Mediocrity

Do you ever have moments you feel mediocre? I think we all walk through like feeling mediocre at one point or another. But one of the biggest places I’ve felt that way is in my faith.

I’ve always looked to people who I felt exemplified what it looks like to be a Christian and thought I wish I believed like that; I wish I could be like them. The truth is that God tells us that “faith as small as a mustard seed” is still faith and still holds power. And the people I look to, their faith started small too. What made it grow is the mediocre. Specifically, leaning into the Lord in the middle of the mediocre.

What makes our faith grow is leaning into God in the middle of the mediocre.

I know it’s something I struggle with daily. How do I involve God in the mediocre, the most boring, the most human part of my days? I’ve always felt this pressure that prayer had to be done in a certain way, at a certain place, and that certain things had to be said. But no where in the Bible does God tell us that. Yes, we should go to our private place to pray, but we should also be in conversation with Him throughout our day.

And that’s one of my faith goals this year: integrate God into those moments I feel are most mediocre. But how? I’m going to start by simply saying “thank you” every morning and sending up a small prayer when my heart races.

How do you integrate God into the mediocre? Do you have any faith goals this year?

Don’t Expect Anything New In A New Year

New Years Day of years past was filled with high expectations of myself and other people and situations. When those expectations weren’t met–by myself or others–I became angry, and I took out this anger on those close to me, usually my husband. I was struggling with things I couldn’t put into words–namely, my mental health–and I was allowing the world to affect the way I viewed my life.

When we have expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

Not this year. I didn’t create resolutions, and I didn’t tell myself I have to be a certain way or do a certain thing in 2019. Going into 2018, I felt God was telling me the coming year would be better than the last, and it was. And going into 2019, I feel that same message. So that’s my only goal: to be better. And I hope that’s yours too.

Instead of expectations, create goals.

You can have a combination of goals, or goals for just one “category” of life, or goals for every “category.” Here are a few of my goals and plans for 2019:

Blogging

  • Offer Bible study groups (keep an eye out for February!)
  • Transition to a new hosting site
  • Begin collaborations/working partnerships
  • Continue finding and developing my niche

Physical Health & Fitness

  • Have a better relationship with food
  • Consistently choose healthy options
  • Lose 5 pounds
  • Gain muscle
  • Run a half marathon (February!)

Business

  • Launch website
  • Gain 2 clients

Personal & Writing

  • Pay off credit card debt
  • Go through Financial Peace University
  • Go on one type of adventure a month with Belle
  • Write one article a month
  • Publish with local magazines 4 times
  • Travel twice–road trip and flight–with Belle
  • Work on book once a week
  • Write in my bullet journal daily
  • Read one Bible verse a day
  • Continue to grow in my faith and trust in the Lord
  • Be better at controlling my responses — respond with grace, not frustration

And when you meet a goal, create a new one! After all, there are 365 new days ahead, with at least 365 new opportunities. Struggling to think of goals to set? Send me an email (digitalinkandparchment@gmail.com) and we can work through developing your goals together.

What goals do you want to set and achieve in 2019?

The Thing About Goals

What does reconciliation look like? How long will it take?

I was asked these questions a few weeks ago, but they are questions I don’t have solid answers to. By definition, reconciliation means: (a) agreeing to an amicable truce; (b) resigning to something not desired; and (c) the process of making consistent or compatible. Of course, in the case of which I am speaking, Option C is the definition I am going with.

For the first time in a few months, I had the opportunity to express just that. I had the opportunity to say I have changed and that, basically, it means knowing our individual needs and being able to work through this difficult path together.

I was told it doesn’t seem our goals are compatible “still,” and there was clear frustration. And it was that moment I realized I had said my goals without really expressing them. I’ve spent a year in my own head, evaluating and re-evaluting my goals–for life, my marriage–but I had never had to express that process to someone who had been absent from it for so long.

Really, my goal is to make this work. However I need to. I know what “sacrifices” I am willing to make. I know what I need. I know myself a little better. But I’ve also realized other things.

My goals are flexible. This doesn’t mean I am a doormat. Instead, it means that my goals, and the processes, change as my needs and desires change. And that’s completely okay. As long as I do not feel I am being untrue to who I am, then having flexible goals is fine. For instance, I want to travel. At first, the thought process was something like: “I am determined to find a job abroad and experience that location.” Now, it’s something like: “Oh, I can go on vacation there and eventually return to the territory I am comfortable.” Same goal–traveling–different process to get there.

