There is a huge ravine behind my house. If you make it down without falling or getting caught in a rabbit hole, you’ll find yourself at a playground. On most days, my kids longingly stare at it from our kitchen.
On a good sunny day, after rain storms are done and passed, I take the hike with them. As a good mom, or, at least, one who tries to be, I look for everything that could go wrong along the way. If I see a thorn bush, I pull it away before it snags them. If I see a bunch of rocks that may twist their ankle, I lead them in a different direction. If I see a huge ditch that might entrap them, I make sure to lift them over.
I go before my children… My eyes travel the path before them, so harm doesn’t as much befall them.
God does the same for us.
No matter what path we walk down, God is one step ahead. No matter what mountain we come up against, He is already climbing it. No matter what journey of uncertainty we encounter, God is 100 steps further. He’s laying out our path and preparing our steps. He’s flattening the land and preparing our journey. He’s uncovering our gold and laying it out for us.
He sees our way.
Sometimes, it seems, we believe we tread through this world, alone, like little boxcar children, trying to make it to the next meal. I’ve been thinking, this could not be further from the truth. We are always right next to God’s goodness.
Check out all the ways God goes before us:
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf…Deuteronomy 1:30
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 (NLT)
For the LORD will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Is. 52:12
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Is. 45:2
To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; Ps. 136:16
God is famous for caring and preparing us for greater things. He walks ahead to fight the battles we fear we can’t win. He calms the seas we’re convinced we can’t beat. He softens the blows we worry will take us down. He knows our road. He understands our coming trauma. He knows how to lead us through it.
Do you know what this means? We can worry less.
Just as I opened up the right path for my kids, God is opening the right path for us. It is for good. It will strengthen us. It will help us. It will lead us in the right way. It will lift us above harm.
God is always a step ahead, even when life makes us feel we’ve been left behind. Be it a marriage that is going under, a financial trial that looks impossible to fix, a baby that never seems to come, an addiction you can’t seem to beat, a dream that never surfaces – no matter, he’s a step ahead, working on your behalf.
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
We all have our thing. Don’t tell me you don’t. It’s what you gravitate to in silence. It is what makes your heart nervous because, no matter how you strategize, you can’t figure out the puzzle. You can’t figure how you’ll be delivered to peaceful, serene. There are no answers. God hasn’t pulled through.
Moses was a little puzzled too.
God told Moses at the burning bush to lead the Israelites out of slavery.
Ummm? What??? ME!!???
“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.” (Ex. 3:21)
Okay, God, maybe this is possible…you have my back.God will do this! I am bustin’ my people outta here!!!
I wonder if Moses was thinking the same? If excitement coursed through him, an eagerness to do God’s will?
In any case, Moses proceeds forward all obedient, faithful and bold. He approaches Pharoah and declares, (I imagine him standing all upright, strong and rock-solid, confident God will speak out of a local bush on his behalf if need-be), “Let my people go.”
Pharaoh’s response? “Make(s) the work harder for the people…” (Ex. 5:9)
What?!! The outcome was the opposite of the promise.
What gives, God???
Maybe you’re asking God that too. What gives, God???
Why did you call me to something huge, only to not make it happen?
Why did you lead me to respond in this way, when it is backfiring in my face?
Why did you promise and not deliver?
What gives, God???
God’s response to Moses, speaks profoundly to our very own questions. God says, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord….and I have remembered my covenant.” (Ex. 6:1-2, 5)
Here are 5 points we can take away from this:
1. God speaks to us similarly, saying “you will see…”
Oftentimes, the long wait is because God is preparing something great.
2. God is still Lord.
God might not do things like us, but then again, would we want him to? What God is working, will eventually amount to blessing.
3. God will do what he has promised to do.
He will “remember his covenant.” If God said it, He will see it through.
4. Often, we need to know our progress is because of God’s “mighty hand.” Twice God repeats this line to Moses.
Our wait might be because others need to see that God is great. When his light shines through the darkness of a long cavernous agony, it appears even brighter from the outside.
5. God responds to our pain as we call on his name.
God didn’t leave Moses at the burning bush to figure out captivity and release all by himself. He returned to Moses, he instructed him and he assured him. As we call out to God, God can’t help but approach our hearts with love and compassion. Because it is who he is and what he does.
