Dear Ginger: My BF or My BFF?

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,
Long story short: I asked a guy to a dance and didn’t know my best friend liked him. She was going to ask him! But I only learned that AFTER the guy and I  had a great time at the dance and decided to start dating. He is so sweet and is a great boyfriend.  My girl best friend thinks he has to make a choice between us now because she believes he could have had feelings for her if she asked him instead of me. She thinks maybe we should both be just friends with him, but if I break up with him now because of her I know it will hurt him. But if I don’t, I think she might get hurt. I’m so lost and confused… I don’t know what I should do. I’ve been praying so much about it, but every time I hang out with him I feel guilty now. I feel like there’s no right answer. Please help if you can!
-M

Dear M,

First of all – I REALLY feel for you. I hate that feeling of being in the middle of something, especially any relationship drama. Obviously both of these relationships are very important to you, as they should be. So again, I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion.

I have a group of high school girls who come to my house on Mondays for small group. I told them about your situation and they all agreed that this is a tough spot. I wanted to get their thoughts about the advice they might give a friend in the same situation. In the end we decided that the #1 first course of action is COMMUNICATION. This translates into some potential discomfort for a bit, but if you want to find yourself with both relationships, it’s the best thing. I think you have a few conversations in your immediate future.

1.) Pray for wisdom about which conversation to have first, that God would give you gentle words and a loving heart even if your girl BFF blames you for things. Sometimes we have to just listen and not try to defend ourselves- and that takes a ton of self-control. When someone accuses me of something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I want to lash back with excuses, reasons and a litany of defenses. The Gospel (the Good News that Jesus took my sin and punishment upon himself) reminds me that at the end of the day I’m a sinner and I mess up…  even when I don’t mean to. But it also means that I don’t have to defend my cause. I can choose humility and to lay down my wants and needs for someone else. Grrr – that can be really hard!

2.) Have a convo with you and your girl BFF. Start by praying WITH her. Then talk through the whole situation, tell her you want to hear everything from her perspective. Let her speak first. Once she’s had the chance to share everything, ask if you can tell things as you perceived them from your side of the story: “I wouldn’t have asked him if I knew you were going to, but I also can’t change the past. I can only move forward with the situation we have now. I value you and our friendship so much and want to do whatever I can to preserve it.” Also, ask your friend for permission to tell your BF what’s going on- if he’s in the middle of this situation, he deserves to know about it so he can respond however HE wants to. You two gals shouldn’t make all the decisions for him.

3.) If that feels intimidating, have the convo with a neutral 3rd party. I wouldn’t suggest someone your age. Instead consider asking an upperclassman you respect, a teacher, youth leader, even someone else’s mom. It’s important to have someone hear you and make sure you both are listening to each other.

4.) Keep your boyfriend in the loop. He should know what’s up! If he doesn’t know about your friend and her feelings for him, he can’t react/not react in a certain way. She will continue to perceive his behavior as flirting if he keeps acting the same way. This convo might need to happen with all three of you. YIKES. I know. But in order for your boyfriend to say how he feels and have your friend believe it, she might need to hear it in person. If this sounds crazy, consider bringing in the trusted person from step #3. Everyone needs to get everything out on the table.

None of this is easy, but it’s so vital for the health of your relationships. Drama happens when people ASSUME they know how someone else is feeling. Talk it out. Pray a bunch. Ask for wisdom. Hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Here are some other blog posts for you to consider in this situation!

Drama Free
Drama Free #2
Smokey The Bear
Losing a Friend
Strained Friendship

Trust the Chef

During my sophomore year in college, I spent a semester studying in England. When it came time to plan spring break, I had one destination on my mind: Italy. I made plans with my friend Katie for the perfect trip roaming around the Italian countryside. We met in Milan and traveled to Florence, Fiesole, and Venice. We spent hours riding trains, walking in museums, and trying to discern the menus at sidewalk cafes. It was an experience full of terrifying and transcendent moments for two twenty-year-olds trying to act like adults.

