8/17/18 Morning Musing – Working Through the Wounds

I remember feeling like I had been slapped across the face when she cut me off in front of a group of people and sternly said “Be quiet! Quit stirring up trouble. It doesn’t help them to see Jesus!” Whoa…wait a minute…I was actually offering insight and a solution that would be easy for everyone, not stirring up trouble at all. And then I felt it…unseen…unknown…such a familiar feeling for me…it forms a pit in my stomach and I start to feel nauseous…and it always hits me out of left field. This is the area where I struggle the most in life…it’s probably why I learned early to clown around and be funny…because people are attracted to feeling good and happy…and I performed in order to attract the people so I could feel known. This is where my soul struggles and feels attacked.

With my close friends, I’ve always asked that they just give me the benefit of the doubt. Know me and my character well enough to stop and think about things if something that I said seems off or offensive…and then…ask me about it. I know! Shocking idea isn’t it? It really surprises me how many people are willing to throw a relationship away by simply taking something out of context and contorting it until it resembles an offense. Are they looking to be offended? If so, what a miserable way to live. It must drive people away in droves. Picking something apart until it no longer resembles the intended message is not a virtue…and it hurts most coming from a close friend because it leaves me questioning if they ever even really knew me.

Why am I writing about this? Glad you asked! I’ve been thinking for a few years now that God has a funny way of using our weaknesses to speak to people. It’s in the struggles and wounds where a story happens. (If everything is just dandy all the time, there’s no story!) And interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that my wounds and weaknesses are what draw me to certain characteristics or names of God. My favorite name of God is “God who sees me.” (El Roi) Is it coincidental that feeling unseen or unknown is my biggest pitfall? Probably not. I think it just reinforces the verse about his strength being made perfect in weakness. But the thing about that is that I have to be willing to see myself clearly and identify where I am weak. I don’t know about you…but for me…I don’t enjoy dwelling on that. (“Hmmmm…let me count all the ways that I suck!” does not sound like a fun party game.) I much prefer the happy feel-good stuff, or even numbness, over mulling over the hurts and finding the root issue…and today’s way of living certainly is busy enough to keep me numb for a long time if I am not careful.

The thing is though, seeing people is my one of my biggest strengths. I mean really seeing them…seeing into them. Seeing their value, their fears, their insecurities, ways that they feel loved…and frequently I am able to speak truth into some of what they are telling themselves. But seriously, why is that the thing I’m good at? After all, I frequently feel unseen…unknown. My thinking is that our wounds leave scars which catch our eyes a lot and so it is front of mind. It’s tender and easily triggered to hurt. We don’t want others to feel what we have felt before and we don’t want to keep re-living it so we begin to minister to others in this area…we are drawn to it.

So, how are you doing with this? Is there an area where you feel particularly weak? Do you struggle with one type of hurt over others? Does it seem repetitive and exhausting? Or are you even able to slow down enough to think about this? What is it about God that you love the most? What name of God speaks to you above others? Are the two things connected in some way? What type of ministry are you drawn to? Is it connected to your strengths or weaknesses? Are you showing others your strength or are you showing them God’s strength?

My prayer today is that we would slow down and ask God about our wounds. I’m praying that we would be still long enough to really hear him speak about those wounds and that we would look for his characteristics that are counter to whatever has harmed us. I’m praying that we would find ways to minister through our hurts so that others can be spared and so that we can heal…so that we can worship our God more fully…so that we don’t waste the pain.

Much love friends,

Beks

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1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

10/4/17 Morning Musing: Become the Expert You Pretend to Be

“I think it’s all in your head. If you just quit thinking about it, you’ll realize that you are fine.” My body shook with rage as I listened to these words and felt this person slip away from my inner circle. My face was hot and my breathing got faster and I was very aware of my heart beating fast and hard…so hard that I was sure that it must be moving my shirt on my chest. The only thought I could pull together was “You are not a safe person for me anymore. You simply are not safe.” 

