Where’s Your Welcome Mat?

Sometimes I question where you are. Other times I have no doubt you’re right here next to me watching me messily eat my sandwich and stare out the window. I wonder how in a world full of people and problems, you have time for me.

My problems are minuscule compared to some others. People are going through a death in the family, cancer or illness of some sort, other people are being bombed and tortured in countries far away, and even in my own. How is it that my small problems get heard… do they get heard?

Just now I heard God say, “Only if you share them with me can I do anything about them. Only if you believe I can solve them can I do anything about them, and only if you let me can I do anything about them,”

He’s funny that way, always having wise things to say, dumbing them down to my own language so I can at least partially understand what he says. So, I guess I’ve got my answer to my question. HA.

My mind doesn’t stop there. It keeps on turning keeps on asking. How can He really hear them all… and aren’t some problems more important that others? Maybe He has a rating system, where the biggest problems are number 10s and it goes down from there all the way to one. Like when I want to make a green light and pray for it, does that just go at the bottom of the list? What about someone fighting for their life? That has to trump my green light problem right?

I’m not really sure how He does it… I guess if I was I wouldn’t be here right now. But, I can only assume that He deals with them in His own way, in His own time, and how He deems fit. I think He hears each one of our prayers, considers them and then replies and plans accordingly. Except I imagine it happens in less than a second or maybe it already has happened because he “knows the plans he has for you”… yeah, that’s way too much for me right now.

So, putting aside all the tiny details, the how, the what, the why. He hears us, sees us, knows us, and understands us better than we can understand ourselves. (Romans 8:27) I realize that is super simplified, but sometimes I need that. Sometimes complexity is just too much, sometimes it just takes a little faith… never heard that before, right?

I think something I want to do, especially when I am uncertain about God’s presence, is to simply ask him to come. To invite Him into this space I’m in, even if that is in the empty chair next to me in a cafè. To ask Him to be here, even though a piece of me knows He already is. I think like anyone else, He loves to be welcomed, invited, even though most of the time He invites himself…

I have a friend, one who is dear to my heart and who is a master at both inviting God, and uninviting him, as we all are even if we don’t realize. She once told me she asked God to give her a blue crayon. She has yet to get it but knows that He is capable of doing it. She invited Him to show Himself to her, it may not be in the exact way she asked for(yet), but she invited Him nonetheless.

God can do big things; but unless we ask for them, believe He can do them, and then let Him do it, then He never has the chance to be invited in to get it done. He’s not a small God, he’s capable of answering all of our prayers, of hearing them all, and so much more. So, I’m resting easy with that for now.

God, I invite you here.

God, can you give me a blue sports car? Just kidding. I mean that would be cool, but I don’t know that it works that way.

Now, to go dust off my welcome mat. Is your welcome mat set up outside of your heart?

 

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Word and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)

No. I Don’t Always Want to Go to Church

t’s Sunday morning. My hair is wet and I’m standing there in front of my closet looking at all the clothes and coming to the conclusion that I have nothing to wear. I stand there for another 10 minutes trying to decide, trying on three or four outfits only to be unsatisfied.

30 minutes pass and I’m thinking to myself, well, maybe I just won’t go to church. We’ll be late anyway. Then the phrase “better late than never” pops into my head. Next, the idea of people staring as I walk in with half wet hair, very little makeup, and in the middle of the song came into view. Also, lounging around and not having to get up and look presentable sounded good. Then, another thought: what if you miss something good, or worse, what if other people find out?!

Well, after going through this whole process of pros and cons about going(right or wrong), I decided that these were just things keeping me away from Jesus. Therefore, the enemy attempting to create another gap, burn a bridge, build a wall. Something he has become very good at recently.

I haven’t enjoyed going to church for some time now. I’m a person who hates inconvenience and loves sleeping in. So, getting up for Church is hard, as well as everything that comes with it. Now, let’s get one thing straight, I LOVE Jesus. I always want to grow in my relationship with him. However, sometimes church seems to put more of an emphasis on religion -rituals, traditions, rules, regulations, standards, expectations etc.- than on Jesus and our relationship with him.

