Viewing entries tagged
God

11 Comments

Is Failing To Plan Really Planning To Fail?

I have an issue. Well, I have many issues, but seeing as we’re still getting to know each other, I’ll keep the list short… For now.

It’s an issue that annoys me and interferes with every part of my life. I’ve tried denying it, justifying it and ignoring it, but they say the first step to recovery is admission, so, here goes. You ready? (That was rhetorical, I’m assuming you’re ready. If not, pretend I’m pushing you down the slippery slide and you have no choice but to be ready).

I’m a planner. A big, compulsive, plan-ny, planner.

I love the feeling planning brings. It makes me feel like I actually have my life sorted out. For a second, I have control. For a moment, nothing bad can happen. Why? Because it’s not in my plan.

It all started in my childhood, like all good ‘you need therapy’ stories do. As a little girl on holidays I would wake up before the sun had drunk it’s coffee, jump on my parent’s bed and insist on planning our day, from breakfast to bedtime. My family would break my heart with the news we were having a plan-free day. They wanted to head down to the beach and, “see what happens.

See what happens? That was the worst plan ever (this was the type of thing I had to deal with as a child. It was traumatic)!

These days, I’ve learned to go-with-the-flow a little more, however my planner alter ego still pops up, kind of like Sasha Fierce, except less Fierce and more Sheldon Cooper-ish.

Now before you sign me up for an intervention, deciding that I’m totally crazy and incapable of social etiquette, let me clarify that I have learned how to be spontaneous… Sort of.

I love going on adventures, impulsively going Christmas light looking and having impromptu BBQ’s on the beach in summer with my friends. I love it, just as long as my calendar is clear and it doesn’t interfere with any other plans.

Planned spontaneity. It’s totally a thing. 

And yet, as I think about some of the most memorable, fun moments I’ve had, most of them weren’t planned. In fact, very few of them were.

Some of the best nights my friends and I shared as teenagers were spontaneous summer nights at my friend Smithy’s house (Smithy is his nickname, his last name is Smith. I know. We’re pretty creative). We would all migrate from the beach to his pool, break out the BBQ and hang out well passed our curfews.

They were nights of fun and freedom. We had nowhere to be other than exactly where we were.

And none of it was planned.

There’s nothing wrong with plans, but when we’re flexible, I think we’ll find God’s plan is better than anything we could come up with.  I think God likes to mess up our plans from time-to-time, not to be cruel, but to remind us that He can surprise us with something better.

These days, guess what my favourite plan is? To go down to the beach… And just “see what happens.”

 

11 Comments

Comment

Common Sense? Common Schmense!

photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc
photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc

It’s a new day.

Stop living in last year, last week, or last night.

Stop living in its pain.

Stop living in its failures.

Stop living in its disappointments.

Stop reminding yourself of all the reasons why now is not the right time to pursue your dream.

It’s a new day, the perfect opportunity to go after a new thing. So what is that new thing? It’s the thing that you’ve tried to forget about, tried to subdue. Perhaps you tried it once before and failed. But your heart reminds you of it constantly, when you wake up, before you go to sleep, when you are alone.

But what if you fail? Good question, I have a better one (as usual). What if you succeed? The truth is if you don’t try, you will never know if it could have worked, but I promise you will always wonder. I’m no expert but that’s got to be one of the cruelest methods of torture, because it is self-inflicted.

You don’t want to retire in the town of ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda.’ It’s overrated and its population exists entirely of bitter, under achievers who have no one in their football teams, only sideline hecklers. No one wants to bring a family up in that neighborhood, so don’t. Pack only what you need, take anyone who will join you and move.

I get it. It’s scary. So many things could go wrong. There are so many questions without answers. It’s all too soon. You probably should just wait until you can make next years resolutions. It’s just not common sense. Maybe. But what if common sense is overrated? Here’s what I’ve discovered (with a little help):

Common sense is for common things. It is not for destiny decisions. (click to tweet)

Common sense has its place in life, certainly. Looking both ways before crossing the road is common sense. Not licking a steak knife is common sense; trust me on this, I’ve learned from experience. Not texting the guy/girl you like just because you’re lonely is common sense (ok so perhaps common sense isn’t always that common, but you get the picture).

