Friday, 8 March 2013

The Party Pooper of the English Language

If you could do anything, what would it be? Hmm, interesting. Now, I want to you answer that question again, but this time your answer cannot be from your "Column A," the "safe" column; that's right, I want you to look at your "Column B," the "I really would love to do or be that, but . . . " column. 

"I'd like to be a chef . . . but, I don't have the time."

"I'd like to be a vet . . . but, I don't have the grades."

"I'd like to be a Pastor . . . but, I don't know enough about the Bible."

"I'd like to be a doctor . . . but, I'm too old to go back to study."

"I'd like to be a . . . B U T . . . "

"BUT." Such a small word, but oh so powerful. I reckon that if 'but' was a person she'd be the "party pooper," the wet blanket of everything good, fun, enjoyable or delightful. Oh she'd be a great friend to start with, listening as you nervously shared your dreams and passions, encouraging you with each nod of the head, each "that sounds great," and then BAM, with one fell swoop she'd bring you crashing down to earth; deflated, discouraged, disillusioned.

BUT. . . 

This year I have stepped way, way out of my comfort zone and dared to follow a passion from my Column B. I am currently doing 2 subjects from the Certificate II in Visual Arts - Graphic Design. In one of the subjects, whilst a "noob" ("newbie," according to my 8 year old son), I'm not completely clueless, so the stretching is not too drastic. In the class Design Foundations, however, it’s a whole other story - I mean, I actually have to draw. FOR REAL! Actual pens on paper and cutting and gluing and . . . let's just say I have lost count of how many times I have said to my lecturers and fellow students, "I can't even draw!"  Just this morning I bashfully sat at the Studio 1 desk, praying that the lecturers would just not notice me, would just walk on by and not see my incompetence.

They didn't. No, they came and they stood right next to me, looking for the work that I was so desperate to hide. As they looked, my 'buts' started up, "Did I mention that I can't actually draw; I mean, I thought this was computer design, not actual drawing design, and . . . " Big sigh. 

I waited for their verdict; and you know what? They didn't buy into my excuses or lack of self belief. They didn't laugh and mock me in front of the other, (oh so talented), students. On the contrary, they were encouraging, they smiled; they even said that my work was good - GOOD?!

I can barely find the words to describe the delight my heart felt at that moment. Through the strength and power of Jesus I had faced my 'buts,' and at the name of Jesus they bolted!

What dreams do you have hidden in the Column B of your life? Is there a gift or talent that bubbles away in your spirit that you would just love to try; a “God thing,” a super-natural desire for something that, in your own strength, you perhaps could not pull off, but in God’s strength . . . well who knows what you might be able to accomplish.

Go on; ask God to give you the strength and courage to stand up to your ‘buts’ this year. And when you do, please pop back over here and be sure to share your story with us; I know I’d love to hear all about it.




  1. Awesome encouragement, Mary. It's so easy to hide behind the "buts." I think it's time to face some of mine!

    1. I am so pleased that you were encouraged, Pamela. May God give you the wisdom to choose which 'buts' to consider in the year ahead. Blessings, Helen

  2. That's a great post, Helen. Very encouraging. And good on you for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing the design course. I had a similar experience recently when I did a Grad Dip in Creative Writing (well -recently if you consider when I finished, but not if you count when I started - LOL). Some of the subjects came easily to me (e.g., poetry), but others were way out of my comfort zone. I had to do two literature subjects as part of it and chose one on Shakespeare for the last one. It was so out of my league and I was pulling my hair out trying to make sense not only of Shakespeare's work, but a bunch of high-falutin' postmodern and obtuse literary articles. Well, to cut a long story short, I got the best mark for that subject than any of the others. So it just reinforced for me that we can do anything with God's help. I look forward to seeing all the wonderful designs you come up with. Love the one in the photo by the way.

    God Bless


    1. Hi Nola. Wow, you took on Shakespeare - and WON! That is really stepping out of the comfy spot and trusting in God! And I think that's what I really am finding out, that the things we just accept we can't do might actually be one of our best talents/gifts - when we put them in God's hands. It gives him the glory and honour to him. Thanks for sharing this with us :-)

      Blessings, Helen

  3. That is wonderful encouragement for us all Helen. Thanks. Those buts can get in the way too often methinks. :)

    1. Thanks Amanda. They certainly can; it makes me cringe when I think of all the 'buts' that I've used in my life, that I am still using! And how kind of our Father God to help us face these, one at a time - well, at this stage anyway!

