I love to give gifts to people. It’s a joy to hunt for just the “perfect” thing that I hope will bless the receiver.
It’s part of who I am, and what I do.
Years ago, when someone was praying was praying over me, they said, “You can’t “out-give” God.” From time to time, I remember that, and I ponder what it could mean.
But lately— the last few weeks— that has been swirling around in my thoughts.
This past Christmas, I was given the opportunity help a dear, dear friend get special ornaments to someone else, in a different country, to bless and minister to others.
Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue. But— Covid caused major changes in the mailing system.
At first, someone else was supposed to get them from me, and then mail them. But— that didn’t work out.
So, with some help figuring out what to do, I was finally able to learn how to do it.
The process of figuring it out— it was frustrating! I was tempted to be annoyed, and may have given in to that a little… 😳😔
But— this friend who was asking for my help— if you knew her, you’d know what I know about her. She’s probably the most giving, sincere, kind person I’ve ever been blessed to meet.
So— I figured out the process.
Then I found out there was a deadline for getting it to my friend’s friend! Prayerfully, I got it mailed, and it arrived just in time!
All that intimidation and worry about language barriers, how to pay for it and difficulty physically for me were found to be pretty ridiculous— It was such an easy process, once I figured out what to do.
I felt happy that I got to be a tiny part in blessing others, to help share the Gospel message.
My dear, dear friend messaged me today. Her friend had passed away.
I’m sitting her marveling at how God used me to bless someone who just wanted to be a blessing to others.
Gifts that now serve as a special memory of a selfless, beautiful sister in Christ, that I never got to meet— but I will get to meet her, and rejoice with her, in Eternity one day.
This time I had no part in hunting for the “perfect” gift. This time I was just a messenger helping get the perfect gifts to another destination.
Funny how things impact us that we never expect will.
We cannot out-give God.
His purposes are as mysterious as they are fulfilling and more beautiful than simple words can ever describe.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 NASB
I think we all have well-meaning people in our lives. You know the ones that are quick to redirect our honest, heartfelt, deep moments of transparency, into something that makes them feel more comfortable.
The ones that think they know us well enough to correct us.
But reality is— they just don’t get us at all.
They don’t realize the wall they are putting up, or the signals they send.
Maybe this is why God is often the only One I feel comfort in, or safe confiding in.
God has never left me feeling like something is wrong with me.
He never leaves me feeling like I’m stupid, or over-sensitive, or misunderstanding His Word or calling on my life.
He never tells me to push myself farther than I know is too much for me.
He tells me to lean on Him, that He is my strength.
Not that I have to do things in my own strength or because it’s what people are expecting me to do or be like.
God has never made me feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
God never makes me feel like I’m a burden.
I am often confronted with things I see others have that I just don’t have.
Relationships I’ve just never had access to, for whatever reason.
I’ve spent my life working to be for others what I’ve wished I had.
Someone who hasn’t been in my shoes can’t understand my perspective.
That doesn’t mean my perspective is wrong.
That doesn’t make me a target for mocking and sarcastic opinions.
That makes me normal.
I have been broken.
God has chosen to repair some things, but He has also— for His reasons— chosen to not repair other things.
Giving my life to Christ has not fixed anything about me to perfection.
I have been conditioned to feel ashamed, to feel “less than” everyone else.
But Not by God.
God has been working deeply in me to re-condition me. To fix ungodly beliefs about me being deserving of nothing more than being under the feet of others. Ungodly beliefs that I deserve to be the scapegoat carrying the shame of others.
That is not what God has created me to be.
I have grown children, and I’m still struggling with a belief system imposed on me as a child— the belief that things would be better if I just weren’t born. Belief that I’m supposed to take the blame for things others have done.
Belief that my reputation, my feelings— my life— don’t matter like everyone else’s does.
Undeserving of the life God chose to give to me.
Those are lies of the enemy of God that people who claim to be Christians have imposed upon me.
It’s not often, anymore, that I reflect upon these things.
As I do now, I recognize God’s Hand upon my life.
God moved me away. He has provided for me and nurtured me.
As The Potter, He has been deep at work reshaping the ungodly beliefs others have bestowed upon me. People I have striven to impress, to gain the attention and affection of.
Even today, decades later, the striving is in vain.
It’s exhausting being the only one that cares about nurturing relationships I’ve wanted to desperately hang on to.
I am exhausted.
So— I am letting them go.
I’m not expecting the same effort I put in. In fact— I’ve already experienced the evidence that I can fade off into the distance, and just be gossip, but no relationship.
Experience has taught me I’m not someone others will put that effort into.
Emotionally it has always been a taxing thing for me. It has caused anxiety, stress— worry…
Physically I am just as weak as I am emotionally, now.
My reaction wants to be to just not care.
But that’s not how God made me.
God made me to not only care— He made me to empathize with others who have similar experiences.
There are those I’ve tried to share things with that will tell me to calm down, that I’m too sensitive, that what I’m feeling or understanding isn’t real.
Those people are wrong.
And I’m done hitting the walls they put up out of intolerance for what is just me.
God placed them in my life. I don’t believe they are fulfilling God’s calling for them in my life, and I do think God cares.
Often my spirit feels weighted down with a sense of grieving. That is just fact.
It’s not depression.
It’s not self-esteem issues.
Grief over the ones who helped instill those ungodly beliefs God is working to fix my understanding of.
Grief as He calls attention to them, as He focuses on making sure I recognize each one of them, and He shows me what His Truth about each one is.
People are fallible.
I just want to be malleable under His Hand as He works out all of those mars and lumps.
