Saturday, April 26, 2008
I suppose it seems odd that I would choose to be introspective using this medium, but it's easier for me to be honest in a blog then it is anywhere else. Why? I suppose because it doesn't inconvenience anyone. I didn't call them or sit them down or walk into their room while they were watching their favorite House episode. I didn't even e-mail them with some subject line that begged for their immediate attention. It's just me and my lappy. That's why I honestly doubt I'll tag people in this...I would have for anyone to feel obligated to read this...it's really more like a diary entry in that there's no real audience. It's just putting it out there...and like a diary, it remains private...unless someone's snooping around in your stuff or unless someone is concerned about you and is wondering what's up.
I was thinking about self-destruction tonight...as I sat around making bad decisions. It's kind of neat because it's me making a conscious decision to make the worst choice available. The nice part is I have no one to blame but myself, which is usually what I'm looking for in such situations...keeping it to myself. Like I know that there are other options, but they usually involve other people...and I don't want to bother them with my crappy attitude and negativity. It's not their problem...it's mine. So, I try to deal with it on my own, and when it turns out that I made a bad decision (even though I kind of already knew it would be), I have no one to blame but myself. I can't say that I got smashed cause everyone else was doing it or because so and so suggested it or even because someone bought the booze and it was there...Nope, it's all me. I choose it, I facilitate it, I follow through. It's no one's fault but my own. It keeps me from using other people as excuses, but it is a little surreal to know that you're the villian in your own story. I mean, no one can save you because you're not really the victim...because your carrying out your own destruction...you're both the victim and villian...and even as the victim, you let it happen so you're like...an accomplice? Whatever, point is it's a bit weird to know that you're punishing yourself, blaming yourself, and hurting yourself, and then wishing it all would end...I mean, it seems so simple, if the punishment gets to much, stop it. I mean, I am in control...so, why don't I stop?
I suppose it's at least partially because it's what I believe I deserve. I am merciless when it comes to judging and punishing myself. It reminds me on a less grand scale of band lessons. My instructor never really yelled at me. He knew I'd beat myself up over a mistake more than he ever could. So, he did his best not to fuel it. He worked against me and advocated for me...against myself...if that makes sense. He actually told me that one day. I was beating myself up over how poorly I'd just played and angry at myself for having screwed it up. He said flat out that he figured he couldn't lecture me more than I was already lecturing myself and so it wouldn't really be worth it, but that I should know that he knows I could do better and that I would do better and that I already was doing better. Okay, so that wasn't a direct quote, but you get the idea. Point is, I am crazy harsh on myself. I don't really know why. My pastor pointed out once that maybe part of the reason I notoriously keep it to myself is because I was raised in such a way that gave me the impression there wasn't time for my problems; that I had to deal with them as much as my own as possible because my parents were needed elsewhere...my sisters needed them more. Thus, if I was good, my parents wouldn't have to fuss with me and they'd have more time for my sisters and everyone was happier. I don't know how true that is...'cause who can really say, but I think there might be some truth there. I mean, I remember making my own rules for myself at an early age...rules that would make it so everyone else would be happier.
What sucks is I also remember learning early on that I'd never be good enough. Like I wanted to be a good girl. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be special and appreciated. To steal from Captivating (which I'm reading for the 3rd time now), I wanted to be seen and known. I never really felt like I was. I mean, if I got good grades or an honor or whatever, it was no big deal...it was expected of me to do those things. We celebrated my sister's A's, but when I asked Dad about mine, he told me that we didn't celebrate mine because that's what he expected me to get. My sister had to work harder for hers, so they were a cause for celebration. I remember being extremely hurt and extremely pissed. I suppose I still am. I mean, it was so frustrating to know that since there wasn't anything higher than an A, we'd never celebrate the fact that I was smart and that I worked hard. I could never work hard enough or be smart enough for it to be recognized by my parents. It's just how I was...er...am? I don't know. My parents also told me that they didn't want to talk too much about my grades because it might make my sisters feel bad. I remember getting so frustrated because we couldn't discuss what I was good at because they weren't...but if they almost met the benchmark I was at, we made a big to-do...and at the same time, we'd celebrate their achievements in sports and what not, even though I was only so-so at that. I felt like I couldn't win. I couldn't get my parents to notice me or be proud of me for the things that I was just naturally good at -- the things that I was/am -- but I couldn't get them to notice or be proud of the things I worked my ass off at either. That all just left me wondering: what am I good for? If no one cares about the things that I am and no one cares about thet things that I do...why would anyone care?
