The waitress was nowhere to be seen, my glass was empty, my food was late and my patience was running thin. Where is she?
I bet she is on a smoke-break. She’s probably sitting outside the kitchen, leaning up against a brick wall, scrolling Facebook. Of course, something probably caught her eye – maybe an old friend? A boyfriend? And then, she started to see who he is friends with and what he’s doing. Then she gets intrigued with the latest place he took a vacation and she starts to look up the hotel…and then…
She better get out here, I’m starving, plus the kids are about 10-seconds away from losing it and I am entirely losing my patience.
A woman walks towards me, clearly the manager, I look at her and say, “Excuse me, our waitress vanished and I have no idea where she went and we are starving, need water and are waiting to order. Did she forget about us.”
The manager replies, “This is why I was coming over, you see, she got really ill in the bathroom and is being rushed to the hospital.”
I guess this means she wasn’t smoking.
I guess this means she wasn’t scrolling.
I guess this means she wasn’t sucked up in some Carribean vacation.
And, as soon as I realize what I’ve done, I realize: The second I become judge is the second I pretend to be God.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how obvious my assumption appears. It doesn’t matter how blatant their disregard looks. It doesn’t matter how meanly they talk to me. It doesn’t matter what their track record is. It doesn’t matter if they look a certain way. It doesn’t matter if they started one way. It doesn’t matter if I feel hurt.
Unless I am them, I can’t judge them adequately. And, unless God gives me a day in their body, I can’t know their heart, their intentions or their struggle.
I have to let go. Not only for them, but for me. Because, otherwise, I’ll be walking around a hot shop of contempt. All that will fly is sparks of rage and malice at the proposed things people are doing and I’ll never live one happy day when I’m in their presence. It’s no way to live. It’s no way to look like Jesus.
I come to terms with not knowing your story or why you displayed rudeness.
I put on pause my impulsive emotions.
I decide to think positive about you.
I remember all that could be going wrong in your life.
I consider how the past has burnt you.
I resolve to let you know I’m here for you.
I turn away from the longing to harbor bad feelings towards you.
I give you the freedom to apologize when it’s right for you – or to never apologize at all.
I wait on God.
I trust he will fight for me while I am silent.
I believe he cares.
I know, we all hit hard days and hard days that make us respond with hard edges. I remember the days when I responded not so nice, or out of fear, or in a need to preserve myself…and I treat the offender like I would have wanted to be treated, maybe better.
I don’t do this now. But I want to. And, in this, I know God will help me see it through, so I can be kind to you when you’re confronting the very worst.
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 got home, I noticed one remaining trash can. Apparently, my husband didn’t pull it to the end of the driveway for pickup. Approaching it, I could see why…maggots climbed up, down and all over it. Yuck! I looked inside, only to see, at the bottom, a half eaten box of chicken legs.
And, seeing this, brought a valuable insight: Death leads to more death.
Death leads to more death because, what life – sin has killed, the enemy, like a maggot – feeds on. He brings more death.
Now, sweet friends, I am fully aware all this talk sound highly disgusting. But, I also believe it can be highly transforming, this is why we are venturing into the depths of trash.
Consider this: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro. 6:23
Sin leads to death.
Then, death leads to death.
Jesus leads to life.
Then, life leads to life.
Where have you allowed sin to produce death in your life? How is the enemy feeding on you, only to produce more death – death of joy, peace, productivity, power, grace, hope, love, mercy – in your life? Death of relationships? Death of belief?
While through the Spirit, we are being transformed into the image of Christ with ever-increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18), I am convinced the enemy’s operating procedure is to move us to ever-diminishing glory. So we don’t look like Christ.
Today, I didn’t want to touch that maggot-box. I didn’t want to drag it down the driveway, but I knew, it had to go or the death would stay.
What today, do you need to drag in front of Jesus – and let go in order to remove the death that is settling in around you?
Be not afraid, my brothers and sisters, our God is a gentle God, slow to anger, abounding in grace, mercy and new life. When you come and encounter his face, the face of your sin will change.
Perhaps, you do this today. Rather than continuing in excusing, rationalizing, permitting, blaming or smearing – today, perhaps you approach the one who loves you – so he can.
