Re: The toughest choices we make

I find trying to understand how and why we make decisions interesting. Having had the opportunity to work with clients in different industries, I’ve had to study the ways in which consumers make choices between car A versus car B or toothpaste A versus toothpaste B. We make choices every day from the mundane to the most significant. But often, the toughest choices we make are not about what to buy or where to get something. Often the toughest choices we make challenge our expectations, world views, intentions and motivations. Some of the toughest choices we are faced are:

  1. Choosing to trust when trust has been broken.
  2. Choosing to have and act on hope when circumstances seem bleak.
  3. Choosing to show compassion when reason can’t answer why. 
  4. Choosing to be faithful when life is abundant.
  5. Choosing to forgive when the pain is deep and difficult to forget. 
  6. Choosing to love when it’s easier to cast blame. 
  7. Choosing to pray when doubts continue to echo. 
  8. Choosing gratitude when life seems to fall short of expectations.
  9. Choosing to stay committed when possibilities and options are available. 
  10. Choosing to be kind when anger feels more natural. 
  11. Choosing to tell the whole truth when lying might seem to cause less pain or conflict. 
  12. Choosing to be courageous when fear and insecurities feel concrete. 

As free agents in this world, we have been given the gift of choice and with that comes great responsibilities. We do not know exactly how the future will turn out or how our choices can create a ripple effect, only God knows. So why do we often make decisions when faced with tough choices without consulting Him? Why do we lean on our limited understanding instead of seeking guidance to the one who created the universe, past, present and future? Why do we make judgements based on what we think is right instead of inviting His judgement to preside?

We don’t want to lose control. 

The book of Judges, like many books in the Old Testament, tells stories of God’s chosen people repeatedly turning away from Him, His statutes and commandments. And repeatedly we can read the disastrous outcomes people fall into because they chose to do what was right in their own eyes. Nonetheless, Heavenly Father’s gracious and compassionate character repeatedly saves them upon repentance, and gives them multiple chances to change their ways. He continues to do this with all of us today! I don’t know anything else more humbling than that.

As broken people, living in a broken world it is inevitable for us to make poor choices that not only impact our lives and those we love. We are accountable for those choices. We make mistakes. It’s the most human quality that we have. However, there’s beauty in brokenness when we set aside our will for His. There’s beauty in brokenness when we choose to put our hope in Him. There’s beauty in brokenness when we invite Him to lead us into becoming the victorious people He made us to be.   

Always, 

K

P.S. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago. Micah 7:18-20 (NIV)

Dear Hannah

Anger is an emotion I’ve had to work on over the years. It’s the emotion that rumbles and bubbles when something unfortunate happens or when I have felt provoked in some way. At first, I thought that feeling anger was terrible and tried to suppress it as much as I could. Eventually that didn’t work because anger can sometimes grow into resentment or arrogance when left unmanaged. Anger prevents empathy from shining the light to a different perspective. If you ask me, I’d rather deal with anger than resentment or arrogance. Better yet, I’d rather repent for self-righteousness and pray for discernment!

Reading about your story amazed me. Not just because of the faithfulness you’ve shown to God’s promise and goodness. I marvelled in the grace and wisdom you expressed when it would have been understandably easy to get angry. 

And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.

1 Samuel 1:6

Out of the two chapters that told your story, that was the line that stood out the most. A big part of me felt infuriated with Penninah for you. How dare she dig at you like that? Yet there was no follow up verse that talked of your retaliation. Instead, you went to God and prayed in sorrow and poured out your heart’s greatest desires openly without seeking some form of retribution from Penninah’s taunting. And even then, Eli accused you of being drunk! You saw past the jealousy, the sadness Penninah carried.

Nonetheless over time, you’ve shown patience and trust in God that He will deliver you from the disappointment you had been feeling for many years. Unlike your predecessor Sarah, you didn’t take matters into your own hands. You didn’t let time be a factor of the perseverance of your faith. You didn’t let frustration cloud your judgement, rather you’ve repeatedly shown humility. All while God continued to work behind the scenes to make space for miracles. Little did you know that He set you apart to be Samuel’s mother and abundantly gave you more children down the road. Gifts that exceeded your request, and quite possibly your expectations. 

As I continue to grow into becoming a woman of faith, your story is one I intend to remember. Perhaps, one day myself, you and Ruth can go out for a lunch date? Something tells me we’ll have a great conversation! 

Always,

K

P.S. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

To my 23-year old self

Bright eyed, full of hope and possibilities for what the world could be, and how you can be an agent of positive change in that world. Discoveries are endless, internally and all around. At times, opposition and expectations feel like concrete walls that prevent you from doing what you want, who you want to be and where you want to be. A cage that you somehow need to escape. Oh sweet girl, you’ll figure out eventually that’s not always the case.

It feels like forever since I saw you looking back in the mirror. In reality it’s only been almost five years and we still have a lifetime of growing, maturing to do. Every day is a day for change if you let yourself have that luxury. Now, I initially thought of sharing with you insights that may direct you in the path that you are now, but that defeats the purpose of the experience. So instead, here are lyrics to a song that may speak to you in different seasons:

Keep me in the moment by Jeremy Camp

I’ve been thinking ’bout time and where does it go

How can I stop my life from passing me by, I don’t know

I’ve been thinking ’bout family and how it’s going so fast

Will I wake up one morning just wishing that I could go back?