I think maybe that's why I've always been able to understand God the Father...I've always been able to understand the God of Abraham...I've always been kicking it Old Testament. That's why I had such a huge problem with Christ in High School, and why I struggle today. I totally understand that I can never be good enough. I totally get that I suck. However, I often forget that the story moves on. I forget that there's something that comes after the part where I suck and screw everything up and deserve to be punished.
That's where I really start to struggle. The thought of someone truly loving me or genuinely caring about me freaks me out because I don't believe it. I can't believe it. I have the hardest time believing Jesus could. So, believing anyone else could is like completely beyond me. I am an amazing hypocrite and amazingly dumb? blind? I don't know. I mean, I know the love of Christ and I am more than happy to share that. I mean, oh my gosh, I love my nursing home residents, but let me tell you, most of the love I show them is God, not me. Because if it were up to me, I'd be cranky and sick of being underappreciated and underpaid and overworked...I couldn't patiently and passionately love them if it weren't actually Jesus loving them. And I tell people all the time that Jesus passionately loves them and has a place for them, that He doesn't care what you've done or where you've been...that He loves you always...I'm often amazed and humbled when I realize tat I have a tendency to read God's promises with a little tag on the end, like you do for a fortune cookie ("You will have great success" -- "in bed"). I read, "I will never leave you or forsake you...except for Takara." It's like I hear, "Jesus loves everyone...except for Takara."
It's a bit weird for me right now. All week, I've been contemplating healing...seeking it, asking for it, what that would mean...I've been close to actually saying that that's what I want and that that's what I need...a lot of times, I feel like it's what I'm being called to, though I seem to want to ignore it. I mean, I hear God in different ways...through the things other people say, through what I read, through music I hear, ideas or phrases that pop into my head, occassionally, even an image...and a lot of those things...keep bringing me back to this thought that I need Jesus to heal me...to grant me wholeness...to fill me up with Him. I feel ike the dad in Luke who asks Jesus to heal his son "if He can". Jesus was all, "If I can?" To which the dad said, "Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief." That's been my little prayer of the week. "Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief."
Well, with that, I guess I'm off...to bed. I don't know if I'll sleep, but at least it'll be a change of scenery -- staring at the ceiling instead of a computer screen. Hopefully, God and I can have a nice chat about some more of this, as I drift off to sleep.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
I found this on liesyoungwomenbelieve.com.
Number 3 and 4 especially spoke to where I'm at right now. In fact, reading them blew me away a bit because it shattered a lie that I was alone in feeling like I do. It was also very humbling...and quieting...I don't know if that makes sense, but it made me feel quiet and contemplative, like I needed to ponder these things to be sure they were true and to let them soak in...I'm going to choose to sleep on them and maybe blog about them more later. Anyway, enjoy.
"Five truths to set you free
The title of this blog and the book that inspired it is "Lies Young Women Believe." It is true that we've set our sights on identifying lies, but the core of our message is actually truth. Truth is the only antivenin for the poison that lies pour in to our lives. And Christ is the ultimate truth speaker. He is able to deliver us from the bondage that is the result of believing lies. His Word is the remedy. By studying His Word, we are able to find freedom and to be truly set free.
In our newsletter we promised to post seventeen truths to set you free here on the website. This is the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise. This week, we will examine five truths taken from God's Word that have the power to challenge, heal, and deliver you. Often our feelings are deceiving. We may feel alone, or unloved, or anxious, but the truth is that God is able to handle all of our emotions and circumstances. His Word provides the truth we need to combat lies in our lives. Let's take a look.
Truth #1 God is good.
