Help! I need somebody.

I’m freaking out.

And it’s all my fault.

And maybe you’re thinking, “Seriously Joyce, I’ve read your posts, how can one person (Asian or not) have so much drama?”

I don’t, not really.

I’m just an introvert and I guess that right there explains it all.

But this weeks saga is because I involuntarily volunteered to help out with the children’s ministry at our church for a couple of months until someone can step into the role in January.

I’m a sub.

Correction:  Make that, a co-sub.  There are two of us.

And I’ve been trying really hard not to be myself for the last couple of weeks, because under it all I’m kind of a spaz about stuff.

Not anal or perfectionistic, I just happen to hate asking for help.

Problem is, I’m really good at not asking for help.

In school and work, people call that initiative.  they say things like, “Wow, she’s a go-getter.”  Or, “If you need something done, you can depend on her.”  Which is generally true, unless I’m pregnant – then you can count on me for -oh, I dunno, nothing.  Don’t even ask. . . because I probably won’t care. (don’t judge until you’ve carried a watermelon 24/7, strapped to your belly for 9 months)

But I’m not pregnant and so for the last two weeks, I’ve been efficient.

Like a hybrid.

But I also lost my peace.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.

Colossians 3:15 (The Message)

Paul says to let the peace of God reign and rule in your hearts.  Let it be your compass.

And right now, I just feel anxious, which is my first clue something is going on internally.

All of this makes it sound like my co-sub doesn’t do much in this endeavor.

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

She’s been great, doing her fair share for sure.

So, I had to ask myself why am I so stressed out about this?

Because I suck at team work.

Asking for help, pushes me off balance because it touches nerves that go all the way to the core of my being.

It takes me back to a childhood I’d rather forget and leaves me feeling like a charity case. . .

It takes me back to a growing up in a home with a schizophrenic, deaf mother and a dad who was a mechanic in the Army during the Gulf War.  My mother was in and out of psych wards and my dad was usually inside the guts of a helicopter. . . and that left me sleeping on other people’s couches, sitting down to dinner with other people’s parents, and hating the whispers about what was happening in my family.

You can see why I hate asking for help.  It makes me feel lost, alone, and really lame.

And I can feel God tugging on my heart, saying I need to go here.  I need to go back to this place in my emotions and allow him to heal it and correct some wrong thinking I have about asking for help.

And all I can think is:  I love you God, but sometimes the things you ask me to do. . .

Ugggh!  Can you say root canal?

And as I step back to look at my life right now I see these moments in my life during the past two weeks where God is causing me to depend on other people.

– My parents offered to pay for some work on our van since money in the Ackermann household is tighter than a pair of Michael Jackson pants.

– I needed to ask my mother in law to babysit for most of the day. . . and it was last minute.

– I needed to ask the hubby to fix dinner because I was running late and our child-natives were getting restless.

– I needed to ask my co-subbie to help me figure some things out with schedules for the children’s ministry.

It’s all pretty benign stuff.

Stuff that shouldn’t bother me like this.

But oh, it does.

It takes me back to feeling vulnerable, helpless, and 7 years old again.

And I have two choices,  I can fight it or I can ask God to heal it.

I’ve learned that fighting God takes a lot more work than just trusting him to heal me so I’m giving it over to him.

So now I’m learning to see past the “hating asking for help” part and I can see how ridiculously blessed I am.

– I have a step-mom who called just to ask if she should buy some Lunchables for the kids, for when they come to visit, “because she knows they really like them”.

– I have a mother-in-law who just bought me two pairs of shoes, that I can’t stop talking about.

– My dad came by on his way to work to fix my mini van (don’t knock the mini-van, it’s like Shag carpeting – it’s coming back in style).

– My hubby surprised me by finishing a sandbox for the kids that I had started but hadn’t gotten around to finishing.

Getting past asking for help is difficult, but it’s been so worth it.

I’ve been amazed at how boxed in I was living by trying to do it all by myself.

I do feel like I’m 7 again. . . but this time around it doesn’t feel like I’m a charity case.

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Identity Crisis and Mad Libs

Remember those old Mad Libs where you and your friends would fill in the blanks with words like “burp”, “booger” and “fart”.

Fess up, I know I wasn’t the only one.

I kinda wish Mad Libs had come out with a mandatory one for my first year of college.

It might have looked something like this:

Hi, I’m ____________ and I am _____________.

I would have done alright for the first blank – I’ve been writing my name since Kindergarten so that would be an easy A.

But that second blank was something I tried to fill with a lot of words that didn’t fit.  Unfortunately, I kept trying to fill the Mad Lib of my life waaaay beyond my college years.

