I want to share something that is very personal. My hope is that by baring my soul in this manner, someone else might read this and recognize the feelings I'm attempting to convey. More than anything, I want you to know that God cares about you in a deeply personal way.
I've struggled with a fear of rejection for most of my life. It's rooted in me deeply and I've learned to work around it, but have not (yet) fully overcome this issue. It rears its ugly head when I least expect it. An off-handed comment from someone can set me spiraling into that dark place where I begin to doubt everything about myself. My mind will fight off questions: Am I broken beyond hope? Are my social skills too fractured for anyone to really like me? Can I ever learn to be secure in a friendship?
As a Christian, I've read many books about understanding who I am, in Christ. My self-esteem is in a better place overall but, when I least expect it, a wave of that old fear hits me again. However, God is so faithful that He knows exactly where I am and He knows how to minister to this frail part of myself.
My husband and I have been in search of a new home church. We love our old church but agreed it was time to make a change. Sometimes, God needs to get you out of your comfort zone and shake things up.
We each had our own thoughts on what we'd like to find in a new church. For me, I'd like to be in a church where I can be a part of the activity. I like to work, serve, and use the gifts God has given me. I feel a sense of frustration and exclusion when I can't be in the thick of the activity.
After attending a few services at other churches, my husband suggested that we try a new church he passes every day on his way home from work. A quick internet search and some time on their website aroused my excitement. I had met the pastor and his wife years before and I liked them. We arrived the following Sunday and immediately felt as though we were home. After the service, we both agreed that this might be our new church. The pastor invited us to have dinner with him and his wife the following week.
I was excited for the meeting. In preparation, I created a list of my skills that I thought might benefit the church. I wanted the the pastor to know that I was ready and willing to help. My husband looked at the list and laughed because he thought I was trying too hard. Embarrassed, I crumbled it up and threw it away.
We went to the meeting and I was self-conscious because I tend to talk a lot and I didn't want to accidentally monopolize the conversation. I intently listened and tried to keep my enthusiasm in check. Eventually, I let my guard down and shared my heart. I thought it went OK and there seemed to be a positive reaction.
Later, I asked my husband what he thought of the meeting and he said it was fine but I came on a little strong. I was crushed and felt shame come over me. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. All the old questions started to swirl through my mind. Within a few days, I was certain I had made a fool of myself and winced whenever I thought of the meeting. I felt sure that the pastor regretted us joining the church and his wife probably thought I was one of those loud mouth, pushy women that she'd have to contain.
I couldn't express my feelings to my husband. He's a good man and would feel terrible if he realized that his little comment had caused me so much distress. I casually made a few comments about the meeting, alluding to the negative feelings I was experiencing. I was hopeful that my husband might reassure me or say something positive enough to alleviate my troubled emotions. That didn't happen.
A few days later, I formulated an email to the pastor's wife to tell her I had some free time I was available to help her in any manner she needed. A gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit hit me: Don't send this. I sighed and deleted it, certain I was being obedient but questioning the reason. I was anxious to smooth things over with this woman and I wanted her to like me...was I just too late?
The next day, I had some errands to run and by late morning, I was finished and near the church. I considered stopping in to see if the pastor or his wife needed anything. Again, the Holy Spirit told me not to do that. I was frustrated and told God that I didn't understand.
You see, a common part of this search for approval is the desire to perform tasks so that you might be accepted. I wanted to do enough for this couple so that they might like me. I wanted to prove my worth. If God wasn't going to let me move forward on that plan, how could I possible earn their acceptance?
An hour later, my cell phone rang and I saw a number I didn't recognize. I was surprised when the pastor's wife greeted me. She talked freely and shared some things about her part-time job. She sounded as if...dare I say...she liked me. She had a few tasks that she wondered if I could do for her. I readily agreed and took some notes. Hanging up, I felt relief come over me. I sat with my phone in my hand and realized that I received so much from that phone call, especially since it was initiated by her. God, in His infinite wisdom, had kept me from making the contact because He knew exactly what I needed. One phone call set me free from days of torment from my old enemy.
I easily performed the tasks she'd requested but my motivation was in the proper place. My heart was full of peace for the entire afternoon. God showed His love in such a special, personal way. I have not yet conquered this old issue, but I'm on my way. God will continue to use situations to teach and convince me that my worth is in HIM.
Tonight, so many people in Oklahoma are facing horrible tragedy. It's easy to distance ourselves from the images on the TV screen. Why would anyone want to imagine themselves in the place of of these people? My mind can't comprehend the thought of standing in front of my ruined home or hearing the news that one of my loved ones was no longer with us. I can't imagine being trapped in a basement under rubble, not knowing if anyone would find me before it was too late.
Lord, I pray for these people. Send your angels to comfort and protect them. Grant your supernatural peace in the midst of the chaos. Help me to maintain a compassionate heart and resist the urge to look away. Holy Spirit, direct me and lead me. If there's anything I should be doing or a prayer I should be praying, please quicken my heart.
Do you have a dream? Is there a goal you've held in your heart but have given up because it seems impossible? When was the last time you considered your life and what you were created to accomplish?
