveniences that happen in my life. I don’t want to use the things I struggle with as excuses to avoid being obedient to the things God has called me to do well.
We ALL have challenges in life, but if we just sit right down in the middle of them and park our minds there, we will never move forward into the glory and goodness that God has planned for our lives.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be kind to ourselves and forgiving every once in a while if something comes up; we should. We are not perfect. But think of it this way: if a friend cancels on you every single time you make plans together year after year, you’re going to eventually get fed up. You’ll get tired of making plans. Your friendship is going to start to fade apart. You’ll start to expect that he/she will never follow through.
That’s exactly what happens when we sink into a victim mindset.
I can’t do this because I’m too busy with work.
I can’t do this because I have a baby to care for.
I can’t do this because I’m too depressed.
I can’t do this because I just don’t feel good.
And so it just doesn’t get done. But at the end of the day, we make time for the things we really want to do. So be honest.
I’m choosing not to do this because I just don’t want to right now.
And grapple with THAT instead. There comes a point in time when you just have to SHOW UP and do what you’re called to do, faithfully and obediently. You have to stop making excuses and talk yourself into it instead. Mind over matter. Take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to the will of Christ!
So, I don’t know what you’ve been talking yourself out of. Maybe it’s a big dream, like starting a business or writing a book or making a move or applying to a program. Or maybe it’s something small, like finishing that art project or getting that workout in or cleaning your room or sending a letter to Grandma. But stop telling yourself that pitiful you just can’t get it done right now because of blah blah blah (preaching to myself here).
I know what I need to do- finish a project for school! And even though I don’t feel good.. even though I have a baby to take care of... I’m determined to get. it. done. ✅
Free your mind from thinking of yourself as a victim, someone whose circumstances make it okay to live a less than kind of life. God has made you for more. And He has made you stronger than any trials life may throw your way.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
It can be so easy to become discouraged when just a few things don't go our way, especially when those things are the things we hold dearest to our hearts. It can be so tempting to just let go of our dreams and goals when our previous efforts have all seemed to go unnoticed or unrewarded. The pain of trying something AGAIN after having been less than successful before and still willingly putting ourselves up against the daunting possibility of failure is often overpowering, debilitating. Who wants to experience rejection, failure, or setbacks?
So what do we do instead? We decide to just play it safe. We tell ourselves that it wasn't meant to be, it isn't for us, that we are stepping out of bounds. We convince ourselves to just live comfortably in the roles we're already in without the added risk of attempting to branch out and go after what we really want.
I am the QUEEN of haphazardly throwing in my rod just to see if something takes. Sure, I'll try something I've been dreaming of doing. Once. The problem is that if nothing takes that first cast and bait, I'm out of the water. I don't want to try again.
But what it boils down to is this: we have to believe in ourselves, get back up, and try again (yes, I'm singing Aaliyah right now). As cliche as this notion may seem, it is true.
We've all seen the quotes on Pinterest. The difference in someone who is "successful" and someone who isn't is the fact that the one who succeeded simply did not stop at failure. They faithfully persevered.
We have to stop talking ourselves down and out of the things we dream about. We can't hand ourselves over to our insecurities and fears just because it's easier to aim small than to TRY something great and not succeed.
And if we've been trying and trying and we have still yet to succeed? That's okay. Until we stop trying, we have never really failed.