Well, hey there! I thought I might put together a 7QT post this week, as a way to say, “Why, yes, I still write!” Those of you who have been reading along for awhile know that this has been an unusually difficult year, and I’ve had a lot going behind the scenes. It’s also summer, and given the choice between sitting back down at my computer (after spending the entire day staring at a computer screen for work) and going for a bike ride – well, I’ve been biking. And on rainy evenings – I know this is no excuse – I’ve been binge-watching Friends. I wasn’t really into that show when it first came out (side effect of not owning a tv and/or not having cable for a few years) – but I’m about half-way through Season 7, and suddenly so many of the cultural references I’ve missed over the years are finally making sense…
More to say about Friends later – I want to get through all 10 seasons first.
So I posted on Facebook last night, asking for 7QT suggestions, and Shara tried – about 5 times – to post a question, and they wouldn’t post. So then she suggested I should write about the funniest Shara I know – and of course, that posted. “What, THAT ONE WORKED?” she said. And that wouldn’t post either. (She sent me a screenshot of her phone and all her failed attempts at posting to prove it.) It was hilarious.
So this QT is the one about the funniest Shara I know. (She’s actually the only Shara I know, but she is funny.)
Not only is she so much fun to be around, but she’s got the hugest heart for people – especially people who are broken-hearted or in need. She’s a loyal friend, a trusted confidante, incredibly thoughtful, and altogether an amazing person. She is brave, and determined, and speaks up when she sees injustice. She’s creative – a very talented photographer and graphic designer – and she also has the coolest hair.
I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Shara a couple of weeks ago, doing a photoshoot for a new author bio picture, and we had such a great time. You know you have a great friend when your conversation ranges from the deeply personal to the completely ridiculous and back again in the span of five minutes, and neither of you find it odd.
(Also, Shara is a major part of one of my favorite memories. …and wow. I never did get around to learning how to paint on aluminum. Maybe this year…)
So that’s the one about Shara. Now on to her other questions…
What’s the Best Summer Song?
Nooooooo!!! How do you choose?!?!?!
What’s your favorite summer song? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Funniest Animal On The Internet? Well, that one’s easy: the cat.
Funniest Person On The Internet?
Here we go again…. How do you choose?!?! There are so many funny people…
But I’m going to go with Debbie the Online Dater – whose video also happens to fall into the categories of “great summer songs” and “funny animals on the internet”:
Wendy asked about renewing our passion for Christ when it’s burning out.
I’m going to go for a slightly atypical answer: I think we need to lean into the experience.
Typically when this topic comes up (or when we’re in a season where we feel like our passion for God is less than we think it “should” be), our gut instinct is to try to figure out what to DO about it. We come up with ideas like: maybe we should read our Bibles more, or pray more often, or serve more, or maybe we need to get up a little earlier, or join a small group. After all, we think we’re “supposed to” have “passion” for Christ, and that not having it = bad.
But I’d like to question that assumption.
First, let’s throw out the words “supposed to.” Now hear me – I’m not saying you shouldn’t be passionate about Jesus; I’m not saying that at all. But what I dislike about the idea that we’re “supposed to” be or act or feel a certain way is that it takes this beautiful gift of relationship with Christ and reduces it to rules and formulas. If we’re “supposed to” be passionate, then when we aren’t (or don’t think we are), then we’re wrong… and things like guilt over failing to measure up can start messing with our heads. No, let’s scratch the idea of “supposed to.”
Next, let’s talk about passion. What is it, exactly? I think we tend to think of it as an emotion – and it surely can be. But one of the other definitions of passion (according to Dictionary.com) is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Now I am extremely fond of chocolate ice cream, and there are moments – particularly when I’m in its presence – when I feel that very strongly. But it doesn’t follow that because I’m not mindful of it or feeling passionate about it while I’m out biking or writing or eating fried chicken, I am any less passionate about chocolate ice cream. I still absolutely love it; my passion for ice cream is still a truth about me. It’s just not what I’m focused on right now.
