Purposeful Faith

Tag - fear

What it took me to Listen

Post by: Christy Mobley

I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.

I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.

Well said, I thought.
I went to hit the send button but stopped short. Something felt vaguely familiar about this scene.

I heard a whisper in my heart, Don’t send it.

Hmm, I thought to myself, I haven’t talked to God about this yet have I?

I shut my laptop, pushed it aside and prayed over the email I was about to launch.

You know the saying, sleep on it—give it fresh eyes in the morning. Good advice.

Before I shut my eyes, I asked God, Is this what you would have me send?

There have been times when I’ve heard God whisper and ignored it. 
The still small voice—the warning. Some might say, “Oh it’s just our conscience talking” but I’ve learned the difference…the hard way.

I’ve brushed off this heart whisper enough times to know when I do, it can prove painful. One such experience is still branded in my memory like the scar left from a run in with  fiery stove.

It concerned another email from years ago. It was innocent really. At least I rationalized it was.
Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
And isn’t that what the heart does? It deceives us by telling us lies we believe.

My heart is no different.

There had been a long thread of correspondence within a group I leading. People had been adding to it for days. There was one decision maker with whom I was to consult with and then let the group know the results.

Without thinking, I added my comment to the consultant at the bottom of the ongoing thread instead of starting a new one. My remark was harmless enough, although selfish in nature and could have misconstrued if seen by the wrong eyes.  I knew this to be true but again I rationalized, I was getting my point across.
 I thought, what’s the harm?

Then I heard it. The moment before I hit send, a whisper ever so softly, gently.
A voice of reason calling out to me to think twice.
Don’t send it.

I brushed aside the delicate call to stop and pushed the button sending my pixellated words into cyberspace permanency.

Sure enough, a certain person in the group who was the curious type scrolled through the multiple threads of conversation and landed on mine. She read through my innocent motive straight to the self-seeking one. She exposed the inner workings of a fallacious heart. And then  proceeded to unleash a furry of epic porportion all over the information superhighway.

I was done for. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Scarred for life.
Yes, that about covers it—all the emotional daggers that could impaled me, did.

I hadn’t paid attention to the tension of God’s warning.

Pain however does get our attention. And sometimes God allows it. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Friends, God doesn’t speak to hear His own voice. No, He lovingly will use whatever it takes to protect us from our own undoing.

His voice is not only one of correction but a voice of protection.

 

God could have kept this person from exposing me but because she did, I learned to listen. Getting burned on a stove a few times might hurt but it serves to save you from the real fire later.

After praying over my most recent email situation and putting it to a good night’s sleep, I woke afresh with a new attitude knowing what I was to do.

I opened my laptop, looked at the blinking cursor, highlighted the majority of the piece and pushed delete.
I thought, God will take care of it from here.

There have been multiple, “Don’t do its” in between these two experiences and through them I’ve learned to discern His voice better but moreover I’m remembering to ask for it.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Listen and obey. Simple as that.

And when it comes to emails, letters or talk I ask myself daily…

Am I using my words to make a point, or am I using my words to point to Christ?

Enough said.

Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump ad twist in the road.

Christy a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and brand new grandma!  Her passion is to help women find their joy by experiencing God at work for them in their all their circumstances.

You can connect with Christy at Joying in the Journey, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Why Your Battle is Good

Your Battle is Good

I thought Christianity was supposed to be a “you’ve arrived kind of thing.” Whoever sold it to me that way, I want a refund. You lied.

Truth is: I am crippled and Jesus is my crutch. I lean on him.

He relieves the pressure. He does the pushing. I do the moving ahead. It’s hard. It’s uphill at times. It’s tiring. It’s a battle, no doubt.

But, I see the battle is good.

It makes us warriors.

Being a warrior makes us aware there is a war.
Being aware of war makes us think twice about how much we need our God.
Being aware of how much we need our God makes us want him more.

Us wanting him more makes us draw near to him.
Drawing near to him makes him draw near to us.

With God, no matter how it looks, we are always winning. I am okay with the battle.

The truth is Christianity is not about arriving, it is about journeying into holy. It is about grabbing hold of the hem of Jesus, as if it is the only life-preserver in the center of a raging ocean. It is about grabbing it and letting it take you where it will. Riding the waves of his truth, until the wave no longer looks like a giant killer-wave that is about to sink you, but a much smaller stretch of water that has been worked out by his love.

All your agony turns into testimony. People draw near and they say, “Wow, look at what God did with you.”

