Guest Post

Today I have Cassie here with a guest post! Thanks, Cassie!


How to Compliment the Other Gender

Ah, the age-old question – how does one compliment the other gender without coming off creepy or flirty? (Actually, it’s not age-old. At all. It’s really very recent.) It’s a tough one, isn’t it? I have, like any other Christian teen, thought over this long and hard. And I’ve had too many discussions about it with friends to count. There’s usually a few reoccurring answers. And some different ones. It’s often all quite a muddle.

Until now.

This came to me very randomly one night. It took a bit of re-working to get straight, but finally, it’s complete.

Introducing the formula for how to compliment the other gender without sounding flirty or creepy!!

  • Signals
  • Heartfelt and genuine
  • Restraint
  • Evenly distribute
  • Wait
  • Don’t stress!

As you can see, this spells SHREWD. Rather fitting, no? Let’s extrapolate on each of those a bit.

Signals. This mean body language, tone, etc. These will likely make or break your compliment! Have an open tone, not a suggestive one. Keep your face an posture friendly, not flirty. (Girls especially – watch your eyes! Don’t pour ‘hidden meaning’ into them! Don’t stare too deeply!)

Heartfelt and genuine. This is so key! If you’re giving a compliment for the wrong reasons, it will show. Keep it genuine, and it will be far more likely to be taken well.

Restraint. (This one is probably more for girls, but it does go both ways.) Don’t lay it on too thick! Keep it simple. This is probably one of the hardest ones for me – I have a tendency to get way over-excited and pour all of it into my compliment. Gosh, that is not wise. You can be excited, and take a few sentences if need be, but don’t go overboard! Rein back, exercise some restraint.

Evenly distribute. Give compliments to everyone! Guy or girl, old or young, scatter the seed broad! It is suspicious when the only compliments you give are to that one girl/guy. If you don’t want to be taken the wrong way, make sure you’re not treating them as more special than anyone else. Treat everyone as special!

Wait. This one is the partner of Restraint. It applies especially when communicating electronically. Waiting a period of time before giving a compliment allows any excess emotion to cool off and blow away, leaving the ‘air’ around a compliment clearer and less confusing. Now, obviously you can’t wait before giving every compliment. Some are applicable only in the moment. But when you can, it’s a good idea. I find it best if I write/plan a compliment when I think of it, then wait overnight. I then come back to it, edit it if necessary, and deliver it.

Don’t stress out! Chill! If you’ve done what you can, don’t freak out over how a compliment is going to be received! Relax, people. The world isn’t going to end if you’re misinterpreted. Just try your best, and let it go. ūüôā

There you have it! My best attempt at consolidating many discussions into a single acronym. There is more to be said on this topic, of course (feel free to chat in the comments!), but in my opinion, these are the basics. Hope it helps!

Cassie at Purely His

Reflecting on Death

At the original time of this writing, I’d just returned from a walk in an old cemetery. It was a beautiful evening; I was regretting not having brought my camera. The sunset was gorgeous, casting pink and orange rays across the sky, just above the mountains. It was perfect weather, with a cool, gentle breeze. There were some huge, beautiful trees. But my mind had zoned out from the surrounding beauty; my eyes were on the grave markers lined row after row, stretching on and on before me.

The dates ranged through early 1700s-mid 1900s. There were Revolutionary War vets, Civil War vets, WWII vets. There were families, uncles, aunts, sisters. But there were a few things that just made my heart ache. The engravings eroded away, lost forever. The stones sunk deep in the ground, almost out of sight, forgotten. The stones that simply read, “MOTHER”. But what got me the most, was the children.

There was a family, buried together; father, mother, and children. One child died at the age of 3, one at 3 months, and the other, unnamed, died an infant.

I thought about the pain, the loss this family must have felt. It must have been unbearable, to lose three of their children. I thought of their grief, their agony.

And they were not alone. Another family, buried together, had a 12 year old child and an 11 year old child who died. They, too, must have felt the unbelievable pain of loss.