I thought a career or job fit so I spent more time and money than I want to admit on getting a degree.  I tried to cram it into that blank but it wouldn’t fit.

Since that didn’t work, so I tried character traits like “determined” and “successful”.

It has a nice ring – I am determined and successful.

I kind of liked that one, except when I didn’t feel very determined or successful.  And what about the days I was sick or crabby? Determination phoned it in right behind success and I was left with a blank.

For most of my life I filled the blank with I am “Christian”.

I rode that pony for a long time.

I could still be a Christian even on the days when I was sick and Jesus passed out grace like candy at Mardi Gras so I was okay even on the days when I was crabby.

I rode it until I didn’t really want to be known as a Christian anymore – because I was burned out from trying to be some image of what I should look like but could never attain to.

It was a smooth ride until my pony died.

So, then for a long time I just was. . . blank.

Hi, I’m Joyce and I am blank.

Definition-less.

I had run out of words and now my blank was just a blankity blank.

I kept hearing this echo in my spirit, saying I didn’t have to prove anything or become anything.

I shooed it away like a nuissancy fly.

Looking back I realize I could have saved myself so much wasted time, energy, and money by heeding that still, small voice.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

Galatians 2:19-21 (MSG)

Oh.

Hi, I’m Joyce and I am loved.

Who are you?

Captain Hook and the Easter Bunny

Easter has come and gone leaving a wake of marshmallow bunnies and love-handles in it’s path.

Thanks mom, for playing accomplice to the Easter Bunny.

No really, my dying will-power thanks you.

Meanwhile, I’m writing  at Panera tonight or rather, I’m trying to.  I’ve got my headphones plugged into my laptop but I’m a fraud – I’m not listening to anything.   I’m snooping on the conversation of a couple of guys next to me.

I can’t help it.

It’s fascinating.

I’ll paint you the picture.  There is this guy probably mid 30’s who came and sat down with his Bible at a table with an older gentleman who, no lie, has a hook for a hand.

Yes, you read that right. . . I’m sitting 2 feet away from Captain Hook and I’m pretty sure he’s a Christian (‘though I’m not sure I want to ask him – just in case I’m wrong).

I wonder if he was in some whaling accident and if a Great White Whale got his arm.

Or maybe it was a crocodile?

But mostly I’m wondering if the loss of his arm is what caused him to turn to Jesus.  It seems to me that there is always a death that turns us to Jesus.  For me it was the death of my childhood, maybe for the good Cap’n, it was his arm.

Please don’t misunderstand me – God does not want horrible things to happen to us so that we turn to him – that’s manipulation and God does not manipulate.  On the other hand, he doesn’t want us to be consumed by pain and regret so he redeems even the dark parts of our lives if we let him.

So now somewhere between the Easter Bunny and Captain Hook, I’m thinking about the deaths we die.  More specifically the deaths we die so that others can live.

That’s the crux of what Easter is all about – Jesus died so that we could live.

We go to church, listen to the sermon, and we breathe a collective sigh of relief that our insurance premiums have been paid in full and our passes into heaven have been covered.  But sometimes we forget that the story doesn’t end there.

We are supposed to die too.

We are supposed to die so that others can live.

We are supposed to die to our selfishness.

Why?

Because it’s how we overcome  – and how others see love demonstrated on their behalf.

And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 12:11 (21st Century King James Version)

Sounds heavy and not entirely realistic in a culture where we don’t face the physical dangers of martyrdom that Christians in other countries face.

But we have the opportunity to die a thousand deaths every day.  . .

. . . to be the first to say “I’m sorry” and “I love you”

. . .to offer to help a friend in need by cleaning, cooking a meal or watching the kids

. . .to pray for someone else’s struggle instead of only our own

. . .to listen

. . .to pay for someone else’s meal

. . .to pick up the phone, just to say “hey, I heard you were having a rough go”

. . .to not trash-talk our co-workers

. . .to be the one to initiate restoration in our families

This list could go on forever, because our deaths will be as unique as we are.

For some it will be sacrificing time or money, maybe both.

For others it may be laying down a dream.

For me a lot of times it is sacrificing sleep – God has been known to wake me up at night to pray for specific people.

For Jesus, it was the cross.

Captain Hook has now been joined by 2 other guys making his group a scurvy crew of 4. . . and they are working through a men’s Bible study together.  I’m watching as he “walks the plank” – giving up his time to mentor these guys.  It’s pretty moving stuff – to watch one person sacrifice even the smallest thing for another.

Now if I could just figure out how to get those calories in my Easter candy to die so that my diet could live. . .