Weekly Devotion: You can make plans, but…

Weekly Devotion: You can make plans, but…

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

-Proverbs 16:9 NLT

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

-Proverbs 19:21 NLT

It’s almost humorous how nearly exact these two scriptures are, and they’re so close to each other in placement. In a nutshell, these simple yet profound proverbs say what we don’t really want to hear: you’re not in control.

As the ultimate planner of the century, this is hard to take. I feel like sometimes I live by planning things out perfectly. I may not be the greatest executioner, but I can plan like a champion. To read, and thus believe, that despite me making all the plans for every aspect of my life God’s intentions will override me…it doesn’t come easy. Since I was very young I have struggled with the problem of living in the future. A majority of people seem to find the past hard to get over, but not me. I, unfortunately, twitch and worry and agonize over the future, both near and distant. I cannot tell what is worse.

When I say that some may think, “but what’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t we live for the future after all?” No, honestly we should really live for the present. And my problem isn’t living for the future. I’m living in the future. Thus the present slips by me and I fail to cherish it for what it’s worth and enjoy the moment. Always my mind is five minutes ahead of me, constantly planning, constantly considering, constantly analyzing. Constantly worrying.

These scriptures are not telling us to ignore the importance of being prepared and ready for the future. Planning itself is not an evil thing. They communicate that despite our plans, however good they are, what God has planned for us will ultimately override our own and make them void. That can either drive us mad and send us into a endless tunnel of frustration and disappointment, or, if we operate in trust, flexibility, and open-mindedness, it can bring us peace when we realize that we need not stress over stuff.

These scriptures are asking us to accept this truth. Attempting to take sole control of your life will just leave you miserable because you’ll be working against God.

Make your plans. Set some goals. For goodness sake have some dreams. BUT! Do not put your plans on a pedestal and become unhealthily attached to them, because they may very likely change, or not even happen. Be ready to give them up for God’s purpose. Your life will always be the better for it.

Advertisements
Why Are You Afraid?

Why Are You Afraid?

Whenever I end up in that conversation with someone who’s in the same place in life as I am but don’t appear to be going anywhere or doing anything, look out. I will not shut up. If I know you personally, you will be chastised. If we are only acquainted, you will be politely chastised. If there’s one thing that ruffles my feathers, it’s a young person who has no ambition.

But there’s something I realized from recent conversational occasions: the problem isn’t always lack of ambition. In fact, I’ve actually not encountered a situation where the problem was solely lack of ambition. There was always ambition. The problem lied with fear. And each fear that was uncovered was unique: fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of exposure, fear of inexperience, fear of change, fear of independence. I’ve heard of all of these. Each one was so extreme that it kept dear friends and fellow twenty-somethings from achieving, or even just going after, their dreams.

When I discovered this, I realized that my tactic of spit firing suggestions and pushing borderline overenthusiastic optimism wasn’t the best option. It wasn’t addressing the underlying problem. I switched over to a different question: “Why are you afraid?”

I now suggest to others to dig deep and figure out why they are afraid to move forward. If they identify the fear, they can identify what caused it, and if they identify what caused it, then they can identify how to deal with it. Fear will never be gone completely. In fact, we need it to make cautious decisions and keep us aware of danger. That’s the fear we can comfortably operate through life with without it hindering our ability to get to the next step. But it’s necessary to address the bad kind of fear, the kind that keeps us in one place, the kind that holds us back. That’s done in patient steps that are hard but not impossible. The first step is…

ask yourself: why are you afraid?

A Poem A Week #27

A Poem A Week #27

Being Different has its Perks

They always said

It’s what was done.

How dare I think

I’m the only one

To change things up

And feel no shame.

I set a course

To make a name

For myself and for my work.

Being different has its perks.

 

When all my friends

Went off to school,

I stood aside

And played the fool.

Or so they thought.

And while they fret,

I played it smart

And avoided debt.

Now they see me and wonder why

My pockets aren’t burning dry.

 

I find it stupid

And quite absurd

What college costs.

I transferred!

“Now who’s the fool?”

I ask, carefree.

But I shouldn’t judge.

We all learn slowly.

 

Catherine Joy

It’s Time to Change the Atmosphere

It’s Time to Change the Atmosphere

There’s a small, very small, percentage of people who are truly content staying in the same place. That’s generally those who are 50 and older. I don’t mean staying in the same job or living in the same house. I mean staying in the same place, whatever that may be. Mostly physical. If it also means something emotional or psychological, changing the physical can often be the catalyst to a healthy emotional or psychological change. There comes a time when changing the atmosphere is a stronger need than a want.

When should you change the atmosphere?

“Well, when you’re unhappy, of course!”

Not necessarily. When I’ve been unhappy in places or situations, I consider the holy struggle that I believe is mine to share with Christ, and that’s to be put in circumstances that are either meant to help me grow or help someone else. If we left everything that ever made us unhappy, we’d be going on an endless, futile journey. And everyone is made happy by different things. Happiness is important, but it should never be the main thing we consider when we want a change of atmosphere.

A change of atmosphere is in order when you see an end to growth. If you wake up and realize that you are the same person that you were last week, a lightbulb should go off. A healthy place is a place where you are growing, lots, and if you’re not, then it’s time to move on. Also, if you discover that no one has been positively changed by you being there in recent history, then that also should trigger a lightbulb. It may be difficult to separate the absence of purpose from the absence of happiness, but that’s because the two usually go hand in hand. If you are feeling unhappy, take a deep look and try to figure out why. If it’s just because you want to escape some problems or you can’t stand a certain person or you want to try something new,  maybe it’s not the best to go just yet. But, if you really believe deep down that you are not growing and no one else is growing, then consider making a change of scenery.

The pursuit of change and growth is always a good thing. What creates problems is if the reason for change is not necessarily a good thing. Remember, character comes before dreams. 

