Move forward: Not because you are perfect. But because He is and you are in Him.

To my fellow pilgrims on a faith journey: It is so important to remember that our righteousness (right standing with God) is not up to us – it’s up to Him. If we try to be perfect in our own efforts – it will never happen. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll just turn overwhelmed and lethargic at the impossible feat and just give up. But if we truly grasp the grace that our Maker chose to wrap us in the righteousness of His own Son, we’ll skip forward like a happy toddler with nothing to prove to a doting parent. We will want to run forward because of the knowing that even the most wavering of steps brings a smile to the face of our Father. And we are His. No matter what.

What would your warning label say?

This “What would your warning label say?” question floating around social media triggered a lot of thought (and, of course a new blog post) in me this morning.

My warning label would say, “Stronger and more complicated than meets the eye.” – A “still water runs deep” kind of vibe. I think I’ve been sized up more than once in my life as the quiet compliant one; someone others might be able to mold into whomever they want or need her to be. But those who made those assumptions were often later caught off guard by the stubborn fierceness of a complicated soul.

It’s a good thing our Maker is not surprised or put off by our warning labels. I’m thankful that my #GoodGoodFather is big enough to handle this big personality with even bigger dreams and ideas sometimes hidden beneath a thin layer of quiet and calm. Know this friends: however foreboding your fictitious warning label may be to others, God can handle all of you – and very much wants you to place all of you in His hands so He can.

What God REALLY wants from your prayer life may surprise you!

We may have been taught to pray pretty and powerful sounding prayers.

But God’s admonitions to Job’s piously praying friends demonstrates that God can handle – and is even pleased by – our raw and honest prayers and wrestlings with Him.

“After GOD had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite and said, ‘I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has. So here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being honest with me, as he has.’” – Job 42:7-8 MSG (The Message Bible Paraphrase)

Mental Illnesses are Complex and Not a Decision.

Photo Credit: WeTheVillage.co

You may be well-meaning by telling a struggling friend to cheer up, think positive, pray more, read the Bible more, eat better, serve others more, rest more, etc. However, the fact is they could already be doing all of these things and still be struggling with mental illness just as someone struggling with cancer or a broken bone may not be instantly cured by “chin up” talks from friends.

Mental illness is as real and complex as cancer, fractures, or any other illness or injury – just often times not as visible. And often these crippling mental illnesses remain invisible because the sufferers feel shamed and/or shunned if they share.

This shaming and shunning is particularly prevalent in some Christian communities where the (false) assumption is that if you have enough faith, you’ll have a healthy and happy life. The truth is, Christians suffering from mental illness may very well be seeking and trusting God with more faith, trust, and passion than those who haven’t suffered this way have even ever needed to muster.

So continue to pray for your friend who struggles with mental illness. But if you can’t have a conversation with them where your part is mostly listening and supporting rather than offering ideas, solutions, and quick fixes which essentially admonish the sufferer to “snap out of it”, it may be best to say nothing at all.

Lessons from Flowers

The most beautiful flower doesn’t worry about competing with the flower next to it. It doesn’t fret over who will take care of it or who may or may not appreciate its beauty. It just blooms! How much more peaceful beauty would the gardens of our lives overflow with if we simply did the same?