want to hear a secret? {made: day 7}

Let me tell you a few secrets about this 31 Day series, Made.

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1.  It is hardly planned. I never know what I am going to write before I write it. I don’t know where this post is going, let alone the one that will get written, somehow, tomorrow. This is part due to my personality–liking freedom and flexibility, and partly due to having a bit too much on my plate, (or is it laziness?) to think about more than this day, this moment, right now.

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2. I don’t really know what I am doing. (See #1). I struggle with feeling secure with who I am. Something in me, for as long as I can remember, has craved confidence in being okay with just being me. So I write from a heart desperate for God, desperate for His voice, desperate for His truth to replace the lies I have, for so long, believed.madeday73

3. I need to die. God is peeling back layers of me I hardly want to see, let alone deal with. I have died to things before. On the cross, I have laid down my selfishness. On the cross, I have laid down my pride. My letting God take these false things in me and birth, instead, something whole and beautiful, is often precipitated by my refusing to surrender and wanting to do things my way. {The running away from God is never pretty. I don’t recommend it.} He sees how my heart is wounded. He sees how I am not content, and how envy and ungratefulness enters when I refuse to celebrate what He’s given and who He’s made to be, rather than wish I were someone different, something more.madeday74

4. I want to be a blessing. I want God to fill me completely. I want to wake up each day, joy-filled, no matter what the day may hold. I want to live with the security of God’s promises, tucked in my heart. I want to bless my family and my friends and the brothers and sisters God places in my path with the reality of God living in me.
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5. I want to trust God with who I am. I crave His guidance and want to write from His strength, His love, in me.
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6. I am claiming my joy, in Him, as I write. These words. These words, right here.

 

Thank you for staying with me this first week of Made.

I wonder what the next week, friends, will hold? 

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It’s hard to be real, sometimes

Iscriptn this post I share my heart around being real–and how it isn’t always so easy. . .even when community is safe.  I went to My Girls today not wanting to share my heart–not wanting to be open and authentic with my friends.

Do you ever struggle with being real?

And in this video I am using my real-life words to share my struggle here, with you–no script, nothing prepared. . . It is important that I share with you my rough-around-the-edges self. It is important that I not hide. It is important that I don’t edit this and tie up the post with a pretty bow.

So I hope you push ‘play’. And I hope you share with me, in an email, or at You Are My Girls community–or in the comments, with all of the girls here–how you might struggle with this, too.

How might we share our real heart with one another here. . . in all its glory (and temporary uncomfortableness, too)?

Let’s not keep what we are wrestling with to ourselves.

It’s seldom better that way.

Love to you, His girls,

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Linking with the beautiful community over at Jen’s

 

At Christmas, I declare

We sit in a circle — His girls — and I love it here, this place where I finally surrender and feel free that I don’t have to know what to say. He will speak through me, if I forget myself enough and trust that He knows more than me.  This is my place, my heart moving with Him, this journey with His daughters, all of us gathered up to feel His breath become our own, His whispers our oxygen, His face our map.  Only with Him do any of us know where to go.

And so I feel free, finally, from the weight of wondering what this Christmas season, with all the expectations that I can bring to it, is supposed to look like, to me.  I forget that Christmas isn’t something I need to create for my family.  It is not another thing to do.  It is not, even, a way of thinking or being or choosing.  It is life:  Christmas is life in that Christ’s coming is life.  And I live with Him in me.  We are not alive otherwise.

I confess that as I write these words, even after Him settling into me, bringing peace to my heart this past Monday morning through prayer, when My Girls meets at my home, I am restless again.  I confessed that Monday morning — and I confess again to you, His girl, that I am nervous about Christmas coming. While the Father comes and reminds me of His truth about what is important and what is not, I still find myself struggling to live out what I want so desperately to believe.

