My turn to share was coming, and I wasn’t ready. While the other women on our Google chat discussed their writing goals, my mind spun on repeat. Summer gave this word a whole new meaning, and I was still processing it.
Ah yes, goals. What were those again? My goal yesterday was to keep the boys playing outside for more than twenty minutes before they came back in screaming from bloodied knees and bumps on heads. Today it was to make it to bedtime without yelling.
Sometimes my goals vary by the hour. It’s my first summer with three kids at home, and my mental capacity seems to wane a little more each minute.
This afternoon I turned my head to see our eight-month old trying to eat a dart our son left on the floor. (Don’t gasp; it was foam and rubber) Fortunately we were able to dislodge it from her death grip before she added purple styrofoam to her diet.
So, needless to say this Google chat was a welcome diversion where I could talk to other women like an actual adult. I listened to plans about our shared passion for writing and encouraging other women. It was bliss.
But my mind wasn’t on the future. It was on all the ways I’d failed over these summer months.
If you saw me in the heat of the moment, you’d no doubt say, “She isn’t a good Christian. She made a mess of everything and she’s no good. Rotten.”
Sitting here, I’m inclined to agree.
I made a horrible mistake. I didn’t have wrong intentions, but I certainly used the wrong actions. I pointed fingers at people. I unleashed venom on people. I put an electric current on everyone and everything. Left people fried.
And now I hate myself for it. Sitting here. I really do.
I said my, “I’m sorries.” But it doesn’t take away the fact that I was a bad representative for Jesus. It doesn’t take away the fact that some weaknesses get the better of me. It doesn’t take away the fact that people are still suffering. It doesn’t take away the fact that I feel horrible.
Maybe today, you are considering unsubscribing from my blog. I wouldn’t blame you. Maybe you thought I was a better Christian. I guess I thought so too… I suppose I would have relied on God a little more.
These and a hundred more thoughts consumed me as I pressed my head against the steering wheel today, and cried.
Oh, the regret!
Until, something shifted… I imagined Jesus. There. Weak, on a cross, arms wide open, crying out, “Father, forgive (her), for (she) knows not what (she) does.” (Lu. 23:34)
Forgive Kelly, she realizes not how she speaks before she thinks.
Forgive Kelly, she knows not how her mind gets ahead of things.
Forgive ___, she makes mistakes non-stop.
Forgive ___, she tells little white lies.
Forgive ___, she is desperately afraid.
Forgive ___, she is just looking for attention.
Forgive (insert your name), she is …..
What do you hold against yourself?
Jesus died saying, “Forgive them,” and he wrapped things up by saying, “It is finished.”
And, so it is.
Because it is finished, I can be finished with what I did. Because it is finished, you can be finished with your bad deeds too.
Whether they are from today or 500 todays ago, Jesus already declared your worst deeds are done. Let them die.
When Jesus looks at us now, I see him lifting us. I see him beholding his righteousness in us. I see him declaring his holiness in us. I see him noticing his blood that marks us blameless. I imagine him holding us before the world to say, “This is my daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”
This is who we are in his eyes. His view is all that matters.
Anything left after asking forgiveness of others and God is just shame.
Because in Christ, we are loved even when we feel unlovable. We are remarkable, even when we feel marked with sin. We are whole because Jesus gave up every bit of his body. This cannot be undone. It is the permanent power meant for all believers.
Your shame is finished. Right now, let it poof away. Jesus annihilated it at the cross.
“So, what is your life worth, anyway? Doesn’t look like much…”
Yes, that is what the person said to me. And, yes, it took everything in me, not to hit back with…
Well, hotshot, what’s your life worth?
Because, how do you reply after a question like this?
I didn’t answer. Instead, I sat there dumbfounded with a pocket knife hanging out my side. Like a victim. Bloody. All I could do was stare at it. Then, it hurt more.
And, while I knew, these words were insult-fueled, they were all I could think of…
Am I a waste? Am I no good? Does God think I am a failure?
Insults become attached to us – and come alive in us.
I wonder, has someone insulted you? Maybe they’re insulting you today? Maybe they won’t shut up in your mind.
Insults often hit like this:
“You’re sin caused this to happen.” “You are no good.” “You are ugly.” “You are selfish.” “You are rude.” “You don’t ever ____.” “You are worthless.”
