Our family is in the middle of a house renovation. By “our family” what I really mean is, I have personally taken on an entire building project that is both exhilarating and 100% overwhelming. I’ve never built anything. I’m not particularly handy. I don’t love measuring things, nor am I especially crafty. But the idea of taking something not-livable and making it beautiful is something I love. And so, I’m renovating a house I had no business getting my hands into.
To be mean is to insist on your own way at the expense of others. It’s the opposite of Christ’s kind gentleness. It is to throw away God’s faithfulness and exert your own pride as means to achieve selfish ends.
With each experience of someone being hateful towards us, God is giving us an opportunity. Sure, we might be taken aback, but that’s simply because we have expectations greater than depraved souls can meet all the time.
The best kind of self-care is to remember that it’s actually Jesus who perfectly cares for us. He never sleeps because he is always watching over us (Ps 121:4), he’s always praying for us (Rom 8:34) and he always understands us (Heb 4:15). When we are faithful to abide in him, he provides the rest, wisdom and energy needed to live well (1 Jn 4:16).
The gospel is true no matter what. Jesus’ death on the cross is not moved by your lack of trusting God. Our sin is the reason for his sacrifice. To dwell on the good news of Jesus builds resilient faith. It reminds us that salvation has nothing to do with our finite selves and everything to do with our perfect Savior Jesus (Eph 2).
We make resolution after resolution, buy gimmick after gimmick. We follow whomever is doing whatever it is we think we want on whatever app we like the best. But unfortunately, we forget to ask ourselves the most fundamental question: why?
The beautiful result is the incalculable possibilities for how to spend my time narrows into a list that Jesus pens. He strengthens me for the work and becomes the bridge to an intentionality capable of producing fruit beyond what I could ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
When these words shoot through my brain or mumble out of someone’s mouth I immediately think, “Don’t say that.” I cringe because my theology of depravity only grows. When violence is common, abuse is normal and conflicts are abounding, our self-righteousness quietly slithers itself toward center stage of our broken world.
Selfish ambition is demonic. Let that sink in. Eventually we all find places where self-promotion has seeped into our hearts and minds and perverted the things we are doing—even things we’re doing “for the glory of God.” From parenting to working to driving down the road to the friendships in our neighborhoods, bitter jealousy and selfish ambition are rampant.
When we are faced with the question of “What should I do?” or “What’s Next?” we can often turn to Scripture as though it’s a magic 8 ball. We pray as if, in return, we will get a Siri-like voice telling us where to turn next.
I love to be loved. Some people like money or trappings or success; I like being popular. I tend to act, think and live in ways that (I’m hoping) will engender people’s affection and admiration. As one might say, your love is my drug.
The roller coaster of hoping and lamenting in times of waiting can really be exhausting. I deeply do not prefer waiting for God to open His hand to give me good things that I desire. In my current season, I am waiting on the Lord for a second child. I want to be hopeful and pray expectantly. But my hopes often seem to get too high, which I only realize when they crash down around me. If I’m being honest I am so tempted toward apathy during seasons of waiting. I want to avoid the whole emotional ordeal altogether.
I often feel like a fish out of water among women. I’m the woman who cringes when she gets an invite to a women’s retreat, especially if it has teacups on the cover. I was never the girl who daily dreamed of marriage or motherhood. And even now as a wife and mother, I’d rather do push-ups than craft at your kitchen table. I used to feel ashamed in the church because I didn’t fit the mold of the Christian woman I often felt was modeled and taught.
But here I am, a women’s ministry leader.
We feel so incredibly anxious because the things we are pursuing—convenience, happiness and comfort—are forever fleeting and therefore naturally create instability, stress and frustration—a chasing after the wind. But godly pursuits lead to the development of a foundation able to withstand suffering, stress and struggle. So we need to test our hearts and minds to assess our pursuits.