Sunday, June 10, 2012

Whose Shoes Are These?


I heard a similar quote not long ago and it has consistently stayed at the forefront of my mind. I guess it really struck me because I can relate so well. I could've titled this blog post any number of things: "How am I Supposed to Walk in These?" "You expect me to wear those?" "Those aren't my size!" You get the picture. 

Being in a new place often has its challenges. Starting something new is only new for those involved in the process. For all others outside that inner circle, very little has changed or should change. Their expectations remain the same, whether realistic or not. Therein lies the problem. 

I suppose by now you are expecting to read on about how the expectations of others can make transition difficult. You're probably expecting me to voice my thoughts on how I feel about that and on just how much of a struggle that's been for me. I'm sorry, but this is a different post. 

Most people think I have little feet. I don't. They're average, size 7 for just about everything except sandals or boots. Go down and up a 1/2 size for those, respectively. Yet for all the shoes I own, I've figured out one thing. All the shoes I own fit me better than they do anyone else.  

I have shoes I wear weekly, some only on special occasions, some in specific seasons, some in certain types of weather and some only around the house. I take very good care of my shoes, storing them in their original boxes because I buy shoes I love and I want to keep them for as long as I can.

I have found that finding the right pair of shoes, for the right outfit is not always as easy as it sounds. I usually have the pair in my head before I ever see it in a store. Settling for less than what I have imagined is not easy, and thankfully not something I have to do often. I can usually find what I want if I'm patient. I'm learning that the same is true for starting a new chapter in life.

I think we get it all wrong more often than not. Hearing these words, "You've got big shoes to fill," is a lie at best and much farther from the actual truth than most of us realize. Whoever held the position in which you now sit has walked away, shoes and all. They've left behind only a legacy, whether good or bad, which you must now contend with. The only shoes you can fill are the ones for which you presently own.

In life we have the opportunity on various occasions to make a lasting impression. We have been entrusted with remarkable tools in which to do this. They're called gifts. We are each uniquely created with the fingerprint of God upon our lives in various expressions of His character and nature. I carry His quick wit and humor, His love for people and His heart for His children to walk into their destiny.

That is why, you won't ever hear me say to anyone, "You've got big shoes to fill." The shoes you wear are the ones you need to walk into the things that God has called you to do.

We don't have to walk around clumsily trying to fit into another's shoes, trying on pair after pair only to be constantly presented with the same results. These shoes don't fit! They're not supposed to because they are not yours.

At times our footwear may need to change to accommodate the task at hand, but whether they are running shoes, a classy dress shoe or a casual flat, the shoe still belongs to you because you are the one required to walk in it.

It’s time we stop viewing ourselves in light of another's accomplishments or at times, even their mistakes. We don't have to re-invent the wheel, but if God is calling us to a new place or to inhabit new territory then He is not asking us to fill someone else's shoes. He is simply asking us to walk out His plans and purposes for our lives in this new arena. The shoes you have will be good enough. Most likely, you've been breaking them in for some time without even realizing what lay ahead. It's just that now that they're needed for something different, they don't seem good enough.

Consider this.  No runner would ever buy a new pair of shoes for which to run a marathon. They know that new running shoes would not only hinder their performance during the race, leaving their feet blistered and swollen. A pair of well, broken in running shoes are best for the race ahead. In the same regard, your old broken in shoes, will be good enough for the task before you. The fit is perfect!

Wherever you are and whatever task has been placed before you, is yours and yours alone. It doesn't matter whatever happened before you stood in that place. It is now where you hold authority and for which you are responsible. Whose shoes will you wear? Whoever was before you took theirs with them. That must mean that the ones you have will have to do.  Thankfully, they will!

"Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess." Deuteronomy 5:33


Monday, June 4, 2012

Stuff

I am sitting here enjoying some Godiva Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate, which I bought while I was out earlier. I think I may well finish off this entire bar before it's all said and done! Read on to see why.

