I struggle with something that has been medically defined as “body dysmorphia”, from an eating disorder I developed as a child. As a result— my view of myself and others physically is often pretty off.
Thankfully, God has been deeply at work healing me, in every way possible.
As God has been changing my perspective to match His, I have learned I just can’t rely on what I see, or what “feels” obvious.
I have traveled a long way from where I used to be. Physically in location, but also in many other ways. My reflex reactions to things, my understanding of what I see visually has been so skewed, I find I rely on other things to help me feel my way through life. I try to read people’s reactions, to gauge their acceptance of me through their words.
As a result, I don’t often see things the way others do and seem to expect me to.
It catches me off guard when others miss the heart of things I share, and get offended or misinterpret me.
I have always lookedat myself as though something must be wrong with me.
God has been at work at how I see me. He has refined some things, He has changed how I focus, He has shown me that what I naturally am tempted to focus on doesn’t match up with what He accurately sees at all.
I have sensitivities others don’t seem to. The way many appear to respond or react has said to me that I am the problem.
Lately though, God has revealed to me that sometimes He’s highlighting what’s wrong with others.
He has fixed me not for the world’s acceptance, but for His purposes.
He reveals broken areas for me to be used to pray for them, to demonstrate His grace, His mercy, His kindness— His love.
His ways are, sadly, definitely not my own.
So He has been humbling me. Not to be mean or cruel, but so I will be of use to Him.
So I can join Him where He is at work.
My flesh still wants to resist, to be prideful, to reject what is uncomfortable.
But to reject that is to reject His purpose for what He’s changing in me.
If that makes me look peculiar— even to other Christians— I have to live with that.
He has been weeding out some very ugly things that have taken root and grown strongly in the garden of my understanding and my heart, that have become my focal points.
He has planted seeds that are just beginning to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit that lives within very imperfect me. His fruit is becoming my offerings of sacrifice as I give up the old me and allow God to direct the new me He is still bringing about.
So many very ugly things are always being plucked out of me to make more room for the fruit God loves.
I have been adopted by Him, changed by Him, groomed for His purposes.
Nothing else matters.
My focal point has to be Jesus. Everything that blocks Jesus from my view has to be adjusted, fixed, or removed.
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!
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.
I’ve heard church described as a group of sinners. Saved by grace, yes, but emphasis on sinners.
If we are people who claim to follow after Jesus, shouldn’t we instead refer to ourselves as repentant sinners saved by grace?
Having turned away from the sin that has affected every person ever on earth— except for Jesus— God in the flesh.
This is why someone still blinded and bound by sin shouldn’t be a role model in a Believers Meeting. Because it’s meant to be for repentant followers of Jesus. That’s not to say everyone shouldn’t be welcomed. But, there has to be an open repentance standard for role models and leadership.
We may not like it, but God’s House needs to have strong Believers who choose Him and turn away from the sin that caused Him so much pain and anguish in our place.
He died the death we deserved, and then He provided the way to turn away from that sin, and is offering each one of us Eternal Llfe— with Him.
We lack God’s love.
We lack compassion.
We lack surrendering to accountability to one another.
We lack so many Godly things explained to us in Scripture.
Every person falls short, and messes up. But— isn’t the entire point that we are repentant, and we turn away from the sin that plagues us?
If we embrace the actual sin, what is the purpose?
Loving individuals who are still bound up by sin **should be** the natural actions of repentant Believers.
But— loving them doesn’t mean we should embrace and cater to the sinfulness.
It also doesn’t mean we exact judgement against anyone. If anything, true repentance should humble us, while reminding us of the sinful muck and mire God dragged us out of.
God’s Word specifically tells us Jesus came to set the captives— those held captive by sin— free. He came to seek and to Save the lost.
He did not come to condemn the world, but to Save it.
God so lovedthe world that He gave us His one and only Son…
Harsh judgment is going to come at us from people who don’t agree, but it’s not our place to reflect judgment in return.
We won’t win souls for Jesus if we don’t treat others as God expects.
The first step is humbling ourselves in repentance and acknowledging that there is nothing new under the sun.
God is not surprised by anything.
Nor is He ashamed of the lost.
Neither should we be ashamed.
Here’s the thing— since Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again— conquering both sin and death— why do we focus so much on sin?
Kindness, compassion, gentleness— praying for someone bound in sin is the fruit of a repentant heart.
Our focal point needs to be Jesus.
Not any specific sin.
By the same token, anyone who calls themself a Believer and Saved, needs to repent of everything Jesus conquered through His death on the cross.
For the Believer, church is about becoming more like Jesus— sinless. The only way to achieve that is by rejecting the sin that we sometimes try or want to justify.
There is a difference in the life and heart of someone who **turns sin away**, and tells it “No! Jesus has a better way for me, better plans for my life! I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus, Who is my strength.”
