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!!!
Today, I am delighted to welcome Mary Carver to Purposeful Faith. I love her heart and her unique ability to link faith with the Gilmore Girls! You will love her unique perspective below…
“I’m gonna have to quit drinking coffee, and I love coffee!”
– Rory, The Perfect Dress (Season 6, Episode 11)
Gilmore Girls – or television in general – might not be the first place you’d look for inspiration or encouragement in your faith, but I’ve found it there. And on top of a list of books to add to my to-read pile and a hankering for Pop Tarts, my favorite TV show has taught me a thing or two about fear and faith.
You know things are bad when a Gilmore girl is willing to give up coffee. But that’s exactly what Lorelai and Rory, the main characters in the show, do when they’re trying to avoid someone who’s hurt them. I lost count of how many times Lorelai boycotted Luke’s diner after the two of them had argued, and Rory learned from her mom so avoiding her boyfriend Logan (and their mutually loved coffee kiosk) was an obvious choice after a break-up.
Jonah tried ignoring his problems – and God, and that landed him in the belly of a giant fish. Thankfully, my fear has never sent me there, but avoiding people to escape confrontation or further pain has never served me well. Once I missed the baby shower for one of my dear friends because I was too afraid of interacting with the hostess, a former friend of mine who had hurt me deeply. The result wasn’t a seafood sauna, but it was a whole lot of disappointment and regret.
When I thought about this – avoiding hard things or difficult people out of fear – I realized that I didn’t need to rack my brain for more personal examples. I simply needed to rewind to the day I began writing my devotional last fall.
After getting one daughter off to school and the other to the babysitter, I opened a new document and began to … think of all the reasons I couldn’t write yet. I got up and washed some dishes, then moved upstairs to clean my bathroom sink. As long-time hater of all things housework, I was obviously procrastinating this project I was supposedly so excited to begin.
I shouldn’t have been surprised (although procrastination via cleaning is a new variation on a common theme). Though I call myself a writer, I actually find writing a terrifying act of vulnerability and risk. So typical, this tortured writer’s insecurity. And also? So similar to what our Gilmore friends did every time they avoided they people they loved but also feared.
Running away and avoiding people and places and projects is messy. It’s foolish. And it inevitably hurts us much more than it protects us. Even without the siren call of coffee, that is enough for me to remember God’s promises to be with us when we face our fears. We don’t have to be afraid, because the Creator of the universe is for us and with us.
What – or who – are you avoiding today? Do you think God will abandon you now? No! He will never leave you or forsake you. Today I challenge you – and me – to take one step of faith, make one move of bravery. Let’s stop hiding from our fears and begin to face them, knowing God is with us every step of the way. And, for the love of Gilmores, don’t give up your coffee!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
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.
Comment and share this post on social media to win Rachel’s new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY.
What you just read is a small sample of what you will find in Rachel Macy Stafford’s highly anticipated new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love (release date 3/7).
With a unique flip-open, read-anytime/anywhere format, this book is soulful encouragement for busy individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despite everyday distractions, pressures, and discord.
ONLY LOVE TODAY began as a mantra to overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be yours too. Click here to order.
Click here to learn the easy step to receiving your collection of hand-lettered pre-order bonus gifts! #onlylovetoday
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
She looked at herself in the mirror, all 3-years of her life, and sized up her outfit. Her dress had layers of tulle, her face had a smile and her pigtails were long, nearly reaching her shoulders. She waved her head a bit and considered them as I said she looks, “Oh so cute…”
“Are they all going to laugh at me mommy?”
She’s already asking herself this question? God, please don’t let this question rule her life, like it had mine.
Oh how I didn’t want her valuing her worth on no-filter 3 year olds with mouths that sound like waterfalls of ruthlessness. Oh how I didn’t want her to determine her beauty based on comments. Oh how I didn’t want her living her life based on others opinions. Oh how I didn’t want her to pander to mankind. Oh how I didn’t want her to lose herself.
My heart sunk.
“No Madison. I think you look fabulous. But, even if they do laugh. You know who sees you? Who loves you? God does. Always.”
