Paperwork

Paperwork

Right around this time last week, 4 out of 5 people on my Facebook feed were posting and sharing this song. And rightfully so. It’s legit. Even I posted it. And I generally shun doing anything that everyone else is doing. I’d say I’m a rebel, but too many other people already have so… #itsdeadtome

Anyway, I had that song on repeat all day at work. And at one point, I was sitting there at my desk with tears in my eyes. Not because I was moved by the beauty of the song, but because everything about my life at that moment was so opposite to touching the sky. Far from soaring or dancing on the wings of anything, I was going through boxes and boxes and boxes of paperwork for one of the company heads. And if there is one thing that I hate, it’s paperwork. And the only thing worse than paperwork? Is somebody else’s paperwork. So I was miserable.

But there I was. And I realized that moment was basically a summary of most of my life. I have all these high hopes, dreams and beliefs and they are great and they are encouraging and they lift me, but most of my life? Honestly… it just looks like paperwork. It’s boring. It’s mundane. I don’t even know why most of it is happening. And it feels so far from everything I’d rather be doing.

But it’s happening. So it’s gotta mean something. Or be worth something. Or be building something in me that means something or is worth something. Right??

I certainly hope so. Because yesterday I had a moment. A friend of mine texted me with some great news. An awesome door is opening for her. A door that I pointed her towards. Which I don’t say to take any credit for, I only mention it to highlight how stilted my life sometimes seems. People are walking through new doors all around me and meanwhile, I feel like I’m forever outside and forever knocking. Forever filing paperwork. Forever given the jobs that no one else wants to do. Never asked to do what I want to do or what I’m good at… except… that’s not 100% true.

Because I am good at paperwork.

A few hours after shedding those workday tears, I was adding the printed labels to the stupid folders I had just spent all day organizing and filing. And I felt… pleased. Proud even. I would never have asked for that task, but I finished it. And I finished it well. And when looked at in the right light, that’s actually a good sign for my future, even if it looks like it’s going nowhere fast.

I think back to the parable of the talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30), the short version is that three servants are given a certain amount of things to handle for their boss – one gets 5, one gets 2 and one gets 1. The boss goes away and then comes back at some point and has a debrief with each of them. The first two servants doubled what they were given, but the third servant has nothing more to show for the time that has passed. So the boss gives the first two more and but takes the little from the last servant. Whomp whomp. Anyway, because of the use of the word “talents” it’s really easy to romanticize this story and imagine that each of the servants was given something good or that they liked to start with. But what if it was all just paperwork and filing?

What if it was all something  that they could do (obviously), but wouldn’t typically choose to do? What if there were other things they would have much rather been given?  It makes it a lot easier to understand why that last servant flamed out so spectacularly. And how easy it would be for me to do the same. To look at what I’ve been given and do just enough to maintain it, but invest nothing of myself and add nothing to it. Saving all my energy for when the door to something I really want to do opens. When what I should be doing is using what’s being given to me now to build up my stamina, strength and resolve for whatever is on the other side.

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.”

So note to self: Whatever you have now – whatever time, whatever relationships, whatever tasks, whatever paperwork – even if it’s nothing you would have chosen, it’s something you’ve been given.  Not to keep you from what you really want, but to build and strengthen you for something more. 

So play that song a million times more and cry if you need to, but don’t stop filing. Get that paperwork done.

The Odds

The Odds

Truth telling time: I’m tired. And kind of losing hope.

And not even really about being single. That is what it is. I’ve tried everything I can and everything everyone has suggested and nothing has “worked”, so it’s cool. I’m cool. It’s not on me. But writing… that is on me. And where I go with it, I feel that’s on me too. And I’ve got all these impossible dreams that keep creeping closer and closer to the realm of possibility. And it’s freaking me out.

My entire life feels like it’s heading in the direction of too much for me. And the more I find myself believing in the impossible, the more I find myself losing hope in me.

And I’m pretty sure that’s right where God wants me.

I’ve been reading the story of Gideon lately. It’s in Judges 7 and the superfast version is that God called him to lead an army into battle. He started with an army of 32,000, God said “Nope. Too many.” and cut it down to 10,000. Then God said that was still too many and took that number down to 300, and then sent that 300 up against an army of 135,000 (Judges 8:10). And the 300 won. The odds were 450 to 1. And the 300 won. Which is amazing. And crazy. And miraculous.