So, what gives? God is giving you something better. He is giving you a chance to get to know his nature. He is giving you a chance to see something miraculous. He giving you deeper faith. That’s what gives.
I am annoyed one way or another, yet seeking more.
I am discouraged by people, circumstances or problems and attempting to see things through new light.
I am thrown off, but working my way back to God.
Many days, I’ve used this blog as a counseling session. I like it this way: I come with issues – God comes with strength. I come weak – the Lord comes strong enough to change me. I come needy, he comes increasingly ready to feed me.
This is our power, coming weak. This is our life change, coming needy. This is our faith, being reliant.
God answers this approach.
But, I don’t want you to ever think, not for a moment, that I am not entirely thankful. You see, my posture of leaning on him, almost always, helps me discover how he holds me up. It reminds me that, every time, he is faithful. It helps me see that through every bump in the road, He’s the shocks softening the jolting impact of life. He smooths my ride.
I call. He answers as I keep seeking.
I cry. He catches my tears when I focus my mind on him.
I am in pain. He understands and draws near as I pursue his Word.
I need. As I wait (which sometimes feels like forever), He faithfully and, in his timing, rushes in.
He’ll do the same for you.
What kind of grief do you need to lean up against him to know he is strong enough to hold it?
The counselor waits.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Maybe, like me, you’ll come out from an eating disorder, depression, financial trials, huge health issues or relational problems, thankful, in awe, and amazed at what he just saved you from – if you’ll just turn in.
Before you know it, He’ll work: soften your edges, sand off your rough spots, make space for his movement. Love and peace will come busting into your heart.
I’ve found this, after day-in-and-day-out writing on this blog…
I see God’s goodness in the land of my living grief, fear and guilt – when I run after it – hard.
What all seemed impossible, turned possible. We have the ability to reach God’s transcendent, his abundance. He loves us.
All this is the source of thanksgiving. As God enters the nitty gritty, the down and dirty of your life, you can’t help but lift your arms, lift your voice and give a good shout out to his character.
Today, I am thankful. What might you need to offer to God, knowing that soon enough, by faith, you’ll be giving thanks to God?
I wouldn’t admit this in church, but there’s one verse that continually ticks me off. It’s this: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:6
I guess you could say I have multiple issues with it:
In all ways acknowledge God. When you acknowledge someone it’s as if you’re offering a late gesture. Like, they did something for you, and you can’t forget to bring them up, lest you feel guilty that you didn’t pay them back well enough. I mean, you certainly don’t want them to feel slighted or, even worse, to punish you afterward. “Acknowledge” plays out like an after-thought. I did all this stuff…oh, shoot, can’t forget – I’ve got to acknowledge so-and-so. It lacks authenticity.
Make straight your path. I imagine someone walking down the sidewalk, picket-in-hand, yelling in my face, “You better acknowledge God, or else! You better let him make straight your path – or you’re a goner!” This thought entirely stresses me out. It burns my insides with the fear that no matter how good of a daughter I think I am, I’m going to burn in hell one day. It somehow makes me feel like there is no good that is good enough for God. Why try?
Sitting today, just me and this verse, I decided to decode it. If I’ve learned anything it is this: If God’s Word doesn’t give you more vision, it’s probably because you’re looking at it through the wrong glasses.
God, give me new lenses to see. What does acknowledge really mean?
Yada. That’s the Hebrew word for it. It means to “come to know someone by observing, reflecting and experiencing.”
Now this makes sense.
I can almost hear God saying, “In all your ways, come to know me by observing me, by reflecting on me and experiencing me…”
And, I want to. I need to. Because to acknowledge God is to hang a welcome sign on your heart. It is to open your heart to his movement, rather than to demand your mouth to give him due credit. It is being a hostess rather than a hopeless speaker of things, even you aren’t even sure if you yet believe.
Here, there is no pressure, but peace.
No self-demands, just connection with the love of your life.
No hard work, but an easy yoke.
Less striving, more relaxing.
I feel content with the answer to my gripe #1. But what about #2?
What about the path?
God, do you yell in my face, “make straight your path, girl…or else!?
