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
**Disclaimer— If reading this will offend you— then don’t read it. Offense is never my intention. Also— this is about no one. As I attempt to get my thoughts written out, I want to acknowledge I am only an “expert” in my own experiences. I don’t know anything about anyone else’s. I empathize and attempt to understand . I’m not here to correct , inform or instruct.I’m just talking. I pray that God provides us all with His view.**
We all have experiences, and, most certainly have opinions, concerning parenting.
No two parenting experiences can be exactly the same. In general, there are billions of similarities. But, at the very heart— every single one is unique and cannot be duplicated.
From within and without, throughout my own years, I can see so many common experiences. What we often refer to as “stages” and “phases” for children— all of us have or will go through them.
As much as we focus on children, parents— I believe— also go through stages and phases.
For those of us who have and are raising up children, there are so many common threads.
Fear with anticipation (or dread) are the first responses— generally. I’m sure there are a billion ways to describe billions of “first time” experiences. But, from my view over the years, I’m recognizing our focus is often not uncommon— infinite dreams and fears, worries and hopes…
Every child is a unique and beautiful experience.
Notice, I did not say easy and fun.
Not every part of parenting, in any stage, is easy or fun. In fact, I’m not sure worry ever completely dissipates. It’s always lingering, somehow, in some way, in the background, in decision making, interfering with the enjoyment of the evolving relationships with our children, as well as with others.
Fear of making wrong decisions.
Confidence of making right decisions.
Rigidness of how things “have” to be.
The “easily offended nature” of feeling criticized. Often when someone isn’t even doing so, our worry or fear of somehow doing it wrong, or someone thinking we’re not doing it “right”, can transform into our feeling criticism from others— even when it’s not present.
Don’t get me wrong— there is plenty of criticism to experience!! From every direction possible, we all experience some forms of criticism everyday, at every stage.
I believe— when we turn our focus away from what we believe others think, to our one-on-one relationship with each child, that becomes what is important. When we interact with each one as an individual and we drop the wall expectation often creates— the relationship thrives. This can nurture every relationship, in every situation, as well.
When we focus on things we have decided is are faults— blaming ourselves, worrying about the opinions of other people— that stirs up frustrations, disappointment— even anger. In my experience, if that’s what becomes “nurtured”— that can cause a dysfunctional edge to the relationship.
I don’t think we even realize what poison pills expectations and concerns about the opinions of others tend to be.
Of course there is always some level of expectation that we hold— with ourselves as well as with our spouse/partner/the other adult influences, and our children. Expectations are a part of our “make-up”, in every role we find ourselves filling.
Expectations can be crushing, though. If we allow those expectations to guide us through our decisions and become our view of how things “should be”— they will become like a bulldozer of destruction.
Who can possibly thrive under the weight of someone else’s expectations for them?
As a mom of 4, I am astounded by how much love my heart can hold. And— with that infinite amount of love is also plenty of fear, worry, doubts in my decisions…
We parents, we stumble through a lot more than we may let on. What we most often let the world see is confidence, security, resolution— but underneath it all, the stuff we often protect from detection is a jumbled mess of emotions— guilt often takes shape, and can form into our reactive outer shell.
Being responsible for the protection, the provision— the life— of another human being as it grows into it’s own ability to embrace the complicated depths of parenting— that is the weight of the common thread.
Those of us that have embraced our roles as parents, we want our children to be healthy, happy, safe, and provided for in every possible way.
For myself, I now recognize similarities I have in common with my own parents.
I didn’t even know the worry and fear that form a constant state of feeling guilt— even existed.
As a kid, I could only form my opinions by what I could see and match them up to what others seemed to have, or what Hollywood portrayed as “normal”.
As a parent, now I can “see”. It’s an open-ended experience!!
As an observer of human behaviors, I recognize so many common threads.
They may manifest in infinite ways— but their roots began from the same seeds.
Thank God He is the perfect parent.
As we grow in understanding of all the perfect, amazing characteristics of our Creator— we can find that rest we seek— at times desperately seek.
The more I learn about God, the more I want to be like God with my own children.
That is an unlimited objective— never fully attainable, but always continuing.
I’m not the same person I was when the birth of my oldest “crowned” me as “mom”. I won’t be exactly the same when Jesus returns, or when Father God takes me Home.
I’ve heard many people, throughout my lifetime, tell me I should thank God for the difficult things.
This has never sat well with me.
Just like I’ve heard some say that everything that happens is because God wants it to happen.
The God I serve doesn’t make bad things happen.
The God I serve allows bad things to happen.
These are notone and the same.
The God I serve made sure His faithful servants, Shaddrach, Meshach and Abednego were protected in the fiery furnace.
God did not put them inside of the furnace. He did not light the fire.
God did not make Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, and make it appear to their dad that he was dead. God knewbefore it happened, He warned and encouraged Joseph. God then led Joseph, He protected Joseph, He raised Joseph up to a place where he demonstrated God’s mercy, His forgiveness and His provision for some of those people who made the bad things happen to Joseph.
God tested Abraham’s faithfulness with his promised son’s life. God provided Abraham with another way— He gave him a ram to sacrifice, and through his obedience Abraham proved to God that He trusted Him, Isaac proved that he trusted God through his father. God proved He is trustworthy.
Paul was warned that bad things were going to happen to him by someone who worried for his safety. Bad things happened to him— but God did not make the bad things happen. God led Paul through every situation.
As I’m thinking about Paul, before God renamed him, I do remember God inflicting him with blindness. Why? Because He needed to get Paul’s (then Saul of Tarsus) attention. As Saul, he was persecuting severely—to the death— God’s chosen people doing God’s chosen work. Through the blindness Paul was inflicted with, God showed him that he was behaving as an enemy of God— no matter how “righteous” and pure-of-heart his intentions were. He humbled him, made sure he was able to hear, to see, the truth about Jesus and everyone preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
I realize God can do whatever God wants, whenever God wants, and He doesn’t ever have to make sure any of us understand why.
I believe He has gone to great lengths to do just that.
Everything we ever need to understand God’s unchanging character is written for us to study.
Before I knew I needed to follow the example and words of Jesus, I did things and said things that most likely made me God’s enemy.
