Fulfilled

For the past couple years I’ve been on a quest to find out what on this earth makes me feel fulfilled. What can I do, where can I go, that makes me feel the best kind of emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. I haven’t quite found the pot of gold yet but I know for certain one thing that fills the gap is long distance running.

I never wrote a Philly Marathon race report, partially because I was busy, partially because I was lazy, and lastly because the last three miles of 26 shifted my perspective in a big way and I didn’t quite want to share it yet.

It’s not a secret really: do what you do because you’re motivated to do it, and the only person stopping you is you. Thats it. But it’s something I’ve been battling within my soul.

Once I gave myself permission to break through the confines of pain, exhaustion, and basically any physical barrier, my mind was free to control my body instead of the other way around.

I no longer felt dread or like I was slogging my unwilling body through the mud step by step. Instead, I felt like I was truly free and fulfilled for the first time in probably 2 or 3 years.

The high lasted for little more than 12 hours. When I came down, I came down hard but I knew what to expect. My first question was how to feel like this not just again, but always. I think I might spend the rest of my life trying to figure that out.

February 24 | Wrestle

Wrestle

Every day on the Alive Now site, there’s a prompt. Usually I just write what comes to mind, but today I’ll answer the prompt in light of the word for today: “What is the prayer of your heart today?”

God,

I’m sorry for wrestling, for undermining your sovereignty in my life. Each day I see new mercy that you give for my shortcomings. You give grace every day, and some days I’m able to receive it. Other days I’m not, whether it be my own pride, my anxiousness, or even my unwillingness to receive it.

I’m sorry for wrestling against the work you’re trying to do. I pray for patience, and you give me opportunities to practice patience, and I complain. I pray for the ability to submit to my husband, and you give me opportunities to do this, and yet I complain.

Jesus, I want to be like you. I don’t want to wrestle with the will of my Father, but instead, I want to graciously complete it. I don’t want to wrestle with the minutiae of life, but I’d rather see the big picture. There’s more to life than hours worked, students taught, floors cleaned, and groceries purchased. Help me see beyond the insignificant into the extraordinary.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Surrender

I’m not sure when it started, but I haven’t been writing with any regularity. That’s not to say that there aren’t exciting things happening in life, or that I’m not still as introspective as usual. I just haven’t been struck with an AWESOME IDEA for this AWESOME BLOG that everyone wants to read.. (has that ever happened?!). So, I don’t know, this is a smattering of my current thoughts that may or may not be coherent.

I would say I’ve “settled” into living with my husband again on a regular basis, though he’s taken three soon to be four trips in the past six months. I would say I’ve “settled” into my classes and work. I would say I’ve “settled” into a workout routine. Ha. Hahahahaha. Ish.

But I don’t think I’m settling. Because God is the way He is and wants me to be as much like Christ as possible, He doesn’t let me settle but for a minute, which I think is a result of the fact that I’m doing better with surrendering recently. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older and approaching my 26 1/2 birthday (OMG! October 22!)…

I think it may have to do with that, getting older. And the fact that I realize we have one life to live. That’s it. Then we become dust, less our souls. Eternity has to be at the forefront of our minds, and we need to live life as if it’s our last day. Ugh. So so so cliche, but… I want all my experiences to be rich, all my relationships to be fruitful, all my time to be well spent. And I think I’ve been doing better with that recently than maybe in my whole life.

Surrendering is painful but compulsory for life with Christ. It means that I don’t dictate every aspect of my time, money, resources, friendships, conversation, habits. It means that I listen and wait… and listen, and wait…. and when I can discern what the Lord wants me to do, I act on it in obedience.

One caveat to surrender: it seems a little ridiculous at first, giving up all this control. It’s my life; I should take responsibility! What if this and this and THIS don’t get done?? But, after the initial withdrawl (possibly ridden with side-effects) is where we find freedom.

The Lord has revealed to me one of the last things that I need to surrender. Well, He revealed this years ago but I’ve never acted on it.. my own desires and excuses have gotten in the way. Yesterday morning I woke up when my husband did, since he leaves earlier than me every day. I should have just stayed up, because I felt like I needed to pray… about people in my life, about my own life, about our future… and I didn’t. I went back to sleep, only to wake up a hour and a half later to a dog licking my face and feeling much more groggy than if I’d just gotten up in the first place.

God won’t ask us to do things if we don’t truly want to do them. I really want to start devoting a couple hours in the morning to work out and pray and read my Bible, a tithe of my time if you will. I really want to. So, I pray for a desire, for something to jolt me out of my complacency.. and I believe as I keep praying that prayer, the Lord will continue to nudge me, or maybe just rip off all the covers and kick me out of bed. I’m thinking the latter would be more effective in my case.

The battle over anything is ultimately won in prayer, in the spiritual realm. We can try as we might to accomplish something for good, but our works don’t get us anywhere without the Holy Spirit… we’re just a clanging gong or resounding cymbal (I Cor. 13:1).

Time is short. God is raising up missionaries to reach the last frontiers of His people who still have never heard the Gospel. If I am to be part of that, I need to get with it and surrender everything. While it seems daunting, I know in the end I’ll be the most free I can be to fulfill the purpose for my life.

Being a servant

I look at my recent posts and I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I’ve posted about once a week. What is that?! Usually I have a lot more to say.

But as it stands, I’ve been learning a big lesson on how to be a servant. I can thank my current job for that.