But here’s the thing: a victorious outcome in that battle was always going to be a miracle because the odds were always against Gideon. That original army of 32,000? The odds were still 4 to 1 against Gideon. But 4 to 1 just feels more plausible, doesn’t it? When it came time for the pre-battle pep talk, Gideon may have been sweating a little, but he could convincingly say “It won’t be easy, but we can do this.”

But a pep talk to that army of 300? Where each one of them would be personally responsible for taking down four hundred and fifty soldiers?  I think it would have sounded much less convincing but much more sure. Sure that they were going into the fray and sure that they only way they were going to make it through was by the grace of God.

So I don’t know where you are in your battle plans, but if the odds don’t feel like 450 to 1 yet, just wait for it. Because if you’re sweating, but still feel like you can plausibly accomplish what you’ve set out to do, then there’s probably still more to it.

But if you, like me, feel like the odds weren’t great before, but are absolutely impossible now — congrats. You’re right. And also right? Those fears that you can’t do it and can’t handle it and can’t make it. Because you can’t. But you will. You totally will. By the grace of God.

So brace yourself. And may the odds be never in your favor.

Another Valentine’s Day Again

Another Valentine’s Day Again

So I’ve had a cold for just over a week now. It started on a Thursday afternoon with a vague feeling of scratchiness in the back of my throat and then progressed. And progressed. Until the night before last when, no joke, I googled “Has anyone ever died from a cold?” #DramaQueenMuch? I know.

But even as I was googling, I realized that it wasn’t that I was feeling especially terrible, it was just that I was so tired of feeling not great.

And now with the chocolate covered breath of Valentine’s Day hot in my face, I’m feeling the same kind of sensation. It’s not the being single on Valentine’s Day that’s annoying, it’s the being single on another Valentine’s Day. AGAIN. It’s all the anothers and all the agains. Another birthday. Going to another wedding alone. Another crush that goes nowhere. Hearing that joke again. Asking God the same questions again. Answering the same “Well-what-about-him?”, “Have-you-tried-online?”, “Have-you-prayed-about-it?” questions again.  Ugh! Can I live?! And must I keep on living like this??

But then again…

Sometimes I have to check myself. (And ideally, I would always do it before I wreck myself, but a lot of times, it happens midway through.) With the Voldemort level cold I was fighting, I stepped back and thought about it objectively – yes, my nose was somehow too stuffed for breathing but too leaky for normal human interaction; and yes, embarrassing uncontrollable coughing fits had become part of my morning (and evening) commutes, but in the much grander scheme of things – I was okay. 95% of my body was functioning just fine. And as annoying as my symptoms have been, they are actually the signs of my body fighting back. And that’s a good thing. Because to come this far and then die of a cold… that would be pretty lame.

And so it is with Valentine’s Day. Instead of thinking of and focusing on the one thing that isn’t “working” right now, I’m going to be thankful for the 98% of my life that is actually going pretty well. It’s a good time for me to check myself– Am I happy? Do I have purpose? Am I moving forward? Because if I’m not, if I don’t and if I’m not now; I won’t be, I won’t and I won’t when I’m in a relationship.

As I was saying goodbye to one of my friends the other night she said, “Last single Valentine’s Day!” and I thought “Okay, I’ll double tap that.” (And let’s be real, secretly I hope every Christmas, birthday, Tuesday, lunchtime is my last single one.) but more than that, I hope this is my last “Not-finishing-that-project” Valentine’s Day, I hope it’s my last “Doubting-myself-when-it-counts” Valentine’s Day and maybe my last “Working-a-day-job-and-side-jobbing-my-dream” Valentine’s Day. Because those are things I can actually, practically work towards. And no, they aren’t sexy, but they are signs of my self-worth fighting back against the dark side of this day that would like to keep me fixated on what I don’t have right now. But honestly… it’s okay. I’m okay.

So although, there will be no chocolates and roses for me today, I will be getting dinner and a movie. (AND CAKE!) And I will be spending time with people I love, loving and being loved. And I hope you find a way to do the same. Because, how do you want to remember your last single Valentine’s Day? Moping over what you didn’t have or reveling in all you’ve been given thus far? Because single or not, that’s basically the choice we’ll have every Valentine’s Day. And we might as well start practicing for the future now.