It’s been a while – and for that, I’m so sorry. I’m still in the learning curve of trying to figure out how to manage the many hats and the to-do’s associated with each… being an OT all-year, tutoring in the summer, painting and lettering and selling, sitting & reflecting… resting, being a wife and making time for having a blast with my husband, and sharing my heart here. I’ll get into a real, smooth groove one day – for that, I’m hopeful ;-) But for now… thanks for hanging in there with me through my trial and error! The goal for this summer is at least a post each week – we’ll see how that goes!
Another thing I’m trying to figure out is the timing of posts. So many urge the planning of posts. 4:00pm on a Friday… probably not the best of times to post, they’d say. But for now… I’m straining to follow the nudges of my heart. When something’s laid upon it that I’m to share… I just want to follow it. No matter the day, or the time. So, here you have it! 4:0o on a Friday! (By the time I get it all out, and then revised & edited a million times over… it just might be Saturday – haha – but, here we go.
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This realization’s a little hard to share as it requires some vulnerability. Some humility. It may take me a while to figure out just how to word it. And it’ll take a lot of faith to trust that the sharing of it is from Him.
It comes from a dynamic mix of reflections and conversations between: (1) my reading of Lysa Terkheurst‘s “What Happens When Women Walk in Faith” alongside my best friend, (2) meetings with my (radically life-altering) therapist (Carol McClure), and (3) the ongoing happenings of life events – me and my growing. me and my blooming. me and my faith.
It’s been an amazing journey, working through Lysa’s devotional with a friend in whom I trust. Together we’ve found ourselves living out the step-by-step process of growing in our “walking in faith” – right along with Lysa as she writes. We’ve met each other in our growing pains. Urged each other to keep “straining.” And heard – truly heard – each other’s meetings with The Lord, and felt* each other’s battles against Satan. It’s been incredible, a “wow” experience… including both mountain-tops and valleys; thundering, breaking, and skipping; shaking, twisting, stripping; waiting; and gentle whispers (Psalm 29:3-9; 1 Kings 19:11-13). It’s as if the promises of The Lord have TRULY rang TRUE –
- “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them” (Matthew 18:20). He’s been there. With us. Walking right along among us – guiding and leading us, teaching us, rattling our minds, and overwhelming our hearts. Ahh, thinking of how cool it’s been is bringing me to tears now as I write. And oh my goodness, we’re only just a little over halfway through the book!
- “And though a man [or SATAN!] might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). It’s also been so life-changing in our friendship. It’s strengthened us despite our distance – (stronger than we ever were even in college!) – because of things we’ve been able to withstand TOGETHER. With* HIM. A threefold cord is not easily broken.
Anyway, the most recent chapter that we’ve dissected, applied, and soaked in was about how God will make a way. In our pain we must hang on, and BELIEVE in its purpose. Despite how we feel, we must BELIEVE “This is the day that the Lord has made” (Psalm 118:24). “The pain has a purpose” and – in comparison to the blood of Jesus – it’s truly “such a little way to suffer” (p. 108). The journey is “day-by-day” – and, as I’ve learned this week, I must choose* to be renewed DAY-by-DAY… or I get lost oh-so-quickly. “Even though the world tugs at me to serve many lesser gods, in the depths of my heart, I choose Him” (p. 110).
God has a way. Overall, it was about trusting God in the pain. Trusting He “will make a way” – and ALSO* trusting that HIS* Way, including His rules and teachings, are far better* than anything that the world has to offer. Far better than the “lesser gods” have to offer.
Very honestly, I’ve been a good “listener” and “do-er” of His teachings my whole life… I mean, I’ve made mistakes and I make mistakes. But all-in-all: I hone in, trust, and take His teachings seriously – and have done so from a young age. I have always thought (pridefully & wrongfully) of myself as “good.” Out of fear. Fear of The Lord. As well as a desire to do good. To do right. And pure anxiousness that follows a stumble, self-hatred that follows a fall.
Over the past year-long’s journey, I’ve been learning to see – truly see – my weaknesses; my dark spots. But the real aim has been to try and love myself still – in spite of them… and understanding (truly) that God (really) covers them.
Recently I succumbed to the “lesser gods.” It felt like an out-of-body experience. In that… I didn’t truly recognize myself. I saw myself as the “me” apart from God.
