Tag Archives: Friends

You Get Wise, You Get to Church!

community october

 

My husband loves to quote movies. Thus, the title of this post.  Can anyone tell me who said it? Or what movie it’s from?

We get lots of advice from people, don’t we?  Solicited, Unsolicited…it doesn’t matter, some people just like to advise.  Let’s be honest, we have all been given some bad advice over the years.  If we are really honest, we have to admit we’ve likely also offered some bad advice.

Someone told me once that you should be careful who you hang around with because you will start to become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Hmmm…that got me thinking.

My husband and I are attending a class at church and one of the pastors explained it like this…We are all playing along, living our lives, grading ourselves on our holiness, assuming we are getting about a B.  If we are super prideful, we may actually believe we are getting an A.  We are following rules, we are “religious”, we are successful in the world’s eyes, we don’t see any overt sin in our lives (usually because we are avoiding seeing it).  We compare ourselves with others and we come out on top…”At least I’m not as bad as that guy!” We may give money to charitable causes and maybe we serve a little but out of duty.  Or maybe we do feel a passion to serve and we are doing and saying all the right things.  We go to church but we are not necessarily living transformed lives.  We look past that though and drift along, showing up in all the right places. We give ourselves high marks for things we think are “holy”.  We deem ourselves, “pretty good”, maybe a B- or a C plus.  Most of us know better than to say we are an A.  We may think it but we know we should be humble because we learned that in Sunday school, so we give ourselves a B while patting ourselves on the back for our humility.

Meanwhile, the Bible tells us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. The Bible says that keeping the law is not what’s important.  James 2:10 tells us “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” I don’t know about you but I know I’m not capable of keeping all of the Laws in the Bible.  I’m working on the Big 10.

So the pastor had written a bunch of grades on the board…A, B-, C…and then he put a slash through all of them and said, “Actually, we are all getting an F”. And there was a big red F on the board. Now for someone like me who is a rule follower, this does not sit well.  I have spent my life doing what I’m told, caring about rules, following God’s commandments, going to church, taking communion, praying, writing, speaking and yoga-ing for Jesus.  The sting of this truth revealed my heart.  I was trying to be “good enough” for God. I believed I was about a B. I was performing and striving and hoping and praying that my “works” would please Him.  Maybe you do this too? Maybe you’ve been fighting to be an A and when you feel like a C, despair sets in. Friends, that despair is not from the Lord.  The Lord offers hope.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.” – Romans 8:3

See, God knows us and loves us and sent His son to save us.  Picture that report card with an F on it.  When Jesus came, it miraculously changed into an A. He wiped our slate clean. This is the good news.  This is the Gospel.

The toughest part of this for some is not believing that Jesus came or that God loves us or that the sacrifice on the cross was for us…the toughest part for some of us is admitting that we cannot do it alone. We don’t believe the F.   It’s difficult to admit our own weakness and need for a Savior.  But it is necessary.  If you could do it alone, Jesus’s life and death would mean nothing.

Some people in our lives, some of our “teachers” will tell us we are a B, we are “doing great”, we should just work harder, do more, give more and then we will be enough. But the wise teachers will tell us about the one who hands out the A’s.  Our wise teachers will lead us the the only One who can give us a passing grade.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

I told someone once that I am a sinner saved by grace and she looked at me and said, “Yeah, right. What have you ever done wrong?”  Isn’t that just like us? We assume other people have it all together.  We look at our shortcomings but speculate that others have none. Y’all.  For real. We are all sinners. We can dress ourselves up and shellack the heck out of our lives but underneath, we all struggle with sin.

This is not fun to talk about.  That’s why we don’t. But once we get past this part…this conviction and repentance part…we get to grace.  Grace gives the A. Grace graduates us.

Surround yourself with truth tellers. People who will lead you to the Master Teacher.  People who will lovingly and tenderly call you out on your junk. Friends, we are all jacked up. You, me and all our neighbors, pastors, priests, teachers, politicians, leaders.  Don’t look to the right and left and think “they have no sin” or “I have no sin compared to them”. Jesus is the only one without sin.  As for us, we are all in the same boat…we are all castaways in need of rope.