I can’t think of even one bad situation I believe God ever made happen in my life.
Even at my worst!
I will never believe God made people hurt me in the multiple ways I’ve been hurt.
Many of those situations I walked right into, eyes wide open, and it was people— not God— that hurt me.
But God was with me in every single situation.
He made sure the right things happened, the right people of Hischoice helped me.
He has been right there, protecting me— undeserving, frustrating, mis-guided me— every time.
All of the time.
There is not one bad thing in my life that I can ever thank God for.
I don’t believe Scripture teaches us to blame the bad things on God in order to then thank Him to glorify Him.
I just can’t do that.
My God is Good.
My God is kind.
My God is understanding.
My God is my comfort.
My God is my Healer.
My God protects me.
My God neverforsakes me.
In every fire, every troubling situation— He is my Rock.
The Rock that those hard places try to crush me against— He shields me, never crushes me.
No matter how much I have deserved to be crushed.
I can always thank God for turning bad things around for my good, His Glory, because I love Him deeply and I am called according to His purpose.
Love Language— the defined, intentional way we both experience and demonstrate the affection, respect, appreciation and value from/for others.
Years ago, I was “diagnosed” with my lovelanguage as being gift giving and acts of service, sprinkled with words of affirmation.
At the time, I was a new mother, in a fairly new marriage.
The thought of things defining something like quality of time seemed unnecessary, unneeded. I had a new baby at the time. Raising her as a home-educating, staying-home-with-her-mama meant she had all my time, attention, lots of hugs and kisses, and more than enough of my mental and emotional focus. My husband remembering to bring me something, or taking care of a responsibility that was weighing down on me— that spoke volumes to me of his love, appreciation, affection and value for me.
Fast forward 22 years later— something in me has changed.
Don’t get me wrong— bringing me something home (like an unsweet tea), and helping with some responsibilities I now just am not able to easily do for physical reasons, boy do I ever value those!
But I really believe my love language has changed, has adapted to changes in our family and my life.
Now— I value spending quality time with him. Going with him on errands, him sitting down to fix a puzzle with me, or watching a comedy we both laugh at together— that’s what I need. That “speaks” to me how he values me— wanting to do things with me.
Quality of time has become an obstacle-laden minefield with so many forms of technological interruptions and distractions. Always looking at some device, attention diverted by notifications— always something interrupting staring meaningfully into one another’s eyes (record scratching sound)— I mean, talking about his work or my day, or what we need to get at the grocery store…
When we first met then married, we actively sought to spend time together. As we got more used to our relationship dynamics, I busied myself with our children and trying to keep up with the housework. He worked crazy hours which forced us all to learn flexibility with plans and scheduling things. He also played video games (anyone married to a gamer can relate, I have no doubt). He served at our church on the worship team— which took so much of his time away from us. I served also, but just wasn’t able to as much as he did. Over time, the video games waned down while more work and church responsibilities now presently claim much of his time and attention.
I suppose I just got used to having very little time with him, and I tried to adapt to where I felt nurtured in our relationship. I jumped into his hobbies with him so we were doing things together, growing together with interests in common. There were days where we barely spoke or saw each other. Those were my hardest days.
Sharing life with my husband has often been him doing things away from, or without me. I think this might be typical of many marriages.
While my love language for others is finding ways to demonstrate that they are important, in my marriage— I believe quality of time has moved up to the top of what makes me feel loved. He knows this, I think, and he has been adjusting things so we are doing things together.
Learning to speak and interpret a love language takes time, effort and understanding.
I wonder if his love language has changed, as well? My own food for thought.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
I love rainbows. Besides being beautiful, they fascinate me. The origin and history are intriguing.
Besides the colorful streams that invoke a feeling of warmth, to me they are one of the many wonders of our world.
Rainbows and I also have a history. My very first memory in our shared history is seeing one outside my bedroom window. Inside my room, inside of my heart, it was raining– tears of sadness. I don’t remember the cause, maybe I’ve blocked it, maybe I was too young. But I remember that rainbow. I remember crying because I didn’t think anyone loved me, or liked me. I remember, fairly vividly, seeing that rainbow and feeling the voice of God inside my heart tell me that He loves me.
I knew He had made a promise to mankind that He wouldn’t destroy all of mankind by flood again. I remember a kept promise being a deeply important thing to me.
That is my first memory of connecting with God. Through that rainbow, having known about that characteristic of God, He brought His Word to life and breathed life into my spiritual lungs. I was about 7 or 8.
When I was 8 I began to learn to play the violin. I don’t think I took learning it seriously until I was 9 or 10. I had a wonderful teacher who took the time to help me find a sincere love for playing it. That’s when I began to practice. I started practicing everyday during the news– I hated the boring news back then!
As I grew in my ability to play, I also grew in my affection for it. At times it became the extension of my inner secrets, those things I couldn’t give voice or words to, things I didn’t understand.
I struggled with learning certain techniques, and I began to practice hours at a time because I wanted to be the best I could be– I wanted to be 1st chair. You see– that violin sounded scratchy no matter how much I practiced. I had to work extra, extra hard to get the scratchiness to not be noticeable.
My parents were kind, they didn’t complain about what must have been awful sounds at times. They didn’t have much money, and that violin was a rent-to-own. It was what they could afford. They gave me something far more than just a musical instrument to learn. They gave me what I needed to succeed, to survive, to feel. I had a way to access a depth and passion I would not have otherwise.
Without that, I’m not sure I would be here today. My violin became my best friend. It was the tool that I could use to help bring healing into my soul. It was the tool that allowed confidence and accomplishment to be poured into my spirit.
As that rainbow I first recall observing became a vehicle for God to reach into those inward places only He has access to, so became my violin. So much so that when, during my first military duty assignment, my dorm room got so hot from the heater I could not adjust, the glue melted and my best friend literally fell apart.
It was as though I lost my right arm.
I think I was in shock that I didn’t have it anymore.
A few months later, after making payments with my meager A1C salary, I brought home a new violin.
Then my dad bought me a special one, that I sincerely believe God set aside just for me. Someday I’ll tell that story, I’ve gotten myself side-tracked.
