Just Let It Go

A few days ago became a holiday for me. August 16 was a day of celebration. This is the day I decided to wait for since last summer. In the summer of 2015, I felt challenged and called to give up shopping as I stared at my overflowing closet. Crazy, right? For one year I didn’t buy myself clothes that would just keep ridiculously filling my closet. Yes, it was a challenge. But challenges can bring out the best in us and I learned so much about myself throughout this year. August 16 was the day I decided to end this endeavor. It was a rewarding day to say the least.

I’ve had a few people ask me how I feel after the year and what I’ve learned. It has been a few days and I’ve bought a few clothing items that I’ve been saving up for over the past few months. My mind has been jumbled with little time to sit down and remember where I was one year ago compared to now. Here I am with a challenge conquered still wondering why in the world did I give up shopping for one whole year?

I gave up shopping because it was something I knew I needed to do. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever had a gut feeling that wouldn’t let you think of anything else besides that one thing you had to do? Those feelings haunt me and don’t let me sleep at night. When I knew that this was something I had to do, I couldn’t let myself find excuses for an escape. I accepted the challenge and looked ahead to this new adventure. Difficulty awaited me but so did reward.

The biggest change I faced this year was how full my wallet was. There was actually cash in my wallet, people. From being a person who spent all her paycheck on shopping, coffee, and food, I noticed a slight increase in my savings. My money wasn’t coming to me for a quick visit, I actually had money camping out in my purse! Crazy, right? I never had to worry about gas money or food while on the road or expenses that needed to be paid. God continued to provide for me and instead of swiping my card at the mall, I put the money in a place where it was needed or where it could grow.

My eyes were opened to where I put my money. Where we put our money often shows where our hearts are. I wouldn’t say I  was putting my money towards my looks and outward appearance last year. I would instead say I was spending all of my money on myself. I was selfishly throwing money away for my wants not my needs, creating a mentality that what I was being given was all mine with no room for generosity. Focusing on our wants more than our needs creates an empty life. Yes, we need clothing. But if I never shopped again, I have enough clothing to last me the rest of my life! But if we have the resources and ability to bless people with what we’ve been given, that brings so much more meaning and purpose to life than a full closet.

What this year has left me with is a perspective on our grasp of things. When I first decided to give up shopping, my hand was in a clenched fist. It was very difficult to see something I wanted to buy and not go try it on with the possibility of a purchase. As the days and weeks and months dragged on, I slowly let go with empty hands. How much more freeing it is to go about life with empty hands! No burdens, no things to weigh you down.

Holding on to our things can be dangerous because they are temporary. When that thing fails to exist or gets lost or breaks, we are left disappointed and dysfunctional. We may not know what to do with ourselves. Imagine losing your phone for three days. A device you use for weather, time, communication, entertainment, capturing moments… What would you do without it? There’s a scary question.

If I can leave you with one thing today, it would be a challenge that you can take or leave. Let go of something for awhile. A day, a week, a month, or even a year. Let something go that has a grip on you as you hold it in your hands. What is one thing that absorbs your focus and energy that could be used for a better purpose? What can you give up in order for you to give more to others?

Not spending my money on clothes gave me more reason to bless others with my money or be able to create more memories with friends on trips or special events. Giving up something leaves a space for something better to fill it. If you feel challenged today, I encourage you to not let this gut feeling pass. Trust yourself and see what happens when you let go. See how you react without that one thing and how much you rely on it. I promise you after the difficult beginning of your journey, you will experience freedom with a new perspective on who and what you are living your life for.

 

 

 

 

Fear For Breakfast

I am a breakfast person. Coffee, french toast, bagels, bacon… the works. If I were to pick one meal of the day to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the first meal of my day. You have probably heard people say breakfast is the “Important Start To Your Day” meal. It “sets you up for success or failure”. As a very independent person, I never wanted to believe that something other than me could determine how my day was going to look. I thought no matter what I ate, I would be able to turn my day around through my attitude and strong will. But food is a funny thing. What we consume affects every aspect of our lives. It not only affects our physicality, but our mentality and spirituality.

