White Space and the Imaginary Trophy Case

I’ve chosen to live my life with a lot of white space. I see my friends rushing around like crazy people always busy busy busy. The idol of the American Soccer Mom is her family’s imaginary trophy case. Trophies such as: How many after school activities can my kids participate in? How many meaningful classes and programs can I fit into my life to show the world I have purpose? Forget keeping up with the Joneses, I want to be the Joneses. This seems like the battle cry, or rather exhausted sob, of practically everyone I know. Depression is rampant, child medication is necessary, and anxiety over a self-conceived world that is spinning dangerously close to the edge seems the norm these days.

I’ll have none of that, thank you very much. I’ll take lazy mornings reading and praying. Days spent in my most comfortable clothing working in a career that I’d do for free if I could. Enjoying long bike rides and talks with my best friend and husband. The ability to be home to emphatically greet my child as he rushes in the door from school to give me a big hug. Afternoons spent hearing about the happenings of the day and being read a night time story by my 8 year old. Being available to my community. Going to bed when I choose and sleeping like a baby without any stress of the days to come because I’m free. 

All this is because I look at all the white space in my calendar as a gift. That space is precious. It affords me peace. It allows me time to be able to help someone in need. Living counter to what culture has dictated I should be doing, allows me to do the things I want to be doing. Give yourself a little more white space this season. Look at every “yes” you want to commit to and reconsider it. Is it your best yes? Edit your life. Ruthlessly cut out the things that are not your best yes and fill up your calendar with as much white space as possible. Pruning can be painful, but the beautiful growth that occurs afterward is worth it!

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Misguided Passion and Zeal

I can be overly zealous about things; seriously passionate. Why is it that being passionate about other religious traditions or our careers is acceptable, yet being a complete sold out Jesus freak is not? Paul writes about his own misguided passion and zeal to the Galatians in verse 1:14 when he talks about his former desire to uphold his ingrained education and tradition. He states, “And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.”

The Galatians were being reprimanded by Paul because they were turning back to their old customs. They were living in bondage again to the Hebrew customs rather than living free under the grace they obtained through the gospel. Paul needed to tell his story rather than just point the finger. Sometimes it is very helpful to others to understand we understand what they are going through because we went through it ourselves. The passion and zeal is not bad, but where it is directed may be. Today, anything done with passion surrounding the true gospel is risky, even within some church groups.

My jealousy for Jesus in a group setting of other “Christians” has been asked to be tempered several times. Perhaps it could cause someone to stumble or perhaps it upsets the “come enjoy our casual church” feel they are trying to promote. Some Christians are looked at like fanatics, lunatics, and freaks, but people who are passionate about any other religion or thing on this earth are praised as driven, passionate, and are applauded for their efforts. The temporary ruler of this world has only one desire and goal, to get us to turn from Christ and turn to anything and everything that is a false hope or false pursuits in hopes of never allowing anyone to see the Truth. Be on guard, Christian, in every situation, and keep your eye trained on the One who is Truth.

My Obsession

How often do we become obsessed with something, someone, or some purpose in our lives? We become highly convicted that it is right; we are right. We hustle and chase after a big dream only to find out that, in reality, we are chasing after the wind. We may not figure this out on this side of heaven, but our hope should be, as Christians, that the Holy Spirit inside would reveal when an obsession becomes an idol. The obsessions in our lives are the very things that have the potential power to take our eyes off of what is truly important. 

Paul was obsessed with keeping to his Hebrew scholarly convictions until Christ revealed otherwise. Paul needed to remind the Galatians how fervent his dedication to Judaism was and how he was wrong. Admitting when you are wrong is a big thing in Christianity. He needed to lead by example just as Jesus did. In Galatians 1:13 Paul writes, “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.”

I can relate to Paul. I am so super opinionated and sometimes violently uphold my position. I am so enamored with Christ that all I care about is his glory. I say that with a bit of trepidation because that is how I would like to see myself but my spirit knows I fumble every day. That is the beauty of sanctification. I try to be bold for Jesus. I want to violently destroy the works of Satan. I also need to admit when my fleshly desire to be right gets in the way of the gospel message. 

Father help me to be an excellent ambassador for you. Help me to help others see You; to see You in your magnitude. Lord you are everything and I am nothing. I am your slave — your fully sold-out-to-you slave. I want to be excellently obsessed about you, for you.