The God of our Lonely Journey is Silent…

I am reading Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning, and it is hitting, carving, digging, and pulling out things in me that I was entirely unaware needed to be dealt with. There are nights that I can only read a couple of paragraphs, and then must put it down because the emotions are just too much and I need space to process… Sometimes giving myself a week or more before I drag myself back to this amazing book that plants me in emotions every time I read it.

Tonight is a night where one of the 10+ pages of quotes I have pulled out have just sat and resonated with me… I found myself overcome with the need to share.

Here are two of the latest quotes that I cannot shake:

How does the life-giving Spirit of the risen Lord manifest Himself on days like that? (he described a bad day from beginning to end that he had experienced) In our willingness to stand fast, our refusal to run away and escape into self-destructive behavior. Resurrection power enables us to engage in the savage confrontation with untamed emotions, to accept the pain, receive it, take it on board, however acute it may be. And in the process we discover that we are not alone, that we can stand fast in the awareness of present risenness and so become fuller, deeper, richer disciples. We know ourselves to be more than we previously imagined. In the process we not only endure but are forced to expand the boundaries of who we think we really are.

And secondly, I have spent months like this, finally I have words..:

“When tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own agony, when courage flies out the window and the world seems to be a hostile, menacing place, it is the hour of our own Gethsemane. No word, however sincere, offers any comfort or consolation. The night is bad. Our minds are numb, our hearts vacant, our nerves shattered. How will we make it through the night? The God of our lonely journey is silent….

We are able, as Etty Hillesun, the Dutch Jewess who died in Auschwitz on November 30, 1943, wrote, ‘to safeguard that little piece of God in ourselves’ and not give way to despair. We make it through the night and darkness gives way to the light of morning. The tragedy radically alters the direction of our lives, but in our vulnerability and defenselessness we experience the power of Jesus in His present risenness.”

– Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning, (pp. 105-106).
(emphasis added by me)

Slowly, I feel as though I am healing. I have begun to ask for it, which I’m not entirely sure I have ever done before. And, not even healing from the last couple of years, but across the board. Insecurities created in me as a small child have come up and begun to be dealt with, healed, and restored. Issues I have struggled with my entire life have begun to be looked in the face and replaced with Truth.

It is quite the emotionally exhausting task to sift through your heart’s pain and allow yourself to feel each emotion, identifying why and where it came from, then slowly… ever so slowly, opening my hand and allowing God to examine and talk it over with me.

To say that I am tired and worn out trying to work through these things with God is laughable. I would love so much to just be done, to drop them and move on.. But, I do not see that happening overnight. Everything is a process, and so this too must also be one I guess.

But, I finally feel as though my faith is being led by hope.

So, I leave you with yet another quote from the book:

“‘The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory’ (Colossians 1: 27). Hope knows that if great trials are avoided great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.

 

His Beloved…

“How are you?”

That has been the most difficult question to answer as of late. I am good because I can look around and see the great things, people, situations, etc.. that leave my heart to fill with hope. And yet, I am not so good at the same time. I find that my heart is really not ok at my core, but not because of any one thing in particular.

The best way I can describe how I feel is, it seems like God and I are working on and through things that are leaving my heart in a difficult and vulnerable place in order to truly heal and move forward from here.

I am not the biggest fan of feeling vulnerable in general, but this time I also am allowing myself to sit in the emotions that God is bringing up instead of just pushing them aside.

After a few conversations with my bff about how I am doing, she recommended that we should read Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning together. At just a few chapters in, Abba’s Child has been distinctly different from most books I have read (especially recently) in terms of the impact it is having on my heart. As I read, I feel my heart stirring, and at times, I find myself so overwhelmed with emotions that, I have to actually put the book (or computer since I’m reading it on my Kindle app) down and walk away to take a breather.

I am quickly accumulating a ridiculously large file of typed notes, and highlighting the book like crazy.

You see, most days, I feel confident, secure in who I am, whose I am, and I tend to be fully aware of my strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and flaws. Then there are other times where I just feel entirely insecure, inadequate, like I will never be enough, like I am or need too much, and as though I am pulled apart at the seams on the inside.

