Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Part 1 - The Wordless Bracelet

Rainbows?!? I wore it here, too.
A few weeks back, I was digging through the things in my closet, and I came across an old craft I had made years ago at summer camp. It was a bracelet, one composed of a thin leather strand strung with five colored beads - a wordless book that tells the story of our salvation.

Black represents the darkness brought on by our wallowing in sin and death. Red stands for the blood of Christ and the sacrifice that was paid. White shines for the pure and unadulterated FREEDOM from sin and death. Green is the growth and maturity, the process of our sanctification. Gold, the final color, is the golden streets of the Heaven, at the side of the Lord.

A small trinket with a big story, for sure, and definite connections to my past, the tender years spent at camp and the shaping of my life that took place there. After sitting for a few moments to reminisce, I slipped the band around my wrist and tied it in place without much thought.

Ignore the order. I do it how it want.
That small, thoughtless action would follow me around for the next week and a half. The bracelet stayed on, bouncing through my runs in the morning, dodging splatters of coffee at work, adorning my wrist on stage - even soaking along with me in the shower. It might seem a little silly for me to make a big deal out of a strange attachment to the bracelet, but it's much more than a physical object in my eyes.

To me, it has begun to serve as a reminder - I am to be shackled to the feet of Christ not matter where I am and what situation I am a part of. My connection to Christ is a source of strength - both against sin, as well as to spur my growth in the sanctification process. While it stayed there, I found that I could walk away from just about any situation, especially while I was alone.

After it had been on for a time, the bracelet became loose, and I chose to take it off for whatever reason. It hasn't been back on since, something that I plan to change once I arrive at home, but that brings me to an interesting point. The bracelet, the little physical trinket, made me realize how important it is to me to have a physical reminder of Christ's presence, sacrifice, love and dedication to the purity of my heart.

I need more of this.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Matthew 6:25 - The Quandary of the Ill at Ease

Doesn't entirely apply to me, I just like the newspaper-lady.
As long as I have been conscious of such things, I have struggled with body image. Even as far back as the fourth grade, when our class went to the community pool in Canby, I was overly self aware. That's age nine - I've had 13 years during which to simmer on the subject.

To put it quite simply, I never see my body as being good enough. This part is too round, this bit jiggles too much, this isn't quite the right length... and ever since then, I've looked at others around me with jealousy. Why were THEY gifted with a faster metabolism? or a stronger drive to keep themselves in perfect shape? Or athletic ability at a younger age?

I actually grew the beard to hide the chin,
but came to love it all on it's own. :)
Then I went through a major transformation during my senior year. I lost a lot of weight and grew an inch or two, ending my high school career on a physical high note. Unfortunately, that added something new to my psychological issues - amidst all of the silent self-deprecation, there now is pride. Now, it's a constant comparison on both sides of the spectrum. A sneer for one person, and a jealous glare for the next.

I've thought this topic over for years, and I come up with the usual things. Oh, you look just fine. Oh, God made you that way and blessed you with the way you are, why throw that away? Oh, the way your body looks doesn't matter in the end, it's the heart. Oh, just stop complaining - there are worse things than having a little extra weight. Oh, yes. Yes, I've heard it all.

And every time I see one of those little images all over facebook that talk about how YOU have the POWER to be anything you WANT, YOU are BEAUTIFUL for who you ARE, YOU don't have to be any DIFFERENT... I see those and fume, because either they're worthless, or I'm worthless at them.

And at this point, I'm somewhat at a loss. I don't need people's compliments - that just feeds the ego side. I don't need people's weight loss tips - that's like asking a fat lady how many months along she is. I need to fix my psyche somehow, and that's not something that can be done by changing my body. That's much more difficult. It's not just about thinking positive thoughts, there are wounds to heal - both from others and myself.

For now, I suppose, I'll take this verse home and to bed, but I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat and drink, nor about your body, what you put on. Is life not more important than food, and the body more than clothing?" Matthew 6:25

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Genesis 41:38 - A Lesson Learn'ed

Different bible character, but I love the movie regardless.

Finally, progress! And not progress that I can simply dismiss as a natural progression over time - this is something that I can see!

Last week, I interviewed for a newspaper editor position, something that I didn't expect without first attaining my degree or at least working in the business. I felt confident leaving the interview, but received an email a few days later letting me know that I had been passed for the position (see previous post).

A few months ago, I would have melted down. I'd have been a mess for days, wallowing in my own perceived futility and sleepwalking through the rest of my mundane responsibilities. This time, however, things were different. After a few minutes of nursing my battered pride, I looked to LEARN something from my situation. The biggest lesson was that I need to make the most of what I have been given: namely, my job at Starbucks that I had chased after for so long.

In the last few months I've become disgruntled at where I work, both from the pressure of the high volume of customers and the realization that I need to have some sense of accomplishment in order to feel successful. That sense of accomplishment doesn't come from blowing through a line of customers' drinks, only to see another dozen lined up.

That said, Starbucks has been such a gift. Relatively speaking, I don't have much to complain about. I work in an air conditioned building serving coffee. I get plenty of free drinks, free pounds of coffee, and good health insurance in addition to having my bills paid. I've been able to afford a little apartment and I do much better than starving. I am able to afford my trip to San Francisco in a few weeks with money to spare... all things that I had forgotten because the work is hard sometimes, or I have to work a lot of hours.

In reality, this is a GIFT from GOD. My wanting of something more reeks of greed. That's not to say that wanting to step into sports journalism, where my pastime, passion and workplace run into one, but I need to take a lesson from Joseph and make a blessing out of wherever God places me. Joseph was thrown into slavery, and rose to take control of Potiphar's house with God's blessing. He was thrown in jail by Potiphar's hand, and rose to run the prison with God's blessing. He was left to rot by the advisers to Pharaoh, and rose to take command of the most powerful empire the world had ever seen - with God's blessing.

Now how measly does shining at Starbucks sound?

"So Pharaoh asked them 'Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?'" - Genesis 41:38