Friday, April 24, 2015

Five Minute Friday :: Hide

Today is Friday, the day when we freely write for five minutes without worrying about how it is, we just pour out our feelings for five minutes. No worries, no judging, no critiquing. (Inner editors, shush!)

If this sounds fun, click here for more info.

Today's prompt is:

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they felt shame and they hid.That is what we do when we feel shame. We feel bad, and we spend our lives trying to hide.

Sometimes we hide out in the open, covering ourselves with busyness, trying to look inconspicuous so no one will suspect what is really inside of us.

I have always felt like I'm "bad" or "wrong" and my main concern was to do things right. And not just right, but the way God would want it, the "biblical way."

But I have realized, as I wrote earlier, that I've been blinded to who God is because I haven't been trying to follow truth, or get at truth, or to be right according to scripture. I thought I was. But what I was really doing was trying to achieve this idealized standard of what God wants from me.

I've never really stopped to think about what I was aiming for, I just kept struggling toward some undefined (in my mind) sense of "right," some vague concept of what I felt God expected of me--all the while never, ever feeling like I was even "okay," let alone "good enough."

That is what happens when we strive to hide our hearts from others while we try to appropriate God's love and grace for us. We can't do it, and we end up miserable.

Because we can't hide from Him. He always comes looking for us, pulling us out of the darkness or the busyness. Because we don't have to work, or perform, for God to love us. His love covers everything, even the reasons we hide.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

He Loves Me {My Epiphany}

It occurred to me today how much I want to be right. Not in a one-up-you or I-have-all- the-answers way; but in the way I do life. I always want things nailed down and to have a list to follow, so I am sure to do "it" right, whatever "it" may be at any given moment.

My husband bought me an acoustic guitar for Christmas and I've been taking lessons. A few weeks ago, my guitar teacher and I were talking about my grip on the neck of the guitar, and how I am fingering the chords. Again, I wanted to be sure I was doing it right.

I said, "I want to make sure I don't do something wrong and have to unlearn it."

He laughed at me.

Then he said, "Well, that's gonna happen. Because that's life, right?"

I chuckled back at him, but what he said pierced my heart. It was the beginning of God getting through to me today.

You see, I have always had this idea that my goal of wanting to "do right" was good, and that I was attempting to do what is right only because I wanted to please God. Because He is worthy. But what I realized today is that I have been trying to "feel" accepted and loved and redeemed and justified by my works.

I have been keenly aware of the power I feel behind the words when I tell someone how God loves them perfectly, completely, and unconditionally accepts them, yet I would still hear a voice in my head telling me "but it doesn't apply to you, because you are not good enough."

All this noise in my head, this rejecting self-talk, was drowning out the truth and clouding my vision of God.

And I realize that my aim has been off.  I've been aiming for my idea of truth, my idea of what is "right," which is directly influenced by my perspective of God. And my perspective has been very, very wrong.

I have wasted a lot of time being trapped in the hamster wheel of perfectionism, struggling not to compare myself to other women, which only left me feeling generally exhausted and discouraged.

But today I had an epiphany. The god in my head whom I am trying to please is not the true God. The great I AM, the One who knitted me together in my mother's womb, who has known me and planned all my days, and who planned from the beginning of time to send the Rescuer to redeem my soul from death, does not require that I put on a show. He does not stand over me with a critical, wagging finger telling me how I messed up. And He does not heave great sighs and wonder when I will "get it right."

He loves me. Oh, how He loves me.

I am cherished and treasured because I am His. And He doesn't look at me as a big mess who needs to get her act together before I'll be okay in His eyes. He doesn't define me by my failures and the mistakes I've made.

He purely, perfectly loves me.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Linking up with others:


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let's Be Real {Three Word Wednesday}

I just posted about how it's a paradox that we put on a show in order to connect.

It's hard to be real.

We all want to be known, to have a relationship with someone based on full disclosure and acceptance of who we really are. But we have a hard time doing that.

