Tag Archive | Crossroads Church Cincinnati

Unpacking My Big C

comfort.jpgSo 2 weeks ago our church started this year’s all church journey: Obsessed – Leave Your Mark.  I LOVE it and disdain it all at the very same time. Why? Because like the journey(s) of the past it uncovers things within that need to change, or be eliminated in order to grow in relationship with Christ. And that, dear friends, can be uncomfortable to say the very least.

This past week the message dealt with the 3 C’s that the world uses to pull us from God:

  1. Comparison (the thief)
  2. Comfort (the illusion)
  3. Control (the liar)

In the Crossroads app we do work each week after hearing the weekend message and before meeting for our small groups. And this was no fun at all this week because I had to do an assessment and discovered that my big C of obsession was……Comfort. I was pretty certain it was going to be Control, which, by the way, feeds comparison and comfort. But no, mine is Comfort.

Now, we’ve been told since week one to pay attention to what we pay attention too in the search for our obsessions. And one way to do that was to look at where our money goes because money is connected to literally every aspect of your life. If you think not then rethink it because it is! You can take a walk for free, but you have to do that clothed in these parts so you have to purchase clothing, and probably good footwear is in order, or at least something on those feet and you quickly see where this is going. Everything is connected in some way to money. So, follow the money.

I did that after week one and was very upset to discover I have an obsession with the Yahtzee With Friends and Wheel Of Fortune game apps on my phone. To the tune of a few hundred dollars spent in $5 or $10 increments, each month, to purchase bonus dice and diamonds to advance faster in the games. Virtual crap that I spent real money to obtain that NO ONE cares one bit if I have it. No one. I had NO clue I was spending this much because I was dropping small amounts at a time…just over and over again. And for what exactly? To win designer dice that are simply pixels on a screen. UGH!

Comfort is my big C, so what the heck? Then it hit me, I used that as a form of insulation from the world around me. I can retreat to those games and ignore that my heart is hurting right now over my mom, or boredom that would be better spent in other pursuits, or to unwind from a difficult and draining shift at work, or avoid doing things I do not really care to do.

Comfort didn’t stop there. I noticed I spend money on things I do not need and only think that I want. Like my very cool coffee tumbler that I just had to have because darn it, it sparkles and is pink, and personalized…and keeps my coffee no warmer or colder than the $10 one with the $4 decal on it. This one was like $47 with shipping. And OH the yarn I purchase with the intent to make this or that, and have like 6 projects half done sitting in individual bags (bag lady – guilty!) in my closet because I get bored easily and don’t focus on finishing one thing at a time. Maybe because I’m seeking comfort or escape in things and not in Christ?

There is nothing at all wrong with buying myself something nice, but it has been a lot of somethings lately and it has to stop. I was an emotional, comfort eater until I started health coaching and when I started getting that under control, comfort took it’s form in things I buy. Cool pens and notebooks to journal, air plants that are lucky I haven’t killed them (yet, this is the second series of those and they are over due for water), candles, stickers for my planner no one sees but me, and I’ll just stop there. Small amounts here and there adding up to OMGOODNESS WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? My big C of obsession is comfort. And that insulation from the world is, as pastor Mingo said, an illusion. When I put the game down, the crochet hook away, the journal on the shelf, kill the air plant from neglect…my heart is still hurting and my world is still chaotic.

None of these enhances my walk of faith or brings me closer to Jesus. If anything it pulls me further away because my focus isn’t on Him at all, but rather on me. Pay attention to what you pay attention too.

One of the challenges from group was to look at what we have stock piled if we are a Comfort obsessing type and then give part of that away. At first I wasn’t even sure how that worked because I no longer have virtual diamonds and dice stock piled and then it hit me. Closet. Full. Of. Yarn.  SIGH. So, I gave a bunch away and hopefully the son-in-law doesn’t mind that my baby girl shopped from my abundance and took it off my hands, saving her money. She too is a hooker with a shop selling items she crochets.

And for the time being I’m reading in Matthew 6, reminding myself of God’s promise to care for all of my needs and for me to be anxious for nothing. Just stopping the spending reduces my financial anxiety because I’m not spending money I really shouldn’t be and I can save it.

Right now, I am struggling to not spend money. I’m staying off Amazon and just paying bills and then using that stock pile to make something instead of going to buy even more yarn. When tempted I just pray and use the church app daily challenge devotion to work through things.

