Calming Ruffled Feathers

turkey

What makes us spectators rather than participants at times in our lives? We often measure our success on what we see; what we see others having or doing, or the grades our friends at school have, or the place that others are at in their lives instead of knowing our identity in Christ.

During those times, we are operating out of fear; fear of rejection. We don’t take responsibility for reaching out to others, and rather expect others to reach out to us. We don’t want to take the risk of being rejected, so we stay on the sidelines and aren’t ready to jump into the game.

If you’ve been rejected so many times before, you often go into situations expecting that people will treat you that way. Others will pick up on that and sadly, they often deliver that rejection.  In the counseling world, this is called ‘victim mentality.’ It gives other people power over your feelings and allows people to ruffle your feathers, instead of finding the real reasons why their rejection bothers you.

This subject is as sticky as molasses, especially during the holiday season. We go into the holidays with the expectation that these ‘should’ be happy times, but we know darn well that we’ve had trouble with ‘Aunt Sarah’ for years, and somehow we think on this magical day, that everything will be different, but it doesn’t happen that way. So what can we do to guard our hearts against disappointment and bitterness?

It is easy to focus on the ‘Aunt Sarah’s’ or whatever the problem seems to be. For example sometimes people who are single think, “Oh if I only had a husband/wife to share this happy time with!” When behind the scenes, some married people are screaming inside because their spouse is driving them nuts! When we hold on to what we want so tightly, we cannot at the same time grasp the blessings that God has stored up for us. He is more than willing to meet the longings of our hearts, but we have to let go of our idea of what will satisfy us.

I think of Psalm 73:21-24 (NLT), “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.  I was so foolish and ignorant- I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”

Thankful heart

Lyla at the chapel

I have noticed on Facebook lately, that a lot of my friends are posting about what they are thankful for in their lives, so I have decided to join them! Being thankful for one thing can lead to another and to another and another! It is easy to let the opposite happen also, especially on these rainy days in Oregon. One bad thought can just start a downward spiral.

I remember not too long ago, my friend, Jill, and I were coming back from a fantastic conference at the Joni and Friends International Headquarters in Agoura Hills, CA. As we made our way toward the plane, we were happily reflecting on the events of the conference. My friend and I boarded before anyone else and I told the flight attendant that I wanted to use the restroom since I hadn’t had the chance to go before we boarded the plane. She turned to Jill and asked her, “Can she go to the bathroom by herself?” Jill looked at me with a puzzled look on her face and breathed a sigh of relief as I answered for myself, “Yes, I live alone.”

Frankly, I don’t know where I would have put Jill even if I did need help, because there was no room for two of us in that restroom; maybe in the sink?! When I opened the restroom door to go to my seat, the flight attendant exclaimed loudly, “Good job!” At this point, I just smiled and shook my head.

That interaction with the flight attendant challenged me to decide how to respond.  I could have gotten upset, but I let my Heavenly Father know how frustrating and painful her comments were and He comforted me.   I could even just laugh about it. When the flight attendant came around with the garbage bag later on and we put some of our trash in there, I looked at Jill and said, “Good job!” We both got a good laugh at that.

It is just a reality that sometimes people see my disability and they make certain assumptions about me. I do not have any  control over their  perceptions, but I’m thankful I  have the choice of whether or not to let  them  put a damper on my day.

The Quilter and the Author

grace-quilt

This morning, I asked my mother what she was doing today. She said, “I am taking apart the quilt that I started at a retreat, and it is a mess!” She got some other new ideas so she’s adding more pieces to her quilt. It is a slow process because she has to take it all apart before she can create the new masterpiece.

As a writer, I sometimes feel like a quilter without any pattern at all. All of my ideas are in my head and in my heart, so I can start one piece on a particular day, and the next day, the entire thing can morph into something else! When there was an event in my life such as Rachael being born or going to college, those seemed like the main pieces of my quilt, or my story, because they were so defining. But in each stage of life, there have been more events that have added elements to the story that I would not have predicted at all.

Sometimes I feel like my mother, with stacks of fabric, yet to be sewn together when I think about the stories I have yet to tell. Unlike me though, she does have patterns to follow, and she gets to choose the fabric as well.  We definitely don’t get to choose the pattern OR the fabric in the story of our lives, but even the dark pieces of fabric have a place in the quilt. For example, the break-up of my marriage or my daily struggle with cerebal palsy are still a part of my story and my quilt, no matter how messy they first appear.

Life gets difficult when we want to create the pattern for ourselves.  I am thankful that God is putting together the story of my life, each and every piece of it.  The dark times as well as the spectacular moments. Someday the struggles we face or the tragedies we hear about on the news will make sense to us, but for now, we can be confident that God knows what he is doing and that He knows the design of our lives.  I do know this, when we trust in God, the quilts of our lives will bring Him glory.

“…looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2