Sunday, May 29, 2005

Daily Bread

The other day I was praying in my car, and it for lack of better words, I fell back on "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." I realized that even though growing up I felt like there was a lot of emphasis on being able to come up with your own prayers, the Lord's Prayer is the main prayer for a reason. Of course, Jesus generally knows what he's talking about.

Anyway, sometimes those old prayers come in handy when you don't know what else to say, and they can strike you as so
true when something hits you in a new light. I was a little overwhelmed by the idea of truly telling God to do God's will in my life. What if God's will is really hard? I sort of instinctively continued praying "Give us this day our daily bread." I was impressed with how appropriate the order of the prayer is. When faced with the prospect of anything God wants coming to pass, all I can do is pray that God will give me what I need one day at a time.

Growing up seeing so many churches where people seemed to be mindlessly repeating prayers and liturgy sort of gave me a prejudice against that stuff for awhile. I think the pendulum may have swung too far away from traditional prayers and readings. If a person learns and understands the Lord's Prayer as a child, they can fall back on it in times when they don't know what else to say, like I did the other day. Similarly, the Apostle's Creed isn't just an empty list of ideas, but a quick reference of the basic beliefs of Christianity. That's why it was created.

Apparently, even though the Church made a lot of mistakes over the years, there are actually reasons behind a lot of stuff we do. Maybe we should learn what those reasons are.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord

With college ending, and everyone talking about their future plans, I can't help but think about how we end up with the plans we have. Most of us come up with plans based on our talents, dreams and desires. Others also take into account the ways God has worked in their lives. Sometimes our plans come from divine inspiration and seemingly not much else. It seems like a big source of discontent and confusion for people of faith comes from assuming that we know or can figure out the details of God's plan.

For years I've had a vision for my life that included youth ministries and my community. I spent so much time in college wondering how it would work out that I could spend my time involved in youth ministries and still make a living. Last summer, I finally gave in and told God that I would go into full-time ministry, even though I knew that I would probably end up more or less itinerant, because the Methodist Church tends to move people around. I wondered why God would place my community on my heart and then ask me to commit to leaving home. A couple weeks later, I met with Pastor Amy about joining Trinity, and she told me that the church was hoping to hire a youth minister and she had me in mind. Hello.

My roommates and I have been wondering about our futures. There are so many unanswered questions about the next few months and years, and its been a struggle for me not to worry too much. While most things in my life are falling into place, there are still pieces of my heart that don't seem to fit in with the big picture. God has been weeding out the things in my life that are incongruent with God's plans for me, and I'm at the point where I'm starting to wonder why some things aren't lining up yet. I've been burdened with feelings and ideas that don't seem to fit with the plans God has revealed to me. Because I have been learning to only carry the burdens that were intended for me, all I can do is offer up my burdens over and over. If they fall back on my shoulders I assume they are here to stay- at least for awhile. I have been able to identify a thorn in my flesh, and my heart wants to keep asking God "why won't You tell me what this means?" Apparently the answer is
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Identity Crisis

Its probably a bad idea to watch 2 hours of Sex and the City after a 12 hour mini-identity crisis, but I did. It got me thinking about friendships, and how everyone is looking for some kind of validation. Some lucky people are most concerned with the validation they get by meeting their own standards, although I guess how lucky they are depends on how high or low their standards are. Most people are looking for validation from others in some way, and I think its hard to realize that because people do different things for validation. Some people base their self-esteem partly on the people are around them, and they learn how to do and say the right things to keep people around. I know I tend to measure myself by other people's opinions of me, but I'm not very good at trying to conform to what people want. I try and usually I just get confused and mad.

Last night, during a tirade about people who frustrate me, I realized that I was really upset because I want people to see me as someone who has it together, and I don't have it together a lot of the time. I get so stressed out because I don't want people to think I'm guillible or stupid, and I don't want them to see that I end up getting hurt and bitter when I trust the wrong people.

What I realized is that in this area of my life, I'm basing my identity on what others think of me, and not what God thinks of me. God created me with a lot of faith. Even if people think that I'm dumb or gullible when I have faith in people, or even because I have faith in God, God made me to be trusting. My identity needs to come from God's will for me, and not what other people think.

Its amazing how much mental earth gets turned up when I have a night home alone, and all of this thinking also led to the realization that I need to be more aware of what other people are seeking from me. I'm not very good at walking the line between giving too much and giving enough to other people, but probably paying more attention would help.