ACCEPTANCE KINSHIP AND OTHER SUCH THINGS

belongingWhen I was really young I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. It didn’t matter if it was true or not. It’s just a feeling I wrestled with daily. It  didn’t matter where I was. I still had this nagging sense of being different or not good enough. I felt this way at home, among cousins, in my neighborhood and at school.

Then one day I attended a charismatic church and went forward for prayer. Oddly enough I didn’t realize the guy that was praying for me was a pastor (even though I just listened to him preach). And I didn’t know He heard from God and shared those words with others. So there I am thinking I’m getting prayer for bad sinuses and this guy says “I can tell everywhere you’ve ever gone and everywhere you’ve ever been you’ve always felt a little different and  little out-of-place. From this day forward you will never walk alone.” This guy nailed it!

That began my journey for truth in the inner parts. I have no problem leaning into the discomfort of getting to the root of my stuff. I’m not afraid to sit with those uncomfortable feelings , take them before the Father and allow Him to bring light into my darkness. Though I was an adult , what I found was a little girl still very much alive on the inside of me raging from the shame and rejection.

But the dilemma for me, the words shame,fear and unworthiness, were considered carnal in nature in the circles I ran in. Consequently some of my “stuff” remained hidden in dark places for years. I just couldn’t risk making myself that vulnerable to another Christian by telling them what I was secretly feeling. I couldn’t take the chance of being told “you’re just too carnal for me” I.e. “you’re too immature and unspiritual for me to hang out with”. That would’ve devastated me. It was that fear of disconnection that kept me trapped and unable to let God into a really deep dark scary part of my heart.

As time went on, God separated me to himself for a second round of sifting and separating. The first time I went  through one of those “seasons” it lasted 1 1/2 years and was awful. In the second round it lasted closer to 5 years. And it just plain old sucked. (Sorry God but it did) God wanted access to my heart. All of it! He knew I could handle more than I ever thought I could, with His loving arms to hold me up. It didn’t feel like love at the time. It felt more like I was a plant that had been pulled up by the roots but not yet potted in a bigger pot. This “season” produced much fruit. But for this post I’ll focus on more freedom to be me. Warts and all!

Jesus loves me and you just as we are. That’s part of belonging to the family. But people and yes even Christians because of fear settle fitting in over belonging. I can say this with certainty because I know I’m not the only one guilty of sacrificing the real me at the altar of peer acceptance. Is anyone saying ouch yet??

In the words of my new favorite author Brene Brown “Fitting in and have a sense of belonging are two totaling different things”.

Fitting in is something we do to be accepted. But the problem is that when we settle for ‘fitting in’ we’re always looking over our shoulder to make sure no one else comes along to expose us for something and kick us out of the group. Leaving us all alone. again! 

So here’s what I’ve discovered…

 

First, no one wants to talks about fear or shame,and the less you talk about it the more you are stuck with it like a thorn in the paw of a lion. It’ll roar at you until you hear it and pay attention.

Second, the more I say out loud the things I’m secretly thinking the more I find other that say “I know! and me too!” And That’s when I find a sense of connection and belonging that I crave. That’s when I’m truly being strong and courageous. That’s when ministering to each other happens! That’s when we start to open eyes that are blind, and free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Is 42:7

So today I say to you…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

 

WORDS WORDS WORDS

mouthLast year when I was on vacation I started reading the book “The 40 Day Soul Fast” by Cindy Trimm. I highly recommend this book for every Christian.

I had really been struggling with anxiety and mind racing thoughts that I couldn’t seem to get a grip on. I was desperate. Sometimes God has to take us away to begin to have His way with us. Really He just wants to answer our deepest prayers.

Such was the case for me.

As I was sitting there reading. BTW reading is quite hard if you can’t focus because your mind is racing. But anyway the scripture Psalm 19:14 (KJV) “ Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord” jumped off the page at me like none other ever before in my life.

All of the sudden I realized that I what I was thinking about myself wasn’t pleasing God!!! In the past when I read this scripture I would equate this to my thoughts and words about other people. Never once did I ponder how my negative thoughts about myself  weren’t pleasing my Heavenly Father.

Fireworks might as well been going off in my head. The more I struggled with anxiety the more I felt like I was failing as a Christian. I would beat myself up for it and therefore have even more anxiety! It was a vicious cycle.

At that just the right moment, God stepped onto the scene to set me free from myself.  I was used to hearing messages about God setting us free from sin. I usually would think it in relationship to actions NOT MY THOUGHTS! 

My whole life has changed becasue of this one revelation! I always knew thoughts preceed actions. But all of the sudden it took on a whole new dimension. One that has become a very useful tool in maintaining my inner life.

Some things are just better caught than taught!

 

I THINK I’M MORE LIKE THOMAS THAN I THOUGHT

doubt (277x300)I never realized how much I’m like Thomas. When life got tough, for a long time, I started to wonder if Jesus knew what He was doing. I knew and believed that He was aware of everything that was happening and how I felt. I believed that God never wasted any of my experiences. But as the anxiety grew, I had this almost unconscious thought. I wondered if God knew what He was doing with this mess going on in my head, heart and emotions. When I say almost unconscious I mean it’s the kind of thought that is so subtle you could almost miss it because the anxiety is screaming at the top of its lungs in your soul.

Because of the doubt and discouragement, I thought God was never going to use me again. In my mind I knew better but, on another level I believed differently. Do you know what I mean? It’s a negative core belief. I think it was because I was worn down from the battle. It went on for so long that I no resources left to draw from. The more I felt like I wasn’t measuring up to some unrealistic standard that I set for myself, the harder I tried,  ultimately I torturing myself. There are times you have to perform like when you’re in school or working. But that’s not how it works in God’s economy.  The internal message was “If I jumped through all the right hoops at just the right time then I would get the reward of” …. Fill in the blanks. At least that how it went in my mind. It was an automatic reaction to a lie I believed.

I know we all have our doubts and get discouraged. But no one readily talks about them in open conversation. Why that would be down-right blasphemous. If we risked being that honest about our struggles, what would people say? We all know what the answer to that is. At best we may get some left over message by well-intentioned folks.

Our culture demands we act strong even when we’re not. But here’s the thing, we can’t change what we won’t acknowledge. Ephesians 5:13 says “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible.” This one of my favorite scriptures because it means I get to be really honest with God.

What if we started being really honest with ourselves before our heavenly Father? What if we were really honest with at least one other person we trusted and felt wouldn’t judge us? Do you think we’d have a chance of feeling better? Do you think we would finally be able to take off the masks that we’re demanded to wear? Do you think that maybe, just maybe it would force us to relate to one another in a more significant way and that we could have a word in season for family and friends? I think so! What do you think? whisper (300x300)

SELF CARE

self care (139x176)

It seems the word lately is self-care.I’m a Christian. In that world, service and sacrifice are preached from the pulpit and highly  valued. But the down side of that is burn out. Recently I encouraged 2 women, that I respect greatly for their willingness to be there for others, to take time out for self-care. Usually when I say self care to a Christian I hear a nice little hmmm…. as if sounded like music to their soul.

One of the women is in full-time ministry. The other is a school teacher in the school district of the recent stabbings. They both need a little self-care. Wouldn’t you agree?

The truth is that if we don’t take care of our self we may go with that need not being met. Why would I say that? Because friends family and coworkers may not notice that we are in need.They get used to us being the strong one with the broad shoulders.They are used to us being the go to person. Oh did  you notice how I which from using the word others to we? I think I’m speaking to myself.

Self Care can take on many forms from a good night sleep and a lazy day mulling around the house to declining a request from someone to help in some way.Or maybe some retail therapy 🙂

I’m including several tips for self-care.

1. Sleep (my bed is my favorite place)

2 . Eat right

3. Exercise  (usually I think of this as a dirty word)

4. Socialize

5. Get a hobby (mine is shopping and cooking. I shop because I need bigger clothes

because I like what I cook and don’t always exercise) I really need to take my own

advice,

6. Pamper yourself