Believers Meetings are for empowering us to do that.
God made Salvation as easy as possible for us. Mankind adds twists, turns and an abundance of complicated expectations.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one, and only, Son that whoeverbelieves in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Then mankind adds their own “twist”— you’re Saved if you demonstrate the gift of speaking in tongues. You have to prophesy. You need to speak things that are not into being as if they were. You must demonstrate unspeakable joy as though it’s continuous happiness… and on, and on, and on…
I personally believe there are people who are as clanging gongs to God, that believe they are pleasing Him.
Maturity is important in our relationship with God. I do believe we grow in maturity as we get into the meat of Scripture.
I also believe we tend to move away from the Gospel’s simplicity as we “grow up” in Christ.
Here’s the simplicity— am I included in whoeverbelieves?
What should the evidence of that be?
Galatians 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. NIV
I wonder if ministries today are how God wants them to function. It seems as though very few get right to the heart of the simplicity of God’s Gospel message.
1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
Acts 17:31 “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
That seems pretty simple to me.
I am reminded of Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and hung on every word He spoke.
And yet, Martha complicated it. She tried to pull Mary away from giving her full attention and focus to Jesus. I think, even though Martha’s service was what she believed was necessary and needed— she missed the mark that day. She stepped into a performance role, whereas Mary stepped into a relationship role.
I see these two roles as often being almost in a type of war with one another.
The road is narrow for the simplicity of God’s Gospel. We seem to lose our footing the more we focus on what everyone shouts at us along the way. “You need to do this, be this way, demonstrate that, bind and loose these things…”
I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth.
Sometimes it’s wise to just drop everything we “know”, and go back to sitting at His feet, absorbing every word He has spoken.
If I could describe my life as a mash-up with how God has always been there, it would go something like the following:
Accidents, mishaps and hospital ER trips— Your protective Hand was covering me, keeping me safe from far worse.
Deepest loneliness, hurts and deep-seated rejections— You’ve always accepted me, held me close to Your heart of hearts.
You are the only One Who has trulyloved me. The only One Who has consistently been there through everything.
There in my happiest times, rejoicing with me.
With me in the sad times— comforting me in Your arms of perfect Love.
Mynorthern star, the compass of my heart…. You are the voice that calms the storm inside me Castle walls that stand around me All this time, my guardian was You It’s Always Been You Phil Wickham Who stood with me in the fire? It was You, it was always You Who pulled me out of the water? It was You, it was always You And who carried me on their shoulders? It was You, I know it’s You, You
You have never born false witness against me, have always encouraged me through Your Word and that still small voice speaking to my heart of hearts.
You have lifted me up, You have had my back. You have been my Guide to get out of the muck and the mire threatening to suffocate the life out of me, draining me of the will to fight, the will to live.
It’s Always Been You.
It’s only been You.
So Will I Hillsong United. You chased down my heart Through all of my failure and pride On a hill You created The light of the world Abandoned in darkness to die.
If the stars were made to worship so will I If the mountains bow in reverence so will I If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I For if everything exists to lift You high so will I If the wind goes where You send it so will I If the rocks cry out in silence so will I If the sum of all our praises still falls shy Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times
The sum of my life is simply— You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.
4 Luke 15:4-7 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
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.”
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
I’ve failed. Again. No big surprise. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing the game by now. I show up, with all of my imperfections– which are easily recognized at first glance– and I fail the test. You know– the test– where I do, or behave, or look like the labeled box I “should” just fit right in to. Where I “fall in line” with how everyone just is or just does– just sayin’…
The expectation test.
Although, I must admit, the anger I seem to detect lately is a new twist. I mean, surely I deserve whatever reaction the opinion of unmet expectations metes out, right? Surely I have no right to react or respond, or– heaven forbid– show any sort of weakness emotionally or physically.
I see the looks behind your eyes, I am aware of the reactions, and all it does is push me farther away.
Humanity has been such a disappointment to me most of my life– other than my own family. See there? You didn’t meet my expectations, either. I’ve expected grace, kindness, but have most often been meet with coldness, disappointment or indifference.
Thank God for Jesus.
Jesus didn’t meet most people’s expectations, either. In Him I find my own identity. In Him I find acceptance, and peace– comfort in all of my times of need. Where I am weak, He is strong. Where I am found lacking, He provides everything I need. When life just makes me more tired, when my body fights itself leaving me exhausted and frustrated– He carries me, He ministers to my spirit– giving me rest.
God made us to need other people. For myself– that remains to be a double-edged sword.
This is what has been on my heart this week.
Maybe God will choose to heal me this year. Maybe He will enable me to better fight back against that invisible enemy that attacks my body. Maybe He will just continue to draw me nearer to Him. I have learned to be content with where I am, no matter how He answers my prayers and needs– have you?