I’ve lost people I’ve loved in death. Not many, but a few. It’s hard. It hurts, and there’s a lot of heartache and tears. You never fully recover.

But there’s a hope that we can cling to as we grieve over the death of those we love. As long as those we’ve lost are Believers, we will see them again. Death is not the end – it is the beginning. The beginning of a life free of pain, sorrow, regret, full of happiness, joy, peace, for those who believe. It is not something to be feared. We grieve because we will never again see our loved ones on this side of heaven, but we should rejoice that they are in a far better place.

It was a strange, I admit even creepy, sensation to look at the name on a grave stone and know that they were in either heaven or hell. Death sheds a whole new light on spreading the gospel. It comes so fast, so unexpectedly. You never have the assurance of tomorrow. Don’t you want to look at the name on a grave stone and know that their soul rejoices in heaven? As Believers, we have that duty to fulfill, that job to do. It is our assignment to win souls to Christ’s kingdom, before it is too late.

The thought of death may be frightening and scary. But it doesn’t have to be. Believers can have peace about life after death. Don’t you want to share that peace?

Less of Me

I had no clue how self-focused I am. I am so self-absorbed, blinded by my miniscule problems and bad attitudes. I’m so selfish, I didn’t even recognize how bad it was!

The other day, I was worrying over the problems of someone who had shared some really sad stuff with me. I hate seeing someone suffer, and knowing that I can do nothing for them. (Watching helplessly as someone suffers, especially if it’s a friend, and having questions with no answers, are two of the top things I hate.) I was thinking about their circumstance, and though I was praying, I wished that there was something more that I could be doing. It was as I was thinking these thoughts that it suddenly hit me – I hadn’t thought about my own problems since I had started worrying about this person. The past couple weeks had been terrible for me; I was an emotional wreck. But since I had heard this stuff from this person, my mind had shifted from my problems to theirs.

It made me go back and remember how this had happened before. When my friend was struggling with her calling to write, and she was going through a hard time, I was worried for her. I called her to check in with her, to let her talk. When my friend went overseas for a couple weeks, I was worried about him. I prayed for him every single day he was gone. When a friend was feeling down, feeling like she wouldn’t match up to everything she wanted to be, I prayed for her, and tried to offer encouragement. Thinking back on these made me remember that even though I still struggled with things, it helped take the focus off of myself. Being worried about someone else forced me to shift mindsets. It was good for me to love someone else above my own cares and concerns.

I love the friends I have; when they hurt, I hurt. When they’re happy about something, I’m happy about it too. But it hadn’t really clicked until the other day that when I’m focusing on others, really loving them and trying to invest in them, to be there for them, that my own cares slip away. I start to lay awake at night, praying and hurting for someone. I start to think about them through the day, lamenting that there’s nothing I can do. And thoughts of my own troubles not only diminish in relevance, but also get pushed aside.

Does this mean my troubles go away? No. But when I start to truly love and care about others the same way that I love and care about myself, I start to see myself slowly slip away. And it’s a truly wonderful thing!

Notes on Following Him

While I wait for the ice cream maker to chill in the freezer so that I can indulge my gluttonous side, I thought I’d  write down my thoughts from today. (Edit: I typed this up this Sunday afternoon, bear in mind for the following. [And as a side note, I did make my ice cream. It was delicious.])

We’re looking for a new church home up here, and so we’re visiting new churches every week. This morning, we tried a new place, and I’ve been reflecting on the message all day.

