I struggle with something that has been medically defined as “body dysmorphia”, from an eating disorder I developed as a child. As a result— my view of myself and others physically is often pretty off.
Thankfully, God has been deeply at work healing me, in every way possible.
As God has been changing my perspective to match His, I have learned I just can’t rely on what I see, or what “feels” obvious.
I have traveled a long way from where I used to be. Physically in location, but also in many other ways. My reflex reactions to things, my understanding of what I see visually has been so skewed, I find I rely on other things to help me feel my way through life. I try to read people’s reactions, to gauge their acceptance of me through their words.
As a result, I don’t often see things the way others do and seem to expect me to.
It catches me off guard when others miss the heart of things I share, and get offended or misinterpret me.
I have always lookedat myself as though something must be wrong with me.
God has been at work at how I see me. He has refined some things, He has changed how I focus, He has shown me that what I naturally am tempted to focus on doesn’t match up with what He accurately sees at all.
I have sensitivities others don’t seem to. The way many appear to respond or react has said to me that I am the problem.
Lately though, God has revealed to me that sometimes He’s highlighting what’s wrong with others.
He has fixed me not for the world’s acceptance, but for His purposes.
He reveals broken areas for me to be used to pray for them, to demonstrate His grace, His mercy, His kindness— His love.
His ways are, sadly, definitely not my own.
So He has been humbling me. Not to be mean or cruel, but so I will be of use to Him.
So I can join Him where He is at work.
My flesh still wants to resist, to be prideful, to reject what is uncomfortable.
But to reject that is to reject His purpose for what He’s changing in me.
If that makes me look peculiar— even to other Christians— I have to live with that.
He has been weeding out some very ugly things that have taken root and grown strongly in the garden of my understanding and my heart, that have become my focal points.
He has planted seeds that are just beginning to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit that lives within very imperfect me. His fruit is becoming my offerings of sacrifice as I give up the old me and allow God to direct the new me He is still bringing about.
So many very ugly things are always being plucked out of me to make more room for the fruit God loves.
I have been adopted by Him, changed by Him, groomed for His purposes.
Nothing else matters.
My focal point has to be Jesus. Everything that blocks Jesus from my view has to be adjusted, fixed, or removed.
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.
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
How much Scripture do we have on the walls of our homes, on the wallpapers of our devices, or set aside on our note apps?
How much Scripture do we have written on the tablet of our heart?
God’s Gospel of Salvation, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness has been collecting around our homes and churches for generations— sometimes even covered in dust, cobwebs, or buried under stuff.
There are so many focal points we have picked and chosen from Scripture— and from the store.
It all becomes blurry clutter.
Meanwhile— there is Jesus— forgotten as we look into our giant mirror of how spiritual we are. Binding this, loosing that, tattling to God about faults we’ve assessed in other ministries and people— misjudging, condemning, looking down on others while we pat ourselves on the back for how good, “spiritual” we obviously are, elevating ourselves in our own eyes.
“At least I’m not falling into that sin…“ “Thank God I’ve never done that, or I don’t do it anymore…”
Clanging gongs of obnoxious noise.
Maybe we need to become minimalists with our Christian possessions.
We have so much “merch” (😣cringe😖) for God.
Every bit of it is going to burn away.
Every possession we hold dear to our heart is going to turn to dust.
Every opinion we hold in our high (or low) world-treasured “self-esteem” is going to be dissolved.
Maybe God is disciplining Believers right now so we will get back to simple and humble.
Jesus left everything to provide the only way for an ungrateful creation, trapped in a deadly game of sin.
There is one letter difference between sin and Son.
We need God’s Son, who crushed sin because it had us trapped.
Now— we can be trapped by too much “good”, I think.
How can we find a direction when we are surrounded by so many good things?
How can we focus on accurately, adequately using the tools God has provided through His Spirit, when we are sifting through all of our manmade “Roman’s Road” and doctrinal tools?
How can we clearly hear God’s Spirit speak to our spirit when we have so many commentators, opinions, translations and versions to sort through?
We rely on our t-shirts to let people know our opinions, our beliefs— show that we are Christians.
The bumper sticker on our speeding van, as we rush to the next event.
We’ve resigned ourselves often to ask for prayers of healing and protection— but how much of that is because we are about the Lord’s work, and how much is us simply pushing through our daily life of chores and schedules?
Where is Jesus in all of the Church business and doings?
Do you see/hear/feel Him, in any of it? A little? A lot? An overwhelming amount?
Have you heard of Smith Wigglesworth? I am struck by the difference in how he was just reading a newspaper on a bus, and God’s Spirit began working deeply in every person there, and how we now wear a hat that asks something like “Got Jesus”?
He had Jesus, and everyone around him was affected by Jesus in Him.
Every finger and both thumbs stick into my ribs— I am so guilty.
How much Christian clutter is holding our heart captive, squeezing out Jesus?
What do we really value?
If what we value will burn away, dissolve, or involves I, me, or them— I think maybe it’s time for a deep, strong purge.
God made Salvation as easy as possible for us. Mankind adds twists, turns and an abundance of complicated expectations.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one, and only, Son that whoeverbelieves in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Then mankind adds their own “twist”— you’re Saved if you demonstrate the gift of speaking in tongues. You have to prophesy. You need to speak things that are not into being as if they were. You must demonstrate unspeakable joy as though it’s continuous happiness… and on, and on, and on…
I personally believe there are people who are as clanging gongs to God, that believe they are pleasing Him.
Maturity is important in our relationship with God. I do believe we grow in maturity as we get into the meat of Scripture.
I also believe we tend to move away from the Gospel’s simplicity as we “grow up” in Christ.
Here’s the simplicity— am I included in whoeverbelieves?
What should the evidence of that be?
Galatians 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. NIV
I wonder if ministries today are how God wants them to function. It seems as though very few get right to the heart of the simplicity of God’s Gospel message.
1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
Acts 17:31 “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
That seems pretty simple to me.
I am reminded of Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and hung on every word He spoke.
And yet, Martha complicated it. She tried to pull Mary away from giving her full attention and focus to Jesus. I think, even though Martha’s service was what she believed was necessary and needed— she missed the mark that day. She stepped into a performance role, whereas Mary stepped into a relationship role.