Lately, I have felt mostly the latter sense of self.

I believe there are a few key things playing into the state of my heart right now…
1. Satan loves to whisper into insecurities, and unfortunately, I think I have been giving him too much room to play.
B. Sometimes, timing for things can be awesome… Other times, it can be the absolute worst timing to have to deal with things and it just adds to the weight.
iii. God knows it is time to burn away the chaff and scars in order to heal and move forward more solidly in His grasp… But, that requires allowing my heart to be molded anew, and that is just not an easy place to be.

I am a little scared to say, that despite the state of my heart, I am actually looking forward to this growth process.. It will likely be fairly painful, but hopefully in the good sense of pain.

I am looking forward to finally having the refreshing feeling of being closer to my sweet savior once again. From the very center of my being, I desire to rediscover my identity in Christ. I hope that in this process I can re-find myself, my strengths, weaknesses, identity, and that both my hope and faith will come out on the other side remade.

Because maybe the best way to communicate the rest of what my heart is working through is to share some (only a select few) of the quotes I have kept.
I am only a few chapters in, but these quotes are a great reflection of my thoughts and feelings from Abba’s Child (not necessarily in order of placement in the book):

“It takes a profound conversion to accept that God is relentlessly tender and compassionate toward us just as we are— not in spite of our sins and faults (that would not be total acceptance), but with them… He anguishes over our self-absorption and self-sufficiency.”

“God loves who we really are— whether we like it or not.”

“We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus.”

“‘Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only his child redeemed by Christ.’”

“We are made for God, and nothing less will really satisfy us.”

“As we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity, we make friends with the impostor and accept that we are impoverished and broken and realize that, if we were not, we would be God. The art of gentleness toward ourselves leads to being gentle with others— and is a natural prerequisite for our presence to God in prayer.”

“When we accept the truth of what we really are and surrender it to Jesus Christ, we are enveloped in peace, whether or not we feel ourselves to be at peace. By that I mean the peace that passes understanding is not a subjective sensation of peace; if we are in Christ, we are in peace even when we feel no peace.”

“I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weaknesses, to deny who I was and concentrate on what I should be. I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying never to be broken again— or at least to get to the place where I was very seldom broken….”

“He is the Savior who saves us from ourselves.”

“‘…to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.'”

“We give glory to God simply by being ourselves…. Living in awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence.”

“All I want to say to you is, ‘You are the Beloved,’ and
all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold.
My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being—
‘ You are the Beloved.
’”

Growing and Grooming

I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying recently about a slew of things and I think I am finally to the point of having it clear enough in my head to share.

Lately I have dealt with a lot of confusion, frustration and anger and struggles to wade through the last two years. There have definitely been days where I felt guilt for my anger, but other days it has seemed as though it was the sole emotion pushing me to continue to pray so I grasped onto it as hard as I could. I have been really actively trying to process through what it looks like to follow what I believe God lead me to, and then what to do with it when it went so terrible wrong… as in the entirely opposite direction.

What do I do with the fact that I felt God had pushed me towards a specific place and job, and that it was finally my calling made exactly perfectly for me; only for it to fall apart within a year?.. And then, why would he prevent me from getting another job and placing me in a situation of losing most everything for another year (maybe more at this rate)?

Let me pause for a second and say, if you know someone going through an intensely painful period of life, there is very little that can be said to encourage someone throughout a season such as this. In the last two years, the most encouraging thing came from the people who did not offer cute or well-meaning sayings, but instead chose to acknowledge how difficult and frustrating life can be, and then just offered love and support. The people who could quote well placed in context scripture to offer encouragement were like sunshine in the depths of night.

However, above anything else, it has been the people who have just been there. The people who listened, prayed, cried, laughed, and sat in silence with me as I just struggled and continue to work through the emotions every day while not understanding the purpose or goal.