As I continued to play, a new passion stirred up in my heart, a desire to serve God while playing, an intense need/want to help bring God closer to other people’s hearts. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming, it feels like my breath is taken away, hoping I can be His vessel to pour healing and life through.
Rainbows, to me, are a visual of how God reaches into our inner recesses through music, through His Word, through prayer– through His Spirit.
I’ve been meditating on the song Remembrance all morning, and as I’ve been writing this. There is so much in this simple, short song. The music is nice and it gets intense. The words are nice and they get intense. My memory gets intense as I internalize, absorb, soak in every note and word– saturating my soul. Communion is deeply personal for me, the words remind me to not just take it but to remember Him as Christ is formed in me– continuously, as I take Communion and live my life for Him. He has been so, so good to me– oh the things He has delivered me from, and protected me from. No matter how bad things ever got– they could have been so much worse.
The rainbow seems like an illusion, but science has proven it’s absolutely real. Just like God in our lives. To others He appears to be an illusion to us, but through our personal experiences with Him interacting with us, we know beyond any shadow of any doubt that He is more real than any problem we face. In fact– the problem becomes the illusion and dissipates completely as He takes it and deals with it in His timing and His way.
Yes– He has been so so Good to me. Unworthy as I am, as I have always been– He has not withheld His goodness from me– I would have. He has provided me with all I need, He gave me a husband who reminds me of Him in how he treats me and loves me. I don’t know what He sees in me, but I am Eternally grateful that He does.
I owe Him everything. I have nothing of worth to pay Him back, He has accepted my life. My life.
Some days I do need Him to remind me that He’s not finished yet. I don’t understand why he has not given up on me at times.
I would give up on me.
My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Jesus.
Limited as it is, He still finds ways to use it as a catalyst for His healing Spirit.
“Until I see You face to face, Until at last I’ve won my race– remind me You’re not finished yet. Hallelujah…”
Have you ever stood out on the beach and just yelled into the wind? Did anyone hear you?
Social Media traffic is the online wind, tainted by “deboosting”, “algorithms”, “shadowbanning” and the bias of those enforcing them.
That’s a part of what I’m thinking of as I type this on my Social Media platform.
But, it’s more than that.
For me there has been a recurring theme of a sense of being unheard, undervalued, even unseen.
I found at times I could use that to my advantage in a defensive/protective kind of way– I could leave a room and not be missed. I could stay quiet and no one notices or tries to talk with me.
I can’t begin to describe that deep lonliness I’ve just learned to live with.
Why don’t some people want to hear me?
Some are so engrossed with what they want to say, others are lost under the clutter of words, ideas and opinions.
Writing has been my out-source. Sometimes I feel free to say whatever I want to say.
Except I’m not.
Because what if someone reads something they find offensive or hurtful?
It’s always about everyone else.
What about me? Do I ever get to just talk and be heard?
When can I openly share my heart and concerns?
I could tell some crazy and awesome stories!
I could even share bits of wisdom from firsthand experiences.
I think I’m pretty funny. (Don’t ask my husband though, lol!)
I’m pretty creative.
My topics of passion and pet peeves have “evolved” through experiences, trials and life lessons learned from that popular school of “hard knocks”.
One thing has always gotten me through the silent times, the emptiness, and the “I don’t quite fit ins”.
Because when no one sees me, hears me, or values my input or presence– God always has. And He has always let me know.
I’ve seen Him transform lives. I’ve seen Him heal people– He even healed me! I’ve seen miracles!
It’s sad that some will just never know what God has done because they won’t stop talking and listen to others.
Talking has always been a struggle for me. The anxiety after talking in a group setting is suffocating. Did I say too much? Did I talk too long? Did what I say make any sort of a difference to anyone? My spirit feels anxious, restless, even worried.
I know this problem is not with others– not most of it.
It’s how I react, how I relate, how I believe I’ll be received.
Having been told I was “in God’s way” from someone who’s opinion I deeply valued has had an almost crippling affect on my life.
Having been told that I’m “poor in spirit” has stuck with me through decades of church relationships and church leadership. I think that’s because I’ve heard so little to counter-balance and cancel that out.
Where Scripture has admonished us to build up one another– I’m not a “one another” worthy of that, it appears to me.
Tearing down is for strongholds, not for people. Not ever for people.
I’m guilty of having torn others down in my past.
I guess it’s taken feeling like that outcast that helped me wisen up and learn the necessity of speaking life– and life abundantly– to one another.
This is my invisible enemy that fights me often. I wrestle not with flesh and blood– I know this too well.
I have people I do talk to, though my list is growing smaller by the year.
There will, however, always be One on that list. That is in no way a sad or depressing thing. I have the ear and attention of God attuned towards me. That is humbling– so very humbling.
That’s me there– the square one. You’d think I’d be the well-rounded one with all my experiences and whatnot, but that’s not how it really works.
Words that have been used to describe me by others over the years–
Words I wish I heard about me–
That last one is probably the most coveted by me. There seems to always be something people want me to change in order to “fit” their box for me and change the label they’ve put on me.
It’s not going to happen.
I’ll never again be happy-go-lucky. I’ve experienced too much first hand.
I’ll never be the perfect cook or housekeeper. I just won’t.
I’ll never perform the way anyone thinks I should. I have no desire to jump through “social norm” hoops.
Life has filed down my rounded edges into sharp corners with precise edging.
I can’t go back to being ignorant of pain and suffering.
I can’t heal the wounds others can’t see or make the invisible scars actually disappear for good.
I can’t become someone I have not been designed or conformed through life experiences to be. I can’t, and I won’t.
I am not my outer appearance.
I’m not my experiences.
I’m not maleable to people’s whims and wishes.
I am who God has made me to be, and who He continues to shape– as He kneads the mars and scars.
I am misunderstood and misread, as well as overlooked and undervalued.
Somedays I am only loved by God.
But– I am always loved by God, and that is what makes the difference to me.
I have demonstrated my love for others through acts of service in the past– serving my country, using my gifts and talents for the Body of Christ.
Right now I’m in a season of rest and retreat.
I’ve lived for 1/2 a century. I’ve seen and experienced so many things in those years, sometimes it overwhelms my heart, my mind and my spirit.
