Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Shutting Down the “Shouldstorm”

_Shouldstorm_

This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.

I live much of my life right smack dab in the middle of what I call a “Shouldstorm.”

I sit here as I type this staring at a pile of unfolded laundry, not even showered yet, with a to-do list a mile long and only about 45 minutes before I have to pick up my daughter from preschool and the winds are starting to kick up. “You should be folding that laundry- matter fact, you should have folded it right away, it shouldn’t even be sitting there.  And while you’re at it, you should walk right past those laundry machines and organize the storage area. And you haven’t worked out in awhile, you should be doing a better job of working that into your life because you should be back your pre-babies weight by now…”

It always feels like there are a million things I should be doing at any given moment.  The ones I’m neglecting needle and nag me, I barely have the time and bandwidth for the ones I am doing, and let’s not even discuss the things I probably should be doing that I don’t even know about. It’s a veritable maelstrom of “shoulds,” so I call it a “shouldstorm.” Note: if you  happen to hear in the term “should-storm” a striking auditory similarity to another “stormy” term that features a more colorful sh-word (aka “sh*tstorm”), I assure you that it’s not even a little bit coincidental. 

I’d like to be able to to say that it began when I became a mom, and motherhood has definitely ramped the storm it up to a category 5 hurricane.  But if I’m honest with myself, it’s always been like this for me.  Ever since my teen years, I’ve struggled with the feeling that there’s something else or something more I should be doing, some other way I should be- It’s like FOMO (fear of missing out) and FONBE (fear of not being enough) all rolled into one. Continue reading “Shutting Down the “Shouldstorm””

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Noah-Level Communication

This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.

 

In 2019, I’m doing the Bible in One Year reading plan in the YouVersion app.  I think it’s absolutely the greatest thing ever for two reasons:

  1. They’ve got it all planned out for you and locked and loaded with an AUDIO OPTION. All I have to do is plug-in my headphones and press “play” and the daily devotion teaching and the assigned passages of scripture play back to back to back right into my ears and I don’t have to do a thing.
  2. The devotions are done by Nicky Gumbel and his wife, Pippa, and they are absolutely delightful. I first encountered him when I did the Alpha Course years ago at the Episcopal church I was attending in Lakewood, WA and he is quite possibly the Britishest dude ever.  He used to work as a “barrister” before becoming a “vicar” and I just love listening to every gracious word he says.  I’m getting so, so much out of his and Pippa’s insights, possibly more than I’ve ever gotten out of any other plan or study.

One dark, frosty morning in very early January, my husband and I headed out before the sun was even up to drop our car off at the dealership to see if they could finally figure out what is making that infernal squeaking noise in the heating system.  On the drive there, I listened to the daily readings, which included the story of Noah in Genesis.

God seems to dole out Scriptural insights to me incrementally, giving me a little more and a little more each time I listen to or read a passage.  This time, the thing that stuck out to me was the end of Noah’s time on the Ark, when he was trying to figure out when the time was right to get off of the boat.

I don’t know about you, but if I had been trapped on a boat with my entire extended family and a bunch of animals for weeks upon weeks, I would be getting off that boat at the very first sign of land and never looking back.

Not Noah.

First, he sent a raven.  Then he waited. Then he sent a dove. Then he waited. Then, he sent the dove again. Then he waited some more.

And not until the time was very perfectly exactly right, when the water had not only receded but the earth had sufficiently dried out, only then did he finally disembARK (see what I did there?).

What struck me about this was not so much Noah’s patience, although that is some remarkably significant patience being demonstrated right there, but the level of communication Noah has to have had with God- not only during the process of figuring out when to get off the boat, but through the whole entire saga. Continue reading “Noah-Level Communication”

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Getting Over My Scripture Inferiority Complex (Foundation 2019)

This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.

For the longest time, I had a serious inferiority complex when it came to my knowledge of Scripture and I felt like I didn’t know how to study it “the right way.”

Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old, I didn’t grow up going to youth groups and church camps. I went to a public university and didn’t participate in any campus ministry (unless beer-fueled theology debates with non-believing fraternity guys count, in which case I retract my statement because I totally did that).

