Happy #fridayintroductions! I'm Meagan, and I'm here because I'm passionate about seeing women learn how their worth is found in Christ, and not in what we can do or achieve on our own. This is something I'm always learning, too, and lately I've been learning things I fear in myself that I have no basis to fear in Christ: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ - I fear annoying people, like asking them too many questions, or being afraid to ask for help on a project or with my kids. Often times I don't ask, or when I do and am ignored, take it too personally. - I worry I don't have anything significant to contribute, and am scared to try things because I don't want to prove it to myself. - I've always been awkward. I often don't say things or interact with people because I'm afraid of people thinking I'm awkward. - I fear I do things just okay enough, if that. Never excellent. Just eh. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I've also been learning that while God cares about things I fear, these things aren't ultimately important. These examples reveal areas that I focus on myself more than on Jesus, like how I would rather be seen as not awkward or annoying than reach out to people. Or how I'm not commanded to do anything excellent, but only to abide with the Lord. And how I can be rejected by people, even if it's unintentional, without fear because I have been accepted by the only one who matters.
(1/2) The combination of the hurt little girl at the mall last night (read my last post), my cousin @kira.m.anderson's comment on that post, and reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship has me thinking this week about what it actually costs us to follow Jesus. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, if we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regarding the cross as an ordinary everyday calamity, as one of the trials and tribulations of life. We have then forgotten that the cross means rejection and shame as well as suffering. The Psalmist was lamenting that he was despised and rejected of men, and that is an essential quality of the suffering of the cross. But this notion has ceased to be intelligible to a Christianity which can no longer see any difference between ordinary human life and a life committed to Christ. The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. The Cost of Discipleship, 89, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If people do not take us seriously in our faith, they are not likely to take Christ seriously. Calling ourselves christians means we are supposed to be willing and ready to enter into the pain of others, the pain of Christ, at an inconvenience – sometimes worse, as in Bonhoeffer's case. But Christian friends, we so often say we believe but do not put it into action. And Bonhoeffer argues that only those who obey believe. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Have you watered down the gospel to an emotional uplift in your life? Have you let the gospel make no costly demands of you? To a hurting, watching world, our hypocrisy results in even more pain than they're already experiencing, and can be the thing that turns them away from Christ. This Valentine’s Day, let’s remember that the greatest love we can give and receive is to participate in the mission God has given us is to love Him and love others. (Matt 28:16-20)
Tonight at the mall playground, Maren's new little friend ripped her toenail up and it started to bleed. Her caregivers told her she was fine, and sent her off to cry in a tunnel by herself, right next to me. I always want to give the benefit of the doubt because I know how I react on my bad days and I know how often kids cry wolf. But now I wish I would have pointed out to her caregivers that she was actually hurt. She kept staring at me in tears, so I eventually talked to her for a bit and tried to encourage her. I didn't want to be that person that overreacts and oversteps bounds with others' kids, so I mostly listened. She had a lot to say, and my heart hurt for her that she was left to deal with her pain alone at such a young age. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This little picture is my bubble. The people, the place. I'm comfortable here. But that's where I get complacent and start to forget that others carry pain and hurt, and that Jesus tells me to be salt and light to a hurting world. That little girl has me thinking tonight about how easy it is for me to get complacent and fail to see the pain of others and not invite them to share their hurt with me. And how to truly reach the world, I have to willingly feel the pain of others. I'm thinking about real ways I need to step out of my bubble to join others who are hurting. Because sin isn't the killer of faith, complacency is. Only the believing obey, only the obedient believe. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We spent the last five days visiting my parents, so that meant today was Grandparent Detox Day. Maren was withdrawing from all the love and all the fun, and it was really pretty bad. Fellows mamas, PLEASE tell me we're not alone in this?? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There were so many timeouts, a grocery store tantrum (uncommon for her), whining, yelling, screaming.....all of the above for negative child behavior. I'm so thankful to be able to spend such special time with my parents, but, Maren, I could really do without this day! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Just like Maren immediately behaves badly when she thinks she's the authority in her life, we behave badly when we think we are the authority in our own lives. We think we can set our own rules, and get angry and desire to rebel at anyone who tells us we are wrong. It seems like Maren is shifting her view of authority from grandma and grandpa back to mama and daddy, and bad behavior happens as she tries to relearn our boundaries. When we shift our view of authority from ourselves to God, we also go through a rough patch of bad behavior (not that God expects perfection) as we learn how to obey him and not our own desires. Just like my goal as a parent is to grow her character, God's goal in us is to make us holy. God teaches us how to be holy like him as we push his boundaries. As christians, we shouldn't expect perfection out of ourselves. It's very important to have realistic expectations; expectations of failure, with an increased desire for holiness.
