Category Archives: transition

Missing Out On The Fear Of Missing Out

The “fear of missing out” is real. For an Enneagram Type 7 like myself, it taunts and teases me, pushing me into a corner, where I feel like a toddler puffy-cheek pouting in timeout.

You see, I want to taste and touch and experience every aspect of life. Because of that, choices overwhelm me.

What should I wear today? (Ultimately it’s based on comfort and color and practicality.)

What do I want to eat? (It’s better not to ask. I usually don’t know, although I’ll never say no to chips and salsa.)

How should I prioritize my day? (There are 8000 things I want to do in one day, so I eventually – somewhat painfully – just pick one.)

These choices are small. But what about the bigger decisions of life?

This past week, on the heels of July, which was split with a ministry adventure to West Virginia (Camp ROYAL) and family vacation in Colorado, I landed in August with 7 (yes, S-E-V-E-N) big decisions on my plate.

Ugh. The exhaustion of constantly having to prioritize what’s most important or what’s best to put aside for a season. Does this resonate with you? (Shall we pause and enjoy a cup of tea instead?!)

True confession: I’m terrible at editing… not just in writing, but, more importantly… in life.

So last week (and part of this week), I’ve been discerning decisions about two part-time job offers or running full speed ahead with vision I have through freelance ministry endeavors as well as whether or not to attend two work conferences, one spiritual retreat, and a 40th birthday trip for a friend.

Here’s the problem: it ALL seems thrilling. And guess what? I DON’T WANT TO MISS OUT.

On Sunday in the aftermath of some of that decision-making, the sermon at my church was about fear because, as my pastor said, “It’s a form of focus.” I sat through the sermon and jotted lots of notes, per norm, feeling slightly high and mighty and grateful that fear isn’t something I really struggle with. And then, after the sermon, during worship and a time of reflection, I got the gentle Jesus slap to the face.

IT HIT ME. THE FEAR OF “MISSING OUT” IS A REAL FEAR. And it carries too much weight in my life. So it IS a struggle. Sheesh.

As I sat there wide-eyed in self-analysis mode, running my brainwaves through the trails of all the events and conversations and questions of last week, I realized that the fear of missing out was hindering my ability to make wise decisions. Somehow it had floated itself to the top of the surface as a PRIORITY in my decision-making processes.

NO NO NO. NO MORE!

Here’s why: Because in that moment, standing in total shock of this revelation and in a response of dazed surrender, I realized that WHEN I’M WITH GOD, I CANNOT BE MISSING OUT.

See, if my goal is to be in His will, to be WITH HIM, aware of His Presence… that requires that I go where He is… where He is leading, guiding, directing, releasing.

And even more than that. HE IS IN ME.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
~ Psalm 139:7-12

So I literally cannot be missing out… because if I am with Him, and He is with me, I am missing nothing. The opportunity to my right or left is NOT better if He is not leading me there. It’s not more fun. It doesn’t have nicer people or ideas that will bring clarity or revelation. It’s not better than where I am right now.

It CANNOT be if He is NOT with me there. And because He is with me, because He resides in me, where I am is where I need to be.

There is no missing out for you or me… except on one thing: the fear of missing out. I’m happy to bid that one adieu.

x Bethany

Advertisements

You Gain Strength…

Glen Cairn, South Africa | Photo by J. Bethany Anderson ©2009

In January of 2018, I was traveling back from serving with refugees in Athens, Greece when the plane I was on flew directly over Brandon, Canada. I was currently discerning a job offer and my would-be boss was named Brandon so it caught my attention like a shimmery light on the horizon.

Let me pause here and insert a small caveat: I love words. I love their double, triple layers and believe that meaning can be found anywhere that we take time and space to dig deep. I believe this not because of some weird, airy-fairy thing, but because one of the deepest convictions of my heart is that God is ALWAYS speaking. We just have to train ourselves to shut out the noise – the non-stop thoughts about our to-do list, how to wisely navigate that relationship, what to eat, what to wear to that event, when to make that decision, etc. – and STILL our hearts long enough to wonder.

So when that shimmery light of a word, “Brandon,” caught my attention, curiosity struck. So I researched that blip on the map and stumbled across some important words. The city’s motto is from the Latin: VIRES AQUIRIT EUNDO –> It gains strength by going as it goes.  

