the messy beautiful

Father, my mind cannot grasp your greatness. I read your Word, your many feats–how you advocate for us, and my mind, my self-absorption, my pride, makes me focus on myself–my small problems, my small worries and cares. Your ways are good. You see beyond what I can see. You pursue justice. You ask us what we will do–if we will stand with you or against you, if we will both appreciate the lives you’ve given us, the opportunities to love and do what is good, in your name, or if we will, instead, fight our own fight, for our own glory.

Lord, forgive me for how I forget you. It is horrible, and it is true. I am your daughter, the one you love. Yet, my ways are not your ways. And I surrender my ways now. I give you my heart again, with all of its stubbornness, feelings of entitlement, self-hatred, judgemental attitudes.

Here I am, confident that, if you want me to, I can hear your voice, and yet how often do I ignore it? How often do you speak and I close my ears? How often do you open your arms and I run to comfort in other things? Productivity, achievement, food, things? How often do you weep at the injustice of this world and I close my eyes and heart to what is right in front of me? How often do you feel frustration and anger and yet love and love and love?

You love me despite me. Your love has nothing to do with what I do, what I think. But it is your love that breaks open my heart. And my old self, the one who rails against you, dies at the foot of the cross. She cannot stand–this old self–at your feet, Jesus. In your presence, the false parts of her wither; all of the sin in her completely destroyed. Take her again, will you? Take this old self of mine. Take her and destroy her. Throw her into the fire and make her new. It is in death that new life comes. She needs your new life now.

Jesus, you are tireless in your love. You are kind and good. I pick up your cross, my new self–strong and confident in you, and the cross does its work. Again and again, I am made brand new. In all good things, Jesus, you are present.

Lord, be present in me now. I stand here, your beauty, your delight. I stand here, filled with love, capable of anything you have for me to do. You defeat all of my enemies. You crush my every foe. You pursue my heart, pointing out what gets in the way of me completely following you. You ask me–do you want all of me now? For this, right now, needs to go.

And I say yes. Right here, right now. I say yes. I want all of you. Whatever it takes. Remove from me what is not of you and destroy it now. Right here. I am filled with your love. I am filled with your truth. You, Jesus, are the Word come down. You, Jesus, are the Beginning before the beginning. Begin again, in me. I begin again, with you.

Have you listened yet, to Rush, our new podcast? Here is the latest episode, “How to Make the Walls Come Down.” 

our warring hearts

You call my name, and I hear you. I am not pressed too hard, I am not overwhelmed and forgotten. You are here now, Jesus. I can see you. I can see you with my eyes closed. I can hear you from deep within me. This is where you pursue me. In the deepest place of my heart. I run there; I want to stay here, with you.

Last week, we wrestled, you and I. You know how I struggle with transitions. I want so much for spontaneity to be my attribute, yet, still, I prefer the certainty of things planned. But I trust in you. I trust that you see what I cannot. I trust that you are good. I trust that you love me. I trust that you have me. I trust that you never leave me. I trust that you fill me and equip me with your more and more and more.

Last week, as I put the women’s group we lead together on summer hiatus, you leaned in close. This was the wrestling the two of us did–my aching with fear that I was letting you down, and you pointing out how self-contempt was once again pressing in. No, you said, I am not a failure; no, you said, I am not disappointing you. You reminded me how you pursue me from a true place–and if I push to make things work because of pride or fear–I am not being true, I am not following your heart.

And Jesus, I want to follow nothing else but your heart.

You reminded me how true leadership comes from the overflow of relationship with you–and when I have to push and pull to make things work on my own strength, I must step back, lean in close to you. I must ask you to search my heart, seek your wisdom that I may give from being filled with you. What I give–that is good–comes only from you.

And then, when the loneliness came–the worry that the women might not come back in the fall, that I messed this all up by pausing what was just getting started–you came, arms open wide. I heard you: This is a season of healing, dear one. Your vulnerability is your strength. Your weakness is where I come to fill you. You will always need me. And there are some places in you where we still need to go. There is always more. Come, my darling. Come, I am right here.

So this summer, as my little girl heart seeks the healing of her Father, I step back from the group I just started and trust the outcome of the decision to Jesus. I bury my face in the folds of his arms. I look for his hand and hold it fast. I listen, and the words he speaks bring light and joy and peace.