NF – All I Have Lyrics excerpts “All I ever wanted was somebody to hear me And all I ever wanted was somebody to feel me And everybody wanna tell me that I’m out of my head…” “And you better get ready cause you might find I’m from a different place and my kind It’s a little bit different than yours is…” “I don’t live for the world I live for the King, I live for the King, focus Wrote this with emotion You do what you wanted but you can’t contain me…”
Don’t tell me that this isn’t real, don’t tell me it’s not how I feel…”
“All I ever wanted was somebody to get this…” “I stand behind these words. I’m a Christian but I’m not perfect Don’t tell me to calm down. I’m calm now,…” “Yeah it might take a minute to get it but once you get it everything will be crystal clear I don’t think they see my vision here. I don’t think they see my vision here! Don’t tell me that this isn’t real Don’t tell me this ain’t how I feel This is all I have. All I have.”
Have you ever felt like your life was dealt a death blow?
Have you ever felt like you’re down for the count, so to speak, and everything in you screams to just give up, just give in to the pressure on you to stay down— make it stop!
Have you faced situations that made you want to just buckle under emotional stress and declare “Uncle!”
If so, what made you rise up and fight back?
Was it self pride? Tenacity? A hatred for losing?
What motivates you to stare into the tendrils of fear, and defy it’s pressure?
I am a fighter.
I will fight to survive.
I will fight against bad treatment of my children. I will fight for them to attain their dreams, as much as they will allow me to. I will fight for my relationships to be healthy and strong with each one of my children, because God lent them to me, entrusted me with them— and besides loving them, I sincerely like and enjoy each one of them.
Being a fighter is exhausting. It’s overwhelming.
When I’m fighting “battles” on several “fronts”— it takes everything I have in me.
The battle of health, home, relationships— sometimes mentally and emotionally, I am down for the count. Health alone is an enormous fight that most people never see, and nor would they understand.
The battle with my health is a constant undercurrent. Adding other battles to that is something I’ve grown used to, but in all of that, weakness wants to take over.
I’m not weak, though.
I’m actually stronger.
I’m stronger because I have help.
I don’t mean physically strengthened, but an inner resolve.
Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to bear it all on my own. I have an inner, and outer strength that’s not my own.
Even when I forget, God remains faithful.
Even though I don’t deserve it— God sustains me.
Scripture has taught me that God works His purpose through people who have done some pretty bad things! Paul murdered people. King David almost killed his father-in-law, and he killed a giant, not to mention making sure a man died because he wanted his wife!
Yet God made sure their stories focused on what He accomplished through these imperfect humans.
While I tend to focus on all of the many, many ways I fall short and negatives that have hurt , God has been writing my story in His history books with Him and His grace at work both in me and through me, as the center focus.
Psalm 121:1-8 “A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
My inspiration comes from Jesus, Who did not just give up, but fought actual death— and won! He is my example, my inspiration my strength— my Help!
Every battle I struggle with, belongs to Him, and Him alone.
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.
1 Cor 13:11-13 “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The struggle is real.
Effective communication is a skill we Americans have lost.
This information age has severe relational consequences.
Personality clashes are enhanced by our lack in effective communication skills.
We are all at a disadvantage.
We all behave like children, at times, insisting on getting our own way while not hearing what others have to say.
And, we avoid. Unfortunately, avoiding dealing with things — that never resolves anything.
But, head-on resolution isn’t what most feel comfortable with.
Where is that middle ground?
Many years ago, I was included in an uncomfortable confrontation about me. God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit, and told me to not let myself get pulled into it. My character was attacked, and what did I do? I let myself get pulled into it, which backed me into a corner of having to defend myself.
It was ugly.
Over the years I’ve heard God’s Spirit tell me to not get pulled into the middle of situations where I’m left having to defend myself. Situations where I instinctively want to fight back, to attack. I’ve learned to remove myself from the “line of fire”. Sonetimes I have to ask Him—How??
How do I stop myself from being dragged in?
I’ve found directly confronting issues is the most effective way to resolve conflicts.
Sadly, in some situations, no matter how I try to confront issues, the people involved react as though I’m attacking them. There seems to be no separation of issue vs personal attack, no matter how I try to explain things. And I’ll find myself, again, backed into that corner of having to defend myself.
I don’t attack people.
I wish communication was this easy thing.
When I was newly married, pregnant with my first child, I was given some wonderful, Godly advice I still strive very hard to stick to.
When in the tug-of-war of an argument, lay down my end.
As soon as I feel defensive, I know— I need to stop tugging. God never intended us to exert our own strength against one another in our relationships. Jesus should be our strength.
Sometimes laying down my end includes walking away. Sonetimes it means just waitng for the dust to settle so calm, rational resolution can happen.
Sometimes it means I don’t return fire with an argument— instead I tell my husband I love him, and I kiss him. (True story.)
Sometimes it means I have to pray through the uncomfortable inability to get resolution.
In the end, when I stand before Jesus, I want so much to be able to say I valued the relationships—the people— He has given me more than I valued appearances of being “right”.
I’d like for others to value me the same! Not to be directed by opinions of me or past mistakes, or infused by reactions to things misunderstood— with no option or ability for my clarification.
Situations throughout my life have evolved instead because the focusedvalue was placed more on a mistake or failure than on me as a person! I have a failed first marriage that exhibits that! I’ve had to block people, or shut them out of my life, because where I failed or misstepped is their valued focus. I am not. How I feel or what I am going through is not.
That weight can be crushing.
I think that’s what makes my road with Jesus so very narrow— maneuvering the snares and pitfalls Satan loads into situations where God’s instructions for us through His Word and His Spirit (as well as Jesus’ example for us) aren’t closely adhered to.
Unfortunate things happen all the time. Misunderstandings happen all the time.
Confronting issues should be the focus, I believe.
Attacking one another should not.
What would Jesus do?
How would Jesus respond?
Would He allow Himself to be backed into a corner, and just be attacked?
He removed Himself, went off by Himself. Except when it was time for Him to pay the world’s sin’s cost.
Jesus valued the relationships He built up with His disciples— His family, His friends.
He valued people.
