Our Unlived Lives

POD #3: Our Unlived Lives

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent. —Carl Gustav Jung

Do you have an unlived life within you? What is it? What does that look like?
Do you feel like your unlived life influences your children? Did your parents’ unlived lives influence yours?

This is more of a struggle for me to write about because  I think that I live true to myself.  I like to believe that there is no unlived life inside of me.  However, listening to Brené Brown’s new book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging, I realize if I’m completely honest with myself that isn’t true.  Yes, I am learning to truly belong to myself, but I’m not there yet.  A quote from the book, screamed loudly at me “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”

My parent’s had unlived lives, and neither will have the opportunity to ever change that.  My mother was a high school graduate, my father an 8th grade drop out.  Although I am not sure their unlived potential was what drove me, I completed six years of college.  When I started pursuing my dreams, my mother shared many of her unlived life dreams with me.   Never in a longing, regretful way, but in an encouraging, reach for the stars kind of way.

When my children were born, I was just a teenager.  I was a baby raising babies, with three children by the time I turned twenty-one.  They altered my life in ways that still leave me in awe.  When my children hit their formative years, I wanted them to have the life I never did.  I went to their school events, enrolled them in extracurricular activities. If I couldn’t be there, I did my best to have someone else in the stands for them.  I picked them up (except the times I forgot) from school and church activities.  I asked about their day and talked with them about everything.  I let them know I love them – every time we talk.  I took them to church,  I drove their friends around.  We did slumber parties and community activities.  We shopped for prom dresses.  We would sing in the car with the radio blaring.  We laughed together.  We took road trips and vacations.  When then became adults, as much as I want them close by – I encourage them whole-heartedly in their dreams and pursuits even if it means they are far away from me.

I love being a mother, but I do believe my unlived life as and older child and teenager definitely influenced my parenting and therefore the lives of my children.  As a parent with adult children, it is hard for me to have fun.  I have learned how to relax over the past few years, with hammocks, motorcycles, a movie alone, writing, swimming or even taking a nap.   But laughter and fun take work.  My kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews sometimes help get my guard down, but when I say that it is a struggle that is putting it mildly.

starI love life to the fullest, I enjoy my life daily, honestly.  But after loosing both of my parents, I have started to really look at who I am and where I’m going.  I realize how much I have lived life feeling like an outsider looking in.  I have never felt like I belonged, and because of that I changed who I was trying to be what I thought others expected of me.  Not intentionally, but gradually over time I have forgotten how to be who I really am.

I think back on my life pre-children, and know that I was a crazy, carefree person.  Maybe I was still a little more on the serious side than others, but I knew how to laugh and have fun with my friends.  I was bold and maybe a little more brash than I should have been.  I was who I was and offered no apologies.  My unlived life is an adult life full of risk, adventure, fun, friends, and lots laughter.  My unlived life is discovering my adult self and not changing who I am, but learning to truly be who I am.

 

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Resistance is futile. And sometimes fatal.

[POD] #2: Resistance is futile. And sometimes fatal.

Prompt: When was the last time you tried to do something that triggered Resistance? What did that look like? How does it feel to acknowledge this? To feel Resistance captured in words?

Resistance, at times I face it weekly.  I am not sure why.  Most people who know me think I will say whatever I think, whenever the feeling rises.  Yes, that can be true, yet there are times I feel completely frozen.  Fear and insecurity replace the brash confidence that so easily defines me. Church, which is usually my safety place, is the first place I would identify this resistance.

I immediately face resistance as my heart quickens to share – a prayer, a word, a revelation.  My first response is usually procrastination.  If I can put off action until this feeling passes, it must be okay.  Sometimes the feeling will resurface and I quickly try to tuck it away again.  If I must share, writing is an easier avenue to avoid the vulnerability of putting myself out there.  Putting pen to paper or fingers to the keys, I can share the pent-up words that so desperately want to escape my lips or are coursing through my head.

Even as I give in to the initial idea that I will surrender in obedience to share what I have on my heart, self-doubt rises. Questions race through my mind. What gives me the right to speak? What if I’m way off from where others are?  What if the pastor is like “Where did that come from? You think you’re a Christian.” What if the words are just my opinion?

Iresist shared this with a spiritual mentor in my church.  Her words, spoken in love, challenge me to step out.  She told me “There will come a time when nothing will stand in the way of sharing what God has put inside of you. Do not give way to fear  there is no fear in you because there is no fear in Him that lives in you.  People need to desperately hear what God has placed inside of you.