I’ve been looking for the miracles of God in people’s situations and lives. I’ve seen some in my life, in my circumstances, and God has caused my own life to do a 180 turn. Miracles are not always evident, but if you can catch just a glimpse of one, you are seeing the evidence of God in action.
I could chip away at the edges, but I’d be leaving off what God has carefully shaped. While that might please the well-roundeds, it would not please God.
So, I don’t mind being a squared person in a well-rounded world.
I just caught a live sermon from Elevation Worship about transitioning. As I listened, it hit me– that’s what I’m going through!
I’m in such a weird place right now.
I don’t mean physically, or emotionally. Not really mentally– just in life in general.
I’m not young anymore, but not old. In my heart I feel maybe 15-20 years younger, but in my body I feel way older than I am. Maybe that’s part of that thing I was diagnosed of years ago.
I’ve got two grown kids, and two at home. I’ve been a spouse and home educating mom for so many years now– much of that kind of isolated.
I think I’ve grown up now. Transitioning into a different mindset, a newly focused one– who did I grow up to become?
I’ve been defined by what I do for far too long now. I’m not satisfied with definitions and labels deciding who I am for me.
I’m caught in the middle of a transition.
And, sometimes that makes me a bit weepy. Sometimes I feel impatient for it to just be finished so I can step into the newness of being transformed into a better, wiser person.
Being caught in the middle feels chaotic, tumultuous– even ugly.
Looking through pictures to post here about transitioning, I found some interesting ones that helped me change my own perspective on being caught in the middle of a transition.
Like this dandelion caught in the middle of transitioning from a wildflower to seeds carried off by the wind.
Or the transition of day into night, with the sun captured, creating a breathtaking view– caught in the middle of the daily transition.
There is always a lot going on in the middle of a transition, but even if it feels awful, when we surrender our control– or lack of control– to God, He makes it a beautiful thing, with a beautiful change.
So, while I’m in this place that feels weird and lonely, often designated as the listener with nothing of value to say– God sees beauty in the process, and hopefully in me.
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,it isthe gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” NASV
My husband had a conversation with someone dear to us that has inspired me to work through some thoughts I’ve kind of held on to for awhile now. I say kind of, because I’ve shared them with him but no one else.
I want to talk about grace– actually– point out a lack of the narrative of grace.
Grace is the difference between Christianity and every other religious belief.
Grace is humbling. Grace removes our efforts from the act of Salvation.
Grace should be easy to demonstrate and practice, a relaxation of criticism and fault-finding. But, in reality, grace is tough.
Grace removes blame. Grace replaces pride and self importance.
Grace removes accusations of other Christians.
We have many, many, many excuses for why it’s not first and foremost in our mindset, actions and view of others.
We look at what others do and we jump to some pretty strong conclusions about them and the condition of their soul, because of their choices that we don’t agree with.
We judge the container of their soul and think we’re in the right.
Only Jesus Saves.
Not doing the “right” “approved” things.
Not going to every church service possible and exhausting ourselves while not being ministered to or admitting what our needs are.
Not having a perfect house.
Not only reading “accepted” books or playing “accepted” games.
We don’t lose our Salvation by watching movies or shows that have garbage in them.
Our part in the Salvation process is confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and believing in our heart that He died on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, rose again on the third day, and He ascended into Heaven to wait for the time to return to rule and reign on earth for 1000 years. And then– go out and share the Gospel of peace and grace.
That is our part.
Jesus makes the changes to the desires of our hearts.
He is continuously perfecting us until His return.
Allow me to clarify: I’m not talking about outright sin. Some things are not in our best interest. Some things are stumbling blocks and we know what we need to avoid in order to have the best relationship with Jesus that we can– like we should also do with others.
Before every Christian there is a measure of grace.
Christians should be so full of grace that it coats every word and deed we do.
So– why isn’t the main narrative grace?
Which narrative will you fall for? Accuser of the brethren, or grace?
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASV
As a child until young adulthood, I didn’t expect anything good to happen for me. When it did, I would brace myself for it to be ripped away from me, because then I wouldn’t feel disappointment– because I just “knew” *I* didn’t deserve good things like everyone else did.
I carried that belief with me until I made the decision to stop just letting things happen *to* me.
I had been rejected, abused, trash-talked and the butt of family member’s and some “friends” jokes my whole life. I was convinced I was stupid, good for nothing– worthless– because I was told I was by people I thought knew me best. I thought I had to believe them.
Someone even told me they wished I had never been born. Everyday it was confirmed that I “was just in the way.”
Inner wounds and scars are tricky things. People react with compassion and understanding to outer wounds and scars, but fail to recognize that some behaviors are more than likely the evidence of inner wounds, of deep scars only God Himself can see and heal.
And He does heal them.
This is what Romans 8:28 reminds me everytime I hear it. For me, it’s deeply personal.
It’s evidence of God reaching out for me– to me– because I’m not in the way of His plans and purposes– I am a part of them.
He took my life, and He repurposed it. He refashioned it, reshaped it into something He can use. He has taken all of my bads and made them into part of His continuous story within my life.
He takes all of the bad, and uses it to help others know that He is Jehovah Rapha– The Lord Who heals.
I used to worry that people said things to me because that was how God saw me, but the more I learn His Word, the more I can see He has always had compassion for me, has always accepted me. He carefully made me, and where abuse and rejection had trounced and marred me– He picked me up, reshaped me around all of those circumstances, and He reminds me that if those bad things hadn’t happened, I could never understand the depth of His love for me, and His forgiveness towards me. He helped me forgive those who have acted with selfish ambitions– with little or no concern for how it has affected me.
I still have “people trust” issues.
What I no longer have is God trust issues. He has proven Himself reliable.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I have scars on my scalp from a “friendly” domesticated adolescent cougar “playing” with my head as his chew toy. I’m thinking about that today because they hurt. Kinda bad.
So that got me to thinking– if my physical scars hurt so badly at times, what about those deep emotional scars? Sure I’ve gone through all those rituals of forgiveness, repentance for my part in some things, and trust in God for healing. And He has healed me– so much! (I’ve even felt Him heal my esophagus as I praised Him through singing– what an amazing, warm, wonderful feeling that was!) I wouldn’t be married again if God had not done major surgery on my mind and my heart. We just celebrated 20 awe-inspiring years!
