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Announcement!

Happy Monday!!

I’m doing a giveaway on the Facebook Page but I wanted to include my readers here as well!

If you have Facebook head over and enter the giveaway. If you don’t, just like and comment on this post and I’ll make sure your name is entered.

The giveaway is for a Canvas Journaling Bible and a copy of Emily P. Freeman’s A Million Little Ways.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 25th.

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You Are Worth It

Worthy.

That’s a pretty hefty word. And we define it in so many different ways.

We demand that we’re worth it with our mouths and yet live the complete opposite in our actions.

We do this because what we view as worthy changes with our circumstances… which in this life can be often.

In my teenage years, I viewed myself as worthy only if I could accomplish my goals. I NEEDED to go off to a good college and get a good job. Something special. Something great.

When I got pregnant at eighteen those plans seemed to drift out of reach. So I realigned. Now my worth would come from how well I could mother this child.

But I couldn’t just be a good mom. I needed to be the best mom this world had ever seen. I somehow needed to reinvent the wheel that was motherhood. And because of previous hurts I needed to do it all on my own.

Anytime well-meaning family or in-laws wanted to help I took it as a direct insult. They must not think I can handle this. This is MY daughter. I’ve got this.

But a year later I had completely worn myself out. I watched my friends still out having fun, doing whatever they wanted while I fought with my husband about taking out the trash and changed diapers and washed clothes.

Now my worth would come from getting back some of my freedom. I wouldn’t, of course, leave my daughter but I could leave the man. And so began a year long effort of walking a very thin line between single mom and free-to-do-whatever-I-pleased-twenty-one year old.

When I got married for a second time at twenty-two, my worth changed again. Now it came from proving that I could be a good mom AND a good wife. I stayed at home, had two more babies and proceeded to homeschool my daughter because mommy knows best, right?

I learned to rock two babies at a time. I could carry a pumpkin seat on one arm and a toddler in another while my four year old held tightly to my belt loop. I baked our own bread, and cooked every meal.

In hindsight, I’m not sure I could have kept going at the pace. I was running myself ragged trying to prove something to someone. But who and what we may never know.

And finally, one day, out of the blue… it was over. My second marriage ended on a regular Tuesday right before Christmas and I was furious. Not necessarily with my ex-husband, not with myself, not with the lawyers and the judges. I was furious with God. I had worked so hard. And it still didn’t work out.

I had to go back to work. I had to enroll my kids in school. I was no longer a wife. Everything that made me feel worthy was gone. So once again I readjusted to a new life.

This time though the things I measured my worth by were a little less “noble.” My worth now was measured by how many friends I had, how busy I stayed, how many guys tried to talk to me, my new outfit for the bar.

Slowly, this way of life lead to a very heavy depression. And I changed my view once again. I needed to get back what I had lost. And as crazy as it sounds, I knew what I needed to be worthy again… a husband.

Y’all, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I drove that guy almost insane. I just knew that if he married me it would be the answer to all my problems. There are no truer words than Garth Brooks’, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”

In all fairness, I wasn’t looking for a man to take care of me. I was looking for someone to take care of. A safety net, yes. But more of someone to fill the space in my heart and nights that felt so lonely. Someone to appreciate me. To love me.

It took me a long time to realize I was looking to outside things to fix an inside problem. I keep measuring my worth by these incredibly fickled external circumstances.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there.

Maybe you’ve been looking everywhere you can think to find something that finally quiets that nasty voice in your head. And if you’re like me, the more you look the more that voice just keeps getting louder and louder.

Every time I tried something I’d just mess up. And that seemed to give the voice more ammunition to use against me. So I’d run harder and faster to the next thing.

I honestly don’t know when it happened. When it finally clicked that I was doing it all wrong. But I can assure you that it wasn’t because of anything I was doing right.

And honestly it’s still like grabbing sand from the bottom of the ocean. I think I have a grasp on it but the waves pull back out and take most of the sand with it.

I can never quite take hold of it completely. But I don’t let that stop me.

I know now that my worth isn’t in what I’ve done or haven’t done. It’s not in whether I’m a wife or not. It’s not in how I choose to educate my children or what kind of bread I feed them. It’s not in my degree or my job. It’s not in who likes me or who doesn’t.

My worth comes simply because God says it. It’s mine simply because He gave it.

I am worthy because of the blood Jesus spilled to make me worthy. There’s no other reason for it.

