We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.
The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?
Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.
Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.
What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. Wecan cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.
When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”
This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.
Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.
This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.
We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.
So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB
The human ability to adapt to most situations and changes, is astounding. Even more-so is the ability to overcome— to beat, win, conquer overwhelming circumstances.
There are an infinite number of human-interest stories about people who beat the odds— and often God is credited for a person’s ability to do what our minds consider to be impossible.
I personally believe God should always be credited. God created every individual with the ability to focus with determination. God often allows us to be in situations where that is necessary. He put within every form of His creation the instinct to survive— to fight to live.
We see that all throughout nature. Butterflies struggle to be released from their chrysalis womb. It’s often been noted that if a human feels compassion and tries to help them get out, they can get damaged and even die. Human compassion most often lacks understanding of the necessary process for their survival.
Birds push their young from their nests to activate their instinct to fly.
Humans often feel the same sort of desire towards our offspring, but the difference lies in the dynamic of personal relationship between adult and young adult, as well as extenuating circumstances. Every situation is unique within the human relationship system. Background extending through generations, environments, financial situations, educational opportunities, personal experiences, directional purpose… an endless number of variables and belief systems.
The enemy to personal achievement is getting ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of frustration. Once we get into that, it can seem impossible to get out. Sometimes we stumble into that, sometimes we’re born into or placed into it, completely outside of our control. So, we adapt. We do what we believe becomes necessary for our survival.
Fight, or flight.
Sometimes the hard decision is to stand our ground and fight.
Sometimes we “feel” the need to fight, but we’re misdirecting our energy towards what looks very much like it should be our target focus. But, like trying to box against our own shadow, it ends up exhausting and depleting us of necessary energy, even robbing us of relationships.
Many marriages break apart in divorce because one or both individuals feel directed towards fighting against one another. Many marriages could be salvaged if only each person realized their spouse is not their enemy. Many marriages could become stronger, if instead all that energy being used in fighting each other could instead be directed towards fighting the invisible enemy breaking them apart.
The definition of invisible enemy is unique to every marriage (though I believe the exact same force is behind it)— but the result is often the same thing— trying to inflict as much pain through anger and disappointment as possible.
Marriages become blurred “friendly fire” zones, convincing spouses each other has become the enemy. Fight or flight is often activated. Instead of fighting to protect the union of two individual souls— nasty destructive anger becomes a sharpened arrow that penetrates the bone and marrow of the marriage.
It’s not only marriages where this happens. Families step into this quicksand-type trap. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, cousins against cousins. Family is messy. It’s a solid ground for forgiveness to be planted and nurtured. Unfortunately the personal nature instead often turns it into a battleground.
I’ve found myself stuck in an awful, exhausting cycle of frustration. There have been occasional outside distractions of conflict— especially lately. There has been the threat of my own marriage becoming a battleground of destructive distractions and fiery darts.
It’s not been easy to lay down my own types of weapons, and surrender everything to God to “please help.” I’m not the same person, deep within my core, that I used to be. My instinct used to be to fight against anything that threatened to hurt me, and not flee from it, but to turn my back and walk away.
God has changed me. He’s opened up my understanding that His way has not been my way. His way is forgiveness, surrendering the hard stuff to Him, and allowing Him to bring the healing.
His way is far better than my way.
At the beginning of my year, on my birthday, I felt God speak into my spirit that He will strengthen me this year. If anyone reading this knows the history of me at all, you could understand that I believed He meant with my physical health. Since the birth of our last child, I’ve dealt with a weakness in my legs, I believe came about because in a moment of personal weakness I chose to have an epidural. Since the birth of my first child, 21 years ago, I’ve fought an increasingly tough battle against other health issues that doctors haven’t found a solid, treatable cause for.
Imagine my surprise that instead of my physical health being strengthened, the very foundation of my life nearly crumbled apart. Many things I had believed turned out to be far different.
God is strengthening me in ways I was so clueless about. But first— I had to ask Him to be my strength, to help me walk because my path was all but gone. Life blinded me, I needed Him to be my sight. I’m still trying to adjust my sight to what feels at times like this blinding darkness— you know, like when you’re eyes are used to some kind of lighting, and then suddenly it all gets shut down— and there is only an absence of light.
My understanding has a new grasp of Jesus being the Light of the world. I now better understand what it feels like to need Jesus to be my Strength. He’s taken my arm and is guiding me through, safely. He is my Shield. God’s Spirit gives me a comfort no other source ever could.
Now I am enabled to walk in a forgiveness that comes from outside of myself. A complete, and all-encompassing forgiveness that spreads a healing balm in every direction that it walks.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Not covers-up. Not pretending the offense hasn’t been real or caused damage.
Covers. With a healing balm.
Throughout my lifetime, so far, I’ve been given ample opportunities to forgive some very deep-seated wounds.
I have been sinned-against, many times, in personally physical and emotional ways. Others I care deeply about have been sinned-against, and it’s been in my “nature” to want to pick up their offense.
