A better way to honor change

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:12-14

There is something my youngest pokes fun at me any chance he can for saying-“The ‘p’ in pastor doesn’t stand for ‘perfect.’”He repeats it anytime he recalls some slip of tongue in the car in the past at an inept driver, any transgression deemed unbefitting of someone “called” to lead a flock from the past 10-13 years of his life. “I know. I know. ‘P’ in pastor doesn’t stand for “perfect.”

Why have I had to say this so many times until it’s almost some ridiculous mantra repeated at dinner? Because, yes. I struggled with road rage for a number of years, and my children were witness to it. During those moments, a range of 4 letter words would flow, and my kids reminded me they were not appropriate. But what bothered me most? Even after I was “reformed,” started waving instead when someone flipped me off, and stopped cursing when someone cut me off, was that they just never let me forget it. Hence the need to remind them that the process of sanctification, was a process. Even for pastors.

Paul even reminds the Roman church of this in Chapter 6, in his letter to them, reminding them of where “perfection” comes-through their new life in Christ.

But how many of us are like my children at times? Continuing to bring up the used-to’s? The behaviors before Jesus came in and cleaned up that mess, before we fully surrendered, and handed over all those sinful practices to Him? Are we just not willing to let it go? That person whether pastor or not, may have truly decided not to let sin control them-whether it’s cursing or something else, but we won’t stop bringing up their old desire to do so-so we deny the work of the Spirit in their lives, look past what God has done to move them through a process of change, and fail to celebrate the new life that has been born. They start to believe…well, they will just never be “perfect” enough for you.

There is a better way. Paul also talks about it to another church. The church in Corinth, when he talks about something else we view as perfect by the world’s standards-love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes perfect love-Christian love. He says, this type of love does not keep a record of wrongs (v5). In addition, this “perfect” love, never loses faith and is always hopeful (v7). So, someone loving and celebrating new life, displaying Christian love; would not harp on another’s flaws, but would rejoice in the making new.

Are we walking this better way-with others or even with ourselves? Focused on the making new, in the dead life we were removed from when Jesus called us out of those ways into something better? If we are still holding onto the old, can we let it go, so we can truly help others move forward in the Christ-like “perfection,” and ourselves as well?

Because He certainly did. And He expects us to as well.

Those who want the best

In a conversation while watching TV, my husband and I reflected over the death of the TV sitcom. Streaming has killed mainstream TV, and the idea of sitting down with kids to just watch a family TV show seems dead. Gone are the days of shows like Who’s the Boss, Family Matters, and Growing Pains.

Growing Pains…not just physical, but those emotional ills we go through when anything in life or relationships change. That’s what the show was all about.

It’s what life is all about. And throughout mine, I’ve had my fair share. Even well into my late 30’s and even as recently as a couple years ago. As just like the sitcom, Carol, Mike, and the others had the Seaver parents; and I had people who helped me, guided me, and truly wanted the best for me as I was growing through them. 

One is a colleague I look up to. I admire her and her professionalism. In a conversation this week, we were discussing some of the challenges for the new school year with staff changes; one of them being the previous week’s meeting that I had been asked to lead. The one that had not gone as planned. I told her how a few years ago I probably would have left that room crying, and cried about it for days; but these days I no longer take things that are not about me personally. Her response was unexpected. One I was not needing to hear for validation (though in the same years I would have needed that, too), but confirming in a way. 

“January, you are exactly right. You have grown so much. It’s been so awesome to watch you develop into such a great therapist, and a really strong leader.”

I was humbled. Coming from someone who five years ago, scared me to death…yes I was humbled.

And I said as much-that she used to scare me-because five years prior I had sat in her office as a resident in counseling with 2 years of overdue paperwork needing signatures. Having not attended any groups in the last three months, because I was meeting the requirements of everyone else around me, and not the path of the career I said I was passionate about. Her promise to never sign another overdue quarterly report after that date stuck with me, and I vowed to myself I would never turn in another one late. And I didn’t. I also never missed another group supervision. I made sure my placements knew those were monthly commitments I had to meet as part of my residency. She was right-I could have sat there and made excuses. I could have given up. But I didn’t. I owned it. Fixed it. And didn’t do it again.