If I’m not angry about my personal fight, what gives anyone the right to be angry with me about how I manage my personal fight?
After nearly 51 years of life, I’m tired.
Be kind. Pray. Don’t put expectations onto me–I will never be able to meet them. You have not walked my path, experienced the things I have, or fought the fight I deal with daily. Maybe you’ve heard things about me, taken out of context. If so, you are adding opinion to heresay.
How is that Godly?
I expect to receive the grace of Christ from my fellow Believers.
The Voice of the Martyrs Facebook Timeline headline says– “LAOS Pray that new believers facing angry relatives will not waiver in their faith.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized family and friends against believers?
The Devil has come to kill, steal and destroy– by any means necessary. Jesus said, ” “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:53
In Ephesians 6:12 we are informed– “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized someone at our churches?
Here’s the most revealing question– How many times has the Devil weaponized us?
Deception hides amongst the well-intended. It thrives on emotional reactions. It drives misunderstandings and miscommunications as a destructive force, tearing through walls of relationships as though they are nothing but smoke.
Make no mistake– the Devil intends to use us to tear down everything God is doing.
May God grant us all discerning eyes and spirits, increasing our sensitivity to where He is at work so we can join in with Him through prayer, supplication and surrender completely to His Holy Spirit.
We need to ask Him to reveal where we may be, now or in the future, deceived by His enemy and the enemy of our souls. Lay aside every assumption and belief of being “right”. Step back and just wait for Him to reveal what He is doing, where He is working– who He has chosen to work through.
We cannot allow ourselves to be weaponized– used– by the Devil.
To surrender everything we believe, everything we “know” to Him– recognizing that He knows all and sees all– that is wisdom. It is necessity— right now.
Who’s “tool” are we? Who’s purpose is being fulfilled through our actions and treatment of others?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” 2Cor 10;3-7
I’ve had this post bouncing around inside my head all day, wanting to just get out.
As a kid, I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a sudden inspiration for writing. It was usually a poem. I recall just looking at the words I had written down, marveling at the picture they painted–amazed that they had come out of me! I wasn’t a clever person. I wasn’t anything special. I was just a kid, a pre-teen, with no special writing training.
I was inspired. I believe, by God. He gave me what to write. No way I could come up with all those phrases and word pictures all by myself.
So, as a child, I was inspired.
I also suffered from PTSD. As a child.
Everyone has hardships in their life. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, people who don’t believe in them– situations beyond their control to push through.
Not everyone has the same things, situations– people– to push through.
For instance– not everyone has survived a cougar planting its teeth in their skull. I have survived this. I’ve lived to tell that story.
That’s a story I can freely share, an injury I can point to that people show interest in hearing about.
Those scars can be seen by anyone, even felt by someone who cannot see. Those scars filled in what was broken, they made it stronger, tougher. But, even though I’ve been healed, which is what produced my scars– the scars still ache sometimes, reminding me that where they provide more protection than the skin surrounding them, there is still weakness within them.
What’s broken is not the same as it was before, after it’s fixed or repaired.
That got me to thinking about the word “whole”. How it has the appearance of being complete. But– inside of the word “whole”, is hole. The word itself defies its own definition.
On the outside, we appear whole. In reality, we might be broken.
My hair hides my cougar bite scars.
I recently heard someone speak on healing, and he shared what I’ve known personally for quite some time. Our physical issues can be the fruit of having been wounded in our spirit, but never getting full healing.
Outside, we give the appearance of being whole. Inside– there is a hole that needs God’s healing touch.
Outside defies the reality of what’s inside. Because it’s not seen with eyes, or felt with physical touch.
Except– it is.
It’s often what is rejected, abhorred, resisted, and can cause hard-heartedness.
It can be defined as quirky, character flaws, or just out right unacceptable. It exposes the lack of compassion of a dying world.
I’ve sometimes wondered what we look like to God, Who sees all, knows all, and is everywhere all the time.
He sees what the appearance of wholeness attempts to hide or disguise.
He sees the brokenness.
Like the doctor who examined my wounds and wrapped my head to stop the bleeding and protect my wounds from infection. God has done this for my spirit.
But, that doesn’t mean there is no sensitivity to what caused the brokenness.
I don’t go out of my way to seek out mountain lions to embrace, to face my apprehension of cougars.
I don’t go out of my way to seek people who are abusive, who break the spirits of others, to form relationships with. And trust me– there are far too many of those types out there!
I have, for years, openly sought out the people who would not do that. In my doing so, I’ve found very few that make the time or effort to look past my quirks, personality deficiencies and obvious flaws. I don’t form friendships easily– never have, I’m guessing never will.
I have scars on the outside of my head, and scars on the inside of my head.
I love rainbows. Besides being beautiful, they fascinate me. The origin and history are intriguing.
Besides the colorful streams that invoke a feeling of warmth, to me they are one of the many wonders of our world.
