Tag Archives: understanding

No excuses.

20 Sep

I’ve been noticing something lately: I hold Travis to the ridiculous, unrealistic standards that I hold myself to.

This isn’t exactly a news flash.

But it is something that I’ve been seeing with new eyes.

I’ve noticed it mainly in regards to the triathlon Travis just did. Over the months leading up to it, I was tempted to (and honestly, sometimes did) nag Travis about training. In my head, you just follow the plan. Not brain science.

I chalked Travis not following the plan up to his being lazy. Or indifferent. Or silently wishing he hadn’t been talked into doing a race.

Surely he doesn’t have a good excuse.

Now, I am reminded that he is working full-time and getting his Master’s. Oh and his job shipped him out to Timbuktu Utah to do God-knows-what (which they’re talking about again, if you can believe that!) for a couple weeks. Then there’s that little thing called a house, the yard I look at through my window, the car I drive to work every day, those things happening at church, and that thing called hockey that always happens after I’m in bed. Oh and bills.

He might be a tad busy.

You see, Travis did get distracted from training. He did allow other things to get in the way. But they were things like fixing our car himself to save us $600. And shooting us two antelope so we won’t starve during the long, cold winter. And refinancing our mortgage to save us money.

I want to say, “There’s no excuse. You didn’t follow the training plan and that’s all there is to it.”

But I really should say, “You were busy. You have a lot going on. It’s totally understandable. And you did a fantastic job anyway!”

Here’s what I actually said: “You should go disqualify yourself from the results.”

Let me explain: Minutes after I crossed the finish line on Saturday, Travis informed me that he “had run the entire run course on the road.” Since the run course was mostly on a sidewalk or trail, I assumed Travis had run the wrong course. How would he know if the course he ran was 3.1 miles? He wouldn’t. Ergo, he should disqualify himself.

What he really meant was that instead of going back up on the trail at the end of the run, he accidentally just stayed on the road until it met up with that trail. It was pretty much the same distance either way. Oh.

Needless to say, Travis’ enthusiasm was completely deflated with my no-nonsense response. Poor guy. Here he is, just completed his first triathlon and I tell him to go disqualify himself. It was a misunderstanding, I swear!!

Anyway, that whole situation has shown me that I hold Travis to unrealistic standards. Like when he gets sick and wants to just lay on the couch. My natural inclination is to say, “Oh quit being a whiny baby. You’re not that sick.”

Or when Travis remarks to me that 3 minutes is pretty good for his first transition and I reply, “Well, a good T1 is actually only 2 minutes.”

Men aren’t the only ones who say stupid things without thinking.

Because I expect too much of Travis, I hardly ever encourage him – I’m too busy fixating on what he hasn’t done or hasn’t done well enough.

In reality, he does a lot of most things right. He deserves more credit than I give him.

So I’m going to try to let go of my expectations, have faith in Travis’ abilities, and look for the things he does right. I think he’d appreciate that.

 

 

Who am I?

16 Dec

For the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about who I am. The job I’ve had with this race company has revealed to me that things I thought I knew about myself weren’t correct.

For instance, I thought I liked constant change because the jobs I have enjoyed most have been different every day. But this job made me realize that I only like constant change within structure – like different tasks within a 9 to 5 job. I also thought that I liked independence in my work. And I do to a certain extent but I mostly enjoy being assigned specific tasks to complete on a daily basis. I like administrative tasks. I like things that require being detail-oriented. I even enjoy tedious tasks. I did not know this.

These realizations are interesting to me because I thought I knew myself. These discoveries surprised me, which surprises me even more. It’s a weird thing, not knowing yourself. Definitely a result of the fall. While I find reassurance in the knowledge that at least God knows me, I also want to know myself.

As a Christian, I feel like this task is 1,000 times harder than it would be as an unbeliever. I am constantly wondering “Is this thing that I’m doing who I am or is it sinful?” I am at times a morbidly introspective person. I analyze everything. I can’t turn my brain off. So I feel like I have all these ideas and thoughts swirling around in my head and I can’t figure out what is truth and what is a lie, what is me and what is culture or what I think I should be.

