Altered Ambitions: When Your Pursuits Leave You Stressed Out

 

altered ambitions original

I wonder what I would have done back then.

Would I have heard the counter-cultural man as He promoted turning away from ritual and embracing a repurposed heart? Laying aside the security of rules, clinging to repentance and grace? Grasping the new Gospel so tightly it changed my ambitions and my relationships?

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” He challenged.

And He’s still right here — warning against materialism and daring me to release anxiety over what others think.

And I’m still here wondering if He really can be trusted.

“Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body… Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning

Do not consume yourselves with questions… Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need.”

He sees right through me, for I’m the one consumed with questions. I’m the one who over-thinks. I’m the one slipping into that frantic state He warns against.

To ignore my insecurities, I rank myself and those around me. I question His goodness in creating me and writing my story, and I numb my heart with what will not last. I wonder if He’ll really be my Provider for the deepest, most secret needs… Wonder if He’ll really be my Protector, shielding me from all that’s not tangible.

Have you been there?

In that frenzy, when I’m ranking and questioning and doubting, I feel the shame taunting me. I know this can’t be the plan. And then I remember them — the first people whose shame drove them into hiding and made them frantic. With trembling hands, they pieced together the very first articles of clothing to cover their darkness, the very dark He was still warning against in AD 30.

“So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray—that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.”

Do you see the irony? The first item humanity created to cover our shame has become an object of worship. Am I so far removed from their utter regret that I forget I’m in the dark?

For some, yes, it’s clothing. For others of us it’s achievement… and travel… and the right body… and control… and sarcasm… and kids who make us look good… and anything that numbs us to the reality we can not face.

Will you brave the dark of your own heart?
Will you pick up your anxiety and worry and misguided pursuits?
Will you throw the mess into the shadow of the cross and wait for healing?

I promise you — He’s right there offering rescue. He’s ready to redeem the darkness in the crevices of your mind and heart that you see no way around. He’s waiting to alter your ambitions, alter your focus.

“He reached down and drew me from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay. With a gentle hand, He pulled me out to set me down safely on a warm rock; He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.” Psalm 40:2

Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ…


All unidentified scripture in this post is from Matthew 6.
Photo by Drazen Biljak on Unsplash

Repurposed For What?

sanfran

“It becomes crucial that we become a generation of storytellers who are both recapturing the glory and joy of the Sacred Romance even as we tell each other our particular stories, so that we can help each other, through God’s Spirit, see His plan of redemption at work in us.” Brent Curtis 1947-1998

It was 5 1/2 years ago. My, how time flies. I started this blog, originally called Heart of a Coach’s Wife, in the summer of 2010 when our lives looked very different. That summer was a turning point for me. I, for the first time in several years, finally began to feel settled in our purpose and in our community.

After a rather raw worship experience led by a gifted musician at a conference, God graced me with the ability to surrender back in 2010. He gave me the courage to not just surrender but embrace what He had led us to years ago. Blogging became a way to pour into others whose spouses were also coaching.

Through a series of circumstances, God challenged my husband to walk a different path… a path away from coaching high school football. Months of conversation and prayer and counsel resulted in releasing the only life we’d known in our fifteen years of marriage. With the release came hope… and grief… and peace… and struggle. Change, of course, brings growth, and we grew a lot. But it was hard, and I still cringe as I write these words. We didn’t just change our circumstance — we sort of changed our identity.

God repurposed our lives. Repurposed our hearts. And after just one year, Heart of a Coach’s Wife became Repurposed Heart and eventually landed on the name Repurposed. There was even an 18-month rest from blogging from 2012-2014 because it started to feel like an idol. Regardless, this has been a place, since its inception, where I wrestle aloud with authentically embracing the gospel.

My audience expanded to include men and women who were in no way involved in coaching careers but were learning to live reflective lives, to surrender, and to intentionally make every day experiences more beautiful. I still believe any situation can be turned into a worship experience. Yes, every experience can be given back to our Maker, our Redeemer.

Centuries ago God promised His people: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:25-26 esv

My prayer back in 2011 was that my heart — and my readers’ hearts — would be repurposed. I yearned we’d all be changed to embrace every bit of what He planned for us. I begged Him to change our hearts to look more like His.

But here we are in 2016. After re-reading David Platt’s Radical over Christmas break, I’m struck by God’s design for us to live in community, focus on others, and in turn, be changed and molded ourselves. So I’ll ask again: Repurposed for what? Five years later, might Repurposed be a place where you’re not only challenged to live reflectively and surrender, but to ultimately take your stories to others?

Christ intimately poured into 12 men. Who are your 12? Or your 6? Or your 3?

“To whom can you deliberately, intentionally, and sacrificially show the life of Christ in this way? This is foundational in making disciples, and we will multiply the gospel only when we allow others to get close enough to us to see the life of Christ in action.” David Platt

See, the purpose of this blog is now more than just leading you toward reflection. My hope is that your response to your own story will involve repurposing and restoring others’ lives. God has a way of speaking His truth to each heart who hears it — His Spirit comforts and convicts with the very messages each of us need to hear on a given day. What is He saying to you? Where does He want you to take His truth?

Are you ready to step out from what’s comfortable? Together, let’s reflect and then join God in redeeming what’s broken in the lives around us.

I’m excited for what the year holds for us.  Whether you’re new here or have been a reader since 2010, welcome. I’m so glad you’re a part of Repurposed, for I believe our Maker has intentionally crossed our paths for such a time as this. We all have a lot to learn from each other, and I’m all ears.

photo source | Kimson Doan

You Are God’s Letter

cpletters

It’s my story, but I know it’s yours, too.

For centuries, we’ve been grasping, desperate to make sense of it all, to understand, to know purpose. To heal and mend the unraveling. Even those not perpetually chased by self-reflection feel the hunger to reconcile the drama every now and then.

The genres of mystery and conflict keep invading our stories, allowing regret to keep raising its voice. There’s such potential for us engage in real dialogue — to challenge, to encourage, to convict, to comfort — but we stay quiet. The pull to stay tucked away in our neat envelopes is woefully strong.

“You are our letter,” Paul writes, “every word burned onto our hearts to be read by everyone. You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Today we have volumes upon volumes written on modern-day tablets of stone — books, blogs, e-books, articles, and more. But there’s more, Paul wrote to those in Corinth hungering for something beyond this world.  You are a letter written on the human heart. Emblazoned, actually.

Ah, Corinth… that Grecian city in love with intellectual conversation, athletic competition, and sexual liberties.  The wisdom of man, over-training our bodies, human trafficking — well, they were actually enslaved by their own freedoms. The culture of Corinth sounds familiar.

Stop hiding, Paul dared his readers.

You are God’s letter written to a modern world deep in pain.  You’re a rescue message of sorts, so radical in its simplicity it’s hard to accept.

You’re more than ink. You’re written by the very Spirit of God.  What might our lives look like if we viewed ourselves this way?

The message from the divine Author is for everyone — your friend who is angry at God, your daughter’s ice skating instructor, your neighbor hiding himself in his work, yourself.

Many times I keep that envelope barely undone, available only to the bold and curious who dare to open it a bit.  And there are days upon days I seal myself up — protected, risking nothing, keeping the truth hidden inside.

But He calls me to more. He beckons to risk and read His message over and over, aloud to others. For where there’s suffering, there’s traces of healing. Where there’s regret, there’s redemption.

A letter “burned upon our hearts to be read by everyone.” Who were you written for today?