To my sisters: on EmbarrassMEnt

There was a time when nearly every day of my life felt like I could happily curl up in a ball and die.  I was a champ at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. I was terrified of speaking to people for fear of messing up. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned my family…

My siblings are a unique bunch, but there is one thing they have in common with all younger siblings. For some unknown reason they take pleasure in telling every single one of my embarrassing stories to my friends. I had no idea what to do with this. My friends who were girls would giggle and look at me weird, and my friends who were boys thought it was funny. My sisters also thought it was funny to tease me every time I befriended a boy, as if befriending one was akin to dating one.

So what do you do with all of this? You’ve got all these new emotions that don’t work right, guys are losing the cootie factor, your family doesn’t seem to understand at all, every time you try to be cool it feels awkward, and nothing seems to add up the way it’s supposed to.

Here is what I learned. Some of you smart little cookies might figure this out within a couple of years. My skull is a bit thicker than the average girl’s so it took me 5, and I’m still slipping up.

The thing about embarrassment is that it’s all about “me.” I can’t believe what did, or what my siblings did to me. You are fine-tuned to how you feel, and the effects of your surroundings. For a little while this is natural, and it will get better over time.

However, embarrassment is not a good emotion to get stuck in. It hurts, and it’s hard to get rid of. Dwelling on that hurt doesn’t change what happened, it magnifies the pain. This can become an obsession that seems more important than anything else. You end up thinking more about what people think about you than on being friends with them.

You might not realize it, but you aren’t the only one who feels awkward. Truth is, EVERYONE goes through an awkward phase. If you have a weird conversation with someone don’t freak out. They probably are worried that they said something dumb, and they might think you are the one who seems less awkward. I wish I had spent more time being encouraging to others than I did thinking about how klutzy I am.

Another fun thing I learned, I learned from boys. (Hey, they have good advice every now and then.) Akwardness can be funny. Right now you are learning how to talk, walk, think and feel all over again. It’s hard enough as it is, so just enjoy the goofy moments! 🙂 And you can still have a lot of fun with your siblings if you aren’t annoyed with them for making a comment they probably didn’t intend to be embarrassing.

Moms are like the coolest people ever. Yea, they don’t realize they are embarrassing sometimes. (Well, sometimes they do it on purpose…but you would be amazed at the reason behind it. Just ask, it’s a lot more fun when you hear the answer.) They also are really great to talk to. If you have questions don’t be afraid to ask your Mom. (Unless they are about boys…then Dad is usually the better option…[sorry Mom! Dad made more sense…] however Mom is a good second) Your parents have way more experience than you, but they can’t automatically see what’s going on. You have to be willing to tell them that you are struggling.

You’re all mixed up right now because God is working to make you into a beautiful young woman. That takes a LOT of work as you already know. But it won’t stay hard forever. Lean on His strength. It’s ok that you can’t handle it all. When you stop worrying about “me” and spend more time with God, you will find that everything is going to change again. But this change will be for the better. After all, God gave you your parents, but He created you. No matter who you have or don’t have in your life or how many problems you’ve got, He is there.

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In My Daddy’s Garden

Today I was given the task of weeding around the tomato patch. To be honest, I find weeding to be one of the most unpleasant outdoor tasks imaginable.

Why?

It’s simple enough, I suppose. Weeds have roots, and they go much deeper than you think. I don’t know how many times I fell on my rear today because a massive root system snapped after I threw all of my weight against it. I began by targeting the large weeds. I figured the little ones weren’t a problem, especially when the big ones were taking over the tomato vines. Yet as I worked I realized that I was being lazy. In focusing on the big ones only, I was leaving the real danger to take root within my garden.