There was a time when I imagined myself writing books, teaching, and mentoring lives. At the time, there were many reasons that this could not happen. I had all those reasons listed in my brain and for a time, I was immobilized I had no education. I had no forum. I had no clue how to write a book. Today, I am pleased to say I have reached those goals and I am currently expounding on them, on my way to greater levels.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and think, imagine, and envision. What is your dream? Let go of all the fear and imagine that it could happen. I have a few steps that will help you get there. These are the steps I used in my own life.
- Write it down. There's something about seeing your goal on a piece of paper that changes your mindset. It becomes a concrete and creates a sense of accountability.
- Speak it. Share your dream with someone close to you. Choose carefully.
- Identify the obstacles. What's in your way? Do you need an education? Money? An opportunity?
- Set objectives with a timeline. Be realistic, but give yourself a time limit or you'll put it off. For example, if your goal is to go back to school then your first objective is to get signed up for classes. Set the deadline and create an alert in your phone to remind you. Make it happen!
- Surround yourself with supporters. Some people will believe in you and some won't. It's a fact of life. Stick with the believers.
- Reward yourself. As you meet your objectives, remember to celebrate. If your goal is to write a book then promise yourself a reward when the first draft is written and another when your revisions are completed. Your rewards can be simple, for example, maybe you'll take a Saturday off to sleep in, spend the day at the park, excuse yourself from every bit of work. If you can afford a more lavish reward then go for it! The important thing is that you take the time to celebrate your achievements.
- Don't get discouraged. There are things in life that you can't control. If something new crops up to get in your way, face it and don't lose faith in yourself. It's just another obstacle and you might need a new game plan. Adjust and keep moving forward.
If you need a pep talk or help identifying your objectives, email me! I'd love to talk with you and I promise to cheer you on!
I am not ashamed of my beliefs and I am certainly not ashamed of the name of Christ, but I am embarrassed by representation of Christianity that is displayed in this country. Let's be honest, Christians do not have a good image. The moment I identify myself as part of the group, the assumptions begin. Most of those assumptions are not positive.
Many Christians have a tendency to behave as though they are sent from God to tell the world how to behave, I don't want to be lumped in with that group. I don't subscribe to the notion that I can tell other people what to think or believe. I have my own beliefs and, in the right setting, I would love to talk to you about that. They are my beliefs and I came to them while walking my own journey. I ask that you respect my right to have my opinions and I will extend to you that same respect. We don't have to agree to be friends.
One of my dearest friends is an Atheist. We began cautiously talking many years ago. At the time, I was naively worried that conversing to her would somehow decrease my faith. As I grew to know and truly love her as a person, we have had many open exchanges about the topic of faith and God. I have an understanding of her thoughts and how she arrived at her conclusion. I respect her very much! She knows that I pray for her and she is OK with that. I am true to my faith; how could I not pray for her?
She has posed some hard questions which forced me to examine many of the sticky aspects of my beliefs. The end result is that I am stronger in my faith today. I have been blessed through our relationship and I thank God for bringing her into my life. As a Christian, I hope and pray that one day she will come into a relationship with Christ, not because I think she is an evil sinner, but because I believe it would bless her life and bring her peace that she has never known.
I find it curious that I have grown closer to God because of a relationship with someone who doesn't believe in His existence. In all the years I have known her she has never once offended me or hurt my feelings. I wish I could say the same for some of the Christians I have known. Why do so many Christians feel they have the right to condemn or condone the actions of others?
I once saw a report about a group of Christians that protested at a Gay Rights Rally. The Christians were arrested and charged with a hate crime. The interviewer talked with the group and they insisted that they were not full of hate. They said they only attended the rally to tell the gay people that they were sinners and would be going to Hell.(!?!) I found it shocking and, personally, felt they were more hateful than most non-Christians. Sadly, this group of "Christians" represents exactly what people tend to assume about all believers.
I waiver between thinking that Christianity needs a PR makeover or that it needs a full internal overhaul. I am leaning toward the latter. I can't imagine Jesus attending a Gay Rights Rally, picket sign in hand, to tell people they were condemned.
I am not ashamed to call myself a Christian in as much as it relates to my love for Jesus. However, I hate to claim membership in the very public group of "Christians" that represent Jesus so badly.
This post is not about my personal opinions regarding homosexuality or sin in general. It's about the way we treat the other people who inhabit our planet. We've each been divinely created with a purpose. We all have equal access to our creator. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for every single one of us, while we were yet sinners!
Often, we might disagree with the choices that other people make, but, in most cases, there's no need to become combative and hateful about our opinions. Christians seem to enjoy talking about the sins they are not currently committing. The Bible is meant to be used a mirror to examine our own actions and correct our wrongs. Far too many use it as a window to view the world, point fingers and enjoy a sense of superiority. If Jesus was humble with the world, and He was, then how would any Christian arrive at the conclusion they they are superior? Doesn't judgement begin in the House of God? Let's get our own act together before we take to the streets to correct everyone else.
Perhaps, if Christians actually learned to love other people and portray Christ in a positive manner, this world might take a different opinion of the church.