Again I get to practice walking in forgiveness that the world tells me I shouldn’t extend.
I don’t belong to the world any longer.
I belong to Jesus.
His ways are far above what the world would have me practice.
People fail me. I thank God that He continues to never fail me.
1Cor 13:12– “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
I was often told I was “in the way” by people who’s opinion mattered deeply to me, for a significant portion of my life. I had no reason to not believe them. So, I did all I could to move out of the way, whether physically or otherwise.
I assumed everyone thought this about me. I have lived most of my life trying to not be in anyone’s way.
My foundational understanding of myself has been flawed by believing that I’m just always in the way.
I was once told by one of my pastor’s that I was in God’s way and I needed to move out of it. You have no idea how that affected how I saw God at that point.
I still don’t trust anyone to “pastor” me.
Over the years I’ve thought about this phrase, and with God’s help, I’ve begun to turn it around into a positive.
The Way is what Believers in the past have called their group. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus lives in me. I am inthe way. But– I am not in the way, as being an obstacle.
The pastor who said that to me did not see me in my time alone with God, often prone before God, surrendering my life and my choices to Him.
That pastor was wrong.
In all those years before I accepted that he was wrong, I saw everything that I did or said as being in God’s way. I had no idea how to get out of God’s way, or what that even looked like.
I never felt like I could fit in anywhere, because no matter what I was blind to somehow being in the way.
I reacted by just removing myself. I can’t be in the way if I’m not there, right?
I was then told by that same pastor that I was in sin because I wasn’t at church everytime the doors were open– I was forsaking the gathering together of the saints…
How does one ever please someone who just sees what they think you are doing wrong?
God moved me out of that pastor’s way, relocating me to another area. But that criticism stuck.
How can I possibly ever get out of God’s way when He is everywhere?
Over the years, God has revealed that He does not see that about me. He has shown me that I have, in fact, been in His way. Going out of my way to obey His word, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness, to show compassion and love– I’m trying to do things in His way.
It’s amazing how much healing and reatoration can be released when God corrects wrong thinking.
Now I know– I am exactly where I need to be– in His way.
2 COR 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
In our culture of Christianity, it’s become easy to sing our promises and confessions of faith.
Do we follow through? When the service is over, do we reflect on the weighty words we’ve sung in praise, adoration and promise to our God?
I can’t say, with a clear conscience, that I have.
When I sing about surrendering it all to God, and beg Him in song to “take it all”, do I really know what I’m asking of Him— what I’m giving to Him?
Lately I have been playing Animal Crossing with my kids and husband. I have this neighbor— Buck— the “neigh”bor that annoys me the most. He’s brash, loud, yells in my character’s face, and he sneezed on her. I mean— the nerve! Lol! In real life, I wouldn’t want a neighbor like that. So, I’ve been trying to get him to want to move away. I give him boots, which he always hands back, saying he doesn’t want my trash.
My point in sharing that is— God *does* want our trash. He wants the worst parts of us— the things we dislike about ourselves, the stuff we hide from everyone else.
He wants our broken hearts. He wants our ugly, horrible thoughts. He wants that anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. He wants those feelings that cause us to do exactly what we hate…
He wants our trash.
Because then He can make us better. He can make us stronger. He can repair the broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He can calm the storm that rages in our emotions. He can help us see things clearly, without worry, fear or distortion.
But, we have to freely give them to Him. He won’t just take them. He is never forceful with us.
Have you ever been the sounding-board for someone who doesn’t really see you while they are talking?
Has there ever been an expectation of you to be available to fit into someone else’s schedule?
Have you ever just wanted to not— just for a little while— be available when it’s expected of you?
Have you ever been broken by something completely unexpected?
Have you felt pushed and pulled into expected directions you just don’t feel like going in?
Have you ever tried to pick things back up after being let down?
Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from your own life?
There’s this song I loved years ago, called Disappear from Out Of The Grey. The idea in the song is the desire to disappear into Jesus— like John the Baptist said— more of Him, less of me.
Well, I did disappear— but into my marriage and my family.
I’m still seen by God, though, even though I don’t feel worthy to be seen by Him. Because I know I am a broken fixture in this world, and I can’t fix what’s broken about myself. There is no doctor, no hospital, for invisible wounds, and my brokenness is invisible except to God— Who really sees me.
I can rest in Him because He sees me. I’m not His sounding board. I’m not empty, I’m not weak because He fills me, continuously, with His strength and love.
As long as He is my focal point— I can push through the emotional labors of this life. I can stand up under the weight of the roles I’m expected to play. I can be who He created me to be.
Physically I can’t do what I used to. Thankfully my spirit still can, through Christ Jesus Who is my strength— He is my focal point.
Because of that— I am okay.
Isaiah 40:31 NASB Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
In this day and age of prosperity doctrines and praying all the bad away— because happiness is this American church’s focus often— sermons or teachings on working our Salvation out with fear and trembling seem to be MIA. Maybe you hear them, but in my circles and resources, I do not.
