About Me

My photo
He makes me new, He is making me new

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Surrender, and find freedom

I have two counselors. The Holy Spirit is one of them :-) and with the help of my human counselor, He has been revealing some very important facts to me, specifically about my tendency and need to control.

See, because of my deeply abusive childhood, I grew up needing, and therefore artificially manufacturing, safety and security. I had none coming from my parents, who should have been providing it, so as a child, it was the only way to "survive" the deep emotional trauma being inflicted upon me.
But as I grew up, my life became a fruitless exercise of manipulating people and circumstances (mostly completely subconsciously) to create this pseudo-safety. To attempt to lessen the crippling fear and loneliness in my heart, and my desperation to know and be known and deeply enjoyed.

I am now starting to unravel this, and to see, and feel (in some ways for the very first time) that God has been patiently waiting for me to freely receive this safety. He is giving me security, safety, love, and He is delighting in me, even as I still strive to get this from others, as I stubbornly still attempt to control.He is the ONE who is meant to give me everything I need and more. But it is a TOUGH thing to break free of. My desire for PEOPLE's approval, affection, acceptance, is addicting, constricting, destructive in some ways. Destructive because it takes place of my desire for God, and His deep and bountiful love. And because it blinds me, and compels me to control, take over. It compels me to idolatry.

This past Sunday, one of my pastor's points was that if you truly want to seek after God's paths MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, you WILL eventually let go of the lesser things. And as much as I truly enjoy people's company, love and acceptance, they ARE the lesser thing.
I have to a certain extent always known that they are the lesser thing, and I could never truly figure out why it was so hard for me. One of the turning points was identifying my deep wound, realizing what I desire most is to feel safe, and then taking it one step further and bringing my desperate need for security to My Father,  The ONLY one who can TRULY give that to me. Those last 3 steps have proven to make all the difference. Before identifying that I always felt like a dieter, who would lose 20 pounds on the diet and feel great for 4 months, and then binge, get fat again and feel gross and like a failure. It was like a spiritual binge-diet cycle.I was trying to white knuckle it on my own, instead of surrendering to Him.

So while I struggle in this bondage and this realization... up and down, some days better than others,(like any addiction you can only go one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time), I have identified some ways in which this addiction plays out in my life. For example, I have been strongly tempted to control situations in which I feel people will NEED TO KNOW where I stand, what I think, WHO I am. Because if I don't set them straight, how will they KNOW that I know and love Jesus? what if they get the wrong idea? what if they assume certain things about ME!?
I'm sure I have missed out on many opportunities to love, TRULY LOVE those who most need it, because I am too busy making sure they KNOW what it is I want them to know about....ME! because then I will be able to tell them about Jesus!:-/  Boy do I have it backwards!!!!! See, as long as I am forgetting the One who really has the power to free me (and love me and fill me and satisfy me) I am also forgetting He is the only one who can do that in and for those around me, as well. Not me.

When it comes to loving others, IT'S SO NOT ABOUT ME.

He is the one who changes hearts. He is the one with the power to break through bondage. He is the one who offers life everlasting.
Jesus loved FIRST. His pleasure was to do the Father's will and to LOVE, offer grace, offer LIFE. I am fairly sure He didn't waste a moment thinking about his reputation. And as I set myself aside (dying in the flesh and alive in the Spirit) I find deeper joy than I've ever known while self-promoting.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20

If I desire true and lasting freedom from my addictive controlling ways, freedom from the fruitless and desperate desire for approval, surrender is the only way to get there. Surrender to the unending love He has already shown me, to His higher ways, to the path HE has for me. No matter how painful the lessons, they are worth my complete and utter FREEDOM. It was worth His very life. So I lay down my life, my need for control and safety, that I may live for Him. That I may have freedom, and life to the full.

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30


Sunday, January 13, 2013

I am weak

Pastor Tyler delivered an excellent sermon today..well, he always does...
A lot of what he said made me think, but there was one thought in particular that I really needed to hear again, from 2 Corinthians 12:9:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

I have been having an exceptionally hard time with that. My weakness truly bothers me. I have had such peace lately about trusting Him, about practicing letting go of control, and resting in His care. And yet, I am still so far from where I long to be. I am still so broken, and my ways are by default still so twisted.

And then this truth was "dropped" on me kind of out of nowhere and it landed right in the center of my aching and weary heart. It's ok to be weak. Actually, it is preferable because His power is made perfect in my weakness. HIS POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN MY WEAKNESS. I  have to repeat that to myself and let it sink in, let it go deep, and land where I can accept what He has already accepted about me. 

He has already seen the depths of my weaknesses. He has already accepted these weaknesses, and His power has already overcome them. His perfect power already covers me, today, right now, as I am.

"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on Me"

Whoa....boast? like..out loud? Hmm, challenge accepted. The weaker I am, the more powerful He is, right? So here goes, I shall boast gladly about my weakness, and choose to take the opportunity to see Him and His power instead, at work in and through me.

