Fully Engaged Healing

Healing is a process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Two weeks after my surgery, when my stitches were going to come out)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Pins stabilizing my bones, and when the pins got pulled 6 weeks after surgery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Before and after the Steri-Strips and scabs came off)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(My second Surgery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(The day my stitches from my second Surgery were coming off)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(As the scabs were healing from my second Surgery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(The straightening brace I’ve had to wear for a while, and my scar-healed fingers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a little over 6 months since my accident where I almost entirely cut off three fingers (everything except some skin/tissue). While I’ve had some decent injuries before, broken bones, dislocated hip with torn ligaments, car accident injuries, and endless number of minor dislocations or injuries; I have never had such a severe, traumatic or long-healing type injury with a huge level of uncertainty on the other side. As my Physical Therapist told me for weeks every time I asked if something was normal or to be expected, “Krista, nothing about this is normal.”

Literally half of 2019 for me has been entirely consumed with both pain and healing of equal measures.. But, the physical healing is coming on the heals of an all encompassing painful internal process to healing in 2018.

I have learned so much about healing from my accident, it weirdly has brought a lot of peace, and also so much clarity on my relationship with God… and with others.

2018 was painful, but the most prevalent element was the complete feeling of betrayal and abandonment by God. As though He had orchestrated it all, and then left me to wither away and die in the desert exactly like I had told Him I feared all along. – How do you pick up and continue to love and serve a God after that? I didn’t know, and honestly I don’t know that I have a clear answer even still, but what I do know is, my hand has been a painful miracle in every way. My accident has taught me more than I ever have cared to know about the nature of any type of healing and allowed me to see my process with God with more clarity.

So, here are a few things I have learned about healing, mostly this is for myself, but hopefully you find some encouragement from it!
These things are not in order of importance, just how I process.

“It Takes Time”
This is infuriating and at the beginning of healing I was just angry every time someone told me that it takes time to heal. I would angrily vent in my head about how time does not magically remove the pain, time cannot solve every wound… However, they also aren’t wrong, while time is not the only element in the healing equation, it is absolutely the foundation of healing. You simply cannot heal in any way without the gift of time.

And, in the midst of healing, time seems like anything but a gift because it means living through the painful slow moments, and sometimes it just feels like it is all too much. However, we don’t have to make it to six months from now, we have to make it through right this moment. God doesn’t ask us to have enough strength to survive for months from now, not even tomorrow, literally He just asks us to trust Him with the now, and to allow Him to take us to the next moment.

Grief takes time, your heart takes time to heal, injuries take time, emotions take time, perspective takes time, growth takes time, rest takes time… Everything takes time in order to become healthy.

When I cut through every bone, ligament, tendon, nerve, and muscle (all except for a little skin) on three fingers of my dominant hand, and once surgery was done to repair what was possible, from there it just takes time to heal. I literally had no option but to give my fingers time.

God chooses to take time, and to use the gift of time in creating a healthy “us” on the other side. It is not quick, it is not pain-free, and it cannot be avoided. – It is that simple.

The foundation of healing is that it takes time; and, I impatiently hate that, but we can’t get around it.

“You Must Do the Hard Work”
Second to time, is that there is actual hard work involved in healing. There is nothing that can substitute for hard work.

And while doing the hard work is not always the literal second step, because depending on the situation, sometimes the second step to heal properly is simply rest, or medication, or who knows what… but in terms of the longevity to healing, and in terms of importance, you must do the hard work involved if you actually want to get better.

There will inevitably come a moment when it is time to do the hard work. Sometimes that involves a therapist… or in my finger’s case, it meant a physical therapist. In other situations it involves taking a really hard look at your own mistakes and processing, in some instances it means addressing your own broken and toxic traits, and then doing the hard work to root out the problems in our own mind and heart that has created or holds us in unhealthy situations. Many times this step involves a lot of God time. And, unfortunately, the longer we put off the hard work of facing the pain involved in healing, the more painful and longer the healing will take.

The reality is that healing is more painful in every way than we ever expect, but it also must be faced head on and dealt with. We cannot sidestep or blame or point fingers or play any sort of avoidance game. – We just inevitably have to do the hard work of facing our own brokenness and limitations and put in whatever is required in order to heal.

My fingers needed twice a week Physical Therapy (from someone who I’m convinced is the best PT in the whole area!), but I also had HOURLY exercises, stretches and activities I had to do for months…. MONTHS (and continue to have to do for many more months to come). It has been so frustrating to feel like everything I did or do is followed up with finger exercises.

Shower and get ready to go somewhere – Exercise the fingers.
Go for a run – Exercise the fingers.
Go out to dinner with friends – Exercise the fingers.
Send work proposals – Exercise the fingers.
Watch a tv show – Exercise the fingers.
Make dinner – Exercise the fingers.
Wake up in the morning – Exercise the fingers.
Get ready for bed – Exercise the fingers.

Exhausting.

The level of intentionality is absurd, but it has also caused me to realize that the reality is, this IS the hard work of healing. – It is not fun, it is frustrating, annoying, exhausting, and most of the time I just simply don’t want to do the work. But, it has also sparked this idea; what if we took this same approach to internal or heart healing? Grief healing? Relationship healing? Anxiety healing?

What if after literally everything we did we took 5-15 minutes to stop, pray, and focus on doing whatever hard work is needed so that we can heal as totally and completely as possible? It would be a life changer.. And one I’m honestly not totally ready to take on and do in many areas of my life! haha (just being transparent)

But, let’s not forget, while doing whatever hard work is needed to heal is actually really painful, there is an emotional toll that doing the hard work takes on you too. We must face straight on the emotional toll and pain or we risk making it worse for much longer.

“These Emotions Won’t Last Forever”
One of the biggest things I have learned in this whole healing process is that just because I have a STRONG or visceral emotional reaction right now, does not mean that’s how I will feel in two minutes… or tomorrow. And, if my emotions can change so quickly, it probably shouldn’t be allowed to guide me, but must also be acknowledged.

In this process of healing, I have had to learn how to pause, acknowledge and create space for my emotions to be whatever they are right now, and be ok with that… Even, and maybe especially all of the really dark and negative emotions that are every bit of the process. The emotions need to be allowed to be, but also they must be controlled, and emotions are not meant as sole guides to what is true or false. I have also realized just how much my outward reactions to my emotions must be intentionally and appropriately communicated to those around me.

My emotions have honestly rarely accurately reflected the true situation in front of me. However, my emotions are an important part of the situation in front of me, they can even be helpful, but they just are not the sum total.

For example, the movements, things and places that caused me extreme anxiety when my accident first happened (for good reason) now almost six months later have become movements and place of joy and progress in my healing.

I have begun to practice mentally choosing to put a “pause” on reacting to or with my emotions. Instead I have actively decided much of the time not to engage or outwardly take the actions my emotions want until tomorrow, and then, if I still feel just as strongly the next day, then I allow myself the freedom to respond or take action.

More often than not, simply giving my emotions time (back to that time thing) helps me to gain perspective, and also not be a crazy person tossed about by every fleeting emotion in the healing process.

“Attitude Makes All the Difference”
We choose our attitudes, they actually do not control us. Just because you or I feel a particular emotion or allow an attitude to be expressed to everyone around us, does not actually serve as any clear indication of what is good and healthy.

No matter what, it is our choice. Our choice matters, especially when our emotions or attitude are negative, we have the literal ability to pause and choose. Feeling and acknowledging emotions does not mean giving them the power of control over you, you can tell people what is going on without giving into the chaos of the attitude.

When things are difficult, and we can decide to see the ridiculousness, absurdity, frustration, pain, and every other emotion with an appropriateness fit for the situation. Choosing your attitude truly makes ALL of the difference.

I have found that I can better let people into my feelings and situation when I communicate the fullness of it all, but also to choose to communicate the negatives accurately, and pair them with the positives and realism accurately. – Not allowing an attitude to control you/me/us takes the worst situations, and it creates spaces for so much laughter, so much support, and so many stories and memories that will never be forgotten because I choosing the correct attitude.

“Words Matter Inside Your Head”
Self-talk is one of the most important things while healing from anything.. Like literally talking to yourself in your head actually matters. And, I don’t mean fake fluffy nonsense, I am talking about calling out your own bull$h!t in your head, and correcting the falseness and lies when your own thoughts throw pity parties.

