Honest Confessions

They say it’s a slow fade, and I guess you don’t realize that until suddenly gray has turned to black, and you no longer remember where you began.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve let cynicism and anger direct my steps, and slowly they’ve driven me further and further from the body of Christ, His mission, and most importantly, His presence.

Like many, I’ve been hurt by the Church and felt the burn of hypocrisy and isolation through the very ones that are supposed to be family. I used to be heavily involved, serving in positions of leadership, attending extra services, and regularly volunteering. However, after my experiences in leadership, I withdrew. I became so skeptical and hard-hearted towards the organization that I wanted to separate myself from it. Not only did I want to be disassociated with this kind of organization, but I slowly disconnected myself from practices and values we once shared. I became reserved in worship, saying that charismatic worship just wasn’t my style anymore. I attended fewer worship and prayer services, trying to avoid the idea of “super-spirituality”. I’ve denied the Holy Spirit the opportunity to move in my own world because I became so doubtful He was in the places people claimed he was, that I unconsciously stopped expecting Him in my own life. As I slowly made these shifts, the things I avoided, became less and less real to me. I never stopped believing that they were things to be valued, but my skepticism to practice them made them of no value or reality in my own life.

This was slowly creating a void in my relationship with God. He became more distant, less real, less relatable. I realize now this is because I was stifling the very things he provided to create a relationship with him, worship and communion with his body. I’ve struggled to find meaning in Scripture and felt little compassion for His people. I’ve become angry at God, feeling entitled to more than he has been giving me, not understanding the pain He has allowed and the prayers he has not answered. I realize now, these misconnections are a result of me disconnecting myself from the very things that build a relationship with Him.

Thank God for His unyielding grace that never stops pursuing. He is faithful to patiently wait out our wandering, but committed enough to pursue us in the middle of it. He understands our tendency to follow our flesh, to stray from his divinity, and is big enough to overcome all of that if we just provide Him the room to speak.

 

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Without Words

img_0369I long for the words to write. I write in order to understand. I write to attempt to make sense of the uncertainties. I write to share the hope I know, and the truth I find. Once I’ve put it into words, I gain clarity and certainty.

I hate the chaos of unwritten words. Those words left to bounce around in the head, just trying to decipher where to go, what order they belong, and mostly, what they mean. A million started sentences in mind, but they can’t seem to be finished.

I’m reminded of my God. A God who is bigger than my lack of words, my lack of certainty, my lack of concrete understanding. He knows all, He sees all. He knows the order and the meaning of all the unwritten words. Yet, for now, they seem to remain inside my own mind.The Lord teaches me the power of the unwritten word, the words I’m still figuring out. The Lord teaches me in the silence that there is a time to speak, a time to listen, and a time to be quiet. There is value in tuning out even your own voice to clarify His above all. He reminds me the importance of relying on His Spirit, and pouring the entirety of my unfinished sentences into His hand, and letting Him finish them for me.

Don’t Quit Just Yet

“Could we wait long enough to bide my time? Could we stay and say enough to change my mind?”~ ‘We Could Run Away’ NeedToBreathe

I recently almost gave up on something that I really wanted. My mind, being a powerful and deceitful thing, convinced me I didn’t really want it that bad, to begin with, and that it wouldn’t really be quitting, it would just be me changing my mind if I decided to walk away. It got me thinking about all the other times in my life that I almost quit, or the times I did. I remembered all the things I gained from persevering and questioned all the things I could have gained if I hadn’t quit all the other times.

I used to view pain as a reflection of my strength, or lack thereof. But in reality, pain is often just a lie trying to tell us to quit prematurely. It’s a temptation, not a weakness. It only becomes a weakness when we give way to it.

Why do we have the pressing desire to simply play things safe? We walk away when it gets uncomfortable, hide when we’re scared, quit when it’s hard, and forget why we started in the first place. It’s certainly safer this way, no sacrifice made, no comfort zone broken, no fear faced. But if we never break out of our molds, we’re never going to experience the things that shape us, develop us, and have the potential to change our lives. Instead, we remain confined to the prisons of our self-made comfort zones, allowing fear, laziness, and doubt to keep us from possibilities bigger than we could imagine.

