Faith - May 1, 2015

Where Do We Place Our Hopes?

brightontheday blog talking about a personal experience that led her analyze her hopes

This is my first faith-based post as part of the new-ish direction of BTD (that I introduced in this blog post and for which I explained my intentions in this post).

Today I want to tell you a simple, short story and walk you through what I learned from it. In other words, this is me sharing little bits of my faith story/walk with Christ and will hopefully give you a glimpse into the many things continuously running through my mind and shaping my days. I’ll admit, I’m nervous to share this because it’s nothing special or revolutionary. There’s no great revelation; it’s just a simple story of an experience through which the Lord taught me something (but rather, reminded me of something I already know – but that I need to be reminded of over and over again).

Let Me Tell You A Little Story

and I’ll start by saying that sales (yes the ones that everyone else in the world LOVES) legit STRESS me the heck out. and this story will hopefully give you a little peak into why and how they do. ok so here we go.

The other day, I woke up to the following text message:

“Hey, B! Did you happen to get an email about the [retailer] sale? Don’t they usually send us an email the night before, giving us a heads up!” 

To put it simply, I woke up to news of a big sale that I had no idea was coming. And I’m not gonna lie y’all, (as per usual) I went into PANIC mode. OMG. A sale? AHHH! So much work…I’m behind! I then proceeded to make things worse (!) by getting on social media and seeing just how behind-the-game I was, only to see that 72-something other bloggers have already beat me to the punch; everyone’s posting about the freaking sale. Awesome. The stress heightens.


Let me back it up and give you some background here. In the blogging world, sales are a BIG deal. Why? Because it’s important that we keep our readers informed on these kinds of things (and hopefully before everyone else tells them about it…and with our favorite/best picks and finds selected) Sales might be exciting for the rest of the world, but they stress the be-dazzles out of me. So about the email (the one in the initial text message) – let me explain. We (bloggers) will sometimes get an email the night before a big sale so that we can prep for the madness. And by prep work, I mean running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And by head-less chicken, I mean rushing to my computer, opening 27 tabs (in my browser) and rushing to put together a blog post (or a product collage via photoshop).

Resume. Back to me reading this text.

So yeah, the panic is settling in and I’m feeling mega urges to jump out of bed and rush to my computer (PJs in full force, teeth unbrushed, and bed un-made) and frantically throw something together in an effort to inform my followers/readers about this awesome sale – in a completely calm, cool and collected/I-knew-this-was-coming kind of manner. And look, I know it sounds silly (more like ridiculous!) that such an event could stress me out; but just believe me when I tell you that it does. And despite how ridiculous it makes me look, I can’t deny this. I mean, honestly…I get nightmares about these sorts of things. Seriously. How dare a sale start without me knowing! ha.

Panic-stricken and stress-ridden (yeah, I’m being dramatic), I let it all sink in. By this point, I was sitting up with my arms crossed and biting my lip as I weighed the situation. Do I scrap my morning plans, set everything aside and crank out a blog post? Or….pretend it’s not happening (ha! I do that sometimes).

I decided to resist the computer and that I was going to do NOTHING about this big sale (OMG!). But meanwhile, hiding under all this stomp-your-foot-down stubbornness was the business-minded (competitive) side of me. And ‘she’ was throwing a full-on hissy fit, yelling and screaming at the other part of me wanting to handle the situation differently. You’re an idiot, you’re going to miss out on all those sales…and then you’re not going to be able to pay your rent. But whatever, I’ll be singing ‘I told ya so’ in a few days.

Blocking all the voices, though, I proceeded to sit there and endure (slash process) the war between my should, could and would alter egos. And then I got up, made my bead and headed to the kitchen. I started a pot of coffee, brushed my teeth, and made myself some breakfast. I got my bible and journal out and told myself THIS is what I was going to do instead.

I brought it ALL to the Lord. And I’ll be honest – It felt very forced at first, like going to the gym at 5:30 AM. Yeah, it just felt…backwards. But I pushed through. And once I surrendered, turning my phone off and facing away from my desktop, there was a sense of peace that penetrated my entire body. And I had one of the best quiet times I’d had in weeks.

Blogging and the Comparison Game

The unfortunate thing about blogging these days is that your ‘success’ is on display for everyone to see and measure up. And I’ll admit (although I like to deny this about myself), I’m a pretty competitive person. And because God made me this way (ha!), this also means that I’m driven, determined and just all-around intense. The difference with blogging (as opposed to other domains of life) is that people are bound to judge me based on certain metrics – whether that be Instagram followers, comment counts, site design + whatever other ways one could possibly ‘measure’ a blogger’s success.

