I love to give gifts to people. It’s a joy to hunt for just the “perfect” thing that I hope will bless the receiver.
It’s part of who I am, and what I do.
Years ago, when someone was praying was praying over me, they said, “You can’t “out-give” God.” From time to time, I remember that, and I ponder what it could mean.
But lately— the last few weeks— that has been swirling around in my thoughts.
This past Christmas, I was given the opportunity help a dear, dear friend get special ornaments to someone else, in a different country, to bless and minister to others.
Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue. But— Covid caused major changes in the mailing system.
At first, someone else was supposed to get them from me, and then mail them. But— that didn’t work out.
So, with some help figuring out what to do, I was finally able to learn how to do it.
The process of figuring it out— it was frustrating! I was tempted to be annoyed, and may have given in to that a little… 😳😔
But— this friend who was asking for my help— if you knew her, you’d know what I know about her. She’s probably the most giving, sincere, kind person I’ve ever been blessed to meet.
So— I figured out the process.
Then I found out there was a deadline for getting it to my friend’s friend! Prayerfully, I got it mailed, and it arrived just in time!
All that intimidation and worry about language barriers, how to pay for it and difficulty physically for me were found to be pretty ridiculous— It was such an easy process, once I figured out what to do.
I felt happy that I got to be a tiny part in blessing others, to help share the Gospel message.
My dear, dear friend messaged me today. Her friend had passed away.
I’m sitting her marveling at how God used me to bless someone who just wanted to be a blessing to others.
Gifts that now serve as a special memory of a selfless, beautiful sister in Christ, that I never got to meet— but I will get to meet her, and rejoice with her, in Eternity one day.
This time I had no part in hunting for the “perfect” gift. This time I was just a messenger helping get the perfect gifts to another destination.
Funny how things impact us that we never expect will.
We cannot out-give God.
His purposes are as mysterious as they are fulfilling and more beautiful than simple words can ever describe.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 NASB
I think we all have well-meaning people in our lives. You know the ones that are quick to redirect our honest, heartfelt, deep moments of transparency, into something that makes them feel more comfortable.
The ones that think they know us well enough to correct us.
But reality is— they just don’t get us at all.
They don’t realize the wall they are putting up, or the signals they send.
Maybe this is why God is often the only One I feel comfort in, or safe confiding in.
God has never left me feeling like something is wrong with me.
He never leaves me feeling like I’m stupid, or over-sensitive, or misunderstanding His Word or calling on my life.
He never tells me to push myself farther than I know is too much for me.
He tells me to lean on Him, that He is my strength.
Not that I have to do things in my own strength or because it’s what people are expecting me to do or be like.
God has never made me feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
God never makes me feel like I’m a burden.
I am often confronted with things I see others have that I just don’t have.
Relationships I’ve just never had access to, for whatever reason.
I’ve spent my life working to be for others what I’ve wished I had.
Someone who hasn’t been in my shoes can’t understand my perspective.
That doesn’t mean my perspective is wrong.
That doesn’t make me a target for mocking and sarcastic opinions.
That makes me normal.
I have been broken.
God has chosen to repair some things, but He has also— for His reasons— chosen to not repair other things.
Giving my life to Christ has not fixed anything about me to perfection.
I have been conditioned to feel ashamed, to feel “less than” everyone else.
But Not by God.
God has been working deeply in me to re-condition me. To fix ungodly beliefs about me being deserving of nothing more than being under the feet of others. Ungodly beliefs that I deserve to be the scapegoat carrying the shame of others.
That is not what God has created me to be.
I have grown children, and I’m still struggling with a belief system imposed on me as a child— the belief that things would be better if I just weren’t born. Belief that I’m supposed to take the blame for things others have done.
Belief that my reputation, my feelings— my life— don’t matter like everyone else’s does.
Undeserving of the life God chose to give to me.
Those are lies of the enemy of God that people who claim to be Christians have imposed upon me.
It’s not often, anymore, that I reflect upon these things.
As I do now, I recognize God’s Hand upon my life.
God moved me away. He has provided for me and nurtured me.
As The Potter, He has been deep at work reshaping the ungodly beliefs others have bestowed upon me. People I have striven to impress, to gain the attention and affection of.
Even today, decades later, the striving is in vain.
It’s exhausting being the only one that cares about nurturing relationships I’ve wanted to desperately hang on to.
I am exhausted.
So— I am letting them go.
I’m not expecting the same effort I put in. In fact— I’ve already experienced the evidence that I can fade off into the distance, and just be gossip, but no relationship.
Experience has taught me I’m not someone others will put that effort into.
Emotionally it has always been a taxing thing for me. It has caused anxiety, stress— worry…
Physically I am just as weak as I am emotionally, now.
My reaction wants to be to just not care.
But that’s not how God made me.
God made me to not only care— He made me to empathize with others who have similar experiences.
There are those I’ve tried to share things with that will tell me to calm down, that I’m too sensitive, that what I’m feeling or understanding isn’t real.
Those people are wrong.
And I’m done hitting the walls they put up out of intolerance for what is just me.
God placed them in my life. I don’t believe they are fulfilling God’s calling for them in my life, and I do think God cares.
Often my spirit feels weighted down with a sense of grieving. That is just fact.
It’s not depression.
It’s not self-esteem issues.
Grief over the ones who helped instill those ungodly beliefs God is working to fix my understanding of.
Grief as He calls attention to them, as He focuses on making sure I recognize each one of them, and He shows me what His Truth about each one is.
People are fallible.
I just want to be malleable under His Hand as He works out all of those mars and lumps.
NF – All I Have Lyrics excerpts “All I ever wanted was somebody to hear me And all I ever wanted was somebody to feel me And everybody wanna tell me that I’m out of my head…” “And you better get ready cause you might find I’m from a different place and my kind It’s a little bit different than yours is…” “I don’t live for the world I live for the King, I live for the King, focus Wrote this with emotion You do what you wanted but you can’t contain me…”
Don’t tell me that this isn’t real, don’t tell me it’s not how I feel…”
“All I ever wanted was somebody to get this…” “I stand behind these words. I’m a Christian but I’m not perfect Don’t tell me to calm down. I’m calm now,…” “Yeah it might take a minute to get it but once you get it everything will be crystal clear I don’t think they see my vision here. I don’t think they see my vision here! Don’t tell me that this isn’t real Don’t tell me this ain’t how I feel This is all I have. All I have.”
: transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly
: free from disguise or falseness”
I guess if I had a “theme” for my blog posts, this might be a defining term I’m aiming for.
I’ve been working my way through more NF songs, lately. Today, I have two on my heart.
The first one, I think it’s a deeply important one to address— “Paralyzed”. The second is the chorus from “Oh Lord”. (I think both can be a great mash-up.)