Because it is hard to be real.

Being real, genuinely letting down your guard, is like the dream where you are standing on a stage, naked, and you can't figure out why you feel so raw and exposed, but you are just standing there looking stupid and everyone is staring at you with that blank, boring-into-your-soul stare. Instead of freaking out, you pull an "Emperor"  move and act like everything is normal. After some nervous chuckles the show goes on and you wing it, all the time feeling that coldness that comes from being exposed and not being in control of the response.

It isn't easy being real.

You can't control how other people will react to your transparency. It can leave you feeling raw and vulnerable. Exposed.

But we are made by God for relationship. If we withdraw, we are not functioning the way God intended.

We need Him.

We need each other.

Community. Support. Fellowship. Relationship.

So let's do the hard thing, the brave thing. Let's be real. And we'll see how God moves in our lives for our good and His glory.

Linking up with others for:

Five Minute Friday :: Real

It's Wednesday and I'm doing last Friday's prompt. But there's no judging here, right? We are just letting it all go down on paper for five minutes, and then encouraging each other.

Click here to see what this is all about, if you'd like to join us.

Last Friday's prompt was:

  It is such a paradox that we put on a show for others in order to connect—and we are made for connection—and the very show we put on sabotages our ability to connect. Even if we are successful, we doubt the realness of the relationship.

 Because, we think, if they knew the real us, they wouldn't love us. They might not even like us.

 And so the whole thing becomes a big circle that traps us and we wonder why we feel so empty. But the truth is freeing, and that is what it really means to be really real—to tell the truth about who we are.

No wonder so many of us feel adrift in this world, coasting around on the parts we play. No wonder we come undone when the act is over and we are left alone with our true selves.

But there is One who knows us better than even we know ourselves. He sees the real us, but it isn't what we see. His perspective is what He created us to be, what He knows we can be, if only we will lay down the roles we play and surrender to His unconditional love.

Maybe that is what being real truly is. Letting go of the act that keeps us stuck and grasping the freedom He offers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Review: "The Ancient Path," by John Michael Talbot

From the inside of the cover jacket:

"The First Epistle of Saint Peter," writes Talbot, "tells us that we are a spiritual temple built of 'living stones.' The early Church Fathers represent the first rows built upon the foundation of the apostles. And that sacred building project continues throughout history to our time today. But it rests on the Fathers. It depends on them."
I was intrigued by the subtitle "Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today," which includes St. Augustine.

And I was hoping this was going to put the teachings of said Church Fathers into modern prose so they would be easier to ingest. (Especially since, as a mom of three children, it is hard for me to find enough time alone to have a coherent thought, let alone to be awake sufficient enough for comprehension.)

I am disappointed. This is more a book about the author's journey from being a Protestant to becoming a Catholic. It does contain much scripture, but it also contains Catholic doctrine--doctrine which I believe is extra-biblical (such as Mr. Talbot's annulment of his first marriage by the Catholic church, because the Catholic church determined it was not a "valid" marriage, even though he had a child by his first wife).

That being said, this is an interesting and well-written read. If you are familiar with John Michael Talbot's music, and you would like to get to know his spiritual story (and explore some Catholic doctrine), then this is the book for you. It is not something one would purchase simply as a spiritual reference book.

Disclosure:  I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Words of My Mouth

May I always remember that today becomes tomorrow and that my present becomes my past. 

Each moment, I am charting a legacy for my children—what do I want them to remember? What do I want them to learn and to model—impatience? Selfishness? Self-centeredness? Self-pity?

Or do I want them to be patient and kind and loving and respectful, to live with a servant's heart?

The latter, of course, is my desire.

But do I live with that goal in mind? It is so easy, when I am tired, for my heart to turn inward. (And I am tired a lot.)

Only when I look up, when I keep my perspective in the right place, will my attitude and actions line up properly with the Word of God.

Help me, Father! Keep me from willful sins—may they not rule over me.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer," (Psalm 19:14 NASB).

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