      Blessings, Helen

  4. I've forgotten what my column B wishes are ... bogged down in survival! Might be time to journal this topic. Thanks for the reminder. Good on you for taking the leap, too :)

    1. Hi Butterfly,

      Can I just encourage you for a moment? I have been in a place where I gave up on my Column B; my spirit was crushed so many times I just couldn't bear the thought of hoping for something to actually work out as I had hoped. But in this season God was faithful, and kept my feet on His path for my life. I can honestly say the place I am now is nothing like the place I used to dream I'd be in; sometimes that makes me sad, but then I remember the Scripture that says the Lord orders the feet of the righteous, and I know that I am here because He has purposefully brought me here! And because I am reassured of that, I can stop fretting about past choices, contemplating if I am "where I should be" in life; I gave God permission to lead me, and so I shall rest on the belief that he will in fact do as he said he would.

      My 'old' Column B was full of ministry options that I thought I would excel at; but I can honestly say I am more excited about what God has in store for my life now than I ever have been! It's a quiet, serene excitement, one that means I don't have to strive to achieve or to please anyone - especially God! - and I am able to just go with the flow of it, rather than trying to struggle against the current.

      Butterfly, I honestly and sincerely pray that God will work in you as you start to journal. If there are dreams that He wants you to let go of, I pray that you will be given the strength to do so; sometimes that involves a bucketload of tears, and that's okay. As the old adage goes, we sometimes have to let go of the old before we can take hold of the new. I love that - in theory; in reality, it's hard. But God is faithful, and He will guide your every step, if you let Him.

      I'm really excited for you and can't wait to see where God leads you!

      Blessings, Helen

  5. Hi Helen,
    The word "but" has literally made me cringe at times. Who says a tiny word can't have a huge impact? I can just feel it coming in the context of a conversation, and then it hits like a blow to the gut. I think my Column B list has always been writing and homeschooling, and when discouraging moments come, I need to remind myself that they are on my Column B list.

  6. I feel that way with my writing.
    I want to be a writer BUT I have no talent. At least that is what I have been feeling.
    No I have my first book out and still feel that way. Though it is encouraging when people say they like my book.

  7. That was a great post Helen. You said you had no idea for a post on Wed BUT you came up with a brilliant one in the blink of an eye. Good on you!

    Yes, those 'buts' can often take centre stage can't they? And ruin our lives and our adventures in living. Well done on stepping out of your comfort zone - sounds like you are doing really well too. Great!

    I'd like to offer a few reverse BUTS too. It can work the other way and 'BUT' can become a great friend as well if we treat him right.

    "I've had to stay off living for awhile while my foot mends... BUT I am a writer so am now living a Writer's dream! :)

    This autumn in Adelaide has started off too HOT, BUT - we can anticipate cooler days yet! :)

    I have been hunting for a publisher for 5 books I've written in the last few years and it's been a slog - BUT I will never give up! :)

    So thankfully when we make friends with 'BUT' he/she can become an encouraging friend too! A party Brightener perhaps? :)

    Thanks again for your encouragement Helen,
    Anusha xo

  8. Well, I've already conquered my was to share my writing. I was quite literally, breathe in a paper bag, nervous about it.

    And I've done it. Many times now - and it feels great (although I still have to resist chewing my finger nails as I await the verdict)

    Great post - we should never let our buts get in the way. Oops - that could be read a couple of ways!

  9. I love your post. 'But' is a word I frequently employ. When I was teaching I would write a positive comment on each student's work, BUT would add a qualifying statement. I would use 'BUT' or 'HOWEVER' followed by some CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Students complained that I never just wrote 'Good' on their work.

    I told them it was to help them see ways in which to improve, BUT they didn't see it that way.

    I guess we are like that in our self talk at times. We see the negatives, the sensible qualifiers, the practical aspects that might keep us from following our dreams or God's calling. There are lots of examples in the Bible too of people who said, 'I want to serve you God, BUT...'

    I like Anusha's perspective. BUT can be a positive if employed in the right way. Maybe I should have turned my comments around. 'You could have written a better introduction, BUT the rest of your essay was filled with a sound argument and creative ideas. Well done.'

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. No BUTS!

  10. Congratulations Helen for kicking the butt out the "buts", excuse the pun! A wonderfully encouraging post. I am too often easily defeated by the "buts".

    And you're so correct, God has told us He will reveal the desires of our heart if we delight ourselves in Him (Ps 37:4).


  11. A good post Helen and your comment "Is there a gift or talent that bubbles away in your spirit that you would just love to try" reminds me of Max Lucado's book, "Cure for the Common Life". But (yes, I said BUT) sometimes it's not about time, or grades, or age. Sometimes it's about money. My friend Jannette would love to do a course, but, she's a widow, and her only income is a disability pension and after paying rent, electricity, phone, petrol (don't we all dread that), car insurance, car repairs, tyres, rego, food and putting money aside for birthday and Christmas presents for her 9 grandchildren, some weeks there isn't even enough money left to buy a cappuccino. So, sometimes ‘but’ is legitimate.