I know I am loved.  I am loved.  I am created.  I have a Lover, a Creator, a Warrior-God who fights for me and chases me down when I need Him most.  But here is the truth (well the lie):  I still find myself wishing I were more, especially at Christmas. I want to be the mom who is calm and gentle and organized and creative and patient.  I can so easily believe — and live out the lie — that I wish there was more to me than there is, so forgetful of how Jesus forgot Himself, humbled Himself — how the Father chose to have His Son come down and become man.  {Father, take this heart and turn it inside-out, upside-down.  Make it beautiful, somehow.}

And, He does. He helps me believe Him, stirring this restless heart toward Him and helping me lean surely, into Him.  Truth does that, bringing peace in the chaos, when I listen to it.  The lies become small.  He makes me forget what they even were.  {Do you hear the heart whisper, too?}

My daughter I am yours.  You are mine.  Daughter, My heart breaks when you cry.  Come close now.  Let me gather up those tears.  What is it?  Let me tell you.  

You seek me in places where I am not.  You seek me in the look of other people’s eyes.  In the acceptance or the rejection.  In the frowns of a friend.  In the voice of a daughter. Don’t misread where I am.  Let me show you.  Let me remind you who you are, Whose you are.  

I am the voice that wakes you in the night, that reminds you that You are my beloved.  I stir your heart to keep you awake to Me.  I stir your heart to recognize who it is who chases you down, weeps when you are lost, searches for you until you are found.  I am the One who declares you are holy, in My name. Your sins were paid for with a price I was willing to pay.  You are worth My Son’s sacrifice.  You are worth it. You are My own.  I gave everything I am for you.  I do it now.  I give everything I am.  Which means you are worthy of My love.  

I do not create anything that is not worth loving.  I only create beauty and goodness.  Your sins are forgotten, in My name.  In the name of My son, I declare you clean.  You are whiter than snow.  I long to look on you.  Stand tall, in your joy, for I delight in you.

You are My delight, My smile, My breath and beating heart.  Declare My love for you in everything you do.  Declare it with kisses on the cheeks of your sons.  Declare it with sweet words of truth in the ears of your babes.  I am with you.  Declare this life within you.  Do not wait to celebrate life within you that you already have.

Dear girls, I know what it is like to feel overwhelmed by the whispers that are not of the Father.  And sometimes, I admit, the lies seem so much easier to believe that the goodness of truth that makes love sing.  I pray for our hearts:  I pray that we only hear the voice of the Father this Advent season.  I pray we yearn for only Him, only His truth, only His light to guide our path.  He leads us to Him now.  Father, let Your voice penetrate our hearts.  Let nothing separate us from You.

What, His girl, do you struggle with this Christmas?  What love whispers do you need to have penetrate your heart?

Linking up today with Bonnie

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and Emily

Come on over and visit?

Running

Sunday morning and I wake to a messy house.  Bags lugged in from our week-long Thanksgiving trip the day before prop against the kitchen island. Piles of laundry and plastic Christmas decoration container boxes stack against the dining room entryway.  Walking through the kitchen doorway without toppling the piles is possible, but only if you lean back just a little and go slow.

After the long road trip in the car the day before and, once home, having spent the evening with the kids pulling out Christmas decorations, I wake with impatience and a feeling of entitlement. I feel restless and want to get out of this messy house.  The urge to escape hits hard and when the boys come in, with the dog, followed by our daughter, when I am hurriedly pulling on my running shoes to get out, I greet them with curt good mornings and instructions to hang out with Daddy while I go out.  I do not hug them, pulling them in like I usually do, urging them to climb up into the big bed to cuddle on this chilly weekend morning.  This morning it is all about me.  And when I see the kids, any softness is replaced with an urgency to escape before they ask something for me to do for them.  My heart is hard.  Loving does not come because I don’t let it.

I click the leash on the dog and charge for the door.  I need to get out of here, my head on what I think I need and not on what the Father is offering for me to receive.  This California morning cools my skin as I stretch out on the pavement, wishing our new young dog was better at not pulling on the leash so I could feel even more uninhibited, detached, free.  I run away, breathing in this chilly air and inhaling the sweet scent of crunching wet leaves under foot.  I am not my own now.  I forget this, as I live like escape will bring freedom.  Sometimes it is the leaving — for we each crave freedom, to some degree — that creates movement toward healing. But I forget, even while desiring to escape, how, with His life in me, I am already free.

