There are key phrases in our culture and daily lives that we hear and say often, but have we stopped to think what they actually mean?
One that’s sticking out to me at the moment is our “self worth”.
Each of us have valueto many other people and sources. The value isn’t always a positive thing, or in our best interest, though.
Take our current online culture, for instance— our individual and collective value is often in the form of data. Pieces of us— information or data, have become a type of currency in some ways, as Social Media platforms make deals with various advertisers, government officials, even governments themselves, to get as much data as possible in an infinite number of ways.
We are valuable sources for information.
To politicians, we are valuable for molding by opinions and “news” reports to help “shape” our opinions through fear, outrage, disappointment and anger. They value us for our votes for them or their causes.
But self worth— that’s a whole different facet.
Self worth is often influenced by the negative things people say about us or to us, or negative reactions.
For instance, if, as a child, we grew up in a critical environment where complimentary things spoken to us was not common-place, our understanding of our self worth can morph into the pictures we get from the words of others, or develop as a reflection within that environment.
For instance— being called “good-for-nothing”, “worthless” and “just in the way”— that has affected how I view myself, in so many ways. I heard those things decades ago, but somehow they became embedded in the make-up of who I have developed into.
In some ways, that has actually spurred on some positive things. Having lived through the impact of those words hitting my malleable confidence, I know how much they hurt to both hear and receive treatment from others as being true.
But, even now I have a tough time finding my footing to be solid in relationships with others. I don’t have the benefit of self confidence near as much as I did years ago.
Life has happened. Circumstances have beaten me down. Health issues have left me tired and weakened.
I’m finding I have a new resolve now, though.
I’m resolved to surround myself, carefully, with those who purpose to build me up. I can’t use my limited energy on having to repair what others would tear down with their harsh opinions and treatment.
I’m finding, for the first time in my life, I feel delicate and I need to guard that.
And anyone who would mock that, I don’t even want them to be a part of my life.
My confidence is not the self worth that the world insists that I have.
My only worth is in Jesus. Hehighlights Himself in me— my words and my actions.
These aren’t just words and actions to me. I can dazzle the world all I want with gifts, talents, and pizzazz— but I cannot fool God. The things we strive for in this life mean nothing in Eternity with God.
So— in my personal life I have set up boundaries for me— Either I am built-up in Him by those who love Him, or I hide in Him to block out the mean and spiteful things meant to pull me down on a level God never created me to be on.
If I am really hidden in Christ Jesus, the things or people that seek to tear me down, can’t touch me.
I wish I were there already!! I have such a long way to go! Until then— I’m gonna struggle with confidence and sure-footedness with others.
I’m giving myself permission to be who I am as I continue to grow into who God is shaping me to be.
I can’t conjure up self-confidence just because some demonstrate no grace, no tolerance, or no understanding.
I apologize for how I am way too often. I care about the opinions of others way too much. I’ve tried to live up to those heavy expectations and opinions— until I just can’t any longer.
I’m not strong enough.
I try to hold myself up to a different standard because I know how it feels to be on the end I have where lived my entire life— where my personal beliefs, my experiences, my opinions have been treated as stupid, unimportant, uninformed or wrong because someone doesn’t agree.
My self confidence has taken many direct hits during it’s existence. I’ve lived with the belief if I’m not doing something perfect, I’ll just be messing it up for everyone. If I make a mistake, that’s what people will remember, not the 99% that was done right.
To some degree, everyone experiences this— I know.
I have built up a personal intolerance for it.
I believe God also has intolerance for it, as well.
Modeling myself after Christ means I have to self-regulate the way I treat others.
I have to monitor myself.
I also have to protect myself in Christ to be sure I am being built-up in Him.
Not by the world’s standards.
By Christ’s standards.
Demonstrating not only His love for others— but His love for me— His confidence inme.
I’m not used to anyone having confidence in me.
So— the Creator having confidenceinme?
That is a tough one to keep a grip on.
True humility is admitting and embracing God’s truth about ourselves.
He thinks more highly of me than most in my family ever will, more highly than any person I’ve ever interacted with—
More highly than I could ever imagine, or dare to think/believe about myself.
He sees the whole picture.
I see one pixel of the picture…
He has chosen to use this nearly-destroyed vessel— in remarkable ways I still can’t believe He chooses to.
He knit me in my mother’s womb, and He is still reshaping what He put together.
I am not kidding when I say— if He canuse my life, my heart, and instill His purpose in me— He absolutely can and will in anyone!!
I am amazed by His work in and through my life.
He weaves threads continuously that are creating a perfect picture— tapestry— throughout all of time.
My life is one thin, short strand in the most beautiful picture ever created by anyone.
I can’t begin to tell you how God used this song to rescue me, to reach deep into my soul, during one of the most difficult times of my life.
He never let go. He didn’t turn me away. He wasn’t too busy for me.
He saw me.
I don’t think my circumstance had even reached the next portion of this song, but it gave me hope.
“I can see the Light that is coming for the heart that holds on
There will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You
Still I will praise You”
And then, now when I look back— I can recognize I am now walking within that hope, living within it.
My heart is one that has held on. At times, in desperation, and at other times in the dull numbness that traumatic situations tend to cause. There has been an end to deep troubles, and I have been able to praise Him— even when I didn’t see how things could change. But— I believed God could make the changes— if it was His Will to.
It was His Will.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
His Word never changes.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Have you ever felt like your life was dealt a death blow?
Have you ever felt like you’re down for the count, so to speak, and everything in you screams to just give up, just give in to the pressure on you to stay down— make it stop!
Have you faced situations that made you want to just buckle under emotional stress and declare “Uncle!”
If so, what made you rise up and fight back?
Was it self pride? Tenacity? A hatred for losing?
What motivates you to stare into the tendrils of fear, and defy it’s pressure?
I am a fighter.
I will fight to survive.
I will fight against bad treatment of my children. I will fight for them to attain their dreams, as much as they will allow me to. I will fight for my relationships to be healthy and strong with each one of my children, because God lent them to me, entrusted me with them— and besides loving them, I sincerely like and enjoy each one of them.
Being a fighter is exhausting. It’s overwhelming.
When I’m fighting “battles” on several “fronts”— it takes everything I have in me.
The battle of health, home, relationships— sometimes mentally and emotionally, I am down for the count. Health alone is an enormous fight that most people never see, and nor would they understand.
The battle with my health is a constant undercurrent. Adding other battles to that is something I’ve grown used to, but in all of that, weakness wants to take over.
I’m not weak, though.
I’m actually stronger.
I’m stronger because I have help.
I don’t mean physically strengthened, but an inner resolve.
Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to bear it all on my own. I have an inner, and outer strength that’s not my own.
Even when I forget, God remains faithful.
Even though I don’t deserve it— God sustains me.
Scripture has taught me that God works His purpose through people who have done some pretty bad things! Paul murdered people. King David almost killed his father-in-law, and he killed a giant, not to mention making sure a man died because he wanted his wife!
Yet God made sure their stories focused on what He accomplished through these imperfect humans.
While I tend to focus on all of the many, many ways I fall short and negatives that have hurt , God has been writing my story in His history books with Him and His grace at work both in me and through me, as the center focus.
Psalm 121:1-8 “A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
My inspiration comes from Jesus, Who did not just give up, but fought actual death— and won! He is my example, my inspiration my strength— my Help!
Every battle I struggle with, belongs to Him, and Him alone.
Something from a song I listened to today has gotten me thinking.
I believe most Christians are familiar with, or have at least heard of, the “Roman’s Road“ for simplifying the Gospel Truth.
That’s just one example of an effective way to help guide others through what can be an overwhelmingly large task in learning about Jesus and God’s plans for each of us.
That’s also one example of something we just do. We simplify, we go out of our way to find a way around difficult situations or long term plans.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “cookie cutter Christian”— the idea that we have to conform to some pre-made mold, to look like and act like everyone else in our “religion”.
I am a bad, bad cookie.
I just don’t fit into any of the pre-made molds I’m “supposed to” fill.
I never have.
Truth be told— I’ve never wanted to.
Even now, I’m struggling with a few things because I still have it in my belief-system that I have to be something God didn’t make me to be. For other things— there are reasons, experiences— even traumas— that have steered my reactions in a different way.
I know— I’m supposed to be conforming to Christ. And— I am. Just not in the way many in my life have tried to push me to do.
Their mold for me is not a good fit. The edges are too sharp, the design is too busy, the sizing is way off.
I don’t want to conform to what I should according to anyone’s opinion.
Their mold doesn’t look like the Jesus I adore.
Often, their mold is missing Grace.
It’s missing Peace.
It’s missing the Individualism God has specifically placed in each design of each person. Unique talents, gifts and interests.
It’s missing the Free Will God has gifted us all with— but far too many try to take that away from us.
The pre-made paths of doctrines, expectations, and behaviors don’t work well with everyone in the same way.
My path is continually being paved by God with kindness, graciousness, understanding, forgiveness,patience— yes, PATIENCE.
I’m so sad to say, I find these things to most often be lacking in any pre-made road anyone has ever tried to persuade me to walk down.
I need help to conform not to this world, but to Jesus.
How many times has humanity missed the mark because we are too distracted by someone else?
Time for us all to wake up. Before God has to cause a shake-up.
2 Timothy 3:5 holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these.
My path is narrow, continually being laid before me, Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet, A Light Unto My Path.
Lately I have become aware of an enemy in my camp, so to speak.
I’d love to be able to point my finger, along with my focused outrage and frustration, at someone.
But, if I were to point any fingers at anyone at all— all of them would point at me.
I’m not sure why I work tirelessly to undermine myself or my confidence with myself, and others, in me.
Maybe it’s because I don’t believe I deserve it.
Maybe it’s because there are still old “tapes” running in the background of my thoughts— “You don’t deserve this.” “You are worthless.” “You don’t know what you are talking about.” “You are too emotional.” “Who do you think you’re fooling, anyway?”
Things I’ve heard others say to me, about me, over my life.
Things I’ve internalized, because certainly those people know me better than I know myself. Right?
I’ve put my confidence in how others see me, or how I think others see me— because I know I have blind spots. I can’t always see many things about me.
I have based so many things off of what it looks like other people’s reactions to me are.
I have plenty of things that are against me as I face the world, daily.
Overweight. Most people don’t even know I’ve lost a lot of weight. I still have a way to go before I’m satisfied with the outer me.
Physically I’m weak. I used to be strong. I used to be independent.
I used to value those things in myself, and even expected them from others.
God has allowed me to now be in a type of place filled with humility and self- disappointment. And— I’m sure that disappointment is universal.
I can’t do many things I used to be able to do.
So, the things I feel strongest in, I’m not confident in my ability to do them. I’m not confident I won’t just provoke further negative reactions to me.
Many years ago someone advised me that when I’m ministering to someone— praying for them, participating with praise and worship, speaking or teaching— don’t pay attention to people’s faces. Because you can’t tell what is happening inside their hearts. They can have a “look” on their faces or react/respond for an infinite amount of reasons. That can become a stumbling block for allowing God to just work through us.
As a violinist, that goes completelyagainst my nature and teaching! I was taught to watch the conductor. Watch for the signals, the eye contact, the head nods, even verbal cues. While I wasn’t watching the crowds/audience per se, their reactions were always telling! Either they liked it, or they did not.
I just pay way more attention to those things, plus body language, than I probably should.
Because of words said to me, and reactions from people important to me over my life— I rarely trust when words don’t seem to match the rest of what I instinctively observe.
It gets confusing, trying to live up to expectations from signals and reactions others appear to have towards me.
Maybe that’s why I self-sabotage.
Who really expects I’ll ever amount to, or accomplish much of anything?
I mean— I’m too intense. I need to calm down. I’ve even been told someone wished I hadn’t been born… I’m just in the way. I talk too much. What I want to do, or how I feel is just stupid or embarrassing…
I guess I’ve just unconsciously believed all of that. Even though, consciously I know it’s mostly not true or accurate.
I feel like I need to measure up to the expectations of others— and those unconscious thoughts have, in my past, been the expectations of others.
So— I self-sabotage.