Today I’m thinking about Job. I don’t know about you, but I cringe at the thought of everything he went through— and all at once. First he experienced peace, and then trauma, loss and devastation all at once as Satan attacked him on every possible front, from every possible angle— withGod’spermission— I think we overlook that important fact.
I think God was teaching Job Who He Is and all He has done. God said to Job, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Job 38:2 Obviously Job had been acting, and reacting to what happened to him, without much knowledge of all that encompasses God.
So God told him.
It’s easy to read God’s response as angry and intimidating. The fact that God speaks from the Storm lends to the idea God is angry or annoyed. But— what if He wasn’t? God allowed the storm, but He did not cause it. If He were angry, do you think He would have been the cause? Does this all come across differently if, instead, we read it with a calm, yet sarcastic voice? With what seems accusatory, what if we inject an underlying sad tone? I mean, God definitely chastised Job, while He also turned the tables on Him— “answer— if you know…” But— look what it took to get Job to a teachable place!
God help us to not need to be brought to brokenness in order to receive truth and the healing Salvation He freely offers to each one of us.
In Job 1:1 we see: “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless–a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”
Job knew enough to fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom. He knew enough to do what God required and Job wanted his children to be right with God, to be saved from God’s wrath at sin. Was he arrogant about it? Maybe. He certainly, it seems to me, didn’t know enough to be in a relationship with God— the reason God created mankind. Job was trying to do everything right, his heart actions were right with God. But— he lacked that relationship with Him.
What if we read God’s next words with no anger or frustration, but instead with a firm gentleness that educates Job, while also giving him an attitude adjustment.
Imagine yourself, standing (if you can) before God— just you, no spouse, family, friends or pastor— and having Him confront you with these questions. How do you think you might answer— if you can?
“3 Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. 5 Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? 6 What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone 7 as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8 “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, 9 and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? 10 For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. 11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’ 12 “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? 13 Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? 14 As the light approaches, the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal; it is robed in brilliant colors. 15 The light disturbs the wicked and stops the arm that is raised in violence. 16 “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? 17 Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? 18 Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! 19 “Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? 20 Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? 21 But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! 22 “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail? 23 (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war.) 24 Where is the path to the source of light? Where is the home of the east wind? 25 “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? 26 Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? 27 Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground and make the tender grass spring up? 28 “Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? 29 Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? 30 For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes. 31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars– binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? 32 Can you direct the sequence of the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? 33 Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth? 34 “Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? 35 Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? 36 Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? 37 Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven 38 when the parched ground is dry and the soil has hardened into clods? 39 “Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites 40 as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? 41 Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger?”
Job 39: “1 “Do you know when the wild goats give birth? Have you watched as deer are born in the wild? 2 Do you know how many months they carry their young? Are you aware of the time of their delivery? 3 They crouch down to give birth to their young and deliver their offspring. 4 Their young grow up in the open fields, then leave home and never return. 5 “Who gives the wild donkey its freedom? Who untied its ropes? 6 I have placed it in the wilderness; its home is the wasteland. 7 It hates the noise of the city and has no driver to shout at it. 8 The mountains are its pastureland, where it searches for every blade of grass. 9 “Will the wild ox consent to being tamed? Will it spend the night in your stall? 10 Can you hitch a wild ox to a plow? Will it plow a field for you? 11 Given its strength, can you trust it? Can you leave and trust the ox to do your work? 12 Can you rely on it to bring home your grain and deliver it to your threshing floor? 13 “The ostrich flaps her wings grandly, but they are no match for the feathers of the stork. 14 She lays her eggs on top of the earth, letting them be warmed in the dust. 15 She doesn’t worry that a foot might crush them or a wild animal might destroy them. 16 She is harsh toward her young, as if they were not her own. She doesn’t care if they die. 17 For God has deprived her of wisdom. He has given her no understanding. 18 But whenever she jumps up to run, she passes the swiftest horse with its rider. 19 “Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? 20 Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust? Its majestic snorting is terrifying! 21 It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength when it charges out to battle. 22 It laughs at fear and is unafraid. It does not run from the sword. 23 The arrows rattle against it, and the spear and javelin flash. 24 It paws the ground fiercely and rushes forward into battle when the ram’s horn blows. 25 It snorts at the sound of the horn. It senses the battle in the distance. It quivers at the captain’s commands and the noise of battle. 26 “Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar and spread its wings toward the south? 27 Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest? 28 It lives on the cliffs, making its home on a distant, rocky crag. 29 From there it hunts its prey, keeping watch with piercing eyes. 30 Its young gulp down blood. Where there’s a carcass, there you’ll find it.”
Job 40:1 Then the LORD said to Job, 2 “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
Do you have the answers?
Imagine Job— broken and traumatized, physically inflicted — all by the devil, who roars about seeking to devour each one of us— with God’s allowed permission.
