Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We're In This Together


We encounter people every day of our lives. In business transactions, formal social situations, at home, walking down the street. Humans are everywhere. They're impossible to avoid. That's because we were created to co-exist with each other. We were made to be a social species. Some of us more than others. But even the most introverted person can't go it alone. We need each other to survive. God saw that Adam was alone and that it was not good for him, so he created a companion (Genesis 1). Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't an advertisement for marriage or anything. This is me saying: we need each other. Friends, family, co-workers, the people we see every day. We help each other hold it together.

Our days shouldn't be filled with "me, me, me." We need to step away from our own selfishness and see the world surrounding us. There are people hurting everywhere. As followers of Jesus, it's our job to be the light to the world. What kind of light ignores people in pain? What kind of a Christian makes their own selfish desires their number one priority? We used to wear these corny fabric bracelets with WWJD embroidered on them. Yes, they were absolutely a crime against fashion, but the reasoning behind them was solid. What would Jesus do? If He came across a heartbroken child, what would He do? Heal her broken heart, of course. When He happened upon a blind man, He gave him sight. He was in the habit of helping. Granted, I don't have the ability to heal...but I can be a listening ear when those around me are going through trials. I can do my part to show Jesus' love to a decaying world.

Too often, rather than being an example of Christ's love, the church gets caught up in the semantics of our faith. We spend hours debating with each other on muddy, unclear doctrines like baptism, servanthood, worship music, alcohol consumption, etc. Seriously? Do you know how outrageously petty this makes us look to the world? What kind of person would want to be a part of a group of people that can't even get along with each other? Yeah, we all come from different backgrounds, and we all have varying takes on the timing of the tribulation. But Jesus didn't commission us with the task of proving our personal take on what kind of foyer a church should have. He asked us to make disciples (Matthew 28) and to LOVE EACH OTHER (Mark 12).

We weren't meant to do life in solitary confinement. We were meant to walk along side each other, that way we can pick one another up off of the ground when we stumble. If we work together and build each other up, we will be a force to be reckoned with. God is next to us, every step of the way. We need to follow His example and stand by the side of our brothers and sisters. A book I am reading says, "A child says 'me.' An adult says 'us.'" Let's be spiritual grown ups and concentrate our effort on the world around us, rather than the desires of our own hearts. Our reward is in Heaven, not on this earth. What better reward is there than more of our loved ones to share Paradise with?

Be fishers of men.

Love your neighbor.

It's what we're called to do.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Who I Want To Be


We all have an idea of how we want people to see us, an image of the person we want to be. We each portray a different persona that influences how we want people to think of us. Sometimes we get so focused on being loved by the world surrounding us, we begin to lose ourselves piece by piece. We get so caught up in bending to the whims of the crowd, we forget who we really are.

There have been times in my life that I've so desperately wanted to be accepted by everyone that I developed different versions of myself to cater to each of the people in my life. I just wanted to make everyone happy, because I wanted them all to like me.

I realized somewhere along the way that I'd lost myself completely. I didn't know which of my hobbies were things I actually enjoyed, and which I had picked up to please someone else. I didn't know who I was or why I did the things I did.

I see the same thing every day around me. People forgetting who they are in their desire to "make it" in life. Giving up their favorite old sweater because their friends think it's ugly. Sacrificing their integrity to please management. Compromising their purity to ensure that their boyfriend loves them.

What ever happened to being an individual? Why are we so insecure that we require constant approval?

I don't want to be that girl anymore. I want to celebrate the way God made me, not squash the unique personality I was given. I want to be me, all of the time. I don't want to be one girl when I'm with my husband and a completely different character at work. I'm striving for uniformity.

Fake people are hard to be around. It's so easy to see right through their facade. It that the kind of person we want to be?

Being true to yourself can be so hard. It's impossible to be liked by everyone, but we want so badly to be. Personalities clash, it's part of human nature. And you know what? That's ok.

So, this is me. I'm going to be true to myself. I won't be ashamed of the person that I am. Some people won't like it, that has already been made clear. But that's fine, I'm learning to be ok with it. If someone doesn't the real me, then why would I bend over backward to try to make them? I don't want to surround myself with people who want me to be someone that I'm not. I want to be embraced by people that like me for me.

I'm straightforward and honest, I speak my mind, I don't sugarcoat things. If I think something is silly or unnecessary, I will probably tell you. I love sports, I adore puppies. Reading is an addiction of mine. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever—but, according to my mother, I give people too many chances. I have road rage. I'm extraordinarily superficial, and I'm working on that. My iPhone may have to be surgically removed from my hand. I don't drink enough water. I have a high regard for Sour Patch Kids. I'm terrible at giving compliments. I'm passionate and dedicated. I love Jesus, I hate the politics of church. I like animals more than I like most humans. I wish I was born in 1895. My family is the most important thing in my life.

This is me. Accept it, or move on. Do what's best for both of us.


Jackelyn Stange