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I forget who I am.  And I run to remember.  But in the running I need to be make sure I am running to Him — to what He has — and not away.  For His plans are good.

I run and I pray and confess my selfishness, my impatience and unwillingness to yield, to listen, to love.  I confess I try to fill up myself rather than let Him fill me and the cost is worn by the expressions of my children and on my husband when I fail to have anything left to give.  I have nothing to give without being filled by what He has for me.  I have been thirsty, and I can often not see to what well I have been turning until the damage is done on my heart, and then, because of my choices, on others around me.  I am made to need Him.  Freedom exists only in what He gives.  Not away.  Not separate. Never alone.

I cannot love at all on my own.

I turn into the school a few blocks from my house and I let the dog go.  He needs to run free, too; and I need to feel nothing tugging on me right now.  I need the Father’s voice to steer me.  And when I plead for His beauty to enter me, for His love to turn this all around and create beauty in the chaos of my heart, redeeming the ugliness of this day, I hear His whisper gentle, sweet.  You ask for me to make this day beautiful, for Me to create beauty in it.  But I already have.  See it.  Taste it.  It is for you to enter into.  I have come already and so accept this:  you are redeemed.

Can you take this in, His girls?  This day, this moment  right now, has already been redeemed.  All the regrets, the ill-guided actions, the things you wish you did or didn’t do, all the words you wish you never said. Lay it all down now for He has already come.  He has already rescued.  And He comes again, and again, to remind you that He is for you.  He is the One who never tires of turning.

Beloved daughter of His, would you, with me, turn?

Weary Heart, Stay

The slow ache to leave, to escape, escalates when I long to wind down.  The kids finally in bed; the dining room floor stacked with camping supplies.  We will set out in the morning for our combo trip of mountains and desert:  first, to the Sierra Nevada mountains and then, the desert of Death Valley.

The kids are gifted with a full week off from school, and we are eager for a change of pace.  I long for a place where there is no cell coverage — where things are a bit quieter, a bit slower, a bit simpler and more sweet.  I can have a hard time closing my ears and heart to the whispers of this world that try to convince me I will be more popular if I . . . I will be more important if I . . . I will be more interesting and successful if I . . .  And, once in a while, I admit, I find myself so weary of this world — so weary of the lies that rob me from heeding His truth — that I want to run far away.

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I know this wild idea of wanting to escape is not any solution that will actually bring me peace.  And I know it will also not bring me any closer to the Father, who can.  I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Romans:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).   Turn to Him, surrender to His word, and we will be transformed.

And again, I am so thankful for how He comes to rescue, and how He helps me turn:  “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31).

I can, in the midst of all these lists of things to do and insecurities about myself, find Him.  I can, in the journey of surrendering myself and daily confessing a new way I messed up — as a wife, a parent, a friend — receive His grace.  Running to Him, no matter where I am, no matter what misplaced longing I strive to have the world fill, is where I receive the love from Him that sustains.  His plan, the whispers of who I am, imprints deep into this heart when I turn.  When I trust.  When I choose not to run away, but turn toward Him, and stay.

How are you feeling weary of this world?  Will you join me as I turn toward Him, asking for His help in heeding His truth?  Will you receive grace to surrender, not run away, and stay?

Who is first?

Here I go again.

The words tumble out before I can stop them, and then, by his expression, I realize the impact of what I have said.  Oh, where is that gentleness I want in my heart, that softening, that love that guides me that makes me think of another first, and not myself?  I want to take it all back again, Father.  This was not the plan — to let my selfishness lead, my self-centered attitude that is blind to love, deaf to Your Spirit’s whispers.  You are here, Your Spirit in me, Father, and yet I do not yield.

The damage done, my husband leaves the room.

Pride creates a gulf between hearts that seems to stretch for miles.  I do not know what is best for myself, for others, on my own, without heeding the Father’s words in me, but I so often act like I do.  I put myself on the throne and do not lean on His love to remind me the old self is dead and that it is the new self, His life in me, that brings His fruits of peace, love, gentleness, joy.

