Holding off on the Holiday

Today is Thanksgiving. After much consideration I decided to not celebrate. I don’t know if this would be a popular decision for most or even for myself not too long ago. I have always been someone who celebrates, even the smallest of things. A new video game comes out or a movie we have been waiting for. Those days have been met with themed food, or cakes decorated like the object we celebrate. When I love others I love to celebrate the things they love.

This day, my family is away celebrating with others. The three older boys are with my ex’s family in a different state. I am thankful they get to spend time together. My current marriage is ending and my youngest children will be with his family this evening. I am thankful and know they will have fun. I could go to a number of friends’ houses but I am exhausted. I’m tired, I am grieving and spend so much of my time crying that I have had a headache for days.

My life seems to be in ruin and I am face to face with being alone. It doesn’t mean I’m not thankful. God is with me in my weeping, He promises to never leave me. He sees me and I have hope that, although, this life has been terribly broken there is an eternal life ahead of me. I am going to honor where I am not celebrate.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

-Isaiah 43:19

I have spent most of my adult days figuring out ways to celebrate. Often this was a effective way of coping with the bad, to push the negative feeling, loneliness, and brokenness away. Today is thanksgiving and instead of celebrating I will mourn and be thankful I am not alone, my God is with me and knows deeply the suffering He is walking me through. Maybe on the other side of the wasteland I will throw a huge Thanksgiving celebration, but not today.

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Doubt is a liar

I need to confess I suffer from doubt…..I am struggling with doubt…..I am fighting doubt…although I am not sure on the right adjective to appropriately describe how I deal with doubt I do know it has been active and real in my life.

Lately, I have these thoughts: My life has been too hard for too long. My life has been too painful. I can’t take much more but I haven’t experienced less so what is going to happen when the bad picks up again?

I have been trying to hide these feelings from others and from myself. Over the years I have developed a strong survival skill of framing things in a positive way. Which was paired with a long history of sharing negative feelings with loved ones leading to emotional abuse. So, I would consider optimism and encouragement to be a big part of my personality and how I relate to the world around me. Since I have been in a relationship with Jesus I considered that skill to be a sign of my faith as well. It has been easier for me to just ignore the doubt when it comes. Until this summer……

I feel like I have very little fight left in me.  All the strategies I used to fight, all the smart and proper techniques have been stripped away and I feel vulnerable. I picture myself on the same battle field I have been for years, but now I’m exposed to all of the elements, it feel like I am being attacked and have very little energy to fight, all I can do is scream for the enemy to leave me alone. I have been pondering what lead up to this current position. I don’t know when the exact moment was but I have a picture in my head. After a particularly difficult battle the enemy side tagged in Doubt to get on the field. Doubt is a tricky opponent, it not only calls into question the truth but offers possible ways out. If you decide to listen for long then the enemy uses it to open the backdoor to a lot of confusion. Before you know it your surrounded and the truth gets difficult to identify.

My life has been difficult, that is very true. It has been painful and I have experienced and continue to experience loss that I wouldn’t choose for myself or wish on anyone. It is a real thing. Doubt came in and took my pain and presented it to me with an argument that it shouldn’t be. In desperation and weariness the argument made a lot of sense to me and I stopped to listen. I heard that maybe I was doing something wrong, that maybe if I did something different, if I worked harder or I would have just____ then the pain and suffering would be less. From there, with it’s hooks in, doubt made me wonder if God truly loved me, if He loved me and favored me then why has it been so hard. At times it even made me question if I was just making up this whole faith thing up.

Today I was reminded of something. The reality of this world is death. We will suffer and we will experience pain. Doubt is a bridge to a battle we were never meant to fight. It convinces us that the “what if things where different here” is the battlefield. It is a deeply effective tactic of the enemy. We spend our time fighting illusions and it’s exhausting. After long enough, after the exhaustion starts to really take hold then it can even open the door to hopelessness. The truth is that Jesus offers us a new life, it’s a new kingdom, and an eternal life. Our hope is in our salvation, not in this dying world. Doubt offered a lie, it says that “if God was ____ then this earthy kingdom should be ______”. The truth is Jesus came and made a new way. I have been chosen, and I choose this new way. I confess the enemy did a good job convincing me that God wasn’t doing something, because if He just _____ then my pain should be gone. Instead of trusting that He is good I spent time reasoning with the enemy. I am not God, I don’t know what should be different. His ways are higher than I can even imagine. I want to believe He is trustworthy and I am tired of letting Doubt come in and tell me He is not. I no longer want to frame this currently kingdom through a positive light and I no longer want to see it constantly questioning why it is the way it is. I want to see the truth of the cross and the offer of new life. I want to see the current kingdom as a battlefield but more so, as a rescue mission. Where the weapons I am equipped with is love, worship, and truth. The other day I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that Truth is a man and His name is Jesus Christ.