(Add your own)
You know the words, but how do you know how to protect yourself? This is what has eluded me for decades.
Let me tell you about that, but before I do, let me tell you about my daughter.
She has this saying. It is one she speaks if she really doesn’t like, want, or consider something good to hear. When something comes at her like this, she pushes her hands towards you as if she’s handing back what she doesn’t want.
Then, she sings, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
She doesn’t receive it. She hands it back. And, so should we…
If words spoken, are only meant for insult, not to build, grow or transform…if they are only meant to hurt…we should do what my daughter does… push with our hands and mind and say, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
We don’t have to bake in our heart ungodly words deep in our soul. We don’t have to receive kill-words. We don’t have to permit someone’s injury to become ours.
Because then we get hurt and hurt others a similar way.
Instead, we can repent (if necessary) and not accept mean and hurtful words. Take it, take it, we don’t want to bake it!
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” (Eph. 4:29)
A few years ago, I thought I wanted a big house. I wanted massive square feet. I wanted a big yard, a long driveway and grass to plant flowers. I wanted it all. At least I thought. Until, I realized what I didn’t want: I didn’t want house problems, like leaks. I didn’t want snow plowing, every winter. I didn’t want, lawn mowing bills every week. I didn’t want house cleaning all the time. I didn’t want furniture bills up to my neck. I didn’t want housework without kid playtime. I didn’t want to live far away from friends. And, I didn’t want to feel like I was drowning under house chores.
That year, we sold the house – at a huge loss.
In retrospect, I realize, after selling the house, I stood at a decision point…
I could either wallow in my misery, thinking, I always lose money. I wasted so much cash on furniture I didn’t need. I cannot figure things out. I’ll always be lost. I’ll forever feel I don’t belong.
Or, I could recognize the issue, bring it to God, reframe my situation, and think differently. Like this:
Money comes and goes, but God’s care and providence for me endure forever.
Worth is what I invest in heaven, not what I see here.
My value is not my home, but God’s vast love for me.
What issue do you face? What seems to impossible to fix? How might you reframe it?
Begin by infusing into your problem what you’re thankful for. Then, move to praising your God for who he is thru your problem. End by requesting from God for eyes to see your problem afresh.
And always remember: There is no victory Christ can’t bring.
If you want to know how I found Jesus, know this: He found me.
Sure, pre-Jesus, I was religious. I knew how to go to church well. I knew how to say prayers. I knew how to follow rules. I knew how to make sacrifices. What I didn’t know was, love so great it would send you down to your knees because you wanted to go there. Because it was your joy to fall down. No. I didn’t know that.
I only knew striving hard and working hard to earn favor that felt about as unreachable as a life that mattered. It all frustrated me so. The idea of figuring out how to prove I was a prized daughter. The unquenchable desire to be seen and the corresponding desire to do everything right. The endless guilt and self-contempt. I always felt busted; I knew he always knew I wasn’t worthy enough.
And, it was tiring. I wore my body out doing all this. My weight dropped like a rock, my stomach turned knots in the night and my mind swung wild circles in the fog it lived in. It’s called Anorexia.
That’s where I went. We all go somewhere. Without God we all go somewhere to escape the vicious thought: God might hate me. I went there.
It was painful. And, to add pain to this injury, the drinking didn’t help. I nearly hated myself.
Have you been there? Perhaps, you’re there now. Perhaps, you are trying to pretend you aren’t there, while everything in you – knows, you are there.
Do you feel the distance between you and God?
Do you sense the anger at yourself?
Do you feel the pull towards old addictions?
Do you try to meet all God’s expectations, but feel helpless to do it?
Today, I want you to know there is no shame. We tend to look at life as colors of black and white, good or bad, God or Godless. And, while, absolutely, truth is truth, often our own spiritual progression is not so easily delineated.
Faith is a journey; you are the sojourner. Beyond this, greater is a truthful heart to God, than a story contrived to the world. A fake.
God wants your truth. He wants your heart and he wants your truth. Will you bare it to him? Reveal it without shame? Let him unravel it?
That is what I did way back when (and I still do today). I called out to God. I said, “I don’t know what I am doing anymore. I don’t know who I am Jesus. Will you help me, save me?”
