Ever So Faithful

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Disposable.

This is the word that reverberated in my thoughts and penetrated the raw, vulnerable parts of myself as I mindlessly drove down the highway, blinking back the tears that were trying their very hardest to spill over and make my pain visible.

As I made vain attempts at pushing away my thoughts and thinking on other things, and reminding myself of God’s grace and irrepressible faithfulness, each road marker hit me like a bullet, connecting with the bulls-eye of memories I often plead with God to free me from.    All at once a flood of people that used to be in my life come filtering through my mind, the memories of them taunting me by screaming that sometimes people are only ever a part of your life to leave you. Then the vicious cycle of questions begin to scream at me for answers:

Why weren’t you good enough?

Why don’t they want to be part of your life?

Why have they forgotten you?

Where. Are. They?

After each question the pity piles higher and higher. A mound so high that God’s grace is lost on me, hidden deep in the shadows of the value in myself I feel is not recognized.

I guess here’s the thing – when all you want to do is share with others – to help them see that they don’t have to go it alone, that you will sit down with them and poor over the brokenness they may be feeling, and encourage them to see God’s grace and mercy in every ounce of bad that ever penetrates their life, when you want to be a person that someone can count on – but you find yourself in a lot of half-baked friendships, and ones that last for a short while and then fade, or just with person after person not even pausing as they walk out the door, it feels like a whole lot of failure.

I believe a huge part of the pain God walks us through has everything to do with ministering His glory to someone who will need to see it some day.

But maybe today is not that day.

Maybe God still needs to work the kinks out of the issues which are not quite resolved in your own heart before you can ever begin to bring clarity to someone else’s. Maybe He’s just not quite finished with where He has you right now.

Here is another thing –

I say this out of love and care, whether you’re a guy or a girl, it doesn’t matter – God does not call you to fix someone who is broken, to be their healing, to make them happy or bring them joy – He heals. This is not to say that He won’t use you for someone to see His goodness, but if you are looking for a man or woman after God’s heart and feel compelled to heal their pain or fix their brokenness and they allow you to, then something has to give.  We help each other with the burdens of life that weigh us down, but God carries us. Oh girls (and I only say this because it is what I can relate to, not because I don’t know it goes both ways) I know how badly you want to take away the pain you see in someone – how much you want them to know you value them and care about them – how much you want them to know you are there for them amidst what they are going through, but a godly man will not spill his deepest hurts with you and ask you to carry them for him. A godly man will respect you and love you enough to seek Christ for his emotional support.

“There is an emotional promiscuity we’ve noticed among many good young men and women. The young man understands something of the journey of the heart. He wants to talk, to “share the journey.” The woman is grateful to be pursued, she opens up. They share the intimacies of their lives – their wounds, their walks with God. But he never commits. He enjoys her… then leaves. And she wonders, What did I do wrong? She failed to see his passivity. He really did not ever commit or offer assurances that he would.” -Stasi Eldgredge

Emotional promiscuity is just as dangerous as physical promiscuity, and I would say just as damaging, and girls are just as guilty of this, probably even more so. If hearts are being deeply shared, but no prayer or commitment or defining of what God has been showing either one of you is being expressed than something is wrong. Trust me, no matter how badly you just want to be there for someone, you can’t – you can’t you can’t – no matter how much of you is yearning to be that emotional support. You are giving away emotions and deep, intimate connecting that is only meant for your spouse, and I don’t care how cheesy that may sound, because when you find yourself broken hearted with devastation you will know just how much so God never desired or designed for that to be the end result. Years of healing, and questioning your worth are left in the wake of its path.

A godly man will seek the heart of Christ and tread with respect as he walks alongside Christ’s daughters, seeking how to honor you, not use you emotionally to feel better, or worse, enter into a relationship with you while knowing he is not healed and is carrying around burdens you should not ever have to carry for him. A godly man will be intune to Christ’s heart and will seek Him, and pray, and ask God to reveal His will, and pursue you as Christ pursues you every day.

I promise you, one day you will wake up, and all you will desire is to be a vessel for God’s kingdom, no matter what you gain or lose along the way. Loneliness will not vanish, pain will not disappear out of your life, desires for your future will remain intact, discouragements will come, doubts will be raised, hope will be clung to, weariness will creep up again and again, but confidence will be sure – because you will desire God to use you, every day, in whatever capacity He chooses, to bring glory to His kingdom, regardless of your gain. You will revel in your rescue, and will find the most joy when sharing of His ceaseless grace and endless love, and the peace despite the journey, will be so so satisfying.