I went to run an errand only to walk into the house and face what is becoming an unwelcome but familiar sight. Tiger had gone through some trash and torn it all to pieces. Last week, it was an unopened package of toilet paper. Today, it was much worse.

Not only that but to my horror, mixed in with the shreds of the trash strewn all over my floor, was a very familiar piece of clothing - my new favorite little black dress. I honestly didn't know how to be at that moment.

When he was a puppy, Tiger had some similar naughty behavior but only once or twice. Here in the past month, it's been three or four times and I can blame only myself.

My schedule has been such that I've been coming home late and some nights not at all, but having friends come to let him out. He's bored and he needs some attention. We all get that way, but when I looked and saw my dress which I had just worn to a wedding the night before all chewed up and beyond repair, I lost it.

I started shouting, "Bad dog! Bad dog," all the while reminding myself out loud, "It's only a dress. It's only a dress." I bet I must've said that seven or eight times before I finally sat down on the edge of my bed and started crying. It may have been only a dress but it was my favorite NEW dress, which I had only worn maybe four times.

At this point, I had already let Tiger outside to think about what he had done. I needed to calm down without being constantly reminded of how cute he is and that he probably had no clue why I was shouting, "Bad dog," at him.  Never the less, I needed for him to be momentarily invisible!

Through the tears, a flood of recent instances came to mind: People that recently either said or did hurtful things to me and/or others, situations that needlessly became blown out of proportion and some things I'd done that were unkind or unthoughtful... It was all just spurred on by unimportant stuff, yet my stuff and other people's stuff caused it all.

We put so much weight on the stuff of this world, and we needlessly carry our own stuff into situations and relationships where it can do harm to others and also to ourselves. Why do we do that? We do it because if we are not transformed by our pain, we transmit it.

I've heard that quote before and then again, just today before Hurricane Tiger blew through. I think the tears came not so much because of the dress disaster, but because I came face to face with how much more I need to be transformed because of those situations the Lord brought to mind.

I can laugh now at my dual perspective during my ordeal: "It's just a dress. Bad dog! Bad dog! It's just a dress," but if we're not careful "our stuff" can become all that matters, and we can lose sight of what's really important. Often, it's our stuff that blocks our vision and keeps us blinded to how we can negatively and sometimes, detrimentally affect others.

I don't want my stuff to get in the way of me loving others through their stuff or even in spite of their stuff. I don't want my stuff to be a hindrance for unity in the Body or to cause discord. I want to be transformed by my stuff, so that when someone else makes my desires, my joys, my loves their trash heap, my response is one that stems not from my brokenness, but instead it brings peace and is shrouded in forgiveness because it comes from a place of healing. I'll get there, hopefully without having to resort to Godiva chocolate bars.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dear Kindergarten Teacher, Tie Dye Circles are Possible!

I don't know if it was the experience I had in kindergarten where my teachers told me I couldn't create something that I knew I could, or if it's just that my mind is constantly thinking up new things, but I realized something today. When I look at something I like that I think I'd like to create, I am also thinking about how I can make it different, easier than the instructions and tweak it just enough so that it does not look like an exact copy of the original. I could post pictures of numerous examples but if you're one of my followers on Pinterest, just take a look at my "I Tried It" board. There you'll see what I mean.

Today, while listening to the very kind and helpful sales associate at the home improvemet store suggest the best way for me to accomplish the task I described to him, all I could hear was the Charlie Brown teacher, "Whah whah, whah whah whah..." Then while looking at the ingredients for a recipe I'm making tonight, I simply looked over what I needed to buy and how long to cook it. I won't look at it again, as I'm not going to follow the instructions anyway. That's just how I cook.

Then while looking over the idirections for today's project #2, I altered them just a bit to combine two projects into one. You see, I just can't seem to help myself! Whatever it is, whatever I'm doing, making, or creating, I just can't seem to leave well enough alone. It's not that I think my way is better (well, in some cases I do), or smarter or quicker... It's just that it's not me unless I alter it in some way.

