Serving Up Humble Pie

I have a confession to make. 

And the worst part is, I just realized it. Today.

I would have told you that Christians are a diverse group of people. And I would have believed it. Some work in offices. Others work on landscaping. Some live in $500,000 houses. Others (like us) rent a small farm house. (And we won’t be living in a house that expensive ever. Well, at least not until any little people are grown and stop depreciating everything they touch.) Some drive Fords. Others (eh hem) would rather die than drive Fords. In my mind, there were allowed to be preference discrepancies. But overall, I think that I thought that God’s plan for all Christians was… (gulp)… to look like me. 

Not only is that the highest form of vanity, but also a condemning lie. Let me be quick to say that I cannot point the finger at the person who taught me that (although, most likely, myself.)  I have just looked around in Christian circles and observed. I have noticed the visitors who get overlooked. The cliques that the pastor’s wife is part of. The groups that get asked out to eat after services. Have you seen them? They all wear the same clothes. They have the same taste in food and accessories. To be clear, most of my friends are pretty similar to me. As a general rule, we feel most comfortable with people like us. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, and I am not saying we should strive to have friends who don’t look like us. But I am saying that when we overlook people who aren’t like us, we have erred greatly.

And whether I recognized it or not, it taught me something. Something I need to un-learn.

It subconsciously taught me that good Christians look nice and have the latest clothing and always shine their shoes and never shop at thrift stores and always whiten their teeth (it’s almost more important than flossing.) If God has REALLY “blessed”, they get their nails done (love me some manicures) and highlight their hair and visit the tanning bed (or at least their back porches) on a regular basis. 

The point is not that these things are evil. (For heaven’s sake, I am guilty of all those things. Why would I call myself evil?!) The point is that THIS is the picture I had of what Christians look like. Which means… ready for this?… I had decided what Christians DIDN’T look like. You follow?

This goes for things besides physical appearance, in case anyone is wondering. Church attendance, music choices, age-old debates (to go to the movies or not to go to the movies?). Think about what assumptions you have made. We all have them.

At the soup kitchen today, I learned this: Loving people to Jesus doesn’t mean making them look just like me. In my head, I was building them nice houses, getting them executive office jobs in buildings with lots of windows, and shopping at Gap with them. Until I saw the smiles on their faces. They didn’t feel deprived.

The battle for most of us in in our minds. And people, my mind told me that anybody with a brain would desire to live the life that I lead. It simply isn’t so. I was humbled. And a little devastated for them (to be truthful, I really was). And I was VERY sad when it occurred to me that they wouldn’t want my wardrobe. I think it’s rather nice (Thank Jesus I had good taste in clothes when I was in college since I’m still wearing all of them.)

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t drive home thinking about what nail polish I was getting rid of. (In actuality, I was debating what color I was going to paint my fingers later.) But I was sobered when I realized that given the chance to change their lives, THEY DIDN’T WANT TO. And it’s not because they (entirely) like bumming from the state or living in government housing. It’s not (all the time) because they’re lazy. It’s not (always) because they love welfare.

Ya’ll. This floored me.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s because they are HAPPY WITH SIMPLE. They have found joy in things besides name-brand jeggings and patent heels. Nothing bothers them. They can’t smell themselves and they didn’t need all those teeth to brush anyway. Now, honestly, most of the people who came through today didn’t stink. Maybe it’s because their gratitude covered it up. 

I’m a “fixer.” I immediately wanted to move these people out and get them jobs and change their outfits. But you know what?

They couldn’t love Jesus any better if they had a house. They couldn’t love their neighbors any better wearing my white ruffled dress from Target. It’s debatable if it would detract. Today, I was not there to question salvation or separate the goats from the sheep. I was there to serve. To love. I left my white wedges at home. (I’ll save them for Sunday.) (With my white dress & pearl studs.) Because what was more important than style was loving people where they were at. And realizing that Jesus did, too.

I feel urged to say this, however. I know plenty of people who carry their “poor” banner with great pride and often try to mock the possessions of others or minimize their affluence to make themselves feel better. Hear me out: Living poor is not God’s plan for His people any more than being rich is. A lot of that depends on choices…the number of household incomes, the number of children, the choice of occupation or lack thereof. I know people who “live poor for Jesus”  but constantly show their insecurity about their situation by the way they put down others with their words or who don’t show gratitude when someone else shows them kindness. God has not set a definite standard of wealth for His children. He just promises that He will never have them begging bread and will never forsake them.

He gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Consistently when Jesus talks about life, He is referring to state of mind. I believe that abundant life NOT ONLY means socks without holes BUT ALSO means joy, contentment, and peace. Those who are content with food and raiment are often the happiest because they aren’t bogged down with stuff and therefore have room to be grateful for what they do have (1 Timothy 6:8). If I am not content, it’s likely that I should reconsider my priorities. Not hold onto something so tightly. Or give something away. Except this time, when I do, I won’t think about what a blessing I am to give them something else to live with. I’ll remember how fortunate they are to live without it.

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Altogether Magnificent

 

 

 

Days filled with sand and salty water and sea gulls. Nights filled with over-cast clouds, awe-inspiring sunsets, miniature golfing, bulldozers rebuilding beaches torn by mother nature. One common denominator between the days and the evenings was the wind. It was always blowing. Either to cool the beach sun or to cool the sunburn at the boardwalk. ImageImageImage

Since I have been home, I am much more keenly aware of the wind. I feel it everywhere. I have never been one to worship nature or to just “need it.” But something happened at the beach. I realized that things are happening all around me, but I don’t have time to take notice. It’s like life is passing me by as I bustle into the house and bustle back out. The Lord, like the Holy Spirit, is always there waiting for me to notice Him. To commune with Him.