Fast-forward to January of this year [2019] and as I was reflecting on what God might have for me this year, He kept whispering the same phrase into my spirit: It gains strength by going as it goes.  

2018 was a whirlwind, in regards to my work. I took that job as an event coordinator for an action sports ministry [ROYAL] and spent my entire summer in West Virginia working with young athletes, published my first book [Kiss My Fish: Tales of Chasing God Around the World] as well as my first e-devotional [Give My Heart], and completed a 6-piece commissioned art project for a friend. Those twelve months flew by!

I was geared up and ready to hit the ground running in 2019. I had days marked on the calendar for goal-planning and dream sessions. I had a list of to-dos longer than my forearm and I was motivated to take it all on with the focus of a horse with blinders on.

And then, it happened. I woke up on December 26th with a full-blown cold/sinus/headache/allergy thing that knocked the wind, energy, and all my motivation sideways. For two weeks straight, I fought that monster. I tried to hit my to-do list. I tried to sit down and plan my goals. But I could never get past the throbbing headache or debilitating fatigue.

I could feel myself rapidly spiraling downwards into a dark hole. I had been in places like that before and I wanted to do everything in my power to thwart being thrown completely off-track at the start of a new year.

Eventually, my body healed, but the feeling that I was already way behind lingered on repeat in my mind. In the middle of that fast-paced descent downwards, God came alongside me with gentleness. He said over and over again to me, “It gains strength by going as it goes.” I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but it gave me enough oomph to do the next right thing.

And so, I did. The next right thing was taking it a day at a time, breathing in-between, and continually asking Him, “What’s on Your heart today, Father?”

And now, here it is – the end of February, which I deemed as my “official” [re]start of 2019. And I’m excited to announce that exactly one week from today [on March 5th!] I will be launching my podcast – The Hope Adventure, a place for us to explore the beautiful truth that “The Greatest Adventure is His Presence.”

One thing I know for certain is that in those moments when I felt zero motivation and was stuck in analysis-paralysis due to clouded thinking, confusion about which option to pursue, and an overall pause to my momentum, I kept the mantra in front of me and personalized it.

I gain strength by going as I go.

I gain strength by going as I go.

I gain strength by going as I go.

And I figured for that to be true, I just needed to keep going. And maybe you do, too…

x Bethany

www.jbethanyanderson.com

This is NOT what we discussed, God.

DSC01343
I’m not really sure the exact moment it happened. I just know, somewhere along the path of the past 2 years, it did. I woke up to reality. Sleepy-eyed, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “how did I get here?” This is NOT what we discussed, God.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve read articles & watched movies about this very thing… this “coming of age” moment when you realize that your life has already happened. And yes, it continues to happen. Every day. But when you have this wide-eyed realization that if you just keep letting life happen TO you, it might slip past your fingers and trap you in the grips of apathy & lethargy. I want to be more intentional than that.

I’ve spent the last decade of my life riding on the coat-tails of the Holy Spirit as He has paraded me across nations to experience life and culture and a broken world in need. And I relished every single moment of that. I thrived on the excitement of being a part of His bigger story for His bigger purposes. I had wild eyes and wild hair from all my travels.

And now, well now… life looks a little bit different. The years are catching up with me.

It’s been a really emotionally tough 2 years on many levels. This time in December of 2012, I was closing my suitcases on yet another adventure; my English jaunt had changed me & impacted me so deeply. I sowed tears of goodbye as I was prepping to leave such a relationally & spiritually rich season of life.

I came home to Texas ready for a new adventure, which headed south very quickly and turned very sour only after 3 1/2 months.

The rug was pulled out from under me. My dreams were caught-up in a tornado and taken away from me in an instant. Everything I knew for my future came to an ugly, painful halt.

If I’m completely honest, I’m still recovering from those pin-prick moments of pain. Every once in awhile I still feel the torment of that time & wonder if I’ll ever be the same after having gone through that hell.

This is NOT what we discussed, God.

And here’s the thing: God is still redeeming that season of my life… He’s slowly working to restore what I feel I lost during that time. He’s good like that. He takes the lost and brings restoration 10-fold.

And I would be a total ingrate if I didn’t recognize all the incredible blessings of the things I DO and have had in my life. These 2 years have been spent at home amongst friends, family, and loved ones. It’s been a time where I’ve experienced true love and learned so much about God’s grace and purposes. It’s been a time where I’ve learned that my every breath depends on Him, which has whittled away at my independent spirit. But that’s exactly what God wants to do. He wants to teach us dependency on Him. We think we got this; we think we can go it alone. He knows we can’t. He knows we need Him.

