The hard work of starting over

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This morning I woke up and as it is my day off, decided to not get out of bed for a while. So I watched Dylan Marron’s YouTube channel for a while, scrolled through Facebook, etc. I also got up 4 times to answer the phone for work related calls and got increasingly grumpy every time because this is my DAY OFF. After the fourth phone call when I snapped at my boss I realized that this is not the way I wanted my day off to go. Unfortunately I am not in charge of how many people call the hostel cell phone (which is on my person 24/7). I am, however, in charge of my attitude. So I decided to focus on what I could change and start the day over.

I know, I KNOW that the common denominator in almost all of my grumpy days is not starting the day off reading my Bible. Most days when I’m feeling crabby and snappy around 3 in the afternoon I remember, “Ohhh yeahhhhh I skipped reading the Bible this morning. I shouldn’t do that because every time I do I have a bad day!” Fortunately I caught myself early this morning. I laid back in bed, closed my eyes, and decided to start over. Then I got up, read a couple chapters in Nehemiah about God’s people praying and then getting to work, and then I listened to the next sermon in the series on John that I have been listening to that was about BAD DAYS and LIVES WE DON’T WANT. AKA my Thursday morning.

I love the internet so much. I love the connections I’ve been able to make and the friendships that have survived solely via Facebook interaction. I love the wisdom I soak up through YouTube videos and blog posts and sermons. I adore and admire so many people I have only ever seen on the computer screen. Like Dylan Marron! Whose interviews I was cruising this morning. My life is richer because of the internet. This week I was invited to join a Facebook group called Restore the Warrior which is about self love and recharging and women warriors. Mm. Good stuff.

Yesterday morning the creator of the group, who was a friend of a friend in high school with whom I kind of hung out a couple of times but who has become a real friend and inspiration to me through the power of Facebook, posted the picture I shared above. This has been a refrain of mine for a while. I probably stole it from Glennon Doyle Melton. She’s the source of most of my mantras.

Yesterday I finished reading Ezra. I underlined this verse:

Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it. – Ezra 10:4

Ezra said that to God’s people, who had messed up. God had said, “Hey, don’t marry these people and get mixed up in them. It’s best for you if you stay separate.” And God’s people said, “Nah, we’re gonna marry these people.”

But then they wanted to rebuild God’s temple and they wanted to listen to God and they wanted to trust Him and what He said. They wanted to follow His guidelines for their lives. They wanted to start over.

One of my very favorite things about God is that He always, always, lets us start over. As long as we are breathing there is time to turn things around. But MAN ALIVE starting over can be a freaking hard thing. Exciting and liberating and fun as the new beginnings might be, starting over often also involves messy and complicated and hurtful endings. And the messy, complicated, hurting parts have to come before the exciting, liberating, and new ones.

Ugh. Life. A hard thing, right?

So the people in Ezra had to do the hard work of separating themselves from these people that they had no business getting wrapped up in. (Let’s not over-apply this, okay?) This morning I had to do the not-so-comparatively-hard work of admitting that my priorities were out of whack this morning. I had to lay still and be quiet for a few minutes. I had to diagnose my problem, acknowledge how I messed up, ask for forgiveness from the Lord, and then start over. What God said to me when I asked for forgiveness, by the way, was, “It’s okay. You can start over.” Oh, praise Him.

I keep looking for the easy-way-out magical secret to life, and God keeps telling me stories like Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s and Glennon’s and everyone else’s ever who ever decided to do something good. All of the stories have two things in common – haters and and hard work. The secret to life is setting your sights on good, loving, kingdom things, rolling up your sleeves, and getting to work! Be prepared for the haters, because haters gonna hate.

While Nehemiah and his gang were rebuilding the wall around their city they did so with swords in their hands because they knew there were people out there looking for their weaknesses, waiting for them to fail, wanting them to fail. Just because we have decided to do the hard work of starting over, of starting out on the right foot, of starting with something good, doesn’t mean life is magically easy. Life is still a hard thing. Doing the next right thing (another Glennon mantra) is still hard.

But God, through Ezra, said, “Get up and get to work! Be strong and do it!” Because guess what? We can do hard things. The Creator of the Universe and the Creator of US knows we can do hard things, which is why He gives us hard things to do. He also gives us hard things to do because He loves the stuffing out of us and often it’s the really good, very best things that are the hardest.

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