Pray boldly to Christ – ask boldly, seek boldly, knock boldly – I believe it is a beautiful thing to fall prostrate before Him laying out every thought and emotion raging within you – He will meet you, and He will draw near. Do not think for one second He will shame you for crying out to Him.

No, my dear, He will count every tear and pour blessing upon blessing straight into your heart and you will know He is ever so faithful in time of need.

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them…I will RESCUE them from ALL the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness…I will SEARCH for the lost and BRING BACK the strays. I will BIND UP the hurt and injured and STRENGTHEN the weak…I will make them and the places surrounding My hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be SHOWERS OF BLESSING. The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be SECURE in their land. They will KNOW that I am the Lord, when I BREAK THE BARS of their yoke and RESCUE them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will NO LONGER be plundered…they will live in SAFETY and NO ONE will make them afraid.”

-Ezekiel 34

Something of Sustenance

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And after I had taken hold of every little thing the world had to offer me I was left standing in a downpour of my own wreaked havoc; drenched in the tears of a God who battled hard against every demon that so very desperately tried to claw its way into a heart held captive by its own deceit.  Unaware of the wicked that ever so gradually began to seep in through the crevices of where I claimed my worth lay, I allowed dissatisfaction to mold me.

In the silent, inward shaping of the most impressionable area of my flesh I willingly sought out and beckoned discontentment to come take up residence, to breed and overpopulate in every corner of my shallow, joy-less heart.

And I built up a facade of strength with each rung of cynicism and envy I could find, each chink in the armor created a faux representation of a heart after God’s will.

My heart knew that it could never be satisfied with all of the dissolvable, sugar-coated fill-ins that I tried to fool it into thinking were something that could ever last.

So my spirit taught me a lesson on emptiness – you can fill a void to the brim with things that dissolve, and break, and die, and disappoint, you can heap your loneliness and dissatisfaction up with the flattery of all the things that you want to last and finally add worth to the areas of your life that are normally only occupied by insecurities and easily-shattered value, but it will never last, it will leave you, and you will be left starving all the more for something of sustenance.

That is where I fully realized, that satisfaction does not lie in any one of the things that I constantly strive for and think will give me completeness, and it is in that realization that my heart has begun to long only for Jesus.

I grew up riddled by the knowledge that our hearts are meant to be guarded, because they are a wellspring of life (Prov 4:23), and that they simultaneously are deceitfully wicked above all else (Jer 17:9). If our hearts are so wicked than why are we taught to guard them as if they were something precious?

And I wonder…are we told to guard our hearts, not because they are so very precious, beautiful, and delicate, but more because they are deceitfully wicked?

Is it because we cannot trust them, because they will burn us and deceive us, that we need to guard them, is it because of our capability of hurting others that we need to guard them?

I do not trust my heart. I do not want to be led by it, I do not want to follow it.

I am not afraid of the ashes that God has turned into beauty, I am not afraid of the parts of me that God says have worth through His redemption and mercy, no, I am afraid of the parts of me that are capable of tripping up and landing headfirst into all the places I told myself I would never be.

After cynicism made its bed, discontentment settled in comfortably, envy made itself at home, and the rhythmical sound of my pitiful tears began to hit the roof, the realization that I built this home, that I created this mess, hit me like a rock.

I smothered myself in the grief of the part of me I felt was missing, and completely drowned out the incessant reminders of God’s splendor and grace on my life.

I think maybe now I fully understand what it is like to feel genuinely lonely for the other half God has out there for  you – I think sometimes God allows you to get burned by your own idea of what you thought it was you wanted – I think He allows you to grasp it and be severely disappointed by it, because it is through that that He molds your heart and changes your “ideal” into an unwillingness to settle for anything less than His perfect will. It is not that you are looking for someone who is perfect in any way, but someone who is more in love with God than they’ll ever be in love with you. I suppose that sounds ridiculous to most people, and honestly, I can’t say I blame you if you think I am whacked for feeling that way, but it is not until you have really experienced and embraced the love of God and how unconditional it is, that what your heart really wants changes.

A year ago I wanted affection. I wanted affirmation. I wanted to be a healer and to be outwardly beautiful.

A year ago I wanted star-lit skies and a hand to hold. I wanted good morning texts and good night phone calls. I wanted to be needed.

A year ago I wanted to feel complete and satisfied by companionship and my value to someone else.

I tell you, it takes God flipping the table on its head to really strip you of all the things that only mean nothing and have no value in the end. I am happy that God had to allow my heart to be wrecked momentarily to truly show me what He desires for me and to really turn my desires on their head.

I want to serve God with someone. I want passion for Christ behind eyes that are striving to serve Him. I want a spiritual leader and someone who inspires me to draw closer to Christ. Someone who will pray with me and pray for me. Someone who will be honest and lead me in God’s word and truth.

