Be Generous With Your Likes

Untitled Design 62I am very much a words person. I feel most myself when I am writing, but I repeatedly am stuck in a place of not feeling “good enough” because I mostly write for a social media audience and somewhat set myself up to “depend” on the likes to determine if I’ll continue to write or not. Just the other day I was so rooted in my own insecurity that I spent over an hour on Google researching how to know if your friends unfollow or hide you on social media. I was on the verge of making myself physically ill that people that say they love me don’t like what I post (No joke. I really did).
I know enough of how social media functions, especially on Facebook, to know that it is “Likes” that push you at the front of the line, force you to be noticed in the feed, or help you make the rounds on your friends’ lists. I had set up an expectation – an unfair one at that – that if my friends and family really loved me they would let me know my words matter by a “Like” button. It pushed the focus off of why I write – actually WHO I desire to consistently write about – to be squarely centered on the approval of my friends and family. In my real life world, I much prefer to text how I feel, tell someone in person how I feel, or show someone how I feel about them, so depending on a social media recognition really isn’t an accurate recognition at all. The truth is that many don’t see everything posted by anyone, so all my insecurity does is make me the center of the world, rather than use my words for their original intended purpose – to encourage. An audience of One is Who I obey, and an audience of readers at all is the one He also must bring.

I read the statement “Be generous with your likes” from a blogger this week and it really pulled me in. It shifted the lens of the words I write bringing some kind of desired return for me, and returned it to valuing people right where they are. Instead of asking, “Who out there is supporting me,” I ask, “Who out there can I support?” The blogger talked about she uses her LIKES on social media to show her support because she noticed the people who valued her, and wanted to show their support to her, be generous with their likes – so much so that she didn’t even know how much it had pushed her to go forward with her dreams.
Seems like such a simple thing that wouldn’t make a big difference, but doesn’t valuing and loving people right where they are when we want to be Jesus to them change everything? When we LIKE with a Jesus lens, their life is encouraged, and our life is, too, because we are awakened to the fact that we just have love every opportunity we get, and Jesus will bring the life change.

Not all life is an easy life to LIKE or LOVE. Truth is, I have to unfollow and hide toxic people from time to time, but our people, the ones we hold dear is a great place to start being generous with our LIKES. It means I will not withhold a LIKE from those I call “family”, or I have named “friend,” or those God has called me to serve alongside. If we don’t get those LIKES right, then there is no chance we’ll ever see much more than a mediocre display of love because we’ve limited it from exploding from the start. Our LIKES are definitely not limited to social media…in fact, that’s not where we need to be doing most of our living at all. Rather, we ask these things…Do the people we see everyday feel we are generous with our LIKES, or have we assumed they just know? Do our kids know we are over the moon for them because we’ve actually told them? Do our co-workers know we’ve got their back because we truly believe “two are better than one”? Does the insecure, the angry one, the one who feels they’ve been dealt the bad lot know we believe in them? Let’s turn the tide on the LIKES. Let’s throw them around like confetti! Let’s do all we can to see the people in our lives soar to their dreams because we’ve been generous in our support of who God is making them to be.

 

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When I Don’t Take the Easy Way Out

Untitled Design 28Wouldn’t it be the best if our obedience to God guaranteed us a carefree life? Sometimes I determine my willingness to obey by whether the payoff will be in my favor in the end. Will it guarantee I get the answer I want, the job I’ve dreamed of, the relationship I’ve longed for? Will I come out of my obedience unscathed, my heart still intact? Will it make me comfortable?

I wish the answers to my questions of obedience always worked in my favor. We’ve painted big pictures to the world that obedience always makes sense. God would never have us make big decisions that others wouldn’t understand, would He? Surely He wouldn’t ask us to give up things that matter most to us for the sake of obedience. Would He ever require my obedience to set me apart from the crowd? Oh the QUESTIONS that arise when I determine how far I am willing to obey.

I’ve never really understood, or been a fan of, my obedience resulting in lost relationships, moves to other countries, being misunderstood, having assumptions made, and so on. Obedience shouldn’t cause heartache, should it? Maybe that’s a perception that we need to change. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” If I’m being honest, I gauge my willingness to obey by whether or not people may or may not like me, if they might think I’m crazy, or disagree with my obedience. I’ve watched friendships dissipate, people leave the church where I invest much of my life, and heard that gossip has traveled over decisions to obey God in the hard, doesn’t make sense stuff. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Obeying God is beautiful, but not always beautiful in what the world defines as beauty. Obedience is less about the way we’re asked to obey, and so much more about the end result. It’s about the Kingdom – your obedience and my obedience. It’s not just about the Kingdom if you’ve given your life to serve full-time in ministry. It’s about that fact you have given your life to serve GOD fully!

