I hang out at the West Village Starbucks often. Not so much now as I used to, but still often enough. As I walk by the amazing, expensive, trendy stores that line the walkway between my car and Starbucks, I often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirrors that are seen through the store windows. And though it reveals my vanity to say as much, I have to admit, there are times that I have been slightly horrified by the way I have looked in comparison to the others around me.
One day in particular.
Usually, I try to at least appear decent when I go to Starbucks in West Village. After all, it is in the very center of Dallas Uptown culture. But sometimes, I really do not care at all what I look like and I just throw on whatever looks comfortable and is lying around my room. On this particular day, I threw on shorts and a tshirt, grabbed a sweatshirt, and put on my tennis shoes. I didn’t bother to look in a mirror or anything before I rushed out the door, ready for a day of studying. Needless to say, I got ready in a hurry and clearly missed that I had put on my shirt backwards. I had no idea. For about 5 hours. It was like it was invisible to me. It didn’t change anything. I didn’t interact with people as if I knew my shirt was on backwards. I just went through everyday life but it was on wrong, for all to see. All but me.
Which brings up a lot of questions.
Why didn’t anyone mention it to me? punks.
What are other things that people can see but I’m oblivious to? uh-oh.
How did I allow myself to get so distracted that I didn’t put the effort into noticing something so wrong? school is too much.
This happens to all of us in far greater areas than improperly worn clothes.
Too many of us do not have people, or enough people, in our lives who will be honest with us. And, honestly, it’s probably because we’re not honest with them. So many of us make the mistake of “craving” real, deep community…yet we are just sitting around waiting for everyone else to crave it too. I’m afraid that this can’t be so. We have to want honesty and depth so much that we pursue it, even at the risk of ourselves. We have to become vulnerable to ever achieve vulnerability.
For some, myself included, this is the hardest part. I have my core small group that I am completely honest and open with, even my deepest secrets. I would tell them anything, answer any question with complete vulnerability and honesty. However, my security stops there. I am afraid of opening up to more than this small group. Why? I am not sure.
Though it seems obvious to anyone that you must be vulnerable in order to have honesty and depth, it seems to escape almost everyone.
We are often oblivious to insufficiencies in our lives because we don’t know how to pay attention to them. We live without focus, without intentionality. We become numb and see tons of problems out there – but not the problems written all over our, well, selves. I think this is the religious tendency in us. We get so good at covering our own weaknesses that they disappear in our minds. It’s as if we go through life, with our rituals and checklists, judging others but never examining ourselves.
For the love of all that is valuable to your soul, examine yourself.
And lastly, sometimes we don’t notice our improperly worn clothes because we’re distracted. We have a million other things on our minds, some of them even good things, but they end up distracting us. I think we could all sit down and come up with lists of the things in our lives that distract us.
But all of a sudden we’ll find that we’re a reflection, quite literally sometimes, of our distractions. We are no longer a reflection of the heart God is cultivating in us, we’re just a messy, jumbled picture of our jobMinistryFacebookTwitterHabitsRunningKidsChurchServiceOrganizationSchoolActivities.
We don’t even have time to realize that we’re wearing our clothes all wrong, we just keep skating by, one moment to the next.
Even though my memories in the mirror today are an admittedly shallow metaphor, I would say that it reminded me about how ignorant we can be to our own shortcomings.
And whether it’s because we lack others to help us, or we just neglect it, or we’re so busy we don’t notice it, it’s real. It’s there.
And it’s representing you in a way that you’re unaware of but you’d be horrified if you knew.
The best way to grow into the Body of Christ is through dependence on others, intentionality, and giving yourself adequate time and space to do so. When we lack these things, we’re not giving Christ the interest He desires. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together, he summed it up best by saying, “Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ.”
I was the first child born in the Tranum family. My parents named me Haley Roth Tranum and for about 17 years, I was called Haley Roth by most everyone. As my high school years went on, I grew to dislike my double name and prefer to just be called Haley. When I went off to college, I declared myself only Haley and from then on, everyone has only known me as Haley Tranum. (except my mother, she refuses to call me by only Haley.) My graduation day of high school also started another change of life for me, its the day I made the decision to live my life for Christ. A new name; a new Savior. It was a new start.
Since that day, life has not been easy, but it has been different. I went to college ready to live a life for Christ, quickly met new Christian friends and was involved in RUF and other campus ministries. I worked at Kanakuk and learned so much about my Savior, discipleship, and a little bit more every year about what He might have in my future. I also was a wild child at times and did a lot of things that I am still ashamed of today. I have graduated from college, gotten a Master’s degree, lived on both ends of the United States, traveled to 2 other continents, struggled immensely with daily hits that try to bring me down, forget from time to time what holds my life together, but then at the end of it all, I remember that my Savior gave me a new start so many years ago.