And the same holds true for you. You are worthy. You don’t have to keep searching for it or chasing after it. You already hold it.

The only thing left to do is live in it. You can’t go back and change things. You can’t go back and undo things. But you can walk away from that striving and simply rest for a while in the knowledge that you are chosen.

The Lord has a plan for your life. And it’s not a constant battle to fight for your place. It’s tough, sure. But it’s also peaceful. Because you don’t have to earn it. You just have to own it.

Whatever your past is. Whatever your mistakes, your failures. You just need to know that you are worthy. It’ll break your heart that Someone could love you so much. It should. But it will also heal your heart.

The only thing for you to figure out today is whether or not you will accept what the Lord has already done for you. Who He has already made you. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It’s as simple and as complicated as allowing your heart to be broken over the only thing that really matters and then allowing the Only One who really can to heal it.

I know you can do this. I believe in you. Because I believe in me. And if someone like me can be made worthy, I know there’s hope for someone like you.

 

 

 

 

Gotta Have Grace

Grace.

We hear it, preach it, love it.

But sometimes it’s hard to show it. And even harder to live it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how God uses our own broken stories to heal others. And that in the telling we often find our own healing.

But I’ve also been thinking about the people that those stories may hurt. Or anger.

My own story started a long time ago before I even realized what a story was. Before I knew about consequences. Or forgiveness. Or brokenness.

And after many years, I understand that the some of the people who hurt me were hurting too. And some of them were just doing the best they knew how. And some of them… well, I still haven’t figured out. But I’m sure they have their reasons even if they don’t make sense to me.

Then there are the stories where I am the villain. I’m the one who divorced a husband because I didn’t realize that love was hard. At twenty years old, I still thought love was supposed to be butterflies and romance.

I’m the one who told secrets, who hurt friends, who gossiped, who hurt my own children with selfish and childish ways. Who wanted to escape reality more than she wanted to play with her children. I was the villain in those stories.

Not long ago, as I was reading Psalm 9, I found myself very uncomfortable with the verses describing the fate of “the enemy.”

When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence...You have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. Psalm 9:3,5-6

My first thought when I read the word “enemies” was for those who have hurt me. Who have wronged me in some way. But only for a moment. Because then I began thinking of the ways I am the enemy.

I wanted to rush through the verses. Because I was faced with my own shortcomings. All the ways those verses could very well be talking about me.

But I forced myself to slow down. To go back and read them again. To let me heart be broken over the things I just didn’t do right.

As I was reading I felt the Lord leading me to the next thing. And the next thing is GRACE. Yes, those verses should be talking about me. But they weren’t. And not for any other reason but the blood of Jesus.

Let me say that again. The only reason those verses were not referring to me was because of the blood of Jesus.

And the same applies to you.

Maybe you’ve messed it up big time. In ways you don’t know how to make right. Here’s the grace… you don’t have to make it right.

We can’t go back and undo what we’ve done. We can’t rewind time and be a good friend, or a wonderful mom, or a loyal and loving wife.

The only thing we can do is keep moving forward. And the only way to do that is to fully accept the position that was granted us by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That position is righteousness. That position is upright. That position is a child of the Most High God.

No, we’re not worthy. And yes, they’ll be those that wonder who we think we are parading around acting like we’re “something.”

But the truth is that same grace and blood that bought our freedom from all the shame and separation we deserve is available to them also. And if they can’t see God’s goodness that He would love us, change us, then maybe they can’t see it for themselves either.

God’s Word tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood. It’s against all the powers of darkness. It’s against Satan.

In accepting God’s great mercy even when we know we don’t deserve it, we accept His love. And we learn to love ourselves. We learn to love others. And we set such a great example of the things He is capable of.

Those friends I hurt- I hope they’ve found peace. I hope they’ve found happiness. I hope they’ve learned that no human can ever be 100% dependable. Because we’re flawed and we’re selfish. And even though we try to do better, we’ll still mess up sometimes.

That husband that I left- he has a new wife now. She loves our daughter and they share a beautiful son together. And I have two sons of my own from a second marriage. Sons I couldn’t imagine my life without and I wouldn’t have without that divorce.

And my children- they’re learning that grace is a part of life. A huge part. There will be many people in their lives that need it, including themselves. They’re learning not to be afraid of the messes that other people live in but to get down in it with them and gently help them up.

