Have I REALLY Lived…or am I just treading water?


Each January, gym memberships reach their yearly high.

But the New Year does not actually change people.

The good news that I am beginning to finally understand for myself is this…

There is an alternative to the traditional “RESOULTION” insanity that we all practice…and more often than not fail at.

However, before I address the “HOW’s” of Change,

I think we should pause and look at the WHAT and the WHY.

The reason that change matters

The reason we all ache in our guts to be different from who and what we are is that God designed us to be PERFECT.

BUT… We are ALL messed up by sin.

We were not designed for some abstract, bloodless, theoretical perfection.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Eph 2:10)

God designed you, one might say, to be perfectly YOU!

When your life ends, the Lord will not ask you why you weren’t Moses, or King David, or one of my personal favorites, Ester, or even why you weren’t Melanie.

If you don’t pursue the life that was intended for you, the question that you will be asked when you stand face to face with your creator is this…

“Why you weren’t YOU.

We are meant to delight in the life we have been given.

One of the things that has changed my attitude the most is the realization that when I am growing toward the ME that I was created to be…I am freed from the ME that I pretend to be.

I find myself no longer chained to the need to try to convince other people that I am important, while secretly fearing that I am not.

Let’s be honest here…

Pretending to be someone we’re not is HARD work.

That is why we feel so tired and drained after a first date, a job interview, or whenever we spend time in a place where we feel the pressure to be something other than what we truly are.

Projecting an image is EXHAUSTING!

That is why each and every one of us is drawn to relationships where we are so secure that we can actually be transparent. This is one of the things I love the most about my relationship with Jeff and my friendship with Brenda. They know and love the REAL Melanie…

We all have a deep longing to go where we belong, and can just be ourselves.

It is such a relief to not have to pretend to pray more than we do.

Or, to act as if we are more righteous and perfect than we actually know ourselves to be.

It is draining when you have to appear more humble than you really are. You are in a constant battle with your mouth…it wants to shout your praises…  You just want it to shut up so everyone will by the lie that you are humble. 😉

The beautiful truth is this…

We NEVER have to pretend with God.

Nothing pleases him more than genuine brokenness.

He does not want our pretend spirituality, that does him no good.

He is God, he does NOT need our help to function.

He wants our hearts to belong to him so he can use them for his good.

There is a song that I really love called “Keep making Me” by Sidewalk Prophets. I would like to encourage all of you to go look up this song and listen to it. Find the song with lyrics if possible so you can really absorb the message. It is beautiful.

This song reminds me that it’s only when I come to him with a sincere heart that he has the PERMISSION to change me.

Sometimes I try to change because I am comparing myself to others.

Sometimes it’s because I have taken a criticism personally and think I need to conform to someone elses idea of who I should be.

As a single mother who works hard to provide for her family, I often compare myself to other mothers, the mothers who stay at home and have husbands are the ones I usually set up as a model for my comparison.

Is that being fair to me?

Is it being fair to my children?

I work over 300 hrs.  a month. I keep our home very neat and organized. My children get good grades in school, they are polite, and clean. They KNOW I love them. I even find time to read them stories.

BUT…

I DON”T have the time for them to participate in all the sports and activities that their friends do.

I can’t afford the fees for all these activities.

So I condemn myself for this.

I think I am terrible and that my kids are suffering.

But when I get real with myself and our situation, and sit down and ask my kids about their feelings, they assure me that they love our life, and don’t think that the fact that they didn’t participate in every single activity will damage them in any way.

In those moments I realize that there is no need for me to compare myself to anyone else. I am handling my challenges the way that I know how to. I am being who I was created to be and working with the gifts and abilities that my Creator gave me when he thought me into existence.

Lets go back to the topic of change for a moment.

In order to change ourselves we need to acknowledge that we consist of two parts; the inner self, and the outer-self.

The OUTER you: your body-that is being shaped all the time by the way you eat, drink, sleep, exercise and live.

You may do all of these things WELL or POORLY; Intentionally or not, but your outer body is constantly being shaped regardless of your conscious participation.

The INNER you:  your thoughts, desires, will, and character, are shaped by the things we see, read, hear, think and do.

Psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps the largest mental health problem of our day.

It is NOT depression.

or anxiety… at least not at clinical levels.

The problem that is plaguing us is LANGUISHING- or Failure to Thrive.

Languishing is the condition of someone who may be able to function but has lost a sense of hope and meaning.

It is not the presence of a mental illness but rather the absence of emotional and mental vitality.

In ancient lists of the Deadly Sins it was called “acedia” which means “weariness of soul and inability to delight in life.”

Everywhere we go we hear people talking about their “dead marriage”.

Or their “dead-end job”.

To languish is to feel inner deadness.

Languishing is the opposite of flourishing.

It was one of the famous author Henry David Thoreau’s greatest fears, he wrote, “When I come to die, that I will discover that I had not lived.”

Often we have dreams for our lives when we are young, but over time, we simply give up on those dreams.

Writer and artist Gordon Mackenzie tells of visiting children in kindergarten and asking them, ” Who is an artist?” Every single had shot up.

This number decreases by half when asked of children in third grade.

And is almost non-existent by the time those same children turn 12.

When we give up on our growth and life purpose…we LANGUISH.

So now lets talk about the  ALTERNATIVE to the traditional New Years resolution…

My suggestion is that instead of spending all your effort on your OUTER SELF, that you instead turn your heart inside out.

Spend time on your INNER SELF.

Study, pray, meditate.

Give your heart completely to the one who created you.

Let your life be guided and directed by him. He knows the plan for your life.

So this year, my resolution was the same as it was last year…

Each morning, I will sit in prayer and meditation and ask forgiveness for my mistakes and sins. I will then turn my heart over to him and ask that I be guided and directed to the things and people who can act as a mirror for my life.

I did this last year in January.

I have stuck with it for an entire year.

My life and my personality have grown more last year than it has in the 40 yrs. prior to it.

I am excited to see what growth the year 2014 has in store for me.

But one thing is certain…

When I die, I can NOW say, that I have truly lived! 

success

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