This interaction happened in the year following the poisoning when I was going through hell. At the time, I was trying to regain my health through very extreme measures…I was dealing with bitterness and anger toward the man who had stolen my life from me…I was mourning the loss of the life that I had before…I was spiraling in a spiritual crisis…I was facing the isolation that accompanied my decimated health because people simply didn’t know what to do with me and consequently quietly pulled away…I was feeling guilt and shame for not being able to contribute to the family in any way…and I was already battling thoughts of suicide. And then I had this person tell me that all of my health issues were make-believe. What he really wanted was for me to get over it so that he didn’t have to feel any awkwardness. But if I could have just made it disappear with positive thoughts, don’t you think I would have? If I could have taken any shortcut out of this…anything that would make it end…I absolutely, without a doubt would have taken it…but there was no shortcut…there was only through.

Why am I writing about this? Good question. I think that we have an epidemic today. I think that we are so busy being busy that we don’t take care with our words…we are careless and we injure people. I think that we are so stuck looking at things from only our own point of view (and surrounding ourselves only with people who will validate our own point of view) that we think we are qualified to pass judgement on things that we honestly don’t know anything about. I know that my story is extreme…I haven’t ever come across anyone else who has experienced it…but I’m using my story to make the point…nobody could even get a glimpse of what I was experiencing unless they took the time to hear me…and in my brokenness, I found that people didn’t want to hear me…what they wanted was for my experience to be simple and neat and tied with a bow so that they could consume the cliff notes version, file it under some already existing category in their minds, and move on. And I frustrated people because their pre-made categories didn’t work with my story.  

The thing is, I don’t think my experience is unique (the poisoning…yes, that is unique…but being helpless to have people understand before passing judgement…well, I think that happens to people every single day.) I think that this happens when a new mother is dealing with depression and people tell her that she has no reason to be blue. I think this happens when someone makes a political statement and we dismiss them as a crazy/stupid/illogical/heartless person from across the political aisle from us. I think this happens when a person of color simply makes a truthful statement that black lives matter and people scream back that all lives matter. I think this happens when a person struggles with mental illness and people ignore it because they look ok on the outside.
I guess the point that I am trying to make is this: In a courtroom, not just anybody can be brought in to speak about certain matters…people who are qualified to speak on a subject…experts…are brought in (and their credentials are heavily scrutinized)…so why do we think we are qualified to pass judgement about things that we don’t know about? Why do we try to negate the experiences of others when learning from people that are different from us can only broaden our knowledge and deepen our compassion?

This one was hard for me to write. Not only did I struggle with reliving that memory and the feelings that go along with it…but I also struggled with facing my own guilt in this area. How about you? How are you doing with this? Do you spend time with people who are different from you? When you hear a perspective that is different than yours, do you take it in and crunch on it a while or do you begin to mentally rip apart their experience so that you can negate it? What do you have knee-jerk reactions about? Do you actively seek out people who stand counter to you on those subjects so that you can have a deeper understanding or do you surround yourself with people who will agree with your current stance (making it unnecessary to allow your self to become uncomfortable and brave enough to lean in to the discomfort?) Are you still learning something new every day or have you embraced becoming stagnant?
My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who are confident enough to allow others to be authentic also…that we would love people enough to listen and really hear them…that we would step away from our battle stances and step closer to someone who is different from us. Friends, I am praying that we would each draw closer to God and allow him to move us closer to each other. I am praying once again that we would love well.

Much love friends,

Beks

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23

9/7/17 Morning Musing: How I Practically Found My True Identity

Since my last musing, I have had people reach out to me and ask some questions. The most common one was: “Ok, I get that I need to find out who I am…learn about my individual identity…but what does that actually look like practically? It’s easy to do it in theory…but how does one go about actually discovering their God-given identity?” So, I’m no expert (when has that ever stopped me from talking?) but I will happily share how this process went for me so maybe it will be easier for you.

I have been on a journey of learning who I really am for over 6 years now and I would say that the most meaningful thing I did was put aside an entire day last year for just spending time with God asking him who HE says I am instead of telling him who I say I am. No distractions. No plans. No screens. An entire day of just listening. And I’ll be honest with you…it was hard and frustrating for at least 2/3 of that day. I don’t know about you, but being completely still and quiet so that I can hear is really hard for me. I have trouble doing this for 15 minutes let alone an entire day. I had to be comfortable enough to not be distracted by my discomfort. I had to be uncomfortable enough to keep from falling asleep. There were a lot of little things I had to eliminate through the course of my day to keep distractions at bay.

