Monday, March 26, 2012

Live Oak Lenten Journey - Tuesday, Post #5

Boy! When I suggested that we do the 'Lenten Journey' this year, I NEVER imagined that working on the same issue for 6 weeks would become such a chore. I am tired of working on my issue of perfectionism. I am tired of trying to do things differently. My 'normal' way of doing things might be somewhat dysfunctional, but it was known and easy. I could go through my day without having to think about my reactions.

This 'Lenten Journey' I chose is simply exhausting at times.

But I guess, that's the point, right? Doing the 'right' thing. Living the life of a Christian is making the choice to live life in a way that is not easy. For that reminder, I am grateful for this journey I've been on for the past 5 weeks. It has reminded me that I can't do it all alone. I need God's help just to get through what had become for me an automatic way of life. Six weeks ago, yes, I prayed. Yes, I read the Bible. Yes, I tried to make decisions based on my faith. But it was rote. It was me going through the motions instead of really letting Christ live in and through me.

To paraphrase the Carole King song -'This world will take your soul if you let it.' Making sure it doesn't is a daily struggle - one that never goes away completely.

We can rest in Jesus - a statement that is absolutely true. But it is work to get to that place and if we get too complacent, we lose it and have to work to find it again.

I am very thankful for the hard work I have done so far this Lent. I know that next week will not mark the end of my journey though: It just marks the beginning of another portion of my journey to be a disciple of Jesus.

Chesney Szaniszlo


Monday, March 19, 2012

Live Oak Lenten Journey - Tuesday, Post #4

So I am taking my perceived 'failures' in stride and doing better at stepping back and taking a more realistic look at my daily life but I can see that fear (the root of my perfectionist tendencies) still has a hold on me.

Today I literally laid myself down before God and asked him to take it from me. I don't think I've ever really wanted to let the fear go before. I know that sounds weird, but even if I am fearful, I still feel like I have some sort of control over my environment - it is a known quantity.

To give up all anxiety and fear means that I am totally letting go and letting God take care of it. And that's not really in my nature - I guess because my nature is sinful. Letting God be in charge goes against my desire to put myself in God's place and be in control.

As I prayed, I told God that I was giving my anxieties and fears to Him - my family, our lives, our futures. I asked that He would give me the strength and courage to face whatever comes - a prayer that I spoke with fear and trembling. Despite this, I trust that God will bring me through whatever comes because He loves and values me infinitely more than I can ever love and value my own family. That fact in itself brings me ease.

Chesney Szaniszlo

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" - Matthew 6:25-27


Monday, March 12, 2012

Live Oak Lenten Journey - Tuesday, Post #3

Why is it so hard to just abide in Christ? I have noticed my passion for trying to change for God this Lenten season waning the past week. I still recognize when my perfectionist tendencies and need for control take over but it is much harder this week for me to do anything other than recognize it. I don’t particularly feel motivated to do anything about it…

I’m sure it’s directly related to how much time I am spending with God during my days. I am ashamed to say that when life is busy, God sometimes feels more like an inconvenience – one more thing on my ‘to do’ list – than my Lord and Savior.

I have been reading a book recently called “Grace for the Good Girl” by Emily Freeman. There is one section in particular that I keep going back to in my head. It represents for me a complete paradigm shift that I need to make and haven’t been successful at yet. Emily writes, “ When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry, frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust in The One Who Is. We will do whatever we believe it takes to please God rather than receive the acceptance that has already been given.”

She goes on to state that God doesn’t want us to please Him, He wants us to trust Him. This was (and still is) a crazy notion for me personally. When I read that, I thought, “WHAT is she talking about? Of course God wants us to please him! That’s what everybody wants!" And then I had my little “aha” moment. I certainly want people to please me - BUT God is not me. God is God and maybe God wants more from me than doing what he wants me to do (yes, a strange notion). Maybe he simply wants me to love and trust Him more than he wants our obedience.

It makes sense that in my sinful, controlling ways, I want people to please me. The ‘trust’ thing is often secondary to me. I want the people in my life to do what I say, when I say it, without arguing!

But - oh- maybe that’s what trust brings to us. Maybe if people trust us, they are more willing to follow us and therefore we are pleased by their obedience which comes from trust and not fear.

Maybe if I trust God more, and ‘work’ less, I will automatically follow him better and therefore please Him more.

Maybe my whole life is upside down and backwards.

Man, do I need Jesus…

Chesney Szaniszlo


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Live Oak's Lenten Journey

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Live Oak Lenten Journey - Tuesday, Post #2

So, God has given me all sorts of ways to practice not being a perfectionist this past week. Not surprising, of course. :) From housework to homework to professional work, I have been reminded this past week, that I am a "cracked pot". I am imperfect, no matter what I do. God has constantly reminded me this week of the thing that I wanted to internalize at the beginning of Lent this year, that He is the only one who is perfect. As created beings, the rest of us can only trust in His grace and redemptive powers as we walk through our broken and imperfect lives.

My father used to tell me, "Chesney, you do the best you can at the time and then you move on." Profound and wise words to a daughter with a need for perfection. It is unfortunate that I didn't believe them sooner.

The idea of "good enough" has always been sort of a joke to me because I've always felt that if I'm not the best, then I'm nothing. Worse, the bar I hold up to be my standard constantly changes. When I reach my 'goal' I re-set the bar so I can never fully accomplish anything and feel good about it. What I am realizing is that because we are human, if we get to the "good enough" level, we are doing exceptionally well. In the bigger picture of God's activity in creation, most of us aren't working even at that level - and I need to be content with that.

I need to fall on my face before God every day and ask Him to help me do His work, not mine. I think if I could do that every day, the peace of having the Holy Spirit with me as I went about my daily work, would change everything: the way I work, the way I interact with my family and people around me, the way I feel about myself, and the way I feel about life in general.

This past week, I have been by playing and re-playing Gungor's "Beautiful Things". The refrain is "You [God] make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us."

Today, I truly believe that. And that is good enough for today.

Chesney Szaniszlo

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
-2 Corinthians 4:7-12