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.