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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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.”

Letting You Love Me

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“But if I refuse to feel, I’ll never bleed, but I’ll never heal.” ~JJ Heller ‘Sound of a Living Heart.’

I was a master of camouflage. Learning how to hide away, deep inside myself. Eyes down, head down, behind layers of skepticism, doubt, and bitterness, I hid.  Away from humanity. Hiding from the potential of community. Because my experiences had always taught me that that community comes at the cost of vulnerability, and vulnerability results in betrayal. So I did’t seek you out, and when you sought me out, I approached you quickly through the eyes of a skeptic. Doubting you, resisting you, and making sure the wall between us was not compromised.

This wasn’t always conscious. I became so accustomed to doubting people, their intentions, and their sincerity, that I didn’t even realize what was happening, nor did I realize the extent to which it was happening.

The condition of my heart progressively transformed my interactions. Not only did I begin to doubt the sincerity of those around me, but I also began doubting the importance of what I had to say, what I had to offer; therefore, constantly redirecting the conversation back to you, for fear of loosing both your interest and your validation. I didn’t realize how much I needed you, how much you could offer me. So I never sought more than surface level encounters, because that was all I believed in.

Then, the loneliness crept in. The isolation became too strong. Suddenly, I was not protecting myself anymore, I was only hurting myself by trying to suffocate this essential human need for community. In broken surrender I had to learn to forgive in order that I could learn to love and be loved. I did this the only way I knew how, by following Jesus’ example of love. We love because He first loved us. This love is not circumstantial. This love is not a response to good deeds. This love is not a attempt to gain some kind of mutuality.

That truth was all I could hold on to as I bridged the gap from my island of insecurity and skepticism to the land of the living.

But it was enough.

As I surrendered, He broke down my walls of bitterness, and I learned to forgive. He broke down the walls of doubt, and taught me to trust again. He broke down my walls of defense, and reminded me I was not dependent on the love of other’s. And he broke down my my stubborn independence, and taught me of a community stronger than my self.

God changed my perspective of who He was, and therefore redefined my expectations of people. I learned God’s desire is to flow through all my empty places, leaving me with no voids left for others to fill. Because of this, I could let them into my life, not dependent on the outcome of these relationships. 

Cause that was never the goal of community anyway, for us to get what only God can provide from others. Community is a gift, but not a replacement for God. Bring to Him your broken pieces, painful memories, and empty places. Let Him invade these places. Then, and only then, can you can take a hold of the hands around you, allowing them to be your support.

Sometimes I still forget this though. Sometimes, I still forget that God wants me to let people in, and I realize yet another layer of my doubt and skepticism. And in this, I instinctually flee towards the old, skeptical version of myself, and remain hidden, using my instinctual quiet personality as an excuse to shut the world out of my heart. I have to be reminded, by both God and others, that this idea of community is part of God’s plan for us, and it is well worth the risk.

Be My Strength


We all want to be the strong ones. The ones who have it figured out. The ones with all the answers. The ones to overcome temptation. The ones who encourage and uplift. We want to be the ones who don’t cower down in moments of fear, or run and hide. We all want to be the strong ones.

But sometimes we aren’t, and that’s ok.

You don’t always have to be the strong one. You don’t always have to have it all together. It’s ok to not have the answers this time. It’s ok that you your still fighting off that temptation. It’s ok that you have no encouragement left to offer. It’s ok that you don’t wanna stay and fight. And it’s ok that you feel unbearably weak. It’s ok to let someone hold you up and be your strength.

But it’s hard. We would rather fight the current, struggling to just keep our heads above the water than reach out and let someone take hold of our hand. At least I would…

I’m scared to show you my weakness. I’m scared to admit that the strength I once extended towards you, is slowly fleeing from myself. I’m scared to let you in to see the parts of me that don’t quite measure up.

So instead I hide my weakness. I hide my struggles and my temptation. I hide my failures and I hide my fears. I put on my mask of strength, and tell you that I am good. I tell you about my life, filtering out the things that don’t reflect the deep, inner strength I so long for.

But the truth is, sometimes I am weak. And I need you. I need you to be the strength that I am so desperately fighting to find. I need you to throw me that life vest that you hold, and help me get back to the shore. I need you to remind me of the things I know, the things I believe, and the things I am still fighting to hold out hope for.

But I have to let you in first. I have to let you see the parts of me that aren’t as pretty as I’d like. I have to be honest, vulnerable, and transparent with you. If I want you to love me, I have to let you love me. I have to break down these walls that surround my heart, and take hold of your hand. I have to be willing to lay aside my pride, my unrealistic expectations, and my skepticism and let you love me. Because I need you, and that’s ok.