Rainbows and I also have a history. My very first memory in our shared history is seeing one outside my bedroom window. Inside my room, inside of my heart, it was raining– tears of sadness. I don’t remember the cause, maybe I’ve blocked it, maybe I was too young. But I remember that rainbow. I remember crying because I didn’t think anyone loved me, or liked me. I remember, fairly vividly, seeing that rainbow and feeling the voice of God inside my heart tell me that He loves me.
I knew He had made a promise to mankind that He wouldn’t destroy all of mankind by flood again. I remember a kept promise being a deeply important thing to me.
That is my first memory of connecting with God. Through that rainbow, having known about that characteristic of God, He brought His Word to life and breathed life into my spiritual lungs. I was about 7 or 8.
When I was 8 I began to learn to play the violin. I don’t think I took learning it seriously until I was 9 or 10. I had a wonderful teacher who took the time to help me find a sincere love for playing it. That’s when I began to practice. I started practicing everyday during the news– I hated the boring news back then!
As I grew in my ability to play, I also grew in my affection for it. At times it became the extension of my inner secrets, those things I couldn’t give voice or words to, things I didn’t understand.
I struggled with learning certain techniques, and I began to practice hours at a time because I wanted to be the best I could be– I wanted to be 1st chair. You see– that violin sounded scratchy no matter how much I practiced. I had to work extra, extra hard to get the scratchiness to not be noticeable.
My parents were kind, they didn’t complain about what must have been awful sounds at times. They didn’t have much money, and that violin was a rent-to-own. It was what they could afford. They gave me something far more than just a musical instrument to learn. They gave me what I needed to succeed, to survive, to feel. I had a way to access a depth and passion I would not have otherwise.
Without that, I’m not sure I would be here today. My violin became my best friend. It was the tool that I could use to help bring healing into my soul. It was the tool that allowed confidence and accomplishment to be poured into my spirit.
As that rainbow I first recall observing became a vehicle for God to reach into those inward places only He has access to, so became my violin. So much so that when, during my first military duty assignment, my dorm room got so hot from the heater I could not adjust, the glue melted and my best friend literally fell apart.
It was as though I lost my right arm.
I think I was in shock that I didn’t have it anymore.
A few months later, after making payments with my meager A1C salary, I brought home a new violin.
Then my dad bought me a special one, that I sincerely believe God set aside just for me. Someday I’ll tell that story, I’ve gotten myself side-tracked.
As I continued to play, a new passion stirred up in my heart, a desire to serve God while playing, an intense need/want to help bring God closer to other people’s hearts. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming, it feels like my breath is taken away, hoping I can be His vessel to pour healing and life through.
Rainbows, to me, are a visual of how God reaches into our inner recesses through music, through His Word, through prayer– through His Spirit.
I’ve been meditating on the song Remembrance all morning, and as I’ve been writing this. There is so much in this simple, short song. The music is nice and it gets intense. The words are nice and they get intense. My memory gets intense as I internalize, absorb, soak in every note and word– saturating my soul. Communion is deeply personal for me, the words remind me to not just take it but to remember Him as Christ is formed in me– continuously, as I take Communion and live my life for Him. He has been so, so good to me– oh the things He has delivered me from, and protected me from. No matter how bad things ever got– they could have been so much worse.
The rainbow seems like an illusion, but science has proven it’s absolutely real. Just like God in our lives. To others He appears to be an illusion to us, but through our personal experiences with Him interacting with us, we know beyond any shadow of any doubt that He is more real than any problem we face. In fact– the problem becomes the illusion and dissipates completely as He takes it and deals with it in His timing and His way.
Yes– He has been so so Good to me. Unworthy as I am, as I have always been– He has not withheld His goodness from me– I would have. He has provided me with all I need, He gave me a husband who reminds me of Him in how he treats me and loves me. I don’t know what He sees in me, but I am Eternally grateful that He does.
I owe Him everything. I have nothing of worth to pay Him back, He has accepted my life. My life.
Some days I do need Him to remind me that He’s not finished yet. I don’t understand why he has not given up on me at times.
I would give up on me.
My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Jesus.
Limited as it is, He still finds ways to use it as a catalyst for His healing Spirit.
“Until I see You face to face, Until at last I’ve won my race– remind me You’re not finished yet. Hallelujah…”
Have you ever stood out on the beach and just yelled into the wind? Did anyone hear you?
Social Media traffic is the online wind, tainted by “deboosting”, “algorithms”, “shadowbanning” and the bias of those enforcing them.
That’s a part of what I’m thinking of as I type this on my Social Media platform.
But, it’s more than that.
For me there has been a recurring theme of a sense of being unheard, undervalued, even unseen.
I found at times I could use that to my advantage in a defensive/protective kind of way– I could leave a room and not be missed. I could stay quiet and no one notices or tries to talk with me.