This is my prayer for you – and for me…
Dearest Father, you love us. You love us, then you love us, then you love us…and love us some more. May we know, in the place where we feel death, we are only a confession away from your life. May we know you want us. May we know you always welcome us. We confess, God, we have fallen into sin. It looks like this: _______. It has hurt us in this way: _____. We hand it to you, into your loving hands. We are sorry. What new way can we go when we are prone to do it, Father God? ____. We thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Don’t Miss The Journey Together Summit, June 5-8! Join 34 leading authors with the sole mission of helping you discover new bravery. Whether you desire to be brave at home or at work, in your marriage or with your children, in ministry or in the mess of the day, dealing with a surprising life or just organizing it – this is the event for you. There is something for everyone with over 34 topics of fear covered (wait till you see them all!).
God, give me a nice house.
God, I want to see my kids improve at school.
God, make (insert name of annoying person) change.
God, make this opportunity happen.
God, open every door to me.
God, change my circumstances.
God, give me a vacation soon.
There is nothing wrong in the asking, but are we missing something?
What if our deepest need, we walk right past?
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Ja. 4:3
I wonder, have you asked God for what you want? Like, what you really want? Have you sought him for your deep inner desires? Doing this – matters.
Jesus asked the blind man, Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk. 10:51)
We are often blind too. We can’t easily see our spiritual needs. This is why asking ourselves this very question is critical to getting somewhere.
If Jesus was to come before you, this very day…if Jesus was too look you in the eye and ask what you wanted? What would you say?
Would you feel unworthy?
Would you shy away?
Would you make something up to look good?
Would you pretend you were 100% content?
Would you ask for something easy?
Or would you go, all out and unveil the deep and giant desires of your heart?
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” (Mk. 10:51)
There is safety in shallow prayers; we put a comfortable distance from an invasive God. We keep Him up there and us down here, without changing much. But, what if our greatest life change is just a word away?
“What do you want?”
Maybe, what we really want is this:
We want to know you love us, daddy.
We want to see you grow us out of our deep fear we’ll never be accepted by you.
We want to see you heal our need to always be right – or our body for that matter…
We want to have those deep scars from our past, gone.
We want so much of you, we actually find real and enduring peace.
We want you to make our life come alive with love that changes the world.
Prayer that works – is power. It’s radical. It’s honest, deep and willing to go to the risky places knowing God is there too. It’s full of faith.
It is coming before the throne, just like the 24 elders in Revelations…
“They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'” (Rev. 10:11)
It’s taking off your crown, your need to be right, your need to be exalted, your need for the urgent, your demands, your pride, your ways…
Our youngest vandal son came into our room early this morning for a cuddle.
He climbed in the bed and whispered, “Good mowning mommy.”
He smelled of warm sleep and I was happy to have a moment alone with him before the chaos of the day erupted with the rising sun.
I tickled his back and stroked his blonde hair. And then, I noticed a terrible scratch on his neck.
“What happened Charlie?” I inquired.
Charlie elaborated. “I spent da night in da jungle wif my fwend Ashwee. A big wion scrwatched me. Ashwee killed da wion five times!”
I tried not to giggle, “Oh my, I think that was a dream baby!”
Charlie’s brow furrowed, “Den how comes I gots dis scrwatch?”
It wasn’t long and the day imploded… as suspected. It got bad fast. A horrible argument ensued with a semi-adult-baby, a checking debacle, a missed opportunity, a leaking trash bag, a blown-out diaper, and a stalled-out vehicle… I checked my watch, it was only 9:45 am.
I wanted to crawl back in the bed and pretend with Charlie.
Frankly, being chased by a lion seemed like more fun than the day unfolding before me.
My fairy godmother, AKA, my mommy helper Bobbi took over the three littles and I escaped to my office.
I stared at my screen.
I drank four cups of coffee.
Nothing. Well, heartburn and the jitters.
Again, it would be nice, some days to be an author of fiction. Fantasy, where my mind might escape the non-fiction reality of sticky floors, parking tickets, and the pursuit of some form of normalcy.