On our last evening in Venice, after spending an hour on a gondola ride with a driver who sang only a medley of Beatles classics, we decided to eat a meal to rival Italy itself. Katie’s grandfather had given us 100 Euro with specific instructions that it be spent on one fantastic Italian meal during our trip. We asked several locals for suggestions and ended up at Antica Trattoria PosteVecie, one of the oldest restaurants in Venice. It was to be our final meal before returning to the significantly less fabulous fare offered to us by the United Kingdom. (Sorry, but who puts cottage cheese on a hamburger?)

We made our way to the banquet table in the dimly lit establishment. Our waitress approached and we gave her our only request. Our instructions: “Bring us whatever the chef recommends. We have 100 Euro and we are spending it all tonight.” Five courses and two full stomachs later, we determined that Katie’s grandfather was the greatest person to have ever walked the earth. Italy had offered us extraordinary cuisine before, but this was an entirely new level of fine dining. In retrospect, I realize that our meal would have been amazing even if we had only had 50 Euro. What made our meal so fabulous were the expert selections of our Italian chef.

dish

It’s a simple concept, but one I often forget. I tend to assume that my decisions will make for the most memorable meal. But generally, without the thoughts of an expert, my Italian feast could end up like an appetizer from the Olive Garden. Although I’m fine with the Olive Garden, it just can’t compete with Trattoria PosteVecie.

The chef knows. He knows what pairs well together and what can make an ordinary dinner completely extravagant and delightful. I like to think I’m the expert when it comes to what I need in my life. If there’s one thing I want to get right, it’s my life! I have list after list of things to do before I die. I would probably order all the courses of my life from a menu if it were an option. It seems I want God to sign off on my dreams without ever even asking for His recommendations.

_______ (A selection from chapter 5, Forget the Corsage) _______

 

I’m the first to say, “Dream big dreams!” Don’t hear me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we stop dreaming. I just know that I often want to run ahead to make them happen without consulting the One with the power! Here’s encouragement for us all this weekend. When it comes to dreams, God loves to blow our expectations out of the water!

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT

Today is the last day to enter to win the set of Forget the Corsage ebooks. Follow this link and enter today! I will be announcing the winner on Monday. Have a fabulous weekend!

QUESTION: What’s a dream you have for the next decade of your life?

Following,
Ginger

Garbage In, Garbage Out

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” That’s Jesus speaking in Luke 6:45. It’s easy to breeze through this verse and not really let the truth penetrate.

A dear friend and spiritual mentor from my summer camp put it this way: “Imagine you come to our house and ask for a cup of hot coffee. We pour it into a mug for you, and maybe you pour in some creamer until liquid fills the cup to the brim. The coffee is on the verge of spilling. You slowly walk to take a seat on the couch when all of a sudden one of our kids runs through the room and bumps your elbow. No matter how good your reflexes are, you are going to spill. So even as you try and shield the cup, liquid is going to pour out over the side of the cup and cover yourself or my kid. And in this moment, that’s going to be hot coffee. If any other liquid were to come out of the cup, it would be a total surprise.”

Every day we interact with others and every day we have the chance of being bumped, so to speak. Whatever you are filling up on is going to spill over and ultimately what is going to cover others. So what’s it going to be?

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Think about the last time you said something you wish you hadn’t. Perhaps it was a mean word to a friend, a passive-aggressive remark to a coworker, or an ungrateful response to a parent. Have you ever said something you regretted and then thought (or said), “Where did that come from?” Jesus makes the source of our words very clear in Matthew 12:34: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” The answer is inside us. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Tie both of these ideas together and we get a complete picture. Your words and thoughts come out of your heart and your heart reflects you as a woman. As women, what does this mean for all of us?

Music, movies, conversations, television – everything we put into our hearts ultimately determines what comes out of our mouths and is expressed through our actions. Garbage in, garbage out. If we want pure and good things to flow from our mouths and thoughts we have to fill up with the good stuff. I cannot put hot coffee in my cup and then expect to see cold water spill out. The surest way to change how we respond to the people we resent, dislike, fear, or envy is to speak and think good things over them.

Have you ever trained for a race or increased your level of exercise? At first you don’t want to run or go to the gym, but eventually, you crave exercise and miss it on the days when it doesn’t fit in your schedule. If blessing those who you compare yourself with is hard to swallow, keep at it.