I continue to speak the truth, not fear, to my warring heart:  In the turbulence of a world gone mad, Jesus, you are constant; you are sure. In the ache of the ones who feel forgotten, Jesus, you stand tall; you do not leave. Jesus, you know heartache; you know pain; you know sickness; you know grief. You know exhaustion; you know war.

So, it is where you go that I want to follow. You lead me, Jesus. You lead me deeper into the place where you beckon, you invite, you move. You know the plan. You have me. You are peace.

Is there a way your heart feels at war with Jesus? How is he inviting you to come closer to him–accept the good for you that he has?

Don’t miss the episode by Rush Podcast: Rescue from Self-Contempt.

lying is no way to impress anyone

I dreamt last night. And in the dreaming I was lying, manipulating. It was a group setting–people I know from different parts of my life–and we were each asked to share what it means to us to be vulnerable. People shared. And they were honest, authentic. Their very act of sharing was a beautiful example of vulnerability. Not hiding. Not pretending. Not faking. Peeling back layers of the heart to reveal the naked beautiful truth underneath.

Yes, it was beautiful.

Specifically, we were asked to share times in high school and in college when we demonstrated vulnerability. And in the dream, I am panicking. I not only want to be vulnerable; I want to do a rock-star job of being vulnerable. And what is so weird is that, in the dream–rather than confessing truth (and actually being vulnerable); I share lies.

I want to impress the people in the room with my level of vulnerability. So I share things that make them feel sorry for me. I am not going to type them up here because, well, they are not true.

I wake up from the dream disappointed that I felt the need to manipulate people–that I felt that vulnerability meant playing the victim, working to make people feel sorry for me.

I am wondering how often I do this–seek attention by playing the victim. I am learning I live with the mindset of God’s love being scarce–that there is not enough love for me. So I seek validation from external sources–a search that leaves me empty, depleted, and more alone than when my search for love began.

Father, I want to press into you now. Show me when this started–when I began to believe the lie that I am not enough; that I need to impress people and manipulate people’s emotions to get them to love me. Show me when my desire for love became about what I do rather than who I am.

(I stay here with him, and the memories–snapshots of me as a little girl–begin flooding my mind, my imagination, my heart. This can take a while, friend . . .)

Jesus, I break the lie that what I do determines my worth. I send this lie to the foot of the cross, and it is destroyed. Your love, Jesus, binds up the brokenhearted. Will you bind up this heart of mine now?

This post is the third in a series on self-condemnation. Subscribe to get notified when the next post is up. I’d love your company here, friend.

preparing for confession

It took about a half hour, but I wonder if I’m not done yet. Searching my heart. Writing down the things never confessed. Preparing to share them with a friend. There is more, I’m sure. So I will return to the list. Ask God to search my heart again. Show me what I hide from myself, and from others–what shame, what sin. I trust what He brings to my mind and invites me to take to the foot of the cross.

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (James 16, MSG).

Confessing my sins to a friend is not going to be easy–or fun. But I know it will be good. It will be a step toward owning who I am without God. It will be saying yes to freedom. It will be letting Jesus love me, knowing I am forgiven.

What I write down has a sting. I have heard a person tell me this–that confession, true confession, should have a sting to it. I write down sins, things I have done, with specificity. And I aim for no blame. I need to own each thing I have done. Blaming, charging another person for something I have done, separates me from owning my own sin. It prevents me from even seeing it. And it makes me a victim in my own life.

Brene Brown explains how “blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Accountability by definition is a vulnerable process.” And, with my prepared confession, that’s what I am trying to move toward. Accountability and vulnerability. I am hoping that in my confessing to a friend, I will be rejecting shame and the impulse to hide my sin–from myself, and from God. I will be standing naked, taking my sin to the foot of the cross. And letting Jesus love me in the middle of the mess.

I know that Jesus’ death–the power and love of the Cross–destroys sin once and for all. But I need to take this step to help my heart believe it.

This is the second post in a series on seeking healing for self-condemnation. Subscribe to join me. I can surely use the company, friend.

why I can’t trust myself, and why that has to stop

It is time for me to admit I have no answers. To admit that I am not yet free. Confession: I hurt people around me. And I do this by idolizing myself. And success. And being right.

