Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Who's Driving Your Life?

Last Thursday evening I sat together with other young women discussing why we are here on this earth. We threw out some ideas that we had heard or learned that defines our purpose: success, money, status, acceptance, love, Jesus. Being a group of Christian women, we all recognized that living a life that glorifies Jesus is our ultimate mission. This is the "right" answer; however, I was struck, as I have been repeatedly in the last three weeks, by how much our motive influences our drive and that drive powers our life. Imagine if you will a car, and any number of motives can step into that driver's seat. My motive? Performance.

This motive has only within the last year unveiled itself as the driver of my life. As a child, I learned that there were two ways to perform: good and bad. I decided that I must perform good... eh... well. The people who held authority in my life set the standard for what was good and bad, solidifying my life's goal which was essentially to perform a certain way to obtain my greatest desire, love and acceptance.

At first, this motive, Perform Well, served me. I achieved much in my academic years, earning honor roll and accolades of success. In high school, a friend and I were even named most likely to succeed. Surely, I was elected because my peers recognized I had my nose to the grindstone and rarely came up for air. Try hard, do your best and you will go far. A great mentality, right?A good mantra, until you don't.

Perform Well was a great friend to have around when things were smooth and I was rolling high on good grades and a squeaky clean reputation. But when a mistake took the stage, Perform Well became an abusive and controlling b****.  Into that car piled in Self Defeat, Shame, Condemnation, Regret and many more, until I would sit in the back seat of this dysfunctional clown car with Jesus, unable to hear what He is speaking because the din of the other voices is so loud. I was, still am, whip lashed by the standards that Perform Well has set to rule my life.

At the beginning of August, I made a choice. To silence the voices and to earn a reprieve, I stopped the car, shoved the majority of those voices aside and elected Jesus to sit in the driver's seat. Good intentions, yes, but my ability to follow through with Jesus being my motive for life is difficult to maintain when I am so used to, or rather, addicted, to former ways of coping. Perform Well has often traded positions with Jesus to take the wheel and drive me towards success and recognition out of a need to prove I am worthy of that love and acceptance I long for. Thankfully, I can now recognize the exchange of motive and shove that old friend aside, but more often than not, I hang onto the reins rather than handing it over to Christ (this is what I call Control, another long-term relationship I've had since childhood).

But despite the struggle to "let go and let God," there are victories that I can see in my life since taking time to rest and refocus.

1) Recognition of when I am in control and when another motive steps in. This allows me to readjust perspective and get my motives in line.

2) The din of voices is quieting. Perform Well still nags from the backseat at time, especially when I know I can do better. But rather than allowing it to beat me into the ground, I look to Jesus and ask is there truth in the correction. How can I improve to glorify Him more?

Although I desperately want to be free of struggling with this constant need to perform well and control my life, I am thankful that I can recognize the growth. Every change in life starts with a recognition that this is where I am and then deciding what to do with it.

So now it's your turn. Who is driving your life and is it going in the direction you want it to be?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Changing Seasons

The cursor blinks at me as I sit, staring into the void that is a blank page.

How do you begin a story mid-rex? I've always marveled at the beautiful way writers are able to grab your attention and carry you from confusion, to enlightenment and deep into compassion for a character. It is no easy thing to draw someone in to a life that is caught up in a
conflict, but, after all, don't we all love the drama of a change and a challenge?

I can admit that I do not volunteer for change. A challenge, yes, but change? I'm a creature of habit. If I were a character from Middle Earth, I may very well fit in with the Hobbits who like their life comfy-cozy, their food rich in flavor and their nature pure. But sometimes forces invade the comfortable hobbit hole of life, crashing through the door and demanding you go on an adventure. So you pack up your nap sack and stand attention to your Gandalf's direction: "What next?"

But there are also times when you are on the outside viewing someone else taking the head spin into an amazing adventure filled with danger and all the promise of success. This was Bilbo when Frodo had his visit from Gandalf. He left the ring behind and traveled out to visit Rivendell. He laid aside the burden he had been carrying and found respite in that beautiful realm (For those of you who have seen the movie- Why can't we have something as beautiful and serene as that? I mean, really?)

As much as I would love to say I'm Frodo about to go wage war on Sauron, I'm Bilbo. For two years I have served a campus ministry that reaches students for Christ and equips them in leadership. I have seen students be transformed and challenged in their faith. I have also served as an admin for a youth ministry, stepping in two years ago after the previous admin of 12 years vacated the position; and I have served on a leadership team growing a newly launched college-age ministry at our church. I don't say all of this to glorify myself. I need to say it to affirm what I have accomplished and to remind myself of the adventures I have been on; they have been amazing but wearisome. I have seen the Lonely Mountain, fought some dragons and now I'm coming into a season of rest while others take the helm of these ministries. I should be elated, but I fight against disappointment.

I wonder if Bilbo sat looking out over the beauty of that glen and longed for what Frodo was experiencing. Or did he simply lean back and wish the young lad luck? In truth, I think there was probably a bit of both. It's hard to let go when your heart is wrapped up in something, whether it's a job or a relationship, or something entirely different. However, if you keep clinging to that thing, you may find yourself losing it or losing out on another opportunity more fulfilling and a better fit.

So I let go. I listen to the crickets chirp and soak in the cool breeze that our lovely Ohio weather is affording us in early August. I think of the new leaders and wish them luck. I anticipate where this new path will bring me in the next six months. My Rivendell may just be another launch into a bigger adventure. I don't know what to expect but I know for now I'm willing to be still and enjoy the serenity.

What season are you in? 

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