They gawk.
You gawk.

It is a miracle, when you get truthful.

This is what it is about – this thing called faith. Someone sold it to us like a bag of tricks:
You’ll get rich.

You’ll be happy.
You’ll feel good.
You’ll be delivered to everything you wanted.

No.

You’ll find trials, but trials rise into his love.
You’ll find pain, but pain is consoled by his love.
You’ll find heartache, but you will relate to Christ’s heart of ache as it slowly dwindled on the cross.
You’ll find persecution, but you will find peace that your true love is your true love when you are willing to outlast it.
You’ll find shame, but you will wave at it and say, “God promised the world would hate me.”
You’ll find guilt, but you’ll find an advocate, in the Spirit, as you place it like a present before the filth of Jesus’ feet.

Faith it is what dreams are made of and it is what trials deliver you to. It is what will take you home.

Renewing your mind isn’t a one time ticket to delivered, it is a continual commute to holy. Being not conformed to this world is not a quick command you give yourself, but it is a diligent war that must be fought minute-by-minute.

This is a battle. We are in the center of it. Don’t give up fight. It all counts. It is all worth it. God sees. The party will begin the second the curtain closes, and it all will be worth it.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When You Hate How You Look

Hate How You Look

It’s the last thing you want to do on a day where you need to do everything, and hardly want to do that. But, there I found myself, at the drug store posing half-heartedly in front of a white pull-down curtain. I needed a passport photo.

Mugshot.  Mugshot- was what ran through my head he clicked. That – and the idea that I really should have put my hair down and tried to improve myself a bit, like most moms do. Most moms throw on the lipgloss. Most moms might adjust their hair rather than keeping it in this weird outdated bun look. Most moms might try to smile a little bigger.

Not me. I was tired. Daughter woke at 3 AM with a wet bed. My eye is still not done with pink eye (what are you supposed to do – throw out every last inch of makeup?). Husband is gone all week and I am womaning the house. So, yes, when the “click” happened, well, my face? It didn’t really happen that much.

I just stood there.

He finished the job.

I looked at the photo.

And saw what I am fully convinced must be the worst mug shot ever of me. It was as bad as those pre-jail photos – you all know what I am talking about. It’s the one we all see on TV – “And…today, a mom went rogue in CVS”. The image shoots up on screen. We all know it. The light is bad, the face looks horrible, the smile is gone and the woman looks like death just visited her.

This was me. Bags under eyes. Eye red. Smile gone. And, to add to all this, an outshoot of hair wanted to show off right above my ear. How does this even happen, anyway?

The picture is not cute, not cute at all, I thought as I stood outside the drug store contemplating whether to go back in and hassle the photo guy until he made me beautiful, photo-shopped, wrinkle-less, perfect and all that I ever dreamed of being 8:00 am on a Wednesday morning.

But, I didn’t. I just stood there. Why? Because on my heart was this weird inclination of revelation. Like God wanted to do something with me and this photo. So, although I almost walked back in the store 4 times, I didn’t.

If I’ve learned anything in my short life it is this: You don’t want to turn down God, when He’s working on something.

Frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine if Jesus turned down his role. “Change of plans, I’m not dying on the cross.”

Nope. Not good.

With this in mind, I try to stay on God’s path and when I hop off, I fight with all my might to get back on. So, I just stood there on the sidewalk – a freak with a photo – and stared at it. Two steps to the door, two steps back.

Come on, God….any time now.

Friend, maybe, like me, the ugly thing you can’t get through, God is trying to speak through…

And finally, it came to my heart: Kelly, on your worst day, on your ugly days, on your tired days, on your worn days, on your pain-stricken days, on your unsure days, on your bad hair days, on your I-don’t-have-a-smile-days – still, Kelly, I love you. 

I love that picture.
I love your realness.
I love your wrinkles.
I love you.
You don’t need to be more for me.
I don’t love you less when you look less or appear less.
I choose you – just like that – eye bags, red-eye, smileless and all… 

When you see that image, imagine me, wanting you – in all your ugly-, frumpy- and grumpy-ness. 

So, I took that square photo, tucked it into my bag and walked to the car. I’d lie if I didn’t tell you I gasped at it one more time on my way home. I did.  But, I also let that passport stand for what it really was – a reminder: No matter where I go, I always am in God’s love.

