“I Dare You.”

The weather is finally getting warmer and it’s looking like it may stay here – spring has sprung (hopefully). With Michigan you never know – it can be in the 60’s one day and then the next day a foot of snow will fall from the sky. There’s not much consistency.

My life has felt a lot like the weather lately – the not so consistent weather. Although, similarly to the weather in just the past day or so, I think maybe a break through is in progress. I think maybe life is warming up a bit.

Have you ever read something or seen something that so greatly convicted your heart – something that made you reevaluate your life and the decisions and choices you’ve made or are making?!

Earlier this week I picked up a book from my book shelf – it’s a book I’ve had for awhile but never gotten around to reading. It’s written by Joyce Meyers and titled, “I Dare You.” I just felt this pull all of a sudden – a curiosity about it. It’s been sitting there, staring at me…not even on my most recent list of things to get to and read through, but for whatever reasons I felt the urge to pick it up and turn the pages. And I am so glad I did.

I’m only a third of the way through with it and already, I am evaluating my relationships – those with my family, my friends, and even myself. I am questioning what I want my life to look like and the way I’m choosing to spend my precious time. I am thinking in greater depth and detail about my intentions behind the things I do and say and how they impact me and those I interact with. Reading this book has brought me so much peace and also made me consider things I had never previously considered.

I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that I need to learn to let certain things go – I won’t ever know all the answers. I’m not supposed to. Only God is all encompassing and all knowing. Even when we feel we are capable of seeing the “big picture” we must remember that only God can see the WHOLE picture. Instead of trying to give God everything that I am, I want to change my mindset and attempt to give Him everything I am NOT. Change is only possible through Him and He wants to help us grow in our weaknesses.

I have also started the process of evaluating and attempting to understand why I do what I do. Specifically in regards to pursuing music and creating a living for myself, but also in the little things – the every day conversations with others, the actions or words I use (or don’t use, for that matter), etc. I am learning that sometimes it is our motives which hinder us the most and we must learn to be bold enough to do nothing if we cannot do something for the right reasons.

In the book, Joyce Meyers outlines what some GOOD motivators are to have in our lives:

“1. God’s Spirit. We do what we do because we believe it is the will of God.
2. Pure Love. Genuine love is an important motivator for our purpose and passion because with it, hate and envy and greed are hard to hold on to, We should be able to say that we do what we do out of pure love.
3. Faith. Whatever is not of faith is of sin.
4. To be a Blessing. The desire to be a blessing is a great motivator and pleases God greatly.
5. For the sake of Righteousness. A good motivator is simply doing a thing because it is the right thing to do. There are times in life when ‘duty’ must be our motivator.
6. The Word of God. We don’t have to feel like doing a thing, or think that it’s fair, or even want to. But if we are willing to do what God says to do in His Word, God will be please with our motives and we will not lose our reward.”

I have again been reminded that quality is more important than quantity. I tend to be obsessive – especially over practicing violin. I am always anxious and worried that I’m not practicing enough. I am anal about making sure I get in a certain number of hours each day and I am aggressive in protecting that time for myself. I love practicing. But some days it feels more like work than pleasure. Some days it is difficult. I don’t expect every day to be rainbows and butterflies – some days it’s important to call it what it is: work. It’s emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. Which is why I think it’s vital to remind myself that the number of hours I practice isn’t what counts – it’s what I do within those hours that will truly make the difference. I believe that this is true of any profession anyone is embarking upon or even in the way we choose to spend out free time. After all, Jesus was not merely busy – He was fruitful. He had a purpose and He pursued it passionately. I think one of my goals in the upcoming weeks is to be more intentional with how I spend my practice time and to learn to be okay with the days where less time is available. I think if the time I am able to spend practicing is more fruitful, then my passion will remain regardless of the other things I have going on in my schedule. And I am excited about the prospect that, with less wasted time I will be able to give more of my time away to others. When we give our lives away for His sake, He always gives back much more than we were willing to give up in the first place.

Yet another lesson which is somewhat related to the previous one: Stepping out in faith usually means that we do it with fear and with trembling, knowing that IF God doesn’t come through and help us, we will make a fool of ourselves. Plot twist – if it’s His will, He WILL come through and the reward that will be found can not be put into words! Where I find that this is most prevalent in my personal life is in regards to finances. Things are tough – being in school (out of state) and being a music major, PLUS having the medical needs that I do. Not to mention that my parents have another child which, at this point in time, they are still financially supporting. It’s not easy. I can’t just go out and get a new instrument or run and sign a lease at the nicest, closest apartment, or agree to go to the $8,000.00 summer music festival my teacher suggested I attend. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that it doesn’t matter what we don’t have, as long as we DO have God. I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking I don’t have enough fruit in my life to fulfill His purpose for me. As long as I start using what I have right now, God will do the rest. This is a really difficult thing to grasp and to continue to remember when bills start flooding in and things begin adding up – but God didn’t bring me this far to leave me stranded. He will carry me through to exactly where HIS end destination for me is.

This is the time to make the conscious decision to do what we love. Our first pursuit in life should be to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our soul, and all our mind…passionately, prayerfully, and thoughtfully. But we owe it to ourselves and those around us to follow our God-given passions and desires. In “I Dare You” Joyce Meyers says:

“Be Passionate About What You Love: don’t let fear or worries about what others think hold you back from being excited about what you’re doing. Keep that enthusiasm burning bright.
Be Prayerful About What You Love: Always seek God’s guidance as you pursue your purpose. Always be sure to ask not yourself, but God, if you are staying on course to follow HIS direction and not your own.

Be Thoughtful About What You Love: Sometimes the worst problem we can have is too many things we love to do. Think about what you enjoy and ask yourself which of those makes a difference in the lives of others.”

The fact is that this world we live in is filled with billions of people – which means billions of different opinions on the way life should be lived. There are tons of people who think they know what we should be doing with our lives. But at the end of the day, it’s our own life and when we stand face to face before God at the end of our time here on earth, He won’t be asking any of those other people about our life – He’ll be asking us.

There is one last concept that the first portion of this book has brought before me that I would like to share and that is the idea of whole heartedness.

I am learning (slowly and painfully) that, as a human being, my feelings can NOT be trusted. The first place Satan tries to get to us is through our feelings because they are inevitably what makes us most vulnerable and we have a tendency to give them more power than they deserve to have in our lives.

I am famous for making decisions based on feelings I have in the moment, only to look back later and see how silly or stupid that decision was. When faced with tough feelings which tug and pull us in one million different directions, it’s important to pause, reflect on what it means to live whole heartedly and ask God for guidance in helping us pursue our passions in a healthful, uplifting way. Joyce Meyers outlines being intentionally whole hearted in this way:

“1. Be intentional: ask yourself if this is going to add or subtract from what God has called you to do. Stay focused on the goal.
2. Exchange your fear for faith: Courage is doing a thing while you feel fear, so don’t wait for all the feelings of fear to go away – do it afraid!
3. Be dedicated: choose a small goal and follow it through to completion.”

I want to live whole heartedly. I want to pursue God’s passions and purpose for my life. I want to surrender my need to have and know all the answers. I want to share His love and glory with others and be a light in their lives. I want to surrender my need to be busy and exchange it for the need to yield fruit in and with my life. I want to turn my eyes inward and examine my heart and my intent behind my actions. I want to live intentionally and with dedication to my God and Savior.

“You can suffer the pain of change or suffer remaining the way you are.”
― Joyce Meyer

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Sometimes God shows up in places when we least expect it. But man, does he paint a beautiful picture or what?!IMG_20160311_073538-2

Note to Self: Every time you were convinced you couldn’t go on, you did.

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