Real Talk.

Let’s talk about what to do when life spins out of control and shit hits the fan, shall we?

Recently, I went through a season of loss. Everything that was anything to me was gone. The thing I prized the most was on the line too- my faith. I have never been in a situation that has called my faith into question. And trust me I have been in some shit situations. This past season was my hell on earth. I lost myself, and was completely without resource for helping myself for the first time in my life. I truly felt helpless. I was trapped with myself and my pain.

This season lasted for quite some time; the aspect of the season involving how I handled myself. At the beginning all I could see was myself. All I saw was the wrong being done to me. How invisible I felt. How righteous my anger and disappointment with certain people was. How wronged I felt. How marginalized I felt. How betrayed I felt. And how absolutely alone I felt. I was drowning in me.

This post is not to glorify the pain. This post is to try to give you a glimpse of how to make the crossover from the above, to better. Please learn from my mistakes, don’t be like me. Be better.

The crossover was a simple question, “who do I want to be?” One day it hit me- handle yourself. If my circumstances weren’t going to change, I sure as hell wasn’t going down with them.

I decided who I want to be.

I decided I want to be a woman who is deep. I want to be a woman who has a well filled soul so that I can give to others. I want to be a woman who courageously confronts hard things. I want to be a woman who invests emotionally and relationally. I want to be a woman who is deeply sensitive to the needs of others. I want to be a woman who can be looked to for hard situations. I want to be a woman who people can count on, and know will pull through for them as best she can. I want to be a brave woman. I want to be a resilient woman. I want to be a strong woman. I want to be a kind and gentle woman. I want to be a steadfast and undistracted woman. I want to be a woman who is known for her strength, and sensitivity. I want to be a woman who is a force of love, and patience. I want to be a woman that defends and rises up. I want to be a merciful, and gracious woman. I want to be a woman that life cannot knock down.

But you know what? I couldn’t be this woman when I was obsessing over my circumstances.

I had to shift my focus from my world falling apart, to stepping up and handling mine. When my focus shifted, something in me ignited. Something in me came alive when I decided to control who I become no matter what is going on in my life. That was a powerful moment, and in that moment I felt like a powerful woman. And this is because of one question, “who do I want to be?”

Life is so large. We make it so small when we focus on ourselves. It is so beautiful even in the heartbreak. Life is full, and the possibilities are endless for our growth. There is grace and raw authenticity inside of life’s shit circumstances. It may take a while to see it, but it is there.

In that place there is a very real connectedness to God. When you think you have nothing, ask the Lord to open up your eyes to what you do have and you will be blown away. The Lord may not part the skies and be abundantly clear, but trust that life is a process. We don’t always get what we want when we want. Did your parents always give you the answers when you were trying to figure out something hard? No. That is like the Father, but He is perfect and does what we need perfectly. So don’t get upset when you aren’t getting the answers at the pace you want. Keep your hands open, and stay on your journey. If shit is hitting the fan, let it. Change you before you try to change your circumstances.

And if your circumstances feel too impossible you have to make a choice. Only you can decide what your limits are. Books won’t teach you that. Friends and family can’t decide that for you. Only you can know when enough is enough. Only you can decide how to handle you.

God will not ever force His will on you. You have a will, and you have to use it to partner with Him over and over as shit hits the fan to heal and grow. It will be up to you how you use your will. Use it wisely!

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A New Season.

How sweet it is to be loved by you,
Each wound, every tear.
You care about all my fears.

Your pursuit has shaped my life.
How I long to know the height and depth of the love of Christ.

In my darkest sorrow, drowning in pain, you’ve continued to show me the goodness of Your Name.

A Light bright enough to see when I was falling apart,
When darkness consumed me, You made a way to my heart.

My only reply to what You have done,
Is that You can have my life,
You are what carries me to overcome.

I wish there were words to explain my thanks…
Let the song of my life be your praise.

Life update // Hope.

I haven’t written in months. Since July, actually. There has been so much going on. So, here is a quick update. 

