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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 it’s 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 ever present memory. And today, you could’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

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Having Hope In the Midst Of Tragedy

The Advent season just began this past Sunday, and with the lighting of the first candle of the Advent wreath we are reminded of our eternal hope in God’s unshakable promises. We are reminded that He has come, that He will come, and that even now He is here with us through His Holy Spirit, and through this, is great hope.

But what when the reality of this hope isn’t tangible? What when everything around us points to a dim future? It’s no secret that our world has witnessed disaster after disaster with no indication that the pattern will end. Everyday we hear a new tragedy, many of us experiencing these tragedies first hand. Our world is facing death, natural disasters, murder, cancer, terrorism, and so much more at a increasing rate. How do these things coexist with hope?

It’s hard. But that is exactly what hope is. Hope is the expectation of that which has not arrived. We have yet to receive the peace of the Heavenly realms, where disease and violence finally cease to exist. For now, we remain here, where sin is alive and active, bearing with it growing consequences. Yet, while we wait on the returning of Christ which will bring about this peace, we have the Spirit with us here and now. The Spirit is our gift to live in this season of waiting and anticipation with hope. We may still experience pain and confusion while in expectation, but we have the peace and strength of the Spirit to teach us that pain and hope can coexist, that they have to.

It’s not about having the answers, the solutions, or the reasons why. That is beyond us. Our hope is in God, and God’s promises remain even when everything else fades. Jesus Christ has come, and He will come again. And in the waiting, His people will remain confident in hope, for even now His Spirit is with us.

“I will remain confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” Psalms 27:13-14

Begin Again

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“To begin again, we have to let go of every doubt we hold about why God has brought us to the place we are right now, and trust He has impossible to imagine good things ahead.” ~Bonnie Jensen

Sometimes that place doesn’t make since. Sometimes that place has so much hurt, loneliness, and confusion, that we hold tight to doubts about why God has brought us to that place. We question how His heart would allow it, and His good plan would need it.

I know, it is a hard thing to both accept the trouble given to us, while remaining joyful in the hope of coming change.

Right before I took the attached photo, I had read the above quote. Looking back tonight, so many memories come flooding in. My college experience, up to that point, had been incredibly painful. And here in this photo, I was embarking on a new chapter. A new chapter that offered hope, yet, that hope was so easily threatened by the raging fear of how things had always been, and how things currently were as I sat in that room.

Here’s the thing though. There is healing to be had. Hope to rise. Beauty to grow. And joy to feel. But to reach this, we have to come to peace with the pain we are currently facing. Stop blaming God. Stop questioning God. Stop expecting the pain to continue. Choose to trust God to bring about resurrection, no matter how long it takes. Commit to trusting Him in that process.

God’s plan for you isn’t pain. His plan for you is one of abundant life. Unfortunately, sometimes pain finds us on the journey. Trust God to use it. Trust Him to not let go of you. Don’t let the process get you weary.

God did bring healing to my life. Hope did rise. Beauty surely grew. And you can bet their is joy. But it was a process. But once I began trusting God despite my fears and doubts, once I stopped blaming Him and questioning Him, I was able to see the changes He was bringing about to my situation.

Trust Him to do the same to yours. You don’t have to deny the pain, or ignore the tears. But you do need to choose to bring them to Jesus, and open your hands and heart to His plan and timing. Trust He loves you. Trust He is with you. Whatever your facing, He is there with you in the pain. He is not the pain, but rest assured, He is there in the pain with you till the very end.

So go ahead, begin again. Why don’t you?

The Future Is bright. Your’s Is No Exception

IMG_20150607_212857I love graduation ceremonies. Just thinking about them gets me all emotional. Maybe it’s because I am emotional… But, maybe it’s also because graduations draw our attention to the future, and the future is so bright.

Even though sometimes, the present can be dark.

High school was hard for me, not necessarily academically, but emotionally. As a result of many of the challenges I faced in high school, I spent a lot of time doubting myself, people, and God. Because of this, I honestly didn’t think that I wanted to stick it out until graduation. I wanted to wipe my slate clean of all that caused me pain. I didn’t think I could accept the pain and still manage see the remaining potential around me.

But I did.

And this proved to me that my circumstance did not define, limit, or even threaten the potential of my future or my present. I learned I did not have to cower down when the going gets tough, but instead, I can look to the ashes and watch them rise again with hope. Because they do. Because they did. Our situations don’t always change, but when our perspectives do, what we perceive as reality does too.

