While I Wait

Wait

This post is shared with permission from Mary Rabe at Raphah Mama. It was originally published on her personal blog, but we wanted to share it with the readers here at Raising Rices as well. Enjoy!

I’ve never been very good at waiting. I’m more of a plan-and-act person: find the problem, discover solutions, and implement changes…BOOM, problem solved. I’m finding, though, that with some circumstances, this just doesn’t work. We can figured out the issue, find all the solutions we can, and start working toward change, but ultimately it’s going to take time for things to improve…and that means a lot of waiting.

I’m finding myself in this situation right now, where there is really not much more I can do to move forward. I’ve been faithful in doing all of the things I can do in my own power; now I have to let go and trust God to finish it and bring about the changes, healing, and growth I need in His timing. I’m waiting, and I have choices to make regarding how I will do that. Here are the things I am learning and trying to make purposeful decisions about while I wait.

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  1. Will You Whine or Worship?

In church a couple of weeks ago I was reminded that there will always be things we have to do that we may not enjoy, but if we’re going to do it, why not do it right, with a good attitude? I hate to be the bearer or bad news, but we are all going to have to wait sometimes. God calls everyone to a season of “not yet” sooner or later, and it is in those times that we have  the choice to do it “kicking and screaming”, or purposely choosing to look to the One who has placed us  where we are for a very specific purpose; loves us more than we will ever comprehend; and promises to work all things out for our good.

There is an excellent song by Lincoln Brewster called “While I Wait”, and it has really spoken to my heart in this season. The words convey a purposeful choice to still worship God in spite of the pain and unknown in waiting for resolution:

Deep within my heart, I know You’ve won, I know You’ve overcome

And even in the dark, when I’m undone, I still believe it

I live by faith, and not by sight

Sometimes miracles take time

While I wait, I will worship; Lord, I’ll worship Your name

While I wait, I will trust You; Lord, I’ll trust You all the same

When I fall apart, You are my strength; Help me not forget

Seeing every scar, You make me whole; You’re my healer

I live by faith, and not by sight

Sometimes miracles take time

I live by faith, and not by sight

Sometimes miracles take time…

You’re faithful every day

Your promises remain

You’re faithful every day

Your promises remain

Though I don’t understand it I will worship with my pain

You are God, You are worthy; You are with me all the way

So while I wait, I will worship; Lord, I’ll worship Your name

Though I don’t have all the answers, Still I trust You all the same

There are going to be many times when God’s timing just isn’t ours, and we have to wait for Him to come through with the miracle, healing, and answers we long for. In these times, though, He is still worthy of worship. He deserves our praise, not only for all that He has already done and will eventually do, but even for what He is doing in the waiting (whether we see it or not). So we all have a choice to keep our eyes focused on ourselves—on what we long for, how long it is taking to get it, and how very painful and hard it is to wait—or on the Unchanging One who is always worthy of our praise.

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  1. Will You Be Miserable or Make the Most of Things?

Until circumstances change and the desired answers and changes are provided, we can decide to sit around moping, grumbling, and depressed (yes, I have done this). Or, we can choose to find some kind of good in this waiting–or even better, create good in an otherwise very bad situation. I’m not at all saying this will be easy; in fact, in many cases it can be intensely difficult. The fact of the matter is, though, that grumbling about your circumstances will not make them change or improve any faster. All it will do is feed into your own misery and maybe even bring down the people around you. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share each other’s burdens or be honest with others about our struggles (just see my post on vunerability for more on that), but there is a difference between seeking support and help, and “venting” our yuckiness in order to gain sympathy or appreciation from others. (Yes, again, I’ve been guilty of this).

Instead of grudgingly “accepting” that things are just going to be bad now and waiting for them to get better, why not do what you can to make things as enjoyable as possible while you wait? Just this week I was taught a good example of this in my own life. The spring and summer are busy travel times at work for my husband, and he is often gone at least every other week for anywhere from 3-7 days each trip. After doing this routine for almost 3 years now, I’ve gotten pretty good about not feeling too anxious or upset by it. Yes, I miss my husband; of course the circumstances aren’t my favorite; things are definitely more challenging and tiring as a “solo mom”; and I am very much looking forward to when things ease up. I’ve grown to realize, though, this really isn’t the end of the world, and we will make it through this season. My counselor challenged me to take this one step farther: don’t just “make it through”, but make the most of it. She suggested I set up special things that are only done when Daddy is gone: unique meals, certain outings, little traditions, etc. “This way,” she explained, “the times when Daddy are home are good…and the times when he is traveling are good, too.” 

