Monday, April 8, 2013

A Camping Trip, A Cookout, A Sleepover

We laughed.

If you knew my friend group and our skills at planning events, you'd realize that first attempts, second attempts, and sometimes all the way to Plan Z fall through.

This weekend was no exception.

The original plan had been to go camping. The weather was to be warm and after the ridiculously long winter with snowflakes in late March, all the girls were excited to spend time outside.

Naturally, we were blissfully unaware that the first weekend that campgrounds are open evidently should be a national holiday. Each place we tried to reserve a spot, they were completely full. There were two camp sites within a reasonable distance around Nashville.

The backup plan then was to have a cookout and a sleepover. This time we thought we had it all figured out. We planned out grilling stuff, food, and driving arrangements. It was all set - a perfect evening to spend outdoors. That is, until we realized there were no grills which is slightly problematic if you have around a dozen hamburger patties and hotdogs that need to be cooked.

In the past, if I had gone through two plans falling flat, there was serious potential for meltdown mode to begin. Instead, I laughed. My friend laughed. We started calling everyone that was on their way to reroute them to my friend's house where we spent the next few hours swapping stories over delicious food.

The realization that everything worked out quickly brought to mind Proverbs 31:
"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." (Proverbs 31:25)
I've always been puzzled by exactly what caused the Proverbs 31 woman to laugh. Was she laughing because she had everything provided for, an insight I had yet to learn, or her way of dealing with fear and uncertainty?

Now I'm wondering, was she laughing because she ultimately knew it was in the Lord's hands - the truth that even the best laid plans are nothing compared to His will?

Think back to a situation in which your plans went a completely different way than expected. What was your response: anxiety, anger, fear, laughter, doubt, control, or joy?

My prayer is that you will begin to see the mess ups, the imperfections, the not-as-planned moments in a new light and learn to release the negative in order to embrace and laugh at life's little twists and turns.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Power in Vulnerability

I realize the contradictory nature this post's title.

Being a Political Science major, I've spent the past four years learning how to minimize one's weaknesses. I've spent hours reading and writing papers on how to reduce one's vulnerability whether you're a nation or a political candidate.

Yet, there's something I never learned from a textbook, a journal article, or class lecture:

Being vulnerable in your own life can be one of the most liberating experiences.

Last week I sat in a circle with four other women that I've shared life with for almost an entire school year now. I knew that instead of just telling them to be vulnerable, I was going to model it.

Truth: I was absolutely terrified and it took everything within me to not bail at the last minute.

I began to realize in my life I've spent so much time and energy trying to cover up my inadequacies, but it came at the cost of the freedom from guilt and shame. I cared more about what other people thought of me than I would readily like to admit.

Last Monday night I shared more of my testimony than I have in a very long time. After I had shakily told the not perfect and pretty side of my story, something inspiring happened: the other women began sharing their hearts - the struggles and messy parts of their lives too.

In that moment, all the fear and anxiety welling up inside me over being vulnerable began to melt away and I could feel the weight of carrying around my lack of authenticity begin to lift.

The secret I learned: I wasn't alone.

There, dear friends, is the power in being vulnerable.

I really believe the enemy uses guilt and shame tactics to isolate us and make us think our problem is too big and scary for anyone else to want to deal with because it makes us ineffective. Yet the Bible gives us a much more satisfying view of community:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)
Is there something that is holding you back from the freedom Christ gives? I encourage you to find a healthy community to be real and authentic with: share your struggles, seek healing and accountability, and pray for one another.