A God Who Sees

Sitting in the pew, alone at the evening service, I had come into the weekend tired and worn out.  Looking for a place of rest. Often I attend church not out of obligation but out a need for grounding before the week starts.  This weekend was no different, but it was a special one. Mother’s Day. A day when children make pancakes for a breakfast in bed, where flowers are bought and the unspoken sacrifice of mothers are acknowledged.

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A day of celebration for some, a day of grief for others.

I find myself around mothers a lot.  I know a lot more about breastfeeding and child raising that I ever thought I would as a single woman.  Most of my very best friends have 2-3 children and we often hang out after bedtime or on a weekend morning when they can get away.

In my seat, on this evening, something broke. The emotions were ready at the surface.  And it stemmed from struggling to put into words how much a day like this did to stoke the flame of a life I desire to have. 

We sang these words, that dug deep in my heart and I tried to push them away, “There is a God who sees, just right where you are.”  When I think about the fact that God sees me, the tears flow quickly because in this moment, I feel unseen, I feel forgotten.  

Many times I think I am supposed to just keep going, be thankful for my blessings and keep living.  But I also feel that this ache and longing are just permanent roommates that I will live with forever.  The silent struggle of longing is a constant unwanted friend. 

As I sat in that pew, I tried hard to disguise the tears, slowly wiping my eyes so that no one around me would notice. I tried to hide the sniffles and the hot mess I was slowly becoming. I didn’t want the pity, I didn’t want to explain why in this moment, the pain was bubbling towards the surface.  I didn’t want to be another single girl crying about her lack of a husband and children.

In the pain, it’s lonely.  Especially if we try to hide it.  It’s exhausting to disguise something that hurts.  If you are trying to hide a limp, you sometimes end up hurting everywhere else, because you are compensating for the bad leg. It’s often better to do the things necessary to heal or rest so you don’t injure something else in the process.

In many ways, I am afraid to admit that I really want this thing, motherhood.  Because there have been other things that I have wanted for years and I didn’t get.  Years of wanting something, praying about it, because that is what good church folk do. But this prayer it hasn’t been answered.  This turns into tears of praying that God would take away this dream, that it wouldn’t be on my mind or heart. That I wouldn’t feel so distraught at the turn of every year when nothing has changed.

Then I wonder is it wrong to still want it when the prayer has not been answered?  Even when it is painful to long, to want. Is it wrong to still desire this thing that is in my heart? We often pray that God takes away the pain, takes away the longing. Because it would just be easier if we didn’t want it as much, right?

However, I think if the longing wasn’t there, we would be missing something.  We would be missing what happens between us and God when we long and pray and come before him.  On this side of heaven, we will always be in wanting, longing, for something that this world cannot provide.  

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To be honest, the words that I typed at the beginning of this post were written a year ago. I couldn’t post them. I couldn’t admit that I was in pain because I was still in sitting in a painful longing.  I was in a spot that I couldn’t have imagined 5 years ago. Sharing them now is a little bit easier, because God has revealed himself in my longing and pain. There are still moments that the pain is acute and so overwhelming that I have begged God to take away the longing, the desire for a different life than I lead now.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
And set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord,.
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
Who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie.

– Psalm 40: 1-4

But He has given me a new song to sing, a new dream in my heart. He has given me glimpses of joy that I would have missed if my life were different.  He has given me a different picture of what motherhood and family looks like. He has surprised me in ways that I didn’t think were possible.

The longer I am on this journey with the Lord, God is gracious to expand my view of him. He isn’t a God that is transactional. We don’t pray, live good lives and he gives us stuff we want.  His desire for us is bigger than that. He wants to be with us, to be near us so much so that our suffering, our longing, our wanting, is all a part of his timing and plan.  It brings us so much closer to his heart. In the moment it can feel cruel and so unloving of God. But He is a father, a heavenly father, desiring for our eternal good more than our momentary fleeting happiness.

What is even better than in the middle of our suffering, pain, and longing, he doesn’t leave us to deal with it on our own.  He is right there beside us, he is with us, to comfort, to love, to care for our aching hearts.