I’ve never seen in Scripture where Jesus quickly jumped to conclusions. I’ve never seen Him react, close off listening, and just do whatever was easiest and quickest.
Oh— but I sure do that!
I am woefully deficient in behaving like Jesus. Thankfully I can talk with Him— about everything (no matter how difficult, embarrassing, self-loathing, or angering it is!!). I can resolve things, and I can walk steadier— in His strength— on my narrow road.
God’s Will is the goal— live as peacefully as possible with others.
Ultimately peace through God’s grace and Jesus’ strength, is my goal.
That peace that surpasses all of my understanding.
God turns everything around for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
The stuff that He turns around shouldn’t be the focus, it’s what trips me up every time.
Jesus should always, at all times, be my focus.
Treating others the way Jesus treats me should always, at all times, be the focus of my intentions, at the center of my heart.
People are so important to Jesus that He died for us all!
Intentionally doing something, on purpose, has consequences. Often, lasting consequences.
I write on my blog, on purpose, with purpose.
What is my intention, intentionally?
Well, for starters, it helps me organize my thoughts. I have found, if I just leave them all jumbled up, they tend to drag my emotions into a big, complicated, tangle of a mess.
I guess, it helps keep all of that in check.
The second reason is to work through stuff. It’s, I guess, a form of “self-help” therapy.
But why do I do it online, where pretty much anyone could stumble upon it or be directed to it, and may actually read it?
My answer to that is— because others are also going through “stuff”. Maybe my processing through my own issues could encourage someone else going through something similar.
I have learned, and I believe sincerely it was God’s Spirit Who has been teaching me this, that whatever I hide in the darkness of my fears, my pride, my heart— will just pop out in some other ways.
Obsession for control.
All symptoms of holding stuff in, not finding a way to address things.
The Devil wreaks havoc wherever things are hidden.
God shines His Light on everything we surrender to Him. The enemy of our soul finds plenty of ways to get footholds into hidden situations, emotions, decisions, thoughts, fears, relationships— every aspect of our lives.
It’s so important to allow God to shine His Light into everything in my life!!
While I blog to accomplish all of these purposes, I also believe this is one of God’s intentionalpurposes for me.
My struggles are real. I’m learning how to surrender them to God, so they don’t consume me.
Maybe someone else can find encouragement in that. Maybe someone feels alone in their own struggles, and these posts help them know— they are notalone. There are others going through similar things.
It expresses understanding.
Something in my own past I’ve wished I could find.
It’s not for everyone.
In fact, it’s not what many are interested in— at all.
That’s ok. It’s not the quantity, it’s the connection. It’s the chance to share my process in surrendering all to Jesus.
Sometimes, that can be helpful.
And, if not— I still work through my own things in a healthy way, for myself.
While this isn’t a new thing, the intensity of this feeling is more than usual.
So, while I know the Bible instructs me to “Be anxious for nothing…” I am struggling right now with that very issue.
Circumstances far beyond my control.
Worry over family and friends.
Plowing a new course for my future career.
Weight loss and emotional healing bringing old buried memories and reactions to the overly-sensitive surface…
Anxiety hasn’t been an obstacle to me in decades. But there it is, staring me down.
Deep breath in, let it out slowwwww…
God is already there, plowing my path for me.
He’s got me.
He’s always got me.
I can do this.
One step at a time.
Breathing through the waves of panic that threaten to soak through my resolve.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ
Instead of giving in to anxiety, frustration or fear, I will pray. I will thank God for everything, because without Him, I couldn’t appreciate the good that comes from painful, hard times.
God has a purpose, God has a plan— for me. He will never fail me, He will never abandon me.
My first prayer is for God to help me surrender all that anxiety and everything tangled up in it, to Him.
All of it.
There is no sense holding on to that. It does not contribute anything beneficial to my life or my emotions.
Time to step away from the anxiety, and let God’s peace flood my mind, my heart, my body and my spirit.
🎵 “All to Jesus, I surrender all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.“🎵
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to share my story of what God has done, and is still accomplishing in me. I’ll be honest— I’m recognizing a deep, breath-constricting anxiety as I set out to share this here. I have family that won’t want me to talk about it, some who still don’t even believe what I experienced. Fear or worry about what they think or feeling like I have to defend myself, have been my boundaries in the past. Being called a liar, or treated like a liar has been an anxiety-riddled prison. So much so, that just speaking in normal settings about everyday things triggers an anxiety that I “talked too much”.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts here, or if you know me personally, you may already know bits and pieces— or large chunks— of the circumstances that started out as my mold. The mold that God broke when I surrendered it all to Him as I finally hit my rock bottom, and circumstances, mistakes, and unGodly beliefs tried to crush me.
The picture I chose above is significant to me. So many things I can glean from it that describe my personal experiences. The water can represent so many things, but I see it as God wearing through the hard places to forge a path forward for me to follow. My path has been rocky, twists and turns threatening to cause me to get lost or stuck, or even follow a wrong path. Before God— it was just rock. No path. No safe place for me to set my feet, no clear guidance. No water.
My story starts with me as a child. Let me preface this with— this is not in anyway a “bash” attempt. Things happened that were out of my control— like everyone has had happen to some degree. For me, mine were devastating. Through them God made me a strong person, deep rooted in Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over, so many times.
He is trustworthy.
He is Worthy to take the reigns of my life and be in control.
As a child, I don’t remember much. There are so many “holes” in my memory.
My dad struggled with mental illness, sometimes mis-diagnosed or misunderstood as he was a guinea pig of the VA. Had they understood more and accurately diagnosed him, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.
Parts of my childhood are like memories of terrifying nightmares. Not all of it. We had fun family times, with lots of laughing and fun family vacation times.
Over the years I have gotten to where the nightmare things are being forgotten. I find myself wanting to cling to the good things.
I’m not going to get into the ptsd-invoking events, except to say I was in an abusive environment. My dad was a bit of a Jekyll-Hyde type— either angry/enraged, or joking and fun. He had bouts of depression, in there as well.
