Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Another anniversary!

Two years ago today, Husband asked me to marry him.
I, of course, said yes.

We have struggled – we were struggling before that day. There are issues in our marriage, and life is not easy.
I would not change it for anything. Any of it.

I still say yes.
A thousand times, YES.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Your chains will never fall until you do

I am in the midst of spiritual war.
Arrows and lies are flying at me from every direction, and I am a mess.

My mind is a mess. A jumble of things I cannot discern, cannot fix, cannot understand, and cannot get over.

I do not really remember my childhood, but I know that so much of what I struggle with now – and have struggled with for years – stems from it. There was never any type of abuse. But indifference? Busyness? Silence? Yes.

And for someone whose love languages are words and physical touch, the stark lack of both has done its damage.

Don’t misunderstand; I am not dissing my family. No family is perfect, and in many respects, mine was extremely good. But at the same time, the way my family was, was, honestly, very brutal to my heart.

All my life, I have been oppressed by Satan, and I have relied on oppression. It is so “normal” to me that I can’t really imagine life being any different.

I have been deceived by Satan – and, honestly, the church – and I have depended on that deceit.

I have built my life on fear.
I have built my personality on lies.  

In no exact order, my default mindset entails these things:

~I believe making mistakes is awful and something to avoid.
~I believe getting in trouble is awful and something to avoid.
~I believe that conflict is bad.
~I believe I am a/the source of conflict, especially when I speak what is on my heart/mind.
~I believe I cause problems.
~I believe I am a burden.
~I believe I am “too much” and “not enough.” (Too needy/not good enough; stuff like that.)
~I believe that it is up to me to keep the peace in my life.
~I believe that everything hinges on me.
~I believe I am ultimately on my own.
~I believe that I have to fix myself before I can come to God to ask for help.
~I believe, at the very least, I have to know exactly what is wrong with me before coming to God to ask for help.
~I believe I have to pray/say the exact right words, or my prayer won’t be answered.
~I believe I cannot speak my mind or heart – it is too much for people to handle.
~I believe I am annoying, irritating, and frustrating.
~I believe that I have to walk on eggshells around mostly everyone.
~I believe that I must pick my words carefully to keep people from getting upset at what I say/write.
~I believe that if someone is dealing with a lot, it is cruel of me to ask for anything from them.
~I believe that I am not worth knowing, pursuing, or fighting for.
~I believe that the times I have been hurt deeply are my fault.
~I believe that I, though I have the ability to see that something is a lie, will still believe it anyway.
~I believe that God tolerates me, but does not love me, and at any moment, he may cast me aside.
~I believe God is mad at me, irritated with me, impatient with me, and always on the verge of blowing up.
~I believe that I must be perfect.
~I believe that I will not be loved and wanted unless I am perfect.
~I believe that I will always be left wanting and unfulfilled.
~I believe that when I share my heart, I will be met my indifference or total ignoring/silence.
~I believe I should not have needs/desires; and if I do have them, I should not express them.
~I believe if I voice my needs/desires, I will come off as needy, and I don’t want to be needy.
~I believe that if I allow myself to need people, they will let me down, or not care enough to meet my needs.
~I believe that when it comes down to it, I will be left alone with an army raining down on me.

There are other things too, most of them are rather interconnected, as you can probably see from that list. Bottom line, I live under Satanic condemnation, accusation, guilt, self-condemnation, fear, confusion, and the weight of lies.

The fallen me, the one who lives out of the beliefs above, is a withdrawn, distrustful, fearful perfectionist who is terrified of making a mistake, criticism, and being met with indifference when she tries to be honest. She is utterly graceless and unforgiving toward herself, and beats herself up for the smallest “mistake.” She believes she is not worth fighting for, and that she cannot depend on anyone to have her back in a moment of need, so she holds people at arm’s length and doesn’t let herself need them.

That is who and what I am apart from God. Left to myself – or even when I pull away from God – I start becoming that person. I tense. I strive. I worry. I doubt. I watch every step I make and word I say, and condemn myself if I mess up in any way. I withdraw. I fall back into believing those same old lies, and I start acting out of their power over me.

When I start going down a dark path, my natural inclination is to try harder. To strive more.

But God says that “in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” The very things I do trying to save myself are the exact opposites of what he says actually works.

My understanding of repentance has always been something like, “feeling bad for what you did wrong.”

In Hebrew, “repentance” means “to turn, to return.” It means other things too, but to me, that encapsulates it all.

It could read this way: “In turning from your natural way of doing things and returning to MY way is your salvation.”

Or, “In turning from who you think you are and returning to the person I created you to be is your salvation.”