I recognize myself to be both an interpersonal learner and a kinesthetic learner meaning I learn best with my hands on something or my body moving and through dialog with other people…but I was trying to have a dialog with someone who doesn’t audibly answer me back and if I’m too active, it becomes a workout as opposed to a conversation. So, what I came up with was that I would art journal with God. I didn’t know what I was creating along the way…I just knew that I would create something with him…and that my hands would be busy so that my mind could be thinking. (For those with ADD/ADHD, like myself, this is a very helpful tool that is not always true for the general population.) So, I just started gathering stuff…anything really…that I could use in the project and I started laying it out on the paper and a characteristic of mine…not necessarily my identity…but a strong characteristic none the less…began to emerge. I had managed to pull two different fabrics together that both apply to me on a daily basis: denim and lace. I love jeans! They are strong and durable and go with everything…when I want to be tough, I wear jeans. I am not a fancy gal and I don’t do formalities (it makes me feel inauthentic)…I like comfort and depth and jeans seem approachable to me. On the flip side, lace is delicate and light and gentle and beautiful…it’s not as durable as denim…it has vulnerability to it and, at times, I like that too. I loved the contrast of the two fabrics when I saw them together and it made me think of how I hate being pigeon-holed. I am a multi-faceted person and I hate being forced into a mold…and when I recognize it happening, I respond rather violently to it…I feel the need to not just break the mold but shatter it…tell me I can’t do something and I will absolutely spend every ounce of energy I have proving you wrong. (I had a male teacher tell me once that girls were not as good at math and science as boys were. When I had completed both my BS in biomedical science and MS in integrative physiology, I went back and told him how wrong he was…a full 10 years later I was still trying to ravage a mold that I didn’t want to be pressed in to!) All that to say that I had my background for my individuality…among all of my likes and dislikes, I had found a thread connecting many of them…freedom! I needed the freedom to be and do what I wanted…not what others wanted for/of me.

And that is where the progress came to a screeching halt (or so it seemed) for several hours. I slowly started arranging and attaching the fabric background to my art journal pages and talking (sometimes out loud) with God. For most of the day, I would throw out some of the characteristics that I saw in myself (fierce, independent, deep, intelligent, etc) and got angrier and angrier at him as each one would not sit quite right. “No…that isn’t your identity” I would hear in my head over and over…and it pissed me off…I even resorted to arguing with him because I was these things. “But that isn’t WHO you are” I would hear. Aaarrrgghhhh! 

By early evening, I finally heard the first word: Created. “Are you serious God? Really? Everyone is created! That freaking rock on the ground is created. That is so boring! Even cockroaches are created! Ugh! This sucks!” As I wrestled with this word, an adverb was added: purposefully. Ok, so purposefully created…what do I do with that? I started thinking about how I like to create things (I was literally doing it right then!) and realized that I was purposefully created so that I could create with a purpose. Hmmm…ok, so that’s better than the cockroach thing. That is something to ponder for a while. What else have you got for me God? Loved. Ugh again! Everyone is loved by God, aren’t they? But…I have really experienced God’s love in some of my most broken places…deep inside where I have protected my damage from others and even from myself. And then I realized, maybe for the first time, that I love my people with a huge love…it’s not like other people I know…there is definitely something distinctive about it. Ok, more to ponder. Then, came the third and final word that day: Forgiven. That one immediately put me in tears as I relived how I have injured others during my life and I grieved deeply having hurt them. I started to think of some of the injuries I had received from others as well and realized that I am a forgiver. I am forgiven and it allows me to be a forgiver.

That was it that day. I spent about 15 hours and literally got 3 words from God: Created, Loved, and Forgiven. Those were not the words I had wanted…I wanted something with badass as a description…but apparently that isn’t WHO I am (It’s just what I am! Haha!!! Couldn’t resist.) I saw a pattern emerge: God gives from who he is…so who I really am will reflect him. This helped me see a couple of more words later as I reflected on my favorite name of God: El Roi (God who sees me.) I love that name because I often struggle with feeling invisible…and out of that struggle, I have come to a place where I see people…really see them where they are…and can love them and value them right there. That is where I got two more words: Known and Wanted. 

