My parents witnessed a traumatic church split when I was a baby (half the congregation walked out mid-service).
After that, my dad paid a lot more attention to the Spirit and left situations before they got to that point.
I have done the same, recognizing that the church I was going to was no longer the same place I started at.
For someone who is fiercely loyal, I’m grateful that I’ve learned from my parents and left when the church was no longer where we belonged.
But how do I know it’s time to go? How can I discern between frustrations to fight through and problems that are roadblocks?
Here is what I feel about my current church, and how I feel people should feel about the church where they choose to put down roots.
- I feel connected (I know I need to do my part, but in past churches that still didn’t guarantee I felt that connection)
- I agree with the direction my church is going.
- The way the church interprets the scriptures resonates with me.
- Thinking about church fills my heart with joy.
- The leadership is strong but not unbending. (I don’t want to feel like the pastor is bowing to the whims of society, but there is a scary control that some pastors can obtain)
- The church values faith over fear. The pandemic has made this abundantly clear.
We all long for comfort.
Even more than improvement, subconsciously we want consistency.
So we put up with “less than” in favor of familiar.
When I read books, watch movies, etc, I see life change and I know the character longs for the “good ol’ days.” Because that’s what I want for myself. I imagine how peaceful life felt before the craziness of the story started.
But the thing about the story I watch or read: the ending is what matters.
Even if is has a tragic ending, the character grew, usually learning some important lessons in the process.
I think that’s why we watch and read–we want to know that WE will learn and grow, too. Since our lives seem to change more gradually, others’ stories give us the confidence that we’ll get there too.
And then we go back to fighting the change.
Putting up with comfortable imperfection.
To some extent we have to do that. If we got a new ____ (job/house/partner/church) every time we saw something we didn’t like, we’d be a mess. We aren’t supposed to be a potted plant: we need to put down roots. It’s an important part of life to know how to work through discomfort. Tenacity is an excellent characteristic that will take you far.
But there are so many times we feel a nudge to move on…and we ignore it. We stay in a dead-end job, telling ourselves at least it pays the bills. We go to a church we no longer feel connected to, purely because we know so many people there.
I fluctuate between the two. Sometimes I cling to the familiar too long, and other times I jump into the next thing. And at times I do both simultaneously. (case in point: when I married Josh, suddenly I found myself living in a new city, with a new name, a new job, and a whole new pattern of life. I held onto the junker of a car I was driving, purely because I needed something that felt familiar. After a couple months, I was ready to let go of that car, but it was my little piece of security while I made so many changes in my life).
Do you agree? Do you tend to hold onto the familiar or jump into the new, or are you like me that it’s somewhere in the middle? Any inspiration or encouragement for people who feel like maybe it’s time to make a change, but it’s a scary prospect? Join the Facebook conversation here.
Or if you’d like to write to me directly, I’d love to hear your thoughts! email@example.com
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Heading into the New Year
Just like pretty much everyone else, this year has been just a little rocky. At times it felt like all I could hope for was to survive. Even though I had been homeschooling since 2010 so in a lot of ways life didn’t change that much, at the same time nothing was the same.
…No dance classes (or running the front desk at the studio!)
…No going to church,
…The stress of wearing a mask and distancing myself from others whenever we went out in public
…No opportunity to go to Disney…
Right now, looking at 2021 with high hopes, it’s also making me look back at 2020 a little more analytically.
It feels like this past year we were all cocoons. From what I’ve read, caterpillars become basically mush before becoming a butterfly. More than just a transformation, the middle stage is a mess. “Caterpillar soup.”
And that, more than anything else, sums up 2020.
Looking ahead, I get a glimpse of coming alive. Like 2021 is a year of blooming. Blossoming.
And I’m taking that idea and embracing it.
To me, this means becoming more confident in who I am. Being less embarrassed about the things that make me different, and sharing the things that I can use to bless others.
It also means I’m going to take things that are in process, like the book I wrote 3 years ago, and put in the hard work to get it ready to publish. It does no good sitting on my computer!
I’ve been focusing on my health since I first got the Hashimoto’s diagnosis in August 2019, and this year I’m going to continue to dig deeper into what else I need to do to get it fully into remission.
These are all things I can do, no matter what new rules come or old rules get removed (thinking about mask requirements and the various other things we’ve seen happen this past year).
What will you do this year? What is within your control? How will you help yourself blossom this year, no matter what curveballs 2021 throws at us? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Did you know that I write?
More than just for this blog, I have actually written a couple novels!
In 2015 I started participating in NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. (that’s 1,667 words a day).
I’ve “won” twice and gave up on a third novel (because it was boring ME to tears). This is my fourth attempt and I’m not anywhere close to giving up on this story.
I’m actually procrastinating from starting chapter 7 by writing this post. Shhhh don’t tell anyone!
I can’t wait to see how the story ends. This book is a Chick Lit style novel, and it’s pretty fun to write so far.
If you’re interested in my progress, I’m tracking my daily word count here:
I’m on track to finish before Thanksgiving. Well, finish the 50K words, not the novel. That should be closer to 75K when it’s done, if it’s like a normal book in this genre.
Enough stalling. I’d better get back to my story now…
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In September we celebrated our 17th anniversary.
I guess that means we have some idea of what makes a good marriage work. After all, I’d marry Josh all over again (in a heartbeat!), and he says the same about me.
A friend asked for advice of what makes a marriage work. We spent some time coming up with things that we’ve found to make the time together successful and enjoyable.
1. Don’t try to change your spouse. You married them for who they were, so don’t try to change it later. It will just cause frustration to both of you.
2. Make each other happy. Learn their love language and practice it as often as possible. Doing so will virtually guarantee they’ll do the same in return.
3. Marriage does take two. You can’t have a strong marriage unless you both want it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight for it if your spouse is floundering, but you can’t make it succeed all in your own.
4. Be each other’s biggest fan. Believe in your spouse even when (or especially when) they don’t believe in themselves.
5. Don’t let anyone else be more encouraging or speak words of life to them more than you do.
6. Keep a positive attitude. I’ve never considered being married to be a struggle because I’m walking through life with my best friend. In the good times or struggles, we remember that we’re better together than we ever could be apart.
7. Keep it fun. Whatever “fun” looks like to you, make sure you keep doing that. It could mean theme parks or haunted houses, building LEGO or going to the beach…fun brings you together.
I want to add a couple caveats to the above list.
1. Marriage takes two. If you’re in a marriage and doing all the work, this won’t work the same way. Your spouse has to want to have a successful relationship too.
2. We both have generations of successful marriages to build on. Our parents and grandparents were all married once, for life. That really does make a HUGE difference. Yes, we do follow the list above, but honestly we don’t have to think about it most of the time. It just happens, because that’s what we watched our parents do.