If you follow me on social media, you've noticed that posts have been a bit... sporadic, post-COVID.
Now though, I'm in a full-out war with my scrolling, time-wasting, blood-pressure-increasing, social media self. If September was a month of weaning, October is cutting-the-cord.
Truthfully, while I feel SO MUCH better not engaging on social media, I do miss the interaction. I don't consider that a negative. That true sense of loneliness has encouraged me to pick up the phone, send the text, issue the invite, and reach out more to my local social sphere, with very positive results.
October then is my true month of renewal. I'm putting aside the excuses that resulted from the stress and uneasiness of our COVID spring/summer, and am praying through a month of renewed intention and focus on my good health - mental, physical, spiritual.
I don't know about you, but COVID was not kind to me in my many ways. Weight gain, depression, fear, anxiety, apathy, lethargy - all symptoms of a trauma response - have been chasing me around these past six months.
On the flip side, I was encouraged during our involuntary down-time to take stock of what my life needed to thrive. Thriving looks like this: plenty of sleep, simple food, time with Jesus, time with friends and family, lots of unscheduled time, and being outside.
October is my month to renew my mind, to renew my taste buds, my spirits, my body. I wanted to invite you to join me - so I've attached a blank copy of the checklist I'll be using to track my progress. There's something to encouraging and empowering about having a checklist, a way of tracking success, and being accountable for not living up to my goals.
Would you like to join me? Print out two copies of the file below, fill out your top 7 goals, and let's do this together. I'd love to hear from you if you do - drop me a comment below if you're in!
“By listening to each other’s complaints and formulating them against God, we help one another… We don’t always have to be at God’s side, defending him. By being taken seriously - not rejected, not toned down, not spiritualized - the complaint becomes an occasion for demonstrating God’s providence.”
p 54, Every Step an Arrival, Eugene Peterson
Everywhere I turn these days, a writer or preacher is expounding the importance of staying positive, speaking ‘pure, lovely, true’ words, ‘taking our thoughts captive’, and focusing on the good.
Let me just get this out of the way - they are RIGHT.
However, if I may… They are right when that is the next thing.
The first thing, I propose, is that we are honest. Down in the dirt, covered in mud, bloody, sweaty, gasping for breath, clutching our swords, leaning against a tree so that we don’t fall down - honest.
In our ‘now’ culture, there is little patience for the process. We want to hear someone’s testimony, clap as they share their ‘mountain top’ victory, and cheer as they stride up to the podium, sure and confident and clean and shining.
But first… First we have to do battle. First, it’s ugly. First, things are not okay.
And that’s just fine.
The bible is full of the ‘not okay’. Complaining. Accusing. Challenging. Whining. Arguing. Our loving Father makes sure that His story, OUR story, is full of the ‘before’. Just read the Psalms and you’ll get a pretty clear picture of the process of life - lots of verbal smackdowns and downright disrespectful-sounding accusations.
Here’s the thing. God is big enough for our anger. God is loving enough for our accusations. God is sure enough for our doubts. God wants a real relationship with us - not a whitewashed, good enough for Sunday, let’s be friends when I have my good clothes on friendship. A friendship of depth involves all the tough stuff. He’s not afraid of it.
Another important aspect of truth-speaking is this: when we commiserate with others, we enter their story. We share pain and validate experiences. This is true relationship. We do not do God a disservice when we agree that a situation seems hopeless, when we crawl into the hole and hold our friend, and cry. We do not dishonor God when we validate the unfairness, the bleakness, the pain, the injustice - when we validate another’s experience, when we trudge the muddy, cold, wet, miserable road of the valley alongside a comrade, we actually honor the God who said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
Our mission as followers of Jesus is embrace this life we are living now - even the complaining and the negative. Especially the complaining and the negative, because it is in that space where simply by offering our presence and validation we honor each other’s journeys and experiences. It is in THAT space that our relationships are cemented. Where trust is built. When we hold on, do not let go, and enter into each other’s trials, we show and experience the heart of Jesus.
I agree, let’s bring our thoughts back to the positive. Let’s encourage each other in the promises of God. Let’s strengthen each other with bible verses that speak of hope and victory. But first… First, let us honor the bigness of God and His true love by walking the valley, validating the pain, speaking the truth of what is NOW - and in doing so, prepare the way for miracles, provision, and love.