I see these two roles as often being almost in a type of war with one another.
The road is narrow for the simplicity of God’s Gospel. We seem to lose our footing the more we focus on what everyone shouts at us along the way. “You need to do this, be this way, demonstrate that, bind and loose these things…”
I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth.
Sometimes it’s wise to just drop everything we “know”, and go back to sitting at His feet, absorbing every word He has spoken.
If I could describe my life as a mash-up with how God has always been there, it would go something like the following:
Accidents, mishaps and hospital ER trips— Your protective Hand was covering me, keeping me safe from far worse.
Deepest loneliness, hurts and deep-seated rejections— You’ve always accepted me, held me close to Your heart of hearts.
You are the only One Who has trulyloved me. The only One Who has consistently been there through everything.
There in my happiest times, rejoicing with me.
With me in the sad times— comforting me in Your arms of perfect Love.
Mynorthern star, the compass of my heart…. You are the voice that calms the storm inside me Castle walls that stand around me All this time, my guardian was You It’s Always Been You Phil Wickham Who stood with me in the fire? It was You, it was always You Who pulled me out of the water? It was You, it was always You And who carried me on their shoulders? It was You, I know it’s You, You
You have never born false witness against me, have always encouraged me through Your Word and that still small voice speaking to my heart of hearts.
You have lifted me up, You have had my back. You have been my Guide to get out of the muck and the mire threatening to suffocate the life out of me, draining me of the will to fight, the will to live.
It’s Always Been You.
It’s only been You.
So Will I Hillsong United. You chased down my heart Through all of my failure and pride On a hill You created The light of the world Abandoned in darkness to die.
If the stars were made to worship so will I If the mountains bow in reverence so will I If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I For if everything exists to lift You high so will I If the wind goes where You send it so will I If the rocks cry out in silence so will I If the sum of all our praises still falls shy Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times
The sum of my life is simply— You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.
4 Luke 15:4-7 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
Chaos. This is the idea being pushed all around us. Urgency. Fear. We are surrounded by this, wherever we look. The news. Family and friends. The medical community.
We can’t escape the chaos.
There’s a newer song with a verse that says, “The atmosphere is all around. The Spirit of The Lord is here. The atmosphere is changing now. For the Spirit of The Lord is here” Here as in Heaven
While everything around us wants to immerse us in chaos— God remains outside of it all.
How can we get outside of it, as well?
When we pray, when we commune with Almighty God, we turn our backs to it all. Much like Jesus who was so outside of the chaos, He slept on the boat. Fear did not touch Him or cause Him to react. But those He loved panicked, and woke Him to change the atmosphere. He was outside of that fear, but He changed it— told that storm— “Peace. Be still.”
And the atmosphere obeyed.
When I read and remember Scripture— Jesus will be returning once again, to rule and reign for 1000 years. Will every person be dead? Will only His haters survive?
So, that means all the chaos caused by fear pushed by media, by political viewpoints, by climate change purveyors— none of that will affect the second coming of Christ.
So why get caught up in it all?
Why let the media convince us to be afraid, worried, to hate people who aren’t persuaded by their narratives?
We can turn our backs to it all.
We can trust Jesus. We can lean on Jesus.
We can rest in Him.
If God is not moved by it all, why should we be?
We can throw our hands up in surrender to Him, release it all, and confess to Him we have allowed our emotions, words and actions to be manipulated by the pushed chaotic ideas of the day, and release it all to Him.
Because He holds our entire world inside of His hands.
He does not cause the chaos.
He does not get involved in the chaos.
He remains outside of the chaos.
I’m trying to kneel there at His feet, and stay outside of it with Him.
It’s so peaceful and clear outside of the storm.
Or, should we also panic and beg Him to calm this storm?
I personally believe there is a reason— this is the season— for this storm.
I’d rather wait it out while spending the time with Him in His Presence— under the shelter of His wing. I can breath here. I can rest. I can rejoice in Him.
Outside of the chaos, with Jesus— that’s the very best place to be.
1 Cor 13:11a “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
When I was a child, my whole entire view was about me. My immediate surroundings, how big everything seemed, my interactions with family members, wanting to be liked and approved-of by everyone I interacted with. There was always some level of security I sought through confidence in what I knew, routines, and things being consistent.
As I grew older, my view started to include people I cared about, and people I looked up to— outside of my immediate family. Friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, my parents friends, kids at school, teachers, and pastors.
I learned about the world around me and what I could trust through how my parents reacted to things and interactions with me.
As I continued to grow and mature, the response or reaction from others became my “thermometer”. I developed a sense of right and wrong, and learned how to take up the offense of others as though it were also my own. And— sometimes it became my own. Sometimes I saw past it and looked at it in a different perspective.
I began to develop discernment.
As I grew into an adult, my experiences, surroundings and environment changed— several times. I left home under stressful circumstances— independent and determined to make my way, in my way, alone.
Thankfully God placed people in my life to help me propel through all those twists and turns in my personal life story.
I learned from a pretty young age who was in my “corner”— and who was not.
As I ventured into my adulthood story, I learned some really tough lessons in humility and that few people would have my back as I tried to have theirs.
Trust had been a recurring theme in my life— or most often— lack of trust. It’s been an uphill battle to find trustworthy people who support the extremely imperfect me. Letting my guard down has burned me more tines than not.
Now, as I look back through so many years past, the second half of 1 Cor 13:11 makes so much more sense: “when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Ok— I’m not a man per se, but as a human I now understand I don’t have the full picture.
I also recognize that for some parts of the picture, I have a clearer understanding than some others. And, for some parts, I do not.
Now my worldview has changed into a much wider view. It’s no longer about me— it’s about my children, and as they grow up and venture into their own lives outside of my parental decisions, my worldview includes those who are important to them. Oh, we disagree on various viewpoints and opinions, but the heart connection moves us far beyond that.
At least for myself it does.
I have learned that God’s view is complete and perfect, and I can always trust Him with what I don’t see, or know. He knows all , sees all— is everywhere, at all times. Nothing is hidden from Him or outside if His reach.
