I have come to cherish God’s “No” as much as I cherish his “Yes.”
He means BOTH for my good.
Fear surrounded me on Thursday
and moved in for the kill on Friday.
All I could see was fear
and I was nearly overcome by it.
But what about all that work
God and I did last year?
Hadn’t he broken down the
strongholds of fear in my life?
I could sing, with total honesty
and sincerity that I was “no longer a slave of fear.”
Was I wrong? I sure felt like a slave at the end of last week. I felt powerless to do anything other that run and hide. Fear seemed to be winning.
But where had all this fear come from?
Moreover, how could I make it go away?
The answer was swift and pointed.
God spoke into the very heart of my questions:
You cannot overcome that which you are willing to tolerate.
I don’t remember who said that,
but it makes total sense to me.
Yes, God had broken down the walls
surrounding all the things I
COULDN’T tolerate being afraid of…
all the things that had made my
life a waking nightmare…
I am no longer a slave to THOSE
So, now, God’s going
after the stuff
that I can.
Tolerate, I mean.
I have been content
to tolerate some fears
in my life.
God showed me
that I have been content
to believe some lies.
And it was those lies
that were feeding the fear
that rushed in like a roaring lion
I was tolerating fear that I didn’t
even realize I had, at least, not on a
I was believing lies
that told me that God
wasn’t helping me confront injustice,
therefore, the situation
MUST be hopeless.
I was reminded of other situations
from the past that had seemed
equally hopeless… where I still
hadn’t seen God’s deliverance.
Where I still couldn’t define those chapters
of my life in order to “see the good…”
so the fear (that still enshrouded
those times) seemed to define me.
And I was a terrified rabbit.
It was lies like that…
Lies of hopelessness
that used to tempt me
I mean… if GOD himself
wasn’t going to help me,
what help was there to be had?
Skip all that talk about eating worms.
Might as well kill myself,
Fear is from the FATHER of Lies
whose number one goal
is to take out as many people as
possible with whatever lie
As the fears advanced
on Thursday, I felt
afraid. By Friday morning
when I woke up —
I was hysterical and in tears.
I just wanted to fly away
And into the fearsome storm
He spoke. He reminded me
That I was NOT alone.
I didn’t have to face the
And that’s when I sent out that
I call them “Prayer Flares.”
Short on the details;
Heavy on the S.O.S.
And THAT’S when the body of Christ
circled the wagons around me and began
to intercede in earnest.
And THAT’S when God began to show me
just how insidious the lies were.
How insidious the fear was.
It started out so small
that it had been flying under my radar
until my buttons got mashed.
Then all the little fears
came scattering out
like candy out of
Fear thrives in isolation.
All those years I spent suicidal?
Probably could have been shortened
if I’d only been able to let people in.
My fear of “well-meaning, but soul-crushing”
advice, aside… I know that it was the prayers
of well-meaning intercessors
that stopped fear in its tracks on Friday.
Fear hates prayer more that it hates you or me.
Alone, you or I, are often powerless against fear…
But a whole battalion of praying believers?
SO… thank you to all those who
prayed me through my crisis.
My journey is far from over.
Keep praying that I’d believe Truth
over the lies.
Having dreams is wonderful. Having dreams gives you something to hope for and to work towards. Having dreams helps you tap into your potential. When you have big dreams you can tap into “pure imagination” and amazing things have been born in people’s imaginations. I am a big fan of dreams and imaginations.
I was talking to Jesus this morning. Something that I read in my morning devotional made me find this video on youtube and watch it. “Pure imagination...” It called up lovely nostalgic feelings. I loved this movie as a child. I still do. But as I watched this scene with new eyes, a new thought occurred to me: It gave me a creepy “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” vibe. Only one of the children in the scene actually did what was right. Talk about commentary on the condition of the human heart.
Jesus was turning up the Refiner’s fire this morning, but this time it was more of a golden glow. He was showing me the contents of my heart by revisiting a warm fuzzy childhood memory. As Jesus shined his light into my heart it caused “what if” questions to surface instead of fear:
What if the things that you are dreaming of are strictly of you own “pure imagination” and not something that God wants for you? I’m old enough and have had enough hard knocks to know that not EVERY dream or idea that crosses my mind is from God. I can think of a few glaringly spectacular examples where I wanted things and God said, “No.” I wanted God to be wanting those things for me… yet as much as I dreamed and as much as I imagined and backed all that up with earnest prayers to him, his answer to me was still, “No.”
