Delayed Obedience is Disobedience

Instead of attending church and licking the plate of a home cooked meal, I spent Easter Sunday in Rochester, New York, held up in a hotel room binge-watching the first season of “Gilmore Girls.” As usual, I’m late to the amazing television series party.

Relax. It’s not like I’ve never heard of the show. A few of my friends watch the reruns on Netflix. I’m a, “Law and Order: SVU” kinda girl myself, so the idea of romance and drama in a small town named Stars Hollow was never all that riveting to me in the first place.

Anyhow, I digress.

During a discussion with my two flying partners the day before, the topic of mother-daughter relationships came up and the less than perfect bond between Emily and Lorelai Gilmore was referenced. The flight attendant who had seen,”Gilmore Girls” raved about how great it was and assured me that it was “clean” and “You could watch it with a five year old.” A wholesome show at least in part about a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship? Now the Gilmores had my attention. I figured, what the heck? I’ve got thirty hours to kill in Rochester, why not give it a try. So I committed to watching at least one episode of, “Gilmore Girls” on my layover.

Then I watched eight.

In the days following my newfound obsession, I found myself being constantly lulled to sleep by the heart warming banter between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Night after night, I was peeling my body from the sofa and dragging myself to bed. One morning, after one of those nights, I commenced my quiet time with God. Propped up against the chaise at the end of my bed, I bowed my head and began with thanksgiving. As my prayers transitioned from one topic to the next, the Holy Spirit began to interrupt my thoughts. I stopped talking and listened. Then, I heard. Per the command of God, I had to stop watching, “Gilmore Girls.”

Yes, fully involved and several episodes into the second season, God said no. Completely crushed, I told God, Okay. I’ll give it up…next week. What I heard next was as clear as the cloudless blue sky currently hiding behind my living room curtains: “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” I knew then that I had to decide in that moment whether I was going to heed the voice of God or give in to my own desires. And so, my short lived affair with, “Gilmore Girls” came to an abrupt halt.

It may seem silly that God would ask me to give up something as seemingly harmless as a t.v. show, but it didn’t come as a complete surprise to me. My spirit had already been stirred by some of the minor themes in the show. I’d simply chosen to overlook them because they weren’t that bad. Two things in particular that bothered me about, “Gilmore Girls,” was the promotion of sex outside of marriage and promiscuity.

Because of it’s prevalence, fornication (among many other “little” sins) is sort of…expected these days. Not a big deal, even. Yet God is reminding me that we don’t answer to the culture or times, we answer to His word. And if there is anything we watch, read, listen to, participate in, or entertain that is not in line with His word, then we are out of line. Period, no exceptions. We as Christians should not be entertained by the same things as the non-believing world. We cry out for more of God as we continue to embed ourselves deeper into the heart of this world. Then we wonder why He feels so distant…

I believe that God is challenging his people. Calling our bluff, if you will. Are we really willing to lay it ALL out on the line to follow him? Are we willing to give up all the things that keep us grounded in this world? The answers to our prayers to forge a deeper relationship with God lie in our obedience to him. We fall into step with the spirit of God when we learn to trust and believe him the first time. In his time, not our own, for he is our commander in chief.

War movies are my favorite to watch because I love the art and organization of war and seeing how tactical skill and knowledge lead to victory…and sometimes defeat. One of the most vital rules of battle is to follow the orders of the commander. A Lieutenant/Colonel is not given rank over a group of soldiers, but rather, earns their title by proving that they are capable of leading in battle. They have more knowledge and insight than the majors they reside over, which makes it imperative that their subordinates heed their guidance.

If a Lieutenant/Colonel yells to his platoon, “Take Cover!” and one of his/her majors asks why, exclaiming, “I don’t see the enemy!” it’s likely that that individual will either lose his/her life or become severely injured.

Likewise, if God tells us to stop, go, yes or no, we need to be in a position to act immediately. Christians are taking unnecessary fire from enemy lines because we are disobedient to our commander, which is ultimately an indication that we don’t trust Him. If God tells us to move out of the line of fire today and we don’t move until tomorrow, we will have already been burnt. But grace. Even in our disobedience, He is a good God, for He allows us to get burned without being incinerated. Still, why waste time nursing wounds that can be been avoided through obedience. We can say all the prayers, read the Bible in every translation, go to church three times a week, and still not get any closer to God because we don’t listen.

