Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lesson I've Learned - On Halloween!

I'm starting today and today's post with a revelation that God is slowly, and very kindly, knocking into my entirely too thick head.  I think its been a lesson, but I think, amazingly but not surprisingly enough - its a lesson that God has been teaching Julie this whole while too and I'm supposing will have really brought it home this past week in the LEAF sessions.  At least it was sounding like it was going that way before she even left.

Back up to the book that I was reading (and have now finished).  The Best Yes.  Its a book that Julie had asked me to bring with for a Bible study that she was doing and so making sure that I got everything that she requested even if I didn't understand why she wanted it or the urgency, I even had someone bend over backwards to go to a local bookstore and pick up all the material she wanted.

And I should have known that, if its a book that Julie said "you have to read it!", that I'll do whatever Julie says because she's so awesome :)  So - of course when I got here and we were going through the bags I pulled out all The Best Yes books and we were discussing and she said she had heard so much good about it and she was really looking forward to reading it and I should just use a copy while I was here and read through it.

Julie - I listen to you :)

So read it I did.  I suppose I should say - DEVOURED it!  It spoke to me.  It resonated with me.  It was something I need and have needed and will continue to need.  It was AMAZING!  It was God.

Its about budgeting your time and giving of yourself and using the two most amazing words "YES" and "NO".
Or in French "OUI" and "NON".
Or in Hungarian "EGEN" and "NEM".
Or in Chinese "DUI" and "BU".
I think you may get the idea.  Any language, they're two of the most powerful words because they can make you or break you!  You can say "yes" so much that you overload and short circuit, or you can say "no" too much and just be marked as the perpetual negatoid that should never be asked for anything.

I'm learning that there are yet two other options.... the "BEST YES" and the "COMPASSIONATE NO".  Long and short - theres a right time and right place to say yes so that when you do say yes you give your best and you know its a God-given opportunity and you're sure that its where and what you need to be doing.  And the compassionate no is the right way to give a no - not harsh, but honest "I am not able to give enough time right now and just can't do my best at this so I need to say no".  I love that - because its an honest answer that still says that person and their request is important but says - I'm human.

I'm pretty sure that we all have that one last thread that we're hanging onto sometimes and we just feel like we can't do or give anymore.  But yet it seems like society and, even more in the Christian realm, we're told to give give give - we need you, we can't do it without you, if you don't do it no one else will, if you're really a good person then you would do this.
Its the huge pressure of responsibility that falls on a lot our shoulders and weighs heavy and makes you feel like if you say "no" you're not super human and you're not doing everything you need to be doing.  I have so much more to add here on what I've learned about deciding yes and no, but I won't go into detail.  But I'll give my take away as - I'm slowly learning - and I know that Julie has been learning this too and just talking about it  makes me understand more.
WE DON'T HAVE TO BE SUPERHUMAN OR SUPERCHRISTIANS!"  AHHH!  I can't even wrap my head around this because I'm confessing that forever I've felt like I have that status I have to keep up.  And honestly - I can't blame anyone for putting that pressure on me except for myself!  No one has told me I have to do it all, its just the feeling that people stand back and look at you in amazement and talk about how God has used you, etc and so I keep on taking more because I feel like if I don't then I'm not letting God use me and people will think that I'm not giving as much as I should be.  I AM THE ONE WHO OVERLOADS MYSELF!

Lately I've felt the point of breaking.  I'm SUPPOSED to be superhuman and superChristian so why do I have these points where I just want to stay in bed all day and sleep and just say "chuck it" to everything going on in my life.

Sometimes our heads are so hard that God has to slowly reveal stuff to us because otherwise our little noggins would just EXPLODE!  What would I do without all the pressure of being needed and giving and meeting every need that comes up or every request given to me.

So God has slowly had to put me in a place where I feel I'm not superhuman, and introduce me to people who I DO BELIEVE are superChristians, but I think the reason I believe that is because I see they're NOT superhuman but are messy and tired and learning all these same lessons as me.

Yesterday, I'm not naming any names, but there was a certain child that had a little meltdown (not me thankfully :).  He's not been feeling well and he tends to wake up at like 4 a.m. (but isn't allowed to get up until 6 - thank goodness) and has had his parents missing all week and has been feeling that but hasn't been showing it.  And so yesterday when we were sitting in the family room and we had gone through a whole thing of how he didn't want to go to co-op so I got it called off for him since he wasn't feeling well, but then he decided he HAD to go to co-op and was obsessing about it and so, as I was sitting with a bunch of textbooks on my lap, I literally threw up my hands and then did an underhand toss of the phone to him.  Which - the phone then hit his shoulder but as I hadn't lobbed it at him and he was far enough away that the force was not great, it did not damage his to-be football shoulder :).  I honestly would admit if I abused the poor kid by throwing a phone at him.  I saw it - it was not abuse, it was a slight hit that didn't even  eave a mark let alone a great wave of pain.  Ok - that is MY interpretation.....