I never felt that security of stability with him. I was terrified of making him angry, or being spanked by him. I never felt loving type of discipline from him— he beat me.
At some point the sexual abuse started, but I can’t remember much about when. There are things he told me, and things he never told me. The most recent time he addressed it, about 15 years ago, he told not me, but everyone else in a mental hospital community room. Things I did not know. My husband heard it.
I was beyond devastated. Embarrassed and humiliated.
My mom tried to say what he said probably wasn’t true— but no way either of us could know for sure. That feeling of not even knowing what happened to me, or for how many years, is crushing. My dad saying those things about me— proudly— to strangers and my husband isn’t something she could even begin to understand.
That night I went back to my parent’s house and at the prompting of The Holy Spirit, I wrote my dad a letter, telling him that I forgave him.
When I think back, age 10 is where most of the memories start.
That’s when the eating disorder began.
We started spending summers living with my mom’s parents. My grandma poured her love into everything meal or dessert she made.
I needed love.
I ate so much “love”, I gained a bunch of weight the summer before. My dad made fun of me. We already had a dysfunctional relationship— making fun of me was salt in my deep emotional and mental wounds.
He was so vocal about women.
So, determined to not be made fun of or noticed, really, food became a type of poison, and my RN grandma had a poster on her bathroom door for what to do if I ate something poisonous— throw it up.
It started out once or twice a day. Then turned into food avoidance.
Over the next 10 years it developed into all-consuming rituals, every meal, every time I ate.
I am not going to regress back into describing in detail those rituals.
God has delivered me from those rituals, and from that “poisoned” mentality.
After a couple of years, it developed into more of a Bulimia, as God brought someone into my life that helped encourage me to eat.
By the time I turned 20, I was purging so much I started throwing up significant amounts of blood.
One particularly bad time, I called the ER and told the nurse I threw up blood. In the discussion, I mentioned making myself do that, and she said to me, “ Stop doing that!”
Let me tell you— that was so powerful!
In all those years, I never considered I could just choose to stop.
So, I stopped.
I never did it again.
In that time-frame, I was assaulted. Then I married someone who abused me, neglected me then raped me in my sleep.
And so, while the purging and rituals had stopped, my binging habits had not. Reaction to trauma made that all worse.
I gained weight.
Most would view that as bad. But here’s where I believe God’s deliverance began—
Fat did not kill me!
It was not the worst thing that could happen to me.
In fact, I began to find a comfort in men not paying attention to me.
My husband didn’t like that I gained weight. He was mean. He made humiliating jokes about me to our families. He did things that threatened my life. Then, he divorced me.
Devastated as I was— God saved my life, and then my soul through that divorce.
I turned to God.
I had missteps. My mind was still very much in the world, I didn’t understand God’s ways being different, or transforming.
Eventually I walked away from everything and every person I knew. After seeking God for His direction for my life, for weeks, I became convinced He was making a way for me by joining the military.
I enlisted, I traded my first military assignment to move overseas.
I completely left everything, and put my trust in God.
That was 28 years ago.
He provided me with a new husband. He promised and provided me with a beautiful daughter. He gave me 3 sons.
I never returned to the rituals of eating disorders.
I did however become a food and sugar addict.
God is in the process of both delivering and healing me from this, while raising me up to help others walk in His freedom.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope or excitement.
I have all hope, and I am so excited for the future path God is continuously carving out for me now.
If you could see my spirit, it might very well look a lot like this.
I think mostly scars now, not so many cracks.
So many scars are evidence of where God has healed me throughout my lifetime. Wounds that used to fester have been healed by His Word, His kept promises, His love.
My view has been changing over my life. I used to wish for things during the painful times. I couldn’t see any sort of horizon, or even light at the end of a tunnel. I was crushed down, my spirit and mind beaten down with words of hatefulness and destruction.
My mirror was the opinions, the words, the treatment of those I loved and trusted.
That taught me I should hate myself. I was less than nothing.
Less than nothing.
All throughout my life, God has whispered into my spirit that He loves me.
That became my strength, my grounding.
God created me. He loves me!
He helped me find my pathway forward, walking with Him.
He has never left me, never forsaken me, never turned His back on me.
No matter how much I thought, or actually may have, deserved it.
One careful step at a time. Each step slowly gaining confidence— not in myself, but that I can fully trust Him.
No person on this earth can compare to what God has done.
He provides through people, more now than ever in my past.
But He provides. He is my source.
Looking at the picture above, it’s easy to think I’m weak and about to fall apart.
Those scars where God has healed me— those strengthen the cracks.
I have physical scars, some have faded, some have not.
In my weakness, often caused at the hands/mouths/actions of those I’ve loved and trusted, Jesus has become my strength.
Each time He begins leading me down a new narrow path, I start out cautiously, and then my confidence in Him grows stronger as I continue on the path with Him.
God used this song so many years ago, the words wrapped so perfectly around my life and my heart. He used this to breathe life into me where fear would try to suffocate me.
Even when I feel alone, or I actually am physically alone dealing with awful things— I know I am never alone. He never lacks understanding, compassion, gentleness, patience— never.
He is all I need! He chooses where He provides through, He picks the people in my life, He has never let me down.
Because I understand His ways are higher and better than any other way— I can always be at peace in my heart. I can demonstrate compassion, even when my humanness tries to get in the way. I can demonstrate patience, because I understand just how freeing that is as He has continuously covered me with His patience.
I can stand strong in Him, even when the world only sees my weaknesses and failings.
I am walking a newer path with him. I have demons to face down, and fear that will again try to suffocate me. But He is my Rock. He is my Confidante— sometimes my only confidante.
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.
Apparently there is this school of thought, some believe supported by Scripture, that being the unfortunate victim of abuse is “God’s Will”.