What that would look like I do not know. I wandered to the bathroom to blow my runny nose and blot my sodden eyes. It was then I noticed the toilet lid partially shut.
I opened the closure.
The toilet was packed full of toys; a stuffed purple bunny, a roller skate, 10 blocks, 44 Legos, a Jedi, a dump truck and a baby doll.
I shut the lid and climbed back into bed.
I willed my eyes closed and pictured a lion chasing me through the jungle. It was a relief.
Perhaps a creative mind is more burdensome, alas sometimes it is my greatest reprieve.
Make that, most times.
My brain, fingertips, and caffeine charged imagination couldn’t resist and I climbed out from my sheets to face what was left of my day.
The unbelievable is my inspiration, the death and resurrection of a hero. A hero who died for me, saving me from the bondage of my folly. Setting my feet on the pure path of righteousness… glass slippers. Despite all the ick, I delight in the yoke of He who saved me. A yoke that is easy, whose burden is light. A protective lion, gentle as a lamb. He lies with me in the high grass.
I stare at mystical clouds that make shapes, shapes I imagine are visions of peace, hope, joy, love, and I delight in this future with Him by my side. I tug at a piece of cool grass, with my head nestled closely to his course fur I feel the rise and fall of His mighty breath and I hear the rumble of His word, a purr.
He stretches and yawns, proving His majestic ability to rest in the work already accomplished. At His movement, as if on cue, butterflies erupt in the breeze and I am swamped… with peace.
I have no proof.
No resolve to the toilet calamity still soaking in the commode in the master suite.
Yet, I am okay.
It is well.
My mind is free from the burden of worry. He knows every hair on my head. This is the place where He calls me to rest. This is the promise He made, “come you who are weary.”
Indeed this is me.
You may inquire, “I think that’s a dream… a fantasy you created.”
And I have only one question for you, “Then how comes I got all this peace?”
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
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Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
Someone sitting on a couch of complacency, who now grabs a remote more than the Word of God, whose heart feels let down by God – needs to hear this. It is why I am dedicating this blog post to this very person.
Get back up again.
You have not been forgotten. You’ve not been left behind. Just because you’ve pulled away, does not mean that God is pulling away from you. He’s not. He’s pulling even closer. He’s chasing you down, pursuing you, on this very blog page. He’s letting you know that he sees. He sees your tightly clenched jaw. He sees the way you’re shying away from talking to him. He sees your insides that ache. He sees your loss. Your grief. Your shame. He sees your feelings that say – I cannot continue.
He knows when you lay down or when you get up. He’s got every single move, all your thoughts, all your ways and all your actions in his hands. He’s deeply familiar with you (Ps. 139:1-2).
You are not outside His vision. You have not journeyed to wild places where God doesn’t exist, lost friend. That’s impossible! It’s simply impossible to go where he isn’t. He’s everywhere.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. Ps. 139
It’s about here, you say: But, Kelly, it’s my shame that keeps me from him. I feel too embarrassed. I’ve gone too far away now, you say.
I say, no one is ever too far for God. We were far, but now are close. Jesus dropped from the paradise of heaven to hit the grime- and stink-laden earth. Why? He came close so we don’t have to live far forever. He took our shame and owned it, to annihilate forever shame. His body broke, so ours could be repaired, restored and renewed according to his glorious riches. He felt agony, so we could learn peace. Jesus cried out so one day we will cry no more, our every tear will be wiped away by Him.
My friend, when you’re in Him, you’re in righteousness – not temporary, but permanent; not moody, but consistent; not dependent on you, but independent of you. He is in you. Period.
Remind yourself of these 3 things:
1. It is done.
2. It is finished.
3. I am secure today and tomorrow, in this minute and the next, in this situation or the next.
When we remember Jesus won our security, we can, once again, get up in victory.
Then Jesus said to him,
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Jo. 5:8
Friend, pick yourself up and walk. You’re not as incapacitated as you’ve told yourself. You’re not as sick as you want to believe. You’re not as ruined as circumstances say. You’re not as done as the enemy says. Forget all that…
Walk, I say! Walk, He says!
Enough is enough, because God is enough. What He gives is enough.