I have a new picture in my head. I am on that battlefield. I can see the scars, the wounds and the weariness on my face but Doubt is no longer feeding me lies. Jesus is helping me stand up tall and starting to give me back the strength I have felt was lost. I am so grateful for His love and what He has done to rescue me but that He continues to rescue me when I feel lost.

‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.’ -Revelation 19:11

 

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Love as yourself

I feel like I’m on fire. I can’t think of another way to say it. I feel it deeply, the electricity and pull to know and experience as much of God as He will allow. I know that seasons often come and go but right now it’s one of passion and anticipation and Holy Spirit FIRE! I want to fan it and I want it to get more intense and to celebrate this season He has me in.

‘John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ Luke 3:16

It feels like my every cell longs for more of Him. The other day a dear friend of mine was over and we were pondering God and His goodness. I was thinking about how being in His Presence, meditating on His Love for us, and His Word has always produced such peace and security in my identity as His daughter. It just seems to happen, when you are with Him you see Truth, you feel it, it changes you.

‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ -Romans 12:2

We were discussing the great commission and how God uses us to proclaim the good news. I heard a nagging voice inside my gut. The voice said something along the lines of, “you must not be right because you long for God so much more then you long to see people redeemed or healed.”It continued, “when you do want those things it’s all about wanting to experience and see God’s heart for His people. You must be wrong in this, selfish.”

I immediately knew it was the enemy, it sounds just like him but I wondered if a lie or distortion was present somewhere that fostered this attack being spoken so loudly. I asked God, He reminded me of this verse.

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

All….the whole of one’s energy or interest, or whole quantity. If Jesus is commanding me to love God with all of my being (which I pray somehow He will show me how to do this) then why do I feel like love needs to be divided between the two? Why is that my automatic?Then the next part of the verse came to mind.

‘And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:39

I have always thought this was about loving others compared to the quantity of or instead of loving myself. The thought hit me, when I pursue and experience spending time with God and loving God the effect is that it firmly plants me in my identity. What if Jesus meant that as we give our all to God, He transforms us into our true selves, which in turn is where we are to love others from. Just being “yourself”…His image, filled with Holy Spirit, peaceful, joyful, secure is what He is calling us to do. The works part of love would flow naturally from that place. What if we were operating in freedom to be who God created us to be? What would our loving others look like, or feel like? We are all uniquely made in His image, could you imagine how beautiful it would be?

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Learning to Reside

Often I realize I am trapped in a cycle of being good enough. Smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, funny enough. I work hard enough and get straight A’s and excel in my classes. After meeting my goal I look around and feel empty and alone. I practice, or I primp. I work on how to get a laugh. Success is often followed by a momentary high. A sweet little pat on the back falls immeasurably short when what I am longing for is a sweet embrace.

I feel alone more than not and spend time with any measuring stick I can find, questioning if this is normal? Am I set apart in this? I search the crowd for familiar and hurting faces. But have not figured out a socially acceptable way to ask someone if they are engulfed by this darkness. At least with not shattering the picture of lovliness I hold before me, blocking me from rejection but in no way being effective.

I see God wooing me, I know He loves me. Sometimes it feels so faint, He feels so far away. Gestures that I have swooned over in the past feel like barely a shadow of what they once were. I have faith (as small as a mustard seed) that there is hope, there will be glory given, and He loves me.

As I prayed this morning, laying on the alter the pain I feel. I am questioning the lack of love and loneliness that seems to overtake at times. He said, so gently…..you can not arrive somewhere you already reside.

I reside in the love of Father, I reside in His perfect Love. I have been waiting to arrive but I need to know I already reside. I am sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit, by the blood of Jesus I am reconciled with the love of my life, the Creator of the Universe. I need faith now which can be such a challenge. Believing the unseen instead of the very real brokenness that lies before me. Someday I will not need faith I will be face to face. I long for this day and in the meantime….,I stand on the Truth, I stand on the Rock, I know this is part of my story but just part. I have eternal glory ahead of me and that is such good news.

Lord, give me more and more faith to know deeply thay I reside in your complete and perfect Love. Help me put a stop to the cycle and longing for arrival and help me concentrate on loving others well. I trust you.

Amen

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Heart Sickness

It feels as though I have been in a wrestling match for weeks against an invisible opposition. No matter which way I turn the other is faster and seems to know my next move before I do. I often take breaks, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. During these breaks I go to my corner of the mat and pray and beg God to tell me how to win, or I reason with Him and argue that I should not have to be in this match at all. I have tried to pretend I am not in the match at all. Like when your mom tells you to ignore the bully’s and they will go away. I go back feeling a strong ability to ignore but it doesn’t work. Sometimes I fall to my knees and ask for understanding, other times I am angry and yell a bit at my Savior, accusing Him of not helping me. Yesterday, after an extra long time in the ring, I left feeling particularly bloodied and bruised. I turned desperately to other things to feel better. I ate a lot, I cried in bed, and numbed myself.

