I’ve been part of places where the moment you let your weakness show…admit to your shortcomings…let on that you aren’t perfect like Christian’s are “supposed” to be…everything changes.
Church Hurt…almost everyone who has ever attended church on Sunday mornings has experienced it. Sadly, I received an email a few days ago that broke my heart. It wasn’t the first of its kind and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It was from a sweet soul who, like many, have fallen victim to that hurt I’m referring to. You know the kind I’m talking about.
The downward glances and the feeling that no matter what you do, you will never be one of them.
Because in church, there are cliques. Every church, every size, every place. There are the ones who attend weekly because it’s what you do. There are the ones who only come for special events. Then there are the ones who are always on the “in.” They are the cool kids. The ‘chosen ones’ as Josh and I have referred to them in the past. No matter what they do or who they upset, they manage to stay on the up-and-up within the congregation.
In one sense, that’s okay. It’s good to have stable and reliable individuals within any body of believers—assuming of course that they are held to the same biblical standards as everyone else and held accountable for their words and actions. What’s not okay, however, is when the church becomes a social club that only allows certain folks in. That’s where the American church is missing the mark. We have exchanged the notion of welcoming in “sinners” with the belief that we are too good for them. Generally forgetting that we are sinners, too.
Being a member of the American church has taught me a few things over the years. Some good, others not so good.
There is a misconception that a pastor is untouchable and immovable. Friends, this is a lie. I have heard far too many stories of ministers, preachers, and pastors who have fallen and fallen hard. Some who have fallen due to monetary struggles (i.e. greed and embezzlement) but more often than not, with personal struggles and temptations. Pastors who have placed themselves in situations that likely could have been avoided, but were not. We are encouraged to pray for our pastors and it’s our duty to remember that because they are pastors, they are often on the devil’s radar. We also cannot forget that they are human. They are not God nor are they perfect. They are broken individuals just like we are.
I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. Wouldn’t it be nice to believe that people inside the walls of a church were the most loving, welcoming and encouraging people around? Wishful thinking, I know. Nevertheless
We [the American church] are turning people away all on our own because we have failed to welcome them into our ranks. That homeless person who sits on the back row every few Sundays that no one speaks to? Has anyone welcomed them? Have you? M
Personal conviction from the Holy Spirit is often much bigger than we recognize. Our job is to give grace.
Are you smiling, only shaking the hands of the people who you don’t make you feel uncomfortable and passing by the ones who look too ‘messy’ or ‘broken’ for you to acknowledge? We are failing them, friends. We’ve got to step up our game.
Whether it’s the youth minister, the preacher’s wife or the pastor himself…some people will seemingly never catch flack for their conduct and behavior. I have personally been on the receiving end of hurt by a pastors wife at least three times that I can distinctly remember. You know what? It sucks. It hurts. But they are people, too. They make mistakes, too.
Despite the pain that that has caused me in the past, I know that I personally have hurt people unintentionally in the past before as well and I do not want someone to hold that over my head one day when I am a pastors wife. We cannot always be perfect and we are going to mess up. Such is life.
On that note, we also need to remember that as a church body, we do not always know what goes on behind the scenes. That thing the youth minister did that rubbed you (or perhaps the entire congregation) the wrong way? That thing the preacher’s wife did or said that you thought no one else noticed? The comment the pastor made during the Sunday service that didn’t quite sit right with you? We don’t always know the full extent of what goes on after the fact in those circumstances. We don’t always know what God may be doing in them, with them or to them as a result of their actions. Personal conviction from the Holy Spirit is often much bigger than we recognize. Our job is to give grace.
It’s easy to look at the church and see only through the eyes of someone who has been hurt, burned or burdened by it. I’ve been there. I get it, believe me. In the midst of my own pain after dealing with some of the worst “church hurt” I have ever experienced in my life, I walked away. I turned my back on church as a whole and never wanted to go back. I know others who have been hurt by churches in the same way and haven’t been back in decades.
Our responsibility as believers isn’t to everyone else and their actions. It’s to ourselves and how we are acting within the walls of the church and community we have been placed. The questions is, are we doing it?
A few days ago, I posted something on Instagram that received a lot of really honest feedback from my followers. For those who aren’t following the government shutdown, we are right in the middle of it. We moved to California last July and with that transition came a lot of changes for our family. Changes that included minimizing my work load and client list (to the point of basically shutting everything down–again), as well as pulling our boys from the public school system in lieu of homeschooling them.