When the self is an idol, the whole world, the way I perceive it, is warped. Even now I struggle to trust my own words, my feelings, my voice–a deep-seeded wound I thought was uprooted years ago. I don’t know if I can trust myself.

I know I can’t. Not yet.

So, you clearly shouldn’t trust me. But know this: it is truth I attempt to write here.

Here, I seek transparency, authenticity. I want to be free from pretending, hiding. I want to not fake that things are okay when they’re not. Yeah, read at your own risk. But know this: by sharing my heart here, rather than desperate private words scribbled into journals, I will be committed to pursuing a heart stripped of everything else but God.

I do not write for the hope of self-medication or therapy or cathartic release. Yet, I believe that my writing here is a step toward healing. It is an act of standing in the room, hands empty, arms at my side, saying I don’t know what to do but my Father does. My Jesus does.

I don’t know what to do, but I step forward now, saying, with you here, that I am broken, and I am tired of hurting people. I am tired of condemning myself and–out of that self-condemnation and personal insecurity–wounding the people I should be loving the most.

I am tired of taking words people say to me–people who, while not flawless, are pursuing God and can be trusted–and assuming it is a personal attack on my heart. I am tired of feeling trapped, insecure about my worth–believing lies that my doing is more valuable than my being. Here is what I know: I don’t want my belief about who I am to continue to hurt the people around me. I need to believe the definition that is true: I am beloved, chosen, an adored daughter of God.

So, in these posts for a while, I will be attempting to document my steps toward shedding the false self that clings to me, suffocating me, paralyzing me. For too long I have kept it on me, draped like a slimy, tentacled cloak. For too long it has gripped my heart. I hate it, despise it. And for too long I have let it trick me to despise myself rather than it. For too long I have condemned the self God loves. For too long I have believed I have needed to protect myself from the people who want to love me.

There is more to say. But I won’t hurry the words.

I am still trying to trust them.

This is the first post in a series where I talk about my wrestling with self-condemnation. Please subscribe to join me. I could use the company, for sure.

when it’s time to be done

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”5771″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5773″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5770″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5769″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”WHEN IT’S TIME TO BE DONE” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style” size=”80″ background_color=”#ffffff” text_color=”#000000″]P[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1520299404020{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]eople say it’s in the quiet where we can most easily find Him. Not because He is quiet. Not necessarily. Not because He is calm. Not consistently. But because the distractions come fierce and loud. And our hearts—fragile, on their own—need Him to pull us back to the beginning, the pure place, with Him.

And yes, I think this is true.

Jesus, we need you.

Grab hold of our hearts and bring us to You.

We can more readily access the messages of our own hearts, and connect with Jesus’, when we practice silence, give space for our minds and hearts and imaginations to be present to God. When media blares and relationships demand and work pressures, our hearts become overwhelmed. And while silence, space with Jesus, restores us—reminding us what is true and what is not, there is another step we need to take:  We need to do more than petition the throne.

Because in our loneliness, we cry out.

In our weariness, we cry out.

In our desire for more—more love, more breakthrough, more healing, more hope, we cry out.

And in the midst of our petitioning, Jesus asks this simple question, “What are you willing to do, to get more of me?”

Are you willing to trust me with your relationships? Are you willing to walk away from what feels safe, if I ask you to? Are you willing to run toward the people I give you to love, even if it’s hard?

Are you willing to trust me with your talents? Are you willing to let me show you how I’ve made you and what is getting in the way of trusting me more?

Are you willing to let go of having the answers, let me search your heart, help you discern the reasons for your restlessness, your brooding, your hunger for more and more and more of me?

A guide for me on this journey, a man wise and disruptive in the best ways, tells me, “Give everything and everyone to Jesus.” Relinquish control. “Give Him everything as if you are done. As if I am done. As if I am . . . done.

Letting go of trying to control what we can’t, of what we shouldn’t, while contending for what is good—for more Jesus, more connection with Him—grants peace we will never find through the desire to strive and control.

Being done means the end of striving. Being done means turning our backs on fear. Being done means intimacy with Jesus. Being done means living in wide-open space where life is more than what we see and hear and feel. Being done means stepping forward into the deeper place, a place where heaven comes down, we see God’s face, feel his touch, hear his voice.

Jesus, I am done. Let us be done.

For in being done we enter the beginning. A fresh way to live in a world that rages, that overwhelms, that is more than we are designed to bear.

We are given more, now, than we can bear on our own. Being done is owning Holy Spirit’s strength in us to do what our Father desires us to do. Being done is craving the Father’s desires. It is having our desires be his.

Being done means no separation from our heart and Jesus’.  It means more joy, more light, more capacity for love. When we are done with this life of striving and control we are ready for Jesus to fill our hearts and soul so there is room for nothing else.

I want to be done.

I want to be done.

So, I seek His heart and I listen for His voice and I act. Give everything and everyone to Jesus as if you are done.

And greater intimacy with our King and Savior is here. Right now.

Let’s be done.

Name your struggle to lay down control. What grips you? How do you want to be done?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

rescue from self-contempt

[vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”RESCUE FROM SELF-CONTEMPT” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:40|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style” size=”65″ padding=”12″ background_color=”#ffffff” text_color=”#939393″]H[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1511796065167{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]er eyes are big, gentle and kind. Then she plays. Her fingers upon keys, her body dancing, her voice singing out. In her words, her glory–I glimpse the more that is here. But later she tells me she doesn’t see it. Her beauty. Her value.

She feels displaced, separate from the exquisiteness of her own soul. Even while she creates beauty, and is loved, so loved, here.

Our hearts can struggle to claim glory we can’t see.  Who we are–what we create, how we love–feels separate from the representation of ourselves most familiar: failure, weakness, isolation, lack of hope.

God, why do we feel displaced from our own selves, our own lives?

She asks me questions, and I listen and do my best to respond. About community. About connection. About offering one’s heart to trusting people. About how to be comfortable searching for our own self. And oh, how this can be so difficult to do.

Oh, girl, I know.

When we have contempt for ourselves, we lose the self we may have fought, for so many years, to reclaim. Even after victory through surrender, freedom through fire, life through death. For self-contempt makes us not recognize our true selves. We don’t connect with the glory in the daughter God sees.

We seek God’s voice, but we feel detached from His words. We listen for Him, and we disbelieve what He says.

Self-contempt is a battle some of us fight daily. The beauty God sees in us we reject. This daughter God loves then feels like a vision. A specter of imagination. A dream. We don’t know her. We don’t trust her. And so we struggle to accept God’s love for her too.

Life? Freedom? Joy?

Come on soul, rise up. Rise up. You are forgetting who you are.

Sisters, let’s not stay here.

So, in the dark, we ask God to strip layers of doubt, of pain, of fear. In our loneliness, we ask God to show us His face. In His face, we find the daughter God loves. But how we do trust her? How do we love her? God, how do we end this feeling of displacement from our hearts? How do we live content, joy-filled, free?

I come to the weary places. I come to the desolate places. I bring light in darkness, song in silence, warmth in cold. How do you believe that I am good? How do you believe that I am here? How do you believe that I have more for you? How do you let me connect what is displaced, worn out, rejected, isolated, sad?

It is so simple, my dear one. Come to Me. It is not complicated, my shining one. Come close, I am right here. Time with Me cleanses you of sorrow. Time with Me heals your doubting, timid heart.

You are more than okay. I will teach you how to believe in what I see. I will teach you how to trust what I see, what I say, more than what you see and what you hear, on your own. Stay close to Me now. Chase me down. Let Me catch you. I want to catch you. So let yourself fall first. I’m right here. It won’t hurt, in my arms, when you fall.

Father, come. Your girl needs rescuing again.

Sister, how is your heart? Do you believe your Father adores you? Do you trust His character? Do you know the version of you that He knows? Is that someone you’d like to come to know more?

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taking back surrender

[vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_fancy_title size=”20″ force_font_size=”true” size_tablet=”20″ size_phone=”18″ font_family=”none”]TAKING BACK SURRENDER[/mk_fancy_title][mk_dropcaps]S[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1503501026189{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]urrendering might be the most difficult thing. True surrender–the kind where you feel powerless and empowered at the same time. Powerless because everything you’ve believed, everything you’ve fought for and were convinced about, is being laid down. Empowered because surrendering is, in fact, an action. No one can force us into it. No one can make us put up our hands and wave a white flag, even if we convince ourselves we are out of options.