Now…I’d like to say I never made another mistake I had to be held accountable for, but then I would also have to tell you I am superhuman, and I am not. I have had to own my junk. Fix it. And suffer some growing pains. And each time someone has been there who has truly wanted the best for me. Someone has had to show me the crack, the area needing growth, and push me to fix it.

And we hear that a lot: “I am telling you this because I want the best for you,” or “I wish you the best.” But does everyone? And how do you know the difference? Because there is a difference.

Here’s an illustration to help you: 

 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. John 21:15-17

Jesus gave Peter instructions and asked Him to serve Him, as He had been instructed to do previously. If you love me, you will go on serving as you have before; but you will change your behavior. 

Leaders, friends, loved ones who want the best for you-don’t hold your past missteps against you. Jesus didn’t do that to Peter. That colleague had not even remembered those reports-I had. She had just silently been watching me grow. 

Those who want the best may have to call out a fault. A blemish. May have to ask you to correct a mistake, or an area of growth, but they do so in gentleness, in love, and with the understanding that you have the opportunity to make it right, and even get better. It’s not to hold these wrongs over your head for later. They don’t yell at you, or shame you. Or keep them in their back pockets as ammunition to keep you from moving forward later.

Those who want the best SEE the best. Potential. And not just the products of your mistakes. They can’t wait for you to bloom into what you will become. They even want to help you do it.

Now, those who really don’t want what is best for you…but maybe for them? 

At first, they tell you the mistake is no big deal. You are forgiven. You have some time to make this right, and may even encourage you with a plan. But then it shifts.

They keep a record of your wrongs. Like receipts. Adding them up to list them each time you mess up. They remember that meeting 5 years ago, and won’t let you forget it. They even remember why you were there. 

They see a crack. And instead of gently talking to you about it; they expose it. With maneuvering of others in front of you and your gifts, desires, talents. They may even poke at it to expose the weakness more. 

Those who want what is best for them? They want competition. If you do happen to fix the crack? To move forward? Bloom? Grow? Despite the adversity? Don’t expect an ally. Expect the silent treatment. And an all out lack of support. These people may even just ghost you. 

These are the people who would have never went to Peter and asked him to feed their sheep, but would instead be talking to the sheep about Peter. Or would have already replaced Peter with a new first mate. 

You get it now? 

Those who want the best for you, sometimes don’t get to have the best conversations; because they are the ones willing to have the tough ones.

The ones that may cause pain, but instill growth.

The ones that may hurt a bit, but are necessary for change.

The ones that reveal cracks, but are crucial for repair.

These are the best. 

Don’t be afraid of those who challenge you. Because they are the ones who just may be conduits of your strongest growth. Those are the ones who want the best. 

Stay strong and keep the faith

I’ve been waitin’ for breakthrough, I’ve been prayin’ for change; I know You’ll work it all for good but how long will it take? I’ve been asking for healing and I’m not gonna lie I’m ready for the miracle, God, let it be this time.

-Stay Strong, Danny Gokey

I was expecting it. The turn of events I had watched unfold for years. My hopeful soul always wished for a different outcome. Prayed for a miracle. A work of His Spirit. And yet, part of me expected hopes to be dashed. 

Because, even though my prayers reached His ears, of that I am certain. They didn’t reach the soul for which I was praying. Change was not taking place. Actions were not moving in a positive, more forward direction. 

Jaded, I guess I was. Praying, though I was…I was still expecting the outcome that came. Yet it didn’t make hearing it any easier. The realization of it any less painful to endure. The heartache less challenging to bear.

I hadn’t gotten my breakthrough. But I wasn’t going to lose faith in His miracles either.

In a conversation as I heard these words: “We will be dead before we ever see it,” I felt that pain. I even wondered if those words rang true, and later that day I heard the words in this song, that echoed that same feeling. But with far less hopelessness.