I can’t begin to describe that deep lonliness I’ve just learned to live with.
Why don’t some people want to hear me?
Some are so engrossed with what they want to say, others are lost under the clutter of words, ideas and opinions.
Writing has been my out-source. Sometimes I feel free to say whatever I want to say.
Except I’m not.
Because what if someone reads something they find offensive or hurtful?
It’s always about everyone else.
What about me? Do I ever get to just talk and be heard?
When can I openly share my heart and concerns?
I could tell some crazy and awesome stories!
I could even share bits of wisdom from firsthand experiences.
I think I’m pretty funny. (Don’t ask my husband though, lol!)
I’m pretty creative.
My topics of passion and pet peeves have “evolved” through experiences, trials and life lessons learned from that popular school of “hard knocks”.
One thing has always gotten me through the silent times, the emptiness, and the “I don’t quite fit ins”.
Because when no one sees me, hears me, or values my input or presence– God always has. And He has always let me know.
I’ve seen Him transform lives. I’ve seen Him heal people– He even healed me! I’ve seen miracles!
It’s sad that some will just never know what God has done because they won’t stop talking and listen to others.
Talking has always been a struggle for me. The anxiety after talking in a group setting is suffocating. Did I say too much? Did I talk too long? Did what I say make any sort of a difference to anyone? My spirit feels anxious, restless, even worried.
I know this problem is not with others– not most of it.
It’s how I react, how I relate, how I believe I’ll be received.
Having been told I was “in God’s way” from someone who’s opinion I deeply valued has had an almost crippling affect on my life.
Having been told that I’m “poor in spirit” has stuck with me through decades of church relationships and church leadership. I think that’s because I’ve heard so little to counter-balance and cancel that out.
Where Scripture has admonished us to build up one another– I’m not a “one another” worthy of that, it appears to me.
Tearing down is for strongholds, not for people. Not ever for people.
I’m guilty of having torn others down in my past.
I guess it’s taken feeling like that outcast that helped me wisen up and learn the necessity of speaking life– and life abundantly– to one another.
This is my invisible enemy that fights me often. I wrestle not with flesh and blood– I know this too well.
I have people I do talk to, though my list is growing smaller by the year.
There will, however, always be One on that list. That is in no way a sad or depressing thing. I have the ear and attention of God attuned towards me. That is humbling– so very humbling.
That’s me there– the square one. You’d think I’d be the well-rounded one with all my experiences and whatnot, but that’s not how it really works.
Words that have been used to describe me by others over the years–
Words I wish I heard about me–
That last one is probably the most coveted by me. There seems to always be something people want me to change in order to “fit” their box for me and change the label they’ve put on me.
It’s not going to happen.
I’ll never again be happy-go-lucky. I’ve experienced too much first hand.
I’ll never be the perfect cook or housekeeper. I just won’t.
I’ll never perform the way anyone thinks I should. I have no desire to jump through “social norm” hoops.
Life has filed down my rounded edges into sharp corners with precise edging.
I can’t go back to being ignorant of pain and suffering.
I can’t heal the wounds others can’t see or make the invisible scars actually disappear for good.
I can’t become someone I have not been designed or conformed through life experiences to be. I can’t, and I won’t.
I am not my outer appearance.
I’m not my experiences.
I’m not maleable to people’s whims and wishes.
I am who God has made me to be, and who He continues to shape– as He kneads the mars and scars.
I am misunderstood and misread, as well as overlooked and undervalued.
Somedays I am only loved by God.
But– I am always loved by God, and that is what makes the difference to me.
I have demonstrated my love for others through acts of service in the past– serving my country, using my gifts and talents for the Body of Christ.
Right now I’m in a season of rest and retreat.
I’ve lived for 1/2 a century. I’ve seen and experienced so many things in those years, sometimes it overwhelms my heart, my mind and my spirit.
I’ve been looking for the miracles of God in people’s situations and lives. I’ve seen some in my life, in my circumstances, and God has caused my own life to do a 180 turn. Miracles are not always evident, but if you can catch just a glimpse of one, you are seeing the evidence of God in action.
I could chip away at the edges, but I’d be leaving off what God has carefully shaped. While that might please the well-roundeds, it would not please God.
So, I don’t mind being a squared person in a well-rounded world.
I just caught a live sermon from Elevation Worship about transitioning. As I listened, it hit me– that’s what I’m going through!
I’m in such a weird place right now.
I don’t mean physically, or emotionally. Not really mentally– just in life in general.
I’m not young anymore, but not old. In my heart I feel maybe 15-20 years younger, but in my body I feel way older than I am. Maybe that’s part of that thing I was diagnosed of years ago.
I’ve got two grown kids, and two at home. I’ve been a spouse and home educating mom for so many years now– much of that kind of isolated.