Jobs I’ve dreamed about getting… but never got. Relationships I’ve pleaded for… and never got. Homes I’ve wanted? Ministries I’ve sought. Visions and passions that seemed to be God’s dreams for me… but never materialized? What of those dreams?
Walking with Jesus all these years has proven to me that God does not always give me everything I dream or imagine no matter how much I pray about it. When God said, “No” to me in the past, I did not accept his no gracefully, believing in my heart that my Father in heaven had good and perfect gifts for me. Selfish and self-centered, I would get mad at God for not giving in to my attempts to strong-arm him with persistent prayer. I would press forward doing what “seemed right in my own eyes,” and when I would get hurt, I would blame God for not stopping me!
As I look back at the actions of “dear younger me,” I’m not impressed with what I saw. With those thoughts in my mind, Jesus turned my eyes towards another bit of childhood nostalgia:
THAT is what “dear younger me” looked like. Praise the LORD that he loves me enough to discipline me… to say, “No” to me when he’s got a better “yes” in store for me — if only I would wait for it. My heavenly Father is more interested in building my character than my comfort. He wants me to know him and his will so intimately that I KNOW what pleases him and I ask according to HIS will and not my own.
It pleases him that I am taking today to be still and seek him. It pleases him that I’m taking time to write out what I am seeing. Some people are verbal processors… I’m a “literary processor.” I have to write out what I’m thinking and then reflect back on it at some later point. Fear had closed this avenue off for me and my thoughts were getting backed up in my head. Since I’m a teacher and a writer… I know that God intends me to share what he teaches me. Out of the comfort I get from him… my written words can overflow to comfort some other neurotic people like me because I refuse to believe that I’m the ONLY person who has ever asked God for stuff only to get a “No” or a “Wait.” I’m not the ONLY Veruca Salt wanting her way NOW.
Sometimes, waiting is actually harder than a flat out “No.” But right now, God has me in a season of waiting. No amount of “pure imagination” is going to force God to give me things that are not his will for me. And since taking an “I want it NOW” attitude with him didn’t end so well the LAST time I tried it, Wisdom born out of past discipline assures me that pressing forward will only result in heartbreak and pain. Best to slow down and wait on God’s timing.
This morning, God has been refining my thoughts and as with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, the fire has not been painful. God is burning off the stuff that was binding me. My old selfish and self-centered ways are the dross that rose to the surface this morning and I am not afraid. I am gladly confessing and repenting. In Christianese, we call this “dying to self.” No longer do I want my “pure imagination” or my selfish desires driving the bus. Now don’t get me wrong, imagination and dreams are not bad… but if we make those two things our end goal, they become idols and that IS bad. James says it best:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Best to check my motives at the door.
This morning I did something I’ve never done. I was in crisis… and I didn’t care who knew it. I’ve never liked it when my Bipolar is showing. I prefer to withdraw until the storm has passed with nobody the wiser, but this morning when I found myself standing at the corner of Drama and Choice, I went down a different street — the one with a lot of people on it.
I reached out to people… A LOT of people. Gone are the days where Bipolar Girl suffered in silence and isolation behind the un-hallowed walls of the “Bipolar Bubble.” God has been expanding the walls of my bubble, so that I know that I am not alone because I don’t want to be.
The past few months have been hard.
I’ve been in survival mode ever since “The Great Rebuke” back in March. For a few days, I was in crisis mode and only a handful of people knew about it, but God was right there with me walking me through it. I knew the enemy was at work, but I knew he wasn’t the cause of what I was experiencing. I was.
And God, in his mercy, called it what it was: discipline. I had erected some idols in my life and God let me see the natural consequence of what happens when you do that. The pain was quick and decisive. It brought me to my knees in confession and repentance. God’s forgiveness was swift. The reconciliation between me and my God was even faster. My heavenly Father does not abuse. He introduces discipline into my life so that I can learn from my misguided, or sometimes wicked and evil ways, that I might not do whatever it was that I did again and I’m learning to rejoice in that.
My heavenly Father loves me enough to discipline me and because I know this… I accept it. I no longer run from discipline. I do not take umbrage (look it up) with God or insist that it’s an attack from Satan. Will my ungodly enemy try to attack when I’m down? That’s a stupid question. OF COURSE, Satan is going to try to hit me when I’m in the middle of the Refiner’s fire. He is going to introduce all manner of doubts to tempt me to doubt God’s goodness or his deliverance.