Since then, I have become more comfortable with my true identity. I have been able to see how I had previously come to different conclusions about my identity…I discovered that a lot of my characteristics were really a response to situations that I have experienced as opposed to characteristics given to me by God. (For example, I was tough because I had been injured in the past and never wanted to feel like a victim again…so I became a 2nd degree black belt. I wanted intelligent as my identity because I felt dumb for most of my life because I learn differently than is valued by our educational system. I wanted to be defined as independent because I know I can count on myself…it’s others that have let me down in the past.) I may or may not be those things…but they aren’t my identity…they aren’t WHO I am…because if they were, I would actually be defined by the hurts that caused me to respond in those ways. No, I am not defined by my damage…I am defined by the meaningful ways that God has poured into me…and that is why I am able to pour out those characteristics…and I feel whole and amazing when I get to do them.

That is how I arrived in this new place of freedom…and if you have read this far, then you not only have a lot of endurance in this long musing, but you may also want to ask yourself some questions: Do you know who God says you are? Are you able to differentiate between who he says you are and who you tell yourself you are? What might you do in order to position yourself to hear from God instead of all the noise around you? What characteristics do you have that are a response to pain in your life? Are you letting those characteristics (and pain) define you? What is the thing you give to the world and despite continuing to pour out, you end up filled up?  

My prayer today is that we would be able to still ourselves enough to hear from God. I’m praying that we would achieve our purpose in life by fully coming to terms with our true identity. I’m praying that we would become positioned so that we can continuously receive from God and consequently keep pouring out from him as well.

Much love friends,
Beks

11/2/15 – Morning Musing: Celebrate!

I have an incredible girlfriend whose adult son was in an auto accident about 3 weeks ago. He has survived (although with traumatic brain injuries) and is having to slowly relearn the most basic of functions (like how to breathe) on his own again. Every time the son makes some progress, no matter how minor it might seem, my friend…his mother…rejoices at his progress. She praises God for his goodness with each small victory…because it is that…a victory. 

While my girlfriend and her family are celebrating every nuance of her son’s life, I am struck by how much of my own life I am wasting…missing…allowing to slip past me in a blur. I’ve always been a busy social butterfly…flittering here and there…finding social interactions everywhere I turn but also able to “get stuff done.” Recently though, I started discovering more about my personality and found that I am a creative (Seriously, who’d have thunk it? Not this girl!) and I have been trying to test that side of me to see how it holds up: building things, tweaking or improving on already existing items, and creating art in order to discover what God would reveal to me within me. I have found that this is where real passion exists in me…I feel alive when I am doing it!  
The problem? Well, I didn’t make any changes to my life other than adding in these new projects to an already full-to-bursting schedule. I kept adding on…more…and more…and there have been consequences…real tangible consequences: I have not yet eaten lunch with my children at their school this school year, we have gotten out of the habit of reading together as a family in the evenings, we haven’t had a family game night in months, writing has been something that I think fondly about but never get to do, and my mind doesn’t know how to settle down at bed time anymore. These may seem minor to you but they are big for me because they are things that I would consider to be among my priorities…but by looking at how I spend my time and energy, no one would guess that those are my priorities.  
So, recently, I gave a talk in our marriage class about fun and connectedness and one of the big points that I made was about our out-of-control schedules…how every time we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else because time is a finite resource. I think we get stuck in a habit of saying yes to good things and we feel ok about it because we look at it and think “I’m doing what I should because this is a good thing.” Before we know it, our lives are full of good things and we end up missing the best things: sneaking into the kids rooms after they fall asleep and watching their chests rise and fall with their breath, snuggling on the couch in the quiet house with the pups while they each try to burrow in closer to me than the other one, taking the time to let my husband know that I am still excited to study him and learn who he is and what his heartbeat is about…these are the moments that make a life…accomplishing things is not a life…it’s a to-do list. (Yes, Bible studies are great but do you need to participate in 10 of them? Where is the cutoff?) The task before us isn’t to fit as much as we possibly can into our lives…the most productive person does not actually win…the American Dream of having and doing it all…is falling short (in my esteem.) I think my goal is to do less…to accomplish little…but to live more…and to learn to see and celebrate the little things that make it a life…the things that I take for granted every day…the things that my sweet friend is praising God for when her son is able to experience them for another day in that hospital room. It’s time to celebrate the every-day miracles: life’s breath, deep renewing sleep, fits of belly laughter that leave me out of breath and with a cramp, the warmth of my children’s bodies as they sit next to me on the couch, holding my husband’s gaze as we communicate across the room without moving or saying anything, and truth spoken to my heart by El Roi (God who sees me.)
How are you doing with this? Is your life flying by? Are you experiencing your life or missing it? What is your purpose? Does how you spend your time reflect your purpose? Do the people that you love know that they are a part of your purpose? Are they a part of your life or a part of your to-do list? We can’t change the past but we can absolutely make changes today…what changes do you need to implement in order to live in a way that shows what your heart beats for?
My prayer this morning is that we would slow down and look with honesty at our time and how we spend it. I am praying that we would feel convicted about areas of busy-ness that need to change as well as areas of neglect that need our attention. I am praying that we would not take for granted what my friend’s son is fighting to accomplish…that we would not waste the good gifts that our loving God has granted us…and that we would not trade in God’s best for something that is merely good. Much love friends,
Beks
 