A¬†part¬†of¬†the¬†message¬†talked¬†about¬†the¬†life¬†of¬†James¬†and¬†John,¬†sons¬†of¬†Zebedee,¬†of¬†how¬†they¬†were¬†called¬†to¬†give ¬†up¬†everything¬†they¬†owned¬†to¬†follow¬†Christ.¬†The¬†pastor¬†spoke¬†a¬†little¬†bit¬†on¬†the¬†cost¬†of¬†serving¬†Him,¬†which¬†is¬† something¬†I¬†always¬†enjoy¬†hearing¬†or¬†reading¬†about,¬†even¬†if¬†it‚Äôs¬†a¬†concept¬†that¬†I‚Äôm¬†well¬†familiar¬†with.¬†I¬†always¬† marvel¬†at¬†the¬†obedience¬†of¬†the¬†disciples¬†when¬†they¬†were¬†first¬†called.¬†The¬†twelve¬†didn‚Äôt¬†ask¬†questions,¬†they¬†didn‚Äôt¬† complain,¬†they¬†didn‚Äôt¬†refuse,¬†and¬†they¬†didn‚Äôt¬†ignore.¬†They¬†‚Äúsimply‚Ä̬†obeyed¬†when¬†He¬†spoke¬†to¬†them,¬†saying¬† ‚ÄúCome,¬†follow¬†Me,¬†and¬†I¬†will¬†make¬†you¬†fishers¬†of¬†men.‚Ä̬†They¬†left¬†their¬†homes.¬†They¬†left¬†their¬†families.¬†They¬†left¬† their¬†friends,¬†their¬†job,¬†and¬†their¬†whole¬†world,¬†to¬†follow¬†someone¬†who¬†was¬†considered¬†a¬†lunatic.¬†This¬†was¬†a¬†life¬†–¬† changing¬†choice.¬†Things¬†would¬†never¬†be¬†the¬†same,¬†and¬†they¬†had¬†to¬†know¬†that¬†going¬†into¬†it.¬†They¬†didn‚Äôt¬†blindly¬† follow¬†this¬†crazy¬†miracle¬†worker¬†and¬†just¬†hope¬†things¬†were¬†going¬†to¬†turn¬†out¬†all¬†right.¬†They¬†had¬†an¬†insane¬†amount¬† of¬†faith¬†in¬†Jesus¬†when¬†they¬†cast¬†aside¬†everything¬†they¬†had¬†known¬†for¬†their¬†entire¬†lives¬†to¬†follow¬†Him¬†and¬†not¬†go¬† back.

I¬†have¬†to¬†wonder¬†what¬†it¬†would¬†be¬†like¬†for¬†me,¬†if¬†I¬†had¬†been¬†one¬†of¬†those¬†disciples.¬†What¬†would¬†I¬†have¬†done?¬†I‚Äôd¬† like¬†to¬†say¬†the¬†common,¬†clich√©¬†Christian¬†answer,¬†‚ÄúOh¬†yes,¬†I¬†would¬†have¬†given¬†up¬†my¬†whole¬†world¬†in¬†a¬†heartbeat¬† to¬†follow¬†Jesus.‚Ä̬†Really?¬†I¬†can‚Äôt¬†honesty¬†say¬†that.¬†And¬†I¬†don‚Äôt¬†think¬†you¬†honestly¬†could,¬†either.¬†We¬†like¬†to¬†give¬† ourselves¬†so¬†much¬†strength¬†because¬†we¬†bear¬†the¬†Christian¬†label.¬†Being¬†a¬†Christian¬†does¬†not¬†automatically¬† make¬†us¬†unsusceptible¬†to¬†weakness¬†and¬†fleshly¬†struggles.¬†True,¬†we¬†have¬†a¬†hope¬†and¬†a¬†cause¬†worth¬†dying¬†for,¬† but¬†that¬†doesn‚Äôt¬†mean¬†that¬†we‚Äôre¬†so¬†strong¬†that¬†we¬†would¬†gladly¬†toss¬†our¬†lives¬†to¬†the¬†wind¬†to¬†follow¬†Him¬†in¬†every¬† way,¬†shape,¬†and¬†form.¬†You¬†don‚Äôt¬†ever¬†hear¬†about¬†the¬†stories¬†of¬†Christians¬†who¬†failed;¬†you¬†only¬†hear¬†about¬†the¬† martyrs,¬†the¬†missionaries¬†who¬†have¬†resounding¬†testimonies¬†across¬†the¬†world.¬†You¬†only¬†hear¬†the¬†successes,¬†not¬† the¬†losses¬†to¬†the¬†kingdom¬†of¬†God.¬†We‚Äôre¬†humans,¬†and¬†we¬†have¬†a¬†sinful¬†nature¬†‚Ästwe¬†fail¬†sometimes.¬†A¬†lot.