While homeschooling in and of itself is an entirely different (and very sore) subject for me, it has made the shutdown even worse for our family. Because I am homeschooling, I am not able to devote as much time to running a business (of any kind), much less grow one. The shutdown for our family and 799,999 federally employed families, the shutdown means no paycheck and no income. If I’m being completely honest, this is just one more kick in the teeth since we moved to California.
It has been a long and lonely few months for me personally; months filled with heartache, bitterness, anger, despair, depression, anxiety, resentment and great trial. I feel much like I am treading water every day of my life, doing everything in my power to keep myself afloat and above the water. Every single time I think I have reached the point of shallow water and peaceful currents, the waves knock me under again. Likewise, every single time I am in the middle of a struggle or a storm, someone tells me one of three things: it’s just a season, God is in control and that they wish there was something they could do.
It’s time that those things stop being our cliche, go-to phrases when someone is in the middle of something hard.
I know seasons are biblical. I get that. I understand that. I accept that. King Solomon himself wrote eight verses of scripture specifically talking about seasons. I know that there are seasons of life and that they come and go. That doesn’t make it any easier to listen to nor does it really help when you tell someone that.
Telling someone that it’s a “season” and that “it too shall pass” is like looking at someone who just lost the most important person in the world to them and saying something cliche like, “God has a plan.” We know these things. We understand these things; but that does not make them any easier. I remember when we were struggling with secondary infertility and people said the most hateful things because, somehow, my struggle-our struggle-wasn’t long enough to warrant any pain yet. People hurt in different ways, for different reasons and at different lengths.
When we tell people that something is “just a season” we are basically telling them to just shut-up and deal with whatever they are struggling with…quietly.
Most of us are aware that whatever we are going through is something that will pass. Whether it’s the clinginess of our children, the bout of depression, the period of singleness we may endure, the feeling of loneliness, insert-personal-season-of-struggle-here. We know these things. We understand these things. We believe that the thing we are battling will end.
But, that doesn’t make the right now, in the middle of it any easier. Just because it’s a season doesn’t mean that it’s any less hard or lonely. It doesn’t debunk the pain or the hurt. It doesn’t take away from the ache that is deep inside us. That pain is still there and it’s still very, very real and valid.
Of course God is in control. Do you think that because I’m treading water right now that I have stopped believing that God is good or that God can/will/does take care of things? Of course he does. He’s pretty stellar like that. I haven’t lost my faith or my entire belief system just because I’m in the middle of something hard. I may have days where I feel further from God than I would like, but my trust in Him is still totally intact. Even though I know this, whatever I am dealing with at that current moment is still freakin’ hard. It’s still completely crappy and it sucks. No amount of faith will change the fact that my struggle is difficult.
I can ask God to take it from me. I can ask him to make the burden lighter (even Jesus did that). I can cry out to him and lament and weep and tell him I don’t like it or understand it. I can hate the very circumstance that I am in with every fiber of my being. I can do all of those things but that does not mean that I doubt or stopped believing that God is in control. God being in control doesn’t mean that in our humanity we don’t still hurt or experience hardship. In truth, when we say things like this to someone, we are often minimizing their pain all over again.
I have heard this constantly since this government shutdown started and people who know us and aren’t affiliated with the Coast Guard themselves….”I really wish there was something we could do to help you guys…”
Y’all. I can’t even.
Nine times out of ten, when we say this to someone we are only saying this to stroke our own ego and make ourselves feel better about the fact that we either haven’t already done something or that we don’t really want to do something. There is always something you can do for someone. Be it you send them a gift card or some cash (which is something so many of our friends and family have done to help with the financial strain), write them a card or offer to babysit their kids for an hour so they can get out of the house and regroup…there is something you can do. Whatever they are dealing with and whatever their struggle may be-financial, emotional, spiritual-put yourself in their shoes and do the thing that you wish someone would do for you if you were where they are.
People all over are struggling in some way or another. It may not be the government shutdown impacting them. It may not be financial hardship. It may not be depression or death or extended illness. If you ask or look deep enough you will see that we all hurt in some way or another. Maybe it’s time we actually choose to BE the hands and feet of Jesus and do something…instead of just talking about it. Again.
