It’s Okay to be Weak

I wish I was better at writing when things are hard. Ernest Hemingway says we need to write long and hard about what hurts, but I would rather write about sunny days, bright moments and exciting adventures.

So, the apparent lack of blog posts lately may well be a hint that times have been tough.

For the past several months, I have been given an unlimited amount of opportunities to wake up and trust God.

I think I thought I trusted God, but I think what I was really doing was trusting that he would work through me, use me, make me the hero.

And I am not the hero.

Everything I have touched has turned to flames this year. All my good intentions have blown up in my face. My desire to control circumstances has resulted in so many situations totally beyond my control.

Do you ever look back at your life, and get angry with God because you literally tried to do everything right and things still went terribly wrong?

Yeah, me too.

But you know, I wouldn’t trade this season for the world. I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me upon the rock of ages, as Charles Spurgeon said. I have learned I am not a good controller, but God is.

I have learned people will disappoint me, but Jesus will never disappoint me. I have learned things fall apart sometimes but that doesn’t always mean it’s my fault. I have learned to stop saying never, because some of the best gifts we could ever receive come in the most unexpected ways.

I have learned to embrace trials and count it all joy as James encourages, because whoever learned anything on a sunny day?

If you have been going through it, count it all Joy. You are growing! You are moving forward. You are becoming a better person. As you wake up every day and fall to the arms of Jesus, you are becoming stronger. I don’t like the verse that talks about how his power is made perfect in weakness, because I don’t like to be weak. But I’m learning to be okay with it.

It’s OK to be weak as long as we know who’s holding us up.

So, here’s an invitation. Embrace uncertainty, embrace mystery, give up control, and do not grow weary in well doing! He is writing a good story.

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I Just Thought I Loved People

I Just Thought I Loved People

It’s been a while since I have written to you, dear readers. I have been quite occupied, learning something quite shocking about myself.

I thought I loved people, but I was wrong.

I call myself a people person. I fill my days with breakfast dates, dinner dates, and babysitting jobs. I like to help people and make the world a better place. I try to be nice to people in line and people in traffic, and as long as they are nice back, I love them.

But, the second people piss me off, do something selfish, disappoint me, lie, cut me off or do something contrary to who they claim to be, all the love in my heart dissipates and I am left with zero patience and zero love, aka zero Jesus.

My mom used to tell me ” Obedience with a bad attitude is disobedience.” In other words, my actions didn’t matter if my heart was in the wrong place. These days, my actions may be good on thee outside, but I’ve been struggling to get my heart in the right place. I’ve always loved being around people, but when you tack the words ministry or service onto the whole deal, suddenly I’m on the fast track to burnout.

I think for many years, I truly thought I was a loving person, but it was only because no one had tested me. Now, in a season of testing, I am seeing I don’t need Jesus to help me love people, I need him to completely take over. I don’t need more of him and less of me, I need all of him.

If you are in a season where you feel like your patience has run out and you find yourself saying “I’m done” multiple times a day, I get it.

I’ve seen sides of my personality come out I am so not proud of lately. Maybe you have too. Maybe today is a good day to be done with yourself. Maybe today is a good day to let Jesus be your mouthpiece. If he wouldn’t say it, neither should I. Maybe today is a good day to place all my hope and expectation in him, because he never disappoints. Maybe today is a good day to remember to be kind, for we are all fighting a hard battle. Maybe today is the first day of the rest of your life, a day where we can remember our valiant efforts are actual you know what all on their own.

If we for one second think we have something good going on our own, we are dangerously close to a burn out. Let’s be like Jesus.

Also: get this book: https://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Always-Becoming-Setbacks-Difficult/dp/0718078136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1525875621&sr=8-1&keywords=everybody+always+bob+goff.

Conquering Fear

Conquering Fear

To Those Who Have a Crazy Dream:

Fear is a funny thing. It’s funny because it often comes wearing unexpected disguises. Rather than the scary black cloak and long pointy finger nails we expect, Fear usually arrives wearing business casual, preppy heels, red lipstick and toting a designer purse. She’s prepared with an agenda and a skim mocha latte.  Fear looks like she has her you -know -what together.