‚ÄúBut¬†Lauren,‚Ä̬†I¬†hear¬†you¬†cry,¬†‚ÄúGod¬†does¬†call¬†us¬†to¬†surrender¬†our¬†lives,¬†to¬†throw¬†aside¬†the¬†world¬†as¬†we¬†know¬†it,¬†so¬† we¬†can¬†whole¬†–¬†heartedly¬†follow¬†Him!‚Ä̬†Yeah,¬†I‚Äôm¬†not¬†saying¬†that‚Äôs¬†not¬†true.¬†But¬†how¬†honestly¬†can¬†you¬†say¬†that¬† our¬†generation¬†of¬†Christians¬†here¬†in¬†America¬†have¬†the¬†same¬†value¬†on¬†faith¬†as¬†the¬†disciples¬†did¬†then?¬†We‚Äôre¬† perfectly¬†fine¬†living¬†in¬†our¬†comfortable¬†homes,¬†with¬†our¬†comfortable¬†lifestyles,¬†paychecks,¬†and¬†sports¬†cars.¬†We¬† like¬†our¬†life¬†just¬†as¬†it¬†is,¬†with¬†the¬†occasional¬†helping¬†in¬†a¬†ministry¬†downtown,¬†or¬†handing¬†out¬†food¬†packages¬†to¬†the¬† homeless¬†one¬†Saturday¬†a¬†month.¬†We‚Äôll¬†give¬†money¬†to¬†the¬†charities,¬†and¬†the¬†organizations.¬†We‚Äôre¬†good¬†people,¬† leading¬†good¬†lives.¬†Right?¬†So¬†why¬†would¬†we¬†have¬†to¬†give¬†anything¬†up¬†when¬†we‚Äôre¬†already¬†doing¬†a¬†good¬†job¬†with¬† what¬†we¬†already¬†have?

We¬†don‚Äôt¬†take¬†our¬†faith¬†seriously¬†anymore.¬†We¬†don‚Äôt¬†have¬†the¬†life¬†–¬†or¬†–¬†death¬†view¬†of¬†Christianity.¬†Christianity¬†is¬† just¬†a¬†label¬†now,¬†just¬†an¬†act¬†we¬†put¬†on¬†every¬†Sunday.¬†How¬†many¬†people¬†do¬†you¬†know¬†who¬†take¬†their¬†faith¬† literally,¬†who¬†would¬†really¬†give¬†up¬†their¬†life¬†to¬†follow¬†Him?¬†How¬†many¬†people¬†do¬†you¬†know¬†who¬†care¬†about¬† pleasing¬†Him¬†and¬†living¬†a¬†life¬†according¬†to¬†His¬†will?¬†¬†How¬†many¬†people¬†do¬†you¬†know¬†who¬†view¬†Christianity¬†as¬† their¬†life¬†instead¬†of¬†an¬†aspect¬†to¬†their¬†life?

So¬†would¬†we¬†honestly¬†be¬†willing¬†to¬†pay¬†the¬†price,¬†to¬†bear¬†the¬†cost¬†of¬†truly,¬†whole¬†–¬†heartedly¬†following¬†Him?¬† Would¬†you¬†be¬†willing¬†to¬†give¬†up¬†your¬†friends,¬†your¬†popularity,¬†your¬†respect¬†from¬†man,¬†your¬†job¬†(subject¬†to¬†change¬† depending¬†on¬†readers),¬†your¬†family,¬†your¬†dreams,¬†your¬†goals,¬†your¬†future,¬†even¬†your¬†physical¬†life¬†to¬†follow¬†Him?