Don’t wait to “Let it Go”

Don’t wait to “Let it Go”

Before you roll your eyes because I have apparently quoted the by-now-overrated song from Frozen, I’m not necessarily quoting it. If we’re quoting anything here, it would be the James Bay song (which by the way is a great song! You should listen).

I am saying don’t wait to let it go in the simple context of what the phrase means. Recently, I found myself saying this to a friend. Someone who is kind of “waiting around” to let go of something is never going to succeed at getting rid of it. They’re waiting for feelings, emotions, circumstances to help the process along, but all of that is working against you. Natural human emotions will never let something go. So you have to make them.

Rather than waiting for yourself to let something go, make the decision to leave it behind. “I just need to let it go,” you say. And you say, for months upon months. Maybe years. But it’s not going away. Leaving something behind sometimes takes physical maneuvers. Changing jobs, cutting off communication, moving locations, resisting temptation, starting a new relationship…these are some big but extremely helpful ways to leave something behind. And other times it just requires you to work your mental and psychological muscles everyday until it becomes easier.

If you wait around to “let it go,” either by waiting for your feelings to subside or circumstances to change, it’s not going anywhere. Choose to let go NOW. It’ll be harder, yes, but that unwanted past will be gone sooner.

Things I’ve learned on my journey so far…

Things I’ve learned on my journey so far…

There’s always new stuff to learn, and no matter how old I get or how far I get, I’ll always still be a kid in a classroom, getting some knowledge. Here are some new things I’ve learned:

  1. Not making a change when you need to can make you miserable. Only a select few can live contently in the same place doing the same thing, but more often than not, you’re not that person, and you’ll be miserable soon if you don’t change something. And you don’t have to be a young 20-year-old just starting out. The smallest changes can be the difference between a haphazard life and a fulfilling one.
  2. Don’t change too fast, though. It’s very easy to, once you make one change, to suddenly get into a groove and change everything. Take it easy. Only change one thing at a time, and give space in between them. Some things are meant to stick around longer. Best thing to do is ask God. You will know when he gives you the green light; you will.
  3. Stop blaming the forces outside of you. I am guilty of this, and it’s amazing the switch that happens in your brain when you decide to just be satisfied instead of giving control of your life to outside forces. Yes, perhaps that factor is making it hard to do something or be happy, but it all begins and ends up in your head. You can control that, so if you can’t change what’s on the outside, change the inside.
  4. Your fear may motivate you, but don’t let it be the ultimate catalyst. Fear can be useful when it pushes you to move or change. BUT! if it’s the only reason why you’re moving and changing, then its time to rearrange your motivators. In the end, if you continue to be controlled by fear, it will bite you in the butt and you’ll never be happy. You’ll always be fearful!
  5. Stay in your lane (don’t let others’ choices sway you). People are going to be ahead of you. You’re also going to be ahead of people, and that’s how it’s suppose to be. This goes back to that Bible devotion from Psalm 37:7. Are you going to be discouraged or inspired? Stay your path and don’t get distracted by the progress of others, including those who are behind you (yes, they can distract you, too). Refrain from judging or evaluating them. Put some blinders on your eyes concerning your lane of progress, and stay focused.

 

What are some things you’ve learned recently in your journey?

5 Moments that gave me an Inspiration Surge

5 Moments that gave me an Inspiration Surge

We can’t easily forget those moments, when something or someone so deeply inspired us that it birthed an idea in our minds or changed our way of thinking or made us take action. I’ll bet you can name one significant event. Let me share five.

  1. The day I watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I saw the first Chronicles of Narnia movie when it came out in 2005 before I even knew about the books. It was thanks to my brother who expressed enthusiasm for this unbeknownst story, and his insistence of me reading the books. I saw the movie, and I fell in love. “What is this story?” I asked my brother. He gave me his big fat copy of all seven books when we got home, and that was the start of a lifelong infatuation with Narnia and C.S. Lewis. And this was all before I discovered I wanted to write just like him…
  2. The first day of seventh grade English. My teacher, still a good friend and inspiration to this day, welcomed us to her class, and then ordered us to take out a pencil and paper. We were to write in silence for five minutes. We couldn’t stop, and we couldn’t erase. If we had nothing to write, then we wrote don’t know what to write over and over. When the timer began, I was thinking about The Legend of Zelda. I would watch my brother play the games, and he had recently finished Ocarina of Time.  So, in those five minutes, I wrote a short story about Link and the little MarketTown of Hyrule. That was the story that, at the end of the five minutes, I leaned back from and stared at with a tingling sense of awe. It was the moment I realized, I loved that. 
  3. When I heard my fourth grade teacher had said, “she’s going to be a writer.” My fourth grade teacher (who was also my second grade teacher) was another teacher that made a mark on my life. She saw the gift in me first, years before it came up on its own. I didn’t know she said this until years later, because she wrote it in a letter to my mom. It was confirmation to me, and a surge that kept me going.
  4. After I cried on the bathroom floor while healing from a broken back. There was a point during that season when I feared that I would never run or dance or climb ever again that I broke down in the bathroom. My mom found me and prayed over me. Something changed after that day. My attitude toward my injury shifted. I began to see the opportunities that lay in wait. And when God let me know, “Even if you were paralyzed, you’d still be able to fulfill your purpose,” it was all different after that. I thanked God I wasn’t an athlete.
  5. December 31, 2015. I made the decision to quit a previous position this day, and though the process was hard, I relished the feeling of a fresh start when it came to pass. It was a great way to launch the year of Independence with a reassuring message that I can move my feet and not make an earthquake if I didn’t want to. I can move my feet and make a path appear.

What are some unique significant moments that inspired you and made a little change in your life? What event gave you a surge of Inspiration?