I do not have an aha answer yet as to the reason behind why things have turned out the way they have.. nor why things continue to be difficult. However, I do have a list of things I have learned that have ruminated in my head long enough to share now (or again)…

  • I am learning and having compassion literally grown in me. – I am not a naturally compassionate person, every ounce of it has been cultivated over time within my heart.
  • I have spent my whole life viewing my value as coming from the fact that I am capable. – While I still struggle with this idea daily, I now recognize that my value is intrinsic, not because I am capable of handling my problems AND yours. Every day I struggle with working to view myself as valuable outside of my ability to handle anything thrown at me.
  • I think the most overwhelming thing that I have realized throughout everything is that, every single day (no exaggeration), I have gotten an e-mail, phone call, FaceTimed, text, FB message, hug, coffee, snail mail card etc.. from friends and family checking in to say they love me, are praying for me, thinking of me and wanting to know how I’m doing. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. from a whole slew of people, not even just a small group. It more than almost anything else overwhelms me with emotions to see how many people love me so very deeply.
  • There are a handful of people who have listened to me verbally struggle and be angry throughout this process and they have done nothing but show grace, love, compassion, and understanding; it has made the most significant impact on my heart. I can only imagine the level of frustration they must feel over how long I have been struggling.
  • Throughout scripture you see people asking God over and over “Why?” and “How long?” – I just recently discovered this little bit of truth (thanks to Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel), and I am so thankful to realize that my feelings are not new or abnormal, but I share those feelings with so many others.
  • Recently, I have realized that the vast majority of my stress comes from tomorrow, not often today. In that realization comes the fact that we are told not to stress about tomorrow. – Having exactly what I need today is enough, stressing about tomorrow is fruitless, but it takes a serious level of active work to let go of tomorrow’s worry.
  • I have realized also how much comparison good or bad is detrimental to our hearts. Comparing someone else’s worse or horrible situation does not make me feel better or guilty about my own situation. The problem comes in that as soon as I compare bad or worse, I also compare those who have it great and better. – Both are pretty unhealthy. Obviously something can be said for gaining perspective, and sometimes looking at someone else’s situation can offer that, but more often than not it is unhealthy.
  • I have watched Dick Foth’s message Enough from NCC in DC twice now, and I keep reminding myself that God’s Grace is sufficient. Meaning that it is just right, at just the right time for me and my situation. It is not too much, it is never too little, but it covers me perfectly.
  • A few months ago I switched from thinking that God was waiting and preparing things so that there will be “something better” later, to believing that he was preventing me from moving on. – I still believe this, but a friend recently said it in a way that put my heart at rest. – God is grooming me with all of this, and God grooms people for a specific reason. It was a small statement, and may have been told to me before, but the right words at the right time that changed my perspective. This means, that it is all on purpose, yet not in a malicious or forgotten sense, but in a healthy and cultivating way. I do not know if “better” in the classic sense is what is coming, but on purpose and healthy IS better when coming from God.
  • I think I often try to deny the fact that I am such an extreme touch person that during periods when I do not receive any form of touch (for days or weeks), that it causes a pretty severe negative impact on my mental state. – I think I like to pretend that I am or should be strong enough for it not to matter whether I am touched… Until I am once again regularly hugged or touched in general, and it feels as though my dry and dying soul is a desert that is suddenly watered and refreshed.

Every day I struggle through more feelings and thoughts, and try to aim towards getting healthy again. I desire more than anything to feel peace once more, and while I am not there yet, I can look back and realize that I am much closer to it than I was months ago. I can see the pieces of the puzzle fitting together, although I have no clue what the picture is supposed to be at this point.

While I struggle daily with a variety of issues and stressors, the biggest and maybe most profound thing that my heart has settled back into is that God has not forgotten me, I am loved, cherished, and this is not for naught.

Getting Started…

I created a list of 29 things I wanted to do this year because I turn 29 in a couple of weeks, and I figured it gave me something to do and work towards that is not just the typical “new years resolutions”.

Check out my 29 Things While Being 29 post.

