The James Challenge

finished abandoned mine hallway (2) Last night, a challenge was thrown in “my general direction” by my dear James.  Since our common love language is typically sarcasm, prepare yourselves now…before reading any further. I was challenged to stretch myself as a writer, and begin delving into the things that I am passionate about.  My nose is scrunched up as I type this, because I really disdain constantly admitting that he’s right.

This will be a stretch for me; because I care so deeply for each and every one of my readers; and never wish to offend.  That being said, I will proceed only after asking forgiveness on this side of the new topics.  Please accept my humblest apologies if I offend…that is so far from my intent.  Now that my courage has been fully mustered; the following are what I am really, truly, passionate about (omitting, of course, the obvious ones of my Faith, My Man, and My Family…the top 3):

1. Beer co beer

2. Chocolate

3. Drives with the windows down…out in the country

4. Lake views

5. Nature

6. Freedom and equality; which I have rarely seen done well through a formula or equation for sameness.

7. Widows, Poor, orphans and the oppressed

8. Injustices being turned to justice

9. Empowerment vs. Enabling

10. Curiosity and life-long learning

11. A Standard of Excellence

12. Living a Life of Worship

Here’s where it gets tricky.  I am passionate about living a life of worship.  My friend Michael Brooks once defined worship as “a direction of gaze”.  James has since said that “Worry and Worship are polar opposites.  Either you focus on the problem and worship it by worrying; or you worship the Creator and rest”.  They are both right. It is so easy to get off-track; even if it’s just a little bit.

For instance, a while ago I was determined to become  “dum-da-da-dum: the Proverbs 31 WOMAN”! (You could almost hear the superhero music inserted there, couldn’t you? 😉 )

Well, I began to daydream about what it would be like to hear James say, “Gracie, you are the living, breathing embodiment of Proverbs 31! I am so thankful that I married such a virtuous woman!  You surpass every woman that I’ve ever met! (This is where our children would gather around us and all angelically say, “Mommy! You are bless~ed!  What an amazing mommy you are!”) It didn’t happen.

So, I decided all on my own that I wasn’t trying hard enough to be that woman.  I literally exhausted myself for about 10 days, trying to achieve my self-inflicted goal. No matter how hard I worked or how gracious I was, or how humorously I tried to insert “Christian Expletives” into my language in replacement of my normal salty self; nothing worked.

I let my gaze be enthralled by the image of the goal that I wanted to achieve; and I let my gaze slip from focusing on who my Creator is. It sucked.  I was empty; and I felt haggard and hollow.

James finally set me down and got me to tell him what was going on.  It was pretty embarrassing…and I spent most of the conversation trying to avoid eye contact.  He didn’t yell at me, or threaten me; he simply sat by me and chuckled ever so softly as he gently shook his head. “I love you, Gracie!  I love that you want to be that woman; just please remember to ask why you want to be that woman.  Is it so you can bring glory to HIM? Or is it so you can be the ‘Amazing Woman?'”

Is there a hole nearby that I can crawl into?

I had a long, sheepish talk with God.  I apologized for trying so hard to be amazing that I forgot how amazing He is. I asked Him to redirect my gaze. In the end, if I’m not focused on Who He is and how deeply He loves me, nothing that I do for God will matter.

Think about it; if I spend all my energy doing things for James like cleaning, laundry, etc. but never stop to be with him and enjoy his company, our marriage will crumble quickly.

Likewise, God loves me.

He delights in spending time with me, and living life beside me.  It must truly hurt Him when I get caught up in the doing but forget to simply rest in being His Child.

His love is the same for you that it is for me.  waterfall mts

Feel free to simply be still with Him for a while.

Remember who He is, and know that you are His.

Love, Gracie K.

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