The wonderful part of the story is that just because you were doesn’t mean you are. Just because you were a cheater or a liar or a party-girl or whatever label that Satan may constantly try to stick on you, you don’t have to keep carrying that around. You are absolutely free to choose a new label. Redeemed. Forgiven. Free. Loved. Chosen.

Psalm 9 goes on to say: Be gracious to me, O Lord!… O You who have lifted me up from the gates of death that I may recount all your praises, that… I may rejoice in your salvation. (vs 13-14)

Rejoice in it! Recount His praises. Do not be ashamed to shout from the rooftops, “Once I was lost but now I am found!”

Loving yourself demands grace. And in learning to show yourself grace, you learn the importance of showing others grace as well. Because our battle is not with them. As Christians, our battle should be for them.

Being brave enough to say, “Look what God has done for me! He can do it for you too!” To let go of our own pride and show grace when others let us down. To trust that in our own weaknesses, His strength is made perfect. That’s what gives others the courage to show grace to themselves. To love themselves.

And that’s the whole point of this crazy life. To glorify the Father who has done so much for us. To uncover our own brokenness and say with resounding confidence, “It’s OK. He has come to heal the broken. He has come to heal me. He has come to heal you.”

Today practice that grace for yourself. Ask God what He wants from you and focus on only that. No past mistakes, no future worries. Just today. Because today we are set free. We are living our best lives. And we are trusting that God is working good out of the most devastating stories.

The Good Soil of Loving Yourself

“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” Matthew 13: 23

If you read the Parable of The Sower in full, you’ll hear about four different types of people. Three out of the four don’t exactly inspire. But the fourth one… man do I want to be like him.

Each person in the parable heard the News. But only the one with “good earth” was able to “take in the News” and from there produce a harvest.

So what is the “good earth”?

This is the earth that is soft and deep. The earth that is free from hardness. The earth that is empty of all the things that could compromise the promise of new growth. But full of all things that will feed it. This is the earth that is doing exactly what it was meant to do.

This is the person whose heart is soft, who is open to correction, and who is seeking wisdom. The one who has made themselves submissive to God’s will and have let go of their own.

If I’m honest, there are days when I’m a little like all four of the people described in Matthew. Days when I hear a message and that part of my heart is still shallow and hard. And nothing more than an “Amen” and head nod will come from it.

And there are days when I hear the message and I know it’s true and it’s for me but I can’t seem to let go of the way I think things should be.

But then there are those glorious days when it’s just right. I’m ready. I’ve prepared the ground, I’ve done the work. It’s time. And the Holy Spirit will take a single verse and it seems the harvest will never stop.

I always want to be ready for whatever God is growing in my life. But I’m so thankful for the grace that covers the times I just miss it. Times I wasn’t paying attention, times I was distracted. I’ll claim that grace for the rest of my days, I’m sure.

But the hard truth is that sometimes we are aware, we aren’t distracted and we know that God is trying to do something. And we still resist. We puff ourselves up, get validation from others, and stick our flag in the ground trying to claim territory we have no right to.

The even harder truth… it’s pride. It’s not what you deserve, it’s not what you feel, it’s not standing up for yourself, it’s not the right thing to do in the circumstances.

It is 100% hard, cold pride. Nothing good grows from hard, cold places.

And what, you may ask, does that have to do with loving yourself?

So very much my dear friend. So very much.

Because while loving yourself does not mean demanding the very best, it does mean accepting the very best.

And in order to do that, you must realize that even though no, we don’t deserve this sweet mercy that we’ve been given. We are loved and it is that reason that we were offered it in the first place.

You do not have anything to prove. Only to accept. It’s a gift and it was given even when your heart is still hard and your ways your own.

And loving yourself means being emptied of all the bitterness, the anger, the jealousy, the regret, the self-doubt, and the “self”.

Allowing the hard places of your heart to be broken up and the weeds to be pulled up. Because it’s in that breaking and pulling that new growth begins.

We want the new growth. We need it. And we’ll only have room for the new when we let go of the old.

And a warning with a promise… that breaking, that emptying… it can be painful. Chances are it will be. But it will be worth it.

You’ll never be able to transform yourself because our instinct is to protect ourselves, hide ourselves from the pain. But sadly, the pain is necessary sometimes. And in that stripping away, breaking up, pulling out… that’s when we are transformed. That’s when we are changed.