God is God. He answers to no one, but He has limited Himself by promises and covenants that He always faithfully keeps.
Have you experienced any times of working out your own faith with fear and trembling? Hopefully not like Job had to be brought to.
Philippians 2:12-16 (NASB) So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”
This is a recurring theme in my life, it seems. And not just little things— really big, hard issues. When things start to finally relax, suddenly it becomes necessary to exercise my forgiveness muscles again. I have lifted some of the heaviest issues with these muscles. I don’t see a need to flex them for vanity purposes— these are the necessary muscles for living a life that keeps me close to Jesus. They are the strength that is unseen, coming from an unseen force— Jesus, Who is my Mediator, my Intercessor— my reason for living. He keeps me continually moving forward.
I’ve been dealt some difficult cards throughout my life so far, most seem to fall under the category of betrayal. I don’t know if I can even categorize them all. The one thing they have in common, besides intense pain, is an attack on trust.
When the burden of offense against me is so heavy— a crushing weight, God reminds me that forgiveness lifts that burden off of me and puts it at the foot of the cross.
We can’t take anything with us when it’s our time to move on from earth— that includes the offenses and hurts from others. When we surrender them to Jesus, Who bore the crushing weight of every offense, past, present and future— we walk in the truest form of Grace and Mercy.
When we come face to face with the knowledge that Jesus said, while being crushed by all of the sins of this world— “Father, forgive them because they don’t understand”, we then have the tiniest of glimpses into what Jesus endured on that cross, in our place. He willingly surrendered to every betrayal we’ll ever experience.
That is why we forgive. Again. And again. And again…
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22
Lately my time, one-on-one with God has been a spontaneous thing, which becomes steered by intention.
Something within me has changed. My perspective, or I guess my realization of the reliability— the consistent stability— of God with me. I never question His willingness to make sure I am taken care of. He has never wavered— though I know it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve earned nor do I dare think I deserve it.
This idea of “first love” is tumbling around in my brain today. Meditating in His Presence, saturating my spirit in the beautiful song Nothing Else, this idea of being taken back to my first love opens up a whole new reservoir of understanding for me.
“Take me back, take me back, take me back to my first love…” Can I say God has ever been my first love? I mean— honestly. Because, of course in “Christianese” that’s what we profess— that God is our first love.
As I just meditate on what that means to me, and question how exactly to get back to my first love when I cannot say that was God, I recognize what I need is to get back to the first recognition of my love for Him, and my first realization of His love for me.
My first time knowing this unique, soul-filling love that heals me, that refreshes me— that holds me close to Him.
“Take me back to my first love…” Take me back to that first moment the veil was torn from my understanding, that first glimpse my spirit had of You.
Take my heart back to being satisfied by sitting in Your Presence, back when things were simplified— back to the safety and comfort, like a newborn babe resting on its daddy’s chest— near to Your heartbeat. Because “Only You satisfy my heart… Nothing else will do— I just want You”
There is nothing like brokenness of spirit and a broken heart to open or change your view of things for previously unnoticed perceptions.
Like the words to songs. As I relived some memory lane through songs I haven’t heard since my most recent bout with brokenness, I realized I’m seeing things differently. Where before I sang them with the confidence of being enveloped by the Love of Christ, this time that same Love permeated into the chasm coated with reactionary numbness that tries to dull the pain. It caused a different reaction, a realization that now I understand more than before, and perspective that grants revelation to a new depth of understanding.
“Clothe me in white, so I won’t be ashamed…” has a deeper meaning to me now. In order for God to clothe me in white, my soul is bare before Him. He sees everything— nothing is hidden from Him. In the past I’ve known this. Now I more than know it— I experience what it really means— He sees me. He sees my deepest shame, my pain, where I have been abused and cast aside. He’s taking the outer garments I thought I had to wear that I believed covered me, but instead caused rejection of me— and He has clothed me in His acceptance. He’s thrown-out the old garments of being shamed, and He’s covered me in His forgiveness, His righteousness, His approval!! And though people may attempt to shame me— I will not be ashamed because I know Who I belong to— no matter what. The not being ashamed, that’s for me to live out. It has nothing to do with how anyone treats me or talks about me— I am not ashamed of who I am, because of Jesus.
When I sing “set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control— I want more of You God, I need more of You God…” and I tell Him through singing that I want Him “…to pour it out…“ I understand that I need to be intentional about what I am asking Him to do— because He will give me more.
What will I do with the more that He gives to me?
When I sing about how “ I will dance, I will sing, to be mad (not angry FYI) for my King, and I will become even more undignified than this…” Baring my naked soul with unskilled dancing is the most vulnerable thing that I could do. I can boldly approach God’s throne of Grace in this manner— it should be an easy decision— casting off everything that weighs me down.
This is the way we should all be with Jesus. It’s a process we each get to face as individuals.