Obviously they don’t understand how wrong of a conclusion they have come to. Nor do they get the depth abuse reaches into the spirit, the soul and the foundation of someone deeply traumatized by abuse.
Never once was I drawn to God because of a comparison between my earthly abuser and my Creator.
No, it was not God’s Will for my dad to psychologically abuse me! I am, to this very day, still dealing with the affects of him telling me he hated me and wished I’d never been born, coupled with how I was just always in the way.
No, it was not God’s Will for my dad to physically, sexually abuse me. I despise what he did, so much, I developed eating disorders to try to purge it out of my system! He violated my trust, my innocence— my body!
No, it was not God’s Will to witness his guinea-pigged drugged-up confused mindset that had him convinced he was like God, and loved my mom so much he had to kill her— tried to kill her.
My God does not Will sin’s ugliness into anyone’s life.
God does not willfully direct sin to deeply traumatize people.
God allows many things, but He does not Will them to happen.
I have never had a healthy relationship with my dad, or any kind of redeeming father-like relationship with anyone.
In my life I have felt a desperate need for someone to accept me and just be part of my life as a mom, dad or sibling type.
That hasn’t been something anyone has been willing to do.
That has been what has driven me closer to God.
Not the abuse, not a comparison.
The lack of those relationships.
I have given up on anyone within the church stepping into that kind of role in my life.
I have never given up knowing God will fill that lack with His love, His acceptance, His delight in me.
His Character is defined all throughout Scripture. And, while He has directed harsh judgement against some by directing those obedient to Him to carry out that judgement in Old Testament times—
Never once do I see Him telling a father to molest his daughter.
Never once do I see Him telling a father to tell his children how much he hates them and wishes God never created them.
If I could describe my life as a mash-up with how God has always been there, it would go something like the following:
Accidents, mishaps and hospital ER trips— Your protective Hand was covering me, keeping me safe from far worse.
Deepest loneliness, hurts and deep-seated rejections— You’ve always accepted me, held me close to Your heart of hearts.
You are the only One Who has trulyloved me. The only One Who has consistently been there through everything.
There in my happiest times, rejoicing with me.
With me in the sad times— comforting me in Your arms of perfect Love.
Mynorthern star, the compass of my heart…. You are the voice that calms the storm inside me Castle walls that stand around me All this time, my guardian was You It’s Always Been You Phil Wickham Who stood with me in the fire? It was You, it was always You Who pulled me out of the water? It was You, it was always You And who carried me on their shoulders? It was You, I know it’s You, You
You have never born false witness against me, have always encouraged me through Your Word and that still small voice speaking to my heart of hearts.
You have lifted me up, You have had my back. You have been my Guide to get out of the muck and the mire threatening to suffocate the life out of me, draining me of the will to fight, the will to live.
It’s Always Been You.
It’s only been You.
So Will I Hillsong United. You chased down my heart Through all of my failure and pride On a hill You created The light of the world Abandoned in darkness to die.
If the stars were made to worship so will I If the mountains bow in reverence so will I If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I For if everything exists to lift You high so will I If the wind goes where You send it so will I If the rocks cry out in silence so will I If the sum of all our praises still falls shy Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times
The sum of my life is simply— You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.
4 Luke 15:4-7 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
Imagine this is a picture of God’s hand— catching all of our tears (Psalm 56:8), Holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13), pouring His grace, His mercy out over us (1 Timothy 1:12-17)— within our reach, in His grasp (Acts 17:27).
Imagine His hand designing every part of us, every cell’s information center, every detail from the tiniest strands of Laminin to the color of our hair and eyes. (Jeremiah 18:6), (Isaiah 64:8) (Isaiah 66:2)
His hand— that shelters us (Ezra 8:21-23), heals us as He applies His perfect Heavenly healing balm upon our hearts (2 Chronicles 30:12), our eyes (Matthew 26:64), our wounds… (Revelation 1:17) (Exodus 15:26) (Psalm 107:20) (Jeremiah 30:17) (Jeremiah 17:14)
His hand places us (Ezekiel 37:1), directs us ( (139:10), supports us (Psalm 18:35), it beckons us towards Him (John 14:6) fulfilling His purpose for us (Psalm 138:8) (Jeremiah 29:11), warns us to stop what we are doing and turn back to Him. (Psalm 31:15) (1Chronicles 4:10) (Daniel 9:15)
It’s His hand that holds us (Isaiah 41:13-14) (Ecclesiastes 9:1) and keeps us safe (Isaiah 41:13) and keeps us from being snatched from Him. (John 10:28-29)
His hand gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves so in His timing He might exalt us. (1Peter 5:6-7)
It’s His hand that upholds us. (Isaiah 41:10) (Psalms 63:8)
His hand delivers us. (Psalm 138:7)
He has us inscribed on the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:16) Regardless of where you stand in the tattoo debate— think about this culture of tattoos, all the pretty (or not so pretty), creative designs humans come up with and want to display on their bodies— for all the world to see. God— Who created everything— has us inscribed on His hands!
All throughout Scripture we read about His hand executing justice on the behalf of very imperfect people. (Ezra 8:21-23)
And that’s just His hand(s)!
Along with His hand, is His attention. His focus. His love.
We have the attention of The Creator of every universe, every planet, every living being!
The imagination of our loving God is on full manifested display for us to witness, across the sky, and across our world!
The One Who’s thoughts are so much higher than we can ever reach or attain, has His thoughts on us, even shares them with us.
Being reminded of these things is humbling.
How is it possible to forget He’s holding me in the shadow of His hand? When I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of circumstances affecting, over-shadowing my life, there is something that is far greater in size and strength.
He is with me through it all.
Even when I am aware of my unworthiness. Even when I think what I’ve said or done— or not done— makes me unqualified for His protective, loving hand.
All of us have experienced the same things, in differing degrees, the past year. Add to that individual, unique experiences— it’s overwhelming when our focus rests on that.