Something almost always has to be sacrificed in order to gain something new. We may never even realize how badly we need that thing we gain until we put in the work and the sacrifice to stay longer than our minds tell us we are capable of staying. We could choose to give way to temptation and run when our minds tell us to, or we would evaluate the real motive behind this impulse and decide to stick it out.

You can always run away, anyone could run away, but it takes bravery to stay. It takes bravery to remember why your here to begin with, and decide to stay when the water gets deep, and you get tired. You could embrace the pain and call it quits, or you could stay, find your second wind, and embrace the challenge to find the reward. Choose to be brave, don’t listen to the fear.

Becoming His Child Again

I have spent an unreal amount of time surrounded by children this summer, and through this, God has reminded me of the simplicity of life when I choose to live it as His child.

It seems that as far back as our memories can recall we were wanting to grow up, to gain respect, permission, authority, and even responsibility.

And soon enough, we find ourselves carrying weights far too heavy for us, weights we were so eager to accept. We find ourselves with more questions than answers, more task than time, more doubt than faith, and more words than thoughts. We find ourselves in a cycle of striving, reaching, and falling short. We discover that no matter how hard we try, someone is always going to want more from us, disagree with our perspective, or disapprove of our choices. We wanted to be strong, but all we feel is weak.

But Jesus beckons us. He sings a melody far different from the worlds. He sings a bit softer, yet, so much clearer. He entices us to be still again, to listen more, to speak less, to wonder with amazement, and to stop our questioning and doubting. He reminds us it’s ok to be tired of running, and need to walk.

And as we respond to His beckoning, we find ourselves secure in His arms just like a child. We find strength, strength that allows us to be weak. We find rest, rest that gives us permission to make more time. We find peace, peace that reminds us we don’t have to have the answers. We find perspective, perspective that overpowers the realities of the world. And we find joy, joy that cuts through even the darkest night.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matthew 18:12

 

Hide and Seek- He Finds Me, Always

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“I can’t outrun this heart I’m tethered to. With every step I collide with you. You don’t hold back, relentless in pursuit, at every turn, I come face to face with You.”

I’m constantly running, constantly hiding. I busy myself, my mind, and my environment in an attempt to avoid the silence and the isolation. Because in silence and isolation, there is room for questions, and room to ponder the honest answers, and I fear the honest answers will reveal my inner human. The one who is weaker than I want, more flawed than I imagine, and more influenced by circumstances than I care to admit. In my mind, pain is weakness, and sadness is only a product of succumbing to pain. With this mindset, I allow pain to reside for only a moment, and then begin to pretend it no longer exist.

I know, this mentality has some value to it, we do have to move on, and not wallow in pain. However, if we’re not honest with ourselves, and even more importantly, others, we can never heal. If you want a wound on your body to heal, you can’t just pretend it isn’t there. You have to treat it, which hurts. And you have to protect it. Of course, you can’t coddle it, and just stop living either. Our souls are the same way.

I’m learning how to live outside this irrational belief, but it’s hard. It makes relationship building difficult. I don’t know how to let people into my “real” world, because, honestly, I don’t always know how to get there either. Maybe I run so much, I don’t always know where to stop and call home. I have a hard time in friendships letting people know what I need from them, and sometimes what I need is more than they know how to give. I need people to come after me, to pull me out of the places I hide, to stop me from my constant running. To call out this fleeing spirit in me, and encourage me to stillness and grace. I need them to take the first step that I often can’t take myself, and show me the pattern of grace, of friendship, and of loving.

Not everyone gets this, and not everyone can do it, and that’s ok. But I’m learning my Lord is the master of this hide and seek game I constantly find myself in. He always finds me. I am His daughter, and He knows me. He knows how my mind works. He knows the places I hide, the times I run, and He knows all the things I avoid. He brings them to me, wrapped in grace, peace, and perspective. In His arms, I know I have found a safe place. I am reminded I don’t have to run, I don’t have to hide just to avoid the things that give me fear and grief. Pain is not weakness, and sadness is more than a result of succumbing to pain. Yet, I still run and I still hide.