I went on to share my concerns with her that some of the things I feel led to share, I’m concerned that people will think It is my personal motive, not God.    She said something along the lines of  “It is selfish and self-centered for you to think you can’t speak it out because it is really between God and those who He is speaking to through you.  God’s thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” What she told me really convicted me.

My mind quickly went back to one of the first prayer meetings I went to at my church a few years back.  There was a time for us to pray individually and then to come together and pray out loud anything God laid on our heart.  As I was praying, I felt such a burden that I couldn’t help but cry out for forgiveness.   The words flowed as I prayed sitting in the third seat of the row toward the back of the church, where I slid into when I arrived.  We were praying for an awakening, and I just felt in my spirit repentance needed to come first. My heart was torn for the ground that the enemy has taken in our community, and for the ground that we as Christian’s have given to Satan by not standing our ground.  I just prayed for repentance personally, corporately, and regionally.  It burned inside of me as I prayed, as if it had to get out.  I had experienced that overwhelming burden a few other times over the years, but was never in a corporate prayer meeting, just praying alone or at the altar.

As the individual prayer time came to a close, we gathered in the entrance of the church to pray corporately.  Mostly leaders and pastors were there, so I felt rather small almost the spiritual people surrounding me.  I was a married woman, in a divided household, and most of our children were not attending church – preferring work to worship.  I definitely did not feel I had a voice.  They were all praying for revival all I could hear was the screaming voice inside my mind saying “Revival can’t come until we repent.”

That fear that overcame me, is one I have come to know quite well since that time.  I couldn’t stand still, but my lips we sealed shut, I could barely mutter amen when they were all finished praying.  It would be much later when that same group of leaders would pray out the need for repentance.

I quickly skirted out the door, only to be caught by the spiritual mentor.  She said “You had something didn’t you.” I was honest and told her I did, she encouraged me in the future to pray it out with the group.

It would be some time before I would listen to that advice.  I still struggle with the resistance to release what is inside of me.  Some days are easier that others.  I find that having shared my struggle with a few others, they hold me accountable when they see the signs of resistance.

It is freeing to know that resistance is a choice.  In the end resistance is futile.  It stops the growth that is so desperately needed. Without growth, over time, resistance can be fatal.

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The Struggle Is Real. Maybe. Wait a minute. . .

[POD] #1: The Struggle Is Real. Maybe. Wait a minute. . . Is the struggle actually real? Is that saying really true? Write about how you know it is or is not, using an example of a struggle you’ve experienced in your own life.

people-2599044_1920It is easy to think that the struggle is not so real until it is sitting on your doorstep, demanding your attention.  I say this because despite working to help people overcome their struggles, I have spent my life avoiding my own struggles.

This year my word for the year is growth.  Personal growth has been my focus this year in every area of my life.  Trying to be intentional about my self growth has made me look at what made me strong, things that have made me grow, and  identify areas where I need to focus my efforts.

I realized that much of my growth in life has come out of necessity, not intentional effort. People tell me that I am a strong person, but they don’t realize I have had to be.  I have been through things by the age of twenty-one that only a handful of people experience by their forties.  Much of those experiences happened to me, they were not by choice.  I struggled through lessons, that much of the time I wouldn’t realize the full impact of for decades.  The struggle was real, but I didn’t know there was any other way.  I figured out things the hard way, experience.  It was a great teacher, but my perspective was skewed in many areas from taking in knowledge I didn’t have the capacity and understanding to process at the time.  Like Joseph sharing his dreams with his brothers and father, he didn’t have the perspective at the time that he gained in the pit, the palace or the prison.

When I look at the things that made me grow, it was a lot of poor choices – on my part and the part of others.   My faith in  God grew, as I had to trust Him because I had no other choice.   I found myself in that situation more than once as a child, a teenager, a wife, and in my career.  During those times, God grew me exponentially.  When you have nothing or very little in your hands, God can borrow, add to, and multiple to create growth in ways your never thought possible.  You see it time and time again in the Bible – Abraham on the mountain,  the Israelites in Egypt, provision for the Israelites in the wilderness, the first miracle, the feeding of 5,000, and miracles performed by old testament prophets.

There are three areas of my life that I feel like I am in an intentional growth period.