But I set out on my own a lot, not heeding His truth.  And when I do that, I put myself before God.  I let my pride, my confidence in myself, make choices that not only make me deaf to my Father’s will, but cause suffering to everyone around me.

I cannot sink any lower than when I yield to pride.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, writes,

The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. . . . Pride always means enmity — it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.

Why do I do what I don’t want to do, Father?  I don’t want my pride, my unwillingness to heed Your word, Your truth, separate me from this new life You have already come to give me.  I know You do not condemn me, in my sin, but come to restore me again to You.  I confess my brokenness, my putting myself before You, my not trusting You with all of me.  I  come to You on my knees.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me (Romans 7: 18-20).

And I ask You to come for me, cleanse me of this Pride that causes harsh words rather than words of gentleness and love to pour forth from my lips.  This is not the first time I have prayed this, Father, and here I am again.  And I know, for my heart to be transformed, I need to remember who is first.  It is not me.  Forgive me, Father, for I act like it is me.

And the Father comes, and He gives me eyes for my heart.  He shows me why I fall when I continue, on my own terms, to keep trying to rise.

My daughter, I am safe.  I am mercy.  Nothing else matters.  All is under My wing. Pride — you are afraid of being criticized, torn down, made to feel less than what you hold yourself up to be. You have an image of yourself that rejects failure, how you perceive failure.  And it is generational, this desire to be the best.  You don’t like coming face to face with who you are.  You fear you are not good enough.  You believe failure is weakness.  Fear of condemnation leads you to condemn others.  You believe you are not good enough, even though you know that is not true.

It is a lie that you are better than — above — failure.  You push against messages that make you feel less than you want to be.  You don’t want people to think less of you.

{I have an idol of self.  I care more about my pride, my self-preservation, what other people think of me, more than God.}

What if you weren’t considered special, My own?

But I am — we are — as His daughters, deeply desired and chosen.  And we are loved as He has made us.  We are given this life to love, with his love, in that freedom of life that comes with humility, humbleness, following our Father with everything we are.

Girls, is there an idol you worship more than God?  Do you stumble again, even though you know He is for you, gave it all for you, that He is more than enough?  

Cleanse us, Father. Break these lies, these whispers that distract us from You.  In the name of Jesus’ name, we pray, come.

What does it take to tell the truth?

He bends over the lined notebook paper, yellow pencil in his little hand.  I watch the tears run down his freckled cheeks.  My heart aches, too.

In school the day before he had gotten in trouble, drawing pictures with his friend during science when he should have been paying attention.  The associate teacher leading that day spoke with them, and I got an email from his main classroom teacher the next day, telling me she was sorry about the incident but was glad my little guy had told me about it:  as parents, my husband and I must have created a safe space at home for him to come to us with anything.

{Yes, I pray we have created space that feels safe.  I know the potential harm for a child who does not have a safe place to land.}

But he hadn’t.  My son never said a word.

What does it take to tell the truth?  Does it require more than the existence of a safe place?  Is any place safe if we forget that God, our Father, is for us — that He is the constant, safe place, that never leaves? 

When I read that email I had no idea what the teacher was talking about. My son told her he had told me everything that had happened.

There is a choice we each make about whether or not to tell the truth.  And I wonder if a safe place is all that is required for honesty.

Does lying, running away from the truth, reveal all that we don’t really believe?

What is required for honesty, anyway?  

In third grade handwriting, with pauses every few seconds to wipe away the tears, he writes more than an apology letter to his teacher for lying.  He is writing down his fear of being loved less if he admits he messed up.  And that fear, an attempt at self-preservation, destroys trust and builds doubt in relationship.  I understand how it can feel that the most important thing to do, rather than tell the truth, is to hide. This place of  not wanting to reveal my true heart to another — to myself, to God — is buried deep.