How many times have you opted to just not obey because it means you might take a loss? I’m not sure I can count the times I opted out because I was so afraid of the ridicule I might receive because it wouldn’t fit into a nice, tidy box. I remember when my family made a BIG decision to obey God calling us to move overseas as missionaries. I was the very first to think my parents had lost their minds. Who takes their young children out of the comfort of the United States, away from friendships, and moves them to love people they don’t even KNOW? It took me years to understand that obedience is ALWAYS about the Kingdom for the Christ-follower.

Maybe obedience in the hard stuff is staring you right in the face today. You know people are gonna talk, that you might take a big hit for obeying in that thing that just doesn’t make sense. Let me say to you…DO IT! Obeying God is never a loss when the gain is always heaven and the treasures you lay there.
I may never understand the obedience God has required of me, especially when there are many days my heart hurts so bad when it’s the faces of people I see I’ve lost. That will never make sense to me. Is it worth it to obey God in the hard things? Absolutely. Is it worth it to not obey Him and hope He’ll ask someone else to do it instead? Nope. I’ve tried that, and probably will try that again, unfortunately. The abundant life doesn’t always come neatly packaged in doing just easy things. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a wake up, take up the Cross, and surrender myself on the altar of MY WAY for HIS WAY. Every. Single. Time.

 