I deeply worried my words would fall empty, repeated words, landing in the great abyss of things moms speak, but are never truly heard. Please, God, no! I could almost see the thieves of school, boys and society snatching truth from her. Ripping it out of her heart. Claiming it as theirs.
How do I seal up beauty within her?
We headed downstairs. Me? A million questions stirred. Can I really do this? Will she ever know? She is more than a cute dress. Her small hand clenched mine.
“Mommy, do you think he will like my dress?” She looked longingly at me, inquiring about her brother.
I shrugged, already overwhelmed with the barrage of thoughts firing off in my mind.
We made it to the kitchen.
Son stared at her. She stood there.
He looked at her. She waited.
He formed his hand into a known symbol: a big thumbs down sign.
What?! What in the stinkin’ world?
And, as if every single one of my insecurities was highlighted, I felt completely and entirely angry! Furious.I felt like my very own son had degraded – me!!! Her!!! Every single woman who ever wanted to feel good about herself!
But, he hadn’t.
As he put it, he was kidding.
But, as I saw it, it was no joke. He transformed. My son was all those people who hurt me. He was every single detractor of my worth. He was completely wrong. He was messing up my daughter. He was in trouble: I badgered him. I nagged him to say he was sorry. I came down on him. I was unforgiving. I was obnoxious.
I projected my fear, to try to protect my heart from the past.
Do you ever do this?
We might be prone to project when:
We respond super sensitively.
We make comments predictors of our worth, then hate others.
We become a punisher.
We are extremely, overwhelmingly and exceedingly angry at a person.
Yes, my son was rude, but projecting had made me a monster. That’s usually what it does.
And, so, here I sit. Guilty? Yes. Totally.
But, forgiven? Yes. Completely.
I am not perfect. Neither are you.
The fact of the matter is we are all still working through our pain with God, aren’t we? We are all still realizing the areas we’ve once been hurt, aren’t we? We are all still in the process of letting redeemer redeem the beauty we once lost, aren’t we?
God forgives. And, my son will forgive me too. I will tell him my story: a story where I was put down, hurt and let down by the world, a world that can pick people apart instead of loving them.
I will let him know how I never want to do that to him. And, to daughter? I will hold her hand through life, keep my voice next to her ear, relinquish control and let God take the lead. I will trust that even in her hard moments, he won’t let go of her hand.
All through the month of February you will find freedom messages on Jami’s blog about the truth about how Jesus feels about you. From our darkest fears to our greatest folly He is with us – and for us! You can check out these posts by following this link!
I’m delighted Patricia Holbrook is hosting the linkup today! Patricia is faithful in her calling. She is honest and transparent. She has a story that will meet your heart in its dry places.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Patricia’s book, 12 Inches!
The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” Judges 7:7
It was Friday night. I absently stared at the TV, thinking about how lonely I felt. Looking through my phone book, I knew that the options were not good. Friends who would be available on a Friday night would quickly offer me a tour back into my life before Christ… Places I knew not to visit anymore.
My new Christian friends were all busy with their husbands and family. It was me, my TV… and… my Bible. I glanced down and picked it up.
A new Christian, I had heard that Jesus was all I needed, but was unsure of how to let Him fill the void.
I surrendered my life to Christ only months before, and experienced unprecedented joy and peace. I spent the following weeks and months on a spiritual high, attending a new Christian discipleship class, prayer meetings and various church functions.
Yes, I made several new friends, but they were, well… new. And most of them were married, anyway. Loneliness filled my heart on the weekends. That particular weekend was the hardest of all.
As I held my Bible, tears streamed down my face. One of my best friends of eight years had turned her back on me.
Betrayal. Pain. Confusion.
The last drop in the bucket.
“Jesus, I thought you would fill my life, not empty it!” I cried out.
It was there, lying on my couch, that I heard His voice, whispering in my heart for the first time.
“I am preparing the soil for new sowing. For a new harvest.”
It was then that I saw it. I had a vision. As in a dream, I saw a large, bare field. The soil showed places where trees once stood. It was desolate-looking. Ugly, even.
Then I saw seeds coming down from Heaven, falling inside each hole on the ground. And finally, I saw the same field, green and full of beautiful, tall trees.
“Behold, I am making all things new,” I heard.