The future is bright. Even when the present is dark, bitter, and lonely, we have a God who promises hope, joy, and peace. (1 Corinthians 2:9, Joshua 1:9, 1 John 3:2).  Not necessarily in our circumstances, but in a God bigger than our circumstances. He has plans for me. Plans for you. Plans that only we can appropriately accomplish according to His will (Ephesians 2:10).

So don’t buckle down in fear like I did. Rise up from what looks to be ashes with confidence and assurance, and watch as God restores your hope once again. You don’t have to understand your situation, just believe in a God who works all things for the good of His children (Romans 8:28). Don’t let a present trouble, no matter how big, overshadow the reality of your bright future. 

Your future is bright.

The Unraveling

“I just let go, and I feel exposed. But it’s so beautiful, because this is who I am.”

Plumb ‘Lord, I’m Ready Now’

When we begin to find our identity through our accomplishments, acceptance, and success, we automatically set ourselves up for a huge identity crises. Because in spite of our accomplishments, we will still have failures. Regardless of how many people may accept us, some will reject us. And even in the middle of huge successes, sometimes we will have shortcomings. When these things happen, we begin to realize the things we fought so hard to find a secure since of identity in, are no longer stable. And when these things begin to crumble, we begin to crumble right alongside them, loosing our identify, and loosing ourselves.

This place of loosing who you are is a disorienting place to be. When who you thought you were is stripped away from you, it leaves you broke, confused, distraught, and unsettled. We build our lives and our identities, and when we build them on the wrong things, security is no longer guaranteed.

I only speak these words from my personal experience. God has currently revealed to me the rocky foundation in which I have built my security upon. That foundation relies heavily on what others think of me based on my accomplishments, acceptance, and my successes, or even worst, what I fear they think of me. And when I fear they don’t like or approve of me, I find it hard to like or approve of myself.

Because of this rocky foundation, I’ve felt this tearing down of self. I’ve felt what its like to have everything seem to slip through your hands. I’ve felt what its like to fight so hard to reach for something just out of your reach.

God has begun to rip away these sources where I have been seeking false security in. It’s as though God is unraveling me, thread by thread, false security, by false security. These threads are the foundation in which my identity has been found for so long, and now, they are being taken from me.

Then, in the unraveling, God begins reconstruction.

As God is tearing away all these things, He is giving me the means to built a new since of security on a solid foundation, Him.

I recently had a week where an accumulation of the past couple of years, and all the spiritual and emotional challenges they held, met together in a time of complete isolation with the Lord that has begun to release this new restoration into my life.

It was in these moments of isolation and complete brokenness that God revealed to me why He was stripping so much from my life. He revealed to me how much I drew on these things for the identity and security only He can give me.

During this time of brokenness with the Lord I sang a song at a school service that says, “You split the sea so I could walk right through it, and all my fears were drown in perfect love.” As I sang this line, I can remember surrendering to God. It was not a matter of surrendering something to Him, I had nothing at that point, it was accepting His will for me, whatever that was, regardless of the deep fear inside my soul. I realized in that moment, the enormity of the sacrifice God gave so I could be secure in my identity, and it was in no way dependent on anyone or anything but Him. In that moment, I decided I would be ok without all the things my heart longed for, the things that I felt insecure and lacking without. I would choose to be ok with only Him, because I knew I would be.

The most amazing thing happened as I did this. The Lord rapidly began giving to me the things He had previously stripped away from me. But things were different now.

I now knew these things did not define me. God had already begun to show me how only He can define me. I could now enjoy these things for what they were, beauty and grace and blessings from the hand of God, not sources for identity and security. This means I am no longer dependent on them. I rejoice that they are in my life, but I no longer have to fight to keep them, or fear their absence.

It is the most liberating experience in the world to not be dependent on anyone or anything to define who you are…. We are children of God. Nothing in this world can change that… and that’s all the security we need.

Truth That Illuminates Your Shadows

IMG_20150524_155724“Well it takes a strong man to stand and learn from the past, and never look back.” Lanae Hale ‘Beautiful Things’

God has really been teaching me a lot about the past and how vital it can be to the present. It’s a messy lesson for me though.

A few years back I went through a difficult time spiritually. I faced some mental/spiritual strongholds that had got the best of me for awhile. However, in the end, they gave me a deeper and more concrete grasp of who God truly is. Before this point in my life, I didn’t fully understand my need for God. Therefore, I didn’t fully understand His greatness.

