to you that feels broken…

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To you that feels broken…afraid…lonely…in a tough spot…

If there was an easier place to go, you would have gone…but you are here…

The place where the weight of the world meets your shoulders in a fiery crash. I get it.

Shame and hurt have not abandoned you, although you certainly wish they would. They hang on tight like a rod wrapped around a string. Pulling you this way and that. Seems so unfair. And at times irrational and illogical. How many broken pieces can one already shattered heart hold. But God sees you.

It hurts. But you are bold. You have strength. It’s strength of far greater value than gold. Not your own. But bought at the highest price. Paid for. It’s yours.

You are going to be ok. Today. Tomorrow. Forever. It’s not a chance or gamble.  Your bends and breaks are known. He’s noticed every salty sweaty tear. Each bendy twisted place. The knots tied over again and now solidified by fear can still be undone. I know this for sure.

The pressure you place on yourself to be ok, right here, right now, is not necessary. You may not be ok. And that is ok. All God’s people endure fiery trials. They aren’t what makes us clean but they are what makes Holy.

Small shards of broken glass that when put together make a glorious window. A unique lens through which we view the Savior.

Dear friend, He sees you. It’s rough. But the water you swim in is safe. Take a breath and keep pressing on. Lift up a Hallelujah even when it’s grey. The clouds will part. Where He multiplies suffering there is fertile soil for healing. It’s planted and on the way. Prepare your heart and home for the harvest. In the end it’s going to be a blessing.

When it’s necessary to fight for change…

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And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Let’s talk about belief systems. I’m not talking about Jesus just yet (although I will in a minute). I’m talking about our own personal internal belief system. The truth we believe about ourselves and the world. Our private logic.

As a counselor it’s my job to help people identify their belief system – the thoughts and things they tell themselves. This can be a difficult process, but it pales in comparison to the next task. Actually building the will to fight against dysfunctional thought patterns and beliefs.

Think of it this way. For years you have been the quarterback for the my life sucks and will never get better team. Everything that happens always happens against you. Nothing is right and you can’t do anything right.

You have designed the banners for this team. You’ve coined the slogans. You wear the t-shirt. Your all in. And all the sudden someone comes along and tells you that to regain your quality of life you must switch teams.

What? It goes against everything you know and believe to be true. Now your supposed to don a cheerleading skirt and pom-poms and be ready to fight for the other side. The my life can get better team. The team that’s banners are filled with hope. It seems like the better team to cheer for, but leaving the familiarity of your prior investment is terrifying.

The longer I do this job the more I see how difficult this transition actually is. It sounds simple – modify your thoughts and beliefs about yourself – but it can be excruciatingly difficult. And this is where  I start talking about Jesus.

Romans 5:5 tells us that our hope will not be put to shame. Tell that to a depressed person and they might smack you. Hope has always put them to shame. But I firmly believe a relationship with Jesus is the only way of gathering momentum to create permanent transformation.

We need Him and His amazing love to move out of the darkness into the light. He is the only hope that never fails. He’s the mediator between hope and shame.

The struggle is real. Personal belief systems are powerful and difficult to change. But pull on Jesus and He will give you the strength. It can be done.

whispers of love the remix on sexual assault awareness action day…

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So today is the National Day of Action to bring awareness about sexual assault. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to share. Should I write something new or share something old? When I came across this post I wrote for incourage.me five years ago, I knew it was the right one.

The crazy thing is it meant more reading it today than it did when I wrote it. Looking back I can see growth, but I also still identify with the pain.  I have learned to cope with my emotions more effectively, my self-talk has improved drastically, and my memories disturb me much less. But there are still times it takes me by surprise. Something will trigger my memory and the swirly feeling in my stomach returns all over again.

Honestly, I don’t know that it will ever go away. Nor do I want it to. It is this feeling that reminds me I am a survivor, and not only a survivor, but an advocate. Christ has given me this gift of personal experience to help others who experience the same or similar circumstances. I know it to a level that someone who has not experienced it could never possibly know or understand. That is my gift. It’s what allows me to forgive, move forward, and continue pressing into hope. So I share this with you today, praying another survivor finds it and realizes it’s time stop hiding because she is loved by God right here, right now.