Turn from what I have believed for years, from the lies that imprison me.
Return to God, to the truth, to the one who rescues me.

When I am driving and I don’t know where I am, my natural reaction is to drive faster.
When I am struggling and don’t know what to do, my natural reaction is to strive more.

I am tired of doing that.
Really tired.

Surrender is the only thing that will help me. The only thing that will lead to freedom.
My chains will never fall until I do.
Until I fall at God’s feet in full surrender.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chasing the Wild Goose

Chasing the Wild Goose

Well, it is raining. And I am a wimp, so I won’t be going out to run/walk!

The other day, I finished reading “Wild Goose Chase,” by Mark Batterson. Really, really good book; I strongly recommend it. But I don’t have it anymore, so I can’t post anything from it, which is kind of a bummer. I highlighted a lot of stuff.

I really should pray right now. But if I can be honest, I don’t want to. And I don’t know why I feel that way.

I have gotten away from praying, like, at all. And I don’t even know the last time I actually read the Bible. I more or less know why I avoid reading the Bible. I don’t know why I don’t want to pray.  

I guess, to a point, I get tired of asking for the same things over and over. (Or feeling like that is what I do.) I also grow weary of feeling like every prayer has to be this big heartfelt thing where I pour myself out and cry. Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing that. Sometimes I don’t feel anything at all. Sometimes I don’t want to feel anything. Yet at the same time, I ache to be passionate, to live fully aliveto follow him anywhere he calls, whenever he calls. Double-minded much? Sheesh.

One of the things in the book that stood out the most was a part that said something like this: “God is more interested in your future than you are. He wants you to fulfill your purpose more than you do. He wants you to become who he wants you to be more than you do.” (That is not a quote, and that bothers me.)

For me, someone who has always been the “good girl,” someone who longs to please God and has agonized over the fear of taking one step outside of his will, someone who desperately wants to fulfill her purpose and is terrified of missing it, that was just freeing.

So much of me, so much of my personality, is based on fear. The fear of not being good enough and/or perfect, the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of being left alone, the fear of getting/being in trouble, the fear of making mistakes. You know how people say that you expect more from others than you do from yourself? Yeah, in many ways, I am the opposite of that. I freely give grace to everyone else; I cruelly condemn myself.

But think about it: God has a certain plan in mind for me – a person I was meant to be, things I was meant to do. And as much as I think I am committed to that, I am so not. But HE is committed to it, and he is able to mold me. Even when I am being distant, stubborn, and giving in to fear and whatever else he is working on me. He is more committed to my good than I am, and that is a relief.

Because that means that it isn’t really up to me. My part in this is not to fix or change myself.
I just need to surrender myself.
And chase him wherever he leads me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The absolute bottom line of everything

Over the past few days, this verse has really been on my mind:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
– Proverbs 3:5-6

Years ago, that was my “life verse”; it was the motivation for my first tattoo, and possibly the first verse I really memorized.

I love it; it pretty much encompasses everything.
But it is also extremely difficult.

I have struggled immensely to trust God for years. And even when I am not overtly struggling, am I actually trusting him? Or am I just coasting through life, not thinking about things, avoiding the topics I need to address?

I repeatedly rely on my own everything – my own strength, my own ideas, my own understanding, my own eyes, my own view of my life. This finds its root in pride and control, which are the opposites of surrender and trust. I linger far too often among the former things and run in fear from the latter.

And as for acknowledging him in everything, if I am honest, I live far more often like a practical agnostic. I don’t acknowledge him, I don’t seek to make him known above making myself known. Sometimes I go through a day and don’t even think about him at all.

I don’t want to be that way – any of those ways. I WANT to trust God, I want to acknowledge him, I want to follow him.

Look at that promise – “and he will make your paths straight.” Other versions say, “and he will direct your paths.” Either way, it is an amazing promise.

No, it doesn’t say that the paths will be easy, or free of dangers, rocks, thieves, or whatever else. It doesn’t say life will be smooth-sailing and peachy-keen if you follow and trust God (which is something that, all too often, churches preach).

BUT your paths will be straight. They will be divinely directed.

I don’t know about you, but I desperately want God to lead my life, to direct my steps, to take me where he wants me to go. To make me who he wants me to be.

And it starts with me surrendering my illusion of control, with me choosing to trust him. Not just in theory, not just in words, not just because I know I should. I mean the kind of trust that throws itself upon him, holds nothing back, and holds nothing else. 

It starts with me choosing to not lean on my own understanding, to look past what my eyes see and what my circumstances tell me to focus on, and instead, focus on him.

Everything goes back to trust.
So, are you trusting God?