On our road trip the other day, Reed and I listened to a podcast from @louiegiglio at @passioncity church. He was talking about how we often get confused about finding the will of God for our lives, but it's actually very simple: it's anything that aligns with scripture and brings God glory. He continued that to find how we can individually determine how we can use our lives to bring glory to God, we need to identify our passion. We need to find the thing that excitedly gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us up at night. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We don't have to be a pastor or a missionary to live out our mission as christians. We're simply supposed to know God and make him known, and that will be done in unique ways for everyone. I just recently realized my mission lived out through my passion is writing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I want you to ask yourself: What is your passion and how can you use it to glorify God? How can you fulfill the mission he's given you to Know him and make him Known? How can you live out your mission through your passion in your every day life? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ (I highly recommend this podcast two episodes after it. The first one is called Whatever, from Passion City Church Podcast on iTunes.)
Sophia woke up in the middle of the night last night and refused to take her pacifier after eating, and instead screamed at me and kept turning her face away from her pacifier. I knew she needed to take it, because it's her favorite thing and she can't sleep without it, but she didn't agree with me. Finally Reed made a comment to me, and at the sound of her daddy's voice she instantly settled, took her pacifier, and went to sleep. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How often do we do the same thing to God? We scream and turn our face from him, when He's trying to lovingly give us the very thing he knows we need. We need to learn how to hear God's voice, so we can instantly settle when we hear it. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand John 10:27.
I don't remember questioning my identity as a child. I was Meagan - a daughter, sister, granddaughter, and friend. Shy and pretty awkward, but caring. Now, as an adult, just writing that I'm a wife to Reed and mama to Maren and Sophia feels weird to me. Partly because I can't believe I moved so quickly from Dean and Tammy's daughter to Reed's wife & Maren and Sophia's mama, and partly because now I'm responsible to determine where I find my identity. There is a good amount of stress in trying to put my identity in the right place. Will I find it in myself and my accomplishments and feelings, or in who God says I am? It's a daily battle that I so often lose, but I'm thankful for the ways God has recently used motherhood to force me to look at everything I'm tempted to put my value and identity in: my efforts, accomplishments, relationships, how people see me, and so many other things. When I'm struggling to find my identity in what God says about me, I notice that I start to slide into habits of striving, anxiety, comparison, and lack of motivation/direction. A healthy sense of identity in Christ will leave me with joy, peace, contentment, and the assurance that ultimate good isn't up to me. God tells me to find my identity in Him for my good, not to make me a mindless being. On my own I will never have direction for any good thing, ever be free from anxiety and comparison, and will continually strive to be good enough by my own accomplishments and efforts. It's only in him that I will ever find my true identity and live up to who he created me to be. (This blizzard has me thinking about these pictures we took in a snowstorm last year. Some of my favorites ever, just taken on a whim in our front yard.)
Late last night I was reading in Hosea and this verse stuck out to me: I will turn their glory into shame (4:7). It's just a little verse, but it reveals something profound. It says the opposite of shame is glory. The opposite of shame is not happiness, self confidence, or pride. We so often try to find freedom from our shame in our own successes, or by our own power. We think if we have enough self confidence or self love that it will solve the deep shame we feel. The only true solution to shame is glory. God promises us glory in Jesus: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are a self-seeking, self-serving, self-loving people. But what if our very solutions to our deep shame - more self seeking, more self serving, and more self loving - are just compounding that shame? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ God says that to receive glory, we need to believe that Jesus is Lord, we need to obey his commands, and we need to abide in him (John 15:10) There is grace for our failure, but glory is given to those who fail, repent, fail, repent, and so on, until heaven. The very things we think we need to do to free ourselves from shame is the exact opposite of what God tells us to do. Self - love? No, deny yourself. Serve yourself? No, obey God's commands. Know yourself more? No, know God.
For #fridayintroductions this week, I want to do something a bit different. I've been thinking about how we don't really get to know peoples' quirks and character flaws here online, which is fine, but it's easy to feel like other people don't have character flaws or are never annoying. Which is not reality. So I wanted to help you guys reallllyyyy get to know me and share some of my character flaws/quirks that people might be annoyed by in real life: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ -I critique more than I encourage -I complain more often than I praise (like 2 minutes ago putting the kids to bed) -I'm the world's loudest typer -I never know what to say around most people and worry I come off as uninterested, when I just feel awkward -I still haven't learned how to pick up my laundry -I'm not disciplined with most things, like time, energy, bible reading, household tasks....cooking... -I have a habit of sharing my opinion when it's unsolicited -I'm not good at expressing myself or my emotions, and worry I come off as unapproachable and apathetic to most people. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Help me get to really know you and tell me some of your character flaws or annoying habits!
I never thought I’d one day want to write a book. I got a writing degree in college so I could be an editor for a publishing company. When I realized I'd have to move away from my favorite town, I let that dream go. I resented spending 45k on a degree I would never use. (Yes, I'm still resentfully paying that off.) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I'm still skeptical I'll one day ever be an author. In my head I'm sure public failure is just around the corner. But instead of listening to those thoughts, I'm going to pursue what my book is about: That we're not enough on our own, and our own best efforts aren't for our glory anyway. That our live's value isn't from our accomplishments and achieved goals but from what Christ has done for us. Anything we attempt in this life is for the glory of God, not for the glory of ourselves, so we are free to try and fail, because anything pursued and failed that's done for the glory of God isn't really failure at all.