Whole life ahead of you

A few weeks ago, I read an article about an 18 year old girl who had passed away where the statement was made “She had her whole life ahead of her.”

I immediately thought about how true that was. 

Then I thought about a friend who was quite a bit older than 18 who had also just passed away. This friend had her whole life ahead of her too. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyday of your life, you have your whole life ahead of you. 

Whether you are 10, 40, 60 or 80, you have the chance to live life to the fullest. Everyday is an opportunity. 

My grandmother is in her mid-80s and still says she feels like she is 16. 

Age does not determine how much life we have ahead of us. 

We do. 

Leaning into tension

I hate, HATE tension and conflict.  I want everyone to be happy all the time, be best friends and sing and dance like they do in the musicals.  This isn’t too much to ask for, right?  Right!  Good!  Glad we’re in agreement!  It’s perfectly reasonable.

For most of my life, I did whatever it took to make sure tension didn’t happen.  I did everything in my power to head it off at the pass.  Make sure that it didn’t ever start.  (Come on!  Really!  I’m not sure why I ever thought I could avert tension!  For goodness sake, it’s everywhere!)

And if it did come my way, I took off and ran with all my might to the hills.  (Or at least made sure that I was pretty well protected from it before I ran.)  I didn’t want any of that!  No sirree!  Tension is bad, right?

I’m pretty slow at these things, but I’m finally coming to realize that tension and conflict are not always a bad thing.  That they can be used and turned into a whole lot of good if they are addressed well.  (I’m growing up!  Finally!)

I have one friend in particular who has been helping me with this lately.  I’ll describe to her what I’m going through and how I’m feeling, and she boldly tells me what I need to do.  That I need to face the issue.  Not let it pass me by and let it continue to nag at me for days, weeks or years.  To stand up for myself.  To speak truth in a loving way.  To stand for what is right.  To do something about it!  I love this friend dearly, and I’m so glad that she is willing to be open and honest with me.  She loves me enough to not let me settle.  She pushes me to do hard things because she knows it’s what’s best for me.  And that good will come from it.  That it will make me stronger.  And when I have my little successes, she’s the first to hear about it!  She’s my biggest cheerleader!

And I’m trying!  But this is all so new and fresh to me.  It’s hard!  Stinkin’ HARD!  I want to give up so easily!  I want to back down.  Some days I just want to go crawl back in bed and bury my head in the covers.  It seems much safer all covered up and hiding in bed.  But I know that I have to keep making right decisions no matter what.  Even (and maybe especially) when they are hard.

So, I’m trying to lean into tension.  I continually (pretty much daily ) have to fight the urge to run.  To make myself stop, think and start moving toward the tension.  To really lean in.  Embrace it.  Experience it.  And learn from it.

Leaning, walking or running into tension is a huge learning experience.  Sometimes we will handle things well.  Sometimes we won’t.  But we will always learn.  We will always be better for it.  For we have fully participated in life.  Life is beautiful.  But life is also messy.  And we should lean into both the beautiful and the messy!

I encourage you to lean into tension.  When you feel the urge to run, decide to walk toward the tension.  Be brave and courageous!  I believe that if more of us leaned into tension, things would change.

Go and be a world changer!

What are some ways that you have had to lean into tension in your life?  How did that go?  What did you learn from it?

Would someone please just hear me out?

When you work for a church, you get to talk to a lot of hurting people.  When your church has a ministry to help people needing food or financial assistance, you really get to talk to a lot of hurting people.

The other day, I picked up the phone and talked with a lady who was needing help with her rent.  She was stressed about her financial situation.  Understandably so!  But she was more stressed out about some situations going on in her family right now.  I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to my new friend and at least make her feel like someone understood her situation.  Because I do!  This lady is going through something that I’ve already experienced.  And I think it helped her to know that someone out there understood her and felt her pain!  I told her that I would be praying for her and her family.  And I am!  They are weighing heavy on my heart…because I have been there.

After talking with my new friend, I found myself thinking that I’m kind of glad that I’ve had to go through some hard things in life.  Even if for no other reason than the chance to talk with this lady.

Nine years ago when I started working at the church, I sucked at talking with and ministering to people on the phone!  SUCKED!  I was young and not much life had happened to me yet.  But quickly, I learned that even if you can’t help someone, they just want to be heard.  They are hurting.  They just need someone to talk to.  And if you can’t do anything else for them, at least you’ve heard them out, validated their feelings and made them feel important.  

And really, isn’t that what we all want?

From a girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing

Leaders are important. We look up to them. Most of the time, we hold them in high esteem. And we expect great things from them.  We think they have their act together.

Recently, I’ve heard a few big name CEO’s speak who readily admit that most of the time, they don’t know what they are doing.  They have lots of ideas and try lots of things.  Some work.  Some don’t.  Some are huge disasters.  But they keep trying.  They keep pressing on with passion to find ways to get better and help others.  But most of the time, they still feel like they don’t know what they are doing.  These are my favorite kinds of leaders!  Leaders that will be humble enough to admit that they don’t have all the answers.  That they screw up just like the rest of us.  And that this is all OK!

When I heard this from one of the leaders, it made me feel a lot better about myself.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and not screw up.  But most of the time in life, I feel like I really don’t have a fat clue of what I am doing.  Taking care of the house.  Being a wife.  Being a parent.  At work.  With friends.  In all areas of life!  Most of the time, I feel like I’m just making everything up!

But that’s just it!  We are all just making things up!  We all go through life trying out things and ideas.  None of us has the official master plan of what life is supposed to look like.  It’s different for every single one of us.  We just keep trying.

Sometimes things will work.  Sometimes they won’t.  Some days will be great.  Others will be disasters.  But we keep going.  And it’s OK to feel like you do not know what you are doing!

Living between the highs and lows

Elation. Gut-wrenching grief.

Rich. Poor.

Sickness. Health.

Good. Evil.

Sometimes it amazes me how polar opposites exist at the same time in the world.

I remember vividly one day when I was at the end of my rope. I had been very sad for a long time, and I was pretty much at my low point. I was sitting at an intersection in my car thinking about myself and my problems and was on the verge of tears when a truck full of guys rounded the corner. And every single guy in the car was cracking up laughing. Like they were having a blast. Like they’d all just heard the funniest joke. They had huge smiles on their faces. They seemed really happy.

That’s when it hit me. How in the world can such highs and lows exist in the world at the same time? My world tends to revolve around me and how I feel, so this was a big eye-opener. And I think about these differences quite a bit.

But most of the time, we live in the middle. We live in the space between highs and lows. Rich and poor. Sickness and health. Good and evil.

The good news is that God is in all of it. He’s always with us, and he’s walking through it with us. We are fully loved no matter where we are.