Much like those pictures with a hidden picture we can only see when we let go of focusing on what we recognize— God’s hand comes into focus when we stop looking at everything else.
Have you ever watched someone restore a damaged painting? I find it fascinating, the level of dedication, determination and affection the one restoring it demonstrates. The knowledge of every painted stroke, the understanding of what and how— tedious work, for sure.
Have you ever heard a song that grabs your soul’s focus almost immediately?
“I was a wretch. I remember who I was. I was lost, I was blind, I was running out of time.”
I instantly remembered.
In the midst of everything I have going on in my life, everything I am struggling with, all I am endeavoring to push through and overcome, I was instantly transferred right back to that moment my soul heard Him call my name and tell me to turn and follow Him.
My life was the messiest of messes. I was being crushed against my rock-bottom.
He saw me. He reached into my soul, He called my name. My name. He knew myname.
He gently helped me to my feet. He patiently cleaned off all the smudges, He worked out all the mars in the clay of my foundation. He tended carefully, lovingly to the tears, the worn spots from the misuse, the abuse, of others who didn’t know how to properly care for me.
He looked into the depth of my soul, found all that is of value to my Creator. He applied the Blood to every detail.
He Saved me for Eternity, He rescued me with the redemptive relationship no one on earth deserves.
I haven’t deserved such Divine, Perfect attention.
He gave it to me freely, liberally— permanently.
I never have to go back. I have continuously walked forward. Sometimes I’ve crawled, and at times I have danced with Him.
My beautiful Savior.
It’s beyond just His love for me.
He sees me— all of me. He knows me better than anyone ever can.
I enjoy watching classics. In many ways, tv, movies— Hollywood really— played a role in “raising” me.
I learned more from seeing actors pretend in relationships than I did from my own day-to-day experiences. I assumed I was watching how people actually interacted in their own families.
I’ve learned since that I wasn’t. The reason those become so popular is they are “selling” ideas that deep inside people think they need.
It’s an illusion.
As I have been watching some older things, ranging from black and white classics to 90’s favorites, I noticed something— in older things, one main common thread was how men talked about and treated women. And women believed it was justified, normal, ok treatment!
There have been judgments made against the Bible, but what I read in Scripture does not verify them at all.
I’ll start with “In the beginning…”
God made women, from man’s rib, to help him suitably. The very first humbling of “manhood”— men need helpers that are suitable.
God provides our needs.
Too many husbands reject the suitable help of their wives.
Why? Well— first because of ego and pride. I mean— how many men will admit they need help? Scripture never says man asked God for someone to help him. God just saw it was necessary— and He took part of the man He created from the dust— and made another being suitable for help, companionship, love, conversation… All things men’s nature seem to reject.
Looking to things our culture tends to put on a pedestal— the “stars”— there is an obvious disdain, maybe even hatred, for wives. Wives are to be insulted, ignored, talked down to, brushed aside, be unfaithful to, etc. The way men talked about and treated the wives in the “classics” is now a disgusting thing for me to see.
It’s no small wonder women rebelled in various ways, and took over the culture, where male “bashing” became a defensive popular theme. Pretend-wives treating pretend-husbands like they are stupid, idiotic, lazy, untrustworthy— etc., etc., etc.
One thing that is never a Hollywood marital theme is— Mutual. Mutual respect, mutual love, mutual consideration…
I’m not sure I would say that’s a focused perspective in Scripture, but I think when Scripture is carefully studied and practiced, the result becomes a natural mutual practice.
Hollywood has taught husbands to hate their wives, to be abusive, intolerant and unfaithful. Whereas Scripture consistently teaches husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church— and what I sincerely believe to be the key— as husbands love their own bodies (flesh).
Hollywood has taught women first, that they aren’t valuable, capable, intelligent, and only outer appearance is worth valuing. Then, Hollywood in more recent years has taught wives to be disrespectful, unhelpful, even hateful to husbands. Scripture on the other hand has taught all women that our value lives in Christ, that God defines us, has created us with priceless value and beauty as we grow closer to God through Jesus. Scripture has taught wives to respect husbands — treat them with respect.
I believe Scripture has put the greater burden on husbands— because they are to love their wife— helpmate suitable— as Christ loves the Church. They are to mirror Jesus!
How did Jesus treat women Believers? Never objectified them! He was not rude, did not talk down to them, always listened carefully and considered what they had to say. He never treated them as though they were unimportant, or had nothing of value to contribute.
Husbands— who are you following the example of? Pretenders following someone else’s scripts, or Jesus and admonishment from Paul?
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Nasb
1 Cor 13:11a “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
When I was a child, my whole entire view was about me. My immediate surroundings, how big everything seemed, my interactions with family members, wanting to be liked and approved-of by everyone I interacted with. There was always some level of security I sought through confidence in what I knew, routines, and things being consistent.
As I grew older, my view started to include people I cared about, and people I looked up to— outside of my immediate family. Friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, my parents friends, kids at school, teachers, and pastors.
I learned about the world around me and what I could trust through how my parents reacted to things and interactions with me.
As I continued to grow and mature, the response or reaction from others became my “thermometer”. I developed a sense of right and wrong, and learned how to take up the offense of others as though it were also my own. And— sometimes it became my own. Sometimes I saw past it and looked at it in a different perspective.
I began to develop discernment.
As I grew into an adult, my experiences, surroundings and environment changed— several times. I left home under stressful circumstances— independent and determined to make my way, in my way, alone.
Thankfully God placed people in my life to help me propel through all those twists and turns in my personal life story.
I learned from a pretty young age who was in my “corner”— and who was not.
As I ventured into my adulthood story, I learned some really tough lessons in humility and that few people would have my back as I tried to have theirs.
Trust had been a recurring theme in my life— or most often— lack of trust. It’s been an uphill battle to find trustworthy people who support the extremely imperfect me. Letting my guard down has burned me more tines than not.
