For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Choose Not to Live Life in the PIts

Lately, I’ve been living in a pit. You know what a pit is? It’s just another way of saying, “All I see are walls.” Well, I am tired of seeing nothing but walls.

I want to see things God’s way, and I have yet to see where God says, “I will bless you with walls that prevent you from having vision.” I haven’t found where He says, “I will put you in a dark place that is simply a grave for the non-dead that is beyond escape and wears you down until all hope is gone.” That’s what a pit is, and it is not of God.

So, I’ve been asking God how I ended up in this pit in the first place, and the answer is complex. To some extent, others dug it and dumped me in. I’m not trying to blame. People are people, and that is what happened. To some extent, I pulled out a shovel and helped them. Pits don’t just happen. Some thing happens that creates them, and I have a good idea of what created mine.

Then I ask why I am still here. That answer is complex in its simplicity. The answer: I choose to be.

For some that is too simplistic, but really, that is it. I choose fear over courage. I choose negative over positive. I choose rejection over acceptance.

Let me give you an example. One of the things I love is photography. In fact, when I was in high school, I wanted to work for National Geographic or some magazine that would let me do photo essays. However, I heard a lot about how I would never be good enough to pay my bills that way, so I didn’t. Twenty years later, the Lord has renewed my passion for photography in journalistic form. I’ve been published, and I will be photographing a major women’s conference for a magazine in less than a month. I’m also doing weddings and various jobs that require capturing personal expression. I’m having a great time with this.

If we stop a moment, it is easy to see the acceptance that is pouring out on my photography right now.
I’ve been published.
I have been asked to do the photography for a magazine for a major women’s event.
People are choosing me to capture precious moments in their lives.
People trust me to capture their hearts, visions, and dreams.
And I was told the pictures that were recently published received more comments from readers than any thing else-including articles-in the magazines three years of publications.

Folks, that is a lot of acceptance and blessing.

Then, there was the email.

Someone I have spoken to three times in two years emailed me and asked if we could get together at the afore mentioned women’s conference, and I said I was doing the photography. Instead of a congratulations or excitement, her response was, “Well, your level of photography must have come up for them to think you were that good.”

The voice in my head asked, “Are you going to take the bait?”

I really wanted to write back and be ugly. I thought about sending my latest resume to prove how inappropriate her email was. I even thought about calling a friend to tell her about this email that I refused to acknowledge, but if I refused to acknowledge it, why would I call someone to tell them about it? What was I hoping for? Was I hoping my friend would tell me how wrong this person was? Was I hoping she’d tell me how good I am? More than all that, why was I letting ONE email put me in a tizzy and define me when I had clear and obvious proof of the quality of my work? Would I choose the one email questioning my ability of the list of people and situations that blessed and validated it?

I erased the email, and I bring it up now because the Lord said it was the perfect example of choice.

There are other choices to be made, such as which voices I choose to listen to. On one hand there is a lady who is in the realm of several ladies I know and is often part of our lunches out. Simply put, I never please that woman, but it isn’t just me. No one pleases her. None of us live up to her level of anything. We all know that. We all know it wouldn’t matter what we did, she will find something wrong with it. Surely, she wouldn’t lie, so there must be something there, and we all feel we must fix the source of her latest rejection in some fashion.

On the other hand, I am blessed with a magnificent group of women that I deeply admire. They are stunningly beautiful both inside and out, and these women have had some things to say to me, too.

They’ve said:
I am talented.
I am beautiful.
I am interesting.
I am a good friend.
I am a good wife.
I am a good mother.
I am an inspiration.

Why is it that when this last group of amazing women says something life-giving to me I act sheepish and unworthy, but when the other woman blasts me, I feel I somehow deserve it? Are the women in this last group liars? I don’t think so. I think they are sincere and genuine, and I believe their words are heartfelt. So should I not embrace their words with the same conviction of truth that I would the other woman?

Yes, I think I should, and I choose to do just that. Now, I’m not suggesting we surround ourselves with “yes men”, or women in the case, but I believe it is a sin to choose to define ourselves by criticism alone when God calls us beautiful, worthwhile, chosen, gifted, blessed, delightful, lover, bride, and friend. What right do we have to call God a liar? Do we understand-do *I* understand that when I agree with only the negative, I call God a liar? God looked at all He had made and called it good. We refuse to agree we are good, but we’ll agree with everything else.

And thus, the pit.

The pit is where we live when we cannot see life as God declares it to be. The pit is a lie. The pit is darkness with limitations and no hope for escape. God is light so bright the sun doesn’t compare with power beyond our imaginations holding out hope everlasting.

Which do I choose?

Sound like lovely pie in the sky stuff? No, it’s God in Heaven stuff, and I’d rather believe in that and miss it some than live in a pit that offers nothing but excuses to sit on my derriere and be miserable. And besides, there is this book I’ve read with lots of stories of folks who could have camped out in their pits but instead took hold of Heaven and did things most of us only dream of. Honestly, it makes me hungry to do some of those things myself.

Granted, some of those folks in that book were in pits, too. There is a guy name Daniel that was in a pit with some hungry lions. There were three guys that got tossed into a pit with a fire so hot it killed the men that threw them in, and let’s not forget Jesus who was put in a pit, sealed up, and guarded. You know why God let them get in those pits? Because He planned to get them out and show His power.

That tells me whatever pit I’m in is only so God can get me out.

God was able to get the men and women of the Bible out of their pits because they chose to believe God and what He said about His character…His power…His plans…and them.

And I choose to believe, too.

I pray you believe you have the power to choose, and I pray you choose to believe…

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