And that is where you will produce a harvest beyond your wildest dreams. To love others more than you thought you’d love. To serve others beyond what you thought you’d serve. To go places farther than you thought you’d go.

It’s in that good soil that you’ll see overflow from all the things the Lord is planting in your life. And in that overflow you’ll see His glory reflected far more than you ever could have imagined. Your voice will be louder. Your reach will be wider.

So love yourself enough to tend to the garden that is your heart. Let God show you what needs to be pruned, ripped out, busted up, cultivated. Because I promise you that’s where you’ll find yourself. And that’s where you’ll find your purpose.

The REAL Truth About Loving Yourself

As I was scrolling through Pinterest the other day I came across a quote. It caught my attention because it was under the category of loving oneself. It read: When you start seeing your worth, you’ll find it harder to stay around people who don’t.

I jotted down the words and kept scrolling only to find so many more quotes along the same lines.

Our first instinct when we read words like that is to do a little fist pump. Yes! Sweet validation. A reminder that we don’t have to let people treat us however they want. We are completely justified in cutting the ties and building the walls.

And I don’t think you’ll find many who will argue with you on the point. Some are more forgiving than others. But most of us have an invisible line that we’ve drawn that divides grace for others and love for ourselves.

But what if… the truth of the matter is that we have it all wrong?

The world shouts to us to look out for number one, to do you, to claim your own truth and to never tolerate anyone who doesn’t see your worth.

But the Word… the Word tell us an entirely different story. The Word says to forgive seventy times seven. To bear all things, to hope all things. That if someone forces you to go a mile, go two miles. The Word says give.

But how can that line up with taking care of ourselves? With loving ourselves?

It only makes sense when we realize that knowing our worth isn’t what WE think we’re worth but what Christ says we’re worth. And usually the reasons for the two are very far apart.

Think back to before the crucifixion. I wonder if it were really possible for the disciples to fully understand the worth of Jesus. To completely grasp all that He was and all that He would do.

Yet, Jesus remained. Teaching, loving, leading.

When He knew that His time was near, He still washed the feet of those that would betray, abandon and deny Him.

He wasn’t a doormat. He wasn’t being taken advantage of. Because Jesus knew His worth. He knew that it wasn’t the people who were using Him, but God. God was using Him to fulfill His great plan. To save the lost.To heal the sick. To bind up the brokenhearted. To set free the captives.

We hold on to our own version of worth. We sit on it and hide it. Because we can’t help but lift ourselves up. We can’t help but demand praise for ourselves. To demand respect. To demand we be treated more than fairly.

Someone hurts us, criticizes us, betrays us, or even takes too long moving out of the way in the grocery store and the nature of what the world calls worth comes out. It’s ugly. Mean. Hateful.

But when we look to Christ for our worth we see things differently. It’s through Christ that we are called children of God. It’s through Christ that we have been redeemed. Through Him that we have been spared. Through Him that we are made righteous. And it’s through Him that we should live. And love.

Loving yourself is not holding yourself up, refusing to accept correction or conviction, or fighting for your own benefit. Loving yourself, realizing your worth, is knowing that you don’t have to do any of those things. You are worth more than anything you can fight to achieve in this world alone.

You have a bigger purpose. A bigger calling. He’s not asking you to be a doormat. He’s asking you to trust Him with the process. He’s making things happen even if you can’t see them right now.

There’s no room for two here. You’ll either serve yourself or you’ll serve God. You’ll either promote yourself or you’ll promote God. And somedays, most days, it’ll feel like a constant battle between the two choices.

Don’t get down when that happens. Know that there is a strange reassurance in our wrestling these things out. It means that hope is not lost. We have not been forgotten. We have not forgotten.

So today, love yourself enough to bow low. To wash the feet, to endure the pain and trust that those things do not define you. Your identity is not something that mere man can strip away. You are chosen. Chosen by God for this life, this time, this thing.

Loving Yourself By Yourself

Alone. Solo. Single. Solitary. Stag.

Those words don’t exactly bring to mind joy or fulfilment, do they?

Sure the idea of a nice quiet day spent doing only want you want sounds nice but if you’re like me- as soon as the noise dies down the walls close in.

We long for a time with no obligations but we dread a time with no distractions.

So we turn on the television, scroll through social media, call a friend or run to town. Anything to keep our minds and hands busy.

Because when you’re left alone you have only yourself for company. Time to think of only your own needs, your own dreams, your own flaws, your own shortcomings.