Now, as I look back through so many years past, the second half of 1 Cor 13:11 makes so much more sense: “when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Ok— I’m not a man per se, but as a human I now understand I don’t have the full picture.
I also recognize that for some parts of the picture, I have a clearer understanding than some others. And, for some parts, I do not.
Now my worldview has changed into a much wider view. It’s no longer about me— it’s about my children, and as they grow up and venture into their own lives outside of my parental decisions, my worldview includes those who are important to them. Oh, we disagree on various viewpoints and opinions, but the heart connection moves us far beyond that.
At least for myself it does.
I have learned that God’s view is complete and perfect, and I can always trust Him with what I don’t see, or know. He knows all , sees all— is everywhere, at all times. Nothing is hidden from Him or outside if His reach.
That brings me great comfort and security. That’s where my peace of mind lives.
He also has given me a deeper discernment, and with that a confidence that He is helping me see and know things not for the sake of my having knowledge— but so I can pray and I can recognizewhere He is at work. That is the entire purpose of discernment— to differentiate between where He is, what He is doing, and the absence of His involvement. It’s not to focus on where and what the enemy are up to— it helps us to be aware, yes. But our focus should always be on our Creator and our Savior. This is what His Spirit has taught me over the years.
Now I’m finding that God has completely changed my heart, mind and worldview focus. It’s no longer a tiny area just involving how things affect me. It’s about so many other things, and how those things affect other people and situations. It’s now an earth-wide view. It’s an Eternity view.
I want to see through God’s eyes, not my own opinions and misunderstandings. I want to care through God’s heart, because mine gets tempted to wax cold.
I want to pray for what’s on God’s heart, I want to be aware of what’s on God’s mind.
So much has been centered around our individual selves within our church environments.
There really is so much more.
There will always be “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12
There are new things illuminated as we seek God for what He wants us to see, know and pray about. I want to participate with Him in what He’s accomplishing— through praying and through recognition.
We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.
The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?
Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.
Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.
What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. Wecan cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.
When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”
This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.
Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.
This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.
We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.
So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB
The human ability to adapt to most situations and changes, is astounding. Even more-so is the ability to overcome— to beat, win, conquer overwhelming circumstances.
There are an infinite number of human-interest stories about people who beat the odds— and often God is credited for a person’s ability to do what our minds consider to be impossible.
I personally believe God should always be credited. God created every individual with the ability to focus with determination. God often allows us to be in situations where that is necessary. He put within every form of His creation the instinct to survive— to fight to live.
We see that all throughout nature. Butterflies struggle to be released from their chrysalis womb. It’s often been noted that if a human feels compassion and tries to help them get out, they can get damaged and even die. Human compassion most often lacks understanding of the necessary process for their survival.
Birds push their young from their nests to activate their instinct to fly.
Humans often feel the same sort of desire towards our offspring, but the difference lies in the dynamic of personal relationship between adult and young adult, as well as extenuating circumstances. Every situation is unique within the human relationship system. Background extending through generations, environments, financial situations, educational opportunities, personal experiences, directional purpose… an endless number of variables and belief systems.
The enemy to personal achievement is getting ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of frustration. Once we get into that, it can seem impossible to get out. Sometimes we stumble into that, sometimes we’re born into or placed into it, completely outside of our control. So, we adapt. We do what we believe becomes necessary for our survival.
Fight, or flight.
Sometimes the hard decision is to stand our ground and fight.
Sometimes we “feel” the need to fight, but we’re misdirecting our energy towards what looks very much like it should be our target focus. But, like trying to box against our own shadow, it ends up exhausting and depleting us of necessary energy, even robbing us of relationships.
Many marriages break apart in divorce because one or both individuals feel directed towards fighting against one another. Many marriages could be salvaged if only each person realized their spouse is not their enemy. Many marriages could become stronger, if instead all that energy being used in fighting each other could instead be directed towards fighting the invisible enemy breaking them apart.
The definition of invisible enemy is unique to every marriage (though I believe the exact same force is behind it)— but the result is often the same thing— trying to inflict as much pain through anger and disappointment as possible.
Marriages become blurred “friendly fire” zones, convincing spouses each other has become the enemy. Fight or flight is often activated. Instead of fighting to protect the union of two individual souls— nasty destructive anger becomes a sharpened arrow that penetrates the bone and marrow of the marriage.
It’s not only marriages where this happens. Families step into this quicksand-type trap. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, cousins against cousins. Family is messy. It’s a solid ground for forgiveness to be planted and nurtured. Unfortunately the personal nature instead often turns it into a battleground.
I’ve found myself stuck in an awful, exhausting cycle of frustration. There have been occasional outside distractions of conflict— especially lately. There has been the threat of my own marriage becoming a battleground of destructive distractions and fiery darts.
It’s not been easy to lay down my own types of weapons, and surrender everything to God to “please help.” I’m not the same person, deep within my core, that I used to be. My instinct used to be to fight against anything that threatened to hurt me, and not flee from it, but to turn my back and walk away.
God has changed me. He’s opened up my understanding that His way has not been my way. His way is forgiveness, surrendering the hard stuff to Him, and allowing Him to bring the healing.
His way is far better than my way.
At the beginning of my year, on my birthday, I felt God speak into my spirit that He will strengthen me this year. If anyone reading this knows the history of me at all, you could understand that I believed He meant with my physical health. Since the birth of our last child, I’ve dealt with a weakness in my legs, I believe came about because in a moment of personal weakness I chose to have an epidural. Since the birth of my first child, 21 years ago, I’ve fought an increasingly tough battle against other health issues that doctors haven’t found a solid, treatable cause for.
Imagine my surprise that instead of my physical health being strengthened, the very foundation of my life nearly crumbled apart. Many things I had believed turned out to be far different.