I desperately do.

Because at the moment, I remain in this cycle where the world seems like it’s crashing down on me… so many areas of my life feel violently opposed to one another. So much in my heart and head. So much confusion. So much love. So much lost. So many areas of my life seem like they are spinning out of control!!!!!

This is NOT what we discussed… This is NOT what we discussed… This is NOT what we discussed, God!!!!!!!!!!!

And there it is… right there….

This is not what WE discussed, God.

EXACTLY. It’s not about what we discussed at all. Because we didn’t discuss anything. I told Him everything.

In my 20s, I was very clear with God about what I wanted my life to look like. I want this excitement, I want that adventure. I want it at this time, in this way. I want this Promise fulfilled by such & such date; I want this dream to come to fruition by the time I’m 34. What a blatant effort to control things. I don’t know how NOT to try & control things.

Here’s my confession, today: I’m done. I’m weak. I’ve got no strength left to fight for what I think I want, for how I think my life should look, for when I think things should pan-out for me. I’m finished. I’m throwing in the towel.

I’m open to whatever He has for me, for however He wants my life to unfold. Whatever geography. Whatever purposes. Whatever He unveils.

I’m going to stop looking for greener grass on the other side of the fence. I’m going to stop looking for the next best thing and believe what’s in front of me IS the next best thing, because it’s God’s thing for me so it must be the best. I’m going to stop focusing on what I don’t have and choose gratefulness for what I do. And I’m going to let the raw emotions of today catalyze me into a fresh year of new strength, new vigor, new stamina, and new receptivity to His plans for my life.

Lord, help me loosen my grip on the reigns of my life. You are in control. Lead on.

This is NOT what we discussed. Thank You, God, because now I’m ready to hear what You have to say… 

He Is & Always Will Be: Thoughts from the Spring ‘Fire’ of 2013

ImageMany of you know that I went through a difficult & challenging season in the Spring of 2013, where I experienced a deceptive & dangerous ‘gospel’ first-hand as a staff member of a mega-church.

I don’t believe in bad-mouthing institutions (I use that word intentionally because this was one of those ‘church run as a business/institution’ not as a church kind of situations).

I DO believe in speaking the truth… & the following is what I felt God was saying to me through my experience there. It’s a strong reminder that the Church is about HIM & must always come back to JESUS.

 
“WARNING! Do not align your hearts to the deceptive culture…
that says wealth is your reward for serving Me…
that says comfort is the means to life…
that says Jesus is the way but requires loyalty to a leader…
that says we support orphans but we stay in luxury hotels because dirt under our fingertips ruins our manicured nails…
that says ‘Spirit, come’ & then the clock runs out…
that says we see God but we don’t bow our heads to pray for even 3 minutes in a 3 hour meeting…
that says take a step towards Him, but make sure you are wearing the right shoes… 
that says we welcome you, but only special people can come in & sit at the front…
that says we are the church, but you can only be a part if you do it our way…
that says be a part of us, but first sign your name & serve our leader…
that says Jesus’ words bring life, but we quote our leader more than the Jesus because he’s quippy & creative…
that says we’re here to build the Kingdom but the only empire to be seen is the one that stands empty 5 days a week & shines with the glitz and glamour of high-dollar…
that says it’s all about ‘the reach’ but only to fill empty front-row seats to present a good ‘look’ for the TV cameras… 
YOU SEE, THE CHURCH IS ABOUT ME. I WILL NOT TOLERATE A MAN-MADE EMPIRE THAT ROBS MY GLORY, THAT DISTORTS THE TRUTH IN A GREY JOYLESS VEIL, MAKING ROBOTS OUT OF MEN. JESUS IS MY GLORY. WE ARE & ALWAYS WILL BE. THE SANDS OF TIME BLOW AWAY, BUT WE REMAIN. WE ARE THE BRIGHT MORNING STAR, SHINING OUR GLORY FROM AGE TO AGE. WE REQUIRE SOLD-OUT HEARTS & LIVES, NOT EMPTY WORDS. EMPTY WORDS BRING DESTRUCTION; ONLY OUR WORDS BRING WORDS OF TRUE LIFE.
Reflecting on 2013 today, I find myself utterly grateful for God’s grace & redemption this year…
That despite the fires & trials of life, He is & always will be. 
That through the storms of life, He is & always will be. 
That through the deceptions (though well-intentioned), He is & always will be. 
That when I feel lost & floating, He is & always will be. 
That when I have no idea what’s around the corner, He is & always will be. 
That when life looks different that what I imagined, He is & always will be. 
That above ALL ELSE, He is & always will be. 
That God always speaks truth because He is & always will be. 
I am ever grateful for His truth, His guiding, His providence. Praise be to God & may His Church glorify HIM and no one else.
“Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands & step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Here’s to an Irresistible Future with Him in 2014! Be blessed.
Bethany x
 
