Tag Archive | faith

Choices!

Back in July I wrote about going to see my spiritual counselor and what God showed me at that time. I also mentioned that my counselor made a second observation and I would share it in the next post, well, I didn’t….because honestly, I was truly grappling with it. I didn’t like her suggestion or observation. I didn’t want to look at it and to some degree I am still wrestling with it.

What she shared with me was the Serenity Prayer; the first part of it. If you are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous then you have encountered the Serenity Prayer. The prayer has worked its way into so many cultural outlets that many non-Christians know it, or at least the beginning, by heart:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.serenity 1

The rest of the prayer goes like this:

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

I admit I reacted to her strongly because deep down I was truly afraid to accept the things I could not change and feared I didn’t have the courage to change what I could…..and would I really know the difference??

Why did I struggle to “accept” things? Because I believed that accepting something was laziness. I was afraid that accepting that there are some things I could not change would make me complacent. But slowly (very slowly) I am beginning to realize instead that acceptance constitutes a leap of faith — an ability to trust, as the prayer goes on to say, “that He [God] will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.” I then make the choice to let go and have faith in the outcome.

acceptance

Accepting or surrendering takes courage…..for me the word “surrender” like acceptance, had mostly negative connotations. I associated it with resignation, failure and weakness. But the Serenity Prayer reframes the notion of surrender as an act of faith and trust. The wisdom of the prayer lies in exchanging a life of endless “what ifs” for a life of trust in powers beyond ourselves. That changes my perspective!

Another thing I am coming to realize is that acceptance takes courage, it takes courage to change ourselves. And I didn’t want to be courageous anymore, it was too much work.

One of life’s greatest challenges is imagining how our lives could be different than they are now. Often, my own deeply-ingrained habits are my own worst enemies, and simply identifying them is half the battle. Since habits gain power through repetition, it takes real focus and perspective to take a look at ourselves and our habits and ask, “Is this how I really want to live?” As the prayer states, this act of self-investigation is nothing less than an act of “courage.”

And in my mind it also meant that I must accept “hardships as the pathway to peace.” What??? I didn’t want hardship, I wanted easy, painless even!!
Yet, every person confronts obstacles in the course of his or her life. Yet, it’s what I do with these obstacles. Do I view them as frustrations or failures, or as opportunities for growth and learning? If I choose the latter then I can transcend my circumstances.
courage
Accepting what I don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life, because there will be people, situations, and events I don’t like and I am not able to change.

Yet, it is true, acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. I can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond my control. It is not passive when I lean into and trust God with my life, situations and relationships. It is not passive when I seek His wisdom and ask for His supernatural courage. It doesn’t take resignation it takes strength, perseverance, faith and trust.

Please understand what I am not saying….if you are in an abusive relationship or have been abused, I am not saying that you should just accept what is happening or what happened. I am not talking about abuse. I am talking about situations and circumstances that affect us and that we feel we have no control over, maybe in our workplace, our marriage or our relationships.
It truly takes supernatural wisdom to know the difference of what we can or cannot change.

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As you can see I am still chewing on this, wrestling with it and walking this out…..to be continued!

What about you? How do you see “acceptance” or “surrender”?

Our bottle of tears…..

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Beloved, our Father God watches over you and me. His heart is tuned in to our cries, He hears the deep anguish of our spirit, He sees the burdens and wounds our hearts carry…. Our tears are precious to Him, stirring His very heart causing Him to respond to our tears.

There will come a day when our Heavenly Father will come for His children. He will embrace us in His comforting arms and He will forever wipe all our tears away .

And I wonder, will He show us those bottles of tears He has been collecting?

Will He whisper to our hearts~ “Do you see this bottle here? These are the tears you cried… You see my child, you were never forgotten or abandoned, you were never forsaken or left on your own. I heard your heart, I saw how broken it was, I felt your tears and I was there all along, comforting you.”

My friends, do you know that our tears speak a special language to the very heart of God…..

He loves you….He loves you….He loves you…. so let the tears flow… and know that our Father God cares for you intimately and with great passion beloved….

For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9

Isaiah 38:5 “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.”

Job 16:20 “My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God.”

Psalm 56:8
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Psalm 126:5 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.”

Faith is Remembering

The book of Deuteronomy, it seems, is all about remembering:

Remember the day you stood before the Lord…

Remember you were slaves in Egypt…  (this one shows up five times)

Remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh…

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert…

Remember the Lord your God…

Remember this and never forget how you provoked the Lord…

Remember … God’s majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm…

Remember the time of your departure from Egypt…

Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam…

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past…

Do you remember, dear reader?  Do you remember what God has done for you?  Can you stand with one hand grasping your present struggle and one hand firmly holding the past, remembering His Deliverance?  Remember your God because He remembers you. 

Remember…

Remember…

Remember…

White Mountains

This weekend I drove through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Twice.  The first time I drove through at night.  The road was winding and slow.  My ears were popping.  The traffic was rude and annoying.  Two days later I drove back home along the same route.  The afternoon sun pushed bright shafts of light through billowing clouds.  I drove by sheer granite rock faces all globbed up with sparkly blue ice.   Each turn in the road unveiled new vistas of ancient snow covered peaks and snuggled valleys.  As the adventure unfolded I thought, ‘I was right here, I was right here and I missed it’.

Sometimes we travel through life in darkness.   With our focus no more than a few feet in front of us, life’s annoyances and disappointments predominate our journey.  In our preoccupation with the trivial we miss what’s really going on.  We miss the dangerous cliffs and God’s heroic rescues.  We miss the beautiful views He sends to inspire and delight us.  Without light we are clueless and lost.

 

May God grant us light for our journeys and eyes to see.

