[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Throughout the years, I’ve had the privilege to visit so many different countries. From Africa to Tokyo, Romania to Hong Kong, each has its own culture and feel. They are all so incredibly distinct and vastly different. Recently, I have been so blessed to visit Israel for the second time. But this time was different. This time around, I am a mother, a wife of almost 10 years, and a pastor for 9 years. You could say life has completely changed. The first time I went to the Holy Land, I was site seeing it without a care in the world. This time, I was on a mission. A mission to find my Lord Jesus, from a place of having walked through a thing or two this time around. A mission to draw as close to Him as possible, in His hometown—and what I was to learn, I could not have ever imagined.
There are days that I am so full of zeal and passion, that I feel as if I could burst. There are other days that I am so tired, I don’t know how much longer I can keep the pace that life has set before me. Some days, I’m angry with injustices around me and other days, I’m weeping over those same injustices. Some may call this an emotional roller coaster, but I call it HUMANITY. It’s just in us. We are human, and therefore we will constantly battle our flesh, and all of the feelings that come with it. Now, do we have the power through Jesus to overcome? Absolutely, but it doesn’t make it easy and it doesn’t make it go away. Humanity is what it is, but for some reason, we do our very best to cover this up and pretend like everything is perfectly okay. We have no struggles that are worth bringing up to the surface, they must all stay under control and hidden. When our feelings are hurt, we pretend they weren’t even touched. When we are angry, we bury it down and push it under the emotional rug. If we are tired, we insist we do not need rest, because it’s glamorous to be so busy.
“Jesus made a whip out of cords. Then he forced all these men, with the sheep and cattle, to leave the Temple. He turned over the tables and scattered the money of the men who were exchanging it. Then he said to those who were selling pigeons, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place for buying and selling!” John 2: 15-16
“Jesus was tired from his long trip. So he sat down beside the well. It was about noon.” John 4:6
“Then the people there spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. Others slapped Jesus.” Matthew 26:67
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
“But he emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28
“And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52
“But Jesus did not yet entrust himself to them, because he knew how fickle human hearts can be. He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he fully understood what man was capable of doing.” John 2: 24-25
As I walked throughout the Galilee area, which is Jesus’ hometown, I began to know Him in a way that was much more familiar than I could have ever anticipated. It was that same feeling of when your best friend, or maybe that significant other, shows you their elementary school, high school or their childhood home, or maybe even a family holiday dinner or reunion. You begin to form a bond that’s unique, because you are seeing the behind the scenes of what makes them tick. You begin to have a deeper understanding of their very make up, due to their upbringing. As I walked through the very area that Jesus grew up in, the HUMANITY of Jesus began to come alive to me. He would begin to show me in scripture of how He understands my anger, my tiredness, my zeal, my passion, my hurts and everything in between.
As I was walking the hills of Galilee, I could hear Him say, “I even understand nostalgia”. I couldn’t help but weep at the understanding of that. He understands. You may feel completely alone in what you are walking through right now, but let me dispel that lie for you. You are NOT alone. He was left alone and abandoned, so that we would never be alone and abandoned. He broke the hold of the enemy on our lives, and paid every price there was to pay, so that we would be redeemed to walk with victory on our side.
If you just allow Him to have access to every season and human emotion you possess, hiding it all will no longer take up any more of your energy. Because it does not offend Him nor repulse Him, it reminds Him of moments He walked through that identifies with what you are walking through. And then it gives Him access to redeem it all! If you allow Him, you’ll not only never walk alone, but you’ll have the most wonderful best friend that your heart has always longed for.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
I tried to be the hero for a day
But all my super powers failed to save
So I turned in my ego and my cape
I was made to fly, but not this way
You’re my hero
You’re the only One
Who is strong enough
You’re my hero
You always pick me up
Before I self destruct
These words penned by Bethel Music Artist, Steffany Gretzinger, in her new album Blackout have been absolutely owning me. This song, Save Me, in particular has been on REPEAT. Seriously, girl… how did you get in my head like that? #spiritanimal
What I love so much about this song, is how incredibly gut level honest it is. You see, we have a chronic illness in the Body of Christ and it’s called “faker-itis”. This condition is diagnosed as the following: one who suffers from constant pretending to be okay when they are not, striving to prove oneself to others, God, or to themselves—mild to severe cases of perfectionism, negative self talk, and all symptoms related to the above. Side affects of every medication outside of Jesus, may lead to restlessness, self hatred, offense, bitterness, and a guaranteed case of exhaustion. (insert with soft music and birds chirping in the spring sun.)