What does following Him even look like? I admit, I had to stop typing and think when I reached this point.  Following Him is a deeper concept than we realize. Looking at the life of the disciples as an example, I found a  few things that I think come as a part of following Him.

  1. These disciples surrenderedthemselves to submit themselves to their master. They were giving their lives  over to be controlled by someone greater than themselves. They had to rely on Him for everything, every  aspect of their life. They didn’t belong to themselves anymore. They were willing to surrender their  dreams, their family, their job, their life, everything, to be mastered by Jesus.
  1. They had a love so strong, it surpassed the love for their family, their jobs, their life. They had a love that  was sincere and centered on what should be first; not focused on other aspects of life that will fade away  without eternal value. They had a deep love for their Savior, and that came before anything else.
  1. They had a willing spirit. They weren’t grudging or bitter, they didn’t ignore or refuse. They didn’t plead or  grovel. They willingly put everything aside to pick up their cross and follow Him. They were willing to  accept this change in life to obey the calling of the Lord.
  1. They¬†weren‚Äôt¬†satisfied¬†with¬†simply¬†trotting¬†beside¬†Jesus¬†and¬†watching¬†Him¬†perform¬†these¬†miracles¬†and¬† works¬†of¬†wonder.¬†They¬†wanted¬†to¬†know¬†more;¬†they¬†asked¬†Him¬†questions.¬†They¬†weren‚Äôt¬†satisfied¬†with¬†the¬† simple¬†kind¬†of¬†Christianity¬†‚Ästthey¬†wanted¬†to¬†know¬†more¬†about¬†their¬†Savior.¬†They¬†were¬†at¬†His¬†side¬† constantly.
  1. They¬†didn‚Äôt¬†back¬†out¬†because¬†it¬†was¬†‚Äútoo¬†hard‚ÄĚ.¬†They¬†didn‚Äôt¬†have¬†a¬†job¬†with¬†steady¬†income,¬†ways¬†to¬† promote¬†a¬†service¬†for¬†money,¬†or¬†constant¬†provisions.¬†They¬†had¬†to¬†rely¬†on¬†the¬†generosity¬†and¬†hospitality¬†of¬† others,¬†without¬†knowing¬†what¬†the¬†next¬†day¬†would¬†hold.¬†It¬†was¬†hard.¬†But¬†they¬†didn‚Äôt¬†back¬†out.¬†They¬†stayed¬† with¬†Him,¬†and¬†remained¬†true¬†when¬†answering¬†His¬†calling.¬†They¬†weren‚Äôt¬†cowards.¬†They¬†had¬†courage.
  1. They¬†didn‚Äôt¬†view¬†Jesus¬†as¬†a¬†cruel¬†overlord.¬†They¬†loved¬†Him¬†deeply.¬†Even¬†though¬†Peter¬†denied¬†Him,¬†he¬† wept¬†bitterly¬†at¬†what¬†he¬†had¬†done.¬†They¬†were¬†close¬†to¬†Him.¬†They¬†didn‚Äôt¬†see¬†Him¬†as¬†an¬†evil¬†master¬†to¬†whom¬† they¬†were¬†sold¬†into¬†slavery.¬†Yes,¬†they¬†were¬†slaves¬†to¬†their¬†master¬†‚Ästbut¬†they¬†didn‚Äôt¬†view¬†Him¬†as¬†a¬†tyrant.¬† They¬†saw¬†Him¬†as¬†a¬†friend,¬†someone¬†to¬†whom¬†they¬†would¬†owe¬†their¬†life.
  1. They trusted Him with their lives. They trusted Him to provide for their needs, physically and spiritually.  They had such an intimate, sincere trust in Him.