As most of you know by now, our little family relocated to the Sacramento area this summer. Leaving behind our home in North Carolina was one of the hardest things we have had to do. We anticipated it being difficult, as it was the first place that truly felt like “home” to us. It was where Noah started school, where we found our groove with the local Pop Warner and Little League teams, where we met some of the most genuine and Christ loving individuals as well as some of the best teachers and educators that I’ve ever known. While we found a tremendous church here, it is still taking some time to adjust to our new “normal.”
We opted to homeschool this year in an effort to both make the transition easier and avoid the overly liberal school systems as best we could. That in and of itself has been a new kind of adventure that we are all learning together. In an effort to maintain my sense of sanity and humanity amidst being constantly surrounded by my three children and adjusting to our new location, I’ve started shooting again (with my camera, obviously). In an attempt to keep myself accountable, I thought I’d start sharing the images weekly. If you’re following me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen them, but you never can tell.
Happy Monday, friends!
It’s been quiet around here. 2018 has, so far, brought a whirlwind of changes for our family. We bid farewell to North Carolina and made the very long 3,000 mile drive cross country to California. After a couple of nonstop weeks, we finally got unpacked, settled down, and are falling into a new rhythm.
I’m not sure what prompted me to write today. Maybe it was the discussion I had with my friend Erica a few days ago about stepping off the stage and out of the limelight…you know, getting back to the words and the writing and the things that brought you all here in the first place. Maybe it’s the newness of our location and the need to put word to
paper screen. Maybe it is me looking to find someone to talk to as we have just recently joined a church and I’m still digging for my “tribe” here in sunny NorCal.
Whatever that reason may be, I am.
Writing, that is.
There. I said it.
That felt kind of like ripping off a bandaid.
I felt like I needed to just kind of blurt that out like you would in a face-to-face conversation you’re having with a girlfriend. Blurt it out when she’s mid-sentence so as to truly shock her and cause her to pause and backtrack and ask you, “huh?”
During my time away from the never ending feeds of Facebook and Instagram, I spent a lot of hours in the car riding shotgun with my husband with our daughter in the backseat (don’t worry…our boys were in the car in front of us with Grandma). We covered a lot of ground and put a lot of miles down on the road. We also had a lot of conversations. A lot of the really deep, thought provoking kind that leave you asking more questions and grasping for answers that you simply can’t find. Something in me started to change somewhere between the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.
Striving to do what others that I admire are doing (whether it be in work, in school, in business or in hobby). Attempting to recreate myself in the sense of who I think I am supposed to be rather than who I was created to be. As silly as it sounds, it was the unfollowing by someone on Instagram that kind of sent me into a subconscious curiosity of whether I was not enough. (Social media is grand, right?) A now well-known speaker and blogger/author once followed me on social media and then at some point stopped. No real clue why. But, that tiny little “unfollow” left me wondering what I did and why she did it.
Why doesn’t she like me anymore?
Did I say something that offended her?
Am I not “christian” enough for her?
Is she too holy now that she has all these followers?
Is she better than I am?
During my time “off” I have learned three things that have completely changed the way that I look at and live life. Things you may read and say, “well…duh. Of course!” and then roll your eyes and click away from the site to go about your day. I get it. I do that, too. But, it’s three things that, although obvious in so many ways, we tend to ignore and intentionally forget,
I know that so. many. people. say that same thing, over and over and over again. But, friends, it is so true. I wish that I could get you to understand that striving to fill a void that was only ever meant to be filled by Jesus himself will never make you happy. No matter how much money you spend. No matter how much time you devote into growing your following or your numbers or building your platform. Jesus was and is better. Period.
Again, probably cliche and something you have heard countless times in your life, but true nonetheless. I think back to the episode of F•R•I•E•N•D•S (and any true fan will appreciate my spelling it out like that) in which Ross insists that Die Hard was his idea and that he has the napkin to prove it. God has planted something inside of you that He wants to grow…to cultivate…to bring to life. Yet, being a microwave generation, we tend to want what we want, when we want it–which is typically right this moment. Instead of waiting on God’s timing and trusting that He will bring to fruition all that is intended in His time, we throw in the towel and say forget it. I’ve had a countless number of ideas in my life that I have sat on and done nothing about, only to find that they are later executed by someone else. Typically someone I don’t know and have never met. My point being…when God plants something in your heart, follow through with it. DO IT. My
I have never met her but thing she’s fabulous friend, Ruth, has the motto, “Do It Scared.” There is going to be fear. And doubt. And struggle. You do it anyway.
I know that is not always easy to hear or to believe. Trust me. I have battled with this thought pattern for well over a decade. It is exhausting and it is stressful. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, no matter how far you run from it, you are going to be who God created you to be or you are going to be miserable. In my own life, I have struggled with trying to be like someone else for a long time. I
wanted to create things like someone else, shoot images like someone else, write like someone else. In all of my longing to be someone else, I allowed myself to diminish who it is that God created ME to be. I lost sight of what my passion is, what my style is, and what my voice sounds like. It’s okay to want to grow and I think it’s even okay to imitate in some ways (note: this is not me giving you permission to blatantly steal or copy something from someone else), but never to replicate. You are beautifully whole just as you are. Don’t ever change that.
Life and work and business is changing (and has changed) here in our new little spot on the west coast. God is moving and working and I’m just excited to be along for the ride. Maybe that will mean I start blogging again more frequently. I remember that I used to really dig that…
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment or the time that it happened, but somewhere in the last six months, my life has shifted.
Maybe it’s a result of having three kids instead of two…
Maybe it’s the result of finally reaching the point of physical, spiritual and emotional exhaustion…
Maybe it’s preparing to move across the country (literally from one coast to the other) for the third time in seven-ish years…
Maybe it’s just life in general…
Maybe it’s more.
Maybe it’s reaching the point of being fed up with the mundane and the ordinary “check off the boxes” lifestyle I have been living. Maybe it’s knowing that there’s more that I need to do, want to do, capable of doing…but can’t right now for reasons of my own making. Maybe it’s loneliness in a season of busy. Maybe it’s feeling lost when I know that I have been found. Maybe it’s broken relationships, broken friendships, heartache, disappointment, reality of bad habits and sinfulness, despair, exhaustion, longing and desperation rolled into a big ball of emotion and confusion and obligation.
Whatever “it” is, I have had enough of it.
The fact that I cannot even pinpoint what is sucking me dry spiritually is an issue in and of itself. I am tired. I am weary. I am drained. I am needing and longing for more than what I’ve been getting from the Word and from prayer. God is so much bigger than all of this. I want so much more of Him than I do of this world and the worlds approval.
I’ve heard many fellow bloggers and friends say that they couldn’t just stop writing or sharing or Instagramming or tweeting (I didn’t realize anyone really still used Twitter, but I digress) because they felt like they owed it to their audience to be present. I get that. I’ve spent 10 years building this little platform of friends. I love each of you dearly.
But, I love me more.
I love GOD most.
For the next 30-40 days, things will be silent around here. Not just here, but on my Instagram…my Facebook…my Twitter (minus the things that I have automatically set up to share with Lifeway)…all of it.
I’m going dark.
My friend Lisa Whittle did this back years ago and wrote a whole book about what she learned through it. I felt God calling me to this for several days last week and her 5 Word Prayers Daily Podcast this week was the affirmation from God that I needed that this was something I have to do. God’s calling me to something…I don’t know what. I don’t know why.
But, I know that I have to be obedient.
My fear of being forgotten in a busy world…
My anxiety about “losing followers” because of my absence…
The notion of letting someone down because I’m not here…
It’s too much for me right now.
I have to get back to what I’m here for. Back to the one who called me to this place to begin with. I can’t do that with the noise and the distractions of the world around me.
It’s time to find him and focus on Him for a while.
I’ll be back.
In the last month and a half or so, the Lord has convicted my heart about something that I can’t run from anymore. It started out as something that I just kind of shrugged my shoulders at. Something that, honestly, I didn’t think twice about. “Everyone else is doing it…” I thought. “Why should it be that big of a deal? It’s not something bad…” You see, our hearts and our minds tend to play tricks on us where our faith is concerned. We get this idea that as long as it’s not one of the “major” sins, we are okay. We are in the clear. God’s not going to be mad at us if we aren’t really doing anything ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ or sinful. Unlike an obvious sin like addiction or blasphemy or adultery, my conviction came over something so simple.
I don’t mean idolatry in the form of a golden calf or anything like that. I’m not worshipping a statue or leaving boxes of saltine crackers and apple juice at the foot of a man with a pot belly (true story, y’all…at my nail salon every single time). I mean idolatry in the sense of paying more attention to something than to the one thing that my heart should be focusing on. In the past, I have put my husband before the Lord—doing whatever I could to make him happy and feel like I was good enough for him. Likewise, I have put my children before the Lord, making sure that no matter what they needed, even if it meant stopping my quiet time and my bible reading to take care of it, I did it. Don’t get me wrong. Taking care of my husband and my children are part of the ministry that God has given me here on this earth. There is a time and a place for those things, no doubt. God wants me to put my husband and my children before myself but not before Him.
If something like that is clearly making an idol out of something/someone other than God, how would he feel if I was making an idol out of the very thing that was meant to draw me TO him? I somehow managed to make an idol out of my quiet time.
It started a few months back when I bought myself the new CSB Study Bible for Valentines Day. I love to read from various translations and the multitude of scholars and authors that contributed to this drew me in. I had a coupon for Lifeway and the bibles were on sale. You seriously can’t beat that! I scooped it up, paid the extra $5.00 and had my name embossed on the front of it and then took that beauty home. That was when the problem set in. I started to worry about how I was going to use it. I don’t mean worry about how to read it. I literally could not make myself write in, mark in, underline or highlight anything in this beautiful new bible…for fear of doing it wrong.
I spent hours on Pinterest, on Instagram, on Google…trying to find a “method” for marking that worked for me. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do it ‘wrong’ and that I didn’t just start marking for the sake of marking the way that I always have. I bought more new pens, pencils and highlighters than one person could ever need to make sure that I didn’t use something that would bleed through the pages (the pens and highlighters from The Daily Grace, Co. are my go-to’s for marking in any bible…). I was honestly having severe anxiety over this. My husband told me I was ridiculous-which I was-and that if I wanted the bible to study with, then I was going to have to actually pick it up and read it to get anything out of the study material.
I finally got over that crazy anxiety rush and made use of my Bible…but then, the anxiety and stress and Pinterest-searching for ways to make an effective prayer journal crept up. Another rabbit hole of ideas, images, notebooks and binders filled my empty time slots and I started to feel like my prayer time was “inadequate” because it wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty bow with the right accessories to go with it. Again, I found myself spending more time and more money trying to make the thing look like it should than I was actually using it.
Somewhere along the line, we all decided that not only does our faith and our spiritual journey need to be shared and broadcast (a practice that I am all for), but that it had to look a certain way as well. It’s not good enough to just share an image of your writing or your bible or even just your words…you need the perfect photo to go with it. A perfectly orchestrated, staged and precise image that displays in the right light, the right angle, and shows just the right amount of scripture writing. Sharing our quiet time take aways with these kind of photos even brought about satire and ridicule on YouTube back in 2014.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with sharing on social media. Again, I do it all the time. I use my feed as a means to share what God is teaching me, as a tool for spreading the gospel through my small network of friends and family who may not believe the gospel the way that I do, and to encourage others in their faith. Not all social media sharing is bad; and who doesn’t love a pretty photo? But, when sharing for the sake of our own recognition becomes more important than sharing for the sake of God’s, we’ve crossed the line between sharing faith to sharing self.
This realization made me take a good, long look in the mirror and at my heart. Realizing that, while my intentions were good and my goal was aimed at sharing Christ, my heart was aiming for the wrong things. Gaining followers, getting clicks, more likes and page views…the glorification of self became my idol. I’ve taken a step back from needing all of the “right” things and shifted my focus back toward the only one thing that I need: Jesus. Does that mean I don’t still love pretty notebooks and office supplies?! Absolutely not! The new line of goodies from Well Watered Women, the Daily Grace Co. and Cultivate What Matters have my heart all a-flutter right now. But rather than focusing on why I need more products, I’m focusing on why I need more Jesus.
I have to tell you…that shift in perspective has made all the difference.
I heard someone say one time-I think it might have been Beth Moore-that if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy. I can’t think of any other time in our culture that that statement has been more true. I can personally attest to the fact that, though I do not always struggle with the obvious sins, busyness is my nemesis. I am the queen of trying to do too many things at one time, resulting in the things that are important to me-the things that really matter-not being done well.
Society is different now than it was when so many of the well known evangelists and Kingdom Workers were doing God’s bidding. Tozier and Spurgeon didn’t battle with the demands of social media. Billy Graham didn’t have to build a following through the means of YouTube and Instagram. No. They simply did what God called them to do and trusted that he would handle the logistics.
Nowadays, we worry so much about building a platform that we forget that the Kingdom is already established.
I am as guilty of it as anyone. I check my “numbers” more often than I check my email. Self-doubt creeps in when I see someone “unfollow” me on social media and I begin to wonder what I did that made someone leave. When I see someone else’s numbers growing rapidly, I worry more about emulating their posts and figuring out what it is that they do that makes them so “popular” that I lose sight of who God made ME to be.
Not only is social media my struggle, I am a “yes” kind of person. I have a really hard time telling people no. I do not like confrontation in the least. I don’t like to disappoint people and I do not like to let people down. When we lived in Alaska and I was just starting my web design business, I did not turn down a single project. Not one. Every person that came to me with the desire to work with me, I accepted. Regardless of whether I thought that their project was a good fit. Regardless of whether I immediately sensed that they would be a client that was difficult to work with (and believe me that happens often). I was too excited about the ability to be “known” and that someone chose me to work with, that I overlooked everything else.
If I were your enemy, I’d make everything seem urgent, as if it’s all yours to handle. I’d bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn’t tell the difference between what’s important and what’s not. Going and going, guilty for ever saying no, trying to control it all, but just being controlled by it all instead…If I could help keep you busy enough, you’d be too overwhelmed to even realize how much work you’re actually saving me.
I became so busy that I stopped sleeping. I was working 18-20 hours a day, barely sleeping, and completely absent for my family. The results of that were a lot of extra stress and a lot of problems at home. I lost connection with my husband and our marriage suffered. I jumped back into work too soon after having our second son and stayed sick with mastitis more times than I can even count. My heard was fueled by the wrong passions and I suffered for it, as did my family.
Not only that, but my love for the work that I did faded as the job became too much pressure. The joy that I had once found in creating beautiful things, was gone because I was working too hard trying to do it all and be it all. Subconsciously, I was competing with every other designer out there-though I would have never openly admitted that. Jealousy raged within when I saw someone else finding success doing the thing that I was doing. Over time I have learned that, though for a season my business was a good thing for my family, it wasn’t the best thing for my family.
My fear of not being enough…not measuring up…not doing enough…led me to a place of bitterness toward something I once loved and left me feeling the same sense of emptiness that I felt before I started working. Something that I believe God had brought me to so that he could give me joy during a season of life where I was struggling (if you’ve ever been to Kodiak, Alaska…you’ll understand the reason I needed something to bring joy…dreariest place on Earth), the enemy used to bring disdain.
Thank you, God for perspective.
(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I’ve been open about my past here before…but “purity” is not a word that I would use to describe myself. Once upon a time when I was naive and completely unaware of things like spiritual warfare, I walked a pretty straight line. If you were to ask my parents, they’d likely tell you that I was a great kid who caused very little issues. I was quiet. I was reserved. I did not really make waves of any kind. Yet, at some point in my life (and I am pretty sure I know about when it happened) , I started to battle feelings of worthlessness and the idea that I never measured up. Feelings that I have continued to battle on up into adulthood.
You see, feelings of worthlessness give way to temptation and temptation gives way to sin. I once heard someone say that the enemy doesn’t come to you with horns and a pitch fork. That’s too easy. You’d be on to him if he did and he’d never get a hand on you. Instead, he comes at you disguised as everything you’ve always wanted. That’s why when he came to Jesus in the wilderness he brought bread. Don’t you know that any kind of bread after 40 days of fasting would have been like a little piece of heaven? Despite knowing that carbs are not my friend after having three babies, I have a really hard time turning them down. French fries, y’all are my nemesis.
During my time in college, I lived with three other girls. We were the best of friends, even though we didn’t really know each other before we all moved into our apartment together. It didn’t take long for us to start trying to make sure we were in the same classes together and we went out together every night. We added a few others to our little group and eventually we all worked at the same restaurant together. We were inseparable. But, as with any group of girls, things eventually became a competition. There were always guys around and it was nothing for one or all of us to feel a little “less than” when someone brought home another boy, even if he wasn’t the “right” boy.
I remember that two of my roommates went out with two roommates one night. To an actual movie on a real date. To say that I was jealous would be an extreme understatement. I spent a lot of time after that questioning why them and not me? What did they have that I didn’t? I started to question everything about myself. My morals, my looks, my personality…all of it. If I couldn’t manage to get a date, then there had to be something wrong with me, right?