I think the worst part of some churches- at least some that I have experienced, and I realize we all have different experiences- is it feels very much like a witness protection program situation. Here, people have an identity that they show off to everyone in the building. As if this inauthentic identity will keep them safe and comfortable. Keep all the bad guys away, or the scary questions and the unstable emotions from coming up.

Also, so many times, it goes like this:

-Get dressed (nicely, look your best even if you’re feeling your worst. Conceal, don’t feel…)

-Dress your emotions, your scars, your problems, your sins, and your unhappy facial expressions because you are in a holy place where such things are not appropriate.

-Dress your feelings, sing along and act like you know every song, follow along in the Bible like you know the passage like the back of your hand, and bow your head, close your eyes, and fold your hands when it comes time to pray.

-Leave, go home, repeat next week.

I realize this is not everyone’s experience and it is not always my experience. But, it’s how I have felt for several years now. Just going through the motions to keep myself on the list titled “Christian”.

I’ve recently decided though, that I don’t want to be on that list. I don’t even want it to be a list. I would much rather be on the Sticky Note titled “Aubree: A Jesus Lover”; because this means it’s specific to me and a butt load of standards, expectations and labels don’t come with it.(Unless I decide to put them there) I am where I am in my faith and it’s okay to be there. I most certainly am not where I could be, but Jesus and I  are working on that. I- and others- don’t need anyone or any place to make us feel like that’s not okay. Or that we somehow have to be at the same level as everyone else.

Faith doesn’t function in “levels” it functions in stages. And we are each in a different stage in our life. Levels provide room for comparison. I (maybe you) compare my (your) faith to others looking it up and down and trying to decipher where you have gone wrong and why they are where they are and how you can get there.

The truth is you can never get there. Why? Because you are NOT them.

Your experiences will never be identical to someone else’s. They may be similar, but never the same. God made us unique, therefore your faith is no different. If you set yourself and your faith up against someone else, you’re doomed. You don’t even have a chance. Simply because there is no competition to begin with.

It’s hard, I know. I struggle with it on a daily basis. But, if I can just begin by focusing on Jesus and be determined to love him, all the rest won’t matter anymore. I won’t look at someone else and wonder why I am not where they are or why they are not where I am. I will feel comfortable being vulnerable and understand that church is just a meeting place. A place to come meet Jesus and to walk with others at every different point in the journey. Not belittle them because their bumper sticker only says 1.5 miles and yours says 13. Or because someone else’s says 231 and yours nonexistent (Or so you think).

Today, I went to church because God told me to come meet him. (Beleive it or not I made it with a few minutes to spare… I think God has a special button for green lights) I went because I realized that when I decide to meet him (at church or elsewhere)  He loves and cherishes those moments. And He is concerned with me and where I am at -whether that be on cloud 9, or down in the dumps- He loves me the same either way.

I hope you decide to go for you, and for your relationship with Him. Not for anyone else. And if you’re going through a period where you just don’t want to go, or maybe you’re thinking about going for the first time but you’re worried; just sit down and chat with him about it. He’s all about honest conversation, I mean He already knows how you feel so you might as well just spit it out.

 

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Word and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)

All The Feels and Stuff

Sometimes things fall apart. Sometimes you wake up and you realize you’re not the only person in this world going through stuff. Sometimes, crap just happens. Almost all of the time, I don’t know what to do about it.

Things have come to my attention, situations that I had no idea existed, or at least to the extent that they do. I realized the perfect little world I have tried so hard to create isn’t so perfect after all. It has many defects, many issues, and a lot of errors. I’m not a perfect person so where did I ever get the idea that I could create something perfect.

I’m pretty sure that can only be left to The Man Upstairs… actually, I’m positive. So, why have I tried so hard to build something that I simply do not have the blueprints to even begin building with? I’m not sure.

It probably has to do with control. Desiring to manipulate and guide things to where want them to be, not where He wants them to be. And I wonder why I am always disappointed or let down…

To be honest, I get to the middle of some of my posts and wonder where I am going at all. How is this relevant? What do these words on this page even mean? Once again, no answer. I just know that the only way I can process what I’m thinking about and how I feel about it is by typing it up or writing it down. ( See what I did there?)

