Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confessions of a Good Girl

My name is Katelyn and I'm a recovering good girl.

Sound strange?

Let me explain.

My testimony is nothing dramatic. I became a Christian when I was seven. I was raised in the church and never left. We went to church while we were on vacation. I participated in Sunday school, vacation bible school, the youth group and the youth choir.

There was no dramatic Paul-like conversion. God didn't pull me out of a pit of drug or alcohol abuse. I've always been the church girl. I went to school, made good grades and finished college; all without even pulling an all-nighter.

Before you stop reading because you think I'm boasting, let me tell you that, while I have no doubt that God designed my testimony for a purpose, I have had to ask my self an essential question multiple times:

What did God save me from?

Watch this video and see if you relate...

This post is not a book review (although that book really is good). I use that as an illustration. Can you relate to any of that? I sure can.

The struggles in my life have not been physical. Instead, they've come in the form of my own internal mess. I care about your opinion simply because you're there. Rejection is something that cuts deeper than anything else. I have become an expert at hiding behind "fine" and a good smile even when I feel like I'm about to lose it. I find joy in listening to other people as they work out their problems, but feel immensely uncomfortable talking about my own. Performance based affection is something I continually have to give over to God.

I would say that the last ten years of my life have been a journey to identifying this mindset and then working through it with God. I'm not even close to having it together. Just being able to admit that is progress.

Every now and then, I come through seasons where the devil really throws everything at me and I feel tempted to return to my good girl roots. A friendship falls apart, I make a mistake that ends up very public, or someone questions my motives. I want to go back to putting up walls. "I'm fine," I say, "Now tell me what's going on with you..."

When people ask about my testimony, I tell them that God saved me from "try harder." When I finally started listening to God and allowing Him to remind me what grace really was, I realized that my worth, my acceptance, my life is not defined by other people.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory"
-Colossians 3:2-4

"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep"
-John 10:9-11

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
-Matthew 11:29-30

These are all scriptures that God has spoken to my heart. I have to remind myself daily that God could not love me any more or any less than He loves me right now! Just like Colossians says, my life is hidden in Christ. When God looks at me, He see's Christ. Therefore, it would be completely ridiculous to think that I could ever "do something" that would match or surpass the sacrifice of Christ. The cross was enough. Instead of spending my life trying harder, I am free to spend it praising God for saving me.

God, thank you for the cross. Thank you for the sacrifice of your son. Thank you for saving me from the bondage of the good girl burden. Continue to remind me of your grace. Teach me what it means to live for you instead of others.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Sheldon Cooper Friendship Theory

One of my favorite shows is the Big Bang Theory. Maybe it's the nerdy humor or watching the lovable underdogs find all the little quirks of life, but either way it's definitely at the top of my lists.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Last year, God spoke to me a lot about his plan, timing and trusting him in everything. This year, our time together has been dominated by how I interact with other people and what friendship really is.

How does this relate to the Big Bang Theory?

One of my favorite episodes is a Christmas show where we learn Sheldon's view's on gift giving. According to Sheldon, when one person gives a gift to another person, the receiver is expected to give a gift that matches in price value. In other words, if I gave you a book valued at $15, then proper Sheldon etiquette would say that you should also give me a gift that is valued at exactly $15. As you can imagine, this can be quite difficult. In this particular episode, Sheldon's neighbor Penny has told Sheldon that she will be giving him a Christmas gift. In order to be prepared for whatever she gives him, Sheldon buys multiple gift baskets of different values and safely stores them in the bathroom until he finds out what Penny will give him.

Watch what happens.... (dumb youtube requirements say I can't embed the video, so you really will have to go watch it...)

Sheldon was so concerned about matching the value of Penny's gift that he was completely unprepared for a heartfelt gift that had immeasurable value.

Back to friendships. For as long as people have been calling each other "friends," we've told children, "To make friends, you have to be a friend."

What kind of crap is that???

Maybe I'm a little sensitive because I've fallen into that pattern of belief too, but IT'S NOT TRUE!

(First, let me say that I have some of the best friends in the entire world. I have two very close sisters in Christ that I know that I can call at any time and they will love me no matter what.)

Just like Sheldon and his gift giving etiquette, we believe that if we're nice to someone, encourage them and invite them to hang out with us they should return the same level or value of friendship to us........ you see where the myth is starting to come in?

Have you ever been "friends" with someone and no matter how much energy and friend-like activities you expel on them, they couldn't care less? That hurts.

Maybe it hurts because we're thinking about it wrong.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselvesLet each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of othersHave this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:3-8

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning,that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers,that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death
1 John 3:11-14

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 3:16

Can you see where this is going? Philippians talks about putting others before ourselves. It talks about a selfless love. This idea is furthered in 1 John when we're reminded to love one another, but also that we shouldn't be surprised if the world hates us. 

Now "hate" is a strong word that I can't bring myself to use very often. I don't think I've ever hated someone that doesn't want to be friends. It's hurt. I've grieved over lost friendships, but the general idea is that not everyone is going to want to be friends with you. Whether you're a Christian or not, we've all experienced that in some way.

I could expound on what I think of friendships and relationships for days. I can rationalize away my behavior or other people's, but the final end-all statement about any kind of relationships is exactly what it says in 1 John 3:16. Christ laid down his life for us, and we should do the same for others. 

That sums it up. We're commanded, no matter how the other person reacts, to lay down our lives for our fellow man. Love sacrificially. 

Something that God's taught me is that sometimes the sacrificial part is any kind of returned friendship. 

God, this entire concept is almost impossible for me to grasp. Show me how to be selfless. Help me give something without any expectation of anything in return. Continue to prompt me to lay down my life for others. Most of all God, remind me that only you can fill that void in my heart that longs for friendship. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Missional Calling

I've blogged before about my March trip to Guatemala. I haven't, however, told you much about my best friend who has committed to work there for five years.

Colleen and I met when she returned from her sixth month internship at the New Life Children's Home (NLCH)  in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. Before we met, everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) told me we'd end up being best friends. Honestly, I could never have expected a deep friendship to develop so quickly. From our first lunch together over egg salad sandwiches to seeing her off at the airport for her new journey, we shared so many things together. It's only what I can describe as a sisterhood. She showed me what it looked like to fearlessly follow God to the darkest places in the world.

I feel privileged to know Colleen. I laugh endlessly with her and she helps my type-A personality learn to be more spontaneous. Mostly, I feel privileged to know her because I  know she's about to change the world. That's right, I said the world.
You can read my previous post on Guatemala for full details, but I will simply say that I have never experienced a place where the people were so despaired. I'm not talking about the Guatemala City, a thriving hub of business and progress. I'm talking about the poverty stricken suburbs. Places where murders happen everyday and become just a part of life. A place where people drink to numb their sorrows and seek out drugs to forget the pain. The most heart breaking result of all this? The children.

I've talked to many people about their views of world missions. They say, "Plant churches, go where no one has gone before." Planting churches in unreached areas of the world certainly has it's place, but I never want people to forget the need in places like Guatemala. These children are given a second chance in life. Further, they are the future of Guatemala. THEY ARE THE CHURCH!

Colleen understands that. I've watched her give up everything (again I do mean EVERYTHING) to follow God's calling to Guatemala. The children at NLCH are already

her own. She talks about them conversationally, like everyone around her should know her babies already. She thinks of them constantly and spends the little money she has on small gifts to take them.

It seems like with need like that and Colleen's heart for the people, this should be a simple journey. It would have been if those were the only factors. You see, God's timing is not dependent on anything. God didn't sit down and plan sending Colleen around the economical profitability of the United States. It honestly kind of sucks. The need is NOW. We've had plenty of people sit around and talk about solving world problems (in fact we devote entire organizations to just that). However, we have hardly anybody that's willing to GO DO SOMETHING!! What sucks is that when we have someone ready to go, it's a recession. I don't know anybody who is thriving right now. We know it's tough! (chalk that up to another thing people talk about a lot).

So here we are. We have a need. We have someone willing to go. Now all she needs is support. Colleen is currently in Texas waiting to start training for her new assignment. She may be waiting for awhile if she can't get the support she needs.

I don't believe that God is confined by the economy. I believe that Colleen can be fully funded TODAY! Are you ready? There's talk about investments going up and down all the time. Let's face it, it's not really working out for many people! LET'S CHANGE THAT! Let's invest in something that will actually make a difference in the lives of PEOPLE!!

Check out Colleen's blog for her full story and to follow her journey. Then, please give (Click on Colleen's name to give for her ministry) There is no gift too small. I'm investing in someone who will actually GO OUT AND CHANGE THE WORLD!