I think we often judge ourselves too harshly by the wrong standards. How we feel matters – it does. But love (or passion for Jesus) is a choice and an action – it’s a decision we make, and it’s that choice that keeps us in the race when we’re tired and burned out and not feeling all the warm fuzzy feelings that we think about as love (or passion) for Jesus. So when we start feeling like our zeal is flagging, that’s when there are only 2 things to do (and trying to “fix” ourselves is not one of them):
1) Lean in – and then listen.
We need to ask God to help us understand what’s actually happening. What are our feelings trying to tell us? Are we really not passionate for Jesus? Or do we just need a nap – preferably for about 5 days, next to a lake, with no internet or cell phone service? Are we being lazy, or have we been working too hard? What’s causing this burn-out, and what can we do to address that? Do we need a break from serving? Or are our feelings really telling us a truth about a way in which we’re failing to love Jesus? Sometimes we’re burned out because we’ve been stuck in all the “supposed to’s” of Christian spirituality, and completely forgotten who we’re doing all this for.
2) Keep on doing what we know to do.
There’s no formula to “fix” this. It might not even need fixing. Because it might be a wake up call that we need to spend more time with Jesus and get back to enjoying our relationship with Him – or we might just need some protein. As long as we are actively engaging in our relationship with Christ (which does not always have to look like ‘quiet times’ and small groups (tho it can) – it can also look like taking a walk and reflecting on life, while inviting Him to speak into our reflections) – I’m not sure we really need to worry so much about “not being passionate.”
(I would also like to state for the record that I could be completely wrong about all of this. It’s just my opinion.)
Also, this was NOT a quick take. It was a really long one. But maybe it makes up for skipping a couple of weeks….
Last, but most definitely not least – a request from Deb, to write a little something about mercy.
If grace is receiving a wonderful gift we most definitely don’t deserve and could have never earned, then mercy is her twin sister: mercy is NOT getting the negative things we actually deserve.
Ben Patterson said in a sermon at Hope College once that, “Justice would demand that I never speak another word to anyone. But Mercy… Mercy says, ‘You’re my son, Ben.’ And I get to stand up every once in awhile and tell you how good God is.”
I love that.
Mercy and grace are the foundation of our relationship with Christ. His demonstration of them towards us makes it possible for us to relate to Him as His sons and daughters. In the memorable words of Isaac Watts, “love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all” – oh yes. But not in a “follow a bunch of rules and get it right” sort of way. Rather, we’re to give our lives, our souls, our all to Him in relationship – until it becomes the one relationship we prioritize above all others, one that is so much a part of the fabric of our lives that losing it would never occur to us.
That wasn’t quite what I’d planned on saying about mercy tonight – but it works.
Have a great evening, friends – and may you know the depths of his love in new ways (whether you can feel it or not) as you rest in Him this weekend.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!
Simple Felicity is, at its heart, a blog based on the unshakeable belief that happiness really isn't all that complicated. Sometimes finding it can be - but happiness itself is pretty simple, and it's often found in the simplest of things: good food, good books, and good company. So those are the things I write about, along with a few other things that really matter to me, including faith and feminism.
A bit about me: My name is Happy. I have an amazing talent for misplacing my keys, a deep appreciation for whomever looked at the coffee bean and thought, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if I roasted this?", and road trips to Michigan are pretty much my favorite.
Contact me anytime at simplefelicity7 (at) gmail (dot) com! I'd love to hear from you.
I love this quote: "Every person is a new door to a different world." —Six Degrees of Separation via @momentumdash
Maybe it doesn’t matter if we’re asking the right questions; maybe the point is simply to start asking questions: ow.ly/Em6I30eSWzC
I love this concept: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." —Maya Angelou via @momentumdash
"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." —Vincent Van Gogh
"Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free. Confront your fear and turn the mental blocks into building blocks." —@Dr_Roopleen
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