Unexpected Grace

I went to the river to find beauty.  I was hoping to catch an intensely beautiful sunrise to salve the sting of a bitter disappointment.  But the dense cloud cover from a brooding storm made the event a royal let-down.  The resignation in my heart spoke first.

‘Par for the course’,  I thought.  Have you ever seen a young child disappointed?  Unfamiliar with the possibility of failure a child makes his plans without a remote consideration that he might not get what he wants.  When I see such a child watch the object of his affection slip away I can barely tolerate it.  ‘That kid needs to toughen up’, I like to think to myself.  You just can’t be so vulnerable.

How quickly the ambivalence of cynicism rears its ugly head against desire’s fearlessness.  Excuses spring up like weeds.  Sour grapes.

Two swans sliced their way across the river without a ripple — one directly behind the other.  I immediately thought of God and me.  I so wanted the swan in the back to catch up to the leader, to experience the intimacy I desperately long for.  As I watched the gliding race, the gap between the swans would shorten then widen again without warning.  I watched in frustration, until I understood the truth.  The point of my life is not how close or how far I feel from God.  The point of my life is that I follow Him.  Wind and current and a hundred conditions I can’t explain can pull and push and pressure me to give up hope.  But like the swans I saw on the river, the glory and grace of my journey is to glide along with my eyes on Him.  As I turned to leave the two swans were resting in the shallow water together — face to face.

The Divine Embrace

For several months I’ve understood that I have an assignment from God and that assignment is to grow in compassion. To understand His great love for me and to accept it. Partly due to the assignment itself I have fallen back into a relapse of self-injury and the obsession and humiliation that goes along with it. I think coming face to face with the compassion void in my life brought me right to the heart of the painful wound I have suffered since before I can remember.  I’m posting that story here a little bit at a time (I’m about half way through) in the category called ‘A Farewell to Shame’.

So the painful truth is that no one cared about what I suffered. No one rescued me. No one brought justice. Not my family, not my school, not my doctors, and not even my church. I’ve been working for a while now trying to understand better what I need to do and to ask God to make clear the path that I can follow to Him.

Last Thursday night in the middle of the night I woke up suddenly. Throughout most of my life I’ve struggled with nightmares/flashbacks of trauma that interfere with my sleep. I woke up and felt a sense of warfare and the need to pray.  At that time I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. An encounter with God. I suddenly felt His presence in the room. As I was lying there in my bed on my side with my hands in front of me I felt God’s presence come along beside me. He put his arms over my arms and held me — surrounded and embraced me. Now I’m an old married woman and in the 16 years I’ve been married I’ve received literally thousands of hugs but no human embrace has ever soothed and satisfied my soul the way this experience did. In my pain/suffering/trauma I always feel the pain focused in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of a raw open wound deep in the center of my abdomen, located there but not physically there. While I was lying in my bed with God’s arms around me I felt a warm explosion exactly at that spot inside me. A feeling of peace and healing washed over me and I felt fully at rest. But that wasn’t all, next I felt a strong heaviness and warmth on the backs of my hands. They felt so warm and heavy that I couldn’t lift them if I tried but I didn’t want to move but just lie there and feel it.

Since that night I’ve been given a way out of the obsession of self-injury. When I’m pulled and drawn to raise my hand to injure myself I turn my hand over and with the back of my hand I use the Father’s touch to stroke and soothe my face. I think about His compassion for me and how He suffered with me in what I suffered just as I suffer with Him in what He suffered on the cross. It’s so raw and so personal and so childlike that it’s hard for me to write these words but I want to share and spread hope because I know what it feels like to struggle and I know I’m not the only one.

There’s one more thing. I have ‘quit’ many times. More times than I can count. Each time I strongly resolve never to go near this sin again. I remind myself that I’ve been healed and cured and that there’s no need to ever fail again. Then each time I’ve been tempted and each time I’ve stumbled and relapsed I’ve felt such intense shame. I doubted that what deliverance God brought was real and I’ve felt that His efforts were wasted on me because I so quickly forgot His help. I’ve even been angry that He didn’t stop me from falling again so quickly into sin. That if there was a way out I didn’t see it and didn’t take it so either God was blowing it or I was blowing it and either way I was lost.

This time is so different. I have made no pledge, no promise, no threat to myself that I will never hurt myself again. God has shown me that He will LET me do it again — He will not stop me or distract me or control me. And that’s not to say that He doesn’t care what I do — He cares very deeply about everything I do. But I have a choice. I can choose to sin. Each time I want to sin I can use it as a chance to experience His compassion and be reminded of His love. He won’t take away that desire, it will always be a part of me. But if I fail He won’t turn His face away from me. He’ll give me another chance — as many as I need.

So thank you for reading this long post. I hope someone understands what I’m trying to say and I hope someone here finds the courage to walk another day in the light of God’s love.

The Things we do for Pain

We get drunk to numb the pain.  We get high to forget the pain.  But when we sober up the pain is there waiting for us.  We eat compusively to cover up the pain.  We throw up and eat more because when we stop the pain is still there.  We push the pain away.  We deny it.  We belittle it and fool ourselves away from feeling it.  We feel nothing.  We are empty.  We are numb.  We slice and cut our flesh to focus the pain.  We pick, bruise, and bite ourselves.  We pull out our hair.  We spend money.  We shop.  We gamble.  We go into debt to push away the pain.  We hide from love to protect our hearts from suffering more pain.  We accept less, we expect less, we settle for less to assuage the pain.  We look for love, we long for acceptance, we seek after glory because we fear the pain.  We fear that if we for one moment give our hearts a voice we will be lost in it.  We will be overtaken in the waves and we will lose our very soul. 

We have forgotten our Savior.  We have forgotten that He has promised to hold us up and guide us through.  We must believe that we can feel and not get lost.  That He is faithful to love and faithful to strengthen and that in the end He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.