It’s a prayer we should use often; it works. God always shows up. God always saves. God’s love completely endures, no matter how many years past a vibrant faith you are.
You are never too lost to be found.
He found me.
So, no matter where you stand on the spiritual spectrum, consider this: God is ready to save you, today. Why not let him?
I only wish I could take it back. Why doesn’t life come with a rewind button? Why can’t we re-do those horrible, wretched moments where we just get ahead of our self?
I got lured in. No, I didn’t. I got pressured. Well, no, actually, I didn’t. It was an impossible situation. No, to see things plainly, it really wasn’t. Anyone could have done it. This point really doesn’t justify my action.
Now that my excuses are out of the way, I can name my action for what it is: a gigantic mistake. I can own it: I sinned.
Here’s what happened . . .
I met up with a girlfriend, Jen. Oh, how I love her. Wisdom is all over her. She is someone I can tell anything. Laughing, we enjoyed our time together. We connected, relayed stories and then, at one point, Jen relayed one of her secrets: she didn’t enjoy going to one of our common friend’s, Christy’s, marketing parties.
To me, this was no big deal, but to Jen, as she shared this information, it seemed huge. She quieted her voice, she leaned close, and she told me to keep it between me and her. She had that face on her that said, I just told you something I am SO embarrassed to admit.
Of course, I promised to keep quiet. But, I didn’t. The secret about Jen slipped out while I was talking with Maria, our common friend. And, the “whoopsie moment” was magnified when I realized, Carrie, Jen’s closest friend, was right behind me. Like, RIGHT behind me. She totally could hear.
All I could do was – Panic! I’d messed the whole thing up, horribly. I’d gone – and got myself – caught.
Suddenly, rather than enjoying my place amongst friends, my mistake spun me out into some parallel universe of worry, fear and angst. I’m going to be busted. My friends will never tell me anything ever again. I am horrible. I am now going to be known as a liar.
The sin bothered me, but what was really killing me was the fact: I got caught. It is funny how sin works that way, isn’t it? If we can hide it safely, we figure – no harm, no foul, but if it gets brought to the light we are crushed, tied up and self-tortured for our horrible behavior.
I tortured myself and disallowed my heart from experiencing joy that night.
I tortured myself by rewinding, over and over again, my big mouth blabbing in slow motion.
I tortured myself by trying to pull away from those friends out of embarrassment.
I tortured myself by believing God hated me for a moment.
I tortured myself by thinking my prayers were like paper airplanes missing the target of God.
I tortured myself by not accepting forgiveness.
I didn’t have to do this. I didn’t have to partake in self-torture. You don’t either. Even if you’ve blabbed like me, or thought no good rotten thoughts about your husband or stolen some item from the grocery story. Whatever it is, trying to pierce and plague your heart – you can let it go.
“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 (NIV)
My friend, you and I both, are under grace. Together we stand, united we will not fall, because Jesus loves us and she who the son sets free, is free indeed (Jo. 8:36). Done. Finalized. Finished.
I am forgiven and you are too. Grace that hung on the cross absolved us from the pain of self sin-torture. Today, let’s receive it and move on.
I’ve battled the tightness of chest, the shakiness of body and the uncertainty of what is to come for quite a while. Only recently have I been able to win the war against what seems incurable: my anxiety.
Do you suffer from it?
It’s a feeling you can’t get ahead…
It’s surviving, with generalized gnawing…
It’s living with overwhelming tenseness because you feel out of control…
It’s bearing with the weight of the world on your shoulders…
It’s carrying irritation from others actions…
It’s a true sense of your inability to change things…
For so long, anxiety crept up on me like a lightweight spider; I didn’t know he was on me until his poison sank in. Then I knew, I was in for it. He saturated me in a way where it felt impossible to get well again. To fix things. Maybe you’ve been there. I wouldn’t wish it on my greatest enemy.
Anxiety has ruined family vacations.
It’s made me snap like an explosive.
It’s caused many a sleepless night.
It’s broken peace.
It’s stolen moments.
It’s made me self-consumed.
It’s made me angry at myself.
What has it taken from you? What has this poison done in your body? Life?
Only recently have I started to make headway against it.
Step 1 of progress is in acknowledging this: My anxiety is due to a gap I do not internally believe I have the power to bridge, control or fix.