However when it comes to big destiny decisions, I think common sense can be one of our biggest enemies. It can birth a fear in us that stops us from doing the very thing our heart longs for.

Living in fear causes us to hand over our possibilities, dreams and adventures to someone else. All we are left with is a heart of regret.

Perhaps, if we were honest, we would admit that the real reason we haven’t taken that leap of faith or made that big decision is not because we don’t know the answer. It’s not because we don’t know what to do. Maybe the real reason we are still teetering on the edge, looking over the edge, is because we are afraid of how far we could fall.

Taking a leap of faith isn’t common sense. But I’m pretty sure no one ever changed the world by stepping back and walking away.  They did it by knowing when to shut off their common sense and when to listen to their heart.

What’s your heart saying to you today? Where is that whisper in your spirit directing you? My advice? Go for it! Step off the edge (figuratively speaking, very much figuratively speaking)!

Take a leap of faith and be assured of this… He will catch you. (click to tweet)

Because here’s the harsh reality: If you don’t go for it, someone else will, and they will get the reward. New things aren’t new for very long. If you don’t grab ahold of the new thing, it will soon be old. Now is the time. So, what are you waiting for?

It’s a new day. Get going. Before someone else does.

 

Comment

8 Comments

Choose Your Own Adventure

this way, that way
this way, that way

Is life a set of instructions like, 'pass GO and collect $200?' Or is our story more like a ‘choose your own adventure’?

I used to believe in a simple, black and white type of existence (and in unicorns). I thought God had decided for me one husband, one career path, and one location to live. My job was to find out what those ‘one’ things were, and put them all together.

I had no option. I had no opinion. I had no oranges (sorry, I couldn’t think of anything else that started with ‘o’).

Turns out I was wrong. W-w-w-wrong. (There I said it. You’re welcome.)

I don't like admitting when I'm wrong, clearly, but i would like to clarify something upfront. I do believe many decisions have a definite and clear answer. There are lots of times I know exactly what my answer/action needs to be. For example when the Daffy Duck angel/demon cartoons appear on my shoulder, I know I should listen to the angel and swat away the Daffy Duck demon (thanks Looney Tunes for my moral compass).

I believe there are moments God gives us specific direction when we’re faced with multiple options. But what happens when each direction seems as right as the next?

Wanna know what I think? (If not, just a helpful hint that you probably came to the wrong website, I think you’re looking for Wikipedia):

When there are lots of options but no clear direction, when you have prayed but haven’t heard, I think it’s God’s way of saying, “Choose your own adventure.”

As scary as that may seem, the idea that God would trust you enough to make a decision that could alter the course of your life is a huge encouragement.

He trusts you. He trusts your heart. He trusts your decision.

“But what if I make the wrong decision?” I’m glad you asked. Again, here’s what I think (and just in case, www.wikipedia.com):

As long as your heart is in a place of humility and malleability, there is no wrong decision.

If you’re facing a crossroad, and what you hoped would be a simple, black-and-white answer is looking more like 50 shades of grey, I have two pieces of advice for you:

  1. Don’t read 50 Shades of Grey. It does not contain helpful insight into making decisions. So I’m told.
  2. Instead of losing sleep over making the wrong decision, take a deep breath and decide to decide. And then... Decide.

Oh, and one last thing. Please don’t "default decide" to the thing you think you ’should’ do. If God has given you options and has asked what you want to do, then do just that!  Which option gives you butterflies? Which direction makes you want to squeal like a five-year-old-girl who’s just seen a Disney princess? Go with that.

Forget responsible. Forget safe. Forget 'should.'

Be brave, choose your own adventure, and let God work out the destination.

So, what's your decision?

 

8 Comments

21 Comments

Can I Just Skip Dating... Please?