And, where God focuses my eyes, is here, on this very verse: “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Ps. 23:2-3
When we “acknowledge” or “experience” God, He sets us on a path of refreshment, restoration and righteousness. Where we are, the path is so straight, we get more of a glimpse of him at the end of our every road. Our vision, even more, focuses, targeted and clear. We know what we are running after. We see the end goal. We pursue eternity.
God is right before us. And, all we want is more. We’ve found our straight road.
A few weeks ago, I told you about a flower that got pulled out by the bulb. I replanted it.
I also told you how, I believe, the enemy wants nothing greater than to pluck out the bulb of our faith. Deep truth in fertile soil only survives.
We talked about this…we pondered those beautiful flowers.
So, everything was fine and dandy, until, snow got in the forecast. Until, my beautiful budding beauties were about to clobbered by a mega snowstorm.
Then, my heart started up again. Worrying like I do. About – flowers?!
What?! While most worry about finances, pension funds, and pilgrimages to far away lands, here I am – worrying about flowers!? While other people are fretting about unsaved folk, disaster planning due to health catastrophes and pleading coverage for substance abuse therapy – here I am worrying about petals – yet, again?!
Normally, I’d silently call myself stupid! and call it a day. But, not today.
Today, I’ve learned to create space for what God is speaking. The Spirit is always working, ever-counseling and constantly grabbing for the attention of our hearts and mind. Will I listen? Will you?
No matter what they all think? No matter how stupid we look or feel?
By not listening, just think of all we miss: How much we deny ourselves. How we look past what God is doing, because we feel we have to be on this hamster wheel of progress, schedule and monotony. How we think we are running after the right stuff, only to find out chasing urgent is all wrong.
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 1 Cor. 3:18
I consider those flowers in the snow. And, when it is snowing, I give them a second glance on the way to the car.
Their little yellow noses pop up from under the white blanket of freezing. I smile at them.
Then, I think, what God wants me to see. It comes: They are closed.
Before, when they were in light and warmth the petals were open. Picture-ready flowers.
Yet, now, while being battered by ice, snow and wind they are closed. Closed and shuttered for a non-tropical hurricane. There’s no getting in.
I hold on to the message given to me, as if it is a clue for Kelly Balarie as she traverses this dangerous world. It’s this: When the high winds of the world come (and they will!), close your shutters and pull in close to God.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4
It works like this:
When you feel frazzled because you aren’t dazzling the world,
shut out the show and slow things down.
When people are speaking at you from five different sides,
shut off the voices and find His voice of peace.
When life keeps telling you, you’re no good,
shut off the messages and read God’s Word.
When social media reminds you you’re a step short,
shut off the computer’s power and rest in His power.
When you feel as weak as a woman one day short of death,
shut down, be still and know that He is God.
When everything and then everything goes wrong,
shut off negativity and ask for God’s objectivity.
When you feel stupid for doing something,
shut off your inner-voice to see if God’s voice is calling you deeper still.
When you remember all them laughing,
slam shut the memory and open up truth:
you can do exceedingly abundantly more than you ask or imagine.
When you’re afraid you’ll fail, shut out doubt.
Just as God feeds the birds, He’ll feed us. Just as God protects the flowers, He makes way for us to protect our hearts.
Life, no doubt, lives like war. Daily, we wake, and don’t know what attack might come our way. We don’t know if we might get that phone call, if our small health issue may turn into a big problem or if we may hit a relational snag that leaves us knot-tied for weeks.
We wake up. Usually, we blindly head into it.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of days, I feel like I wake vulnerable, open for attack and easily knocked down. The battles move so fast, some days, it is hard to get ahead of them. It is hard be be one step faster or to create a battle plan, especially when you don’t know what is coming.
But, lately, I’ve been thinking much about moving from defensive faith to offensive faith. I think the stance makes all the difference.
A defensive faith stance is:
– Waking and going through the motions
– Reading God’s Word in the morning then going into the day
– Praying when troubles hit
– Asking people to help you when you are in a serious ditch
– Acknowledging God when something really great happens in your life
An offensive faith stance is:
– Waking and proclaiming God’s truths over your life (God is with me, for me, above me, before me…)
– Moving God’s word from your head to your heart by dwelling on it throughout the day
– Praying perpetually, in the car, in your house, in your free time.