Twenty Years have gone by since that day…
And I behold the harvest.
I can close my eyes and see the faces.
My husband, our two daughters and wonderful, faithful friends throughout the years, planted in the field of my life. Besides one very best friend from my youth and my immediate family, they are all new.
They all have been planted by Yahweh’s faithful hands. And they have flourished and yielded fruits of joy, peace, love, patience… true friendship. True Love.
I stand amazed.
The vision was hard to believe at the time when loneliness filled my days. When God removed what I thought was true love… and those whom I considered real friends.
He plucked them all, one by one, and left me wondering whether I’d ever feel loved again.
But before He planted a new harvest in my life, He had to teach me to make Jesus my all in all. He wanted to become my very best friend.
Instead of giving in to the feelings of loneliness and depression, I sought His face.
I made the Bible my greatest companion. I woke up in the middle of the night to talk to my Savior and started serving Him at church. And before I realized it, He started planting beautiful new seeds into my life.
God showed me that, just as He gave Gideon victory over mighty enemies with a small army of faithful servants, His children don’t need 10,000 soldiers to win life’s battles.
When God is in control, He weeds out the unfaithful, and fills in the void in our lives with the 300 faithful few.
Gideon was afraid of not having enough. He couldn’t see how he would defeat his powerful enemy with such a small army.
You may not see how your life can continue without a particular person. Or how you can give up your old friends and still have joy. I challenge you to trust Him. Trust that He is weeding out the unfaithful, cleaning out the soil, preparing it to yield a new harvest.
All He needs is your heart. Your surrendered trust.
I promise that one day you’ll stand amazed, as you contemplate the lush green fields that Yahweh will plant on your current bare land. As you give yourself to Him, believe me: He will give it all back to you.
Pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Because that is the kind of Friend He is.
Just trust His pruning. Trust His plucking. He only cuts out what doesn’t belong, anyway.
*This blog post is an excerpt from Patricia’s Book: Twelve Inches: Bridging the gap between what you know about God and how you feel.”
***Comment for a chance to win a copy of the book! Also, share Patricia’s words on social media!
Patricia Holbrook is the President of Soaring with Him Ministries, author, columnist, blogger, wife and mom. Her passion is to encourage her audience to “soar above life’s circumstances” by the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She writes about making beauty out of brokenness, trusting God in the dark, the blessings of obedience and her love for the Savior.
Among other places, you can find her writing weekly on her
Today, I welcome Christy Underwood! She is not only my dear friend, but she is also a woman who fights to stand strong in Christ. I admire her perseverance and endurance. I think you will too. May her story below be an inspiration to you.
The ultrasound tech asked, “How many pregnancies have you had?”
What’s even tougher is learning at your first ultrasound that there’s nothing in the sac. Nothing. That was a first – and I was devastated.
On my way home from the doctor’s office, I heard the song “Come Alive (Dry Bones),” by Lauren Daigle:
“Breathe, oh breath of God Now breathe, oh breath of God Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe
As we call out to dry bones Come alive, come alive We call out to dead hearts Come alive, come alive.”
Ezekiel once saw dry bones in a vision. God told Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones. When he did, God put breath in them and they came to life. I knew the story behind the song before I was pregnant. Hearing it this time, I cried. I badly wanted God to breathe life into me, into my baby.
In the days ahead, I had bloodwork done, and my hormone levels were consistent with a normal pregnancy but not rising as much as expected. I still was hopeful, but, at our next ultrasound the result was the same: No life. No baby.
There are no words to explain the sinking feeling.
Yet through this heartache, amazingly, I’ve experienced more of God’s love. It’s unlike anything the world can offer. Sure, I’ve wept – and wept, but God extended strength, peace, and joy during the difficult times. I’m not depressed. I’m not anxious. Only God, the Creator of all good things, could have carried me through this.
Do you ever stop to consider God’s point of view when you’re going through a hard time?
He’s a good, loving Father. When I see my daughter hurting, my heart breaks. I desire to give her good things. Yet, because I love her, at times, I must withhold things for her benefit.
God could have given us this child, but maybe He didn’t because He wants me to share my story with others who have experienced loss. Maybe He saw how this would strengthen my faith and the faith of others. Maybe He saw how He would be glorified.