So friends, I don’t know where this lands with you today, whether Mother’s day is a great day, a hard day, or heartbreaking day, but as someone who experiences a wide spectrum of feelings on this day, God sees you.  He sees you right where you are at, he sees your aching heart, your joyous heart, your longing heart, your grieving heart.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Photo by Michael Domanic on Unsplash

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Dumb Sheep

Many times throughout the old testament, God asks his people to remember, to recall all the ways that he has saved them, been faithful to them, provided for them.

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” (Deuteronomy 15:15)

Remember. Recall

Why does he keep reminding them? Why does he have to tell them again and again, that he will be there, that he will help them, save them?

Because they are dumb sheep.  In the midst of the desert, far away from the only home they have ever known, they have forgotten.  God pulled them out of slavery, saved them from the on coming armies. He parted the Red Sea!!! Given them food again and again, but yet they still complain.

Because they are dumb sheep.

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It is easy to look at these stories and think, how could they possibly forget something like that?  How could they forget being saved from slavery and being in a foreign land? How can they forget what God has promised them?

But just like them, we are dumb sheep.  We forget the ways God has been faithful.  We forget the his works so easily.  We quickly forget who He says he is.

THAT is why he commands us to remember.

OH and I need to remember.  Today, tomorrow, and the next day and next.  I will need to remember. To remember his faithfulness and his goodness to me.  

We need to remember to mark those moments, those days, those situations where God worked out the details, brought you through when all seemed impossible.  To count up those answered prayers as a bank of faithfulness to cash in on days when it seems like he isn’t present or he isn’t answering your call.  

So we can combat the lies that have their hooks in us.

Like the lie that constantly creeps up in my mind, “I am all alone”.  It’s a lie that I have been fighting since childhood. Feeling out of place, not belonging, unliked, or forgotten feel like a constant companion.  Prone to dramatic hyperboles, it avalanches into despair of loneliness.

It still creeps up on a Saturday night with no plans, even though I love a chill Saturday night.  The enemy creeps in turns up the volume on that age old lie in my heart. And suddenly I am in despair and anxiety.

In that spot, I need those words from the Lord.  

Remember.  Recall.

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And in that moment, I have to stop and count the ways.  List out the answered prayers. I have to remember the friends, the family, the life that God has given me.

God has been abundantly kind and given me a group of friends that I have known for over a decade.  I think back to the day as a teenager that I longed for a best friend.  And remember that he has provided. I think about my dear sweet friends whom I love and that are patient and kind and reach out to pray for me.  I think about the memories gained because I am friends with them.

Those memories, the pictures, bring me back a place of belief and trust that God has got this.  That the whisper from the enemy is a lie designed to make me doubt and despair.

It maybe something else for you.  Some other lie that has a hold on your heart, that never seems to go away.  A lie that you would long to be rid of for good, like those last 5 pounds.

  • That you won’t be able to pay your bills
  • That you your prayers mean nothing to him
  • That you are a mistake and a failure
  • That you won’t get through the day after a night of zero sleep.
  • It will always be this way.

So friend, recall, remember, the ways in which God has provided.  Mark it. Write it down to look back at when the lie seems louder. 

We won’t always be in a season where God answers in the way that we expect him too.  We won’t always be in a season of harvest or abundance. On this side of heaven we won’t always understand or see how God is working, but when we recall his works, we will see that he is not a God of inaction.  His ways are higher than our ways, and thoughts are higher than our thoughts. 

And His ways are more powerful that we will ever understand.

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us,and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:9-11

These verses are Rahab in the Old Testament, talking to the men who are going to conquer her country.  Because she had heard about the powerful acts of God, she knew…her heart melted because of who God is and what he has done.

What has he done…more than we ever thought possible.  Conquered the grave, given us a healer for our broken hearts, and provided the ENOUGH that we need in Jesus.

So squash down the disbelief with the powerful acts of God.  Let your melt your heart with remembering.  Help each other recall.   Tell about the His mighty works, and let the power of the cross remind you of who God is and always will be.

 

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?