“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Eph. 4:22-24
The likeness of God, is Salvation through Jesus. We have the promise of eternal life with God through Christ Jesus. As we lay aside the old life and choices, we begin to understand the why’s concerning God and His Word. The why’s are important, because without that understanding, we will never be able to really lay aside our opinions that don’t line up with Scripture, or forgive the person who may actually be trying to sin against us 7×77 times daily.
The shock is wearing off now. The sting of the jolt that rocked me is beginning to fade. Numbness that covered me fully, almost like a protective layer of clothing from the elements of harsh weather, is beginning to peel away now.
It’s tempting to pull back from some of the most intense, penetrating pain I have ever experienced. But, I’m forcing myself to do what I have always tried to do– lean into it. Soon it will intensify to its strongest point, and then I’ll know the level I need to rise to to move beyond it.
I saw a storm coming, but to be honest– I expected a much different storm, in much different territory. This storm is familiar, but the territory is unexplored.
I’m at a disadvantage– probably more so than I have ever been. I don’t know if it’s the result of being cursed by those I should have been able to trust from a young age, or God just designed me and my personality to be much saltier and independently confident than many others. All I know is– support has almost never been something I could rely on. I’ve dealt with some of the most devastating things alone– often one-on-one with God but never much human support or understanding counsel. For a time I tried to fight for that, but realized it was an exhausting battle with little to no reward for all of my efforts.
As a result, now I find myself in this place where I wish I could have 1 solid person who can or will just walk with me through all the stages, emotions, and healing I will be pushing through as I continue to lean into the pain.
I’ve experienced first hand what so many often try to advise me of. I’m not one who can just settle under opinion or scrutiny, no matter how well-meaning the one doing it is.
I find myself looking for an equal. Not a counselor. Not a Pastor. Not a mentor. Not an advisor. Someone who doesn’t view me as a project or someone who needs their help. Because I know. I’ve already livedit. I’ve already made it to the other side. I’ve heard the voice of God calling out to me, directing my steps. I’ve experienced Jesus strengthening me.
I know how to get through this to that other side where healing will fully embrace me and restore– once again– what the locusts have destroyed.
I am confident in my direction, though I don’t see my path clearly yet. That will come into focus as I take each step forward. I’m not going to fall back– not with Jesus as my strength.
I just need/want someone who can and will walk with me, step with me– listen and respect me and my way of going through a process that I have already gone through successfully more than once. Someone proven that I can fully trust. That’s all. A trusted equal who has leaned into their own painful, devastating situations successfully.
For now, it will be me and Jesus, walking forward with steady, firm, intentional steps. Maybe God will provide me with a spiritual walking partner, too. But if He chooses not to– I’ll be ok. He’ll hold me up just as He always has.
“A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:1-4 NASB
The Voice of the Martyrs Facebook Timeline headline says– “LAOS Pray that new believers facing angry relatives will not waiver in their faith.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized family and friends against believers?
The Devil has come to kill, steal and destroy– by any means necessary. Jesus said, ” “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:53
In Ephesians 6:12 we are informed– “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized someone at our churches?
Here’s the most revealing question– How many times has the Devil weaponized us?
Deception hides amongst the well-intended. It thrives on emotional reactions. It drives misunderstandings and miscommunications as a destructive force, tearing through walls of relationships as though they are nothing but smoke.
Make no mistake– the Devil intends to use us to tear down everything God is doing.
May God grant us all discerning eyes and spirits, increasing our sensitivity to where He is at work so we can join in with Him through prayer, supplication and surrender completely to His Holy Spirit.
We need to ask Him to reveal where we may be, now or in the future, deceived by His enemy and the enemy of our souls. Lay aside every assumption and belief of being “right”. Step back and just wait for Him to reveal what He is doing, where He is working– who He has chosen to work through.
We cannot allow ourselves to be weaponized– used– by the Devil.
To surrender everything we believe, everything we “know” to Him– recognizing that He knows all and sees all– that is wisdom. It is necessity— right now.
Who’s “tool” are we? Who’s purpose is being fulfilled through our actions and treatment of others?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” 2Cor 10;3-7
How many times have you heard someone say, “I will never forgive them.” How many times have we all felt someone has done or said something that is beyond the scope? It’s crossed that unmentioned line we all tend to instictivlely draw in our personal belief system?
I can tell you I had my own line, and I stood firmly behind that line– even though there had been a few events of someone stepping right on or over that line, as though it did not even exist. Of course– for them, I don’t think it did exist, while for myself it seemed reasonable to assumeeveryone knew about this line.
That’s the problem. Rational people know, people in my society know, menknow. Except some must not, or they don’t care about that line.
So, for me, I’ve had this line solidly placed in my belief system, that should never be crossed. And, if it were crossed, as it has been a few times in my life, then I have an “out”– surely I don’t have to forgive that… right?
So a challenge came to me in the form of a testimony of a woman missionary, who had recently passed away when I learned about it.