Surrender is an act of will. Our will. Despite obstacles, challenges, hurdles where we can’t imagine a way through, surrendering is still a choice, a way forward.

Surrender doesn’t have to mean a step back.

Surrender is empowerment

The truth is, we can indeed say no to surrender: we can keep running; we can keep resisting; we can keep trying to carry on, do things the way they have always been done. We can fight and push and hold the line. We can be stubborn and prideful, opposed to change. After all, our opinions, our thoughts, our feelings are valid, right? Well, yes, but . . .

Our heart knows when it is time to surrender. No matter the struggle. No matter the cost.

Surrender isn’t easy

I wish surrender were easy. I want it to work like this: I say I will be different and–with a wave of a magic wand–I am different. There. All done. I want the act of surrender to have immediate results, with no pain, no discomfort, no uncertainty about results. I want the choice to surrender to equal the act of surrender. But, yeah, I know it doesn’t work that way.

When it comes to surrender, Jesus got it done

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus chose surrender. He knew the cost; He knew it was worth it.

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground”  (Luke 22:44).

Jesus knew what his surrender involved: torture, humiliation, physical and mental agony, death on a cross. And yet still, He chose it. He gave to God his body, his mind, his heart, his very soul. He did this for the love of the Father. It was surrender that paved the way to Life.

And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak'” (Mark 14:36-38).

Jesus modeled complete surrender, the only surrender that really works. The only surrender that makes any of us different people.  The only surrender that makes us free, not ensnared in sin. The only surrender that lets us experience God’s love and the reality of being whole. And Jesus knows firsthand how challenging surrender is, telling his disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Surrender and the Spirit

Our spirit’s willingness and our flesh’s weakness are why our acts of surrender must be acts of the spirit, not the flesh. Our flesh does not want to obey us; it wants to do what it wants to do. It does not want to be corralled, cajoled, reined in, controlled. But the spirit, the breath of God in us, knows what is good. And when we cling to what is good, as Paul urges us in his letter to the Romans (12:9), we are entrusting to God our will, our mind, our body, our soul, our heart.

So even though our flesh resists surrender, the Spirit of God that dwells in us helps us indeed cling to what is true: God’s will, not our own.  Jesus reminds us of the power we have in God, and the powerlessness we have without him:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-7).

Surrender begins with abiding in Christ

Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. In Christ, we can do anything. Through the act of surrender, we get to choose Jesus’ life in us, making surrender one of the most powerful weapons we have against the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus’ surrender led to the death of our sin so that we get to choose surrender for ourselves now–the power of Jesus in us, or the weakness of our own flesh.

What are we going to choose?

Surrender means we get out of our own way

Jesus gave God, his Father, everything. And God gave to Jesus, and thus to the world, everything back. So, sister, though this life is difficult, though we struggle and fall, we can yet surrender, again and again. We can surrender our hearts, our minds, our bodies. We are no longer slaves of our sin, but children of God, alive with the Spirit of God in us.

Surrender? Yep, we can do this.

Surrendering is empowering after all.[/vc_column_text][mk_custom_box border_color_style=”single_color” border_color=”#c6c6c6″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1503424744216{margin-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #ffffff !important;}”]

Want to surrender together?

Let’s do this. Let’s pay attention to our hearts: How is God inviting us each to surrender? And how can we make this practical?

For me, I am surrendering to God my mind and heart–praying for 40 days that I better honor and respect the opinions and feelings of my family. (I am hoping that the concrete goal of 40 days will help me approach my act of surrender with steadfastness and diligence.)

Want to join me in this step toward saying yes to Jesus today?

Share one thing, in the comments, that you are doing in your act of surrender. And let’s pray for one another, shall we?[/vc_column_text][/mk_custom_box][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”4987″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][vc_single_image image=”4989″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4988″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5006″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][vc_single_image image=”4997″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1485823148009{margin-right: 50px !important;margin-left: 50px !important;}”][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]