– Having a team of people to support your faith walk. Knowing they will check in on you.
– Praising God as you see his glory through your day.
– Thanking God continually for all you have.
A Christian on offense moves into the battlefield not only able to withstand war, but ready to win. They see not only what is coming against them, but they are prepared with a tactical plan to love, when usually they’d be prone to fear. It changes their eyesight. Rather than being a pawn they are now a son or daughter of the King, one loved, provided for and helped along the way. They are an active force of good on the spiritual game board of good and evil. God knows they are ready, I believe. He sees their faith and willingness to prepare. He rewards them for seeking him diligently.
This person understands, it is not their own willpower that wins, it is not their mindset that overcomes, but it is the blood of Jesus that won for them. In humility, they stand under God so that he can move over their lives and into the lives of others.
This kind of person proclaims: Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.” (Psalm 144:1)
It wasn’t a question. From the time he’d walked in the door my tone had been short and snippy. He knew I’d had a long day and needed time to myself, even though I was insisting on cleaning up the dishes.
After stalling several times on my way out the door, I left. I played worship music in the car and talked to God about the things that were bothering me.
I didn’t take much time to listen. I didn’t pause to see whether he had an answer to my endless list of concerns and complaints.
But since our God is faithful and more patient than I deserve, he kept speaking.
One day in early February the weather was crazy warm. Spring warm. Our family went for a walk, and my five-year-old paused every five seconds to pick up rocks and sticks. He found his favorite bridge (a slat of wood) and hopped across, quite pleased with himself as he ran down the other side of the ravine.
Will you continue reading? Today Abby McDonald is hosting the #RaRaLinkup and we’d love for you to join us at her place!Click here to join us!
I went to the bathroom and balled my eyes out. Everything I wanted, wasn’t showing up. Everything I needed, didn’t seem to be happening. Everything that I figured good, was far from me.
God, where are you? God, did you leave me? God, why aren’t things happening for me?
God seemed lost. His help seemed distant. His loving hand, removed.
Help me, God!
Not knowing what to do, I did the only thing ever left to do – when you don’t know what to do: I opened God’s Word, expecting He’d teach me, lead me and restore me.
He did. These verses changed my heart; I believe they’ll change yours too:
28 Verses Proving: God Will Provide
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb. 11:6)
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (Psalms 81:10)
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:11)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Mt. 6:33)
The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Prov. 10:3)
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Ro. 8:32)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Eph. 3:20)
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Ps. 18:2)
Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Gen. 22:8)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Gen. 9:3)
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Ps. 34:10)
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Mt. 21:22)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (Jo. 15:6)
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Mal. 3:10)
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. … (Mt. 6:25-34)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Mt. 7:7-8)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Eph. 3:16-17)
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (Jo. 14:13-14)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:22)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Jo. 14:26)
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pet. 3:13)
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Ps. 145:15-16)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
Sin. It’s a tricky thin, isn’t it? Those of us in Christ don’t want to participate in it, but somehow we easily fall prey to it. We all know there is no hierarchy when it comes to sin. Lust is just as wrong as adultery. Anger is just as wrong as murder. It all quenches the Holy Spirit and it all breaks the Father’s heart.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15
Recently, I had 3 consecutive weekends of attending 3 ridiculously dynamic women’s conferences. I was literally on the highest of highs. It was amazing! I am very much still processing all that God spoke to me and all that He did during those 3 weeks. He marked me beyond words.
After all of that spiritual activity, the enemy hit me hard. I don’t normally attribute much to him, but this was nothing but him. He was waging war for my soul in the worst way. He attacked my mind with no holds barred.
I don’t tend to deal with outward sins as much as I do with inward ones. You know the ones I’m talking about…envy, comparison, anger, bitterness, apathy, etc… The list really could go on and on. If you’re anything like me, those inward sins can bring more shame and guilt than the outward ones. It’s quite easy to hide these sins from the world. Honestly, the shame and guilt came very close to knocking me out for the count. I felt as though I was spiraling out of control. The past few weeks of battle came out of nowhere. I had been beautifully walking out my calling. God had been opening many doors of connection and I had experienced some of the sweetest times of prayer and worship.