I cannot count the number of times my mental state has spiraled in the last year and a half, but especially the last six months.

No one knew what was going on in my head because it was often when I was alone, late at night, during a particularly intense and painful period of time with no immediate solution, and sometimes it was when someone would say something insensitive or that I didn’t understand, and I would spiral mentally.

It would go something along these lines:
“I can’t stand this (insert whatever emotion/person/frustration/pain), this is the worst. Why does this only happen to me? Other people have it so great, it’s never going to get better, this is going to be forever, how am I going to….” and then it would hit me how short sighted and shallow/immature I was allowing myself to be with this line of thought…

I would literally make the choice to change and pep-talk myself in my own head (I’m not someone who talks out-loud to myself):
“No, that’s not true. Right now DOES suck and it might actually just be the worst thing. And, it is true, other people have been BLESSED, but would I wish this terrible thing on them? No! I would not! But also, the reality is, this probably isn’t actually the worst. I’m just having a pity party. What I do know to be true is that this will also change. Life promises to never stop changing, and God even says that the seasons change and there is a time for everything. So, this is a time that sucks and hurts, but it won’t be forever, it’s just right now. Tomorrow will be different. I can do this.”

Or, I would be angry/frustrated/in pain:
“I can’t handle this, this is too much, I shouldn’t have to do this or deal with this.”

And I would realize that my selfish and self-centered game was ON POINT, and it was time to hit the reboot:
“I actually CAN handle this, it is not too much, and I’m strong. I will be strong, and I will make it through this, I just have to focus on right now.”

Even if I didn’t know that I actually believed it in the moment, I chose to say and decide these things. My inner dialogue game was strong, and I had a severe back and forth situation, but it was important to counter my own lies and actually choose not to believe everything I thought.

“Use All of Your Words”
I have spent SO MUCH TIME the last six months using all of my words to not only communicate needs and wishes, but also to communicate how I feel, how I’m choosing to engage in healing, and to give lots of updates on where my healing is at in the process.. But, by far, mostly I have used all of my words to just share my story. The level of love, care, support, encouragement, laughter, questions, and honestly just the vast far reaching community of people invested (so many people sending food or money) in my healing has been *hands down* šŸ˜‰ the best part!

Vulnerability is never easy, and it’s certainly not easier for me. I just choose to use all of my words regardless of how I’m feeling, and not expect people to just know or assume what is best for me.

I still regularly get people messaging me to check in and wanting updates or to share a tip they know about healing. I love everything about sharing my healing story with other people because it always reminds me I’m not alone, and because it makes it much more fun and enjoyable! Sharing with others openly totally changes what is literally a traumatic and worst nightmare type situation into the least likely and yet really great connection with others.

So, use all of your words to share even the lowest worst parts because people connect with pain and brokenness and we heal better together. Don’t be a jerk with your words, don’t allow your emotions to cause harm to others, but share your experience and process.

“Take Your Medicine and Vitamins”
But for real, take your medicine as prescribed or take the medicine, even if it simply will help you sleep better. And also, vitamins have played a huge part in my healing process, even if it means going to the doctor to get blood work and see where you’re deficient, do it! Why not do everything possible to give ourselves THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE?!

I am 100% no longer the “I don’t like to take any medicines” person, and instead I am the “If I am not ok, I will take whatever I’m supposed to in order to be ok again.” person. – All it took was one night of running out of medicine several days early than my body was ready for to realize that my body cannot do the hard work of healing itself if I am not taking the appropriate medicine that allowed me to manage pain and sleep well.

Playing catchup with pain is no joke and honestly it is just dumb. – Follow your doctor’s orders.

Let’s all agree that allowing ego to get in the way is not a good idea no matter what…
Let’s also collectively give grace and celebrate with to those who have experienced healing in the power of Jesus name alone to praise the Lord for that healing; and those of us who need medicine in order to experience healing too, we also praise Jesus’ name for providing for us.

“We Need Other’s”
Over all, I have realized that healing of any kind has so many elements involved in the process, but it is not possible without intentionally being invested and allowing other’s to help and be a part as well.

Unfortunately, it is easy to get stuck and focus on one part of healing or worse, one part of the brokenness, but we need other people to keep us oriented towards Jesus and prevent us from staying where we are. I cannot stress it enough that we need other people around us while we heal.

“It Doesn’t Simply End”
There is no clear simple ending. When we are healing, we just aren’t suddenly better like a flipped switch. Healing looks like slowly tapering and moments of “oh, I’m no longer where I was” beautiful revelations!

I am not done healing at all, and I will continue to learn more about what this process looks like… But, I do know at this point that I have no option but to be fulled engaged in my healing so that on the other side of this, whether we’re talking about my fingers or my heart, I will be the best possible and healed version of myself.

Ripped Apart

Life has a weird way of changing on you suddenly. But, I think we forget about the fact that life is ever changing because we get lulled into believing that things are the same due to so many seemingly mundane moments.

My life feels ripped apart after a defining moment a few weeks ago. And yet, I find myself more grateful than I’ve felt in about a year.. or more.

Three weeks ago, my life dramatically changed due to a work accident; when I almost entirely took off three fingers on my dominate right hand. It’s traumatic, crazy painful, really hard to manage, very humbling, scary, overwhelming, frustrating, and so so many other emotions and actual nerve and healing feelings.. and yet… I see mostly good. I don’t understand it, but this trauma seems to have cleared my intense heart pain of the suffocating silence between God and I from the last year, and allowed me to have words to start speaking to Him again.

About this time last year I was really struggling with the fear of being hurt and feeling stuck because I very much did not feel at peace to walk away. It was crippling, and the different ways I reached out for help were largely met with silence or ignoring. So, I looked to God, and had maybe the most vivid connection I’ve had with Him, which ultimately after looking it up later realized it was Exodus 3. – Long story short, I had this image from The Prince of Egypt movie, and felt God say “I Am, I am here.”

I probably haven’t seen this movie in 20 years… But, it was the image and the phrase I heard.

The more I dug into this story, the more rich it has become to me. Even still.

The crushing blows that created silence between God and I were largely due to being certain He had lead me into the desert, and left me there to die (in a heart sense). The man I loved destroyed my heart in the most painful way he could have, and I lost my job unexpectedly all within a month. And, it all felt like God’s fault, He had prevented me from protecting my heart, and instead had kept pushing me to be all in… no matter what. Then it all was ripped apart and I was left to silence from God.

The silence continued.. and honestly feels a lot like it’s still largely in effect a year later.

This is round two of my “Dark night of the Soul” type season. – You can listen to a pretty good sermon on it here (this is part 1 of 2). But, no matter what I did or didn’t do, nothing was forcing God to do anything. I couldn’t hurry it up, and I was unable to do anything but relinquish to giving God the time that this season obviously is calling for. So, I went to church a few times, found one I really love the preaching, but honestly, I mostly don’t go. I miss it a little, and I think it’s important, but I also know I need time to heal and this season it doesn’t include attending church or any striving of any kind to fix it.. 2019 is about God redefining and reshaping everything.

I could go on for eons with the details, rationalizations, total misses, etc.. from the last year, but the reality is I felt like God broke my trust and betrayed me.. I rationally knew that to be untrue, and along the way found my faith in Jesus is more solidly firm in my head rather than my heart. I KNEW God had not failed me, but my heart also knew only pain… and I had nowhere else to go but to sit and wait for Him to prove my head right and heart wrong and show me where He had been all along.

I saw God in the business I started with a best friend.. It exploded and flourished. But, that didn’t heal my heart.

I saw God in my friends and family’s support and love.. But my heart didn’t know what to do with the lack of healing even still.

In full honesty, God and I are not all of a sudden better.. My finger accident hasn’t fixed that, but there has been a shift towards healing.

However, what has happened is that when I almost cut off my fingers with a circular saw, Jesus showed up in a miracle and literally saved my fingers. It was so bad when it first happened that I thought I had cut two of them entirely off… but they held on by a little bit of skin. Somehow, that skin got progressively better over the next couple hours, and I had enough circulation and healing to postpone my surgery to the next day. So, I keep telling people that Jesus legitimately saved my pinky and ring finger… And, I’m not placating. It was bad.