This time in my life was uncomfortable. It was filled with fear, doubt, and many sleepless nights. I spent months trying to readjust my thinking on my own strength. I felt inadequate and unworthy.

Overcoming this didn’t happen by way of a sudden realization, and an overnight transition. It was a slow process, and came about after a accumulation of powerful revelations from God. I then had to daily choose to think and believe the things He was teaching me. It was a choice, not necessarily an emotion. I had to learn that just because I thought or felt something, didn’t make it true. And, just because I didn’t feel or believe something, it wasn’t any less true.

However, I say all this to say, I’ve spent a lot of time since running from my past. Ignoring it, avoiding it, and pretending it didn’t happen. God reveled to me that I was afraid of my past. I didn’t want to approach it, because I was afraid I would retrogress back to it. Therefore, I’ve avoided it at all cost for a lot of this time.

God had to reveal to me that my present reality is stronger than any allusion I use to believe and live within. He is my reality. He is my identify. He is my strength. He wants me to be confident enough in this, that I can stare my past head on without any fear.

See, God has great plans for our past. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” I have a hard time grasping this. Even our mistakes are used by God in powerful ways. God wants to use my past to not only shape my future, but also to heal others.

It is clear to me that He has and still is using my past to build up my life. Like I mentioned earlier, before this time I didn’t understand my dependency on God. I had to be shown my true state of helplessness in order to grasp my deep need for Him. But in showing me that great need, God also so graciously showed me His sacrifice which can satisfy the need. To ignore my past, would mean to forget the beauty of the lesson. As well as forfeit the ones still being revealed.

But this isn’t only about me…

People need to know they aren’t alone. They need to know they aren’t the only ones that struggle. Especially in the realms of the Christian faith. It’s as though Christians think there are certain struggles and temptations they are exempt from. I say this only from experience. If only someone from the church would have looked at me and told me they had been exactly where I was, and it was ok. I needed to know I wasn’t the only Christian that struggled beyond the things people aren’t afraid to confess. God wants me to be able to do that for someone else; be vulnerable with them, and then guide them to the hope I have. But I can’t do that if I keep hiding from my past.

God’s brought me pretty far in this process. This time last year, I probably wouldn’t have wrote a blog about “the dark time”. I’m not running anymore though. God wants to use it all, so I’m going to make sure he has it all.

Don’t be afraid to give God your darker moments. He already knows about them, and they haven’t changed His love for you. Give Him the pieces and let Him rebuild you. You might need some of those pieces to be completely renewed.

The Hiding

“Sometimes the risk of missing out is greater then the risk that comes with stepping out.” ~Stephen Furtick

I’m just going to be honest right now. I have spent the past few weeks believing and living so many lies. The consistency of these lies in my life brought me to a bad place emotionally. I didn’t see it happening. I just realized one day, I was living as though the truth in God’s word no longer applied to me.

That’s how the Devil works. He doesn’t one day just convince you to forget everything you have ever believed. Instead, he consistently feeds you little lies, until they create in you a new reality.

I just recently recognized this happening in my life. Instead of the Devil telling me I was insecure, he told me an accumulation of small lies that created in me this false insecurity.

As these circumstantial lies began to accumulate, I began believing I had to hide.  I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone, doing things that required confidence and security, afraid of rejection. So I believed the lie that it was safer to just hide behind insecurity. So I did. I hid from the uncomfortable. I hid from confrontation. I hid from opposition. I hid because I thought the risk of stepping out, was greater than staying hid. All this hiding brought me to believe one very influential lie. I was insecure. So I began to hide behind that too.

I had to first recognize that this insecurity was a lie. It was me hiding because I was afraid of the results of stepping out. Second, I realized that just as I believed this lie as a result of several small choices to hide, I had to now work in reverse. I had to take steps daily to come out of hiding. Third, I had to speak the truth that God’s says of me into my life. God did not give me a spirit of fear. I can do all things through Him. I am more than an overcomer. These truths are my reality.

I am so thankful for a God who continues to take me back. He loves so unconditionally and sometimes all I do in response is run.  Yet, when I finally come around, He is still there waiting for me to run into His arms. I am also so thankful that I don’t have to believe lies and hide behind insecurity anymore. I am stepping out and being who God tells me I am, even when I don’t feel like I am those things.

I know sometimes it seems better to just hide. I’ve done it too much to not know. But the truth is, if we don’t take chances and live bold confident lives, we are going to loose far more than if were to step out and fall.