I¬†guess¬†those¬†few¬†points¬†kind¬†of¬†look¬†like¬†keys¬†to¬†having¬†a¬†good¬†relationship¬†with¬†Christ.¬†I¬†suppose¬†they¬†could¬†be¬† used¬†as¬†such,¬†but¬†that‚Äôs¬†not¬†what¬†I¬†was¬†trying¬†to¬†get¬†at.¬†These¬†things¬†come¬†with¬†following¬†Christ.¬†When¬†we¬†follow¬† Him,¬†the¬†points¬†above¬†are¬†required.¬†Apart¬†from¬†that,¬†there¬†is¬†no¬†whole¬†–¬†heartedly¬†following¬†Him.¬†Of¬†course¬†there¬† will¬†be¬†aspects¬†that¬†I¬†missed.¬†Those¬†were¬†some¬†key¬†things¬†I¬†saw¬†that¬†stood¬†out¬†to¬†me.¬†If¬†you¬†see¬†anything¬†else,¬†I¬† would¬†LOVE¬†for¬†you¬†to¬†mention¬†it!

I¬†don‚Äôt¬†believe¬†in¬†this¬†day¬†and¬†age¬†here,¬†in¬†America,¬†we‚Äôre¬†truly¬†following¬†Christ.¬†We‚Äôre¬†simply¬†living¬†the¬†epitome¬† of¬†rock¬†bottom¬†Christianity,¬†the¬†lowest¬†you¬†can¬†get¬†and¬†still¬†call¬†yourself¬†a¬†Christian.¬†We¬†fulfill¬†the¬†obligatory¬† requirements¬†of¬†going¬†to¬†church¬†weekly,¬†going¬†to¬†youth¬†group¬†(which¬†I¬†don‚Äôt,¬†and¬†I¬†have¬†my¬†particular¬†reasons¬† for¬†not¬†doing¬†so),¬†volunteering¬†in¬†ministry¬†from¬†time¬†to¬†time,¬†going¬†on¬†those¬†mission¬†trips¬†to¬†Seattle,¬†and¬†giving¬†5¬† bucks¬†to¬†the¬†guy¬†under¬†the¬†bridge¬†every¬†once¬†in¬†a¬†while.¬†Are¬†these¬†things¬†bad?¬†No!¬†But¬†is¬†this¬†the¬†utmost¬†of¬† Christianity?¬†Is¬†this¬†how¬†Jesus¬†has¬†called¬†us¬†to¬†live¬†solely¬†for¬†Him?¬†I¬†don‚Äôt¬†have¬†the¬†exact¬†answer¬†for¬†how¬†He¬† calls¬†each¬†of¬†us¬†to¬†live;¬†I¬†believe¬†that¬†there¬†is¬†a¬†certain¬†personal¬†conviction¬†to¬†that¬†area.¬†But¬†I¬†know¬†that¬†there¬†is¬† so¬†much¬†more¬†than¬†giving¬†money¬†to¬†the¬†homeless¬†under¬†the¬†bridge.¬†I‚Äôm¬†not¬†saying¬†you¬†have¬†to¬†die¬†a¬†martyrs¬† death¬†in¬†China¬†to¬†truly¬†live¬†Christianity.¬†But¬†isn‚Äôt¬†there¬†more¬†to¬†Christianity¬†than¬†how¬†we¬†live¬†our¬†lives¬†now?¬† Aren‚Äôt¬†we¬†just¬†ignoring¬†His¬†still¬†and¬†small,¬†‚ÄúFollow¬†Me‚ÄĚ?¬†It‚Äôs¬†too¬†uncomfortable,¬†isn‚Äôt¬†it?

I think of the passage from Luke, vs. 9:57-62:









I personally instantly feel for the second and third people in this passage. I mean, the guy only wants to bury his  father! Apparently, his father had just died; he had to be grieving and feeling a lot of pain. That had to be the  thing on his mind the most. The second guy only wanted to say goodbye to his family. But they valued this over  Jesus Christ, and were not fit for service in the kingdom of God. Honestly, that makes me evaluate my own  fitness for service. Am I willing to forgo my family in order to serve Christ? Am I willing to just leave them in the  dirt as I serve Him? It doesn’t make sense. But then again, when did Christianity ever make 100% sense?