That brings me great comfort and security. That’s where my peace of mind lives.
He also has given me a deeper discernment, and with that a confidence that He is helping me see and know things not for the sake of my having knowledge— but so I can pray and I can recognizewhere He is at work. That is the entire purpose of discernment— to differentiate between where He is, what He is doing, and the absence of His involvement. It’s not to focus on where and what the enemy are up to— it helps us to be aware, yes. But our focus should always be on our Creator and our Savior. This is what His Spirit has taught me over the years.
Now I’m finding that God has completely changed my heart, mind and worldview focus. It’s no longer a tiny area just involving how things affect me. It’s about so many other things, and how those things affect other people and situations. It’s now an earth-wide view. It’s an Eternity view.
I want to see through God’s eyes, not my own opinions and misunderstandings. I want to care through God’s heart, because mine gets tempted to wax cold.
I want to pray for what’s on God’s heart, I want to be aware of what’s on God’s mind.
So much has been centered around our individual selves within our church environments.
There really is so much more.
There will always be “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.” 1 Cor 13:12
There are new things illuminated as we seek God for what He wants us to see, know and pray about. I want to participate with Him in what He’s accomplishing— through praying and through recognition.
There is nothing like brokenness of spirit and a broken heart to open or change your view of things for previously unnoticed perceptions.
Like the words to songs. As I relived some memory lane through songs I haven’t heard since my most recent bout with brokenness, I realized I’m seeing things differently. Where before I sang them with the confidence of being enveloped by the Love of Christ, this time that same Love permeated into the chasm coated with reactionary numbness that tries to dull the pain. It caused a different reaction, a realization that now I understand more than before, and perspective that grants revelation to a new depth of understanding.
“Clothe me in white, so I won’t be ashamed…” has a deeper meaning to me now. In order for God to clothe me in white, my soul is bare before Him. He sees everything— nothing is hidden from Him. In the past I’ve known this. Now I more than know it— I experience what it really means— He sees me. He sees my deepest shame, my pain, where I have been abused and cast aside. He’s taking the outer garments I thought I had to wear that I believed covered me, but instead caused rejection of me— and He has clothed me in His acceptance. He’s thrown-out the old garments of being shamed, and He’s covered me in His forgiveness, His righteousness, His approval!! And though people may attempt to shame me— I will not be ashamed because I know Who I belong to— no matter what. The not being ashamed, that’s for me to live out. It has nothing to do with how anyone treats me or talks about me— I am not ashamed of who I am, because of Jesus.
When I sing “set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control— I want more of You God, I need more of You God…” and I tell Him through singing that I want Him “…to pour it out…“ I understand that I need to be intentional about what I am asking Him to do— because He will give me more.
What will I do with the more that He gives to me?
When I sing about how “ I will dance, I will sing, to be mad (not angry FYI) for my King, and I will become even more undignified than this…” Baring my naked soul with unskilled dancing is the most vulnerable thing that I could do. I can boldly approach God’s throne of Grace in this manner— it should be an easy decision— casting off everything that weighs me down.
This is the way we should all be with Jesus. It’s a process we each get to face as individuals.
“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Eph. 4:22-24
The likeness of God, is Salvation through Jesus. We have the promise of eternal life with God through Christ Jesus. As we lay aside the old life and choices, we begin to understand the why’s concerning God and His Word. The why’s are important, because without that understanding, we will never be able to really lay aside our opinions that don’t line up with Scripture, or forgive the person who may actually be trying to sin against us 7×77 times daily.
There is this notion embedded in our society that Christian music isn’t reallygood unless it fits in perfectly with what is currently popular. If you can tell it’s Christian then it’s cheesy, it’s less valued than anything not Christian.
I have given in to this in the past, believing I should be embarrassed by any music not accepted by the “in” crowds of the world.
I have pondered this for awhile now, and here is the conclusion I have come to–
Christian music isn’t supposed to sound like everything else.
Christian music has a different focus and purpose. It has a different origin, and if it is written correctly– a completely different target audience of One.
It should always be excellence strived for, but most importantly– it should be Jesus-focused.
That’s why it’s Christian.
If we are embarrassed about a song those who don’t accept Jesus make fun of– are we also embarrassed about Jesus? Are we afraid or ashamed of being His follower– a Christian?
Christian music is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to stand out. It has infused power that no other music can match. It reaches the senses of our Creator– it teaches truth, it can break bondages, and God releases His healing through it. He illuminates truth through it. The music is inspired by Him and directed at pleasing Him.
We aren’t meant to mimic what is “acceptable” and try to fit in– we need to stand out! Shouldn’t our music, as well? So what if someone makes fun of it? There is a deeper, hidden meaning from those who reject the wisdom often injected into the lyrics. The music is inspired from a different area of our hearts and minds– an area only Christians can tap into– experience with God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 NASB
I’ve failed. Again. No big surprise. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing the game by now. I show up, with all of my imperfections– which are easily recognized at first glance– and I fail the test. You know– the test– where I do, or behave, or look like the labeled box I “should” just fit right in to. Where I “fall in line” with how everyone just is or just does– just sayin’…
The expectation test.
Although, I must admit, the anger I seem to detect lately is a new twist. I mean, surely I deserve whatever reaction the opinion of unmet expectations metes out, right? Surely I have no right to react or respond, or– heaven forbid– show any sort of weakness emotionally or physically.
I see the looks behind your eyes, I am aware of the reactions, and all it does is push me farther away.
Humanity has been such a disappointment to me most of my life– other than my own family. See there? You didn’t meet my expectations, either. I’ve expected grace, kindness, but have most often been meet with coldness, disappointment or indifference.
Thank God for Jesus.
Jesus didn’t meet most people’s expectations, either. In Him I find my own identity. In Him I find acceptance, and peace– comfort in all of my times of need. Where I am weak, He is strong. Where I am found lacking, He provides everything I need. When life just makes me more tired, when my body fights itself leaving me exhausted and frustrated– He carries me, He ministers to my spirit– giving me rest.
God made us to need other people. For myself– that remains to be a double-edged sword.
This is what has been on my heart this week.