BUT - the reaction on his face and the full fledged tears in his eyes and his yelps of pain and protests that I DID hurt him and I wouldn't understand! said otherwise.
I'm not too big to apologize (even though I know it didn't really hurt him - which I said and then retracted in lieu of a sincere apology).
We then had a discussion about how this reaction of his said that he maybe shouldn't go to co-op.  That he wasn't feeling well and was very tired and in the light of the getting sick, maybe he should stay home.
We wound up going because he COULD NOT miss the first day of co-op.

About 15 minutes later, as we walked to co-op, unnamed boy turned to me and said "Alison, I need to apologize for the way I acted and for arguing with you."

Ok - see - thats why I love Zach and Julie - because they have kids that of their own accord will say "I'm sorry".  WOW!  Life lesson there :)

Anyways - I accepted the apology and then, I was trying not to be too preachy, but I was just explaining to him how sometimes our actions say a lot about where we are mentally and physically  and how sometimes we need other people to help us see that.  We just have a reaction and then someone looks and says "I can tell by that reaction that you're tired or you're sick or you're hungry" and that we should definitely be careful with our reactions, but we should learn to listen to people when they're trying to help us make decisions about what we should and should not be doing based on what they're seeing in our reactions.

BAM - right back in my face.  I felt it.  I'm kind of listening God?  Maybe?

And then today when I got on the bus, I have a habit of just reading scripture on the way to school and so today in my reading plan I'm on I Kings and in chapter 19 today.  And God used Elijah.

Forgive me - this is long - but my head is pretty thick and stubborn and so my lessons take a long time....

I Kings 19
Verse 3 starts talking about how everything Elijah had been through and had going on around him caused him to run off to the wilderness.  And when he got there he found a tree and lay down and just said "I don't care if I die - in fact - please let me die!"
And I thought here - I'm feeling you Elijah!  Been there done that...
And then it says he slept
And I thought - I know those times when you're exhausted and you can't sleep.  But then those times when you just sleep so deep - you know its a God gift.
God gave Elijah a gift - he slept so deep that an angel had to come and wake him up.
And the reason that the angel woke him up is because he had to eat and so the angel provided for him and told him that there was some bread and water there and he should eat.
So Elijah woke up and ate and then -
He was still human...
He laid back down and went to sleep again.
And once again God let him sleep deep and then sent an angel to once again wake him up and show him food and tell him to eat more...
And this time the angel told him "Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you."

And here is where I'm starting to get blown out of the proverbial water!
God knows that we're human and we have those moments where we're just so exhausted that we want to up and die - and he doesn't condemn us for that!
He lets us feel that!
In fact - he gives us space and time to feel that!

But he doesn't just stop there at letting us feel that..
He give us the rest that we need to help combat that.
BUT - I think the thing is that we have to be willing to take that rest...
BUT - even when we're not, I think God lets us get to this place where our bodies just say "screw it - I'm just giving up!"
And so even though we're not willingly or mentally allowing ourselves to take the time - we just do without even thinking about it because we're so much at our end.

AND then - like giving us rest isn't enough - God feeds us like we need.
Sometimes, its time and time again, but he puts it there in front of us and if we're really synced with him - even in these bad times, we take that food even if we don't intentionally do it, but because God is there telling us in our deep stupor of tired "eat because you need the strength" - we do it.  We're not thinking "I need to do this" or "I HAVE to eat to survive"... we're just so tired that somewhere in our gut God is telling us to eat and we don't even feel ourselves doing it, but we do....
And nourishment doesn't come from us thinking "this will keep me strong" - it just happens by us doing what we're supposed to be doing (as in eating :)

Then - the continuance of the story - God let Elijah be human after he done all these superhuman things.  And Elijah had collapsed.  But God was there providing for him in the midst of his not even feeling or caring.  And after God provided all that...
Elijah went on to travel for 40 DAYS and 40 NIGHTS!  I think thats superhuman after a sure bout of being anything but superhuman!

