My nature is to be opinionated. I have come so far in terms of realizing that you can be intelligent and knowledgeable on various topics without having to ALWAYS give your opinion. (Still got along way to go, honey!) Opinionating (verb) has become a bit of a past time in ‘merica. We have talk radio and talk shows and morning news and News channels that air 24/7 so that should we ever not be certain of how we should feel about an issue- never fear! A wordy opinion is just a click away so that you too can be aware of how blissfully unaware you were.
*Insert sarcastic cheer here*
Opinions don’t rest in church either, goodness knows. In fact, that might be why you aren’t plugged into a church right now. Because some of the leaders in your church had some thoughts on some things and you didn’t agree so they all but kicked you to the curb. If that happened, can I please just say that I’m so sorry? No matter who was right, I’m sorry.
Church shouldn’t hurt.
Church should help the hurting.
I believe that the Bible teaches us to not be opinionated and instead be passionate. Whew. Do we love to talk about what we think. About the pastor’s sermon, about his wife’s shoes or about how the soloist on stage should not have worn that. We’ve all been there; I most certainly have.
But I’m trying to not be that way anymore and my guess is that you could use a friend to help encourage you as well. So let’s be friends, first of all. And secondly, let’s help the hurting family in the chairs next to us. Take time to look into eyeballs that give way to souls. Look and really see people. Reach into their lives and step back out with a better understanding of where they’re coming from.
I’d like to let you in on one of my coping mechanisms for when I feel stuck. When I say ‘stuck’, I mean like I can’t stop everything from spinning around me and I just want to catch my breath to make my way over to a bench and have a nice long sit. As an extroverted introvert, let me tell you that sometimes my prescriptions look different from what you need. If you find yourself in this numb state wondering where Charlie Brown’s mother is hiding, I believe that you should leave. Or stay. And that they could both be the ‘right’ thing to do.
If you are in a group of people and you all the sudden have that wave come over you and you feel so desperately lonely that if something doesn’t happen RIGHT NOW you’ll just keel over and meet our Lord Jesus, then guess what? It’s time to leave. Not in a few minutes as to avoid being rude. Not in an hour when the movie is over. Right then and there. Gotta get out. Grab the husband and the kids and get in the car because Mama needs a minute.
On the flipside, if you are at home alone working or perhaps with the kids during the witching hour (aka approximately 55 minutes before daddy walks through the door) you might just need to leave. Get on shoes and go for a walk. Hop in the car and grab a $1 ice cream cone for everyone. Heck, go try and find some cows to moo at, just get out of the house. Breathe some fresh air and refocus.
I think part of why I always dislike when people try to assume that they know what I’m going though or thinking is that I’d like to think I’m more complex than that. I’m trusting you’ve felt the same way. Wisdom doesn’t always cast a wide net. There are clearly times when wisdom applies to everyone across the board forever and ever. However, more often we mistake opinions, spoken very intensely, for wisdom. I don’t know where you are sitting right at this moment but I know if you’ve read to the end of this page that there is something that’s resonating with you.
You are complex and there is no ‘this always works, promise’ type answer. When you feel stuck sometimes you stay. And sometimes you leave. And sometimes you write or sing or play with your kids. And other times you might run or take a hot bath (raises hand) or cook a meal for someone. Or even get coffee with a friend.
There is no right or wrong way to get unstuck as long as you realize that you don’t have to stay stuck forever. God is so gracious to offer the next step.
‘Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you’
He is a God of next steps not 10 steps. So the next time you feel like someone has a neat and pretty plan of 10 things for you to do to make your life perfect, remember: opinions are not always wisdom….no matter how passionate the sales pitch.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mama needs to go grab some bubble bath.
As an extroverted introvert (my own definition) I like to talk and enjoy conversations but I must retreat to my house in order to fully recharge. I wasn’t always this way however I think after years of being a SAHM you sort of break that need for interaction because, quite frankly, it doesn’t happen everyday. And while that was a hard transition for me, I don’t mind it now because I’m able to write and study and spend time with my kids without having to have legit interaction 20x a day.
Full disclosure: I do have to tell you though that I have been known to word vomit to the Starbucks barista and also to the Target checkout lady.
