In a seemingly small town on an ordinary fall morning, I watch as children are led from cars into school like loyal and faithful soldiers. At this age their blowsy appearance is still being molded and transformed. Their confidence is being tested by the stewards around them and their faithfulness grows from the deep roots of their obedience Faithfulness is a quality of reliability. A reliability that stands strong in the midst of any imperfection.
In dark, dusty ash brought to the surface through deep volcanic eruptions sits carbon rocks. These carbon minerals provide the source to form beautiful material with superior qualities. After years of pressure and heat these carbon rocks develop into a beautiful one of a kind gem. These diamonds are flawless but only after the combustible carbon torridity transformed the imperfection into a reliable precious treasure.
I often wonder why we do not see the treasures that lie in front of us. It is hard to push through our imperfections and see that in the end we will be a precious diamond. Some people can zoom through these stages and others never travel a step further. I know as a mother I try to tidy up and present others the gem they are. That frontier is not for me execute. God gave us this wonder. My job is to be a reliable source of obedience and focus so that I can find my diamond.
Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you ever gone through a divorce or separation? Sadly, right now I feel as if I am in the middle of a bitter, difficult resolution of my relationship with God. Fortunately, i know that loving God is a lifelong individual journey that I will embark on for the rest of my life.
When I was 18 this journey with God began. I was very naive and did not know how to grow as a Christian. I knew something inside of me had changed. I wholeheartedly gave everything I had to worshiping Jesus. I felt love and peace. I followed Jesus faithfully and boldly. I wanted to learn everything I could about the bible. I was excited and I energetically tried to serve anyway I could. But, nobody taught me how to be a Christian.
Before I knew it, my selfish controlling attributes started sneaking back in. The devil got a foothold. I grew farther from Jesus but I still felt his presence in my life. God allowed me to do things my way. I began to make one bad decision after another and completely stopped growing in my Christian life. All the time something had a hold on me. God never left me. I began a complete downward spiral. Fortunately, he knew when I had enough. I spent years doing it my way then God drew the line. Everything around me crumbled. He began to show me he wanted a relationship with me personally. He gave me strength. I began a new attitude in my relationship with him and others around me. I began to see things God’s way. Many times I took baby steps or turned away all together but God remained faithful. He showed me he had bigger plans for my life,
Many parts of my life have changed since then. I became a humble servant and God began to work through me. Then, my health began to change. This is when I slowly started to feel my relationship with him trying to unravel. It is amazing how quickly you can stop spending time in his word. How you may disagree with his plan. I became stubborn and as I defended my individual rights, it started to take away my worship and my time-serving him. Once again I was stranded. I was lonely. My relationship was crumbling right in front of my eyes. Divorce could be imminent. But, for a man who willingly laid down his life for me and endured such torture I am willing to go through some pride and discomfort to have a lasting, loving investment in this marriage. I will not go through the pain of divorce again. I challenge everyone to practice unconditional love and develop intimacy in whatever relationship honors you in your life.
I began a conversation with my husband as he got home tonight. I was reminded again about our financial situation and the lack of income coming into the house. As the wind and rain blow through, I am reminded again about our financial situation. The shingles on the south end of the house have blown off due to previous heavy wind and rain. We have a tarp over that area and the shingles in other areas are peeled back. As I go out to get the mail I am reminded again of our financial situation. Last weekend a driver took out our mailbox that had originally been encased in a brick stand. There are bricks scattered in an empty lot and a mailbox that is a crumbled mess. Satan loves to hit us in the most vulnerable place. As I walk back toward the house, I am joined by my little blond blue-eyed boy, who is not so little anymore.
Not to long ago he could not put a sentence together. He did not hold a pencil correctly. He had to be removed from every daycare or school he has ever been to. He was a bitter. He had angry outbursts. He is sensitive to noise and would often run down the hallway at school to escape from it. He is dyslexic and at the beginning of the week when the new spellings words come out, you can almost guarantee a call from school. Nobody wants to hear what the family goes through at home. Families often fall apart with the stress and turmoil caused by a non-typical pattern of behavior. I feel guilty as if I could change the madness. Behavior specialists can give good background tools, but there is no situation that is the same.
Lupus finally took me down about a year ago but I fought it for years before that. I was a single mom until he was five. When you are so busy, you do not stop to enjoy what God has given you. It is very easy to look out and see what you don’t have. Day after day you become embedded in a routine that seems so solid that nothing could break the barrier. I would isolate myself because I felt like a bad parent. I could not leave my children with anyone because I was so ashamed. You want to change the behavior but everything you do doesn’t seem to matter. And, it doesn’t get better, it just changes as they get older. You go through the motions day after day.
I never thought I would be so stagnant. Now, I sleep half the day sometimes. I am at the point where my income has stopped coming in. The other day he looked at me and asked me if I was going to go back to work. Before I could answer , he said I am afraid. I do not want you to go back. You might die. He heard me say for so long….¨i cant do this anymore¨! just cant do it, he was scared. I saw him for how his behavior affected me, I never saw him for how MY behavior affected him. He is reading and schoolwork although still hard, gets done in a somewhat sane way. I forget these boys who feel abandoned by their father, have overcome great obstacles . Even though I now am remarried, I am the only parent they really know. When you are a single parent you sometimes feel distant and cold, and removed from the relationship you have with your children. That is the biggest mistake I could have made.
I grew up with performance based grace. I was separated from my father at ten years old. I have lived my entire life trying to please him. I grew up under his watchful eye as he scrutinized my every move. I was never quite good enough in the things I did. I have started to look at my relationship with my sons and I wonder sometimes if they can feel my insecurities. I know my mood shifts and my temper can get the best of me. I wonder if what I am saying to them is a mirror image of what I learned as a child. I learned that it was easier to stay in the shadows. It was easier to avoid confrontations. I would end up with hurt feelings and a self-image that I would suffer with my entire life.
My relationship with my husband has started down the same path. I feel like a timid child when confronted with a problem. My intimate, loving response to his touch has grown cold. I feel the quick, angry, disposition from him the way I felt when my father was disciplining me. I do not look to him for his leadership role in the house as I should. Our marriage has become out of sync with what God had planned. We both suffer everyday trying to grasp hold to the root of foundation he laid out for our marriage. My resistance is causing rejection in everyone around me. My husband feels rejected because I cannot find grace in my life.
I have struggled to maintain a productive life. I measured my worth by my abilities. I was successful at my job but, in every relationship getting below the surface became very painful and scary. Now, being unable to work and produce predictable income has torn open my flesh and exposed me to various levels of pain. It has also peeled open a joyous thirst for God. I can sing praises and give thanks even though I cannot see around the corner.
I am thankful that my marriage has been bonded by God. Even though I stubbornly, and selfishly follow God, I know that my rebellion will be met with Grace. The real value of a person is inside not on the outside. Our performance in life is not what is appealing to God. It is our heart…..Thank goodness my husband has a HUGE one!
As a women I am constantly aware of my deep, inner feelings. I am always looking out for my own needs and was.. It is important to me that others love me the same way. If we did not love ourselves we would not be concerned about being rejected, hurt, or mistreated. We all want to be accepted. Our need is not to love ourselves more but to love the image and direction God has given us.
The last year has been physically and emotionally tough. I had surgery and developed a large hematoma. I was released from the hospital while I was still complaining of significant pain. Three days later I was at the doctor. I had become bruised from my waist to my thighs. My wound had literally opened. They packed me with gauze and admitted me back into the hospital. I went to surgery for a debreidment. I left the hospital with a wound vac which heals or closes the wound from the inside out. Every three days I had to get it changed. The pain was the most unbearable bondage I have ever experienced. About three weeks with the machine, I was running a fever. My drainage was foul with the tint of infection. I was told so many times that my wound was healing nicely. I continued to run fever and have the foul odor. At one of my dressing changes the nurse pulled out a piece of gauze. The wound vac had pulled it up through the healing process and that part of my wound had not healed. It WAS infected. The gauze had been left in my abdomen at some point.