I know I’ve been called to my job right now for a reason. I know positive changes are being made. But the only way to gain real respect and trust is to be a servant. I try to compliment “my” teachers (I say “my”, since I’m kind of a boss… or something.) If someone shows frustration, I try to get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Pastor Lee’s sermons recently from The Sermon on the Mount really have me thinking about what it’s like to be a servant.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a peacemaker, amateur as I may be, I’m supposed to be bringing God’s peace into situations, and living it out in my life. I should not sacrifice integrity for peacemaking, but I think I’m good at not doing that. I’m the kind of person where if I know I’ve wronged someone, or even think I might have wronged someone, I have to make it right otherwise I can’t sleep at night. (I didn’t always used to be like this! Ask my family…)

At work I’ve really been focusing on having a good attitude, not getting stressed over anything, even if it’s big, and being consistent. I think the last thing there is key to gaining respect… being consistent. People can then see my commitment, that I’m all in.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I was jumping up and down when I was offered this promotion. In fact, my heart sank. But I know I’m there for a reason, and slowly things are improving. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to use my God-given gift of teaching… I have been dealing quite a lot with educational issues. I’ve also been able to continue teaching some students. And I can guarantee you that when I have my own classroom again, I won’t be nervous to talk to parents!

On a different note, if you want your faith to be stretched, your soul to be refined, or you want to learn how to be a servant… get married. Aaron and I have been doing very well lately with communication. In the midst of things happening in marriages around us, we are thankful for what we have. Couple that with being apart for two years (five total in our relationship) and you have a strong bond! I get emotional with him, he gets impatient with me, but we work through it and talk it out. Communicating our fears and weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, I think.

And I don’t mean that when you get married you become that person’s slave. You serve them with your attitude, your listening abilities, your willingness to work through things, your blatant refusal to be selfish. If you want to add in some dishes or laundry, you can do that too. 🙂 In a true relationship of mutual servanthood, it won’t go unnoticed.

It will flood into other areas of your life, too. Before you know it, you’re being a servant to your friends and family… by praying for them, listening to them, offering a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting… it’s pretty cool how it all works out!

I just love the Beatitudes… (and I did not know this but Wikipedia taught me that “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means blissful, happy, or fortunate.)

Matthew 5

 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

>Wanted: Conflict Manager

>I’m glad I went to small group tonight. We discussed a lot of issues pertaining to trust, relationships, and resolving conflict. In third grade, we had a program at our school called “conflict managers” where we were coached in how to effectively resolve conflict and other kids would come to us with their problems. If they only knew how I really tried to resolve conflict…

I used to be a dirty fighter… verbal garbage spewing, red face fuming, cuss words flying, bygone issues of the past being brought back to life… and then I met Aaron. And he refused to yell. Interesting that we both grew up with yelling being part of conflict but he hated it and I embraced it. I didn’t embrace it for long because he has always refused to yell back at me. So I stopped yelling because it wasn’t doing any good. Not that it does anyway, but there’s a very sick satisfaction in getting the other person to yell back. He would just walk away, and that’d piss me off even more.
He forced me to be patient during an argument (or “discussion” as they are commonly called in our house). He expected me to calmly (what?!!) relate to him details of what I felt or thought the way I did about something. I was afraid he would leave. One time during an argument when I was yelling my head off (surprise, surprise), he said he was going for a walk. I made a human barrier in front of the door and told him that to get out the door, he’d have to get past me first. I’m not sure if he chuckled, but I would have if I were him.
This was in the first year of marriage, and probably the first six months. I learned quickly that if I were going to get a point across, I didn’t have to yell it. He would actually listen and acknowledge what I had to say. He wouldn’t yell back or actually leave… there would be no silent treatments. And we would actually resolve all issues before going to sleep, even if that meant waiting hours while I moved to the very very edge of the bed without falling off, pretending like I was still mad. 
We’ve always worked out our conflicts this way: not letting the sun go down on our anger.
Even into the second year of marriage, our arguments would go like this.
Elizabeth: [sigh]
Aaron: What’s wrong? or Whatcha thinkin’?
Elizabeth: Nothing.
Aaron: Are you sure? You seem like there’s something wrong.
Elizabeth: Yes, I’m fine.
      silence. ribbit. ribbit. crickets….
Elizabeth: Well, it’s just that…. [monologue]

And then the argument might escalate from there. Often I would assume he would have a much more negative response than he did. It was always so anticlimactic, too, because I imagined he would react like me:  yelling and scaring all small children within a 50-foot radius. 
But he never has. Sure, he’s raised his voice when I’ve been present, but that’s only so he can hear himself over the harsh din of my emotional outcry.
Oh. I almost forgot to mention the funniest thing I do during an argument. I try to hide as long as I can in my corner of the ring. Aaron likes to say “I love you” and hug me and grab a hold of my hand or something while I’m angry with him. He’s doing it because he really does love me and wants me to know it, and also I think secretly because he knows it ticks me off. Once I hear those words or get close to him, all bets are off. I might as well raise my white flag of surrender… sigh. Men and their magic. 
So partly this post was to show you how ridiculous it is to fight like that… just say what needs to be said and talk like adults. And partly it is to mark the three years we’ve been married (this coming Monday). We’ve made a lot of progress in that short amount of time.
And how could I forget, the best part is what we get to do after an argument or fight………. Go get ice cream! [Duh!]