Maybe that’s why I strive so much to always encourage others. I’ll be their cheerleader, because I have confidence in them. All of us need encouragers. I have them in my life now, I purposely surround myself with people who build up and encourage.
This world has too many ways we are constantly torn down. As Christians I believe God wants us to be builders— not destroyers.
Scripture has taught me that I need to place my confidence in Christ.
God made me with a purpose— His purpose for me.
Those things that have been said, those negative reactions to me, those expectations from others— they don’tmatch His view of me.
**Disclaimer— If reading this will offend you— then don’t read it. Offense is never my intention. Also— this is about no one. As I attempt to get my thoughts written out, I want to acknowledge I am only an “expert” in my own experiences. I don’t know anything about anyone else’s. I empathize and attempt to understand . I’m not here to correct , inform or instruct.I’m just talking. I pray that God provides us all with His view.**
We all have experiences, and, most certainly have opinions, concerning parenting.
No two parenting experiences can be exactly the same. In general, there are billions of similarities. But, at the very heart— every single one is unique and cannot be duplicated.
From within and without, throughout my own years, I can see so many common experiences. What we often refer to as “stages” and “phases” for children— all of us have or will go through them.
As much as we focus on children, parents— I believe— also go through stages and phases.
For those of us who have and are raising up children, there are so many common threads.
Fear with anticipation (or dread) are the first responses— generally. I’m sure there are a billion ways to describe billions of “first time” experiences. But, from my view over the years, I’m recognizing our focus is often not uncommon— infinite dreams and fears, worries and hopes…
Every child is a unique and beautiful experience.
Notice, I did not say easy and fun.
Not every part of parenting, in any stage, is easy or fun. In fact, I’m not sure worry ever completely dissipates. It’s always lingering, somehow, in some way, in the background, in decision making, interfering with the enjoyment of the evolving relationships with our children, as well as with others.
Fear of making wrong decisions.
Confidence of making right decisions.
Rigidness of how things “have” to be.
The “easily offended nature” of feeling criticized. Often when someone isn’t even doing so, our worry or fear of somehow doing it wrong, or someone thinking we’re not doing it “right”, can transform into our feeling criticism from others— even when it’s not present.
Don’t get me wrong— there is plenty of criticism to experience!! From every direction possible, we all experience some forms of criticism everyday, at every stage.
I believe— when we turn our focus away from what we believe others think, to our one-on-one relationship with each child, that becomes what is important. When we interact with each one as an individual and we drop the wall expectation often creates— the relationship thrives. This can nurture every relationship, in every situation, as well.
When we focus on things we have decided is are faults— blaming ourselves, worrying about the opinions of other people— that stirs up frustrations, disappointment— even anger. In my experience, if that’s what becomes “nurtured”— that can cause a dysfunctional edge to the relationship.
I don’t think we even realize what poison pills expectations and concerns about the opinions of others tend to be.
Of course there is always some level of expectation that we hold— with ourselves as well as with our spouse/partner/the other adult influences, and our children. Expectations are a part of our “make-up”, in every role we find ourselves filling.
Expectations can be crushing, though. If we allow those expectations to guide us through our decisions and become our view of how things “should be”— they will become like a bulldozer of destruction.
Who can possibly thrive under the weight of someone else’s expectations for them?
As a mom of 4, I am astounded by how much love my heart can hold. And— with that infinite amount of love is also plenty of fear, worry, doubts in my decisions…
We parents, we stumble through a lot more than we may let on. What we most often let the world see is confidence, security, resolution— but underneath it all, the stuff we often protect from detection is a jumbled mess of emotions— guilt often takes shape, and can form into our reactive outer shell.
Being responsible for the protection, the provision— the life— of another human being as it grows into it’s own ability to embrace the complicated depths of parenting— that is the weight of the common thread.
Those of us that have embraced our roles as parents, we want our children to be healthy, happy, safe, and provided for in every possible way.
For myself, I now recognize similarities I have in common with my own parents.
I didn’t even know the worry and fear that form a constant state of feeling guilt— even existed.
As a kid, I could only form my opinions by what I could see and match them up to what others seemed to have, or what Hollywood portrayed as “normal”.
As a parent, now I can “see”. It’s an open-ended experience!!
As an observer of human behaviors, I recognize so many common threads.
They may manifest in infinite ways— but their roots began from the same seeds.
Thank God He is the perfect parent.
As we grow in understanding of all the perfect, amazing characteristics of our Creator— we can find that rest we seek— at times desperately seek.
The more I learn about God, the more I want to be like God with my own children.
That is an unlimited objective— never fully attainable, but always continuing.
I’m not the same person I was when the birth of my oldest “crowned” me as “mom”. I won’t be exactly the same when Jesus returns, or when Father God takes me Home.
I’ve heard many people, throughout my lifetime, tell me I should thank God for the difficult things.
This has never sat well with me.
Just like I’ve heard some say that everything that happens is because God wants it to happen.
The God I serve doesn’t make bad things happen.
The God I serve allows bad things to happen.
These are notone and the same.
The God I serve made sure His faithful servants, Shaddrach, Meshach and Abednego were protected in the fiery furnace.
God did not put them inside of the furnace. He did not light the fire.
God did not make Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, and make it appear to their dad that he was dead. God knewbefore it happened, He warned and encouraged Joseph. God then led Joseph, He protected Joseph, He raised Joseph up to a place where he demonstrated God’s mercy, His forgiveness and His provision for some of those people who made the bad things happen to Joseph.
God tested Abraham’s faithfulness with his promised son’s life. God provided Abraham with another way— He gave him a ram to sacrifice, and through his obedience Abraham proved to God that He trusted Him, Isaac proved that he trusted God through his father. God proved He is trustworthy.
Paul was warned that bad things were going to happen to him by someone who worried for his safety. Bad things happened to him— but God did not make the bad things happen. God led Paul through every situation.
As I’m thinking about Paul, before God renamed him, I do remember God inflicting him with blindness. Why? Because He needed to get Paul’s (then Saul of Tarsus) attention. As Saul, he was persecuting severely—to the death— God’s chosen people doing God’s chosen work. Through the blindness Paul was inflicted with, God showed him that he was behaving as an enemy of God— no matter how “righteous” and pure-of-heart his intentions were. He humbled him, made sure he was able to hear, to see, the truth about Jesus and everyone preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
I realize God can do whatever God wants, whenever God wants, and He doesn’t ever have to make sure any of us understand why.
I believe He has gone to great lengths to do just that.
Everything we ever need to understand God’s unchanging character is written for us to study.
Before I knew I needed to follow the example and words of Jesus, I did things and said things that most likely made me God’s enemy.
I can’t think of even one bad situation I believe God ever made happen in my life.
Even at my worst!
I will never believe God made people hurt me in the multiple ways I’ve been hurt.
Many of those situations I walked right into, eyes wide open, and it was people— not God— that hurt me.
But God was with me in every single situation.
He made sure the right things happened, the right people of Hischoice helped me.
He has been right there, protecting me— undeserving, frustrating, mis-guided me— every time.
All of the time.
There is not one bad thing in my life that I can ever thank God for.
I don’t believe Scripture teaches us to blame the bad things on God in order to then thank Him to glorify Him.
I just can’t do that.
My God is Good.
My God is kind.
My God is understanding.
My God is my comfort.
My God is my Healer.
My God protects me.
My God neverforsakes me.
In every fire, every troubling situation— He is my Rock.
The Rock that those hard places try to crush me against— He shields me, never crushes me.
No matter how much I have deserved to be crushed.
I can always thank God for turning bad things around for my good, His Glory, because I love Him deeply and I am called according to His purpose.
1 Cor 13:11-13 “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The struggle is real.
Effective communication is a skill we Americans have lost.
This information age has severe relational consequences.
Personality clashes are enhanced by our lack in effective communication skills.
We are all at a disadvantage.
We all behave like children, at times, insisting on getting our own way while not hearing what others have to say.
And, we avoid. Unfortunately, avoiding dealing with things — that never resolves anything.
But, head-on resolution isn’t what most feel comfortable with.
Where is that middle ground?
Many years ago, I was included in an uncomfortable confrontation about me. God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit, and told me to not let myself get pulled into it. My character was attacked, and what did I do? I let myself get pulled into it, which backed me into a corner of having to defend myself.
It was ugly.
Over the years I’ve heard God’s Spirit tell me to not get pulled into the middle of situations where I’m left having to defend myself. Situations where I instinctively want to fight back, to attack. I’ve learned to remove myself from the “line of fire”. Sonetimes I have to ask Him—How??
How do I stop myself from being dragged in?
I’ve found directly confronting issues is the most effective way to resolve conflicts.
Sadly, in some situations, no matter how I try to confront issues, the people involved react as though I’m attacking them. There seems to be no separation of issue vs personal attack, no matter how I try to explain things. And I’ll find myself, again, backed into that corner of having to defend myself.
I don’t attack people.
I wish communication was this easy thing.
When I was newly married, pregnant with my first child, I was given some wonderful, Godly advice I still strive very hard to stick to.
When in the tug-of-war of an argument, lay down my end.
As soon as I feel defensive, I know— I need to stop tugging. God never intended us to exert our own strength against one another in our relationships. Jesus should be our strength.
Sometimes laying down my end includes walking away. Sonetimes it means just waitng for the dust to settle so calm, rational resolution can happen.
Sometimes it means I don’t return fire with an argument— instead I tell my husband I love him, and I kiss him. (True story.)
Sometimes it means I have to pray through the uncomfortable inability to get resolution.
In the end, when I stand before Jesus, I want so much to be able to say I valued the relationships—the people— He has given me more than I valued appearances of being “right”.
I’d like for others to value me the same! Not to be directed by opinions of me or past mistakes, or infused by reactions to things misunderstood— with no option or ability for my clarification.
Situations throughout my life have evolved instead because the focusedvalue was placed more on a mistake or failure than on me as a person! I have a failed first marriage that exhibits that! I’ve had to block people, or shut them out of my life, because where I failed or misstepped is their valued focus. I am not. How I feel or what I am going through is not.
That weight can be crushing.
I think that’s what makes my road with Jesus so very narrow— maneuvering the snares and pitfalls Satan loads into situations where God’s instructions for us through His Word and His Spirit (as well as Jesus’ example for us) aren’t closely adhered to.
Unfortunate things happen all the time. Misunderstandings happen all the time.
Confronting issues should be the focus, I believe.
Attacking one another should not.
What would Jesus do?
How would Jesus respond?
Would He allow Himself to be backed into a corner, and just be attacked?
He removed Himself, went off by Himself. Except when it was time for Him to pay the world’s sin’s cost.
Jesus valued the relationships He built up with His disciples— His family, His friends.
He valued people.
I’ve never seen in Scripture where Jesus quickly jumped to conclusions. I’ve never seen Him react, close off listening, and just do whatever was easiest and quickest.
Oh— but I sure do that!
I am woefully deficient in behaving like Jesus. Thankfully I can talk with Him— about everything (no matter how difficult, embarrassing, self-loathing, or angering it is!!). I can resolve things, and I can walk steadier— in His strength— on my narrow road.
God’s Will is the goal— live as peacefully as possible with others.
Ultimately peace through God’s grace and Jesus’ strength, is my goal.
That peace that surpasses all of my understanding.
God turns everything around for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
The stuff that He turns around shouldn’t be the focus, it’s what trips me up every time.
Jesus should always, at all times, be my focus.
Treating others the way Jesus treats me should always, at all times, be the focus of my intentions, at the center of my heart.
People are so important to Jesus that He died for us all!
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to share my story of what God has done, and is still accomplishing in me. I’ll be honest— I’m recognizing a deep, breath-constricting anxiety as I set out to share this here. I have family that won’t want me to talk about it, some who still don’t even believe what I experienced. Fear or worry about what they think or feeling like I have to defend myself, have been my boundaries in the past. Being called a liar, or treated like a liar has been an anxiety-riddled prison. So much so, that just speaking in normal settings about everyday things triggers an anxiety that I “talked too much”.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts here, or if you know me personally, you may already know bits and pieces— or large chunks— of the circumstances that started out as my mold. The mold that God broke when I surrendered it all to Him as I finally hit my rock bottom, and circumstances, mistakes, and unGodly beliefs tried to crush me.
