September 16, 2009

Falling…With Style

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 8:47 am by Tamara

I distinctly remember my wincing prayer: “Lord, if you want me to look like an idiot, I will.” I was nineteen and almost a junior at the college I’d decided to go to when I was ten. My life plan was rolling along splendidly, until I suddenly felt like God was leading me to leave college. (Choke) The label “College Drop-out” just sounded so unbearably horrible. Well, I took a leap of faith and the next thing I knew I was plunked down at a Bible college in the frigid depths of Wisconsin—IN JANUARY. I had no idea that this insane move was God’s answer to so many of my prayers. The next few years as a student and then as staff at the school were a dream, and I often sat in amazement of how WONDERFUL God was making my life.

Once in “Anne of Avonlea,” Anne is talking to Marilla about soaring in life’s wonderful moments, when Marilla very pragmatically informs her that she’d “Rather do without both soaring, and THUD.” Ah, yes, thud. Things went thud for me when suddenly I needed to look for a job in the “real” world, and I needed…a college degree.

HammerLooking back on when I left college, it felt like I’d been sitting at my carpentry bench, happily hammering away, when God said, “Give me your hammer.”
(Confused expression) “But, God, I can’t make this box without a hammer.”
“Will you trust Me?”
So I hand over my hammer, and for a few glorious years, He works everything out! I don’t need that hammer, and He gives me new tools, and helps me make beautiful, elaborate things, and then—
“Make Me a box.”
I stop dead. “But, God, I don’t have my hammer anymore. You took it away.”
“Make Me a box.”
“How can I make You a box without a hammer?!”
Silence.

I was okay with the leap of faith when I left college, but I expected God to CATCH me. In fact, there was no doubt in my mind that He would. He owed it to me—I leapt, didn’t I? And He did catch me for several years, and then…THUD. Now it seemed like the biggest stresses in my life were because I’d trusted God. I’d willingly given Him my tools (job, degree, etc) when He asked for them, and now what did He expect me to do, bang the nails in with my head? It seemed like God was being so…mean. What do you do when God isn’t catching you?

To Be Continued….

September 13, 2009

Splash!

Posted in Water Droplets tagged , , , at 10:34 pm by Tamara

Several weeks ago I took another dragging, trudging step forward in the vast wasteland known as “unemployment.” I thought that application would probably end (like all the ones before it) in a mirage of hot, scratchy sand, but to my amazement (splash, flounder, gasp!) suddenly the sand dropped out from under me and –water! That’s right, I have a JOB! Thank You, Lord!! And not only that, it’s at a bookstore, a fact I couldn’t be more tickled about. It feels so unbelievable to have the weight of insecurity and worry and guilt for not working suddenly gone; really like I went from dragging my dehydrated, sun burnt self painfully forward to suddenly falling into and floating in cool, clear water. Relief!

I don’t think I scored too high on this Desert Exercise. Mom reminded me of my “retrospectacles” several times—I told her once they were broken. And of course, in retrospect, God came through, both in providing a job for me and taking care of us when I didn’t have one. Sometimes I did okay, but I think my attitude towards Him and His choices for my life was pretty bad several times, especially considering what I know about Him and what I’ve have seen Him do. I suppose that every time I’m ashamed of my attitude towards Him, it’s a reminder to do better next time. I DO see Him growing my faith, and there were some bright spots of trust this summer. And His provision has given me one more stone to add to my monument to His faithfulness—one more thing to remember when times get hard again.

August 22, 2009

How Far Up the Ladder…?

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:05 pm by Tamara

I’m realizing that it’s easier to trust God to provide when I feel like I’ve “done all I can” and now the rest is “up to God.” It’s the old “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” mindset, I guess.

But what about trusting Him when I DON’T feel like I’ve done all I can? Or, more specifically, when I feel like surely I haven’t done all I could, or I would have accomplished “_______” already. Finding a job seems to me like a no-brainer–ANYONE can find a job (some job, any job) if they’re willing to lower their standards a little, right? So if I haven’t found a job, it must mean I haven’t looked hard enough, or lowered my standards enough, or interviewed well enough, or had a good enough resume, etc, etc, etc. So how can I just “trust God to provide?” like everyone keeps telling me to?

I don’t think I’ve realized until now how deep-seeded my belief is that I can only trust God to come through if I’ve done everything else I’m supposed to. Obviously that wasn’t true of my salvation. Is that true of His character? Is there some line when He stops providing in order to discipline you? If so, where is that line?
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3066/2549962146_747f20afae.jpg?v=0
I think this is something I need to dig into. If nothing else, I need to get over my feeling that He’ll only provide if I’m doing good enough. Isn’t that, in essence, earning His grace and provision? Like I draw a ladder and say, “Okay, God, I’ll handle it up to this point, and then I trust You to take it from there, because I know You won’t help me until I hit this line.” Doesn’t quite sound right (ahem). I need to ask Him for some wisdom on this.

July 12, 2009

The Breakdown, Part 1

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 8:56 am by Tamara

Well, I had a mini-breakdown the other day. I called my mom (everyone needs their mommy) and bawled my little eyes out. Then Adam came home and I bawled. Poor man—I shouldn’t cry to him, it makes him so sad! But he’s a great comforter. Anyway. I’ve been trying to write this ever since, and having no success. The words just won’t arrange themselves to explain what I think God is trying to teach me. Hence the long absence of a post last week. Here goes try number four…. Make that five.

Let’s see—how did I get here? The transition from being in full-time discipleship ministry to being laid off and becoming an unemployed, married deadbeat has been pretty rough. I called my mom and summed my life up: “My life consists of cleaning the apartment, trying to convince worldly, pointless businesses to hire me, feeling guilty about not working, and being afraid that we won’t have enough money next semester because of it.” She, like many, tried to reassure me that God has my job situation under control, and I just have to wait until He gives me the right one. Sounds reasonable, but I just can’t seem to accept that. Why? Because I’m afraid I’M doing something wrong. Maybe the reason I don’t have a job isn’t because God hasn’t given me one yet, but because I’m being lazy about the job hunt. Maybe I’m being too picky (I haven’t applied at McDonalds yet, after all.) Maybe I have a wrong attitude. Maybe, maybe, maybe. All these maybes are scaring me to death, and contributed to me bawling on the phone to my mom.

Mom asked me if I’ve asked God about all those “maybes.” Yes, of course, but what is He saying? Nothing. Or, even worse than Him saying nothing, maybe He’s speaking and I’m not hearing. Maybe I’m sinning, so I’m ignoring Him, but since I’m not hearing Him, I don’t know I’m sinning, and since I don’t know I’m sinning, I don’t know I can’t hear Him, so I won’t figure out that I’m sinning, so He’ll punish me….

Ah. Vicious circle, isn’t it? Enter the terrifying, paralyzing fear of being silently abandoned. I think part of the reason I haven’t been able to write this is because I know it touches on so many areas of misunderstanding truth. This may have to be a two-parter. Or a ten-parter. Dun dun dun.

Part two to come: The Breakdown—(Accidentally) Idolizing My Sin Nature.