But if I never see the promise on this side of the grave, My hope might be shaken but my faith will never break; Because I know the day is coming when You’ll right all of the wrong. So I’ll praise You in the waiting and my faith will stay strong

There are many who have come before me that didn’t see their promise before the grave. I wasn’t the only one who held onto promises that were not ever seen in ones’ lifetime.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. Hebrews 11:13

Moses. God made a promise that the Israelites would get to the Promised Land. And they did…but Moses wasn’t there to see it. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died with the Promised Land just in sight, allowed to see it, but not to enter it (Deuteronomy 34:4).

David. He was promised that a temple would be built through him, but he had to give the blueprints of that temple to his son, Solomon. A temple he would never see built prior to his death (1 Chronicles 28).

And in the Old Testament, a Messiah is promised to redeem and save many times, and many died before this ever came to pass, but Jesus was sent as promised and became the Savior of the World, just as God said.

I don’t know what burdens God has given you to carry for others. I don’t know what prayers you pray for others for which you are desperately seeking breakthroughs. I do know faith is what allows us to continue to pray. To continue to cry out to Him, even when we don’t see change. Even when we don’t see a miracle. Even when we are afraid we won’t see the fruits of our laborious ramblings to God on this side of eternity. Faith is what gives us hope that He will make good on His promise in ways that we don’t understand, and we possibly may not ever see. That may not affect this generation, but perhaps one that reaches far beyond us.

Hopes may be dashed today. Your expectations may be more like disappointments, but His promises are bigger than any of those. Stay strong. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep the faith.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

I do not own the rights to video, lyrics, or music.

Worn out from War?

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing. “Worn,” Tenth Avenue North

Spiritual warfare. Let’s talk about it. Because…let’s be honest. When you hear about it, you may think of people being overtaken by demons, questioning their faith, or running from God. Right? Maybe?

It can be these things. But it can also be very different. It can happen to the new believer. It can happen to the seasoned. It can occur to the one being “fed” in the back of the pew, and the one standing up front-the pastor. It can happen to the one whose faith is fragile, and the one who has been the most faithful. Spiritual warfare is real and present in all those who work with and for God, and there is a weapon for it.

First, what does it look and feel like?

Yes, spirtiual warfare can come in the form of intense suffering-one after the other. You may feel your life is in shambles. Some may have a crisis of faith, and some may even fall away from God.

Others experience the warfare differently. Maybe you are on the path you feel led by God to be on, but the weight of the world you are carrying daily is becoming increasingly heavy. You are tired. You are listening to voices that tell you it is all too hard, so you get discouraged. Maybe you even start to look around at others who seem to carry it easier, and you don’t know why you can’t. Your prayers seem to hit the ceiling, if you manage to pray at all.

And my prayers are wearing thin
I’m worn even before the day begins
I’m worn I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn so heaven come and flood my eyes

You are just tired. You are worn. This is spiritual warfare, and it can come out of nowhere.

I have been here before. I wonder, even, if pastors get here frequently. Because there can be a constant flood of comparisons. The world can be really heavy at times for us, and there is a strong desire; even an expectation that more needs to be done; and you are the one who needs to do it.

Before, I have chosen the methods of the world, which I now know lead to destruction. Because that is what Satan desires: The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10, NLT

To kill our spirit. Steal our soul. Destroy our faith in God. And we destroy him, not by focusing on the world. All its resources, answers, solutions, and messages. This is likely what got us in this state. Instead, we remember:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:12-13

We realize that the warfare is not with each other, but Satan; and we put on our armor, focusing on the answers, solutions, messages and truth God provides. It is right there for us. At our disposal-whether written on pages, or at our fingertips in phones-it’s His Word. We choose to read it, to savor it, and to put it into practice, and use it to rebuke the devil.

Warfare is inevitable as a believer, especially in a broken world. Until we reach our final destination, we will have pain. We will have strife, and we have a real enemy that is the ruler of that evil. We do not have to remain worn. We can resist the enemy in prayer, and by consistently calling out to Him, something we may have neglected as we have grown more weary during the battle. He is the weapon when you are worn out from the war, yet often the last one we pick up. After we look to the world. We look to our friends. We look to everyone else to hear our cries to just make it stop, we remember the One who can.

