I will be happy when..

February 28, 2011 at 12:29 am (Uncategorized)

8 years ago, I sat at Mississippi State University wondering what in the world I was doing. I loved art and computers, I wanted to be creative, and inside me, I wanted to be famous. I found myself majoring in graphic design with an emphasis in animation. It was animation that stole my heart – something about the creative process, the storyboards, the late night rendering sessions, the community within the studio, the way I could turn a drawing on paper into a 3d model on a computer was fascinating. When I entered the program, Pixar was the big thing. I remember watching hours of Monster’s Inc and similar
movies to try to learn how they got textures to move like that and characters to look so lifelike. I wanted to work at Pixar! That’s a cool, impressive job,
right? Also, back in those days, Lord of the Rings became the obsession of almost every animation major, especially at Mississippi State. One of our professors took off and moved to New Zealand to work for the up and coming Weta Workshop.  LOTR 1 and 2 came out and we devoured them in the studio. One time, while pulling 4 all nighters in a row (it happened often), I watched LOTR – The Twin Towers, so many times that I had it memorized. I wanted to learn how to make digital effects so real, how to texturize a model so complex and how to build a vector so smoothly. LOTR became the ultimate of an animation degree.

During this time, I was also dating a boy named Wade, who was pursuing a master’s in animation. Wade’s talents were far above mine and he soon also took a position with Weta in New Zealand to work on LOTR 3. After he moved to New Zealand and I realized how wonderful this country was, all I wanted to do was get to New Zealand and work for Weta. I have no idea if my abilities would have really allowed that dream to be a reality, but it was my desire. Because I was still under the financial security of my parents and they forbid me to go to New Zealand, I never made it there. Wade eventually came home and Weta won an Oscar for Visual Effects on LOTR 3. Wade didn’t want to go to the Academy Awards and I remember being fairly angry that he didn’t go and take me as his date. That probably was my only shot to be in a place like the Academy Awards and he didn’t want to go??! Are you serious??

Somewhere along that time, the Lord started working in my heart. I loved my animation, how I could easily lock myself in the studio and not even realize when days would go by. I loved how the thoughts and worries of life slipped away when I had a pencil, paper and computer. It was an introvert’s paradise. Eventually though, I saw my position in my life as a believer who is called to be out in the world telling people about Jesus, and I wasn’t sure how my current
life was really allowing that lifestyle. After a little while, I received my degree, but turned my back on animation and haven’t touched it since, in order to pursue a life where I can be most used by the Lord. It took me some struggles to figure things out, and some years of growing with the Lord to get to where I am today, in full time ministry. And even when days are so hard and painful that I want to run away and quit my job forever, I know I am in the place the Lord has for me, at least for right now. But tonight, while watching the Oscars, I couldn’t help but think about the life I left behind. The life of animation, movies and film, digital effects and Oscars. It is an exciting life! I still long for that world sometimes, there is a tug on my heart to get back into it and succeed at this art that I loved, but the Lord redirected my path, and who am I to question Him?

I am sure there are some animators out there that love Jesus, I am not saying that it is not possible. I just know that it was not the life the Lord had for me. As an introvert functioning in a largely extroverted ministry, sometimes I question the why of this. But I do know, that our immeasurable value rests solely
in the fact that God created us, that His unconditional love sets us apart and that He designed and empowers a unique plan for each one of us. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart.” I was born in response to the determined plan of God, not as an afterthought. Before I took even one breath, every day, every step and every circumstance in my plan was recorded. I trust in a God who predestines His own and it is extremely reassuring, when I question the hard times in life, to remember the truth that my God predetermined the steps He laid out
for my life. There is no way I can mess them up! God’s plan uses my strengths as well as my weaknesses, both of which are a part of me that God created, a truth that I am learning how to embrace. Different seasons of life are also part of his plan for my life as well, the easy and the hard. True success comes, not when I win an Oscar, but when, I find myself being in the place God created me to be, doing what He created me to do; sharing His Gospel everyday with all those around me.