She sits down at an artsy coffee- house table, pulls out her iPad, and starts reminding you of all your obligations. You thought the meeting was going to be life-giving, and even though she isn’t really saying anything intrinsically negative, you suddenly feel a little, well, deflated. You had this awesome dream, and you wanted to be sure you were on the track, so you weighed the odds. Smart, right? She’s telling you you don’t have the money (It’s true, you  don’t!), she’s telling you people may not like what you have to say, (They may not!), and, to ice the practical cake, she mentions very kindly you may not be ready yet.  You don’t have experience. You’ve never done this before. You will probably fail. She brings up an obscure statistic about how 85% of people fail at whatever they are trying to do.

Fear doesn’t really want to detract as much as it wants to paralyze.

Stay where you are. You’re safe there. No one is expecting anything from you.

Well, friends, I must tell you, I have been invited into the great wide depths of the sea by the Maker of it all, and it is scary.

In a record amount of time, it seems, I have made decisions which are very costly. Decisions that brought pain, sleepless nights and heart-beating-fast moments throughout the day.  I have battled thoughts of inadequacy, wondering if I’m crazy, and if I’ve just effectively screwed absolutely everything up.

I’m going to be 25 next month and I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. That in and of itself is scary. But here’s what I’ve done, and it’s what I’m encouraging you to do.

  • Listen to the right  voices. When you pray, listen  for the Lord’s response. Pray harder than you ever have before. Read the word, and read only life-giving text. CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY. Several of my best friends are over a decade ahead of me in this life thing. I want friends who are on the right track, friends who  are following Jesus closely, friends who have been through the fire. Choose your people, because you will become like them. In the midst of some really hard choices I’m exceedingly thankful for my parents, siblings, mentors and close friends.
  • Do it anyway. Don’t wait until you have all your ducks in a row to make a dream happen. You will be waiting forever. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Embrace it, and be ok with not being an expert.
  • Rest. One of the most difficult aspects of this season has been my constant feeling of restlessness. I’m wired to always be doing, acting, performing, producing, etc. Every time I’ve tried to  make it happen on my own, Jesus is like, “hey sarah, please chill. i’ve got this, girl.” How do you rest while doing it anyway?? I don’t know. You dig really really deep in your heart and find a rest that’s way deeper than a nap, and you plant yourself there. Then you do it anyway.

I’ve launched a business, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years, and you know what’s kept me from it? Fear, in her Kate Spade glasses, looking me square in the eye and saying, “You’re not a writer. You don’t have enough experience. You change your mind too much. This will never last.”

And to her I respond, maybe you are correct, old friend, but I’m willing to run the risk.

By the way, I got a call today that confirmed I’m totally on the right track, and I’ve been in tears at His faithfulness. You’ve never failed me, Lord!

 

If you are interested in finding out more about my new venture, click here: http://www.sarahdtaylor.com

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14

Thoughts and Prayers

The phrase “thoughts and prayers aren’t enough” keep rolling around in my head like angry little marbles. I’ve read phrases like “we need more policies” and “this isn’t about religion.” I’ve read phrases that say God has been “taken out of public schools” and “this kind of thing didn’t use to happen. ”

I open my Bible, looking to an ancient book for a today word.

I see this, written by Paul, thousands of years ago as though he was standing in our midst.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NIV

It seems to me he is acquainted with death, with persecution, with murder, with sin. It seems it is not a new thing to him or to us. He told us over and over the letter of the law will never bring life, only life though Jesus will bring restoration and hope. Since day one , we have been looking for laws to fix us, to corral us, to make us right with God, and since the early days, since the first scriptures were penned, we have been exhorted: this world is full of trouble, but the only hope is knowing Jesus.

You say, why would a loving God allow this to happen over and over?

I respond, because a loving God has given us the opportunity to choose him, and so often we do not choose him.

You say, we need more laws.

I respond, perhaps, but laws have never made men good, or have I missed some great moral cleansing that transpired because of laws which order us not to kill, to steal, to commit adultery…

You say, this is deeper than religion. It’s about humanity and being good.