I just can’t tell you enough, that after  you experience a pseudo form of what it is you think you want and are left confused and broken God will show you the true value of waiting for a man after His heart. Something has changed inside of me. I am no longer daydreaming and wasting time thinking about that perfect hand to hold or perfect person to “make me happy”, but rather praying that whatever God does, if someone is out there that He means to be for me, that he will be so enraptured in God’s grace and faithfulness that nothing else matters to him. My loneliness has changed from being what I feel I am missing and needing to be needed, and has turned into an ache to serve God alongside them and build them up and grow and learn more and more of God’s character with them. I am lonely for them because I know that they will encourage me and draw me closer to Jesus, because they will seek God with me and remind me of His faithfulness. I am lonely not because I am incomplete and not because I am not satisfied with Christ, but because this person will share all the joys of God’s redemption with me and there is nothing more exciting.  I ache because I SO badly want to serve with them, but not because I am less valuable for being single.  I am so completely confident of the type of man I am waiting for. More so than I have ever been before.

Whether this part of my life ever comes to pass or not, it is OK.

I am expectantly waiting – filled with an adrenaline for God to use me.

There is a kingdom we are representing.

We bear the image of a Savior that cascaded mercy down upon us so that we could forever and ever, in full confidence, proclaim that we are covered in abounding love and sought after fiercely.

A lot of times we think of God’s grace as only being found inside of evident blessings and peaceful moments, which is true, but I think you will find that there will never be as much grace pouring into your life as the times it comes flooding in through your most broken moments.

God’s grace can never be over-shadowed when He has slain every giant in your life and conquered every ounce of pain and despair clawing away at your joy.

There is more grace in being carried through by faithfulness than in attaining satisfaction by temporary means.

Keep the fight, remember your value, and pour into other people’s lives, even in your brokenness – because you are here, in this moment, in this situation, to wreak of a glory not your own.

“I am not ashamed, for I know the One in whom I believe and am confident that He is able to keep what I have entrusted to Him.” -2nd Timothy 1:12

Your Worth Part 2: Valiantly Defended

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You thought that feeling was your heart breaking?
You thought that was the pain of a broken heart?
You thought that sound was the tearing of your most valuable, innocent, inward beauty?
No, my child.
That was not your heart breaking.
That was Me, breaking away the chains that were beginning to tie you down.
That was Me, vehemently protecting your heart from that which WOULD break it.
That was Me, fending off the cheap imitations of what I really have in store for you.
The pain was Me pulling off the leeches of flattery and deceit that were curling around the vessels flowing My truth to you.
They were sucking the life out of you.
I couldn’t stand by, after fighting so hard for you for so long, and watch the claws of falsidical “love” scrape and tear away at you.
I was outraged at this attempted break-in.
I have come to bring life, and life more abundantly.
You are the apple of My eye, do you think I would so easily stand back, unprotective, unprovoked, and unenthused to valiantly defend My jewel?
You are royalty in MY hands.
You are crowned with grace.
I have sought after you persistently.
I have betrothed you to Me forever, I will only let in that which will cherish you as well.
I have jealously longed for you, chivalrously treated you, consistently pursued you, and forever loved you.
Do not think for one moment that a knock will sound upon your door that I will not hear.
You are mine forever, I will always fight for you, even when it feels like your heart is breaking.

 

Your Worth Part 1: Valued By a Deity

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VALUED BY A DEITY
I think it’s safe to say that we all have those situations in our past that we think we’ve “dealt” with.  There is some significant trial or hurt or hardship that was a painful, defining moment in our pasts, most likely having to deal with being hurt, rejected, lied to, abandoned, betrayed, etc. by another person.

There is nothing enjoyable about reminiscing or dwelling on these past situations.  Mine happened three and a half years ago.  You could say by now I had definitely thought that I had “dealt” with that one.  I was completely confident that I had emotionally handled it and was no longer affected by it in any way, other than simply wondering why it had happened.

But did it still have a grip on me emotionally or spiritually?
Heck no.
Errrr…..
Well at least not until it came sprinting full-force back at me screaming it’s conditions, screaming that I was under contract with it, that I owed it a remembrance, a thought, that I owed it a part of me.
Screaming that though I had pushed it aside and buried the pain and hurt, the lies, the masquerade, the turmoil, the fallacies and mistrust, the anxiety, they were all still really there and I owed them a moment of recognition.
I could run quite easily, but hiding, I’m not very good at.  At least not for an extended period of time and you can’t run forever.
The best physical representation of what this encounter with the ghosts in my closet felt like was equivalent to the times you stand up too fast, your vision goes dark, you feel light-headed and you have to stop and grab the wall to let the moment pass or you’ll fall over.
These moments blindside you.

This part of my past literally felt so irrelevant to me that I had backed myself into a place where even thinking on it didn’t affect me.
I should have realized that I had a pretty major battle coming up when every day that I opened my Bible the same theme kept projecting itself repeatedly and insistently over and over again.
Everything I read reverberated to me
VALUE.
PURPOSE.
ETERNAL VALUE.
ETERNAL PURPOSE.
DESTINY.
FUTURE.
I was enamored by God’s rescuing of me.

I was enamored by His rivers in deserts, His pathways in the wilderness.

I was overwhelmed by His tenaciously persistent seeking of me.

I was enchanted by the fact that I am inscribed in the palm of His hands.
For a blessedly pure moment I was completely overwhelmed and confident of the knowledge that I had a purpose, I had immense value, and it was powerful.
I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head.
Everyone I talked to I wanted to express this amazing understanding of God’s purpose on our lives and the EXTREME value He has placed on our hearts.
Then that closet door was opened.
Just a crack, but a crack big enough to let the monsters come flooding in, enveloping my thoughts, swarming around the truths I was vainly attempting to keep a handle on.
Instantly, just as prominently as ever I could not get past the fact that I felt worthless.
Feeling as real as the explicit truths of God’s value of me was the immense taunting, bashing and lies of my in-value.
I thought back to the person that these feelings stemmed from, and felt completely stripped of my worth.
Spiritual manipulation rocks you.
It’s hard to know how to get past that.
Someone using your faith as a key to trick and manipulate you can create a pretty outstanding nick in your confidence of God and where He has you and what He could possibly do with you.
Even thinking back on the immediate time that this trial in my life happened I realized that I didn’t struggle so much with the explicit thoughts of having no value, even in the heat of the moment.
Yet here I was, three years later, doubting every truth I knew, feeling stripped, filthy, valueless, broken, etc. and in an instantaneous moment lies rocked the truth right out of me.
It is so easy to forget your value.  Especially when you feel the actions of another penetrate the truths that can be so hard to cling to.
What value do you have, when someone can so easily destroy it?
What value do you have, when someone can so easily throw the deepest parts of who you are back at you?
When someone forgets you.
When someone takes advantage of your heart.
When someone robs you of the most sacred part of your emotional being.
Why does God allow these people into our lives?
I think I have finally grasped part of God’s work behind this, at least for myself.
At that point in my life Satan looked at it as the perfect opportunity to steal my value right out from under me.
He knew he could destroy me through this.
He thought he had me right where he wanted me.
What better way to rob someone of their worth than by convincing them their gifts were a lie?
And these were the thoughts that came flying back at me, three years later, penetrating the most vulnerable parts of my –just barely held together – self.
Hitting me over the head again and again…jamming in every last lie until the truth was muffled out completely.
All I could think to myself was, How do I get past this?
How do I accept this and move on?
How do I become OK with this?
And that’s when God blew me away.
That’s when He took every answer I had as to “why” this situation happened in my life and flipped it on its head, and this is what He showed me:
That while Satan took this situation as the perfect opportunity to STRIP me of my worth, God allowed this situation to happen to show me how much value I have in HIM.
That my value was so much more than what this one person could appraise it as or tear it down as.
That my value was not worth what this one person in their lies, their deceit, their manipulation, and their mocking could label it as, but that I was worth SO MUCH MORE and God proved that by freeing me from it.
It looked like God had allowed my heart to break, when in all actuality He was vehemently protecting it, and breaking the bonds that were beginning to tie me down.
He saw this cheap and tainted form of something that is supposed to be perfect and rare come sweeping in and display itself in a facade of realness that was anything but.
God is jealous.
He is jealous of your heart, and anything that would even attempt to bruise, hurt, or destroy its innocence is a real thing grating against God’s pure and unadulterated LOVE and PURSUING of you.
So why are we surprised when He fights for it in the most valiant, persistent, and passionate way?
Why are we surprised when He fiercely battles for the winning of our hearts and desires to protect them from a degraded version of His perfect holding of them?
Not only does He do this to remind us of His agape love, but because He has something AMAZING out there for us, something we cannot find on our own, and settling for a diluted version of it is not in His plans for us.
So He must painfully strip away from us the imitations of His love.
He must painfully encourage us to sit back and wait.
And wait some more.
And while we could at times settle for the closest things to our hearts, if we wait and trust in the amazing plans that are waiting for us, we will not be able to imagine anything better.
Value is not us picking the first thing we see, value is God intricately and meticulously searching until He finds what will cherish us forever.