Yet, His grace doesn’t stop. He is always there. Every turn. He is waiting for me where I hide, and He is running beside me when I run. ALWAYS enticing me to be still. To be honest. To be real. He calls me out of hiding, and teaches my feet to hold their ground. He loves me, and shows me how to be loved, by Him, others, and myself. He shows me the pattern of His dance, and holds my hand as I find my balance. He never leaves me to dance alone. Even when I try to run, thinking it’s safer, He won’t let go of my hand, and He always sends the right people to join in the dance with me, just when I need them. He shows them the steps too, and teaches us His rhythm.

I’m fragile, and I’m delicate. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t always understand. But I don’t have to run, I don’t have to hide. And when I do, He is always going to find me. I can’t hide from Him. I can only hide in Him. 

 

 

The Distance

 

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“And when I feel a million miles away, still you connect me in all your ways, and create in me something I would never have seen.”

We’re taught that He is closer than our skin, ever present, never ignoring our pleas and questions. We learn to feel His nearness, know His presence, and hear His voice. And these feelings, these earthly sensations, ideas, and concepts shape our reality of who He is.

But sometimes these things we learned and once felt so confidently, feel far away and unattainable. We wait in silence, feeling the distance imposed void in our souls. We read with no understanding, we speak with no connection, we listen but hear no response. We feel empty, though we haven’t poured into. We feel empty, but can’t be refilled. No words can be found, and our tears run dry. Only a silent distance between us and our Maker, the Lover of our souls.

We ask ourselves what we are doing wrong, we ask ourselves what we need to change, add, fix, or sacrifice. We work. We strive. We get tired. We cry. We lose heart. We feel the burden of the world without His presence near enough to lay the burden down.

When did we forget that our God is a God of reality greater than feelings, greater than fears, greater than earthly ideas and concepts? He has not left us, He has not abandoned us. Though He may be silent now, He will speak again. We will not miss a thing as long as our ears remain attentive through the silence. Though He may feel far, He isn’t. He is not a God to run when we fall short or find ourselves in crises. But instead, He chooses to draw nearer in these times. We often just don’t know how to perceive Him in bigger and more abstract ways. But He is here.

He is a God of freedom and a God of grace. Not avoidance and abandonment. He wants us to run freely, knowing His presence is near and bigger than our own understanding. Run in freedom, your Father is near, and He loves you.

 

…..

“Well I’m embarrassed to admit, the distance I’ve been feeling, has all been self-imposed.”

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Please don’t forget. Please don’t forget God is good. That He has a plan for you, and for the confusion you feel, the pain you face, the weakness you struggle with. Don’t forget He is big enough to hold your future, and hold it securely. Please don’t forget all He has done this far in your life to prove that to you. Don’t forget the fulfilled promises, the restored hope, the unexplainable peace, and the blessed assurance of eternity on His shores.

I know, today might be hard. Today you failed. Today you were betrayed, rejected, and abandoned. Today fear wrapped its crippling arms around you, and you struggled to find release.  Today the voices of inadequacy were loud and constant. Today you struggled to forget a painful, yet an ever-present memory. And today, you couldn’t quite grip that sweet, yet ever so quickly fading memory of His presence.

And today you feel the need to hide. To lie. To run.To wear that mask that says everything is ok, and that you are fine.

But please don’t. Let down your walls. Open your heart, and speak the truth. Speak honest, vulnerable, strength-giving truth. Let others into your world to help you carry that load that you’ve never shared before. Let others come in and speak life to you. Let them hold you. Let them see you. The real you, behind the mask, behind the fear, behind the insecurity. Let them in.

“Oho, come rushing like a hurricane
Come lead me through the flood and flame
Don’t let me walk away
Oho, I need you like the iron needs fire
Come lead me through the final fight
Till we see brighter days, oho”

‘Brighter Days’ Eddie Kirkland