Making A Choice When Smacked Upside the Head

Closing of one door and opening another…

Closing of one door and opening another…

Titles are hard for me to come up with, but when I thought about an appropriate way of characterizing what I had written in this post, I landed on that title and it seemed to stick. :-)

Michael and I are in our Yukon right now, making the trek to meet a ferry in Southern California. We are heading to gorgeous Catalina Island where Michael has been asked to come and evaluate if his gifting and skills in the kitchen and in management might be a good fit for the InterVarsity campus “Campus by the Sea.” Wow...so much has happened in just four short days.

As we drive, thoughts of this week are swirling around in my head:

At 7:15am on Sunday morning, following the last day of special-needs summer camp, Michael received a text from the executive director stating that the board wanted us to vacate our quarters where we had been told we could live through the end of October...three months yet in the future. Instantly, we had a choice. React? Or prayerfully, purposefully, intentionally respond.

I won’t pretend I handled it well. My first reaction to the thought that I had six days to find a new way to make a living, a new place to live, and to pick up and move there was to spew venomous words that are best never said. My “Freedom to Feel” was on hyperdrive! The fact that anger is often a secondary emotion to heartache and deep sadness demonstrated yet another reason why I (and others like me) may not be in touch with their true feelings, the topic we have focused on for our LiveCasts all during July.

The thoughts that assaulted my mind in those moments early on Sunday were:

  • Has Round Two of the “Divine Whack-A-Mole” game begun?

  • Why did I dare to believe that I was finally going to enjoy a season of relative peace?

  • How could I have missed that offering to implement an expansive vision for this ministry: Retreats, homeschool co-op classes, elementary school environmental science studies, family camp-outs, booking Christian weddings and women’s retreats and more..that all of this was NOT God’s will for us?

Other thoughts were, of course:

  • How could the executive director and the board of directors do this to us, others in the body of Christ? 

  • Did this organization really think this was the way God would want them to treat those who had a vision for the ministry and who had given themselves through 10 weeks and who now had no place to go? Really? Within less than a week?

Thankfully, that is about the time when 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 kicked in like a vague and distant memory: 

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ

We needed to be intentional to take captive every thought before we were taken captive by toxic thoughts and bitterness.

How could I be intentional in this moment of panic?

—> By praying for the organization as it goes forward, that God will bless the camp director, board of directors, executive director and all those that the ministry can touch.

—> By meeting with the executive director and asking our questions, opening up a dialog that might benefit him and the camp as he continues to go forward in this ministry.

—> By sharing a meal with the camp director and trying to encourage him about the difference he is making. (Ok, in all honesty, we also shared our disappointments with him.)

—> By writing out an itemized list of gratitudes for all that God has blessed us with during the 10 weeks we enjoyed the hospitality of the camp.

—> By asking God what His thoughts are about what is going on and writing those down.

—> By recognizing lies that we might believe or were believing and replacing them with God’s truth.

Michael and I are painfully aware that the path of least resistance in this case—our default—is fraught with pitfalls and ugliness: bitterness, volatility, distrust, suspicion and venom. 

We HAVE to be intentional. 

We have to choose to consciously create our lives right now...what we will stand for.

We choose to work (albeit imperfectly) every day as we seek to discover God’s plan for us moving forward, to be intentional to choose what thoughts we let in. As one pastor used to say, anything I think or speak must pass the Philippians 4:8 test:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We continue to be grateful to the people who have been blessing us during this “sudden scrambling season.” To those that have offered a place for us to hook up our camper and stay, to those who give us hugs and pray with and for us, those who express their concern and offer their continued friendship and support. Many are online, but many are “in-person” friends and church family members.

It is you all that inspire and contribute to our own “Consciously Created Living.”

How About You?

Questions for your consideration and prayer journaling.

  1. Have you been faced with disappointment recently?

  2. What thoughts are you allowing to dominate your thinking? Do they pass the Philippians 4:8 test?

  3. Can you write a list of things you are thankful for, even in the midst of this disappointment?

  4. What lies might be bombarding you and what are God’s thoughts about each one? Consider writing them down.

  5. Are you taking your thoughts captive and surrendering them to obedience to Christ?

  6. Have you considered that what is a disappointment to you may be an appointment God is orchestrating for divine and wonderful purposes?

Prayer

Lord, our lives are filled with disappointments and surprises that throw us into a tailspin so often. Please show us how to reframe each of these with your perspective so that we might experience your best and reject the path of least resistance. Be exalted in all our transitions, trials, and challenges. In the matchless, mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

~ Heidi Bylsma-Epperson

During July we spoke about Freedom to Feel in our LiveCasts. (See our Events page for upcoming Events.) We spoke of ways of getting to the heart of processing our emotions with the Lord instead of choosing to numb ourselves or avoid our feelings. Starting next week, we are taking a group through a practical “hands-on” approach to facing the things we may run from. Join us. A special introductory and celebratory price of $19 for 4 weeks of “Deep Dive” into “Freedom to Feel.” Click the button below for more information.