Step 2 is deciding I am in charge of my feelings. No one else has the ability to: 1. Tell me how to feel. 2. Make me feel a certain way 3. Force me to have feelings or to act a certain way.
With this, I can imagine a holy box of God around me. In this space, I am permitted to feel as I feel without feeling bad about it. In this space, I am able to present to God the actual emotion I am feeling and the cause that set it off, without living under the weight of crushing judgment. Why can I do this? Because Jesus is my advocate. He forgives, heals and helps. He is behind me and for me. He also wants me to discover his peace. He loves me.
Step 3 is saying this: God, I do not have the ability to figure ______ (insert the trigger of the issue here) out. I need your help with how to respond. Will you show me how to stay with you in this space and place that feels scary? Will you show me how to lean on you when I am not sure how people will react or how well I will do? Will you be my protection as I respond in a way that is truthful – to you and to others? I can hand over to you the person, place or thing that is troubling my heart and be with you in the moment. Here, you will lead me and prompt me to move with your love, grace and mercy towards myself and towards others. I can trust you to be with me, even when I feel all alone.
This 3-step process has literally been my saving grace. When I feel the poison starting to rise up from within me, God’s grace towards my constricting heart makes all the difference. It frees me. The secret is: you gotta catch it early. Right when it starts.
And, when you don’t, it’s okay. Just try again next time.
Prayer for women like me who struggle like this: Dear God, here we stand before you, women who don’t have it all figured out, women who want to be better, women who struggle inside our own bodies. God, will you help us to rely on your truth instead of our feelings? Will you help us to put up healthy barriers between us and the world? Will you help us to take your peace you’ve given us and to keep it? We need you. We can’t do it alone. Please be our guide, Lord Jesus. You are the answer every time. We trust your ways and want to die to our own. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
When I haven’t made time for my husband, I get annoyed at the dishes left on the counter, I internally count the ways he’s forgetting stuff and I launch mean words. Distance creates more distance. It’s as if I see him through different eyes. It’s as if, he, the love of my life, I only kind of know. I rely on him less. I turn inward; I become self-reliant.
It happens just the same with God.
Consider Eve. The serpent came, lured her with something apparently better than intimacy. She bit off a hunk of it, hid, covered in shame and then heard God as a distant voice.
Sin distanced Eve, then Eve distanced herself.
How have you distanced God through guilt and shame laden choices? How are you choosing to distance yourself today?
Are you running, hiding, excusing, blaming, rationalizing, ignoring – the problem? No catastrophe has ever been diverted by ignoring it. But, you can overcome even the worst catastrophes with the help of the Overcomer.
The strategy of overcoming is simple: Come near to God and he will come near to you. Ja. 4:8
God calls us back. Here’s how to draw close again:
Return with confidence. All that exists at the throne of grace is grace; it pours out from him who is grace to us who need grace. We simply turn away from what kept us from God – and find Him.Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Heb. 4:16)2
Remember there is no barrier. While there used to be a high priest who could go near to the “Most Holy Place” one time a year, today, through the hope of Jesus Christ nothing holds us back.You (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Heb. 7:19)
Reflect on the truth: Jesus is for you. The ultimate high priest lives to intercede for you. He is for you and working on your behalf.Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through him… he lives to intercede for them. (Heb. 7:25)
Respond with a sincere heart. You can be truthful because God is faithful. You can trust him to take care of you.Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings… (Heb. 10:19-22)
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
I said a prayer. Jesus was in me. I could almost hear the chorus of angels singing in tandem, “Laa….You’ve arrived!!!”
Now, my whole life would change for good…
I’m God’s… No problems.
I’m saved. Things will go smooth.
I know the truth. No more mistakes.
God’s my backer. People will no longer annoy me.
Did someone, like me, sell you easy, breezy Christianity?
It’s hardly the case. It’s much more like being on an elite training team. It’s like learning to be a Navy Seal or something. There’s refinement, tests and drills. There are huge growing pains. There’s an enemy to throw you off. There are loads of tired days and hard work.
There is sweat, grit and perseverance.
There is heart.
There is passion.
There is dedication.
There is vision.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because, no matter what – with Jesus, there’s always hope.
No Jesus = No hope.
Know Jesus = Know constant hope.