And, time is awastin’, days are a progressin’ yet, better said, God’s love endures forever. It is behind you, with you and moving for you. Go with it. Head to the great places He’s prepared in advance for you. Don’t miss the chance! Step in! Grab Jesus. You’ll come alive in ways you’ve never experienced on your safety mat. Get up!
***Bloggers…When I wrote this, I felt sure there was someone who desperately needed this message. Perhaps it is one of your readers. I pray we reach that person so their heart can be restored in truth, love and security. May your heart feel blessed too. Much love to you all!
Sin. It’s a tricky thin, isn’t it? Those of us in Christ don’t want to participate in it, but somehow we easily fall prey to it. We all know there is no hierarchy when it comes to sin. Lust is just as wrong as adultery. Anger is just as wrong as murder. It all quenches the Holy Spirit and it all breaks the Father’s heart.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15
Recently, I had 3 consecutive weekends of attending 3 ridiculously dynamic women’s conferences. I was literally on the highest of highs. It was amazing! I am very much still processing all that God spoke to me and all that He did during those 3 weeks. He marked me beyond words.
After all of that spiritual activity, the enemy hit me hard. I don’t normally attribute much to him, but this was nothing but him. He was waging war for my soul in the worst way. He attacked my mind with no holds barred.
I don’t tend to deal with outward sins as much as I do with inward ones. You know the ones I’m talking about…envy, comparison, anger, bitterness, apathy, etc… The list really could go on and on. If you’re anything like me, those inward sins can bring more shame and guilt than the outward ones. It’s quite easy to hide these sins from the world. Honestly, the shame and guilt came very close to knocking me out for the count. I felt as though I was spiraling out of control. The past few weeks of battle came out of nowhere. I had been beautifully walking out my calling. God had been opening many doors of connection and I had experienced some of the sweetest times of prayer and worship.
One of the events I attended was Beth Moore’s conference called LIT. It was geared to women in their 20s and 30s. Christy Nockels led Heaven touching worship. And Beth, along with Jennie Allen, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine and Melissa Moore all shared about this call to communicate. Everyone spoke to the fact that it is a weighty call and there is a cost to it. In order to fulfill this call, we need to first be filled. This filling ONLY comes from time spent in the secret place of God and us. This time with God is not reserved for those who may minister from a public platform. It is for EVERY believer because we all minister and share Christ in some way. We all have a measure of influence.
I’ve been contemplating how such a door was opened in my life for the enemy to slip in could have occurred. I know I’m a flawed human, but I never want that to be an excuse for me to be comfortable living in sin.
Realize the enemy will attack who God has created you to be.
A week ago, I heard a sermon about how the enemy will specifically come for us in direct opposition to who we are. I hadn’t ever thought of that before. If we are a person of faith, He will bring doubt. If we are pure in heart, he will bring corrupt thoughts. If we have the gift of healing, he will bring illness. He sees our potential. He wants to destroy that potential by whatever means necessary. He wants to destroy the impact that God wants to accomplish through us.
The key to fighting this is to pray against him breaking any strongholds he is using to keep us bound. And then, we replace those thoughts with Scriptures that call out our identity and God’s desire for us.
Don’t let the enemy bring dissension.
I am all about community, but over the past few months, the enemy has been working overtime to create division among several friends and me. He has authored confusion and offense and all manner of hurt feelings. In those times, we are to pursue unity despite our emotions. Our emotions say isolate. The enemy wants us to isolate. But the Lord’s heart is for us to be in fellowship.
We must have brave, hard communication. We speak truth in love and always share our hearts in grace.
Camp out in the secret place.
Everything flows out of the secret place. Everything we do. Everything we say. All that we are flows from this place. Anything done in our own strength will falter and fail. The Holy Spirit must be our strength. He is the only source of power in our lives. Much of that power is harnessed when we allow Him to renew our minds in His promises. This power can only be accessed when we have spent time alone with Him in prayer, worship and studying His Word.
This time is non-negotiable. If we forgo it, we forgo everything. We forfeit the word He wants to speak to our hearts. We forfeit all of the good works He prepared for us. We forfeit the ministry that would touch the lives of others so that they may come to know Him. This time in the secret place is how we overcome and walk in victory.
