The Art of Listening

I love a good meme.

And I also don’t.

I forget how beautifully quiet the world is when I’m not on Facebook. I forget how God made me to be a listener, not a sponge for other people’s thoughts and opinions.

I get back on sometimes because I mistakenly believe I have to be a “normal” person (or a “normie” as I like to call them). I have to scroll and read and like so I can remind myself that I have friends.

But I don’t have to do any of that. I can be a friend by sacrificing my time and offering an ear, one-on-one.

And I don’t have to post it to prove it.

I don’t have to subject myself to the degradation of others. I don’t have to subject myself to the onslaught of noise.

I am in control of what I want to absorb. And if it’s not Christ-like, what good does it to know it? To hold it in my heart?

Because if I’m not on the ready to receive God’s word, I might just blink and miss it.

And no meme in the world is worth something like that.

None, whatsoever.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 11:15

#facebookhiatus

Distant but Social

A few weeks ago, I socialized.

Distantly.

It was much needed. A few friends (under 10) and I got together a healthy six feet apart in our church parking lot and talked.

T-A-L-K-E-D.

This post is about how I’m horrible at talking in groups.

Like, HORRIBLE. It’s a tennis match for me, and I feel like I’m constantly dodging tennis balls, trying to find the right moment to speak up.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t even want to say anything. I like listening to my friends. I like making mental checklists of what everyone’s going through so I can pray about everything later.

But it would be really weird if I just showed up, smiled and kept nodding at everyone.

Or maybe not. Can I do that?

No.

Okay, fine.

But the REAL point of this post isn’t about how horrible I am at talking.

The REAL point, no scratch that, POINTS, are these:

1. My friends are some of the most grace-filled people I’ve ever met. And that’s pretty evident considering they keep inviting me to things even though I probably wear a pained a expression most of the time, concentrating on when to say anything halfway coherent.

2. The Holy Spirit is real. God is real. Which is evident by the hope I have in my heart driving me to be social (distantly, in this case) when I’m a natural introvert who loathes the concept of other people. You should have met me when I was an atheist. I was a real charmer.

3. I won’t give up. This a different side of myself from the person I used to be. The old me would have just said “Never mind!” and driven back home before I even got to the parking lot. But I’ve been determined to grow and challenge myself because God doesn’t want me to be stagnant.

I’ll still learning. I’m still putting my foot in my mouth and starting sentences I never finish because I’m not great at using my “outside voice” (the concept of which makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit). But I’m not going to let Satan tell me I’m not good enough to have friends. To be loved. To give and receive mutual respect.

I need to be there for them. And I need them to be there for me.

#blogpost #socialdistancing

Bury Those Forks

Job’s friends are the worst.

They’re slowly sticking a fork into his side in an attempt to “comfort” him.

Here’s a man who’s lost everything. His children, his home, his health. Even his wife tells him to curse God and die.

I relate to Job. But I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t relate to his friends.

Remember my sin, vanity? (https://www.facebook.com/groups/erickawrites/permalink/501393474138910/)

Well, meet my other sin, envy.

I am not good at not being jealous.

I will say I am A LOT better at it than I used to be. But there are still those dark spots in my heart that try to eat it from the inside out.

God has shown me with my skin issues that I’m not less than when I don’t look like perfection. And he’s showing me now that where I am at this moment in my life doesn’t define who I am either.

It’s not about other people and what they’ve accomplished. Because, like the book of Job points out, sometimes God leaves people to their own devices and lets them succeed at their own hands.

And that thought, my friends, is terrifying.

Think about it: God has left them utterly alone to amass wealth and titles and all sorts of goodies and there they go patting themselves on their backs none the wiser.

They’ve never given God the opportunity to circle their sin and bring their attention to it. They’ve never attempted to redefine who they are in Christ and forget the ways of this world.

What do you think will happen to them when they die?

A brand new Mercedes is nice, man, but it ain’t gonna save your soul.

However, not everyone who is blessed with wealth is walking this path. Think of Joseph of Aramathea. He gave his own tomb to Jesus.

Now there’s a man who truly got it.

So the point is this: the health of your heart (not your bank account) totally correlates to your journey to heaven.

If there’s darkness there, sin that’s eating it away, then there’s no room to grow in Jesus.

This is something I have to be mindful of from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I am not my circumstances or my accomplishments or the lack thereof.

I am the heart I offer to Christ.

And if it’s dark, if it’s intent on my own success at the expense of everything else, then it’s not the gift I want to offer.

“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15)

#newblog #bibleverse

I Don’t Do It for the Friendships

Sometimes, I don’t want to talk about Jesus.

There.

I said it.

Not just speaking, not just believing but FOLLOWING Jesus means giving every part of myself.

And because my venue has always been writing and blogging (the latter since 2009, what what), I know this is the platform God’s designed for me.