As the “Paralyzed” lyrics flow, they hit sensitive areas in my past that I buried or forgot about.
Oh, my God, thank You— he has described this lack of just everything— that I could never put a name to!!
I still have moments of this numb feeling, in certain social situations, I get struck with this— paralysis— NF has given it a name! I can define it! You have no idea how impactful and healing that is for me. If the “spotlight” focus of attention is on me— I still sometimes freeze up! When I leave social meetings, I sometimes have this weird ache— almost like that feeling when the numbness wears off at the dentist— in my chest. I feel vulnerable,
I spent many of my youthful days going through the motions, disconnected from my emotions.
These lyrics transcendjust words for me— they overwhelm my spirit with… I don’t reallyknowwhat. Understanding, maybe? Relief?
I didn’t think anyone could ever understand. No one around me ever seemed to. But then— I was afraid to even ask, to talk about anything.
I just thought I was alone.
And then— I remember someone telling me they struggled with the same kind of eating issues that I did— and they gave it a name— Anorexia. I thought I had a friend I could identify with, that understood me. But— friendship with me wasn’t something she was interested in. In fact— she seemed annoyed that I had those problems too.
I was alone.
My whole life, all I ever wanted was to feel included, wanted, appreciated— valued.
Absorbing the lyrics from the NF song “Paralyzed”— they took me right back to those moments. Only, as I again felt them, I was also standing outside of it all, looking at it from a perspective of having been healed, or delivered, from the damage and circumstances that rendered me
I remember walking through my middle school hallways, realizing— I couldn’t feel anything.
I was emotionally numb.
I think that was when the self harm started for me.
I spent years hiding the scars on my arms and legs. They have faded, can’t be seen easily anymore, but I know exactly where they are.
When I wrote poems, I marveled over where the words even came from. I didn’t write thoughts I was meditating on, inspiration didn’t come from outer sources, dreams or conversations. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I just had to write.
“Can You see us down here, Oh Lord?”
I wonder what I look like to God? I know all the encouraging words of Scripture— and I believe them.
I also know God sees what we can’t see or understand.
I think as the lyrics from “Paralyzed” grab my heart, make me catch my breath from overwhelming remembrance, understanding— and emotions I’m no longer detached from, flood all my senses— I see that God is outside of things, but He somehow still feels what we feel, He sees what we see— and so much more.
My world felt impossibly dark and devastating.
God’s Light has diffused the darkness my soul was held captive in. His Holy Light came into my life, and all that nasty darkness fled— Jesus set this captive free. He healed my heart and my life.
He restores my soul.
As much as we often believe our childhood shapes and defines us— it’s not permanent. I believe that.
The damning, torturous grip that once had its hold on me, has been released.
God broke the fingers of that stronghold over my perception, that affected my decisions.
There are some who are in a similar place to where I was.
It can get better. Most often, circumstances aren’t permanent. There is nothing God cannot change, heal, repair, restore or improve.
You are not alone.
Nothing is too difficult for God.
“Intro:] When did I become so numb? When did I lose myself? All the words that leave my tongue Feel like they came from someone else
I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed) Where are my feelings? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed) I no longer feel things (I have no feelings) I know I should (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Oh. How come I’m not moving? Why aren’t I moving? Ay yeah) I’m paralyzed Where is the real me? (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord??) (Where is the real me?) I’m lost and it kills me – inside (I’m paralyzed)
[Verse 1:] When did I become so cold? When did I become ashamed? (Ooh) Where’s the person that I know? They must have left They must have left With all my faith
[Verse 2:] I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?) I’m scared to live but I’m scared to die And if life is pain then I buried mine a long time ago But it’s still alive And it’s taking over me – where am I? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?) I wanna feel something, I’m numb inside But I feel nothing, I wonder why And on the race of life time passes by Look I sit back and I watch it, hands in my pockets Waves come crashing over me but I just watch ’em (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?) I just watch ’em I’m under water but I feel like I’m on top of it I’m at the bottom and I don’t know what the problem is I’m in a box (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord?) But I’m the one who locked me in Suffocating and I’m running out of oxygen
[Outro] Do You see us down here? Oh Lord Can You see us down here? Oh Lord Oh Lord, oh Lord Can You see us? Can’t You see us?down here? Oh Lord Oh Lord, oh Lord Can You see us? Can’t You see us?”
My youngest has become a superfan of NF. My whole family, I think, is a fan at some level, but my youngest, who is 11, surprises us sometimes by his choice in ringtones (Leave Me Alone!— NF song 😅), and what he has stored on his flip phone— mostly NF songs. The other day, he chose Therapy Session to play through the car radio. I asked him if he related to the words and felt like he needed therapy because of me, lol. He said “No.”
As I absorbed the impact of the words in the song, once again I was drawn into just how much they reflect my own heart. One phrase is “I was talking to fans And one of them pulled me aside and said “We never met but I swear that you know who I am I been through a lot I don’t know how to express it to people, don’t think that I can…”
Well, that’s me, for sure. I could have been that fan!
Another phrase jumped out at me, and has been bouncing around in my thoughts. It’s actually the inspiration for this post.
“This music” (my blog) “is not just for people who sit in the pews and pray at the churches I’ve been rejected I don’t expect everyone to respect it I don’t expect you to get my perspective What you expect from a therapy session, huh?”
“I mean, I think sometimes people they confuse what I’m doing I write about life, I write about things that I’m actually dealing with Something that I’m actually experiencing, this is real for me Like this is something that personally helps me as well I’m not confused about who gave me the gift God gave me the gift, and he gave me the ability to do this…”
“And he also gave me this as an outlet…”
This is me here—
The experiences NF has shared in his music are NOT the same as mine— the reactions, emotions, and scarred-over-wounds— they often are the same.
You don’t walk away, sometimes run away, from the things I’ve lived through and some things I have done, without wounds— some very, very deep wounds. Most are now scars— but
even scars hurt sometimes.
While this is sometimes my type of therapy, I am open and honest in sharing here to possibly reach out to maybe even one person who needs soneone to step up along side them, and show someone really does understand.
That is always my intent here.
So, I am going to be misunderstood.
I am going to be “corrected”.
I am still going to be told I should write about “happy, positive things”.
I am going to be given advice I don’t need.
I am going to make some people uncomfortable.
I want to apologize, because that’s in my nature, but I won’t. Because this is how God made me.
I don’t need a therapist— I have God. God’s Holy Spirit is my counselor. His Word is my “self-help” book.
I have this blog to sort out things. To help me see things, to work through them.
I get it all out or my head and my heart, sometimes here, sometimes in prayer privately.
I have learned that how to let things go, to give them to God, is to NOT try to lock them in a dark closet, or sweep them under a rug.
To get them out into the open, to look at them fully, to examine the roots as much as possible, to confront them— to surrender them to Jesus.
And then I move on.