Professionally, I reached a point at my last job where there was no more room for growth. This was a very hard thing for me because I couldn’t let go of the money I was making, but I knew it was time to go. I was absolutely torn. I would come home and sit on our couch and just cry. I was so afraid of what letting go of this job meant: possibly less pay somewhere else, learning new skills, changing my routine, and just a plethora of unknown’s.  Reluctantly, I ended up surrendering my job (I kept my job until I got a new one) while waiting for something else to come along. Shoutout to my Husband, who without hesitation, told me time and time again I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to. After about a month of waiting, a new job fell into my lap and very literally was a gift from God Himself to me. This job has been a tool the Lord has been using to teach me my true strengths, what I can contribute to a team, and has pushed me in ways I didn’t think I would be able to handle amongst still healing and growing through life. This job requires a lot of myself, and time. Which is another reason it has been hard for me to write.

Emotionally, and Spiritually I have been on what feels like a freaking marathon of dealing with hard things. The Lord gave me a heads up though, which was nice. I had a really cool encounter with Him, unexpectedly, sitting in a teaching about prophecy (go figure). Long story short, the Lord let me know I was moving into a season of ‘exposure’. Naturally, I froze in fear- who wouldn’t. But, over the past few months life has been a deep, deep internal check pretty constantly. I have seen so many different lies, and wounds uncovered, exposed. It has been tiring, but, I would rather keep my hands open and deal with the crap now.

 //

Now, I want to talk about something I have been really struggling with during this time- Hope. But first a little back story. So, like I said the Lord has been really exposing a lot of things deep in my soul. 

The Lord has been showing me deep roots of getting my value from the wrong places/things, been showing me how much Fatherlessness has shaped my approach of God as “Father”, and how much I count on my marriage going well for my hope in life. These will be a work in progress for awhile. But now, let’s talk about Hope.

So, those things are big issues to navigate. They have been so, so hard to confront. There has been a lot of tears, doubt, questioning, and wrong perspective-seeing on my end. More often than not confronting these issues has raised the questions in my mind “Can God really fix this, can God truly redeem me, does God even deal with this kind of mess”? These are not questions that I have struggled with at the core of my being before. They have always been passing thoughts I have been able to push through with the help of Scripture, but these wounds have challenged my faith in ways I was not prepared for. These wounds have undone me at my core. They have left me completely hopeless most times. 

But, the truth is that my Heavenly Father can redeem all of these things. The truth is that Hope doesn’t change based on my wavering or questioning. Hope doesn’t change based on my wounds. Hope doesn’t change based on my circumstances. 

Because Hope is Jesus. Hope is God’s nature- sending His Son to reconcile us to Himself

Hope does not depend on my Husband, my marriage, or my circumstances

Hope is above me. Hope is beyond my understanding. Hope Is. It just is. Hope is the Lord. The Lord does not change.

My Hopefulness should not be dependent on my circumstances. Hope is greater than what is presently happening.

//

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. Psalm 145:8-9

The messiness of exchange.

I recently read an article title by Jarrid Wilson titled Stop Telling Hurt People They Need to Pray More. It’s a great read, you should check it out. I wanted to expand on my experience with this.


I am very familiar with pain. It seems to be the theme of my life experience. That isn’t for a pity party, that just is what it is. And most times I don’t think I really talk about what that has felt like without hesitation about what others might think of me. But, I think a lot of people are in a lot of pain and I think so many would benefit with a more open dialogue about what pain entails.

But I don’t want to talk about the benefit of the dialogue.

I want to talk about the messiness of following Christ while your heart and mind feel broken. I want to talk about the importance of community when you’re in pain. I want to talk about being intentional when you know someone is hurting. And lastly, I want to talk about just being with someone without talking -OR- to speaking up if need be.


Messiness.

When you feel broken emotionally, chances are you are not doing hot spiritually. I will mention physically as that is just as effected, but that could be a post all on it’s own for me. But back to emotional and spiritual. When you are emotionally unable to find balance, it becomes nearly impossible to invite Christ into the mess (at least in my experience). This may feel like or look like consistent patterns of: desperation, blankness, indifference, deep sorrow, hopelessness, weeping, rage, self-hate, anxiety, or inconsistency in any of these areas in general. This is not a comprehensive list, it is based on my own experience and seeing my friends experiences as well. When someone is caught in those things it becomes very hard for that person to evaluate that they should invite Christ into it. Why? There is already so much going on for that person. AND THAT IS OK. 