I respond, why is it important to be good? An animal does not feel the need to be good? Why as humanity are we so deeply affected by cruelty, by murder? What is it within us that cries out for justice, that longs to be made right?

You say, this happened because we took prayer out of schools.

I respond, is God so light, so moveable, that he can be “taken out ” like a bag of garbage?

Is he not moving and pursuing us always?

We always want to point outward, but sin is the issue, and the solution is a Person, not a policy.

As we weep with those who weep, we must remember the fight we are in, and must remember Who Wins.

As it creeps closer and closer into our backyard, we cannot be passive about our faith. We must hold fast to Paul’s words and take heart. We must love our families, we must take care of the orphan, for they are so often the perpetrators. We are not powerless. Evil did not make its appearance in 2016 or 17 or yesterday. We must not be overcome. This is Christianity. We are the light of the world, not the quivering dim flicker of the world.

What This Is Us Says About Our Need for Fathers

What This Is Us Says About Our Need for Fathers

I find it uncanny that one of the most popular shows on network television at this moment revolves around the love of a father for his children and his wife.  It’s not about an emasculated man who is painted as the dumb, trapped- in- a- recliner, drinking- a beer -dad, nor is it about a womanizing, abusive man, that so many have come to think of when they think of the opposite sex.  

No, it’s about a father continually lays down his life for his children. He works hard to provide for them, works tirelessly to see each of his children for the individuals they are, and is committed to his wife, whom he adores. 

rs_1024x759-180205065513-1024.525-this-is-us-super-bowl.ch.020518 Jack Pearson isn’t perfect, no human is, but our deep love for him, I believe, is a reflection of our even deeper need for the love of a father.  

Why are we so captivated by him? Why does he represent “goals” to us?  Even as he battled an addiction to alcohol, he was unwavering in his devotion to bettering himself, not for his sake, but for his family’s sake. 

I’m incredibly grateful to have had an amazing father, but I can’t help but wonder what so many think as they are watching Jack be the dad they wish they had. I wonder how many people watching lost their father at a young age as well, and still feel the loss as keenly as though it were yesterday.

Obviously, my father is still living, but I have come very close to losing him two times, and the head pounding heart searing, life altering seconds where you receive the news something has happened to the one you love the most is a feeling I’m unfortunately familiar with.  

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I found out about my dad’s horrific car accident while I was at a little church in the mountains of Honduras. As people are talking to you and hugging you, you see their lips moving but you have gone deaf, mute. The person you always thought would be there is suddenly no longer  a guarantee.

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The exact place I found out about my dad’s accident

I just find it interesting that what our world wants to see the most right now is a good father. Whether we will admit it or not we are desperate for strong, male figures. We are looking for the love of the father, whether we know it or not.  We are craving the love of Jesus whether we will voice it or not. 

We talk  a big talk about “equality,” but what woman’s heart doesn’t melt as she sees jack protect and provide for  Rebecca.  Something in all of us longs for a father, longs for the security of having someone look out for us, fight fire for us.

I cried as I watched Jack literally give his life for his family, and I thanked God for giving me back my dad, time and time again.

I mourned for my friends who have lost their dads, their rocks, their refuges.

I mourned for my friends who have had really crappy dads, who never showed up for them, or worse, abused them.

We all need a Dad.

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Isn’t it interesting that God is tearing through the corridors, fighting the licking flames and braving the tempest storms, to be our Father? Isn’t it something that the One we say we are fine without is the very One we need the most?

I’m thankful to have a heavenly Father who is perfect and unfailing and immortal.

 

Now, I’m going to emotionally prepare for tonight’s episode.

 

Wrong About God: The Most Fascinating and Wonderful Discovery

Here’s the thing. Nothing is I thought it was. This whole journey of being human, being woman, being daughter, being a constantly questioning, constantly inquisitive child of a vast, beautiful laughing Father, Daddy, Abba… it’s all so different than how I thought it would be. It’s so much better.

The trouble with books is they give you the false sense of preparedness, experience. They make you think you’ve gone through things you have only read about. So I kept reading and reading and then I️ just had to stop and wait a while. I had to look up from the law and breathe in the aroma of flowers, of humanity, of Saturday’s.