Maybe God will choose to heal me this year. Maybe He will enable me to better fight back against that invisible enemy that attacks my body. Maybe He will just continue to draw me nearer to Him. I have learned to be content with where I am, no matter how He answers my prayers and needs– have you?
If I’m not angry about my personal fight, what gives anyone the right to be angry with me about how I manage my personal fight?
After nearly 51 years of life, I’m tired.
Be kind. Pray. Don’t put expectations onto me–I will never be able to meet them. You have not walked my path, experienced the things I have, or fought the fight I deal with daily. Maybe you’ve heard things about me, taken out of context. If so, you are adding opinion to heresay.
How is that Godly?
I expect to receive the grace of Christ from my fellow Believers.
The Voice of the Martyrs Facebook Timeline headline says– “LAOS Pray that new believers facing angry relatives will not waiver in their faith.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized family and friends against believers?
The Devil has come to kill, steal and destroy– by any means necessary. Jesus said, ” “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:53
In Ephesians 6:12 we are informed– “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized someone at our churches?
Here’s the most revealing question– How many times has the Devil weaponized us?
Deception hides amongst the well-intended. It thrives on emotional reactions. It drives misunderstandings and miscommunications as a destructive force, tearing through walls of relationships as though they are nothing but smoke.
Make no mistake– the Devil intends to use us to tear down everything God is doing.
May God grant us all discerning eyes and spirits, increasing our sensitivity to where He is at work so we can join in with Him through prayer, supplication and surrender completely to His Holy Spirit.
We need to ask Him to reveal where we may be, now or in the future, deceived by His enemy and the enemy of our souls. Lay aside every assumption and belief of being “right”. Step back and just wait for Him to reveal what He is doing, where He is working– who He has chosen to work through.
We cannot allow ourselves to be weaponized– used– by the Devil.
To surrender everything we believe, everything we “know” to Him– recognizing that He knows all and sees all– that is wisdom. It is necessity— right now.
Who’s “tool” are we? Who’s purpose is being fulfilled through our actions and treatment of others?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” 2Cor 10;3-7
Have you ever stood out on the beach and just yelled into the wind? Did anyone hear you?
Social Media traffic is the online wind, tainted by “deboosting”, “algorithms”, “shadowbanning” and the bias of those enforcing them.
That’s a part of what I’m thinking of as I type this on my Social Media platform.
But, it’s more than that.
For me there has been a recurring theme of a sense of being unheard, undervalued, even unseen.
I found at times I could use that to my advantage in a defensive/protective kind of way– I could leave a room and not be missed. I could stay quiet and no one notices or tries to talk with me.
I can’t begin to describe that deep lonliness I’ve just learned to live with.
Why don’t some people want to hear me?
Some are so engrossed with what they want to say, others are lost under the clutter of words, ideas and opinions.
Writing has been my out-source. Sometimes I feel free to say whatever I want to say.
Except I’m not.
Because what if someone reads something they find offensive or hurtful?
It’s always about everyone else.
What about me? Do I ever get to just talk and be heard?
When can I openly share my heart and concerns?
I could tell some crazy and awesome stories!
I could even share bits of wisdom from firsthand experiences.
I think I’m pretty funny. (Don’t ask my husband though, lol!)
I’m pretty creative.
My topics of passion and pet peeves have “evolved” through experiences, trials and life lessons learned from that popular school of “hard knocks”.
One thing has always gotten me through the silent times, the emptiness, and the “I don’t quite fit ins”.
Because when no one sees me, hears me, or values my input or presence– God always has. And He has always let me know.
I’ve seen Him transform lives. I’ve seen Him heal people– He even healed me! I’ve seen miracles!
It’s sad that some will just never know what God has done because they won’t stop talking and listen to others.
Talking has always been a struggle for me. The anxiety after talking in a group setting is suffocating. Did I say too much? Did I talk too long? Did what I say make any sort of a difference to anyone? My spirit feels anxious, restless, even worried.
I know this problem is not with others– not most of it.
It’s how I react, how I relate, how I believe I’ll be received.
Having been told I was “in God’s way” from someone who’s opinion I deeply valued has had an almost crippling affect on my life.
Having been told that I’m “poor in spirit” has stuck with me through decades of church relationships and church leadership. I think that’s because I’ve heard so little to counter-balance and cancel that out.
Where Scripture has admonished us to build up one another– I’m not a “one another” worthy of that, it appears to me.
Tearing down is for strongholds, not for people. Not ever for people.
I’m guilty of having torn others down in my past.
I guess it’s taken feeling like that outcast that helped me wisen up and learn the necessity of speaking life– and life abundantly– to one another.
This is my invisible enemy that fights me often. I wrestle not with flesh and blood– I know this too well.
I have people I do talk to, though my list is growing smaller by the year.
There will, however, always be One on that list. That is in no way a sad or depressing thing. I have the ear and attention of God attuned towards me. That is humbling– so very humbling.
While I got over “stage-fright” years ago, I don’t like the spotlight. If I could plug in my violin and play from the next room, unseen by anyone, that would be my ideal situation.
Since my husband and I married, Worship has kind of been our “thing”. We’ve been involved with several ministries and churches the past 2 decades. While every experience is different, the focus has most often been the same– God.
At this point in my life, I believe I’m settling into who I am in Christ more. I don’t have to prove myself, I’m a seasoned Christian, with a solid understanding of Scripture, unwavering in my belief and understanding of Who I serve.
But, as settling has occurred, my understanding of certain concepts is changing.
Like the concepts of worship.
The Bible says we worship in spirit and in truth.
My church family says we worship with music.
Do these two ideas contradict one another?
As my husband points out in his latest blog What Worship is Not, there really is not as much emphasis in Scripture about music worship as we sometimes make it seem. There is not an office for Worship Leader.
Do we focus too much on our own definition and understanding of worship?
I know it’s easy to go on the defensive and stop listening when something we believe in strongly is challenged. I’m not set out to challenge, I’m just re-thinking things a bit.
Where in our current recogized system of worship does in spirit and in truth fit in? Sure, we can claim we do these naturally as we focus on God with our spirit, and sing verses written about Biblical truth, and that makes it all fit in a neat, nice little package that is easy on the ears and heart.