So you avoid it. Or at the very least you don’t make time for it.

But you should.

One-on-one time is the quickest way to get to know someone. And to nurture the relationship once it’s formed.

You go on date nights with your spouse, girls’ night with your friends, and fun days with your kids. You make time to cultivate all the different relationships in your life. Except the one with yourself.

Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Even painful. But those times are absolutely necessary if you want to take the next step in life. That leap of faith. And many times we’re so busy doing the urgent we neglect to do the important.

It’s in those moments alone you’ll come face-to-face with yourself. You’ll see things you love, things you’d like to change, and things that make your head hang low.

And believe it or not… that’s a good thing. It’s called self-examination. And it’s something we’re instructed to do as followers of Christ.

I Corinthians 11:30-31 says, “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”

Self-examination is crucial. It won’t provide salvation. Only God can do that. But the first step in any recovery is acknowledging there is a problem.

In Psalm 69:5: “My sins, O God, are not hidden from you; you know how foolish I have been.”

Yes, He does. But do we? Do you?

And before that in Psalm 32:5, we hear, “When I did not confess my sins, I was worn-out from crying all day long.”

In order to confess, you must be aware. In ordered to be healed, you must realize that you are sick.

That sounds heavy. And the opposite of loving yourself, doesn’t it?

When you already have so many guilts, so much negative self-talk why spend time focusing on it? Why not try to see the good? To find the things you love about yourself? Why not focus on those things?

Because God’s Word says He is the Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. And you must start there. With His grace. His love. His mercy.

And once that love and grace begins to wash over you, you’ll see the good. You’ll find the joy. You’ll know the peace.

But that brokenness… it’s something you must come back to often. To remind yourself where you came from. And where you may go again.

We humans seldom fall in love with perfect. Perfect scares us. Instead we fall in love with real. We fall in love with honesty. We fall in love with transparency.

When you learn to spend that time alone searching yourself. And being searched by God. You will also learn to love yourself. To love God. And to love others.

Don’t hide from the ugly. Hold it out. In hands wide open to the only One who can bring beauty from ashes.

Love yourself enough to spend some time alone taking an honest look at your heart, your mind, your actions. And when you find something you don’t like. Something that you know breaks the heart of God. Have the courage to let it break your own heart too.

Because it’s in that brokenness that you’ll find your purpose. You’ll find your calling. It’s in that brokenness that you will be made whole. And where you’ll find faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.


Love Yourself. Use Your Talents.

It makes your chest hurt. Your stomach flop. And your hands sweat.

Fear. The ugliest four-letter word you’ll ever hear.

Fear gives you two options: fight or flight.

And I’ve done my share of both. Just usually not the right one at the right time. I’ve fought when I should have walked away. And I’ve given up when I should have kept going.

Today we’re talking about the flight. Because it’s not exactly feasible to keep running away when you’re trying to make progress in life. Progress is scary. But moving forward through the fear is often the only way to gain ground.

You feel a call to go a different path. To try a new thing. To step out in faith. To take a chance.

It’ll be risky. And you’re afraid.

You’re afraid you’ll fail, afraid others will judge you, afraid you’ll waste your time. You’re even afraid you’ll succeed. Especially when you’ve spent years self-sabotaging in order to hide out.

And maybe you’ve heard all the Do not be afraids, the I am with yous and the We are more than conquerors .

Yet the truth is, we’ve heard those verses so many times we often forget to really listen to them.

But there’s another well-known story in the Bible that few of us remember when we’re faced with the fear of taking the next steps.

You’ll know it by The Parable of the Talents.

The Message tells the story like this:

It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities… Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second one did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.”

The same was repeated with the next servant. But when the third servant was called we see a different scene.

The third servant returned the thousand dollars to his master. He explained that he was afraid to disappoint the master and so instead of risking the money, he hide the money to keep it safe.

The master’s response is a little shocking:

The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that!… Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

That third servant… I get him. I wouldn’t be surprised to find him somewhere in my lineage. How many times have I hidden away what God has given me for fear that if I used it I might lose it? How many times have you?

As cliché as it may sound these days you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And that includes your talents. And talents don’t necessarily mean strengths- sometimes it simply means passion.

Romans 12:4 reminds us that each part of our body does not have the same function. And so it is with the body of Christ. When one part doesn’t function as it should the whole body suffers.

You were created to offer something to this world. And when you let your fears cause you to hide away the rest of us are missing out on something spectacular.

