Held together

Shattered and Broken. Destroyed and torn apart.

Everything is ending, the pieces are on the floor in front of you. The door just slammed, the call just came, the tears are running down your face.

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Maybe it is a job, a relationship or a family.  Or maybe it is a hope, dream or desire you have held as a pillar in your life for so long.

Whatever it is, you can’t breathe or focus, or seem to move on, it just feels as if you will die under the weight of the shattered pieces of your loss.  You might feel as you can’t continue, you can’t face the world, the others that haven’t been broken, and everything is together for them.

Perhaps you are in hard place of “this time of year” that can be suffocating.  You can’t muster the strength to smile and pretend everything is fine, so you just don’t go to that work party or that event with your friends.  You can’t face them again when your insides feel ripped in two. The happy couple or put together family is a punch to the gut.

My heart has been heavy this year thinking about how this advent season, the season of longing is truly that for many people.  2016 was a hard year for many, filled with heartache and pain and worry.  A year that just didn’t seem to quit. The world seems to be aching in so many ways.  Brokenness, shattered lives, cities literally crushed by hate and war, it is all too much.

We want to look away, we want to run and hide.  It seems too much to handle, to bear, to carry around from day to day. So maybe you ignore or just numb your self to the pain because you just can’t.

If you are anything like me, there might be things that seem impossible to hold together, to balance, to get through.  I look to myself to try to do it for myself, to pick up the pieces, to hold it together until I leave a party before I crumble.

The truth is that we actually don’t have to just power through, keep it in, and stuff it down.  Friends, we don’t have to hold ourselves together.  

We don’t do a very good job anyway, right.  We make a mess of it, like a stain that we try to fix without the stain remover.

The truth is that we have something that holds us together.  Someone, really.

In this season of Advent, of waiting and longing, I have been reminded that what we receive in the birth of Jesus is way through the pain, someone to hold it together for us, to be with us in the suffering.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17 ESV)

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And in Christ, all things hold together.  

The power of that statement, in those moments when all the plates you have been juggling come tumbling down, when you feel at the precipice of destruction, when nothing seems sure, is water for the parched soul.

He came to us, he came to our world and lived the hard life that we are living.  He knows the pain and suffering of living this human life.  He knows. And he is still here.  He doesn’t run from it or hide from us. He stays and is with us. What a beautiful savior we have in Jesus.

Friends, as we wrap up 2016, we don’t have to pretend or posture before God about the state of our lives.  Our lives might be laying there destroyed by our sin or by others.  We might be in the midst of suffering and pain.  Or maybe 2016 was one of your best, but the message is the same.  It isn’t up to us to hold it together. 

We don’t have that power or might, but we have the One that does.

Friends, live in the freedom of not having to hold it together.  Step into the heartache and pain, you won’t be left there, you won’t be alone in it and it isn’t up to you to make it better. Praise Him.

photo credit: Shattered dove via photopin (license)

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When did it become about other people?

 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”>[b] of Christ.” Gal. 1:10

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about helping and serving other people.  I am a teacher, I live my life to serve and love my students.  I want to love and serve my community as well.  I want to be a good person.

However, somewhere along the line in the last year, things shifted in my brain.

See, I started on this journey to change my physical body, discovered it was just as much about my soul and lots of things changed.  My self-view changed.  I had more confidence and joy.  I enjoyed meeting people because I was confident and comfortable in my own skin.  I saw myself more than the in the background person.  I began to shine, enjoy life and was excited about the future.

But something happened……. 

disappointment turned into heartbreak and I didn’t even realize it.

I tried to ignore it and cover it up.  I went back to living my life to please other people, seek satisfaction in what they thought of me, in whether I was doing it right.  Even living healthy and running became about other people and competition.

It was an exhausting year.  I fought to keep my head above water and still have hard days. Slowly, the fog is beginning to lift as I take one more step toward the only ONE who can satisfy, who is already please with me, and rejoices in me big or small. 

As I ran this morning, I began to think about my beginning motivations for losing weight and living healthy.  It was first because I was tired of living in the impossible.  It was about proving to my 7th grade self that I could do what I never thought possible.

This last year it became about proving to other people I could do it, it became about reaching goals others set for me, it became about becoming skinny enough to get a date (I know totally lie, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a motivation.)   Somewhere in the midst of busyness and stress, I let my motivations begin and end with other people. 

Not that things will change overnight, they didn’t the first time, but it only takes a moment to make up your mind.

Why is it that we make things about other people and what they think?  Why do we want to prove to other people that we can do it and not fail?

You see, I think, we want approval, we are born with that need.  However, we misplace it in people.  People cannot give us what we ultimately need.  They cannot give us the everlasting approval.  

Until I can get it through my thick skull and deep into my heart that He has already called me worthy and already approved of me, that I don’t have to go after it in other people.  When I fully understand that, the disappointments, the stress and the hard things in life, will not derail me.

With that, I have made up my mind that my journey will not be about other people.  I will do this for myself.  All those miles I run will be fore me, all the sweat will be for me, all those crunches will be for me. 

Who are you living for?  Whose approval are you looking for?  What does it take for you to change that?

Emotional Rollercoaster

School started again. That means several things for my life.

– Exhaustion

– A sore throat

– The constant feeling that I need to be doing something

This last week was the first week of school. Going into the week, I wasn’t so sure that I was ready for it. Over the weekend, I was dealing with a lot of emotions and heart issues. I was already drained before the kids got there.

These last two weeks, I went from feeling that I had a handle on the school year to feeling as if I was totally unprepared and inadequate to do my job. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to act like I can do everything on my own. I put on the mask of “I got this under control” and fake it till I make it. However, something that I have to continue to realize that the best attitude sometimes is to just admit that I can’t do everything on my own.

Just as I can’t save myself and I desperately need Jesus to do that for me, I desperately need other people. I need to let the people who love me inside and let them know what is going on. I need to ask for help and be willing to be seen as weak and vulnerable.

This is a broken record in my life. I am believing in my own abilities, and the truth is that I am not capable of anything without Christ. I do nothing on my own and I shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

Maybe this is confusing and I am sure it looks different for everyone. But would you pray with me that I wouldn’t put the mask on but be willing to ask for help and truly cast my cares upon the Lord instead of trying to spend the energy trying to take care of them myself.