Before God can transition us to the next level, He has to trust us to trust Him. We cannot sustain ourselves in the place He has purposed for us. Giving up, “Gilmore Girls” wasn’t easy at first, but I’m glad I did it. I’ve given up a lot of worldly pleasures (some things I’m still working on letting go) this year in obedience to God. And I’ll be honest, it’s hard and it hurts. It sometimes feels like I’m being stripped of everything that makes me, me. But I guess that’s the point. The Christian journey isn’t about becoming more ourselves, but becoming less like us and more like Jesus.

When I first started working on this post, I typed up some questions related to obedience to get my writing juices flowing. Feel free to answer them in the context of your own life and walk with God. Share or not, but ponder please.

  1. Why is it important to obey the Holy Spirit at the time of prompting?
  2. What are the consequences of being disobedient to the Holy Spirit?
  3. Should God entrust us with inside information if we can’t follow His instructions?
  4. Is it possible that we wait as long as we do for our desires because God is waiting on us to show that we are capable of being obedient?

Climbing out of the Cave

I slept for over twelve hours last night. I didn’t get up until noon today. I want to go back to sleep but I can’t. I’m awake and being plagued by all the bizarre dreams I had last night. The most frightening one: I got fired. Dreams sometimes feel like an extension of reality. Dream emotions don’t feel any different than those of reality. I woke up to my heart drumming the beat of fear. It took me a few minutes to realign myself back to the dim room in New Jersey. And even once I convinced myself that it was just a dream, I still couldn’t completely shake what had seemed real just a few moments before. The dream was a replay of the year 2014 for me. A new job, a new place, and a wrecking ball.

I want to go back to sleep, but I don’t want to dream. My friend thinks I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I only wish it was that simple. Go back to bed, wake up, feel better. No this is much more. Today my burdens have mounted to the apex of my soul, and have nowhere to go but out. That’s made obvious by my melodramatic writing and bitter attitude. Truth is, I don’t have any real burdens. None worth mentioning in light of real atrocities.

I am my burden. Stubborn and strong willed about things I never do. I read my Bible. I read spiritually enlightening books. I think. Sometimes I hear from God. I do…I do nothing. I told my best friend today, God himself could stand before me and point out the direction I’m to take and I would remain another throw pillow on this couch. Given clear and direct instructions and still doing nothing.

I am my burden. “90 Days of Reign,” is my burden. A book God gave me that I only talk about because I’m too afraid to write it. Everyday, blank pages haunt me. I fill those pages with sleep, useless conversations, and thinning oxygen. Where does confidence come from? How do people know they can do something? Why aren’t they afraid to go for their dreams and I am. Is there a secret store that sells confidence and self assurance? Did I miss something growing up? Was I not pushed hard enough? Or am I just a coward. I know that God says our confidence should be in him, not ourselves, but why doesn’t that feel like enough? I thought I trusted God, but now I don’t know. My actions don’t reflect that I do. It’s not my book, this is not my blog, the vlog I want to start will not be my vlog. It’s all in his name and to his glory, right? Then, why am I still afraid to do any of it?

This post is obviously more questions than answers and maybe I’m just having a bad day. I’ve been in an apartment by myself for a day and a half, plans unknown. I’ve run out of distractions. If I hadn’t chewed my nails off, maybe I would’ve painted them. I cooked last night. I washed last night. I just discovered, “Gilmore Girls,” maybe I could watch that. No, today calls for bigger distractions than nail painting and television shows. I guess it calls for poor grammar writing.

I’m also reading this book. “Driven by Eternity,” by John Bevere. It’s freaking me out. It’s not at all for the faint of heart, let me tell you. It’s all about purpose. Well heaven and hell…and purpose. I’m not concerned about heaven and hell, but I do worry about what my life will look like when I stand before God. I want to have fulfilled his plan for my life here on Earth. The thought of watching some holograph of me sleeping my life away or travelling, or getting married and buying a house, and never answering the call of God is such a dread filled and terrifying prospect. What’s the point of being in this beautiful revolving hell if we don’t douse it with heaven?

And still, why am I so petrified? God’s influence in my life is growing but my body is floating in quick sand. Maybe, I just have never been exposed to hard work and I’m afraid of getting my hands dirty. Maybe I really am a coward. But should it matter if I am? Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit says the Lord. I mean, right? What am I missing? I sense the key all around me, but never tactile. I don’t trust God or do I? For he has not given me a spirit of fear but…of power, love, and a sound mind. I had to look the last part up. What exactly is power?