It’s almost embarrassing to admit, really, all the things I thought were important. All the rules I made myself follow that were only statutes I had penned. But I suppose the most marvelous joy is realizing, because as soon as we realize we were wrong, we are moving forward, finding a new truth to anchor ourselves in in the great blue sea.

I thought I needed to stay at home until I was married, or else I was giving up on god and settling for a life of singleness. As I sit in my apartment where I live by myself, I’m smiling because I’ve never felt closer to this God I was sure I was abandoning. What I was so sure was a black and white has become a verdant green, a yes, despite all my arguments.

I thought I had to stay still, like a child waiting crouched in a bush, breathing heavily, hoping the game of hide and seek is coming to an end soon. Maybe if I was still enough, sweet enough, they would find me, but they didn’t, so I️’m going forth, onto another adventure. Maybe you will find me along the way, oh how I hope you do, but I’m going on, I️’m off to dream a new dream.

I thought independence meant a breach of relationship, but the most authentic independence realizes she is weak, useless, without her father. Her freedom, her vivacity, is found as she relents, succumbs, submits, surrenders.

I thought faith looked one way, and maybe it does, but it also looks another. It may well be the liturgy and the bread and the wine as much as it is the song and the ink and the laughter and the mountains. He is in all of it, waiting and hoping we will see him as He is, fresh and joyous and spotless and true, strong and wild and safe and home and new and old and unfamiliar . All. At. Once.

I️

I thought the joy was in understanding, but the real joy is in the questions, the trust, even though, the trust, despite.

He is much better than we think. He is much more blue and red and green and yellow than he is black and white.

So I dig deeper, write more, pray more fervently, worship with more abandon. I choose to forego the daily instagram updates so often, because I am weary of my own reflection. I want to see him.

I stop counting the likes and begin to count the stars. I don’t now what you are up to anymore, but I have a few good friends and they are molding me and making my life infinitely more beautiful than I ever thought possible.

I don’t know what the year holds, where I will go, who I will meet, but I have a particularly great feeling.

My exhortation is this: unravel your ideas and your priorities and the things you hold to be self evident, and get to know the real Jesus. Sit with him and see if your world shrinks suddenly and bursts forth into brilliant color more quickly than the blink of an eye.

He is after us.

To all of us Christians, the religious ones: a poem

This for all of us, the Christians, the religious ones,

Who boldly approach the altar,

To worship our convictions.

This is for all of us who sit at home paralyzed by fear, and call it waiting on the Lord, when the Lord is already here.

This is for all of us with more opinions than faith,

With principle after extra -biblical principle,

Which we use as a method of escape.

This is for all of us who think we know God’s heart, but the moment true compassion sets in,

We don’t know where to start.

This is for the offended, the sure, the proud,

Who love our perch, where we sit so haughty, happy to look down.

Here’s what I’m learning, friends, and it’s hard for me to admit.

I have built an altar, a tower high full of holy limits.

I told God my standards, and hoped he would comply.

I made up rules to follow devoutly, which no one asked me to try.

I called it freedom when it was really pride,

And my tower piled so high I could barely get outside.

But the light broke through and I saw my err.

How is it we settle for stale religion

And fail to marvel at the gift we have been given.

What are all these made up black and whites,

Which only separate and fail to unite.

I’m learning He is bigger than the box I tried to place Him in.

I’m learning He matters more than how I thought I was pleasing man.

How will they accept me?

How can I fit it?

How do I become worthy

To be liked by other Christians?

He’s bigger than our rules

And we’ll never figure him out

And he’s often found outside waiting

Our temple of pride and doubt.

Let’s get outside the box and love with reckless abandon.

Let’s let his spirit guide the way, instead of our pro con list.

He’s always up for more, always pursuing more, always found doing that which we may judge.

His black and white is Christ crucified.

His principle is his death and resurrection.

and the tomb where they laid him is where we should leave our self written bibles.

He’s moving, and I want to go with him.

All the stuff I once found important pales in comparison to his face.

The revelation brings the change, not the other way around.