Whom can we trust to still love us if another finds out what we did, what we think, how we really feel?  Choosing to hide when we fall makes the fear what counts most.  Fear becomes boss.  And then look at the damage that is caused, oh so much deeper, when our fear dictates our actions — when we are scared to tell the truth.

I know it is so much better for love and self-forgetfulness to be the force that drives me, rather than selfishness and fear.

But, I confess, my focus on myself and how people think of me is often what dictates my actions more than God’s truth in my heart.

Father, turn me around.  I need more of You.

And My girl, I am for you.  Yes, I never leave.  These words I plant in your heart are good. Wrestle with them , child.  I will give you what you need to know.  And then rise up, for you are made for more than a life of fear.  Become true and rest in the good heart I gave you.  Let me guide the way.  Let me be in control.  I will soften you.  I will mold you.  Surrender and trust that I have you.  I never let you go.  

Can you believe this, girls?  Can you relate to this story, of hiding from truth, afraid to reveal to another what is really going on?  I pray His peace into you.  I pray His truth into you.  I pray we are each blessed with His courage to see and claim this light that is within us, this life He gave.  His truth is what we claim.  His rock is on what we stand.  Let us take on His courage and be bold in trusting Him. There is much at stake when we don’t.  

No Passivity Here

 

This morning I was going to write about a regret I had the other night, when I was with a group of women and realized that in my insecurities, my not rising up and owning that I am His daughter, I missed out on what the Father had for me:  to lead.  A weight has been heavy on my heart, as I realized that I was passive; I did not feel like leading even though it became clear that that was what He was calling me to do.

Aren’t we so good at beating ourselves up, filling our mind and heart with “I should” and “I wish”?  

Aren’t we also, often, so good at being passive when we don’t fully trust?

I want to move forward, learn from the mistake, and be present with Him today, though.  I will be passive today, again, if I stay shrouded in guilt — regret — and not have arms wide open for the gift before me, Him with me, this moment.

I want to learn from the past but be present today.  I will lead the next time He calls me to it.  I see Him this moment, beckoning me in, cleansing me of regret and shame.

Father . . .

Little girl, stay.  Your dancing heart is what I am after.  Looking back offers wisdom, but only if it is turned over to Me.  Otherwise, it damages this heart I have given you, whom I have made you to be.  What is the purpose of regret?  Be present with Me now.  Seek My face now.  There is always a new beginning.  Learn from the past, but don’t stay there.  I Am here.

I turn over . . .

I do ask you to not be passive, to not be timid, to not question My allegiance, My alignment with you.  Do you ask Me to go where you go, daughter?  Or, do you go where I go?  It is so much better when I lead.  I know the path.  It is lighted and sure.

I confess,  Father. . .

In a room full of women, of men, of hearts unknown, remember that you are known, and that I give you words.  In territory unfamiliar, where the next step is uncertain, remember that I have been here before.  You do not go into any place alone.

Fill me with Your peace.

These days shape you, with My handprint on your heart.  I bring you peace and confidence in whom I have made you to be.  When you look back at a gathering, a conversation, a moment when you didn’t lean on me, when you didn’t trust me, when you set out on your own, trust that I was still there, delighting in you, whom I have made you to be.  You have what it takes, daughter.

Help me to believe this.  Help me to trust.

Passivity leads to stagnation.  Everything you do is an action, a choice to partner with Me or a choice to do things independently, on your own. What you call passivity is the act of not trusting Me, forgetting Me, not believing that I am good.  I give you good things to do, to partake in!  The joy of partnering with Me!  I do not withhold joy from you.  It is for you — all My gifts, all the fruits of My spirit.  You are My delight and I long to be with you.  I love to see you see Me.  I will give you eyes to see.

I know You are good.

So this adventure today is one of being present to what I have for you.  It is not a looking back.  It is not an uncertainty about the future.  It is trusting that I am good, that I am your God, your Father who has you, who holds you in His hand.  So, daughter, dance, see the sparkle in the sunrise this morning, the laughter in the moments when you love with My full heart.  Notice Me gazing at you, walking with you, holding your heart to remind you you are not alone.