Love yourself enough to go out on the limb. To be obedient to God’s calling. And to trust Him with the outcome. Maybe that limb is just a closer step to another tree. Or maybe that limb is where you will be successful and in that success God will be glorified. Because even the servants in Matthew knew it was all for the master.

So what are your talents? What is that thing you are hiding away from? Is there something you can do today, this week to move yourself closer to your calling?

There are plenty of writers out there with more talent and a far more reaching voice than me. But we are each given according to our abilities. When we show we can be faithful with the small. That we can steward well what the Lord has given. We will then see our territory increased.

So use those talents that God has graciously bestowed upon you. He created them uniquely for you. Don’t continue to live in utter darkness with others taking what is rightfully yours.

Climb the tree. Go out on the limb. And watch God do things you never imagined.

Loving Yourself Means Letting Go

I get it. I really do.

You’ve been so focused for so long on making it work that letting go now just feels like quitting. You know the it I’m talking about. The very first thing you thought of when you read the title to this post.

And I know exactly what happened when the thought crossed your mind. You mentally tighten your grip and shoved it somewhere out of sight. Somewhere safe for the next few minutes while you gave this the obligatory read. You know the one. The one that ends with you kinda feeling numb so you pretend this must not be for you.

Can I encourage you for just a few seconds to bring that thing back out? I promise. You can always put it back when we’re done.

I’m not here to snatch anything from your hands. Or to judge you for that matter. Believe me- I’ve got scars from wounds so deep and nasty on my own hands from holding on to things for far too long.

I just want you to take a few seconds to look at it. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Ideally you can see how this could be the answer for you.

It could make you happy, make you feel loved, make you forget, give you revenge, put money in the bank, and save you from yourself. It has all the potential to be the reason… the motivation that gets you up in the morning. The reason you smile. The reason people think you’ve got it all together.

Definitely something to fight for.

But now, if you don’t mind, I’d like for you to turn it over in your hands. Bring it in for a closer look. Look out it from a distance. Even close your eyes- feel it.

Chances are under closer examination you see that in reality it doesn’t quite add up to what your ideals are.

I know what you’re thinking. As Christians we’re told to bear each other’s burdens, to give thanks in every situation, to forgive, and to love others as Christ has loved us. Unconditionally and grace-filled.

And all of those things are so true. There are times in life when that kind of selflessness is exactly what you’ll need. But we tend to use those beliefs as a reason to sit still when God is telling us to move.

And if I may… when God is telling you to be still- you’ll know. And I’m willing to bet that right now you don’t know. You don’t have that peace that passes understanding or the faith that God will work all things for your good. Right now you just believe that YOU must work all the things out.

You believe that somehow all the success in this situation is dependent on how long and how tightly you can hold on.

How do I know? Because I have spent a life time trying to hold on to things until I could force them into submission… to me. And only then would I be willing to submit to God.

I was completely OK with letting Him be in control of me just so long as I was in control of everything else.

You can’t save yourself from drowning in a boat with no bottom. And most of the time, the things we refuse to let go of are the very things we’re trying to use for lifelines. No matter how much you think you deserve to be loved, happy, to feel worthy, or to be appreciated, I can assure you that I believe it more. You do deserve those things. But there’s a better way to go about it.

No man except for Jesus will ever love you enough to save you or to make you completely happy. No job or amount of money will ever make you feel worthy enough. And no amount of rebellious self-destructive behavior over a situation will ever change it- even one percent for the better.

Maybe you’ve never read what the Bible says about letting go. Or maybe you’ve forgotten. Maybe you just don’t care. But it’s very short and takes place just as the Israelites are finishing their forty-year wilderness trek. I’d like to share it with you. Because a while back these few verses open my eyes to a whole new perspective.

And when we’re finished you can decide whether you want to tuck that little trinket back down deep and hidden or whether you want to let it go.

Then the Lord said to me, “You have been traveling around this mountain country for long enough.” Turn northward and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau… be very careful. Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land… because I have given [it] to Esau as possession… Deuteronomy 2:2-5.

Think about this for just a moment… the Lord would not have issued this warning unless the land the Israelites were about to pass through looked pretty good. If the land was bad, the people would have been rushing to get out of it. But instead He knew that once they entered, it may be tempting to stay there.

Because even though the land was good, this was not the land the Lord had given them. They were meant to be in that place- but only for a time. They would inhabit that land for only the amount of time it took them to journey through it.