At first, I was angry with her. How dare she blow off what was a great injustice done to her– and to me! How dare she minimize that as though it were not that major deal I had known personally for it to be! How could she excuse away this awful thing when it has ruined and damaged so many lives?!
Then God’s Spirit went to work in my heart and my understanding– my outrage.
In my defense of holding my grudge, I viewed her as weak- minded and ignorant. I mean, she had been violated— didn’t she get that??
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecc 1:9 NLT)
Then I started to think on Scripture that says “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt 6:15 NLT) “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25-26 NASV)
Most times I have no problem forgiving what people do or say to or about me. But violating me– that is intensly personal, the greatest offense and sin against me. I felt I was justified in my anger and unforgiveness.
This woman’s approach and her testimony challenged my deepest-held justifications.
Then I began to think about all the abuse Jesus experienced on the cross and before He was nailed to the cross and what He said in response– “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice...” Some continued what they were doing, not even realizing the profoundness of what Jesus had just asked of God.
People do things without realizing what they are doing to others.
Our role as children of the Most High God, as followers of Jesus– is to forgive them. 7×77 times. Per day.
Forgiving is not easy. But, the focus I’ve found I need to have is not on my need to forgive others, but instead on my desperate needfor God’s forgiveness towards me.
It’s a matter of spiritual life of death.
I want to encourage you to watch the video interview of a woman who I now believe to have been a pillar of strength and understanding for God’s Kingdom, inside this article linked below:
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.
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.
What do you focus on with your best friend? How about with your spouse or significant other? Your family?
Do you concentrate on what you have in common? Do you remember how they have wronged you?
Are you confident in how good things are, or are your thoughts consumed with how they just don’t measure up to your standards?
Do you tell others the positive things about them? Or do you feel justified in telling others about what you see as negative qualities?
Does how you treat them, how you talk about them to others, have any impact on that relationship?
How do they treat you, or talk about you? Does that affect how close you feel to them?
What does a healthy relationship even look like?
What about Jesus?
Do we focus on how Jesus has wronged us? How He just doesn’t meet (or mete) our standards? Do we tell everyone negative things about Jesus?
I’m pretty sure the answer is no to the last 3 questions. How do you even measure against His perfection?
So, let’s flip it around.
Does Jesus focus on how we have wronged Him? I think some people really believe He does, but Scripture tells us He throws our sins as far as the east is from the west. That there is norecord of wrong.
Is He disappointed that we just don’t measure up to Him? I mean– who can, right? Scripture reminds us that Jesus is our strength, the Holy Spirit is both our Teacher and our Comforter, and that God is our Father. We have been adopted by Him, grafted into the vine of His family tree!
Does Jesus tell everyone the negative things He knows about us? No. Instead, He is our Mediator. He prays for us– He prayed for us all in the Garden of Gethsemane. He felt so muchlove and compassion, burdened so deeply for us then, that it caused Him to sweat His blood as He prayed! Who else has ever done that for even one of us?
And then– then He willingly died to become the final sacrifice to God, to pay for our failings, our inability to do right by God.
He became our Mediator– standing between God and the punishment for rebelling against God in our actions and in our hearts. He became our covering, the lens God now views us through.
If this is how much we are worth to Jesus, how much should we practice love, kindness, generosity– forgiveness– with our friends, spouses and loved ones?
The saying is, “You can’t pick your family.”
Jesus didn’t pick us– and yet He did! Our sins, our rebellion, against our Creator were the cause for Jesus to be abused and nailed to a cross to be murdered. There was no justification for Jesus to be killed, He did nothing wrong. We did! Jesus could have hated us all, instead. He could have focused on all we did wrong, and turned away with hatred and anger at us. He could have– but He did not. And God accepted His willingness to die the eternal death every one of us deserves. And because there was no sin found in Jesus, God raised Him back to life, and took Him up to sit next to Himself, at and as His righteous right hand. Jesus is God’s Right Hand man.
And Jesus, having done all of that for us, does not focus on what we did to cause Him to be murdered. No. Instead He has given His life to God, to help us be better. To strengthen us. To give us confidence. To free us from the death traps that have been set out for us by the enemy of God, the enemy of our souls. He sets us free as we trust in all He is, all He has done, and all that will come to pass.
Jesus has forgiven us. Jesus has forgotten our sins, all of our sins.
It’s no longer about sin– it’s about our relationship withJesus.
Nobody says, “I wonder what it would be like to walk in their shoes?” about abused children.
No one daydreams about being yelled at, called names– or worse.
No one envies the child with the broken spirit, no one celebrates their choice to fight to survive.
One of the strongest memories of my dad was the time I walked into our living room and he just started yelling at me about how much he hated me, how I was just in the way– how he wished I were dead and had never been born.
I reacted to that, at first, by contemplating ways to take myself out of the way. Then– I called my best friend.
She helped me realize the best way to help myself would be to remove myself from the situation. So– I planned a vacation, where I could strengthen my will to continue to live.
