It's late. Starbucks is closing in about half an hour, and I'm leaving tomorrow for a week of "vacation" and have yet to even launder the clothes I'm supposed to have packed by now. (I say vacation in quotes because I am still not entirely convinced that a week away at a cabin where all 16 of your nearest and dearest family members are all going to reside at the same time is going to be all that relaxing - fun, hopefully, but let's not get carried away thinking any napping in the sun or sipping coffee in silence will be happening...we'll see.)
And here I am, being totally defiant of time or reason and writing a blog. Yup. Because I'm determined to make time for things that are important to me, things that hold value, and things that help continue to shape the person I want to be. So here I am, counting words instead of sheep and pounding a cafe Americano.
Why? Because I've had an epiphany. A realization about myself that I've been trying to get comfortable concluding for a while now. Here it is: I have a Buck It List. No no, not a Bucket List. Sure, we've all gathered a long list of dreamy to-do's that we would love to check check check the boxes off as we live our wanton lives. Nope, I'm talking about things that I'm determined to leave behind in this life. Notions that I want to BUCK entirely from my brain that society is telling me I should believe. Things I am resisting, taking a stand on, and willing to fight for. Things I am determined to believe as fiercely as a bronco in a rodeo so I can live the real life I'm striving to live, the life God wants for me...the life I know is bigger than any trip or language or eXtreme sport I'll cross off the list of future dream agendas.
1. Stop living in other people's value systems.
We each have one. Whether you like it or not, you assign value to very specific things each and every day. We all make choices and then worry about what repercussions they have (good or bad) and wonder what others will think about them. Will my neighbor think I spent too much on my car? Do I let my child watch too much tv? Did I eat enough vegetables today? Should I give this money to the church or take that second honeymoon with my husband? Our lives are made up of yes's and no's, like a brutal binary language defining how we identify ourselves. But what do I find important? What do I truly value and want to invest my time, money, love, effort, emotions, and passion in? What do I care about...and, if I really do care about it, then why am I hung up on what others think? And, if I'm pursuing what God wants for my life and still calling something into question, am I willing to give that up so that He remains at the top of my value system? These are the real questions I should be asking.
2. Prioritizing yourself is not selfish.
In a world that pressures us to constantly feel bad about our bodies, homes, jobs and spouses, it's no doubt that we spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves. Then, we go to church on Sunday or listen to a friend ask for prayer or are confronted with the grimacing realities and third world needs of others and we feel guilty for spending our last five bucks on a giant latte so we could stay awake to care for our children that we plop in front of Sesame Street far too often. So there you have it - many of us are stuck between a rock of insecurity and a hard place of guilt. Fun. Hear me out - it is easy to be selfish. It can even feel fun to be selfish (as sin often does). But, making yourself a priority in your own life is not being selfish. I need to make time for my mental capacity to be filled with wonderful things (like truth, love, hope and encouraging words, for instance). I need to make time for my body to rest so that I am motivated and excited about moving again. I need to make time for my spirit to be moved and spoken to and utterly vulnerable for others to help me and be amazed at how God puts the pieces of me back together again (and again and again).
3. Insecurity is a lie.
Satan loves him some insecurity, let me tell you. He will wedge it in wherever he can...between you and your kids, between you and your mom, between you and your spouse, between you and your church, between you and your job, between you and your passions, between you and yourself. Lies. God did not make any humans greater or lesser than. This is exactly why He sent Jesus...to become the muck that is us. And to show us just how ridiculously impossible it is to be us and live perfectly. The only person I should be insecure around is Jesus - and guess what, I can't live life without Him! I'm insecure without Jesus because I am completed only and entirely with Christ alone...and He happens to be the exact perfect fit to shield any wedgies that come my way. Take that, Satan.
4. Compassion is underrated.
If there is a characteristic that I can't get enough of pursuing...it's compassion. I simply can't harness enough of it inside myself. I wish it was a quality that came more naturally to me. I wish I could reach inside my heart and just set the compassion switch to "default" mode so that I reacted first and foremost to all situations with pure, sheer, genuine compassion. I have never looked back on a situation and ever ever thought "I handled that with a little too much compassion." Never. What other quality can you say that about?
5. Purpose is empirical.
We all have purpose. We all matter. That gross slut on tv shaking her bonbons and making me change the channel quicker than lightning: she matters. That ugly homeless man who smelled really badly as I passed right by him without making eye contact walking into Starbucks: he has purpose. That kid at the playground who called my sweet daughter a nasty name: she means something to Jesus. We were created, therefore we made a difference to God whether we existed or not. When did it become so easy to disregard purpose and disrespect others? When did it become easier to judge someone than pray for them?
This is just the beginning. This is just the tip of the ice berg. I have no idea why God put this on my brain, on my heart, on my fingertips to type this all out tonight. But, I'll tell you one thing: I believe it through and through. I believe in the transparent life. I believe in the vulnerable heart. I believe that truth encourages others and pride/shame/insincerity only tear down our souls. And I'm simply not going to just sit here and let life pass by unevalutated. And, evidently I'm not going to sit here any longer anyway...that Starbucks guy just informed me they are now closed.