Someday my husband’s travel schedule will ease up, or he could get a less demanding job, or my kids will be old enough for me to leave behind so I can join him on more of his travelling adventures. I don’t want to miss out on the joy and fun this season could have while I’m waiting, though! I want to make special memories with my kids so they look back on Daddy’s travel as special times with Mommy and not just a hard thing we survived but didn’t really like. What can you do, now, to make the most of the waiting time you are in?

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  1. Will You Tremble or Trust?

I completely understand the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and dread that can surface while waiting. Whatever you are waiting for–change, healing, improvement, adjustment–any kind of delay can cause a lot of fear. The Bible even speaks to this experience: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Proverbs 13:12. I’ve had moments in my own waiting that I have crumpled into panic, wondering if things really will ever get better, or if it will always be “like this”. That fear can easily spiral into defeat and ultimately despair if we don’t battle it. The next part of the verse, though, gives us the answer in how to win that battle: “…but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” We can choose to trust that God will bring about what we are waiting for. It may not look exactly like we envision or hope, but things are not going to be this way forever; we will not be waiting and wondering for the rest of our days. Beyond that, we have ultimate hope in remembering and trusting that God is going to use every single part of this waiting for our good. It really comes down to that same lesson I myself keep coming back to: letting go (of our need to control, have answers, fix the problems, just be happy again)…and let God do what He wants to do instead.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“We know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28) 

Waiting isn’t easy, and can be very painful and humbling. However, when we are called to these times, I believe we will learn more, grow faster, and draw nearer to God when we make the purposeful choices to worship Him, make the most of the time, and trust our loving Father…no matter how long it takes.

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Mary Rabe is a stay-at-home mama of 3 kiddos that she enjoys the privilege and blessing to homeschool. She is right in the thick of the “little years” with all her kiddos 7 and under, so it is a busy season, for sure, but also so much fun! She and her husband Jed have been married for 10 years and have loved to have had the chance to “grow up” together after marrying young. Mary says, “I am a recovering perfectionist learning how to let go of control and just trust my amazing Heavenly Father to take care of things for me (which is why I chose the word “raphah” for my blog, the Hebrew word for “let go”). I am still learning and growing a lot, just a young mama being refined and matured in this grand adventure of life, but I pray that what I write will bless, encourage, and inspire each of you in your unique journeys.” 
You can visit Mary’s blog at https://raphahmama.blogspot.com/.

For Every Season

This post is shared with permission from Mary Rabe at Raphah Mama. It was originally published on her personal blog, but we wanted to share it with the readers here at Raising Rices as well. Enjoy!

Something God has been spending a lot of time teaching me lately is about dealing with different “seasons” in life. Sometimes we are in a time of hopefulness and new beginnings, planting dreams and watching them start to sprout to life, like in springtime. Other times life is as carefree and happy as summer, filled with happy memories and sweet moments, drifting along in a relaxed and peaceful way. Sometimes we are in a time of hard work and transition, vacillating between enjoying the harvest of our efforts and grieving the endings of things, as we do in autumn. And sometimes, we hit an emotional “winter” in life and deal with intense storms, darker days, or a “coldness” in our spirits. No matter what season we are in though, God has gifts, lessons, and purpose in each one. Here are some of the things He is teaching me.