In the past, when I was in the center of the crucible of divine correction, I used to cry out to God to get me out of there — forgetting all the prayers that I’d lifted up to God begging him to change me… to transform me… to grow me. I have it on good authority that growth comes with pain.
This morning was growing pains. I am growing in my faith and I like it, so instead of rebuking the enemy (I KNOW he’s lurking around, but I much prefer to focus on Jesus and what HE’S doing)… I put my focus on God. I magnified my Lord, instead of the problems. God has been more interested in building my character than in assuring my comfort. I knew that…. but it didn’t make it easier to have to live through it.
These past few months have been beautiful and painful. Yesterday, it seemed like all the painful parts were winning. It seemed like events converged upon yesterday to collectively mash every single button that I have… and I could feel my moods swinging and I was afraid of the reservoir of anger that was simmering just below my surface….until all that self-control that God’s been growing in me this past year asserted itself.
“A fool gives full vent to his anger.” Well… my Abba didn’t raise no fool. I used to be… but I’m not now. Neither anger nor fear control me anymore. When the dust settled on yesterday… and I was at home looking back over the day, I was able to define what had happened to me with more of God’s perspective rather than let those events define me. I had passed a huge test by not letting the events of yesterday define me.
I heard that in a message by Wayne Cordeiro last week. He said that we could either be defined by our past, or we could define it. If we REALLY believe that God really does “work all things for the good of those who love him,” then we need to look back over those painful periods where we lack closure and define it and redefine it until we have God’s perspective on it. That doesn’t mean that events will magically turn into something other than what they were, but a perspective shift can do amazing things for your past, present, and future.
Since I’ve spent the past two months going over old journals turning over “Ebenezer stones” (look it up)… I am able to see words that I’d written in various crucibles over the past decade in an entirely new light. A redefined light. In the middle of the trials you often cannot see God’s deliverance because it hasn’t happened yet. And if you’re like me, when you’re in the middle of trials, all you can see are the trials. I used to cry out for God to deliver me and then get pissed at God when I didn’t see any immediate deliverance. From the vantage point of now, I see that God never delivered me from any of my trials… but he always faithfully delivered me through them – with my eyes wide opened. I worship a God I know because I’ve walked with him. I’ve experienced life with him.
That has never been more real or more meaningful to me as it was when I looked back over pain filled pages in two separate journals, only to see that the deliverance that I’d begged for had happened when I wasn’t looking. All those painful events of the past? All those Amalekites that used to surround me? GONE. Some might say that it was just the passage of time… but who is God, if not the maker of time? From the vantage point of Now, God did deliver me from all of those trials. Most of my health problems that seemed so impossible over the past decade are GONE. ALL of the toxic relationships that used to bring me so much stress and pain? GONE. The extreme mood swings that had me despairing of life and hoping for death? GONE. What is that if not deliverance?!
Which made me think about what Wayne Cordeiro said. Looking back over those pages I was able to define those events in terms of the growth that I now see. It was an amazing adventure to go back over my past journals to see how God had tilled my field to prepare it to yield all the fruit I’ve seen in the past year and a half. That he assured me in advance that I was heading into a season of pruning and refining was actually answered prayer. I have to remember that I ASKED him for transformation. He’s not just going to wave a wand and make me a better person. I’m not saying that this hasn’t happened for some people. It has. I KNOW people like that. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. My character transformation has been slow and tough going. Every aspect of this new character that I’m enjoying was bought at a price and I didn’t pay it. I’m not even paying it when I encounter trials. I am the recipient of all this grace.
By day’s end, I was able to redefine what had happened; was happening; and was probably going to happen and I was ok with it. I came home. I played my guitar. And rather than turn to a lot of my old self-medicating strategies, I did things that God taught me the past year and a half to take care of myself when I’m stressed out. The evening ended well… so it was a bit of a surprise that I woke up in crisis this morning at 4am. Turns out, God was using the events of yesterday to refine me and as he turned up the heat, the dross rose to the surface and that’s what woke me up.
A whole bunch of new fears that I didn’t even know that I had came floating up through the levels of my subconscious. Only this time, it wasn’t just me surrounded by a bunch of my fears. God reminded me that I am not alone. He is for me and with me. And once I’d talked to God, he prompted me to reach out to people. At first, I worried about sending out a text telling people that I was “in crisis.” I didn’t want people to worry about me. I wanted them to pray. I define “crisis” differently than I used to back when I was suicidal. This morning I was NOT suicidal… but I was being attacked by fear and I felt like I was drowning.