I was in high school at the time. I planned for a two week vacation from my life. I took time off from my job, I arranged for a place to stay, and I told no one except the person I stayed with where I would be.
That saved my life.
It was inconvenient for others, I know. Some worried– and they should have. They should have been worried more about my state of mind before I took my time-out, than the fact that I left.
I only used a week of that planned two weeks.
I was introduced to a life I had never known before that, but it was just enough to realize– that also was not the kind of life I wanted to live.
I woke up to some harsh realities, and I walked away from some permanent options that would have become permanent mistakes– had I chosen to take them.
I had always had a secret life of envying others who had dads that were loving, kind, and healthy. Dads who’s hugs were not dangerous, where insults were not the “norm”– ones that cherished their daughters.
My dad, he had a rough childhood. He probably had a secret envy life, as well.
I forgave my dad for his failings, years ago.
I made sure my own children had what I envied of others (God made sure too) because I knew what I had missed. I don’t blame my mom for my dad’s issues. It’s never been her fault.
I love my friends who have had wonderful, nurturing and healthy relationships with their fathers. But, it’s like bumping an unseen bruise to know that that’s something I will never get to know firsthand.
I’m old enough that I’ve forgotten many things I’ve experienced. That ache at what I was robbed of is always there, though, silently throbbing under the surface.
I’m so very happy for others, but my heart silently envies and daydreams about what their lives must have been like.
I’ve attempted to try on their shoes, but my callouses and bruises keep them from fitting comfortably, I’ve never been able to walk in them.
I’ve heard more often than I can count, that God is my Father. True– He is. He is a good father.
As awesome as God is, I still have a lack in my heart for a loving, mentally healthy, earthly dad. That’s my reality. Acceptance from God has been more healing than anything anyone could offer. This is why more mentally healthy, accountable-to-others, Christian men need to step up inside the church. There are people of all ages missing healthy relationships. We are so quick to just expect God to mysteriously fill every void and heal every affliction, when God gave us to one another.
Jesus made sure his own mother had someone to step in to fill the void He was leaving. What an amazing example of compassion and understanding! We lack nurturing, healthy relationships inside our church families. Our own members are hurting from devastating wounds and circumstances, and we busy ourselves with programs, not recognizing the deep needs right in front of us.
God help us to be what our own family-in-Christ needs us to be– what You call us to be.
God has given us shoes to wear. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Shouldn’t we wear them at all times, starting inside the Church? And if we don’t wear them there, if we take Abaraham’s burning bush approach and take them off on Holy Ground– Jesus made it abundantly clear the need to wash one another’s feet.
In other words– we need to look after one-another, with the same intimacy as close, healthy, loving family.
We need to get this right so we can effectively affect and reach the world around us with God’s gift of Hope, Love, and relationship with Him through Jesus.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
I’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.
How many times I’ve heard that– especially when I’ve missed a service at some churches. I’ve lost count!
I’ve exhausted and frustrated myself trying to jump through those hoops that lead to acceptance.
What about when the assembly forsakes it’s own members?
When my health started to betray me, and I was going through some honestly scary stuff– where was that assembly then?
Not rallied around me, listening, praying and cheering me on with encouragement.
No. It was silent.
Unless I asked for prayer. Then– it prayed, maybe laid hands on me too– and then it went back to whatever else was going on, and silence for me again.
And let me tell you– I have had need of encouragement!
When I was struggling as a kid and teen with things I couldn’t tell anyone about, I needed that assembly.
When I nearly died, a few times, that assembly has been nowhere around.
When it was up to me to forgive some deeply serious and scarring offenses so I could be free to move on with my life and follow God’s path for me, where was that assembly?
When my dad passed away, and I was numb because our relationship was so screwed up, I needed the assembly.
How thankful I am that I have that close relationship with my Redeemer. He has always given me exactly what I need, when I need it.
But– God made us to need others. The Church isn’t supposed to be like a game of jump-rope where you just jump in and hope you don’t mess up the rhythm or get hit or tripped-up by the ropes. There is supposed to be a mutual-ness to it. Not a sizing-up, or a dressing-down. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and yet it’s supposed to be all for people.
The safest place on earth.
That’s what Church is supposed to be.
I always thought it was like a hospital for the sick, a resting place for the weary, and a nurturing place for neglected outcasts. Welcoming and warm…
I’ve struggled my whole life with fitting in, or feeling like I fit in. We all have our family issues and personality quirks, along with unrealistic expectations.
But when, as a kid, I heard several congregations singing about being “The Family of God”, my mind formed certain expectations that I honestly haven’t felt are unrealistic.
I see others laughing, spending time together, helping one another out. I’ve watched from the outer courts on so many occasions, like the envious little girl watching the big kids skillfully turn the jump ropes while the confident kids jump in and sing rhymes timed with fancy footwork.
So when I heard the song about being family– well– I’ve been looking for the evidence of that.
I’ve wanted to find one where there is a healthy father- figure for me, one where the women are not competitive, judge-mental, or seem to actually ignore and look past me.