I’ll look at this image again. And again. And, my prayer – for when I do – is this: God, let us always remember our worst images, are made beautiful because you simply love us as we are. And, in that, we can rest. We don’t need to work up your love. Help us to remember your goodness, your kindness and your unconditional love towards us, God. Amen.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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Prayer to Beat Destructive Doubt

Beat Destructive Doubt

Be still and know that I am God.

But, that was precisely the problem. I couldn’t be still. My heart was racing a hundred miles an hour like a race car ready to crash. Ever been there? Where the face of your problems > loving face of your God?  Where it is hard to know if God can/will fix what you’re doing, done or are about to do?

“Your child has been exposed to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.”

I gave them the blank stare. I didn’t know what this entailed, but I did know by nature of the name it sounded – horrific. Anything with the word “disease” in it is about enough to send mom’s stomach flip-flopping and reeling in anxiety. Add visions of pussing, oozing and painful sores – and mom was already identifying imaginary red spots.

“Were they exposed to the sick kid a lot – or a little?”

“Oh, a lot and it is very contagious.”

Thanks, lady. Thanks a lot. Oh, and thanks a lot, God. Don’t you know?

Now, I’d just come off the stomach flu that built into a cold that seemed to never end that morphed into a bad illness with a mean attack from the inside-out. I won’t go into details here. Needless to say, I’d been run ragged. Now this?

Now, I was sure, dear daughter was deeply ill. I could see it happening, and none of my prayers could stop this unforeseen visitor from coming. God wouldn’t help me. I was all alone on this one.

Where do you feel all alone?

Where have you opened the gate to worry and found not only it walked in, but doubt too?

This may sound simplistic, but: Shut the gate.
Doubt disassembles the goodness of God.
It wrecks the benefits of love.
It becomes cancerous over time.
It corrodes dependence on God.
It is the devil’s gambit.

“But, how, Kelly, how?” You ask me.

We fight with the 5 A’s – that’s how! We:

  1. Acknowledge the lies and God’s corresponding truth.
  2. Ask for forgiveness.
  3. Admire the power, height, and love of God.
  4. Abandon our own will.
  5. Affirm God’s goodness through thanksgiving and prayer.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil. 4:8

Filter the bad out of the good, and you’re left with good. And, if we’re left with good, we’re left with God. We want this.

Prayer Against Destructive Doubt:

God, you are in everything. You are above everything. You know everything. You are orchestrating everything. All control is yours. All vision is yours. All power is yours. You move the handle on my life. Thank you that you want to take care of me. Thank you that you love me. You withhold no good thing from me. Thank you that I can trust you. Not with half my heart, but with my whole heart. Thank you that you know my way, even when it looks not like “my way.” Grant me greater faith to trust you by faith. Stand closer to me so I can dwell in your love. Help keep my mind steadfast on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. If I move with you, I won’t depart from you. Teach me God in all your ways. I am open and willing to what you want to do in me. I need you, God. Amen.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

She Let Me Down, Again!

Let Me Down

She let me down. Again. She always does.

Now, it’s as if:

She owes me something.
She’s responsible now to figure out how to console me.
Her actions need to shift for me to ever love her.
Everything needs to change before I can be happy.
I win, as a better person, because she’s always losing.

What shocks me about my above brutally-honest list is – when I look at it, I could have striked all those words and just written: me, me, me! I could have summarized it all up: “You stink, lady, you are not good enough and you better improve or I’ll always live hurt.”

Who made her God? And who made me so reliant she rules my emotions, pride, joy and peace?

When people rule us, we aren’t being ruled by God. It’s a give in. God’s gone – gone.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 11:22-24)

We have come to Jesus.

Not to a woman who lets us down.
Not to a job we detest.
Not to a boss who favors others.
Not to a child who is completely and utterly defiant.
Not to questions that rule over us.
Not to a spouse who speaks meanly.
Not to a situation that is ruling us.

We have come to God, the Judge, the one who makes us righteous, perfect, to the mediator, to the one who sprinkled grace over our head and declared us as his own.

Man will let us down, God won’t. He’s already lifted us up to seat us with Christ (Eph. 2:6) and, even better, He’s declared the deed, the position for us final by saying, “It is finished. (Jo. 19:30)” And, guess what? It is.

So, who can tie us up to the back of the car and drag us through the gravel? No one.

Who can rip out our voice and tell us it’s worthless? No one.

Who can hurt us time and time again, thereby ruining our soul? No one.

Humbly, we rest under him. Jesus. The one crushed, so we emotionally aren’t. The one beaten so we could beat relational pain through Him. The one mocked, so when we are, we remember He understands, knows and cares for us. The one broken, so we could be healed. The one victorious, who marks us that name alike.