I am weak when I seek to be god in my life, to be in control of things that I cannot and should not control
I am weak when I seek to provide for my own needs instead of trusting Him and seeking His peace
I am weak when I appoint myself as judge of others and their actions and motives. When I decide that I somehow know better than they what they ought to be doing
I am weak when I sin against another in anger, when I let my hurt injure another
I am weak when I give out of compulsion, instead of out of genuine love 
I am weak when I am tempted to sin to lessen my suffering, and when I can't see that to suffer for doing good and enduring the pain while seeking Him for comfort is where His freedom is

There is so much more, but that will do for now ;-)

I am thankful for my inability "do better" 
When I relinquish any illusion that my self control is enough, my freedom begins. When I give up the idea that I can do better by simply gritting my teeth and trying harder, I can really start to grow.
When I stop trying to control my sin, and run to Him, Jesus can step in for me and take me the rest of the way.

I can't say that I have ever enjoyed my weakness, I mean..who does? It reminds me of everything that I hate. It reminds me that I am not in control. It reminds me that I can't win, try as I might.
But, today I am thankful. I can see and name my weakness. And I am so thankful that I can go to Him whenever they crop up. Constantly, over and over. I can go be with Him each time, and let His grace wash over me, and let Him carry me.

I am thankful  "That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Waiting

Pursuing God is confusing....perplexing, and sometimes frustrating
But I figured something out this week,while reading "The Healing Path" by Dr. Allender. I have read and heard the metaphor of the "desert" many times as a means to express the dry and lonely place where we sometimes find ourselves on our Spiritual journey. But this time, it truly echoed in my heart like never before.

One particular thought  really struck a chord and moved me deeply. I hadn't considered some of the implications of the nature of this desert place,and how it affects our hearts. It caused me to see Him differently, to see the process differently.
"To walk the healing path, we must wrestle with our refusal to keep traveling between desire and satisfaction, where God neither answers our prayer for healing nor clearly illumines a path away from fear. God lets us wait, not to punish us, not because he has forgotten us, because our waiting is the crucible he uses to purify our hope for him."

This paragraph brought a new epiphany for me.
There is space between desire and satisfaction. It is uncomfortable space, I'll give you that, but never before now did I think of this space as fertile ground. I always thought the desert was where I suffered in silence, gritted my teeth and waited until he delivered relief.
But I see it differently now. He brings me out into the desert, but not to grit my teeth. He wants me open enough to want, to desire, in order that I may come after Him, but He doesn't move in immediately to meet me and my need...He lets me linger in this space. It's not barren and dry, but it's not yet luscious either.
It seems kind of mean, doesn't it? Almost cruel even... this in-between, this limbo.

But it's not, it's beautiful. He knows my heart better than I do, and knows just the right time to come for me. He leads me into the uncomfortable place, slowly and helps me loosen my grip on my self sufficient ways. He leads me to a place where as I let go, I see my need, want and desire.He waits long enough for me to stop looking in the world. He waits long enough for me to stop actively trying to get for myself what He isn't giving me yet. He draws me out as I slowly release.
Then once He has my attention, He waits some more.

That is where I am today. I recognize my need. My deep desire for the abundant life He has promised me. I desire love, passion, pursuit. I desire to be known and cherished and romanced. I desire wild adventure.
I have looked elsewhere for all of this. I have sought to secure all these things for myself  (albeit sometimes, or most of the time,subconsciously) through manipulation,by using others, by victimizing myself, by giving myself away. By betraying my own integrity in order that I may experience a cheap imitation of what my heart is made for. When I have done that, I have gotten farther and farther away from my heart's true desire. From what God intends for me, from what I was created to be and to have.

That's when the anger has set it. I have protested. I have shaken my fists in the air and demanded an explanation, demanded deliverance, and satisfaction, allowing that anger to fester in my heart and make me unpleasant, whiny, entitled. When I get to this place I have a choice. My anger and disappointment can lead me to shutting down, and giving up. It can lead me away from His path and His peace. That has been a temptation, I will admit, but I don't do well in that barren and hopeless place. I usually resolve to do better. I resolve to seek Him and try again, but what I am seeing now is that in actuality what I have done is resolved to "fix" things and work harder at taking care of myself. While keeping Him somewhat close, just in case I need Him. But I am realizing this. I don't get to have both my ways and His ways. So while I keep Him on "stand-by" I am in fact choosing to comfort myself, rather than letting Him come for me.
This time I am choosing to be uncomfortable. I am choosing the space between desire and satisfaction.I am choosing not to resolve, but to let go.

It's an interesting and confusing dance. By allowing my heart to still desire and want but not taking any action to satisfy them, I allow hurt and fear to come into my life. But in this pain I wait for Him. At times I have thought that if I am willing to bring the desire and pain to Him, He will come meet me and satisfy me with His love and His goodness. After all, that is why He brings me to this dry land, isn't it? To fill me with Himself.