In walks that temptation…guy after guy. Wrong motives, wrong mindset, wrong intentions. Needless to say my “purity” was out the window. They seemed to feed my desire for feeling like I was worthy. That I was good/smart/pretty enough to be worth someone’s time. They looked like everything that I wanted…attention. I thought that I was fitting in and that I was worth while. Long story short, those quick relationships didn’t last and I ended up feeling exactly like I had always felt. You see, the enemy fooled me into thinking that that was the kind of person that I needed to be in order to be worth someone’s time. I was vulnerable enough to fall for it.
Fast forward 13 years and I am married with three kids. I have a family that I absolutely adore and I found the one that I was meant to be with. Our marriage hasn’t come easy and there have been a lot of hard times and a lot of tears…there have been way more of those tempting moments in our marriage than I want to even really delve into, but with each moment like that that has come, I can CLEARLY see that it came because of the lack of depth in my relationship with Christ at the time.
If I were your enemy, I’d tempt you toward certain sins, making you believe they are basically (even biologically) unavoidable. I’d study your tendencies and proclivities till I learned the precise conditions that make you the most likely to indulge them. And then I’d strike right there. Again and again. Wear you down. Because if I can’t separate you from God forever, I can at least set you at odds with Him for the time being.
We tend to think that when we aren’t getting what we think we need or want, that God just isn’t there. That’s a lie my friends. What the enemy would have us believe is that what we want is the only right thing and the thing that the enemy wants for us is the only thing. Our responsibility is to stay in the word and measure each and every decision against what the Lord says. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. But, it’s worth it.
I would rather live in the will of the creator than walk blindly into the way of the enemy. At least when I’m walking with God…invested in my relationship with the Lord…I can spot trouble. I can sense the mistakes before they are made and I can fall back on the only thing that’s always been and always will be…Christ.
I read somewhere one time, that if you watch a horror movie without the sound, that you drastically reduce the likelihood of jumping and being afraid. It’s something to do with the fact that movies build up to the scare factor with the music they play and the tones that they use. They mentally prepare us for that sudden “BOO!” factor with the instrumentals. I tried it once and low-and-behold, the aspects that I knew I would have jumped at with the sound on, didn’t really phase me.
You see, about a year ago, I felt called to shut down my business and pursue something else. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed that God would give me “proof” that that’s what I needed to do. That financially, my family needed me to work. We needed the second income (what with two kids and a third on the way at that point…) and that there was no way that we could afford for me to shut down my business. The day that I finally got tired of wrestling with God over whether it was the right decision or not, I prayed for God to literally slam the door on whatever he wanted out of my life that was not in his will for me-writing, my blog, my business…whatever it was.
That afternoon, my five year old iMac bit the dust. When I say it “bit the dust” I mean that it died and no amount of work was able to fix it. I sought help from Apple experts and trained Apple professionals and nothing…nada. It was gone.
Sometimes, when fear keeps us still, God has to kick us into gear. The enemy is really good and making us question God and his goodness. He’s been doing it since the beginning. When Eve was in the garden, it was the enemy who planted that first tiny seed of doubt in her heart. “Did God really say…”
Did God really say that you should shut down your business?
Did God really say that your marriage can be healed?
Did God really say that your prodigal child will return?
Did God really say that he has the capacity to heal your sickness?
Did God really say that in all things he is good?
Did God really say that he has taken care of your eternity?
See, the enemy knows that if he can’t make us evil, can’t make us worship him or perform the schemes he has up his sleeve-all he has to do is make us afraid. When we are afraid, we render the power of the Lord useless. We hinder what the Holy Spirit can do in us and through us completely. This isn’t to say that the Lord won’t accomplish his will. Because, he will. One way or another, he will do what he intends to do. His will shall come to pass regardless of our actions. Yet, our fear can prevent us from being a part of what God has intended.
This whole journey we call life is about HIM. It has nothing to do with us. It’s not about my dreams or your dreams; it’s not about our goals. It’s about making the name of Jesus known to everyone we meet…increasing the kingdom and allowing everyone to see the greatness of the Lord. God just invites us to be part of his work…if we aren’t too afraid to trust him.
I wonder sometimes if the late Billy Graham was afraid…or if he just walked blindly into the will of the Lord. Do you ever think what might have been if Reverend Graham had just said, “Nope. I’m not going to do it…I’m not qualified to do this.” Imagine the lives that might not have come to know Christ. I think God would have still reached the ones he intended to reach, but Billy Graham himself might have missed out on the call for his life. What a shame that would have been.
What a shame it will be if we sit by stagnant in our faith and miss out on God’s divine plans for us…simply because we are too afraid to trust him.
(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7