So, getting started in 2014:

5. I have started saving a few dollars every week, despite my unemployed status.

11. I am currently looking at things I want to add to my Life Goals bucket list.

13. I am reading through my first book Victory of Eagles (and I’m already halfway through it), only have 11 more to go!

19. My first section of scripture I’m memorizing is Titus 3:4-8a.

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29. I have created a jar for daily notes of good things I am thankful for. Although, it is actually too small for a year’s worth of notes, but it works even still.

 

What are you doing to get into accomplishing your goals for this year?

 

Learning Lately…

So, a few quick things that I am learning lately:

Applying for jobs is obnoxious and monotonous. (46 applications sent, 6 rejections, 2 requests for phone interviews)

Packing remains one of my least favorite things.

I am reading 1 Samuel, and learning a lot of interesting things about Saul… In my head he’s a viking now… I never realized the Bible emphasized so many times that he was shoulder and head above everyone else in height.

Writing a book is fun, takes work, but it is way more enjoyable when you are doing it with someone else.

Adventure is around every corner.. Literally, no matter what happens in my life I am realizing that it feels like an adventure… Maybe of epic proportion sometimes.

Having the time to actually get breakfast, dinner, coffee, Skype, and talk on the phone with people I love is truly a wonderful thing; it always reminds me of how blessed I am by those who love me.

I am a little shocked at how busy I have been sans a job. I am not entirely sure how that happens, but I do not really mind at the same time 🙂

I have been getting a plethora of sweet notes, e-mails, texts, and voice mails by people who I never realized cared so much for me. It has really been like getting surprise flowers, it warms my heart tremendously!

Somehow, I regularly forget how much I love salsa dancing. And then, I am reminded once again how much fun it is to dance with other people who also love dancing… And that it is a crazy work out (I am feeling a tad sore this morning).

I went through old tweets of mine that included pictures and was amazed at everything that has happened over the last year, how much the pups has grown,  not to mention how much I have learned, travelled, and accomplished this year. So. Amazed.

Overall, as I sit with my cup of coffee from my favorite coffee shop, I am feeling blessed and amazed as I reflect over the last year. I cannot wait to see what is coming this year!

Reading Life Again…

I always seem to have seasons where I devour books, anything I can get my hands on is gone within a day or two, and then, there are times where reading is the last thing on my list of to-do’s. Lately, in the last two weeks I have gladly found myself entering back into a love of reading anything I can get my hands on.

What I love about what I am currently reading is it resonates deep down inside of me. It changes me or reminds me of who I am and who I want to be. Sometimes the reminders are good things…. and other times not so much.

Currently, I am reading three things that are literally breathing life back into my dry and achy soul.

The first, and not even a cliché read is my Bible. I have found a new love for what I am reading, and I have stopped trying to force myself to read in the order that my “Read the Bible in a Year” schedule has listed. Instead, I read where I feel pulled, and then just mark that off. Eventually, I will read the whole Bible, but for now, I am reading and finding it filling my life, heart, soul, and mind once more. The Bible is just one of those books that truly has the ability to speak to me and heal me… or remind me of what I was created to do. It challenges me not to lose heart, and it lovingly (sometimes convictingly) reminds me that it is actually not up to me to control things, just to be faithful and follow as hard as I am every single day after Christ. Always the best reminder.

The second book I am plowing through is, Love Does by Bob Goff. It is speaking to such a specific part of my heart that I had begun to forget about. In the book he talks about whimsy, and how love literally does stuff, it does not sit still or wait or speak about the theory of love, it does. Not to mention, Bob Goff is literally crazy, and I wish I could have lunch with him and pick his brain because I want his brand of crazy Christian. Seriously, this may be a bucket item list. I have had Love Does for almost a year now, and yet somehow I never quite got around to reading it. Now, I actually understand why, I needed it for this particular time in my life to remind me of how much I love following Christ, and the freedom and fun that I get to have in that pursuit. I highly encourage you to read this book, and let it remind you that love does stuff… Without expectations, it just does.