He wants me to share how He’s working in my life with others online, even if I know there’s probably been more than one virtual eye roll my direction because of it.

Sometimes, I just want to be normal.

Not that there’s a real, absolute definition of normal. But you get what I mean.
Sometimes, I wish I could just show up with perfectly colored hair, a new Louis Vuitton on my shoulder, and conversation that doesn’t go too far beyond the color of my brand new Mercedes.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking anyone for their life choices.

I’m knocking me for wanting the very same ones when I already know God didn’t wire me that way.

So what’s a girl to do?

Lay it down.

I have to lay it all down at Jesus’s feet. Because every day I’m realizing more and more that what I had in store for me, isn’t what God has ordained.

He wants me broken and powerless.

“Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?” Job 6:13

No. I can’t help myself. Only God can.

And friendless or no, there’s too much beauty in that to ignore.

#Jesus #purpose #blogpost

That One Time I Was an Atheist

I recently listened to an interesting interview with Becket Cook on Focus on the Family. He’s a former homosexual who hit it big in the fashion industry and was besties with all sorts of people, including well known actors and actresses.

Two points of his story resonated scarily well with me:

  1. He practiced practical atheism for a majority of his life (so did I from college until roughly five years ago).
  2. He touched on the issue of post-modern relativism and the fact that it never really satisfies (yep, been there, too).

The idea behind post-modern relativism is that there’s really no absolute truth. We’re allowed to create our own boundaries and definitions of what our personal truths are.

After all, I’m me, you’re you and what impacts and applies to my life is none ya business.

But here’s the deal: we’re all interconnected folks, and the decisions I make DO impact others as well.

There are also undeniable truths God created in this world even if we want to pretend they don’t exist. Hmmm, let me see: gravity (and the fact that we don’t go flying off this planet every morning we wake up), the desire for justice (technically if my truth involves smacking you in the face every time I feel like it, why is this frowned upon? I mean, I’m just living my truth, hombre!), the desire to keep living even when your world is on fire (I see there being absolutely no point in self-preservation even if we’re all supposedly evolved animals because really, what are we living for in that case?)

The extreme yearning to be loved.

So why is this important? You most likely have a loved one who’s in college and depending on which college they attend, post-modern relativism WILL be shoved down their throats. Especiallialy if they’re an adorable Liberal Arts major like moi. It’ll be way too easy to pat them on the head, roll your eyes, and make them feel like their thoughts and opinions don’t matter.

DON’T. DO. THAT.

Instead? Love them. Love them hard. Because Christ’s love is the ultimate truth teller.

People talk big during the day, believing all sorts of nonsense about this life. It’s at night when they’re scared, alone and the anxiety of false gods like post-modern relativism (or insert any asinine thought process that’s currently in vogue), sucks the absolute life out of them.

Nobody ever talks about that part.

We, as the Church, have to offer truth despite moral and ethical breakdown in this world. Remember, Christ doesn’t return until it’s like the days of Noah, when nobody believed in anything except themselves.

But we believe in something far greater because we know what Christ has done for each and every one of us.

And there’s no greater truth than the one that lives in your heart.

#atheism #postmodernrelativism

Photo credit: Life Posters (https://fineartamerica.com/featured/god-is-dead-nietzsche-mindy-sommers.html)

Almost Perfect

I did it.

I went without make up yesterday and lived to talk about it.

IT. WAS. FREEING.

All my life I’ve been little miss perfect. There’s even a Shel Silverstein poem called “Almost Perfect” about Mary Hume who goes around muttering “almost perfect but not quite” about everything that doesn’t meet her standards.

I lived that poem.

Of course, one day Mary dies, and God ends up saying the same thing about her.

But apparently, I liked to ignore that part.

I always had straight A’s, great hair and skin, a trim figure, the best parents, anything I wanted even if I didn’t ask for it.

I was also incredibly depressed and suicidal by the age of 16.

Go figure.

I think perfection was a drug for me. I wanted to cling to it to prove I was better than everyone else because having to come to terms with the fact that maybe, just maybe people will like me flaws and all was too risky.

What if they don’t?

Becoming a Christian was the best thing that ever happend to me in that regard.

Because I truly DON’T CARE if other people like me. I care about what God thinks.

Period.

But the last piece to that little puzzle was to walk through the world bare faced, not concened with what anyone thinks about my looks.

Because here’s the thing: pretty doesn’t last forever anyways.

And did everyone run away in terror? No. I even got a couple of compliments about my hair. 😆

One little girl in my Sunday school class did ask why I had dots all over my face and I told her this is what happens when you don’t eat your broccoli. Okay, kidding. I did tell her this is what being an adult means and never grow up. 😆😆

All in all, it was a really good day. I wasn’t checking my face to see how poorly my concealer blended. I wasn’t worried if my mascara smudged.

I was just me, truly in the moment, vowing to God that I’ll remain faithful to him.

Flaws and all.

#acnechronicles #truth