I think I’ve grown up now. Transitioning into a different mindset, a newly focused one– who did I grow up to become?
I’ve been defined by what I do for far too long now. I’m not satisfied with definitions and labels deciding who I am for me.
I’m caught in the middle of a transition.
And, sometimes that makes me a bit weepy. Sometimes I feel impatient for it to just be finished so I can step into the newness of being transformed into a better, wiser person.
Being caught in the middle feels chaotic, tumultuous– even ugly.
Looking through pictures to post here about transitioning, I found some interesting ones that helped me change my own perspective on being caught in the middle of a transition.
Like this dandelion caught in the middle of transitioning from a wildflower to seeds carried off by the wind.
Or the transition of day into night, with the sun captured, creating a breathtaking view– caught in the middle of the daily transition.
There is always a lot going on in the middle of a transition, but even if it feels awful, when we surrender our control– or lack of control– to God, He makes it a beautiful thing, with a beautiful change.
So, while I’m in this place that feels weird and lonely, often designated as the listener with nothing of value to say– God sees beauty in the process, and hopefully in me.
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,it isthe gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” NASV
My husband had a conversation with someone dear to us that has inspired me to work through some thoughts I’ve kind of held on to for awhile now. I say kind of, because I’ve shared them with him but no one else.
I want to talk about grace– actually– point out a lack of the narrative of grace.
Grace is the difference between Christianity and every other religious belief.
Grace is humbling. Grace removes our efforts from the act of Salvation.
Grace should be easy to demonstrate and practice, a relaxation of criticism and fault-finding. But, in reality, grace is tough.
Grace removes blame. Grace replaces pride and self importance.
Grace removes accusations of other Christians.
We have many, many, many excuses for why it’s not first and foremost in our mindset, actions and view of others.
We look at what others do and we jump to some pretty strong conclusions about them and the condition of their soul, because of their choices that we don’t agree with.
We judge the container of their soul and think we’re in the right.
Only Jesus Saves.
Not doing the “right” “approved” things.
Not going to every church service possible and exhausting ourselves while not being ministered to or admitting what our needs are.
Not having a perfect house.
Not only reading “accepted” books or playing “accepted” games.
We don’t lose our Salvation by watching movies or shows that have garbage in them.
Our part in the Salvation process is confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and believing in our heart that He died on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, rose again on the third day, and He ascended into Heaven to wait for the time to return to rule and reign on earth for 1000 years. And then– go out and share the Gospel of peace and grace.
That is our part.
Jesus makes the changes to the desires of our hearts.
He is continuously perfecting us until His return.
Allow me to clarify: I’m not talking about outright sin. Some things are not in our best interest. Some things are stumbling blocks and we know what we need to avoid in order to have the best relationship with Jesus that we can– like we should also do with others.
Before every Christian there is a measure of grace.
Christians should be so full of grace that it coats every word and deed we do.
So– why isn’t the main narrative grace?
Which narrative will you fall for? Accuser of the brethren, or grace?
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASV
As a child until young adulthood, I didn’t expect anything good to happen for me. When it did, I would brace myself for it to be ripped away from me, because then I wouldn’t feel disappointment– because I just “knew” *I* didn’t deserve good things like everyone else did.
I carried that belief with me until I made the decision to stop just letting things happen *to* me.
I had been rejected, abused, trash-talked and the butt of family member’s and some “friends” jokes my whole life. I was convinced I was stupid, good for nothing– worthless– because I was told I was by people I thought knew me best. I thought I had to believe them.
Someone even told me they wished I had never been born. Everyday it was confirmed that I “was just in the way.”
Inner wounds and scars are tricky things. People react with compassion and understanding to outer wounds and scars, but fail to recognize that some behaviors are more than likely the evidence of inner wounds, of deep scars only God Himself can see and heal.
And He does heal them.
This is what Romans 8:28 reminds me everytime I hear it. For me, it’s deeply personal.
It’s evidence of God reaching out for me– to me– because I’m not in the way of His plans and purposes– I am a part of them.
He took my life, and He repurposed it. He refashioned it, reshaped it into something He can use. He has taken all of my bads and made them into part of His continuous story within my life.
He takes all of the bad, and uses it to help others know that He is Jehovah Rapha– The Lord Who heals.
I used to worry that people said things to me because that was how God saw me, but the more I learn His Word, the more I can see He has always had compassion for me, has always accepted me. He carefully made me, and where abuse and rejection had trounced and marred me– He picked me up, reshaped me around all of those circumstances, and He reminds me that if those bad things hadn’t happened, I could never understand the depth of His love for me, and His forgiveness towards me. He helped me forgive those who have acted with selfish ambitions– with little or no concern for how it has affected me.
I still have “people trust” issues.
What I no longer have is God trust issues. He has proven Himself reliable.
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.
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.
I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?
Except that’s never how it’s taken.