The picture I chose above is significant to me. So many things I can glean from it that describe my personal experiences. The water can represent so many things, but I see it as God wearing through the hard places to forge a path forward for me to follow. My path has been rocky, twists and turns threatening to cause me to get lost or stuck, or even follow a wrong path. Before God— it was just rock. No path. No safe place for me to set my feet, no clear guidance. No water.
My story starts with me as a child. Let me preface this with— this is not in anyway a “bash” attempt. Things happened that were out of my control— like everyone has had happen to some degree. For me, mine were devastating. Through them God made me a strong person, deep rooted in Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over, so many times.
He is trustworthy.
He is Worthy to take the reigns of my life and be in control.
As a child, I don’t remember much. There are so many “holes” in my memory.
My dad struggled with mental illness, sometimes mis-diagnosed or misunderstood as he was a guinea pig of the VA. Had they understood more and accurately diagnosed him, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.
Parts of my childhood are like memories of terrifying nightmares. Not all of it. We had fun family times, with lots of laughing and fun family vacation times.
Over the years I have gotten to where the nightmare things are being forgotten. I find myself wanting to cling to the good things.
I’m not going to get into the ptsd-invoking events, except to say I was in an abusive environment. My dad was a bit of a Jekyll-Hyde type— either angry/enraged, or joking and fun. He had bouts of depression, in there as well.
I never felt that security of stability with him. I was terrified of making him angry, or being spanked by him. I never felt loving type of discipline from him— he beat me.
At some point the sexual abuse started, but I can’t remember much about when. There are things he told me, and things he never told me. The most recent time he addressed it, about 15 years ago, he told not me, but everyone else in a mental hospital community room. Things I did not know. My husband heard it.
I was beyond devastated. Embarrassed and humiliated.
My mom tried to say what he said probably wasn’t true— but no way either of us could know for sure. That feeling of not even knowing what happened to me, or for how many years, is crushing. My dad saying those things about me— proudly— to strangers and my husband isn’t something she could even begin to understand.
That night I went back to my parent’s house and at the prompting of The Holy Spirit, I wrote my dad a letter, telling him that I forgave him.
When I think back, age 10 is where most of the memories start.
That’s when the eating disorder began.
We started spending summers living with my mom’s parents. My grandma poured her love into everything meal or dessert she made.
I needed love.
I ate so much “love”, I gained a bunch of weight the summer before. My dad made fun of me. We already had a dysfunctional relationship— making fun of me was salt in my deep emotional and mental wounds.
He was so vocal about women.
So, determined to not be made fun of or noticed, really, food became a type of poison, and my RN grandma had a poster on her bathroom door for what to do if I ate something poisonous— throw it up.
It started out once or twice a day. Then turned into food avoidance.
Over the next 10 years it developed into all-consuming rituals, every meal, every time I ate.
I am not going to regress back into describing in detail those rituals.
God has delivered me from those rituals, and from that “poisoned” mentality.
After a couple of years, it developed into more of a Bulimia, as God brought someone into my life that helped encourage me to eat.
By the time I turned 20, I was purging so much I started throwing up significant amounts of blood.
One particularly bad time, I called the ER and told the nurse I threw up blood. In the discussion, I mentioned making myself do that, and she said to me, “ Stop doing that!”
Let me tell you— that was so powerful!
In all those years, I never considered I could just choose to stop.
So, I stopped.
I never did it again.
In that time-frame, I was assaulted. Then I married someone who abused me, neglected me then raped me in my sleep.
And so, while the purging and rituals had stopped, my binging habits had not. Reaction to trauma made that all worse.
I gained weight.
Most would view that as bad. But here’s where I believe God’s deliverance began—
Fat did not kill me!
It was not the worst thing that could happen to me.
In fact, I began to find a comfort in men not paying attention to me.
My husband didn’t like that I gained weight. He was mean. He made humiliating jokes about me to our families. He did things that threatened my life. Then, he divorced me.
Devastated as I was— God saved my life, and then my soul through that divorce.
I turned to God.
I had missteps. My mind was still very much in the world, I didn’t understand God’s ways being different, or transforming.
Eventually I walked away from everything and every person I knew. After seeking God for His direction for my life, for weeks, I became convinced He was making a way for me by joining the military.
I enlisted, I traded my first military assignment to move overseas.
I completely left everything, and put my trust in God.
That was 28 years ago.
He provided me with a new husband. He promised and provided me with a beautiful daughter. He gave me 3 sons.
I never returned to the rituals of eating disorders.
I did however become a food and sugar addict.
God is in the process of both delivering and healing me from this, while raising me up to help others walk in His freedom.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope or excitement.
I have all hope, and I am so excited for the future path God is continuously carving out for me now.
If you could see my spirit, it might very well look a lot like this.
I think mostly scars now, not so many cracks.
So many scars are evidence of where God has healed me throughout my lifetime. Wounds that used to fester have been healed by His Word, His kept promises, His love.
My view has been changing over my life. I used to wish for things during the painful times. I couldn’t see any sort of horizon, or even light at the end of a tunnel. I was crushed down, my spirit and mind beaten down with words of hatefulness and destruction.
My mirror was the opinions, the words, the treatment of those I loved and trusted.
That taught me I should hate myself. I was less than nothing.
Less than nothing.
All throughout my life, God has whispered into my spirit that He loves me.
That became my strength, my grounding.
God created me. He loves me!
He helped me find my pathway forward, walking with Him.
He has never left me, never forsaken me, never turned His back on me.
No matter how much I thought, or actually may have, deserved it.
One careful step at a time. Each step slowly gaining confidence— not in myself, but that I can fully trust Him.
No person on this earth can compare to what God has done.
He provides through people, more now than ever in my past.
But He provides. He is my source.
Looking at the picture above, it’s easy to think I’m weak and about to fall apart.
Those scars where God has healed me— those strengthen the cracks.
I have physical scars, some have faded, some have not.
In my weakness, often caused at the hands/mouths/actions of those I’ve loved and trusted, Jesus has become my strength.
Each time He begins leading me down a new narrow path, I start out cautiously, and then my confidence in Him grows stronger as I continue on the path with Him.
God used this song so many years ago, the words wrapped so perfectly around my life and my heart. He used this to breathe life into me where fear would try to suffocate me.
Even when I feel alone, or I actually am physically alone dealing with awful things— I know I am never alone. He never lacks understanding, compassion, gentleness, patience— never.
He is all I need! He chooses where He provides through, He picks the people in my life, He has never let me down.
Because I understand His ways are higher and better than any other way— I can always be at peace in my heart. I can demonstrate compassion, even when my humanness tries to get in the way. I can demonstrate patience, because I understand just how freeing that is as He has continuously covered me with His patience.
I can stand strong in Him, even when the world only sees my weaknesses and failings.
I am walking a newer path with him. I have demons to face down, and fear that will again try to suffocate me. But He is my Rock. He is my Confidante— sometimes my only confidante.
In America, our culture is saturated in self-confidence. It’s embedded in every aspect of our society, to have faith in our own abilities, to live with a measure of success because of some wisdom, knowledge or ability we possess.
I have slowly begun to realize that this whole doctrine for American life is contrary to God’s Word.
We are instructed in Scripture to be in the world, and yet not of the world.
What a balancing act that becomes! There are so many human obstacles to trip us up as we learn how to walk God’s narrow-ing path.
The closer we follow after Jesus, the more narrow our walkway in this life becomes.
With God’s Spirit as our Guide and God’s Word as our compass, we can constantly learn new ways— His ways.
The “don’ts” become more clearly recognized as some of the wisest bits of protected information we should be clinging to as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
This is where I’ve been learning in recent years that confidence in myself gets in the way.
When I trust in my own abilities, I stop relying on God.
When I lean on, or into, my own understanding, I stop leaning on God.
When I seek inside of myself for answers, I stop trusting God for answers.
It cannot be both ways.
Recently my self confidence has been deeply shaken. It’s not a new thing for me to go through stuff that I can only talk with God about. He’s the Only One Who knows me from the inside out. He knows where I have come from, and the direction He wants me to go in.
He doesn’t force me to go any specific direction, I have freedom to decide.
The thing is, I’ve learned that when I don’t seek Him for the direction He would prefer I go in— wow do I end up in some crazy places or circumstances!!
Even when we are following Jesus, we can make missteps. It’s when we lean on our own abilities, wisdom, knowledge or understanding that we fall. When we misstep while leaning on Jesus as completely as we can, we don’t fall.
My walk with God throughout my life has been my lifeline.
Where people have failed me— and they always do— Jesus never fails. God’s love for me never fails.
My path has been uncluttered with human interaction at various times throughout my history. That used to make me feel lonely and unsure.
Now I can look back as see how God has always filled those gaps.
In the last 2 years my personal confidence has been going through a type of threshing. This may seem horrific, but it’s actually become comforting to know that God has been deeply at work separating that chaff from the wheat of everything I have known.
He has been refining my faith and my confidence in Him in every way.
My confidence does not lie in what the world teaches me. It does not rest in people. It does not reside within me, is not something I can ever possess.
My confidence thrives in Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.
My purpose here on earth is to learn about His ways, to empty myself so I can be the vessel He pours out into the world at His will, in His way— not mine.
I have full confidence in Him. In my weakness, He is strong within me. Where others see the outward and what they would opine as laziness or failures, God is patient with me. He allows me to take my time, He never rushes me or pushes me into accomplishing anything. He works through this unattractive, plain vessel humanity disregards. His expectations never weigh me down, I am not a disappointment to Him. He doesn’t place value on the things this world does.
I think Mary understood this as she sat with Jesus while He was with her, even with the pressure of Martha trying to pull her away to do what the world expected of her.
The world will always be pulling, tugging, expecting…
Thankfully when I turn my eyes toward Jesus, all that’s in this world fades away, and I can be in it while not being of it.
Long ago, I worried about the reactions and opinions of the people in my world. If I stumbled, they were right there to let me know, to make it clear their disapproval and disappointment were always in front of my sight, as motivation to be more cautious to not stumble in front of them again.
As a result, I allowed fear of failing to be the guide I followed after, oh so closely.
That fear compelled me to try to look and act— to be— as perfect as possible.
Perfection is a cruel master. Enslaved by this idea that anything less than perfection was reject-able, I exhausted myself, working to live up to what in reality is really just a set-up-to-fail mirage.
Perfection is unattainable. It’s unsustainable.
And yet— I wanted the positive attentions it promised to provide.
The times when I felt maybe I was close to achieving that sought-after reward, the let-down was tremendously impactful.
Loneliness, emptiness, exhaustive self-focus and introspection made me so weary.
Whatever I accomplished was just never enough.
Whether real or imagined, the opinions that seemed to come from others haunted my continuously futile efforts.
I let my thoughts beat me down.
Looking back on the miserable life I gained from living under that pointless cycle, I can see the difference.
Being set free from that enslavement of exhaustive pursuits for an elusive, ever-changing standard has given my heart a lightness that I can feel this amazing relief, in comparison to my life before.
As I was set free from that heavy, ugly yoke of pleasing others, I felt a new freedom to stumble without fear of being beaten down. Years later, looking back, I can see how I was crushed under the weight of that entrapment.
My new Master lavishes me with grace and blessings,. He lifts my head, rather than casting me out, encumbered with shame and self-loathing.
He helps me to my feet, does not leave me to be mauled by my heartbreak and thoughts of inadequacy or failure.
So many wonderful, positive things encompass this freedom to just seek after Him. Seeking after Him removed my focus from both the world around me and my own short falls.
The world is a cruel taskmaster.
Jesus is freedom, peace of mind and heart, and an unspeakable beautythat comes from within, where His Spirit resides.
As Christians there is no greater achievement than full surrender to the possession of God’s Spirit within us.
I have not achieved that yet. I fall short too many times a day to even count. I stumble often and it’s actually ok. My soul finds rest and peace, as I am encompassed now within the grace and mercy God pours into me.
Have you ever dealt with a Christian who refuses to demonstrate Grace, refuses to extend forgiveness?
That sting is worse than the death of a loved one.
Jesus was so clear when He told the Disciples that if we don’t forgive others, Father God will not forgive us.