After living so long with this illness, I was definitely suffering from all the above. Topped with a pretty red bow of chronic fatigue. Now hear me, from the outer world, most people would never guess that this was going on, because this condition does not bring alarm to one another until we hit rock bottom. Burnout. And the process of getting to that point is not pretty in the least. Maybe for you it’s not that extreme, but you know that you are not living in the peace, order, or consistency you so desperately long for. Well sister, I have one word for you, and you’re not going to like it…but it’s a massive key that we are missing in this puzzle piece and it’s this: VULNERABILITY.
Yep, the dreaded word that we as women especially have marked off the list. But until you realize that the Savior of your soul that already sees all, just wants for you to finally give Him those hurting places, the strength that your mind, body, soul, and spirit so desperately need will not come in its fullness.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
We operate at our very best and strongest disposition when we are operating from a place of rest, but I cannot tell you of how many days off I have had and went to work the next day still feeling tired. Rest has two facets, physical and spiritual. You cannot have one without the other. But in a world that glorifies busy, both are usually highly neglected. Yet, we have Jesus telling us to come to Him and He gives us not a longer to-do list, but REST. His yoke is easy. His burden is light, but most of us translate easy and light to lazy. Yet we’ve never been so tired. Let’s stop the glorification of busy! We will accomplish so much more for His Kingdom if we operate from rest.
Where we are missing it, is that Jesus is saying, come to me, learn from me, I’m gentle and humble so you don’t have to put on the fake face— I will give you rest in exchange and teach you. But, so many of us just take that as a prayer, reading some scripture, done. No, sister. He’s so much more personal than that. Because if you’re honest with yourself, you have way more needs to be met than a quick prayer and reading a few scriptures. He wants to commune with you. He wants to show you His character and show you that there is more to who He is, and He’s just waiting for you to put down the fake strength, be vulnerable, and tell Him about the real burdens your carrying.
He’s not appalled, offended, or disappointed by this, He’s ASKING for you to do this. He can show you truth to every lie and give you a strength that is birthed from a daily vulnerable interaction with Him who gives you rest like no other. Not sure where to start? Here are a few pointers to help you kick off a journey of healing, rest, and strength.
- At the beginning of your day, give yourself some uninterrupted time to sit, put on some worship music if you want, and focus your attention on Jesus. Don’t go into prayer, repentance, or even journaling. I mentally will sometimes take every aspect of my life and hand it over to Jesus, and just tell Him that I give it to Him, until there is nothing left of me to hand Him and I’m just a daughter boldly and humbly approaching Him with no agenda but to sit in His presence. Don’t feel anything? No goosebumps? No worries. God is bigger than your emotions. In this moment, it’s not about what He can give you, but that we are willing to just empty ourselves and wait on Him.
- Journal out every thought, feeling, and emotion to Him. Then ask Him to give you ears to hear His voice, to silence your voice and any others, and ask Him what He thinks about what you have just poured out to Him.
- Write out your struggles. Sometimes I will list them one by one. And underneath each struggle, I ask Him to tell me what He thinks about this struggle. What is the lie I’m believing? Repent for the lie and then ask Him to tell you the truth. Write it down!
- Take care of yourself. Self care is NOT selfish. Take a nap, go for a hike alone, get a sitter and go get dinner with your girlfriends, buy a cute top, take a bubble bath, get your nails done, sleep in, eat healthier, give yourself time to work out once a week and build from there, start a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Do something that brings LIFE to you. Binge watching Netflix does not leave you rested, it just checks you out mentally so you can escape what your reality currently is. (Yes, I did say that!)