I keep thinking of hope. It seems the thing that hurts the most in this battle is that I hope to see the victory. During my timeouts I fill myself with faith that victory is coming that this will be the time. I want to defeat my opposer and finally be done with this match.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire is fulfilled it is the tree of life.” -Proverbs 13:12

My heart feels sick and during these breaks I start to feel better. I think, it wont be so bad this time. I can do another round and it won’t feel so bad if victory is not in the cards. But that is not how it is working, every time its harder, every time I feel sicker afterwards. So what do I do? What is going wrong? Is this just life or is there someway I am out of alignment and can “think” in a way where it won’t be so difficult?

My battle is a good one, the outcome I am wanting is a very good one. Possibly even necessary. It isn’t abnormal or even that weird, most people I know have this victory and probably don’t think twice about it. It is a loving thing for my family, so I can not say that it is wrong for me to want this. (Plus I have tried that technique too and it doesn’t work). So, I question if I have misplaced longing. My hope is in Jesus.

“We put our hope in the Lord, He is our help and shield. In him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. -Psalm 30:20-22

I have been reminding myself of this verse. I have also been asking this: if I want something good and normal for my life, how do I not invest hope in it? Is that even possible? The definition of hope is: a feeling of expectation or desire for something to happen, which seems a pretty impossible task to never have. But hope is also defined as this: a feeling of trust. This seems to be where things could go wrong.

Am I putting trust in something other than God? Desire for good things is great but am I trusting in this thing? The thing about this world is it will not last, nothing will survive, our bodies will die, the cities will crumble, everything is on its way out.

 “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!  So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We live in a world that is in the process of perishing and hope can only truly lie in God, who offers eternal life. With this perspective I can let go of shame that my desires are bad but also realign myself with the truth that hope can only be in Gods promise of an eternal, spiritual life with Him. I need to repent, pray God reveals all the hope I have in earthly things and help heal the heart sickness that has been invading. I already feel better, there is always relief in the goodness He has to offer. I am so grateful for His correction and even for the terrible and passionate “feelings” that leave me desperate for Him.

I do not know what my role will be in this particular wrestling match. Do I keep fighting but with a new sense of what victory is? Do I sit on the sidelines with the one I love and see how it plays out? Or do I walk away and decide there are other things that would be wiser to do with my time? I do not know but I start the day with full confidence my Creator does and He delights in revealing such things to me.

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When Loneliness Threatens..

Loneliness reminds me of an old movie I watched as a kid again and again called The Never ending Story. There is a force called the Nothingness that threatens their world. It was so scary as a child to think about this blackness engulfing the characters. This morning, as I was waking up I felt like the nothingness was creeping up on me, and as the horse in the movie, sinking into a muddy pit named the Swamp of Sadness, I felt like I had a choice. Let sadness engulf or turn to the only one who can save, Jesus. The temptation to focus on the sadness, and the very real circumstances I face was high. Not to feel sorry for myself, but to try desperately to figure out if I can do anything to fix it. If I was just a better friend, daughter, or wife maybe, somehow I could fix all my relationships and the loneliness would flee. When I attempt this past pattern called Codependency it doesn’t take long to realize that it offers only lies. Then opens the door and invites in more panic, leading to hopelessness.

The cycle is not easy to break, impossible on my own but as I turn to the Word, He speaks such love over me.

‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” -Jeremiah 18;6

His hands are so loving, and so gentle. He reminds me He has and will never let me go. Then He goes on…..

‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, The Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.’ -Isaiah 26:3+4

The nothingness still threatens my world but being in love with the One who saved me transports me out of the danger. Into a world I don’t fully understand, a world where I stand on the eternal Rock and am completely secure, wholly loved, and will live eternally with my Beautiful Creator.

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Press in

Funny how emotions can sneak up on me, or rather, how good I am at ignoring their firm tug at my heart. I am waiting in my car at school, a half an hour early (because I have a compulsive arriving way to early problem) pondering my life. I am so overwhelmed with missing things. I miss my mom and dad. I miss my husband. I miss Alaska. I miss my kids being little and adorable. I miss my forever friends. I miss being a stay at home mom. 

I am tempted to turn this into bitterness towards the new things in my life such as school or new people in my life. My brain likes to fill the holes in my heart. Cement is a fast drying and a quick fix but I dont think the holes are meant to be filled. When I refuse the hardening of my heart that would offer to help avoid these feeling I am left with grief and sorrow. Its in these empty places God can heal and minister to me. In a perfect world I would be able to hug my mom or laugh with my dad. I would be able to go on a hike or a boat ride down the Clearwater. I would be able to have coffee with my oldest and dearest friend while we watch our babies play. 

Its sad and very painful but f I avoid those feelings and allow my heart to harden I miss out on the beauty Jesus has in the sorrow. I miss out on drawing nearer to Him and trusting He has a plan. As well as remembering the suffering and great sorrow He took on Himself to save me. So today I choose to not avoid but to press in. 

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippines 3:14

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