Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I Am and What I Am Not

Last Wednesday I started on a journey. It has been a rather slow process because of the demands of family and work, but it started with a spark that led to a question that led to an answer that I didn't (don't) like very much.

If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I am involved in a Bible study through Women's Ministry at PCC. We studied Daniel - my first Beth Moore study - and I learned a lot not only about the history and prophecy in the book, but about the Babylon that we face every day at this time, in this world. Scripture came alive in a very real way.

As a follow-up we stared a Beth Moore Lecture series on Revelation. Again, it is very good, and I am captivated as I listen to Beth open up the Word and make it come alive. She truly has a gift when it comes to study and application. But, I honestly can't tell you what she discussed last week because my imagination was captured by something she said at the very end of the lesson. In fact, I can't even really tell you what she said, but I know what I heard.

I realized that I have a trust problem when it comes to God. It's not that I don't believe His promise of salvation. I believe I am saved and that I will be in Heaven with Him some day based on what He did for me on the cross. I realized, though, that because of the hurt and pain that I have lived through in my past, that I have put up the same walls in my relationship with Him that I have put up to protect myself from other people. I know I shared a little about this in my last post, but as I have processed it more this week, I realized that in reality I have "hardened my heart".

Now, I have to tell you as a believer, that is a terrifying revelation. Things didn't go so well for those in the Bible that hardened their heart against God. It's not a gift of the Spirit, and it certainly isn't something that Christians aspire to. It is sin. It is me thinking that I know more about what is best for me than God.

As I have dealt with these realizations this week, I had to make some choices. I could put on the ever popular church mask - the one that you use when going to church on a Sunday morning when everything has gone wrong so that when someone asks how you are doing you can smile big and say that everything is fine - or I could be honest with myself and others. For once in my life, I chose the latter. Everything is not fine. I have a real issue to face, and I honestly don't know how to go about breaking down these walls that I am living in. I have to give myself the grace to struggle. I work at a church...big deal. The disciples walked, and talked, and lived with Jesus and they struggled. I am a Christian...yes I am. Struggle doesn't make me less of a Christian. My Christianity was bought and paid for through Jesus' blood on the cross. Does it hurt to know that it was because of me and my arrogance that Jesus had to die? Of course it does.

But...Jesus cared enough about me that He willingly walked that road to Calvary. He suffered the insults and the mockery and beatings and the humiliation and the pain and the death so that I wouldn't have to. He knew that I would struggle. He knew that this little girl whose parents would divorce, who wouldn't be one of the popular crowd in high school, who would be hurt through close friendships and relationships in college, who would struggle with her weight and self esteem would struggle to trust Him as her Father and as her friend. And yet, He paid the ultimate price because regardless of whether she realizes it or not, He loves her. An amazing love that she can describe and wants desperately to feel.

So, who am I? I am all of the above. I am lonely and hurting and seeking and longing and, most importantly, growing. I heard recently, I am not sure if it was from Beth Moore or Angela Thomas, that you cannot be victorious unless you have had something you have had to overcome. I am sure they said it more eloquently, but you get the picture. :)

What am I not? I am not a lost cause. I feel that way sometimes, and Satan has a field day, but I have the promise that somewhere down the line, I win. I win because Jesus already won. He is waiting for me to join Him at the victory feast, but first, He will walk with me through every single step of this struggle. I believe He will be the one to break down my walls because I don't know that I have the strength to do it myself. He is just waiting for me to open the door.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fight or Flight: On Standby

Have you ever had one of those weeks? The ones that seem to go by so s-l-o-w-l-y and yet seem to be emotionally draining at the same time? That is how this week has been for me. There really hasn't been anything out of the ordinary. Eric has been out of the office, but I have had plenty of things to keep me busy. Things at home are normal - which on the best days for us can still be a little stressful with Jaron and the boys, but again, nothing out of the ordinary stressful. I have just had this deep sense that something isn't right.

