I don’t know about you, but from little on I’ve been conditioned to avoid pain…of all sorts. Don’t jump off that rock, you’ll hurt yourself. Don’t run, you’ll fall. Don’t tell someone how you feel about them, they’ll reject you. Don’t make that risky career move, you’ll fail & be poor. Do anything you can to avoid pain. 

But the rule of life is we can’t completely avoid pain…at least not forever. The nature of the muscle disease I’ve been blessed with is chronic physical pain. Some days the pain is significantly more intense than others, but it’s almost always there. The past several weeks have been an intensely painful season. And while there’s not much I can do about it, one thing I can do is go to the gym. I know that if I hop on the treadmill for even 30 minutes I will feel better the next day because the pain needs to be forced out by movement.

But, the current pain, which makes me cringe just walking up to the counter at Starbucks, keeps me from actually going to the gym. Because I know that the actual workout itself will hurt, it will be significantly more painful than sitting still. It doesn’t matter that tomorrow I’ll feel better, I know the pain is going to get worse before it gets better and so I choose to stick with the hardly bearable, yet bearable, pain of sitting still. 

As I was complaining to God about this situation the other day, it hit me how often I do that very same thing with the pain of life. I think that’s true for many of us. We’ll tell you we’re unhappy, miserable, etc. And we know that if we’d do the hard work to get through the pain we’d be happier on the other side. But we also now it will hurt more before it hurts less & we’re not sure our hearts & souls can take it. So, we settle for the hardly bearable, yet bearable, pain of sitting still.

I wonder how our lives might look different if we could recondition ourselves to run headfirst into pain rather than avoid it. If we actually made decisions that put us in the line of pain’s fire knowing we’d get hit but that at some point we’d find ourselves sweetly exhausted on the road to recovery.

How would your life look different if you put yourself through a little reconditioning?

When “Rolling with the Punches” Just Keeps You Rolling

Since moving to Nashville I’ve slowly learned to approach life with a “roll with the punches” attitude. And most of the time I think that’s a good thing. It certainly makes for a less stressful, less frustrating, more enjoyable existence when you don’t let the little things get you bent out of shape.

But I’m beginning to see there’s a dark side of rolling with the punches, of always bracing myself for the next hit. The mindset of being content but always ready for change, laying down roots but always ready to move, can rob me of being fully present in any given moment. 

But how do you live open handedly while also savoring what’s in your hand at the present moment? How do you invest fully & deeply into things that you are always ready to give back to God at any given moment.

Is that what surrender is really about? A constant state of investing your whole heart into a life that you hold with completely open hands? Being 100% present in the current moment while your heart saying “I’m ready for whatever you’ve got, Father”?

Surrender was my word for 2011…I even tattooed it on my wrist a couple of months ago. But lately, I think I’m learning about a whole side of surrender I didn’t know existed. I used to think surrender was all about giving up…or giving to. An emptying of my hands. A laying at God’s feet my desires, wants, plans, possessions, time, relationships, etc. But I’m beginning to wonder if more than a giving to it’s a receiving.

It’s one thing for me to say, “Here are my plans God, do with them as you will” but it’s a different depth of faith to say “Here I am, God, ready to receive whatever you have to offer…my hands, my head, my heart, are all open & ready.” And maybe in the constant posture of humbly & prayerfully ready to receive, faithfully expectant about what the Father has to give, lies the secret to being fully present in any given moment with one hand ready to throw a punch.

Do you live in a constant state of “rolling with the punches”? How do you invest in the present while being open to whatever’s next? 

Throwback Sundays…In Between

My Throwback Sundays tradition has been on quite the long hiatus, but sometimes I need to be reminded of my own words. Do you ever have those moments? When you’re convinced that God inspires you to write something because He knows that months later you’re going to need to give yourself a “halftime, down by 10, locker room coach” talk?

When my heart is having trouble remembering I have to go back to what my head knows is true. It’s been one of those seasons & tonight a post I wrote back in February is proving to be just the locker room coach talk I know I need to hear even if I’d rather not. With a heart that’s weary from living in the tension of the space in between, I need to be reminded that this space may be the birth of some of my greatest creativity if I’ll just have the courage to see that God is meeting me in it & fill the space with beauty.

In Between – 2.13.12
What do you do with the space in between?
The space between your dreams & the perhaps not so shiny daily reality.
The seemingly large chasm between here & there.
Between what you want & what you have.
The gap between the life you were designed to live & the live you’re living.
What do you do with the space between a Kingdom that is here & not yet?
A hope that is realized & yet to come.
The gray space between the darkness & the light.
What do you do with the space in between? The kind of space that creates tension.

You can read the full original post here

I’d love to read a post that’s been one of your locker room coach talks! Would you share one below?

Here’s to You, My Friends

I love my friend Sarah for a lot of reasons but especially because, in her words, she’s “on the look out for extraordinary relationships in a sometimes too ordinary world.” She wrote a post the other day with a fun opportunity to join in on a Great Big Friendship Blog. I decided to take the opportunity to brag on my friends because I don’t do it enough.

I’m bending the rules because I can’t pick just one. So, my friends, here’s to you…

To my “friend family” as I call them: Luke, Stephen, Nick, Christian, Angee, & Ariel. When I call them family I mean it with every bit of me. There aren’t 6 other people in the world with whom I can be more myself & rest with. Our worlds were connected long before we knew it & I love the story of how we all became a “group.” They are my favorite people to sit around a fire discussing life with & around a table laughing with as we play Phase 10. And when we’re scattered across the country as work has us on the road, 2 hours group text conversations keep us together. Ask me about any of them & an instant smile will spread across my face, I just can’t help it. :)

To Emily, one of my longest friends. We met as freshmen in college volunteering together at a youth program at church. I’ll be completely honest, we butted heads for a long time. I was the “responsible get it done by the book” person & she was the “carefree, it’ll all work out, just have fun with the kids” person. But something changed after we graduated & she moved across the world to China. She’s now one of my dearest friends & I appreciate that she has known me through so many seasons of life & seen me at my worst much more than most. She has endured a month of traveling in China with me & and our friendship has survived different time zones, countries, & states. Emily is one of my favorite people to do nothing with…simply be…because she values that & it makes me value it when I’m with her.

To Matt, another one of my long friends. I’ve known Matt since we were enemies as freshmen in high school. We quite literally had yelling matches & said very unkind things to each other. I don’t quite remember how we ended up becoming friends, but we did. My favorite memories are Sunday nights regularly spent eating pie at Perkins & blonde highlights at home gone bad. He’s the one friend I always make a point to visit when I’m back in Minnesota. He too has seen me at my worst much more than most & I appreciate that about him…honestly I’ve probably had to apologize more to him than most people :) There is something valuable about people who can reflect for you the changes you’ve been through & the ways in which you’ve grown.

To J & Carl, and the rest of the crew that gathers on Sunday nights, who love better than perhaps anyone I’ve ever met. Truly, the way they love people challenges me. They’re some of my newer friends, but I love them still the same. It’s been incredible to watch the community that organically grows around them simply because they live who they are & they aren’t afraid to climb into the mud with people.

The list of friends I would love to brag about could go on for days. They are the most diverse, craziest cast of characters I could’ve never dreamed up. And when I stop to think about the people whose paths I’ve been blessed to cross I’m quickly overwhelmed with the deepest gratitude because they are grace with skin, they make God’s love tangible in ways I could never imagine. And maybe, at the end of the day, that’s what friendship is ultimately about: a way for us to understand just how much God loves us…for us to see ourselves, through our friends’ eyes, as He does.

Join the fun & tell us about a friend who has helped to make you who you are.