And, maybe, God intervenes more than I realize, maybe, more than – we – realize…
I started reading Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur. Here, it occurred to me, God might have prohibited a situation from happening that would have been even more difficult.
Maybe I don’t need to know it all…maybe I just need to trust a good, loving Father.
Yes, I continue to pray for a child, but I want God’s plan for my life more than a child. I choose to trust Him for myself, my husband, and my daughter. Trusting for my daughter is the most difficult. Sometimes I want another child more for her than for me. God reminds me that I need to trust Him. Isn’t it hard though when we think we know what’s best?
These words encourage me. I hope they encourage you too:
When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through When you don’t give the answers As I cry out to you I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.
– Song, Trust in You by Lauren Daigle
Whether it seems big or small, God cares and desires to reveal His love for you. He wants to breathe new hope, joy and peace into what we look at as dead, dry and done with. Even with Jesus, what looked dead, at the right time, came alive. Day by day, let’s trust God, even when our plans don’t seem to align with His.
Prayer: God, thank you for who You are. You are a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Help us to trust in You when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Help us to keep our minds and thoughts on You instead of the worries of this world. Help us to expect You to show up, that we would feel Your love and know the peace that only You can bring. Amen.
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
Christy is a wife, a mother to one sweet girl, and a speech therapist. She’s lived in Southern California her whole life. Kelly and Christy met in their early 20s at a church retreat and have supported each other through all of the crazy transitions life keeps bringing.
Kelly’s must-add words about Christy: Christy is faithful. She pursues God in a way where she doesn’t let her heart quit. I admire her, I love her and I thank her for using her extreme difficulty as a God-exalting opportunity. Daddy is well pleased.
I approached him, “Get your backpack. We need to get in that car.”
He marched right past me holding the shovel like a sword, swinging it as if he just won a war. He wasn’t going anywhere, this I knew. My words floated over him like the wind. His eyes were dead set on the game he was playing.
I was annoyed, for what stood between me and peace – was a 5-year old, a pretend game and a wrestling match of words that was about to explode.
What is standing in between you and peace? Between you and God?
For me it is distractions. Consider this: Just 5 minutes before my son’s victory march I was praying to God, asking him to be with me and wanting to walk forward in his love. So, what happened?
(Deep breath.) 3 distractions bubbled up – ones that so often pull me off track:
I let the demands of this world, steal my delight in the Creator.
I allow urgency to replace intimacy – between me and God.
I let destination take precedence over God’s invitation to let loose.
(Another deep breath.) When I am worried about time, (I don’t have enough of it, I am stressed out by it, I am going to be late, I am missing out, I am too old, I am too young, I should be somewhere already, I don’t want to wait, I must think about my future, rather than be present) I work myself into a tizzy. And, here, in all my trembling – I can’t see God.
…But all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life…so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:19)
I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord the best, with as few distractions as possible. (1 Cor. 7:35)
If I am distracted I can’t as easily be engaged with God. If I am worried about many things, I can’t be enthralled by the One thing. If I am trying to press through a tight knit schedule, I can’t as easily press peace into this world.
I want more. Do you? I want to take God through my day with me. Not just in the morning time, but all the time. Not just when I think of him, but as I do everything. I want to invite in his love so I can spread his love.
No longer do I want to fear the rush, the clock and the game – that calls me to sprint ahead, but I want to stop and sit and savor and sip up God’s goodness. Maybe you do too…
For we serve a God who is limitless and unbound by time. The truth is, he can work within any barrier that lays before us. He just outstretches his hand and it expands in a way where we can do what we once thought we couldn’t.
For a large part of my life this word was not in my dictionary. “Unstable.” “Unable.” “Unsure.” Now, these were the type of words – I knew.
I was “unstable” as I dealt with depression, a debilitating eating disorder and the deep knowledge I could never do enough or be enough to satiate the world’s unbelievable appetite – for perfect.
I was “unable.” Unable to fix a looming diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Unable to hold a job down. Unable to endure in friendships. Unable to believe in myself. I quit things before they started. I ended opportunity before it could hurt me. I unsubscribed from risk before it could eat me up, chew me up and spit me out like the failure I knew I was.
