|Used with permission by Darcy Kleven|
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8 NASB
We're now fully into January of a New Year. It can't be 2014 already. Can it? Anyone else feeling the disbelief that I'm feeling? I learned a new saying this past year or so: "The days are long, but the years are short." Truer words may have never been spoken. As Christmas decorations are put back in their quiet, out of the way places in our homes, and as Elf of the Shelf has to return to the North Pole for another year, I wonder how many of you are struggling with the New Year blues as you observe what seems like life and blessings in others' lives while yours appears to have come to an abrupt, or possibly long-slowing, halt.
My kids never got to experience the "Elf on the Shelf" during a Christmas season in our home. We had our own fun traditions before this guy ever showed up in people's homes and Instagram pics. But it has been a lot of fun for me to see the pictures and hear the stories so many of you have shared about your own Elves, with all kinds of fun and sometimes odd names. What you rarely see, though, in these photos is an Elf who is actually on a Shelf. Normally, these elves are caught up in all kinds of mischief, revealing each morning their activity through the night while those in their households slept. These little guys (and gals) get about a month each year to be an active part of their family's Christmas. And then, sometime soon after Christmas, they go away where they sit and wait for 11 months until they can join the party once again.
One thing I've always said I want Church 4 Chicks to be is "the safest place on earth for women." I want C4C to continue to grow into maturity as an organization that creates and cultivates environments (whether here on the blog, our social media sites, live events or anything else) for women of all ages. A safe place in an unsafe world--especially for those who risk authenticity and vulnerability in a world that has taught most of us to hide, pretend and posture in order to be loved and accepted. With this in mind, I'll go first...
Viewing Life from the Shelf...
Lately, I've felt much like "Shelley on the Shelf." When it comes to my ministry life, I am staring at an almost completely blank slate. I shared a bit of what I've been through this past year here and you can check that out if you'd like. Suffice it to say, my view lately is from "The Shelf," as I watch others walk into their dreams, experience great success in their families and careers, or see a long-term goal come to pass. The view from the Shelf isn't always one I want to see, but I'm learning some valuable and worthy things while sitting here.
1) The perspective we have from the shelf is really limited. Think about it. How much can one see while sitting in a stationary position with a limited viewpoint? With this in mind, I have to remind myself that no matter how much of someone's story or journey I know (or can see), I don't know the whole story. Only God does. This frees my heart to genuinely celebrate others' successes even when feeling like my own life is on hold.
2) Shelves are meant to be supports. My time sitting on a shelf may very well be an important and intentional time created by my Heavenly Father to offer me a place to breathe deeply, rest in His grace, and refocus my motives and priorities. If (since) He works from and for eternity, this time on the shelf can be a time that I can still enjoy, make the most of, and recognize as a gift from God--when it often feels like the exact opposite.
3) Sitting on a shelf can become too comfortable if we're left here for too long. God knows how long to put us in a "waiting mode." His timing is perfect and His ways are best. Learn to live in the present and trust Him when He says it's time to let someone else move into that space when He calls you, by faith, to step out of the quiet, dark season into His next, new chapter for your life.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name." Isaiah 45:3 NASB
There are most certainly other treasures learned in these dark places of our lives, but these three have really impacted me while I remain, even still, sitting (and learning to rest) on the shelf.
Where are you today? Can you identify with the feeling that you've been put on the shelf while you watch others enjoy the activity of life? How has this impacted your relationships? -with God? -with your family? -with yourself?
Grace pursues us wherever we are. We cannot escape the careful, loving, watchful eye of our Heavenly Father. Wherever Grace finds you today, I pray that it also carries with it Peace, Joy and Hope. Hang in there--you won't be on the shelf forever!
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Warm Wishes for your New Year!