  1. My relationship with God.  I have been a Christian for thirty-three years, although much of my time I didn’t live like one.  I feel challenged to grow what He has placed inside of me and be intentional about using the gifts and talents for His kingdom and glory.  To often I use reason, safety, insecurities and fear to stop me from what I know that He has called me to do.  I realize that when I don’t feel strong, it is through my weakness that He shows Himself strong.  I just have to yield to Him – that struggle is real – even though I want that relationship with Him.
  2. My physical health.  I have been overweight for over twenty-two years, and I have never been one to intentionally exercise.   I have been exploring to root cause of my overeating and inactivity.  I have been working to get in the habit of exercise.  I am looking at the underlying messages I tell myself that sabotage what I say I want.  I know what to do, I just need to figure out what stops me from being successful.  As much as I wish it wasn’t – the struggle is real.
  3. Expressing my emotions.  This is the area that I struggle with the most.  I realize, I have a hard time labeling my feelings.  How do you share something effectively when you don’t know what it really is?  How do you share in an effective manner when you have not words to describe something?  How do you set aside forty years of wrong messages about emotions and just open up? How do you open up, when privacy is such an important to you?  If you had asked me a few years ago if this was a struggle I would have said “absolutely not… well wait a minute…maybe it is.”  When you avoid emotions so well, you don’t realize the amount of struggle you are putting into hiding that truth from yourself.  This year I have finally given into the reality that the struggle is real.

If you don’t believe that the struggle is real, you are probably living in deception.  There is the you that you are aware of, the you that only others are aware of, the you that everyone knows, and then the you that is still hidden.  The struggle is real to move that which only others are aware of into your sight, and to move that which you can not see into your sight.  The struggle is real to do that.  Sometimes it is a struggle with hidden messages, false perceptions, insecurities, and fears – tearing down those walls takes a continuous effort.  Regardless of the reason, there is no maybe, wait a minute… the struggle is real.

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Another Lie I believed

As a child and young teen, I thought the world revolved around me.  The adults and my friends did little to convince me otherwise at the time.  When reality set in as a teen mother, that the world didn’t revolve around me, I realized very little was about me.  Most of my family still expect me to respond as the center of the world, despite the fact my children are all grown now and I haven’t thought that way for a long time.

As a parent I turned the tide completely opposite, like most parents do.  My world became about my children, their activities, needs and desires quickly took center stage. With a career in social work, the needs of those I served also took priority.  As a wife, I failed to put my husband in the correct  place before my children.  Eventually God took center stage in my life, and things started to fall in order, and God’s grace covered my shortcomings as a wife (and really every other area of my life).

However, my past as a selfish, self-centered, person haunts me in another way.  It is a struggle now  because I don’t want to feel that I’m being self-centered and all about me.  So I tend to neglect my needs and emotions, because I have fallen into the lie “It’s not about me.”  In the past few years, I have successfully learned to put my needs on my priority “to-do list”, but the emotional part is a much bigger battle due to my personality and upbringing.

I don’t know when that lie “It’s not about me.” started to take over my life.   Several different events come to mind, where that thought process came into play.  As a result of believing it, I have years of suppressed emotions, fail to form close relationships where someone might make it about me, and have almost silenced that voice inside of me that shares the more intimate personal thoughts and feelings.

lie I beleivedA few years back God started working with me on getting in touch with my emotions. Looking at some of the deep-seeded lies I believe because of the dysfunction in my family and my interpretation of events because of my skewed childhood interpretation.  It has been very  slow work.

As a social worker there are theories that I am aware of because of training and by witnessed experience in others, believe to be true.  As a Christian there are truths that I know to be true from God’s Word.  Both of which I am skilled at applying to others’ lives.  Yet somehow getting those truths from my head, into application in my own life are harder because they go against the very grain of the lies I have believed for myself.

Again, God has been working in this area.  Right now, I’m at the point that if I can really have some time alone to process, He can bring out those emotions and thoughts.  This blog site has been a small part of that process.  Time however, is not always easy for me to make for dealing with emotions that come up due to circumstances around me.  I keep my schedule pretty full (and yes, I am aware that part of this has been an avoidance technique for dealing with those same thoughts and emotions) and the downtime I have built-in still often gets taken up with making time for the people who are a priority in my life.