One of the events I attended was Beth Moore’s conference called LIT. It was geared to women in their 20s and 30s. Christy Nockels led Heaven touching worship. And Beth, along with Jennie Allen, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine and Melissa Moore all shared about this call to communicate. Everyone spoke to the fact that it is a weighty call and there is a cost to it. In order to fulfill this call, we need to first be filled. This filling ONLY comes from time spent in the secret place of God and us. This time with God is not reserved for those who may minister from a public platform. It is for EVERY believer because we all minister and share Christ in some way. We all have a measure of influence.
I’ve been contemplating how such a door was opened in my life for the enemy to slip in could have occurred. I know I’m a flawed human, but I never want that to be an excuse for me to be comfortable living in sin.
Realize the enemy will attack who God has created you to be.
A week ago, I heard a sermon about how the enemy will specifically come for us in direct opposition to who we are. I hadn’t ever thought of that before. If we are a person of faith, He will bring doubt. If we are pure in heart, he will bring corrupt thoughts. If we have the gift of healing, he will bring illness. He sees our potential. He wants to destroy that potential by whatever means necessary. He wants to destroy the impact that God wants to accomplish through us.
The key to fighting this is to pray against him breaking any strongholds he is using to keep us bound. And then, we replace those thoughts with Scriptures that call out our identity and God’s desire for us.
Don’t let the enemy bring dissension.
I am all about community, but over the past few months, the enemy has been working overtime to create division among several friends and me. He has authored confusion and offense and all manner of hurt feelings. In those times, we are to pursue unity despite our emotions. Our emotions say isolate. The enemy wants us to isolate. But the Lord’s heart is for us to be in fellowship.
We must have brave, hard communication. We speak truth in love and always share our hearts in grace.
Camp out in the secret place.
Everything flows out of the secret place. Everything we do. Everything we say. All that we are flows from this place. Anything done in our own strength will falter and fail. The Holy Spirit must be our strength. He is the only source of power in our lives. Much of that power is harnessed when we allow Him to renew our minds in His promises. This power can only be accessed when we have spent time alone with Him in prayer, worship and studying His Word.
This time is non-negotiable. If we forgo it, we forgo everything. We forfeit the word He wants to speak to our hearts. We forfeit all of the good works He prepared for us. We forfeit the ministry that would touch the lives of others so that they may come to know Him. This time in the secret place is how we overcome and walk in victory.
I want to live in such a way where I am aware of the enemy’s schemes and where He doesn’t have such easy access to me. I don’t ever want him to think he can easily deter me from my calling and purpose.
Let us live in the overflow of the secret place…
Overwhelmed by His presence Over our heads in His Word Overcome by His wonder
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
I love Rachel Macy Stafford. I’m her fan – a fan of her heart, a fan of her work and a fan of her authentic pursuit of life. She knows all this. But, what she doesn’t know is, I often, desperately need her words. Some days are just too hard – and then I get hard on myself. Some days are just too overwhelming and I lose control. Some days are a punch in the gut; her words bring me back to life. They revive me. This is what her new book, “ONLY LOVE TODAY” is – it is fresh air, new hope and an opportunity to try again. I can’t rave about it – or her – enough. I am a fan.
Here is Rachel’s Story (Comment and share this post on social media to win her new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY):
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” – Brené Brown
It been almost two years since my friend lost her sister to cancer. She still talks about it—the pain and disbelief, the pressure to move on, the things that help and the things that don’t. She talks about the good days and the nearly indescribably bad days.
I listen to everything she offers. I tuck it away for safekeeping. With my friend’s help, I’ll know a better thing to say when someone hurts. With her help, I have some perspective on inconsequential problems when they’re getting more attention than they deserve.
Each time my friend shares her struggles, triumphs, and truths, I am struck with admiration and awe. She never wanted to be an expert on grief, but she is. She never wanted to know what words and actions bring a moment of solace to an aching soul, but she does. This is now my friend’s story, and as much as she’d like to deny it, she’s chosen to own it—quite bravely and brilliantly, I might add.