I get pins out this week, and then I get to start another year-long process of healing, just of mostly a different kind. There is so much more pain ahead. – A seemingly never ending line of days of needing help and having to humbly give up much of my independence… Which can also substitute in as identity in my own strength.

Also, a punk kid stole my phone two weeks after my finger accident, and I ran him down and got it back… Ask me about it, it’s a ridiculous story.

But, what I have found in this trauma is that I am ok. The I Am is still here… and I was reminded that even after God told Moses He was there, heard and saw the suffering of His people, it took a long while and a whole heck of a lot of work before they were set free from slavery… and an even longer 40 years until they found fulfillment in His promises. Sometimes it just takes a stupidly painful amount of time to see ANY progress… Which also doesn’t remove the pain I’ve been through, or still have to come.

Sometimes life, people, and just the complete and utter brokenness of our world causes more pain than we can wrap our minds around… But, also, God sees our pain, He cares, and He is here… even if it takes a long time for us to see it and an even longer time to feel it.

I have no choice but to dig deep and find my perseverance stubbornness to continue this path towards God no matter what.

My life has felt ripped apart for about a year now. – And yet, I am grateful, even in the midst of literal excruciating pain.

This is 34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this is 34.

I’mĀ 34, and let me tell you, 33 kicked my butt. It was good and it was awful.Ā It was hard in every way, it challenged me, grew me, destroyed me, and maybe hopefully began to repair me as well into a more fully healed and whole person than I was when I started.

God and I had some really intimate highs, some painful lows, and a slew of confusing silences.

This is a really long-winded blog, it’s ok to not read it, it’s mostly for me to process externally anyway.

So, for my birthday, here are 34 impactful things that I learned this year that I think are worth noting.

  1. I’ve fully submerged myself in the importance of forcing yourself to write/journal your prayers and thoughts. Even if not every day, it gives a place marker for the things you’re struggling through, and a way to go back and review how you have grown and changed. It’s the best thing to do when you have nothing to say inside or too much to make sense of.
    Even if it’s once a week, write it down… Especially your prayers and feelings towards God.
  2. Don’t just share your highlights.
    As intimately personal as seasons can be and feel, they were meant to be shared. The good, bad and ugly. It’s really important to allow people to see all of you. Obviously at varying levels depending on the relationship, but sometimes you have to be more vulnerable than makes sense to someone you barely know.
    Life is meant to be shared so we all know we are not the only one and we can help one another heal.
  3. Celebrate. Everything.
    I learned this from my dad. My mom calls him a “fun junky” and he loves to use anything as a reason to celebrate… “It’s Friday and we survived the week? Celebratory Pizza it is!!” – This year was really hard, and a few of my friends and I decided to celebrate everything. Try it! Celebrating everything makes the hard times better with moments of relief, and the best seasons more fun.
  4. Ā Setting expectations is really important.
    I’ve always been a communicator by nature and nurture, but this is the first year I’ve started really focusing on setting expectations for myself and clearly defining them or re-defining them with those around me.
    Most (not all) arguments, heart hurts or relational pain of any kind can be avoided if expectations are clearly explained and talked through.
  5. Life is shitty sometimes.
    There really isn’t anything you can do or others can do to make it better, it just has to be ridden out with the faith that it will get better because everything just has a season, and each season will pass.
    The shitty parts of life feel like forever, but they aren’t, so give it time.
  6. Take the time to just be present in your good moments.
    I’ve tried to make it a habit to take moments to just sit and be and focus on memorizing good moments. The way they smell, the laugh lines on someone’s face, the sound of the ocean or laughing, how I feel in that moment etc..
    Take time to tuck away good moments in your heart.
  7. Learn how you process in a healthy way…
    Just because something is the way “you” process doesn’t make it beneficial or healthy… But, learn what is, and then create space for your process.
    So. Many. People. told me what I needed when the man I loved broke my heart and my job suddenly wasn’t mine anymore; all within a months time. But, I knew that I wasn’t them, and I couldn’t make myself process like them, I needed to observe my own personality and process and create space for that.
    If you don’t know how to be healthy, ask people older than you or those who know you really well to help you. Don’t let your hurt and pain create an unhealthy process for you.
  8. When life is a shitshow and everything is out of control, make yourself choose healthy things within your control.
    For me it was meal prepping healthy food for the week and exercising every single day. It made sure that I was giving myself every good and healthy food and chemicals (hello endorphins!) in my system that would help, but mostly it was something *I* could control in a healthy way in a season that was totally out of control.
  9. Apparently Essential Oils really do help.
    I’m such a reluctant hippie when it comes to essential oils (I use primarily Young Living *cue drama*), but they have made a difference. Nothing that is EARTH SHATTERING, but small things. A few times they made a huge difference, and a few times I didn’t notice much. But, overall I did feel better, and whether that’s placebo or not is irrelevant if I’m feeling better. There are instances when essential oils worked better than anything else I could find, and didn’t give any side effects. So, do your research (it’s actually hard to find research, but slowly more studies are being done), but also maybe start using them.
  10. Sunshine really does make a difference in how you feel. Do everything possible to put yourself in some sunshine, even if you look like a crazy cat sprawled out across the floor. Do. It.
    If you can’t find sunshine, go make your own fake sun and lay in a tanning bed for 6 minutes. (I’m not even kidding with this one)
  11. Self-care, like everything else is on a pendulum swing… Sometimes it looks like face masks and bubble baths, but usually it’s real and honest assessments of where you are, and what you need… AND THEN TELLING SOMEONE ELSE. Usually half of the time I think I need personal alone time for “self-care” I actually need my closest people, laughter, and a shared experience that makes me remember good times are ahead.
  12. I don’t understand God.
    I don’t understand why He allows so much pain and suffering. I don’t understand why He doesn’t fix things the way that I think a kind, tender, faithful and loving God should… I don’t understand why some people experience so much trauma, and why others experience so much blessing… But, then again I have been believing in God long enough to know that pain and suffering doesn’t mean God is absent, even though that’s really what it feels like sometimes.
    My lack of understanding God often leaves me angry, frustrated and hurt by Him, but, it doesn’t mean I believe or love Him any less either. It is all just the reality of the situation.
  13. I’ve discovered this year that my head has more faith in God than my heart does.
    My heart is fickle and full of chaos and turmoil. My head remembers the things of the past compared to how things are now and is able to process through and draw logical conclusions. My head is able to recall scripture to anchor to when my heart just feels chaos. God is faithful, even when He doesn’t seem like it right now.
  14. When you’re going through the worst season, or even just a really hard one… You have two options as it pertains to those around you that love you:
    A) communicate your needs to others.
    B) Give them the grace and benefit of the doubt that they are in over their head too… And, they are likely just as incapable of reaching out to care for you, as you are for them.
    There isn’t any other options with those we love and rough seasons.
  15. When you’re in a good place, reach out to those that aren’t.
    If you’re in a really great place and those around you are not… Every. Little. Thing. Helps.
    Text messages, bottles of wine, chocolate, hanging out, sending gifs or youtube videos, sitting silently, sending a card, cleaning the house, hugs.. Anything that shows you see them, you care, and you have the capacity to carry the burden with them for even one day.
  16. Adulting is hard. – But, it’s worse when you allow yourself to wallow in unhealthy choices.
    Adulting well means choosing to do hard things that are good for you no matter how you feel… But, do it anyway, especially when you have to force yourself to make good choices regardless of how you feel. Doing those healthy-hard things now means the better things later.
    – And, if you’re struggling with depression, it’s ok, we all do at some point. But, it’s so important to talk to a few people who love you about it, and ask them to help you.
    Also, physical exercise of any kind truly does help.
  17. Forgive.
    People are shitty sometimes. People can make awful choices that directly or indirectly cause pain…Ā  But, not everyone who hurts you was malicious or even understands, and sometimes people use us and disregard us because they are inconsiderate. Sometimes people hurt us out of misunderstanding, and other times they are too self-centered to see how they hurt us. No matter the situation, it’s really important to forgive. (Which is not the same as forgetting, that’s just stupid to think we will forget like it never happened.)
  18. Take breaks.
    Take a break from your phone, social media, tv, movies, anything that is a distraction for you needs to be something you break from… Whether that’s a few hours, days, weeks or seasons of breaking and fasting it. Give the distraction a break and step away. It’s really hugely important for your brain, your heart, and your soul.
  19. When you’re not ok, STOP READING THE NEWS.
    I’m not even kidding. Do whatever it takes to avoid the news and people who talk about the news. I’ve gotten up and walked out because people I care about wanted to talk about world news and I couldn’t handle it and knew it. – Your heart and mind were not meant to absorb the world’s news constantly. Ban it from your world for a little while and replace it with good, fun or uplifting things. Your heart will thank you.
  20. Apparently a regular skin care routine actually does make a difference!
    The last half of this year I’ve begun doing much more than just washing my face twice a day… Or for a while I was washing, toning, moisturizer, and SPFing daily. But, what I’ve discovered is that once a week face masks, washing and moisturizer twice a day, and the semi-occasional exfoliation really does wonders. But, even more than that, I’ve learned to rotate my products every 2-3 months to keep it effective. (Seriously, mid-thirties women should not still be struggling with acne)
    – Fun tip ladies, treat your neck like it’s your face. It helps.
  21. Do hard things that you are a little afraid to fail at.
    I took on some seriously daunting physical challenges this year. I was really very uncertain if I would be able to succeed due to my tendon and ligament disorder that causes my body dislocate all the time. It took so much training, but also a lot of people to help me learn and grow and stay focused when I wanted to quit. I succeeded, and I was more proud of myself than I expected to be. Especially given everything that was working against me while I trained.
  22. Community that loves you makes all of the difference.
    I’ve always been a more-better when it comes to people around me. But, this year I allowed people to actually step in and be around me and with me through my various seasons and types of processing. It made a huge difference… But, it is also so much work to continue to pursue people when life is busy and hard. Scheduling things for a month later really does help.
  23. Holding Steadfast doesn’t mean what most think.
    I learned how hard it is to hold steadfast. To remain and stay strong. Yet, I also learned that it does not come without struggle, pain, doubts, fear, and turmoil… But that it cultivates a different type of stubbornness; one that is not selfish or for your own gain, but rather despite how it feels, the consistent choices to pick up and continue to remain steady.
  24. Perseverance has to be cultivated and you have to prove yourself.
    Doing hard things and seeing them through no matter how you feel, what you’re going through, whatever obstacle is in front of you, all of these things can only be cultivated and created with the decision to persevere. You learn who you are, and sometimes you have to actively choose who you will be… And then, on the other side, you discover that you truly are someone who perseveres no matter what is in front of you.
  25. Obedience to God doesn’t make sense.
    Probably the biggest and most painful thing I learned this year is that obedience to God doesn’t make sense. In fact, it is often awful and really incredibly hard. Obedience, no matter how you feel or what other people say, and even if it is illogical, it doesn’t matter if you know what God is asking you to do – You have to do it.
    Obedience is hard, and proving that you are faithful (although not perfect), is another thing that can only be learned and created through perseverance. Your integrity grows, your patience grows, but you also have to take lots of moments to step back mentally and choose the right choice instead of the reactive response. It’s hard, and there’s no way around it. Learning obedience is a must.
  26. Being single in your mid-thirties is really rough.
    While being single has some life-giving and really fun opportunities, and while I do my best to live life fully… it is also heart crushing and soul killing to be single with the majority of men today.
    It’s also hard to be single and to be given advice by people who are ignorant of what it means to be much more than a decade into adulthood, and still navigating life alone.
    Dating is really awful the vast majority of the time.
    Being a single woman who loves Jesus, and chooses to remain a virgin in her mid-thirties (hello hormones anyone?) is literally no easy task. Because there are also very very few good single men who believe and follow Christ wholly, it easily creates an overwhelming depression about what the future may or may not ever turn out to be… It’s hard.
  27. Being single is better than being in a broken marriage.
    I have watched and walked through some really awful marriage situations with people I love so much. It breaks my heart to watch how people’s brokenness, sins, selfishness, apathy, laziness, or just meanness creates so much unnecessary pain and turmoil.
    Marriage is what I want, but I am not blind to the pain it can also cause.
  28. Decisions have natural consequences, and wisdom matters.
    I feel like this year more than any before it I have started to see and reflect on the wisdom of situations and choices. My own and others. What can I learn from this or that? I’ve started to see choices and natural consequences like a highlighter leading to wisdom or foolishness, and that has led me to pray more for wisdom and understanding.
    … I don’t know how much God has answered those prayers, considering so many things in my life, but It still is the thing I pray the most for.
  29. Ā Sometimes, all that can fix a situation is the ocean – Or really any vast expanse of space…
    There is a peace and calm that settles over your anxious heart and racing mind when you put yourself somewhere that makes you feel small. It is really good and resetting.
  30. It is really important to learn who you are.
    I’m intense, I’m passionate, and I’m kind…. But, I’m not gentle.
    I have learned a lot this year about the qualities I possess that are really good, but that I frequently misuse. I have also learned a lot about how to better communicate so that I am not harming others…
    I will forever be intense and passionate and kind, it’s who I am naturally.
    I will forever have to work incredibly hard to be gentle when the situation calls for it because I am not so great at this when I’m not paying attention to myself… We are all flawed works in progress.
  31. I learned this year that I do not trust God with my heart when it comes to love and romance.
    In fact, I expect Him to build my trust and then rip it away and leave me even more broken. – I wish I had a healing answer for this to share with you, but because of the 14 month process with God and this guy who hurt me this year, I don’t. I’m still hurt by God more than the guy at this point, and I don’t really trust God with this area of my heart… So, I’m trying to find my way back to Him and healthy in this area… To Be Continued.
  32. Travel.
    You need to travel, even if it isn’t out of the country… Although I really love to do that too.
    This year I learned from some of the most incredible people in another country. I learned about humility and perseverance, forgiveness and faith, and I learned about strength and love in a way that I had never seen before. Traveling and experiencing people and places changes your heart and helps you see things differently than you could ever understand by just reading about it or watching something about it.
    Traveling gives perspective that I think God uses to help us see better.
  33. Patience is cultivated.
    Between God, my dog’s 14 month health issues, people, and so many other things, this year I have learned so much about patience being cultivated and chosen. You don’t become more patient just by going through rough situations, you grow in your patience when you engage in it fully.
  34. Change can be good or hard or fun or the worst thing ever.
    Change is like the seasons, it will come and it will go… It can be good or bad, ugly or beautiful, fun or the worst, exhausting or exhilarating… Change is not inherently anything.
    So, it’s important to choose change for fun things… change your hair, get a fun tattoo, buy clothes that are a different style, change-up your pattern. Allow change to be good for you, and fun, because change will inevitably come at some point that is not positive…. But, that too will change again.

2019 – Redefine & Reshape

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A few weeks ago I met with a few of my closest friends, and we talked about 2018, the themes, struggles, process, and how it all worked together… Or totally threw us for a loop and turned out totally differently than we expected. Then, we talked about 2019. – This has become one of my favorite yearly traditions: Get together and do dinner with some of my closest friends and process and pray through the coming year (each year is a different mixture of friends because of schedules usually).

Because of the struggle of the second half of 2018, (which you can read about a little of it here) I was really unclear and unsure of 2019. If I’m being honest, I was still hurt, I was still angry at God, and a load of people. – How do you vision cast for a year to come with a heart full of hurt and anger? You don’t. But, my friends talked about where they saw me grow through 2018, and what they felt like 2019 was going to be about and bring for me. I wrote it all down feeling nothing at all.

Instead, I revisited all that they had said numerous times over the last few weeks. And, as only God can do, I also had several conversations with people who unknowingly echoed what my friends had told me.

For 2019, I have two words (a DRAMATIC reduction from the 8 for 2018!), Redefine & Reshape.
Redefine – To define again or define differently. To reexamine with the view to change. To reformulate a concept or thought.
Synonyms – Specify, Delineate, Revisit, Reinvent, Reconsider.
Antonyms – Defend, Uphold, Maintain, Assert.

Reshape – To shape something differently or shape it again. To give a new form or orientation.
Synonyms – Influence, Determine, Develop, Ripen, Mature.
Antonyms – Stagnate, Remain, Stay, Continue.

The two words are obviously remarkably similar, but also with just the slightest fraction of a difference between them.

As I have continued to process these two words, I feel very hands off and maybe a little apathetic about them. – Like these things will happen, and they will take place within my heart and mind but instead of me doing anything, it is because God will do it. My feeling is as though 2019 isn’t about me doing the changing or forcing anything, but that God will restore what has been broken because of others and because of me. Very much a shoulder shrug acceptance of what is to come with no dramatic thoughts or feelings about it one way or another… I am hoping that a year from now, I will be totally overwhelmed with all that God has done between now and then.

It seems as though I have a hint now of the avenue with which God is going to be using to Redefine and Reshape me in 2019…

For the last several months, I have been searching for a job… (Side note: Job hunting is THE. WORST. Seriously, it’s slow, frustrating, exhausting, mind-numbing, and to top it all off, it is really discouraging.)Ā I have however been in a slow interview process that was also long, but also encouraging because they were excited about who I am and what I have to offer. However, I am now at a place financially of needing to make decisions and move forward; my timeline and theirs do not match so the door has closed. Throughout the interview process, I have been delaying building up my two business’s because I didn’t want to have either company grow beyond what I could handle with full time work.

But, in the interim, I have been paying the bills with BuilderChicksĀ – the company I co-own with one of my best friends. This friend had her last day at her full-time job a couple weeks ago, so that she could shift to doing BuilderChicks and her personal training and fitness company Aiming 2b Fit. She has been planning this transition for a long time, well before any of my job changes took place.

At this point, with what is the closing door of the other potential job, and the timing of my friend shifting her career goals, I am shifting my focus too. I have been praying through the timing of everything, and that if things did not fall into place by certain dates that I would begin having dreams for BuilderChicks and BackIn Consulting (my other business). – Well, this week I started having fun and creative ideas that excite me.

So, I am officially switching gears and pursuing my two self-owned companies!

2019 should be an interesting year at least! I would appreciate all of the love, support, and prayers as this shift is likely to be challenging and maybe overwhelming.

The 8 of 2018

I’ve been putting off this blog post for a while now, mostly because it feels so much more real and vulnerable than some of the others I have written lately. Even though this whole fall has been incredibly intense and personal in general, I have purposefully written my blogs in a way that creates enough space for anyone reading it to connect it to themselves.

This blog post is just me, it is my story.

Every year, our pastor chooses a word or theme, and challenges us to do the same for the coming year. A couple of years ago, my theme was Never Dull, which you can read aboutĀ hereĀ and was very much re-teaching me how beautiful and full life was in all moments. Life is Never Dull.

Last year, I had TEN words; It was ridiculous… Actually, in all honesty, I forgot about them a couple of months into the year. The chaos of the year overtook me, and it wasn’t until a friend mentioned them in a conversation sometime in October or so that I went back to my prayer journals to look them up again. – I was blown away to see that every single one of those words is what God was working on in me throughout 2017… Whether I remembered them or not didn’t actually change the fact that God worked on them in me despite what the year threw at me… The year was anything but peaceful, calm, tranquil, still etc…

I began praying about 2018 in October.

I started praying about it because I was feeling overwhelmed, fear-filled, and realizing that my heart didn’t trust God in a pretty substantial area.
I knew I needed to press in even more and let God work in and through me.
I knew that God had been speaking to me to “Hold Steadfast, Persevere, be Obedient.” But, I didn’t quite feel like these were the words or theme for 2018. And then November 2nd (a day when I was fasting), I felt like God clearly spoke to me “Love is patient“. And that has been rolling around in my head and heart since. The last six months has been one thing to the next that God is working on in me to rebuild and restore the trust that He didn’t damage. – But, even still, these are not the words or themes for 2018.

So, without even intending to, the word “Change” popped into my head out of nowhere as I drove back to DC from Atlanta. I was returning home after visiting my brother and his family for Thanksgiving; and road trips, along with the ocean seem to create space for my brain to think, process, and almost breathe deeply. However, because I always process and mull over things intensely, I began to think through how change was probably more my own self, and not from God. You see, not only am I accustomed to change, I love it (see all my random hair changes). I am used to major life change happening every couple of years, so I wasn’t confident that the word wasn’t just constructed by me. Yet, as I prayed over change, it seemed less of a tangible change (like previously it was new jobs, moving, etc..), and more of this feeling to “Watch and See the change around you. Change that I Am is going to do before your eyes without you controlling it.” – Yet, change just felt like my comfort zone word. So, after a week or so of praying over it, I decided to reach out to three girlfriends, and I asked them to pray for me/over me for my word or theme for 2018. I explained to them that I maybe had the word, but I was really uncertain, so without telling them my word, I wanted them to pray and come back to me and let me know what God spoke to them.

For the record… I very much love this accidental practice of asking other people to pray over/for you for your word/theme for the coming year; I will probably continue it in the future.

Four days later, the first girlfriend, in the middle of a conversation talking about something totally different, suddenly stopped and said, “Ok, the Lord told me that I have to share this word with you. I had that sudden check in my spirit and pit in my stomach.. So I have to tell you the word…” She had been praying for days and felt like she had a word, but also didn’t think it made sense and kept trying to pray for a different word; but in that moment, she was confident that the Holy Spirit wanted her to share it.

Watch. As in, step back and watch, observe and see all that God is going to do with anticipation.

Instantly, I knew that both Change and Watch were so interconnected that they were accurate. Confirmation. The feel descriptions that came with both words rolled one to the other exactly right and I knew that these two words had settled for 2018.

About a day later, the second girlfriend came and said, “I have three words.” (oh gosh)

The first is Re-Make. As in, let God remake you, remake and cultivate your foundation, changing who you are. Which you and He are already doing, but will continue and look different in 2018.
The second is Anticipant. – I don’t know that I’ve ever said the word Anticipant in my whole life. But, you need to be anticipant of what the Lord is going to do. Which leads to the third word, I think both of these words are going to restore Hope in you.
So, the third is Hope. God is going to remake your Hope, and you need to be open and anticipant of what He’s doing.

Change. Watch. Remake. Anticipant. Hope.

Are you noticing a theme?

The next day, the third girlfriend came and said, “I have two words.” (And then the next day said, “Actually, I have a third word, but I didn’t want to tell you the last one and wasn’t sure about it, so I needed to pray over it some more.“)

Open. Open-minded,Ā Open-hearted,Ā Open-handed.Ā All three require dependence on him, abiding in following, and humility/soft heart. Which youā€™ve been doing, and Iā€™ve seen start being more of a consistent trait in you.
Cultivate.Ā Similar to open in that God has been helping you cultivate a bridge between your head and your heart. But itā€™s also a 2.0 feeling of cultivating new: community, career, youā€™re own voice, how you follow Him, hear His voice, and your character.
Pruning. One of my favorite explanations of pruning is that it doesnā€™t have anything to do with cutting or getting rid of whatā€™s dead or not growing. Pruning has to do with thereā€™s a limited amount of healthy supply and nutrients a plant can divide up. So pruning is all about prioritizing what is healthy and what/who gets your resources to remain healthy and balanced. Maintaining that balance takes cultivating.

In all honesty, the word Pruning gave me a little bit of ptsd from the end of 2013, and the entire year of 2014. Easily the hardest year and a half of my life, and one that took me almost all of 2015 to heal and recover from. Yet, after talking through it, it would seem that this pruning is more about creating space for God to do and move the way He wants to, creating a more healthy me in the process… Not so much the pain involved in severe pruning like 2014 was for me.

Change. Watch. Remake. Anticipant. Hope. Open. Cultivate. Pruning.

One of the things that is I think the most unusualĀ thing about this whole process and these words, is that with each word and the description of the feelings behind them rolled right into each of the next words. I talked more about these words with the three of my girlfriends together after I had all of the words, and it seems pretty clear that this year will be So intense. So challenging. – But not painful in an injury way.

Like, the difference between something being difficult and getting hurt vs being difficult and getting injured. Maybe a better way to say is it will be the type of pain involved when you exercise; you are breaking down muscles, making them sore and tired, but ultimately building them up and becoming stronger with more endurance in the process.

I believe very much that 2018 will be challenging, and full of intense growth, but that it will not be the type of painful that injures me; instead, I think this year will be the type of pain that comes with exercising.