This is such a big deal for our Salvation.
Eternal Life altering.
I believe this is the main obstacle causing the need for us to walk in fear and trembling down our narrow road towards our Salvation.
The two defining trademarks of Christianity are Grace and Forgiveness.
Grace and Forgiveness are the refreshing water our spirits thirst for. They cut through the hardest of hearts like water cuts through and wears down the hardest, sharpest of rocks.
No other religion practices those two things. When practiced carefully, they create this amazing domino effect of all the other attributes of Christ becoming part of our spiritual growth to become more like Him.
For ALL have fallen short— God forgives everyone who becomes appreciative and accepting of His forgiveness through the death, resurrection, and then Ascendance of Jesus.
God demonstrates Grace.
Who are we that we would refuse to do the same?
I will not remain where Grace and Forgiveness are not freely demonstrated towards me from anyone claiming to be Saved.
Because that is so toxic, that puts my own Salvation at risk. That affects my relationship with God— because in my anger I may fall into that same sin of unforgiveness.
I choose to walk in Grace.
I choose to walk in Forgiveness.
I know my true brothers and sisters by their own fruit of Grace and Forgiveness.
Not hardness of heart.
Not mean spiritedness.
There is a sin that grieves the Holy Spirit.
I believe that sin is Unforgiveness.
It sure grieves my own spirit.
As much as someone has hurt me, and i have had many, many opportunities to practice forgiveness to unforgiving, ungracious Nonbelievers— but lack of Grace and Forgiveness from a Believer is what I willfully choose to walk away from.
When Grace and Forgiveness are extended to me in a Christlike manner, I will return. Until then— I have to protect my own Salvation with fear and trembling to keep myself from my own heart hardening in Unforgiveness.
Then that peace that passes by all earthly understanding of how peace is even possible, will flood my soul.
I pray that same peace will flood their soul, cut through hardness of heart, wash away jealousy and disappointment— and heal what I believe God wants to make beautiful.
🎵”I walk Salvation’s road, with fear and trembling Your way borne as my own As Christ is formed in me If ever I should lose my way If ever I deny Your grace Remind me of the price You paid Hallelujah I’ll live in remembrance…”🎵 Remembrance— Hillsong
Imagine this is a picture of God’s hand— catching all of our tears (Psalm 56:8), Holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13), pouring His grace, His mercy out over us (1 Timothy 1:12-17)— within our reach, in His grasp (Acts 17:27).
Imagine His hand designing every part of us, every cell’s information center, every detail from the tiniest strands of Laminin to the color of our hair and eyes. (Jeremiah 18:6), (Isaiah 64:8) (Isaiah 66:2)
His hand— that shelters us (Ezra 8:21-23), heals us as He applies His perfect Heavenly healing balm upon our hearts (2 Chronicles 30:12), our eyes (Matthew 26:64), our wounds… (Revelation 1:17) (Exodus 15:26) (Psalm 107:20) (Jeremiah 30:17) (Jeremiah 17:14)
His hand places us (Ezekiel 37:1), directs us ( (139:10), supports us (Psalm 18:35), it beckons us towards Him (John 14:6) fulfilling His purpose for us (Psalm 138:8) (Jeremiah 29:11), warns us to stop what we are doing and turn back to Him. (Psalm 31:15) (1Chronicles 4:10) (Daniel 9:15)
It’s His hand that holds us (Isaiah 41:13-14) (Ecclesiastes 9:1) and keeps us safe (Isaiah 41:13) and keeps us from being snatched from Him. (John 10:28-29)
His hand gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves so in His timing He might exalt us. (1Peter 5:6-7)
It’s His hand that upholds us. (Isaiah 41:10) (Psalms 63:8)
His hand delivers us. (Psalm 138:7)
He has us inscribed on the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:16) Regardless of where you stand in the tattoo debate— think about this culture of tattoos, all the pretty (or not so pretty), creative designs humans come up with and want to display on their bodies— for all the world to see. God— Who created everything— has us inscribed on His hands!
All throughout Scripture we read about His hand executing justice on the behalf of very imperfect people. (Ezra 8:21-23)
And that’s just His hand(s)!
Along with His hand, is His attention. His focus. His love.
We have the attention of The Creator of every universe, every planet, every living being!
The imagination of our loving God is on full manifested display for us to witness, across the sky, and across our world!
The One Who’s thoughts are so much higher than we can ever reach or attain, has His thoughts on us, even shares them with us.
Being reminded of these things is humbling.
How is it possible to forget He’s holding me in the shadow of His hand? When I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of circumstances affecting, over-shadowing my life, there is something that is far greater in size and strength.
He is with me through it all.
Even when I am aware of my unworthiness. Even when I think what I’ve said or done— or not done— makes me unqualified for His protective, loving hand.
All of us have experienced the same things, in differing degrees, the past year. Add to that individual, unique experiences— it’s overwhelming when our focus rests on that.
Much like those pictures with a hidden picture we can only see when we let go of focusing on what we recognize— God’s hand comes into focus when we stop looking at everything else.
Have you ever watched someone restore a damaged painting? I find it fascinating, the level of dedication, determination and affection the one restoring it demonstrates. The knowledge of every painted stroke, the understanding of what and how— tedious work, for sure.
Have you ever heard a song that grabs your soul’s focus almost immediately?
“I was a wretch. I remember who I was. I was lost, I was blind, I was running out of time.”
I instantly remembered.
In the midst of everything I have going on in my life, everything I am struggling with, all I am endeavoring to push through and overcome, I was instantly transferred right back to that moment my soul heard Him call my name and tell me to turn and follow Him.
My life was the messiest of messes. I was being crushed against my rock-bottom.
He saw me. He reached into my soul, He called my name. My name. He knew myname.
He gently helped me to my feet. He patiently cleaned off all the smudges, He worked out all the mars in the clay of my foundation. He tended carefully, lovingly to the tears, the worn spots from the misuse, the abuse, of others who didn’t know how to properly care for me.
He looked into the depth of my soul, found all that is of value to my Creator. He applied the Blood to every detail.
He Saved me for Eternity, He rescued me with the redemptive relationship no one on earth deserves.
I haven’t deserved such Divine, Perfect attention.
He gave it to me freely, liberally— permanently.
I never have to go back. I have continuously walked forward. Sometimes I’ve crawled, and at times I have danced with Him.
My beautiful Savior.
It’s beyond just His love for me.
He sees me— all of me. He knows me better than anyone ever can.
We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.
The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?
Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.
Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.
What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. Wecan cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.
When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”
This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.
Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.
This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.
We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.
So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB
The human ability to adapt to most situations and changes, is astounding. Even more-so is the ability to overcome— to beat, win, conquer overwhelming circumstances.
There are an infinite number of human-interest stories about people who beat the odds— and often God is credited for a person’s ability to do what our minds consider to be impossible.
I personally believe God should always be credited. God created every individual with the ability to focus with determination. God often allows us to be in situations where that is necessary. He put within every form of His creation the instinct to survive— to fight to live.
We see that all throughout nature. Butterflies struggle to be released from their chrysalis womb. It’s often been noted that if a human feels compassion and tries to help them get out, they can get damaged and even die. Human compassion most often lacks understanding of the necessary process for their survival.
Birds push their young from their nests to activate their instinct to fly.
Humans often feel the same sort of desire towards our offspring, but the difference lies in the dynamic of personal relationship between adult and young adult, as well as extenuating circumstances. Every situation is unique within the human relationship system. Background extending through generations, environments, financial situations, educational opportunities, personal experiences, directional purpose… an endless number of variables and belief systems.
The enemy to personal achievement is getting ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of frustration. Once we get into that, it can seem impossible to get out. Sometimes we stumble into that, sometimes we’re born into or placed into it, completely outside of our control. So, we adapt. We do what we believe becomes necessary for our survival.
Fight, or flight.
Sometimes the hard decision is to stand our ground and fight.
Sometimes we “feel” the need to fight, but we’re misdirecting our energy towards what looks very much like it should be our target focus. But, like trying to box against our own shadow, it ends up exhausting and depleting us of necessary energy, even robbing us of relationships.
Many marriages break apart in divorce because one or both individuals feel directed towards fighting against one another. Many marriages could be salvaged if only each person realized their spouse is not their enemy. Many marriages could become stronger, if instead all that energy being used in fighting each other could instead be directed towards fighting the invisible enemy breaking them apart.
The definition of invisible enemy is unique to every marriage (though I believe the exact same force is behind it)— but the result is often the same thing— trying to inflict as much pain through anger and disappointment as possible.
Marriages become blurred “friendly fire” zones, convincing spouses each other has become the enemy. Fight or flight is often activated. Instead of fighting to protect the union of two individual souls— nasty destructive anger becomes a sharpened arrow that penetrates the bone and marrow of the marriage.
It’s not only marriages where this happens. Families step into this quicksand-type trap. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, cousins against cousins. Family is messy. It’s a solid ground for forgiveness to be planted and nurtured. Unfortunately the personal nature instead often turns it into a battleground.
I’ve found myself stuck in an awful, exhausting cycle of frustration. There have been occasional outside distractions of conflict— especially lately. There has been the threat of my own marriage becoming a battleground of destructive distractions and fiery darts.
It’s not been easy to lay down my own types of weapons, and surrender everything to God to “please help.” I’m not the same person, deep within my core, that I used to be. My instinct used to be to fight against anything that threatened to hurt me, and not flee from it, but to turn my back and walk away.
God has changed me. He’s opened up my understanding that His way has not been my way. His way is forgiveness, surrendering the hard stuff to Him, and allowing Him to bring the healing.
His way is far better than my way.
At the beginning of my year, on my birthday, I felt God speak into my spirit that He will strengthen me this year. If anyone reading this knows the history of me at all, you could understand that I believed He meant with my physical health. Since the birth of our last child, I’ve dealt with a weakness in my legs, I believe came about because in a moment of personal weakness I chose to have an epidural. Since the birth of my first child, 21 years ago, I’ve fought an increasingly tough battle against other health issues that doctors haven’t found a solid, treatable cause for.
Imagine my surprise that instead of my physical health being strengthened, the very foundation of my life nearly crumbled apart. Many things I had believed turned out to be far different.
God is strengthening me in ways I was so clueless about. But first— I had to ask Him to be my strength, to help me walk because my path was all but gone. Life blinded me, I needed Him to be my sight. I’m still trying to adjust my sight to what feels at times like this blinding darkness— you know, like when you’re eyes are used to some kind of lighting, and then suddenly it all gets shut down— and there is only an absence of light.
My understanding has a new grasp of Jesus being the Light of the world. I now better understand what it feels like to need Jesus to be my Strength. He’s taken my arm and is guiding me through, safely. He is my Shield. God’s Spirit gives me a comfort no other source ever could.
Now I am enabled to walk in a forgiveness that comes from outside of myself. A complete, and all-encompassing forgiveness that spreads a healing balm in every direction that it walks.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Not covers-up. Not pretending the offense hasn’t been real or caused damage.
Covers. With a healing balm.
Throughout my lifetime, so far, I’ve been given ample opportunities to forgive some very deep-seated wounds.
I have been sinned-against, many times, in personally physical and emotional ways. Others I care deeply about have been sinned-against, and it’s been in my “nature” to want to pick up their offense.
Again I get to practice walking in forgiveness that the world tells me I shouldn’t extend.
I don’t belong to the world any longer.
I belong to Jesus.
His ways are far above what the world would have me practice.
People fail me. I thank God that He continues to never fail me.
1Cor 13:12– “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
I was often told I was “in the way” by people who’s opinion mattered deeply to me, for a significant portion of my life. I had no reason to not believe them. So, I did all I could to move out of the way, whether physically or otherwise.
I assumed everyone thought this about me. I have lived most of my life trying to not be in anyone’s way.
My foundational understanding of myself has been flawed by believing that I’m just always in the way.
I was once told by one of my pastor’s that I was in God’s way and I needed to move out of it. You have no idea how that affected how I saw God at that point.
I still don’t trust anyone to “pastor” me.
Over the years I’ve thought about this phrase, and with God’s help, I’ve begun to turn it around into a positive.
The Way is what Believers in the past have called their group. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus lives in me. I am inthe way. But– I am not in the way, as being an obstacle.
The pastor who said that to me did not see me in my time alone with God, often prone before God, surrendering my life and my choices to Him.
That pastor was wrong.
In all those years before I accepted that he was wrong, I saw everything that I did or said as being in God’s way. I had no idea how to get out of God’s way, or what that even looked like.
I never felt like I could fit in anywhere, because no matter what I was blind to somehow being in the way.
I reacted by just removing myself. I can’t be in the way if I’m not there, right?
I was then told by that same pastor that I was in sin because I wasn’t at church everytime the doors were open– I was forsaking the gathering together of the saints…
How does one ever please someone who just sees what they think you are doing wrong?
God moved me out of that pastor’s way, relocating me to another area. But that criticism stuck.
How can I possibly ever get out of God’s way when He is everywhere?
Over the years, God has revealed that He does not see that about me. He has shown me that I have, in fact, been in His way. Going out of my way to obey His word, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness, to show compassion and love– I’m trying to do things in His way.
It’s amazing how much healing and reatoration can be released when God corrects wrong thinking.
Now I know– I am exactly where I need to be– in His way.
2 COR 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
I love rainbows. Besides being beautiful, they fascinate me. The origin and history are intriguing.
Besides the colorful streams that invoke a feeling of warmth, to me they are one of the many wonders of our world.
Rainbows and I also have a history. My very first memory in our shared history is seeing one outside my bedroom window. Inside my room, inside of my heart, it was raining– tears of sadness. I don’t remember the cause, maybe I’ve blocked it, maybe I was too young. But I remember that rainbow. I remember crying because I didn’t think anyone loved me, or liked me. I remember, fairly vividly, seeing that rainbow and feeling the voice of God inside my heart tell me that He loves me.
I knew He had made a promise to mankind that He wouldn’t destroy all of mankind by flood again. I remember a kept promise being a deeply important thing to me.
That is my first memory of connecting with God. Through that rainbow, having known about that characteristic of God, He brought His Word to life and breathed life into my spiritual lungs. I was about 7 or 8.
When I was 8 I began to learn to play the violin. I don’t think I took learning it seriously until I was 9 or 10. I had a wonderful teacher who took the time to help me find a sincere love for playing it. That’s when I began to practice. I started practicing everyday during the news– I hated the boring news back then!
As I grew in my ability to play, I also grew in my affection for it. At times it became the extension of my inner secrets, those things I couldn’t give voice or words to, things I didn’t understand.
I struggled with learning certain techniques, and I began to practice hours at a time because I wanted to be the best I could be– I wanted to be 1st chair. You see– that violin sounded scratchy no matter how much I practiced. I had to work extra, extra hard to get the scratchiness to not be noticeable.
My parents were kind, they didn’t complain about what must have been awful sounds at times. They didn’t have much money, and that violin was a rent-to-own. It was what they could afford. They gave me something far more than just a musical instrument to learn. They gave me what I needed to succeed, to survive, to feel. I had a way to access a depth and passion I would not have otherwise.
Without that, I’m not sure I would be here today. My violin became my best friend. It was the tool that I could use to help bring healing into my soul. It was the tool that allowed confidence and accomplishment to be poured into my spirit.
As that rainbow I first recall observing became a vehicle for God to reach into those inward places only He has access to, so became my violin. So much so that when, during my first military duty assignment, my dorm room got so hot from the heater I could not adjust, the glue melted and my best friend literally fell apart.
It was as though I lost my right arm.
I think I was in shock that I didn’t have it anymore.
A few months later, after making payments with my meager A1C salary, I brought home a new violin.
Then my dad bought me a special one, that I sincerely believe God set aside just for me. Someday I’ll tell that story, I’ve gotten myself side-tracked.
As I continued to play, a new passion stirred up in my heart, a desire to serve God while playing, an intense need/want to help bring God closer to other people’s hearts. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming, it feels like my breath is taken away, hoping I can be His vessel to pour healing and life through.
Rainbows, to me, are a visual of how God reaches into our inner recesses through music, through His Word, through prayer– through His Spirit.
I’ve been meditating on the song Remembrance all morning, and as I’ve been writing this. There is so much in this simple, short song. The music is nice and it gets intense. The words are nice and they get intense. My memory gets intense as I internalize, absorb, soak in every note and word– saturating my soul. Communion is deeply personal for me, the words remind me to not just take it but to remember Him as Christ is formed in me– continuously, as I take Communion and live my life for Him. He has been so, so good to me– oh the things He has delivered me from, and protected me from. No matter how bad things ever got– they could have been so much worse.
The rainbow seems like an illusion, but science has proven it’s absolutely real. Just like God in our lives. To others He appears to be an illusion to us, but through our personal experiences with Him interacting with us, we know beyond any shadow of any doubt that He is more real than any problem we face. In fact– the problem becomes the illusion and dissipates completely as He takes it and deals with it in His timing and His way.
Yes– He has been so so Good to me. Unworthy as I am, as I have always been– He has not withheld His goodness from me– I would have. He has provided me with all I need, He gave me a husband who reminds me of Him in how he treats me and loves me. I don’t know what He sees in me, but I am Eternally grateful that He does.
I owe Him everything. I have nothing of worth to pay Him back, He has accepted my life. My life.
Some days I do need Him to remind me that He’s not finished yet. I don’t understand why he has not given up on me at times.
I would give up on me.
My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Jesus.
Limited as it is, He still finds ways to use it as a catalyst for His healing Spirit.
“Until I see You face to face, Until at last I’ve won my race– remind me You’re not finished yet. Hallelujah…”
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
I’m a worshiper. Most often, when I am able and there is a place and opportunity for me, I join the Worship or Praise team of a local church or chapel. We’ve moved quite a bit, or we’ve moved on when we find a church no longer is a good fit for us and our family needs. Right now my husband is stepping in to cover for Worship leaders and pianists that are taking a summer break with travel. Our current chapel service that we feel most fits us doesn’t have need for our usual talents and skills very often, so we both find ourselves in a kind of new situation.
As a home educating mom, in the past I have hit the “your kids use the nursery or classrooms, so you need to volunteer” in a head-on collision quite a few times. Many times I’ve responded by not using those things at all and teaching my children how to behave and participate in the praise and worship while I play my violin or sing.
The problem came in when someone got upset because I was playing violin and not rocking babies. This hasn’t been an issue for me in quite sometime– mostly because my kids aren’t nursery babies any longer, but I find I still have a tough time dealing with attitudes about me not serving the way someone else thinks I need to step up and do.
First of all– I am not 25. I have the energy of someone 20 years older than I actually am, and I live with limiting circumstances in a community that often just doesn’t “get” that. It takes everything I have to play my violin in Worship, some days.
Here’s a conversation I can imagine having:
Me— I’m here.
Church— what do you have of value that you can give to me?
Me— I have nothing of value in me right now, I’ve given all of myself to worshiping God.
Church— I’ll talk to you when you have something to give me that is worthy of my time.
I’ve had work supervisors that would get on me about not standing around, always looking busy. I’ve attended churches that treated me the same. If I “stand around” and don’t exhaust myself volunteering for every opportunity to serve, my value drops.
Can the Church please stop acting like the world?
Programs and outreaches are nice and often helpful. But sometimes they aren’t the necessary things they are presented as being. Church members are often exhausted, which causes dysfunction. Or maybe, a shifting of focus could help assuage those that do need ministry focus inside of the church body.
Many times programs, outreaches and ministries are started and run with good intentions but not necessarily at the leading of the Holy Spirit.
People in the Church have needs not being met. We are often encouraged and prompted to “give of ourselves”, but we need to be given to, we need healing, healthy relationships– we need kindness shown to us all just because and not because of something.
God made us to need one another.
This isn’t the big issue it’s been for me in the past. I’ve learned my own limits to avoid unnecessary exhaustion, as well as how to say no.
I want to be about the Father’s business. I want to worship at His feet, to rest in His Presence, to be a drawing force for others to enter into His healing, comforting Presence.
I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?
Except that’s never how it’s taken.
If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.
The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?
Well, no. It won’t.
Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.
Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.
Because it’s the Living Word of God.
It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.
God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.
Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.
I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.
John 3:17– “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
We constantly see judgement coming from those of us who claim we belong to Him.
We have redefined judgement as love, giving ourselves excuses to do exactly what God did not send Jesus into the earth to do.
God alone is judge. We are not equal to Him, we serve Him. If He made it clear in His preserved Word for us that He didn’t send His Son here to judge the world– why do we believe that’s what He’s calling us to do?
God has bound Himself to His Word. His Word tells us to love one another.
Love does not include our well-meaning criticism. It does not look like what we define it to be, at all.
Love endures all things.
Love looks past what we opine as being flaws.
Love is gentle.
Love is kind.
Love leaves evidence of Graceeverywhere it touches.
Love is impossible without God.
I believe we can often be so focused on the speck in someone’s eye, we miss the log in our own.
Though we are individuals in Christ, God is unchanging. Just as He is bound to His Word, we are also bound to His Word– Jesus is the Word, and we have been given the written Word to help keep us grounded in Him firmly. There is a danger when we stop measuring everything against what is found in Scripture.
God has chosen love as the vehicle to give us Hope, He has chosen Jesus, His nonjudgemental Son, as the Savior of the world.
He has called us to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, as we wear the sandals of peace to spread the Good News.
He has called us to fast for Him to remove unbelief.
He has told us through His Word that the battle belongs to Him, that vengeance belongs to Him. We must be so careful to make sure our actions and words are lined-up accurately with His written Word.
He speaks to His people, today. But He never strays from His written Word.
Who are we listening to?
The more complicated we make things, the more exhausted we become.
The Gospel message is simple. Always.
Luke 2:11″For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes upon Him shall have everlasting life.”
So many things clutter our lives, clutter our hearts– clutter our churches. So many good things. So many good intentions. So many ideas to please God, programs to help people, traditions we’ve convinced ourselves we need.
Abel understood the very heart of God. It was more than just hearing and obeying God. It was more than the best of what he could come up with, within himself. Cain gave of his best efforts, his strength, his creativity, but it wasn’t the same as Abel. Not because it wasn’t the exact same offering. Cain did what was required, and he lacked the understanding or caring of why.
Mary sat with Jesus. She was bold and brave, in a culture when women did not sit with men, she sat with Him. She listened intently with her heart. She understood and openly sought the heart of God– despite what anyone else would say or think. We might, in our culture and time, think Mary was being lazy and trying to get out of work. She sought Jesus while He might be found. Martha was steeped in her culture and the burden of what had to be done. She prepared the meal, and she openly complained to Mary about her not helping. Martha did what was required of her in her culture’s role for her. She lacked understanding of why Mary did not. Maybe Martha had a bitter root planted in jealousy, as well as offense that it looked bad. There was Mary– sitting down with the men– listening and being taught, but not pulling her own weight in the work of serving.
For many of us, we try to do the minimum requirement when tasked. We have a mental checklist, and at the end of that checklist is what we would rather be doing– if we’re honest. Our heart’s are not in it. Like Martha, we look at someone else not doing what we think they should be doing, and we get jealous. We complain. We give in to frustration and allow bitterness to plant a root.
Cain had a jealous and bitter root, which produced the murder of his own brother. Like his parents with God, he tried to hide it.
What does God require of us? Is it perfection? Maybe exhaustion? The best programs? The most outward sacrifice? Praying the most profound prayers? Knowing the most and best Scriptures?
There is a plan layed-out through Scripture that highlights what He requires.
Come as you are.
Trust in the Lord your God.
Rest in Him.
Beloved– He requires us. Everything that we are.
He inhabits the praise of His people– not our works or sacrifice.
Take a deep breath… just stop– worship Him, meditate on Who He is, thank Him for all He has given, all that He is, and that He will do and has done.
My husband doesn’t do things the way that I do. He doesn’t say things the way I say them. He doesn’t look at things the way I see them.
He doesn’t have the same Political views that I have…
When we married, we were taught through God’s Word that his body is my body, and my body is his body. In some ways that has become a kind of joke for us throughout the years.
“Honey, we have some things to do.” “Do I have to?” “Well, since your body is my body– yes.” Or, the silliness of doing something impossible– like using the restroom, lol.