Sometimes I bring others into my process through my blog posts— but not always.
Sometimes it’s just between God and me.
But— you, whoever and wherever you are, are always welcome to look here to find understanding and hopefully some degree of God’s healing.
Everyone needs to be heard, to be understood— to be identified with.
That’s my intention— always.
I am not the perfect writer. I am not perfect in any way— ever.
“Yeah, I gotta say like a month ago I was talking to fans And one of them pulled me aside and said “We never met but I swear that you know who I am I been through a lot I don’t know how to express it to people Don’t think that I can but I got that mansion CD on rotation That’s real for me Nate, you do not understand” It’s crazy for me Kids hit me up, say they slitting they wrists on the daily This music is more than you think Don’t book me for just entertainment, it’s entertaining Hearing these parents, they telling their kids My music is violent, you gotta be kidding me I guess that your definition of violence and mine Is something that we look at differently How do you picture me ah? Want me to smile, you want me to laugh You want me to walk in the stage with a smile on my face When I’m mad and put on a mask, for real though I mean, what you expect from me? I’m tryna do this respectfully They say that life is a race I know my problems’ll probably catch up eventually I do my best to be calm How you gon’ write me and tell me you slaughter my family? That’s just a glimpse to the stuff that get sent to me These the parts of my life that’ll never see, woo I am aware it’s aggressive I am not here for acceptance I don’t know what you expect here But what you expect when you walk in a therapy session?
Therapy, therapy session Therapy, therapy session
This girl at the show looked me in the face And told me her life’s full of drama Said that her dad is abusive Apparently he likes to beat on her mama I got so angry inside I wanted to tell her to give me his number But what you gon’ do with it right? You gon’ hit him up then he’ll start hitting her harder That’s real These kids, they come to my shows With tears in they eyes Imagine someone looking at you And saying your music’s the reason that they are alive Sometimes, I don’t know how to handle it This type of life isn’t glamorous This ain’t an act for the cameras You see me walk on these stages but have no idea what I’m dealing with after it I put it all in the open This is the way that I cope with all my emotion I’m taking pictures with thousands of people But honestly, I feel like nobody knows me I’m trying to deal with depression I’m trying to deal with the pressure How you gon’ tell me my music does not have a message When I’m looking out at this crowd full of people I know I affected? Ah, I got some things in my life, I know I should let ’em go Let me jot it down, let me take a mental note I put it all in this microphone, think about that for a minute What is the point of this song, I’m just venting but what you expect from a therapy session?
Therapy, therapy session Therapy, therapy session
What you think about me That doesn’t worry me I know I handle some things immaturely I know that I need to grow in maturity I ain’t gon’ walk on these stages in front of these people And act like I live my life perfectly That doesn’t work for me Christian is not the definition of a perfect me, woo I ain’t the type to be quiet I ain’t gon’ sit here in silence If I wouldn’t say what I say to your face Then I promise you I wouldn’t say it in private I am not lying People go off on my page and I’m trying to quit the replying But this is ridiculous I’m passionate man, I really mean what I’m writing You want me to keep it 100? Okay, I’ll keep it 100 I see a whole lot of talking on socials But honestly, I don’t see nothing in public I kinda love it, yeah “Why don’t you write us some happy raps? That would be awesome All your music is moody and dark, Nate” Don’t get me started You wanna know what it’s like if you met me in person? Listen to my verses This music is not just for people Who sit in the pews and pray at the churches I won’t reject it I don’t expect everyone to respect it I don’t expect you to get my perspective What you expect from a therapy session?
I mean, I think sometimes people they confuse what I’m doing I write about life, I write about things that I’m actually dealing with Something that I’m actually experiencing, this is real for me Like this is something that personally helps me as well I’m not confused about who gave me the gift God gave me the gift and he gave me the ability to do this And he also gave me this as an outlet And that’s what music is for me When I feel something, whether it’s anger Um, it’s a passion about something, or frustration Like this is where I go, this is, that’s the whole nfrealmusic thing man This is real for me, I need this, this is a therapy for me”
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.
Lately I’ve been missing a family type of environment.
Having a group of people to laugh with, cry with, and have things in common with.
Where we have lived for many years is a fluid-like community— people always coming and going, no time to form long-lasting friendships that won’t become distant connections.
Don’t get me wrong— I love where we live. Location isn’t what needs to change for me.
As an introspective person, some of my first thoughts in most situations is to dig around in myself to look for root causes.
This is no different.
So— here I go.
A few years ago, during all the lockdowns and internationally persuaded isolation, I went through one of the mostdifficult times of my whole life.
I’m not new to difficult situations. My entire life has been wrapped with overly complicated things. Being a military spouse in itself is a level of difficult you can only fully understand after experiencing it.
But— a few years ago, a deeper level of difficult hit me hard, knocked the wind out of me and the foundation out from under me— destroyed important things that kept some sort of hope in me alive.
In that situation, I realized— my corner was empty. I had not one person I could go to, that I could bare my soul to.
Thankfully, I have learned that Jesus is the One I always have in my corner.
(Putting a “pin” in that— that’s the happy, perfect ending to this post.
I’m in the middle of it, though.)
Getting back to my thoughts— I had No person.
Then— one very unexpected family member reached out to me and told me if I ever need to talk, he is there to listen.
That is the first time anyone has ever offered that to me— and meant it. That gave me some of the hope back. I don’t know how I could ever talk with him about these things, but just knowing he was willing to reach out— that just made all the difference for me.
Most often, after I get through hard times, I do find people who I can share with to encourage them in their hard times. Sometimes they even let me encourage them. Sadly, some seem to react negatively. One person even told me I intimidated her because I’ve just been through so much, seen so much, experiencedso much…
I can’t help that.
It’s just my life.
Because I’ve just gone through things, fought against them, pushed through so much, (usually alone), I have sincerely striven to be the type of person people can rely on to not have to go through things alone.
More than just about anything, I’ve wanted to be available— to be in the corner when someone who may not have anyone else, needs that.
Because I know what that feels like.
It makes the mountains seem impossible to get past.
But— with someone in our corner, we often move those mountains rather than try to overcome them. They are no longer intimidating.
My husband and I were talking recently about who we felt we could call at 4 am for urgent or emergency needs. What relationships have we formed that could hold up a need to lean on it?
Getting back to my “pin”…
I have learned through trial, error,—even personally devastating circumstances— that Jesus truly is always there.
I have learned that He is my Strength. He is my Fortress. He is my Provider. He is my Shelter in every storm. He is my Counselor.
He is mySavior— in every way, in every situation, in every relationship.
He always provides the people who will be the ones for that 4 am call.
He will provide for this need I have for a family type group that I fit in with, that I have things in common with., that will listen and not be intimidated— or offended— when I share my life experiences and what God has done in them and through them.