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc
photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc

As a little girl I dreamed of my fairytale wedding. All girls do, right? Secretly, I think all guys do too, even if it was Star Wars themed and the wedding rings were replaced with matching light sabers. Classy guys, real classy.

In my dream I would walk down the long, red aisle. In my dream I was wearing my big, white princess dress with a train as long as an actual train. In my dream the wedding took place in an old, but beautifully restored, church by the sea. In my dream I had my bridesmaids by my side as I married my best friend.

In my dream, it was perfect.

There was just one thing in my dream that wasn’t in your wedding dream, and I’d be prepared to bet money on it. In my dream I was walking down the aisle singing a duet with the groom. Live. Madonna microphones and all.

Way too many Disney movies Elyse, wayyy too many!

You’ll be happy to know I’ve grown out of the duet idea (only recently). But I haven’t grown out of the dream of marrying the man that will make my heart skip a beat. In my dream-land marriage seemed so easy. But now? Now I’m starting to realise it's a little more complicated.

Maybe it's not as simple as just deciding to “get married.”

Have I just been expecting that one day I’ll decide it’s time to get married and nek-minit the man of my dreams will show-up, with his sleeve tattoo, guitar, and bad boy attitude (whilst still being a spiritual supergiant)?I thought I would be one of those people who just knew.

I dreamed it would be a romantic-comedy moment (of course I'm played by Kate Hudson) where we would lock eyes in a room full of people, he would walk over to me and introduce himself. (I'm about to get all Taylor Swift on you, you've been warned).

The playful conversation starts, I counter all his quick remarks, like passing notes in secrecy. 

And just like that, he would hand me the final rose, and we would be engaged. Because that's totally how it happens, right? Wrong. I know, I'm devastated.

There’s that thing we've been talking about calledprocess. That awkward, disappointing, make-me-want-to-vomit, process. Blehhck (yes it's a word).

I’m starting to wonder whether I’ll ever get past my fear of the process long enough to actually marry someone, long enough to actually date someone, or even hold the fear off long enough to go to a theme park with someone (because dinner is overrated, duh).

Confession: I’m so scared of making the wrong decision that I’m scared to make any decision.

It's true. I worry that I’ll marry someone, and realise it was the wrong one. Is there a right one? I just don’t want to settle. I know God has promised me a husband to do life with, someone who will lead me and look after me and someone who will be so in love with Jesus that it will cause me to grow closer to Jesus myself.  And I know he will be hilarious and driven and flirty. And a babe. A total babe.

So if I feel like God has promised me this, where is he? Is God still working on him or is he right in front of me? Have I missed him because I’m expecting the “ready-made-package” when God is offering him to me in “just-go-on-a-flipping-date” form?

But as I think about it, deeper than just the surface thoughts, I realise, it’s fear. This whole issue is just another expression of the spirit of fear. And I’ve battled with it my whole life.

I had nightmares when I was a little girl, and when I prayed that God would replace my fear with peace, He did. In high school I was petrified of what my friends thought of me so I acted different around them. One day I prayed for God to give me courage to be who He wanted me to be, and He did. And now, I’m afraid of choosing the wrong person.

Different stages of life. Different manifestations. Same fear.

But here's the thing, God has proved Himself faithful in getting rid of my fear before. I know He will prove Himself faithful again.

So before I give up on dating and demand an arranged marriage from my parents, I think I just need to chill. I definitely need to chill.

Maybe today you have resonated with my honesty. You might be single and questioning where your husband/wife (just choose one) is. You might have a million and one questions on this subject. Can I suggest, like me, you relax and enjoy the season you’re in?

I’ve come to realise that being open to love is very different to being obsessed with finding it. It’ll come when God wants it too. In His timing.

Maybe today you’re nursing a broken heart and wondering whether you’ll ever be able to piece it together again. I’ve been there and I get it. It hurts. It sucks. For a while life doesn’t feel fun anymore. The fear of getting hurt again clouds the excitement of the possibility of love.  Take the time you need, stay close to Jesus and ask Him to heal the areas that feel shattered. Let Him do His thing. It might not be long before you meet someone that gives you butterflies again.