I’ve been very conscious of what I consume this summer. So conscious that I even gave up unnatural sugar for one month. For the month of July, one month of the year where ice cream becomes my actual friend, I stuck to a diet that consisted of vegetables, meat, nuts, little grains, and little fruit. There were snacks here and there without sugar I would find and treasure. You would be surprised at how much food has added sugar to create an addictive taste!

What I noticed during this month was how much more energized I was during the day. I wasn’t depending on coffee or naps to keep me alert. The days didn’t feel too long or drawn out. I wasn’t day dreaming about going to bed early that night. It was a wonderful thing to actually enjoy my day and the company I was with because my body was feeling energized and capable of anything! All because I was conscious of what I was consuming.

So yes, I am a strong advocate for healthy consumption. It determines a lot and gives us a launch pad with energy for the day. Breakfast is emphasized by health nuts because a good beginning promises a strong end. If I start my day by eating a donut, I might just feel like a donut at the end of the day. Donuts still look good on the outside but lack a significant substance to contribute to one’s health on their insides. If I don’t benefit my health on the inside, how can I be my best self without the energy to do so?

What we consume can change everything. It can change our thoughts, opinions, attitudes, and struggles. And in a season of political importance with many decisions to be made, we need to talk about what we are consuming on the daily.

We are in a culture where we are constantly consuming fear. We eat it for breakfast. We are exposed the moment we wake up and unlock our phones. It creeps in our dining rooms and kitchens when the TV chimes in from the living room. We discuss it in our break rooms and cafeterias. It even comes back around when we gather for family dinner after a long day of work and school. How do we escape this fear when we are constantly consuming it?!

Living in fear is like living with cancer and not doing anything about it; allowing it to creep into every part of us to affect all that we do. It is burdening and toxic to those around us. Fear can be passed down from generation to generation because of the unexplainable influence it has on us. Why are we so easily taken over by fear?

Just like consuming food, we consume many things the media tells us. The media tells us that we should be afraid for the future of our country. The media tells us there is no hope. The media tells us our leaders will ruin our lives and bring despair to future generations. Without going into a political rant, I want to give you a reminder this morning.

Our hope is not in a politician. It is not in a law or an amendment. Our hope is not in fair pay for all. Our hope is not in equality. Our hope is not in man. Humans have messed things up since the beginning of time. Why is now any different? Why do we think now is the time to find some person we can depend on to “save” our country?

Our hope is in Jesus Christ and He is who we look to for these issues we face and so desperately hope to fix. We can hope for equality, fair pay, good laws, and good politicians. We cannot hope in these things. If life hasn’t already smacked you in the face with this truth, let me tell you this: Life isn’t fair! Things don’t always go our way and yes, there are many problems our country and world faces today. We are constantly being confronted with new problems that seem to make our hearts sink again and again. But let us not forget the constant that has always been and still remains to be our hope and salvation.

Jesus Christ is a man worthy of our faith and trust. He is the Son of the one who has a plan to ultimately glorify Him and His people. When there are times of trouble, He tells us not to fear. He has the final say and the ultimate victory in the end.

I once heard someone say, “Fear did not come from the Lord. So where does it come from? The devil. We don’t want anything from the devil! Give it right back to him and receive the courage and strength from God. He has much greater gifts to give than the devil.” If we are to be like God, we cannot hold onto fear because it is not of God. As His people, we must practice trusting in Him and not letting fear cripple us. It is how we can see this world change.

Let us not fear tomorrow! Let us not fear today. Don’t constantly consume messages of fear that want us to tremble and look to temporary things for a distraction. Those things are of false hope. Instead look to the one who wants to guide us through this mess of a world to our final destination of union with Him. That is the hope we can hold on to. That is the hope that should wake us up every morning and energize us to serve others in our lives and be our best selves.

Let’s consume His hope before we are faced with fear. Wake up and open your Bible first before opening your phone. Let’s have more conversations about solutions than about the problems. Pray instead of worrying, and pray without ceasing. And learn how to trust in these times. Learn how to lean on Jesus who is in control of the end of it all.

Don’t be crippled by fear. It is something this world wants us to hang onto. But God commands us to not fear. He instead commands us to be strong and courageous. I’m sure you’ve heard a verse like that before. It is time to start living it out!

Trust in Him and point to Him; our hope and our salvation. Jesus Christ is Lord of all and has conquered sin. Let us remember that in times of trouble.

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9