He will provide a group that is family-like that won’t make fun of and mock the things that mean a great deal to me, to others when they talk about me. Those who won’t shut me out or argue because they don’t agree.
People who enjoy talking with me and listening to me.
People who sincerely value what I have to say.
Because He’s the One Who has made me realize just how much I need that.
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.
Between Covid reactions and my own physical health issues with limited mobility, I am out of practice for busy-ness.
For years, I’ve maneuvered through the maze of living with an immune disorder. I’ve managed my time carefully when I can, because honestly being overwhelmed with just doing whatever and always being busy becomes a crushing weight— and then fatigue takes over everything.
I need peace of mind. I need intentionality in my daily, weekly and monthly schedules.
One day at a time.
One activity at a time.
Yesterday started out with a plan for me to not be busy.
Then, like life does— a wrench was thrown in.
Nothing about what I needed to do was tough, or a big deal.
Combined— more of the ugliness God has smoothed away, manifested.
The combined events— A/C in my car is busted, my window won’t easily roll down or back up, had to walk farther to my vehicle without my cane, had to also bring my dog, the back gate needed to be closed, then bad traffic…
Did I mention the A/C in my car is broken? (It’s so hot outside…)
Then— it rained. Of courseit had to rain while my window was stuck open.
I got to my destination, got my cane and walked (hobbled) up to where I needed to pick up my son and his friend. In the rain. Then I had to wait in line. In the rain.
Some days I just don’t have much strength to stand very long.
I am so disappointed— heart broken really— that our culture does not even consider making things easier for those with physical disabilities. Like, I mean— sure there are handicap parking spots— but many times they are farther away than any other specified parking spot. It’s less about actually helping than it is about just making sure there is one.
Yesterday my disappointment nearly turned into disgust. Not even one person in line acknowledged my difficulty. No eye contact. No offers for me to go ahead of them. No offer for a chair folded up against the building.
I did what I needed to, and then I found the coordinator and asked for a way to make that situation manageable for me. Because if I don’t, no one even thinks to do that— or cares.
I got the boys, then took my son’s friend to where he stays while his parents work. The handicap parking space is at the farthest end of the parking lot. The easy access drop off route is blocked off by cones. I have to walk up hill, in the rain, step over high curbs… then back to my car.
My son’s friend held the door open for me and patiently waited for me to slowly walk (hobble) towards him.
Frustration had nearly overwhelmed me. His kindness washed the frustration away.
Such a sweet, dear boy.
Then I realized— it’s raining.
This weekend I nearly passed out (not exaggerating) from the heat in my car with busted A/C. The rain cooled down that heat and made the entire trip manageable.
God provided for me and I nearly missed it— because of my complaining heart and my ugly attitude.
I can look back and see miles and miles of things God has done.
Yesterday, I realized I can look forward and see miles and miles of what God will continue to do.
Yet— He walks with me through it all.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of fatigue and rain— He is always with me, providing for me, taking great care of me.
How many times have I missed that as I looked at what’s affecting me, instead?
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!
Intentionally doing something, on purpose, has consequences. Often, lasting consequences.
I write on my blog, on purpose, with purpose.
What is my intention, intentionally?
Well, for starters, it helps me organize my thoughts. I have found, if I just leave them all jumbled up, they tend to drag my emotions into a big, complicated, tangle of a mess.
I guess, it helps keep all of that in check.
The second reason is to work through stuff. It’s, I guess, a form of “self-help” therapy.
But why do I do it online, where pretty much anyone could stumble upon it or be directed to it, and may actually read it?
My answer to that is— because others are also going through “stuff”. Maybe my processing through my own issues could encourage someone else going through something similar.
I have learned, and I believe sincerely it was God’s Spirit Who has been teaching me this, that whatever I hide in the darkness of my fears, my pride, my heart— will just pop out in some other ways.
Obsession for control.
All symptoms of holding stuff in, not finding a way to address things.
The Devil wreaks havoc wherever things are hidden.
God shines His Light on everything we surrender to Him. The enemy of our soul finds plenty of ways to get footholds into hidden situations, emotions, decisions, thoughts, fears, relationships— every aspect of our lives.
It’s so important to allow God to shine His Light into everything in my life!!
While I blog to accomplish all of these purposes, I also believe this is one of God’s intentionalpurposes for me.
My struggles are real. I’m learning how to surrender them to God, so they don’t consume me.
Maybe someone else can find encouragement in that. Maybe someone feels alone in their own struggles, and these posts help them know— they are notalone. There are others going through similar things.
It expresses understanding.
Something in my own past I’ve wished I could find.
It’s not for everyone.
In fact, it’s not what many are interested in— at all.
That’s ok. It’s not the quantity, it’s the connection. It’s the chance to share my process in surrendering all to Jesus.
Sometimes, that can be helpful.
And, if not— I still work through my own things in a healthy way, for myself.
How many times have we both said, and heard, this phrase?
How many times do we see this in Scripture? Food for thought!
It is far too easy to dismiss the struggles and frustrations of others because it’s inconvenient, or a lot more effort than we want.
Why am I thinking about this now? Because my husband and I are caught right in the middle of red-taped bureaucratic change.
The process is not at all considerate of ways, means, or the amount of time wasted.
Typical government garbage.
The only way compassion can be infused is if the people making the decisions had to actually deal with the process they are inflicting on others.
I’m not going to get into the logistics of it all, this ranty post is not about the details.
It’s more about this process that seems to expect us to all run like programmed computer software.
Forget the physical exertion needed. Shutdown the emotional and mental reactions— no one cares, so just suck it up and press on! So what if it costs you way more money than it should?
What if someone did care?
What if, when decisions that affect the lives of others were made with the consideration, cushioning, for the reality that people are not like computer software programs, at all?
For the last 2+ decades, my family has lived in situations where someone is always changing something that directly affects us, and we just have to roll with their punches.
So, I can’t help but wonder— what if the politicians and bigwigs making all these spur-of-the-moment changes, had to actually live through the process and the consequences of those decisions?
Well— things would sure be more people-friendly then, wouldn’t they?
I find the lack of compassion in so many systems, disturbing.
Thank God we have Jesus and The Holy Spirit to help us through all the cold-shouldered processes that seem to be increasing at an alarming speed, with every vote, every signature from those who think they rule, rather than govern with compassion and understanding.
The government is upon His shoulders, and the weight never crushes Him.
So even with all these added, burdensome care’s inflicted on us— my soul can still sing— Thank You, Jesus. Especially when my emotions want to lash out, my body wants to collapse in exhaustion, and my heart wants to mirror cold-shouldered, cold-hearted responses to the inflictors.
Today, will be worked out.
Complications tomorrow will be worked out.
Jesus will always be my Rock in times of struggle.
This week I’ve been preparing for a special worship service we have scheduled for tonight.
