Friday, November 30, 2007

Proactive . . . what an ugly word.

When I was in High School, my best friend's little brother had to read a book for one of his classes. It was called "Habits of Highly Effective Teens." Their teacher thought it would be good to encourage them to develop their leadership skills by forcing them to read this book, which ultimately completely unmotivated their already unmotivated selves from being effective. One of the habits described encouraged them to be proactive; to take the initiative; to make the first move; to get things done. Later on, I used 'proactive' in conversation and AJ cringed, withdrew, and with a distorted look on his face said, "Ugh, proactive, what an ugly word." The memory of the concept up to and including the word been so distorted for him that everything in him led him towards the opposite.
The fact is, however, in a world, centered around motivation, this is exactly the thing we, as we grow are encouraged towards. We are encouraged to get things done; and not only get them done but be the first to do them. Waiting is not as encouraged as it once was.
Sometimes when things arise in our lives that we are at a loss as to how to deal with them, this kind of thinking kicks in; sometimes without us even knowing it. Our first instinct is to deal with it. We sit and we complain thinking and saying "I don't know what to do." My question is, what makes us say this?
I want to suggest that it is in fact an unnecessary reliance on ourselves. Ah, yes, confidence in the flesh. It takes me back to my Pentateuch class in my first year of college. This is what kills us in life. We look at our lives and say, "It is up to me to live this life rightly, make it work and deal with everything that comes up." We all know that we can't do this. We've tried and tried again, just to fail. Yet we still ask the question, "What should I do?"
What if I told you the answer is more often than not, nothing. I'm still trying to tell myself the answer is more often than not nothing. But it's true. The reason for this being, there is often nothing to be done and the reason for that being, our plans and resolutions don't often fit within the plans and resolutions of God. Apart from those we can do nothing.
I developed an anxiety disorder because I refused to believe just this. I spent so long trying to figure out what I could do. But the reality was that there wasn't anything I could do. No move I could make; no action I could take. By the grace of God I began to realize this. It's an ongoing process, and I was reminded of it tonight as something arose and I immediately thought of the thing I should do.
I don't want the pressure of having to solve everything anymore; firstly because it's not mine to take, and secondly because it's a futile pressure to put on myself because I will just continually be frustrated in my lack of clarity to be a solvent. I'm sorry, that's quite the sentence.
Proactive, is often an beautiful word. Often, however, it's also a very ugly word. Somehow, I think we need to come to grips with the fact that we aren't the end all be all. God is, and he's going to remain that way forever.
And while we go about that, may we enjoy this encouragement to continually become less proactive.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Discovery seems to be the theme of my life. I'm like a child who has never seen the world before and everything that is shown to her is new and exciting and surprising.
I made a discovery. Yesterday. I was standing in the entry way of Marv and Lois Penner's house and I looked in their mirror and this is what I thought . . . I'm beautiful. It was a startling discover as I have never thought that before; not like that. I thought that for the first time in the way that I was meant to think it. I am beautiful not because the world wants me to be. Or because I measure up to the world's standards of beautiful. I am beautiful because I am. It's a clear and simple statement and a clear and simple truth. I am beautiful because God created me; beautifully and wholly in love.
I had an eating disorder once. Not very long ago. I could not, would not look at myself in the mirror and accept what was there. Even if I did, it was only because that was the only choice I had. Somehow that image, that lack of acceptance of myself is gone. I look at myself now and I instead say, "Well that's nice, isn't it."
It might seem selfish; it might seem vain. You can sing that Carly Simon song to me if you want. The truth is, however, that we were meant to be accepting of ourselves in this way. God created us and we need to be accepting of what the way he has chosen to do that. We also need to respect ourselves as though the creator of the universe formed us. This means treating your body lovingly, healthily and carefully.
Ephesians five says, "for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it . . . " That verse used to make me feel mega guilty, but now I read it and feel not guilt, but opportunity. Opportunity to live up to the person God has created me to be. That's not easy. In this world it's never going to be easy. That's not exactly the point. The point is that God is bigger than the world.
So live in him.
  • I love wearing bold lipstick.
  • I love laughing loud.
  • I love smiling my big smile which for most of my teenage years I hated because it was so big. A guy in college told me once that one day I would understand the magic of my smile and I always thought he was so full of . . .
  • I love wearing sweat pants.
  • I love not wearing make-up at all and still feeling pretty.
  • I love dressing classy.
  • I love not being skinny, even though I secretly still wish I was.
  • I love not dwelling on every little thing I eat.
  • I love pizza (Thank the Lord. There was a time when that love had left.)
  • I love God for giving me the opportunity to remain beautiful in Him.