Tuesday, December 2, 2014

(un)Happy Holidays

Have you ever struggled to contain a bundle of volatile emotions that are begging to be released? Have you ever felt like you succeeded only to have an avalanche of tears appear out of nowhere at the worst possible moment?  This has happened to me many times, and I am sure you can relate as well. If I can be a little blunt and potentially offensive, I have come to the conclusion that it is similar to trying to hold your bladder until a better time. At some point, it will empty, whether you are ready or not. 

So why do we try to hold it in instead of releasing it before it’s involuntary? For me, many times it is because I do not want to appear not to have it together. But you know what the truth of the matter is? I don’t have it together a lot of the time. Sometimes, many times actually, I put on a smile and attempt to fake it until I make it. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Oh my... you have NO idea. So you are probably wondering why I bother. 

Where to start... Well, sometimes I feel as if people expect that I should be over the loss of my marriage or further along in the healing process. After all, it was over a year ago that he left the first time. But as na├»ve as it may be, I fully expected things to work out each time he came back home. So each time he left, it was a little bit like starting over. A dream died once again. I was alone once again. I was grieving a loss once again. 

Recently there have been many things on the radio or on various blogs about coping with loss during the holidays. Some people are missing family and friends due to death. Some are missing them due to physical distance. Some people are missing loved ones by that loved one’s choice. All of these hurt. And for some reason, sometimes, the pain is glossed over, as if a joyous holiday is somehow supposed to erase that pain. I’d say for most of us experiencing the suffering, the holidays emphasize that pain. Do you ever struggle with not being able to fully enjoy this season and feel guilty?

Why do we have this idea that we cannot feel our pain and still be joyous over the birth of our Savior? Why do we feel that it cheapens the birth of Christ that we mourn the death or loss of someone we love? I know for me, it’s not just the family aspect of the season that makes it painful without my husband, although that certainly aches. It is the actual celebration of Christ’s birth. I served alongside my husband for years in our church. Every Christmas event that our church participates in year after year is something that we did together. We celebrated the reason for the season together. And then I look at where he is spiritually and it almost hurts physically. 

Do you know what I find comfort in? Jesus mourns right along with me. While I feel as if I am the one my husband is rejecting, it is really just the fallout of him rejecting Jesus. When it hurts me on the deepest level to walk into church without my husband, when I want to cry looking at where we used to sit together, it hurts Jesus too. And He does NOT expect me to be able to hold it together. He does not expect me to pretend it does not hurt. He just wants me to allow Him to be the one to hold me together, because on my own, I cannot do it. When He sees your loss, He aches with you. Death was never what He wanted for us, and He knows it hurts. 

So this season, if you are tempted to try holding it together on your own, for whatever reason, let Jesus hold you together instead, because in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) And allowing Him to be the one to hold us together allows us to experience our raw, honest emotions with Him by our side, and what greater comfort is there? To be held by the One that collects our tears; the One that endured ultimate suffering; the only One that will never leave us; the only One that will never forsake us; the One that does not condemn our brokenness, but instead glories in being the glue that makes us whole in Him.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

he loves me not, He loves me

“You’re fat. And ugly.
You’re worthless. No one will ever love you.
No one ever has loved you.
The best years of your life are over...
You’ll be miserable and die alone. Lonely.
Your life makes no difference,
And your death won’t either.”
As Satan pauses to take a breath,
That still small voice speaks up,
Caressing me with its gentleness and affection.
A whisper that roars over the vulgar rantings of the evil one...
“My child, you are beautiful,
For I knit you together - In my image.
You are beautiful inside and out.
You are worth more than anything on this earth.
You were worth the life of my son, my only son.
He loves you. I love you.
Before you even existed – we loved you.
The best is yet to come; when you stand before me
And feel my love envelope you, filling every void you have ever felt.
Your last breath on earth will be followed
By your first breath with me!  
And only then will you see just how important
Your life was, as you tried to serve me.
Only then will you know the role you played
In the eternal lives of those you knew and loved
And in the lives of people you didn’t even know.
Where you lacked, I was there to fill in the gap.
My child, you were chosen. You were pursued.
Don’t ever believe otherwise,
For it cheapens the amazing gift I gave you.
I know you inside and out.
I see you when you are in pain, struggling to believe.
Struggling to maintain your faith, unsure if you even have any.
That struggle does not make me love you any less.
Even when you have turned your back on me,
I’ve never loved you less.
I have always and will always be by your side.
Do not listen to the voice of the accuser.
Do not let him cause you to doubt what I have promised.
Rest in me, my love. And trust me.
I have never failed you,
And I never will.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Does Faith Look Like?

Have you ever asked yourself what faith actually looks like in someone's life? Or were you like me and assumed faith meant never doubting, never fearing and never questioning? Of course thinking like that will lead you to the assumption that you lack faith. Perhaps you can relate to that quite well. I've been thinking about faith a lot lately and I have come to the conclusion that, sometimes, explaining what faith is is best done by contrasting it with what it isn't.

Faith is not a lack of doubt. It is obedience in spite of your doubt. It is hope in spite of your doubt. It is looking at an impossible situation and accepting that nothing is impossible with God. God desires to bring glory to Himself. How much greater glory can He receive than making what seems impossible in our eyes actually happen? Faith says even though what I'm going through stinks, there is a purpose and God is always in control of the situation. When our flesh cries out "ENOUGH!! I cannot handle anymore!", faith is what enables us to continue living and hoping and praying when the situation fails to change. 

Faith is not a lack of fear. It's choosing to believe or act in spite of your fear. Fear may say that something can't be done, but faith encourages us to try anyway. Faith is not always having hope. There may be times you despair and lose hope, but faith eventually brings it back. Faith is not living without the question "why?" but accepting that even though we may not ever know why, God has a good reason and we ultimately receive good out of it. 

In the midst of your doubt, fear and questioning - when you don't like a situation, much less understand why it's happening - do you continue to go to God in prayer about it? Do you pray even when you feel hopeless and a positive outcome seems impossible? That, my dear friend, is faith! When you fall on your knees before God and pour your heart out to Him and give Him your burdens to carry - that is faith. When you keep asking even though it seems He isn't listening - that is faith. When you choose to praise Him before your prayer is answered - that is faith. When you praise Him for His goodness although all around you is despair and darkness - that is faith. When He answers your prayer in a way you don't necessarily like but you praise Him anyway - that is faith. Faith enables us to believe that all the answers we lack, He knows, and He'll give us exactly what we need at the moment we need it and not a moment sooner or later.