“He who touches you touches the Apple of His eye…” Zech 2:8
“For the Lord your God is living among you, He is a Mighty Savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs…He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.”
“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord…Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth..” Hosea 2
“You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed forsaken, nor shall your land anymore be termed desolate, for the Lord delights in you..you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken..” Is. 62
“I am here to give back your heart and set you free.
I am furious at the enemy who did this to you, and I will fight against him.
Let me comfort you.
For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you where you have known only devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow,
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise in exchange for your resignation and despair.”

When Scars Become You

030Blindsided.

That is the word that most closely mirrors how I felt when a sudden whirlwind of pain came roaring into my neatly and securely kept heart and tore it to shreds. There is no grey on the paintbrush of blindside that fiercely and jerkily colors within the lines of our circumstances, only a stark blackness covering up the white.

One moment something is, and the next, it is not.

As a 22 year old woman coming to grips with my own failure at maintaining the intricate mosaic that is my heart I have realized that being blindsided knocks the wind right out of you. Any strength, security, surety, or confidence I had in myself or my life, in an instant, came pouring out the holes of my broken heart. Like a shattered glass that once beautifully held everything about myself that I felt had value, in a cruel moment it was reduced to tiny fragments of uselessness that did nothing but slice, cut, and dig into the wounds that had in that moment been developed. This merciless villain named Blindside shrieked a shrill, resounding, and deafening mockery that whatever part of my heart I felt was of any value – forget it – You are worthless now.

I am here to tell you, that no matter what has blindsided your heart, you are of precious value.

I am here to tell you, that no matter how broken or shattered you feel, you are invaluable.

You are a sparkling, royal jewel, and let me tell you – you have SO much value, that whatever it is you feel in this moment has destroyed you – is really going to be what makes you into an even more beautiful woman. It never feels that way in the midst of our pain. It the midst of it we feel ugly, undesired, unprotected, and unnoticed, but the truth of it is that God sees so much value in you for His kingdom that He is confident in the ability to use things is your life that would cause some to despair to  mold you into something amazing for His kingdom. He is too passionate about who you are to not make a big deal out of your hurts, to not sweep in, rescue you, and bring you closer to the better things He has prepared.

Remember, you are not attacked with heartache, uncertainty, doubt, fears, sadness, loneliness, hurt, etc. when God is not about to do something huge. Satan doesn’t bother whispering lies and deceit when we’ve got it altogether and are at peace and confidence with our life, it is when he comes at us with a vengeance that we know God is scaring the crap out of him.

So in the midst of the times when we are not OK

In the midst of the times when the only thing we feel are pieces of our heart slipping out through the cracks of it’s brokenness

In the midst of pain that re-soundly screams from every corner of our lied-too thoughts

In the midst of hurt that whispers our inherent worth is forgotten

In the midst of betrayal that tells us we are only here to be left

In the midst of deep, painful, hidden wounds that we fight to heal on our own

In the midst of everything this fallen world has inflicted on our fragile scar-filled hearts

Remember this:

God puts every tear we cry into His bottle (Psalm 56), He has engraved us into the palm of His hands (Isaiah 49), we are the apple of His eye (Zech 2), to Him we are a crown of glory, a royal diadem, delighted in, redeemed, SOUGHT OUT, not forsaken (Isaiah 62), He has betrothed us in His righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, mercy, faithfulness (Hosea 2)..I could go on and on.

So if you have found yourself blindsided, if the wind has been knocked out of you, and if you have attempted to navigate through the deep perilous waters of a pain that you have felt stranded in, I am here to give  comfort that you are not alone, there are people who understand, and no one, especially not God, expects you to heal on your own and magically become whole again. Healing takes time, and whenever I have tried keep these threads holding my heart together intact, I have found it breaks all the more.

These weaving veins and scars flowing through and are etched onto our hearts and spirits flow life to us, and make us who we are. The beautiful ruts of our pasts (and our presents) are incredible tools of God for eternal, everlasting purposes, and more valuable than an air-brushed, falsified, facade of a heart that hasn’t experienced pain – without pain, we would not know true joy (which is something that cannot be taken away), and we would not see blessings when they are given to us.

Your scars are beautiful. They aren’t easy and they aren’t for the light-hearted, but they are absolutely stunning and this blog is here to show you just how many women have scars and have seen God use them for amazing and eternal things.

Journey with others, not on your own, and remember that God holds every tear your cry in His bottle, and these scars become you.

“Shake yourself from the dust, arise…loose yourself from the bonds around your neck, O Captive Daughter..” -Isaiah 52.2