small things

I prayed for a stranger named Mike today.

When I got on the bike this morning, I turned on Spotify to the All Sons and Daughters radio station, hit “start workout” on the MapMyFitness app, and headed north toward the lighthouse instead of circling around 14 times over by the beach.

As I rode, my thoughts turned to God. I’ve had a very quiet year since coming home from Africa. He basically told me to stop striving to prove myself to everyone, to Him. He reminded me I didn’t need to work for Him to make Him love me, I already had His love. No amount of striving was going to change His amount of love for me.

So I listened for a change. Oh, I’ve had a few hiccups and missed steps, trying to plan big projects when He said take a year to rest, feeling useless, self absorbed because I haven’t tried to do a thing.

What I’ve learned over the last year is in all my striving, working, trying to prove my worth by doing huge things for God, I lost the ability to be okay with who I am. Okay, I’ve never been okay with who I am. I’ve always tried to be who everyone else wants me to be. Because if I were just smarter, cuter, stronger, friendlier, funnier, I would be okay, I would be accepted, included, invited.

What has actually happened over the last year is I’ve stopped long enough to take care of me. I started riding a bike, lost over 30 pounds, rested from all the striving, had a physical, taken naps, enjoyed my boys, went for some counseling, decided to stop pretending my mental health was actually healthy. I’ve finally accepted that even in my ordinary, everyday life God can use me for His glory. I just have to be willing to let Him.

Back to the bike ride. I simply said, “God use me today.” I haven’t prayed those 4 words in a very long time. Oh, I’ve done things for God in my strength. And the things I’ve done were good. I served Him. But I do believe I served Him with my own agenda. Somewhere over the last few years I left Him out of the equation. I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t even realize I did it. But looking back, I know I did. It’s like that part where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. The goats thought they were serving God, but they had their own agenda.

I continued north past the lighthouse, every now and then saying, “God use me today.” I thought about how the simplest, smallest acts of love can change the course of another person’s day. I thought about wanting to do small things with great love. When I rode 7 miles, I turned around to head south toward home.

As I approached mile 13 of mile 14, I saw something that looked like fallen branches or trash bags, some in the road, some near the curb. “What is that?” I wondered. I could see another cyclist pass by the ‘debris’. When I got close enough to see clearly, there was a man laying on the sidewalk, a duffle bag in the road. I stopped. “Are you okay?” He told me an odd tale of someone touching him with some kind of magical chemical that made him not able to see, making his head feel strange. I asked him if he wanted me to call 911 for help. But he said it wasn’t an emergency. He was waiting for a ride so he could go to church for help.

I stayed with him for a bit, reassured him the bus would be coming. Then I asked him his name. He hesitated, looking at me with mistrust in his eyes. I offered him my name first. Then I asked him if I could pray for him to be healed. He said yes. He hesitated when I laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed in Jesus name for healing. He thanked me.

I got back on my bike and rode home, marveling in the God who sees me, sees Mike, hears my prayers, and answers.

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

Linking with The Weekend Brew.

life in Spain (pt 3)

Winter 1990. I can’t be more specific with the timing. My memory is not as good as it used to be.

I was home retrieving my boy. I was very nervous those 3 weeks. I had myself convinced something bad was about to happen. Maybe I did that out of some weird sense of “life is going to good right now, so naturally something bad must be about to happen?” Always the pessimist. Always believing Murphy’s Law.

When my 3 weeks at home were up without incident, my mind naturally decided we were going to die in a fiery plane crash. We did have one leg in our flights that was incredibly scary as the pilot of that particular plane felt the need to turn and land at what seemed like a treacherous angle. I held onto the arms of my seat in white knuckled fear, convinced we about to crash!

But we didn’t. We made it to Spain in one piece. The very next day, we got in the car to drive to the base. The boy was 4 years old, belted into the front seat, talking a mile a minute like always. The road through this particular neighborhood was winding. The boy asked me a question. I turned to look at him for just a second. When I looked back up, I was horrified to see another car crossing in my path! I slammed on the brakes and the clutch. We crashed into this car so hard it was totaled. Thankfully no one was injured. At least not seriously. This incident only served to reinforce this crazy notion that I had some sort of premonition. And who know? Maybe it was the Lord whispering a warning to me? Would He do something like that for a girl who refused to believe He was there?

Whatever happened to the guy I fell in love with? Like I said up there, my memory of the order of events is sketchy. I think I might have gone home to visit the boy in the summer of 1989. I think that’s when I broke the news to her that I was preparing to bring the boy back after Christmas. That’s when I realized I loved the guy. He bought me a puppy! A little Pomeranian I named Pilar. Upon my return to Spain I knew something was wrong. He was cold and distant. And then he told me he changed his mind. He wasn’t actually in love with me. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me. I was so hurt. I couldn’t believe I put myself out there to have my heart crushed again! I tried to make him change his mind.

The problem for me with rejection is I always assume it’s about me not being enough. It’s only now, 25 years later, I’m realizing rejection is far more complicated than just not liking another person’s quirks. Oh, we like to think we reject others because of who they are, but really we reject others because of who we are, because of self protection. But it doesn’t make the sting of rejection any less intense.

To be continued…

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

five minute friday_because

Do I believe my life and story matter?

Yesterday, I would have said no.

Because I found myself in a pit of despair, that my life was meaningless, useless, hopeless, un-necessary.

Because the new medication was making me crazier for the first half of the day.

Because it was too strong, making my head too fuzzy, somnolent, not all here. I knew I had to act fast.

Because I know my life matters to my boys, family, friends, co-workers.

Because I know the familiar old lies of the enemy, despite the side effects of a new medication.  So I called the doctor to fix it.

Because I know my life matters to Jesus.

And today I believe it again.

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

Figuring out which medication will be best for me is proving to be more challenging than in the past. I was not a little bit frightened yesterday when I felt deep despair about life. This sadness was building up over the last 10 days. What’s particularly weird about it is I only felt these side effects from the time I woke up until about 1pm. Then it would disappear and I would be me again.

Thankfully, the doctor cut the dose in half. Today I woke up feeling totally okay. Praise God!

Linking up @FiveMinuteFriday and Spiritual Sundays.