The Lord is so kind and patient. But fakeritis won’t get you far with Him, yourself or anyone else for that matter. Let the walls down and give yourself permission to say, “I’m not okay.” “I have this need.” “I’m hurting.” “I am struggling with this.” to the One who holds the keys to your freedom.
When I was 17 years old, I found myself standing on the beaches of Destin, FL completely and utterly broken. The pain I felt was choking me from the inside out, and all I wanted was to dive into the water and float away. I wanted to escape this life of emptiness and hurt that kept finding its way to my doorstep. Every turn I made, heartache seemed to meet me there. It had formed me into this tough skinned, walled up, quick to cut you down before you could see my hurt, don’t you dare touch me teenager. I watched the waves as I thought to myself, I truly am nothing.
The strange thing in it all, is I still had this small portion of my heart that so desperately wanted to believe otherwise. I had this faint whisper in my mind that told me, there’s so much more…but I could not believe it. I believed the lies that I would always be second best. I would always come up short. At some point, everyone will walk away from you. I would always disappoint. I would never be good enough. I believed these lies with such a deep belief, that they could not so easily be shaken. These lies were not just a belief, but they were my reality. They were the filters I saw every situation through. Every person through. The filters I saw myself through. It was as if I had no control over this belief system, it was truly embedded into my very DNA.
I would be rejected by a friend…I knew I wasn’t fun enough. I would be the brunt of a joke…I knew I wasn’t cool enough. I wouldn’t have the money to go out with my friends…I’m always going to be without. The cycle went on and on. To believe anything else, well that would have to take a complete life transplant. So, there I was, looking out at the water, and I said out loud “God, are you actually real?”. Nothing miraculous happened. No voice from the sky. No dove floating down with gold dust or anything else out of the ordinary. So, I just went back to my car and drove “home”. I drove to the house that I was staying in at the time. My family had left me to move away, and the other half of my family was in another state completely unaware of my whereabouts. I was living in the basement of a friend’s house at the moment, sleeping on the couch and trying to just stay out of the way. I’ll never be fully cared for. I was eating dollar tacos from a taco shack…I’ll never be able to shake this shame. My life was entangled in these constant lies. My belief system was in massive need of an overhaul. But, who could possibly touch this mess? Who would dare put in the effort it took to fix 17 years of PROVEN abandonment and disappointment. Who could speak to these lies and make me believe there was another reality I could walk in?
That following Wednesday, I had a friend who invited me to his church. I was completely weirded out by this, but without remembering the question I had asked on the beach, I said yes. I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked into trap. Something was going to happen. Something weird. Something is going to either attack me or take me out. Oh, if I’d only known that yes, something was about to happen. The enemy of my life was about to be taken out and I was about to attack that enemy every day thereafter. I sat in that youth service and heard the message of a savior, who would love me and never leave me. I heard about how He had forgiven me and wanted to be my friend. I remember shaking the entire time the youth pastor began to speak about this Man. I cried silently the entire time and knew, something is shaking my very foundation. It was then that I knew, this is what I’ve been looking for. I knew, I believed.
After that moment, He led me through a journey of disassembling my entire belief system. A belief system of thickly webbed lies. A system that only one man, Jesus, was ever able to not only break through, but took the time to not just rewire it all, but give me a completely customized brand- new system. Even down to my very DNA. He broke off every generational wiring for failure, and designed me to always succeed with Him. I am wired to succeed. I am a daughter of the King. And He never fails.
