False Expectations

One of my ‘fight for your heart’ friends gave me one of the best cards ever Sunday night.

“You are every bit the woman you wish you were. God does not withhold his goodness from you. He delights in your dreams.”

That’s all I’ve needed for my heart to be completely wrecked ever since.

I am every bit of the woman I wish I was..

How much time do we spend wishing that we were doing better, believing better? How many times do we wish we were more profound, more faith filled, more full of hope and revelation? And how many times do we feel the weight of disappointment when we don’t measure up to the person we wish we could be?

You are every bit the person that you wish you were.

ISN’T THAT INCREDIBLE!?

That is GOOD NEWS y’all! That isn’t “God loves you in spite of you,” or “God only sees Jesus..” that is “The bar above your head, just out of your reach is all an illusion. You, my child, are everything that you desire to be and more. The light is all I see, and I see so much more light than you’ve ever dreamed. You are trying so hard to be something that you already are.”

That might sound elementary, but I’m convinced that this is one of those truths that we never outgrow or get too mature to hear.. the depth of it only goes deeper and deeper with time.

I’ve spent my time jumping as high as I can, only to slightly fall short. Running and jumping, running and jumping..

“You shouldn’t be insecure about that.. you should know better by now. You shouldn’t think that way.. You should have so much more hope than you’ve got. What do you mean you don’t really believe that everything will work out in the end? You’re not feeling it during worship? It’s a problem, it’s your fault, and there’s something wrong.”

Jump.

Higher.

So in my exhaustion I cry out to God… and He doesn’t answer.

In his goodness, he doesn’t answer. In his goodness, he will never help me fill my own expectations. Perfect love doesn’t help us become acceptable in our own eyes. Perfect love casts out the fear that we’re not enough.

 

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It’s all a gift.

Quick little note: I transferred a lot of my blogs from tumblr to wordpress.. Mostly because wordpress feels much more official and tumblr isn’t necessarily a blogging site. (Nothing like your newest fiery revelation from God getting lost in a sea of pictures of cats and spongebob memes.)

Anywho.. here’s to being transparent! (I feel like a wine glass emoji signaling a toast would be a great thing to put here.)

I have read through past journals and current ones, exploring my history with God and all the things we’ve walked through. I know that not everyone is the same way, so the things I desire from the Lord and the things you desire may not necessarily be the same thing. I get that.. but for me, I’ve spent a really long time asking the Lord to make me confident. For so long, I’ve just really wanted to believe that I’m awesome, I’m loved, I’m enough, and there’s nothing else to it.

I think that I believe that more now than when I first began this journey.. (we go from glory to glory, right?) BUT I can look back on specific times in my life where I felt a lot better about who I was and my relationship with God.. About my confidence in him and my confidence about myself. ..a lot better than I do in this season.

What do you do when you feel like you’ve lost a breakthrough you’ve asked for for so long? What do you do when you feel like somehow, the gifts of God in the form of truth about your identity have somehow slipped through your fingers, because you weren’t strong enough to hold them? ..Like you’re on the back of Aslan the Lion, speeding through the forest, and in a moment you lose grip, and before you know it, he’s disappeared between the trees. That’s what it’s been like.

I’ve wanted to be right and to have it all together.. haven’t you? I’ve wanted to be right and to have it all together because I knew there were people that disagreed with me and thought I was crazy, and I wanted to prove them wrong. (I know, I’m the only sinner in here) I wanted to be right and to have it all together because I felt like with all that God had given me, I surely should be better off than I am. Surely I should be doing more with what I’ve been given.

We never outgrow our dependency for him.

No matter how many breakthroughs, truths, prophetic songs, encounters.. We never get to the point where we can ‘take it from here.’ I need him more now than I ever have. 

Insecurity to me seems like the plague. When someone vocalizes feeling inadequate in one way or another, I have always felt like the attitude toward them has been “Well, you’re just not letting the Lord love your heart.” Don’t believe you’re good enough? You’re not in the word. If you were in the word, you wouldn’t be doubting. Feeling needy? Only the Lord can satisfy you.. If you’re not satisfied, you’re not doing a good job of letting the Lord fill you up.

Maybe I’m the only one, but sometimes you desperately want to be filled, and it just doesn’t happen. I don’t know why. Sometimes you desperately want to believe the truth, and no matter how hard you try or how much you beat yourself over the head, it just doesn’t filter down into your heart.

Has anyone else ever felt incredibly guilty for feeling insecure? “I should know that my worship is good enough.” “I shouldn’t be afraid of failure.” “I shouldn’t be anxious about this..”

Because somehow, our insecurity, anxiety, hopelessness, seems in one way or another to be a reflection of whether or not we are succeeding in this thing called a relationship with the Lord. Maybe we don’t get the help we need because we don’t think we’re allowed to ask for it.

“In your own strength, you can never believe that you’re good enough and have the confidence you long for. Sometimes people boast in their ability to seek me and let me fill them – but even that ability is a gift. It’s not an ability some have and others don’t. It’s not something others are doing right and you are doing wrong.” Even our ability to surrender and to yield to Jesus is a gift from him. 

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. 1 Corinthians 4:7

When I feel like I’m succeeding in my seeking and when I feel like I’m failing miserably, it’s all a gift.

 

Don’t Let Me Walk Away (May 11, 2013)

Honestly? I’m the girl who’s threatened to leave Back turned, headed out the door

My heart hasn’t moved an inch Deep down I believe we’re worth it Hands too exhausted to keep holding on

Every step is filled with anticipation Will You stop me from leaving? Will You interfere in this increasing distance between us?

Tell me I’m worth coming after Show me Your love is stronger than my weak hands I’ve made space for that kind of love In my heart that hasn’t budged, though outwardly departing

Don’t let me walk away.

Religion (April 29, 2013)

I sat here on my bed, pondering how to start this blog.

At first, I figured I could say “If you have been in church for any amount of time, you have probably come to find that people in the church will hurt you just like any other kind of person will.” Although that’s great, I thought it might come off a little bitter, or pull things in a certain negative direction.. Not only that, but although it is true that you will get hurt in the church just like you do outside of it, that isn’t exactly the main idea of this blog.

I guess I’ll start by saying this – I truly believe that no matter who we are or what we’re doing, we’re all on this journey to know Jesus.. Who he is, who we are, the purpose in it all.. I can pinpoint certain times in my life when my heart and mind were completely blown and I saw things in a way I had never seen them before; several times, actually. (I’m sure a lot of you have, too.) Maybe you’re the conservative girl that just found out it’s okay to wear makeup and pants. Maybe you’re the one who just realized that God wants to heal everyone, and doesn’t just do it on special occasions. Maybe you’re the one who has come to realize that God is so much better than you believed him to be, and so much more patient with you than you have ever been with you.

Regardless of circumstance, it’s so easy to look back on the way we had believed prior to that mind blowing experience and get disgusted with ourselves, as well as the theology involved.

..this blog isn’t about how horrible it is to be disgusted, though, and how wrong it is to be frustrated. I’ve known those feelings too well to call them wrong.

It is difficult to be on a journey of self discovery and God discovery and for your entire world to be turned upside down. It is beautiful, incredible. The freedom in your lungs and the thrill of things being so much greater than you had known is such a gift.. But it isn’t all easy.

I’ve been on quite a few journeys. The truth is, that people are not always going to get it. They won’t always agree, and they won’t always be nice about it.

I would argue though, that the disagreements and the ugly stuff that can sometimes come is not because people are mean. It’s usually out of love or genuine concern that they are brave enough to speak up against what you’re saying, what you’re living out.. And if it’s not for concern or love, it is at the very least in the name of doing what they believe to be right.

I say all of that to say this – we have all labeled the folks that disagreed with us ‘religious.’ You know what else? They probably are. I’m not minimizing hurt. I know what it means to be crushed by people that your trust was invested in. I know what it’s like to have arguments built up against you for all of the things you believe. It is true that church people hurt people just like everyone else.. And sometimes it can hurt more, because in our minds they should know better.

I know one thing, though.. I don’t want to be bitter. You can hear the bitterness in someone’s voice.. The tone they have and their choice of words. Someone can be bitter and saying things that you typically agree with.. But because of the attitude behind it, it just doesn’t feel right. Shaming people for carrying bitterness isn’t the answer either.. don’t get rid of bitterness because its what you’ve been told to do.. Get rid of bitterness because within its hold, you’re not living in the very freedom you were given when your life was turned upside down.

I have heard Jonathan Helser say on different occasions that God wants us to step out of our religion and fear and walk into His endless love.

That’s it.. Our religion. Not possessive as in it is yours forever with no cure, but possessive as in everybody has some. Everybody has some, and there is no immunity theology where you are exempt from it.

So maybe religion doesn’t just affect people who grew up in church, or pastors’ kids, or those heavily involved in ministry for awhile.. But religion is something the flesh does no matter what side of the boat we’re on. We have religion to step out of not because of our church background (or lack of it), but because we have a flesh. Religion assumes things about God that we don’t actually know with our hearts. That can be “God’s angry!” Or “God wants you to wear pants!” ..but it can also be “God didn’t come through for me, so it’s must be my job to come through for myself.”

We are all his kids, just trying to make sense of things, and we all get it wrong. Having a great relationship with God doesn’t look like believing all the right things about him, because we all believe wrong things about God right now.. But it’s being willing to let Him show you that he’s better than you thought he was, over and over..

I PRAY this makes sense. I have read it over and over, hoping to portray my heart. I pray this brings you the freedom it has been bringing me, even today.

Assume the best (April 23, 2013)

A couple of weeks ago while I was visiting in Ohio, I was watching the news with my momma. One of the stories that came up was that a 22 year old guy, and a 40 something year old woman were found in an apartment.. The woman was dead, and the guy was found barely breathing. The strangest part about the whole story was that I recognized the name of the guy – I graduated with someone who had that name, and who also happened to be my age.

As the case developed, they found out that the young man had strangled the woman, who was his mother, and then tried to overdose on drugs. He was the one I graduated with. Here’s the crazy thing: I think that we all have those kids in our graduating class that we could believe a story like that about.. Kids with anger issues, mixed up in the wrong crowds, all of that. …But not this kid.

I probably exchanged 10 words with the guy over the course of middle and high school, but he was the tall, kind of quiet jock who people actually liked, because he wasn’t a butt head like a lot of them could be.  He was never known for even being frustrated, let alone angry enough to strangle someone. Maybe I’m wrong, from the outside looking in, and this blog could be entirely incorrect, but other classmates of mine have said similar things. They even interviewed the football coach, who remarked that it was hard to believe that a kid like him could be involved in something like that.

It’s put a lot of things into perspective for me. Something had to have happened to this guy between high school and the age of 22.. Things that were hard to deal with, things that he couldn’t come out of.. I don’t know. People don’t just kill other people.. People are tormented and miserable and barely making it, and I’m sure never thought one day that they would be capable of anything like that.

The whole situation has done a lot for my heart.. Seeing people as a part of humanity and not just evil or crazy and deserving of the harshest punishment. People need help, and maybe they’re not getting it, or just not getting it in time from those that are willing to help.

My perspective may have been different if I would have known the victim.. Or if it would have been my family affected in Boston, or if a horrendous crime was committed against me personally.

Our pastor’s wife spoke to the girls awhile back on a Wednesday night, and one of the first things she did was compare our lives to movies.. You get introduced to a main character and you learn all of their history and why they do the things they do and you fall in love with them.. And somewhere in the movie,  they screw things up with someone, and your heart breaks because you understand their heart and the reasons why they made the mistake.

People’s lives are like that, and God sees the motives and the reasons and he’s not disappointed.

I have been challenged to assume the best about people.. To assume that people mean well, and sometimes make really awful decisions, but they’re just trying to make it like the rest of us.. To extend grace to those who expect a kick when they’re already down. To be the Jesus that they desperately need to see.

Giver of Life (February 16, 2013)

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

 I have been invited to discover what I love.

What a privilege, a scary, crazy, marvelous privilege it is to be given the opportunity to discover what we love.

It’s been an ongoing theme here, lately.. That God is in everything and He’s everywhere, trying to get to us through the world around us. He’s not just in the epic worship service you’ve been anticipating for weeks.. not just in your quiet times or in your theological books.. not just in the church or in your godly friends..

I am convinced that you can encounter the Father just as much through a cup of coffee, or a secular movie, or a thunderstorm.

And some of that I’ve known for quite awhile, but very recently I feel like the Lord has given me permission to enjoy and to live like never before.

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” John 1:3-4

How many times have we judged the person who skipped out on the ministry service to spend time with friends? Or judged the person who seemed to come alive talking about a movie or a hobby but didn’t engage as much when the topic shifted to theology? I know I have. And they’re labeled as shallow and as lukewarm because of their lack of participation in theological discussions.

Maybe they’re so content with who the Lord is in them that they have no need to prove themselves in discussion.

Maybe depth can be determined by how much light one can see in the mundane, the looked over, the unacknowledged.

All of that to not heap condemnation on our heads, but to be encouraged that the Lord is with us everywhere we go. We don’t have to disengage all that surrounds us to try and tune ourselves to the Lord.. We can search for him in everything, find him in anything. God is always speaking, and not just through the prophetic worshipper, the prayer line, and the preacher.. but through the dragonfly circling around your car and the smile you needed all day from the fast food cashier.

I’ve been prompted to ask my heart what I love. Do I love what I’m doing now, or am I just doing it because it’s all I’ve ever known?

Maybe the thing that makes us come alive the most, we haven’t even discovered yet because we haven’t tried it. How scary is that, but even more than scary, how exciting that we get to find it?

And what freedom to know that we can come alive through pottery classes, or swing dancing, or cooking, or washing dishes (maybe that one is just me).. and it is holy and it is worship to the Lord because He has made it all.

Our Father is the giver of life.. He delights in us as we curl our hair because we want to, buy the dress because we never do, and stay a little longer to connect with a friend. He doesn’t take life away, he gives it abundantly.

Beauty in Leaving (January 25, 2013)

This week I went downtown to the courthouse to do my daily secretary duties. One of the guys that works in the Recorder’s office said “I heard they’re hiring someone else in Sherri’s office?”

I went on to explain that Thursday was my last day, and that I was moving to North Carolina.

It’s crazy, the conversation I had with him.. But not just him, the others in the office that day. They were all so friendly, so open, so willing to encourage and ask me questions about the adventures ahead.

And you know, I’m not sure if conversations with them would have ever reached the depth that they did that day, had it just been another day at the office.

There’s beauty in leaving. People take down their walls, their reservations.. They quit holding back, they show you more of “the real them,” they tell the joke, they put themselves out there, they hand out encouragement and kindness.. Because there’s nothing to lose. There’s nothing to lose AND the reality sets in that there might not be another good opportunity to say the things they’ve always wanted to say.

If you’re leaving, I can risk showing you who I am.. I don’t have to wonder what you think about me down the road because I won’t have to see you down the road..

Although my experience with courthouse employees opened my eyes to all of this.. I realize how much beauty I have seen in so many people that mean the world to me through this whole process. We put up walls and have reservations in an effort to hide our flaws and to keep from getting embarrassed.. But often times there are so many wonderful things that we hide in the process of building the barriers that keep others a safe distance away.

There are conversations that I’ve had with great friends.. Honest conversations.. That have brought depth and strength to relationships that would have never happened had the issue of leaving never come up.

I have walked through this process and been able to say “man, I have amazing leadership, but more than leaders, I have amazing friends that will love me through anything.”

In seeing the support and love and the crazy greatness in people.. It makes it so much harder to take off in a few days.. And maybe that’s another reason in writing this blog. You know, opinions of people and attitudes about things just float around – But I hope and pray that people know just how much love and gratitude I have in my heart for the relationships in my life. I hope and pray that people know that leaving isn’t running and it isn’t the easy way out, but the opposite. I am blown away by the character, the love, the heart.. the beauty.. In so many people that surround me. And I am thankful.

I don’t know about you guys.. But I want to live every day like I’m leaving (and yes Tori Elliott, you can get the credit for that phrase). To give the encouragement, to be myself, to value the time I have with people, because eventually I won’t have it anymore.. To be thankful for my bed, my carpeted bedroom, and my momma’s cooking just because its great, not because it will be gone soon.

Jesus, help me to live every day like I’m leaving.. To see and pull the beauty out in others, to say thank you always, and to appreciate what would have otherwise been mundane. You are so good, and give so many gifts.

With all of that being said, the previous paragraph was in no way a breakup letter. You’re not getting rid of me that easily, folks.. I’ll be visiting, no permanent long term goodbyes here.