I could not work. I could not play with my children. I was a prisoner in my own house. Mistakes like that can change the way you see things. I began to justify my pain and laziness because I was damaged.. Instead of fighting, kicking and screaming at my physicians, I withdrew. My problems were being ignored. I did not like myself, so I began to feel mistreated and rejected. My problem still denies me from my life.
Don´t stop believing. Instead of denying our self-image, we need to receive Gods love and purpose. In her book”Lies People Believe,¨ Nancy Leigh Demoss writes Jesus says we need to give to others the same attention and care we would give ourself. Your situation does not describe you. I hope you never stop loving yourselves and believing the negative foothold the devil sneaks in.
Mental health is not a subject most of us do not talk about over coffee but, It could be a topic that we talk about around the water cooler at work. There is a stigma that follows that entire category. People genuinely enjoy talking about themselves but certain secrets we tend to hold onto tight. We deal with our mental health with stuff. God has empowered us to manage our lives for his glory. So, If we can talk about ourselves so freely then why do christians have a hard time-sharing their faith? Look around your community. We can empower people who may have a secret hidden way back in their memory.
When my older sister was around eight her class at camp was walking through the woods. She was a little behind her class with two of her friends. A man came out of the woods and grabbed her. He took off down the trail while running with her in his arms. The two boys she was with, had the instinct to chase after them. After a few moments he dropped her.
All types of relationships are needed to develop our faith. At the same school, I was assaulted. I was to young to remember so it shouldn´t affect me, right? Well it did. Even though I do not remember all the facts my memory kept it stored. For most of my life I was very introverted. I obsessed on my pain. I was quiet and shy. To fit in, I choose activities that forced me to be extraverted.
These memories were never worked through. We did not talk about it and everyone figured we were okay. I have experienced the unique characteristics that come with this memory. I have lived my life depressed. I was lucky to have support but hospital stays were very confusing and they really made me feel very alone.
Mental health affects everyone. Your experiences cannot be disputed by anyone. We must go out to the hopeless and pull them out of the place they are holding onto so tight. Godś grace has brought people in your life. It is a honor to share your faith. It is even more of an honor to walk with them so they will have a partner to be accountable to. Mathew 7:1 says ¨Do not judge or you too will be judged.¨ God uses the word hypocrite. So, we need to take the speck out of our own eyes.
I know we all have our own obsessive thoughts, right? I have been confined to my couch for a good part of a year now with short intervals of my formal life breaking through every now and then. This year has been filled with many devastating set backs. Day after day I loathed in sorrow. I was doing nothing to help my situation. Then, a really good friend showed me that it was my pride that was getting in the way. Pride hurts us and it hurts others around us.
We are not gracious or compassionate by nature, We are jealous and quick to anger. When life is good we take too much credit. When life is bad our pride is hurt and we become self-conscious and shameful. That becomes another way of taking too much credit because God’s will is never wrong.
I have worked diligently through the years in a field that I love. Unfortunately, it was not job description I had always longed for. My performance reviews showed extremely high ratings and now after 20 years my arrogance finally took me down. I could not perform the description of what my job entails. I became depressed and broken.
God hates pride. But, God also gives us grace and mercy when we are at our worse. I cried out to him so many times. Still I never could pick myself up. I did not get to hear that still small voice that comforts us as we pray. I was pulling away. I got very angry. But, I realized I wasn’t supposed to pick myself up, …. God was. My friends were so helpful. People brought food and a lended ear. But, I was crying out for the wrong reason. I am arrogant. I want to be the best at whatever I do. But,that is not what God wants. I feel like I am a burden and my pride doesn’t allow me to fully feel God’s grace and mercy. My friends were not burdened, they were serving God.
God knows when we genuinely surrender. He knows our heart and motives. Pride can take your life. We are never as bad or good as we think we are. Surrendering to God while you are still grasping to your pride will not work. God gives us unconditional love. The less we credit him the further we pull away.