40 Days Lighter – Day 18: Room for Improvement

I had a humbling experience today.

Today was the start of my on ground seminary course for the spring semester, and I will tell you in no uncertain terms – I was NOT happy about having to take it. An Introductory course focused mostly on writing and research (at least that’s what I gathered from the description), was redundant for me at this point. I have an MBA, I write all the time, I know how to do research, and I’m pretty good in the editing department. 

I know – it sounds so arrogant – but in truth, this was my attitude going into the class.

I sat down, ready to “endure” 6 hours of what I  was sure would be a repeat of everything I’ve learned in my college career about writing.

I should have known better. 

Since starting my seminary journey last fall, I haven’t had a single course, no matter the subject, that hasn’t challenged me to my core. Every. Single. Class. Has lead to some “Aha!” moment about who I am, where I’m going in life, what I believe, and what on earth I should be doing with these gifts of mine.

I would soon find out, today’s class would be no different. 

Everything seemed to line up with my initial assessment of the course, until the professor spoke these words that bypassed my pride, sidestepped my assumptions, leaped over my intellect, and slammed straight into spirit.

“You are the people who will be publishing to share the Christian faith. And I have to prepare you for it!”

Arrested by this revelation of the deeper purpose of our time together, and yanked from my self-appointed pedestal, I had no other choice but to assume the posture of the eager student – humble and hungry to learn what I did not know.

In that moment, I let go of my “expertise”, my “experience”, and my “credentials” to free myself to receive new transformational insight on writing well. 

And the floodgates opened. 

As I opted to move from spectator to eager note taker, I found such profound truth in the simplicity of what was being taught – seeing the mechanics of academic writing with new eyes.

How many times have we been in the place to receive something new, something of great value to our purpose and call, yet because it appears simplistic and familiar, we treat it with disdain, missing the possibility of a transformational moment?

It is my sincere prayer that I won’t make this mistake again. I aim to see the world around me with new eyes, fresh perspective, understanding that even in the simple things, God is working His greater purpose out in my life.

This time, I needed to let go of “me”, so that I could receive more from Him!

 

40 Days Lighter – Day 17: Is It in the Right Pile?

Hangers

In my efforts to declutter my closet and dresser, I have repeatedly come across items that I was, at first, either sure I wanted to keep, or I was seriously considering throwing out. This internal wrestling with myself became cumbersome, so I followed the instructions of decluttering expert Marie Kondo, and simply pulled everything out into the open, covering my bed in clothes and accessories.

Now, with all of my belongings in one heap, I was able to form 2 more accurate piles: what I loved and would keep, what I no longer needed/wanted and would remove. That second pile was then split into two more piles – items in excellent condition to be donated, and a “straight to the trash” pile. I would never have guessed the amount of will power it actually takes to  properly prioritize one’s clothing.

I had jeans that I haven’t worn in years – whether it was because I was too big, or they were too small, no need to point the finger – but I still struggled to put them in the donate or trash pile! I wish that I could say that they were only a size or two away, but I found a pair of jeans that were upwards of 3 sizes from my being wearable, so even with my recent weight loss adventure, it would be quite a while before I could even squeeze a leg in them!

I asked myself why it was so difficult to part with items that I was not using, and simply did not need. I came up with a variety of answers – one pair was the most comfortable jeans I had ever owned; another was a design and color that just have not seen anywhere recently. I had tops that – if I’m being painfully transparent – were a style that I liked…on other people… but I probably wore once… or would never actually get around to wearing. Because sometimes, we wish we could embrace someone else’s sense of style…right?

As I thought about my reasons for hesitation with my clothes, I realized that these were often the same excuses that sometimes keep us from making transformative decisions in life. This particular role, or way of living is so comfortable. That’s just my style, just the way I am. Or the opposite – I want to try doing it like “So and so”, because they did it that way and they were successful – not realizing that another person’s style or life will never be the “right fit” for us. 

Some of us are afraid to make the difficult decision to let relationships, jobs, downright messy and unhealthy situations go – because we’re afraid we will never find another one like it. Even though that person isn’t helping us grow, even though that job is clearly dead end, even if our very future is in jeopardy, we simply can’t let it go because it’s familiar.

Tonight, I am challenging myself, as I encourage you, to make sure that we are properly – and prayerfully – prioritizing our life, so that we can be positioned to fulfill our purpose!

 

 

40 Days Lighter – Day 12: Learning New Hungers

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As I continue to reflect on my reading of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith, I was brought back to a chapter where the author talks about “rehabituating our hungers”.

I came across this chapter at the very beginning stages of my current healthy eating journey (I’m now 5 weeks in) – so as you can imagine, I gobbled it up.

Among the most meaningful quotes to me was this:

“Your hungers are themselves a kind of habit formed by certain practices. Those hungers, in turn, propel you into routines and rituals that solidify those habits.”

He goes on to state that “our tastes can be trained without our realizing it”.

These statements revealed a jarring reality to me – my desire to eat junk was both a cause and result of my poor eating habits. To break the cycle of craving, it then becomes necessary to change the habits that create that desire. To change those habits was going to take some intense periods of intentional living, planned grocery shopping, consistent home cooking, and diligent preparation.

I would need to change my routines to make a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, or even the local Jamaican restaurant I loved, far more inconvenient and obviously unnecessary.

I knew this was going to be a daunting task. This journey would mean giving up a way of living that had become second nature to me, like breathing air – I want to eat it, I like to eat it, so I’m going to eat it. It would mean choosing not to give in to my old eating habits in order to establish new, life-sustaining ones.

I wrestled with myself over the course of a couple days, but I ultimately committed to learning new hungers rather than just satisfying old cravings.

Over the last 5 weeks, as I have been deeply challenged to develop new tastes, to hunger for the “right” stuff, I found that my old cravings slowly but surely began to dissipate. That brownie that was my “go to” after a hard or emotionally charged day no longer offered that same sense of satisfaction. As a matter of fact, going without added sugar has made even my favorite treats taste too sweet.

I learned that if I was ate regular meals, and if my stomach was satisfied with the right foods, there was little room left for unhealthy cravings.

As I have been making my way through this journey to being 40 Days Lighter, I’ve realized that the same process I experienced to change my physical hunger, is the one needed to shift my spiritual hunger as well.

Just as I decluttered my physical diet, I have been on a journey to eliminate the distractions in my spiritual diet. I no longer choose to “partake” in negative, and even poisonous relationships. I am opting not to “feed” my soul on interactions that can’t satisfy – a good word from a friend is beautiful, but how much richer are the words that proceed from the mouth of the Creator – words that tell me that I am loved, I am accepted, I am His.