I want to live in such a way where I am aware of the enemy’s schemes and where He doesn’t have such easy access to me. I don’t ever want him to think he can easily deter me from my calling and purpose.
Let us live in the overflow of the secret place…
Overwhelmed by His presence Over our heads in His Word Overcome by His wonder
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
I love Rachel Macy Stafford. I’m her fan – a fan of her heart, a fan of her work and a fan of her authentic pursuit of life. She knows all this. But, what she doesn’t know is, I often, desperately need her words. Some days are just too hard – and then I get hard on myself. Some days are just too overwhelming and I lose control. Some days are a punch in the gut; her words bring me back to life. They revive me. This is what her new book, “ONLY LOVE TODAY” is – it is fresh air, new hope and an opportunity to try again. I can’t rave about it – or her – enough. I am a fan.
Here is Rachel’s Story (Comment and share this post on social media to win her new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY):
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” – Brené Brown
It been almost two years since my friend lost her sister to cancer. She still talks about it—the pain and disbelief, the pressure to move on, the things that help and the things that don’t. She talks about the good days and the nearly indescribably bad days.
I listen to everything she offers. I tuck it away for safekeeping. With my friend’s help, I’ll know a better thing to say when someone hurts. With her help, I have some perspective on inconsequential problems when they’re getting more attention than they deserve.
Each time my friend shares her struggles, triumphs, and truths, I am struck with admiration and awe. She never wanted to be an expert on grief, but she is. She never wanted to know what words and actions bring a moment of solace to an aching soul, but she does. This is now my friend’s story, and as much as she’d like to deny it, she’s chosen to own it—quite bravely and brilliantly, I might add.
I thought of my friend and her unchosen expertise when I had a CT scan shortly after her sister’s passing. It was the first time I laid beneath a big scary machine and held my breath for dear life. When the machine began to inch forward slowly, I thought of my friend and her story. I wasn’t sure how my story was going to play out, but I decided I would own it. Tell my close friends. Say, “I’m scared,” when I felt scared. Ask for help when I was in pain. Above all, I knew it was important to pay attention. So I vowed to take it all in—the good and bad. Perhaps I’d discover something worth sharing in the process.
Four weeks after the CT scan that saved my left kidney and possibly my life, I was home from the hospital. I was swollen and sore. I was groggy on pain meds. I was having trouble thinking of words. I was kind of a mess, but I had something I felt must be said. I pulled my laptop computer gingerly onto my lap and typed some words to my friends and family on social media. I remember worrying for a brief moment if there were incomplete sentences, misspelled words, and extra periods. Words were blurry through my grateful, teary eyes, but I pushed ‘publish’ anyway. Here is an excerpt:
“I am home from the hospital recovering from kidney surgery and feeling incredibly thankful to be here. It’s been many months of infection and uncertainty, but I finally have peace. I am on my way to more years, more love, more life. My little public service announcement in the midst of this overwhelming gratitude is this: If you feel like something is not right in your body or mind, please don’t dismiss that feeling. Make an appointment today. If you are not satisfied with the answers you get or things do not improve, keep searching. Keep asking. Keep listening. Keep going until you get answers. You are the only one who can truly look after you. And your people need you to be here.”
An interesting thing happened. Two of my neighbors contacted me over the next few weeks to tell me those words prompted them to action. One of them made an appointment regarding a persistent pain she’d neglected to look into. Another friend said she’d been worried about her spouse’s health and my words were the perfect words to offer him.
Through my life’s mess, I provided a vital message.
Thank you, God.
In that moment, I felt better than I had in months. The uncertainty and pain I’d endured weren’t all for naught. For the first time, I saw my story not a curse, but as a blessing. It was a blessing to be the messenger.
Perhaps you sit here today in a mess you haven’t shared yet. Maybe you thought it had to be all figured out before you told someone. Maybe you thought it had to have a happy ending before it could all be revealed. Maybe you thought you had to have perfect punctuation and periods in all the right places for it to be seen. I hope I can help you see your life’s mess in a new way. This is what came out in a tiny notebook during my first walk outside after having two surgeries in one month. Perhaps there’s something here for you …
Owning Your Story
You never wanted to know how to survive divorce.