I thought of my friend and her unchosen expertise when I had a CT scan shortly after her sister’s passing. It was the first time I laid beneath a big scary machine and held my breath for dear life. When the machine began to inch forward slowly, I thought of my friend and her story. I wasn’t sure how my story was going to play out, but I decided I would own it. Tell my close friends. Say, “I’m scared,” when I felt scared. Ask for help when I was in pain. Above all, I knew it was important to pay attention. So I vowed to take it all in—the good and bad. Perhaps I’d discover something worth sharing in the process.
Four weeks after the CT scan that saved my left kidney and possibly my life, I was home from the hospital. I was swollen and sore. I was groggy on pain meds. I was having trouble thinking of words. I was kind of a mess, but I had something I felt must be said. I pulled my laptop computer gingerly onto my lap and typed some words to my friends and family on social media. I remember worrying for a brief moment if there were incomplete sentences, misspelled words, and extra periods. Words were blurry through my grateful, teary eyes, but I pushed ‘publish’ anyway. Here is an excerpt:
“I am home from the hospital recovering from kidney surgery and feeling incredibly thankful to be here. It’s been many months of infection and uncertainty, but I finally have peace. I am on my way to more years, more love, more life. My little public service announcement in the midst of this overwhelming gratitude is this: If you feel like something is not right in your body or mind, please don’t dismiss that feeling. Make an appointment today. If you are not satisfied with the answers you get or things do not improve, keep searching. Keep asking. Keep listening. Keep going until you get answers. You are the only one who can truly look after you. And your people need you to be here.”
An interesting thing happened. Two of my neighbors contacted me over the next few weeks to tell me those words prompted them to action. One of them made an appointment regarding a persistent pain she’d neglected to look into. Another friend said she’d been worried about her spouse’s health and my words were the perfect words to offer him.
Through my life’s mess, I provided a vital message.
Thank you, God.
In that moment, I felt better than I had in months. The uncertainty and pain I’d endured weren’t all for naught. For the first time, I saw my story not a curse, but as a blessing. It was a blessing to be the messenger.
Perhaps you sit here today in a mess you haven’t shared yet. Maybe you thought it had to be all figured out before you told someone. Maybe you thought it had to have a happy ending before it could all be revealed. Maybe you thought you had to have perfect punctuation and periods in all the right places for it to be seen. I hope I can help you see your life’s mess in a new way. This is what came out in a tiny notebook during my first walk outside after having two surgeries in one month. Perhaps there’s something here for you …
Owning Your Story
You never wanted to know how to survive divorce.
You never wanted to know the joys and heartaches of autism.
You never wanted to know the signs of addiction.
But you do.
You never wanted to know rock bottom.
You never wanted to know how to leave an abusive relationship.
You never wanted to know it was possible to bounce back after a financial crisis.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the pain of caring for a parent who doesn’t remember you.
You never wanted to be the strong one.
You never wanted to know the car could be a safe place to cry.
But you do.
You never wanted to know a family could break.
You never wanted to know how to put the pieces back together in a new way.
You never wanted to know a new normal.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the perfect response when someone stares at your child.
You never wanted to know the courage it takes to ask for help.
You never wanted to know how to find joy after having lost it for so long.
But you do.
You never wanted to know when it’s time to sever the ties in order to have inner peace.
You never wanted to know how hard it is to say yourself, “Change begins today. My loved ones deserve better.”
You never wanted to know the weight that can be lifted when you say to yourself, “It wasn’t my fault.”
But you do. You do.
And perhaps as time has passed you’ve discovered that to deny your story hurts more than the story itself, so you’ve chosen to own it.
To speak out, even when your voice shakes.
To tell the truth, even when it’s not pretty.
To encourage someone else, even when you can barely encourage yourself.
To get up and face the world, even when you can barely look at yourself in the mirror.
The tears that streak your face at the most inopportune times of the day, at the most inappropriate moments, are the lines of your story. And each time you own it, someone else is not alone in hers or his. Your jumbled mess, whether whispered as a prayer to one or shouted courageously to a room of hundreds, could be the message someone needs right now. Perhaps by sharing our story, pain will ease and hope will find its voice.
You there in your mess: Thank you for being. Your life is a message. And through your story, there is power to save.
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