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Being Brave

iStock_000011800840XSmallOur church is back to that time of year, the all church journey.  From the nursery to senior pastor, we all take the journey together.  All teaching, worship etc, takes on the same direction.  Again this year it is called the Brave Journey.  It’s about going places you haven’t before, following God out of the boat and on to the water, being brave to let Him make some change(s) in our life, our faith, our walk with Christ.

Step one is finding your heading, the direction you want to go. The direction very well may change as you go along, it is how God works.  But you cannot get OUT of the boat until you get IN the boat and off of the shore.

For a while now I’ve debated writing a non-fiction book about how God found me, the faith I had, lost and now have again.  The story of me.  It would mean being very vulnerable, confessing things my kids know nothing of, heck few folks have a clue of the darkness, and could risk my relationship with many I love.  But it isn’t really about me, it is about how God can change our lives and make something beautiful of our sin, beauty from ashes as the bible says.

My heading?  Well, to write that book.  I’ll publish it independently, most likely.  While there is a publisher, a Christian one, interested in this story, I’d rather put it out myself. But I’ll see about that.  First it must be written.  It will mean pulling back the layers I’ve neatly covered things under, allowing myself to go back through the pain.  It might be difficult, but it might also help other women trying to find forgiveness with God and a life away from sin.  A real look without the ‘buzz’ words and special talk, a down to earth, where the soles of the shoes meet the dirt of reality, as a life trying to mend.

I’m in a small group, it is part of the whole Journey, and they are a safe place.  My daughter and her husband are a part of that group, which means this could be extremely difficult.  But it is time I use what I’ve been told is a talent I have, writing, to move closer to God and help others.

So, you can pray for me if you don’t mind, while I step out of the boat on a rocky sea, keeping my eyes on Christ and moving toward the next level in my spiritual walk.

This Brave Journey

11088539_10152885026453935_6365408097417848396_nOur church, Crossroads in Cincinnati, recently began what they are calling an all church experience.  Every year they do a journey in which everything is geared toward the journey, so the entire church from the babies on up, is on the same page, same journey with God.  This is the first time I have participated and I’m seeing quickly why it is so loved by so many.  It is deep, and powerful, and life changing.

This year the journey is called BRAVE.  It centers around Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water to Jesus during a storm.  We all have our own heading, and also storms to go through as we journey together on our course.  While in past years the church has printed up books etc for this, in the interest of saving money and paper they are doing it via an app for Android and iPhones, and it is one amazing app taking us all on one amazing journey.  The messages for 6 weeks on Sundays are associated with the journey we are all on, and we all joined small groups to work through the group portion.  It will end in a blaze of serving on May 16th when everyone who is able, 10,000 people, will flip our city doing 800 projects.  We landscape, paint, build playgrounds, serve people, it is just amazing.  Last year, GO Cincinnati was on my birthday, this year it is the day before.  I loved working with homeless vets last year, who knows where I will land for this one.

Part of the journey is about finding out what is holding us back from the heading we are striving toward.  The whole thing is nautical in theme, you know the Peter and boat thing.  We each pick our heading and while it may not seem like some are spiritual, if you believe, and I mean REALLY believe in God, and live for Him, then everything you do is for His glory, and spiritual.

Each week there are 7 or 8 steps in the journey, and each one is designed to bring us closer to God by being brave.  Last week it got really deep, with each answer we put in, the app then asked “why” to that answer, and then “why” to the next and so on.  It made us uncover some things, and honestly it was pretty uncomfortable but freeing at the same time.

My heading is financial freedom, building my business and finances to complete independence.  This may not seem spiritual to you, but believe me the things I long to be able to do require this, and I need to be a good steward with my money.  The root of why I haven’t gotten there was uncovered last week through the steps.  I’m going to get real vulnerable and share that.

See, I loved my life until 5 years ago.  I was happily (so I thought) married to the love of my life, I loved my home, the things we had, our friends, the crazy neighborhood that did crazy fun things together.  I had a good job 7 years ago, and we had stability and I thought pretty much the American dream.  I lost the job, got let go and I was chosen to be released during downsizing because I had made some really poor choices in my personal life.  Then 2 years later my husband asked for a divorce.  This just after I finally found a new job.  Everything I had worked for, loved, and enjoyed came crumbling down around me and shattered my world.

And it was the best thing to happen to me though it took until now for me to really grasp that.