I now live in a reality that is so much more than truth even, it is a KINGDOM. It’s a belief system that flows through my veins, that contain the very blood of Jesus. It’s a belief system that when pricked or dared to be invaded by any sickness of lies, is immediately rebuked by a strong defensive wall of the Word of God. It’s a system that if one bit is not true, it’s all not true. And there is no person, no enemy, no lie that can say anything to break down the truth of this gospel. If He never does one more thing for me, if I never hear His voice again, what He did on the cross and has taught me through His word and relationship thus far, would be enough. Hear me sister when I say, no matter how deep you may be in the entanglement of lies—there is one that can not only untangle it, all but can fill you with truth and revive your tired soul. He can make ALL. THINGS. NEW.
I will myself to always love you.
I make a conscious choice to love you at your worst.
I choose to love you when you hurt me.
I resolve to love the unlovable.
In your darkest hour, I will love you still.
I have closed every door of escape, and I choose you every time.
I said no to every temptation, so that you have every part of me.
I choose to give you my life, even before you choose me.
I will always love you, have always loved you, and can never will myself otherwise.
This is agape love. It’s the nature and essence of what agape portrays to you. Agape love is not just a word defined, it is alive and moving, not afraid of the tough times. It is fierce. This is the love of Jesus that constantly keeps me hemmed in. It’s the love I do not deserve. It’s a love that because of my human make up, I’ll never fully understand. It’s what keeps me going in my darkest of moments, when all I wish is to hide. It’s the love that called to me when I was least deserving of it. It’s the love that calls to me now, when I least deserve it. It is a love that grips my very most inner being and makes me crumble when I need to crumble—and then puts me back together in a way I could have never imagined, nor had the strength to comprehend.
Yet in one moment, this love strengthens me, reassures me, corrects my path, and carries me into the next steps of life. This agape love is not dictated by feelings or emotions. This agape love has proven to me time and time again, that the only way to love as it loves me, is to choose this love regardless of what serves me and my desires. My desires to be seen, to be understood, to get my point across, to be proven right, or to come out on top. This love is only by willful choice. It is selfless. It is quiet and unseen. It is a choice to put others first, so that they may experience this love too. It comes only by His Holy Spirit in you—teaching you, guiding you, spending time with you. It is ONLY by this agape love, that one truly is introduced to the true nature of Jesus. Because HE IS agape love. It is His very nature and being. He knows no other way. He chooses no other way. To think that this Jesus love is just a feeling, is to be deceived. The feeling of love, is a very shallow love. But my Jesus loves when the feelings are sinful and against Him. This love is untouchable by feelings, because He knew our feelings would constantly wave back and forth. Feelings have no power over this love. But the more I choose Him, the more I choose His ways, the more I seek His smile and embrace throughout my every day, the more I choose to live to love Him, the more I realize that I no longer house a wave of emotions. I have the peace of a calm river. Always moving forward, never stagnant or boring, powerful and life giving. This love is waiting for you right this very moment.
As you read each word, it has you on His mind. He’s constantly jealous for you, because He desires to show you this love. It comes only by Him, so no need to look anywhere else. He’s calling your name, sister. You need only to turn your gaze to Him, and His unconditional, unmerited, undeserving, love is ready to embrace you.
When I was 16 years old, I had a black and white birthday party. Not just to be trendy and cool, but to personify the major shift I was going through. When I graduated from high school, I did not go to the big post grad party with all of the same people I had known my whole life, I strategically went to a restaurant with people that I wanted in my future.
When I was 21 years old, my husband threw me a surprise birthday party, in which I cried my eyes out because I wasn’t emotionally prepared for such an event, and I had spent the day planning out my future. When I turned 25, I had a quarter life crisis (Yes, it’s a thing. Google it.) and spent the whole night crying in a pool of snicker wrappers, freaking out that I had not accomplished half the things I had planned on my 21st birthday. You could say…I have a history of not handling change very gracefully. I struggle. Change is a big deal for my sensitive and slightly OCD soul, and I always tend to take it much more seriously than most. But now that I am approaching 30, I’ve learned a thing or two. I have in no way arrived. But change is something that I’ve spent the past 10-15 years in my life, learning how to do incorrectly.
