I was robbed!

While I was working happily at my part-time job at a clothing store, I was suddenly robbed!  And, the other day, at church – robbed! Then, again at home – robbed!  The sad thing is, that I allowed it to happen – I let the thief right in. Let me explain…

At the store, I was content, working with coworkers I like, doing a job that is rather easy and enjoyable. Then, I looked up to see an adult daughter with her mom walk into the store. They were both carrying shopping bags and coffee, talking intently with each other – so absorbed in their conversation that they barely responded when I said, “Hello!” That’s when the thief came and robbed me. I suddenly felt waves of sadness and discontentment. My mom lives about 1,200 miles away from me. I’d love to go shopping and have coffee with her and engage in lively conversation. If only it was different…  Poor me.

At church, I sat with people I know and love. I felt a sense of belonging. Then, as I looked across the room at a couple who are very like-minded in ministry and spiritual formation and I was robbed again! My guy and I have always been in different places spiritually. What joy it must be to be on the same page! I felt grief and disappointment. If only it was different…  Poor me.

At home, I sat in my quiet home, enjoying my morning coffee. Then, I saw my neighbor leave to catch the train – the same train we used to ride together downtown to work. Her life has continued on. She has such purpose and here I sit at home, unemployed. A big Zero. I felt despair and hopelessness. If only it was different…  Poor me.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I opened wide the door to the comparison thief – it was easy to let it in…. so easy to assume that everyone has it better than me.

Here’s the truth: I’m so grateful for my relationship with my mom. So many people aren’t close to their mom – or their mom is no longer living. What a gift to maintain a good relationship with her – even while we’re miles apart! When we’re together, the time is precious and fun. And, my guy! Boy, do I love him! I know for a fact that he loves me, too. What a gift to be in a sweet season of marriage. Even though he doesn’t understand what Spiritual Direction is, he’s very supportive. And, my unemployment has been a gift of rest – something I’ve been asking God to provide for years. What a generous gift!

It’s so easy to let the thief in and steal my joy. But, I’m refusing to let the thief in these days. There’s nothing good that can happen when I do. Instead, I’m focusing on gratitude for what I do have. Thanks be to God, from Whom all blessings flow.

 

What about you? When have you allowed yourself to be robbed? How do you close the door to the thief?

Evergreen Wood Chips

I overslept this morning and my guy went to church without me. This was just fine, especially since we are dog-sitting a little pup with separation anxiety (we call him Needy Petey – we adore him!) and we weren’t sure what to do with him if we both went to church.

Anyway… Petey and I went out for our morning walk and my favorite part of the prairie path is when we walk past huge piles of wood chips. This time of year, those piles smell like fresh piney goodness from all the chopped-up Christmas trees. I love it. This morning as we walked by the piles, I inhaled deeply and let out a long, “ahhhhhhhh!” It always makes me smile to breathe in that pine smell.

It got me thinking of the beauty and purpose that can come out of a death.

Of course, my mind went to the death of Midday Connection. This was also the death of my identity, purpose, income, and mission (btw – in this in-between time, God’s doing some great work in this area of my life). Honestly, while I appreciate it whenever a former listener contacts me to say how much they miss Midday, I feel like my heart breaks just a little more. It’s been surprisingly painful to hear all the affirming comments from people who say they grew, learned, were challenged and encouraged by Midday Connection – how we were their friends.

I’ve been trying to sort out the “whys” and “what nows” as I reflect on my response to the comments. As I smelled the pine this morning, I got an image of a fragrant pile of Midday Connection wood chips – it’s no longer what it was, of course, no longer alive and active. But now it has purpose and beauty that looks different – it’s all spread out in little pieces, in each of you. May you take the fragrance of what you learned and gained from Midday Connection and take it to your friends, family, and world. That thought makes the pain of loss a bit more bearable.

Picking off the Burrs

cluster-of-burrs-lisa-difruscioThe other day, I strayed from the marked path in a park and ended up with burrs stuck to my coat, pants, shoelaces, and somehow in my hair.