I want to explain why it’s ok. It’s ok because God does not expect any part of us to be nicely put together. He does not look at us and think that we should be able to accept Christ as Savior, learn this or that, go to counseling, go to Bible College, actively serve in a Church, and then magically be able to handle the throws of life without struggle. I am talking about the lingering issues left from abuse, bad choices, and whatever you may have done that lead you to the messiness of the things listed above. Choosing to follow Christ may not fix your heart break, depression, anxiety, or broken identity right away. Quite frankly, don’t excuse my french, I’m tired of that bullshit lie being fed to Church culture that Jesus heals you once. Absolutely not. Someone show me where that is in the Bible.

Jesus heals you over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over.

He is continually involved in our process of being reconciled to Himself. He is reconciling all things to Himself, which means that desperation, blankness, indifference, deep sorrow, hopelessness, weeping, rage, self-hate, anxiety, and inconsistency are being worked on by the hand of God. And from what I know of my Jesus and how He has cared for me, He cares so deeply about those wounds the ways He will show Himself to you will blow your mind.

The point when life is far more than you can bare is still a place the love of God can find you. I promise. Therefore, when you are nothing but an emotional mess, friend if you are identifying with anything I am saying- Jesus is with us. He is above our instability. He is still the truth. He is still holding everything together. He is still unchanging.


Community.

I am blessed in this area, but most times I will find things to complain about. But, when I really think about what I have with my Church I realize very quickly I have something millions of people don’t have. I am connected to people deeply. I am cared for by people deeply. I can weep and be prayed for. I can jump with joy in times of gladness. I really do enjoy so many friends in my Church. Well really they are my only friends. LOL. Love yall.

This community has given me the space to be. What I mean is they have given me the support to be a human. They have given me the space to cry for hours if need be. They have given me the space to be challenged when I’m taking steps backwards. They have built me up and spoken truth to me when I didn’t believe it. They text me and tell me they love me and they are there for me.

These people have been the hands and feet of God in my life. That is the main reason is is important to have a Christ centered community when you are really struggling (and even when you’re not struggling). When you are a part of a healthy community you are adding to your life things you cannot give to yourself.

Shout out to Take Hold Church hollaaaaaaa.


Being intentional.

It takes 30 seconds to send a text message saying “thinking about you,” did you know that? Did you also know that being a Christian still means you are a human? Furthermore, that you don’t have to over-spiritualize things if you don’t mean it? For example, don’t text someone and say “I’m praying for you” if you aren’t praying for them. It is totally ok to text, call, go up to a friend and say “you’ve been on my mind a lot and I want you to know I care for you and love you”. You do not have to use the phrase “I am praying for you” as a magic word to love on someone. By all means, if you are truly going to pray for someone do it. Heck, go the extra mile and ask them what you can specifically pray for. If the Holy Spirit is highlighting someone to you, listen. We have a responsibility to bare each other’s burdens.


Just Be.

Here is something I have learned from being the person who is sitting, and being the person sitting with someone- people don’t know what to do when people start pouring out their heart.

And that’s kind of a bummer. Here are a couple tips-

It’s ok if it’s awkward. Don’t try to make it not awkward. That can make things even more awkward.

Don’t overcompensate. If you don’t have experience with what the person is upset about, don’t try to warp something you have dealt with to match their situation.

Don’t talk at them. They are not your project to fix. They do not have to be “better” after talking to you for your time spent with them to have value.

Don’t ramble should you decide to talk. In the moment is not always appropriate for a dump of wisdom or advice.

Be an undistracted listener. When someone is pouring their heart out to you, they are offering all of their vulnerability. Your phone, lunch plans, other people talking are not important in that moment. Obviously, emergencies happen.

Be sensitive to what hurts them. It may not sound like a huge deal to you, or you may not relate. But just because you don’t “feel” what they do doesn’t mean you have an out to not listen.

Be careful. Unless you are a trained counselor, or pastor don’t make recommendations that you aren’t licensed to.

Be proactive. I can’t believe I even have to say this… but I do. When someone has opened up to you about their hurt, you are responsible to be their friend. Be decent and call, or text them and tell them you are thinking about them and that they aren’t alone. So many times in my experience I have opened up to someone at Church and then I don’t hear from them again until we’re at Church the next week. PSA- loving others should happen outside the walls of the Church Monday-Saturday.

Listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Go reach out if you should, and don’t if you shouldn’t. If you are unclear and can’t discern what you should do, go ask someone with the gift of discernment to pray for you for direction. Then, be obedient. Side notes, I have missed opportunities to reach out because of fear, and that’s not right. And I know there are plenty of moments when I need someone but they aren’t being obedient in reaching out- and you guys, that hurts. Listen to the Spirit, and be obedient. It’s simple.


So, back to my first paragraph. Jarrid’s article was beautiful and simple- stop telling people to pray more. People- that is so hollow, so unloving, and so not compassionate. I realize the reason that answer happens is because there are so many Christians walking around emotionally broken. So many believers can’t reconcile their emotional self with their spiritual self. I believe that causes  responses like “you should pray harder”.

This quote is from the book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero…

 

Few Christians committed to contemplative spirituality integrate the inner workings of emotional health. At the same time few people committed to emotional health integrate  contemplative spirituality. Both are powerful, life-changing emphases when engaged in separately. But together they offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface. When the emotional health and contemplative spirituality are interwoven together in an individual’s life, a small group, a church, a university fellowship, or a community, people’s lives are dramatically transformed. They work as an antidote to heal the symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality.


Challenge:

  • Evaluate your responses to people, or lack of responses to people. Could you do better? If so, what is holding you back? Do you possibly have to reconcile your own emotional issues?
  • Read the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. It really is something all believers should read.

 

flowers

loving God = loving others.

bridge2

This one is gonna sting a bit for me.

So, amidst the trauma of my childhood there was always one thing that always remained blatantly obvious to me- Jesus. There was a disaster on all fronts in my home. The one place that I felt secure and safe was with Jesus. There were nights I lay awake crying myself to sleep, but the presence of God was so thick I could physically feel arms around me like a hug. I could feel the compassion, understanding, and safety of the Lord in so many moments. From the time I was a child, Jesus has always made sense to me. I would by lying to myself, and others if I said Jesus wasn’t blatantly obvious to me in my life. He just has been. He is very visibly, and was very visibly, at work in my life.

As I seek the Lord, and remain honest with myself of areas of development I need to surrender to Him, loving others has been a theme that He has been gently urging me to get better at. This started In January of this year. To elaborate, January of this year was a huge milestone in my healing. I find it no coincidence that as He made me well and spoke some things in January, I was then burdened to begin loving others better.

There are a lot of reasons why loving others is hard. I have my reasons, and you have yours. But, right now for me things boil down to obedience. I am being asked to love others better. So, in writing this I hold myself accountable.


If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:20-21


Hate is a pretty big word. When I think of people I might struggle with, I know in my heart I certainly don’t hate them. But, in my mind am I being the following? —

Patient
Kind
Humble
Gentle
Truthful
Compassionate
Sacrificial
Long-suffering (bearing their burdens for them)
*read my note at the bottom of the post

If the answer is no I am not loving them, therefore; I am not loving God.

Shit.

This is the part where I said it stings. Most times I think I love Jesus so much. He’s the center of my affection. I really, really enjoying spending time with Him. I really enjoy talking to Him. Welp, leave it to the Bible to keep you in check. Straight up, if I am not loving people, I am not loving God. They are one in the same.

Our relationships with Christ call us to actively engage our surroundings.  We are not bystanders waiting for Christ to come back. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ cost too much for us to have neat lives. Love is messy. Love is hard. Love is action. Love takes a lot of action. It is not a feeling according to the Word of God. These things patience, kindness, humility, gentleness, truthfulness, compassion, sacrifice, and long-suffering take effort. They take an act of your own will to put into motion.


Challenge:
–Take time to sit down with the verse above and contemplate.
–Pray this, “Lord, please use your Spirit inside of me to highlight if I don’t love people well. Please illuminate circumstances where I could love other people better, and through your Spirit give me whatever might be necessary to love that person in that moment.”


*These things: patience, kindness, humility, gentleness, truthfulness, compassion, sacrifice, and long-suffering are not a comprehensive list of how to love people.

bridge1

feelings & circumstances.

