Revolutionary: Turning My Perspective on Its Ear

10:08 AMHeather

Author's Note:  At this point, dear bloggy friends, I'm afraid you may all be tiring of writing about "7" ad nauseum.  I sorta feel bad.  But, more than that--I feel determined to press on with being real, transparent and honest here.  Because this is some good stuff.  Mind blowing.  Life changing.  Revolutionary.  And any other cliche I can grasp hold of to try to describe this season of insight.  Unpeeling.  Undoing.  Being laid bare.  Listen.  My perspectives are being turned on their ear.  And, it's hard.  Amazing.  Brutal.  Wonderful.  I pray you'll join in.  Not just by reading my words.  But by praying about how God might want to undo you, as well.  And then being willing.

I could hardly believe it as I sat across the table yesterday from one of my "oldest" friends.  As in, we've known each other a very long time.  Not that we are old, of course.  You see, as an Army brat, friendships from childhood are a rare treasure.  And that totally describes Jennifer.  We were "besties" in 6th grade, and then she moved one town over.  A year later, I joined her in that new town and our friendship continued through high school.  We double dated for prom, played hookey once (the only time I ever went to the principal's office), enjoyed my surprise 16th birthday party that she threw, and generally survived teenage angst by sticking it out together.  

It had been way too long, and our poor waiter yesterday was forewarned that we'd be camping out.  It had been 13 years, we realized, since we'd been face to face.  As we poured out our hearts, Jennifer began describing a job that she had left behind.  It was something she'd enjoyed, or so she thought.  When she talked about how she felt led to leave the job, her words were profound.  They struck a chord deep within me.  And alas, I found the right sentence to describe this current season of growing in my life.  

She said, "As I walked away from that job on that last day, I felt a burden lift.  I never knew the job had been a burden.  Until I left it.  Then I realized it completely."

Stop. The. Presses.  

There you have it, friends.  Here's the heart of the matter.  How many habits, thoughts, attitudes, things do we assume are blessings?  But they are actually burdens.  And we are blinded to that truth all along.

This is resonating with me so completely that I'm not sure I can do justice to this thought here today.  But, I'm going to attempt to.  Because that's what I feel I must do.

It makes me think of a few years back when my husband had emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder.  The surgeon said that Chris would not even realize how sick he'd become until the surgery was over.  The process had been so gradual, he'd never realized how bad off his gall bladder had gotten.  Or how sick and tired it made him.  It wouldn't be until it was removed and his health was restored that he'd truly know how WELL he was!  And how sick he had been.

How sick have we become?  What habits and thoughts and attitudes have we allowed to gradually take root and steal our wellness?  If we are willing to do a little "heart surgery" to remove these things, how GOOD might we feel?  If we do a "burden-ectomy" and really work to see what we might cut out of our lives? 

How many material possessions do we consider to be blessings?  But, they really are burdens?  Because we THINK we own them.  But they own us.  They keep us captive to a certain appearance, or an attempt to impress others, or even simply their upkeep consumes our time or attention?   They distract us from the true treasure of dependence on God and genuine connection with others and real pure actual joy and reward that cannot be purchased?    

As I've read Kisses from Katie, I've wondered.  If those joyful people who depend on God for their very sustenance every day walked a day in my shoes, what might their perspective be?  How ridiculous I am with all this clutter that takes my attention and chains me to cultural expectations?  How indulgent and excessive I am with the things I own?  What actual treasure and true blessings I am missing because my hunt for the "good things" have become a burden, and I'm blind to the truth of that?

Or how about food.  I consider it a blessing that I can stock pile my pantry and eat however I want.  I've had a bad day or a rough afternoon, so aren't I so blessed that I can enjoy the "reward" I deserve with a bag of M&M's?   I consume these things without thinking.  And it wasn't until I detoxed for a week that I realized how yucky the sugary, high carb, highly processed foods were actually making me feel.  And how often I turned to food as a "reward" when I might otherwise turn to prayer.  I'm working to unwind this, and it helps that when I'm tempted, I think about the energy I feel when I fuel myself correctly. Or how much closer I feel to the Lord when I turn to him rather than to food.  Abundant and convenient food--a blessing?  Or a burden?

This last week was my "media fast" week.  I'm done today, and honestly, I still can't decide if I was wise to take a less legalistic approach, or if I was too indulgent.  Instead of banning all screen time, I tried to consider the benefits and usefulness of technology and keep it at that.  And here's what I'm realizing.  Yes, it's a blessing to connect with friends through social media.  It's a blessing to shop online and skip the store and the drive and the hassle.  It's a blessing to sit at the end of a long day and enjoy an entertaining, brainless show.  

But, like everything, my attitude and my habits can quickly turn a blessing into a burden. And, I may well be oblivious to where and when that line was crossed.  So the deceit continues.  I'm wound in the web of it all without realizing it.  I've bought the counterfeit and convinced myself it's good enough.  Because I don't see that it's actually a burden that is a poor substitution for the blessing of the authentic, genuine thing. 

I tell myself that the connection to my Facebook friends is such a blessing!  So nice to know where so-and-so is at any given moment or to laugh at the wit and humor of college friends.  True that.  It's all good.  But, when I feel a compulsion to be tethered to my phone and to scroll the news feed obsessively, the "blessing" of this connection has become a burden.  As I'm distracted from ACTUAL connection. Meaning the people in my presence.

When I receive a sales circular and see a darling little top on sale and think, "Oh! What a blessing!  I could use that!"  Then, I'm blind to the fact that I don't NEED to spend the money or own one more top.  Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.  It can become a burden.  Lest I forget that in due time (and not all that far off from now actually), I'll be purging that top into some give-away pile because it's no longer on trend or it's worn out a bit.   Hmm.  Maybe I could save myself the process of it all, and just be more mindful of my needs versus my wants.  Invest my money and time elsewhere.

I'm still chewing on this all.  I have no idea what more will come to light as burdens that I've dressed up in some pretty package and called a blessing instead.   I have no idea what I've allowed to consume my attention and my devotion and my energy that are actually burdens that drain and distract me.  Distracting me from untold blessings.  

I wonder what status quo I've maintained, contented at mediocrity, and considered myself blessed?  When the hard reality is that it's a burden holding a place where a deeper, truer, more profound blessing might enter?  If I'd only open my eyes.  And be willing to pull out a microscope to self-reflect.  Or rather, to God-reflect.  What more?  What more ACTUAL blessings might be just around the corner if I'd throw off these burdens and run free and untethered, completely surrendered?     

Clothes are not a bad thing.  An occasional dessert is not a bad thing.  Neither is Facebook, or a full closet, or an overflowing pantry or Pinterest.  Not in the least.  They themselves are, I believe, neither blessings nor burdens.  But, rather, our attitude and our use of them are where the distinction lies.  When we let ourselves go beyond usefulness and purpose in our perspective and we allow these things to take the place where God may wish to draw us elsewhere.  There--in that moment--they become a burden.  When my grip is so tightly affixed to something besides God alone--there, a burden exists.  When I roll over and play dead and accept the norm instead of pressing myself to where God might want to lead me--there a burden exists.

It all has me wondering today.  What places may I walk out of and think, "geez!  That was a burden and I never realized it until I was willing to walk away!"  At the point of surrender, at that point of sacrifice...there my eyes may be opened to blessings beyond measure.  Just waiting to be found when I throw off the burdens that I allow to entangle me far too easily. 

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