1. Change Your Perspective

It is all too easy in difficult phases of life to shut down, “hole up”, or just grit our teeth and muscle through. All of these responses have the potential to keep us from seeing all that God has for us in each season, though. As hard as it is, we can choose instead to live purposefully in each season, to avoid the very real temptation to escape or just survive, and put forth the effort to see what God has for us.
A few weeks ago one of my littlest buddies set a powerful example of this for me. Every once in a while I get to take one of my close friends’ adorable daughters on a “date” with me to my dance class, and on this evening I had her 7-year-old with me. We were riding in the car together, discussing everything from Baby Alive dolls to the weather, and were just enjoying the company and conversation. Eventually we started talking about summertime, and about how much we were looking forward to sunshine and getting to go swimming and enjoy warm weather again. “I do love sunshine,” she said happily. Then, after a brief pause, she added, “But I also love the rain. Cuz then we can splash in the puddles and have hot chocolate!” I felt a gentle prodding in my spirit from my Heavenly Father. “Did you hear that? Did you notice that perspective?” This precious girl had found a gift in something that most people here in the Pacific Northwest barely tolerate at best, and usually have become quite fed up with by this time in the year.
I smiled at my little friend and commented, “I love your positive attitude! It’s so good that you are able to look and see something good, when a lot of other people just complain. But there are good things in every season, right?” She enthusiastically jumped on board, “Oh yes!! Like in the winter we get to play in the snow and go sledding, and then have hot cocoa!” (I think she really likes hot chocolate.) She got quiet for a second and then said, “We could whine about having to wear puffy coats in the winter. Or getting wet in the rain.”
“Yeah, we have to choose to either see the good stuff or the yucky stuff, huh?”
“Yeah. I like the good stuff, though.”
And we spent the rest of the drive talking about the best parts of every season, and what gifts God has in each one.
Like my wise little friend did that night on our car ride, we need to change our perspective so we aren’t focused only on the difficulties in each season of life.

2. Savor the Unique Blessings

I am a total “snow grinch”; I really, really don’t like it when it snows. It makes me anxious to be stuck at home, dressing my kids in their snow gear, and dealing with cold and wet and inevitable sickness that comes for weeks after the snow is gone. However, the weather where I am has called for a lot of snow lately, more than we usually get, so I have to make a choice: will I hole up inside, muttering and grumbling about how much I hate the snow until spring finally shows up? Or, will I be purposeful and try to find whatever good things I can in this season? On our last snow day, I decided to try to make a bucket list of things I wanted to do when it snows, things that we could only do in snowy weather, so that it was special and unique to this season. Just like that, we can make our own “bucket lists” of things we want to do in each of life’s unique seasons.
Right now part of my season in life is preparing to say goodbye to one of my close friends as she moves forward in God’s calling on her life. My “bucket list” is full of things related to that–savoring each moment I get with her, doing all that I can to support her and help her prepare for her big adventure, and finding ways to help myself and others in our group deal with the grief of this transition. The circumstances are not my favorite; in fact, they are sometimes agonizing. However, knowing I am doing all I can to find gifts and blessings in this time has made it so much richer and more meaningful, and I know it will not be “wasted”.
We can do this no matter what our circumstances in life are. Are you in a season of isolation, unable to leave the house to be with others? Maybe a bucket list item could be to maximize the extra alone time to work on a project or hobby that doesn’t lend itself well to lots of people being around, or to focus your efforts on projects around the house. Or maybe you have the opposite situation, and you find yourself stuck in your car a lot, in a season of driving all-the-people all-the-places all-the-time? Find yourself an awesome worship playlist, podcast, or audiobook and turn those hours of driving into something sweet and “filling-up”. It isn’t always easy to find the unique goodness that different seasons hold, but if you really pause to look for it, I promise you will always find it. Our God is so, so good, and that doesn’t change just because our circumstances do.

3. Remember There is A Reason for Every Season

God uses every stage of our lives to develop us into who He wants us to be. He uses the good times to show us His love, cause us to praise Him, and sometimes to test us and see if we will still rely on Him when things are going well. And He uses hard times to grow character in us, strengthen our faith, and forge stronger bonds with Him and others. Those are just a few examples; there are so many other lessons, growth, and outcomes that God gives us whether things are going well or are so hard we struggle to even get out of bed.
Sometimes I believe God even uses seasons as a source of protection and preparation. I had breakfast with a friend a few weeks back and she mentioned something that really struck me. It was just after I had written the post on “blooming where you are planted“, so the idea of plants and gardening was still fresh in my mind. My friend’s husband works for a nursery, and she mentioned off-hand that they were worried about the weather turning warm too early. To combat this, they were placing the plants into a chilled, dark storage unit so that they wouldn’t bloom early and end up being killed by the next frost. This hits home for me because the “winter” season I am in has felt so long and so hard, and I am longing for spring (both literally and figuratively). My friend’s comment reminded me, though, that my Gardener knows what He is doing. He is keeping me in a dark, cold season for a purpose. If things get better too quickly, it won’t prepare me for the next “frost” that could come around. Maybe the season you are in is doing the same for you, preparing you for what is coming up next, and protecting you from premature “blooming”? God never wastes a season. He has a purpose, plan, and perfect outcome for every single one. 

