Monday, October 30, 2006

Spiritual metabolism

Have you ever been trying to lose weight and realized that you'd reached a plateau? You're plugging along, losing weight as planned and things are looking great, but then you reach a brick wall. No matter what you eat or don't eat, and regardless of how much or how little you exercise, nothing changes? The first time I heard someone say that their "metabolism was stuck", I thought it was the weirdest thing... until it happened to me. I did some research online and talked to some fitness types and learned that sometimes when you're body gets used to the same routine day after day, it gets complacent and stops working as hard. When that happens,
I'm told that you really have to mix things up in order to jump-start your metabolism to get it working at optimal efficiency again.

Just as our physical metabolism can become sluggish and complacent, I think our spiritual metabolism can get stuck as well. We can get so used to doing the same things, saying the same things, and even praying the same things, that we wake up one day to find that our lives are on auto-pilot. Our prayers are no longer effective, our relationship with God stops growing, and our lives lack luster.

Then something happens, something big, that turns everything upside down. Things and people that we thought we knew surprise and disappoint us, a future that seemed certain suddenly is anything but, and we begin to second-guess our decisions, our dreams, our very existence. I suddenly found myself in that place recently and it's not pleasant. I feel overwhelmed, sad, fearful and useless. I found myself asking "why me? why this? why now?" But then I realized that the real question is "why not?"

I've known for months now that God was working in my life in so many ways... some that were evident and some that were behind the scenes. I knew that I was nearing the end of a season of preparation and that it would soon be time to move into the next season of my life. Why should I have expected that process to be an easy one? Some of the most awesome transitions and transformations involve a period of intense pain prior to completion. I'm reminded of the obvious one... childbirth... but nature is full of countless others. Perhaps rather than focusing on the pain, I need to focus on the promise instead.

I know from experience that our darkest hours provide fertile soil for the planting of seeds of fear, doubt, depression and apathy. They are often the times when plans falter, hope fades and dreams die. We can choose to believe that old recurring voice in our heads that tells us that we can't do it, it won't work, we're not good enough, nobody cares... or we can choose to listen to the voice of truth.

Over the past few days, as I've wondered what will become of my home-based business, whether I'll be able to find a "traditional" job should it come to that, or even where I'll be living, I've thought often about all the money I made and the titles I held in a former life in corporate America... about the nice houses I've had and the great parties I've hosted... about all the trappings of success that I spent so many years trying to accumulate. All things that are no longer a part of the life I live now.

But then I think about the moutain of over 550 pink scarves for The Think Pink Challenge. I re-read the cards, notes and letters from so many women who have been generous in their efforts to make that project a success, thanking me when all the while it's me who should be thanking them. I think about the responses from women who are survivors of sexual violence when they receive a prayer shawl or simply know that there are people who care about them. It's in those moments that I know that this is what my life is about... making a difference in the lives of others. Those pink scarves and those letters and cards mean more to me than any paycheck, promotion or stock option I ever received. And I know that this is what really matters.

So, I've decided to think of my current *personal crisis* as a God's way of jump-starting my spiritual metabolism. I choose to be thankful for the lessons I'm learning and for the support system I'm blessed to have. I choose to thank God for his faithfulness, even in the midst of the storms in our lives. And even though I don't know what it's going to look like, I thank Him in advance for this next season of my lfe.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Think Pink Rocks!!!

As some of you know, I've been incredibly busy lately with what I'd thought was the "final push" for The Think Pink Challenge. Instead, it turns out that it was an incredible beginning of something that's turned out to be much bigger than I'd imagined. Be sure to visit the blog for the latest update!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Getting my attention

Oh no! The dreaded back pain is back. You know the one... the deep, consistent, lower back pain that radiates into your hips and thighs and makes anything other than lying perfectly still on a heating pad unthinkable. It started yesterday in church, of all places. I obviously wasn't in the midst of any heavy lifting or contortionist movements, so why then?

It lasted all day yesterday, all through the night (despite sleeping on the heating pad set to HIGH), and it's out in full force this morning. During my prayer time this morning I didn't specifically ask God why my back was hurting now, especially now that I have so much to do, but He told me anyway. It's because I have "so much to do" or so I think.

I'm beginning Week 2 of a 40 Days of Purpose at my church (based, of course, on Rick Warren's book, A Purpose-Driven Life). One of the things I committed to was spending the next 40 days focused on God, removing from my plate all that I could that wasn't absolutely essential to my daily living. I did remove a lot of things, but apparently not enough. God showed me this morning how some of my old habits, driven by long-standing fears, are creeping back into my day, without me even being aware of them. The biggest of these is my financial fears... being single and self-employed I often worry about getting sick... losing a big client... changes in the industry... being underbid by a competitor... the list goes on. It's just so hard for me to let go of this fear and have faith that God will provide all that I need.

God is really working with me on this, and I am beginning to see some progress. I've restructured my debt, eliminated a lot of unnecessary expenses, developed a new budget, started focusing more on savings, and perhaps most importantly, made some drastic changes in my perception of how much I actually "need" to earn. The more I focus on what's really important in my life, things that are NOT material, I realize that I don't need to earn anywhere near as much money as I once thought I did, which has helped reduce my financial stress level quite a bit.

But apparently God's not done with me yet on this one. He made it clear to me this morning that if I'm not going to "slow down and be still" on my own, He'll help me out a bit... voila! He got my attention. I'd be in a lot less pain if I'd gotten the message before the back ache, but you know what? This is one time that I can honestly say that I'm thankful for the pain... Really! It's a very tangible reminder to me that this is a very important lesson that I need to learn, and that God is right there with me to make sure that I "get it"! Needless to say, He's got my attention and my "plate" for the next few weeks just got a whole lot lighter.

So, what about you? Is there a lesson God's trying to teach you? Is there a nagging pain, frustration, problem that crops up just when you least want to deal with it? Perhaps God's talking to you through that situation. Does He have your attention?