I thought that maybe a personality test would help me figure out who I am, since my own mind is of no help. After reading my friend B’s post about personality tests, I took the Basic Personality Test. But during the test, I found myself stumped on several questions – I didn’t know the answer. They say that your first gut reaction is the right one but I didn’t have a gut reaction to either answer. “You tell me,” I wanted to say. I don’t even know myself well enough to take a personality test!

I’ve heard it said that it’s not about who you are, it’s about Whose you are. I’m not sure I entirely agree. Yes, it is a good thing to remind ourselves that God loves us, it’s His opinion that matters, and that we don’t need to be famous or important in the world’s eyes to be precious to God. But if we are supposed to become who we truly are in Christ, if we are supposed to become what we already are, it would help to know what that “what” and “who” are, specifically for us as individuals. I mean, isn’t that the point of personality tests? They’re to help you to discover what your strengths are, for the purpose of cultivating and exercising them.

I’ve always been an analytical person (or I least I think I have…), trying to figure out the meaning and purpose of things. But it feels like my brain has been on overdrive for the past 6 months. I can’t stop thinking. I can’t accept anything without understanding it first, and since there are so many thoughts in my head, I can’t think about one thing long enough to thoroughly understand it, so I can only understand things partially and therefore only accept things partially. I am left with questions and theories half-answered and half-proven, the other half a question mark hanging in the air. Just this week, after volunteering at the church, I drove home joyful from doing something I enjoyed. But I was only 99% joyful. I was fettered by something I couldn’t put my finger on. Even now, I can’t put my finger on it. There’s something unresolved. Something keeping me from being completely enjoying my reality in any certain moment or place. Something hindering the completeness of my joy.

Even my interpretation of this situation conjures up various thoughts in my head. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be, since we won’t have full knowledge until heaven. But the way this is makes it hard for me to have joy. Plus, I’m exhausted from thinking, analyzing, trying to figure things out. I just want to accept something and move on, for once! Maybe I’m the perpetrator of this condition – I’m the one reading books, searching for answers. I’m the one entertaining and pursuing all of these different ideas at once. I’m the one continuing the attempt to quell the voice inside of me crying out for answers. I’m the one still listening, still hoping, still yearning for truth.

I have no answers. And if your gut reaction is to say that all the answers are in the Bible, I’ll say to you that it’s not that easy. Believe me, if it were that easy, all my questions would be satisfied. Yes, the answers are in the Bible. But they’re not obvious. And the mystery of the Christian life, added to all of the lies I’ve believed, our culture’s influence, and my own habit of spiraled thinking, makes it near impossible to sort out all of the thoughts in my head.

My only hope in all of this is that God has the answers. He knows what I’m struggling through, will give me insight and clarity when I need it, and is the One who is causing me to wrestle through all of these thoughts, issues, doubts, fears, and ideas – and that for a reason. He is doing something in me. Even when it feels like I’ll never sort it all out, that I’ll never truly understand, I can rest in knowing that God knows me, God is for me, and God will lead me into truth, whenever He wills. What would I do without God?!?!?

Releasing my identity.

3 May

This post has been in the works for the past month. I’m sure I’ll discover more in the future that could be added to it.

It all started the day I was pondering why changing jobs made me feel like a completely different person. I was obviously still me – I’ll be me for all of eternity. But I felt different. I identified myself as a different person. Before, I worked in an office doing marketing for a nonprofit ministry. Now I worked at home coordinating volunteers and vendors for a nonprofit racing company.

I realized how much of our identities are dependent on and relative to external factors. When a person does engineering, they say “I am an engineer.” When a woman has a baby, she says “I am a mother.” When two people get married, they say “We are married.” In the Spanish language, there are 2 forms of the verb “to be” – there is the permanent, definitive form “ser” and there is the temporary, transient form “estar.” All of the sentences I wrote above would use the permanent form. “I am [these things]”, which is just another way of saying “These things are me.”

We define ourselves by external things, whether we want to or not. Even making the objection “I don’t define myself by external things” is defining yourself – you are identifying yourself as a person who does not identify themselves.