Close

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18
Ever feel like all of your conversations, all of the things you write, or all of the things you feel aren’t the most “popular” or uplifting things to talk about? If I were to sum up the last month, I feel like I’ve been beating the same old drum, feeling the same old things. I’ve always wanted to remind others that they should never be sorry for their story, but I often feel sorry for mine lately because it isn’t the fun stuff or the stuff that really gains you many friends. It’s the hard stuff that, whether we like it or not, we have to walk through.
My story, if it was a book, would be entitled, “The Sick Person”. I wish that wasn’t the title because it doesn’t just portray a physical state when I read it. It portrays a mental and emotional state that causes me shame, that makes me want to hide in my brokenness. It makes me wonder, “How many different ways can you speak about this…can you write about this?” I’ve always tried to look for the meaning in the events that shape my story, but most stories take on different chapters with a different theme. My story just seems to keep repeating the same chapter.
So many stories are worse than mine, but if we all think like that, we don’t always necessarily pay the necessary attention to what God is trying to speak throughout OUR story because we are rooted in comparison.
Health is a tricky thing. Many of us walk around in great health, and no worries. Many of us walk around in not so great health, and everyday is a worry in one way or another. Many walk around in the worst of health and take it like a champ, living each day to the fullest, but many uncertain how to live when you wake up each day wondering if this is the day it claims your life. Morbid, maybe, but also an honest nutshell summary of life.
I live most of my life looking through the lens of ministry. I firmly believe that if you are a Christ-follower, you all have a ministry, but my life just happens to be the calling that is also the “job” I go to everyday, or the events that fill my calendar. My ministry eyes have seen much sickness, and my hands have held the hands of many a sick person. It’s so much easier, if you will, to hold the hand of the sick than to actually BE the sick. For the last 15 years I have been the sick, but not until this last month have I actually realized, or called myself, the sick. It’s a label. I don’t like them. There’s always been something comforting to me about having an actual diagnosis for what ails me with my health, but there is also something about having a diagnosis that I don’t want, and it’s having a name that I would force myself to live in – to put myself inside a box called, “Just Barely Living”. Having a diagnosis might mean I use it as a reason to stop living, and for someone who feels EVERYTHING deeply, that’s not always what I need. We need reasons to keep on living, to not want to give up.
I’ve wanted to give up most everyday lately. I’ve been so sick for the past month, I’ve made it to work maybe a total of five days. I’ve run a fever for a solid month. I’ve lived everyday, but five, in pain. I’ve, by the grace of God, made it to church every Sunday, but 2, over the last two months, experiencing the only break in pain I’ve had, only to return home that afternoon to the pain returning. It’s probably all mumbo jumbo to you because you can’t understand something that has no name, that you don’t feel, or you’re one of the ones who is much sicker and you wonder why write about this at all. I’ve got to own this story God has been writing over me. I don’t believe He makes me sick, but I believe, as my husband always says, “This is all going somewhere.” If I wear any banner more than another, it’s that one. I have to believe it’s for a reason. The reason I struggle to understand is how do you live a life of ministry when you hurt everyday, when you are so tired you can barely shower, or when no one really understands your health because YOU don’t understand your health. I really don’t know. I want to know, but if I’m being honest, this is lonely and confusing, angers me often, and has flowed over to other parts of ministry that I don’t know how to process. Investments in lives have changed a lot for me. I feel disconnected from people, more of observing others doing ministry than actually doing it myself, and honestly super confused what’s even the point of putting a whole heart into something that everyday I see more and more care less about. I hate that part about honesty, but just understand with me for a moment that life seems to be so inundated with excuses over surrender, and I even find myself questioning my own desire to surrender and just keep going, but then I remember, deep down, with everything, I know this is all going somewhere. So, it makes me share hoping that it connects with someone, encourages you to keep going. Realizing recently that I am actually in this community I never wanted to be in called, “The Sick Person” has made me see things a little differently, I guess. Being sick makes me want to hide, but rarely do I hide from the pressures of responsibility. Maybe for you, that is your job. Me, too. I rarely hide from that willingly because income is drawn from a job. Expectations work will be completed exists. When I say I missed all but five days of work, that is solely because I couldn’t physically pull it together to get there. You want to know where I hide the most? From God. It takes every bit of my willpower to want to be in the Word, to pray, and I kick and scream my way to church each Sunday because He represents everything I don’t understand. Why did He speak clearly He is going to heal me, but He hasn’t. (Side note…please don’t write me, or tell me, “He’s going to heal you here on earth or in heaven” because duh, we will ALL be healed in heaven. This is not helpful. He spoke a specific word that He IS going to heal me. Pray that!) Why would I want to put myself in a place that He will speak to me things I’m often not ready to hear? Why would I want to be in a room full of healthy people when all I feel is sick physically and mentally? Being an introvert, I want ANY reason to not be in a room full of people, sick or not, but you try sitting alone in a room with your thoughts, and no one to talk you off a ledge but your DOG! It is NOT the most uplifting place to be. I look around every Sunday and my flesh takes over in confusion, anger, disappointment, hurt, defeat, and on and on. Why? When you see things through a ministry lens, you wonder why so many people have stopped coming, opting often for online church, or just no church at all. Do NOT hear me judge when I question watching online. Trust me. When I am home sick, it is the BEST to know I can worship from home, but trust me…the enemy will use ANY reason to keep you from community. He will give us excuses we would never use to not show up for work, just to keep us from being with people that will speak life to us, or keep us from sitting next to someone that needs to hear our story, or allowing a sermon to hit us between the eyes. Let me chase the rabbit one last lap with this…Don’t fall for lies that you can be just fine without attending church. It is a lie. Read Hebrews 10:24 & 25…’And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.’ What a gift to know we can encourage one another while we worship together.
In all of my attempts to talk myself out of going, I have NEVER walked out disappointed that I went. Why? I absolutely cannot depend on me. I NEED other people to be the lifters of my arms.
Untitled Design 25Maybe you are crushed right now for different reasons than the ones I am feeling. I love the scripture at the beginning of this blog because it reminds me that God doesn’t always immediately heal the brokenhearted. It says He is close. He is with us for every moment of sadness, frustration, defeat, anger…ALL OF IT! The truth is, we are all the sick person. We all have a need for Him that absolutely nothing else will satisfy. What I know is that our circumstances can drive us away if we allow them to do so, or we can do whatever it takes to draw closer to Him. There is no better closeness than the one where I’m moving as close to Him as He already is to me.
My knuckles are usually in a white clenched, even bloody state from just trying to hold on to my misery. You, too? Maybe it’s not an instant heal for all of us, but it is a peace to know that His closeness never changes no matter how sick or defeated we feel. You’re not alone today, you who feel crushed. Today I hope I can be the reminder you need. Tomorrow, I am sure that you will need to be the reminder for me. That’s just what community does. Find yours.

A Bearded Lady on a Dead End Road

untitled-design-7.pngIf you are one of the few remaining people who have yet to see “The Greatest Showman,” this post is not meant to spoil anything for you. I’m continually amazed that God will use just about anything to get our attention, and if my lack of motivation to go out last week for dinner and a movie with my family was any indication, God typically pushes me to come face to face with my junk and just deal with it…even in the dark of a movie theater.

