Three years ago, it was a brand new year. A lot like today.
Flipping the calendar to a new year made life feel so much more wide-open than it had just a few weeks prior.
Dreams and options received new breath. Ideas that had felt impractical and unachievable now had a place at the table of “maybe we could.”
So I began to dream about all that we could do that year. All sorts of possibilities came to mind, but with it came the overwhelming question of where to begin on it all.
You see her.
In your Instagram feed. Writing another book. Up on a stage. Traveling the globe and doing work that seems to be changing the world.
Meanwhile, you are stuck paying bills and budgeting. Carpooling and folding laundry. Hustling but not getting anywhere fast.
Your life feels far from extraordinary. Yours lacks influence, and your work seems unimportant in comparison to what she, and others like her, are doing.
People all around you seem to have megaphones and microphones, and you are simply standing among the masses: a speck in a sea of insignificance.
When you’re walking down the street in a group, and you pass by a blind beggar, what do you do? If it’s me, I avert my eyes and keep walking.
But what if that beggar knew your name and, as you passed by, he kept shouting your name louder and louder. Would you stop then?
Honestly, I have no idea what I would do, but three of the four Gospels in the Bible tell us what Jesus did.
In (Matthew 20, Mark 10 and Luke 18), Jesus is just outside of Jericho and as a crowd follows him and passes by a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the man asks what is going. When Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is near, he begins to call out, trying to get Jesus’ attention.
People tried to shush the beggar, telling him to stop and be quiet. But Bartimaeus would not stop. He knew that he might never get this moment again, so he called out louder and louder until he found himself shouting the name of Jesus.
One more hour. One more day. One more month. One more year.
At some point in our lives, each of us has had to wait.
Waiting. Waiting. Always waiting.
For the wonderful news of a healthy baby girl. Or for the devastating news that cancer has returned. For the word on the job found or a job lost.
Waiting is a universal part of the human experience, and I believe that God allows seasons of waiting to grow, to slow us. To invite us to wade into the deeper, hidden parts of our hearts, beyond the right here, right now, me first perspective. That we may rightly see our sin-filled hearts, recognize our great need for a Savior, and be offered the eternal hope and comfort that comes only through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Will Smith ranks as one of my all-time favorite actors. While I have many of his movies in my movie collection, The Pursuit of Happyness is one of my top picks. In it, Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman and single father in a 1981 San Francisco.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that tells a tale of struggle and setback, perseverance and determination. Victory finally arrives, but not until after a long, hard road. And somewhere along the way, Chris Gardner finds happiness.
Friends, I dare say, that the path to our happiness looks quite similar. We want to arrive at a place of happiness, where things go our way and life is easy and good. Yet, happiness is not the end destination, but simply a product of our journey.
I have a confession to make.
I am a gossip.
Seriously. I am a nosey busybody who wants the latest dirt on everybody who is anybody.
At first, it may sound a little silly to confess this to you but I am realizing that just because gossip is more of a “respectable sin” doesn’t make it any less hurtful or less ugly.
Sin is sin, and allowing gossip to breed in my heart is a subtle way to let the enemy sneak in and kill, steal and destroy from the relationships in my life. And I don’t want to do that anymore.
Over and over again in the last few months, God has been peeling back the layers of my gossiping heart to show me just how deep this sin runs in myself. And, friends, it. is. ugly.
After 14 hours sitting sedentary in a car and logging hundreds of miles of fast food and soda pop, I looked into the hotel mirror that night and saw the worst version of myself. Greasy hair, muffin top belly, and a blotchy, pimpled face.
“Disgusting. I feel so disgusting,” is all I could think.
For the remainder of that day, all I felt was unattractive. Fat and unattractive.
Fast forward 12 hours + a solid night’s rest. The morning greets me at 6:00 a.m. and I head to the same hotel’s weight room for a 30-minute run on the treadmill. When I return to our room, I look in the same mirror. Staring back at me is the woman from the day before, sweaty, stinky and make-up less. Yet, this woman looks different. She doesn’t seem fat at all. She seems strong, capable and full of life.
My muffin top was still there. The adolescent-type pimples hadn’t disappeared overnight. I still hadn’t showered. So, what in the world had changed that I viewed myself so differently within just 12 hours?
Are there areas of your life where you seem to have less self-control than others? Tendencies that you know are not good for you, yet you can’t seem to gain victory over them?
Well, you are not alone.
All of us, this side of eternity, will continue to struggle with sin, even though we are born-again believers of Jesus Christ. Even the great apostle Paul struggled with the merry-go-round of sin:
We were standing in an empty parking lot, the final stragglers from a local meet-up. Continuing our conversation long after the doors closed, we stood by our car doors, and my good friend listened as I grumbled about the overwhelming season of life in which I found myself.
I steadfastly declared that I would simply quit the most taxing endeavor I was a part of because it was all too much and that was the most expendable option. Quitting made obvious sense and I sighed in relief just thinking about the freedom it would bring.
That is until she looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re a quitter. You quit when things get hard.“
“I’m not a quitter,” I replied, with more question than resolve in my voice.
“Yes, you are.”
Whether it’s remodeling a house, starting a business or growing a garden, Praise abounds for those do-it-yourselfers out there. However, sometimes, I think we need more “I don’t know” moments and less “I got this” ones.
Tiny little smartphone squares and on-the-go hellos so often encourage us to believe that we need to have our lives together. No gaps. No stutters. No insufficiencies. Especially for others to see.
But, friend, that isn’t real life. Real life is messy. It is hard. And we aren’t equipped in our power to do it all by ourselves. Real life is not DIY.
And honestly, I think that it’s not even close to the life Christ would have us to live.