But He doesn't come right away. Maybe it's because first my heart has to be ready for Him. Ready to give up my self sufficiency, and my manipulative ways of insisting on living in the illusion that I am the architect of my own joy and peace.
So in the past when He didn't come to my rescue at once, I have taken this as a sign that I once again needed to "take charge". Sure, God will rescue me, satisfy me and fill me, but for now I need to make things happen. For now, I am on my own, while I wait. I'd better get busy while I wait.
God knows how many opportunities I have squandered for true communion with the source of all comfort while I was busy fending for myself!

I am seeing things differently right now. When I wait, I get to make room for Him. I make room, not make things happen. I let Him come, not take over.
In this space there is room for my heart to experience the Peace that comes from Faith. That which the heart believes, though the eyes cannot see. While I wait I don't get to manipulate, dictate, orchestrate or any other -ate. That's what waiting is! That is what faith is.To wait is to delay action. That in and of itself is like a foreign language to me.
No action? No comprendo!
But it is necessary. No action, no movement, unless He directs. No plan on how I will rescue myself from my loneliness, my unfulfilled longings, and the deep sadness that accompanies them. No band aid, no anesthesia, no distraction.

It is necessary to truly be still and not succumb to the temptation to take over. It is necessary to not expect Him to come to me at my will and on my terms and my timing.
It is necessary to let go of my illusions. It is necessary to face my fears, my what ifs. What if I let go and everything gets worse? What if my desires crush me? There are no guarantees and no definite answers, just that He is.

The only guarantee I have is Jeremiah 29:12-13 "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

I think I have glossed over that part before. "with all your heart". To seek Him with all my heart means I have given up my ways first. It means I have laid down my weapon, my resources, and my plans. It means I have abandoned my strategy to secure my own happiness. It means I am accepting my utter dependency and am willing to follow Him into the desert where He calls me, and there, wait for Him and Him alone, without a back-up plan. For as long as I need to. 
That promise is true. And if that promise is true, then my end of the deal is to give all my heart.
To do that I must continue to practice snatching my heart back from the jaws of the illusory promise of self satisfaction. And hand the beat up, shredded, pitiful thing back over to Him. Again and again.

I won't lie, I find it lonely and somewhat bewildering. Unsettling and uncertain. Patience in waiting is not my strongest virtue.
But the beauty of it all is, I also find it deeply healing. He pursues me. He calls me out, and He promises to come. In the waiting, while I hurt and long for relief, there is a heart that is free of illusion and self deceit. 
In the waiting there is hope and anticipation of His coming. 
And once He comes, I know that the exhausting fight and the lonely desert will have been well worth it.


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My New Year's Resolutions

I hate contrived, "traditions" whereby we make each other feel like we aren't quite doing enough, or being enough.
It sounds too much like a "should" and I hate those too.

But....

I am very much in favor of making intentional decisions to do good things, to be good things, to work on things. That, I can get on board with.

So here goes...I have been thinking about what it is that I am not currently doing or practicing that I think would be good to do.
I don't necessarily respond well to formulaic resolutions like, I vow to do x every day. or every other day. or Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. I am too much of a pain in the ass. Oops, I mean, rebel. I don't do well with schedules, formulas or too structured an expectation or plan. The wild animal inside of me might get spooked and run, and then...well, what good would that do anyone?

So, instead I think, I want to do more of those things that are good for me, for others, overall and all around GOOD stuff. How much more? I don't know, I don't much care either. However much is good, however the Spirit leads, just...more. That's quantifiable enough for me. If I am putting more good out there, I don't think it matters if I can measure it.

The number one thing I want to do more of is, Love God. And I mean...more, so much more than I do now. And the only way to be able to do that, is know Him more. My knowledge of Him is limited, and by logical consequence, so is my Love and devotion to Him. But I want more. More of Him, more communion with Him, more day to day, hour by hour, minute to minute with Him. More intimacy, more dependency, more worship, more trust. All I really need to do here is be MINDFUL. It really isn't a huge change, just a small shift, but what a difference it makes. To seek Him in all things, to see Him in and through people, beauty, love and grace...and fun, and laughter, and sweet things.
The number 2 I want to do more is a very convenient outflow of number 1. I want to love others better. I figure this one will take care of itself because that is what God does when we seek Him. He pours Himself into us and then out through us to those around us.
In the past I have gotten this process backwards and gotten very jumbled up and confused. My determination to love someone out of my own strength and gumption just aren't anything compared to God's love flowing through me, with all the freedom and grace that it carries. My limited love is flawed and conditional, broken and selfish. I desire more, and I will go to the Source for it. More love, more power, more of You in my life. (wow, that's a blast from worship music blast!).

So there it is, those are my 2 (but really one) resolutions. I will look for Him everywhere. I will ask, and I trust Him when He says that I will receive.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

That's the promise I am hanging onto and trusting Him with. I trust Him with my heart and I am excited to follow Him in wonderful new adventures in loving Him and those around me.

Oh! and last thing, I also want to earn as many college credits as humanly possible in one calendar year. But that's not at all related, is it? ;-)

Followers