Sitting here now, attempting to build a difficult puzzle, I’m realizing my thoughts and my heart are kind of all over the place, like my puzzle pieces.
Absolutely not the “attitude of worship” I feel I need to be in for tonight.
Besides changes to the service due a main member being placed into quarantine, there has been extra busy-ness for me this week.
I’m finding it difficult to just rest my mind that is cluttered on so many unimportant things, just on Jesus.
The picture I chose at the beginning shows so much how I’d define me at this moment.
The setting reminds me of being in the high places. It seems so peaceful. Yet instead of soaking it in, I’m striving at something unnecessary, not interacting with the environment around me at all. I’m making things harder, not appreciating God’s Spirit within me.
My mind is working so hard, exhausting the rest of me. It isn’t listening when I tell it to quiet itself— to be still and know…
In my heart, I know I need to set everything aside and just focus my attention onto Jesus— Who He is, how He is, why He’s so necessary to me.
To just worship Him in spirit and in truth.
My mind is scattered in many directions, like the puzzle in front of me now.
In the end, each piece forms a complete picture.
Each of my thoughts, with their jags of emotions, depth of colors and partial images should form the complete picture of Jesus in me— if I reign them in and put them together correctly, as I grab hold of the heart and mind of Christ.
While the chaos of thoughts, concerns and mental “todo’s” get under control, I’ve started to feel that peace. It’s not swirling around me— it just is.
It is always there.
I just get lost in the unimportant things that need to be taken captive unto Christ Jesus.
He is worthy of my purposeful, intentionally focused attention. Everything else is not.
While this isn’t a new thing, the intensity of this feeling is more than usual.
So, while I know the Bible instructs me to “Be anxious for nothing…” I am struggling right now with that very issue.
Circumstances far beyond my control.
Worry over family and friends.
Plowing a new course for my future career.
Weight loss and emotional healing bringing old buried memories and reactions to the overly-sensitive surface…
Anxiety hasn’t been an obstacle to me in decades. But there it is, staring me down.
Deep breath in, let it out slowwwww…
God is already there, plowing my path for me.
He’s got me.
He’s always got me.
I can do this.
One step at a time.
Breathing through the waves of panic that threaten to soak through my resolve.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ
Instead of giving in to anxiety, frustration or fear, I will pray. I will thank God for everything, because without Him, I couldn’t appreciate the good that comes from painful, hard times.
God has a purpose, God has a plan— for me. He will never fail me, He will never abandon me.
My first prayer is for God to help me surrender all that anxiety and everything tangled up in it, to Him.
All of it.
There is no sense holding on to that. It does not contribute anything beneficial to my life or my emotions.
Time to step away from the anxiety, and let God’s peace flood my mind, my heart, my body and my spirit.
🎵 “All to Jesus, I surrender all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender 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
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.
I’ve heard church described as a group of sinners. Saved by grace, yes, but emphasis on sinners.
If we are people who claim to follow after Jesus, shouldn’t we instead refer to ourselves as repentant sinners saved by grace?
Having turned away from the sin that has affected every person ever on earth— except for Jesus— God in the flesh.
This is why someone still blinded and bound by sin shouldn’t be a role model in a Believers Meeting. Because it’s meant to be for repentant followers of Jesus. That’s not to say everyone shouldn’t be welcomed. But, there has to be an open repentance standard for role models and leadership.
We may not like it, but God’s House needs to have strong Believers who choose Him and turn away from the sin that caused Him so much pain and anguish in our place.
He died the death we deserved, and then He provided the way to turn away from that sin, and is offering each one of us Eternal Llfe— with Him.
We lack God’s love.
We lack compassion.
We lack surrendering to accountability to one another.
We lack so many Godly things explained to us in Scripture.
Every person falls short, and messes up. But— isn’t the entire point that we are repentant, and we turn away from the sin that plagues us?
If we embrace the actual sin, what is the purpose?
Loving individuals who are still bound up by sin **should be** the natural actions of repentant Believers.
But— loving them doesn’t mean we should embrace and cater to the sinfulness.
It also doesn’t mean we exact judgement against anyone. If anything, true repentance should humble us, while reminding us of the sinful muck and mire God dragged us out of.
God’s Word specifically tells us Jesus came to set the captives— those held captive by sin— free. He came to seek and to Save the lost.
He did not come to condemn the world, but to Save it.
God so lovedthe world that He gave us His one and only Son…
Harsh judgment is going to come at us from people who don’t agree, but it’s not our place to reflect judgment in return.
We won’t win souls for Jesus if we don’t treat others as God expects.
The first step is humbling ourselves in repentance and acknowledging that there is nothing new under the sun.
God is not surprised by anything.
Nor is He ashamed of the lost.
Neither should we be ashamed.
Here’s the thing— since Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again— conquering both sin and death— why do we focus so much on sin?
Kindness, compassion, gentleness— praying for someone bound in sin is the fruit of a repentant heart.
Our focal point needs to be Jesus.
Not any specific sin.
By the same token, anyone who calls themself a Believer and Saved, needs to repent of everything Jesus conquered through His death on the cross.
For the Believer, church is about becoming more like Jesus— sinless. The only way to achieve that is by rejecting the sin that we sometimes try or want to justify.
There is a difference in the life and heart of someone who **turns sin away**, and tells it “No! Jesus has a better way for me, better plans for my life! I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus, Who is my strength.”
Believers Meetings are for empowering us to do that.
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.
Who can understand how the blood of Jesus can wipe away the sins of the world?
The same God Who created time itself, created a way where He could come onto Earth, and prepare the only way to eternal Salvation for a fallen, disgraced, despicable humanity.
The only way.
Blood is not a pleasant thing to discuss or think about.
Many faint at the sight of it.
How many fainted at the sight of God’s Blood dripping down, spilling out of the body of God in human form?
No one talks about that.
I believe humanity has become desensitized to the Blood of Jesus.
We pray— “I plead the Blood of Jesus” almost casually, giving little time of thought to what that actually means.
At least— that has been me.
I plead the Blood of Jesus…
I plead the Blood of Jesus.
Pleading— to me that’s almost like begging, not casually “applying” it over our lives, our loved ones, our situations.
To me plead has a sound of near desperation— as we remind ourselves when attacked by the enemy of our soul, of our God— Jesus died to cover that sin, and that sin, and every sin of the world. And then we remind ourselves what Jesus did to rescue us— I plead: the Blood of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
Only God can apply the Blood of Jesus.
We can allow Him to, we can accept that from Him.
I have fallen into that trap of praying pre-made prayers that sound “spiritual”.
We paint very liberally with such a precious gift, maybe giving a quick thought to what Jesus endured and became the Victor of.
We say He did that on our behalf. He did. Because only He was qualified.
Not because we are qualified to be given such an unselfish gift.