For me, 2018 hasn’t been that fresh start, attack your goals kind of new beginning. What could go wrong, has. Any negative self-talk that could be said, I’ve said it and BELIEVED it about myself. I’m not sure why we allow the same things to have the same negative effect on us. Even when I’ve believed I’ve long ago dealt with hurts, failures and bad habits, they have a way of popping back up. I give the enemy more credit than he deserves, but life for me, if I’m being honest, is a good mixture of taking my eyes off of God, and opening that door wide open for the enemy to push those same, miserable little buttons. I allowed myself to fall into believing I’m alone. While everyone seemed to have a “bestie,” “BFF,” or “tribe” to HOORAY through the holidays with, I felt utterly alone. When you are an introvert like me, you tend to love being alone, savor the quiet, but sometimes I allow myself to be consumed with wondering if I’m ever thought of. In general I find the terms “bestie” and “BFF” to be juvenile out of the mouths of adult women, as if we are back in elementary school staking our claim that our friend is the very best of the best, and oh yeah…they’re MY best of the best and no one else’s. I do, however, sense the value of having your “Go-To” friend, one that is there for you through thick and thin. Heading into 2018, I just believed I’m not the go-to for anyone. Without a doubt, you challenge me to name who will be there for me in a skinny minute, I have a list of five or so that I wouldn’t hesitate to call within miles of me. Tell me they will hop on an airplane, and I’ll give you three more that would come no questions asked! Lies we tell ourselves take on a life of their own within seconds of believing anything about ourselves that is contrary to what God speaks over us. I pretty much camped out on the lie that I am not wanted, thought of, or valued, and you name one person that starts out on the right foot believing the worst about anything! Doesn’t happen!

I headed to a movie theater last week believing the worst about me, and events of the week fueled the belief that I screw up everything I touch and I’m misunderstood in everything I say. I headed to a movie theater last week wishing I could just tape shut my mouth from any chance to miscommunicate. I wanted to hide away and never come out because I believed my attempts to be a leader always end in disaster, that any approach to be a peaceful co-worker were producing opposite results and taken personally instead of professionally, and my management of my home was all things chaotic instead of me producing calm within our walls. All of the things I would tell you I’d believed God believed about me had turned to just wishing I could disappear, and I believed if I did, no one would even care. Thankfully, I headed to a movie theater and remembered that even words sung by a bearded lady can remind me of the truth of who I am.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

Words spoken by others hurt, but none wound more than what we more often speak over ourselves. While actual circumstances can cause us to feel like a nobody, it’s been allowing what I “think” others believe about me to become a loud truth in my ears.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Remembering who we are in Christ and who He is shaping us to be can drown out the pain others and even ourselves have inflicted. “Worthless” is the label I gave myself, and often give myself. I grovel to become who God wants me to be because He continually has to redirect me to where I find my worth. Battered and scarred from doing things my way, remembering that anytime I live in my flesh, I am not headed for life at all. Apologizing for the road that gets me there is often where I trip up because it is messy and hard, and I am ashamed of allowing anyone to see me fail along the way. You, too? Picture perfect simply doesn’t exist, contrary to what a social media world is producing. The beauty is actually found in the messy journey.

And I know that I deserve your love
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

When I…when you…become aware of a love from God that demands all of our focus, we begin to trade lies for truth. When I still get up and feel worthless, what can I lay down that day that feeds into that, only to pick up what is feeding me truth. It takes me awhile to get it. The bearded woman hid behind a curtain everyday before she believed she had found worth. I, like her, can continue down a dead end road believing I screw up all I touch and say, or I can wake up and focus on what God says about me. A road I walk with Him is a road to life. A road with Him is exactly who I am meant to be!