God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” God brings us into different seasons of life for a reason, and He has unique lessons, blessings, and growth for each one. There are some seasons we will enjoy and savor and wish would never end…and there are some that we aren’t sure we will even survive. We need to remember, though, that God uses every single one in specific ways, and each one provides us with things we cannot receive any other way. I hope you will each join me in trusting our loving Heavenly Father and looking to Him as we walk through each season, whether that means trekking through the trials and pain of winter, or dancing through the glorious hope and joy of spring.

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Mary Rabe is a stay-at-home mama of 3 kiddos that she enjoys the privilege and blessing to homeschool. She is right in the thick of the “little years” with all her kiddos 7 and under, so it is a busy season, for sure, but also so much fun! She and her husband Jed have been married for 10 years and have loved to have had the chance to “grow up” together after marrying young. Mary says, “I am a recovering perfectionist learning how to let go of control and just trust my amazing Heavenly Father to take care of things for me (which is why I chose the word “raphah” for my blog, the Hebrew word for “let go”). I am still learning and growing a lot, just a young mama being refined and matured in this grand adventure of life, but I pray that what I write will bless, encourage, and inspire each of you in your unique journeys.” 
You can visit Mary’s blog at https://raphahmama.blogspot.com/.

“Me Too”

Me Too.jpgThis post is shared with permission from Mary Rabe at Raphah Mama. It was originally published on her personal blog, but we wanted to share it with the readers here at Raising Rices as well. Enjoy!

If you spend any amount of time on social media these days, you are bound to run into something having to do with being vulnerable, open, or real. In our culture today there is almost a “vulnerability movement” of sorts, with people all over urging us to be “real” and “honest”, sharing our true feelings and beliefs in courage and strength, and not being afraid to let others see our “true colors”. While I completely agree with the idea that we should be ourselves, I think that we can take this too far and turn “being vulnerable” into some kind of show all about us. 
The definition of vulnerability is “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm”. It is weakness, while the messages of our culture relating to “being real” stem more from a desire to be “strong enough to be vulnerable”.
 If we use openness to try to earn acceptance from others, to attempt deeper connections solely with other people and not God, to point to ourselves in any way, or to simply follow the cultural pressure to “be real”, we are completely missing the point. Kelsiklembara at Relevant Life Magazine’s website said it well in the article “The Part of Vulnerability No One Talks About”:

“…the ability to become vulnerable flows from our assurance in Christ, not our assurance in Instagram likes or comments. When we choose to look for our worth and value in baring our hearts (in both good and bad situations!), we lose sight of both Christ and the good that can come from vulnerability… Making vulnerability a cultural “have-to” ironically turns it from something that points us to Christ in our deficiencies and instead keeps us in the dangerous cycle of trying to prove our own strength. When we put our hope in our actions rather than in Christ, you better bet that sooner or later we’ll find our eyes glued to ourselves without any ability to look outward toward Christ or to others. Because Christ was perfectly vulnerable for you and for me, we are free to openly express our feelings, without feeling the pressure that we have to.”(https://relevantmagazine.com/article/the-power-and-danger-of-vulnerability-no-one-talks-about/)

With that said, I think there is a way to be genuine and open with others in a way that honors God and blesses others. This kind of vulnerability isn’t ultimately about us at all, but is another way to showcase God’s work and grace in our lives. Here are some things God is teaching me about “God-centered vulnerability”.

