He revealed how much I hold up walls against him, only fearing his judgment and anger. But instead finding, a Father whose love has no match or end. A Father that has never abandon, given up or just tolerated me, even at my very worst. (Oh, and there are so pretty bad moments.)
I work in a job that is easy to forget the joy, because it is hard on a daily basis and we need joy. We desperately need it and our students need it too! I want to be known as a the joyful one. I want to be known for my joy.
|photo credit: Dutch sceneries (Winter edition) The long stretch via photopin (license)|
It isn’t the answer, it isn’t the fix for the problem. The baby, the boyfriend, the success, the promotion, the accolades, your grown children’s lives. It isn’t what will make everything better. Maybe for a brief moment. But not really for the long haul.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”
“You are ugly.”
Those words too long held power in my life. I believed them. I believed that those words spoken by an immature, thoughtless 5th grade boy were true. At that age, I didn’t consider the source, I believed it named what everyone thought about me. For an 11 year old, fighting for some sort of identity, a place in the world, figuring out how to dress for her body type that was continually changing, these words stung.
As a semi-well adjusted almost 30 year old, I still feel like that 5th grade girl, anytime I get ready for a date, dress up for a fancy function. I fear that everyone in the room is thinking what that boy said out loud.
If I am honest, sometimes, when someone does compliment me on my appearance, I don’t even hear them. I think they are lying, just being nice, or even just humoring me. Those words from so long ago, have such a strong grip on my heart, that anything anyone would say now, falls on deaf ears.
In my head, I know that those words weren’t even true.
They were flippant words that the boy doesn’t even remember saying. (Believe me, I have asked. I now happen to be related to him. Long story.) They were words that were said out of carelessness.
However, the enemy uses this lie and others to debilitate me over and over again. The enemy knows my weaknesses, my sin, my desire for others to approve of me, to be liked, and to be enough. This lie and many others can paralyze me and make me ineffective and to hide from God.
The one that has been hitting me hard lately is:
“You will be alone forever.”
Okay, so there are obviously so many things wrong with this lie. On good days I can see right through it, and carry on. But on days, when I drive away from an event all by myself, or another friend gets engaged or starts a relationship, this lie comes to a head and I become a sopping mess.
We all do it, we have those lies that haunt us on our bad days. We have those words that we easily believe because life is hard or isn’t turning out how we thought.
Those lies hold a lot of weight when we are disappointed or rejected. Those lies grip onto our thoughts and our lives in powerful ways. Maybe, ike me, they cause you to act crazy or irrational.
Funny thing is that when I start to measure that lie up against scripture and what God has to say about my life, the lies become weak.
“I am afraid.”
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10
“I am not enough.”
a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zeph. 3:17
“I am not important.”
“It is hopeless.”
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the rightous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. -Psalm 34:17-20
God left us with clear scripture that tells us the opposite message of this world.
The lies sometimes look like truth, sound like truth, and come from people that maybe also speak truth. The enemy gets sneaky and wants to debilitate those that would glorify the world.
As I reflect on the last couple of months, my head and heart are heavy. Not just for the lies that I have been believing but for those that are still unaware of the lies that they hold on to. My heart is heavy for those lies that are being screamed from the rooftops, through print, social media, and through each other.
Friends, let us name those lies for what they are, lies, and speak truth, life, and hope into each others life. Let us come back to God’s words to us to help us.
One final truth to leave you with.
When all seems lost and confusing,
…….He gives us direction because He loves us.
When we mess up and try to cover up
…….He knows, draws us near and still loves us.
When are drowning and feel like nothing goes right
…….He rescues us because He loves us.
When the waves keep coming
…….He gives us an anchor, because he loves us. (Hebrews 6:19)
When the darkness surrounds us
…….He gives us a light because he loves us. (Psalm 18:28)
When feel empty and have nothing life
…….He fills us up because he loves us.
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
When we are alone and weary
…….He provides for us people and himself, because he loves us.
When we are trapped by anxiety and fear
……..He storms the gates because He loves us. (Psalm 18)
As my soul is thirsty to hear every day, our God loves us to a depth and width and breadth that I will never fully comprehend.
|photo credit: Iceland via photopin (license)|
Many are the things that tell us that he doesn’t. The world is drowning out the truth in our hearts. The darkness, the hurt, the injustice, the anger, the loss, the grief, fights to crowd out His truth, that He loves us.
We are quick to say we are sinners and deserve God’s wrath. We see the sin that we are capable of on a daily basis. We are surrounded by it.
But are we quick to remind ourselves and each other that HE, the God of the heavens and the earth, the God of Abraham and Jacob, the commander of the Sun and Moon, loves us?
Are we quick to remind each other that above all else, he first loved us?
We can quickly name off the thing in our life that say otherwise. But when we start with his love, perhaps those things will look different.
In my singleness, loneliness, I can be quick to think that God has forgotten me, that he doesn’t love me. But when I say He loves me enough to give me this time, this season to learn and grown closer to Him. To give me rest and knowledge of him so I am first His before anyone else’s.
In our unanswered prayer, we can say that he doesn’t hear us, that he doesn’t want to bless us. But when we first say He loves us, those unanswered prayers look like our dependence, our reminder that he is the giver of ALL things.
In our trials, we can say that he has left us alone and made our lives hard. But when he say he loves us enough to provide opportunities for our community to love us. He makes a way for us to see his Church as a helping hand.
Friends, are we quick to see Him as a God who first loves?