We aren’t the product of a person’s action. Or, maybe we are. We are the product of Jesus’ actions. And, by Him, we are saved from the things that want to take us down.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

7 Ways: From Manic Mode to Peace

Manic-Mode to Peace

Pots and pans where flung everywhere. I didn’t really know what I was doing, except I knew dinner needed to get on that table, before the two screaming heads even more flipped a lid. Move faster, Kelly.

I tried to maneuver around the crumbs and grease that were splattered everywhere. I tried to manage a deep conversation with my husband while pulling the salmon out of the oven. I threw it on the stove, checked the hardness of the fish (yep…rock-solid, alright) and then proceeded to grabb the handle with my bare hand….Yeee-oww!!!!

I burnt the living-cells right off my palm of my hand.

I’ve decided, in manic-mode, I do dumb things.

I guess you could say this is a theme in my life.

Manic-mode at work: I’d rush so fast, I’d send the “I am so frustrated at my boss” email not to my co-worker two cubes over, but directly to him.

Manic-mode in the car: I pulled out so fast out of school, I crush metal like it’s nobody’s business. Car’s totaled.

Manic-mode with kids: I fear someone is going to fall in the bathroom, so I lean over to shut the door with a baby in hand and her toe gets slammed. It busts wide open. Baby gets stitches at the ER.

My heart longs for manic-mode, sometimes. I don’t know what is wrong with me? It’s like somehow I think I am more productive there, like the hot-flashes of anxiety are going to produce something, like more will get done and somehow I’ll end up being recognized as the shining star mom of the universe. It never happens.

What is it producing?  Burnt hands. Angry bosses. Ruined cars. Babies with stitches. Internal frustration. Residual guilt. Kitchens left half cleaned up because I’m either dealing with the likes of insurance agencies, ER rooms or burn marks. FAIL.

What is manic-mode producing in your life? Where do you see it show up? Why do you chase it?

I think I believe if I rush, the loud sounds of my life will hush and  I’ll make space for peace. Like, I’ll run to the destination real fast and then I’ll have time left over to chill there. To lay down. It doesn’t work that way, I’m learning.

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14

To make peace, it works much more like this:

  1. You ask God to be with you through everything.
  2. You trust him to be with you through everything.
  3. You don’t become a marathon sprinter.
  4. You look out for God to be with you through everything.
  5. you still don’t let yourself become a marathon sprinter.
  6. You notice God be with you through everything.
  7. You find some peace, and even some rest, through the process.

Why? Because He’s taking lead. The destination is not your destination, but God is the destination. And, when God is the destination, you’ve arrived.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Fighting the Enemy: To Win!

Fighting the Enemy

My son has been learning about the devil in school. He’s also been learning about the archangel Michael. So, in the adorableness of all his toddler years, he’s been playing an action hero game, of sorts, where he’s got a split personality. One minute, his face contorts into the completion of all meaness (cute alert!!!) and the next, the softness and heroic nature of angel Michael returns (Yay!! Peace & calm for mommy!).

I’m the target of his wrath when he’s all devil-faced and vengeful, because, here, he attempts to spit in my face (and sometimes wins). He tumbles me to the ground. He declares I’ll be ruined, I’m bad and a goner! He pulls with all his might trying to get me into the lake of fire. He yells at me. I’m in for it.

It’s the match of all matches.

And, I still can’t figure out why angel-face hardly ever shows up? I’m left fending against his wild and unpredictable attacks, his yells and pushes. I try to do my best but it gets tiring and sometimes I feel like giving up. I have to be on guard for his quick moves. I have to anticipate what is happening next: a diversion, a distraction, a mean word, a pull, a push or a tug.

Undoubtedly, it’s a wrestling match.

If I don’t fight, I lose.
If I don’t stand up for myself, I’ll fall into that lake.
If I don’t press in, He’ll pin me down.
If I don’t speak back against his lies that I am bad, I’ll give in to them.
If I don’t speak the truth, I’ll feel injured, debased and abused.
If I don’t push back a bit, I’ll be punished by the ridicule of his words.

Fighting against the devil is a wrestling match; if you don’t push back, you be mentally pushed where you don’t want to go. You’ll believe things, God doesn’t want you to believe. You’ll go places, God never intended you go.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12

The fight is real! R.E.A.L. Really happening.