Those of us operating in the American mindset think we have everything all figured out. We put things in neatly labeled boxes, organized by category, decorated prettily with descriptions, definitions and diagnosis.
But what if we’re wrong?
What if we take a box out of the organized line-up, sort through it and realize it really isn’t the way we believed it to be?
What if emotional pain is notalways as explained? What if it’s the manifestation of pain from emotional scarring?
The tough thing about emotional scars is no one can see them. Only the person who lived the experience can feel and remember.
Incidentally– that’s exactly the experience of Christianity. Only the person who has experienced Divine interactions can feel them and experience their reality. That doesnotinvalidate that person or experience, just like it does not invalidate one who has emotional scars. The experiences did happen, they did have an impact on the person they happened to. Jesus didSave the Christian, His actions and the Holy Spirit interactions continuouslyimpact the Believer, though it’s deeply personal.
Do emotions exist? Do memories represent past experiences? Does pain from emotional wounds and scars ever manifest in our reactions, responses, emotions and beliefs?
I think maybe the “professionals” are really just guessing– and maybe they have guessed wrong in some things.
Maybe we look at mental health the wrong way. I don’t think PHD’s have all the answers because I don’t think they have been asking the right questions– many times they are just masking the symptoms, not getting to the core and root of what they diagnose– not looking for a healing solution.
Only God has all the answers, only God knows all things, sees all things and understands the “why” of all things. He has promised in His Word that we can call allto Him and He will answer us– He’ll show us great things we don’t know. Do we believe that?
I think I do. Sometimes. When we step away from the bindings of what has been explained to us with human understanding, and seek Divine understanding, God will show us, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to comfort us, to empower us.
How much of that have we stepped out in faith to embrace?
We cling to our diagnosis, definitions and descriptions as though those have life for us. The One Who holds all knowledge islife. My desire is to cling to Him.
I fall short.
Do my emotional scars manifest sadness through their pain? Anger? A desire to be comforted? A lack of trust in others?
I honestly think maybe they do. Maybe that’s part of their intended function as God has designed them to protect where we once were wounded.
I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?
Except that’s never how it’s taken.
If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.
The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?
Well, no. It won’t.
Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.
Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.
Because it’s the Living Word of God.
It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.
God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.
Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.
I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.
With all the recent scandals from Hollywood and politicians, I’m again thinking about my own past of sexual abuse, and different reactions I’ve experienced about how I do/don’t do things.
First, I’ll share some of my background.
I was molested by my dad as a young girl. That in and of itself is still a humiliating experience for me. I’m still emotionally sensitive at times and in different situations. It’s just the first abusive situation I experienced, but it’s the foundation of abuse in my history, so it’s my focus today.
Bringing it up now and admitting my emotions can still be affected by the memories– at times, the nightmares– does not mean I’m not healed, that I haven’t forgiven him or that I am stuck in the past. These are some of the reactions I can count on getting nearly every time I mention it.
No matter the reasoning behind my dad’s actions against me– it still happened.
So, when I see and hear things people say to others, it frustrates me. Things like– “Pick up the broken pieces, and move on.”
Well– start where in picking them up? To me, this is like telling a person with 2 broken legs to just stand up and walk away.
Everything about me was broken. I say was, because God picked up my broken pieces, and He helped me move forward– towards Him.
But, you know who didn’t? People. The Body of Christ didn’t. Once when I asked for special counseling from a Pastor’s wife, she blamed me for causing problems with my reactions to having been hurt!
Much of my life I have fought to be heard. Most of my childhood I struggled with being seen and learning how to fit in. All of my victim-hood I’ve fought to survive.
You won’t believe the attacks of my mind, my heart and my body that I experienced as a result of what was done TO me. I fought to get away. I tried to run away. I tried to make it stop by taking my own life away from it– physically– forever. Thankfully God intervened and had Compassion for me.
These were my wrong reactions and thought-processes growing up– I cut because I was numb and that made me feel something. I starved myself because I deserved to be punished because I must have been an awful person for that to have happened to me. I clung too tightly to guys I just wanted to love me– I just wanted to be loved and valued. I thought if I removed myself, I would no longer cause problems for my dad– because he told me that.
My mom did all she could to protect me and handle an impossibly difficult situation. She sent me where she knew I would be safe during the summer years of my childhood– to her parents. I don’t know what they knew, I only know I was told to never ever talk to anyone about things. You see– I didn’t even know that my mom knew. I thought I was completely alone, and had to fend for myself all alone. But, she was looking out for me.
“Pick up the pieces and move on…”
When you’re self-perception has been damaged through the mental abuse of someone else that should be trusted to protect and build you up– how do you move forward? Where is forward? Which way is up? Because everything I knew was filtered through that experience and how others reacted to me.
It’s by the Grace of God and my mom that I survived my childhood years.
I am not hanging onto what happened. Talking about it doesn’t mean I’m hanging on to it. Hopefully talking about it will extend a lifeline to someone else who may need someone to look out for and reach out to them.
God has brought me through it, to the other side. I don’t need pity of the stuff of feeling sorry for me, or counseling.
My purpose for writing this is– those “encouraging” sayings do not help real people with real needs.
Picking up the broken pieces for me, at that time, meant the equivalent of picking them up and then walking barefoot through more broken, sharp pieces. I saw no clear path, until God in His Mercy reached out to me and pulled me out of it.
He had to carry me, because I was far too broken to walk on my own.
For those who are broken– you can Trust God. I promise! His ways are gentle and kind– and always perfect.
For those who are unbroken observers– Please– Allow God to work through you to reach out and help the broken with more than cute sayings that often feel more like salt poured into open wounds than healing balm.
Pray at all times, without ceasing, giving thanks to God above for one another. Especially those that you just don’t understand. Don’t turn a cold shoulder, don’t be short or abrupt– that helps no one, but instead often feels like condemnation poured-out on those who might be crushed under the weight of it. God is not in that.
Love is Patient. Love is Kind. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking– Love does not prefer its own opinion over the needs of others.