“Behold! I stand at the door and knock…”
He applies the Blood over the door posts of our soul.
We walk by faith— not by sight.
By faith, I believe the Blood of Jesus is already applied over my life.
I always need to be reminded of how humbling that is. But, I don’t need to apply it to myself in a ritual.
Jesus has done that.
It’s done. One drop is way more powerful than I could even grab hold of!
After all— it has already washed me white as snow.
So much of our focus becomes what we need to do as rituals.
But Jesus said to follow Him. I don’t recall ever seeing Him demonstrate any of the rituals we hold so strongly to today.
Is the power of God held within rituals? Or is it held within faith?
When we walk in the knowledge of what Jesus has already done— I believe then we walk in the strength and the power of His might.
Apparently there is this school of thought, some believe supported by Scripture, that being the unfortunate victim of abuse is “God’s Will”.
Obviously they don’t understand how wrong of a conclusion they have come to. Nor do they get the depth abuse reaches into the spirit, the soul and the foundation of someone deeply traumatized by abuse.
Never once was I drawn to God because of a comparison between my earthly abuser and my Creator.
No, it was not God’s Will for my dad to psychologically abuse me! I am, to this very day, still dealing with the affects of him telling me he hated me and wished I’d never been born, coupled with how I was just always in the way.
No, it was not God’s Will for my dad to physically, sexually abuse me. I despise what he did, so much, I developed eating disorders to try to purge it out of my system! He violated my trust, my innocence— my body!
No, it was not God’s Will to witness his guinea-pigged drugged-up confused mindset that had him convinced he was like God, and loved my mom so much he had to kill her— tried to kill her.
My God does not Will sin’s ugliness into anyone’s life.
God does not willfully direct sin to deeply traumatize people.
God allows many things, but He does not Will them to happen.
I have never had a healthy relationship with my dad, or any kind of redeeming father-like relationship with anyone.
In my life I have felt a desperate need for someone to accept me and just be part of my life as a mom, dad or sibling type.
That hasn’t been something anyone has been willing to do.
That has been what has driven me closer to God.
Not the abuse, not a comparison.
The lack of those relationships.
I have given up on anyone within the church stepping into that kind of role in my life.
I have never given up knowing God will fill that lack with His love, His acceptance, His delight in me.
His Character is defined all throughout Scripture. And, while He has directed harsh judgement against some by directing those obedient to Him to carry out that judgement in Old Testament times—
Never once do I see Him telling a father to molest his daughter.
Never once do I see Him telling a father to tell his children how much he hates them and wishes God never created them.
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.
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.
I enjoy watching classics. In many ways, tv, movies— Hollywood really— played a role in “raising” me.
I learned more from seeing actors pretend in relationships than I did from my own day-to-day experiences. I assumed I was watching how people actually interacted in their own families.
I’ve learned since that I wasn’t. The reason those become so popular is they are “selling” ideas that deep inside people think they need.
It’s an illusion.
As I have been watching some older things, ranging from black and white classics to 90’s favorites, I noticed something— in older things, one main common thread was how men talked about and treated women. And women believed it was justified, normal, ok treatment!
There have been judgments made against the Bible, but what I read in Scripture does not verify them at all.
I’ll start with “In the beginning…”
God made women, from man’s rib, to help him suitably. The very first humbling of “manhood”— men need helpers that are suitable.
God provides our needs.
Too many husbands reject the suitable help of their wives.
Why? Well— first because of ego and pride. I mean— how many men will admit they need help? Scripture never says man asked God for someone to help him. God just saw it was necessary— and He took part of the man He created from the dust— and made another being suitable for help, companionship, love, conversation… All things men’s nature seem to reject.
Looking to things our culture tends to put on a pedestal— the “stars”— there is an obvious disdain, maybe even hatred, for wives. Wives are to be insulted, ignored, talked down to, brushed aside, be unfaithful to, etc. The way men talked about and treated the wives in the “classics” is now a disgusting thing for me to see.
It’s no small wonder women rebelled in various ways, and took over the culture, where male “bashing” became a defensive popular theme. Pretend-wives treating pretend-husbands like they are stupid, idiotic, lazy, untrustworthy— etc., etc., etc.
One thing that is never a Hollywood marital theme is— Mutual. Mutual respect, mutual love, mutual consideration…
I’m not sure I would say that’s a focused perspective in Scripture, but I think when Scripture is carefully studied and practiced, the result becomes a natural mutual practice.
Hollywood has taught husbands to hate their wives, to be abusive, intolerant and unfaithful. Whereas Scripture consistently teaches husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church— and what I sincerely believe to be the key— as husbands love their own bodies (flesh).
Hollywood has taught women first, that they aren’t valuable, capable, intelligent, and only outer appearance is worth valuing. Then, Hollywood in more recent years has taught wives to be disrespectful, unhelpful, even hateful to husbands. Scripture on the other hand has taught all women that our value lives in Christ, that God defines us, has created us with priceless value and beauty as we grow closer to God through Jesus. Scripture has taught wives to respect husbands — treat them with respect.
I believe Scripture has put the greater burden on husbands— because they are to love their wife— helpmate suitable— as Christ loves the Church. They are to mirror Jesus!
How did Jesus treat women Believers? Never objectified them! He was not rude, did not talk down to them, always listened carefully and considered what they had to say. He never treated them as though they were unimportant, or had nothing of value to contribute.
Husbands— who are you following the example of? Pretenders following someone else’s scripts, or Jesus and admonishment from Paul?
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Nasb
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.
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.”
In our culture of Christianity, it’s become easy to sing our promises and confessions of faith.
Do we follow through? When the service is over, do we reflect on the weighty words we’ve sung in praise, adoration and promise to our God?
I can’t say, with a clear conscience, that I have.
When I sing about surrendering it all to God, and beg Him in song to “take it all”, do I really know what I’m asking of Him— what I’m giving to Him?
Lately I have been playing Animal Crossing with my kids and husband. I have this neighbor— Buck— the “neigh”bor that annoys me the most. He’s brash, loud, yells in my character’s face, and he sneezed on her. I mean— the nerve! Lol! In real life, I wouldn’t want a neighbor like that. So, I’ve been trying to get him to want to move away. I give him boots, which he always hands back, saying he doesn’t want my trash.
My point in sharing that is— God *does* want our trash. He wants the worst parts of us— the things we dislike about ourselves, the stuff we hide from everyone else.
He wants our broken hearts. He wants our ugly, horrible thoughts. He wants that anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. He wants those feelings that cause us to do exactly what we hate…
He wants our trash.
Because then He can make us better. He can make us stronger. He can repair the broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He can calm the storm that rages in our emotions. He can help us see things clearly, without worry, fear or distortion.
But, we have to freely give them to Him. He won’t just take them. He is never forceful with us.
Have you ever been the sounding-board for someone who doesn’t really see you while they are talking?