Remember, your thoughts and words reflect your heart and your heart reflects you.

———– a selection from Forget the Corsage, Chapter 3 (Want your own copy? Click here!) ———-

 

I think about this analogy on a regular basis. It’s a great filter for how I spend my “me” time. You know, that time of day when you say, “I deserve this.” I’ve mentioned it before, but I actually had to completely expel celebrity tv shows and magazines. I found myself getting so wrapped up in their lives that I became envious, jealous, and distracted. What I was digesting wasn’t producing a great heart outflow. But I know tons of people who can pull out a magazine on vacation or catch “Extra” at the gym and have it not affect their heart or thoughts one iota. I put this section in the book so that we can all simply be alert and aware.

When I lived in England for a semester in college I began to notice my language becoming more colorful. (And I don’t mean with an accent.) As someone who never really cussed I found myself picking up the words that were so common even to the kids at the school where I volunteered. I had to actively weed out the things I was hearing, otherwise I would have come home with an entirely different #$%@ vocabulary.

Garbage in. Garbage out.

Question: What’s an area of media intake that’s a struggle for you? Movies? Music? Comparison through social media?

Following,

Ginger

P.S. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RAFFLE TO WIN TWO COPIES OF FORGET THE CORSAGE! You have until 12:00am Saturday morning to enter! (Multiple ways to enter each day!)

Self-Esteem Pit

forget the corsage

“I have a major problem.

I don’t really know who I am.

I’m not speaking in an “I hit my head and can’t remember my name” kind of way. I know my name, age, and my address. I know my parent’s middle names and my sister’s phone number.

But if you took all that away and asked, “Who are you?” I think I might be hard-pressed to answer. That’s because the answer changes every day and might even change several times within the same day. Who am I? No, really. Who am I? More importantly, am I my real self with anyone?

This inability to identify my true self is one of the big problems I have with self-esteem.

The definition of self-esteem according to Dictionary.com:

1. a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

2. an inordinately or exaggeratedly favorable impression of oneself.

Now compare that with what we read in Philippians 2:3,“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” In humility, we are to consider others, everyone else, as better than ourselves. This does not say to have a poor view of yourself, but merely a right view of who we are in God’s eyes. We are His, but we are not better than each other.

Even if we totally ignore God in this equation and what He wants, I believe that we still have a problem!

Here is the issue I have with self-esteem. Although I often times have zero trouble discovering an exaggeratedly favorable impression of myself, most days my self-esteem fluctuates almost hourly. The way I identify myself is directly connected to my emotions and feelings. Emotions change quickly. What we are feeling for a period of time, unless depression is involved, tends to change countless times throughout the day. That means I can be on cloud nine in the morning because I received an encouraging text from a friend, and then the next minute I’m depressed about the quiz for which I forgot to study. I might just walk out the door in the morning full of joy, only to trip in front of a really attractive guy and find myself in the pit of despair. Yes, a pit of despair.

The idea that I could work on or grow my self-esteem doesn’t connect with me because I can’t maintain a favorable impression of myself for longer than ten minutes. I embarrass myself more times than I would like to admit.” (Chapter 2, Forget the Corsage.)

I’ve mentioned my feelings about self-esteem before. I really do embarrass myself too often to think that I could muster up good feelings to see me through my day. It’s like wearing water floaties in the middle of a hurricane, not exactly what we need.

But there is hope! God’s word is our shelter from the storm. He promises to keep us safe in the shadow of His wings if we will learn to turn to Him! He offers protection but I am the one who often pulls on the floaties and declares, “Don’t worry! I’ve got this!”

We don’t have to fake it until we make it. God’s truth is real and relevant. His words are enough to see us through our most embarassing moments. Yes. Even the ones that involve peeing in your pants.

For more on that story, you’ll want to enter this giveaway and win the set of e-books I’m offering this week! There are several ways to enter and you can do so each day through Friday. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!

 Question for Wednesday: What was your most embarassing moment in elementary school?

Following,
Ginger

Prom and a Giveaway!