Yet, to stand firm, to remain in faith and to preserve our heart, we must, like I wrestled against my son, fight back: He moves in with a sly word, a mistruth, we push back, with a Word from God. He tries to spit out doubt God will really help through prayer, we get down on our knees and pray anyway. He yells loudly we’re so stupid and always failing, and we declare even louder that Christ’s power is perfected in our weakness. He grabs our leg to pull us into temptation, to slowly move us where we never intended to go, we say, “Not a chance I’m going there! That will remove me from the joy, peace and purposes of the Lord!”

We get really serious about wrestling to win. Not in a way where we are afraid to lose, because, Great is our power over the enemy, thanks to Jesus Christ. But, in a way where we know the lies, the pulls, the beginnings of a match when we see one. Then, we engage to win.

And, guess what, we do. He can’t touch us.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Eph. 6:11

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

You’re a Daughter, Not a Slave to Fear

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I like to watch my kids when they don’t know I’m looking.

I eavesdrop on interactions between firstborn and little brother. I overhear whispers of imagination, hide-and-seek and Legos.

It’s not because I’m trying to catch them doing something wrong. On the contrary, I catch glimpses of their lives I might otherwise miss.

When they notice me, their response is always the same.

“What?”

And then comes the shoulder shrug. Like they’re waiting for a rebuke. As if I’m going to chide them for running or yelling.

I realize it’s partly my fault. Because many times, I do those things. And while I don’t apologize for it, I also want them to know I watch them because I relish in seeing them grow.

I’m a witness to these lives I helped create, and I love seeing them discover new things.

The other day as I was driving to the market, the new David Dunn song I Wanna Go Back came on the radio. It describes how as we grow older, we often lose our childlike faith and belief that we can do or be anything. Instead of being grateful we have neighbors next door to play with, we feel like we have to keep up with them.

So what does the artist want? To go back. He says he wants to go back to “Jesus loves me this I know…”

As I sat in the car listening and singing along, I thought, “Don’t we all?” I realized somewhere along the line, I forgot God watches me the love of a Father instead of an angry parent waiting to punish me. He sees me as a beloved daughter and a new creation, not a messed up kid who can’t ever get anything right.

But often, I’ll hit a road bump in life or a detour and say, “What?” Just like my kids. I think, “God must be punishing me for something I did wrong.”

I think, “Oh snap, God is watching me again. He must have seen that time I raced past the meet and greet or the time I avoided the prayer meeting.”

I don’t notice all the days he’s kept his eye on me and delivered me from harm. I race past the time he showed up through an encouraging note on an awful day and a friend’s offer to help.

What if we spent each day looking for glimpses of God’s love? Instead of fearing his rebuke, what if we looked for evidence that he’s watching us with admiration in his eyes, the same way I watch my kids?

If I see my kids with the joy of a mother’s heart, I know he sees me with a joy that surpasses my understanding. I know because the same God who created them created me. He created you.

When I got home from the market, I picked up our baby girl and put her on the bed. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was watching her.

I smiled at her and she smiled back, her eyes all bright with the newness of an infant. As I took in her sweetness, I realized that’s how I want to be.

I want to smile back at God with the confidence of a daughter. A daughter who knows I’m worth more than many sparrows.

A daughter who knows he watches me with love.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

When You’re Not the Favorite

favorite beauty from chaos

Post By: Angela Parlin

They were the sparkly people.

This was my secret definition for the beautiful people who surrounded me growing up. My sisters, my best friends, the cheerleaders I wanted to grow up and be like. People with big personalities, who turned eyes without trying.

People watched them.

People listened to them.

People laughed at whatever they said.

People wanted to be with them.

They didn’t fear being seen, because they knew it was true—everybody wanted to hear whatever they had to say. They were the beautiful people through and through.

And I wasn’t one of them, at least in my perception.

So I was reading through Genesis again a few years ago, and I came to the story of Joseph. The part where his father loved him more than his other sons. I knew all about people like Joseph. I’d spent decades observing them. The sparkly people. The beautiful ones. People with big dreams, and all the pieces coming together into a perfect picture.

The truth is, my parents didn’t play favorites at home. I grew up with 3 sisters, and we were all entirely different, yet deeply loved. But beyond the walls of our home, another story unfolded. People responded differently to each of us, and the only problem with that? I noticed all these things. And as I stored them up in my heart, it broke.

I had never been a Joseph. I could only identify with his brothers—the other kids, the ones less chosen. The only thing I could understand was that longing for a coat of many colors made for me. Something to show I was picked, that I was also a favorite.