I have passages of scripture for six of the eight the words for 2018:

Change – Romans 11:29 (ISV), 1 Samuel 10:6
Watch – Micah 7:7
Remake – Colossians 3:10
Anticipant – Psalm 40:1
Hope – Romans 4:18
Open
Cultivate – Psalm 90:12, 37:3
Pruning

Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā  Ā TheĀ 8 of 2018.

I cannot even begin to pretend like I know all (or any) of what the Lord will do this year. I wish so much that I could have specifics, know exactly what I’m working towards.

Because I am who I am,
I want to grow faster and do better in this process.

But, that’s actually the point… growing faster and doing betterĀ isn’t at all what 2018 is going to be about.

What I do know, is that these eight words are the areas that God is going to work on in me and through me.
He has every intention of rebuilding the areas of my heart where Trust in Him and His faithfulness is broken or simply not there.
He plans to use 2018 to completely change me, and make me more into the woman that He has intended for me to be all along.
He plans to use this year as a banner year to look back on, point to all the things that He did, and because of 2018, I will better be able to give Him honor and glory.
This year, I also have no doubt that I will learn how to hear Him and follow Him better.

But mostly, this year I will learn to Trust Him and believe in His complete Faithfulness.

ThereforeĀ humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,Ā casting all yourĀ anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.Ā Be of soberĀ spirit,Ā be on the alert. Your adversary,Ā the devil, prowls around like a roaringĀ lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificentĀ promises, so that by them you may becomeĀ partakers ofĀ theĀ divine nature, havingĀ escaped theĀ corruption that is inĀ the world by lust.Ā Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faithĀ supplyĀ moralĀ excellence, and inĀ yourĀ moral excellence,Ā knowledge,Ā and inĀ yourĀ knowledge,Ā self-control, and inĀ yourĀ self-control,Ā perseverance, and inĀ yourĀ perseverance,Ā godliness,Ā Ā and inĀ yourĀ godliness,Ā brotherly kindness, and inĀ yourĀ brotherly kindness, love.Ā For if theseĀ qualitiesĀ are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless norĀ unfruitful in the trueĀ knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:4-8

 

Doubting God…

This is a really long post, but it is worth it for you to take the time to read through all of it. – Especially if you are working through doubting God.

I’ve mentioned this before, but somewhere back in June I began asking God to reveal the lies I had been believing, and the hope I had lost. – It was a challenge *I think* issued to our staff from our lead Pastor, but… It could have been one of our other pastors as well… I am not entirely sure the accurate genesis of this whole process for me.

While on mission and leading a team in Uganda, God began to do just that, He began to sift through my heart and show me primarily one area that I was believing total lies couched in actually accurate logic; plus, super fun: The hope I had lost was directly connected to the lies.

*shocking to no one*

Almost six months later, God and I are still working through these lies. The intensity, the clarity, confusion, processing, mulling things over, and emotions that are connected to working through these lies and hope lost varies day-to-day and week-to-week. Some days it is just overwhelming and I cannot possibly do anymore thinking or praying or processing through my heart with God. Other days there are incredible amounts of revelation and clarity, soon followed by so much thankfulness to God for His patience and graciousness to me.

Last week, while I was reading through scripture – which primarily is currently working my way through the Psalms, I found myself for no real reason flipping to James 1Ā (this is the NLT version) again. I have found myself bouncing back to James regularly lately, so I began to read once more… Only this time I was stuck on this one passage:

But if any of youĀ lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously andĀ without reproach, andĀ it will be given to him.Ā But he mustĀ ask in faithĀ without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea,Ā driven and tossed by the wind.Ā For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,Ā beingĀ aĀ double-minded man,Ā unstable in all his ways.” – James 1:5-8 (NASB version)

What kind of doubting is being talked about here? Is it all doubts that you’re praying through? Is there a Greek wording context that I’m missing?

What I knew is that I am struggling with doubting God in one particular area of my life. We have been working on this area since the summer, but the reality is I am still afraid, I still doubt, and while I know in many areas of my life that God is so gracious and full of love and tenderness… In this *one little area* I seem to believe to my core that God isn’t for me, that He will pull the rug out from underneath me, and that I will be left hurting again.

(I’m leaving the area I struggle with purposefully vague, because I want you to be able to identify your own area of struggle, not get distracted by the particular area where I struggle to trust God.)

So, as with all things that I want to know every possible expounding bit of information about, I reached out to my dad and posted on his Facebook wall, because surely someone else would benefit from this info too!

I wanted to share what my dad said because this matters, and the solution is of the utmost importance.

My actual post to his wall:
Pappersan!

I’m reading James 1.. (Which I seem to come back to lately about once a week haha)

Ok, so question about a couple verses:

James 1:5-8 (ISV)
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.”

I’m assuming that he isn’t talking about basic doubts, but a deeper/larger doubts here? – Because it would seem contradictory to ask in faith, to press in and pray for/through things without also working on the human side of struggling and doubting on a basic level.

I ask for wisdom CONSTANTLY in my prayers, and have my whole life… but I also know that I struggle with doubts. I don’t at all see the problem with that since in my doubting and struggling and trying to cling onto faith I am turning to God with all of this…

So, my question then is what type of doubts is he saying makes you double minded? Because this would seem to be contradictory to the working out our faith in fear and trembling idea.

Here is the response from my Dad, along with his answer to my follow-up question about what scripture says we can do/need to do to overcome our doubts:

OK, first, there are a lot of different types of “doubting,” some of them distinguished by different words, some by context. Unfortunately, many translations use the same word for all of these.

1) “Unbelief” (Ī±Ģ“Ļ€Ī¹ĻƒĻ„Ī¹ĢĪ± – literally, “not faith”). ThisĀ is being confident that it will not happen. This is actually having a very strong faith that something is not true, or will not happen. Example: Thomas.

Thomas, one of the Twelve (called the Twin), wasn’t with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger into them, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe!” A week later his disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were shut, Jesus came, stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he told Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Take your hand, and put it into my side. Stop DOUBTING [literally, “Stop unbelieving”], but believe.”
(Joh 20:24-27)

2) Waiver back and forth (Ī“Ī¹ĻƒĻ„Ī±ĢĪ¶Ļ‰ – literally “duplicate, think twice”). This word is derived from the word “twice,” which is derived from the word “two.” This is when you literally waiver back and forth in the moment, trusting God, and then immediately not trusting Him. You can’t make up your mind, wavering back and forth. Example: Peter.

“Have courage!” Jesus immediately told them. “It’s me. Stop being afraid!” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come on!” So Peter got down out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came to Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he was frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, save me!” At once Jesus reached out his hand, caught him, and asked him, “You who have so little faith, why did you DOUBT [literally “waiver back and forth”]?”
(Mat 14:27-31)

3) Talk yourself out of believing (Ī“Ī¹Ī±Ī»ĪæĪ³Ī¹ĻƒĪ¼ĪæĢĻ‚ – literally “through reason” or “through thinking”). We sometimes call this “over thinking” something. This is when you often start out having faith, but gradually talk yourself out of that faith, think through the reasons why God probably won’t answer, and logically conclude that it probably won’t happen. Example: Disciples

While they were all talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and told them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus told them, “What’s frightening you? And why are you DOUBTING [literally “talking yourself out of believing”]?
(Luk 24:36-38)

4) Separate your faith from yourself (Ī“Ī¹Ī±ĪŗĻĪ¹ĢĪ½Ļ‰ – literally “to make a judgment” or “to distinguish between yourself”). This is the most common word for doubt, and is used two ways: of general doubts about the faith, and of specific doubts about a specific situation. The implication here is that you actually have faith, and are not being true to yourself and what you KNOW that you believe.Ā 

Everyone has general doubts from time to time. What we are supposed to overcome are the specific doubts.

A) General doubts.
Example: New Believers

But you, dear friends, must continue to build your most holy faith for your own benefit. Furthermore, continue to pray in the Holy Spirit. Remain in God’s love as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, which brings eternal life. Show mercy to those who have DOUBTS.
(Jud 1:20-22)

B) Specific doubts.
Example: Praying believers

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any DOUBTS, for the one who has DOUBTS is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
(Jas 1:5-6)

The idea on this last one is that we are actually insulting God, or treating Him like he is not trustworthy or faithful. This is when we pray for something, but deep down inside, we don’t really believe He’s going to answer this specific prayer. He might answer other prayers, but not this one.

