A shield about me

Weekly, almost daily, I had a writing rhythm that I began in college.  I spent hours in coffeeshops avoiding home work by writing and thinking.  Some of it was ideas and stories that I had in my head, or just things that I was processing in my faith journey. It was a practice I copied from mentors and found that it sparked my soul.

But then when the struggles of life came rushing at me, when my life and identity began warping into something unrecognizable, I left this rhythm behind. I am beginning to guess that it begins with me running from pain that I didn’t want to process, and caring too much about what people think of my life than what God was teaching me through writing.

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Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Too often I back away from things that God has called me to because I fear what people think of me.  I have written about fear and approval before, but more often in the last 2-3 years, have I stopped writing, stopped thinking and sharing because I was afraid of being found out.  I was afraid that who I was, who God created me to be would be rejected.  I get mad at myself because I really should be past this, beyond this point with God. Trusting God is step 1 right? I should have stopped running.

We do that.  We run from God, our creator and sustainer because we fear the world.  We don’t trust in Him to be who he says he is.

My counselor called me on that once, that I don’t trust Him.  Ugh, how could she?! Here I am, a bible believing Christian and I didn’t trust God.  I mean, I sing about it on Sundays and tell my friends I would pray for them to trust God.

But at the end of the day, I am really good at carrying all my bags at once, I mean capable of handling my business.  Walling up my heart to protect and defend.  I don’t need to trust Him. At some point, after hurt and pain, I had decided that I don’t need him to defend me anymore, I have got it.

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Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

But because He is God and there is no where on earth I can run to.  He has a grip on my heart and soul and won’t let go, he has placed this word in front of me.

Shield.

There it is, in so many parts of the bible and the songs we sing at church.

  • “He is a shield about me.”
  • “The LORD is my strength and my shield.” Psalm 28
  • “Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33 

It’s a happy and pretty thought, that we teach to kids in Sunday School, and maybe put on an art print to go on our wall.

But God as our shield, practically…..doesn’t make sense.  It hasn’t been working right.

If he as our shield is supposed to protect us, to block attacks, allow us to be safe, why am I experiencing pain and suffering in bigger ways than ever before.  It hasn’t gone away.  This word.  God works like that sometimes, continues to show us something He wants to reveal to us.  He puts things in our path to draw us closer to him.

So here I am, sitting in a coffeeshop, writing about how God is our shield, when my heart is struggling to believe it. That’s where I am, a hesitant heart, in a raw and vunerable spot, wondering if I will ever trust God like I once did, or if he will renew it far more than I ask or imagine.

Tears threaten to expose me how hard this is to write about.

We are at war with ourselves really, wanting to be protected but wanting to protect ourselves.  He is our shield. But we run out into battle without Him, our sinful hearts believe that we can do this without Him.  We think we can be Captain America without the shield.

“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

My hesitant heart is welcomed by a gracious and loving savior who has nothing but compassion on my aching pain.  I don’t deserve it.  I ran from Him, and still feel like I have one foot out the door.  I fight with myself about this, surrender and rest, lay down my pride and accept his help and protection in a world full of uncertainties and potential pain. Sounds risky, right.

However, the alternative has show to be so painful and lonely the cost will be worth the risk.

Friends, my encouragement to you is this, the same thing I am praying for myself, let Him lift your head, when the pain is strong, when the suffering is great, let Him to do the heavy lifting of your soul.  Let Him in to do that for you.

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Do I really believe it?

“Do you believe that God truly loves you?”

Sitting across from my counselor, staring her down a bit, I thought I was ready to do the counseling thing.
I had read somewhere that everyone should go to counseling at some point in their life. So I thought this was a wise decision, especially after several anxiety attacks and this deep anger and frustration in my heart.
What I didn’t realize maybe was that most of the work of counseling is down outside that office, beyond the couch.  
It took me a while, but I realized that in order to begin healing, I had to start doing the work.  I had to do the homework, and challenge myself to open some of those partially healed wounds.  When I began doing that, God started to disrupt things.  He began to push me out of my comfort zone, to a place of uncertainty but profound freedom.
One of the first places he started was when my counselor asked me that question.

“Do you believe that God loves you?”
As a good Christian girl, growing up in the church, I knew all the right answers, I knew the right scripture to quote, I knew how to pray in a way to impress people, I knew the songs.  On the surface, I could answer that question.  I could say, yes, scripture says he does.
Scripture says it but do I—in my heart of hearts—believe it?  Do I believe that he loves me at a deep, soul wrenching, unwavering level?  Do I believe that He loves me, not just because he created me but because he truly knows me and is my Father?
At that moment, I couldn’t respond.  I didn’t know if I really believed that. That kind of answer scared me.  
See for years, I have been chasing this “Christian Life” that I thought I was supposed to lead. It looked neat and tidy, it was clean and simple.  However, I some how couldn’t achieve it,  couldn’t reach that level. 
I was always messing things up.  I couldn’t get up early enough to spend time with Jesus every morning.  I wasn’t disciplined enough, didn’t pray enough and had too much sin in my heart.  

Ultimately, I thought I made wrong decisions that led me down this path of singleness and loneliness.  I had somehow messed up God’s plan for my life and now I missed out on this “Christian Life.”
What I realize in typing all this out is that somewhere along the way, I got the idea that there was this one way to love Jesus, a formula for living the joyous Christian life.  
Slowly I am discovering that there isn’t.  God didn’t design us to all live in the same way.  In fact, our relationship with him is going to look very different, because he made all of us unique and special.  He made all of us one of kind, so our stories are going to be different. 
Unique is the way that he designed it.  He wove our DNA to be so very different for every person.  He placed us each in the womb, and knitted us together from the beginning. He is the great creator, ultimate artist. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)
What is even greater is that GOD LOVES US for all those unique and special things he created.  Even when we mess up and sin, he loves us.  Even when we aren’t super disciplined and avoid him, he still loves us.  Even when we run, and try to hide from him, he loves us.


Nothing we have done can separate us from his love.  
Nothing we will do can separate us from his love.
Nothing this world will do can separate us from his love. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

But yet we still continue to fight that thought, right?  

We still carry our guilt and shame around, thinking that he will reject us if he really knew. 
He already knows, he knew before we did, and loves us before and after and through it all. 
Friends…. Oh, how I want that truth to soak into my heart and yours.
I feel like I just scratched the surface on understanding this, and want to continue to the day I die, knowing and understanding his deep love for me.  

Because when I struggle to love myself or feel rejected by others, I need to be able to stand assured in his love.  Isn’t that an amazing concept, that on his love we can stand sure.  Because of his great love, we can live in broken world and not be torn down or shaken. 

Because his love is so strong, we don’t have to do it all on our own.  Ultimately that is the message that I cling to even when I doubt his love for me.  That he is stronger than my doubts, fears, and weaknesses.  

Friends, we can live confidently in is strength, his power, his grace, and his love for us.  I pray that you and I would believe that and when we don’t, we will run to him. 

Far from perfect blog post

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.

He knows we are not perfect.  He loves us still.
 (That’s even harder for me to fathom on most days.)


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.