1. Why Be Vulnerable? 


Why should being open and vulnerable even be something we consider? I think there are multiple reasons, but one main one is that being vulnerable with the right people can protect us from Satan’s attacks. When we try to hide away our struggles–believing we are alone in them, that no one would understand, or that we need to “keep it together” in order to help others–we isolate ourselves and give Satan the perfect opportunity to attack. Remember, Satan is like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Anyone who has seen Animal Planet knows that lions and other predators single out prey that is weak, sick, or alone; and the Enemy of our Souls is no different. Satan wants us to think that we are the only ones who struggle with (fill in the blank) so that we clam up and try to hide the truth from others. Shame is one of his biggest calling cards, and if we fall prey to it we open ourselves up to a whole lot of hurt. By confessing our struggles with the right people (more on that later), we also invite them to fight with us and to remind us of God’s Truth, and Satan isn’t able to take us down as easily. 

2. Know Your Real Value. 

The first step in even being capable of real vulnerability is being firmly set in your true, unchanging value. I think a fairly common struggle that I also have to fight against is wanting people to like us–all the people. Call it people-pleasing, codependency, or plain old “fear of man”; it has been a problem for me for as long as I can remember, and I know is something that many others deal with. The fact is, though, we can’t be liked by everyone.  We can’t expect everyone to enjoy the “flavor” of personality that God has given us. So, placing any sense of our personal value in the hands of sinful, fallible people is a guaranteed loss. We need to base our value on what God says, because His view of us never changes.

  • He created you, on purpose, exactly how you are, for a reason. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)
  • He loved you enough to send His Son to save you (even when you were at your very worst). but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  • He has a purpose for you that only you can carry out, and that He created you specifically for. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) 

We need to let these truths sink deep into our hearts, dwell on them, pray about them, and believe them! Only then will we be able to have the courage to risk being vulnerable with others, because we will remember that even if people reject or dislike what they see, our God-given value isn’t changed one little bit. 

3. Remember Perfection is Not a Thing.

“To err is human” or so the saying goes. So why do we all work so hard to try to appear perfect? Imperfection and struggle is just part of being a fallen human; as much as I strive to live out all the things I long to be, it just isn’t possible to do that all the time. Even the Apostle Paul confessed to struggling with this: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) Nobody gets everything right all the time. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And yet still, there are so many times I find that I am comparing myself to others. “Wow. I can’t believe he doesn’t struggle with that like I do. I wish I was more like him.” “She has so much wisdom. Why can’t I just think like she does?” Most of my comparisons end up elevating others above myself, but there are times I am ashamed to find that I think I am better than someone else. You know what, though? God sees every single believer exactly the same–redeemed sinners, forgiven and covered by His Son’s blood. Not one of my precious brothers and sisters in Christ are better or worse than me. We all have the same value, the same redemption, and the same ultimate end-goal of being more like Jesus. We have different strengths and weaknesses, but none of us is closer to perfection than anyone else. Only God Himself is perfect, and none of us will attain that until we join Him in Heaven. Just remembering that is encouragement to be more open with the other imperfect people around me.

4. Being Open Often Helps Others.

There have been a handful of times in my life that someone has opened up and shared with me in a very vulnerable way, and I am always blown away by how that blesses and helps me. I have never once felt less regard, respect, or affection for someone I love who has “let their walls fall down” for the moment and allowed me a glimpse of the real person inside. It’s pretty silly, then, for me to fear that my close relationships would do any differently to me. Sure, it could happen; being vulnerable carries a risk of heartbreak because we live in a fallen world with imperfect people (remember the point above?) I think the general, overriding truth, though, is that people are helped and honored when we open up to them. In my own life, I have been healed from deep hurt, set free from Satan’s lies, inspired to keep going in a tough situation, drawn closer to God, and been blessed with closer fellowship with others all because someone was willing to be genuine and real. Why would I want to hinder others from experiencing that by refusing to be vulnerable with them?

5. We Need to Have Wisdom in How Open to Be, and With Whom.

Now. With all of this said, there is still a balance to be had. We don’t want to be people who go around spilling our deepest heart secrets to every stranger we bump into, or to those we don’t know very well (and who don’t really know us). There are several reasons for this. First, it takes a relationship to be able to accept vulnerability. Beyond us needing to feel safe with people we are close to in order to share openly, even the receiver of vulnerability needs to have at least some level of relationship with us in order to feel comfortable to hear our hearts. Sharing intense openness with someone who doesn’t know you well will often just make them feel uncomfortable. It’s wise to take time to build a relationship with someone before you pour out your soul to them.
Next, people who don’t know us well won’t be able to speak into our lives and receive our vulnerability like those that know us well would. 
They won’t appreciate it in the same way, and likely won’t be as impacted by it since they don’t have the same knowledge of who we are as our closer relationships do.