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

*Full lyrics found here

My Photograph

1465BDC7-5ACF-4F38-8E34-DB64CEE1828BI got to the end of the day yesterday and realized I really didn’t take one picture, but I also realized that I actually lived in the moments of yesterday rather than my usual worry if I was capturing it all on a camera. My goal this holiday season was to just be present and calm, to really take in living fully in each moment…except, I didn’t do that. I had hardly really lived my life at all until this past weekend, if I’m being honest.
I was supposed to stand up in our Christmas Eve services and speak on hope, but I’d felt everything but hopeful the last few weeks. Truthfully, for the last few months everything felt like it was falling apart. I felt overwhelmed, angry, annoyed, like I was chasing myself in circles and making ZERO progress. I questioned if this life of mine made any difference at all because, to just be blunt, I feel what started off as a desire to live a life that shows a pursuit of God in every moment had turned into begging those around me to put God first. Believing that just living like Jesus was enough to motivate others to live like Him, had turned more into resentment because everywhere I looked it didn’t seem like God mattered at all. I often found myself wondering if I could just not show up in the places I’m expected to be. After all, everywhere I looked is “God, and the things of God, are important to me…until something else better comes along” seems to be a constant battle to any ministry at all. Life had honestly landed a purity of heart as its root, to just being a hard heart, because I feared being let down again. How can a life turn from living out hope to feeling completely hopeless that what you do matters at all?

When life becomes about ME, then what God can do, and will do, turns to a lack of hope. Hope finds itself in moments that don’t make sense. When sickness is present, relationships are broken, bills can’t be paid, and on and on…that’s when hope can make us our break us. We break when we lose hope before we even give it a shot at all. If Jesus is really our hope, then we dig deep and let Him do what only He can do.

This weekend, I was face to face with faking my way through my message on hope, or falling on my face and allowing God to write my story. I’ve been praying that what happens in my life, and in others, would only be explained by God, and I had to actually let Him do that in me at that moment. Was I really without hope? No! What was true is that I was so discouraged by a general lack of commitment around me, I had allowed it to be so personal that I didn’t want any life in ministry at all. However, it is not the truth of what I really know deep down. The truth is that God is the change maker, and the reality is, if I take a moment to look at every single moment around me, He is Hope. He is still working even when I can’t see. I wish that life didn’t feel like a constant begging others to put God first, but I can’t force that for Him to BE that in your life. I must let Him BE that in mine in every moment I live – the good and the really hard.

So, I don’t have a picture of Christmas because I needed to LIVE Christmas. I needed to look for Him around me in the chaos, the laughter, the forgetting to do things on a list, and the smiles on the faces of the family around me. I may wish I had a photo of the day next year when none appear in my social media memories, but this year I need to take the ones He branded on my heart and let that hope be what I breathe in and breathe out. What I knew in the pit of who I was this weekend on the stage in our services is that hope had risen up in me and I took it before I got there that day. Hope will carry me back when hardship comes again. I don’t serve a God of hopelessness. He is my God of all Hope. He can do whatever He wants in any life. His story for me, and for you, is so much better. He deserves to be first, but only you, and only I, can decide He will be.
I read this quote I love again today…”The genealogy of Jesus includes Rahab to show that it doesn’t matter how you start. It matters how you finish.” Finishing this year out in the hope of what He can do that I will never be able to do is a story ONLY He can write!

You Only Know Who You Really Know

IMG_0983.PNGIf we think we really KNOW a person based only on what we see on social media, or whether or not people interact with us on social media, we probably find ourselves pretty disappointed a lot, invisible, assuming people no longer like us, and believing we have no real friends at all. When we assume someone is no longer our friend based on what we perceive on a screen, there is a person on the other side of the screen probably feeling the same way. We cannot be all things to all people, but everyday we store up expectations that people can never live up to, all because we choose to believe the worst case scenario over the best case. I’ve seen people who identify themselves as followers of Christ be the absolute worst at this. A Family that ought to be so for each other that it has the makings of a cheesy Hallmark movie, we are doing a much better job at being against one another. The secret ingredient to any relationship is always LOVE. Would we, if we genuinely love our brother/sister, spread gossip, lie about, believe the worst about, accuse falsely, turn our nose up at, the one we are supposed to love because we’re all part of the same Family?
Want to really know someone? Spend time with them. Not through a screen, but actually sharing life with them. I’ve lived a lot of life not measuring up to the expectations of others. “You don’t call. You don’t write. You don’t visit. You don’t come to everything. You didn’t speak to me. You didn’t like my status…” and on and on. And, I’ve held others under the same expectations, but life is shorter and shorter by the day, and the truth is I will never measure up to how others think I should be, and others will not measure up to what I think either, but living there is lonely. No one shows up to that party. I’m going to the party where there is something that I CAN do, and that is “at least try”. I can try to be the friend I want to have. I can try to love well every chance I get. I can try to speak life in every opportunity. I can do that, not through a screen, but making moments when moments are right in front of me.
I’ve wondered from time to time why friendships on the screen stay there and are no longer friendships I would see in my real life. People come and go even if their names are lit up on my phone/computer screen, but the conversations and real life have ceased. Seasons change, circles become smaller, but valuing people based on what we think we know from a social media post cheapens the season which might bring them right back into our lives. Want to know a person? All you have to do is try.