You are never alone .  Today I Am.  Now I Am.  This moment these words penetrate your heart, and the next moment when you turn, I turn, too.  Trust me more, daughter.  The kingdom of God awaits those who seek My face.

 

Saving Myself is Not Repenting

A few days ago, sitting with a group of women on a deck outside, on a beautiful northern California summer night, I was challenged to consider whether my faith in God is one based on religion or on the gospel.  The focus of the discussion was James Bryan Smith’s second chapter “God is Good,” from his book The Good and Beautiful God.  We were discussing the difficulties Christians face in adopting the narratives of the gospel, the narratives that Jesus models in His relationship with God.  Living the gospel is impossible if one’s faith is based on control and not surrender.  The motivation to want to do certain things that are “good” and “moral” can sometimes be less about one’s response to God’s love, but a conscious or unconscious attempt to win more of God’s approval.

Timothy Keller’s book Gospel in Life, further challenged me, as he contrasts the differences between religion and the gospel.  Revisiting his words during our discussion that night, my heart was stirred.   When you read the words below, which truth(s) resonate(s)?  How are you challenged or convicted?  How is your heart stirred?

Religion Gospel
Motivation is based on fear and insecurity Motivation is based on grateful joy.
I obey God in order to get things from God. I obey God to get God — to delight in and resemble him.
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life. When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated, because it is critical that I think of myself as a “good person.”  Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs. When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ.
My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need.  My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment. My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration.  My main purpose is fellowship with God.
My self-view swings between two poles.  If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people.  If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident — I feel like a failure. My self-view is not based on my moral achievement. In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator — simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ.  I am so bad that he had to die for me, and I am so loved that he was glad to die for me.  This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.
My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am — and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who dies for me.  I am saved by sheer grace, so I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.

Keller continues,

If we give God things in the hope that they will earn us blessings or heaven, then we are really not doing anything for him at all — it’s for ourselves.  Only an experience of grace changes us so we do good things for goodness’ sake, for God’s sake.

To become a Christian is, therefore, first to admit the problem; that we have been substituting ourselves for God either by religion (trying to be our own savior by obedience to God’s law) or by irreligion (trying to be our own lord by disobedience to God’s law).  This means we change not so much the amount but the depth of our repentance.  We have to “repent,” but the repentance that receives Christ is not just being sorry for specific sins.  It is not less than that, but it is more.  “Saving repentance” is also admitting our effort of self-salvation, our effort at trying to be our own savior.

And that is where it hits close to home.  I have lived more than half of my life seeking to save myself, living as if my actions, my choices, are perhaps earning me favor with God.  Where is my heart, then?  Whom do I love most? If  I am motivated to seek God only to save myself, not only will I fail (because only God can save) but I will never know God’s love for me.  I will never know redemption, salvation, grace, hope — and joy and freedom and peace.

I return to the memory that shapes my heart more than anything else:  the fact that it took me over twenty years to see my brokenness face-to-face, to see the darkness in me that God wanted me to know in order for me to recognize the significance of His light.  There is a difference between confession and repentance.

Confessing I have sinned — that I recognize I have relied upon my human weaknesses for strength rather than the Father’s strength (to make choices when I am partnering with Him) — is not the same as repentance.  I am repentant when I am committed to surrendering the sins to Him and want Him to change me.  When I have felt sorry for my sins and confess but continue to try to save myself, I am not repenting.  I am not truly repentant unless I am willing to recognize I am not my own savior.  I must surrender.  Only the Father can change me.

The choice He gives us to choose Him or not — to let Him come in and change us, or allow us to reject Him — might be where things get muddled and we feel we need to take control.  And that’s when we get tempted to try to change ourselves.

I know that has been the case with me. . . It all comes down to my being willing to surrender. . .

Father, I pray you come for us now, helping us to see the false narratives we believe about you, the ways we twist the truth about the gospel and about You as our Savior.  Search our hearts and give us wisdom to discern what is false about what we believe so that we can lay down those lies and pick up Your truth.  We are not in control, Father.  Only You are.  You remind us that nothing comes between us and Your love for us.  Help us to have hearts that seek your truth, repent, and live in nothing but Your love.  ~ Amen.