Finally, we need to remember that vulnerability is being willingly weak with others, and it requires discernment and wisdom to decide if the people we are sharing with are trustworthy and capable of handling our openness with discretion, grace, and Christlike love. We aren’t required to share everything with everybody, nor should we. There is a difference between being open in a God-honoring way and being careless with the deep things of our hearts. 

Ultimately, we want our vulnerability to draw us and others closer to God. This is something that Steven Lee at Desiring God calls “Redemptive Vulnerability”:

“To be vulnerable is to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt. In the context of community, vulnerability is opening up about one’s humanity. It’s to admit that we are not perfect people. We have not arrived. We are broken, unfinished people who live in a world that itself is broken because of the fall. We experience depression, burn out, cancer, sadness, death, grief, disability, disease, relational strife, loneliness, lust, anxiety, and the list goes on. But our story doesn’t need to end with brokenness. Redemptive vulnerability — a vulnerability that leads to life — is where we share our brokenness in order to display the surpassing power and sufficiency of Christ and the gospel, which transforms us increasingly into the likeness of Christ. Vulnerability is not an end in itself. Rather, our vulnerability should point us, individually and together with other believers, to the sufficiency of Jesus. It looks at and hopes in the redemption we have in Christ Jesus and the work of the cross.”(https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/give-your-weakness-to-god)

Like everything else in our lives, we can use vulnerability to showcase God’s grace and work in our lives, and fulfill the call to always and continually point to Him. With that in mind, I hope you’ll join me in God-Centered vulnerability, being genuine and open with trustworthy people in order to point them to God (and be pointed to Him yourself).

 

1..jpgMary Rabe is a stay-at-home mama of 3 kiddos that she enjoys the privilege and blessing to homeschool. She is right in the thick of the “little years” with all her kiddos 7 and under, so it is a busy season, for sure, but also so much fun! She and her husband Jed have been married for 10 years and have loved to have had the chance to “grow up” together after marrying young. Mary says, “I am a recovering perfectionist learning how to let go of control and just trust my amazing Heavenly Father to take care of things for me (which is why I chose the word “raphah” for my blog, the Hebrew word for “let go”). I am still learning and growing a lot, just a young mama being refined and matured in this grand adventure of life, but I pray that what I write will bless, encourage, and inspire each of you in your unique journeys.” 
You can visit Mary’s blog at https://raphahmama.blogspot.com/.

Just Do It Scared

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Thank you to Mary Rabe for bringing up some inspiration to the Raising Rices community! I love learning and growing with you! Thank you for opening and sharing where God is taking you! 

Just Do It Scared

By: Mary Rabe

Have you ever gone about your regular routine and had it end up leading to a “milestone moment”? You know, the kind of moment that you look back on later and realize it totally changed you? That happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been attending a fabulous workout/dance class called REFIT that is basically dancing like crazy for an hour and having a blast, followed by an encouraging message and prayer. It’s my favorite workout ever, and something that I’ve done almost every week for about 4 years now. In spite of all of that time, though, and the fact that I’ve learned the dances pretty well, I’d never once wanted to be up on the stage leading a song like the amazing instructors I’ve had do week in and week out. I remember my first REFIT instructors doing a song where they would randomly select people in the crowd to go up on stage and dance, and I would literally flee the room when I knew that was happening. I DID NOT want that kind of attention or pressure! I was content to stay in the back row, hidden in the shadows, enjoying the workout as well as the anonymity.

 

Fast forward a couple of years and now one of my closest friends teaches my REFIT class. I’ve been able to overcome my need to stay in the back row, and actually prefer to be in the front so I can see better (being barely 5 feet tall doesn’t lend itself well to seeing my teachers from behind other people). On this particular night, my friend pulled me aside and told me she had noticed that I knew the dances well, and I had what it takes to lead a song “sometime.” “You know what you’re doing!” she said, “So that means you’re ready to lead a song or two.” I was flattered, of course, especially having it come from someone I admire so much, and I told her “Sure, ok, yeah. I think I could do that now, sometime, as long as I had time to practice beforehand.” Then I let it go, figuring I didn’t need to worry about it for at least another week, when the next class would be. 