I¬†would¬†like¬†to¬†think¬†that¬†I‚Äôm¬†ready¬†to¬†serve¬†the¬†Lord.¬†I‚Äôd¬†like¬†to¬†think¬†that¬†I‚Äôm¬†ready¬†to¬†go¬†wherever¬†He¬†calls¬†me¬† with¬†no¬†exceptions,¬†no¬†limitations,¬†no¬†standards¬†or¬†expectations.¬†But¬†it‚Äôs¬†HARD.¬†It¬†takes¬†courage,¬†bravery,¬† strength,¬†trust,¬†love‚Ķ¬†it¬†takes¬†a¬†lot¬†from¬†our¬†end.¬†But¬†is¬†it¬†worth¬†it?¬†ABSOLUTELY.¬†In¬†the¬†end,¬†which¬†has¬†more¬† eternal¬†value:¬†my¬†dreams¬†and¬†goals,¬†or¬†abandoning¬†all¬†to¬†serve¬†in¬†His¬†kingdom?¬†My¬†friends¬†and¬†family,¬†or¬†my¬† Father¬†and¬†King?¬†Following¬†Him¬†truly¬†and¬†whole¬†–¬†heartedly¬†is¬†a¬†huge¬†leap¬†of¬†faith¬†that¬†I‚Äôm¬†going¬†to¬†have¬†to¬† decide¬†to¬†do,¬†to¬†set¬†my¬†mind¬†to¬†it.¬†It‚Äôs¬†not¬†going¬†to¬†be¬†something¬†that¬†comes¬†naturally,¬†and¬†certainly¬†not¬†easily¬†in¬† the¬†least.¬†But¬†will¬†it¬†be¬†worth¬†it¬†all¬†in¬†the¬†end?¬†Yes!

If¬†anyone¬†comes¬†to¬†me¬†and¬†does¬†not¬†hate¬†father¬†and¬†mother,¬†wife¬†and¬†children,¬†brothers¬†and¬†sisters¬†‚Ästyes,¬†even¬† their¬†own¬†life¬†‚Ästsuch¬†a¬†person¬†cannot¬†be¬†my¬†disciples.¬†And¬†whoever¬†does¬†not¬†carry¬†their¬†cross¬†and¬†follow¬†me¬† cannot¬†be¬†my¬†disciple.¬†(Luke¬†14:26-27)

The Small Hard Things

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always imagined using my life to do glamorous things for the Lord. Hard things, courageous things, life and world changing things. I envisioned helping orphans in Africa, or leading youth to Christ in the U.S. I pictured spending my life traveling the world to make disciples of all nations, to encourage the believers and spread the gospel to those who have never heard it. I imagined doing things no one had ever heard of before, making an impact in millions of lives, making a difference, and changing the world. I mean, aren’t all of those noble ambitions? Don’t tell me you haven’t had similar dreams before!

What I didn‚Äôt picture was sitting in my room at midnight, my eyes welling up with tears, heart aching, because I was alone. I didn‚Äôt imagine resisting the urge to get online instead of study for a test. I didn‚Äôt dream of working hard all day to get ready for a move I loathed. I didn‚Äôt think I‚Äôd be sitting in my room with my cat in my lap, blogging my complaints, if you will. That‚Äôs not my ideal life! Instead of helping orphans in Africa, I‚Äôm watching my spoiled, bratty toddler brother (whom I love with everything in me; he‚Äôs just battling some serious sin nature right now!). Instead of traveling the world to make disciples, I‚Äôm at home doing school and the honorary job of unpacking. And I sit here moaning, ‚ÄúWhy? Why, God, would you leave me here, when I have such a vision for my life? Why do you have me here when I could be out doing great things for you? Why aren‚Äôt you using my heart to reach out and touch many souls? Why won‚Äôt you let me go and do hard things? Why, God?‚ÄĚ

Just because I’m not helping orphans in Africa doesn’t mean that I don’t have a purpose where I’m at now. Just because I’m not gallivanting across the world, digging wells and helping end starvation, doesn’t mean that I’m not here for a reason.