Since my body is my husband’s, and vice-versa, does that mean his mind is also mine and mine is his?
Could you imagine if this were the case? If I had the ability to get him to think like me, and if I thought as he does, misunderstandings would become nonexistent!
But, the mind is such a complicated thing. The closest we could get to that is doing our best to consistently work at clear communication. Practicing listening. Sharing openly. Discussing differences.
Body ownership has been defined for us in Scripture– we become one-flesh, two halves of a whole. But our minds? As Christians, they should belong to the Lord. They have the unique ability to multi-task. While doing one thing like talking with people, we can pray, remember Scripture, Praise and Worship God at the same time.
The Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing, because we can. We are able to do that. It takes practice, reminders, and at first a lot of attention and time. But then it becomes a habit. It happens naturally.
Our minds were made to interact with our Creator continuously.
That’s why there is so much competition for it with the world, people, even within ourselves.
We have a choice in who or what we give our minds to.
Everyday I want to choose God. Many times I fail somewhat, some days completely.
I have an invisible enemy. I’ve fought against it for as long as I can remember. This enemy does not fight fair. It hides in the shadows. I have exhausted myself many times throughout my lifetime trying to fight back, but it dodges every retaliatory jab.
My enemy catches me off-guard, though less often now. It strikes with the intention of crippling my efforts. It dismantles my credibility. Mocks my accomplishments, experience and concerns, rendering them invaluable– useless. It attempts to define me as “too emotional”, “uneducated”, “ridiculous” or “ignorant”. It laughs at me, or rolls its eyes with a sarcastic dismissal of my importance.
It steals my confidence– tries to steal my joy.
I’ve learned to stand back and just observe how this enemy attacks and come to recognize that part of its victory over me has been through the use of decoys. It’s as though I am blindfolded, and I think I know its location through a sound or a movement. But, when I attempt to retaliate, I punch through thin air, exhausting– even injuring– myself in the process.
It’s impossible to fight this enemy.
In an effort of self-protection, I surround myself with people who have proven their trustworthiness to me over time. People who value me and don’t laugh at my creativity, experience, or blow off my concerns. Sometimes those people disappoint me.
I have begun to realize, the best way to defeat this enemy is to guard myself during its assailment and then assess the damage.
The damage hardest to overcome or heal from is the friendly fire. I know my visible enemies will not care about or recognize the truth over their opinion of me, so their words no longer hurt me. But, those closest to me– their opinion becomes the fiery darts my enemy uses to go straight to my heart.
When I remember to hide in the shadow of God’s wings, the damage is minimal, often non-existent. Psalm 63:7 reminds me: “For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. Hosea 14:7 encourages me that: “Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”.
Then I know, the only thing that ever matters is God. He sees all, knows all, and He’s with me every step of the way, guiding me with the light of His Word, working through me regardless of how useless or unimportant any person believes me to be.
God is my strength, and He helps me defeat the intentions of my invisible enemy, by praying and believing God’s Word– His promises. Every time.
I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.
To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.
The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.
Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.
Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.
When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.
Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.
The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.
Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…
God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.
Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.
We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.
Some are easily seen. Like the one on my hand where I got stitches from grabbing a knife out of a distressed friend’s hand. He was threatening self-harm.
Some are hidden. I have scars in my scalp from an attack by a playful young mountain lion my aunt kept and adopted from a hunting trip. When my fingers locate the indented bite marks my hair now hides, it seems as though the scars remember the trauma– the pain. All that blood… I can still almost taste the metallic flavor as it as gushed out of the fresh wounds, covering my face. The rush of fear– I had no idea how to get away from Tonka cougar’s implanted teeth in my scalp. The tears. The shock as my aunt just stood there, watching, with what I remember as being a curious and possibly slightly amused look on her face. Her husband grabbed a towel and somehow got my head out of Tonka’s clenched jaw. I don’t remember being separated from my new “friend’s” grasp. I vaguely remember being in the ER, having my head bandaged. The rest is hidden in my memory, deep beneath those still sensitive-to-touch scars.
There is a Proverb that says– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) I’m not sure I can apply this one to what happened with Tonka.
Then there are inner scars that no one person see. The ones that form over our emotions. The ones that guard our hearts. They cover our memories, stretching over wounds as a protective layer. They remind us to avoid people and situations that cause us pain. They encourage research into preventative measures. They might even be what makes us want to build up protective walls– to keep similar pain out.
Maybe they are the walls…
I have hidden scars. From an abusive childhood. From people who called themselves my friends, but never really followed through. From a devastating first marriage.
I have other scars I call regrets. Wow did I do stupid things! I had no self worth. I was beat down by the words of my dad on a regular basis, convinced what he said about me was how everyone saw me. Worthless. Good for nothing. In the way. Why was I even born?
I am thankful that God swooped down and rescued me the times I almost gave in and gave up.
He was my Comforter. He was my Rescuer. My Protector. In later years He also became my Shield.
He brought people, one at a time, into my life. He worked through them to help me. He helped me find the path to trust and healing.
My list of traumatic life experiences is longer than many people’s. I hate that so much! Not because I would ever want anyone to experience more. Because each situation where the scars have sealed-off painful memories, is horrible.
I have fought a tremendous uphill battle just to be normal. I fought to have a healthy mind. I’m fighting to have a healthy body.
I have hated my life for most of my existence. Except where God made the changes that delivered me from being bitter, hate-filled and angry. I love that He has healed and transformed me to the me I am now. Believe me– I was beyond repair. Consumed by anger for my dad. Filled with hatred for my neglectful, abusive, rapist-coward of an ex-husband.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. I look at who I was before I allowed Him to walk with me, and I feel a sense of shock that He didn’t just have me removed from the face of the earth.
He healed me. He revealed a deeper love for me than anyone had ever shown to me.
All I ever really wanted was to be loved, to be welcomed– to be wanted.
God has given that to me.
The scars remind me.
One of my scars is sadness. You can’t walk through all I have and not still be affected in some ways by it all. God healing me does not erase those circumstances or all of the emotions still attached. I was still robbed of a healthy relationship with my dad. I remember the horrible words he said to me, how he hurt me in so many ways– physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.
It all still happened.
It all no longer defines who I am.
Jesus has scars. Crucified on a cross. Nails the size of small railroad stakes pounded into His wrists and feet. Scars on His scalp from the crown of thorns. Scars on His back as His flesh was ripped apart by a whip called the “cat of nine tails.” He endured that for me. His scars remind me that His love and compassion are so deep, He willingly went through everything He did for me. I couldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have been able to look at my abusers and say to God the Father, “Father. Forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Jesus did that.
Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.
As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.
Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.
Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.
There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.
I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.
I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.
I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.
One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.
My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.
It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.
While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.
I grew up a fighter. At a time when women were belittled– not taken seriously while harassed for wanting to break out of the “norm” set for us by men– I decided not to just accept that, but to push past it. I have dealt with that issue head-on for many years now. From a grandpa who refused to call me by my given name because it was a “boys name”, to being treated as an emotional idiot, I have learned how to stand my ground and not ever just take what someone has dished out.
I’ve fought for jobs that “girls aren’t hired for”, and won. The pizza place that refused to hire me to work in the kitchen because “girls only work as cashiers and hostesses”– I worked in the kitchen. The Air Force recruiter who thought I should enlist to be a cook– I became a plumber. The plumbing shop owner who laughed at this female Veteran AirForce plumber– because “girls don’t get hired as plumbers”– I was hired by someone to help with their in-house plumbing problems. (Nevermind that I had mostly worked on Japanese plumbing, and as a side-effort, I tried to help my aunt in her older house. Let’s just say, I screwed that up REALLY bad! That’s one of my biggest regrets.)
I drove heavy machinery in Korea when women still didn’t drive there. I drove a Humvee in the middle-east where women aren’t allowed to drive.
When I am backed into a corner and told I can’t do something just because I’m a girl– watch me do just that.
I don’t deal with that so much anymore, as a military spouse and stay at home mom.
Now, I’m dealing with a new kind of thing– I’m now the teen girlfriend’s mom. Oh yes. So far her boyfriend has referred to me as not knowing what I’m talking about, and childish. This 18 year old boy that I am allowing my 16 year old daughter to date– with getting-stricter monitoring.
He has some nerve! I am struggling to not take my “childish” attitude and sever his relationship with my daughter!
How do I get it across to my daughter that how he treats me and his own mother will be how he treats her, once they move past all the hormonal ushy-gushy crap?
I am angry that he has the nerve to say things like that about me.
I am concerned that he does not have a relationship with Jesus at all. I want to put a stop to them dating, but at the same time, she is not going to learn important life lessons if I do that.
I am uncomfortable with my daughter dating him at all. Very uncomfortable.
So, the fighter in me has taken to prayer and sobering interaction.
I am accountable to God for my daughter. I will not take that lightly, but I’m not going to give into the temptation to “fight” with her boyfriend. I’m gonna let God fight that battle for me.
Divorced people also hate divorce. It’s ugly. It’s destructive. It tears apart what God put together. It turns a peaceful union into a war zone.
Moses gave permission for divorce because mens hearts had hardened against their wives. A hardened heart makes way for cruelty and abuse. Moses was protecting the wives by allowing it.
As one who went through a Scriptural divorce– it sucks! It hurt!
Divorce rips apart lives, hearts and families. It destroys reputations, confidence and dreams.
Divorce is Hell on earth. It separates two people who were once bonded together by love and agreement.
Every divorce is different, it happens for different reasons. It’s a deeply personal experience that cuts through the one-flesh union down into the marrow of our spirit. If you have ever had to have a bone marrow biopsy done, then you know how much that cutting hurts the spirit of those split apart by divorce.
Divorce is more destructive and devastating than losing of a loved one to death. It’s cancer to marriage.
Going through a divorce is pain-filled dying yet still living.
Can we as the Church, the Body of Christ, just stop? Stop judging our wounded family. Stop throwing stones. Stop rejecting. Stop pouring on our salt… Just stop.
Can we just love one another?
Can we just reach out and encourage each other, especially those in our church memberships that we haven’t taken the time to really get to know?
Let’s trade rejecting for compassion. Hatefulness for love. “Tough love” for gentleness, kindness. Anger for patient listening. Judgment for hugs and healing words.
We can do this. We need to do this. We’ve got to stop wounding our wounded.
I hope to see more teaching to couples and congregations about the difficulties of marriage and the solutions God provides through His Word and through praying together. I hope to see less rejecting of divorcées, and more kind and gentle ministries offered compassionately towards them.
Come on, Church. We are better than this ugly, hate-filled rejection of those who are hurting and struggling to get the pieces of their lives together, alone.
What Would Jesus Do? What does He expect us to do in His Name?
Do you find yourself being a reactionary or responsive Christian?
I want to be responsive, but I have reactive tendencies far too often. My reflex at feeling attacked, questioned, put on the spot or called names like hypocrite used to be to jump into action and find Scripture to back up my actions, words and belief.
I fell into the false belief that my job as a Christian is to be on the defensive, to fight back with words, to defend my faith, my belief, my Savior from attacks. I thought that was what being a Christian looked like, what it meant.
I was wrong.
My job has never been to convert anyone to my beliefs.
My job is to live out my faith, while living at peace with others as much as is possible.
And, it’s not actually my job. It’s who I am.
Christian is what defines me.
Not my appearance.
Christ within me.
I am comfortable in my faith, because I am able to rest in God. I am able to trust God. Everything I am now, in this moment, is because of changes God made in me, because I am His. And He is mine.
He is Worthy to hand my complete trust to. He is Worthy to give over my plans and decisions to. He is Worthy to live for. He is Worthy to represent.
This past week I have been reminded where He has Saved me from. I remember who I was. Because of a nightmare and a school friend’s recent death, I’ve been taken back to where I’ve come from.
I needed to be reminded.
I have the loveliest peace resting in my heart, because I am comfortable in my faith.
I don’t pounce on those who say things to make me feel defensive. I don’t jump on people who mock us, hate us, and live in ways we don’t agree with. Because that doesn’t reach hearts or change minds.
I live to be a heart changer, to have God’s healing work through me. Defensive fighting doesn’t heal or help others see Who God really is.