So my view of Joseph’s story had always been colored by my own story.

Do you ever find yourself so focused on one piece of the story, that you miss the whole rest of it?

I know I sound like Ms. Obvious, but there’s a whole lot more to the story about Joseph. His brothers threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave. And when the sight of him had his master’s wife all hot and bothered, her desire for him landed him in prison. But the Lord was with him, through it all. Even in prison, Joseph was put in charge. He continued to take what he was handed in life and do the next right thing. God repeatedly elevated him to places of honor.

Even so, Joseph spent years in prison, and when he interpreted dreams for some of the king’s former servants, he asked them to remember him when serving the king again. But they did not remember Joseph. 

This time around, I sat with these words, and I felt like I owed Joseph an apology.

I’d looked at his blessings—the way he was favored and handsome and put in charge. But what about his suffering? He was also trafficked, sold, imprisoned unfairly, and forgotten.

For the first time, I looked at Joseph’s story and saw his blessings and tragedies. I saw how the Lord was with him—from his original home to the pit, in slavery, at the king’s house, in prison, and in power.

The Lord remained with Joseph through it all, and He promises the same for you and me.

Joseph was chosen by God for specific purposes. But we are also created for specific purposes and the Lord also remains with us. We’re not so different from Joseph. Look long enough at your life and you’ll see where our Father is making beauty out of chaos. You’ll see that He’s working good even where harm was intended.

You’ll see He only makes beautiful, sparkly people. And that we’re all His favorites.

Favorites who once had blind eyes, but now we see.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

 

When Others are Thinking ____ about You

Others are Thinking

I sat in the group. I remember it clear as day. She thinks I’m a know it all, a God-goody two shoes, a high and mighty bible thumper.

My shoulders tucked under, my eyes looked down, I almost immediately clammed up, turning into myself and away from them.

There’s no use in being me because being me – is far too much for them. I am coming across too strong, so I need to appear more weak. Appear weak, and they’ll like you. They’ll want you. You won’t intimidate them or throw them off because of your intensity, strength or willingness. You’ll pacify everyone and then you can go and eat that brownie after the group, hungry for it. But, hollow and empty on the inside. 

Do you ever hide yourself to appease others? Restrain who you are to make sure others aren’t put off?

It happened again to me yesterday. She’s going to be jealous when she hears about this. Should I not do it? Brush it under the carpet and pretend it isn’t happening?  Out of guilt, respond to her with some sort of sundae-with-a-cherry-on-top offering that will make her smile again? 

Do you ever confuse serving others with taking care of them because of your own guilt?

Guilt makes a woman do all sorts of nasty stuff, things that God never assigned her to do. She gives up a part of herself. She gets involved in the constant cycle of thinking about others emotions. She signs away her dreams to makes sure others pick up theirs. She forgets about God’s heart to care for others and thinks she’s the Good Shepherd.

God is the only Good Shepherd. He calls us to care for people from a place of love, not guilt. Why?

Because actions out of obligation lead to destruction:

Resentment
Frustration
Regret
Irritation
Bitterness
Retaliation

How do you know if you’re operating from a place of guilt and not love? If you’re leaving behind God’s calling to remediate someone else’s, you’re on the wrong path. If you’re trying to fix someone’s problems to make your own heart feel happy again, you’re on the wrong path. If you’re coming to the rescue of people who feel insecure, and your changing your identity to meet them, you’re on the wrong path. This is a guilt-offering, not a God offering, nor a good offering.

Love instead, works like this:

God, in his timing and in his way, will take care of them.
He’ll instruct me on the way I should go.
I am not the manager, fixer or orchestrator of others’ feelings.
Often the best way to love is to make space for God to swoop in with his rescuing love.
Not everyone was happy with Jesus, even when he did God’s will, not everyone will be happy with me.K
Sometimes the higher calling is the low road, where discomfort is.
God leaves behind no one and he won’t leave me behind as I am true to who he’s created me to be.
I can follow through on God’s callings, no matter what others think, say or do.

I can say no.
I can be true to who God created me to be.
I can go my own way, have my own opinion and stand firm.
I can relax and love as God calls me to, rather than how my insides demand I do.

What would our life look like if we were unhinged from having to tie up everyone’s shoelaces? Would we then allow ourselves the ability to look up and see God’s unique callings?

How might we thrive? How might we minister rather than manipulate? How might love grow within us then bloom so that many can be changed by its beauty?

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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