I am so tired of the Church acting like the world. Or worse.
I want to find that true Family of God.
One where the assembly does not forsake me.
One where God doesn’t speak to my spirit to tell me the Pastor is my enemy, not my friend.
Usually I make myself available for others to talk with, to help with their online businesses, to help their friends with their online businesses…
It’s rarely convenient for me. But I value people and sincerely want to help others succeed.
I’m seeing how little that is actually valued beyond the moment it happens, so I’m stopping that part of my friendship offering.
If I kept a journal of friends and family seeking me out first to talk with and spend time with because they genuinely enjoy my company, because they take an interest in what I am interested in– it would be full of blank pages.
I have become that person that is an afterthought to everyone. I’m the convenient one to ask to buy things, or help get someone through some sort of a bind– as long as I don’t ask for the same in return.
I’m the person who has no value outside of political opinions. And if mine don’t match yours– I am valueless.
I’m the mom expected to help in the nursery or with the kids at church often, to pay my “dues” since I have kids– and if I don’t, I’m the mom everyone gets upset with.
I have been a giving person because I want to be. I can’t remember the last time I was given to. I rarely ask for advice or help– especially when I need it, because I already know I will be hard-pressed to find it.
I often say yes just because I know too well how it feels to be told no.
Now it’s going to be no.
No more helping online parties. No more sacrificing sleep to listen and be there for someone across the world. No more taking up someone else’s interests just to spend time with them.
I am right now feeling exactly how empty giving of myself has made me.
I am now unavailable. I doubt it will be noticed or that I will be missed.
Someday God will also be unavailable. Seek Him while He May be found– because instead you may find Him unavailable and at that point it will be too late.
3 fingers pointing back at myself at that reminder.
So, I’m sitting here, alone, on the eve of the anniversary of my dad’s death. Hubby is deeply sleeping after a long day at work, the kids are in bed, and I wish I had someone I could just maybe watch a movie with– probably to avoid thinking. There’s no reason why anyone should think I’d need to talk or get my mind off of what seems to be an undercurrent of emotions I really just don’t want to deal with. (It’s going to turn into a flood of tears, and I don’t want to open that gate.)
I don’t think much about my dad anymore.
When I do, there aren’t many emotions involved. We didn’t have any kind of a relationship when he passed on, I hadn’t seen him in years. One of the last times I did see him– he humiliated me, in public and in front of my husband. I mean, horribly humiliated me.
I forgave him. My husband gently told him off, and forgave him. But, it sickened my heart to even see him again.
We had such a complicated relationship. He was mentally ill, before doctors knew what to do to help that. I have begrudged the VA for using him as a guinea pig, but some of that responsibility was his alone. He wouldn’t take the pills prescribed, he used his diagnosis as a crutch– and he was a jerk.
But he was also really funny. There were times he had us laughing until our sides ached.
He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I have met quite a few very smart people! He was a genius with electronics and rigging things.
He had times where he could be really mean. Thankfully those weren’t constant. But, he was unpredictable. And, of course, there was the abuse.
It’s always kind of felt like my dad was dead in some ways. When I think about him, I grieve for the father-daughter relationship I wish we could’ve had. I know there is not one thing I could have done to make things better, so I’m able to move on. There is a diminishing part inside of me that wonders “why?” Why did it have to be me that went through all of that?
Why did I have to have that dad?
And, after all these years, I think I finally know the answer– Because just like that scratchy violin I had as a kid that caused me to practice for hours and hours everyday to overcome that awful, scratchy tone– I had to want to make a better life. I had to actively seek God to make a better path for my future children. My first husband was not that path, he was not someone I would have trusted with children. After that (biblical) divorce (from a non-believer who wanted to leave), I desperately sought God to provide me with a man who would be.
And He did.
But, had I not experienced everything I did, I wouldn’t have known what to work towards.
I sometimes wonder if my life being so full of overwhelming things that I’ve had to push through, if that’s what triggered my body’s reaction with a disease that exhausts me. Physical things, nothing psychosomatic. Fatigue is a reality blood work has confirmed.
Ok, now it’s the actual anniversary of his death.
4 years ago, today.
Remembering is stirring up, I don’t know– I guess emotional dust? Cobwebs? Triggered reminders?
I’ve watched my husband over the years with our daughter, and it’s such a contrast to what I ever knew with my own dad. I grew up terrified, filled with hate and anger– though not anymore. My daughter and my husband laugh and joke, share music, and she has never had to build a protective guard against him for any reason.
I am so, so deeply thankful for that.
I’ve often said it’s been thoroughly healing to watch them interact, and see what I missed out on– yet gives me the opportunity to rejoice that my daughter has not.
Isaiah 61:3 has come to life in my life– “To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
Stories about family, faith, friends and funnies. Pull up a chair. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh, cry, ponder and inspire about ordinary events of this wonderful, ever changing, bubbling pot that we call "every day life".