 
 
 

  

I am the Limbo Queen.

DSC00066

As a child of the 80s, I spent many hours under the roof of a place called “Skateland,” celebrating my friends’ birthdays & sometimes my own. This place smelled of old skates, popcorn, & sticky fingers.

Put my chicken legs in a pair of roller skates & my permed locks looked like a blur speeding by as I raced around the rink. I loved skating. There was something about the thrill of negotiating sharp turns on wheels & managing to stay upright.

But as much as I loved the speed, I loved ‘Limbo’ even more.

You know what I’m talking about: the ‘rink rats’ (a term my friend who formerly worked at a skating rink lovingly calls himself!) would gather us all into the middle of the rink & pull out the ‘Limbo’ pole (usually decorated with pink & purple pom-poms for girl parties). They would then blast the “Limbo Rock” by Chubby Checker & those of us little limber people were on our way to winning the prize: free ice cream at the skate bar!

Genetics gave me chicken legs & a skinny frame which, admittedly, worked in my favor for winning ‘Limbo.’ I was pretty bendy & could avoid that pole like a hot potato. I had a knack for doing that insane roller-split move that seems incredibly impossible to my not-so-limber self these days.

In any case, I usually ranked in the Top 3 if I didn’t make it home covered in ice-cream goo from winning the prize.

As much as I love the thrill of negotiating the turns of life these days (while managing to stay upright!), I had a conversation last night where I was jokingly told my career/profession was ‘being in limbo.’ I guffawed at this, but thought ‘Yes, if that was a profession, I’d be the Queen.’ (And I’d probably take the cake, too, but simply because I love cake. Especially birthday cakes. Especially at skating rinks. I digress…)

But seriously. I am the Limbo Queen.

Despite the fact that I grew up in a very stable environment (same house from 2-24 years, parents with an incredible marriage, a family that was fun & hilarious, grandparents who were very involved in my life, friends from childhood to now, etc.), I have spent the past 10 years living in ‘limbo.’

Many of you know that my travel/international living resume includes the following (with stints in the USA dotted in between):

  • France -03-’04
  • Switzerland – ’05-’08
  • South Africa – ’08-’09
  • Australia – ’09-’11
  • England – ’12-’13

All that to say, I’ve consistently been on the move, pondering what, when, & where is next. Wondering when that pole just might fall on top of me, or when my flexibility will fail me & I’ll come crashing to the ground, wheels spinning & ankles hurting from trying to bend in places that don’t bend anymore.

People talk about seasons of transition like their long-lost relative they haven’t seen in awhile. My seasons of transition are more like my best friend that I see & talk to every single day.

I am in a constant state of transition. I am in a relationship with Limbo.

I am the first to tell people that I ‘thrive in the unknowns of life.’ But lately, the ‘unknowns’ have been smacking me in the face, as if trying to wake me up from some sleepy day-dreamy daze. I’m opening my eyes slowly, one at a time, because too much light, too quick, stings at first.

Because normally for me, the ‘unknown’ comes in a package that is beautifully wrapped with the flag of another country.

The ‘unknown’ for me right now is a place that I actually ‘know’ pretty well. My hometown, where I grew up. Where I spent my foundational years doing just that, living on a foundation of stability.

And yet, it feels very ‘unknown.’ I’m in a season where there are lots of NEW things in my life, lots of uncertainties, lots of choices, lots of paths. And it is all happening in a place, that in some regards, feels more ‘unknown’ to me than any of these other places before.

So, like I said, I am the Queen of Limbo. And I still like it, but sometimes I just wish that the song would finish, the pole would drop & someone would win that free ice-cream already. I really hope it’s me. And I hope it comes with birthday cake.