Over the past 20 years I have been moved from place to place, sometimes by God, sometimes for personal reasons.
That is why I’m writing this.
I am no one special. I have no title, no grand purpose or calling. I am like many within your flock, under your care– part of your Divine calling and purpose.
I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that means something more to me than merely being a member of a local church.
I have been given talents by God, and I strive to use them to help further His Kingdom purpose. I have been given a heart of flesh that longs to please God. I love people, I love Jesus, and I love serving God as He calls me to.
I have seen where church leadership has some blindspots. I am asking you, humbly, as one who loves God and people– please– drop all defensiveness and listen.
I believe that God has called Pastors and all church leaders to love His people as He loves His people, not to just instruct us about the Word of God. Not one of us is in the same part of the narrow road, nor have we walked with the same steps or strides. In fact, there are some who are crawling, there are some who are stopped– waiting on God to give them clear direction– direction that oftentimes comes through you.
Every Pastor wants the congregants who are running the race perfectly, with all the energy necessary to carry out the plans and purposes of the ministries churches offer. There are people who are called and able to fulfill those Pastoral dreams.
I want to tell you, many simply are not. Many are trying to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling. Some want to please church leadership, but they are burnt out by doing so. Some feel weighted down by life. Some have been crippled by life’s circumstances, and they can’t “perform” as is often necessary. These are the people you are leaving behind. These are the ones you are hurting. Some of these equate how you treat them with how God wants them to be treated– and that is breaking God’s heart.
I want to encourage you to look at every person as the individual that God has created them to be.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God has entrusted you with the loving care to help nurture and grow even the most unloveable Christian.
I believe God wants to release His healing within His Body. Hurts caused by our own family in Christ. Reconciliations. Letting go of offenses. Repentance for how we all treat one another.
I believe He wants to begin from the top of the leadership down through the entire congregation.
What does this look like? More ministries for congregants, not just opportunities to serve. Listening more carefully. Being approachable, a healthy relationship attainable outside of jumping through specific hoops to prove worthiness of your time, attention and appreciation.
Removal of any “hierarchy” mindset that in any way belittles your congregants in your eyes.
There are millions of Pastors, and every one of you is a unique individual created by God, just like all of your congregants are.
I pray you will read this, that you will seek God concerning this. Not because I am asking, but because God’s Judgment begins in the House of The Lord. We all need to be far more sensitive to God’s Spirit than we are to the opinions of ourselves and others.
God’s love is not tough, it’s full of compassion, patience and deep understanding.
🎵”I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, I know He watches me.”🎵
This song is a comforting reminder– Jesus sees what no one else sees concerning me.
And then, there is the realization– Jesus sees what no one else sees concerning me… He looks over the walls I have built. He sees when I cry, when I binge eat, what I watch on tv. He sees what affects me, what bothers me, what tempts me or distracts me– what pulls me away from Him.
He watches me.
What does that look like?
I probably couldn’t identify all the ways my heart, mind and consciousness react when I think about Jesus watching me. I mean– seriously– He’s watching me.
Not in a creepy way. Not to inspire fear of harm. Not in a mocking way.
His plans aren’t to harm me, or make fun of me. He doesn’t elbow God the Father in the ribs and say, “Whoa! Did you see that?? What an idiot!”
He’s not plotting my demise. He’s not shouting at me, like I do at my tv, when He doesn’t agree with what I say or do.
He is nothing like me. I need to just let that sink in.
He doesn’t conform to my ways– no matter how good I think my ways are.
He doesn’t reject me for not doing things the way that He would.
He is full of abundant life.
If we tapped our understanding into the reality of Who He is, we would be walking in His power. Miracles would not be the exception, they would become the standard.
Peace would permeate every space our feet touched, spreading His Word.
Demons, which we’ve been convinced don’t really bother us anymore, would flee in terror because they would recognize not us– Jesus living through us.
Our bodies would be purged of all infirmities and all desire for unrighteousness. We would be transformed in our minds, in our hearts and in word and deed.
We are new creations through Christ Jesus– the problem is, we have no idea how powerful that transformation really is when we fully embrace it.
That is why Christians are persecuted. Because of the potential, transforming power of Christ surging through us, coursing through our veins, into all of the earth.
We see these movies and tv shows about people and super heroes with super powers. Jesus is more powerful than every one of them combined. And WE know Him!!! He lives inside of us!
Think about that.
If we trade in all of our earthly valuables for Him fully– what would that look like?
We have the potential to demonstrate the most powerful abilities– far more powerful than Hollywood could ever make up. Love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, healing, wisdom, compassion… Discerning where God is at work, and not falling into the critical-of-everything trap…
The thing is, I think we don’t often explore that because, really– how does that benefit us? How does it make us look cool, or appear sexy? How does it multiply our bank accounts and possessions? How does it help our reputations– seriously– who wants to leave everything, to lay down their life– for real? Does Jesus really expect us to do any of that? I mean– He knows our hearts, right?
Right. He knows our hearts. He’s known our hearts since before we were even formed within our mother’s womb.
He sees it all, He sees our hearts all the time, not just the times we want Him to.
He died for us, in our place, despite our hearts.
Our hearts should experience a massive change once we allow Him to be our Lord and our Savior. Our hearts should be redeemed by Him.
There is another aspect, though. Jesus knows because He is also human. He has both– God’s heart and a human heart. He understands our limitations from within and without.
And still, His thoughts towards each one of us outnumber the grains of sand– on every beach, every ocean floor, collected as souvenirs, combined throughout all of the earth’s history.
It’s overwhelming to think on and to appreciate the fullness of Who and all He is.
John 3:17– “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
We constantly see judgement coming from those of us who claim we belong to Him.
We have redefined judgement as love, giving ourselves excuses to do exactly what God did not send Jesus into the earth to do.
God alone is judge. We are not equal to Him, we serve Him. If He made it clear in His preserved Word for us that He didn’t send His Son here to judge the world– why do we believe that’s what He’s calling us to do?
God has bound Himself to His Word. His Word tells us to love one another.
Love does not include our well-meaning criticism. It does not look like what we define it to be, at all.
Love endures all things.
