Still I judge success by how I’m dressing

I’m really content right now. And it just occurred to me how significant that is.

See, lately I have felt even more topsy-turvy than usual. I started a new job a month ago, and I still don’t feel settled into it. (Of course, the whole building is a bit unstable right now – we’re moving into a new building in less than a month’s time!) I’m going through another bout of wishing all my friends lived closer, and in the process I’m forgetting to appreciate the friends who are local. Oh, and I miss my parents. A lot.

But I’m also learning, and in the process, maybe even growing a bit (I hope). Maybe that’s what 25 will be for me – a year of growing, and maybe learning how to deal with things like an adult.

I’m realizing a lot of ugly things about myself lately, chief among them being how self-centered I am. (Newsflash: The world does not revolve around me.) I’m also terribly undisciplined. I have this whole silver platter mentality. Life has always come relatively easily, and I think that’s just the way it should be.

Let’s be real. That’s just not how it is.

But you know, I feel really good about these realizations. I feel like I’m at one of those points where you see your own sinfulness, your own shortcomings … and you see how God is so much bigger.

I’m OK with that. 😉

3 Comments

Filed under Autobiography, Faith, Reasons why

3 Responses to Still I judge success by how I’m dressing

  1. I too have actually started to feel comfortable where I’m at now (not with the job, yet).

    Glad to hear some things are settling out.

    So the B-ham news is moving into a new building? Where at?

  2. Lance

    Baby, don’t ever try to become comfortable with your surroundings. Force your surroundings to become comfortable with you.

  3. Hi Carla,

    I’m glad to hear things seem to be working out. If it might be a help toward your learning and drawing from your hurt feelings time, I also admit that I felt rather lousy about coming across that blog post, not because of you, but because of me. I read the post and I remembered the pastime that I had put comments on your blog without really wanting to be a friend to you. I felt bad that, in a subconscious way, I led you to that hurt feelings time, a pastime having consequences in the present time, as it were.

    I confess that I actually wished I could’ve been there with you last week, to be someone to listen to you. Not that your neighboring friends couldn’t be a help, of course. But I wished that, in light of my rudeness the first time around, I could’ve been there to be a friend to hear you out, and even swap a joke with. “Yeah, of all things, I’m a Christian lay-teacher. Me, the one time atheist who said that anyone even remotely religious was a horse’s ass!” 🙂 I prayed about the situation and was convinced to offer a kind response to it, a mixture of apology and compliment, drawing from my life-story for help to your life-story.

    If it might also be a help, I should have some pictures ready for posting on my digital photo album some time next week from my home church men’s retreat earlier this year. (I know, I know, all this talk of “help” is making this sound like a Lifetime TV movie. You know, the type of movie where the mistress blasts away her lover with a sawed off shotgun after talking with a girlfriend over coffee about having “problems.” What? Aren’t all those TV movies like that? 🙂 ) Seriously, though, the retreat was a good experience about learning to wrestle with God about my self-esteem. And I think the new retreat album book will be a help to you and whoever else comes across it.

    The key questions I applied to the retreat were, “What do I fear about betrayal?” and “What do I fear about Jesus’ answer to betrayal?” Wrestling for the answers at the retreat led me to loving openness as my top value in relationships, in friendships, romance, etc. Desiring secrets in our hearts destroys relationship with God and our peers. Living a double life tears up divine and human ties through hidden gossip. Openness exposes sins to the Lord’s sacrifice of Jesus and to our peers.

    I don’t think wrestling with God is a bad thing; I think wrestling with God is a good thing. A disciple confidant of mine, Dave, once mentioned to me that he used to be ashamed of spiritual warfare, thinking it was something bad that he did. Dave then pointed me toward John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Dave said through Bunyan and Galatians 5:17 that he thought, “This isn’t a bad thing; this might actually be a good thing,” and that spiritual armor isn’t meant for our backsides. 🙂 I haven’t read Bunyan’s book yet, but I’ve set it aside for future reading.

    The retreat was also a good personal tribute to another disciple confidant, a senior confidant, one of my home church ruling elders, Lee. This will also be mentioned in the album, and it draws from something else Dave mentioned that I’ll share with you. At the time, I suffered a betrayed relationship with a lot of crying, and was very sensitive about self-image. The retreat committee gave a sign up list about dietary restrictions, and all the guys put things like “More chocolate!” and “Trash the salad!” and “Tons of deep fried chicken!” And Lee’s input was, “Restrictions? Nah, I don’t believe in restrictions.” And it was a huge help to see that Lee was talking about redeemed conscience. The Christian can always know God free from guilt, through the sacrifice of Jesus and the seal of the Holy Spirit, the Christian’s means of crying “Abba, Father.” It was a help to know that I could cry to my Heavenly Father about my feelings without saying sorry for myself.

    And that moment of fellowship also leads me to the other thing from Dave that I was going to share with you. I encourage you to continue seeking openness about yourself in big ways with God the Father and with your peers in Christ, the visible confessing church. By learning about your struggles with the Lord and learning about fellow Christian’s struggles with the Lord, you will learn that you are not alone in your struggles by any small means. And you will swap notes with fellow Christians about exposing of struggles with the Lord. I Peter 5:8-9 and 13 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the lion prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings . . . She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings.” When the confessing church suffers to great pains for Christ, it develops and deepens friendships in its membership. You will find friendships in painful times of relationship with God.

    Sharing pains with fellow Chritians in the covenant of God will be true in our own generation and beyond our own generation. We are not only not alone in our struggles, but we are not the only ones in time in our struggles. In agreement with John Piper’s biography of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “live through other centuries and other saints.” Dave pointed out another book for my future reading that I would also recommend in addition to Bunyan to you, Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies.” Irenaeus was a bishop in the second century A.D. who helped write the doctrines of Christianity, such as the Apostles’ Creed, after the century of Christ and the apostles, a ministry during a post-apostolic time of many bad trends and actions. Dave mentioned through the book that the struggles the church was going through in Irenaeus’ time, the second century A.D., are the same exact struggles that the church is going through today, our own time. For all the talk about church progress, we haven’t really done much of anything over two thousand years. I’m 27 years old and I haven’t done much of anything. The fact that a body of millions of people haven’t really done anything beyond sin over two thousand years just staggers the mind.

    I’ll also say a better compliment as a last thing here, Carla. I think you’re a bright woman with a lot of experiences to share, even the painful ones. And I would encourage you to live it up with that. I think your life-story has been an influence on mine, something I confess I never would’ve sought the first time I encountered your writing. Because of you, I’m interested in starting a blog myself, a chronicle of my life-story exposed with the Lord and my peers. (I certainly have the brevity to pull it off. 🙂 ) Hopefully it will be a help to the soul in struggles both private and catholic, a means of wrestling with God for teaching by example. But beyond this, I thank you, Carla, for being a nervous, unsure, struggling, open, and, yes, pretty woman wrestling with God. I would cerainly be glad to know you, whether in this time or the glory to come. But I also thank you that I at least met you, even in this weird goop called the Internet. 🙂 I hope this finds you well.

    Sincerely yours,
    Rick

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