I think my feelings and yours are important and relevant enough that we don’t have to tell ourselves to stop feeling just because we aren’t sure of them. We don’t have to completely understand them or make sense of them right away. We should be able to focus on just feeling them. Following them to where they began, what triggered them, and asking ourselves not if they are important, but how or why they are important.

We all feel stuff; anger, bitterness, sadness, joy, happiness, love, strength, weakness, insecurity, doubt, jealousy, hatred, uncertainty… on and on. Right now, I’m sure you are feeling some kind of way about one thing or another, or even 12 things. Ask yourself  “Why am I feeling this way?” It sounds dumb but it actually works.

What is your answer? Can you find one? I think it takes a couple steps. I’m bitter because my best friend dumped me for a boy or for another group of friends. Or, I’m joyful because the flowers have bloomed and it’s not 16 degrees out anymore. Then, what if we picked those feelings apart a little bit and asked, “Why is this important?”

Which can go a number of different ways; my bitterness is causing resentment and the desire for revenge. Or, My joy is causing peace to overcome my body and influence other’s joyfulness or lack thereof.

Then, go on to ask “Is this specific feeling (especially if it’s negative, which is where I think mine are 99% of the time) worth the time and energy that I will put into it?” This is where I alway have trouble, and maybe you do too. I tell myself that every feeling is worth all the time it needs.

However, I have learned, especially from God, also from him through Joyce Meyer (Worth a google search if you have never heard of her) that not all of them are worth all the time I or you might be giving them.

For example, that whole friend scenario is related to one that I experienced years ago and today, I still allow myself to be angry and bitter about it. I used to waste hours, even days being upset and obsessed over this one feeling. And let me let you in on a little secret; it doesn’t actually make you happier, or more content with life. Sure, it feels great and reasonable at the time, but it never is truly satisfying, and if it is, notice it only last a short amount of time until it returns again.

I just know it’s not healthy, that it doesn’t actually make me a better person, or a more joyful or loving person. I’m not quite sure how to fix it yet. But, I can guess it has to do with forgiveness and love of both others and myself.

When I understand more, or God lets me in on something else I’ll be sure to update you. Or if you have heard God speak to you about this in some way, please let me in on it! Otherwise, keep on searching.

 

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Word and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)

 

Messy Feelings Are Hard; Sharing Them Isn’t Any Easier

I’ve been hiding from, God. Not because I’m scared of him, or mad or upset. Just because life is busy and I’ve got other things on my mind. I feel guilty for this.  I’m unsure as to why I have such a hard time finding time for him in my daily schedule.

Some of it might be laziness, or maybe I just feel like I don’t know how to reach him. I’m really not sure. It worries me though, being apart from God is hard. Yet, I don’t want to put in the 100% effort to be close to him again. It really makes very little sense and drives me crazy. I’m confused with myself but I know he is not confused with me. This is a perfect example of how he knows us better than we know ourselves.

I often feel like I’m the only one feeling this way, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. I think we just live in a world (especially the Christian world) of insecurity and doubt. I’m afraid for people to know my problems. I’m hesitant to show them all of who I am. I want them to only see the best of me, but honestly, I’m getting tired of holding that up. I’m human, and so is everyone. We make mistakes because a little something called sin came in the form of one bad apple and a weakness led to the fall.

So, why are we, why am I, afraid to be human? Probably because humans can be (are) messy, hard to handle, sometimes unpredictable, scary, hurtful, the list could go on and on. We’re not easy. We can be specifically complex sometimes, or unbearable simple other times. We make mistakes– a lot of them– and often, we don’t even learn from those mistakes and continue to make them over and over again.

Don’t get me wrong, we are beautiful too, there are hundreds of reasons and examples for that (For a later post). But, I see the worst in me more often than I see the best. The worst sides of me are the parts that I have always seen and that have always been apart of me. As for everyone else– except for a very slim amount of people and you know who you are– they normally see the pretty decent side of me.

The side that says “I’m okay, no really everything is good,” the side that says how much I love life and everything I’m doing with it at the moment. The side that says everything is happy and life is good. But, as I said, it’s hard to keep that up.

Now, I don’t think we need to load our problems on everyone we meet… the barista probably doesn’t need to hear about how your significant other forgot your anniversary, or about how annoying your boss is. However, we certainly don’t always have to lie about how we feel. Check this out.