Is it all really for God?
Does God need the sound system? Does He need the lights? The projection screens? What about the music and perfect-sounding voices– does God need that?
Is that what worship is to God?
What if we just didn’t have the worship part of the service one Sunday, and just dove straight into the preaching? Would that affect God at all?
If we are honest, our system of worship is really for ourselves. We like the concert-type atmosphere, with our favorite coffee off to the side when we finish. We believe we are ushering His Presence into ours– isn’t it really us just becoming aware of His Presence that is everywhere all the time, and living within those of us who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, sealing us with the Holy Spirit?
Individually some do bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. But, do we corporately? Do we even know what that really means?
How do we worship in spirit? Does it have to involve music?
How do we worship in truth? Do we have to sing to do so?
When I think about Julie Andrews having her voice taken from her, I can’t help but wonder– what would happen if our music abilities or apparatuses were taken from us? Would we stop “worshiping” altogether?
That’s me there– the square one. You’d think I’d be the well-rounded one with all my experiences and whatnot, but that’s not how it really works.
Words that have been used to describe me by others over the years–
Words I wish I heard about me–
That last one is probably the most coveted by me. There seems to always be something people want me to change in order to “fit” their box for me and change the label they’ve put on me.
It’s not going to happen.
I’ll never again be happy-go-lucky. I’ve experienced too much first hand.
I’ll never be the perfect cook or housekeeper. I just won’t.
I’ll never perform the way anyone thinks I should. I have no desire to jump through “social norm” hoops.
Life has filed down my rounded edges into sharp corners with precise edging.
I can’t go back to being ignorant of pain and suffering.
I can’t heal the wounds others can’t see or make the invisible scars actually disappear for good.
I can’t become someone I have not been designed or conformed through life experiences to be. I can’t, and I won’t.
I am not my outer appearance.
I’m not my experiences.
I’m not maleable to people’s whims and wishes.
I am who God has made me to be, and who He continues to shape– as He kneads the mars and scars.
I am misunderstood and misread, as well as overlooked and undervalued.
Somedays I am only loved by God.
But– I am always loved by God, and that is what makes the difference to me.
I have demonstrated my love for others through acts of service in the past– serving my country, using my gifts and talents for the Body of Christ.
Right now I’m in a season of rest and retreat.
I’ve lived for 1/2 a century. I’ve seen and experienced so many things in those years, sometimes it overwhelms my heart, my mind and my spirit.
I’ve been looking for the miracles of God in people’s situations and lives. I’ve seen some in my life, in my circumstances, and God has caused my own life to do a 180 turn. Miracles are not always evident, but if you can catch just a glimpse of one, you are seeing the evidence of God in action.
I could chip away at the edges, but I’d be leaving off what God has carefully shaped. While that might please the well-roundeds, it would not please God.
So, I don’t mind being a squared person in a well-rounded world.
9:00 am, Sunday morning eyes close, hearts open– cue the perfect opening song, chosen because it’s upbeat, uplifting, and it gets the blood pumping. Energy surges. Those who practice loudly in their cars are ready to join in corporate Praise and Worship of Jesus, right?
Except, “I” and “me” are used far more often than His name.
“It’s all about You, Jesus and how much You have done for me, how much I have been changed, how much You loveme, how You’ve made a way for me…”
Song one finishes. Cue songs 2 and 3, in similar keys and subject so they can flow into each other smoothly. Hearts and minds are focused on all Jesus has done for “me“.
Cue song 4 for the offering, something catchy and convicting to encourage Believers to give to God freely…
Song 5 helps transition right into the sermon, getting hearts and minds prepared to receive the Word of the Lord and the Preacher’s sermon.
The sermon is deep, convicting, full of Truth and equipping Believers to make it through another week until it can all start over again.
A closing song extending the sermon message, inviting people to let down their personal guard so they can receive personal ministry to help them overcome the things holding them back, keeping them from fully embracing Jesus, God’s healing and deliverance…
And… we’re done.
It’s a set, a church service proven to be a smooth and embraceable formula that the majority of American Church models follow now.
What’s the fruit? Happy people, a love for deep, powerful music, a new determined focus to meet the challenges and difficulties of a week focused around “me”.
Mid-week, there used to be Wednesday night Believer’s Meetings to help get us past the dragging down of our spirits, and re-focus in putting Jesus first and foremost in hearts and minds. It seems many churches have instead poured their entire focus on that Sunday morning gathering. Which is fine, Wednesday night sometimes just adds into another thing that keeps us busy and exhausted.
Which songs in church help equip Believers in how to treat others? How many prepare Believers for interacting with those hurting, abused, or abusive outside of the Church bubble?
What church service songs encourage us to help rescue others from the spiritual muck and mire that acts like quicksand, holding and pulling people farther from freedom through Jesus.
We hear the words “help the dying and lost” so often, we’ve gotten numb to their meaning and impact.
The world that has not embraced the Salvation, Grace and Mercy of God through Jesus– it’s not a friendly, warm place. There are people who hate Christians, hate everything about God. Are we ever prepared to walk in the empowerment of God to not only deal with people that hate us, but also show them Jesus?
We lack transformative power, most often, because I believe we are stuck in a “me me me” rut.
Mefilters everything– how does this song minister to me? How does this affect me?
All fingers are pointed at me. I’ve recently been confronted with my own boundaries of keeping the ugliness of the world out of my perception and eyesight-hearing range.
Choosing what I allow my understanding to be exposed to is a luxury.
The hurting, lost and spiritually dying don’t have that luxury. They don’t have Jesus, the necessity for us all, to protect them, to shield them, to deliver them from the cold, dark world of animosity towards all God has created– which includes them.
I had forgotten where I had come from. But– God reminded me. How can I not go back and help others ? Did Jesus rescue me so that I could become cold-hearted towards others who need Him to rescue them as well?
Jesus told us to go, share the Good News with the world that hates Him, and by proxy– hates us. Share the Good News that they don’t have to serve hatred any longer, they can have His free gift of Eternal Salvation. Before meeting Jesus, after allowing Jesus to give freedom is like night and day. It’s like shackles and freedom, caged and free, oppressed and… free.