Dear 18-year-old Ginger,

I know everyone else has been asked to the prom. I know that the guy you were hoping would ask you has asked your friend. I know how crummy this feels, but I want you to go ahead and ask one of your guy friends. Even though he isn’t going to show up until 10 p.m., it’s going to be okay. But do not, I repeat, do not wait for him to arrive. Do not stand outside your senior prom waiting to go in for over an hour. Have fun. It’s okay. A date isn’t a requirement to enjoy the dance or, for that matter, anything else this life has to offer. Go and get your groove on.

Love,
Today’s Ginger

That’s the opening of chapter 1 in Forget the Corsage. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but you get the idea. The guy I liked wasn’t available so I determined to make the most of the situation. I was going to dress to the nines, take a friend, and dance the night away. I might have also envisioned a few dances with my crush. I was mildly convinced that he was going to take one look at me and realize he had made the wrong decision. I also might have seen one too many romantic comedies in the late ‘90s. How do you watch “She’s All That” or “10 Things I Hate About You” and not expect to get the guy in the end? Anyone with me?

prom collage3

I mean. Take a look at that two-piece dress. I even went shopping in another city so I wouldn’t have the same dress as anyone else.

My expectations for the evening were pretty far-fetched, but I hung my hopes on the books and movies that filled my mind and imagination. There’s nothing wrong with fantasy, until we let it eclipse our reality.

I was talking to a dear friend about that very fact this weekend. She mentioned how she had to turn a movie off to preserve her contentment. It may seem a small gesture, but I completely agree with the method. We have to know our buttons and triggers.

For years Ever After was my mess-up movie. It’s a Cinderella story, and I would absolutely lose it every time I watched Drew Barrymore’s character get rescued. The movie left me in a heartsick state for days! Movies may not mess you up, but I know a lot of women who can’t watch romantic comedies without feeling depressed when they end. Certain movies, books, and TV shows only serve to bring on heartache. Be strong enough to recognize when your entertainment isn’t entertaining but hurting. (Forget the Corsage, Chapter 5)

forget the corsage

This week I’m sharing passages and thoughts from Forget the Corsage. To celebrate the release I’m also going to be giving away two e-book versions in a giveaway – winner to be announced next Monday!

There’s a rafflecopter entry below with three easy ways to enter each day.

    1. Leave a comment on the blog post answering the question of the day.
    2. Tweet or FB post a link to the giveaway.
    3. Pin this pic of the book on Pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it! One lucky winner will win two books.

Question for Tuesday: Do you have a mess-up movie or book? What is it?

Following,
Ginger

Over+whelmed.

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 2.19.49 PM

-Google search

I throw around the word overwhelmed like it’s my key word lately. I don’t want it to be my go-to verb, but it seems to sit on the tip of my tongue and the forefront of my mind. “This is so overwhelming.”

I know our lives don’t look exactly the same during this season, but I do know what it is like to be overwhelmed in LOTS of different life seasons.

Finals week. Rehearsals. Auditions. New School. Practice. Social events. Projects. Appointments. Tasks. Responsibilities. E-mail inbox. Chores. Relationships. Health. Exercise. Packing. Waiting. Dating. Planning. Lack of sleep. Correspondance. Dreams. Goals. Training. Conflict.

You get the idea.

This week I want to examine how to take the over out of overwhelmed. I think it can be done.

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”       – 10 Things I Hate About You

Q: What currently makes you feel overwhelmed?

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Book It

dear ginger

Ginger –

You read A LOT of books! How do you recommend getting started reading books? I have such a huge bookshelf with so many I want to read when really I feel like the Bible is the one I should be opening for the few moments I have each day to read. Do you set book reading goals? I sometimes think I’m just not a reader. But I feel like that’s like someone saying “I’m just not a runner.”