That is one reason I love it there. There is no place dearer to me than the beach. I love it even more than the mountains, perhaps because I live in them. Don’t get me wrong… I love the mountains. But there is something about water that rests my soul like no other place. The depth and breadth of a body of water, and me only one little land mass on its banks.

The feeling of smallness and inadequacy is just what our souls need to remind us of our Everything. He uses the magnificent things of this world to remind us of the Magnificence to come… of Himself. 

Our time at the beach represented the fulfillment of so many dreams long in the making. Since the last time I had been with my family was back when I was just peering into double digits, I couldn’t remember a lot of details. I remembered Uno and homecooked meals and pool time and family and jellyfish stings. I remembered jumping waves with an uncle on each side holding my hand and getting wiped out on our boogie boards and “drowning many times.” But above it all, I just remembered peace. The feeling that I was left with was peace. Even amongst the sunburn and the salt in my eyes and nose and the sand in my swimsuit. Even beyond the icecream man and the boardwalk pizza, what stands out to me was the feeling of unimportance that drew me to the One Who mattered. 

That place for you may or may not be the beach. But wherever it is, I challenge you to find it. It may be on your back porch soaking up a book. It may be a trip up a mountain. It may be planting your garden. It may be next to a pool or on a four wheeler or a motorcycle. Wherever that place is for you, I encourage you to find it. And just…rest there. Draw near to God in that place. Soak Him in.

Mary didn’t sit at Jesus’ feet because she had nothing else to do. But because she wanted to. And, because it was okay. There will always be counters to clean and floors to shine and movies to watch and socks to wash. Those things will always be with you. But… Jesus. 

He will never be checked off a list. He will never be accomplished. He will never fight to be heard. He will always be there, getting pushed aside to make room for the things grabbing for our attention.

But He is the one thing that is needed. He wants us to be. We must cease doing so much doing. And just enjoy being Who He made us to be. Whatever we need to weed out of our lives to accomplish that task will be a welcomed goodbye.

ImageThe Spirit’s presence…once we are aware of it… is very addicting. Humans enter it and never want to leave. That’s how it is when one is truly in love. It is engaging. Inviting. Exciting. Intoxicating. And altogether magnificent.

 

Mislabeled

God has taught me so much through this beautiful woman. She has spiritual eyes far better than mine, even though she lacks earthly eyesight. I wanted to share Jennifer Rothschild’s  heart with you in this clip from a Bible study I am currently going through called “Me, Myself, & Lies.” 

“Labels can have a hold on us….We sometimes label ourselves, and sometimes others label us. Some labels just come with life– they are just facts such as infertile, learning disabled, diabetic, wife, stay-at-home mom, widowed, abused, divorced, or blind. 
 
Honestly, I used to try to hide behind my blind label. It seemed my blindness was all people saw. I felt it reduced me to a curiosity and blocked real connection. My friend, labels do that! They mark us by someone else’s perception. They impose a barrier that keeps us from connecting with others in an authentic way–if we left them. Do you relate? 
 
Sometimes we self-impose a disconnect. We assign a meaning to our unchangeable label that is far worse than the label itself. We assign a fate rather than faith to our fact. For me, blind is my unchangeable label. But if I assign meaning to it that says: ‘You are different from everyone who is sighted’ or ‘People think you are a burden’ or ‘People feel sorry for you’, then what I say to my soul becomes far worse than the label itself. The fate label I wear is worse than the fact. If I do that, I use my label as a foundation to speak lies.
 
Do you do that? Suppose your fact label is divorced. If you assign a fateful meaning such as rejected  or unlovable, then you experience something far worse than the fact itself. 
 
Naomi wore labels and assigned a fate to her fact label (Ruth 1:20-21). Naomi’s fact was widow. Based on her perception that God had dealt bitterly with her, she obviously said untruths to her soul that caused her to mislabel herself. It was as if she chose her own fate. Naomi’s truthful faith label is in Ruth 4:14-15. God hasn’t left you without a redeemer today. He is a Restorer of Life and your Sustainer in old age. Naomi showed up in Bethlehem wearing her fateful label ‘dealt bitterly with by God,’ But it wasn’t true. She wore the garment of gloom based on her self-imposed label. The faith label she should have worn was ‘favored by God.’.
 
We are to wear faith labels and to speak statements of faith to our soul no matter what our circumstance–no matter the fact….Have you mislabeled yourself because of life’s unchangeable label(s)? If so, confess to God and ask Him right now to help you elevate faith over fact. Don’t let your own interpretation of your facts keep you from faith.
 
Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the evidence of that which is not seen. So, wear the faith label and fix your eyes on the unseen; it gives you eternal perspective. Your fact label is temporary! Thank you, Lord!
 
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My name is Jennifer Rothschild – with a silent “s”.  I am an author, speaker, Bible study, teacher, wife and Mom.

And, I happen to be blind.

I’m just like you. I just do things a little differently.

I write about real life and share what I’m learning from a real God.  My goal is to create inspiring, relevant, and practical content that will empower you to live out a tenacious faith.

te-na-cious: [tuh-ney-shuhs] adjective 1. holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold

 

 

Visit me at jenniferrothschild.com.