What I didn’t feel was the anxiety I anticipated. I didn’t beat myself up – as I usually do when it comes to sin. Those of you who know me, know the way my chest aches and pains – the way my head perseverates on one, single, ill-made comment. I immediately see myself in an “all is BAD” type of “light.” Instead though, while running around my neighborhood in the hot, hot, heat, a song came on that referred to Jesus as “My Savior” – and I was overcome with emotion as I came to grab hold of that title in a whole new way. Yes, He’s my Savior. Yes, He’s saved me from my sins. And yes, He’s saved me from hell. Yes, He saves me from the brokenness of this world. But also… daily, He saves me from myself. The dark, the problematic, the ugly.
I was sitting and thinking about why I’m not beating myself up & perseverating on it. Why I feel… almost good? Kind-of “free.” And realized that is was indeed FREEdom that I felt – freedom from my own condemnation. Instead, it’s as though I recognized it as wrong – and was able to move forward. Accepting the saving grace of My Savior. Truly… accepting it. And letting it wash me clean.
Apart from the blood of Jesus, I’m a flawed mess. I don’t have to beat myself up about it anymore. I understand it; I accept it. I am flawed – temptations will come. Some I will win, and others I’ll lose. But I’m His. No matter what, I’m His. He takes me as I am, and loves me fully – the blemishes of both dark & light, steadfast & wandering, good & bad, happy and sad, strong & weak, driven and emotional, courageous & anxious, energetic & tired, healthy & sick. He loves me, and I’ve learned to do so too. And this has freed me to be. To simply be. ALL that He’s created me to be. #myredemptivestory #lovingthelifeilive
For this, I have so many to thank. God + the Holy Spirit have teamed up to use Carol and Lysa as my guides on this journey, and my husband and my friends as my partners. It’s been a lot of hard work, and I know it’s not over… but being freed to love myself. To accepting myself in the entirety of who I am. To see myself as He does. I am not perfect. That doesn’t give me permission to live out of my imperfections, but rather frees me to make the choice. To truly choose who I want to be. What it is that I want my story to say. Instead of making choices (forcefully) from behind the bars of self-condemnation. That is progress. A tally-mark of success. A reason to celebrate. That is something to share.
“We don’t need to worry about our abilities or our shortcomings when we know we already have all we need through Jesus” (p. 113). I realize what I’m capable of apart from the blood of Jesus. I recognize Him as My Savior – not only from sin, hell, and the brokenness of this world… but from myself. I don’t just want Him, I NEED Him. God, equip me. Equip me Lord with EVERYTHING GOOD – the kind of GOOD that can ONLY* come from You. I’m not any good on my own. You bring everything to light, Father. This, I am aware. WORK in me, God, so that things of my life that are brought to light bring You joy. Sweet, sweet pleasure. (Hebrews 13:20-21).
“Lord, I come, I confess – Bowing here I find my rest; Without You I fall apart – You’re the One that guides my heart; Lord, I need You, oh, I need You – Every hour I need You; My one defense, my righteousness – Oh God, how I need You.” (Listen Here – Lord I Need You, Matt Maher).
Apart from the blood of Jesus, I’m flawed. But with Him – by the blood of Jesus – I am made complete. By the blood I am whole. I am equipped with everything I need to do His will.
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Today’s Encouragement: If, like me, you catch yourself mentally abusing yourself with self-condemnation after stumbles and falls – first, know that you’re not alone; and second, know that you are loved. Fully. The good and the bad. The dark and the light. He knows you’re not perfect – He doesn’t want you to aim to be. He wants you to strain after Him and just be – just be the woman of God He created you to be. Fully. Completely. Dusting yourself off and moving forward after a slip. Understanding that life’s messy, you’re messy. Embrace all that it is, all that you are – enjoy your every day, as fully as you can – and love yourself. Love yourself, as He loves you. You’re not any better than anyone else, and that’s okay. You’ll never be “worthy” of His love – but yet, He’ll always* love you. Get after this life, girlfriend! CHOOSE the story that you want yours to tell. Don’t let the chains and bars of your own head control you. Free yourself, by floating and swimming in His ever-flowing saving grace.