And there is peace.
No Jesus = No peace.
Know Jesus = Know peace.
Jesus delivers. Not just for eternity either. Many a day, I need a deliverer in a moment, and then, I need a deliverer, once again, in the next moment. Jesus holds me. He relieves the pressure. He picks up my slack.
He delivers me from evil and then delivers me from my own mind that, once again, wants to get its dirty little hands stuck in evil and conniving thoughts.
Jesus is so…good. He surpasses easy. He is that good.
And, so, our battle is good.
It makes us warriors.
Being a warrior makes us aware.
Being aware of war makes us need God.
Needing God makes us want him more.
Wanting him more makes us draw near more.
Drawing near more allows us to know joy, peace, hope and life.
Our battle is good, profitable, worthy and fulfilling.
It’s hardly about arriving, but all about journeying into holy: pinching a hem, clenching His will and riding out love, wherever it will take us.
This is where agony turns into testimony.
We remember the difficulty; they see all His glory.
God is smart. He makes things look easy. But, for the ones, like us, who have been through the wringer, we know, we know the full story.
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit… (Ro. 5:3-5)
Through trials, we search out his love.
Through pain we find inner-progress.
Through heartache, we remember Jesus on the cross.
Through persecution, we uncover real faith.
Through shame, we realize we have a new name.
Through life, we discover, Jesus is all life.
Through mistakes, we dig up the healing grace.
We become the most radiant and dedicated warriors ever. For, deep in our hearts, we know, there’s nothing better than what we have. For what He’s given us, is truly – the very best. Our commander rocks!!!
There was nothing different about the day, in comparison to any other day, but what hovered over me was a generalized feeling of – “Blah!”
I prayed. Blah!
I sought God. Blah!
I worshipped. Still…blah!
No breakthrough. Nothing. Just annoyance that my spirit still felt as stuck as ever.
What is wrong with me? My heart can’t seem to embrace truth, peace, hope – God.
It’s in a moment like this, we go down one of three paths. We:
Get frustrated and angry at ourselves, declaring we are faulted and worthless. We heap guilt upon ourselves.
Decide God has left us and turn away from Him, because, we figure, he turned away from us.
Keep on seeking. Keep on praying. Keep on proclaiming truth. And, persevere.
I’ve traveled all three. Just this week, I’ve spent a lot of time on paths 1 & 2. Here, all I could see were overwhelming signs I was not doing things right for God. My heart is falling off a ravine, my feelings are stuck in thorn bushes, God’s plans for me are somewhere ahead in that vast fog.
Here’s where I end up: I need to work harder, pray better, try more and be a better person to recieve God’s love. I carry the baggage of discouragement and doubt. I sit annoyed and flustered by life.
Have you landed here too? Are you struggling to believe God? To hold close his promises because you can’t seem to get close enough to God?
I want to tell you something that will reassure you: This is likely a spiritual attack.
If you are getting after God, with your whole heart, but distraction, lies or discouragement won’t shake off you, you are likely being hit by the enemy. If you are pursuing clarity, but all you find is confusion, you are likely being hit by the enemy. If you are giving God your whole heart, but still feeling tired, worn and weary, you are likely being hit by the enemy.
The good thing about this is: Victory is as won – as you are you. The one against us, cannot effectively come against the cross. Jesus is, forever and always, high and lifted. There is no undoing his reign. His opportunities, insights and wisdom is already ours.
With this, the enemy’s only strategy is to make us believe he can undo what Jesus did. His only opportunity is a fake. He diverts us left and if we move with him, and take our eyes off truth, we lose God. But, if we stand firm and don’t give in to his fake, we stand firm. We move towards the goal of Christ Jesus.
So, with this, let us stand firm in truth. Let us allow it to sink into our mind, then into our heart and then down to our feet, so that we walk out with such assurance, nothing – no way, no how – can shake us.
Here is our arsenal, our power and our stand – these verses:
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Ps. 28:7)
Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. (Psalm 44:5)
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
… but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit … (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you … (1 John 2:27)
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)
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)
“For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. (2 Samuel 22:29)
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:12)
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. Ps. 18:32
For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. Ps. 18:39
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever. (Ps. 41:12)
The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. (Ha. 3:19)
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. Ps. 54:4