Often, when we are having a bad day and things aren't heading in the direction we planned, we are tempted to believe that God is not good. This lie seems to be confirmed after just a few moments of watching the news or reading the newspaper. Bad things happen to God's people and it can be difficult to understand how a loving God would allow it. But the truth is that God is good. His Word makes this clear.
Psalm 136:1 encourages us, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good."
You can absolutely trust that God is good. He has always been good. He will always be good. Despite our circumstances, He remains a good and loving God. He is able to provide good things for us, even when our world is spinning in a direction that makes us dizzy. He is the Giver of peace and comfort and wisdom. He gives us good and perfect gifts. When we are tempted to fall for the lie that He is not good, we can rest in this truth.
Under what circumstances are you most tempted to entertain the idea that God is not a good God? Can you think of examples from your own life that prove that He is good and that He is the provider of good things?
Truth #2 It's not about me; it's about Him.
In addition to claiming the truth that God is good, even when things don't go our way, it is worth reminding ourselves that our will should not be the ultimate guider of our actions. The truth is that we should not be the primary focus of our lives and our circumstances. It is not about us, it is about Christ.
Romans 11:36 states "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen."
He is the source of all things and our lives are to give Him glory. How is this different from the messages the World offers about the purpose of our lives? How does it change the way you view your circumstances to see them as tool to point toward Christ?
Truth #3 God loves me and wants me to have His best.
Are there times in your life when you feel far from God? Does it ever seem like He is hard to reach? Do you ever struggle with a pattern of sin that seems impossible to break? During those times, do you wonder if God really loves you? I do.
I'm not sure that I would ever have the courage to say it out loud. After all, I am a Christian girl, involved in my church and active in ministry. But, there are times when I wonder if God really loves me. I am so small and He is so big. What's more, I mess up a lot more than I get things right and I am tempted to put God's supernatural love for me in a box that fits my human experiences. But, God's Word doesn't allow me to wonder. It clearly spells out God's love for me and His desire to give me His best.
Romans 8:38-39 assures us that we cannot be separated from the love of God. "I am sure that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
1 John 4:16-19 promises us that we can rely on God's love for us. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in the world we are like him. There is not fear in love but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."
It certainly can be difficult to understand why God loves us, but the truth is that He does. How could embracing this truth change your life? Are there areas of struggle where you could find freedom if you were able stop doubting God's love for you?
Truth #4 God created me a masterpiece.
Do you have fat days? Are the times when you look in the mirror and wonder what God was thinking when he gave you that nose or that skin or that hair? Do you acknowledge that God did great work when he created sunsets and seashores, but secretly wonder what He was thinking when He crafted you? As girls we are especially prone to believe the lie that our appearance is flawed. We are prone to believing lies that we are ugly or fat or supposed to look like someone other than ourselves. But, these lies are shattered by God's Word.
Psalm 139:13-14 says "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Did you catch it? The description of your creation includes words like fearfully and wonderfully. You were knit together by a loving God and He doesn't describe that event as a mistake or an accident. You are the wonderful work of a loving God. Do you know that? Do you know it full well?
Why do you think that as young women we are so prone to struggling with the idea that how we look is wonderful and purposeful? What are the consequences of believing otherwise in your life?
Truth #5 God's grace is enough for me.
We have a limited view of our lives. As a result, it can be tempting to become overwhelmed by a problem we are facing and begin to feel like it is more than we can handle. But God's grace is able to cover all circumstances. He is able to provide all that we need to handle every situation.
2 Corinthians 12:9 assures us that God's grace is enough for us. "He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Is there a circumstance that you are facing right now that seems too big for you to handle? What is it? Are you willing to admit your weakness in this area so that God's grace can be perfected in your life? Are you able to rest in this promise or do you find it difficult to let go of your anxiety?
Are there specific areas of struggle or bondage in your life that can be addressed by one of these five truths? Has seeing these truths helped you to expose an area of your life where you've been believing lies? We'd love to hear from you. We hope that you will write about your experiences so that others can gain encouragement and strength.
Be sure to check back next week as we explore five more truths to set you free."