I’ve been thinking ’bout lately, maybe

I can make a change and let you change me

So, with all of my heart this is my prayer

Singing oh Lord, keep me in the moment

Help me live with my eyes wide open

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me

Singing oh Lord, show me what matters

Throw away what I’m chasing after

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me (what you have for me)

Keep me in the moment

Oh, keep me in the moment

Keep me in the moment

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me (oh)

When I wake up in the morning

Lord, search my heart

Don’t let me stray

I just wanna stay where you are

All I got is one shot, one try

One go around in this beautiful life

Nothing is wasted when everything’s placed in your hands

Singing oh Lord, keep me in the moment

Help me live with my eyes wide open

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me (what you have for me)

Singing oh Lord, show me what matters

Throw away what I’m chasing after

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me (what you have for me)

Keep me in the moment (keep me in the moment)

Lord keep me in the moment (keep me in the moment)

Keep me in the moment

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me

I’ve been thinking about heaven

And the promise you hold

So, it’s all eyes on you

Until the day you call me home

Singing oh Lord, keep me in the moment

Help me live with my eyes wide open

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me

(I don’t wanna miss, I don’t wanna miss)

Singing oh Lord, show me what matters

Throw away what I’m chasing after (oh)

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me (yeah)

Keep me in the moment

Oh, keep me in the moment

Keep me in the moment

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me

Keep me in the moment (keep me in the moment)

Oh, keep me in the moment (keep me in the moment)

Keep me in the moment

‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me (what you have for me)

Maturity doesn’t just mean having responsibilities [tasks] and dealing with expectations. Maturity is seeing all the possibilities and discerning between the voices in your head to make choices with full acknowledgement of the consequences and the values you are standing on. Maturity is daring to live your life greatly with integrity. 

Always, 

K

P.S. “Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.” 1 Samuel 12:16

Dear lovers and fighters

I started taking kickboxing lessons a few years ago to fulfil a curiosity I’ve had as a teenager. There was something about how the fighters moved around the boxing ring and the impact each hit had that made me feel a victorious uproar. There was something about the resilience and strength fighters had between every round, more excruciating than the one before. Pain was inevitable, fighting through it was an option. 

This post is not meant to glamorize the world of boxing or mixed martial arts or kickboxing. There are legitimate precautions when training and fighting that should be considered. I’m not ignoring that and neither should you. No, this post is about lovers and fighters because we are one and the same. It takes a lot of heart to fight and to love. Most of all, it takes an unshakeable, unbreakable source of stability to hold our ground when things seem to fall apart. 

The first thing they taught us in kickboxing was how to stand, not how to jab or do a cool roundhouse kick. Why? Because how we stand has an impact on agility, the power of a hit and whether or not we keep standing after being hit. In so many ways, the way we stand has an impact on how well we fight through a battle, literally, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

What do you stand for? 

A simple yet provoking question we’ve all seen in social media, billboards, TV commercials, or even election propaganda. These four simple words strung together speak to the core of our values and who we are as people. Whether we are easily swayed to get a bold sleeve tattoo or experience FOMO from seeing edited travel adventures on Instagram. It all comes back to the same place. So what happens when the fight gets tougher and longer? What happens when we don’t think things could get worse only to find that they certainly can? What happens when you feel like you’ve given it everything you have but nothing seems to be enough? 

Where do you turn to when life feels disappointing, unfair and downright confusing? 

Late at night I was sitting by myself at my apartment, my gaze fixed on the floor and my head laying on my sofa cushions. Tears started streaming down my face while music was blasting on the background, partly to drown the silence but mostly so that my next door neighbors wouldn’t hear my groaning. The only thought that echoed in my mind was, “I don’t know what’s worse, rejection, grief or betrayal?” I didn’t expect to have the privilege to experience all of those things within the same year, let alone in the same sentence. Bruises on my shins and an overworked shoulder didn’t seem as painful anymore. But it was a privilege because that much pain was an invitation to heal. That much pain was an invitation to grow more compassionate. That much pain was an invitation to expand God’s love and mercy. 

Fighters are taught to fight through the pain and to use every last bit of human strength they have left – to give it their all. Some have an innate inclination to keep fighting, a fighting spirit. I am a fighter. Always have been and for sure not by my own design. God made me to be a fighter, but He also made me to be a lover so that when all of my human strength is completely depleted I can turn to Him. 

The book of Ruth tells a story of a faithful Moabite woman who showed great loyalty, tenacity and integrity. Ruth became a widow early in her marriage but chose to stay faithful to God and her late husband’s family despite hunger, discrimination and extreme poverty. A lot of theologians interpret her story with great emphasis on her unwavering faithfulness and though I agree with those interpretations, when I reflect on Ruth’s story I picture a fighter. It would have been easier for Ruth to leave her mother-in-law, and it would have been easier to walk away from the marriage covenant that she made with God when her husband died. She’s human like us and would have had to fight through her grief, temptations and doubts. Yet she didn’t give in. Ruth chose to fight through multiple rounds and came out a redeemed woman of faith. 

I’m not Ruth. But like Ruth, I have my own fight to bear. The reality is, the enemy will whisper and try to distract my focus from the transformation that God is doing in my heart. The enemy continues to do so every day. And when he does, these are the fighting words that I will choose to remember:

God is good even when circumstances feel cruel. 
God loves me in ways I may not understand sometimes. 
God has already redeemed all of us through Jesus Christ. 
God will give me the strength, patience, grace and empathy that I didn’t think I had more of. 
God will give me more love I didn’t think I can give others.

Always,

K

P.S. “She is not afraid of tribulation, for all her household is covered in dual garments of righteousness and grace.” Proverbs 31:21 (Passions Translation)