I’m sure no one knows better than the Israelites how incredibly tempting it can be to stop in the first “good” place you come to. You’re tired. You’re lonely. You’re hurt. And you just want a safe place to land.

But sometimes letting go is the only way to hold on. Had they have tried to settle there they would have caused themselves more war, more loss, more heartache. Instead they pushed through. They had faith. And they were obedient.

Eventually they arrived at the GREAT land that the Lord had given to them. It was theirs; the Lord had promised. And He provided everything they needed to take it.

But first they had to let go. And unfortunately that seldom happens without pain.

Either path you take- to hold on longer or to let go- there will be pain. The difference in the paths lies in the destination. Only letting go leads to the eventual easing and healing of that pain. Only letting go leads to joy, peace and far greater things than you can imagine.

Whatever you choose, I want you to know that the Lord is merciful and He is gracious. When you call out to Him, He hears you and He will answer. And I hope that whenever you’re ready…you’ll do just that and love yourself enough to let it go.

Love is an Open Door

When we share, we open doors to a new beginning.
-Paul Bradley Smith

Sometime ago, I read an article about introverts. And right then I decided that the description fit me well.

I’d easily become overwhelmed by too much interaction with others. And I needed to be alone to recharge. But I’d also become anxious after an interaction. Did I say everything right? Did I look OK? Did I smile enough? Was I enough? Was I too much?

For a long time I assumed this was part of being an introvert. This anxiety over what was coming and what had happened.

Somehow, I’d convinced myself that self-doubt was normal. That my discomfort in being around others meant I didn’t like people. But what it really meant was that I didn’t like myself.

I’ve heard that one-third of the people we’ll meet absolutely won’t like us. And one-third will be indifferent. But the last third… those are the ones that will love us. They are our people.

I’m not sure how exact that is. And I’ve never come across any research to prove it. But either way, the idea is the same.

Some people just won’t like us, some won’t care and some will love us.

How much time have I wasted shutting out the ones who could love me all for the fear of the ones who wouldn’t? I didn’t isolate myself from others for years because I hated everyone.

I did it because I was so afraid that others would see me exactly as I saw myself. And that they would reject me.

This blog is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

God has given me such a desire to help, to encourage. And this is the only way I know how to do that right now. But once I hit that publish button, my stomach turns. My heart races. What if no one cares what I have to say? What if they’d rather I didn’t say anything at all? What if I reveal too much? What if they see too much?

And my very first instinct is to delete the post, shut the site down and pretend this never happened. If I can do it quickly enough no one will ever know.

In the belief that we’re not good enough we shut ourselves down. And we shut others out. We give up on our dreams, our goals, our relationships because it’s all too risky.

We can’t imagine anyone seeing any good in us. Mainly because we don’t see much of the good in ourselves. We think surely the world will recognize us for the frauds, sinners, flawed individuals that we are. So we lock ourselves in tight. It’s the only way to be safe.

It’s the reason we don’t speak up in the meeting, and we pretend we don’t see people in the grocery store. It’s the reason we don’t take the classes or teach the classes. The reason we look the other way when opportunity comes around. And its the reason we compare ourselves to others.

Let me share a little truth with you. Whether your faults are perceived or actual, God can use you. And shocking as it may sound, He wants to use you.

And while you may be surprised God’s plans aren’t hinder be your shortcomings, He is not. He made His plans to include your weaknesses.

But in order for God to use you, you have to stop shutting people out. And in order to do that, you have to realize that you do have something worthy to offer. Something worthy to offer to the conversation, to the day, to the world.

When we finally grasp this, we can feel freedom and confidence in opening the door. Letting others in and ourselves out.

When you open the door of your heart, your mind, your life to others there will still be days when you’ll hold your hand on the knob ready to slam it shut at any moment. But you’ll also find deep down that you know you’ll never be satisfied going back to a life closed off and alone.

I don’t know what the Lord will bring into my life in this season of opening up. It’s terrifying and exciting and unnerving most days. But I know that it’s something good. Something worth the risk.

And I know that in order to love myself, to love others, to love God I must live a life with doors wide open. Receiving the love the Lord gives and giving it back to those He brings to cross my path.

What is it that He is calling you to? What is that one small step you can take today to live with an open heart and life? That one small change today could be the beginning of the huge change you see experience tomorrow.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9