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:17-18

Perhaps we have the wrong swords in our hand, and sometimes we are reading the wrong words. Statuses that don’t make us feel anything but worse, and words that only fill us and tell us what we “want” to hear, not what we “need to hear.” Open up the TRUTH you need to get out of the pit, to stop letting Satan win the war, and start praying God moves those mountains you are determined can’t be moved. He will show up. He has before when you started fighting back, and He will again. This is a war only won by Him, and last time I checked, we weren’t promised to remain worn, we were promised to win.

I do not own rights to music, video, or lyrics.

You Belong with Him

What is our deepest desire? For many of us, what is we want the most?

Think about it. Really think about it.

When we go into a new space. Whether a new job, a new school, a new group, a new place. When we are among new people, or people we have known for a number of years. When we are searching for that special someone. A new church. That place we will drop our kids off for care each day. What exactly are we longing for? What elements are we seeking?

Acceptance. A place to belong. That’s what we are looking for. And in these places, will we find it? Even in places we have been for long times, surrounded by people who smile, laugh, and sit among us-do we always feel it? Like we belong?

Or do we feel something like this?

Just a little unseen
Always on the outside looking in
Just a little unsure
Uncomfortable in my own skin

Hiding in the shadows looking on
Holding out for someone I’ll become
Waiting on the words I’ve burned to hear for so long. “You Belong,” Francesca Battistelli

A need to change who we are to fit in certain spaces? A feeling of loneliness even in places surrounded by lots of people? The feeling that the people who have known us the longest still don’t “get” us no matter how much we talk, try to tell our stories, or seek to be understood?

There is a place we belong. One who sees us. Knows us. Understands us. And from whom we don’t have to hide or pretend.

It’s God. He knows us deeply. So deeply. Intricately.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:13-16, NLT

Isn’t that intricate indeed?

And He longs for us to know how deeply we are loved immensely by Him. He longs for us to know how we fit in His plan. He desires we stop trying to seek acceptance and belonging from things and places that just can’t fill this deep longing we have. Cannot know us in the exact way the Psalmist has described. We can try, but it just won’t be the same. It will not come close.

Are you ready to belong? To truly belong? Then maybe it’s time to belong to Him.

I do not own rights to video, music, or lyrics.

A Way Out of the Mess

I have been discouraged. Let me be clear and honest. Moments of discouragment often come after what I refer to as mountaintop moments. When you get up to the top, you have to come down, right? Anyone familiar with this terrain, whether naturally or spiritually knows there is a valley down below.

In that valley, Satan waits. He hates mountaintop moments. He beats you up. Tears you down. Exposes all your missteps and character flaws on the way down-because he is hoping you don’t have the strength or desire to climb anymore mountains.

It had been that way for about three weeks. No desire to write. An anxious mood. Weary. On edge. The world, and all its mess weighing heavy. Add all this to Satan’s conistent reminders of my own past messes.

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25

That’s the reality. It just is. And we can argue that the book of Judges was written 3,000 years ago, and it isn’t relevant. But folks-His Word is alive, active, present. Read the verse again, and tell me it isn’t just as real and present today.

We wander around daily, not turning to our King. Making poor choices, because we are carnal humans bound by our flesh, and our earthly desires. We do whatever we feel in the moment. “This feels so right,” so we continue it. We do what we think our friends, families, or co-workers would approve of-to be more liked. We “go with the flow,” not having any clear direction, and make all kinds of plans, but we never check in with the King.

All of the messes I have gotten myself into have all been because I stopped calling on God, didn’t listen to Him, and did things my way. I created my own messes, and my King was gracious enough to get me out of them.

I made choices that led me to destruction, and my King saved me from it.

And He reminded me, as I battled through the valley-focusing my attention on Him, and not that dirty liar that this is the exact reason I write. To share the mess, along with the triumphs. To share the mess, and the One who saves from it. To share the truth about the journey through faith that has mountaintop moments and some valleys, but a King who gets us to and through each and every one.

Are you ready to focus your eyes on Him today? Or are you going to keep doing things your way?