You never wanted to know the joys and heartaches of autism.
You never wanted to know the signs of addiction.
But you do.
You never wanted to know rock bottom.
You never wanted to know how to leave an abusive relationship.
You never wanted to know it was possible to bounce back after a financial crisis.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the pain of caring for a parent who doesn’t remember you.
You never wanted to be the strong one.
You never wanted to know the car could be a safe place to cry.
But you do.
You never wanted to know a family could break.
You never wanted to know how to put the pieces back together in a new way.
You never wanted to know a new normal.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the perfect response when someone stares at your child.
You never wanted to know the courage it takes to ask for help.
You never wanted to know how to find joy after having lost it for so long.
But you do.
You never wanted to know when it’s time to sever the ties in order to have inner peace.
You never wanted to know how hard it is to say yourself, “Change begins today. My loved ones deserve better.”
You never wanted to know the weight that can be lifted when you say to yourself, “It wasn’t my fault.”
But you do. You do.
And perhaps as time has passed you’ve discovered that to deny your story hurts more than the story itself, so you’ve chosen to own it.
To speak out, even when your voice shakes.
To tell the truth, even when it’s not pretty.
To encourage someone else, even when you can barely encourage yourself.
To get up and face the world, even when you can barely look at yourself in the mirror.
The tears that streak your face at the most inopportune times of the day, at the most inappropriate moments, are the lines of your story. And each time you own it, someone else is not alone in hers or his. Your jumbled mess, whether whispered as a prayer to one or shouted courageously to a room of hundreds, could be the message someone needs right now. Perhaps by sharing our story, pain will ease and hope will find its voice.
You there in your mess: Thank you for being. Your life is a message. And through your story, there is power to save.
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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
This morning, I walked downstairs and pulled open my cabinet. Bleary-eyed, I reached for a Keurig pod and lamented that the counters weren’t wiped last night. I pull open a drawer. The silverware is askew. Random items are hodge-podged all over the drawer.
Hours later, reach into the cabinet above my computer. Paper nearly falls on my head. This time, rather than trying to shut the door quickly, I stare at it. It looks like a hurricane hit a lawyer’s office. I hate it. I hate myself.
What if someone sees this mess? What if someone knew behind the white doors of my life,
there is mayhem and mismanagement?
What if someone knew I don’t fold my kids clothes, but just stuff them in drawers? Or that a room in my basement is dedicated to boxes – of piled up junk? Or my garage never fits my cars?
What if someone saw – I look disheveled?
Not enough. Imperfect. Not so good.
What I am inclined to do – is fear: I’ll never be better than me. I’ll never meet the standard I am supposed to. I’ll always have hidden mess. And, for all this, you’ll surely abandon me. Judge me, too.
I hide things.
What fear makes you want to hide? What makes you want to stuff things away?
This mere method marks a woman with shame. Anytime we hide rather than turn towards God and thrive, we abide in shame. It’s simple.
This is why I wrote the book Fear Fighting. I was tired of hiding and running; a girl is never seen when she does this. The core of who God made you to be – is out of sight. Not only this, but the constant shuffling of feet to keep your heart calm and in control, wears on a soul.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jo. 14:27
If Jesus already left me perpetual peace, I no longer have to live a habitual war…
I don’t have to live in constant fear. The idea thrills me!
Jesus will bind my wounds.
He will release me from the bars that contain me.
He will take what I feel powerless to change and love on it.
He will see my mess, hold it and rework it.
He will accept me no matter what.
He will lead me to new found peace.
I want more. Do you?
Fear Fighting was my desperation cry to God. I wanted to stop trembling with uncertainty so I could walk with certainty into God’s greatest callings. I wanted to leave behind trepidation so I could walk with bold dedication into his purposes. I wanted to exchange jealousy and comparison for the life-charging power of love and grace.
I called out; God answered. I prayed; he healed. I showed him what is behind the doors of my life; he embraced me. I continue this cycle often. This is a fear fight.