I knew the life we were living behind the scenes, was contrary to everything about God and the character of God. I wanted out of it, my spouse did not.  That was when I began to pray.  We had left our church behind, justified our sin, and I was so far off the path and into the pit of sin that I knew it would take something huge to get us out.  So I prayed for God to change the heart of the man I loved to get us out of that and back where we belonged.  I begged to be out.  I just didn’t see the way it would work.  Next thing I knew I was out…of his life, the house, the job, everything I had helped to build.  I sure didn’t see that coming!

I was both devastated and delighted at once.  My heart was broken, but I was happy to be headed down a new path.  I struggled often while torn between the two sides of emotion, but over all I was content in my new life.

The trouble is content isn’t enough, is it?  I worked several jobs the past 5 years, and the most recent one I really loved what I did but I know God had other plans and pulled me even from there.  Things I knew were wrong and even corrupt there, meant that He wasn’t going to leave me in that place for long.  Same for the relationships, even the one I was in for a year, I was still so wrong in living with a man not my husband.

So at the end of last summer I found myself unemployed again, with this direct sales business on the side that was more hobby than it was anything.  And it is a business in which I know personally the women who are screaming successes, making 6 figure incomes.  But I couldn’t seem to get it really doing much other than paying for my makeup indulgences.  And I was in another relationship that was not healthy for me as he was not a true believer to say the least.

Just before starting this Brave Journey I broke up with the boyfriend and went back to again get my Nurse Aide certification.  If nothing else I see it as a means to pay my bills.  And then the Journey began while I was in school, and oh the things I’ve faced down and learned.

One thing I had to do was face a fear.  For me that fear was rejection.  I’ve dealt with rejection quite a bit in recent years, not the least of which was my marriage.  When your spouse of 22 years dumps you, it is about as big and painful a rejection one can experience is in life.  So taking time to send a long over due apology to someone knowing that they will simply reject me, was something I feared and didn’t want to do.  I don’t like having my feelings hurt, but the journey brought me to there and you couldn’t go further until you did that step, so I did it.  Then came the addressing the storms of our heading, because now that we had faced down a big fear, we had bigger things to deal with.

In the end of that ‘why’ session I knew why I have never taken my business and built to where I know it could and should be.

See, I had everything I wanted and loved.  I don’t want to rebuild.  I don’t think it is fair that I’m the one who got the shaft, had to leave what I loved and start over.  And then to once again have a great job and again see that go away….I’m pissed off!  I’m not the one that did anything wrong but I’m the one who had to restart my life and career over and over again.  I DON’T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!

THAT is why I’ve never put into my business what I need in order to make it grow.  I had all I wanted and didn’t want to start over.  I think it is why I’m never happy in relationships since my divorce, I had the man I loved and wanted forever with, I don’t want to rebuild that again.  As a wise former boyfriend shared with me, it isn’t just the marriage that we lose, we lose shared memories and experiences.  When we get in a new marriage there is no “hey, remember when our little girl/boy did….” because they don’t remember, that isn’t their past, their memory.  I don’t know how to build new without that and not at all sure I want too.  Every corner of my life has to be rebuilt from work to love life and I didn’t want to do it because it isn’t fair!

Yet way back I prayed and asked God to deliver me from the sinful life me and the husband were living, and restore the relationship with Him.  I just didn’t see that this was exactly how He was going to do it.  Knock down the walls and destory the city, and have me rebuild.  I’m totally released from ALL things associated with my former lifestyle including the house full of memories of some of those very wrong activities.

I get to rebuild something beautiful and amazing with my life. No leftovers, all fresh.  A job that while it doesn’t pay anywhere near what I was making, I am caring for those who some might see as the least among us…elderly souls who very much need the loving care of someone who can provide TLC in the form of caring for their personal needs that they can no longer do.  Feed them, change them, love them.  It’s humbling work and it has so changed and softened my heart just in clinicals alone.  Those people do not want to be there, in a nursing home, having lost all they held dear including their independence.  I relate, I get that, I’m right where He wants me to be.

My business I can now start to build with a totally different perspective.  And NOW I WILL do it, with a new heading and new understanding.

And most importantly facing the fact that I’m rejected by some, but not the One who matters.  I’m a daughter of the most high, the very Creator of this universe, restored and at His feet and under His watchful care.  And because I know Him, as we learned today, I know His character, and to be His I must live up to the character of His child.  I won’t do it perfectly, but I will submit to His authority over my life and joyfully serve Him wherever I am led.