Love looks past what we opine as being flaws.
Love is gentle.
Love is kind.
Love leaves evidence of Graceeverywhere it touches.
Love is impossible without God.
I believe we can often be so focused on the speck in someone’s eye, we miss the log in our own.
Though we are individuals in Christ, God is unchanging. Just as He is bound to His Word, we are also bound to His Word– Jesus is the Word, and we have been given the written Word to help keep us grounded in Him firmly. There is a danger when we stop measuring everything against what is found in Scripture.
God has chosen love as the vehicle to give us Hope, He has chosen Jesus, His nonjudgemental Son, as the Savior of the world.
He has called us to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, as we wear the sandals of peace to spread the Good News.
He has called us to fast for Him to remove unbelief.
He has told us through His Word that the battle belongs to Him, that vengeance belongs to Him. We must be so careful to make sure our actions and words are lined-up accurately with His written Word.
He speaks to His people, today. But He never strays from His written Word.
Who are we listening to?
The more complicated we make things, the more exhausted we become.
The Gospel message is simple. Always.
Luke 2:11″For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes upon Him shall have everlasting life.”
I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.
To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.
The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.
Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.
Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.
When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.
Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.
The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.
Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…
God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.
Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.
We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.
Some are easily seen. Like the one on my hand where I got stitches from grabbing a knife out of a distressed friend’s hand. He was threatening self-harm.
Some are hidden. I have scars in my scalp from an attack by a playful young mountain lion my aunt kept and adopted from a hunting trip. When my fingers locate the indented bite marks my hair now hides, it seems as though the scars remember the trauma– the pain. All that blood… I can still almost taste the metallic flavor as it as gushed out of the fresh wounds, covering my face. The rush of fear– I had no idea how to get away from Tonka cougar’s implanted teeth in my scalp. The tears. The shock as my aunt just stood there, watching, with what I remember as being a curious and possibly slightly amused look on her face. Her husband grabbed a towel and somehow got my head out of Tonka’s clenched jaw. I don’t remember being separated from my new “friend’s” grasp. I vaguely remember being in the ER, having my head bandaged. The rest is hidden in my memory, deep beneath those still sensitive-to-touch scars.
There is a Proverb that says– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) I’m not sure I can apply this one to what happened with Tonka.
Then there are inner scars that no one person see. The ones that form over our emotions. The ones that guard our hearts. They cover our memories, stretching over wounds as a protective layer. They remind us to avoid people and situations that cause us pain. They encourage research into preventative measures. They might even be what makes us want to build up protective walls– to keep similar pain out.
Maybe they are the walls…
I have hidden scars. From an abusive childhood. From people who called themselves my friends, but never really followed through. From a devastating first marriage.
I have other scars I call regrets. Wow did I do stupid things! I had no self worth. I was beat down by the words of my dad on a regular basis, convinced what he said about me was how everyone saw me. Worthless. Good for nothing. In the way. Why was I even born?
I am thankful that God swooped down and rescued me the times I almost gave in and gave up.
He was my Comforter. He was my Rescuer. My Protector. In later years He also became my Shield.
He brought people, one at a time, into my life. He worked through them to help me. He helped me find the path to trust and healing.
My list of traumatic life experiences is longer than many people’s. I hate that so much! Not because I would ever want anyone to experience more. Because each situation where the scars have sealed-off painful memories, is horrible.
I have fought a tremendous uphill battle just to be normal. I fought to have a healthy mind. I’m fighting to have a healthy body.
I have hated my life for most of my existence. Except where God made the changes that delivered me from being bitter, hate-filled and angry. I love that He has healed and transformed me to the me I am now. Believe me– I was beyond repair. Consumed by anger for my dad. Filled with hatred for my neglectful, abusive, rapist-coward of an ex-husband.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. I look at who I was before I allowed Him to walk with me, and I feel a sense of shock that He didn’t just have me removed from the face of the earth.
He healed me. He revealed a deeper love for me than anyone had ever shown to me.
All I ever really wanted was to be loved, to be welcomed– to be wanted.
God has given that to me.
The scars remind me.
One of my scars is sadness. You can’t walk through all I have and not still be affected in some ways by it all. God healing me does not erase those circumstances or all of the emotions still attached. I was still robbed of a healthy relationship with my dad. I remember the horrible words he said to me, how he hurt me in so many ways– physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.
It all still happened.
It all no longer defines who I am.
Jesus has scars. Crucified on a cross. Nails the size of small railroad stakes pounded into His wrists and feet. Scars on His scalp from the crown of thorns. Scars on His back as His flesh was ripped apart by a whip called the “cat of nine tails.” He endured that for me. His scars remind me that His love and compassion are so deep, He willingly went through everything He did for me. I couldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have been able to look at my abusers and say to God the Father, “Father. Forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Jesus did that.
Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.
As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.
Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.
Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.
There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.
I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.
I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.
I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.
One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.
My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.
It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.
While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.
We have all heard the sarcastic jokes about how girls are so difficult to understand. If we are honest we have either told a few ourselves, or agreed with them.
But, are women really that difficult to understand?
Being a woman myself, I feel qualified to answer this.
Flowers, chocolates, jewelry, a spontaneous trip somewhere, getting us that dress we have been eyeing as we do our online Windows shopping– believe it or not, they all have something in common.
Being valued. Being remembered. Attention to the details that matter to us being acknowledged. Being that priority in thought and heart.
Not out of guilt. Nope. If guilt is the motivator then you have lost.
It’s not the amount of money that makes something valuable to a woman. No, really, it isn’t. It’s the motivation that created the desire to buy or make and then give the gift. That is what women most care about. What is your motivation for what you do, say, or give to your wife or girlfriend?
Behind the motivation, your heart towards her is revealed.
Women are sensitive to that. We do not want gifts, compliments or acknowledgment born out of guilt, manipulation, or stubborn obligation.
Us women, we need to know you are thinking about us. That you are appreciating us. That we, alone, satisfy you. Show us that an evening alone with us is enough, it doesn’t make you cringe or fall asleep, or day-dream about when we let you go play Fallout 4. Let us see first hand that holding our hand satisfies you more than that game controller ever does, or that iPad, or even that drink or cigarette. Put your phone on silent and look into the eyes of your special lady, without thinking about all you need to be looking into your phone’s screen to check. Dazzle us with your full attention so we know you think highly of us, you are interested in our point of view– that you value how we are different from you.