According to Dictionary.com, power is: ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.

Did I just grasp the truth that’s been surrounding me all along? He has given me the spirit of power…of action. I feel lifted, so much lighter. Better. I’m going to call my friend and apologize for being crabby earlier today.

If you’re reading, thanks for joining me in this nonsensical climb out of the enemy’s cave. I don’t know a lot. In truth, I don’t know most things. Though there are two things I’m quite certain of: God is perfect and everything makes sense in written form. Even if I’m bad at it, I’m accepting that writing is my super power. I know it’s an oxymoron, but it’s very befitting of my day so I’m sticking with it.

Lessons from Thumbelina

Thumbelina is one of the most underrated animated films of my time. What with all the Disney movies hogging the limelight, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet, even with the odds stacked against it, “Thumbelina” somehow failed to go unnoticed by my childhood. By the age of six or seven, I’d seen it more times than I could count. Today, I found myself absently singing one of the tunes from the film. Annoyingly enough, I only remembered one line from the song…”Dearie, marry the Mole.”

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I mentally flipped through clips of the movie until I came to the scene this song accompanied— before I continue, let me give a brief synopsis of the movie for the losers who haven’t seen it or read the tale.

Thumbelina- a girl the size of a thumb- tries to find her place in a big world where she doesn’t quite fit in. On a whim of a night, her angelic singing lures a prince to her windowsill. They fall in love immediately. Typical. They set up a rendezvous for the next evening, but before their tryst can take place, Thumbelina is kidnapped. With the help of a new friend, she escapes. As she goes about trying to find her way home and ultimately her way back to Prince Cornelious, she gets sidetracked by various suitors who attempt to convince her that she should marry them instead. Despite pleas and insistence that she wed one of the available singles, Thumbelina never loses sight and hope of finding her true love.

tumblr_opo359Kx6c1w8zoooo1_500.gifCringe-worthy, I know, but there’s a takeaway.

Back at the scene, an ostensibly well-intentioned mouse friend tries to convince Thumbelina to marry a rich, over the hill mole with an upbeat ditty. She uses a practical argument: stability (i.e. money) is paramount to love. And it almost works. Thumbelina prepares for the wedding ceremony, complete with a hideous coiffure and equally horrid dress. As she saunters down the aisle toward the biggest mistake of her life, visions of Prince Cornelius bring her back to her senses. “I’m sorry, but I can’t marry the Mole. I don’t love him!”

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My fellow singles, I encourage you to take a page from Thumbelina’s story. Don’t settle for available just because your wait has become wearisome.

Your person is out there. Don’t give up on the partner God has purposed for you. They’re worth the wait and so are you. Besides, a partner isn’t all there is to life. While a spouse may be a part of your destiny, all that God has for you is not wrapped up in that one dream. Venture out and see what God would have you do in this season of your life.

Whatever you do, please refrain from entertaining your wait with pointless dating endeavors.

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Sometimes it seems easier to take the reins of life into our hands, rather than wait around for God to deliver his promises. I’ve been there and I get it, but do your best to avoid falling into this temptation. Date with intention, not out of loneliness. If you’re yearning for companionship, draw closer to God. I know, no one wants to hear that, but a boyfriend (or husband for that matter) cannot fill a void in your life that is meant for God.

Remind yourself of Thumbelina. She was lost, and many times throughout her journey, confused about what was best for her. Nonetheless, she kept her eyes on the promise she would live happily ever after with her prince. Thumbelina held on to her hope. If you are God’s child and he is your hope, then I ask you, are you allowing His promises to guide your love life?

Stay focus. Know that God knows what you need more than you think you know what you want. Read that last sentence again. Don’t be afraid to reject who you know is not from God. People will tell you you’re too picky or that you have too many standards that are too high. Your spouse is God’s choice— not your mom’s, friend’s, aunty’s, or cousin’s—God’s choice. His choice, your decision.

If you get to a place where you’re tempted to enter into a relationship just to kill time, question yourself. Ask yourself why you feel the need to be in a relationship with someone who has no real potential of being your spouse. Take those answers to God in prayer and ask him to help you fill those voids with his love. But please, don’t foul things up out of impatience or loneliness.

Stay strong in your singleness. You have not been forgotten.

