Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forgiveness: A Reminder from my Past

Tonight, I discovered an old notebook I used awhile ago, and found an old journal entry that was inspired during a very low time of my life.  I'm not sure if I posted this, because this journal entry was written back when blogging was a more frequent thing for me.  But I felt that I wanted to share with whom ever decides to read this:

1 Thessalonians 2:8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

All today I have been under the pressure of conviction at having behaved in a way that doesn't align with God's purpose for my life.  A great public confession is not needed, just know that I suffered great disappointment in myself at no one's fault except my own.

Remorse and contrition are not my favorite emotions, and this is the first time I've experienced them since being healed from the shame of my past.  But a contrite heart I indeed had.

And, of course, being the performance-focused person I am, I have been wanting to hide all day.  Being in an airport didn't help, having so many avenues of literal escape.

I gritted my teeth, and sat in my seat with low spirits.  All the failures and flaws suddenly weighed on me like a rock around your neck before being thrown into a lake.  My Bible felt like a concrete block, and my Beth Moore homework was menacing.

I opened up to the week on Gentleness, the eighth quality of the fruit of the Spirit.  Not the gentleness like, "I gently laid the sleeping baby on the bed," but gentleness as in, according to Beth Moore and her extensive inspired research, praotes (it's Greek).  Praotes involves having humility, stifling and emptying pride, replacing it with Jesus Himself.  It involves putting myself in the proper place in lieu of God's grace.  (Thanks, Beth Moore, btw)

That means, as John said in John 3:30, "He must increase, and I must decrease."

So for about an hour, I let go of the shame, as it threatened to become a stronghold and excuse to give up.  I emptied out the self-disappointment and self-loathing.  In fact, I took the "self" out completely and replaced it with TRUTH.

God loves me.  I am His sheep and He always carries me back when I've wandered from the flock.  He is the Father patiently waiting for the prodigal.  

In only a few moments, as I practiced (and it is a practice) humility, laying my soul face-down at the feet of Jesus, I was healed of shame and the resulting spiral into despair and loneliness.  Then, I was struck by such kindness.  Such empathy, sympathy and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight.

As I began feeling the relief and freedom of forgiveness, I felt set right again.  But it didn't stop there.  He continued to speak to me.

I came upon 1 Thessalonians 2:8, written by Paul to his friends in Thessalonica.  I had just experienced the lovingkindness of the Lord, read this verse, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me about my ever-lingering loneliness.  He reminded me that out of His consuming and powerful love for me, came people who loved me enough to tell me about Him. 

There were many given the thankless job of planting seeds in my heart.  There were those who saw the actual transformation happen.  Next were those who fed me the spiritual "milk" I needed and whose friendships protected me from the enemy's many attacks.  And now, God shows His love for me through those whose fond affection for me prompts them to impart wisdom through their lives to me.  I have become dear to them.  

Oh how my heart not only has been forgiven and set free, but my soul has been soothed and cared for.

I am ashamed no more.

I am lonely no more. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Olive Trees and Sweet Memory

I ran today between a row of tall olive trees while the sun peeked out and the breeze was soft on my skin.  My life, for the moment, was still.  No rehearsals, bickering children, middle-of-the-night screaming, constant fighting against the defiant.  I was not in demand by a thousand different things, and could actually hear the lyrics of the songs playing to my ears. My heart rate was up, the sun felt hot upon my black sweatshirt, and my breath was hard to control.  But it wasn't as hard to breathe as it is to breathe in real life.  No,  I'm nearly stifled in the day-to-day, oppressed by the ever present "You will never be good enough."

But this morning, I let that go.  I shrugged off my own critiques, my own misguided and sinful obsessiveness.  I asked to be delivered from myself,  "my hateful thoughts" as Bethany Dillon sings.  And as my shin was being pierced by invisible darts and my ankle cried out for rest, I forged on and kept the forward motion.  "Just a little farther, to the end of the trees." 

And every pound of my feet on the path takes away the anguish of loneliness and frustrations and despair and self-loathing.  Making way to see God's grace and hear his Voice gently calling me.  "Child, be still."  I keep running, but my soul quiets and rests.  

I've come to the road, and my knees and the old ankle injury remind me to take it easy.  So I slow to a walk, and use my remaining time alone to soak in, admire, and breathe in God's creation. Back through the olive trees.  Blue sky laden with white clouds, sunshine peaking through the leaves and branches of my favorite tree.  And the breeze, cooling my skin and washing peace over me.

The washing peace, the lovingkindness of an infinitely loving and abundantly kind God.

I wanted this peace-giving breeze to be God's hand on my cheek, under my hands holding His.  A gentle touch that needs no words, but speaks of water-tower filled care and grace.

I blink and flashback.  A memory from my little girl-hood.  The same age as my Lela, 10 years old.  Details are fuzzy, like a dream tried to be remembered.  But I remember the little boy.  He was my friend.  He talked to me, listened to me, and offered his help.  I remember his brown hair, and that his name was Phillip. And Phillip listened to me when I felt I needed a place to go.  And offered his family's little shed to hide out in.  "Someone cares about me." 

His brown hair, shaggy over his forehead, offering his inhalor to me when I started wheezing during a blow-up of dust. So sweet.

There wasn't much else.  But I remember his voice, filled with youthful innocence, soft and compassionate.  A small, sweet light tucked away in my childhood memories.

The breeze came again, this time whispering, "I was always with you. I am always with you, beloved one."  Back then I felt alone and abandoned, even when I wasn't.  Now, I often feel alone and abandoned, even when I'm not.  

This world tells its inhabitants that Alone and Abandoned means Unworthy and Undesirable.  Unworthy and Undesirable because of Not Good Enough.  And Not Good Enough brings out the deepest, darkest, death-causing disease of Self Obsession.  Sin at its sneakiest.

Oh confession.  How you sting, yet bring healing. 

And God.  He spoke to me with Phillips small, boyhood voice.  "I'm here."

The breeze, a warm soothing washcloth with the fragrance of peace to ease my aching soul, breathed restoration.  Deliverance.  

The Holy Spirit filling where a moment ago, emptied.

I praise His Holy Name, the One who created the universe and beyond, but takes tender care of me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Declaration of a Saint

I found this in my journal, written on November 9th, 2011.  I don't know who this woman is, but I want to be like her.

I will arm myself with the lessons learned from the past.
but I will not dwell there.

I will not look up the steep mountainside of the future,
for it is too daunting to search the unknown.

I will trust in Him who created all that is me,
all that is around me.

I will live with what God places in my hands: the present.

He has redeemed the past and plan the future;
His purchase is permanent,
and plans never changing.

Whatever is to come,
I will not "brace for impact."
I will live for Him in the now,
doing what I can to serve and love.

I will trust Him with what He has taught me.
I will trust Him with what He's given me.
I will trust Him with what He has told me.
I will trust Him with the uncertain and unrevealed.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides you." --Psalm 73:25