That is how we measure how much you value us. Not by how much money you spend on a gift. That you would willingly spend as much money as possible to show that you value us even more than the cost of what we have our eye on.
Make it a point to notice what we have our eye on.
We need to know we are the most valuable part of you.
When you met us, you craved our attention, you dropped what you were doing when possible to spend time with us.
You showed us we were important.
After becoming confident you had “won” our hearts, a shift happened– you began telling us we are important. Not wanting to be “needy”, we’ve adapted and accepted, until pretty soon that’s all we have.
That becomes our value. How much we adapt, accept, overlook…
This is not at all what women really want. It’s definitely not what we need. It does not satisfy or make us happy.
All too often we become part of the background of your attention or memory.
An after thought.
The least in your list of priorities.
There are too many things competing for your attention, and your affection– those things the woman in your life most deserves.
Isn’t she worth more to you than you often make known to her?
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead. “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…”
Recently in the news, many rejoiced that 3 young women who had been held captive by a man for a decade, were suddenly found and freed. They were alive! Though not unharmed, and changed in ways most of us will never comprehend. They were finally allowed the freedom to return to their loved ones, robbed of a decade of memories and experiences with them.
I think we can all agree, their new freedom was good news!!! And, it was spread, far and wide.
Also, recently in the news, the government has enforced a new law that is popular with some, and unpopular with others. For years, many have been shouting the good news about free government healthcare. For others, they recognized a new bondage they have been forced to embrace.
The Gospel can come across that way. When we Christians quote the 10 Commandments of God to the world, many look at it as a new bondage. One that locks them into a box of condemnation and away from the freedom to live as they choose to. Many hear the clanging of gongs whose noise level is deafening, and it makes them run away from what they think of as a type of ancient imprisonment. It makes them strike out in anger at the ones making the noise.
Sadly, we have been ineffective messengers. We’ve caused many to equate the Good News of Jesus conquering eternal death, and being raised up from the grave, as an agreement to surrender to a bondage. One they cannot live up to, and don’t even want to try.
Do we hear how we sound?
Is what we say, and the attitude in which we say it, how we ourselves were drawn to Jesus?
When we say to someone, “You will die a forever death that will keep you eternally separated from the love of God, from the goodness of God, from God Himself”, what reaction does that invoke?
How can we communicate the Gospel message effectively?
Do we even want to communicate effectively?
See, it seems like sometimes we prejudge people and we tailor our message to fit the perception we have created with our opinion. Then, we leave God out of the message. Oh, we talk about Him, we try to thump it into people’s guilt and consciences. God is probably not in that.
Many have come to equate the Gospel message with a message of condemnation and criticism for how they are, who they are, and how they want to live.
When did Jesus ever talk to an unbeliever like that?
How many people actually ask us what they have to do to be Saved? Most often, it’s an unwilling listener who gets a barrage of what a horrible person they are.
When my husband asked me to marry him, if he had told me what a horrible person I was and how he could make me be a better person if I would marry him, I would have never spoken to him again.
That’s what we do when we walk in condemnation of the people God loves and wants to draw near to Him. They aren’t going near God with a 10 foot pole, when we approach them like that.
Are we like Jonah? Deep down inside, do we feel like they don’t deserve our loving God’s arms wrapped around their lives, or His promises fulfilled for them?
Is it really a Gospel of repelling and condemnation we are wanting to pass on, so they will instead reject the wonderful things we have been given in Christ Jesus?
Or, is it a manipulative way we embrace because of how we view our own inadequacies in sharing Jesus with a world full of hostile critics? Is it our own lack of faith in God working through us to draw others to Himself through us?
Are we willing to be vessels filled with His love and grace?
Whatever our definition of love is, I do not believe, most often, it is God’s definition of love. Where is the kindness, the gentleness, the peacefulness that God Himself demonstrates to us constantly? Is God like the slave master who whips us into submission to Him?
He is gentle, and loving, and Kind, giving us everything we need. Why is it, then, that often we take on a harsh, mean attitude, and shout about Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 Commandments, and how the unbeliever needs to repent?
Perhaps there is a time and a place for that. But, most often – I think not.
I believe these are some hard questions we need to be asking ourselves. This is a mirror for us to look into, and do a heart and motivation check.
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 (NASB)
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders?Do you not judge those who are within the church?
Our American culture has adopted this practice of Tough Love when we see others doing stuff we don’t like.
I can see how this has been helpful in some situations. Some people are hurtful towards others, and destructive forces for themselves and others. Sometimes we need some kind of kick in the pants to wake us up to difficult things.
My concern is, it seems like we often call something else “Tough Love”. When people do things that annoy, we turn our back on them. We don’t tell them what the offense is, but we ignore them in a manner that is manipulative, and honestly – mean.
I cannot see Jesus doing that with others. Not this second thing.
The second description is a form of rejection, candy-coated so we can justify our actions. It’s often the result of hearing one side of a situation through gossip. Often the person being rejected or ” Tough Loved” is the most in need of acceptance and actual Love. It is not Biblical.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love endures all things . Love keeps No record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil ( do we rejoice in turning our back on others?). Love is not jealous (does our rejection cause someone to feel jealous of others being treated better by us?). (1Cor 13)
When someone offends us, the Bible instructs us in how to deal with that. It is rare that I see that put into practice! Even by lay leaders. What most often happens is we play this manipulative game of “guess what you did wrong – no you didn’t offend me”.
We need to stop the games.
Let’s practice Tough Love on that manipulative, mean practice we use to elevate ourselves in our minds, as being better than someone else.
Let’s practice compassion by imagining ourselves in other people’s shoes, and demonstrating the very same Grace, Kindness, and Love we would hope we could expect.
I’d like to redefine Tough Love as being resilient, and sincerely loving others even more so when they are the most unloveable.
Let’s really be the Church, and effective ambassadors of Jesus. Starting right now.
Part of “revival” is repenting from Ungodly practices.
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 !