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I love Jesus and I love people. I write about what happens when dreams and reality collide. Because the best stories are the ones He writes.

She's Teaching Me

She's Teaching Me

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My three-year-old sits across from me on the couch, ankles crossed, leaned back and confidently rocking her pink and teal mix-matched pajamas. Her curls fall out of messy pigtails and she’s grinning from ear-to-ear as she watches a video starring her as a baby. Her chubby hands grip my phone and she’s singing along to the familiar soundtrack. She loves watching her story unfold on the screen and lately she’s been asking to watch the video more and more.

I watch her in quiet awe, and I feel sentimental wondering how long she’ll be like this.

Because you see, my baby girl is totally content with who she is and her place in this world.

She is sunshine and determination. She is a dirty look and temper tantrum. She is “I’m sorry!” and “I love you mommy.” She is crazy. She is precious. She is my baby. 

I love her so much.

But nights like these make me wonder when my love won’t be enough.

I wonder when she’ll feel what I feel as I write this post.

It’s a pressure building up inside of me.

You see, my baby girl, whether she sings or dances, puts on a fancy dress, or tells a story, she does it with a total freedom. Her life is not pressurized with other people’s perceptions of her. She doesn’t care how a picture looks or about her social media engagement. She doesn’t worry about whether she offers enough value to people’s lives or not. She’s not waiting with anxiety to find out whether her dreams will come true. As far as she’s concerned, she’s already living the dream.

She knows she is loved and that is all she needs to be freely, joyfully herself.

I struggle resting in that joyful freedom sometimes.

Every morning, I try to remind my children that they are loved and children of God. I want them to KNOW they are loved. I want them to KNOW they are children of God. I want them to KNOW that no identity the world offers even compares or could ever compromise God’s love for them.

I also tell them that as children of God, they are meant to shine brightly in the world around them.  And then I stop the van, open the sliding door, and out they go, released into the world- or at least the school play yard.

This ritual, the words I say- it’s not just something I say for them- it’s something I truly believe.

Deep in my soul, I believe that identity, purpose and love found in Jesus Christ is completely enough. 

So when do we struggle to remember?

When do we forget?

  • When does the sweet business woman purchase a perfectly curated Instagram feed to superficially attract more followers?

  • When does the friendly pastor start buying sermons online and passing the words off as his own to sound more polished?

  • When does the beautiful teenager decide her social media pictures perform better with a slimming filter and smoother skin?

  •  When does the rock-loving worship singer decide to cross over to singing secular country music songs about alcohol for adoring crowds?

  •  When does the writer buy a list of email addresses to bolster her engagement numbers?

 When does the pressure make us feel like we’re not enough?

 When does the pressure cause us to pretend?

 I’m not an expert. But I have a theory.

Last night, I fell asleep to a sermon by Matt Chandler about idols. I was half-asleep but I’m pretty sure he said that an idol is anything we desire more than God.

Sometimes those idols are overtly bad things. But for me, mostly in my life, they’ve taken the form of something else.

Good things.

Good things as beautiful as precious dreams.

Dreams to be a successful entrepreneur and help my family financially.

Dreams to reach a large audience with words that promote change and inspire hope.

Dreams to feel pretty and important.

We all have dreams.

In and of themselves, dreams usually aren’t bad things. But when they become more desirable than God, well, Houston we’ve got a problem.

Maybe that’s why when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments; he started with instructions on how we relate to God. It’s our relationship with God that impacts everything else in our life.

 “And God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them…” (Exodus 20:1-5a)

These past few weeks, I’ve put this intense pressure on myself- a pressure to do better. This pressure that comes from external forces that have little to do with God but everything to do with what other people think, what a publisher might think, what a certain ministry leader or author might think, etc. 

And the truth is friend, they’re real pressures.

They’re real pressures because I have real dreams that sometimes get really out of place.

God knows, I want to be a published author. I want to reach lots of young women for Jesus. I want to help my husband with our finances. I want to make a difference with the gifts God has given me.

I know what the world says. I know it says to get those dreams build a platform. It says my voice is insignificant without numbers to back it up. It says to do. DO. DOOOO. It says no one cares about you if you’re not famous or beautiful or fantastically unique. 

And sometimes, if I’m honest, I let the pressure cook me up.

You know when I stopped believing I was enough?

Do you know when I’ve been tempted to pretend?

It was when my desire for my dreams took the place of my desire for God.

Well, I’m hoping to take a cue from my three-year-old daughter tonight.

So here I confess: Lord, I want you more. Forgive me for the times I’ve made it about the dream.

Help me to write for you. Help me to love with your love. Give me your eyes.  

I know I’m your child and that you love me.

Lord teach us to believe this:

Help us to believe that knowing who we are and being loved by you is more than enough. 

Help us to trust you and live our lives as offerings for you. To delight in you. Help us to let go and let you lead us. Help us to forget the crazy world and focus on you and what you say about us. 

Help us to rest with our real selves, totally content and happy to dance, sing, tell stories, whatever you want us to do, confident in your love for us, smiling in child-like faith.

Help us to teach and encourage others that you are better than any dream and your love is more than enough. Help us not to just say it. Teach us how to live it.

Here is a link to a song I love that talks about this struggle:

 Simplicity by Rend Collective

 I come in simplicity

Longing for purity

To worship you

In spirit and truth

Only you


Lord strip it all away

‘Til only you remain

I’m coming back

To my first love

Only You

 

You’re the reason I sing

The reason I sing

Yes my heart will sing

How I love you

And forever I’ll sing

Forever I’ll sing

Yes my heart will sing

How I love you

 

I come with my broken song

To you the perfect one

To worship you

In spirit and truth

Only you

Only you

 

Give me a childlike heart

Lead me to where you are

Cause I’m coming back

To my first love

Only you

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