Let Jesus be your teacher.  Spend time with Him.  Make Him the one you spend the most time with. As for your 5?  Hang around with people who point you to Him.

I look forward to seeing you all in our caps and gowns on graduation day…humbled and grateful for the way He handed out A’s.  All of us, incredulous at our good fortune, knowing the courses were tough and we could not have passed if not for Him.

©2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved

Just Be You

Just be you.

That’s the advice my friend used to give me when I would go off on a tangent trying to fix myself and figure out my calling and when I wonder about why I was here and what I should do and what other people think of me.

I used to think he was just trying to get me to stop talking but now I realize it is really good advice.

This came up again today when I was sharing a story with some friends.

On vacation, I was walking the beach collecting shells with my sixteen year-old daughter. This is totally her thing.  She loves to be in nature, walking slowly, not talking.  It’s a stretch for me, especially the no talking part.  But honestly, just the fact that she allowed me to walk alongside her is enough for me.  I’m desperate to spend time with her and know her.  As for her…she’s not that into me.  So we walked in silence.

She picks up everything that is beautiful.  Which means she picks up every shell.  She doesn’t care if they are broken. She has a bucket full of broken shells.

Meanwhile, I’m running some weird imaginary race down the beach looking for perfect shells that are shiny and not broken.  I present them to her like it’s a contest.  Look at my shells, aren’t they pretty?  I did good, right? Accept me, admire me, love me…tell me I’m good at this.  She just shrugs and continues on her peaceful journey.

At the end of the walk she has a beautiful bucket of broken messy shells and I have one or two lone “perfect” shells.

I could write volumes about what this means.  About how obviously she understands life and I don’t.   How she’s having fun in a community of broken shells while I’m lonely with the shells that just want to look like they have it all together.  I could beat myself up about my striving and needing attention and wanting to be liked and admired.

But let’s wait on that.  It gets worse for me.

I say to her, “Why don’t we buy some frames or something to put the shells on to make them useful?”  And she says, “Or we could just let them be.”

Or we could just let them be.

It was such an important moment for me as a mom.  I saw me. And I saw her. And I started regretting all the times I didn’t let her be.  I started thinking about all the times I tried to fix everything for her and how I still continue to do it today and how I hope she knows she doesn’t need fixing.  About how I hope she doesn’t resent me and how I wish I could take back all the times I may have given her the impression that she’s not enough.

I was telling a few friends about this and about how awful I am as a mother and person and they stopped me cold.

They reminded me there is no one right way to be and there is beauty in the way my daughter is yes but there is beauty in me…so much beauty.  There is beauty in the mother lion me that comes out when my kids need me to defend them.  There is beauty in the striving and the fixing when I need to kick it into high gear.  There is beauty in my relationships that are messy and complicated.  There is beauty in who I am.  Even when I screw up and my kids have to teach me. There is beauty in them teaching me.

My friends were saying,  “Just be you.”

Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to be better that I forget I’m already good.

I’ve been asking God lately for direction and He has answered loudly and clearly with one directive: “rest”.  Stop doing.  Don’t try to fix or change anything.  He wants me to be still and trust that I am enough…that He is enough…that He has me and my daughter in His hands. He’s got this.

“In stillness and trust is your strength.” – Isaiah 30:15

Here’s the thing.  God loves me all the time. He wants me as I am.  He’s saying come to me, let me have your heart…the one that is messy and broken and imperfect…the one that is beautiful and kind and loving and faithful.  The one the world needs.

“Just be you”, He says.  “I’ll handle everything else.”

**This post is dedicated to all the moms who doubt themselves sometimes.  For all the ways we criticize ourselves or wish we were different or compare…for the anxieties and fears and “what if I really messed these kids up” moments.  This is for all my friends who say, “Just be you” and mean it.  You are all beautiful. Happy Mother’s Day! 

you are beautiful

 

©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved