My biggest fear came true, the exact one I couldn’t stop mulling over as I lay on my shaking, rattling bed. My 6-year-old was on the top bunk of an Amtrak train bed.
Would it hold him? Would he roll over?
At home, my son was protected. He knew his surroundings. He had comfort. His fall wasn’t 6 feet down. But here, in this new situation? In a bed half his size? One really couldn’t tell what might happen…
I got word in the morning. Husband told me he fell off the bed. My heart stopped. My eyes stared. I looked the kid up and down for train wounds. Nothing.
Husband explained, the safety straps next to the bed (the ones I completely took for granted), caught him. They wrapped him as he fell, like a cocoon, keeping him in a deep well of safety. So dear son was just chilling there, swinging and safe. Unaware of how protected he was…how he’d just been saved. He wasn’t even aware it happened. Dad pulled him back onto his bed without waking him.
How often does our Dad “save” us without us realizing? Pull us onto our bed of safety without us noticing? Wrap us in a cocoon of protection so harm can’t touch us?
Many of us, myself included, never give thought to the family wars, the bitter arguments, the looming bills, the accidents, the woops moments, the injuries he saves us from.
We see the things that hit us, and blame God, but we never consider how he saves us, and thank God.
He’s probably protected you a bazillion times, because God is mighty to save.
“He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Ps. 121:3)
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” (Zeph. 3:17)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10)
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:8)
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” (Is. 40:29)
When I read these verses, do you know what I think?
I think: That’s great He does all that – for them.
It’s great that he cares for the weary people who have cancer, or the poor people in India or the single mom in Detroit. He is SO loving to all them. But, I never apply God’s Word to me…
…even though I fall entirely in this camp. I am weary from packing up my whole house and carting boxes all the way to a new state. I am weak from trying to sell off my whole house and I am lacking might in the kindness department as night gives way to another night of no sleep.
But, I hardly count myself like them. I hardly place myself in the camp of the needy and poor people who should get God’s best.
“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1)
What about you? Do you regard yourself?
Do you easily admit you are:
What strikes me is that when we admit these things, we receive strength and power. It’s what this scripture says will happen. But, part of it happening is allowing it to happen.
You know, we can stop it from happening…
I’ve never been able to shove a popsicle in a kid’s mouth who didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to make my husband accept time of rest when he didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to fully feel God’s love when I didn’t make time for it.
David, the man who wrote this Psalm, even said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, heal me, for I have sinned against you” and “Even my close friend, someone I trusted…has turned[ against me.” (Ps. 41:9)
He admitted his gunk. What’s yours?
Psalm 41 says God:
– does not give people “over to the desire of their foes”
– restores those who are weary and lacking.
I heard this horrible story. On a warm evening a few summers ago, a boat hit a dock. A dock full of people.
A moment before this happened, they had no idea what was about to hit them. They drank cool drinks, enjoyed the summer breeze off the bay and laughed…until the load of a power boat hit them full force.
The boat flipped over, right onto it all. Right onto their party. Under the falling weight of this boat a five-year-old boy was caught.
He should have died. He should have been crushed. He should have never stood up again from the weight of it all…except, he did.
He got back up. He had a second life, a second chance, a free pass because an Adirondack chair caught the boat’s fall. It held the boat up at just enough of an angle so the boy could survive. He could crawl out.
And, he did. Despite all odds, he lived.
The cross of Jesus Christ is our Adirondack chair. I don’t care what kind of crushing power is coming against you right now. I don’t care how horrible the bills, the arguments, the conflict, the meanness, the stress, the blows are around you – the cross of Jesus Christ, the strength of his sacrifice and the inarguable greatness of his love – saves. It doesn’t save just once.
Over and over again, when life falls with a blow so hard it wants to kill you, Jesus holds things up just enough so you live again. So you walk out, miraculously, unscathed.
Jesus doesn’t save only for eternity; he saves for today. By faith, believe it. Believe in his saving power. It is in you…
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Ro. 8:11)
Thanks to the cross, the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we have wiggle room to crawl out from any crushing load that falls on us. There is nothing that can ruin us, ever. Get on your knees again, crawl out, brush them off and know: Because Jesus overcame, you can too.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8 NIV)
We climbed the train, tucked away our luggage for the long haul, then headed to the lounge where we got some waters and drinks. Relaxation time! Well, not so much. The kids were nuts. They tackled each other on the booth cushions and screamed like animals at a wrestling match. I eyed the woman staring at me to the left. I glanced down the row at a man who couldn’t keep his eyes off them. I motioned to my husband, “It’s time to go.” But what came next shocked me.
As we headed out, the woman with a pixie haircut and eyes that didn’t quite catch you straight stared a bit beyond me and said, “You have beautiful kids. We love watching them.”
I was shocked. You love them?
She went on to tell my family and I that we shouldn’t leave the lounge. And if we did, we should return soon.
And with this thought, I began wondering how often I suppose women hate me when they actually: A.) Want to get to know me B.) Are intrigued by me or, C.) Are looking my way, yet not even thinking about me?
Recently, I learned about the Spotlight Effect. It means the vast majority of the time you think people are critiquing, watching or condemning you, they aren’t. They’re likely thinking about themselves and what they are wearing, doing or saying. They’re caught up in their own spotlight.
To boil this down further, it means people are quite often thinking about themselves. And when they aren’t, they are thinking about what you are thinking about them.
Everyone is wrapped up in their own world.
So, those women who I think hate me?
They’ve probably moved on to pondering who hates them.
The person I offended, who I am convinced constantly tracks it?
She’s probably wondering why she doesn’t …blah…blah…blah…
The girl I was a terrible boss to years ago?
She’s probably just concerned with doing a good job at her work, today.
What if we let go of the pressure of what everyone else is thinking? What if we let go of the burden of owning other’s contentment? What if we just let our goal be to please God and seek him, plain and simple?
What if we let go of everyone’s load? Because it pains us to carry it.
“For each one should carry their own load.” (Gal. 6:5)
What do you do when, despite everything, people don’t do what you want them to?
Surely, this is the real question of life. Surely, if people fell in line, had no comebacks, did as I wanted and/or put up no fight, life would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?
I couldn’t help but think this as my daughter fought me tooth and nail to go to sleep. I couldn’t help but think this as my best efforts were overlooked by family members today. I couldn’t help but think this as I was stood up by a friend, even though we’d made plans – and confirmed them, twice. I couldn’t help but think about how someone dear to me talked behind my back.
I sighed, then thought…
Why can’t people follow through?
Do what they are supposed to do?
Not cause me issues?
Without all their issues, life would be easy. I’d live in continual peace, unending joy, and I’d be kind, considerate and easy-going to boot. But, bring these people into it and they’re a nail in my tire. They deflate me…
Subconsciously, I’m sure, these thoughts swirled in the back of my mind as I gave my son a well-timed lesson. I said, “My dear, we want our ‘yes’ to be ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ to be ‘no.’”
We want people to know we’ll do what we say. That we follow through. That we are considerate…not mess-ups like those horrible meanies who let people down.
(Um. I didn’t say that. But, I guess, I sure thought it.)
My son turned to me and said, “Mommy, you didn’t let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ when I wanted to see the solar eclipse that time.”
And by George, he was right. I didn’t. I forgot that time. Then, I fumbled and bumbled because despite my best intentions, I didn’t follow through. I tried to make up a story as to why it was better to see some half-baked moon, rather than the real deal. I faked it, to cover my mistake. Why? Because I felt horrible.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Mt. 7:3)
And maybe it’s the same for these people. Maybe they had good intentions… Maybe they planned to do something good… Maybe they hoped to follow through… Maybe they wanted to see me… Maybe they wished things turned out different… Maybe they hoped they acted differently…
We’re all just trying to do this thing called life. Not one of us has a monopoly on “perfect.”
This thought = freedom.
The more leeway I give to others’ mistakes, the more grace is free to work into mine. It’s a funny thing. Somehow, this wiggle room makes room in my heart, mind and soul for me to contend with the fact we’re all just people trying to do as good as we can. Then, forgiveness and love makes space for others. It allows their explaining, discussing, apologizing. It listens. It understands. It empathizes. In a sense, this gives my own imperfect self the same permission I extend.
In the giving of grace, we learn to receive it. It’s a crazy thing.
Grace to the person who cuts me off. I’ve ripped into the right lane to get off an exit.
Grace to the husband who speaks quickly. I’ve cut him off 100 times.
Grace to the woman who reacts sharply. I’ve had hard days too.
Grace to the mom who is anxious. Oh yes, I’ve walked a day in your shoes.
I’ll give you love and God will give me room to know I can lean back on him, even when I find myself leaning right into a pile full of problems.
So, I know you all know I wrote the book, Fear Fighting. I also know you know if there is anyone who should be fearless – it’s me. But, guess what? I admit it. I am not.
After a recent stressful situation, I was told by a family member, “You need to work on your anxiety issue.” This gave me anxiety.
Before she made this comment, I was leaps and bounds more anxiety-free than ever before. In fact, I considered what God did a miracle. But right after she said this, it felt like someone dropped a 50-pound brick off the Empire State building and it landed on my chest. The burn started up…
For days, I lost any sense of inner comfort and felt a new overwhelming sense of pounding nervousness.
Oh, how I wanted to blame her.
But I didn’t…well, I kind of did.
Man, what I’d worked through, she put back on me.
For days, I worked to work it away. For days, I pressed to bring back God’s peace. For days, I struggled and fought to pretend it wasn’t there. For days, I felt acted upon and angered by it all.
On the 5th day, I said to myself, “Of course, Kelly, you have anxiety. You’ve been through a hard time. You had a big family issue. You had some sin issues within yourself to contend with. You’re taking on a huge project right now, as you write a new book. And, you are also moving in a few days to a new area. It’s like the world is on your shoulders. Make room for this emotion to live, to breathe before God and be patient. God will work there, in the space where self-hatred is absent.”
I realized I could stop “performing peace” and let “Peace” come. And this is what happened. With less attention on performance and a clear focus on God’s love, it faded.
Jesus took it. He took it as I focused on Him – not on it. He took it as I remembered his all-sufficiency. He took it as I made room for rest. He took it as I let go of any anger I once had at that family member. He took it as I found myself free to not fix myself. He took it.
Thank you, God. Please keep it.
What might Jesus want to take from you through peaceful waiting? Where you are absent of self-hatred, remorse and condemnation? Where you don’t demand yourself to improve but wait on God?
The person said something horrendous about me. They said I take things personally and don’t always see things for what they are.
I have to tell you, I took it personally.
They were the ones with a finger pointed at me. They were the ones with three fingers pointing back at them. They were just as guilty of everything they accuse me of. They were attacking me with mean words and I didn’t want to listen.
They pushed me to my boiling point. I was enraged with my stomach was in knots and my chest red hot with anger. Clenching my firsts, I wondered, “Why am I always the problem?
I didn’t want to listen anymore. I wanted to walk away. I wanted to be done with them and the hurt they caused.
They aren’t for me. They are against me.
Sometimes it’s easier to mark people as one way or the other: For or against, good or bad, rude or kind, attacking or compassionate. It’s easy to mark someone, turn the other way and be done. Be done with what feels intrusive. Especially when it attacks your heart in a personal way.
But what if their words have merit? I considered this: Perhaps the words I am trying to kill could heal if I let them.
What words have you taken personally? What might happen if you permitted what you pushed away to inch its way into your heart? How would God use it?