Could I dothis in the animation field? absolutely
Could I have had the life I wanted back in college? not what God had planned for me.

Ah, the plan of God. His word says that only HIS plan succeeds in life and for that, I am grateful. I don’t want to imagine what I would have made of my life if I would have gone down that path.  Knowing the things I struggle with today, and after watching the people/movies displayed at the Oscars tonight, I can only imagine that it would not be good at all. Regardless of what my actions would or would not have been, it was not God’s plan for me. I am thankful that I can rest in the supreme, sufficient and Sovereign God that is mine. His plan alone is the one that works, the one that is best, the one that brings life. Just as John 6:35-40 says, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” He alone gives life, not this world that so falsely advertises that it can give me life. I so quickly and easily fall prey to the materialism of this world and what it can offer me. But my God is faithful, even when I am faithless. Thankfully his love and plans are not conditional, but unconditional. He gave me everything, but requires nothing of me but to come to him with open arms.  Praise Christ that He gave everything, so that I could have life, life that has ultimate joy. Lord forgive me for thinking the world can give me joy, and give me the strength to fight this world and pursue you and your Gospel alone.

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Protected: God is your only fear..

February 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm (Uncategorized)

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Begin Again Daily

February 8, 2011 at 10:17 am (Uncategorized)

I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, this fatal reservation.  Only God can.  I have good faith and hope He will.  Of course, I don’t mean I can therefore, as they say, “sit back.”  What God does for us, He does in us.  The process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude, especially each morning, for it grows all over me like a new shell each night.  Failures will be forgiven; it is acquiescence that is fatal, the permitted, regularised presence of an area in ourselves which we still claim for our own.  We may never, this side of death, drive the invader out of our territory, but we must be in the Resistance, not in the Vichy government.  And this, so far as i can yet see, must begun again every day.  Our morning prayer should be that in the Imitation:  Da hodie perfecte incipere-grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet.

– C.S. Lewis from his book The Weight of Glory

Thank you C.S. Lewis for this reminder today…to start this battle every morning, and to keep fighting….

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Humility vs. Insecurity

February 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm (Uncategorized)

All of my life, I was taught to be humble.  I was taught that no matter how little I had, in respect to the rest of the world, I had a lot and no matter how much I had, there were far richer people in the world.  Growing up in private schools, this was a hard position to maintain, but I still tried to have a humble attitude through my activities, or so I thought.  I used to get in trouble for not accepting compliments in my activities.  I saw it as humble to diminish compliments and did not understand why my mother got angry at me for basically arguing with someone that I did not play as well as they said I did.  As I have grown older, this attitude has stayed the same, but is not limited to sports and school activities.  It has spread into my personality, my behaviors, my character.  So now, I come to the question:  Am I being humble or is this all boiled down to insecurity?

Wikipedia, however trustworthy this “dictionary” may be, defines insecurity as a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving of oneself to be unloved, inadequate or worthless (whether in a rational or an irrational manner).  Point made; this is me 75% of the time.  A person who is insecure lacks confidence in their own value and capability, lacks trust in themselves or others, or has fears that a present positive state is temporary and will let them down and cause them loss or distress by “going wrong” in the future.  I feel like this goes hand in hand with lacking trust in God as well.

Humility is often confused with insecurity, especially for me personally. I know my negative traits, but does this make me insecure? I am beginning to learn my strengths as well (thank you StrengthFinder 2.0) but I still am uneasy saying them or even saying I have any strengths at all. It is perceived worthlessness, unlovability, or inadequacy about these traits, or my character in general, that forms into the stickiest fears and doubts. Weaknesses are not insecurities by themselves. Weakness must be mishandled, denied, or compensated for in order to become insecurities and truly ruin confidence. Insecurity says, “I don’t think I can do that,” but Humility says, “I cannot do that, I can only do this.” Both of them are right, but they are not the same.

I want to be confident in myself.  Confident people are seen as attractive, reliable, and generally “safe” for anyone. They typically achieve much in life, as much as their potential will allow. Truly confident people rarely have insecurities, those troubling doubts about personal worth, security, or lovability. But exceptionally confident people, who look much different than the normal sort, have balanced it with humility.

Humility is true confidence in action. It is not the type of confidence you will find from the guy who approaches you in the bar and introduces himself as your next boyfriend. Generally, he probably just wants to buy you a drink so you won’t notice or care about his overbearing cologne, hairy back, or sexual motives. Insecurities are negative traits covered up by ego and they will come out when the guy at the bar has run out of pickup lines, flattering words, and hilarious but one-lined jokes.  Confidence without humility comes from those who are secure because they simply have no insight into their weaknesses. For the fun-loving, funny-like confidence, ignorance is truly bliss. I enjoy the company of such people, but I would never trust them. Given the right person, situation, or event, the confident person can turn into a coward without ever having realized his weakness. When a bad day at work turns into a kicked-in door or a casual conversation with another turns into a jealous outrage, you have discovered what that laissez-faire personality knew nothing about.

So, insecurity is not to be confused with humility, which involves recognizing one’s shortcomings but still maintaining a healthy dose of self-confidence. Insecurity is not an objective evaluation of one’s ability but an emotional interpretation, as two people with the same capabilities may have entirely different levels of insecurity.  So how do I humbly feel confident in myself and feel ok saying that I can be likeable, fun and be someone people enjoy being around?

Journals that know what they are taking about, say that insecurity has many effects in a person’s life.  It nearly always causes some degree of isolation as a typically insecure person withdraws from people to some extent. (my biggest struggle)  The greater the insecurity, the higher the degree of isolation becomes. Insecurity is often rooted in a person’s childhood years. Like offense and bitterness, it grows in layered fashion, often becoming an immobilizing force that sets a limiting factor in the person’s life. Insecurity robs by degrees; the degree to which it is entrenched equals the degree of power it has in the person’s life.  I do not think insecurity is this deeply rooted in my life, but I do notice that when something happens/someone says something/a thought enters my head, I start to withdraw and disengage.  I do this to protect myself against being hurt.  But is this hurt a reality or is it just a shot against my insecurity that would be overcome if I was confident in myself?

Humility is accepting myself as I really am before God.  So what am I?

  • I am a child of God – John 1:12
  • I am used by God and have a position in this world – John 15:1,5
  • I am a friend of Jesus – John 15:15
  • I am justified and redeemed – Romans 3:24
  • I am freed from a slavery in sin – Romans 6:6
  • I am no longer condemned – Romans 8:1
  • I am set free from the law of sin and death – Romans 8:2
  • I am a fellow heir with Christ – Romans 8:17
  • I am accepted by Christ – Romans 15:7
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • I am no longer veiled so I can see Christ clearly – 1 Cor. 3:14
  • I am a new creature in Christ – 2 Cor. 5:17
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ – 2 Cor 5:21
  • I am one with Christ – Galatians 3:28
  • I am complete in Christ – Colossians 2:10
  • I am free in Christ – Galatians 5:1
  • I am chosen – Ephesians 1:4
  • I am taken care of — Philippians 4:19
  • and on and on and on….

The more I read the promises found in Christ, the more I become secure in who I am.  When it comes to my character, it pales in comparison to what Christ has done and who He says I am.  My God created me just like He wanted to.  I may not have the personality or the character that some have, but I am me.  And I am best when I am confident in me and who my Creator made me to be.

I have met some rather unintelligent and ugly people who were far more attractive than the most accomplished, athletic, popular guys because, despite their lesser skills and clumsy flaws, they were neither shy, overly-humorous, nor compensatory for them. They were humble, which only comes as a result of being confident in who they were created to be, giving no room for baseless insecurity, and thus giving off an endearing confidence.  Lord, may I be humble not proud, and confident not insecure.

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