Immediately concluding that sentence would be where the typical eye-roll would take place. And you know what? I wouldn’t blame them a bit. I had to roll my eyes at myself as well. How many times, Debbie? How many promises? How many excuses and trials of life need to pass before you stick to it? Well, apparently exactly this many.
You see, we are human and we are flawed and we are broken. We have wonderful intentions, amazing plans, and passionate goals. What we often lack is the goin’-ta. (That is a Debbie-ism, so you will not find it in any dictionary.) So let’s define it here for the purpose of understanding before we move further into what my point is with this:
GOIN-TA … I was goin’-ta do that, but I got busy.
I was goin’-ta give her a call, but time slipped away from me.
I was goin’-ta spend time with them, but life got in the way.
The list goes on, and we have a million of them. But do you see where this is goin’ … and the point of the goin’-ta? Goin’-ta’s are basically excuses, procrastination and self-doubt. This is something I have struggled with all of my life. You see, our intentions and motives can be pure as the white driven snow and our hearts as genuine as the finest gold—but intentions and motives, even in their best form, will remain empty upon follow through if our goin’-ta is not attached to it.
You see, a BIG part of being a Christian is walking your walk and making sure it matches your talk. It is not portraying unshakeable joy or picture perfect moments that depict how your every second of life shines like a glittery rainbow. It is to bare your soul … to allow others to see and feel your insecurities, imperfections and struggles. Otherwise, how relatable can we truly be? How much will others be able to look at us and feel, “Me too. I’m not alone. I so get that!” That is what brings us together as women, as men, and as people. Community, connection, and the realness of everyday life.
So yes … I am flawed. I am constantly having good intentions with bad follow-through. I am excited about everything all at once, and then equally overwhelmed when I sit down and see all I have packed in and committed to. To put it simply—I am human. I could say I need to give myself grace, and maybe I do. But I need to be careful I am not using that as an excuse or tool to allow me to continue certain behaviors and bad patterns. I can give myself grace for past mistakes and for making the same bad choices over and over again … but I cannot give myself grace for not learning from them or taking the necessary steps to change things. That is not grace-deserved. That is procrastination, laziness and busyness in action. So, what is different this time around?
NEED. One simple word. NEED. I NEED to slow down. I NEED to give my schedule some whitespace. I NEED to have time to enjoy this life God has blessed me with. I NEED to say yes to things that really matter and fill my life and heart with joy and purpose, and be okay saying no to other things. Things that may still be wonderful, but not necessary in this season. I NEED to have my peace back. I NEED to have my joy back. And I NEED to have Jesus as the center of my life and my days in order to fill this aching space in my soul. I have shifted from I WANT to I NEED. That is how I know it is different this time.
Things that used to bring me so much happiness … just haven’t been. Things that never used to make me upset or bother me … they are now. Where there was kindness and calmness … there is now frustration, impatience, and short-temperedness. Where there was trust and security … there is worry and lack of self-worth. These things all stem from one definable thing—not cultivating my relationship with Jesus. Yes, I am leading Bible study. Yes, I am studying the Word and reading daily. Yes, I love Jesus with all I have and am. But have I been feeding that relationship in a one-on-one sacred way and pouring into him while allowing him to pour back into me? No. No, I haven’t. I have been going through the motions. I have been checking things off of my to-do list. A place I never wanted to be in … AGAIN.
When did my passion fade? When did I start just being on auto-pilot and not really feeling and following? I have had A LOT of changes in the past 6 weeks. I was married at my church in front of friends and family. I was abandoned 6-days later by the same man. I moved from the country to the city. I went from a large home to a small apartment. I went from isolated in my atmosphere, to surrounded by people at all times (as an introvert, this is a very hard place to be). The changes have been immense, and I did not factor in the emotions that would come with that. All I know how to do is be strong. All I know how to do is be alone. So I snapped right back into Debbie-mode and moved full-force ahead with life and commitments, not allowing myself time to feel and heal. And then it all came to the surface.
So now, I work through it. But not in the way that comes naturally … by taking control, drowning myself in things and opportunities, by acting tough and able. Not this time. This time I work through it genuinely and without a Band-Aid on top—without withholding from Jesus. I give it ALL to him, not just the things I want to and then try to hold onto the rest. I sacrifice sleep in the morning to sit with God’s Word and sip coffee. I sacrifice sleep in the evening to have Scripture as the last thing that saturates me and fills me before I lay my head down to rest. I spend my breaks and lunches reading and studying to make sure Jesus is included all throughout my day and keep the truths in my head instead of the lies, and to keep leaning on the strength of my Savior. I choose the commitments that speak to my heart, instead of the ones that speak to my “want to”. I step back from social media, television and other things that drain my time instead of build me up. I eat healthier and take better care of myself so I can be better for God and others. I listen, learn, and live it out … without turning back and looking in the rearview mirror or allowing what is going on in the world to determine where my focus lies.
January 1st is a time many decide to implement changes and a time when people reflect. For me, it cannot wait until January 1st. Time for change is now. Time for steady commitment to Jesus, myself, and others is now. And the truth is, I don’t want to wait until the 1st of a month or the 1st of a year or some significant date that I always try to attach my “I’ll start this on…” to. Because all that does is rob myself of the growth. It robs God of the glory. It robs others of my best self. The time is now. The need is crucial. The goal is undeniable. If you have found yourself feeling off, knowing that you are not being your best self and that the world is gripping you more tightly than Jesus is … then I urge you to get onboard with taking back your life today. I urge you to surrender all, and start all over. Don’t think about how many times you have had to start over again, think about how many times you have never stopped trying. God sees you. God knows what you need and when you need it. It is us who stand in the way of allowing Him to provide what we need. Break down the walls. Become vulnerable. Tell him you need to start from scratch, and ask Him to show you how and to feed your desire. He will, sweet ones. He will.