It was time to call in the troops. I sent a group text to 20 people telling them that I was in crisis and to pray… but I also asked them NOT to respond to the text. When I am in crisis, PRAYER is the ONLY thing I want because too often, advice can be “well-meaning, but soul crushing.” I didn’t need people talking me through it. I needed people talking to God KNOWING that GOD would see me through it.
And he DID! I saw the deliverance of the LORD and I DIDN’T have to wait 10 years to redefine it! I saw his hand and his help working on my behalf today which gives me the strength to keep persevering. The circumstances have not changed. They are likely to get worse… but my hope in God just dropped another really deep root. So even if my enemy IS being opportunistic and is pressing in while God is refining me, I’m going to stand my ground…
The Greatest Commandment
a prayer for the Love family
In this sin-soaked,
trauma filled world that we live in,
people do not instinctively know how to love.
Not agape love.
Not the love that God,
the Father, wants to bestow on us
or see worked out in us.
For that, we needed the One
who was willing to make a great sacrifice.
The GREATEST sacrifice,
so that through HIM we might
know how to love God, ourselves, and others
with our WHOLE heart.
Too many people are walking around
grasping the pieces of their broken hearts,
knowing that they need healing, but not knowing how
to find it or,
once they find it,
not sure how to receive it, internalize it, and walk in it.
After years of pain and offense;
dreams deferred and crushing disappointments;
and walking intimately with Sorrow and Suffering…
People are incapable of loving the LORD, their God with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strengths. So… is it any wonder that there are so many wars and threats of war?
Nicholas Thaddeus Love… it is into this world that God has called you. Today you were commissioned in church before God and man to be a minister of reconciliation in the US Armed Forces… and you, Alexandra Love, as his wife, a “helper suitable” for him…wear that mantle as well. You are both called into the world’s worst battlefields because you carry the white flag of the peace-maker.
God is sending you both out to “bind up the brokenhearted” in his name. You both understand a truth that you will be declaring over the people that God has you serve:
They cannot love the LORD with all their heart… if their hearts are broken into a million little pieces being held captive by fear of the future; bitter memories of the past; and worrisome weeds that choke out their love in the present.
It is no coincidence that we are told to “love the Lord our God with all our hearts” first because it is only with a whole heart that the mind, soul, and strength, can come into alignment with his perfect will for us. We cannot fully love ourselves or others without the love of God as our compass. God has been talking to me about reclaiming the pieces of my broken heart, so that I might offer them up to him. I’ve been walking with Jesus since 1994, but I didn’t realize my heart was still broken into so many pieces until this past year.
It is no coincidence that you surname is Love. You are both lovers of Jesus and you are both called to be pastors, listeners, healers, and ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation. You are to call out the love of God in the people that you serve.
My Prayer for the Both of You:
My prayer for you both as you step out into this next chapter of your Adventure In Jesus, is that he would work through you both to help people reclaim the broken pieces of their hearts. That Jesus would use you both in your respective spheres of influence to help bind up those broken hearts… so that people could bring …
all their Sorrow and Suffering…
and all their dreams deferred and crushing disappointments…
and their myriad of pains and memories of offenses that bind…
and all their fears, and bitter roots, and worries…
to the foot of the cross,
so that when they confess these things to you,
they might repent,
and be reconciled to God.
God has called you both to be Hearers of Confessions.
May you hear with ears that are open.
May you listen with the heart of Christ.
May you see into the unseen, so that your words
would always be seasoned with wisdom, discernment,
understanding, and grace.
May Truth be your banner.
May peace-making be your standard.
May you be led by the Spirit of the Living God
to call out the Overcomer in everyone you
counsel or minister to…
and in doing so, may you
see and bear witness to the deliverance of the LORD.
May you summon the love in people, so that
they might walk out the greatest commandment.
What would you do if you were awakened in the middle of the night from a dead sleep to the sounds of an intruder in your home?
That actually happened to a coworker of mine. She recently recounted the story to me and I am still in awe over what happened because she didn’t react. She responded. I have been in the middle of an emotional storm and my first reaction was to react. I started to free fall down the spiral staircase that is Bipolar Disorder and when I’m like that, it’s hard to hear the still small voice of my Jesus trying to get me to be still. I wanted to take a mental health day and just stay home from work because I felt emotionally spent, but Jesus told me that I had a “divine appointment” and I needed to go to work.