If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.
The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?
Well, no. It won’t.
Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.
Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.
Because it’s the Living Word of God.
It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.
God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.
Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.
I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.
We live in a world full of people with as many backgrounds as there are people. No two are completely alike. In this mix, there are abusers, abuse survivors and the unaware.
The category I fit into is abuse survivor. I was molested as a child, harassed as a teen and young adult, and raped as an adult by someone I believed I could trust.
It’s been quite a few years since it all happened to me, and it surprises me to see how it still affects my thinking of myself.
So, I’m going to address some of those things that I’ve learned, and some of the attitudes I’ve dealt with.
1) Rape and sexual harassment is never funny to a survivor. It’s never a light topic, it’s not something to be joked about. Words do matter— they conjure up memories— sometimes traumatic ones with deep emotions attached.
2) No, we can’t just get over it. Something was stolen from us, trust was violated, our spirit has been bruised. Healing over time happens but, often invisible to the natural eye, emotional scars remain.
3) We grieve over the robbery of our innocence.
4) Our body was attacked, and our bodies react to that— often through eating disorders, or even gaining weight in an attempt to self-protect. Stop the body shaming, they probably have some history of sexual abuse!
5) We are often more sensitive to criticism because many of us have an unconscious belief there must be something wrong with us for someone to hurt us so badly.
As a Christian I rely on God to be my Comfort and my Strength, but sometimes I wish I could rely on my brothers and sisters in Christ more. Relationships aren’t often easy for me to form because I still, even after so many years of God restoring what the locusts had eaten, I still have trust cautions.
All I hope to get across through this post is to encourage others to become aware. Be kind and sensitive. Hold back on criticisms.
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.
We have all heard the sarcastic jokes about how girls are so difficult to understand. If we are honest we have either told a few ourselves, or agreed with them.
But, are women really that difficult to understand?
Being a woman myself, I feel qualified to answer this.
Flowers, chocolates, jewelry, a spontaneous trip somewhere, getting us that dress we have been eyeing as we do our online Windows shopping– believe it or not, they all have something in common.
Being valued. Being remembered. Attention to the details that matter to us being acknowledged. Being that priority in thought and heart.
Not out of guilt. Nope. If guilt is the motivator then you have lost.
It’s not the amount of money that makes something valuable to a woman. No, really, it isn’t. It’s the motivation that created the desire to buy or make and then give the gift. That is what women most care about. What is your motivation for what you do, say, or give to your wife or girlfriend?
Behind the motivation, your heart towards her is revealed.
Women are sensitive to that. We do not want gifts, compliments or acknowledgment born out of guilt, manipulation, or stubborn obligation.
Us women, we need to know you are thinking about us. That you are appreciating us. That we, alone, satisfy you. Show us that an evening alone with us is enough, it doesn’t make you cringe or fall asleep, or day-dream about when we let you go play Fallout 4. Let us see first hand that holding our hand satisfies you more than that game controller ever does, or that iPad, or even that drink or cigarette. Put your phone on silent and look into the eyes of your special lady, without thinking about all you need to be looking into your phone’s screen to check. Dazzle us with your full attention so we know you think highly of us, you are interested in our point of view– that you value how we are different from you.
That is how we measure how much you value us. Not by how much money you spend on a gift. That you would willingly spend as much money as possible to show that you value us even more than the cost of what we have our eye on.
Make it a point to notice what we have our eye on.
We need to know we are the most valuable part of you.
When you met us, you craved our attention, you dropped what you were doing when possible to spend time with us.
You showed us we were important.
After becoming confident you had “won” our hearts, a shift happened– you began telling us we are important. Not wanting to be “needy”, we’ve adapted and accepted, until pretty soon that’s all we have.
That becomes our value. How much we adapt, accept, overlook…
This is not at all what women really want. It’s definitely not what we need. It does not satisfy or make us happy.
All too often we become part of the background of your attention or memory.
An after thought.
The least in your list of priorities.
There are too many things competing for your attention, and your affection– those things the woman in your life most deserves.
Isn’t she worth more to you than you often make known to her?
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.
1Corinthians 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.” (NASB)
I have a jumble of thoughts built up. Hopefully I can get them all out and place them in good order.
I’m thinking about God’s continuous cycle of revealing and healing. He shows us something about ourselves or our past that we haven’t seen through His understanding, He illuminates it, then He begins the process of healing.
The thing about God’s way of healing: it’s not always our way. We don’t even understand that that’s what He is up to, sometimes.
A root biggie in my life is enveloped by the Scripture I shared. To be known. A branch off of that would be to be seen, and another branch would be to be heard. The fruit that I want to grow on this particular crop in my life is: to be valued.
This probably shapes pretty much every thought, action, and even inaction I do, all the time.