“Hey, (Place your name here), how are you?” (This could be from a fellow classmate, a co-worker, friend, or other)

“I’m good how are you?”

“Good!”

End of conversation and you have no idea how they are, and they don’t know anything more about you either. This is the easy, apathetic way to have a conversation. Sometimes it’s necessary, I do it all the time. But, what good does it do for either of us? Now, try this.

“Hey, (Place your name here), how are you?” (A fellow classmate, a co-worker, friend, or other)

“I could be better, things are a little tough right now, how about you?”

Now, this leaves them knowing things aren’t great which could lead to further conversation, helpful prayer, or leaving them more comfortable to share their struggles with you as well. And you don’t always have to stop right there and have the conversation; you could meet another time, or even just give a simple explanation, or none at all but ask for prayer or kind thoughts from them.

So, how do we get there? I think it has to deal with opening yourself -myself- up (all of you, not just certain parts you want everyone to see) and being vulnerable. Be willing to be real and honest about your feelings. Understand that God knows your heart and he sees you as perfect in his eyes.

We don’t have to be perfect for each other, it’s actually impossible… a helpful reminder for myself. So, I want to stop going after something that I just can’t reach here on Earth. It’s going to take a lot of practice and effort, which I’ve already shared I don’t have a lot of. So it won’t be easy at all. I’ll start small, by simply learning to be okay with my feelings and not letting them make me feel guilty or lesser than anyone else.Then, move on to sharing those feelings in whatever shape or form that may be.

I’m going to struggle, some days will be better than others. But I’ll ask God to help me one step at a time. And I’m praying that in time, I’ll see a difference.

 

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Word and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Maria says it well(For those of you who are The Sound of Music fans like myself). Where else would we start than at the very beginning? I could say in Genesis God created the Heavens and the Earth(in a deep and powerful tone like Liam Neeson’s or Morgan Freeman), but I think most of us have heard that before.

Instead, I want to start right now. As you are, where you are, who you are now. No matter how you feel, what you have done, what you haven’t done, and why.

Let me just tell you, it’s okay to be confused, it’s okay to be uncertain. It’s simply okay to not be okay. “What?” You might ask. “But society tells me otherwise”… well, I’m here to say, ignore society in this case.

Part of searching is actually realizing that you are looking for something. That maybe you have lost something you had long ago, or maybe you have never even had it but feel like you should. Something just feels off.

I remember, back in high school and even part of my awkward middle school years, feeling a little empty once in a while. Heck, I still feel like that and I’m 20, probably even more now than then. For me, emptiness always looks different. Sometimes it looks like my body curled up in my bed, comfy clothes on, my blanket and my teddy bears surrounding me. (Yes, I still have teddy bears and I’m not ashamed.) Other times, it’s my mind searching for answers that I can never give myself as a drive down the freeway. Causing my heart to attempt with great effort to comfort it, offering simplicity and love. However, my mind usually wins. Sometimes it just looks like me walking through life with no direction and less energy to get back on the “right” path. (If there even is such a thing… more on that some other day.)

It’s never the same and I think that’s why I and we are always searching for something more. It’s like the flu… gross analogy I know but it’s the best I’ve got. Each year it comes back around, but with a slightly different strand than before. There is no one cure for it, it is always transforming and changing. This causes the need to find a new cure for that specific strand each time, only to have it change again in the future.

This is not a post to tell you how to stop searching, it’s a message to both myself and to you that the searching never really ends. But, in a way that’s kind of the best part. No, I’m not crazy, I’ve just searched for a long time and I have begun to understand that in the midst of it, you can find some answers, while also learning about yourself along the way.

I didn’t say it’s easy or even fun all the time, but it’s a part of the process. I’m searching for something new every day it seems. A career, loyal friends, love, God, strength, confidence, energy, forgiveness and so much more.

I’m just working on figuring it all out, and I think you are too. Understand that it’s okay to not have it figured out, as discouraging as it feels its OKAY and usually necessary. I’m here to walk with you through this never-ending searching process. Maybe you don’t have a sigh of relief here but at least you know you’re not alone.

 

Until next time,

Aubree

 

 

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Word and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)