Monthly Archives: April 2012

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere” – 3 Things We Learn from Belle

If you know me, you know that I love stories. I love watching it in movies, reading about them in great books, and writing my own. I grew up writing stories and reading tons of books, really thinking that one day some epic adventure and romance would happen to me. I don’t really know the specifics of exactly how this would take place, I just knew it would happen and it would be awesome. Maybe one day I would be kidnapped and one of my captors would secretly be working for the CIA and risked his cover so that he could keep me safe. Naturally, he would be drop dead gorgeous and end up falling madly in love with me. There would be some obstacles in the way, of course, and we would be in lots of danger, but the injuries would be mild and everything would work out perfectly in the end.

When my mom told me that she met my dad in college, I remember thinking, college? Boooooring! That won’t happen to me. No, I will probably be out camping one day and sprain my ankle, some attractive man will save me and carry me for miles (without struggling), then we would have to spend the next week or so fighting mountain lions and bears, encounter a secret forest gang, and jump off into a waterfall. Gorgeous man and I will probably not like each other at first, might banter with each other a bit, then eventually, through all our adventures, we would begin to fall in love. And where did this all come from? This kind of plot could be seen in pretty much every Christian romance novel I read as a kid. Books are to blame for my fantasies! And Disney movies! Why do we encourage reading so much? Look what it does to you! Especially for women. It makes you think that it is completely possible for you to live out this epic romance. Maybe not all women think that. I probably knew in the back of my head that this was probably never going to happen, but I think the desire for it never went away. I don’t think any woman stops wanting to be swept off their feet and involved in some kind of adventure where your heart feels like its going to explode, but in a good I’M ALIVE kind of way. I met my husband in college. No, he didn’t have to challenge another man to a duel to date me (unfortunately). He pretty much won me over, we dated and blah blah blah. Where is my story? God, knowing how I am a huge fan of stories, why couldn’t he give me this desire? He could have made it happen. Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful for all the blessings He did give me. I am very grateful for my husband and feel very blessed that we are together. I just wish it could have been done in a more…Natalie type way. You know? If you read my fairy tale version of how Alexander and I met, you will see the typical Disney-like story all of us girls secretly crave. Even if I didn’t get my perfect epic romance adventure of a lifetime story with Alexander, I believe that there is still hope for you (maybe not a crazy fantasy like mine, but maybe something close). Let’s see what we can learn about finding adventure in the great wide somewhere from one of my favorite Disney characters, Belle:

belle_beauty_and_the_beast1) “Adventure” is not always transparent, and never easy. When Belle gave up her life to be imprisoned with a nasty-ass beast, I don’t think she knew this was going to be the adventure she had read in her books. All she could see was living in a castle with just one scary beast and creepy talking furniture. She gave up her life of going into town every day, feeding the chickens, and rejecting a handsome man everyday. And why? So her father wouldn’t have to live in a castle. She could have said no and let her old man die in there, but Belle had a kind and loving heart. She sacrificed her own comfort and life for her father, and was rewarded for it in the end. How many times have you said no to something because it required you to sacrifice some comfort? If we can learn anything from books and Disney movies, it’s that great epic romance never comes easy. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty, sacrifice some comfort, and see where it takes you.

2) Don’t settle. Belle could have lived a nice life with Gaston, sure. He could provide for her, hunt for her, give her some good-looking children. She would have everything she needed, but she would have to put up with his unbearable arrogance and conceit. Even though he was handsome and offered her everything that other women would have swooned over, Belle was like, “Screw that! I’m going to live with my Papa until the day I die rather than marry you!”

3) Your True Love May not be A Looker, at First. The Beast is ugly. Let’s just get that out of the way. Once Belle spent time with him and gave him a chance, she could see his true character. That might be the same for you. Your prince charming may not look like the guy you had dreamed about, but giving him a chance and seeing his great personality could transform him into the prince in the end,( i.e., he could become attractive to you.) Lucky for Belle, he actually did transform completely. You might not be so lucky.

I hope you keep these things in mind and hopefully one day, you can share with me the adventure you and your now spouse have shared. Although the story of how Xander and I met is boring, I’m not going to let that stop us from living a life with adventures. The books I read never prepared me for marriage. They actually always ended when you knew they were going to be together forever. And what did this subconsciously teach me? That once you get married, that’s it. Your life ends. The romance is done, the chase and excitement…done. Finito. Now all that’s left is living with each other every day and trying to make a living and keep your house clean. Well, I refuse. If I ever start craving that epic romance, I can A) always write about it in books, or B) actually try to live it out with my husband. But I need to take the same advice I just gave you. Adventure is never easy. You have to plan to go somewhere, save money and do it. Let us both keep these lessons from Belle in mind and see where the adventure might take us!

It’s (NOT) all about me

Why is it that we live in such a “Me” centered culture? We even have a magazine out in stores called “Self.” Maybe they thought naming it “Me” would be a little silly, but that’s what it really is all about, isn’t it? Catering to everything you want, need, like, or would entertain you? Whether you consciously know it or not, we live our daily lives ALWAYS thinking about ourselves. “What am I going to do today, what I am going to eat, what is wrong with me, why do I suck, why do I rock so much, what did that person think of what I said, do they think I am smart or dumb, do they think that I am a success or failure…” You get the picture. It’s all about me mentality.