I understand God expects me to reach up towards Him through prayer and demonstrate His higher ways. That is a tall order from God, but to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much experience, much forgiveness, many, many chances. Should I not give those to others, as well, where it’s appropriate?
Just over 20 years ago I walked into my church service on Mother’s Day Sunday. A divorced Airman, stationed in Japan, I assumed everyone knew my status. But a boy handed me a red carnation, my favorite flower. I started to give it back, saying I wasn’t a mom, and he told me not to worry about it. I could keep it.
As I went to find my seat, I saw a friend who was a mom. I told her I felt bad for keeping the flower, and she said, “Don’t. It’s a promise from God that you will one day become a mother.”
A few years before that day, I nearly made an appointment to have surgery so I wouldn’t have children. I had a sad, awful childhood, and I didn’t want to bring kids into this world full of such ugly hatred for innocence and vulnerability. A friend talked me out of it.
Today I have 4 children. Each one carried and formed within my body. Their lives are so different from how mine was.
The change to motherhood began in my heart, a seed desiring children was planted the day I received that carnation. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I began looking into adoption options. I pondered the future, thought of ways I could include a child. I thought I’d be a single mom. I believed I’d never find a man I could trust to be the father of my children. I refused to have children with the man who divorced me because I did not trust him.
God did a work in my heart that caught me off guard. I don’t know how or when He made the changes. I made a list of 50 things I believed I’d find in the man He would bring into my life, if He wanted me to remarry.
Months passed. I forgot about the list I had written. I was introduced to a guy, and we started walking and talking together. We went to church together. It wasn’t long before I found the forgotten list. I could check off 46 out of the 50 things, and I recognized evidence of God at work on the 4 things unchecked. A short time after, he asked me to marry him.
I said yes!
The next year and a half was a jumble of long distance, high phone bills, separation anxieties, misunderstandings, making up, praying together, wedding preparations, family frictions, and finally we were together as man and wife. During that long year and a half, God spoke to my heart about the promise of a daughter, and He gave me her name. Deborah.
I got pregnant immediately after rejoining with my new husband.
It was not an easy pregnancy. I had awful morning sickness, and a terrible rash some first time moms carrying girls got… I knew that child was fulfillment of God’s promise of a daughter. Everyone thought I was carrying a boy, but I knew she was a girl.
My water broke 30 days before she was due to be born. She was a tiny 5 pounds 8 ounces. Then she lost a full pound the first week. Our first two weeks together were the hardest I have ever endured. I was fighting to keep her alive. She slept all the time, nursed constantly. I was sore, tired, scared… I had no family nearby to get help from. There were ladies at our church that supported me and prayed for us, and I know God used them to help me continue.
When my daughter was born, my mom-hood was born as well.
I went from fighting as a survivor from my own circumstances, to loving a tiny human who was part of me and yet separate– loving her so much I could feel my heart tearing to be able to fit more love inside of it.
With each child, my heart has stretched and broken apart to fit even more love inside of it. The eye can’t see that, but I have felt every tug, pull and tear. Each child and I have our own story, our own bondings, as well as our own conflicts.
God has been incredibly good to me. He fulfilled His promise and gave me so much more! He provided me with a safe, healthy environment to raise my own children, with a man who selflessly displays so many of God’s characteristics.
I am indescribably thankful that God helped me find my way on to a different life course than I started out on.
I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.
Yeah, I hate my past.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and
I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.
Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what reasons do they want to hear about them?
Who cares? About me?
I loathe feeling like other people think I’m competing in storytelling. I hate how it just feels normal to me that I have gone through so many things, and then I see that look of shock on the face of someone I’ve opened up to- then I realize, my life has been anything but normal.
It’s like a thorn in my side.
The parts I don’t hate about my past are when God shines through, as a warm, magnanimous Light, as if He has given my heart the most loving hug.
Healing me, bringing completeness to my injured, abused soul.
Exposure reveals the miracles and even the heart of God throughout my life.
Hating my past has helped me to love and appreciate God. Living my life, I’ve learned there is no one more trustworthy and faithful than God.
It’s on my heart to share this, and given recent events in the Middle East, I can see that in some respects, it could be a timely message for some.
As an American, I’d say–in our modern American culture, there seems to be a strong growing trend to avoid pain and suffering. We’re a first world nation, we should expect to have comfort and some luxuries, isn’t that the mindset we have all just accepted as normal, healthy living?
We tell ourselves we deserve it.
I think this has, in some ways, weakened some of our resolve and even work ethics.
In today’s America we often expect to be well paid for a job we put minimal effort into doing well. We complain about working, about customers, about our bosses, about not getting paid enough–so little contentment with so much expectation and even an overreaching of an attitude of entitlement of money, healthcare, cell phones or the latest electronic device, of getting everything we want and having every convenience possible, with as little effort as possible.
Us moms, we often give in to the temptation of having a pain-free birth. I gave in with our 4th baby, but I felt like I had somehow cheated. I’m not saying I think that’s wrong, but it seems like it could be a symptom of pain avoidance.
My first 3 births were natural, no pain killers at all. Our second child came so quickly, there was no time to even have an IV put in.
Through childbirth, I learned how to embrace the pain of the contractions, to use that pain to know when to help my baby come out into the world. I bonded with my babies, I struggled and strove to help them. The pain wasn’t something I feared, but something I embraced, I used it to accomplish purpose.
During the labor of my 3rd baby, God spoke to me through the pain.
He told me no one could touch my soul because it’s safe with Him. No matter what happens to my body, my soul can never be touched, harmed, or stolen.
With the recent growing number of killings of Christians, this is something He has reminded me of, to share and have others meditate on.
Pain is fleeting. Salvation is Eternal. Our soul is safe when we give it to God through belief on Christ Jesus. As a result, I know deep within, I Never have to be afraid of any pain. I know that God will avenge me for anyone who hurts me, because I belong to Him.
I know that God will avenge every Christian murdered by those who have set themselves up as enemies of The Most High God. We may not see how He does it, but their souls will never have the comfort, peace, rest or safety that the souls of those they murdered will have for ALL of Eternity.
God’s judgment is coming for those who dare to touch the ones He has claimed as His own.
I have no fear, because I know Who I belong to. And, if I stumble into fearfulness, God reminds me that it’s His perfect love that casts that out. I don’t have to succumb to it, to let it take over my reactions, my emotions or my actions and words. I don’t have to let it take control, I am not helpless because I have Help.
I have read and heard quite a few interpretations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo–from prosperity encouragements, to commitment, to God’s faithfulness to us. But, what I get out of that account is that no matter what–no matter the pain, no matter if God chose not to intervene or help them–No Matter What, they would remain faithful to God. Because they knew Who they belonged to. No amount of pain, or manipulation, or fear-inducing circumstances could make them turn their backs to God.
He chose to help them. I have no doubt if He hadn’t, they would have died in that furnace still completely faithful to God. Because they knew He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the reasons He does, or does not do things.
Do you know Who you belong to? Do you believe on Him so deeply, that no amount of pain or suffering will manipulate you into relenting and turning away?
We need to pray that those being killed for belonging to Him through Jesus know Who they belong to. We need to pray that God will intervene, that Jesus will return, and that this persecution will be stopped. Only the return of Jesus is going to stop it.
When we obey the command to pray for peace in Jerusalem, we are praying for Jesus to come back and intervene on behalf of those who are suffering because of His Name.
Return, Lord Jesus, return quickly!
When we Christians unite, the power of God is manifest through our agreement in prayer, through our worship of God, and that is what causes fear in our enemies. That is why they kill, because Satan knows and wants to stop God’s power from flowing through His body–The Church, The Bride of Christ.
We are part of something so much greater than we are just in ourselves.
Satan is using people who believe his lies to try to stop God from working through us. He will not succeed, we know that from The Revelation of John.
But, where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is in our midst. When we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move, and it will.
Do we ever challenge our own faith?
Paul had a thorn in his side that God chose not to remove. There is debate of what that thorn was, but what I understand is–Paul chose to continue to faithfully serve God with that thorn unremoved. He didn’t complain. He didn’t yell at God. He didn’t quit. He didn’t rebuke it.
Paul focused on God, not on the thorn.
Our faith and our commitment need to grow up. We need to put off the American part of ourselves and embrace the Eternal, like putting off our old selves to put on the new. Ephesians 4:22-32Colossians 3:1-4
We can’t, after all, take America with us, and America can’t keep our souls safe Eternally.
It’s been 2 months since my dad’s passing, wow, to the day. My timing isn’t planned, just lucky coincidence.
This picture accurately represents something unexpected for me.
My dad is smiling here. He was happy because my husband was able to visit him.
When my dad was alive, it wasn’t his smile I remembered, or his comforting shoulder hug when he walked up next to me after not having seen me for a long time. It wasn’t the twinkle of kindness and love in his eyes when he looked at me during my short visits so far and few between the passing time. It wasn’t his jokes, or the happy tone behind all he said.
The thought of my dad when he was still alive wasn’t anything warm and fuzzy. It was sadness that he was in hospital or nursing home care. It was frustration that so much of a normal relationship with him had been stolen from me because of mental illness (also PTSD misdiagnosed and neglected) and his “guinea-pig” status with the VA. It was anger that he was so unpredictable, I never knew what to expect when I was able to visit him. My mom claims he had no “filter”, what I know as practicing self-control and taming the tongue. The last time I saw him when he wasn’t being kept alive by machines breathing for him, he told my husband some really awful things, stuff he said he was confessing to concerning me. There are so many holes in my childhood memory, some of what he said I can’t even verify.
He was moved around so often by the VA that I rarely knew where he was, and he did not always have access to a phone for me to call him. My mom stopped remembering to tell me he had been moved, it became part of her normal life. And, the truth is, I often cringed at the thought of talking with him on the phone. What would I say? What would his frame of mind be?
The most surprising aspect of his passing is that all those fears and negative emotions have just sort of evaporated away. I am finally free to feel the good feelings when I think of him now. My guard can be let down, I don’t have to defend myself, or prepare for the worst. I don’t have to remind myself of the bad things.
I never once wished him dead- well, after I forgave him, that is. So, there is no guilt to deal with now. Life circumstances kept my family and I far away from him, so again, no guilt about any of that. It was out of my control.
I can let the little girl I once was think about my dad and remember what I loved most about him. No more guard, no more self-defense, no more cringing as I think of him.
I feel so blessed that this time as we transition, we are leaving an actual church home. Not just because we chose to become members and begin to lay down roots. No. There are many facets in why we stayed with this church until God, through the military, chose to move us on from the area.
There are a lot of really “good” churches. There are also, sadly, some not-so-good churches. Every church has different focuses, different ministries, and even different reasons for having been planted.
This church has felt like home. I have been free to just be myself. I have been allowed to make mistakes, to grow, to be the vessel God has molded me to be. Not everyone has been formed by God into a pitcher. Some are vases, some are bowls, some are cups… All can be poured into by God, but there are a variety of ways God redistributes what He uses through us. I have been able to serve as God has built me to serve. And, it’s not been an issue with anyone that my season just has not been one of exhausting myself getting involved with everything possible. Maybe some haven’t liked that, but I don’t feel judged or labeled, or even rejected. No one has resorted to calling me offensive names, or directing sermons at me trying to get me to change something that they completely misjudged about me. Nope. Not this time.
I love that this church is involved with several missions to quite a few international locations. They open their doors to guest speakers who share stories about God using them to help people who don’t have many opportunities to be shown hope, kindness, love or grace (Project Rescue). They embrace opportunities to reach out to hurting children in ways that don’t try to conform the child to any standard, but just to give them a chance to rest, and have fun in a safe environment (Royal Family Kids Camp). They reach out into the community to give what is needed, and make things fun and inviting (Harvest Party and Feed the Multitudes).
I’m not going to blather on all mushy-like about how perfect it’s always felt to me since we started going. It’s not perfect. It’s not fakey-polite, it’s not elevating of certain people. It’s well-balanced. And, while, of course, there are things I would personally change, the things I would not change far out-weigh anything petty.