Just a bit ago, I finished phase one of project #1 for today. When I stepped back to look at what I'd done, the thought that went through my head was, "Well, no one else would ever do it this way." Now why would I think that? Why couldn't I just say, "This is gonna be awesome," because it is!

Probably because at various times in my life, someone criticised the way I was doing something because it wasn't to their liking. They didn't like how I was making the recipe, or I wasn't following the steps per the instructions like they would've preferred, or I wasn't doing it the way they would have done it.

Here's what I've realized? What that has translated to, is me often correcting someone else in the way they are doing something differently from how I would do it. That and the fact that I hardly ever want to duplicate the idea of another in it's entirety, no matter how good it is. Their restrictions upon how I should express myself through the gifts and creativity that God has given me, has affected me in a negative way without me even being aware, until now.

When we limit and criticize another's efforts based on the basis of our experience, we limit the creativity of God in them. We are only bound in our imagination by how much we allow ourselves to dream. You see we can dream as much as we want. It's just that many of us don't see the point in doing so, or we have never pursued a dream and seen it come to pass.

Great chef's push the envelope and create new dishes, often starting with the base of another tried and true recipe. Amazing artist are so because their work is unlike any other. Yet they all have someone who has inspired them. Let's not despise another for having a dream or in my case, a vivid imagination, and then acting upon it. Let us instead be inspired by others to dream bigger and to push ourselves to excel in whatever we are called to do.

If you are one of those that is afraid to try new things for fear of failure, then let me encourage you. There are some rules in life that you just simply have to follow, but if you are afraid to try something because it looks to hard or you don't think your results will turn out like someone else's, then take my advice. Try it anyway! Allow the creative and adventurous nature of God which is inside of you, to be released. The world is waiting for you to become all you were created to be. Even the baby steps matter.

Oh, and just for the record, on that fateful day in kindergarten, I looked up during nap time only to see a group of teachers standing around holding up my tie dye shirt WITH circles. Never let anyone tell you it can't be done.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lessons From the Self Check-out Lane


I was in the store today at the self check-out lane and I clearly had the most messed up register there. After almost everything I scanned, the little voice in the box said, "Please remove the last item from the bag. An attendant has been notified to assist you."

Sadly, it told me that as soon as I scanned the item and before I put it in the bag. I could feel my frustration and anxiety levels rise with each swipe, wondering if I was going to get another good talking to from the voice in the box.

There in the midst of the grocery store, I realized I had two choices. I could complain and pitch a fit in front of the poor checkout attendant who was now standing beside me because I needed him so often, or I could realize this little glitch in my day was being brought to me by, the letter "C". Yes, the letter "C".

You see everyday we get to choose how we will react to the world around us and to the circumstances that come our way. Do we let those circumstances change us, our moods, our attitude and our personality, or do we somehow through our reactions change the outcome of our circumstances?

Part of that choosing, especially in situations like these, is in how we respond verbally. I try to be aware of when I step over from complaining to being critical. One is not a far leap from the other and neither are helpful. Sadly, I can excel at both if I'm not careful.

I can remember a time when the Lord showed me very clearly the level of criticism I was typically walking in. At that time I asked him to show me situations that I knew of, where I was the object of the criticism of others. Ouch! That stung like you wouldn't believe and it left a long lasting impression on me.

That was several years ago, and I'm not the same woman now. While I'm not perfected in those areas, and I still complain or catch myself being critical from time to time, you can bet it doesn't last for very long and I am quick to stop it when I'm aware that I'm doing it. I want the fruit of my lips to be something much sweeter. That and I certainly don't want to be known as one who has a critical spirit.

If I had to give myself a grade for this little test today, I think it would be a B+. While I did get a bit more frustrated over the inconvenience of the situation, I still managed to leave the store smiling, not allowing it to affect my mood. Much.

So thank you, faulty self check out register! You kept me on my toes today. However, I am sure you won't be offended if I decide to choose another self check-out lane next time.