As I got out of my car that Monday morning, my 6:30 “Divine Appointment” met me in the parking area. We pray together this coworker and I, but it had been a while since I’d seen her. She made a beeline for me. She told me that there had been an intruder. At first, I thought she meant at the school. With our Active Shooter drill training still fresh in my memory, fear leapt to the forefront of my mind — somebody had come on campus trying to harm my kids. She quickly clarified: there had been an intruder in her home. The home where she lives with her aunt (also on staff), another adult female, and her aunt’s young children.
Again, I ask the question what would YOU do if there was an intruder in your home? Me? I hate to say it, but I think fear would grip me so strongly that I would be incapacitated. When we had the Active Shooter drill at school, my fear response was SO strong that all I could think of was my own personal survival. Saving the kids or anybody else didn’t even cross my mind the first scenario of the drill. I’m pretty sure that if an intruder had come into my home, hiding would be my first response.
Not so my coworker. She went on to tell me how she, her aunt, and the other female relative went all Mama Bear on the intruder who was a woman strung out on some powerful narcotics. All they were thinking about were the sleeping children in the other room. This woman had DARED to come into their home for no good…so that’s what they gave her: NO GOOD.
They beat the living crap outta’ her.
My coworker and her relatives are Samoan. You don’t mess with Samoans. They protect their own. Between the three of them, they wrestled the woman to the ground and beat the everlastin’ gobstoppers out of her. Now, I won’t go into details… but when I heard the details, my first response was shock. I mean, what about “turning the other cheek?” Surely, this was an opportunity to witness to her about the error of her wicked ways and to convince her of her need for Jesus? Shouldn’t their response have been less violent and more… Christian?
And in an instant… as I listened to her, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I was reminded about the parable of somebody breaking into the strong man’s house. If you break into a strong man’s house, ya’ better be strong enough to tie him up. Clearly, that intruder had never read the parable.
That woman had NO clue when she decided to break into that house what she was in for. That woman was on drugs and was dangerous. There were children in the house. Evangelism was the last thing on their minds. Somebody came into their home and threatened their safety, so they (excuse my language) kicked her ass. My coworker’s family subdued her and then called the cops. They used only enough force necessary to avoid become a statistic on the Maui News. And to that I say, AMEN!! So what did the Holy Spirit say to me….?
And THAT’S what you need to do to Satan when he tries to come into your house and mess with your mind by tying you up with fear, depression, anger, rage, resentment, et all. You need to pull out all the weapons of warfare that you possess, and you need to kick his ass.
Yes, the Holy Spirit says the word “ass” when speaking to me, because he’s more interested in changing my character than my vocabulary. In the same situation, I would’ve been scared witless. I would not have known what to do. I have never trained to defend myself…. I wouldn’t know how. And God wants to change all that and is using her story to change me. He drew a parallel: my mind is my home. It’s where I live. It’s where all my emotions and beliefs and actions are born. IF Satan gains entry into my mind and I let him, that’s when the fear… and the bitterness… and the resentment… and the self-pity… and the rage… and the anger… and the depression… and eventually… the suicidal thoughts… start to take hold.
My coworkers? They are Samoan. They know how to protect what is theirs and they are fierce in the protection of it. They took the flat end of a machete and beat her with it! I do not judge their actions because their motives were clear: PROTECT their children from the enemy. Would you have the courage or even the wisdom to know how to inflict enough force to debilitate an enemy without maiming them for life? Until you are in the exact same situation, reserve your judgments for conversations you might have with God about this because I don’t want to hear them.
Satan is my enemy. He’s all our enemy. Sometimes there will be people in my life who act like they are my enemy. They will say or do hurtful things. They will create drama in my life, but I have never really had any real evil people in my life intent on hurting me. I think that’s one way Satan works… by working through people in our lives. The people who have hurt me generally fall into two categories: “Well-meaning but soul-crushing” OR “totally ignorant and self-centered.” No matter what their motivation, I will want to fight back to protect myself, but my natural tendency is to run and hide. Then… I get angry for not standing up for myself and I drift into hating the people who hurt me thereby making them the problem and me a prisoner of anger, fear, and hatred.
Bipolar Girl used to think that she was a lover, not a fighter. Lovers generally get the crap beat out of them and then slink away to nurse their wounds on bitterness and resentment with a large dose of fear. God is telling me that I am a peace-maker… and, by definition, a fighter. That wasn’t my first reaction to the current trial in my life though. I reacted in hurt and fear and it started my free-fall down the spiral staircase.