This is akin to telling someone that they can call you at any time, and you will help them. And when they do call you, it is clear from their attitude and tone that they do NOT actually believe you are going to follow through.Ā 

THAT is what James is talking about. When we KNOW God is faithful, and will answer this particular prayer, but we doubt Him ANYWAY!

Solutions found in scripture:

OK, the solutions to the problems of doubting.

It does not appear that the various kinds of doubting have different solutions. From the strong doubts that are actually negative faith, being certain it won’t happen (unbelief) to the common general doubts, there are the same recommendations. In other words, the principles for building faith are pretty much the same no matter what kind of doubts you have.

1) Fasting and prayer. We are encouraged to fast and pray in areas where we might have doubts, so that our doubts can be overcome, and our faith gradually take over.

As they approached the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, knelt down in front of him, and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son, because he is an epileptic and suffers terribly. Often he falls into fire and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverted generation! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me!” Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He told them, “Because of your LACK OF FAITH [1) unbelief]. I tell you with certainty, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”
(Mat 17:14-21)

2) Listen to and be encouraged by the testimony of those who have experienced God’s faithfulness. We are encouraged to use the testimony of God’s faithfulness in other people to build our own faith, and silence our doubts.

After Jesus had risen early on the first day of that week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Jesus and who now were grieving and crying. When they heard that he was alive and that he had been seen by her, they REFUSED TO BELIEVE Mary [1) unbelief]. After this, Jesus appeared in a different form to two disciples as they were walking into the country. They went back and told the others, who didn’t believe them, either. Finally he appeared to his eleven disciples while they were eating. He rebuked them for their UNBELIEF [1) unbelief] and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who had seen him after he had risen.
(Mar 16:9-14)

3) ACT on what we know to be true, in areas where we do have faith. If we act on the faith that we do have, it will silence the doubts in other areas, and build our overall faith.

Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the gentiles had also accepted the word of God. But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those who emphasized circumcision disagreed with him. They said, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Then Peter began to explain to them point by point what had happened. He said, “I was in the town of Joppa praying when in a trance I saw a vision: Something like a large linen sheet descended down from heaven, lowered by its four corners, and it came right down to me. When I examined it closely, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill something and eat it.’ But I replied, ‘Absolutely not, Lord, for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ Then the voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘You must stop calling common what God has made clean!’ This happened three times. Then everything was pulled back up to heaven. “At that very moment three men arrived at the house where we were staying. They had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to go with them WITHOUT HESITATING [4) Separate your faith from yourself]. These six brothers went with me, too, and we entered the house of the man from Caesarea.
(Act 11:1-12)

Warning on number 3: This is specifically about acting on those areas where we have faith, so that our faith can be built up. That is NOT the same as acting on areas where we have serious struggles with doubt. We are actually warned NOT to act if we have unbelief. The scripture does NOT teach that if we do not believe, we just need to jump out there and do it, and pretend that we believe, and eventually we will believe. It actually teaches the opposite: if we have serious doubts, or unbelief about something, then it won’t happen, no matter what we DO.

We are told to act in areas where we have faith, and that will build our trust in God in areas where we have doubt.

In other words, scripture does not teach us to take blind “leaps of faith” when we are struggling with unbelief. If there is an area where we have serious doubts, scripture teaches us to first build our faith, and once our faith has been built up, then STEP OUT IN FAITH in areas where we USED to have doubts.

As for the faith you do have, have it as your own conviction before God. How blessed is the person who has no reason to condemn himself because of what he approves! But the person who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not act in faith; and anything that is not done in faith is sin.
(Rom 14:22-23)

4) Refuse to let circumstances dictate our faith. Discipline our mind to rule our emotions.

His faith did not weaken when he thought about his own body (which was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old) or about Sarah’s inability to have children, nor did he doubt [4) separate your faith from yourself] God’s promise out of a lack of faith [1) unbelief]. Instead, his faith became stronger and he gave glory to God, being absolutely convinced that God would do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now the words “it was credited to him” were written not only for him but also for us. Our faith will be regarded in the same way, if we believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was sentenced to death because of our sins and raised to life to justify us.
(Rom 4:19-25)

5) Cry out to God for help in areas where we continue to struggle with doubt. God listens to desperate cries for help.

So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell on the ground and kept rolling around and foaming at the mouth. Then Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He said, “Since he was a child. The spirit has often thrown him into fire and into water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us!” Jesus told him, “‘If you are able?’ Everything is possible for the person who believes!” With tears flowing, the child’s father at once cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that won’t let him talk or hearā€”I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!” The spirit screamed, shook the child violently, and came out. The boy was like a corpse, and many said that he was dead. But Jesus took his hand and helped him up, and he stood up.
(Mar 9:20-27)

6) Remain faithful to God during trials, and they will harden and strengthen your faith.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
(Jas 1:2-4)

7) Regularly feed yourself with the Word of God, then the Holy Spirit will bring it alive, this will water your faith, and help it to grow.

Then the tempter came. “Since you are the Son of God,” he said, “tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One must not live on bread alone, but on every word coming out of the mouth of God.'”
(Mat 4:3-4)

I am hands down, all the struggle of the third type of doubting.
I “logically” talk myself out of faith in God.

It. Is. Terrible.

God has been speaking to me a lot since the summer; as in a whole heck of a lot. He has answered prayers, and spoken to me in the ways I’ve asked to confirm what I’m praying for/over/through (via dreams, fasting, words from friends, scripture etc..). The problem is, it always starts out renewing my faith and trust, and then, over time I begin to fear again and doubt if what I heard was just me wishful thinking. – This is why journaling my prayers has been crucial to this whole process for me, it allows me to go back and re-read the exact day. I get to read through the prayers, what I asked, how I asked for Him to speak, and the answers I have gotten along the way.

This is when you often start out having faith, but gradually talk yourself out of that faith, think through the reasons why God probably won’t answer, and logically conclude that it probably won’t happen.”Ā – This is me in my struggle to work through the lies that have found themselves entrenched deeply within my heart. Or maybe, a better way to say it is, I start out hopeful, and as God speaks to me I find my hope full, yet as time goes, I find myself struggling to not grasp fully onto my fear and desire for control. I desire to protect and keep myself safe rather than fully and totally trusting God, His timing, and His plan.

I have begun to detail out and write down explicitly the fears and doubts I have. I have started telling God every bit of what I think is going to happen in my fear, with my lack of trust in Him, the areas I do not believe He is for me, and how I feel regardless of what I know to be true about Him in other areas of my life. I have also started begging Him to help me see these things, face them, and then give them over to Him totally.

  • Just because God’s timing is not mine, that does not make Him untrustworthy.
  • Just because I experience pain, that does not mean that God is cruel.
  • Just because I pray a lot for something, that doesn’t mean that God is going to do things my way.
  • Just because I ask God to release me from something, that does not mean it is what is best for me.
  • Just because I don’t understand, that does not mean that God doesn’t have the whole picture clearly before Him.
  • Just because I hear God speak clearly in one part of the journey does not mean He will explain every bit of it to me.
  • Just because God tells me something months ago, and then hasn’t updated anything, that does not mean what He said is no longer valid.
  • Just because I am afraid and doubt, that does not mean that God is not tender and patient and faithful to me and my process.

If you are doubting, if you are losing faith:
Renew your process and press into our Savior. Jesus is there with the Holy Spirit to meet you. But, be aware, letting go of doubts is not easy, nor is it a pretty process; it’s raw, and very painful. And, never forget that the enemy of your soul is plotting against you with carefully crafted tactics to prevent this process from taking place. – Because the enemy of our soul is an @$$hole.

Yet, even still, our Lord is tender, patient, gracious, merciful and so incredibly faithful and trustworthy to you and your process. He wants to be a part of you giving your doubts, fears, and struggles to Him; no part of this is meant for you to do alone without His help.

You are not without hope in your doubting.

Changing Slowly…

Lately I have been taking time to reflect on where I am internally compared to where I was almost five months ago.

Throughout each year, there are markers that serve as points to pause, reflect and compare to a year ago… Yet, this time, rather than reflecting on a year ago, IĀ find myself processing how much has happened inside of me since July of this year. I went into Uganda struggling very much internally, but not even really in a place to recognize it because of how hard and hectic May and June had been in every regard.