So here’s the thing…I’m also a planner and a ‘need to know’-er. Generally, I need to talk about my plans with Brad for quite a while before I’m ready to make a move. Sometimes it’s because I’m scared, other times it’s simply because I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to do. It’s easy for me to get stuck in the planning or talking stage.
Lately, my ‘plan’ I rub like a smooth stone is writing and speaking. Please know that the fact that you are reading this right now means something big to me. It means I put down the stone and picked up the laptop. It means I stopped mentally pacing and started moving forward. (I’m trying!) A verse that has been central to me in reminding myself to not be afraid of the process is Proverbs 14:23
‘In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.’
I have such a love hate relationship with writing mainly because it is so emotionally exhausting to me. In order to write honestly and deeply, I have to recall various happenings that perhaps I don’t always want to re-experience yet I know in doing so that I’m able to share with you, beautiful friend I’ve never met. In many ways, writing for me is comparable to exercise. It’s not the most entertaining thing I can think of to do with my time however the benefits far outweigh the deep breaths and frustrations. (Now if only I could figure out how to get rid of my flabby arms while writing an essay…we’d be onto something!)
Proverbs tells us that when we have to work for something, there is always profit. Even if we don’t see it right away. Work begets work and the satellite lessons to our discipline and working will continue to reveal themselves long after the job is done. However when I do nothing but talk about things and plans and ideas without accomplishing anything, that leads to poverty. Perhaps that’s monetary poverty, or it might even be spiritual poverty.
To obey is to act quickly based on the instructions given. When the Lord tells you to do something, he’s not telling you to pray about doing something. He’s handled that part. He wants you to get off the couch and DO THE THING.
There are times to think and pray and fast. Then there are times to act and move and do. Ask the Lord to help you know the difference otherwise you’ll find yourself poverty-stricken in more ways than one.
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in my day of distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.’
You know that person who makes you feel like nothing you ever do is good enough for them? You can’t say the right thing, write the correct report or do the job the way they want. I’ve got a few in my mind as well so it’s ok to take a few deep breaths- it’ll be worth it when we’re done. I’m not gonna tell you to love those people. Even though you should. This chapter is about God protecting his people. Being a fortress and a respite for his loved ones on those unbelievably hard days. And also, what to do about hungry dogs.
When David writes about dogs howling and prowling the city I’m reminded of various conversations I’ve had with people that seem to be mentally pacing around me. Howling. Barking. Testing the water to see what I’ll say or do. They are wandering around our conversation looking for some type of ‘food’ to fill them. And by food, I mean ammunition to wear you down or belittle you or perhaps just be down right ugly in the nicest southern way. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
They are hungry for your blood and your pain because there is something about their own life that is not satisfying their need for flesh. These pacers are famished and they will do whatever necessary to make sure that no one else gets to the real food before them. Anything. Perhaps this is a jealous friend that gives backhanded compliments as her hobby, a boss that continuously takes credit for your work or even a family member that seems to have the debate guns loaded at every family holiday ready to detonate as needed.
The problem is, however, that while they continue to foam at the mouth over our demise, they have forgotten something….they have forgotten that we know the next verses. The verses don’t give me permission to lash out like a barking dog at these particular people in my life (wish it did sometimes!) but it does tell me what to do.
The Psalmist writes that before we do anything, we sing of God’s strength and steadfast love aloud. This is not the time to think spiritual thoughts….this is the time to say them aloud so that while you’re telling the person before you, you are also speaking this over yourself. There is power in the spoken word of God’s people- he tells us that!
We are protected from the pacing and howling dogs around us because he is our fortress, yet even within our fortress we will have days of distress. Not days of enemy conquering, but days of distress. Hello- this life is tough and God knows it!
In the last verse the Psalmist changes his tune from singing about God’s strength to calling God by the name ‘Strength’. From simply singing about His steadfast love to claiming that God is steadfast love. Notice the difference?
The day we change our tune from God has strength to God is strength….from God has steadfast love to God shows mehis steadfast love, is a day for the books. The entire Bible is a lengthy explanation of the omniscience of our Lord. With a God that has literally given his son for your life, why would we waste time with a bunch of hungry dogs sniping at our heels for a snack? Throw them a bone and then get back to singing of the steadfast love of the Lord.
You do the singing and let the Lord worry about the dog food.