Sharing the mess.

I know what you’re thinking. ANOTHER post about being authentic in our messes?

I have to. This is an exercise in changing my mindset. I am perpetual perfectionist, and if I can’t actually BE perfect then I will often give the illusion of perfection. I don’t say it, but I also don’t ask for help. I enter relationships that are convenient. But this is all about to change.

This Wednesday night our home will be filled with an additional fourteen adults and three more infants. Our small group is convening for the first time post baby boom. We’ve debated about where to host this ever-growing crew and it became obvious that the Lord was asking us to open up our home this time.

Remember that part about the illusion of perfection?

 messy

This is what my kitchen currently looks like. I told my husband last night that even if someone came and babysat for two straight weeks I still couldn’t get to everything on my list. This is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

My list is too big. I feel overwhelmed. Any of these tasks alone would be enough to fill my days.

-Writing for other blogs … when I feel like my inspiration has vanished.

-Speaking outlines

-Caring for a new baby

-Maintaining friendships

-Time in the Word

-Cooking and cleaning

-Exercise? (HAH!)

-Growing my marriage

-Book promotion

-More thank you notes

-Financial decisions

-My own blog

-Connecting with neighbors

-Investing in the community and our church

I need a workable plan/schedule. LORD I NEED YOU!

And after coming slightly unglued, I felt the Lord speak into the massive messy list. “You need me.”

I’m not sure why I thought I could do this, any of this, on my own. I didn’t notice the change. I was lifting up my concerns and requests to the Lord when one day I must have just started reaching up and taking a few of them back. “Oh, I’ll take that one. Don’t worry about this one. I’ve got it.”

I don’t got it.

I teeter on the edge of grace and mess each and every day. Here’s the real kicker- life was like this even before the addition of a baby! God is simply using this lifechange to remind me that I cannot do any of this on my own. Why would I want to?

I’m telling you and I’m telling me: stop taking the stuff back. He really wants to take it! This week I’m meditating, claiming, writing and memorizing these gems.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:2, NIV)

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

Be encouraged. Share the mess.

Following,

Ginger

 

Authentic

Most of us have plenty of friends on Facebook, contacts in our phone, and Christmas cards to send. But how many of us can honestly say that we have deep and authentic community right now in real-time? I love my girlfriends from college and camp, but I feel God calling me to love the people I interact with on a weekly basis. How do we move from acquaintances to friends?

What brings authentic community? I’m sure there are a ton of answers to this question, but I’m just going to touch on three today.

1. A humble heart. The opposite of a humble heart is a prideful heart. When I have judgment in my heart, I stop listening and begin doing all the talking. I have all the answers. Or I shut down and begin making my grocery list – determining that I’ve heard this before, thank you very much.

Instead, I should focus on listening. A good listener…
-asks intentional questions
-leaves space for an answer
-responds with interest
-remembers

Struggling with how to move a friendship from surface level to one with depth? Try out this set of 5 questions below:

-Who are your Heroes? (Who do you admire?  Who has shaped you into the person you are today?)
-What is your Heritage?  (Tell me about your family, life growing up, your heritage of faith.)
-What are your Highlights?  (What are the high points in your life story? – the things that thrilled you, still put a smile on your face)
-What are your Heartaches? (What has hurt your heart in this life?)
-What are your Hopes? (What are your hopes, dreams, goals, or vision for the future?)

2. A willingness to share. Sometimes I just don’t want to describe the blackness in my own heart. Five other people have already spoken and I find myself thinking, “Ginger, no one needs to hear what you have to say.” And yet, I know that in order to feel connected to my groups I am going to have to be vulnerable with my heart. I can’t live in the land of “I’m fine.” The best times of community that I’ve experienced this past year have come about when someone is willing to say, “I’m not fine and I need you guys to pray for me.” Vulnerability hastens connection with others.

3. A patient spirit. I want things to run on my timeline. They should begin and end as I see fit. This leaves little room for God to move in HIS timing. This also leaves little room for connecting, listening, and growing closer as a community. This can also refer to how quickly I want community to be created. When things don’t happen the way I want, I begin to think that maybe this group isn’t for me. False. Maybe I’m the very reason that things don’t feel complete!

These three items tend to be huge roadblocks for me when it comes to deepening relationships. Relationships are messy and require a lot of effort and energy. I’m not going to get super close to ten people all at once, but I can take steps to know more about the people in my small group than just who is flying out-of-town this weekend.

Random suggestions for making friends…
1. Ask someone to lunch.
2. Be intentional when you see them. “How was your trip to see your family? I remember you mentioned that the last time I saw you!”
3. Compliment and encourage.
4. Take the first steps to share in your small group.
5. Text or call someone from your Bible Study and follow-up on mentioned prayer requests.
6. Offer up an “extra” ticket to something. “We just happen to have two more tickets to the ball game on Saturday and wondered if you guys would be interested in going?
7. Find common interests and run with it. You better believe that the next stranger to mention their love for Public Radio is going to be my new BFF. ;)
8. Pray that God would bring important relationships into your life this year.
9. Be AUTHENTIC.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. (Romans 12:9-21, MSG)

Following and learning,
Ginger