-L

Dear L,

As soon as you compared reading to running I totally understood where you were coming from. For years I was the non-runner in a world of race-loving friends. I strongly felt bibs were for eating and NOT for exercise. But there’s something about a goal that can get me to do the most unexpected things. I have to say it, declare it, and then just go for it. Thus this non-runner came home with her 13.1 medal.

run run

I love that you are setting a goal for reading. I think the “Book It” reading program in elementary school might have fostered some of my early page-turning. Winning prizes really appealed to me, and then the love for literature soon followed. I don’t enjoy all types of reading, some books make me want to poke my eyes out. I need stories throughout even a non-fiction book to stay engaged and interested. But I suppose I also just enjoy learning. I prefer to read paper books, although I do enjoy my Kindle while on vacation. I love to mark up my books with underlining, highlighting and lots of notes. I think it keeps me engaged and helps me to find passages that I want to refer to at a later time.

The list that your question came from just happened to contain a lot of Spiritual Growth material. I talk about a lot of books, but the list has been growing since I was about 13 years old. I also happen to have attended a ton of Bible studies that went through books and also have a degree in theatre ministry from College. Much of my required reading from school still sits on my shelves. But aside from that, here’s how I usually approach reading.

I spend the morning reading my Bible, usually over breakfast. I am a “MUST HAVE BREAKFAST” gal so it’s an easy way to make sure I get fed in every way possible. I typically read one page from “The Valley of Vision” prayer-book or “My Utmost for His Highest.” Then I start an entry in my journal and read anywhere from 1-4 chapters of whatever book of the Bible I’m currently reading. (I do set some goals in Bible reading. This year I’m reading through the Gospels over and over. There’s not a number of times I’m hoping to hit all four, I simply wanted to focus on the words of Jesus. So I suppose you could say it’s a theme rather than a goal.)

Since I eat lunch alone, (or dinner when I lived by myself) that’s when I spend a good portion of time reading whatever book is next on my list. I usually ask for books on my Birthday or for Christmas after keeping a running list of suggestions from others in the front of my journal all year long. I don’t have a “finish this by this time” goal – I just read a book until it’s done. Some slower books can take me 2-3 months on my lunch pace… but if a story or theme catches me I will usually make my lunch last a little longer each day.

I used to read fiction in the evenings until I realized I was reading more Harry Potter than anything else. (Not joking.) I needed some veggies and protein in my high-carb reading diet! I now typically only read fiction on vacation. It gives me something to look forward to and a good reason to load up my Kindle.

I’ve also learned that it’s ok not to read every page of a book. I’m not in school any more. If I’m struggling through a chapter for too long, I just move on. That’s really hard for my personality to allow, but I started considering that option after perusing these posts from “Following to Lead.” (How Do Leaders Read So Much? and To Read A Book in An Hour)

Like running, there are days when you pull out the book and do the work even if you aren’t feeling it. But don’t let a missed day keep you from jumping back in after a break.

Hope this helps! Does anyone else have any other suggestions for L?

Following,

Ginger

Dear Ginger: A Challenging Friendship

Dear Ginger,

What do you do about friends that aren’t really good friends to you? I have a friend that is mostly negative and bitter. He gets mad at me often and says some mean things because he’s lonely and hurt. I always forgive him and try to stay his friend and encourage him. Sometimes he stays mad at me for days, weeks, even a month and then says he misses our friendship.

I get so confused as to whether to end this friendship or keep trying to encourage him. I eventually do miss him after a certain time. We have known each other for 10 years. Right now, he is not talking again to me. Eventually he will contact me. If I respond then we seem to fall into the same trap of friends again and into him being mad at me. Should I cut him off completely?

This has been going on for a couple of years. What would Jesus do?

Thank you,

D

D, Thank you so much for your note. This sounds like a very frustrating situation. I’m so sorry that your friendship is in a cycle that seems bent on repeating itself. While I do not know your friend or exactly what he says to hurt you, it doesn’t sound like he is treating you like much of a friend at all.

I know that the Lord is honored by your willingness to forgive this man. It’s clear that you have done everything in your power to provide multiple opportunities for him to change his behavior and responses, all to no avail.

I suppose I want to remind you that the Jesus who said to pray for those who persecute us and to forgive as we have been forgiven is also the very same Jesus who told the disciples to shake the dust off of their sandals if they were not welcome in a city or home.

Good friendships are life-giving and sharpening.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIrV)

Negative friendships and relationships tend to have the opposite effect.