There are so many things we place value on concerning people. What they do (job, talent, skill), what they say, where they have been. We value degrees, titles, clothing, monetary worth, status, and career choices.
I think we often forget to place value on the most valuable part of a person: them.
When my husband and I discipline our children, we often remind them that it’s the dangerous, unacceptable, or just all around bad behavior we are wanting them to change and correct, not them as individuals. Their worth is not tied into behaving perfectly. No matter what, we will love them, they will always be our child, though their choice in behavior may disappoint and frustrate us. Their behavior does not define them.
God defines them. He began the definition of each one of us as He knit us in our mother’s womb.
There are roots in my history that have become tied to how I perceive being valued. My parents weren’t the sort to hold conversations with me, or listen to what I had to say. They were focused on their own lives for various reasons, and the very best thing I could ever do was try to just stay out of their way as much as possible.
There were times I ran away, and they didn’t even know I wasn’t there. There were times I ran away, and they did know I wasn’t there, but I never heard a conversation about how I might have been in danger, or how I had or would be missed. I heard about how it made things look, or how things weren’t so bad for me, or how next time they’d put me in Juvie. I had no self worth, because I never saw my parents reflect that back to me. Except when I did something that reflected on them in a good way, like doing well at a concert. My worth became tied into playing my violin well.
I remember times when I shard things with my mom that seemed super important to me, things I didn’t have anyone else to share them with, and she would roll her eyes, sigh irritatedly, and tell me how stupid it was, or something to that effect. She still does that, and it still tries to affect my perception of my worth.
I feel like I was robbed of a healthy mom-daughter relationship. Because of that, I purposely go out of my way to tell my kids how important they are to me. I don’t ever want them to believe they are not valued just for who they are, because I know what that feels like. (Of course, a clean room would also give an added pleasant bonus…)
I think that’s why God carefully took me under the shelter of His wings when I was pretty young. I always remember His being there, going out of His way to give me something I needed to help me want to carry on. He made me aware of a deeper purpose that He has given to me, deeper than any person ever could. He reflected my own heart back to me when I was heart-broken at trying to help a friend who tried to commit suicide, then told me they never wanted to speak to me again. He fixed that, and He worked, and I didn’t have to lose that friend to suicide or hatred. He made Himself known to me before I knew myself at all. He showed Himself to be real. Nothing can ever convince me God is not real, because He simply IS. There is no unbelief that is more powerful than God’s reality. It doesn’t take much to find Him, either. One just has to sincerely want to know Him for themselves.
God is at work healing some pretty deep hurts in my life. After all the healing and work He has done, sometimes it’s tempting to want to ask Him, “Are You ever going to be finished in me?”
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I do know that answer: Yes. When Jesus returns.
Anyway, I got the jumble of thoughts out, and here I am at the end of this blog entry. You’ve now had a glimpse into my head, heart and life. I hope something good will come out of that for you.
When things are changing, like life constantly seems to do, and tense moments take over our reactions and thoughts, our tongue can be our worst enemy. The phrase from Scripture in Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”, has been echoing through my thoughts all day.
It’s honestly a pretty rare thing for my husband and I to fight, I mean really fight. We snap on occasion, we argue, we disagree, but for the most part we don’t really fight. So, this past weekend while we are both going through so much in our own emotions about this whole stressful moving process, well, we got into an argument, and then a full on fight. And I realized: fighting with my best friend really just sucks.
I have been aware for sometime of the necessity to build others up because the world is constantly tearing us all down. And, sadly, it’s not just the “world”. It’s those closest to us who know our vulnerabilities, and in that heated moment of arguing, swoop down and sink their words into the jugular of our trust in them. Seriously. Who doesn’t get into an argument and fight with every motivation of doing or saying everything possible to “win”?
It’s hard to rise above our tempers. It’s hard to forgive so things don’t build up.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” Anyone who knows me, knows that when there is a conflict, I try to talk things out both as soon as possible, and as thoroughly as possible. And, those who value me and any sort of relationship with me, they talk with me and pray with me. Because we cannot live at peace with someone when we are hurt or angry, and I sincerely do my very best to not ever let the sun go down on my anger, because then the sinning comes in the form of mean thoughts, hardness of heart towards the person things are unresolved with, all sorts of things. My mind and emotions become the Devil’s playground, and I don’t want the Devil anywhere near my thoughts or emotions.
I have lived and learned: no good comes from harboring anger or not acknowledging it. It leads to the death of relationships. It leads to the death of dreams. It leads to the death of being effective for Christ in our everyday lives.
There is no “winning” when there is death because of what we say and/or how we say it.
My daughter’s youth Pastor had her group do an activity where they hammered a nail through a piece of wood. Then he talked about how that wood was damaged. Sure the nail could be removed, but there would still be a hole. Then he told them that’s what our words can do. You can say something , and even apologize, but it still makes a “hole”. You cannot take back your words.
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 !