When You Can’t Win for Losing

Untitled Design (5)One of my most favorite quotes I’ve ever heard was born out of everything that should not make sense, but until you live out the power of words, they will just fall on ears not ready to hear. Live them, and the words suddenly define your life, and add another line to your story.

“It is doubtful that God can bless (use) a man greatly until until He has hurt him deeply.” A.W. Tozer

No one ever sets out to be hurt. Most of my life, I flew so far under the radar that I evaded hurt just by keeping entirely to myself. You’ll find if you stay out of everyone’s way, do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll generally avoid too much trouble. Be invisible and you don’t get in the way of anyone. No one can stay invisible forever, though, and really…we wouldn’t want to stay that way.

These days, on the whole, it seems near to impossible to avoid hurt in a sea of opinions. We’ve become people more known for what we are against than what we are for. Make yourself visible in any way, be it standing out for a worthy job performance, confident in any way, how you dress, posting your opinion, and on and on…well, you’re probably going to be the object of criticism. We’re in a world looking for the wrong, bent on disrespect, and we (me, myself and I) are the smartest people we know. I remember hearing the saying growing up, “We can’t win for losing.” No truer words could capture what it’s like to just try and live these days.

Ever feel like you are living a “headed for failure” life? Can’t do anything right, every turn is a dead end, and your neighbor seems to be headed everywhere BUT the wrong way? I can easily feel that way when my eyes focus on what everyone else “thinks” I ought to be doing. Whether said or unsaid, expectations of others rarely land us in the “winner” lane. In a dog eat dog culture, expectations do not often take on the appearance of others dreaming big dreams for us. Expectations often take on a negative spin, believing the absolute worst in people, rather than the best.

When the expectations others put upon us are greater than the ones they put on themselves, there are no winners.

Having great expectations for ourselves is a great thing. It’s sets a goal before us for which we can aim. We can even set healthy expectations for others, and do so when we parent children, set a tone for school and the workplace, and even as a church. Expectation leads to anticipation of what’s to come. When in the context of the goal being to move forward, expectation is a pretty awesome thing! When expectations are unhealthy, the impossible is demanded out of people that are not perfect, mind-reading skills are required, and the focus on what others aren’t doing is more important than looking in the mirror to realize what we are not doing. Suddenly our environment is defined by things like “You don’t do this right,” or “You walked right past me and didn’t speak,” and a “Your sin is greater than mine” mentality. We would never admit that the last part of that sentence is something we would actually say, but our actions would definitely show that we expect people are so much worse than we are that, of course, their sin is, too. See why we can’t win for losing? Winning will only happen when we shift the expectations we have squarely back on ourselves. Expect as much out of ourselves as we do anyone else, there will be no time to focus on what others should be doing that they are not. Expect as much out of ourselves with a heart and life living for an audience of One, we’ll live lives that expect what He expects, and that is never the worst of anyone or anything. He is for me. He is for you. His only expectation is that we live holy lives, worthy of the calling He has placed on us – to become what He’s created us to be.

Expectations that find their beginning in love will result in lives that can’t lose for winning!

Do you find yourself believing the absolute worst of people? I have, if I’m honest. When trust in others is at stake it’s oddly easier to believe the worst because the hurt may be less. It sets a low bar with low expectation. How much life are we sucking out of those around us when we expect the very worst of them because we’ve bought into the lie that they probably believe the worst of us? It’s a vicious cycle that only ends when someone decides to be a cycle breaker! Is it worth it to stop and think that maybe no one is out to get you at all, that expectations don’t have to take on the appearance of their synonym “assumption”? That’s right. Look it up. Expectation will assume! I’ve written more blogs and articles about the harm of assumption than probably anything because I daily witness the damage it always does. I’ve done it and I’ve been a victim of it, and either way I’ve not one time felt good about myself in any way!

Today, can we expect the best and see where that takes us? Can we make amends with those we’ve unfairly controlled with our lofty expectations? Let’s plant our expectations in a soil that produces fruit and not weeds. Be for your life reflecting His glory. Be a life that is FOR His glory to shine on another. Why would you want to expect anything less?