Friday, December 30, 2016

Getting Lit for 2017

Well, it's been a long time (over 6 months to be exact) since I've taken the time to write anything here.  Life's been a little crazy with an infant, a couple of 4 year olds and a newly minted driver in the house and writing blog posts has taken a back seat.  While I doubt anyone has missed my "wisdom," I have definitely felt the gap in introspection that comes from jotting my random thoughts down here over the past several months.

I took this picture of our sad Christmas tree after about a week or so of progressive bulb failure as I felt it was a good depiction of how I felt by the time the holidays rolled around this year--a few bulbs short of complete darkness.  Ok, that was a little dramatic but truth be told, we had a tough fall.  There was the 2 months straight of at least 1 person in the house being sick topped off by a tonsil surgery and bumpy recovery as well as the resulting pile of medical bills (meeting our out of pocket max was not a goal we set out to achieve at the beginning of 2016).  I also endured (for lack of a better term) a re-org at work that was messy and left me with quite a bit of uncertainty about where things where headed and how I fit in which I struggled to take in stride.  We also underestimated how spiritually and emotionally taxing leading a small group would be leaving us both pretty tapped out by the time December rolled around. 

There have certainly been tougher times in life and bigger obstacles to overcome and I think the difference in this time period was me letting other things take precedence over my own well being.  This is a constant struggle as the rigors of life ebb and flow and back in July I had started to feel my tank going empty and received some encouragement from a friend in the form of Proverbs 23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it," which carried me through the rest of our summer travels for baseball as a reminder to take time to stay centered.  As with many things, though, this takes constant vigilance and effort, something that crowded out by the noise of life as we headed into fall.      

As I detailed just 9 months earlier here, I know what keeps me rolling with the punches (rolling on a bike!) and who I need to spend time with to get re-centered and refreshed and those things and people took a back seat to work and other less important things and my soul took the brunt of it, ironically at a time when I was reading John Ortberg's Soul Keeping (which I clearly need to read again).  The stakes are also higher now--as a small group leader, dad, and manager, staying refreshed and on-point are key to fueling others and neglecting myself is counter to that, affecting not only myself but those God has placed in my path.  As my tank drains my temper becomes shorter, my focus more inward, and my selfishness and introverted personality take over which is counterproductive to all of these roles I have been blessed to be placed in. 

I also strongly believe that those responsibilities have brought on attacks from the enemy in the form of discouragement and shaken confidence, as David Seamands states in Healing for Damaged Emotions:
“Many Christians... find themselves defeated by the most psychological weapon that Satan uses against them. This weapon has the effectiveness of a deadly missile. Its name? Low self-esteem. Satan's greatest psychological weapon is a gut level feeling of inferiority, inadequacy, and low self-worth This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God's Word. Although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots, bound by a terrible feeling inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness.”

Truth be told, on my own I am not capable of being the dad, boss, or leader I was created to be and if we take life circumstances on face value outside of the context of the bigger picture it's easy to lose heart and confidence as even our best efforts can be easily thwarted.  While hard to keep at the forefront amidst life's struggles, we need to remember that we are all part of a story much bigger than what we can see on a daily or even yearly basis and as John Eldredge states "His (Satan) grand tactic in separating us from our heart is to sneak in as the Storyteller through our fears and the wounds we have received from life's Arrows. He weaves a story that becomes our particular 'Message of the Arrows.' Counting on our vanity and blindness, he seduces us to try to control life by living in the smaller stories we all construct to one degree or another."

2017 will surely not be a year without struggles, uncertainty or bumps in the road, but looking back before I look forward has given me some clear insight to roll into plans for next year.  There is a definite need in my life to have more fun, look out for and experience joy, and take better care of my soul for the sake of myself and for that of others I've been blessed to be around.  While my book list is growing and I'm unsure whether a re-read of Soul Keeping is in the cards, I do plan to read and meditate on this post about Soul Care as I make plans and goals for 2017, just thought I'd share for anyone else feeling like they're running on empty going into the new year!

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