And then the conclusion of it - after Elijah had gone for those 40 days and 40 nights... He once again ran off and said "ahhh!"  And so God kind of hit him on the head and said "Go out and stand before me on the mountain".  And then God sent all these extreme things that just got Elijah's attention (earthquakes, fires, etc) But it wasn't in those modes that God actually communicated to Elijah because He knew he had to get tough to get his attention, but that what He wanted to say needed to be in a loving way.  So "there was the sound of a gentle whisper".
I think, in my humble opinion, the gentle whisper is the point that Elijah knew "I have to listen but I don't want to" and so he took off and like he could hide or like he was a 2 year old, he wrapped his robe around his head.
Silly Elijah! :)
And then he went off and just stood there.

Here is where God came to him in his gave up - in his weakness - in his pouty I can't go on... And God gave him a little talking to but then gave him something to do that was pretty amazing and superhuman to do - but from everything that Elijah had gone through and what God had already done for him - I kind of think he knew.... I can do this!
And so he went and he did what God had told him to do - and what God had said would happen did happen!
And it was pretty amazing and pretty superhuman because it wasn't a superhuman who did it - it was God who did it and used a plain old human because he didn't change that human on the outside, but changed him on the inside!

LESSONS LEARNED/ING - after this long, wordy regurgitation of events and small God-voices....
My lessons that I'm learning slowly are -

Lesson #1 - I am human and I need to watch out for stretching myself too thin.  There are very appropriate times and places to say a compassionate no - or a firm no :)  Whichever the event calls for - but keep it real to what you feel your limit is.  But when you say YES - make sure that its the best place to say yes and you can really give your all to that situation and your best to that person or persons.  100 shallow committed "yes"s are not worth that one "yes" where you knock it out of the park and accomplish more than you could ever imagine and where you change lives - excuse me - God allows you to help change lives :)  I don't have to feel the pressure of being superhuman and people won't think less of me if I have to say no.  But the place where they will think less if I say "yes" to something and just do a mediocre job or don't follow through on my commitment.

Lesson #2 - Its ok for me to feel those times where I'm overloaded and I can't go on and I just want to lay in bed and sleep or cry. I can take those times because its those times that help me remember that I am human and that I do have a point of breaking.  TAKE THE TIME TO SLEEP OR CRY OR JUST STARE AT A WALL!  You need it!  God gives it and loves that we take that time! Because I think those are the times he uses the most to make us into the superChristians HE wants us to be.

Lesson #3 - In those times, do what you feel led to do - eat, pray, sleep, read.... Let God speak to you through the simple things that he wants to use to nourish you and keep you going.  Make sure that you let God's "angels" (i.e. our friends and family) be what God wants them to be in our lives and give to us and feed us and minister to us.  Don't feel like you have to refuse the help - TAKE IT!  LOVE IT!  CHERISH IT!  ALLOW IT TO HELP YOU SURVIVE!  Don't think of it as humility, even though it is, think of it as just a natural course of life that God has created to keep us remembering we're just a bunch of humans in this together trying to accomplish superhuman things and we need each other to do that!

Lesson #4 - Allow those "angels" to speak into your life - weigh what they're saying and have a take away.  Whether its full agreement or little points - God has those people in your life for a reason and the ones who know you the best - are the ones who know how they need to talk to us so that we respond.  God sometimes hits us over the head - but He is compassionate and He knows the times and our humanity that sometimes we listen more when we have to listen hard.

Lesson #5 - Keep on listening to God.  Even when you don't even know you're doing it, even when you wrap your robe around your head and go stand in a corner..... Let you heart never be so hard that you never take the robe off or never turn out of the corner.  Listen because God uses people, God uses His Word - and sometimes, like Henry Blackaby talks about in Experiencing God, sometimes those answers God just puts inside of us and keeps us coming back to because its a culmination of what we know and what we've learned and where God wants us to be.

End of lessons - now time for fun...
Today is Halloween!
And even in China they celebrate it so today.... Everyone at school has costumes on and the end of the day is culminating in a big Halloween party!  Jasper keeps on coming in my classroom and whining "when is the fun starting?  This isn't fun!  Last year we were having fun already."
Life lessons start early and hard sometimes :)

My little wizard and my even littler phantom :)

No costume?  Give a boy named Moses a staff - and then call him real Moses!

And Happy Halloween to me!  Zach and Julie get home tonight so - yay!  Julie is back!!!!!!  And who knows if its for Halloween or Zach and Julie, but they're having some crazy firework and drum display going on right now - at 11:30 am!  Those crazy Chinese and their fireworks! Always with the fireworks!  People don't even flinch when they go off - they just keep on working or walking or doing school - dont even look.  It's actually kind of fun:). FIREWORKS!