And into that fallacy, the Lord had already spoken: You are no longer a slave of fear.
Fear would have me think that the bible says that I need to forever fill the role of “victim.” IF God won’t protect me, then I shouldn’t trust him, right? WRONG. While I do believe that we need to “turn the other cheek,” I also believe that “there is a time and a season for everything under the heavens.” And when an intruder comes into your home (physical or spiritual) intent on doing you harm… it is time to do some ass kicking and you need to use whatever weapons are at your disposal. But you ALSO need to remember that the people in question are NOT your enemy and act accordingly. Physical violence is not the first or preferred response.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
People have been quoting this verse at Bipolar Girl for years… as if just saying, “I take those thoughts captive” in a really stern voice is some kind of magic mojo that would solve all of my problems. When I was not immediately “delivered,” I’d get the looks. Y’know… the looks that would suggest that I didn’t say it with enough faith… or that there must be some hidden, unconfessed sin in my life. And THAT’S why God hadn’t delivered me from Bipolar or anything else I struggled with, right?
See what I mean about “well-meaning, but soul crushing??” That kind of advice never helped me. It just made me feel like I was doing the Christian walk wrong. It made me feel like I couldn’t tell other believers what I was struggling with because they would ultimately end up judging me. It was safer to struggle in isolation.
This past year God walked me through many of my fears. Some were things I needed to confront. Others were strongholds that he needed to break off, but with all of them, he showed me what weapons of warfare were at my disposal and how I needed to practice using if I wanted to see real freedom and transformation in my life.
All Christians have weapons of spiritual warfare (the bible assures us that we do). Yet, I am now convinced that while there are some weapons that are common to all believers, God has also equipped us individually with weapons that are unique to us and the way that he designed us. God wants to train us to use those weapons so that when we actually need to use them, we are responding and not reacting.
Writing… public speaking… owning my voice… worship… intercession… dance… art… my Thank You Post-Its…? These are ALL weapons of warfare that God has imprinted on my DNA. It is becoming harder and harder for Satan to get me all tied up in the knots of fear, bitterness, et all because I am not letting him come into my house and tie me up without a fight.
SO… my question to you: What weapons has God imprinted on your DNA… and what opportunities is he giving you to practice using them? How do you fight your battles???
IF the Son sets you free…
Powerful words. They are the reason that He came… but what exactly does it mean?
What exactly does that freedom look like because from personal experience, I can tell you that it doesn’t look like a problem free, worry free OR stress free life. There are very few people (if any) in this world who can claim to have a life completely free of problems or worries or fears… so what freedom is Jesus actually offering IF Jesus is actually real?
A cursory reading of the New Testament might convince the follower of Christ that the Christian life should be problem free. That it should be worry free. That it’s always a great adventure with all the right lighting and stage make-up… with a stunt double to do all the really hard stuff.
Yeah. You might think that if you only skimmed through the New Testament and then pieced your theology together with Christianese-y soundbites and emotionally rousing songs. That kind of faith lacks foundation… so when the storms of life come crashing in on them, these kinds of followers often don’t stay the course. Their faith is rooted in a belief in a God that doesn’t really exist outside of their imaginations. They made God into their OWN image instead of the other way around, so they get confused when the REAL God of the Bible doesn’t live up to the god they created in their minds.
The Jesus whom I know from Scripture ASSURES me that in this life I will have trials. He ASSURES me that I will often be misunderstood, rejected, and abandoned. He ASSURES me that storms will come and threaten to capsize my boat, but He also promises to be there with me THROUGH the trials. Though I’d like it to be different, I have never been delivered FROM any of my trials or tribulations… but Jesus sure has delivered THROUGH a lot of them. Jesus promised that he would always be WITH me THROUGH the trials, and on this, he has never wavered.
This week? This month? It’s been hard. I’ve cried. I’ve felt alone. I’ve been confused.
IF what I believe about Jesus ISN’T true, then I just went through a week… a month… of hell and had all manners of old emotional wounds reopened and new emotional wounds inflicted with a total disregard for my life… for nothing.
IF Jesus is NOT who he claimed to be… then I am a fool to be pitied. IF the bible is just some story to comfort fools like me, then whoever made up all that stuff in the bible MUST be a sadist to trick people into following something that isn’t real. People have died because of what’s between those two covers. IF it’s not true, that’s tragic.