I took a couple of hours off this week to spend some alone time with God. I will be the first to admit that my quiet times aren't really what they probably should be. I try to read books that will be spiritually filling, and I often have Bible verses floating through my head. For the most part, I listen to Christian music, and can often be found singing to God as I drive to and from various activities. I am involved in a Bible study and small group. But I have never been able to keep a consistent, sit in a chair, read and meditate on God's Word kind of quiet time. My mind races a million directions. I have even tried journaling prayers, and I have to admit that was probably my favorite. It is just hard to find enough "quiet."

This week though, I new that I was coming to the table with nothing. As I in my car at the park - in the rain - I just started to pray. I shared with God a lot of things that had been on my heart - some serious, some bringing tears, some seemingly ridiculous, but apparently important to me somewhere because I felt a lot better having shared them. I felt energized. Nothing had really changed, but I wasn't carrying that weight any longer.

Tonight as I listened to Beth Moore teach on the book of Revelation, I think God may have taken the opportunity to share with me something that was on His heart related to our relationship. My heart hurt as I realized that I may not actually trust God. Don't get me wrong. I truly believe that Christ died for my sin, and I am saved. But, I think because of some of the hurtful things that I have gone through in my past, I have stopped trusting God for His protection. I think that is why my battle with insecurity is so deeply rooted.

My first instinct is to call myself out and remind my self of how arrogant it would be to blame God for anything - which is true. But I think I have to own this one. I am so thankful for all that God has taught me through those difficult circumstances, and I know that I would not be the person I am today were it not for His hand in them. I know that in some instances, I opened myself up to the hurt through naivety and stupidity, but I think I am hurt that God allowed the pain to go so deep. I am afraid to trust that He will truly protect me, and if He won't, who will.

Needless to say, I have a lot to think about and process. I heard the question asked at some point, "Would you be happy in Heaven if Jesus wasn't there?" I've got to think about that one. I know what I want my answer to be, but is it? How can I break down this wall? Can God help me to tear down a wall that I have put up to protect me from Him?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Writer Within

To the best of my knowledge I have always loved to read. Many of my most vivid memories from elementary and high school involve the library, and most of the time growing up - when I wasn't rearranging my room - I was reading - or watching Dallas, The Love Boat or Fantasy Island - but we'll leave that for another post. :)

The point is, I have always been a fan of the written word and writing. I took every English class offered at my high school and ultimately graduated from college with a degree in English. I typically don't read - I devour books. When I was bored growing up, I not only taught my left-handed self not to twist my wrist around and write from the top, but I would practice writing my letters over and over until I found a handwriting style that I liked. In fact, one of my current hobbies is annoying my children by forcing them to write in cursive whenever I can because apparently cursive hand writing is becoming a lost art. I think I am going to lose that battle.

In May of 2009, I started this blog. It was actually my second attempt. (I honestly don't remember the first one, but I did in May of 2009 because I referenced it in my first post. Anyway...) I really started it for me. I wanted a place where I could process and where I could just be me. No pretense. A place where I could share my thoughts without fear of rejection. I didn't know if anyone would actually read it, but I felt very trendy doing the blog thing.

This blog has also been sporadic at times, but it has become my friend. We have been through lots of struggles together. We have been to Serbia together. We have wept with friends together. It has been an outlet for thoughts and emotions, as well as, a place where God has intervened and set my mind back on track on more than one occasion. It has been the outlet for my secret passion - writing.

Yesterday my blogging world took a little turn. Eric asked if I would be willing to be a contributor to Journey Together, a blog that has been created to showcase various ministries and activities within our church. My first post, a weekend wrap-up entitled The Power of Our Words, went live yesterday complete with picture and by-line. My first contribution. Now granted, it is for my church, and it was not a paid contribution, but it WILL be read by more than my immediate friends and family. It was kind of a big deal for me.

I am excited about this new opportunity. It is yet another outlet where I can use my gifts and talents to serve the One who gave me those gifts and talents. Writing, like reading, is something that comes naturally to me, and I love that I get to use that gift in my ministry.