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Talking with Eddie and several of our friends, there's a sense that we should be grown by now. Instead of feeling like we've arrived at a state of done-ness, there's a feeling of unbalance or uncertainty. By now (my 40's) I want to be the person I imagined myself to be as a child. I want to have arrived. I want to feel settled, no longer searching for meaning or trying to "become."

In relationships, in careers, in ministry and internally, we are constantly growing. Or should be. As a young person, I never thought of that. I never looked at my parents as works in progress. To me they were static entities that were stable and dependable. To think that as I struggled and searched as a young person, they were doing the same, is weird to me.

To be honest, coming to grips with the fact that I will never "arrive" is a little disappointing and a bit overwhelming. I don't want to keep working at things. I want to get my life where I want it and have it stay that way. I love the way Mr. Incredible described it in the Disney movie, The Incredibles:

"No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!"

My life needs fixing constantly; constant maintenance, constant effort, constant pruning. When I don't keep up with it, things fall apart. My health deteriorates, my relationships get strained or distant, I become a mess. And when I do, I don't feel like I have it in me to pull it all together again.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

This passage reminds me to keep on. Continue working out my salvation, continue to put in the effort, continue to figure out who and whose I am, and what the heck I'm here for anyway! It is God who works in me to will and act. If I can't summon up the will to do what I'm called to do, He will work in me to get me there. He will light a fire in me to get me moving when I'm tired and my progress has ground to a halt.

I need to have grace for myself. To let myself have bad days or "off" weeks. I need to acknowledge that I'm not done growing, but the growth I'm walking into will require God's strength and presence in my life.

I'm grown enough to know that much.

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I've been reading through the book, "The Emotionally Healthy Woman" with the young adult ladies of our church. Chapter 6 talks about "overfunctioning," which the author describes as "doing for others what they can and should do for themselves." When we function for others, they do not mature as they should. Another word for this dysfunction would be codependence.

I've thought a lot about this dynamic recently, and how it can creep into my life and the life of the church. I believe a root of overfunctioning is a lack of trust. I overwork if I don't trust that others will pull their own weight. I micromanage when I don't trust that the other person will do what's required. As a mentor, I take-on a "savior" role when I don't trust that God can do the work without me. If I am running myself ragged trying to single-handedly keep a ministry afloat, I am not trusting the Holy Spirit to provide the team or resources needed to do His work.

A look at most churches will show a small number of members and staff doing the great majority of the work and ministry. In doing so, a portion of the Body is overworked as the majority spectates, not contributing to the whole and not growing spiritually through service. This is not the example set by the early church.

1 Corinthians 14:26

...When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction,

a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

The temptation for those who overserve is to blame those who are not stepping up to serve. We point fingers. We take on victimhood when we allow others' disobedience to dictate our own. We are not victims. No one else is making us take on so much. No one else is causing our burnout. God is certainly not calling you to do more than your share. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Overfunctioning is a choice rooted in the distrust of others and of God. If we are forsaking God's rest, that sin rests firmly on our own shoulders; no one else's.

John the Baptist was someone who was clear about Jesus' identity as Messiah and also clear about his own role in ushering in the Kingdom of God. To explain it, he used the metaphor of a wedding.

John 3:29-30

"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

John knew that salvation was found in Jesus, not himself. He knew there was a danger in overstepping his role, in remaining a middle-man between his followers and God. John chose to step aside, so that those around him could embrace Jesus.

If you are overfunctioning in ministry, are you willing to step aside? Are you willing to let things fall apart for awhile so that others can step up and serve? Will you remove yourself from the savior role so that the true savior may be seated there? The bride can't grow in intimacy with the groom if the friend is in the way. Trust that God has a plan. Trust that He will raise up others to help. He is intimately concerned with the health and maturity of His bride- much more so that we give Him credit for.

So let's be good friends of the bridegroom, Jesus. Let's prepare the way for others to know Him. Let's rejoice at His coming and yield to His spirit, trusting that if we will do what He asks of us, He will take care of the rest.

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Lately I've been spending my down-time watching dating shows on Netflix and other online platforms. The drama is compelling. As someone who loves to study human behavior, there's lot's to chew on in this genre of entertainment.

One of the hardest things to watch as a viewer is when one party is head-over-heels for someone who doesn't feel the same. Unrequited love is a heart-breaking phenomena that seems to be universal to humankind; it happens again and again in different contexts, countries and cultures.

I cringe when I see a man with lovey puppy dog eyes being overlooked by the person he's infatuated with. Or when I see a "player" stringing a love-interest along when he's just not that "into" her. Love should be a two-way street, when it's one-sided, something's wrong.

The Bible tells a story about a man, named Hosea, who was a prophet. God told Hosea to do something drastic to show the people of God His love for them. He instructed Hosea to marry someone who "just wasn't that into him." In fact, his wife, Gomer, was a prostitute. She was used to transactional relationships, not relationships based on love, sacrifice, honor or respect.

As I read through the story of Hosea and Gomer I'm reminded of the characters in those modern dating shows who don't quite know how to love, how to commit, how to open their hearts to vulnerability. With Gomer, time and again Hosea had to go find her with other men and bring her home, professing his continued love and commitment to her, despite her actions.

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods...”

Hosea 3:1

How often do I, like Gomer, wander away from intimacy with God, looking for a quick fix or transaction? When I'm feeling down or lonely, do I turn to prayer or do I turn on the TV for comfort? Grabbing some food to celebrate is quicker and easier than turning on worship music and thanking God for what He's doing in my life. Sometimes my actions show that I'm "just not that into" Him.

Transactional relationships are easy. They don't require humility or self sacrifice. They are all about what you can get out of them. A transactional relationship with God looks like me going to church and Him blessing me for going. Or me praying for something and Him giving me what I asked for. True love isn't transactional, it's sacrificial. How painful must it have been for Hosea to put himself out there and ask his wife to return? How many times has God had to woo me back when my affection has wandered from Him?

In Hosea we see how unconditional God's love is. We get a glimpse of the strength and vulnerability required to continue to love someone despite their unfaithfulness. Today I am awed by the unfailing love of God. Are you?

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