Too often I think we get distracted by us, our image, our thoughts and actions. It’s such a small thing when you think about it, but think about how much damage it may be causing. The enemy is using ourselves against us. And I think that’s the scariest kind of attack he can make on us, because we don’t even realize it when it’s happening. Did you ever go through a whole day just too consumed on what was going on in your life that you didn’t once think about someone who has asked you for prayer? Or were you ever so consumed in your own thoughts that you completely ignored a stranger who walked by that might have been looking at you with pleading eyes? We really are our own biggest enemy. I’m to blame for this just as anyone else. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to know who you are, accept it and have good self-esteem. Nor do I think any kind of psychology or therapy is wrong. I think it’s a very helpful way to express your emotions, trauma, what have you. I do think it becomes wrong when we spend too much time reflecting on ourselves. That’s exactly what the enemy wants. The key to understanding the depths of who we are is not found in us. You want to understand yourself and your purpose in life? Look to Him. If you truly understand the glory of God and his heart, you know who you are in this world and where you stand with him. When we begin to turn to ourselves and not focus on who He is, we are missing the picture. The best example of this can be found in the book of Exodus with my homie Moses.

The reason I call him my homie is because I relate most to him out of any character in the Bible. And not the badass Moses who leads the people through the Red Sea and throws the Ten Commandments on them telling them how absolutely retarded they are for worshiping pagan gods. No. Not that Moses. Flash back to Moses and the burning bush. At this time, Moses had been chilling with the Midianites, his wife Zipporah and his son and was living a comfortable life, taking care of sheep and what not. He had escaped from Egypt and all that drama and was content taking care of his flock. One day, as he was working, he noticed a fire on the mountain of Horeb (that was actually called the mountain of God).

So Moses sees this bush that looks like it’s on fire but it’s not. And Moses was like, Man, that’s weird. I must look closer.

Then he hears God’s voice say, “Moses! Moses.”
Moses says, (probably scared out of his mind), “Here I am..”

moses_burning_bushGod then tells him to take off his sandals and explains that He is the God of Isaac, Jacob and Abraham, then naturally Moses hides his face on the ground, afraid to look at him. Then God goes on to tell him that he has seen the oppression of His people and that he wishes to deliver them. Then says, “I will send you to Pharoah, that you may bring my people and the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

This is Moses’ response: “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah, and that I should bring the children out of Egypt?”

There it is. His very first concern in delivering God’s will is himself. It’s all about Moses.
(I would have said the same exact thing).

Then God says, “I will be with you.”

Moses says, “But who should I tell them sent me?” (Again, worried about himself).

God says, “Tell them I AM has sent you. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Then God continues to tell him the whole plan, how Pharoah probably won’t let them go, how He will perform many wonders, and the last thing “and you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Then Moses AGAIN says, in his very Moses-centered way, “But what if they don’t believe me?”

God tells him to take out his staff, toss it in the ground, where He turns the rod into a snake. He also has him take out his hand from his bosom, where it is leprous, then puts it back in his bosom, takes it out and it has been fully healed. So after showing Moses how he will be showing Pharoah signs like these, Moses again says, (my favorite one), “But I am slow of speech and slow in tongue.”

If it were modern times, and it was me in front of the bush, I would be like “Seriously God? Have you heard me speak? I don’t know if you are aware of this but I tend to rant, or say the wrong thing, or say a vocab word the wrong way. And actually, it’s your fault I am this way, since you made me and all. So yeah, I think you got the wrong girl. I can think of a million better people for the job. Do you want me to get Francis Chan on the phone? He might be available…” *takes out iphone to look up his email address.*

And what’s God’s reaction to this? “Who made man’s mouth? Is it not I? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

And is this enough? No. Both Moses and I would say, “Can’t you please just send someone else?”

Then God get’s angry and is like, “Look, don’t you have a brother who speaks well? He will go with you and I will be with you both.”

And finally Moses accepts this and goes to tell his brother to get ready to go to Egypt.

So what is the problem with all this? The problem of me. I don’t trust God, He can’t possibly deliver all these miracles, and I am not the person for this. He must be crazy. I don’t trust that He really will be with me.

But if you turn a couple of chapters to chapter 33, we see that Moses finally gets it. After seeing all of God’s works, Moses knows and trusts God. Before this chapter, the people turn from God and worship a golden calf, and God commands them to leave Sinai, without His presence.

Moses, terrified of the thought of not having God with them, says “If I have found grace in your sight, show me now your way, that I may know You and find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is your people.”

Then God says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses, desperate at the thought of being separated from His presence, says “If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here!”

God says, “I will do this thing that you have spoken, for you have found grace in my sight, and I know you by name.” (This is also amazing, that the God of the universe would care enough to want to know us by name, and show us grace.)

And, this is the best part, Moses pleads, “Please, please, show me your glory.”

He finally gets it. It was never about him, or his speech impediment or his own ill-conceived notions of how incapable he was as a human being to fulfill God’s plan. From the get-go, his answer should have been, “Please, just show me your glory,” because he knew it was never about him in the first place.

Is there really any point in arguing with God? But God, I am weak. God I suck. God, I’m dumb. No. It’s show me your glory. This sentence should be the very thing that defines our lives. This is the question of life. This should be the greatest desire of our hearts.

badass_mosesLet’s not live our lives constantly thinking that it’s all about us. We think, “It’s about my story. It’s about what God is doing in my life.” We tend to think that in America, that it’s all about us, our nation. But God’s love is global. You are not the only person He died for. Yes, He loves you and we can rejoice that He loves us. But let’s not forget about the other people out there who don’t know this yet.

I want to be that badass Moses. The Moses who finally gets it. I don’t want the first thing I think of when God gives me a task is, “But I’m too dumb, there are so much better people out there!…” yada yada yada. I want to get to that point when I realize that it was never about me. That God is the kind of God who chooses losers to get his ish done. Losers like me who mess up everyday. To realize that the only thing I can really say is, “Show me your glory.”