Mind-blowing, am I right? The human mind cannot even fathom what that means, and so many reject it because it sounds far-fetched and unbelievable.
We need God to empower us to demonstrate that reality of Jesus.
Where does the neat and tidy American church service infuse that empowerment?
We will never find that power on our own, within ourselves, to reach out to a torture victim. Because they do exist– in America.
How can we help rescue someone’s mind who has been trapped in human slavery– because, again, that exists inside of America.
Jesus left Heaven to be born as a human to walk with us, so He could rescue us– heart, mind and soul. Not just our soul. Not just physical and heart healing.
He came to set the captives free.
Where are we most held captive?
In our minds.
Howcan we ever be ready to help people get free from the ugly hatred of the world if we stay focused on “what Jesus has done for me“? Those trapped don’t care what He has done for me. They need Him to help them, and they need us to stand in the gap while He sets them free.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17 (NASB)
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
I’ve mentioned a few times that I have scars on my scalp from a “friendly” domesticated adolescent cougar “playing” with my head as his chew toy. I’m thinking about that today because they hurt. Kinda bad.
So that got me to thinking– if my physical scars hurt so badly at times, what about those deep emotional scars? Sure I’ve gone through all those rituals of forgiveness, repentance for my part in some things, and trust in God for healing. And He has healed me– so much! (I’ve even felt Him heal my esophagus as I praised Him through singing– what an amazing, warm, wonderful feeling that was!) I wouldn’t be married again if God had not done major surgery on my mind and my heart. We just celebrated 20 awe-inspiring years!
Those of us operating in the American mindset think we have everything all figured out. We put things in neatly labeled boxes, organized by category, decorated prettily with descriptions, definitions and diagnosis.
But what if we’re wrong?
What if we take a box out of the organized line-up, sort through it and realize it really isn’t the way we believed it to be?
What if emotional pain is notalways as explained? What if it’s the manifestation of pain from emotional scarring?
The tough thing about emotional scars is no one can see them. Only the person who lived the experience can feel and remember.
Incidentally– that’s exactly the experience of Christianity. Only the person who has experienced Divine interactions can feel them and experience their reality. That doesnotinvalidate that person or experience, just like it does not invalidate one who has emotional scars. The experiences did happen, they did have an impact on the person they happened to. Jesus didSave the Christian, His actions and the Holy Spirit interactions continuouslyimpact the Believer, though it’s deeply personal.
Do emotions exist? Do memories represent past experiences? Does pain from emotional wounds and scars ever manifest in our reactions, responses, emotions and beliefs?
I think maybe the “professionals” are really just guessing– and maybe they have guessed wrong in some things.
Maybe we look at mental health the wrong way. I don’t think PHD’s have all the answers because I don’t think they have been asking the right questions– many times they are just masking the symptoms, not getting to the core and root of what they diagnose– not looking for a healing solution.
Only God has all the answers, only God knows all things, sees all things and understands the “why” of all things. He has promised in His Word that we can call allto Him and He will answer us– He’ll show us great things we don’t know. Do we believe that?
I think I do. Sometimes. When we step away from the bindings of what has been explained to us with human understanding, and seek Divine understanding, God will show us, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to comfort us, to empower us.
How much of that have we stepped out in faith to embrace?
We cling to our diagnosis, definitions and descriptions as though those have life for us. The One Who holds all knowledge islife. My desire is to cling to Him.
I fall short.
Do my emotional scars manifest sadness through their pain? Anger? A desire to be comforted? A lack of trust in others?
I honestly think maybe they do. Maybe that’s part of their intended function as God has designed them to protect where we once were wounded.
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.
How many times I’ve heard that– especially when I’ve missed a service at some churches. I’ve lost count!
I’ve exhausted and frustrated myself trying to jump through those hoops that lead to acceptance.
What about when the assembly forsakes it’s own members?
When my health started to betray me, and I was going through some honestly scary stuff– where was that assembly then?
Not rallied around me, listening, praying and cheering me on with encouragement.
No. It was silent.
Unless I asked for prayer. Then– it prayed, maybe laid hands on me too– and then it went back to whatever else was going on, and silence for me again.
And let me tell you– I have had need of encouragement!
When I was struggling as a kid and teen with things I couldn’t tell anyone about, I needed that assembly.
When I nearly died, a few times, that assembly has been nowhere around.
When it was up to me to forgive some deeply serious and scarring offenses so I could be free to move on with my life and follow God’s path for me, where was that assembly?
When my dad passed away, and I was numb because our relationship was so screwed up, I needed the assembly.
How thankful I am that I have that close relationship with my Redeemer. He has always given me exactly what I need, when I need it.
But– God made us to need others. The Church isn’t supposed to be like a game of jump-rope where you just jump in and hope you don’t mess up the rhythm or get hit or tripped-up by the ropes. There is supposed to be a mutual-ness to it. Not a sizing-up, or a dressing-down. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and yet it’s supposed to be all for people.
The safest place on earth.
That’s what Church is supposed to be.
I always thought it was like a hospital for the sick, a resting place for the weary, and a nurturing place for neglected outcasts. Welcoming and warm…
I’ve struggled my whole life with fitting in, or feeling like I fit in. We all have our family issues and personality quirks, along with unrealistic expectations.
But when, as a kid, I heard several congregations singing about being “The Family of God”, my mind formed certain expectations that I honestly haven’t felt are unrealistic.
I see others laughing, spending time together, helping one another out. I’ve watched from the outer courts on so many occasions, like the envious little girl watching the big kids skillfully turn the jump ropes while the confident kids jump in and sing rhymes timed with fancy footwork.
So when I heard the song about being family– well– I’ve been looking for the evidence of that.
I’ve wanted to find one where there is a healthy father- figure for me, one where the women are not competitive, judge-mental, or seem to actually ignore and look past me.
I am so tired of the Church acting like the world. Or worse.
I want to find that true Family of God.
One where the assembly does not forsake me.
One where God doesn’t speak to my spirit to tell me the Pastor is my enemy, not my friend.
With all the recent scandals from Hollywood and politicians, I’m again thinking about my own past of sexual abuse, and different reactions I’ve experienced about how I do/don’t do things.