I didn’t want to carry them home with me, so I had no real choice but to stand there on the path and patiently pick them off one by one. Like it or not, this allowed me lots of time to think.

I thought first of those annoying burrs as things that God was inviting me to address in my life – sin tenancies, resistance, areas where I’m stubbornly refusing to acknowledge. I can’t brush away those burrs. The only thing to be done is to see each one and patiently pick each. one. off.

Then, I thought, “Huh. That feels too easy to see these burrs as something negative – my sins. What if I saw these little clingy burrs as God’s kindnesses?”  Woah. That shifted everything! Taking the time to notice each burr and see how tenacious each one was to cling to me was amazing! There were so many! At every angle, there was another cluster of burrs! What a gift to think of God’s kindness being that stubborn, clinging, and abundant! If I just take the time to notice, God’s kindness is everywhere – sticking to me!

Burrs are seeds. As I pick them off my shoelaces, I’m spreading them. How can I spread God’s kindness around me? God’s kindness deeply affects me – and the overflow of that certainly spills onto the people around me. I’m hoping to be the spreader of kindness in 2016. Let’s be burrs of kindness! 🙂 (yeah, that’ll catch on…!)

Littering

This morning I decided to take a short walk outside to begin my day. I am usually content to sit and sit and sit all day, so it felt good to get my body moving first thing in the morning.

I walked along a path close to my house, looking for God in nature, listening to the birds, breathing deeply… but, my eyes kept being drawn to the beer cans, McDonald’s cups, plastic bags, and candy bar wrappers. It annoyed me deeply. I laid blame on the high school kids who frequent the path – “Inconsiderate, spoiled rascals. Don’t they see how their actions affect others??”, I grumbled.

I stomped back home, found a large garbage bag and work gloves. As I fished the trash out from the limbs, thorns, and weeds, I continued to grumble. “God, may these kids regret how they treated Your creation! May they feel deep remorse and guilt! Harrumph!” It felt good to pick up the trash in all my righteous indignation!

As I picked up more and more trash and my bag got really heavy, I felt my heart soften for whoever tossed aside the trash. Empty energy drink cans, wrappers, Starbucks cups, straws, paper… “Kids or adults, they are all loved by You, God. These bits of trash are bits of their lives and we are connected in this community. May I love the people around me well. May others come see how beautiful Your creation is, God, and respect it with awe. May they see You in this little patch of nature.” My work suddenly shifted to honoring God and His creation – less about wanting to show those littering rascals a thing or two. I was partnering with God, clearing away the clutter so other path walkers could see the trees, not the trash. To God be the glory.

Good Gifts

The other day, I sat with the question, “Who is God to me?” That’s a big, big question. Where do you begin?

One of the rabbit trails I went down had to do with trusting God’s kindness. Do I trust that God is kind and gives good gifts? I know what Scripture says, but do I believe it? Do I live it?

At the risk of sounding like the privileged, American Gen-xer that I am, I’m going to be honest – I’ve realized that many of my experiences of giving and receiving gifts have been laden with disappointments. Yes, I appreciate being thought of when I receive a gift, but often it feels like, “Oh. They don’t know me after all.” Or, when I give a gift that I’ve labored over, I feel like, “Oh. After all of that, they don’t really like it as much as I’d hoped.”

While praying the other day, I realized that I’ve placed those disappointing experiences on God. I’m afraid that God will give me something and I’ll realize, “Oh. God doesn’t really like me or know me. This isn’t at all what I wanted.” Or, if I give my efforts to God, I’m afraid that God will think, “Meh. It’s not really what I wanted. Try again.”

Understanding that I’m placing my flawed human experiences on God is a helpful realization – it helps me to understand where some of my fears come from.

I can say to my heart with confidence that God is the perfect expression of love. God personally loves me and cares for me. God knows me better than I know myself. God knows what I need and want. God is trustworthy.