It’s time to get real, friends. I’ve seen so many things floating around the internet that I couldn’t contain my silence on them much longer, to be honest. Our world is at such a point of extremes, that simply the thought of finding balance seems impossible enough. But sometimes, finding that balance means being vulnerable, letting go, and stepping out of your comfort zone. What if we stopped looking at the world through black & white lenses and learned to see the gray?
First, a little bit of background. I have always felt guilty or selfish or ungrateful for speaking about something in my life on a public scale that has gone wrong that in reality “isn’t so bad” or is a “first world problem”. I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention, so accepting credit for things, or overtly expressing my talent in an area was something I would stear clear of – I never wanted to be seen as conceited, arrogant, or cocky – or even worse, as someone who was over confident when there was zero basis for it. So I’ve always found other reasons for my success. Of course I got an A, the test was easy. Sure I blocked that goal, or stole that ball, or beat that defender – they were having an off game. It was luck.
A life time of justifying any compliment and downgrading any achievement. I remember in college while at a friend’s farmhouse shooting skeet, one of my best friends making the comment “of course you’re good at this. You’re good at everything.” and rather than being filled with pride, I was mortified. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I became this person that was terrified that people would think I was this conceited brat that had nothing to offer if I didn’t have a giant terrible part of my life that I was struggling with or had bravely overcome. That my pure existence would bemoan people that were actually grappling with situations that were life altering. That my witness was less effective because my transformation was more a transformation of the heart than any physical endeavor.
I struggled throughout college about effective ministry outside of pointed missionary work, and an immense amount of guilt that I didn’t feel called to long term overseas mission work for my vocation, despite a very real calling to serve those in need of Christ’s love and compassion. When I first embarked in this world of blogging, I remember thinking it almost frivolous to dive into areas of food, fashion, decor, and the like when there are so many other more serious and even controversial topics that could be discussed in this space. That some of my friends might bemoan my musings on “5 Ways to Make Your Dog the Center of Attention”, “Simple Mom Style”, or reviews of products like gummy energy vitamins, when there are people across this globe suffering endlessly at the hands of extremists, thousands of people displaced due to devastating natural disasters, systemic issues of race within our country, and children that are going hungry in our own zip code.
I recently saw a screenshot from a fellow blogger where someone called her out about her “first world problems” in which she praised the Lord for providing in a situation that most certainly was not a matter of life and death, and how insulting it was to hear her make claim of trusting in the Lord in dark times when there are people are who truly are suffering far more than she. And for a moment, I rolled my eyes, knowing the reality of other tragedies ongoing in this blogger’s life, and brushed it off. But then I started to really grapple with this women’s comments. Were these not the extreme comments that I have been terrified of receiving all of my life? The ones that scream, NO – your life doesn’t amount to anything special. You are not the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, the prettiest, the skinniest, the most qualified. None of it. Your story has no place to inspire as you’ve experienced no real tragedy. You’ve accomplished no great thing. You’ve been found out.
We live in such a world where the extremes are valued most significantly. I mean, there’s a whole movement dedicated to records of extremes. The best in any field is rewarded and the worst is ridiculed. Yet at the same time, the former is also insulted while the later is pitied. Similarly, in our spiritual lives, prayers are hoarded for the worst of situations, praise for the very best. Whether it’s guilt, or shame, or feelings of inadequacy – the middle ground is swept aside in an effort not to step on anyone’s toes. But what if we really lived into scripture? The world is consumed with only black & white – yet life is lived in the gray.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
What if we praised Him in the tiniest of blessings? Even ones that are seemingly so inconsequential? What if we could find the balance of lifting up those in devastating situations alongside our own “trivial” experiences and learn that both are seen by our loving Father? I imagine that when we stop shaming one another, and learn to embrace the good and the bad, that our words and our actions can finally mesh together in a unified stance of love.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. – Colossians 3:23
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17
What would happen if we stopped justifying being good at something? Or apologizing for lacking a skill? What if instead, we found the balance of acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses and began celebrating what makes us unique? What if we learned to embrace the fact that seasons of blessings are not to be boastful or arrogant of, but are opportunities to pour out to those in need? If everyone, everywhere, was deeply suffering, who would remain to provide comfort, guidance, and support? Embrace your situations, embrace your talents, and find the balance of building the kingdom by those gifts.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Phillipians 4:6
Anything and everything. Those are strong words, friends. While His answer may not be what we are looking for, and often His timing is far different than we anticipate, we are called to lay it all at His feet. There is no exception. Nothing to small, nothing to frivolous. Our whole lives should be made available to Him, because our whole life is filled with purpose, filled with worth, and imperfectly perfect in order to bring Him glory if only we let it.
So I invite you to join me, finding balance in a world of extremes, and letting go of everything in order share your life with others, in whatever way, witnessing to those around you that you might inspire them with your story.