First, I’ll share some of my background.
I was molested by my dad as a young girl. That in and of itself is still a humiliating experience for me. I’m still emotionally sensitive at times and in different situations. It’s just the first abusive situation I experienced, but it’s the foundation of abuse in my history, so it’s my focus today.
Bringing it up now and admitting my emotions can still be affected by the memories– at times, the nightmares– does not mean I’m not healed, that I haven’t forgiven him or that I am stuck in the past. These are some of the reactions I can count on getting nearly every time I mention it.
No matter the reasoning behind my dad’s actions against me– it still happened.
So, when I see and hear things people say to others, it frustrates me. Things like– “Pick up the broken pieces, and move on.”
Well– start where in picking them up? To me, this is like telling a person with 2 broken legs to just stand up and walk away.
Everything about me was broken. I say was, because God picked up my broken pieces, and He helped me move forward– towards Him.
But, you know who didn’t? People. The Body of Christ didn’t. Once when I asked for special counseling from a Pastor’s wife, she blamed me for causing problems with my reactions to having been hurt!
Much of my life I have fought to be heard. Most of my childhood I struggled with being seen and learning how to fit in. All of my victim-hood I’ve fought to survive.
You won’t believe the attacks of my mind, my heart and my body that I experienced as a result of what was done TO me. I fought to get away. I tried to run away. I tried to make it stop by taking my own life away from it– physically– forever. Thankfully God intervened and had Compassion for me.
These were my wrong reactions and thought-processes growing up– I cut because I was numb and that made me feel something. I starved myself because I deserved to be punished because I must have been an awful person for that to have happened to me. I clung too tightly to guys I just wanted to love me– I just wanted to be loved and valued. I thought if I removed myself, I would no longer cause problems for my dad– because he told me that.
My mom did all she could to protect me and handle an impossibly difficult situation. She sent me where she knew I would be safe during the summer years of my childhood– to her parents. I don’t know what they knew, I only know I was told to never ever talk to anyone about things. You see– I didn’t even know that my mom knew. I thought I was completely alone, and had to fend for myself all alone. But, she was looking out for me.
“Pick up the pieces and move on…”
When you’re self-perception has been damaged through the mental abuse of someone else that should be trusted to protect and build you up– how do you move forward? Where is forward? Which way is up? Because everything I knew was filtered through that experience and how others reacted to me.
It’s by the Grace of God and my mom that I survived my childhood years.
I am not hanging onto what happened. Talking about it doesn’t mean I’m hanging on to it. Hopefully talking about it will extend a lifeline to someone else who may need someone to look out for and reach out to them.
God has brought me through it, to the other side. I don’t need pity of the stuff of feeling sorry for me, or counseling.
My purpose for writing this is– those “encouraging” sayings do not help real people with real needs.
Picking up the broken pieces for me, at that time, meant the equivalent of picking them up and then walking barefoot through more broken, sharp pieces. I saw no clear path, until God in His Mercy reached out to me and pulled me out of it.
He had to carry me, because I was far too broken to walk on my own.
For those who are broken– you can Trust God. I promise! His ways are gentle and kind– and always perfect.
For those who are unbroken observers– Please– Allow God to work through you to reach out and help the broken with more than cute sayings that often feel more like salt poured into open wounds than healing balm.
Pray at all times, without ceasing, giving thanks to God above for one another. Especially those that you just don’t understand. Don’t turn a cold shoulder, don’t be short or abrupt– that helps no one, but instead often feels like condemnation poured-out on those who might be crushed under the weight of it. God is not in that.
Love is Patient. Love is Kind. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking– Love does not prefer its own opinion over the needs of others.
Over the past 20 years I have been moved from place to place, sometimes by God, sometimes for personal reasons.
That is why I’m writing this.
I am no one special. I have no title, no grand purpose or calling. I am like many within your flock, under your care– part of your Divine calling and purpose.
I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that means something more to me than merely being a member of a local church.
I have been given talents by God, and I strive to use them to help further His Kingdom purpose. I have been given a heart of flesh that longs to please God. I love people, I love Jesus, and I love serving God as He calls me to.
I have seen where church leadership has some blindspots. I am asking you, humbly, as one who loves God and people– please– drop all defensiveness and listen.
I believe that God has called Pastors and all church leaders to love His people as He loves His people, not to just instruct us about the Word of God. Not one of us is in the same part of the narrow road, nor have we walked with the same steps or strides. In fact, there are some who are crawling, there are some who are stopped– waiting on God to give them clear direction– direction that oftentimes comes through you.
Every Pastor wants the congregants who are running the race perfectly, with all the energy necessary to carry out the plans and purposes of the ministries churches offer. There are people who are called and able to fulfill those Pastoral dreams.
I want to tell you, many simply are not. Many are trying to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling. Some want to please church leadership, but they are burnt out by doing so. Some feel weighted down by life. Some have been crippled by life’s circumstances, and they can’t “perform” as is often necessary. These are the people you are leaving behind. These are the ones you are hurting. Some of these equate how you treat them with how God wants them to be treated– and that is breaking God’s heart.
I want to encourage you to look at every person as the individual that God has created them to be.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God has entrusted you with the loving care to help nurture and grow even the most unloveable Christian.
I believe God wants to release His healing within His Body. Hurts caused by our own family in Christ. Reconciliations. Letting go of offenses. Repentance for how we all treat one another.
I believe He wants to begin from the top of the leadership down through the entire congregation.
What does this look like? More ministries for congregants, not just opportunities to serve. Listening more carefully. Being approachable, a healthy relationship attainable outside of jumping through specific hoops to prove worthiness of your time, attention and appreciation.
Removal of any “hierarchy” mindset that in any way belittles your congregants in your eyes.
There are millions of Pastors, and every one of you is a unique individual created by God, just like all of your congregants are.
I pray you will read this, that you will seek God concerning this. Not because I am asking, but because God’s Judgment begins in the House of The Lord. We all need to be far more sensitive to God’s Spirit than we are to the opinions of ourselves and others.
God’s love is not tough, it’s full of compassion, patience and deep understanding.