Well, halfway into that class, that very night, my friend called me out. “Hey! You know this song. Come up here.” 

 

 

 

“What. NOW?”

I imagine my expression was pretty priceless. I was so not prepared for this. My brain started running a million miles a minute. “DO I know this dance? What IS this song, anyway?!”

I mostly felt blindsided, and didn’t really have time to get truly scared before another friend began physically pushing me toward the stage. So I got up there, heart pounding. And you know what?

I did it.

It scared me to death. I was shaking pretty much the whole time. But I did it.

The girl who would literally run out of the room if there was even a chance of being put in front of others willingly jumped up on the stage and led a REFIT song. It was pretty exhilarating!

 

So, how exactly does one get from that first scenario to the second one? From automatically running away from scary scenarios to jumping in and facing them? I’ve been processing that, and here is what I think.

 

 

1. Having a solid identity in Christ. The main reason I am able to do anything at all that scares me is because of the work God has done in me. I’ve mentioned before about how He has shifted my thinking and brought me to a place of confidence in who He made me to be, and that has taken away so many feelings of self-consciousness and doubt in my abilities. My identity isn’t in what others think about me, how well I can accomplish something, or how silly I end up looking; I am deeply rooted in the security of having God’s “seal of approval”, no matter what, because of the sanctifying work He accomplished on the cross. Knowing that makes even scary things lose their edge, at least a little bit, and makes me willing to take more risks. It isn’t really about me at all; it’s about the work God has done, who He is shaping me to be, and how He empowers me to do what He calls me to.

“…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:10)

 

 

2. Having friends who call me to more and walk with me in it. My awesome friend knew what I was capable of even more than I did in the moment. She believed in me, and she called me out to move forward in who and what God made me to be. At the same time, though, she didn’t just pull me up there and then ditch me to do the best I could on my own. She led the song with me, and even made sure she was following what I did so I at least appeared to know what I was doing! It helped immensely just knowing I had her next to me to look to if I got lost or froze up. All of those sweet ladies in my class also cheered for me and urged me to do this thing, and knowing they were there for me and were “in my corner” made all the difference. Doing scary things is much, much more doable when you have people who love you, tell you they believe in you, and then walk with you in it. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 


3. Desiring to grow and not just stagnate in my comfort zone. We had a very wise speaker come to our church one morning and share about how we are all either in our comfort zones, or in what he called “The Growth Zone”. We can go through our lives doing what is comfortable and easy, but we will never grow and mature to become all that God intended. Being in the Growth Zone is often scary, and stretches us far beyond what we would prefer (hence the term “growth”), but it leads to so much good. Steve Clark said, “There is no comfort in the growth zone, but there is no growth in the comfort zone.” and Adam Stanley stated, “Without courage we will simply accumulate a collection of good ideas and regrets.” If I want to lead the best life I can (which I do) then I’m going to have to care more about growing and maturing than being comfortable, and that will often involve doing things that scare me. 

“…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

I hope you all know, this story isn’t about me, like I’m suddenly some kind of amazing and fearless miracle of awesome; I guarantee you I will still be scared the next time my friend calls me up on the stage, or I have to talk in front of people, or face some other challenge. Being afraid of certain situations is just part of being human! I know, though, I’ll be able to do it, because God has given me a solid identity, amazing supporters to walk with me, and a desire to grow. He’s provided that to you all, too; so, what scary things are you going to jump in and do now? Let me encourage you to do it; even if you have to do it scared.

 

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Behold, I am Doing a New Thing

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Mary Rabe is a great friend of mine and I was so honored she shared this story of inspiration in person with me, I KNEW that the RaisingRices’ community would be encouraged as well! So thank you Mary for your courage and words of wisdom!