I Know

I know what it is like to not want to surrender.  I know the heartache, the frustration and pain, the walls pressing in so I can’t breathe.

Please, God, change me.  I want to love differently than this.  Please change this hard heart so it is soft.

I know what it is like to wish for God to wave His magic wand and transform me, to come fix the situation so peace would come.

I know what it is like to want Him to save me, without me doing a thing, and to desire for Him to make it all new.

I know what is is like to think I have hope in a big God — One who is mighty, all powerful, a God whose very hands formed the world, whose very words brought light from darkness, brought life from dust.

And I know what it is like to not know Him, trust Him — when these beliefs about Him are just information in my head, not actions that reveal a heart with faith in who He truly is.

My choices, my actions, reveal if I even know Him.  I can’t hide what I truly believe.

I know what it is like to dig in, stubborn, wanting to win a fight, believing love is conditional upon another person’s actions.  I know what it means to to not choose love simply because He did.

I know what it is like to want to change by my own willpower, to try to conjure up kind thoughts, a productive mind, a strong body, a desire to do good things all on my own.  I know what it is like to believe I am strong when I feel like I don’t need a soul.

I know what it is like to think I have faith in a God who could fix this brokenness in me.  I know what it is like to think His granting me a gentle, forgiving, loving, peaceful, joy-filled, rejoicing heart wouldn’t be too much to ask — and that I wouldn’t need to change how I think, how I speak, how I live.

I know what it is like to not want to do any of the work, if it is hard.

I know what it is like to not want to give in to Him — to have a heart unyielding to discomfort and change — to be unwilling to concede that in my letting go and trusting Him I will discover what it means to have faith.

I know what it is like to feel alone (although I know, in my head, He never leaves).

I know what it is like to fall, to fail, to cry out in desperation, to feel like I am dying when my spirit struggles against the giving up of the lies — the darkness in me that has made me my own god and kept me distant, guarded, and proud.

I know what is is like to feel that I am  moving in circles when the same issues resurface, the familiar fights and struggles return and I am overwhelmed, again, and finally have to turn.

I know what it is like to finally let His light shine on the dark places in me and the Light has been so bright that I have fought it, not wanting to face it, not wanting to face Him.

I know what it is like to turn away from God, feeling overwhelmed by what surrender will require, resistant to the truth that I will finally be released from these chains and free.

I know what is is like to take steps toward Him even when I don’t feel like it, and when I don’t even know how.

I know what it is like to begin to see, and trust, and believe that His love is enough.

I know what is like to die to live.  And I know what it is like to fail, and have the peace come when I let Him pick me up.  And I know what it is like to have to do it again and again and again.

Hard Love

In the orchard, cold ground, although just December in California, and she wants to end it here.

This choice, the weight of the decision before her is that she thinks she has no choice.  Her life, the self-absorbed focus on her life, only hers, creates the walls of the darkness.  This garden is not the garden where Jesus wept, heart shaking, for the journey His heart prepared to endure.

Her bare legs pressed into the dark soil and she thinks about herself, her dream, her image, the lies pressing in and choking her in the darkness.  The love of self, the desire to put oneself on the throne, above Him, has already squelched the life in her and then killed the chance of the life in her that was not hers to take away–and all she thinks, to survive.

Hard love.

It is not this.  Rather, it is choosing to sacrifice, to give it all, for another, no matter the cost, knowing exactly the cost, and doing it anyway.

Hard love.  And He came next to her in the darkness, 20 years later she sees it; she never knew He was there all along.  Kneeling there, bare almond branches overhead, and He loves.  Here, in the darkest places of the heart.  He loves.  He comes.  He rescues.  He redeems.

 

Above is what I wrote in a “5 minute Friday” with Lisa-Jo, at The Gypsy Mama.  She offers the challenge of  writing “for 5 minutes flat with no editing or tweaking”.  She encourages “let’s  just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.”  I encourage you to jump on over and join in!