 

P.S. In doing research for this post, I found out that one of the reasons Thumbelina was going to marry the mole was because she was under the impression that Prince Cornelious had died. Still though, if you’re a believer, has not death lost its sting? Things not panning out the way you want or expect them to is still not a reason to settle for anything less than what God has for you.

Off to watch, “Thumbelina.”

Confessions of a Millennial.

Millennial is a label I’ve grown to hate. Unless it has to do with teaching the Baby Boomers how to work their smartphones, the title has become synonymous with spoiled, entitled, brats.

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I wish I could disagree, but unfortunately, that definition isn’t entirely inaccurate. Yet, what I find far more pertinent than defining us, is figuring out how in the heck we got like this in the first place. How did we become such self-absorbed, pretentious individuals? I’m no Social Psychologist, but being a millennial myself, I do have a few theories on how we wound up a bit of a hot mess, and what we can do to remedy it.

1. Reach for the stars…they said.

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We were sold a dream. When our teachers and parents told us we could do and be anything, we believed them. We were inadvertently brainwashed into believing that a sure and certain path would lead us to lasting happiness. So you can imagine our devastation now that real life has pied us in the face. We put all our eggs in one very promising basket and things aren’t panning out, so we’re busy falling apart. Maybe no one said it, but we were made to think that following our dreams would be easy: graduate high school, go to college, get a career, find a spouse, buy a home, have some children, and run off into the sunset. No one told us we’d be here- drowning in the waters of a reality we were shielded from. We didn’t know there’d be bumps in the road or mountains not ours to climb, or how painstakingly long we have to water our seeds of success before they sprout. We’ve been convinced that happiness only exists in the grandest parts of life. If we aren’t doctors, lawyers, or some glamorous person who makes more money than they can spend, we diminish ourselves to nothing. The ordinary life has no appeal to us. No worth. The quotidian office or factory job is devoid of the happiness we imagined for ourselves. We were bred to be more…they said.

2. Fear of being second best.

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As a result of our warped perception of happiness, us millennials are terrified of failure. Cat’s out of the bag that we aren’t all going to be Space Engineers and Pop Stars, but we’re not taking it all that well. In fact, we’ve resorted to a state of petrification. Unable to move because we fear that if we do, we’ll somehow end up in the same spot. If we don’t cross the line first, we’d rather not cross at all. Ridiculous, I know, but this runs deep. Us millennials don’t do second best. And many of us would prefer to remain stagnant than to finish last, or fourth, or fourteenth. Instead of finding contentment in gradual progression, we’re programming ourselves to find happiness in whatever is on the surface. Whatever is within arm’s reach.

3. Social Media

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Where to begin with this one? Social media is the most life-sucking activity millennials engage in. We’ve belittled our self-value to likes and embellished pictures. Everyone wants to be Instagram famous and many are even striving to make a career out of creating illusions of happiness. Social media has become a mask: a way to hide our real fears and deep pain. The approval of others is like a high for us. We lay our precious worth in the hands of individuals just as broken as we are. To us, the world we create on the internet is more valuable than the world we actually live in. Social media has become a way to escape reality, but what we escape into is even worse. Millennials couldn’t be more enthralled with superficiality if we tried. Having money, being pretty, having a nice body, going on vacation, and luxury have all become paramount to the real beauties of life: gratitude, kindness, and love.

How do we initiate change?

Honestly, change feels impossible most of the time. I pray for my generation, myself, and for our world. The Bible speaks explicitly about the current times. Our world was always going to get to this, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to shoulder one another in these trying times. We have to stop selling the dream that life is all glitter and gold. It’s messy and it’s hard and doesn’t always turn out the way we expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s empty of happiness. It’s not the world’s responsibility to create a happy place for us, it’s our decision to create a happy place in the world. If we expect only one part of our story to produce happiness for a lifetime, that one thing is what will kill us. Failure is just a part of life and it’s okay not to be first. That’s one of my biggest fears when it comes to my writing, What if I write a book that doesn’t make the New York Best Sellers list? It is a very real possibility that my book will not be on that list, but that won’t make it worthless. I’ve read and enjoyed so many books that never made it to the best sellers list. So what? I enjoyed reading them and they imparted new thoughts and ideas- that’s what matters. Millennials, let’s be brave and make an effort to stop hiding behind social media and deal with our real selves. So what, if we’re not doctors and lawyers- we’re people. Don’t trade the human experience for silver and gold. We have to find a way to be happy and grateful in the place God has us. Move forward when it’s time, but let’s not allow our now to dictate our forever.