My True Freedom

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17, NLT

I have a love and hate relationship with phone storage, especially when it comes to storing pictures. I have tried every automatic back-up service recommended as the greatest, and it never fails-I always end up with the dreaded “running out of storage message.” It makes me long for the days of point, shoot, develop, and scrapbook all your beloved memories.

The latest dreaded message came from my Google photos app. The app I had downloaded because I was tired of Apple asking me to pay for more photo storage. The app that was now also telling me I was running out of storage, because it was threatening to freeze my email accounts if I did not, well you know-pay for more.

Oh, how we become so chained to our phones, and our need to store those precious memories.

I spent several weeks going through about 4 years worth of pictures, and I noticed something I was also chained to. Not the storing of memories. I think those are OK, if they don’t distract us from simply living in the moment of making them. It was all the selfies I used to take. After noticing that in the last year and a half I had maybe taken 10, compared to the hundreds I had taken previously I began to wonder “why?” Why was I so enamored with posting so many pictures of myself. And if not of myself, of my accomplishments? Of every little thing I did to help or serve others?

I posted my first one yesterday, aside from maybe a profile picture, or a picture about my hair…in I don’t even know how long. In my curls, pearls, and classic “rocket pops.” I thought about freedom, and what we may think today this freedom means. Sure, it has a historical context; this is the reason we celebrate, and eat hot dogs, and shoot sparkly rockets into the sky; but really? Is there a deeper freedom we could celebrate today?

I know I can.

See those were not simply a bunch of pictures I was sorting through to delete, they were a testimony to a yoke of slavery by which I was bound. The yoke of approval and validation. I was chained to a desire and a need to be approved, liked, and appreciated by the world.

Through each post I sought confirmation that I was seen. That I was valued. Each time I shared some accomplishment, I recieved confirmation that I was doing well. Praise. Approval. Each time I shared my comings, goings, work, service-I was being validated with each like and comment. My ego got a boost, and I received confirmation that I was doing something right. That I WAS right. That I was worthy. Special. Important.

Because, here is the truth. I was also bound by the lies of Satan. A prisoner to the horrible thoughts he screamed at me. And the approval of the world, told me something different.

The devil whispered little lies
He tried to steal my victory
But I stared those demons in the eyes
‘Cause these boots gonna crush the enemy. (Zach Williams, “Freedom”)

Until, I began to focus again on the truth. Not what the world thought. Not what Satan said. The truth in His Word. What God said about me. How He approved me. He valued me. He made me special and important, and most of all loved me. And I was set free from the chains of seeking validation from anything outside of Him. Until compliments became something that were nice to receive every now and then, but not sought; because I KNEW my Father was pleased with me. I no longer needed anyone to “please” me with words, praise, or Facebook likes. I was no longer bound by that yoke. I am a prisoner, set free.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32, NLT

And you can be, too. Maybe for you, those pictures are not what they were to me. Maybe every post, every like, every comment does not give you the attention and value you seek. Maybe that is not your “yoke.” Maybe you are bound to something else that has stolen your freedom. Today could be the day you celebrate true independence. Today could be the day you are finally a prisoner set free. He is waiting for you to drop the chains, and simply ask for it-your freedom, that is.

I do not own rights to video, lyrics, or music.

Will He Be Enough?

It had finally gotten me. The virus that had arrived like the relative that asks to stay for a month or two, and ends up taking up residence for two years instead. And I had been fortunate. Even with home visits, and my time spent in and out of multiple schools, I had scraped by untouched.

And I knew how fortunate I was to not have had the blows so many others did…but this morning? This morning I decided to have a pity party. It had been almost 2 weeks. I had been better. Now? I was feeling bad again. Up all night coughing. I hadn’t even done that the two days I had this stupid virus.

I felt helpless. I felt crummy. For over two years life had been a roller coaster of junk, blows, falls, and endless climbing. Many of these trials also meant I had to look hard. Stare long and hard at myself in the mirror. Realize some of my actions and choices even caused some of the junk. It wasn’t always someone else. It wasn’t even God. It was me.