God is strengthening me in ways I was so clueless about. But first— I had to ask Him to be my strength, to help me walk because my path was all but gone. Life blinded me, I needed Him to be my sight. I’m still trying to adjust my sight to what feels at times like this blinding darkness— you know, like when you’re eyes are used to some kind of lighting, and then suddenly it all gets shut down— and there is only an absence of light.
My understanding has a new grasp of Jesus being the Light of the world. I now better understand what it feels like to need Jesus to be my Strength. He’s taken my arm and is guiding me through, safely. He is my Shield. God’s Spirit gives me a comfort no other source ever could.
Now I am enabled to walk in a forgiveness that comes from outside of myself. A complete, and all-encompassing forgiveness that spreads a healing balm in every direction that it walks.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Not covers-up. Not pretending the offense hasn’t been real or caused damage.
Covers. With a healing balm.
Throughout my lifetime, so far, I’ve been given ample opportunities to forgive some very deep-seated wounds.
I have been sinned-against, many times, in personally physical and emotional ways. Others I care deeply about have been sinned-against, and it’s been in my “nature” to want to pick up their offense.
Again I get to practice walking in forgiveness that the world tells me I shouldn’t extend.
I don’t belong to the world any longer.
I belong to Jesus.
His ways are far above what the world would have me practice.
People fail me. I thank God that He continues to never fail me.
1Cor 13:12– “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
I was often told I was “in the way” by people who’s opinion mattered deeply to me, for a significant portion of my life. I had no reason to not believe them. So, I did all I could to move out of the way, whether physically or otherwise.
I assumed everyone thought this about me. I have lived most of my life trying to not be in anyone’s way.
My foundational understanding of myself has been flawed by believing that I’m just always in the way.
I was once told by one of my pastor’s that I was in God’s way and I needed to move out of it. You have no idea how that affected how I saw God at that point.
I still don’t trust anyone to “pastor” me.
Over the years I’ve thought about this phrase, and with God’s help, I’ve begun to turn it around into a positive.
The Way is what Believers in the past have called their group. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus lives in me. I am inthe way. But– I am not in the way, as being an obstacle.
The pastor who said that to me did not see me in my time alone with God, often prone before God, surrendering my life and my choices to Him.
That pastor was wrong.
In all those years before I accepted that he was wrong, I saw everything that I did or said as being in God’s way. I had no idea how to get out of God’s way, or what that even looked like.
I never felt like I could fit in anywhere, because no matter what I was blind to somehow being in the way.
I reacted by just removing myself. I can’t be in the way if I’m not there, right?
I was then told by that same pastor that I was in sin because I wasn’t at church everytime the doors were open– I was forsaking the gathering together of the saints…
How does one ever please someone who just sees what they think you are doing wrong?
God moved me out of that pastor’s way, relocating me to another area. But that criticism stuck.
How can I possibly ever get out of God’s way when He is everywhere?
Over the years, God has revealed that He does not see that about me. He has shown me that I have, in fact, been in His way. Going out of my way to obey His word, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness, to show compassion and love– I’m trying to do things in His way.
It’s amazing how much healing and reatoration can be released when God corrects wrong thinking.
Now I know– I am exactly where I need to be– in His way.
2 COR 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
In our culture of Christianity, it’s become easy to sing our promises and confessions of faith.
Do we follow through? When the service is over, do we reflect on the weighty words we’ve sung in praise, adoration and promise to our God?
I can’t say, with a clear conscience, that I have.
When I sing about surrendering it all to God, and beg Him in song to “take it all”, do I really know what I’m asking of Him— what I’m giving to Him?
Lately I have been playing Animal Crossing with my kids and husband. I have this neighbor— Buck— the “neigh”bor that annoys me the most. He’s brash, loud, yells in my character’s face, and he sneezed on her. I mean— the nerve! Lol! In real life, I wouldn’t want a neighbor like that. So, I’ve been trying to get him to want to move away. I give him boots, which he always hands back, saying he doesn’t want my trash.
My point in sharing that is— God *does* want our trash. He wants the worst parts of us— the things we dislike about ourselves, the stuff we hide from everyone else.
He wants our broken hearts. He wants our ugly, horrible thoughts. He wants that anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. He wants those feelings that cause us to do exactly what we hate…
He wants our trash.
Because then He can make us better. He can make us stronger. He can repair the broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He can calm the storm that rages in our emotions. He can help us see things clearly, without worry, fear or distortion.
But, we have to freely give them to Him. He won’t just take them. He is never forceful with us.
Have you ever been the sounding-board for someone who doesn’t really see you while they are talking?
Has there ever been an expectation of you to be available to fit into someone else’s schedule?
Have you ever just wanted to not— just for a little while— be available when it’s expected of you?
Have you ever been broken by something completely unexpected?
Have you felt pushed and pulled into expected directions you just don’t feel like going in?
Have you ever tried to pick things back up after being let down?
Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from your own life?
There’s this song I loved years ago, called Disappear from Out Of The Grey. The idea in the song is the desire to disappear into Jesus— like John the Baptist said— more of Him, less of me.
Well, I did disappear— but into my marriage and my family.
I’m still seen by God, though, even though I don’t feel worthy to be seen by Him. Because I know I am a broken fixture in this world, and I can’t fix what’s broken about myself. There is no doctor, no hospital, for invisible wounds, and my brokenness is invisible except to God— Who really sees me.
I can rest in Him because He sees me. I’m not His sounding board. I’m not empty, I’m not weak because He fills me, continuously, with His strength and love.
As long as He is my focal point— I can push through the emotional labors of this life. I can stand up under the weight of the roles I’m expected to play. I can be who He created me to be.
Physically I can’t do what I used to. Thankfully my spirit still can, through Christ Jesus Who is my strength— He is my focal point.
Because of that— I am okay.
Isaiah 40:31 NASB Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
In 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.
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’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.
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.
God has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.
One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.
There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy relationships with their parents. Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?
“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)
He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.
We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.
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 !