There is something to be said for the hardest, most difficult, gut wrenching times in our life. While we are going through them, we may be numb to what is going on. Our minds have a way of protecting us and keeping us from what would otherwise be overwhelming. But when it comes to the surface, the pain is just as fresh as if it had happened that day. It is all still there. Time does not heal all wounds. Only God heals these kinds of wounds. Wounds of the heart. Wounds of the soul. Wounds of the spirit. Wounds that can only be healed by Jesus.

My wound was like this. It was one I had buried for years. It was actually quite a productive little wound. It went a long way in pushing me towards pursuing my degrees. Although, I would soon be disappointed that even after the degrees, the hurt was still there. That wounded little girl was still cowering inside. No amount of education, money, affirmation, or addiction would heal her. In fact, I spent a long time wondering if there was anything that would ever heal her, and for that matter, why my loving Savior let her get wounded in the first place.

I still don’t know if she is healed completely, or that she ever will be. I don’t have answers to all the questions, and that is okay. Like I said, the wound is part of what has gotten me to the place I am today. But…I do know that I love her, and I know that Jesus loves her too. I do know that He never abandoned her, and that she no longer abandons herself. I do know that she is beautiful. I do know that although she blamed herself for years, it really wasn’t her fault. That there is a difference between a 29 year old woman wishing she would have made different decisions as a 15 year old and a 29 year old woman blaming a 15 year old for an assault that she did not ask for. I do know without a doubt that I love her. Which, coming from someone who less than a year ago wrote words to her that she would never have written to her worst enemy, is a gigantic step.

I know that God would ask us to be humble and forsake ourselves for the love of others and for Him. However, for some of us, it is easy to interpret that as, “it’s okay to hate myself as long as I am doing things for others”. And it is absolutely not okay. If it was, why would He have commanded us to love others as we have loved ourselves?

If there is a part of yourself that you have cut off, that you have buried alive, maybe it’s time to bring her back to the surface. Maybe it’s time to let her breathe again. Maybe it’s time to forgive her. The road is long, and the journey is difficult, but it is worth every step. It is worth it to know that you have nothing to hide. That you can love others and God with your whole heart, holding nothing back. It is worth it to know you can love yourself again. It is worth it to hear your Savior whisper I love you in your ear and be able to whisper it back to Him knowing you have given Him all of you, faithfully, forever.

Mark 12:30-31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Link to original post: http://www.incourage.me/2010/09/whispers-of-love.html

 

emotional whack a mole…

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Did you know it’s just as okay to be sad as it is to be happy? It’s even okay to be in pain. Are sadness and pain uncomfortable emotions? Yes they can be. But here’s the thing, it’s often the effort we use trying to squash them down that drains us. If we would just feel them without judging them we often find they are tolerable, and that they pass.

It took me a few years to learn this. Emotional whack a mole was my favorite game. If discomfort popped up, I whacked it down, and whacked it quickly. I didn’t want to feel and I certainly didn’t want anyone to see me hurting. Perfect people don’t have pain, right?

I played and played until I was absolutely exhausted. The moles kept getting bigger and my hammer kept getting smaller. Eventually it was too big of a burden to keep up with and the gigantic moles emerged refusing to be ignored any longer.

So how do we stop playing the game? How do we learn that negative emotions are okay to feel, and that at times they are even a healthy part of living?

To be brutally honest, the longer you have been squashing them the greater the discomfort may be when you finally decide to let them loose. It seriously can be overwhelming. If you have a great deal of past hurt and pain I would certainly enlist the help of a counselor to break through this tendency. However, the payoff is excellent.

Learning to cope with a full range of emotions as and when they come is a much more peaceful and effective way of living. No one can live life the way God intended when they are constantly distracted by those pesky moles. But when we let them emerge as they are and even bring them to the Lord, we find He often uses uncomfortable emotions and circumstances to mold us into exactly who He designed us to be.

I want to provide you with one quick skill that has helped me deal with painful emotions….I view them as a wave.