The past 3 years have taught me so much about change. They’ve taught me how to take a step back, gain some HEALTHY perspective and walk it out one step at a time, with Grace. Here is what I have learned, and am still walking out every day.
1. Sometimes, life is just hard.
Now this doesn’t mean that we throw ourselves a week-long pity party and wallow in the struggle. But it does mean that sometimes, it’s just not that deep and you’re going to go through some tough moments. Maybe you’re like me and can tend to dive deep into dissecting the situation, or you exhaust yourself by thinking about all the negative aspects of the situation. At the end of the day, you can’t change the fact that life can just be tough sometimes. BUT, you can cut yourself a break, take a deep breath and use my secret weapon. Which brings me to point two.
2. Mirror moments
It’s when something tough comes up. A difficult situation. Stressful day. Something out of your control coming at you. I have learned, that it’s always a sign of some type of transition that the Lord is bringing me through. It could be a big external transition that others can see, or an internal exchange between just the Lord and I. I simply begin to speak out loud to myself as if I was looking myself in a mirror. Not in a, “She’s talking to herself. That’s weird” kind of way. But in a, “I will speak to my flesh and say that you WILL bow down to His word and you WILL catch up to my spirit that is running to Him no matter how I may feel” kind of way. It usually starts off a little slow with thanking Him for my home, food and basic provision. Then it begins to pick up some momentum into thanking Him for my family and loved ones. Now we are really gaining speed and I am recapping His faithfulness in what He has brought me out of and what He has saved me from. Then by now it’s a full-on praise as my faith begins to quickly rise as I am declaring what His word says about my future.
It’s bold. It’s confrontational. It’s authoritative.
Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is the most deceptive thing, full of wickedness. In times of transition or change, the enemy will bring distraction after distraction to get your eyes off of Jesus and His word that keeps you steadfast. We must guard our hearts from deception by continuously speaking and ingesting the Word of God that keeps us immoveable and constant—even when your own heart and emotions are raging on the inside. He has the ability to bring peace and stillness to those seas.
3. Be quiet.
Every time the Lord was trying to bring change from the inside out in me, or was bringing me into a new season, the seas of change would begin to roar and I did what every normal girl would do…talked to my friends, family and anyone that would listen about it. I am a verbal processor. So naturally, I would verbally process my raging emotions so many times that by the time I go it aaaalllll out, I had so many opinions at my fingertips that I would pick and choose which ones best felt fitting and ran with those. Feeling good about it all for a little while, since I was able to get all my words out, but eventually falling flat on my face because none of those words were actually from the one that had the answer. After many bloody knees and a broken bone or two from trying to figure it all out on my own, I have learned to just…be quiet. I do not isolate, but if I speak to anyone about such personal matters, I speak to only one or two people that are spiritually ahead of me and are brutally honest. They love me enough that they won’t just console and pat me on the back agreeing with my every word, but who know His word and have enough life experience to point me to Him. And I listen to those spiritual mama’s.
I then put all coffee date time, long phone conversation time and late-night girl chat time, into sit-with-the-Lord time. I quiet myself and sit in His presence. I only open my mouth to worship Him and then continue to sit in His presence. I am not expecting anything. I am simply just spending time with the one who can speak one word to my heart and it is exactly what it longed for. I am bringing something to the table versus just expecting His hand of blessing.
Nothing makes me happier then when my 3-year-old daughter hugs me and loves on me just because. It is in those moments with the Lord that trust, faith, consistency and deep love are built and cause for every storm to become silent. Fear has no place here. Heaven invades my reality and becomes my reality. A holy exchange occurs, and I become untouchable. There is nothing too big for Him, all He asks for…is you.
Change isn’t easy—it’s pretty stinking hard, actually. But sister, take it from me, it doesn’t have to be lonely and overwhelming. You can be in the midst of change and walk in a Peace that surpasses yours and anyone else’s understanding. So much so that someone may say, “What is it about you that seems at such peace? It doesn’t make sense.” And then you, sister, get to tell them about the One who calms every storm and speaks in solution. No matter what. Every time.