I was “unsure” God really was good. I knew him in my mind, but absent was his love from my heart. With this, I walked not in Christ’s identity, but with a disguised limp of insecurity. All I could see was how you were better than me and more likely to do great things. I was unsure why I was born. I was jealous, burdened.
These sticky labels seemed to attach to my heart with permanent glue: unstable. Unable. Unsure. They owned me. They declared my worth. They drove my being. The more I looked at my discouragement, the more I felt discouraged.
Have you been there? Do you know this place?
When we see all we – are not, we have a hard time focusing on all that – God is. This is what I’ve realized. You see, through the power of prayer and a heart-seizing of God’s Word, accompanied by the simple grace afforded by Christ on the cross, I am walking, more and more, out of a place of containment and into the refreshment of God.
It awaits us all. It calls out to us. It is ours to step into.
We grab first for God’s forgiveness; it welcomes us. We run into daddy’s arms; they wait wide-open for us. We feel the warm embrace; it cares for us. We talk to the one who created us; He affirms us. We renew our strength in him; he recommissions us.
And, by the very nature of God – and not by our own doing – we step out, little-step by little-step. Until, we get to the point where we glance back, to see how far we’ve come. And, what we see is – somewhere along the way, he brought us to the power-infused and potential-unveiling place of – unshaken.
It feels like a miracle and, now, we acknowledge – it actually is. We give thanks. We worship. And, we add the word – “unshaken” to our dictionary. We own it. We step into it. We go. Our heart is on fire.
What might small step might God be calling you to move into? How might your life look if you stripped of the mindset of fear to live free of people’s opinions? Undefined by problems? Liberated from the past?
I listened to the interview with the popular Christian writer, my mind reeling with questions. But the one that kept repeating itself over and over was, “How?”
This woman had a slew of kids running around, and she homeschooled all of them. Her writing was not shoddy. Each syllable sang with an effortless harmony as you read.
So how? How were there enough hours in the day? Did she have on a superwoman cape I couldn’t see as I listened to the podcast?
At the time I had two kids. Now I have three, the last one two months young. There are days I barely get the laundry done and the food made, much less worry about doing anything creative.
I see women on social media who, in all the bright lights and glow of the computer screen, are pursuing their goals and dreams. They are achieving milestones I dare to think about as I’m nursing my sweet babe at night.
Before daybreak, the fear takes over and says, “You’ll never get there.”
Comparison is such a lonely place to live.
When we compare, we fear never being like someone else when God simply wants us to be the person he created.
We live in a toxic state of thinking we have to achieve the next rung on our self-made ladder instead of embracing the season we’re in. But friends, we weren’t made to keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians or anyone else.
We were made to live our own unique lives, each of us working together to create a beautiful God-story.
During the moments I’m tempted to exchange my story for someone else’s God is showing me a better way. Instead of spending my time in fear and comparison, I bring it to him.
I say, “God, today I only have a half hour to work on this project. I don’t know how it’s going to get done, but I trust you.”
And in ways only he can, he multiplies my efforts. He takes that little sliver of time and makes it enough.
One day it was raining non-stop and the fog on the mountain where we live was thick, reflecting my tired mental state. I was feeling discouraged, so I brought my concerns to God. I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t always my first inclination.
I told him my concerns and worries, how I wanted to get back to assignments I knew he’d given me to complete, but I didn’t see how.
A few days later, an opportunity dropped in my lap. It wasn’t something I was pursuing or even knew was a possibility, but in that moment I knew God was answering me.
With this email from an editor that popped into my inbox, he said, “You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do months from now or even next week. Just make the most of the time I’ve given you. Right here, today.”
And in doing so, I not only honor my family, but God. I can stop trying to keep up with the person next to me and focus on the task in front of me. One step at a time.
I felt like a huge load was lifted off my shoulders.
I know there will be days I’m tempted to look in the other lane. Chances are, you’ll be tempted too.
But can I tell you something? The ride is so much more enjoyable when, instead of seeing how far we have to go, we look at the view around us.
Instead of fearing we’ll never make it to the next destination, let’s look at how far we’ve come.
Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
I am delighted to welcome Asheritah Ciuciu! She is both a friend and a woman with an important story to tell. Be blessed by her words today!
I hugged the pillow and sank back in her couch, trying to look relaxed while hiding my bulge. This new friend I had made was friendly, welcoming, and open about her past struggles.
She was trusting me with a part of her past, and I felt honored and humbled.
She shared how God had set her free of her past hurts, and I felt a stirring in my heart. I wanted to return the token of friendship, to share with her a hidden part of my story too.
And so the words came out, awkward at first but tumbling faster and faster as I tried to make sense of what I was saying.
“I think I have a food addiction,” I said, sheepishly, twisting the decorative frays on the pillow between my fingers as I kept my gaze down. “I mean, I don’t know, I just find myself controlled by my desire for food instead of by the Holy Spirit.”
I chanced a glance up as I shared this discovery I had made about myself the week before.
And I held my breath.
The air felt tight in my lungs because we all fear rejection. Every one of us.
We long for friends who will know and love us as we really are. Not the instagrammed version of us. Not the 140-character witty us. Not the perfectly curated media stream of us.
No. Not that. We’ve had enough of that.
We yearn for someone to see us, every layer of us, and love us anyway. Cellulite and all. Love handles. Baby bellies. Thunder thighs.
Shame keeps us silent, convinced we’re the only ones who struggle. And our enemy continues to taunt us that “good Christian girls” don’t talk about these things. Blazes, they don’t even struggle with these kinds of things!
But in the midst of my own food addiction journey, here’s what I discovered: truth will set you free.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Telling the truth. Declaring truth. And embracing Truth Himself.
You see, we have a very real enemy, and he comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Satan will use whatever tool he can to distract you from seeking satisfaction in God, and if money, sex, or power don’t hold any sway over you, then French fries or skinny chocolate lattes just might.
For me, it was just that. Food addiction just about did me in.
Almost… But for truth.
Back to the living room scene, there I was, holding my breath.
Her gaze filled with compassion as she nodded and said, “I know what you mean.”
“You do?” I asked, my eyebrows arching as I let out my pent-up breath. I sized up her tiny frame.
“Yeah,” she continued. “Even skinny girls struggle with food, you know. I’ve begun to realize just how much a bar of chocolate comforts me, and it’s scary.”
I shut my eyes and relished the feeling of coming home. Here, finally, was someone who knew my secret and did not condemn me. In fact, she put her arm around me and invited me to walk this path toward freedom together.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus, Truth Himself, sets us free from our strongholds and welcomes us into the Father’s presence, where we find fullness of joy and life to the full.
And you want to know the most surprising part? If we let Him, God uses our stories of brokenness to heal others too. That’s a miracle in itself.
Though this journey has had its ups and downs, I’m so grateful He carried me through my doubts and insecurities to free me to tell my story. From food fixation to fullness in Jesus. From shame to shouting out His goodness. Because every day I receive emails from women saying, “I thought I was the only one who struggled with food fixation. But when you told your story, you were telling mine too. And now I’m asking God to give me victory just as He has you.”
I’m not that special, really. Just one woman who’s been set free calling out to others to join me in finding sweetness and satisfaction in Jesus. But we don’t have to go it alone, and there’s beauty in that.
Tell the truth, declare the truth, and embrace the Truth… and then prepare to receive the full life Jesus came to give you.
No more hiding. No more pretending. No more second-guessing.
Just beautiful, authentic, abundant, overflowing, satisfying life. Not always easy or trouble-free, but always filled with His presence and provision.
He’s done this in mine, and I know He’ll do it in yours, because God always keeps His promises. Always.
About the Book
If you’ve ever felt stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of overeating, yo-yo dieting, and obsessive thoughts about food, you know how hopeless this struggle can be. But the answer isn’t finding a new diet or a miracle pill. The answer is seeking satisfaction in the right place.
Asheritah Ciuciu is a popular blogger, speaker, and author. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women’s Ministry in college. Her passion is leading women deeper with Jesus through daily devotions and spiritual disciplines, both in her local church and around the world through digital discipleship at www.onethingalone.com. Asheritah is married to Flaviu, her childhood sweetheart, and together they raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio.
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.