I operated with this image that other Christians my age had been through all this indoctrination that I hadn’t (and did not care to, by the way, but that’s a whole ‘nother story),  in the process steeping and marinating in scripture and theology, giving them a knowledge that I wasn’t anywhere near having. I pictured them atop this pedestal of piety high above little old me- and I’m quite certain a few of them had the same image, I might add.

Honestly, I wasn’t entirely wrong. Many other Christians my age were indeed attending Bible colleges, involved in campus ministry, running those same youth groups I had never even attended, and they undoubtedly knew way more about Scripture than I did.  I mean…it wouldn’t even have been hard to know more about Scripture than I did at that point.

What I was very much drop-dead, stone-cold wrong about was the inferiority complex it gave me and how I let it keep me from even beginning to study Scripture.  For years, those insecurities and feelings of “not-enough-ness” stood between me and getting into God’s word.

When I tried to go to a Bible study and saw the woman next to me open a Bible filled with highlighted passages and margin notes, I looked at my own unmarked Bible and saw failure.

When I dove into difficult passages and struggled to connect with and understand what I was reading, my insecurity told me I must be doing it wrong.  Wasn’t I supposed to be finding God-breathed epiphanies on EVERY SINGLE PAGE?  I’m sure *insert person who I thought was better at the Bible than I was here* does every single time. Sigh…

And so, I would quit.  Nobody wants to keep showing up for something that just reminds them how sucky they are every time.  It’s why I avoid spin class.

But, here’s the thing: insecurity and feelings of not being enough come from where, class?  That’s right, the answer is “Satan.”  Say it with me, “The feeling of not being enough always comes from Satan.”  

What an absolutely perfect plan for keeping folks from getting into the Word of God: let’s convince them that it’s too hard, they aren’t smart enough, it’s too late, other people know more than they do, etc., etc.  It’s a double whammy of separating them from GOD and making them feel horrible about themselves. Well played, Devil.  Well played.

And yes, indeed. I let the enemy of my soul successfully stand between me and the Word of God FOR!  YEARS!

BUT, NO MORE! NO MORE, I SAY!!!!

A knowledge and pursuit of Scripture is an inextricable part of the Foundation on which my life needs to be built. It’s a key ingredient in the mixture of concrete that my proverbial house is built on- without it, my life could crumble at the slightest bit of resistance.

So this year, pulling on my proverbial Big Girl Britches, getting over myself, and telling the Enemy that he can absolutely suck it, the truth I will find in the Word of God will shout down his lies once I get into it anyway so I might as well just ignore them.

The truth is that any study and/or reading of Scripture is good. There are tons of different ways to do it and we shouldn’t let this idea of “good enough” vs. “not good enough” stop us.  Yes, there are ways that have proven to be effective for generations. There is new and “cutting edge” stuff that is just now available to us, like listening via apps on our phones and watching YouTube videos unpacking the text. As we get into the process, we will find that some methods work better than others for us based on the way God has each of us wired and what phase of life we find ourselves in.

But any effort we give it, any choice we make to devote our time and attention to the study of God’s Word is the right thing to do.  It’s holy, sacred, and will bear fruit.

Life-changing epiphanies are not necessarily waiting on every page for us, at least not every day, and if we don’t feel moved by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis it doesn’t mean we are failing.  Some days, it’s just the DISCIPLINE of doing the work that matters, it honors God when we power through on the tough days.

We also cannot underestimate the importance of just building our familiarity with Scripture. Every time we read a passage, a chapter, a story, it gets logged our memory bank and helps build a working knowledge of Scripture that God can use.  A friend or pastor may say, “It’s like Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, when he ended up in jail and God redeemed it” and you’re like, “YES!  I READ THAT STORY!” and you can totally get what they’re saying in a way you couldn’t have otherwise.

My word count is quickly mounting, so I think I’ll take my leave here. There is much more to say, much more to share, and there will be time for that in future posts.

But for now, I want to send a huge hug to anyone who has ever felt like I have, like the study of Scripture is intimidating and a little defeating, and encourage you to take a deep breath and take those first brave steps to sending that lie packing.  It is true that Scripture is big and imposing and layered and complex and at times shrouded in all sorts of mystery. But it’s a lie that you can’t study it. It’s a lie that it’s too late to start. It’s a lie that God doesn’t have revelations and truths waiting to reveal to you, just for you, exactly the way He made you.

Amen.