But now life was looking up. There was light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. I actually liked the girl in the mirror. The girl in the mirror was finally lighter, freer, happy with who she had become, and not seeking approval. She was seeing beyond the brush in the forest, and now seeing fruit hanging from the branches.

And also having a pity party on the way to work because she couldn’t stop coughing. It seemed so silly when I heard these words:

Going through a storm but I won’t go down. I hear Your voice carried in the rhythm of the wind to call me out. You would cross an ocean so I wouldn’t drown. You’ve never been closer than You are right now. You are Jireh, You are enough. Jireh, You are enough. And I will be content in every circumstance. You are Jireh, You are enoughElevation Worship

Maybe it wasn’t so silly. I knew what mere colds did to my body, in particular. Maybe not everyone else’s. I knew at times not to expect good, because disappointment lurked in the shadows. It was how my brain was wired. So when good came, suffering was inevitable.

But there was always something else there: God.

Would I be content? Even if…if every supposed “good thing” were taken, would He still be enough? Or would I throw a pity party because it didn’t turn out like I expected?

I have thrown many a pity party. I have lamented, cried out, and grumbled when things did not go as planned. Had little faith in the One who knows much more than I do. And while suffering still endured, because well, life…there was still joy. I still made it out OK. I still made it through. In every circumstance.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT

Truly glad. In every storm. Every trial. Every circumstance. Even the silly ones. Knowing He is there when you feel alone, and is comforting you during your pity party. He has provided before, and will do it again.

He is enough.

I do not own rights to music, lyrics or video.

Redeemed from the Past

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The past. There are times we look back on the past with nothing but nostalgic feelings of good times. We look through scrapbooks of pictures that show happy faces, memories of places we have been, things we have seen. These memories stir up joy, happiness, and even longing for the times where things seemed easier.

The past. Some are still stuck in it. And not the happier moments. Stuck in the pain of past hurts. Past choices. The person we were before. Some may even be people who won’t allow us to let go of these choices. Friends. Relatives. People with whom we work, and navigate through life daily. Not willing to let go of a person we may no longer be.

You know who else won’t let go of the past? Satan. He knows your triggers. He knows your past sin. And just as some people can’t help but remind us-he can’t either.

There are some mistakes we have made. Some jumps we have taken. Some falls. That we don’t want people to know about. And if they do know about them, we don’t want them to be brought up again. Because they aren’t cool scars. They aren’t the kind that make you feel tough. They are the kind that only remind you of a past you thought you escaped. That everyone had forgotten. 

Until something reminds you again.

And I found myself here in the last two weeks. Triggered by so many things from my past. And it was stupid, little stuff. But it was enough to nag at me, until I started focusing on the scars that the past left behind. My sin scars. Not my grace scars. 

So, first-maybe you are wondering what are grace scars? 

Those grace scars. They are the nail-pierced hands of Jesus. They are the scars that bore the sin we try so hard to hide. Others try so hard to remember, and can’t seem to forget. Those are grace scars. And when the past kept coming back to me, I kept forgetting this grace that was given to me because of those scars that Jesus carries.

Because see, this new scar I now have, I don’t like it. Satan uses it to beat me down and make me believe that I am no longer who God believes me to be.

It is on my right wrist. It’s courtesy of surgery I had to have after I broke my wrist from a fall back in October of 2020. I don’t really like to talk about it much. Falls happen. I have fallen before, never broken a bone. But, 2020…right?

But this fall was also different. A bit harder. It happened during a time when I was really doubting God’s purpose in anything going on in my life. The people in it. The things going on. Nothing was adding up or making sense. I spent more time screaming angry prayers at Him, and asking Him why, and didn’t like any of His answers. Nor did I like any of the waiting. So…I did things my way, and ultimately got in the way. I tried to play God. I forgot who I was. And, well….I guess God knocked me down, so to speak.

So I don’t like this scar. It’s angry looking. And when I look at the jagged “S,” that now lives there, I don’t hear the voice of God. I hear a different one. The one that reminds me of my past sin scars, and not my grace one. That tells me this jagged “S” is for words like “shameful.” “Sinner.” “Stupid.” “Silly.” “Soiled.” Some I don’t care to even mention, just want to forget. It’s like I’ve been branded with a scarlet letter of anything Satan wants to use to help me doubt my salvation or self-worth.