I have come to a point in my faith, and growth where I have noticed how poisonous my lack of faith, hope, and trust can be. Quite honestly, when I lack in these 3 things my over all health starts declining. My hope with this post is to shed light on the process that leads to the lack of these things, then tie it all up with how to practically tackle growing in faith, hope, and trust.


See for me being hopeful, having faith, and trusting the Lord are not automatics for my heart. Frankly, my root of self-centeredness runs so deep I can barely see it, and this is not a good thing. Let me explain the process of how I wind up without faith, hope, or trust. First, all of my attention is on how I feel. Then, when I am consumed with my feelings that leads to my focus being on my present circumstances. When your mind only sees these things- feelings, and circumstances, it can create a recipe for self-sabotage.

Straight up, the enemy has won a majority of battles in this cycle because I have not been able to see exactly what was going on. It is really hard to catch what is going on when your battle is going on with your self, in your own head. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can confidently say I have been able to see how my self-centeredness comes to be. Now, to be proactive about it…


Growing in faith, hope, and trust is no overnight gig. If it is for you, praise the Lord. For me it has not been a quick thing. It has been years of toil. Years of hot and cold. Years of diving in head first, then years of running away. Months of “getting it”, then months of “what the hell is going on”. After some time of walking with Christ (which it has been many years for me), this just should not be. And I say that with the utmost empathy, and gentleness. If anyone on the planet understands a need for time to heal, and Jesus to move you through seasons- I GET IT. But friends, there comes a time when we have to put into motion the grace we are given. We have to walk boldly, straight to the throne of God. And we have to put every ounce of our perspectives on Jesus.

I am going to walk in my grace, and fix my perspective on Christ. That is exactly is how I am going to grow in faith, hope, and trust. I am going to stop focusing on my feelings, and my circumstances.  Instead, I am going to fix my eyes on my sweet Savior, who gives me the freedom to look at Him, rather than consume myself with myself. Flat out, I can’t even tell you how sick of myself I am. I cause more drama for myself than anyone else in my life does *forehead slap*


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

[…]let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2


Challenge:

Pray this- “Father, I ask that you use your Spirit inside of me to lead me into discernment for when I am consumed with myself, and when my perspective is fixed away from Christ.”

Questions to ask yourself:
Do I feel overwhelmed with how I feel or my circumstances the majority of my day?
What are the majority of my thoughts on during my day?

Memorize any of these verses:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

[…]let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4: 6-9

 

 

 

freedom?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery. Galatians 5:18.


I know I’m not the only one…the only one who feels like they live in the tosses of life’s waves. It’s even a moment by moment thing for me. I make one positive change, and then lack the discipline to continue. Life can be heavy, and life can be calm. I find it hard to balance living in the waves of both. I know I am not the only one.

Certain days I wake up and I stand firm in the victory I have through Christ.
Certain days I wake up and my body is tense, and in pain.
Certain days I wake up and I dread going to my job.
Certain days I wake up and I have a relatively ok attitude about going to work.
Certain days I have my eyes set exactly where they should be.
Certain days I lose complete sight of what the point of having faith even means.

Most times I get alarmed at where I see my mind wander throughout the day. I see how rude, impatient, angry, and short I can be. Those are really ugly things. Those things hurt people. And usually, when this is where my mind wanders it is directly correlated with where my heart is standing, in freedom.

You see, when I stand firm in the fact that Christ has bore all my heaviness AND conquered it, the thoughts in my head change. My behavior changes. The thing of it is, what Christ offers me through His victory never changes. It is always my choice to stand firm in what He offers me. It is my choice to receive the freedom He offers. It is my choice to open my heart and have faith.

So, what does freedom feel like in my life?

Freedom feels like I am open to the world.
Freedom feels like I am unable to be offended.
Freedom feels like long, deep satisfying breath.
Freedom feels light.
Freedom feels like peace.
Freedom feels like calm.
Freedom feels like joy.

My goal is to start reshaping how I identify with myself with more of a focus on who I am when I decide to walk in freedom. I want to stop acting rude, impatient, stubborn, impatient, and angry. I don’t want to self identify with any of those things anymore. Those things don’t feel peaceful, calm, joyful, or open. Those things bind me and keep me down. They hurt me.


Challenge:
Self Identify with the victory and freedom you have through Christ. This is our true identity.  Stand firm, and do not accept anything short of that. We have been set free.