i once had a friend tell me that i'm not laid back. i was shocked. i really was. if you know me, i bet you're laughing and rolling your eyes right now, because you can't imagine that i'm serious, but i am. i thought i was a laid back, easy-going person. what my friend was quick to point out is that i am friendly, i am adaptable, i am resourceful and flexible, but i am NOT laid back. she started listing other words that describe me which, admittedly, i wouldn't generally use to describe laid back people. intense,"powerful but not overpowering", strong, driven, opinionated. you get the picture. the point is that i was able to deceive myself into believing something that is untrue even when the truth was obvious to everyone else, and was right under my nose. literally... it lived inside me. as i reflected on that, i realized that part of this authentic life quest has to be searching for and examining other areas in my life that i am deceiving myself. i thought there was a pretty good chance i wouldn't find any more (insert sarcastic chuckle here), but unfortunately there is at least one.
i have been selling stuff to try to save money toward my goal of full time mission work. i love books, and have/had hundreds of them. i have sold more than 200, and as i was sorting through the last batch, i ran across a book i always intended to read, but had never gotten around to. it is called "the journey toward relevance- simple steps for transforming your world", by kary oberbrunner. self-help books lost their draw for me once i figured out what god's purpose for my life is, but this book was soooooo easy to justify- it was a book about living a relevant life, and it was on the 50% off table at signs of life bookstore. i love it when that happens.
so, i'm reading along in this book, feeling pretty good about myself and how "relevant" my life is, when it convicts me. it hits me over the head with a truth that i hadn't recognized before. my life is out of balance. again, you may be rolling your eyes and laughing at me right now, but i swear that i didn't know that. yes, i know that my goals and life values are different than most peoples'. yes, i know that my steps and plan for attaining those goals are unconventional and seem a little extreme to most people. what i didn't know is that in my zest and zeal to serve and please god, i have started serving people less. i have started loving them (in the verb sense) less. i have lost the balance between faith and culture. i think that what initially hit me was this: "separatists have thir christian friends, their christian music, and their christian church. they wear their faith all the time, but fail to relate with the world around them. they pride themselves in having a pure faith. separatists fail to see that no one wants to hear about their faith, because they are completely irrelevant to the culture all around..." this hit me hard. i had a friend tell me once that he thought it was really powerful that i was a "normal person" and still had such a strong and visible faith. he felt that my life itself was sharing the message of god because "everyday people" could relate to me and see that not all christians were freaks, nor lived some foreign and boring lifestyle.
i am at a crossroads and the choice of which path i take feels very important. if i continue with the way i've been going, i risk becoming so irrelevant to others that i won't be effective for god, either. i also don't want to take a completely different path because i believe that this is the direction i've been led. what i need to look at is where my focus is, and how that is affecting my relationships with others. as i said earlier, i am doing all i can to save money for my mission work. here is part of that lack of balance; "all i can". when i say all, i mean all. i am selling belongings. i have stopped purchasing groceries. i have stopped eating out. i have stopped purchasing anything that isn't an absolute necessity. i have stopped going to the movies. i have stopped going for a cup of coffee with a friend. i have stopped nearly all the things that bring me joy, and more importantly, things that bring others joy. this is where i got off kilter. i stopped focusing on loving people. when my eye is strictly on my savings account balance and how much i can accrue, i stop looking for the people that i can bless with what i have. they say you worship where you heart is...and i don't want my heart to be focused on money. my heart needs to look up from its account balance and continue to look for people to bless. i have to believe that god will honor that and the rest will come. as hard as it will be for this "all i can" girl, i need to start picking up the tab again when i go out with friends. i need to buy them a little gift when i sense they need a pick-me-up. i need to be the first in line to cook meals for friends in need instead of worrying how much it will cost. i need to invite a hurting friend out for a drink or a cup of coffe and a long talk, instead of figuring first if it fits into my budget. i need to remember that god values people and relationships, and that is why he put me here on the earth...to build those relationships and to serve people- all people. not just the ones in africa, or nepal, or honduras... i need to love and serve the ones around me, too. those at work, and next door, and in my family.
oh my, god has a sense of humor. as i am writing this, my niece texted to say she will need a dinner break from studying later, and asked me what i'm doing this evening. here's my chance. guess who's picking up the tab?