Of course that is what Satan wants me to believe. But His word says in Micah 7:18-19:

You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
 Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Which means-He gave us Jesus. To pay for those sins. To cover all those scars. So God has forgotten. Those mistakes. All of them, were buried somewhere in the sea. We ask for forgiveness, and repent. He forgets. The only one remembering any of it is Satan, and maybe a couple earthly people.

 And when we profress our belief, we hear new words. 

Words like:

Saved.

Set apart.

Seen.

Secure.

Smart.

Strong.

Redeemed.

To others, your scars may be a reminder of your checkered past, but to God they are the a reason He extends to us His grace and mercy. We have the choice to receive it. Are we going to walk in His grace, as one redeemed, or keep letting others remind us of those things He has forgotten?

Me? I choose grace. I choose mercy. I choose to believe the things God tells me that have nothing to do with my past.

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Don’t Believe the Lies

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

I have been vocal in past posts about my thoughts on, and my desire for boundaries when it comes to social media. In my last social media fast, I came to the realizaton that some of my thoughts may have even been extreme. Maybe even unhealthy. My use of social media is personal, and not everyone will go on the same journey, and it is through this perspective that I have developed some different views, and healthier personal usage.

One thing, however, has not changed-my views on that comment section.

We all wanna know we matter
We all wanna know we’re loved
More the same than we are different
Desperate just to be enough

But it’s like we’ve all forgotten
How much we’re all connected
When I read the comment section. -Sidewalk Prophets

This song, “The Comment Section,” is about the hurtful comments posted in the comment section by individuals behind a screen, and the descriptions throughout it are pretty accurate. What is even more discouraging, is that at times this type of commentary flows into our personal, and face-to-face conversations.

Case in point: I lead a monthly girls group. 3 girls. Supposedly friends working through a self-esteem exercise; but in this past week’s group, spending most of the time poking fun at each other, and spewing hurtful comments about each other’s features, bodies, and minds. “Fat, ugly, dumb.” After more than an hour of this, the life had been sucked out of me. The hurtful back and forth banter disguised as “joking,” wrecked my spirit, and I carried it with me into the weekend. Why is this language among each other acceptable? Why do we poke fun to have fun? Why do we desire to hurt each other? Over time, whether read or heard-these comments leave scars no one can see. Doubts that carry on long after words have been spoken.

With each comment and verbal slur of judgment, we begin to believe all the lies said about us. That interaction in group was only a part of the onslaught of lies Satan threw at me throughout that week. All due to triggers that were reminders of my past. A reminder of an older name that had me believing divorced women truly were not fit to pastor. An email that was a reminder of all the past events that made me feel unworthy and unqualified. The consistent “uglies, fats” and everything else I heard on that day was the last straw.

I refuse to let Satan continue to throw lies at me. I refuse to let the own comment section I allow to scroll in my head define me.

I struggled with what topic to focus on this month. With whether to even do a monthly reading plan. With May holding space for Mother’s Day, themes of parenting or being a mother seemed to fit; however, not everyone fits this description. Yet, this very moment in life-motherhood; it can fill us with so many inadequcies. We have so many doubts about our abilities, and we tend to compare ourselves with so many others. Thinking they have it all right, and we have it all wrong.

But, it’s all lies. We tend to believe so many lies.

This month, we will be defeating those lies. The lies we believe about ourselves (and even others) because of the world’s vision that we all comform to one ideal. The lies that tell us we need to be a certain way, parent a certain way, or anything else a certain way to be approved. Through Scripture and song, we will discover the truth the world often shuts out, if you only read the comment section.

Because here is the truth: God has made us good, pleasing, and perfect, among so many other things. It is time we believe this, instead of all the lies the devil may feed us.

Be sure to visit tomorrow for a copy of the newest 30 day Bible reading plan, with a link to the playlist of each song, so you can also listen to truth all month long!