This is made even more evident when trying to ponder what you think makes up your identity. How do you identify yourself? Some people would say “I’m a friend, a brother, a boyfriend.” Relationships to other people. Other people would say “I’m smart, energetic, playful, and funny.” But without examples of stupidity, laziness, seriousness, and boring in other people or situations, we would have nothing on which to gauge our individual attributes. Still other people would revert to their careers, (“I’m a lawyer”), their hobbies (“I’m a golfer”), their possessions (“I’m a millionaire”), their prestige (“I’m a Harvard grad”), or their success (“I’m the youngest CEO in this company’s history.”) Notice how all of those statements are relative to something external.

Try to think of something you could say about yourself that isn’t related to something outside of yourself. Even statements about emotions you embody, like “I am compassionate,” can only be true as they find expression outside of yourself. You can say you’re compassionate – but it is not proven until you are compassionate toward someone else.

When D and I were in Salt Lake City 2 weekends ago, we got lost driving from our hotel to the race site. I usually know which direction is north, but I had gotten totally turned around. What I thought was north actually was south. D suggested we just follow the directions I had written down instead of trying to figure out which direction was which. I got really offended and even at the time, I knew it was a silly thing to be mad over. Looking back on it later, I realized that being good with directions (not just ones from Google but the compass directions) was part of my identity. I had been subconsciously thinking of myself “I am good with directions and can find my way around easily.” When that identity was questioned or threatened, I got defensive and angry.

Since that trip, numerous other situations have revealed facets of my so-called identity – facets I didn’t even know about, facets that only reveal themselves when challenged, threatened or belittled.

I have become increasingly aware of the reason why the Bible commands us to find our identity in Christ. God knows that we, as humans, naturally find our identities outside of ourselves. We use the world around to us to figure it out. Even as Christians, God doesn’t expect us to figure out who we are by ourselves, by looking inside of us. Instead, He tells us who we are. He shows us whose we are. And He tells us to find our identities in Christ.

What does that mean – to find our identity in Christ? It’s one of those phrases that is thrown around a lot and I wonder how many people pause long to think about the meaning of what they’re saying. I think finding your identity in Christ means to let every other definition of yourself die, so that the only one remaining is that of a sinner saved by grace. If indeed that was the only definition you were clinging to, there would be nothing in this world that could shake you, disturb you, frustrate you, or disappoint you.

My struggle with feeling like I should be doing more than I am doing and my resulting feelings of guilt, I think, come from wanting to identify myself as a person who makes a difference. I am trying to make my identity be something other than Christ and of course, am encountering emotional turmoil. That is the sure result of ever trying to identify ourselves with something other than Christ.

Right now, I am re-reading Desiring God by John Piper and then I am going to re-read We Would See Jesus. Two amazing books full of the exact truths that I need to hear right now. Here is one of the life-changing passages from We Would See Jesus, that especially applies to my feeling of needing to serve:

“At first sight it seems heroic to fling our lives away in the service of God and of our fellows. We feel it is bound to mean more to Him than our experience of Him. Service seems so unselfish, whereas concentrating on our walk with God seems selfish and self-centered. But it is the very reverse. The things that God is most concerned about are our coldness of heart towards Himself and our proud, unbroken natures…

“This does not mean that God does not want us engaged actively in His service. He does; but His purpose is often far different from what we think. Our service, in His mind, is to be far more the potter’s wheel on which He can mold us than the achieving of those spectacular objectives on which we set our hearts.”

Piper echoes this sentiment – that we exist to glorify God and we glorify God by enjoying Him. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” When we are satisfied in Christ being our only identity. When we have to hold onto nothing of this world to validate who we are. We don’t have to have the right job, the right clothes, car, body, hair, face, talent, personality, friends, hobbies, or service.

This is most liberating thought in the world to me. I can enjoy movies, flowers, thunderstorms, ice cream, good books, warm blankets, lazy Sundays, and my wonderful husband because they all reveal God to me. He is present in everything. I am here to know God and to enjoy Him. And only one thing is sufficient for defining myself: I am a sinner, saved by grace alone through Christ alone.

I still want to serve the needy somehow. But the feeling of guilt is gone. I am not just here to make this world a better place – I am here to know God and can do that in many different ways. I am a treasure to God, regardless of what I do for His kingdom. He just wants me to know and love Him about everything else. And when that is my focus, everything else feels manageable. He alone is my reward and my prize.