It’s real, with real people, doing real things, with God at the heart of it all. The teaching is sound, with just the right touch of “edginess” and twists on perspective to illuminate the Word of God being alive – that double-edged sword that separates our understanding and everyday ways from God’s actual intentional purposes and plans.
That’s why I consider this my church home- because it reminds me of how things will be in our Heavenly Home. I have been satisfied here.
I’ve said goodbye to an extraordinary amount of people during my lifetime. So many, I’ve lost count. Different phases, stages, careers and places I’ve moved on from.
This past year I’ve lost 4 people near to my heart, to death: 2 sisters in Christ that I admired deeply, my dad, and my middle school music mentor who helped form the individual I’ve become.
I don’t remember how the two sisters in Christ that passed on last year dressed. I remember how they demonstrated their love for the Lord by giving Him their lives, their hopes and dreams, in service, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. I remember seeing the reflection of God’s heart as they prayed for me and others. I remember the Hope they lived out and openly shared with people who had no idea they even needed it. I remember when I was young, how my dad made me laugh. I remember how my music mentor encouraged my creativity and helped me form a sincere love for music, how it could be fun, how we could take the notes and put them in different orders to make new melodies. I don’t remember what color shirt he wore, or if he wore sneakers or dress shoes.
It’s human nature to size people up. We value our opinions more than we value the person our opinions are about. It’s God’s nature to value what’s within each individual, the unique qualities that make us all who we are.
We’re all so much more than our outer packaging. My own life has been full of adventures, twists and turns, comedy, drama, tragedies, trials– easily missed by an outward scan of the eye.
My heart misses the people who have impacted my life over the years. My eyes miss seeing their smiles or tears of compassion. My ears miss hearing their laughter and voices.
The things we place value on in the here and now are often completely erased– rendered invalid as time passes on.
Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)
Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together. How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.
Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world views.
There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.
I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.
When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.
We are one flesh. There are no sides.
What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.
But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.
God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.
Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.
God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.
But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.
How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.
I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?
I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.
How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?
How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?
My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.
He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.
He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.
The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.
Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.
God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.
We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.
My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.
I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.
Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead. “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…”
Recently in the news, many rejoiced that 3 young women who had been held captive by a man for a decade, were suddenly found and freed. They were alive! Though not unharmed, and changed in ways most of us will never comprehend. They were finally allowed the freedom to return to their loved ones, robbed of a decade of memories and experiences with them.
I think we can all agree, their new freedom was good news!!! And, it was spread, far and wide.
Also, recently in the news, the government has enforced a new law that is popular with some, and unpopular with others. For years, many have been shouting the good news about free government healthcare. For others, they recognized a new bondage they have been forced to embrace.
The Gospel can come across that way. When we Christians quote the 10 Commandments of God to the world, many look at it as a new bondage. One that locks them into a box of condemnation and away from the freedom to live as they choose to. Many hear the clanging of gongs whose noise level is deafening, and it makes them run away from what they think of as a type of ancient imprisonment. It makes them strike out in anger at the ones making the noise.
Sadly, we have been ineffective messengers. We’ve caused many to equate the Good News of Jesus conquering eternal death, and being raised up from the grave, as an agreement to surrender to a bondage. One they cannot live up to, and don’t even want to try.
Do we hear how we sound?
Is what we say, and the attitude in which we say it, how we ourselves were drawn to Jesus?
When we say to someone, “You will die a forever death that will keep you eternally separated from the love of God, from the goodness of God, from God Himself”, what reaction does that invoke?
How can we communicate the Gospel message effectively?
Do we even want to communicate effectively?
See, it seems like sometimes we prejudge people and we tailor our message to fit the perception we have created with our opinion. Then, we leave God out of the message. Oh, we talk about Him, we try to thump it into people’s guilt and consciences. God is probably not in that.
Many have come to equate the Gospel message with a message of condemnation and criticism for how they are, who they are, and how they want to live.
When did Jesus ever talk to an unbeliever like that?
How many people actually ask us what they have to do to be Saved? Most often, it’s an unwilling listener who gets a barrage of what a horrible person they are.
When my husband asked me to marry him, if he had told me what a horrible person I was and how he could make me be a better person if I would marry him, I would have never spoken to him again.
That’s what we do when we walk in condemnation of the people God loves and wants to draw near to Him. They aren’t going near God with a 10 foot pole, when we approach them like that.
Are we like Jonah? Deep down inside, do we feel like they don’t deserve our loving God’s arms wrapped around their lives, or His promises fulfilled for them?
Is it really a Gospel of repelling and condemnation we are wanting to pass on, so they will instead reject the wonderful things we have been given in Christ Jesus?
Or, is it a manipulative way we embrace because of how we view our own inadequacies in sharing Jesus with a world full of hostile critics? Is it our own lack of faith in God working through us to draw others to Himself through us?
Are we willing to be vessels filled with His love and grace?
Whatever our definition of love is, I do not believe, most often, it is God’s definition of love. Where is the kindness, the gentleness, the peacefulness that God Himself demonstrates to us constantly? Is God like the slave master who whips us into submission to Him?
He is gentle, and loving, and Kind, giving us everything we need. Why is it, then, that often we take on a harsh, mean attitude, and shout about Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 Commandments, and how the unbeliever needs to repent?
Perhaps there is a time and a place for that. But, most often – I think not.
I believe these are some hard questions we need to be asking ourselves. This is a mirror for us to look into, and do a heart and motivation check.
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 (NASB)
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders?Do you not judge those who are within the church?
God has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.
One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.
There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy relationships with their parents. Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?
“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)
He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.
We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.
Our American culture has adopted this practice of Tough Love when we see others doing stuff we don’t like.
I can see how this has been helpful in some situations. Some people are hurtful towards others, and destructive forces for themselves and others. Sometimes we need some kind of kick in the pants to wake us up to difficult things.
My concern is, it seems like we often call something else “Tough Love”. When people do things that annoy, we turn our back on them. We don’t tell them what the offense is, but we ignore them in a manner that is manipulative, and honestly – mean.
I cannot see Jesus doing that with others. Not this second thing.
The second description is a form of rejection, candy-coated so we can justify our actions. It’s often the result of hearing one side of a situation through gossip. Often the person being rejected or ” Tough Loved” is the most in need of acceptance and actual Love. It is not Biblical.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love endures all things . Love keeps No record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil ( do we rejoice in turning our back on others?). Love is not jealous (does our rejection cause someone to feel jealous of others being treated better by us?). (1Cor 13)
When someone offends us, the Bible instructs us in how to deal with that. It is rare that I see that put into practice! Even by lay leaders. What most often happens is we play this manipulative game of “guess what you did wrong – no you didn’t offend me”.
We need to stop the games.
Let’s practice Tough Love on that manipulative, mean practice we use to elevate ourselves in our minds, as being better than someone else.
Let’s practice compassion by imagining ourselves in other people’s shoes, and demonstrating the very same Grace, Kindness, and Love we would hope we could expect.
I’d like to redefine Tough Love as being resilient, and sincerely loving others even more so when they are the most unloveable.
Let’s really be the Church, and effective ambassadors of Jesus. Starting right now.
Part of “revival” is repenting from Ungodly practices.
It’s hard to stop pre-thinking about what I am about to read, as I blog-hop. So, let’s all just take a moment to close our eyes, and clear the thoughts ready to pounce as the words here are read.
I’ve been thinking about food today, and medical problems, and possible connections between them. I’ve had a lot of blood work done lately. So much so, that I now refer to the phlebotomist as the medical vampire. I’ve been questioning whether some of my problems are caused by what I eat.
That got me to wondering: when you think of food, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I wouldn’t be surprised if for the majority of Americans, it’s calories, fat, or weight gain.
I don’t think we have a healthy mindset about food.
We fret, we stress, we avoid, we burn, we ban, we purge, we omit, we decorate, we make scents of it…
But do we really make sense of it?
Our body needs food. That’s the one fact about food none of us can dispute. It’s the fuel our bodies are designed to function from. Do we have a healthy relationship with it?
There are certain foods our bodies have been designed around. No matter what, we need water. We need protein. We need certain salts to keep it in balance. We need minerals and vitamins. We need fiber.
It’s not supposed to be about avoiding, and focusing on counting calories. It’s supposed to be about relaxing and enjoying what the earth produces to nourish us.
Babies draw comfort from their mothers as they are nourished by their mothers. I think, there is nothing wrong with finding some amount of comfort in eating what’s good for us.
There are plenty of examples of celebration feasts in the Bible. God provided the nourishment needed as Jesus fed the 10,000 with the Word of God – Spiritual food, that our bodies have been designed to need to function in a healthy manner.
So. What do you think of when the word food is mentioned?
A few weeks ago, my husband prayed over me, and God revealed to him how things often are for me. A scene played in his mind of a deer going from riverbed to riverbed, finding them all dry. I cried as he shared this, in awe that God would reveal something so deeply personal with accurate detail, in such a beautiful way.
God has taken this outcast and placed me right in the middle of His Living water. Now, when I thirst, I know I can always drink from His Living water, in a riverbed that never runs dry. God’s Spirit has been the water when I have been dying of thirst, with no opportunity for the type of relationships my life has often needed in order to be nurtured and healthy.
He has held me close to Him when others have kept me at arm’s length, gave me a cold shoulder or shut me out.
God made us to need other people.
For years, I’ve had this mental picture of looking through a window I’m on the outside of. I see people enjoying each others company while listening to each other intently and celebrating life, ministering to specific needs.
It’s like watching a movie of something that has been the longing of my heart.
More and more I’m sure God has been showing me His own heart with that mental picture. I believe He wants that to be a mirror, instead of a window. A reflection of all His children included. No jealousy, no competing for favoritism or position, and no bullying. Just unconditional love, appreciating God’s handiwork in others while building one another up and spurring them on towards the prize.
Maybe, also, that’s what it will look like in Eternity.
Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
Psalm 42 NLT 1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? 3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! 5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. 7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. 8 But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. 9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” 10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?” 11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!
Isaiah 57:14 “And it will be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.””
We’ve all heard the phrase and warning, “Don’t be an enabler“. I grew up thinking there is only one definition and only one way to enable: to allow, encourage or make excuses for the wrong or hurtful behavior of another. I became an expert in not fitting that definition. I also became an expert at knowing how to avoid being co-dependent.
Recently I’ve become aware that Merriam-Webster is changing definitions to words. No, not adding new definitions, but erasing/deleting/removing previous definitions, then adding new ones. “Tolerance” is one that has been redefined. I’m going to work hard to help change the mindset about this word “enabling”. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we completely throw out the definition society most often grabs hold of and speaks out against. I am saying, let’s get to the place where that becomes a secondary definition, and the word doesn’t cause such a negative reaction.
I thought about how using a lawn mower enables us to take care of our lawn.
Recently my husband was asked to play the keys in a band performing that didn’t have someone available to play them. I reacted, rather than responding, with a groan. My husband has so many demands on his time. Often when it’s my turn, he’s so exhausted he’s falling asleep. Things have been busier for both of us, and I was looking forward to just having a day where nothing was scheduled that we could relax at home. Then, he explained the reason for the performance. It was an opportunity for the young lady singing to participate in an open air concert, with a possible opportunity to be able to open for a big named singer in the future. Wow. I didn’t want to stand in the way of that possibility! So, I stopped complaining and dreading his being busy with yet another thing, and I went with him in support. Meeting her and hearing her sing, I realized this was a super big deal. She is good, with a powerful message that made me cry while they were rehearsing.
So, that got me to thinking, and realizing: I’ve been short-changed. There is a whole other positive side to being an enabler, one I think the majority of us would love the chance to embrace. So, here are some ways to enable the people in your life:
1) Always speak to them with words that encourage and build up.
2) Address things that need to be changed or done better, in a positive way. Don’t just allow the negative to continue, but don’t criticize harshly or condemn.
3) Be available to support in the ways theyneed, not the ways you think they need.
4) If they mess up or fail, be there to support, build up and gently encourage them to not give up.
5) Support them and help them have a balanced attitude when they succeed.
Atunci când burniţa descurajării mă îngrozeşte, fă ca viaţa mea spirituală să înflorească.. fă să dispară ceaţa groasă care îmi învăluie fiinţa întreagă ! Fii Tu Soarele neprihănirii care să strălucească !