So, those of you who have known me for a little while may know that I am a salesperson at heart. It doesn’t really matter what I product I have, I like to sell it. As a matter of fact, I sell everything right down to my personality. How and why you ask. Well, I don’t really know the answer to that. Maybe it is because I am a last born. I was always the only girl growing up. I have 2 older brothers and my father was a firefighter at an Air Force Base. My dad worked 24 hours on duty and then had 24 hours off duty. My dad liked his toys and he kept us kids busy by taking us out to play on his toys. My dad’s toys were boy toys. You know things like boats and motorcycles. So needless to say I was always doing “boy stuff” with a bunch of boys. I didn’t have a whole lot of girl friends and I didn’t get to or want to do a whole bunch of girl things. So when I actually wanted to go to girl things I had to be a pretty good sales person. You should try talking 2 boys and a grown man (who often was a lot like a kid) into taking you to the mall to go shopping. Not exactly the easiest thing to do and to be honest with you I wasn’t very successful at it most of the time but this is where I got the majority of my sales training. It is also where I learned to have a thick skin. I got shot down a lot but that never deterred me from trying. I learned what I wanted and I also learned to not give up.
For the most part, those lessons have served me well over my short 42 years. Usually I am pretty good at sales but lately I have been struggling and I am on a journey to figure out why. I could blame the economy (that only lasts for so long), I could blame my circumstance (but then I would have to change them), and I could blame the product. I am certain that I could blame a lot of different things but really what is to blame?
Could it be me? How could it possibly be me? I’m a GREAT sales person! Right? Maybe not. Maybe I am not on the right path. Maybe I am on the right path but the enemy is getting in my way. I don’t know the answer to those questions but what I do know is that I will never know until I actually bring the question to God and then actually listen for his answer.
I am not going to sit here and lie to you. Sometimes I pray before I start my day and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I even pray before I walk in to see a client, more often I don’t. Sometime I just find myself screaming “Oh My God!” to myself in my car after being emotionally beaten down by a day of cold calling. Sometimes I slam the phone down and cuss out the person I was just on the phone with because for some reason I think that actually might make me feel better. (It doesn’t. It just let’s the rest of the people in my office know how frustrated I am that day.) In all of these situations I never seem to listen for his answer.
So I guess the bottom line of this rant is that it is really down to me. I am a salesperson at heart but I can’t sell God on my plan. I have to buy into His plan. His plan for me should be the ONLY thing that I am concerned about. So instead of being the fast talking sales person that I have been all of my life, I really just need to shut up and listen and follow His will for me. Easier said than done? Yeah, you know it is but God doesn’t call me to be perfect, he calls me to be persistent.
Well friends, this just might be a little like bearing my soul here. I’m really not sure exactly how comfortable I am with this but I am going to do it anyway. Mondays are my self designated days to write about my Faith. I can write about anything within that category and that is somewhat empowering. Yet, at the same time that leeway I give myself is also somewhat stifling. You see today I feel called to write about my marriage. And, truth be told, it has been in a bit of turmoil lately.
I have been married to my husband for nearly 15 years. Our 15th wedding anniversary is on February 6, 2014. We were only together for roughly 10 months before we actually got hitched and I knew him for 6 months before we actually began our relationship. I’m not really proud of how our relationship started because he was still married at the time. I can make all kinds of excuses for myself and us in general but facts are the facts. At that time in my life, I was not exactly in step with God. Oh, I was a christian. I knew God, Jesus and I truly believed but I truly did not follow. It had been many years since I’d even made it to a church service. It was the late 90’s and the god of this world (money, popularity, pleasure) was much more enticing. I like to describe it like “Yeah, I knew God and He was always with me but I was not listening.” My visual imagination actually sees God behind me, tapping me on the shoulder saying “Uh, Julie? You might not want to do that.” And then I see myself saying “Yeah, Yeah, I got this. Don’t worry I know what I’m doing.” I never even look back at him. I just brush him and his touch off of my shoulder and plow through my miserable life. Well okay, let’s be honest, at the time I actually believed that it wasn’t miserable. Now I look back and say, “WOW! Not exactly your proudest moments there Jules.”
Now, let’s fast forward to today. Is my life perfect? Yeah, NO. Unequivocally, NO. Do I struggle? Ummm…let’s give that a HELL YES I DO! Every single day. Is today harder than yesterday? Some days that is a yes and some days, by the grace of God, no. Now, let’s look at my marriage and answer that same questions. It truly is no different. Some days are good days, some days are VERY good days. Some days are bad days and then there are those days that are just so bad, so very very bad that I wonder why I am even doing this. This is turmoil.