Has there ever been an expectation of you to be available to fit into someone else’s schedule?
Have you ever just wanted to not— just for a little while— be available when it’s expected of you?
Have you ever been broken by something completely unexpected?
Have you felt pushed and pulled into expected directions you just don’t feel like going in?
Have you ever tried to pick things back up after being let down?
Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from your own life?
There’s this song I loved years ago, called Disappear from Out Of The Grey. The idea in the song is the desire to disappear into Jesus— like John the Baptist said— more of Him, less of me.
Well, I did disappear— but into my marriage and my family.
I’m still seen by God, though, even though I don’t feel worthy to be seen by Him. Because I know I am a broken fixture in this world, and I can’t fix what’s broken about myself. There is no doctor, no hospital, for invisible wounds, and my brokenness is invisible except to God— Who really sees me.
I can rest in Him because He sees me. I’m not His sounding board. I’m not empty, I’m not weak because He fills me, continuously, with His strength and love.
As long as He is my focal point— I can push through the emotional labors of this life. I can stand up under the weight of the roles I’m expected to play. I can be who He created me to be.
Physically I can’t do what I used to. Thankfully my spirit still can, through Christ Jesus Who is my strength— He is my focal point.
Because of that— I am okay.
Isaiah 40:31 NASB 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.
In the past, I thought of myself as a kind of diamond in the rough. But here lately, I realize I’m more a lump of soft coal that wishes it could be a diamond. Coal that is under the heaviest of pressure can, in part, become a diamond. In the past I’ve compared my life’s hardships as what coal experiences as it then becomes one of the very hardest substances known to mankind. Hard circumstances formed a hardened heart within me and a toughened, hardened exterior. I thought that was what I needed to protect myself, to make sure I could withstand more pressure from circumstances outside of my control.
Today I realized what I believed about myself may not even be the case— if it ever really was. God softened my hardened heart after I met my husband. He chipped away at that outer layer of toughness, like an emotional callous, and He took down the walls I had built up, brick by brick.
Nothing I do will protect me like God does. Walls trap the yuck inside, and keep the positive new things out. Before God fixed my old hardened heart, it could have easily been one of the rocks that praises God when people fail to.
It was that hard.
Today, I talked with someone about something I haven’t really thought deeply about in years! I’m not sure what I expected, but I left that conversation feeling as though all that hardness I still managed to cling to is crumbling away into dust. A trauma I experienced as a child re-emerged into my memories, and God has been so deeply at work within me, my reactions are different. My walls are gone. My heart feels soft, crushable and exposed.
I had myself so figured out before, I had every one of my reactions to my history carefully planned out. And now— I let go of my control. I feel like I’m just going to completely crumble as I now deal with old trauma mixed in with something new that was unexpected.
Maybe my life is a series of diamonds made from my spirit being crushed, over and over again. Maybe it’s all still just a lump of coal that has been broken into so many pieces, it more resembles charcoal powder. Maybe it’s a piece of coal used to keep the fire of difficult circumstances stoked at it’s hottest. Maybe it’s more like the ashes and residue left over.
I don’t know.
What I do know is— I am not the same person I started on this journey as. I thought situations had helped shape me. Turns out, maybe God has handled me differently than I believed He had, and maybe my opinions kept me blind to that. No trauma I have or ever will experience could possibly match what Jesus endured on the way to, and on, the cross. He was wounded for our (my) transgressions.
My walls and self protection have to crumble in order to allow His healing process to be thorough in me.
By His wounds I am healed.
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
This is a recurring theme in my life, it seems. And not just little things— really big, hard issues. When things start to finally relax, suddenly it becomes necessary to exercise my forgiveness muscles again. I have lifted some of the heaviest issues with these muscles. I don’t see a need to flex them for vanity purposes— these are the necessary muscles for living a life that keeps me close to Jesus. They are the strength that is unseen, coming from an unseen force— Jesus, Who is my Mediator, my Intercessor— my reason for living. He keeps me continually moving forward.
I’ve been dealt some difficult cards throughout my life so far, most seem to fall under the category of betrayal. I don’t know if I can even categorize them all. The one thing they have in common, besides intense pain, is an attack on trust.
When the burden of offense against me is so heavy— a crushing weight, God reminds me that forgiveness lifts that burden off of me and puts it at the foot of the cross.
We can’t take anything with us when it’s our time to move on from earth— that includes the offenses and hurts from others. When we surrender them to Jesus, Who bore the crushing weight of every offense, past, present and future— we walk in the truest form of Grace and Mercy.
When we come face to face with the knowledge that Jesus said, while being crushed by all of the sins of this world— “Father, forgive them because they don’t understand”, we then have the tiniest of glimpses into what Jesus endured on that cross, in our place. He willingly surrendered to every betrayal we’ll ever experience.
That is why we forgive. Again. And again. And again…
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22
Lately my time, one-on-one with God has been a spontaneous thing, which becomes steered by intention.
Something within me has changed. My perspective, or I guess my realization of the reliability— the consistent stability— of God with me. I never question His willingness to make sure I am taken care of. He has never wavered— though I know it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve earned nor do I dare think I deserve it.
This idea of “first love” is tumbling around in my brain today. Meditating in His Presence, saturating my spirit in the beautiful song Nothing Else, this idea of being taken back to my first love opens up a whole new reservoir of understanding for me.
“Take me back, take me back, take me back to my first love…” Can I say God has ever been my first love? I mean— honestly. Because, of course in “Christianese” that’s what we profess— that God is our first love.
As I just meditate on what that means to me, and question how exactly to get back to my first love when I cannot say that was God, I recognize what I need is to get back to the first recognition of my love for Him, and my first realization of His love for me.
My first time knowing this unique, soul-filling love that heals me, that refreshes me— that holds me close to Him.
“Take me back to my first love…” Take me back to that first moment the veil was torn from my understanding, that first glimpse my spirit had of You.
Take my heart back to being satisfied by sitting in Your Presence, back when things were simplified— back to the safety and comfort, like a newborn babe resting on its daddy’s chest— near to Your heartbeat. Because “Only You satisfy my heart… Nothing else will do— I just want You”
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.
The shock is wearing off now. The sting of the jolt that rocked me is beginning to fade. Numbness that covered me fully, almost like a protective layer of clothing from the elements of harsh weather, is beginning to peel away now.
It’s tempting to pull back from some of the most intense, penetrating pain I have ever experienced. But, I’m forcing myself to do what I have always tried to do– lean into it. Soon it will intensify to its strongest point, and then I’ll know the level I need to rise to to move beyond it.
I saw a storm coming, but to be honest– I expected a much different storm, in much different territory. This storm is familiar, but the territory is unexplored.