Weeds grow quickly and quietly. Within a few days they can destroy a tender plant. In the bible weeds are used in more than one parable as the subtle roots that choke out the gardener’s plants. We have many different kinds of dirt in our garden. Some is hardened clay baked dry in the sunshine. The weeds in this area grow above my waist, and their roots are large and heavy. However, the area behind the tomato’s is soft sand. The fast growing weeds are easily removed. Yet in this soft and willing sand the weeds take root more quickly. Little ones are easily missed at first. It isn’t long before little weeds become monsters that rise up and destroy tomato vines.

I felt a growing desire to fix this one patch. I had been given a task, and I desired to obey it to the fullest. I wish I could say this is common for me. Often I obey my Dad with a grumbling heart. I complete the bare minimum and call it good. Today as I considered the weeds I realized the tomato patch was very much like my own soul. I don’t bother with the little problems, because they hide behind the big ones. My soul was once hard and weeds took root with strength. While it has softened towards the Lord it has also become blind to sin so long as it stays small. In my laziness I haven’t approached the problem. This is when those weeds grow and multiply.

God told me today that I had a lot of weeding to do, inward and out. So for the first time in my life, I took to weeding my Daddy’s garden with a passion. I was determined to pull every single weed from the one patch I was working on. I couldn’t possibly do the entire garden on my own, but I was only given one area. I walked behind the vines and yanked every weed out by the root. When the tall ones disappeared I had to get down on my knees.

Little did I know how many tiny leaves had formed beneath the sand. We overlook these little leaves as being harmless. White lies, selfish desires, unhealthy daydreams, little idols that suck our time away from God…..slowly they creep beneath our soul’s outer sand. Before they are apparent their roots have begun to poison us. I learned that when you rely on God, He provides the attitude and patience to complete the work He has given you. A task given to you by Him, whether it be great or small, can be done wholeheartedly or lazily.

My hands were starting to hurt from a previous activity I had done earlier in the day, and strangely enough those tiny weeds took much longer than the big ones. Just when I thought my attitude was where it should be, I heard a car in the drive. Part of me wanted to jump up and run to the house. I knew that my friends had arrived. Yet something stopped me. My Dad wouldn’t have minded in the least, but I wanted to finish what he had told me to do.

I wanted to honor my Father’s orders.

The second lesson I learned was that God honors our obedience to Him. And He uses our brothers and sisters in Christ to support us in our walk. I heard the door slam and my friend’s voice in the yard. I listened as he approached my brother, who was also outside working. He asked my brother if he needed help. My brother had no idea how encouraging he was to me. He had been sweetly working this entire time with a cheerful attitude, despite the sudden addition to his regular chores. To my surprise, he politely declined help and continued working. Not a single complaint ever crossed his lips. His quiet strength was a gentle rebuke to my original bad attitude.

Even though it was unnecessary, my friend came and helped me finish weeding. It was a small kindness that came as easily as breathing to him-as he is always helping anyone who needs it- yet he served as a reminder to me as well. God knows our limits and our hearts. Some of the things we are told to do have to be done alone. At other times we are to help one another. Part of belonging to the church is working together.

I like to do things alone, in my own strength. Over many years I have begun the process of giving up that strength to my Abba father in heaven. It’s a constant struggle. God never wanted us to work alone. He is a community, and He designed us to be one as well. We can’t uproot the weeds in our lives by ourselves. We are to rely on one another as accountability partners, to catch what we cannot see. Yet without God’s guidance and working hand even that would be impossible.

Over summer camp this last week, we talked about God’s involvement in our lives. Like a child, we are convinced that we are doing all the work. In reality, God is there throughout all of it. He is the one guiding us, shaping us, protecting us, and He is the One who redeemed us. Without Jesus, I am nothing. A task as simple as weeding a tomato patch can become mission impossible if it is attempted without Him. He works through the simplest things in life, so long as the soul is softened and the heart is ready to listen. And let me tell you, the process of softening the ground before the weeds can be pulled up hurts like fire from hades. Yet His tender love continues to pour into the heart. It is a never ending journey.

God’s love is expressed through all of creation. The last place I would have looked was in my Daddy’s garden. Praise God, His light overcomes the blind.

Shalom.