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV)

From what you have described, I don’t believe you’ve found yourself in a sharpening friendship. So how should you respond?

Continue to forgive. 

“Forgive the things you are holding against one another. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13b, NIrV)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” -Anne Lamott

From your letter it sounds as if this is something you are attempting to do each time you are wronged. Forgiveness is for our own protection, it releases us from bitterness and the need to hurt back. Dr. Less Parrott III says, “Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. One may forgive the violations of another person yet not continue a relationship with the offender… While forgiveness is an indispensable prelude to reconciliation, it does not require a continuing relationship with the violator.”


Yes, we are called to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to be friends with everyone. That may sound like a harsh reality, but I believe that sometimes it’s simply better to take a step back from a friendship. If a relationship displays repeated patterns of hurt, it may be time to reevaluate the situation. The Bible says that for the sake of the Gospel we should be prepared for hardships and persecution, but I don’t believe that’s something expected of you in close friendships. Here’s what I mean…

Loving our friends means being willing to say the hard truth.

It is “…a mistake to confuse forgiveness with excusing. Excusing is letting a person off the hook. Forgiveness keeps people accountable for their behavior. Nor is forgiveness tolerance. We do not have to tolerate what people do just because we have forgiven them for doing it.” (Smedes, Forgive and Forget.)

As I read your letter I couldn’t help but imagine how I would respond if you told me this was a dating relationship. If you were a teen girl writing in about a boy you had been seeing for a few weeks I would encourage you to let this relationship go. In the book, “The Art of Rejection” by Hayley and Michael DiMarco, they write, “Two people can destroy each other in ways other than abuse. If you find that your spirit is weakening, your heart is breaking and you don’t know why, then maybe you are in a destructive relationship. If you can’t say that this person makes you better emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, you need to think about changing the situation. Relationships should make you both better, not worse.”

I believe that principle can easily apply to friendships with the opposite sex. I’m not here to tell you that those aren’t possible; I just want to check in and make sure that you aren’t taking on a role that one of his male friends should fill. (I do hope this guy has close male friendships.) If this is a pattern of behavior in all of his relationships, this man has a true heart issue going on that will require time, energy, prayer, and even counseling. Long story short: I don’t believe that you are the one to fix him or this friendship.

My advice, and I am not a pastor, counselor, expert or psychologist: Lay out your feelings clearly. Express what behavior you expect from a friend and how he continues to betray the trust worthy of a friend. Explain that you are willing to be friends if he is willing to act as a friend. Anything else and you will have to step away from your friendship.

open

May you have the courage and tact to move forward with peace and without animosity.

Please know that this response comes humbly your way.

Following,
Ginger

Talents

dear ginger

“My best friend always gets the main character after auditions for school plays and other things. It has really hurt my feelings this time, so bad. What should I do?” – M

Dear M, I can’t tell you enough how much I feel for you right now. I have been there, and not just figuratively. I was the girl auditioning for choirs, concerts, and plays and feeling as if I would never get to take center stage. It seemed as if no matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t good enough to get the lead.

But your situation is even more challenging!  You are managing your own disappointments while also having a best friend who you probably want to be happy for… but find it so difficult to do so. That makes sense. When we want something for ourselves it can make it REALLY hard to be joyful for others. So what I want you to know first and foremost is that I understand why you are hurting. But I also want you to know that this is a situation that just might repeat itself as you get older.

Gulp.

What do I mean?

Comparison is a sticky business. When I set my sights on wanting what someone else has, it can lead to all sorts of  envy and bitterness. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my life always hurting because someone else seems to have it made. I need you to remember something right off the bat. God has gifted all of us differently. He is telling a unique story in your life that will look different from any other story.

Did you know that there’s a parable in Matthew 25 that actually talks about comparing our talents. For real. Here’s the set up: Jesus is talking to His disciples and explaining the Kingdom of Heaven with a story. Here’s what He said…

“The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.”