Ability to do what I need to do. This actually boils down to my anxiety and depressive symptoms. If I feel an episode is coming on, I need to be able to “get out”–of the specific situation, of the location temporarily, of my head–somehow. I need to have the flexibility to do this. I’ve also realized that it’s completely okay to travel, visit family, or go do something without my husband. I relied on him for companionship and to fulfill emotional needs, and I’ve realized it’s unrealistic to expect a human to fill a spot only God can. I need to be able to get outside with Belle or write when I need to or when I am called to.

My marriage. This is plain and simple: I want my marriage. This relationship overrides everything except my relationship with God. I let other people come in with their concerns and their help, and I stopped listening to my husband’s valuable input. Pick your battles. Not everything is worth having an argument over. Compromise will be important. But, all in all, this relationship will win over everything else in life.

Employment. I need a job. Not only is that a financial fact, but it’s a personal need. I can’t not work. Of course, I would prefer to be a writer full time. If he is willing to allow it, then I will, of course, take it. If not, though, I know what sort of jobs I want (and don’t want). I know what sort of sacrifices I can make in this arena. I know what I hope to be.

Really, these things–these realizations, these conversations–take time. And I’m not sure how much. In the end, I said I realized what I am willing to do, and that I will do whatever it takes.

. . . . . .

The next few days are big. I hope to be able to properly express my goals. I pray for the wisdom to be silent when needed, but to also speak the right words. I pray for the Lord’s guidance and grace. I pray for His favor. I feel ready, and I pray He finds me ready too.

Through all of this, my goal has been to get to know the Lord better. I have prayed more. I have found an amazing church and community of believers. I have written more, thereby working toward fulfilling the calling He has placed on my life. My goal has been to get to know who I am in Him.

My prayer is that this is part of that.

Days 28 & 29: Figuring Out the Next Goal

How did it go?

As you’ve probably noticed, I did not post yesterday. I don’t know if I’m still struggling through a depressive haze or if I just don’t feel there’s enough to write about.

My days seem pretty boring. I get up much too early, I get ready for work, I take Belle to daycamp, I have an hour and a half commute, I work all day, I commute home to pick up Belle…by the time I get home, I feel emotionally and physically exhausted (sometimes without really knowing why), and I just want to relax with Belle.

I’m beginning to feel I don’t lead an exciting enough life to write. I guess I have to create the excitement to inspire myself.

My creativity feels stifled.

What did I learn?

There was a long period of time I didn’t write as often as I’d like, and I’ve spent the time thinking I wasn’t meant to write, that I was no longer a creatively-driven person.

These past few days I’ve realized that isn’t true.

What drives me is writing. It’s what I want to do when I get home from work. Heck, it’s what I want to do for work. It’s what I want to focus on, spend energy on.

God only provides us so much time in a day, and it is up to us to use that time wisely. It is our job to use the time He has given us for His purpose. I want to use my time better.

I think I know my next challenge (or at least my next goal).

Day 23: Guilt

How did it go?

There is a reason the saying is “guilt ridden.” The word ridden means to be full of something bad or unpleasant. When you are guilt ridden, you are full of guilt.

I made some choices based on what I thought I wanted and what I thought would most benefit my family. At some point, those choices ended up not being what I anticipated, in a lot of ways. In fact, they’ve become unhealthy.

An internal battle ensued. I had made this decision, and I was stuck with it. I have to pay for what I did. There’s no backing out. Right? The guilt crept in, hard and fast.

My therapist asked me one week if my guilt was serving me a purpose, and I wasn’t really sure how to respond. Was it? Or was I allowing it to consume me without learning anything from it?

“I guess…it’s not?” I said, utterly confused.

Then she suggested something that changed my outlook: “Maybe it’s helping you see what you want and who you don’t want to be, so you can be better prepared for the future.”

I hadn’t thought guilt could serve any type of purpose. When it becomes a problem, though, is when it becomes all-consuming and we don’t forgive ourselves.

And that’s what I’ve been struggling with, which leads to a whole different set of issues.

What did I learn?

Feeling guilty has made me feel like there’s no way out. Because I felt guilty, I felt I had no right to be unhappy. After all, I had gotten myself into the mess, so I have to pay for it, right?

Not necessarily.

We are the ones that beat ourselves up over guilt, not God. When we get off the path, He will change our direction.

I felt that change today.

Something came over me, and I just felt as if He is moving, trying to teach me something. I’m tired of feeling as if I have no right to try to get out of something that isn’t meant for me, because God has something better in store. For the first time in a while, I felt empowered to do what I need to do.

I have set a goal for myself by the end of this challenge. That means I have 7 days to accomplish that goal. And I finally feel powerful enough to at least try.

Is guilt eating at you? Has it served its purpose and now you’re just wallowing? I encourage you to give it to God. He forgives us for everything we have ever done, and He tells us our slate is wiped clean. Let Him free you.