This week is the kind of week that would have had me questioning what I believed in the past because I hadn’t learned what it really means to worship God in spirit and in truth… but now? I understand and know that worshiping God requires Spirit and Truth and I can’t pick and choose which one I prefer.
I’d like to rephrase something I heard at that Christian Women’s conference:
IF I really believe that Jesus is real and is coming back,
THEN I have a job to do…
I have an identity to be.
That’s what this months was about… doing the job God has called me to do and walking in who he made me to be. I started with that Rudyard Kipling poem because that’s how I feel now that the first storm has passed. My faith is stronger and I am seeing a maturity of faith in me that I have never seen before… and it’s not over yet.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
My “jar” got a bit dented this week… but I am not broken. I’m not even surprised. My faith is being tested and it hurts. I could magnify my problems and make them seem bigger that God, but where is the truth or freedom in that? I could spend all day worrying, crying, and wringing my hands… but again, what good would that do?
I could also admit that I feel weak, alone, and afraid and then cast all those burdens to Jesus knowing that he cares for me… which is EXACTLY what Scripture calls me to do. And in the doing, I find hope. I find peace. I know that Jesus has not left me and that he will deliver me THROUGH all of this in his timing.
So, again, I ask people to pray. Don’t pity me or feel sorry for me. I am exactly where God intends me to be and all of this is happening for HIS glory. I’m posting, not because I’m in crisis or seeking pity, but because I believe that God is calling me to be transparent. I hate it when my Bipolar is showing… but somewhere… out there… some other nice, but neurotic, person is going through their own trials and needs to know that Jesus is in the midst of it with them. He will walk you through the fear and the worry and the anxiety… if you would but let him. Be still and know that God IS Good. Don’t run from the suffering. His deliverance will come. It may not happen overnight. It might take way longer than you think is fair… but when the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed, and THAT is all that will matter.
If you can keep your head when all about youAre losing theirs and blaming it on you,If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winningsAnd risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,If all men count with you, but none too much;If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
by Rudyard Kipling
Recently I went to a Christian Women’s Conference called the “IF” gathering. I wondered what they meant by “IF.” Honestly? I felt like they were trying too hard to be cool and mysterious. I felt like I called to go, so I went anyway, but I had to bust through a lot of barriers just to get there and when I finally slid into my seat in the front row, part of me didn’t even want to be there. It was a Saturday. I was tired. I should’ve stayed home. God, in his grace, however, gave me an attitude check in the first five minutes… and I was hooked.
One of the speakers said something that stopped me in my tracks:
IF... this is true… then it means EVERYTHING.
but IF it isn’t… then it means NOTHING.
How’s that for a profound reality check on a Saturday morning? I have committed my life to being a disciple of Jesus Christ because I sought truth and I found Jesus. I believe what I say I believe. I’m not just spouting a bunch of religious cliches. There is no more debilitating cognitive dissonance for me. I BELIEVE.
But mine has not been an easy believe-ism born in an incubator of answered prayer; a problem free life; and as stunt double to do all really the hard stuff. I have had to live every minute of every day of this uphill battle with only my faith in Jesus to sustain me. But what if Jesus isn’t real?? It’s easy to doubt him when the world is closing in on you…
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15: 13-19
When I first believed, I thought Jesus would just work some kind of mojo and make all my problems go away: the depression… the suicidal thoughts… the incest issues… the sexual addiction… the porn addiction… the rage issues… et all. I thought ALL of it would just go away.
God did NOT deliver me from any of that stuff immediately. In fact, more hurt and pain (both physical and mental) was added to my stockpile year after year until I felt like the proverbial camel with a herniated disk. I cried out to God. I prayed. I read my bible… went to church… threw myself into Christian service, yet the struggle continued.
This is where the difference between being a follower of Jesus and being a disciple of Jesus becomes a game changer. Jesus had plenty of followers back in the day. They came to him in droves for healing; to get a free lunch; and to see miracles on demand. In an era without the internet, Jesus was like cable. The followers were only interested in what they could see him do. They didn’t really care who he was or what he taught. IF they had sought to abide in what he taught… then they would have known truth — the kind that only the Son can provide… the kind that sets you free.