Notice anything interesting so far? This translation of the Bible (CEV) uses the word “coin” while other translations utilize another term for a coin: a talent. But what I want you to be sure and see is how each of the servants was given a different amount of money to take care of. When I read that something inside of me wants to scream, “But that’s not fair!” I probably feel that way because of how easy it is to compare “coins” with my own friends. Some of them seem to have everything! They have crafting abilities, a way with words, perfect families, lots of money, trips galore, trim bodies, lots of popularity… I could go on and on. Sometimes I sit back and wonder why we don’t all seem to have the same amount of “coins”.

Let’s keep reading the story and see what happens.

“As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.

Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”

“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”

“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”

The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”

Again, I want to scream, “That’s not fair! You didn’t give him the same amount as the others and now you are getting upset with him?”

Here’s the thing: Jesus is telling us that He wants us to do our best with WHATEVER we’ve been given. We look around and it see other people with way more talents, gifts, money, or opportunities than we do. But God created you, M, to be uniquely talented, gifted, and called to live your life for HIS glory. He wired you with your likes, dislikes, talents, and quirks. I’m sure your friend is a lovely girl, but I want you to know that you are too! You are both precious daughters of the King of Kings. No matter what happens in an audition, you are always the one He picks!

This may not be your time in the spotlight. It could be that your chance to be the lead will look more like mine… I was the understudy in 10th grade and finally got to have a go as the lead character. It was so exciting. But more than my time on the stage as an actress, God is teaching me what it looks like to serve Him even in areas where I may not feel all that skilled. He wants me to love my neighbors and get to know them, even if it feels awkward. He wants me to play Jenga with high school students. He is teaching me to honor my friends by hosting wedding and baby showers, even when I’m anything but crafty! And He is leading me to open up my home and be more hospitable, something I’m not really wired to do in my own strength. It’s not my thing. And yet… it is because He is calling me to do so!

theatre

I might feel more comfortable holding a mic and speaking from stage, but God is all about stretching and growing me to be more like Him. So even if I’m a “one thousand coin” person, my calling is STILL to do whatever I can with the time He has given me. I could spend all my time wishing I had more coins, or I can do something with what I’ve got!

Each of the servants was given something, and apparently it was given to them depending on their abilities. Please note that the master didn’t expect the man with two talents to have turned in ten.  He had no control over the amount he was given, but he did have all the control over what he did with it. The master did not outline what they should do with the money, he simply asked them to make more with what they had been given.

The quote I shared on yesterday’s Imperfect post comes straight out of a book by Erwin McManus called Awaken. This section gave me a window into this parable and it has given me a lot to think about. In my own life I let the “ten thousand coin” friends get me down, rather than finding joy in their success. Comparison stole my joy. Here’s the quote in a larger context:

“Why did the third servant bury his bag of gold? He was afraid of his master; he feared he would lose his gold and then be punished. This is where many of us have been misled or at least have misunderstood. We’re absolutely afraid of God. We think if we risk and then fail, then God is going to punish us. We are paralyzed by the fear of failure because we misunderstand the character of God. Life doesn’t have a failsafe. Failure is real and can be very painful. God, though, isn’t looking at failure but faithfulness. He’s not waiting for you to fail so he can punish you or succeed so he can pillage you. He wants to celebrate your life.

Jesus loves you so much, M. He delights to see you doing something you love. Even if you struggle along the way, remember that He just wants to see you be faithful with ALL of the gifts He has given you. I’m praying that Galatians 6:3-5 in The Message Translation will speak directly to your heart today. It reads, “Live creatively, friends… Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

Keep creating joy in this world for Him. Please write again soon.

Following,
Ginger

Question #16

I’m buckling up and setting my sights on a goal. Because of that, I won’t have the time to devote writing posts for the blog during the month of June. But rather than just going silent, I’ve decided to try something different. I love hearing from you and thoroughly enjoy the interaction that happens in the comment section.

This month I’m going to ask YOU questions. I will weigh in with my own answers, but I’m mainly interested in just getting to know you. Some of the questions will be fun while others will hopefully take us deeper. After all… June is for questions.

 

QUESTION #16. What is your favorite way to pray?

_________

I love to write my prayers in a journal- sometimes they take the form of a letter and other times they are more colorful.

What’s your favorite way to pray?

-Ginger