That’s where I am this week. A friend lost her father unexpectedly.  My heart breaks for her and her family.  But loss of any kind, tends to bring up other losses – as a social worker I know this.  It is a normal response.  I have lost both my parents, not unexpectedly though.  My father has been dead for twenty years, but his birthday was just the week before.  My mother’s death was just about eighteen months ago.  Those losses came back with intense emotions this week.

So did the lie “It’s not about you.”… that was the first thought that crossed my mind as I heard the news and tears started to well up in my eyes.  Followed by, “This is about your friend and what she is dealing with right now.  Don’t be so self-centered. Get over yourself.”  I have spent the rest of the week with an intense physical pain throughout my body as the stress toxins build up in my body.  I am full of emotions I can’t seem to release.  I thought if I took some down time that might happen, but it hasn’t yet.  Instead I have discovered a little more about myself.

As a therapist, I don’t have to enter my client’s pain.  My goal is to help them walk through it.  Even if I shed tears with them, it is about what they are going through at the moment.  I want to fix it, not enter into their pain, connect through it, and walk forward.  There is a distance in the empathy.  It is not so with friends, especially ones that you see daily.  I will walk through it with her.  I can not fix it.  I should connect with her and walk with her as she journeys along.  My empathy is not distant, because I have been there even if it was under different circumstances.

I also realized I never learned how to enter into other’s pain.  It is either their pain or mine.  I have grieved along side people when our loss was mutual, even if it was at different levels.  I know how to be “in it together.”  Although if I’m honest, even that is a little uncomfortable because I want “their pain” compartmentalized  from “my pain.”

Even from the earliest of losses in my life, I never had an example of someone entering my pain.   I lost my best friend as an eight year old child.  When my mother got the phone call I can still remember standing in the door saying “I’m not gonna cry.”  I did, there was no comfort from my parents.  My sister took me for ice cream the next day. My aunt took me to the funeral – picking me up from school and taking me home after the ceremony.   And then it was over, my emotions were suppose to be too.  I have never seen someone allow their emotions to surface in my pain even when they didn’t experience my loss.

I also realized that my own grief does not make it less about them.   As I was worried about how my friend was doing, our friends were also wondering how I was coping with it since my own pain was so fresh.  My pain is still my pain.  My pain is about me and it is okay not to deny the pain.  It is okay for me to release it, even in the midst of someone else’s tragedy.  It is okay for me to cry, even if my tears are for a different reason – with my friend, for my friend, with others, and alone.

I wish I could say that in the midst of my processing and learning more about why I am the way I am, that I was able to find that release.  I have not.  The heartache I feel for my friend, and for my own loss just sits on my chest like a weight.  The tears that fill my eyes, won’t flow.  Every now and then, a single solitary tear will sneak its way out.  I pause, wondering if the rest will flow, but they don’t.  I know I need to.  I want to, but for now… I just can’t.  Eventually, I know I will, and I let go of another lie I believed.

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Be

Understand that I am a type A personality.  I like to complete things, and like to help out and be useful in all places.  I have learned how to relax over the past few years, but I learned that I am uncomfortable just “being.”    Other than my parents and my husband’s grandparents I haven’t spent the night in someone else’s house for decades.  When I travel, I will typically just stay in a hotel despite offers because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.

When my grandson was born in July, I flew out to meet him and spend some time with my son and his extended family.  I had the pleasure of staying with his wife’s mother.  It was an experience that spoke to me spiritually in ways that I  am still processing.

bestillWhile I was her guest, Pam did not allow me to do anything.  I was dependent on her or my son for travel.  I made one meal while I was there, and it was just to bless my son with his favorite meal.  The rest of the meals were prepared.  My mornings were spent in fellowship with Pam, no phones or clocks to distract.  My days were spent relaxing with my son, his wife, and new baby.  We went to the mall a few times.  It was just a time of being.  I didn’t think of it as a “vacation,” I was purposed with getting to meet my newest grandson and spending as much time with him as I could because they live so far away.

In my normal schedule, I work full-time, Monday thru Friday – 40 hours.  Monday evening I do a bible study, Tuesday I volunteer at a local Women’s program  Wednesday is prayer meeting at church. Every other Thursday I volunteer at another program.  Friday is reserved for date night with my husband.  Saturday mornings belongs to exercise, afternoons to grocery shopping and then the evening to the grandkids.  Sunday is church, a nap if I’m lucky, laundry and family dinner.  Too many times, I am running on empty when it is time to start the week all over again.

As uncomfortable as it was for me to not be able to “do” anything for those five days, God showed me, that is what He wants from me.  I can not work for God’s approval.  There is nothing I can do that will make Him love me more or less.   God wants me to be dependent on Him.  He wants me to be available.  My job is to show up.  The rest is in His hands.  He just wants me to fellowship with Him.  To share of myself, and let Him share with me.  He wants me to enjoy His presence.  He doesn’t want me to be watching a clock, but to just be with Him.  When I do something, it should be 100% an act of love and not out of obligation or routine.

I am always surprised in the places and ways that God speaks to me.  He shows me little pieces of Himself in the strangest of ways.  When we are open to it, God will show up in any situation.  He can speak to us in ways that we will be open to hear.  And He will bless us  with more of Him, even in the midst of other activities – or in states of being.  Because the Lord is the Great I Am, I have the opportunity to just be.

 

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Dislocated

When my youngest daughter was under two, we had a baby gate from the living room to the master bedroom where the laundry and an exterior door were.  One day in a hurry to get something done, I fell over the gate.  The force with which I fell, and how I caught myself left my arm folded at ninty degrees, completely twisted backwards and upward.  My elbow was dislocated.  At the hospital they were able to snap it back into place and just put my arm in a sling for a while.  I also went to therapy and lost some of the range of motion, although not too much.  It was a very painful experience.

jointI thought about how this is also a picture of the body of Christ.  It is not a baby gate that stands in our way, but our comparisons, insecurities, and unwillingness to surrender that get us dislocated.  We end up trying to do things that we were not made to do, or unwilling to do what we are suppose to do; the whole body suffers because of it.

God designed each of us with a specific purpose and role in mind.  He places us where we are suppose to be and where we an have the greatest impact.  Yet sometimes, we force ourselves into something else.  We buck up against what He has called us to do because we want to do more or something different, or because we don’t feel like we are worthy to do what He has called us to.  We are basically saying God made a mistake with us.

Besides the obvious, that God doesn’t make mistakes, there is another problem with this way of thinking and actions.  We are all made to fit together in one body.

For just as the body is one but has many parts; and all the parts of the body, though many, constitute one body; so it is with the Messiah.  For it was by one Spirit that we were all immersed into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free; and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.   For indeed the body is not one part but many.  If the foot says, “I’m not a hand, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body.  And if the ear says, “I’m not an eye, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If it were all hearing, how could it smell? But as it is, God arranged each of the parts in the body exactly as he wanted them.  Now if they were all just one part, where would the body be?  But as it is, there are indeed many parts, yet just one body.  So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”; or the head to the feet, “I don’t need you.”  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be less important turn out to be all the more necessary; and upon body parts which we consider less dignified we bestow greater dignity; and the parts that aren’t attractive are the ones we make as attractive as we can,  while our attractive parts have no need for such treatment. Indeed, God has put the body together in such a way that he gives greater dignity to the parts that lack it,  So that there will be no disagreements within the body, but rather all the parts will be equally concerned for all the others. Thus if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts share its happiness I Corinthians 12:12-26

When we are not where we belong, parts of the body become dislocated.  Other parts can not work as effectively because we are not doing our part.  Or worse when we are trying to do things we were not called to dot only are we , because  not only are we impacting the area that we are suppose to be, we causing problems in another area, and likely creating a spiral effect because someone else can’t be doing their part either because we are in the way.

Although painful, the only way to fix the problems in the body of Christ, is for each person to allow God to put them back in their place.  It can be a quick process if we surrender, but it may take some time for us to function properly again.  We are going to have to get into the word and surrender our gifts and talents to the area we are called to operate in, learning to be just who God called us to be.  When we do what God meant for us to do, we will find that there really is a natural fit because we are where we were designed to be.

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Love’s like a hurricane

There is a song made popular by the David Crowder Band, written by John Mark McMillan called “Oh How He Loves Us.” that is sung in many churches across America.  Today as we were singing the words “Loves like a hurricane,” I couldn’t help but think about the destruction that was recently caused in Texas by Hurricane Harvey or the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.  My heart goes out to those who are impacted by devastation of the storms.  It was likely thoughts of them, that took me down my path of thought.

Love’s like a hurricane.  Hurricanes are destructive and devastating.  I admit those are two words I have never attached to love before.  A break-up yes, but not love.  Yet, I think about how God’s love has impacted my life.  And maybe it is destructive and devastating.

His love destroyed much of my selfish ways.  Yes, there are at times a few remnants, much like the rubble left in the aftermath of a true hurricane.  It destroyed my impatience, as I learned to wait for the process in my life to catch up with what God wanted to do in my life.

hurricaneHis love devastated my ugly attitude and replaced it with a much kinder version of me.  It destroyed my jealous tendencies, and completely devastated my selfish, proud, rude and self-boasting ways.  Some of my family still has a hard time believing how much of that was destroyed.

Love destroyed my ledgers, those I kept of every wrong that had been done to me.  Sometimes I just wanted to rehearse them in my mind, but there were times that I used those wrongs to justify my actions or place shame on the wrong-doer when I was feeling especially hurt.  Yes, I admit I grasped hold of a few pages that I thought I needed, but even those have been faded by impact of God’s love for me and are slowly crumbling in forgiveness.

My anger and irritability still bob above the surface in the distance, but love has  put such distance between those feelings.  Much like items are swept inland that don’t belong there during a storm.  Love had devastated the lies that once ruled my life.  Truth has taken over all the space that lies once lived.  I thought I needed to hide behind those masks, but there is such freedom and rejoicing in the truth.  So I guess when I look back at how love has impacted my life, I can see the destruction.

And yet there is another line in the song that made me want to hit my knees in praise because of God’s love “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, When I think about the way He loves me.”  See, there is nothing in my like that I would go back in time and change, because it made me who I am today.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some regrets.

There are regrets from my past that I have maintained.  I have allowed them to bungee strap me to my past choices.  I will be the first to say, I really used to be an awful person.  I hurt people, sometimes unintentionally, but all too often blatantly intentional.  I made a lot of poor choices.  Yes, they shaped me into who I am, but if I could have gained the knowledge without the experience and without changing who I am now, I would probably be much more free.

But today, as I sang those words, I felt God’s love for me – despite my regrets.  He doesn’t hold them against me.  He cut the cords that bound me, at the cross.  I just have to choose to unhook the bungee cords and walk away from the regrets.  I have chosen to maintain them, but I don’t have too.  He destroyed the ledgers of my past sins, the things that I have allowed to hold me back don’t even exist anymore. They were washed away in the hurricane of His love.

 

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Consuming fire

Today in praise and worship we were singing a song by Jesus Culture “Burning Ones.” It was as if I was hearing the song for the first time.  God has been speaking to me about love – love for Him and love for others.  At the end of the song it says:

We are Your burning ones
We are consumed by You
We set our lives apart
We are consumed by You

So let this love be like a fire
Let our life be like a flame
Fill our souls with Your desire
Let our passion bring You fame

As we sand those words, I felt my heart quicken as I thought about my love.  I realize that tthislittlelighthere are times that my love is more like a lit matchstick than a consuming fire.  I have been content with “This little light of mine.”

Although I never spoke the words to God, my attitude and willingness to submit speak louder.  Let me be a light, but let’s just keep it on the surface.  Consume the tip of the match, but let’s not get to crazy.  Just enough to shed a little light for those around me, but certainly not enough to impact a city or region.  Certainly not a passion that would bring God fame.

Yet, deep within me there is a desire to see  this region transformed for God.  A desire to see the collective body of Christ burn for Him.  A desire to see Christian’s lives so transformed that the fire doesn’t just consume us, but it burns out the things in this region that never belonged here – the abuse, the addiction, the greed, the poverty, the perversion and the religious mindset.  A desire to see people not only set free, but transformed into His image.

He has been showing me, that change will start with love.  It is the love of God that will transform our lives.  As we accept the love He has for us, as we begin to understand that love for us is His very nature and being, we will in turn want to give love back to Him. As we learn to love Him with our whole heart, soul and mind, only then are we able to truly love others.  God knew that we would need to love Him before we could love our brothers and sisters and then extend that love to the world around us.  His love is perfect, the love of those around us is not.   We must learn to love a God whose love is perfect and receive His perfect love, before we can extend love to those who are less than perfect, and who at times will downright hate us.

I realized as I sang those words, I have to let love befiregin in me.  I have to allow the love of God to burn brighter in me.  If I am not completely consumed by God’s love for me, and in love with Him, the flame of my life will not do anything more than it always has.  It may illuminate to others in my near vicinity, but it will never touch God’s passion.  God’s passion is people.  If my life is not filled with love for God, my soul will never be filled with a passion for hurting people.  I may care about them, I may try to help them, but without passion I will eventually loose interest.  I will quickly switch from one thing to the next as something more interesting comes along.