A wave rises and rises, it may even look intimidating, but waves always come down. Intense emotion always subsides. We don’t have to judge our emotions.  And like waves in the ocean, we certainly can’t control them, but we can learn to ride emotional waves for what they are…accepting ups and downs and trusting Jesus will not let us drown.

It’s okay to feel negative emotions. God designed us that way. To feel highs we must also be willing to feel lows. It’s part of the amazing and beautiful way God made us. And the sooner we stop whacking the moles and start dealing with them, the quicker we will begin to experience His peace.

The settlement…

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“Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”Hosea 6:1

When you crawl in bed and finally get to the perfect spot. The comfortable spot. The place where you let down, close your eyes, and forget about the worries of the day. There’s just something glorious about it.  The perfect settlement. All to think or do is breathe. Jesus is like that.

I’m fascinated and even taken aback that I can lay in this space and find peace.  A profound resting spot. It’s not about the physical accommodations, although they are certainly conducive and beneficial. But it’s here I am absolutely stirred to the core that Jesus loves me. So undeserving. Even after the most chaotic of days and disturbing of nights, He never ever ceases or fails to give me rest.

There have been times and will be more that I do not understand His ways, but He’s like this amazing surgeon. I don’t have to know or understand how a surgeon works or operates to trust that He is performing a healing work inside of me. I just have to trust the surgeon is good, knowledgeable, and will do me no harm. And that a little bit of pain is okay and even expected as the chains of broken places fall away.

In this settled place, even the worst of pains become understood. Every single disturbance is a wound that heals. And so indeed I return at the end of each day, ready to take in another deep breath of redemption. My heart and mind’s one true settlement. The place of peace.

It’s my prayer and deepest hearts desire that you would find this space. Absent of fear and flooded with peace. He offers it to all of us. Part of finding it involves surrender. A bed filled with worries is a bed filled with fear. I’ll be the first to admit fear is difficult to let go of, but there is one thing I have found helpful. Maybe you will too.

As you lay in bed, after you pray, breathe in slow and deep. Imagine yourself relaxing by a river. Leaves slowly float by. Place your worries on the leaves. They are not going to go away, disappear, or solve themselves by being placed on the leaves, but for now, it’s okay to let them float down the river.

Jesus will pick up the ones He needs to. He has plans to care for each and every one of them, but for now He longs for you to rest in His everlasting peace. Let the worries float on down. They may come back, and that is okay. There are plenty of leaves. Just keep laying them down so you can rest with Him.

Even if the world is spinning out of control around us, we can choose to know and remember that He is peace.

because a little shine getting knocked off is okay…

instaquote-02-04-2015-20-43-41A little shine gets knocked off over time. That’s the way marriage works. We aren’t as young as we once were. Our bodies certainly don’t look or function the same. But we love each other none the less – and hopefully even more.

I feel like my relationship with Jesus is the same. Year after year of the deepest most vulnerable relationship I will ever experience. And just like I want more than a mediocre marriage with my husband – I want higher and deeper with Jesus. My passion may not be as shiny as it was when I first discovered His unending love, but it’s weathered beautifully.

I won’t pretend I’ve been good to Him. I haven’t. In fact I’ll never be good enough. I’ve wandered away for years at a time, questioned His sovereignty, and cried out in anguish over battles He’s allowed me to endure. I’ve turned my back so many times only to change my mind immediately and run full sprint into His arms. And even in all this….His love never changes.

This is the Jesus I celebrate. The Jesus that rose from the dead. The Jesus that resurrects my broken heart day after day and makes it into something beautiful and new.  He never leaves or abandons. His love never changes.

As we lean into Good Friday and Easter weekend I am so thankful for this Jesus that holds me close. Over the past few weeks when I thought I might sink, He never let go. Not for one second.

Our relationship is not shiny. It’s not pretty. We fight and make up. It’s gritty. And raw. And real. Just like His death and resurrection. It was pain and perfection all rolled into one. The finished ultimate sacrificial act that swept me out of the darkness and gives chance after chance. I love you Jesus. Thank you for being my everything.