Sitting By The Fire

See the source imageThe past couple of weeks, I’ve been going through a book called Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman. As described in another book, Breaking Up With Perfect by Amy Carroll, there are two different types of perfectionists:

“Some lovers of Perfect live with the Good Girl Syndrome. These women are rule followers by nature and bask in earning the pleasure of the people surrounding them. Others live with the Never Good Enough Syndrome. These women use their flawless exterior to cover the wounds and shame of their pasts. Both kinds of women build an external structure rule by rule and pleasant smile by pleasant smile.”

If you struggle with perfectionism, like I do, then you definitely need to pick up a copy!

Recently, I reached chapter twelve in Grace for the Good Girl, titled “Remain.” Right away, I knew that this chapter was going to be one that spoke to me…since this was the first paragraph in it:

“I’ve never liked the phrase quiet time all that much, but I was a good girl who went to Bible college, so I’ve not always been brave enough to admit it. I never knew what I was supposed to do during a quiet time. Read one verse? Is a chapter enough? Maybe I should memorize the whole book. The list seemed both empty and endless.”

Yep. I can relate to that – not knowing if what you’re doing is “enough” for God, and the overthinking mind and perfectionism only heaping on more confusion and stress.

Do any of y’all see yourself in her description? I do.

It can be hard, for us perfectionists to have to work through this. After all, we aren’t supposed to feel like this, are we? We should be jumping up and down for joy, happiness oozing out of every pore at the thought of getting to spend time with God.

And yet, oftentimes, I find myself doing it out of obligation, duty, or guilt. Then, my mind can’t help but go…

You’re such a hypocrite. 

Not exactly the nicest thought to be thinking.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders,” – Deuteronomy 33:12

While researching, I came across this verse, which I do not think I’ve read before, and knew I had to add in. Sometimes it can be easier to see God as a task master and dictator, than a loving Father.

Rules, justice? I can understand that. It makes sense.

But grace? Upon grace? It befuddles me. And yet, that is what God offers us – free of charge, free of punishment. He wants us to come and rest in Him. Even if that’s just laying in bed in the morning and talking to Jesus, and that’s the only time you have.

I know y’all are probably wondering why I titled this post, “Sitting by the Fire,” when all I’ve talked about so far is grace, perfectionism, etc. So here comes the part where it gets explained 😉

For those of you who have wood-burning fireplaces, don’t you love the crackle of the wood and the smell it gives off? Something dangerous, yet beautiful. Something that puts off heat, that we need, but can also cause damage.

See the source image

Emily Freeman, describes this and the analogy from her friend Fil Anderson.

“He likened this fire stoking to time spent with God. He didn’t put the fire out and make a brand-new one every hour. He merely kept the same one going, moving embers and logs around to catch the flame in new ways so the warm kept on warming.”

Then, in the next chapter, she adds this, which connects to her earlier point.

“We breathe in air and breathe out worship. We receive love and extend worship. We embrace children, offering worship. We comfort, we laugh, we mourn, we dance, we read, we dream, we exist – all worship. We pay the bills, we run on the treadmill, we enjoy a good movie, we make dinner, we welcome friends with open arms – worship, all worship. We send money and offer prayer and sit with a lonely neighbor, in Jesus’ name. We wait for love, we long for home, we pour out our hearts and hopes and fears and longing; we create with words and photos and colors and food, all beautiful acts of worship.

But we don’t call it that.

We call those things living. But when the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you, then your living is also your worship.”

Y’all, when I read this I was like WOAH. I have always put my time with God in a category, separate from everything else, and if I didn’t get to it that day, well, I wasn’t a very good Christian then, was I?

I had never thought of it like that before, even so, it made complete sense! Of course everything we do is an act of worship! Our bodies are His temple.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies,” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There are so many things in life that we have to do – school, work, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, visiting friends, etc. As life happens, some days are going to be so busy that we aren’t going to have time to sit down and completely devote fifteen or thirty minutes to God.

In those times, I believe Jesus wants us to just rest in Him. He knows how busy and stressful life can be, and knows that there are some seasons in life that are going to be crazier than others.

Now, that doesn’t mean this is a free-pass-never-read-the-Bible-again-ticket. That’s not what I’m saying. There’s a difference in giving yourself grace, resting in God, and completely and blatantly taking advantage of it and making a consistent pattern of not spending time with the Lord.

In the end, as we learn to walk in grace, it’s less about performance, and more about expanding our definition of what it means to be in the presence of the Father – every breathe in worship.

~ Southern Dreamer

Feeding The Spirit

Everyone always talks about how we’re made up of the mind, body, and spirit. And I knew that. But…sometimes one forgets the importance of spending time with God to your own spirit.

The past couple of months I haven’t been hearing from God as much. Logically, of course, I realize that there are seasons where He is silent and other seasons, where you hear Him all the time. Feelings or emotions though, did not exactly get my self talk. It was more like…

Image result for panic gifs

Yeah. Not exactly the most helpful thing.

It also happened to make my heart/spirit really anxious and worried.

Definitely not helpful.

So, even though I didn’t necessarily “feel” like sitting down and spending time with God. I made myself do it. Sometimes you have to make yourself do something even if you don’t want to.

I grabbed my Breaking Up With Perfect by Amy Carroll – which is a great read by the way for any perfectionists out there, my Bible, and a highlighter, sat down in my bed and closed the door. Now, everyone has their own way that they do their quiet time and I am by no means suggesting that this way is the “best” way or the “right” way. I tend to overthink things so I do better if I can have a guide, that helps me decide what to read in the Bible.

So, I’ll read through a chapter of the book, and then out of the passages of Scripture, Amy Carroll referenced, I’ll pick one to go more in depth to. This usually transitions to me reading that chapter in the Bible, and then having my prayer time.

I did this for who knows how long, I can’t remember exactly. It wasn’t a super long period though, and then, one day I just realized, wow. my spirit isn’t feeling panic-y and anxious about this. 

This does not mean that I don’t still struggle with anxiety, because I do. But there’s a difference in me being anxious, and my spirit part being anxious. At least, it feels slightly different to me. Additionally, this does not mean that I don’t still have questions or doubts or other such struggles that Christians go through.

Sometimes my head can be very full of thoughts going in all kinds of directions. Sometimes I’ll be obsessing over something, making it turn into an unnecessary anxiety.

But.

There is something that completes our spirit when we spend time with God. I’m not sure exactly what it is – if it’s the fact that the Holy Spirit is in me, or that I am formed by the Maker to know Him, or maybe something else.

I honestly find it amazing, since many times my humanness/sinfulness comes into play and I find myself thinking…I don’t want to do this right now. I have other things I could be doing. And in my own mind, I feel like a hypocrite. How can God want me to spend time with Him, when I have to push myself to do the basic quiet time?

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust,” ~ Psalm 103:13-14

Love this verse. Somehow, even in the midst of being the most powerful being in the universe, the one who created the stars and moon and sea, He still manages to see us and remember our humanity. Not only remember it, but to show us compassion for it.

Amazing.

The love and mercy of our God always astounds me, and more often than not, I find that my expectations of what it should be are expectations that exist outside of grace. Many times, I can easily start overthinking what I’m doing for spending time with the Lord, but I’m trying to work on that and to give myself grace, and remember that I am human.

As we all go about our day-to-day lives, let us remember the importance of feeding our spirit and to remove the yoke of perfectionism from ourselves, and take up the mantle of grace.

~ Southern Dreamer