We‚Äôve created this mental image of ‚Äúdoing hard things‚ÄĚ as something glamorous and people-pleasing; something heart-wrenching, something moving, touching, with an eye-catching headline in the newspaper. We didn‚Äôt picture the ‚Äúhard thing‚ÄĚ as investing in our brother, or learning how to handle a friend‚Äôs insensitivity with a gentle answer. You won‚Äôt see the ‚ÄúGirl Refuses To Sing A Song: ‚ÄėI don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs right to sing this‚Äô‚ÄĚ headline in your local newspaper (true life story of mine, by the way‚Ķ). If we were to compare most of our lives with the common standard of ‚Äúdoing hard things‚ÄĚ, we would come up as lazy slobs who weren‚Äôt even remotely interested in doing hard things! Not all of us have lived the glorious life of translating Bibles into another language or fighting abortion in the States. We don‚Äôt all live up to these (rather unrealistic) expectations.

The truth of it is, we won’t all live up to those expectations. Not all of us were made to be public speakers, to be overseas missionaries, to save orphans in Africa. Just because we weren’t made to do those things, doesn’t mean that we’re not doing hard things at home.

That’s what took me so long to realize.

The church where I spent 3 ¬Ĺ years of my life, emphasized missions and missionaries. It supports every missionary it can get its hands on. Every kid there has read the missionary biographies, knows the missionary quotes, and everyone participates in the kids outreach ministries. Evangelism is strongly emphasized. Naturally, as first budding in spiritual growth there, I soaked up everything I heard. I already had a heart for missions, but this kindled it even more so! They made missionaries sound so glamorous, and I was inspired by almost every missionary that came through those doors. They made missions seem like such a hard thing, such a noble thing, that I aspired to do go. I wanted to do hard things.

I grew discontented with life at home. My brothers irritated me, my school work aggravated me, and my daily, menial tasks grew burdensome. I wanted to be in Africa, helping people, saving lives, making a difference! I wanted to be turning the world upside down for Christ! It wasn‚Äôt until a few months ago when it suddenly hit me ‚Äď that light-bulb moment, that duh factor. Even though I had read Alex and Brett Harris‚Äô Do Hard Things and Start Here (both of which I HIGHLY recommend ‚Äď no, insist that you read), and knew that they had even mentioned that hard things didn‚Äôt always mean things like overseas missions, I still ‚Äúdreamed big‚ÄĚ. But I was overlooking the things God had already placed in my life. I was ignoring my sibling relationships, I was neglecting my school work, I was giving my daily life minimal effort, placing my thoughts in the future and days to come. I was living ahead of myself, if you will.

Responding to my sibling with grace instead of witty back-and-forth banter is hard. Ignoring my online social world so I can focus on studying for a test is hard. Waking up to another day of the exact same thing is hard. Exhausting myself physically, mentally, and emotionally for a full day for something I don‚Äôt enjoy is hard. Putting others‚Äô needs before my own is hard. (Ignoring the ice cream in the freezer is hard‚Ķ) The list goes on and on. These would be considered the ‚Äúsmall‚ÄĚ things of life, right? But are they easy? No‚Ķ

The main point I want to make is this. Don‚Äôt disillusion yourself (as I did). Don‚Äôt think that the big things, your main goals, your dreams, are the only hard things in life. Yes, they‚Äôre hard, but so are the ‚Äúsmall‚ÄĚ things. Hard things aren‚Äôt just the glamorous, world-changing things. The ‚Äúsmall‚ÄĚ hard things are just as important. The Lord sees your heart; He knows your motives. He appreciates your faithfulness in the little things just as much as in the big things. Do the small hard things faithfully, with joy ‚Äď ‚ÄúWhatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.‚ÄĚ (Col. 3:23-24)