And THAT’S what this week has been about — having the Son set me free. From where I sit, things are probably going to get a lot worse before I get to see this freedom, but because I believe that God knows EXACTLY where I am… I can see the circumstances without being full overcome by them. I refuse to pretend like nothing’s wrong. Right now everything seems wrong and my life hurts... but I am in the process of overcoming… so I won’t ask God to rush me through this suffering. I’m not going to whine and complain about it… ok… I will… but only to a select number of people who will see my whining and complaining for what it is — a call for more mature believers to stand with me in prayer.
I am not looking for pity or unsolicited advice. Prayer. That is what I want. That is what I need. “The prayer of a righteous [person] is powerful and effective.”
This past year I finally found out what it meant for me to walk out my life in the way that God designed me… and it’s been an incredibly WILD and AMAZING ride. This “little light of mine” wasn’t some hand-held flashlight. It has bee a full-blown flame throwin’ kinda’ light which hasn’t sat well with some people.
If last year was about “no longer being a slave to fear…” THIS year… I will remind myself that I AM NOT ASHAMED to be me! Now that I have FOUND my voice, I fully intend OWN it!
And if folks object to ME being me…?? Well… I’ve got a few thoughts about that…
I just finished reading an interesting book called Chasing Francis. It’s a fictional story that looks at the real life of St. Francis of a Assisi. The main character in the book has grown weary of carrying around a tired faith that masqueraded as the real deal and ended up going on a spiritual pilgrimage that brought him up close and personal with the life of St. Francis. One point that stood out for me and has had me thinking for days now is the notion of being a peace lover vs a peacemaker. I never would have thought there was a difference, but this book made me open my eyes to the fact that there is a huge difference and that I’d been rooting for the wrong team for a really long time.
Peace. Pretty much everybody wants it except for maybe serial killers and people who talk in movie theaters. Just the other day, I was driving my car and that old song about war came on and I started to rock out. Y’know the song…
What is it good for?
say it again..”
Thereby musically making my point that peace is what most people want. Nobody likes war, especially bipolar girls. Since I hate conflict of any kind, I was belting that song out loud enough to make my tonsils shake.
In my peace loving attempt to avoid conflict I have remained silent, when I should have spoken up. I have stepped back, when I should have stepped forward. I have looked the other way, when I should have looked people squarely in the eye. And if you think that all this peace loving comes without a price tag, you’re wrong. Being a peace lover cost me mental health points that I can’t get back. When I think of all the dramas in my life that might have ended a lot quicker had I given up trying to preserve peace at all costs and just once stood up and gave the boat a really good rock… I have to concede that while peace loving seems good… but peacemaking is so much better.
It’s pro-active for one thing. Instead of biting my tongue tight enough to bore holes through it, I could have been taking active steps to work towards reconciliation rather than damage control and clean up.
So much of my stress and grief with my family over the past few years came from the internal struggle I was waging against myself. I had a lot of pent up bitterness and resentment towards certain family members for the roles I felt they played in creating my sexual addiction. When I would talk to them I wouldn’t say anything at all about what I was really feeling. Sometimes I just wanted to yell at them and let them know how their actions had really screwed up my life. Instead, I put on the good lil’ Christian girl mask and acted like nothing was wrong. I had created the illusion of peace where there really was none. As far as they were concerned, things were fine.
Of course, letting that much time go by before I finally spoke up did not help the peace making efforts. In fact, peace making was pretty much impossible given the players involved and the amount of time that had passed. If I could do it all over again? I would have spoken up sooner. I did speak up, in part, to my mom the year I got saved… but because I didn’t want to rock the boat, I only said as much as I dared. Upon reflection, I should have dared more. As Chasing Francis points out, the Bible doesn’t commend peace lovers. It’s the peacemakers, the people who do the hard work of bringing peace to hostile situations (whether they be on a global scale or family sized) that earn the eternal brownie points.
How does this relate to my Bipolar Disorder or neurotic people in general? The more unstable my mind was, the more I tried to maintain peace at all costs. The greater my love of peace and the more I tried to “maintain” it, the less peace I actually had. It created more depression and more unnecessary stress. I think most neurotic people love peace so much that they will put up with truly unhealthy situations and people because they don’t want to disturb the semblance of peace. But when you think about… is pseudo-peace really worth protecting?
I’ve been asking God to turn me into a peacemaker, so is it any wonder that a conflict is brewing on my horizon? I have been reminding myself that I did ask for this, so rather than donning the bullet proof vest of the peace lover, I’m going to grab the white flag of peace and stand up and rock the boat. I might get knocked overboard, but I will just remind myself that Jesus could have enabled Peter breathe under the waves if only he’d dared to ask.