Like I said, I’m competitive. But to be honest, I’ve never really been that competitive with other people around me…I just wanted to be the best I could be. But the difference is that with grades and even cheerleading, my scores and competency weren’t public knowledge. Yes, people knew who was in the top 10% or whatever, but it’s not like I walked around school with a huge number/score tattooed on my face. And yeah, everyone saw whether or not I landed short on my back tuck or that I could do this flip or that stunt trick, but for some reason it just felt different.

But with the rise of instagram, this is exactly the case – the tattoo thing, that is. I can see exactly how many people ‘think’ I’m worth following. And I can see this number for my peers as well. AND everyone else can see this too (which is good and bad of course). It’s almost impossible NOT to play the comparison game. And this is something I struggle with almost everyday. And UGH, I hate admitting that. But it’s true and I would be lying/fake if I didn’t say it gets to me.

Maybe it’s just me, but I sometimes (not all the time!) get this overwhelming feeling of competition – a dire need to prove myself, to try harder, put all I’ve got into it so that I can catch up with whoever is running faster than me. And as in any area of life, there’s always someone better. It’s an endless cycle. And I’ll never be satisfied.

Where Am I Placing My Hopes?

A few weeks back, I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller (oh, wow, imagine that! #TimKellerAddict).  It was about spiritual dryness (which is pretty irrelevant to this situation), BUT the points he made are definitely crucial here. He listed out WHAT do do whenever you find yourself in a season of dryness and one of the things he said to do is, “analyze your hopes.” If you’re interested, I’ll paste the youtube link for easy listening below OR you find alternative ways to listen to the podcast at the end of the post.

In the message, Keller encourages intentional self evaluation. He urges us to ask ourselves the simple (yet all the while also extremely complicated and thought-provoking) questions: what you are hoping for? Where are you placing your trust? What gets you excited and what are you running towards?

So as I sat there with my journal and my feelings (ha!), this sermon popped in my head (of course it did…) and I realized that YES, I’m placing my hopes in my tangible success. In the success that I can see with my two eyes – the numbers (my ‘score card’ so to speak).

My Hope Is In Inordinate Things

The truth of the matter is that was/am seeking validation from inordinate thingsthings that will always inevitably let me down. (#FAIL)

In other words, I was placing my identity in stupid numbers. I was gambling for attention, for approval, for validation. And I was losing big. Sometimes the thrill of the win and the high of it all is exhilarating, but at the end of the day, the HOUSE (aka the casino/world/satan/the likelihood that XYZ will let you down) has all the odds in its favor. You will ALWAYS (eventually) go home with a loss and be robbed of all your cash (joy).

So obviously, this is a problem. And it’s not a problem with a one-time fix either. I think it’s an ongoing tug-0-war and part of what it means to walk daily with Christ. Figuring out where you place your hopes is the first step. The next step is realizing you need to put them back where they belong :) When we find that we are hoping in dead things (things of this world), we must work towards reinvesting our hopes in the Lord. We should do all that we can to KNOW and FIND our identity in Him. Period the end. Sounds pretty stinkin’ impossible, don’t you think?

So What Do I Do About it?

But here’s the thing, making this change is not something I can muster up or do with any amount of my own will power. I can’t just force myself to place my hope in the Lord. It’s just NOT natural – and pretty much against human nature.

So this is where we’ve got to realize that only the Lord can transfer our hopes – only my creator can figure out a way to convert my competitive energies into fuel that can glorify Him. No amount of will power could make this happen. This is where I must LET GO and lean in. What does this look like? Well, for me it looks like a lot of stillness. And not running off to work on my silly blog post.

What did I do?

I sat still and begged the Lord to SHOW ME and to HELP ME figure this out. I asked him to transfer my hopes, digging them up out of this muck and reinvest them in Him.  I begged him to put his Spirit in me and fill my heart with desires that please him. And suddenly, I didn’t give two craps about that stupid sale. And I didn’t really care if I didn’t make ANY money from blog that day. I didn’t have a worry in the world. all I felt was faith and joy in a way that you would only understand if you’ve felt it yourself. And it was sheer bliss.

How to Listen to the Sermon: