Friday, October 28, 2011

2 Steps Forward... One Step Back

It seems like whenever I feel like I am making positive strides towards something, then something comes along and knocks me back down.  I see it happening with my weight... I make all of these positive steps, lose all this weight, and now all I do is obsess again over food and trying to shove as much good stuff in my mouth as I can.  I know that it is not healthy, nor the person that I want to be, yet I can't quite stop my hand and mouth in those moments.  I see it happening in my relationships.  I start to feel like maybe I will be seen as the person that I am, not the hurtful actions that I have done... that we have finally moved on from the hurt and damage that I have caused.  And then one conversation brings me back to the reality that there is so much damage still there and I am not sure if I will ever be seen as who I am now. 

I feel stuck... trapped as this person that I am not... battling to be somebody else, somebody better, yet being held back by the past.  How do I move forward?

I keep thinking about the prostitute that Jesus saves from being stoned.  The world saw her as a waste... a piece of trash... not worth saving.  Yet here is this man, this Son of God who sees her as something more... someone more.  He sees in her who she was made to be.  He sees her as the person that he created.  He sees her as someone worth saving.  How did this one action make her feel?  How did it change her life?  I am sure that it didn't immediately change the way that people treated her.  How long did she have to live with the repercussions of her life before her encounter with Jesus?  How long did the world try to pull her back into who they saw her as?  How did she deal with the hurt of the past?  How did she forgive herself?  How did she move on?

I so desperately want those in my life to see me as I am now, a changed person with a different heart.  Yet I know that it isn't that easy.  It isn't like I can just take off one costume and let others see me as someone else.  There is still the pain and damage that I have caused.  Will I ever be completely forgiven?  Will I ever completely forgive myself?  If Jesus were here, would I be enough to save?  Would he see in me something worth saving?

"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'  But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." -Luke 15:21-24

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tossed around by the storms of life

The storm is raging... the boat is being tossed in the waves... the disciples are yelling out... and Jesus is sleeping?  While reflecting on this story found in Matthew 8:23-27, I found so many thoughts and applications to my own life.

In June of 2005, I found out that I was pregnant with our first child.  We were over the moon excited about welcoming our first bundle of joy.  Our parents and family were equally excited.  I was in complete pregnancy bliss until July 30th.  It started off as any other day.  We were getting ready to go down to my husband's parent's house for the weekend and attend Cheyenne Frontier Days.  And then our lives were turned upside down. At 13 weeks pregnant, I started to spot.  In a panic, I went to the ER and waited for them to run tests and tell me that everything was going to be okay... after all, I believed in God and knew that He would make everything okay with our baby... that He wouldn't let anything bad happen.  Even after they told us that things did not look good at all and that we would probably miscarry, then sent us home, I believed with all of my might that God would save our child.  That night was the worst night of my entire life.  In the middle of the black night, I lost the baby, and a huge part of my faith.  The next months/years were very difficult on me.  Over the next year and a half, I miscarried a total of 3 times.  I lived with unimaginable guilt of not being able to carry our children. I dealt with grief that I never knew existed.  And I was left with so much anger and doubt and questions for God.  One of those questions that still haunts me: "Where were you?"

After some deep reflection and tears that again have resurfaced, my sister called, and I took it as a welcome break from the thoughts and hurts and questions that still plague me.  But while talking with her, I again had this story and these thoughts come to mind. 

My sister is currently in the middle of her own crisis.  Having just finished nursing school and becoming licensed, she is now looking for a job.  And in the midst of that difficult task, her lease is up and she is trying to figure out what she can do.  I shared with her that I knew how hard it was to wait for God to answer our prayers.  I continued to share with her some of our struggles.  Since moving to Colorado for my job, my husband has been on the job hunt.  In the year and a half that we have been here, he still hasn't been able to find a job.  While we have been very fortunate to have the savings to live of off, those continue to dwindle, and bring up the fear of what will happen when it is gone.  And I know that this has been so hard on him.  My heart has been crying out to God to give my husband success and help him find a job.  And yet, we have had no answer.  I keep praying, keep trying to hold on that God will provide... and yet I have that nagging fear inside of me of "What if God is too busy?"... "What if God is asleep?"

The disciples found this same question that night on the sea.  While they were being tossed about on the boat, sprayed with water and fearing for their lives, Jesus was asleep.  When they finally wake Jesus up, he calms the storm and then asks them "Where is your faith?"

I hear him asking me that question as well.  "Where is your faith?"  Where is your faith when the seas are about to take over you?  Where is your faith when you lose that which you hold most dear? Where is your faith when you cry out to me? Where is your faith?

Oh God, please help me in the storms of life.  Please help me to have the faith, and not the fear.  Please give me the strength, for I know that I am weak, but You are strong.  Please be my refuge, my fortress.  When I lack the faith, please help me focus my eyes on you.  And please continue to heal my broken heart.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


My whole life, I have always been expected for greatness.  I was always at the top of my class... school came easy to me, and I applied myself to achieve success.  I have the genes of a great athlete, and as I applied myself and worked very hard, I became very good at any sport I participated in.  I worked at being a kind person, a good friend to everyone around me.  I even did everything in my power to be the best daughter that I could be because I hated letting my parents down.  As I graduated and gave my salutatorian speech, the pressure of succeeding and doing great things in the world just seemed to be the way my life would always be.

Today as I began reading the chapter entitled "The Fear of Failure" in Angie Smith's Book, What Women Fear, I honestly didn't think that this fear really applied to me.  Fear of failure?  I don't really fear failing at all.... right??

But as I started to really reflect, really analyze my life I realize that this fear plagues a lot of my life.  The fear of failing as a wife and a parent... the fear of failing at living a good Christian life... the fear of letting others down... the fear of failing in keeping my weight at a healthy number.... Oh I fear failure.

A lesson that I have been learning the last few months is that God is the only audience that matters.  Even though there are all of these people around me that I try to impress, whether it is my parenting skills, my marriage, my work, being a good Christian, I need to focus on the only opinion that matters: God's.  And I can't truly fail God unless I disobey him.  Now, while that seems so simple and easy, I have found it a struggle.  And so I strive at just keeping my eyes on him.  I strive to focus my attention on the things that God would have me focus my attention on... listening to his still voice and letting it lead me.  I try to tune out the other voices that surround me, and focus on the only one that matters in this life.  And if I can do that, then and only then will I finally have a handle on this fear.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Healed by the Hem

I have to admit that I am a person who has led a double life.  I was one person to those that I know and I love, and in secret, I was someone else.  I wish that I could even to this day say that I understand why I did the things that I did and why I was this someone else, but I have no clue.  The shame of my actions has been almost more than I can bear.  And even though I have been  forgiven, I still feel so ashamed and know there there is distrust there.  I am constantly living in this fear that I can never truly be forgiven.  How could I be?  I can't even truly forgive me.

I just finished reading the third chapter in Angie Smith's book, What Women Fear.  In it, it discusses the fear of being found out.  By just reading the chapter title, I knew that this would speak volumes to me and be a tough chapter to cover.  My fingers tremble at just the thought of having to confront this secret life and deal with my heart on this.  I have a hard enough time admitting to myself the secret life that I led and the pain that I have caused.  I can't even believe that I am the same person.  The person that I look at in the mirror would never do something like this.  How could I have allowed it?  How could I have been this other person?

In the chapter, she talks about the woman who reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus, wanting to be healed, but not wanting to be found out.  She lives in shame, hiding herself from the rest of the world.  And as I read that part of the book, I saw myself.  I am so ashamed... and I just would love to hide for the rest of my life, never having to be out for the world to see.  But that, obviously, is just not possible.  So I stand here at the Savior's robe, sobbing and asking to be healed.  I am begging to be forgiven... to be able to turn away completely from this life of shame... to become a new and never have to live in this shadow of shame again. 

Lord, you know who I am. You know all that I am. I pray Lord that you will heal me from this shame that I feel.  Lord, help me to move away from the shame and guilt, into the forgiveness and redemption. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Story of Hagar

I am reflecting on the story of Hagar as I just completed reading Chapter 1 in "What Women Fear", and am reflecting on the "what if's" that plague my life.  I never thought that I was a woman that lived in fear.  But now I can honestly say after some deep reflection that I am a woman that has a lot of "what if's" that bury their way into my brain.  "What if something happens to my children and my husband?"  "What if something happens to my parents and my sister?"  "What if the sins of my past will haunt me forever with their consequences?"  "What if God is too angry with me to listen?"  "What if we didn't follow God's will in our move?"  "What if God won't provide a job for my husband?"  See what I mean?  The "what if's" are endless.

The thing that I have realized is that the "what if's" only are as powerful as I allow them to be.  Some days, I allow them to be huge and powerful in my life, and the fear overwhelms me.  And some days, I am able to take control of those "what if's" and push them away with the knowledge that God will provide... that my God will always be there.

I once did a Beth Moore study where she talked about the "what if's".  She went through the whole scenario of "what if something happened to her marriage".  And when she got down to it, she realized that she would be ok because God is faithful.  And that is where I have to move myself to... I will be okay because I know that my God loves me and that he is faithful.  No, that doesn't mean that life is going to be roses.  But it does mean that God will always, and I mean ALWAYS be right beside me, providing.

Hagar finds herself out in the middle of the desert believing that she is at the end of her rope and that God will not provide for her and her son... and that her son will surely die.  But when God speaks to her and opens her eyes, she sees that he has provided for her all along... that she is near a well. 

God, please open my eyes in the midst of my fears.  Remind me that my fears only have as much power as I allow them to have.  Remind me that when I do find myself in the midst of those fears, those "what if's", that all I need to do is lay them at your feet.  And help me to remember that You are always next to me, always providing for me, always loving me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Where are you?"

I am beginning to read a book by Angie Smith, What Women Fear.   All I have read so far is the introduction, and already I can hear God speaking to me through the pages.  I never thought myself as a person who feared anything, but as I dig deeper into my heart, that apparently is not the case. 

For years, as I look back now, I can see that I most definitely have been living in the midst of fear, letting it completely control me.  Fear of heartache... fear of not being able to cope... fear of my doubts... fear of my inability to be the person that others need me to be and see me as.  The fears could go on and on.  And my reaction to those fears was to hide... to do things that I knew were wrong... to do things that I am now so ashamed of.  And while I have turned away from those things, I still feel completely lost and scared and alone with feelings that I hide deep inside.

God asks Adam and Eve in the garden after they have sinned, "Where are you?" 

As I read that, it speaks directly to my heart.  I can hear God calling "Where are you?"  I am here, God... hiding in the bushes... hiding from my sin... hiding from the disappointment that I have caused... hiding because I am afraid that I will never make things right... hiding because I am afraid that I will never be back to the person that I once was... hiding because I doubt and fear.

I don't really know where to go from here.  But maybe I don't have to. Maybe I can just be and let God lead me.  Maybe I don't have to have all the answers.  Maybe I can just continue to walk and see where this journey takes me.