Today at church, we sang “You Bring Restoration.” This song always reminds me of the goodness of my Savior, but today in particular it hit me in a new way. Just this past Friday in WyldLife, I spoke on adoption into God’s family that Paul describes in Ephesians 1. In the past few months, some struggles have come to a culmination and finally, on Thursday night, I was able to be honest with a friend with those struggles. There is such freedom in confessing struggles, but also the chance of shame taking over. Friday morning, I woke up with a little of both. That day, as I prepared for my night and read through Ephesians 1, it wasn’t a time of preparing a talk for my kids, it was my Lord speaking to me, reminding me that He has adopted me into His family, predestined me to be His. That night, I spoke out of my own brokenness and a reminder that with adoption comes a new name and He had given me that new name so many years before.
As the song says, “He has taken my pain, and called me by a new name. He has taken my shame, and in it’s place, He has given me joy.” As I sang these words this morning, I thought about my first 17 years that are filled with some good times and love, but also some hurt, deep wounds, insecurities, pain, shame, and more. But He has taken that pain and He called by a new name, I am His. From age 18 on, I was called Haley and from that time on, it was a new start away from all that pain. He has given me a new name as one of His. And also from that time on, I have lived a life for Him, but one that I so frequently screw up, one that so often is filled with shame because I know what is right and wrong but I so often choose the wrong way. So often, I live my life for me instead of my Savior. My shame that presented itself Thursday night is no longer here. He has taken my shame and turned it into joy.
And just in case I wasn’t getting the picture, today in high school church, we again talked about Ephesians 1:3-10 and then in my high school bible study, we talked about Philippians 1:1-6 where Paul talks about having a confidence that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I am His, and He will never leave me. He will not leave my physically and He will not leave me in the pain and shame that I so often choose to remain in, instead of resting in Him. So thankful that I have a God who relentlessly pursues and doesn’t give up on me when I have a busy work day. He keeps sending reminders that I am His and he has changed me for Himself, to make more of Himself through my life.
He brings Restoration….to my soul. He has taken my pain, and called me by a new name. He has taken my shame, and in it’s place, He gave me joy. Hallelujah, He makes all things new!
My favorite thing to do in life is use my mind. I love to think and to learn, study, write, read, process, solve puzzles, find solutions to problems, and have intellectual conversations. I love that my mind is constantly moving and the Lord has gifted me with a little bit of “smarts” to be able to keep up with some of my friends around me. However, my mind is my own worst enemy.
Over the past year or so, the Lord has given me a friend who has been wonderful at helping me discern that I am functioning most of my life out of lies that are constantly running through my head. Since I have clued into this, it has been a daily struggle to combat lies that are constantly running through my head; twisting everything I hear and making me question every conversation I have and relationship I have. Today, I have spent a little time studying about how to defeat these lies that are wearing me down; that I am so tired of dealing with. Basically, I have boiled down the lies in my head to 3 basic lies that all others originate from:
- “I am fundamentally unlovable.”
- “I cannot trust anyone.”
- “I am not safe.”
Because these 3 lies plague me everyday, I screw up a lot of things, drain my friends, and live a life in constant question. If I continue to believe these lies, I will continue to act and react as if I am fundamentally unlovable, cannot trust anyone, and am not safe, which can feel like living in a prison. Sometimes these lies manifest themselves in ways that I have no idea that they are really lies. They sneak into my mind so stealth like that I do not even realize they are there, until they come out in such strength that I get hurt my something that rationally doesn’t make sense, or start to struggle with something I never thought I would question. My mind is a strange place…
I want to step out of these lies – to challenge myself to think opposite of what my mind sometimes tells me. I want to believe that I am loved, safe and have friends and family that truly care about me. I am loved by my God most of all. Tonight I preached on Ephesians 1:3-12 and I couldn’t help but cry when I was speaking. I cried as I studied it earlier today, and I cried as I spoke on it. My God chose me; like being chosen for the most elite sports team. My God chose me to be His and adopted me into His family. As a child that never felt secure or loved in my family; this is Huge for me. But my God is bigger than any of the fears I had as a child. I do not know why I so often doubt His love for when so much of His Scripture speaks on it. I am secure and loved in a relationship with my Creator.
My mind likes to creep in and try to convince me otherwise. Makes me question if I really have a relationship with my Savior, or does anyone really like me? I question who I am and what I believe. I question if I can trust anyone or are they just pretending they care? And I question if life is even real. It is a daily struggle; one that I am so tired of fighting. I am tired of questioning my God, my friends and everything that goes on around me. I want to be secure in life and assured that I am loved and I can love well. Lord help me…….