 

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This week God taught me another lesson in letting go. That has been my theme for this year, and He’s already taught me so much in this that I was honestly a bit surprised to realize He had even more for me to take in! See, I had made the difficult decision to step down as a small group leader in the mom’s group of the church I used to attend. This was the last “tie” I had to that church, the last thing I was involved with, so it was a decision I did not enter lightly and that brought up a lot of emotions.

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I have truly loved that church. I attended it for well over a decade, and it was part of so many major milestones in my life, from taking on my parents’ faith as my own in high school, to my first years as a wife, to becoming a mommy. With all that, of course it wasn’t an easy choice to leave in the first place, but knowing I would still have a small part of it through this ministry helped the transition. So when I knew God was telling me that I needed to cut even that out to lessen my load in this chaotic season, I felt very anxious. I didn’t want to let people down. I didn’t want to lose relationships I had built there. I didn’t want to let go of a place and people that had meant so much. Still, I knew something had to give, so I let the leader know I needed to step down and that the next meeting would be my last one.
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The “big day” came, and I was so emotional. I was dismayed to realize I was out of place there, and felt like I no longer belonged; I was worried about “losing it” in front of everyone at my table; I felt guilty for letting the leadership and my sweet little group of ladies down…I was a mess. When the break time came, I still hadn’t officially let my ladies know I was leaving because I was so close to tears and couldn’t think of the words to say. I made a hasty retreat to the restroom where I was hopeful I could pull myself together more, and that was where I ran into an old family friend. This dear lady has known me just about the whole time I had attended that church, and is friends with my parents. She asked me about how things were at my new church, and about life in general, and for whatever reason I just couldn’t hold in the emotions anymore. As I tried to talk, the tears just started pouring out. “I’m sorry,” I blubbered, “I’m just so emotional today. It’s my last day here. It’s just really hard.” My sweet friend was so understanding. She gave me a big hug and said, “That’s really hard, I know.” Then she asked if she could pray for me, and her prayer suddenly helped me understand the “big picture” of what was going on in my heart. She talked about how hard it was and how painful it felt to have “one foot in the old and one foot in the new”, and she asked God to help me step out of the past things, to let go of them, and to have both feet firmly planted in the new things He had for me. This wasn’t just about feeling guilty for letting people down, or facing the sadness of not seeing old friends as much; this was God calling me to let go of something that had been so, so good in my life and to fully embrace the new He wanted for me in this new season. It was scary. It was painful. No wonder my emotions were all over the place!
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This wise woman’s prayer, though, gave me so much peace. I knew I had made the right decision, and that now all I had left to do was to “end well”, say my goodbyes, and step into the new things He had in store. I finished the morning with much more clarity and peace; it was still hard, and still very emotional, but there was something very reassuring about knowing I was doing what God wanted me to do, and I had hope for the new things He wants for me.

Maybe you are in a place where God is asking you to let go of something that has been such a good thing in your life, but is no longer His will for you. It could be a relationship, a job, a house, a ministry…there are a myriad of “good” things that could turn out to just not be His “best” for this season. It’s hard to sort through those things in our mind, trying to decide which good things to cut out in order to make room for the best, and it’s only made harder when those things have built-in memories and have been with us for a long time. I believe, though, that it is only when we willingly surrender those things, and release our grip on them, that we are able to fully take hold of the new thing God wants for us. God doesn’t want us to hold onto past goodness with one hand and His new plans and blessings with the other; He wants us to drop the past and wrap both arms around His new plans, fully embracing them with complete surrender and trust.


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This doesn’t mean that we completely cut out everything from the past like it never happened, of course. We still treasure lessons, relationships, and blessings from the past, but we don’t let them hold us back from the new things God has in store. So, Friends, I know it’s hard to move on; I know saying goodbye is so painful; and I know moving ahead is scary. But let’s do this thing. Let’s trust that when God says it’s time to let go, it’s for the best, and it’s only in order to fill our now-empty hands with something just as wonderful–maybe even more so. Think about it: those things we are struggling to let go of now that have been so good were once the “new things” we felt uncertain about grasping! How could the new thing God is doing possibly be anything less than excellent?! I’ve only gotten glimpses of some of the “new” God has for me in this new step of letting go, and I am already so overwhelmed by His grace, mercy, and love in all of it; I can’t wait to see what else He does.

By: Mary Rabe

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