This is the least perfect thing I will write. It maybe won’t make sense to you, or have errors. Or it might even be completely out there. You might even think it is terrible and close your browser after the first paragraph. That is fine. I am not offended. (Maybe I secretly am, but that is the beauty of the internet right, I don’t have to sit next to you, while you read something I wrote.)
Confession: I am a perfectionist.
Sometimes in the most unhealthy way. It usually manifests itself in fear and anxiety and inaction. There are many things I stop doing because I know they won’t be perfect. I don’t move or act on a desire or idea because I know it won’t turn out perfect.
So why even try? What is the point?
I long to put these thoughts and ideas on paper. God is working in my heart in crazy ways and I don’t know how to process without writing. But I am trapped by fear.
I don’t want to misrepresent myself.
I don’t want to others to misunderstand.
I want to be clear.
I want what I have to say to be just right.
I want to be well thought of….applauded for my righteousness.
Except, because I am messy, and broken and an so far from perfect, anything I write, won’t be perfect.
And that’s okay. Or I would like to fully believe that it will be okay. (Probably don’t yet.)
Perhaps you are like me, paralyzed by fear, disappointment, unbelief and doubt.
As a Christian, all of those things seem like completely opposite of what my life is supposed to be about.
Except it isn’t.
Those are all realities that we will face in this life on earth. James even talks that it isn’t without purpose.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)
James is crazy, right?! I don’t know how anyone that finds joy in hard things…..or trials. Those that are experience harder things than I, most likely wouldn’t use the word joy to describe their lives. Hard things suck. Trials suck. Brokenness sucks. I don’t want those things.
So why do I think that I am above those realities, those hard things, those trials, because those produce the thing that I want most, being made perfect? Why do I think I shouldn’t experience those things? Probably pride, and a myriad of other issues. (All of which are under examination.)
I am not a perfect believer.
I am not a perfect teacher.
I am not a perfect roommate, friend, or sibling.
I am not a perfect woman, or future spouse.
I am not the perfect runner or healthy eater.
I am not the perfect single.
I am far from all of perfection in so many areas. And I have to stop thinking of perfection as the pinnacle that I will never reach and sit in a muck of self-pity.
So why do I write about this?
Other than being a verbal processor and needing to get the words out of my head. I write because I need to declare to myself the reality that I am already free from the trap of perfectionism.
He has already made me free, he has loosened the bonds. Even further he knows my imperfections, in and out, to the depths of my soul. And loves me still.
Friends, the part that strikes me to the core is that even in the midst of my messiness and failures God has not given up on me. God has NOT looked at my messy, confusing, imperfect life and walked the other direction. He remains with me, in the mess and gunk and promises to continue to work with me.
I pray and claim that I want God to rule and work in my life, but I don’t think I am prepared for what that means. So if I want God to transform my heart and soul, I better be ready to shed the shackles of “Perfect” and be ready to be messy.
Do you struggle with perfectionism? What are truths that you cling to when the bonds seem real? Do you struggle to believe that God loves every part of us? Share with me in the comments. I could use the encouragement.
How I long to experience the true freedom in Christ on a daily basis, not ever falling back into the entrappings of the world. I long for the kind of faith that makes those cages resistible. Even more so, I want to be the kind of woman that knows what freedom in the Lord tastes like, so I don’t run back to the cages of sin.
Sure, we can go on and on about the freedoms we have in this country and goodness knows that we are so blessed to have the freedoms that we do, but in that freedom we believe the lie that our American freedoms will be enough. Those freedoms will never satisfy that spot in our soul that longs for eternal freedom, eternal life with the one died to make us free.
What do you find yourself enslaved to and how does that prevent you from experiencing freedom in the Lord?
Temperatures have risen. Birds are chirping, the clocks have sprung forward. The sun is shining, warm air is flowing throw the windows.
In that, let us rejoice, that He longs for us to have genuine faith. He longs for us to be confident and strong in Him. Even more so, he doesn’t leave us alone or here forever.
Friends, so let us rejoice as we begin to spring clean, clearing out the junk so He can go to work.
**photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/oH9US1
Irony is God’s specialty. When God is working in your life, He sends you the same message from all sorts of different places. He puts the song on repeat. Through song, through message, through conversation with friends. Perhaps eventually you just begin looking for that message from all sides.
And I have been longing….begging God to work in my life, to help make sense of my restlessness.
(There was so much more, but I can’t write it all here!)
As we read and studied Joshua 1, we ended the weekend with the BIG question:
This prompted thousands of women to ask themselves if they are trusting in God, having faith in Him, and how is that going to transform their lives. We wrote it on stones and marked the moment.
For me, it became very clear, that I hold back from God. I resist his work in my life. I run.
But “I need to stop running and embrace my reality. I need to embrace His plan for my right now instead of running.” (From my notes!) I numb myself out, I distract myself with everything else, rather then sit and listen to what God is teaching me. I am afraid to trust him with all my longings and hopes and dreams. I am afraid that my dreams are wrong or too big. I am afraid that my longings are sinful and stupid.
So as I left the weekend and even now as I sit and continue to think on what God is doing in my heart. I am meditating on these two things.
Dig into HIM: to know him, to let him in every part of my life, to trust HIM, to know his heart and desires for my life.
Let Go: of all the fears, sins, and anxiety that I have let rule my life.
So friends, If God is real, then what??
Do we really have the faith that we claim to have and if we did, what would that mean for our lives? How would that transform our callings, our relationships, how we live and breath, and go about our day?
Join with me and ask these questions, and trust and believe that God is who he says he is.