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Prov. 19:20)
What if the words being sent to us are heaven sent? What if God doesn’t allow them for our demise, but he uses them so we can rise?
Powerful is the woman who sets her mind on God, changes, and grows in his name. She listens to others. She considers words aside from her feelings, quick responses and rebuttals and sees the other’s view.
Friends, I admit I do take things personally. I get hurt easily. I am sensitive. I like to be seen in good light. I have a hard time seeing my flaws. But in Christ, I am not reprimanded and sent to bed with no dinner. I am not chained to my sin. I am not berated and yelled at to do right.
I am helped. I am comforted. I am encouraged.
I may not be perfect but as I actively pursue Christ, I am helped. I am moving from glory to glory, grace to grace and peace to peace. I am shedding off Kelly Balarie and finding the real Jesus.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)
The pain of listening, admitting and owning is worth it…for when we die, we find Jesus alive in us.
Ever noticed how life feels jam packed with comings and goings? We come to our day brushing our teeth, and go from our day in a similar way. We come to our morning commute and go home in a like fashion. If we’re not careful, everything can feel like coming and going, commuting and coming home, hurrying then returning.
Even our Christian walk can become routine. Or communion. We come to the bread; we go back to our seat. The wine comes to our seat; it goes down the row.
I have been thinking of the power of coming and going. But, perhaps there is power in this coming and going…
Jesus said, “A time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.” Jo. 16:25
“I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Jo. 16:28
In coming to Jesus, we go forward loved.
In coming to the cross, we go into the world with fears relieved.
In coming to communion, we go forth with continual freedom.
In coming to God, we find our flesh going away.
In coming with hunger, we find God working in and nourishing us.
In coming with active pursuit, we find ourselves filled to go out into the world.
Jesus does this. In coming to him, he prepares us for whatever go we have ahead. Even if it’s rough. Even if it requires our mind. Even if we don’t think we can.
Our coming prepares our going. And it settles our future…
In Jesus’ coming to earth, we can go to heaven as children of God. No matter what.
In Jesus’ coming to save us, we find ourselves going forward with purpose, even when all our chips are down.
In coming to see our inadequacies, we find God’s saving power going out from his Word.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Jo. 6:35).
We come to him, and we go away from the world to become his light.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (Jo. 17:16)
Father God, we are coming to you and going away from our world. We are coming to your peace and going from our fear. We are coming with our heart moving and going away from our hardened heart. We are coming with the hard work of forgiveness done and going away expecting you have better things. We are coming knowing you are what we’re hungry for and going with reliance on you. We are coming to the knowledge of your power and we are going out with greater strength. Teach us God. Send us out in your ways. May we take and eat of you every day, so we go and meet with you in all our ways. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
I was taking my normal morning walk when something caught my eye and tried to lure me. A hand waving from the side of a building.
Was he calling me?
Sure enough, he was. He wanted me to come over.
Now, this time of day just happens to be my time with God. A time of walk and talk. It’s also a time I am really receptive to being used by him. So, for a split-second, I considered walking down and talking with this fellow.
Maybe I can reach him for Christ.
I took my ear buds off and yelled down the hill, “What do you want?” He motioned for me to come down to him – behind the liquor store.
I considered it, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go because:
He was standing behind a liquor store.
He was a he.
I got the feeling he was up to no good.
And as I walked away, I was in shock: How could I have ever considered doing something so dumb?
Around my house are tons of motels. There are also a lot of drug addicts and prostitutes. I came to realize upon reflection, he was likely a pimp.
Scary, I know.
But what I also realized is that sometimes the enemy can trick us in the name of Jesus. He can pull us into strategies, plans, motions or words we think are God-filled, but are actually traps set to nab us.
The serpent said to Eve, “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)
The devil appealed to Eve’s senses with something spiritual. He lured her in with a promise of a greater vision of God. He made her believe she was doing something God already knew about. Likely, he made her feel like God was okay with it. He convinced her she’d have greater vision of good and evil.
God would want that, right?
“(Eve) wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Gen. 3:6)
That doesn’t sound like such a bad cause, does it?
Beware: Just because God is involved doesn’t mean it is a God-cause.
Beware: Just because there is need, doesn’t mean that you’re the one God needs to walk into it.
Beware: Just because you want God’s ways doesn’t mean you go about it on your own.
The enemy will trick us with whatever device he knows will work. Sometimes, it is even things of God.
To fight this:
Act or don’t act.
If you choose not to act, don’t let the enemy trick you with the shame of “not doing”.
Their outfits are adorable. They look confident in how they carry themselves. They seem to have perfect lives. Their understanding of scripture is mind-blowing. And we wonder if God is more pleased with them than He is with… us.
And deep down, we may even envy their notoriety. Don’t we all have a desire to be seen and known.
I’ll be honest… this kind of mindset makes me want to scream. I can’t stand it when I let myself go down this road of thinking. Because I know everyone struggles as they navigate life. No one has it all together…
… regardless of who they are.
Here is the hard, cold truth: No matter how it may look, ministry is hard.
It’s a call to be vulnerable and open with your life—your story. It’s choosing to sit down at your computer or stand in front of an audience and pick the scab off your deepest wounds. It’s a radical act of obedience when we feel lacking and even unqualified. And sometimes it feels like you’re setting yourself up for a big heart thump.
Last year was one of those times.
Within about 3 months…
… I lost a good ministry-minded friend, … an opportunity to work with an amazing group of Jesus-girls exploded, … and I was betrayed at the deepest level by someone in ministry.
That trifecta knocked me down. Hard. And I lost my joy for ministry.
It made me question the calling on my life, wondering if maybe I heard God wrong. I was on the verge of quitting, frustrated because I felt He had abandoned me. It just felt like too much heartache to handle.
But then God. Those three words are so powerful. But then God nudged women to send affirming emails at just the right time. But then God crossed my path with the paths of encouragers at the right moment. But then God spoke the right words into my heart.
And my hopelessness began to lift… my perspective began to shift… and joy began to trickle back in.
Honestly, I am still low on the joy-meter. It’s a process, right? But I know the only One who can restore it is God.
And we’re working on it together.
Friend, where is joy draining from your life?
Where are you struggling to hold on to it?
Maybe it’s in a marriage that feels fragile or because a child is making bad choices. It could be because of your failing health or because your finances are unstable. Are you losing joy because of a strained friendship, a moral failure or a career that seems stuck?
What if we looked at our circumstances a little differently?
Mother Teresa once said, “The best way to show my gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.” This is meaty. It’s trust on steroids. And it is faith to the core.
But even better…
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us… “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live” (MSG).
God is asking us to engage in uncommon gratitude when life is draining our joy.
That means we thank God no matter what happens. It means we don’t focus on what’s lost, but instead focus on what’s left… and to be grateful for it.
It means we praise Him in the storm.
We don’t have to thank God for allowing cancer or death or pain in our life. I’m not sure we could ever genuinely find gratitude in that. Instead, we show gratitude because we know God is bigger than what we are facing, and that He is intricately involved in the details.
And that choice—choosing praise over hopelessness—is what takes us from common to uncommon.
Friends, praise will always usher in joy when we’re struggling to find it. It’s a negativity-buster and gratitude-generator at the same time. And it will keep us tethered to hope… no matter what comes our way.
Let’s be joy-carriers and show the next generation how it’s done so they can harness its power in their own lives.
I know you can do this.
Because of Jesus, you have everything it takes to #beUncommon. Now choose it.
About Carey Scott
Carey Scott is an author and speaker, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her NEWLY RELEASED BOOK, Uncommon, a battle cry for women to step out of the ordinary and live with purpose and passion. Carey also wrote Untangled, a book about the insecurities we face as women and how to live in freedom. She lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook.