One of my dearest friends moved back from Singapore. I was able to spend a few days with her a few weeks ago. We talked and talked and talked. There really is nothing like spending time with a dear one in the flesh especially after being apart for a long while. One of the many things that has stood out in my mind from our conversations is when she talked about living out of a grace perspective she called a growth mindset versus an enslaving perspective she called an achiever mindset. (researched here as growth vs fixed.) One is learning and taking the approach of taking one step at a time extending grace to yourself and those around you. The other is a trap of pain and expectations and thinking you have to earn your way every step making no mistakes instead of taking that natural next step out of delight. It was a slight change of meaning and tone for her life, but it meant the difference to her.
Do you remember my message from the land of plenty? I have been asking God to help me more with this mindset mentioned above moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. Desert to Dessert? Get it? Hehehe! One of the ways God has helped me is showing me the word "manna" with a new mind and heart. Just like He provided manna for the Israelites in the desert, He provides for me. But what is my heart attitude towards the provision? I relearned that the word manna means, "what is it." It made me think of the very thing my heart cries out when certain circumstances arise in my life. "What is it?!" "Why?" "What in the world!?" "Again!?" There's exhaustion, there's a mendacious thought from the enemy, there's bitterness, there's surprise, there's unbelief in God's goodness when I cry out these words in my soul. As God has been maturing my faith through my life, He has shown me promises in His word--promises of always being with me, of life not being easy but His yoke being light, of Joseph seeing the good that God can make out of hard circumstances, of fellowship of suffering, of a Spiritual armor and riches I always have access to, of salvation, and of more than I could ask for or imagine.
Earlier this year, His Holy Spirit nudged me to look at the word manna a little differently: could I see it as a wondering question, a delight, a trust? Instead of crying out, "WHAT IS IT?!" Could I go straight to my maker and protector and provider and lover and ask him curiously, "What is it you have for me in this time?" "What is it?"
That shift has made the difference. Of course, I'm human with sin, and I am so prone to see the worst at times (even this morning!) and to be tempted to despair, but having this practice of change of tone in my tool belt gives me hope and orients my heart towards trusting Jesus more.
August was marked by the smell of books and trees and friendship. I am asking the Lord to show me more of the growth mindset mentality this month. September. The month of taking a break from social media (my dog has taken over doing my posts ;) ), the month of turning 30, the month of hurricanes, the month of full weekly schedules, the month of writing, the month of preparation, the month of serving, and the month of crunchy leaves + allergies, the month of weight loss (my goal is to lose 30 by 30 and I'm at 20!), and the month of new. I love all that September holds every year, but it usually hits me at some point that I am caught up in the whirlwind of nostalgia and productivity and birthday feelings. This picture is a loose rendition of Van Gogh's "Olive Trees" done during my 28 Days of Delight this past February.
I am hit by realization that Jesus and His word, Van Gogh, olives, my friend mentioned above, John O'Donohue, and hurricanes are all things God has used through life in trying times to remind me He sees me and has good plans for me. His promises are true. Yes evil and suffering exist in this world. He is loving and powerful. His ways are higher. Oh would we trust Him more to give us this growth mindset to say, "What is it, Lord? I don't understand, but would you please help me trust you through it all?"
Here are a few truths I am chewing on this month.
"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ." 2nd Thessalonians 3:5
"...Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control... "Hebrew 2:8
"And he said, 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, and then the full grain in the ear." Mark 4:26-28
For Your Birthday (A Blessing by John O'Donohue)
Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
The blueprint of your life
Would begin to glow on earth,
Illuminating all the faces and voices
That would arrive to invite
Your soul to growth.
Praised be your father and mother,
Who loved you before you were,
And trusted to call you here
With no idea who you would be.
Blessed be those who have loved you
Into becoming who you were meant to be,
Blessed be those who have crossed your life
With dark gifts of hurt and loss
That have helped school your mind
In the art of disappointment.
When desolation surrounded you,
Blessed be those who looked for you
And found you, their kind hands
Urgent to open a blue window
In the gray wall formed around you.
Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
Your health, eyes to behold the world,
Thoughts to countenance the unknown,
Memory to harvest vanished days,
Your heart to feel the world's waves,
Your breath to breathe the nourishment
Of distance made intimate by earth.
On this echoing-day of your birthday,
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart,;
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.