God is made famous by people who are consumed by Him.  The people who had accepted God’s love for them, and who had developed His passion for people in their soul.  People like Peter, Paul and John.  Or more modern people like Mother Teresa, Smith Wigglesworth,  John Wycliffe, Williams Tyndale,  John Wesley, Billy Graham.  These are all people who allowed their life to bring God fame, by allowing Him to fill their soul with His desires.  They didn’t settle for a little light, they pressed in for His consuming fire.  I will likely never reach the magnitude that those people did, but I can live fully consumed in love and with the passion in my soul that is God’s passion.

 

 

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Life’s Painting

We have an amazing opportunity in our community that allows people with no artistic ability to create their own painting.  It is a guided process that takes you step by step, technique by technique for a single painting.   The business often does fundraisers for nonprofits, where a portion of the money collected is given to organization.  It was at one of the Painting with a Purpose that I was introduced.

My pictures came up with my Facebook feed As a reminder of what happened that year.   As I walked through this process for the first time back then, I thought about how the process mirrors our lives. As I shared my process on Facebook, I posted the comments in bold with the pictures.  I thought they were worth sharing again and expanding here.

My life begins as a blank canvas.  Each person is given one life with which to create their masterpiece.  The reality is that I can choose daily to consider my life a blank canvas.  Each day we are each given a fresh blank slate of 24 hours.   I can also choose to start over at any point in time, releasing myself from past mistakes and choosing to begin anew with a blank slate.  1149304_10201204209018798_1191258114_o

Sometimes my life looks a mess, cause I am a work in progress.  I often look at my life, and think “There is  no way that this could possible be used for anything of purpose.”  My life looks like such a mess at times.  My focus is not on the process, but on what I perceive as the finished product.  It doesn’t matter that there are more steps to take, I judge the end by where I am now.   Regardless of my current mess, there is always more steps I can take to a better life.1147579_10201204581948121_1553529353_o

At times things get flipped around.  There will be times that nothing in life goes like I think it should.  Everything feels turned upside down.  I may feel over-extended, or just have a crazy bad day.  I may think I am going one way and end up in a completely different place in life than I expected.  There will be times like this in every life.1094539_10201204699711065_2099838561_o

919698_10201204738352031_1303608450_oSometimes I look at my neighbor and start to compare. We all do it at some point, comparing.  Sometimes we look at others and see ourselves falling short.  This is generally because we are comparing others‘ bests with our worst.  The opposite can also happen where we judge ourselves to be superior in something.  Generally we are comparing our motives to others perceived actions.  Either way, comparison kills.  It destroys creativity and potential, because we decide we might as well stop because we will never measure up. Or it destroys because we settle for where we are instead of continuing in the process because we reason were already better than others. 

It may not look like the masterpiece I thought it should.  So often we begin to try to shape our life after some other “masterpiece” instead of allowing God to define what our masterpiece life should look like.  It is not that we are comparing, we are trying to copy something we were never designed to be.  There are things we can learn from others, but we were never made to be a copy version of someone else.wp-image-1183391156

And sometimes I have to take time to get a different perspective.  We have an ideal in our mind and find our self disappointed because we are not as far along as we think we should be.  Our life doesn’t look like we think it should.   Often dreams are fulfilled, but never as we imagined in our life.  Some times we have to step back and look at how much our life has changed for the better, instead of staying focused on the immediate step before us.  Other times we need to allow the voices of others to help is see things differently because we get so tunneled in our vision that we miss the beauty in our own life.1119949_10201204911356356_837594800_o

But in the end, my life is just as the Creator painted it. We must realize that our life is designed with a uniqueness from the Creator.  Our lives were never meant to look exactly like someone else.   Even if our journeys were similar, our purpose, our reach, and the filters will not be exactly the same.  Even the most subtle of difference make for a different creation.

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ONCE MORE

The light
In all its radiant beauty
Hides in the distance
Setting in wait
Once more.

As the dark mass,
Moves in between

Where I am
And the light I seek
To see once more.

I move around
Trying to capture
A small glimpse
Once more.

It slowly fades
Out of sight
Behind the hills
Gone is the beauty
Until day breaks
And light abounds
One more.

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