Before we left, I had begun asking God to reveal the lies I had been believing, and to restore hope where I had lost it… Then I closed that box of my heart, and got on a plane and launched myself to another continent.

Twice on the flight over I was asked how my heart was doing because people who know me, are aware of how much I struggle and have to actively work to link my head and heart well. I have had a habit of locking my heart up and setting it aside, especially if I am uncertain or overwhelmed by what I’m feeling.

Perfectly timed, around that same time before we left for Uganda, I also began asking God to help me navigate my head and heart well together. I had started to realize that Grace and Truth as well as Head and Heart are the balance of the Holy Spirit. God is perfectly both sides in unison, and in order to be more like Him, and more sensitive to His guidance, I too needed to start learning how to balance these things rather than setting one aside.

I was not prepared for the answer God was going to give me, nor the longevity of what it would mean to get the answers to these prayers.

I actually think if I had known how long and hard this all would be, I would have peaced out and quit right from the beginning. I am fairly confident IĀ  would have shut my heart down and opted out of the process to protect my heart had I known the pain and struggle involved. Yet, one of the many graces in this whole journey has actually been my lack of knowing God’s timing. – I struggle with it all the time (as in allllll the time), but not knowing has also created a reliance on Him that I simply did not have before. Not knowing God’s timing has been so good too because I was unaware of the depths of intensity it would take to fix and heal certain areas of my heart, and just what it would mean to restore the trust and hope in God that I had lost. – Back in July it was as though my prayer for help balancing my head and heart caused God to lock my heart in the open position; it has been exhausting and overwhelming almost every single day since.

Even still, almost five months later, I regularly feel overwhelmed by how I am feeling, the ways I am changing, and how far I still have to grow. About once a week I have a late night meltdown over how exhausted and weary I feel internally due to actively processing every day. I am given the option to choose to grow and learn more about who I am supposed to be in Christ, and to face the ways in which I lack in trust/faith/fruit of the spirit (throw a dart at some character trait and I’m probably working on that too)… I assure you, it is Not. Easy. Nor. Fun.

But, God does not force me, He allows me the freedom to choose to face these things or quit… However, because of who God has made me, I will not give up, and I will choose to daily engage in this process of growth and change.

My journal of prayers is getting record use (literally). The current one (each one is 40 sheets/80 pages) is my 4th one in just about four months…

But so that there is no patting me on the back with congratulations: My prayer journal just makes me look like a crazy person.

Seriously, going back and reading the day-to-day prayers, they just swing widely back and forth, it’s embarrassing, but also they are incredibly intimate and real. These prayers reflect my struggle, my anxiety, my fears, my heart wide open and effort that it all takes, but also the ever so slow changes that are taking place, and just about every emotion possible finds its way into my prayers.

These journals are very how I am choosing to press closer to God and processing all of my tension, thoughts, and emotions.. But, in all honesty, they just really make me look like a wackadoodle. I wish I could share about how sweet the prayers are, but no. The sheer level of back and forth my prayers exhibit is ridiculous; the overwhelming emotions, the joy, thankfulness, the over analyzing things, the confusion and uncertainty, the copied scripture trying to help me grasp onto solid truth amidst the chaos of feelings, the waffling ebb and flow with how I feel vs what my head knows… EXHAUSTING.

Yet, I am also currently reading through the book of Psalms: I feel like my journal looks a bit like David’s prayers and hymns.

Some are so sweet, loving, encouraging, full of thanksgiving, while others are all raging and demanding that God do something (usually an overreaction to an emotion or situation). Some are declarations of praise, faith, love, and hope, while others are full of anger, sorrow, and despair. – This could literally be the description of my prayer journals AND the book of Psalms… So, I guess that is comforting?

At the end of every journal (about every six weeks currently), I go back and review it. I re-read things I have prayed for, asked God about, passages of scripture I copied, and then compare them to my calendar and remember what was going on that day. Every few weeks I am amazed at all that the Lord has done, how I feel about those days after the fact or in light of things that happened a few days later. I marvel and thank God again for answers to prayers, and for His continued patience, grace, and tenderness as I try to press in, learn, and grow.

But, let’s be honest: It. Is. So. Hard.

Several months ago I felt like God told me three things:
Hold Steadfast.
Persevere.
Be Obedient.

Then about a month ago I felt like God added Faith, Hope, Love.

As I review my journals, I am amazed at what it looks like to hold steadfast, persevere, and be obedient, and how these three things play out (and don’t). Previously I never would have been able to accurately identify what it truly looks like to hold steadfast and persevere, because I struggle each day with them. – Before all of this, I would have felt as though the level of my struggle daily would clearly indicate I was not in fact holding steadfast; yet as I go back over my prayer journals, I realize in the long haul it absolutely does. Holding steadfast and persevering doesn’t mean a lack of experiencing emotions or struggle, it means turning to God with every single little bit of it, and remaining there with Him.

I have learned that holding steadfast and persevering throughout scripture leads to faith, hope and love… but also proven character. It is in the journey, the long haul, the process that we refine, create, and prove who we are at our foundational core. But, let’s not dismiss how much proving character takes time, and is incredibly difficult and oh so awkward of an imperfect process.

In the last couple of months I have begun to see the transformation, and just how much I am changed forever because of the time pressing into the Holy Spirit and expressing all the things to God. Choosing to return back to Him with every little thing has changed the way in which I handle joy, hope, failures or despair on a daily basis. Because of the difficulty of modifying who I am on the inside, there has been an increase in desire to spend dedicated time every day with God; I am not entirely sure I can name any period of time in my entire life that I felt this way for months on end… I am so incredibly grateful (and hope it continues, recognizing seasons of life and all).

I long for connection with God, I need time to tell Him how I am, ask for what I want, and process everything that I’m struggling with. Every day there is a nuance to the areas He is work on growing in me, and whatever is heavy on my heart or mulling around in my head that day also gets some much-needed time laid before Him.

Now months into this whole process, I realized this week, on one particularly intense and emotional day full of stress, frustration, anxiety etc.. I still had the clarity and presence of mind to actively choose my responses. I was not swept away in any explosion of emotion and even the intensity with which I experienced my feelings was still there just like before, but despite it all, I found myself able to actively chose grace and patience. – Well that’s new…Ā and not easy.

I have started to realize over the last couple of weeks that the force with which I feel and experience my emotions has not changed at all. God has not lessened who I am or the passion and intensity that I process, feel or express things; instead, He has changed my ability to see perspective, have understanding, and respond in grace and love. It is as though the spring that feeds into my heart-well is different, and therefore what is coming out is also distinctively changed, but that I am who I have always been in many ways, just a better version of that person.

A couple small excerpts from one of my prayers at the end of a particularly difficult day recently:
Thank you for being with me and giving me the extra measure of grace, patience, and presence of mind to choose my responses…
Help me to follow your leading better tomorrow. Give me more wisdom and understanding, and bless me with a greater capacity to love well…
Forgive me for the things I said and did today that did not line up with you. Forgive me for the things I missed…
Show me how to trust you more and be confident in your faithfulness more…

It has been an interesting experience reading through my prayers over the last few months,Ā I would never have chosen this ahead of time had I known how hard it would be. I also have realized that I would never have been able to predict beforehand the ways in which I would respond (good or bad) to how God would grow and make me new. Yet, through it all, I am starting to recognize the small ways He has shown up and proven Himself trustworthy and faithful. But, above all, recognizing this gaining familiarity with Him as I spend more time communicating with Him. His presence and “voice” feel different to me now than they did in July (or previous to that).

My daily struggle to hold steadfast, persevere, and be obedient is still going strong.
Learning how to love well is not easy.
Finding and growing my faith and hope feels ambiguous, but slowly I am realizing that it is creating a foundation I did not have previously.
Making decisions against my own insecurities, and choosing to share my heart rather than shut it down and set it aside is still incredibly hard.

I am not the same person I was a few months ago.
My heart has changed. I have changed.

It has been a slow sometimes arduous process, and it certainly is nowhere near complete, but I am also incredibly grateful… and exhausted.

I am learning that the process and journey is full of challenges and pain (there are good and joyful times too, but let’s be honest, we don’t need people to identify with our good times as much), but it is worth it to become more of who God intends for you to be.

Choose to face it all head on, experience every emotion, and sift through them with the creator of your heart; it will change you forever and it will be so good.