I’m at a disadvantage– probably more so than I have ever been. I don’t know if it’s the result of being cursed by those I should have been able to trust from a young age, or God just designed me and my personality to be much saltier and independently confident than many others. All I know is– support has almost never been something I could rely on. I’ve dealt with some of the most devastating things alone– often one-on-one with God but never much human support or understanding counsel. For a time I tried to fight for that, but realized it was an exhausting battle with little to no reward for all of my efforts.
As a result, now I find myself in this place where I wish I could have 1 solid person who can or will just walk with me through all the stages, emotions, and healing I will be pushing through as I continue to lean into the pain.
I’ve experienced first hand what so many often try to advise me of. I’m not one who can just settle under opinion or scrutiny, no matter how well-meaning the one doing it is.
I find myself looking for an equal. Not a counselor. Not a Pastor. Not a mentor. Not an advisor. Someone who doesn’t view me as a project or someone who needs their help. Because I know. I’ve already livedit. I’ve already made it to the other side. I’ve heard the voice of God calling out to me, directing my steps. I’ve experienced Jesus strengthening me.
I know how to get through this to that other side where healing will fully embrace me and restore– once again– what the locusts have destroyed.
I am confident in my direction, though I don’t see my path clearly yet. That will come into focus as I take each step forward. I’m not going to fall back– not with Jesus as my strength.
I just need/want someone who can and will walk with me, step with me– listen and respect me and my way of going through a process that I have already gone through successfully more than once. Someone proven that I can fully trust. That’s all. A trusted equal who has leaned into their own painful, devastating situations successfully.
For now, it will be me and Jesus, walking forward with steady, firm, intentional steps. Maybe God will provide me with a spiritual walking partner, too. But if He chooses not to– I’ll be ok. He’ll hold me up just as He always has.
“A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:1-4 NASB
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
I’ve had this post bouncing around inside my head all day, wanting to just get out.
As a kid, I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a sudden inspiration for writing. It was usually a poem. I recall just looking at the words I had written down, marveling at the picture they painted–amazed that they had come out of me! I wasn’t a clever person. I wasn’t anything special. I was just a kid, a pre-teen, with no special writing training.
I was inspired. I believe, by God. He gave me what to write. No way I could come up with all those phrases and word pictures all by myself.
So, as a child, I was inspired.
I also suffered from PTSD. As a child.
Everyone has hardships in their life. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, people who don’t believe in them– situations beyond their control to push through.
Not everyone has the same things, situations– people– to push through.
For instance– not everyone has survived a cougar planting its teeth in their skull. I have survived this. I’ve lived to tell that story.
That’s a story I can freely share, an injury I can point to that people show interest in hearing about.
Those scars can be seen by anyone, even felt by someone who cannot see. Those scars filled in what was broken, they made it stronger, tougher. But, even though I’ve been healed, which is what produced my scars– the scars still ache sometimes, reminding me that where they provide more protection than the skin surrounding them, there is still weakness within them.
What’s broken is not the same as it was before, after it’s fixed or repaired.
That got me to thinking about the word “whole”. How it has the appearance of being complete. But– inside of the word “whole”, is hole. The word itself defies its own definition.
On the outside, we appear whole. In reality, we might be broken.
My hair hides my cougar bite scars.
I recently heard someone speak on healing, and he shared what I’ve known personally for quite some time. Our physical issues can be the fruit of having been wounded in our spirit, but never getting full healing.
Outside, we give the appearance of being whole. Inside– there is a hole that needs God’s healing touch.
Outside defies the reality of what’s inside. Because it’s not seen with eyes, or felt with physical touch.
Except– it is.
It’s often what is rejected, abhorred, resisted, and can cause hard-heartedness.
It can be defined as quirky, character flaws, or just out right unacceptable. It exposes the lack of compassion of a dying world.
I’ve sometimes wondered what we look like to God, Who sees all, knows all, and is everywhere all the time.
He sees what the appearance of wholeness attempts to hide or disguise.
He sees the brokenness.
Like the doctor who examined my wounds and wrapped my head to stop the bleeding and protect my wounds from infection. God has done this for my spirit.
But, that doesn’t mean there is no sensitivity to what caused the brokenness.
I don’t go out of my way to seek out mountain lions to embrace, to face my apprehension of cougars.
I don’t go out of my way to seek people who are abusive, who break the spirits of others, to form relationships with. And trust me– there are far too many of those types out there!
I have, for years, openly sought out the people who would not do that. In my doing so, I’ve found very few that make the time or effort to look past my quirks, personality deficiencies and obvious flaws. I don’t form friendships easily– never have, I’m guessing never will.
I have scars on the outside of my head, and scars on the inside of my head.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I will never forgive them.” How many times have we all felt someone has done or said something that is beyond the scope? It’s crossed that unmentioned line we all tend to instictivlely draw in our personal belief system?
I can tell you I had my own line, and I stood firmly behind that line– even though there had been a few events of someone stepping right on or over that line, as though it did not even exist. Of course– for them, I don’t think it did exist, while for myself it seemed reasonable to assumeeveryone knew about this line.
That’s the problem. Rational people know, people in my society know, menknow. Except some must not, or they don’t care about that line.
So, for me, I’ve had this line solidly placed in my belief system, that should never be crossed. And, if it were crossed, as it has been a few times in my life, then I have an “out”– surely I don’t have to forgive that… right?
So a challenge came to me in the form of a testimony of a woman missionary, who had recently passed away when I learned about it.
At first, I was angry with her. How dare she blow off what was a great injustice done to her– and to me! How dare she minimize that as though it were not that major deal I had known personally for it to be! How could she excuse away this awful thing when it has ruined and damaged so many lives?!
Then God’s Spirit went to work in my heart and my understanding– my outrage.
In my defense of holding my grudge, I viewed her as weak- minded and ignorant. I mean, she had been violated— didn’t she get that??
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecc 1:9 NLT)
Then I started to think on Scripture that says “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt 6:15 NLT) “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25-26 NASV)
Most times I have no problem forgiving what people do or say to or about me. But violating me– that is intensly personal, the greatest offense and sin against me. I felt I was justified in my anger and unforgiveness.
This woman’s approach and her testimony challenged my deepest-held justifications.
Then I began to think about all the abuse Jesus experienced on the cross and before He was nailed to the cross and what He said in response– “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice...” Some continued what they were doing, not even realizing the profoundness of what Jesus had just asked of God.
People do things without realizing what they are doing to others.
Our role as children of the Most High God, as followers of Jesus– is to forgive them. 7×77 times. Per day.
Forgiving is not easy. But, the focus I’ve found I need to have is not on my need to forgive others, but instead on my desperate needfor God’s forgiveness towards me.
It’s a matter of spiritual life of death.
I want to encourage you to watch the video interview of a woman who I now believe to have been a pillar of strength and understanding for God’s Kingdom, inside this article linked below:
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 !