The third book I am reading, is actually my second time I am reading it, and it is the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Part of the reason I am re-reading it is because my church is having a Summer Prayer Series, and this book is the recommended reading. The first time I read this book it changed the way I pray entirely, and I am excited to read it a second time, and allow it to do the same thing, change me in a new and fresh way. I plan on adding Draw the Circle to this, and do a 40 day prayer challenge this summer as well. I literally cannot wait to see what God reveals to me, says to me, and the ways he will heal me this summer. I wait expectantly, and excitedly… Because let’s be honest, I have a crazy imagination, but God’s is better than mine! 😉

I love reading, truly I do; but, I fall in love with reading all over again when it feels like a healing balm on my heart, mind or soul. These three books are that for me right now, healing and restoring… But, more than that, they are changing me, and changing my perspective of my situation and myself.

This summer, pick up a couple of books, make the time to read them, and then give them space to change the perspective you have of your situation or of yourself… Then, let’s swap stories!

He (Jesus) Loves You!

***I am so thrilled to feature my first ever guest blogger, and it is only fitting that it would be Renee Fisher because back in the fall she asked me to guest post on her site, and it was my first time ever guest posting! Renee has quickly become a great online friend and mentor to me, and I regularly find myself impacted and challenged by the things on her blog site DevotionalDiva.com. Also, be sure to check out her new book Loves Me Not, you will not be disappointed!

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He (Jesus) Loves You
[Guest post by Renee Fisher] 

He (Jesus) loves you. Yeah you.

If there’s one thing you remember from this post it’s that:

You.

 

Are.

 

Loved.

 

Fisher COVER - Loves Me NotI recently wrote a book entitled Loves Me Not, and I’d love for you to read it!

I wanted to focus solely on heartbreak and how to find healing God’s way. If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing a broken relationship or a breakup–I encourage you to pick up the eBook for only $2.99.
Here are a few benefits you will gain from reading this book:

+ Why Guarding Your Heart Isn’t Enough
+ Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?
+ Desperate Singles
+ Breaking Up With “The One”
+ Why Changing Your Significant Other Won’t Work
+ The Right Way To Breakup
+ How To Handle A Breakup
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person
+ Why Breakups Are Hard
+ He (Jesus) Loves You!

Relationships are very important to me.

God had me wait over twelve years to meet my husband. It’s probably because God knew how long it would take for me to understand how much He loved me. I didn’t need a man to tell me that (although it’s nice). It’s never enough. I wrote in Loves Me Not,

“God loved you first, so you could love others. He never meant for you to experience heartbreak, and He is the only one who can heal us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

So what if you meet your dream guy or girl soon?

God wants us to love and obey Him because we want to, not because we have to. If you’ve seen the movie The Break-Up with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, that was the point. Jennifer’s character broke up with Vince because he didn’t act like he wanted to be with her. All she wanted was for him to at least try to act like he cared about their relationship.

Maybe your heart says one thing but your actions do another.

Did you know your actions speak your heart? If your heart is not fully with God, the lover of your soul, then something’s missing. God desperately wants you all to Himself. Keep your faith in God and that He will bring you the desires of your heart. Stand strong and do not look to the opposite sex. Do not be hindered by your flesh, for your flesh wants pleasure now. But now is not the time. Not yet. Do not be frustrated; the day is coming. Do not be angry. When the day comes, you will be pleased beyond comprehension.

Wait for your future spouse and do not anxiously search for him or her.

When the time is ripe, you will know because God will show you. When you give this to God, He will give you peace, and when attacks of the flesh come, flee for the peace God has, which comes when you trust in Him and wait for the right timing. The time, when it comes, will be amazing, so please wait for this wonderful gift. Jesus loves you.”

Just re-reading those words gives me the chills.

I can remember how hard it was to hear those words. When I was single I thought married people didn’t know what they were talking about.

Be encouraged my friends! 

Now that I’m married I see what they were talking about. Why? Because God never wastes a step on the journey towards finding our future mate. Since we are made in His image–there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us any less. God’s love remains the same whether we’re single or married–and that my friends is something to celebrate.

You.

 

Are.

 

Loved.

reneefisherRenee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, and Loves Me Not. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.