Maybe today you’re reading this and are petrified to give someone a shot because you’re scared of making the wrong decision. I have a question for your fear. What’s the worst that could happen?

Yeah Elyse. What’s the worst that could happen?

21 Comments

6 Comments

Waiting On My World To Change

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc Confession: I’m kind of impatient. To clarify, when I say kind of, it’s only an attempt to soften the fact that I’m completely impatient.

I hate waiting in traffic. I hide my 11th item at the supermarket just so I can go through the “10 items or less” checkout. I can’t wait for a song to finish before I switch to something different. The idea of watching a six hour game of cricket makes me want to scream and say bad words.

It gets worse.

Last night I YOLO’d like a fourteen-year-old at the midnight screening of the new Hunger Games because I was too impatient to see it the next day at a reasonable hour.

It gets even worse.

This one time (not at band camp), I actually threw my phone across the room when the company I was trying to contact asked me if I would mind being put on hold. Again. I’d already been on hold for 48 minutes and this was the fifth person I had spoken to. It wouldn’t be ladylike of me to name which company that was. (cough) Vodafail (cough).

Waiting isn’t one of my strengths. Here’s why:  I feel like it means I’m missing out on life.

I’m just too impatient to be patient.

Recently I’ve been through one of the biggest waiting seasons ever. God’s teaching me a lesson. That lesson is patience. And I’m learning. Slowly.

I was waiting for God to open a door to my next season because my current season was coming to a close. I felt like I was in a horror movie. It was the kind of movie where the walls are closing in on the girl and there’s nothing she can do. The kind of movie where you pull your legs up on the couch in suspense and bite your nails, terrified that the girl is about to get squished by the walls.

I was that girl.

I prayed, begged and even tried bribing God to show me what to do. I hoped that He would give me a clue as to where to go, which direction to head, or who to talk to. But there was nothing. And with everyday that passed, my current door closed a little more, and with nothing opening, I was getting claustrophobic.

I convinced myself that the reason I wasn’t getting an answer was because there was something I had done wrong. I was feeling guilty, confused and lonely. I wasn’t sleeping well and I had isolated myself from my friends.

I was convinced God He had forgotten about me.

In the middle of all this, I agreed to go walking with a friend and mentor of mine from church, Ann. I didn’t really want to go because I knew she’d challenge me and quite frankly, I was happy with my little, isolated, pity party.

As we walked I told Ann how I was feeling. Like, really feeling. I told her that I felt forgotten because God had gone silent on me when I needed his direction most.

Here’s what you need to know. Ann is wise, like Yoda. She speaks in parables, like Jesus. She YouTube’s, like J-Biebz. She is entrepreneurial, like Steve Jobs (but way prettier). She is amazing and unpredictable.

So naturally, instead of answering any of my questions, she told me a story.

The story went something like this: Whenever she took her three sons to the park, the oldest two would have to wait so the youngest could go to the bathroom. Often the older boys would get impatient and annoyed that they couldn’t just leave straight away. Ann explained to the boys that there was nothing they could do to speed this process up and they should just relax until everyone was ready. Eventually, they learned to relax on the couch until it was time.

“Elyse, the boys hadn’t done anything wrong. They weren’t in trouble. In fact, the delay had nothing to do with them. They just needed to wait until everyone was ready to go,” Ann explained to me.

That was my a-ha moment.

Maybe waiting isn’t always about me.

Maybe God was working with some of the people around me. Just maybe, although I felt ready to move into my next season, there were people around me that God needed to prepare.

“In order for you to walk with God, you need to walk in His timing. Let Him prepare the others. Relax, He knows where to find you when everything’s ready.”

It was a whole new perspective on an area I had always seen negatively. I had always thought if I was waiting, there was something I was missing or something I needed to do.

But sometimes, we just need to wait. And chill. And relax. And knowing that, is so releasing.

And when the time is right, we’ll all be ready for the next season.  And no one will pee their pants because we didn’t let them have a bathroom break. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Enjoy the wait. Maybe it’s not as scary as it seems.

6 Comments