The Real Problem

It’s not you, it’s me. No. I’m not just using a line. I’m being serious because I am the problem. Unless you’re reading this post after you’ve made a dumb mistake, in which case– you are the problem.

Last week I got into the Christmas spirit and did some cookie baking. I used the Sara Lee mix and followed the cutout recipe. I melted the better, measured the flour and poured in the cookie mix and I mixed and mixed. Twenty minutes of mixing, my dough wouldn’t stick. Thirty minutes went by. No matter how much I mixed and kneaded and dropped on the counter, my dough would not hold. I rolled the dough out and watched it separate before my eyes when it should have maintained its form and spread out. I stubbornly pressed the cookie cutter into it anyway and watched the dough fall apart instead of adhering to the shape of the cutter.

You know you’re doing something wrong when you’re baking cookies  and you’re so frustrated that you’re on the brink of tears and you actually start to contemplate tossing the cookie dough in the trash. No problem is too small for my Jesus. There I stood at my counter, kneading and praying. Praying to Jesus for the wisdom to form the perfect dough. God’s got this. And yet there I stood, twenty minutes after having prayed with no change. I think I started to get a little angry at God for not helping me out. Baking cookies is very simple so why couldn’t He just give me a hand?

I paused my mixing long enough to turn to the other counter in my kitchen when I saw it: the egg. The egg that was supposed to be in my bowl of cookie dough was still sitting on the counter. Oops. I felt like an idiot.

“There’s a spiritual lesson in here somewhere….” I thought to myself.

 

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It’s not You it’s me. It’s not you it’s me.

God isn’t the problem. Your friend isn’t the problem. Your teacher isn’t the problem. Your boss isn’t the problem. Your boyfriend isn’t the problem. Your parent isn’t the problem. You get where I’m going with this.

You are the problem.

How many times have you gotten mad at someone close to you because their actions have upset you? Because they’ve been ‘inconsiderate’, ‘rude’, ‘disrespectful’, ‘insensitive’, etc.? How many times have you rationalized your anger? Have you told yourself that things would be different if they just changed or if the scenario were different?

Let me be less vague and be a little vulnerable– I haven’t done that in a while.

I spent a lot of 2016 getting angry at a friend of mine. I had strong feelings for this friend and was hypersensitive to any and all of their actions. If they didn’t answer my texts, I thought they were ignoring me because they thought I was annoying. If they talked to someone else more than they talked to me, I was jealous. If they were curt and didn’t acknowledge the times when I would go out of my way to do something for them, I was hurt. If they flirted with me and paid attention to me, I was hopeful. Until they ignored my texts again or flirted with someone else or didn’t notice how much I cared for them. It was a vicious cycle.

I told myself a thousand times, “if they just (fill in the blank with any action), things would be different.”

“If they treated me like this”

“If we spoke about this”

“If we got to know each other more”

Blah blah blah, essentially, things would be different. So I thought. So I hoped. So I was wrong.

Things wouldn’t be different because the situation and the other person didn’t need to change. I did. My perspective, my actions, my attitude all needed to change in order for me to break the cycle.

When I was trying to form those ingredients into cookie dough, I used all of my strength and efforts and even called on God for help. Nothing I did made a difference because I didn’t remember that I had left the egg on the counter. I didn’t see it. When I turned around to the other counter, my perspective was widened. I could see things ( the egg) that I didn’t see before. Things with my friend and I weren’t that different. When I spend time with him or talk to him– what I text him; what I don’t text him; what I wear around him; what I say to him. With every detail, I secretly hope ingredients are being mixed together to change how he views me and to form dough, which in this case is a more solid bond between the two of us.

I keep missing the egg. The biggest detail. Without it, no matter how hard I try, that dough will not form. Love. I can work as hard as I want, but love will always be the missing ingredient that makes it impossible for the dough to form, which is why I’m the problem. I think I can will something to happen with my own actions instead of believing in The Holy One’s plans. It doesn’t matter what my friend says or does or what I say or do; as long as love isn’t in the mix, that dough will not form.

Now what about your situation? What’s the missing ingredient in your relationships?  Is it one that can be easily added? Or is God calling you to throw out your batch of dough?

 

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I’m Addicted to Popcorn & God…

The first time I tried it, it was incredible. I bought it at the store not knowing what to expect. When I got home I promptly sat on my couch and began to indulge. I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with its goodness. It made my taste buds tingle. Its smell unpleasant, but its taste ravishing. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. No matter how much of it I had, I wanted more. More and more of its salty goodness & buttery flavor as I popped handful after handful into my mouth. Pause. Yes, I’m talking about popcorn. Why? Because to put it plain, and well, awkwardly… I have a bit of an addiction to popcorn. No, really, I do. And while this addiction may not be one that will kill or even harm me, it has gotten me to think more about addictions.

Reflecting on addictions has enabled me to see just how feeble the human flesh really is. With just a few samples of one thing, our minds become enslaved by said thing. The enslaving process beginning when we make certain things the answer to our problems. Be it gambling, alcohol, drugs, porn, sex, etc. we allow these things to become our escapes. When we escape to them too often, they become safe havens. Finding safety in such destructive places leaves us trapped. So that escape, that freedom we longed for, ends up being a prison. Unable to break down the walls we’ve built, we constantly succumb to whatever holds us captive. It gets to the point where we label and identify ourselves with these problems; “I’m an alcoholic;” “I’m a gambling addict;” and the list goes on. These labels give us an excuse for the problem. The mindset being, it is something we can’t help.

These labels are wrong because there are two labels that can categorize the entire human race: Sinner & Saved. We all have this addiction to escape. Whether we like to escape to social media, to partying, to family time, to vacation, to sleep, & etc. That innate desire to step away from the stresses around us is normal & apart of who we are. The differences arise in what we end up escaping to. Because of our sin nature, we often escape to the aforementioned vices that can destroy; things that we expect to fill us, but that eventually leave us with a gnawing emptiness. But then there’s the second label: Saved. While we all have a sin nature embedded in us, we’ve all been saved from it, meaning we all have the ability to rise above the things holding us captive. Not in our own flesh, but in The flesh that was shed on the cross for our sins. Jesus’ death made a way for us to receive God’s grace. My addiction above popcorn and all else is God. This addiction is unlike any others because it’s not a temporary escape. It’s a pathway to eternal happiness that helps me overcome my struggles & the destructive vices of this world. I walk away knowing that what I’m indulging in, is the love of a Father, Friend, Lover, Healer & Savior all in one that brings me a peace that passes all understanding.