There is an unhealthy attitude. Within the Church. You may not want to hear about it. You may not want to listen. But, that will not make it go away. Confronting it will. Confronting it is the first step to healing.
And, the church needs some major healing and repairs.
So, the attitude is this: if something about a church congregation hurts, disappoints, offends, or puts you off– don’t talk about it. Don’t talk to anyone if your feelings are hurt. Don’t mention that the lesson might not be quite Scripturally accurate. Do not show your true feelings, because the attitude is– “that’s unGodly“.
But that attitude is wrong.
Jesus never said “Blessed are those who pretend everything is fine when it’s not.” No, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
Who are the poor in spirit? It includes those who have been hurt within the Body of Christ, sometimes from the Body of Christ.
We need to pour healing into our own.
I am going to talk about it, and we all should.
Because this pretending like everything is fine, it’s not worshiping God in spirit and in truth. It’s lying.
Everything is not fine.
And, it’s not ministering to the ones who need ministry the most– those that have been hurt. Often hurt by people within their own congregation.
I have been to several churches regularly since I turned my life over to Jesus, because I move around with the military, and sometimes God just moves me on to another church.
I have been hurt. I have been devastated.
By a church split. By a Pastor I respected like he was my own dad. By a pastor’s wife I hoped would be like a mom for me. Then I wised-up. I stopped trying to fill a need I sincerely believe God wants church leaders to help fill in their congregants lives.
But, it hurts.
Because that is a realistic, honest need. Maybe not for everyone. But it is for a lot.
How many people can actually talk about this disappointment, this failure in ministering to our own?
Most won’t because they feel shamed. They feel their needs are unimportant. They don’t know who they can talk with and be real with.
They get blind-sided with remarks about lack of faith, or about not trusting God enough.
It has NOTHING to do with not trusting God or lacking faith.
It has everything to do with not making oneself vulnerable to and not trusting Church leadership. Those God has put in place to representJesus. Many times, they are the ones who are not trusted. And, by every account, they should be the most trustworthy.
The most approachable.
God made people to need other people. God uses His people as His vessels to speak through, to pour His healing through, to help draw others nearer to Him.
I know, I know, God calls humans… so human weakness and faults… I get that. But, it goes way beyond that, into a seeming hardheartedness.
Why is there such an attitude of busyness, but not a deep healing ministry for everyone who walks through the doors?
God does not want Christianity to be a religion of individuality. I don’t believe He ever meant it to be such a hands-off thing.
God’s heart is for the hurting within the Body of Christ, not just without.
Who are the hurting within the congregations? Widows. New moms. New members. People moving from different communities, states or even countries. Divorcee’s. Military spouses and kids. Singles, of all ages. Teenagers. Homeless. Those untrusting of people.
The Body of Christ often can’t see beyond Its nose.
It’s time to wake up. Judgement comes to the House of The Lord first, and I do believe this is the 11th hour– perhaps even the 11:30th hour. Do we think God will “see our hearts” and just have His Judgement pass over His Body?
Lord, please pour out Your healing in all those who are hurting, who are lonely, or who just don’t know who they can trust. Please reach out to the broken-hearted, and minister to their every need. Soften the hardened hearts towards the weak, the hurting, and the ones who don’t seem to measure up or step up under the heavy weight of human expectation.
Lord, please help Your Church to walk in Unity, as well as to walk like You did as You prepared the way for us.
Please help us to make ourselves ready, to clothes ourselves with Your love and compassion for all. Remind us of our own weaknesses that You strengthen, and help us to be encouragers and extensions of Your healing Grace. In Jesus Name, Amen– So be it.
There is a phrase in our society I have heard quite a bit. It’s “victim mentality.” I often hear, “Don’t be a victim.” “You’re not a victim.” There is a growing disdain for those victimized who don’t handle the aftermath the way society thinks they should: Jump back into life like it never happened. Forgive and forget. Act “normal”.
There is a complete phase of victim-hood that seems to get ignored: having been wounded.
Supposedly victims of rape, incest, emotional and mental abuse, and other things are supposed to lick their wounds and fit right in with everyone in society. They are supposed to heal their own wounds, invisible to everyone else so maybe that makes the wounds seem nonexistent or unimportant. If they are a Christian, they should expect that God will heal all their wounds without anyone else, they “just need to trust Him”, “need to have faith”. When it doesn’t work out “perfect”, then the wounded are accused they “don’t have enough faith”. Maybe it’s not the fault of the wounded at all. Maybe the members of their church lack compassion. Biblical compassion.
I don’t expect much from the Godless world, they don’t know any better, but they do actually demonstrate a bit more kindness than we Christians sometimes do. I submit to you that within the Body of Christ , there are times we are wounding our wounded by placing unrealistic expectations on them, sometimes we even neglect their actual need. God created people to need people. So, why is the Church sometimes dismissive of the very real needs the wounded have? Why do we tend to see those wounded as whiners, “needy”, or ridiculous? Where is our compassion?
I don’t see this in every church, or even the one we are part of now, but, over the past three decades, I have seen this many times.
Physical wounds need the help of others to be stopped, repaired and healed. Someone applies pressure to stop the bleeding. Someone rescues someone from the vehicle of an accident. An ambulance takes the “victim” – wounded – to the hospital where an entire team and staff work to save the life, repair the damage and stop the bleeding. Careful instructions are given to the wounded victim, and follow-up appointments are made. Prescriptions and bandages are given.
Shouldn’t the Church be more like a hospital? What one-on-one care is given? Who stops the bleeding of the wounded heart, the mind and emotions? Who applies the healing balm? Who helps with the repairing, and the healing? Who gives the prescriptions of Scriptures, and bandages of prayers and encouraging words? Obviously Christians know the answer is the Holy Spirit. But, who are the willing vessels He works through?
I hope I am.
The last thing that wounded people need to feel is left alone to find their own healing. Church, The Body of Christ, is unique from everything in that we give and we get, as members. It’s when things are unbalanced and the giving is stressed, but the getting can tend to be neglected, or vice-versa, that it becomes dysfunctional. I think there should be a healthy balance of both hospital-like and service for God, but maybe my own expectations are too high. At any rate, I see such a need that my heart aches to help fill. I hope others see it, too.
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 !