I was in a bible study a few years back (Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Study…AMAZING!). At the beginning of this study she said, (paraphrased of course but if you can imagine her sweet southern accent) “Ladies, the enemy does NOT want you to finish this study. The enemy WILL come for your weakest link in your faith. Know this and do not let him deter you.” OMG…was she ever right? The enemy wasted no time coming for that weak link for sure. And can you just guess what my weakest link was? Yep, you guessed it. My marriage. The enemy nearly destroyed it that time but by the true Grace of the Almighty God the enemy did not win that battle. As a matter of fact, God truly did win that battle with such the impressive win. Because not only, did I finish that bible study but my husband actually began a bible study and made the decision that he too believed that Jesus was the son of God. For some of you reading this you might think that that isn’t THAT impressive but let me assure you, it certainly was. My husband was not brought up with any kind of real knowledge of Jesus and God was just some name that was given to “A higher power”. So when Daren came home after that first bible study and started asking questions I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself but of course I didn’t act like it. You know I was all nonchalant. Well, as best as I could be being the girl who wears ALL of her emotions on her sleeve ALL of the time. But this whole process with my husband was even better than the gift of knowing that I get to spend not just the rest of my life with him but because he now accepted Jesus Christ as his savior I get to spend eternity with him as well. God’s little gift to me for all the stress and anguish that battle caused me.
How did I thank God? Oh, well I was a really good girl for a while. As good as I wanted to be I suppose. God asked me to do certain things and I did them and he asked the same of Daren and he did them too. But 6 months into it Daren and I hit another brick wall. We weren’t seeing things eye to eye, I resented him, he resented me. You know, all the stuff that makes a marriage not work. That sneaky enemy. Seriously! Daren and I were just doing life, going to church, talking the talk but were we actually walking the walk? I think not. Looking back at that time, I can’t tell you exactly what went wrong other than we just weren’t connecting and all the other usual stuff. It got really bad around Christmas and New Years. That year I actually rang in the new year in the spare bedroom in bed crying. I thought to myself, “Well, this is going to be one hell of a year!” Oh, I must tell you it was. There is no doubt in my mind that night was very close to the start of a very difficult season in my life. It was near the beginning of a season that I am still in.
I am trying to take inventory of the good stuff while amongst this season (See my Thankful Thursday posts) but some times it takes a very long look to find something to be truly grateful. Is it because God’s gifts are not readily ours? No, no I don’t believe that at all. What I do believe is that the enemy is like a terrorist that kidnaps us and puts a sack over our heads so that we cannot see the gifts and miracles that God gives us every day. Maybe it is during those times that we have to just close our eyes and see the visions that God gives us of our gifts. Maybe it is in that darkness that God reveals himself to us and it takes some of our worst moments to get us so down that there is where he will meet us. Not because that is the only place he is but rather that is the only place we will search for him, that we will listen to him, that we will believe him.
I don’t know, I am no scholar, especially when it comes to the bible. I haven’t even read the whole bible…yet. But I do know that God reveals himself to me most often when I am either in the bowls of disrepair or when I’m seeking him daily. Maybe I am having an epiphany right now but I am starting to somewhat comprehend the meaning of Fearing God because right now in this moment, I’m actually starting to Fear God. Well, maybe not him so much as the lack of him. When I look at the ebbs and flows of my life and identify when I have been ignoring him or rather not seeking him, those are my darkest times. I fear not feeling his presence. I fear not hearing from him. Yet the definition of Faith according to The Free Dictionary by Farlex is
Today is the first of hopefully many Thankful Thursday submissions from me. I am imagining that most days I will be able to find this day’s adventure of writing easier than others. The writing part that is. Probably not so much the finding the time part. You know though, the other day I asked God to find me the time if he wanted me to write and the even weirder thing, he did. Seriously, he has come through everyday with time for me to write. It is just that sometimes, like yesterday, I don’t take that time. I almost didn’t write tonight either. I got distracted by the internet. Yeah, I said the whole internet and not just one specific thing on the internet but rather Facebook is a gateway to the rest of the place and before you know it I’ve watched 2 videos, looked at countless pictures and Ads for diet stuff. Laughed at some jokes and read some recipes. Then I realize, oh my gosh! I am wasting my writing time. So here I am now, writing my thing at 11 pm. Well guess what, that is all part of it I suppose. At least I am writing now and at least I gave myself another new beginning today.
I guess this all leads up to my thankful list because I can think of at least 3 things I am thankful for right off the top of my head and once I get started I’m sure there will be more.
1. My God, I am so thankful for him. I am thankful for his forgiveness, his unconditional love, and his blessings that he pours out to me daily.
2. My first blessing is my family. I’m talking Daren, Brittany, my Mom, Chris, Lisa & Madison, and Cory. I am thankful for the people who love my family too. I am thankful that each person in my family is different but we all are accepting, forgiving and stubborn.
3. My friends and I am so thankful to call them many. I never knew how many friends I had until a month ago when my dad died. I was blown away at the generosity and love that so many shared.
4. Technology. I love my gadgets. I love being able to stay connected everywhere. (I know it is shallow but I believe we all have shallow parts and this is my confession. lol)
5. Coffee. For those of you who know me, you are not surprised by the top 5 appearance of this jem. I am a coffee snob and I prefer mine and my mothers to anyone’s. There is always a cup waiting for you at my house.