12/12/14 Morning Musing: Experiencing Christmas Instead of Enduring It

Last year, Team Massey tried a new thing for Christmas and it is already my new favorite tradition where gift-giving is concerned. Instead of buying a bunch of “stuff,” we decided to primarily use our budget on experiences. Instead of getting a bunch of toys for the kids that they would be ready to get rid of in a month, we bought Six Flags passes, Hurricane Harbor passes, and an evening at Medieval Times. When we went to these places, we reminded everyone that we were having this fun because it was a Christmas gift that we were still enjoying. The entire family absolutely loved it! And this year, we are planning to do the same thing (but with different experiences.) The kids do not know it yet, but this year, we are planning to get passes for Trapeze class, movie passes, and schedule some camping trips. We have enrolled Michaela in an Art Class because that is where she is passionate and we have purchased models and sporting equipment for Caleb because that is where he is passionate.

Focusing on a Christmas Experience instead of “stuff” has benefitted our family in so many ways this past year:

First of all, I has helped us to spend more time having fun together…it won’t be long before Michaela and Caleb grow tired of hanging out with Mom and Dad. We want to have developed a real relationship with each of them by that time…establish that we understand them, like them, and respect them…show that we are safe people for them…make sure that when they go out that door, that they know…really know…that they are loved, seen, and accepted here. Spending time having fun together has helped our family to feel safe sharing things with each other, have better attitudes when we are together, and come to understand each other’s wiring better.

Secondly, Christmas Experiences has given us is the opportunities to have meaningful conversations that come up naturally instead of having some awkward talk about what is on our minds. For example, I was an adult before I really understood how valued I am by God. (I knew that Jesus died for me…but I felt dirty and unworthy because of that…not valued.) When our family went to Medieval Times, Stan and I talked to the kiddos about their position with God…and we were able to do that in terms of what we were seeing around us…the knights were to serve the king and bring him honor and glory, and in return, the king took care of his kingdom as well as the knights…the princess was beautiful and precious to the king and he would do anything to protect her heart and bring honor and respect to her…Is it any different with God? The knights and princess, in and of themselves, were just people…they weren’t extraordinary…until they were in proximity with the king…my kids left that arena understanding that about their king…God!

Finally, having experiences together as a family has helped us to shift our focus from self to others. When we hole up by ourselves, it is easy to only consider our own thoughts and needs because our voices are the only ones we are hearing. But when we spend time interacting with each other, we are forced into a less selfish place because other people have opinions and thoughts that differ from ours…I think it is good and healthy to be forced out of our ego-centric worlds and I don’t think it happens enough because we tend to be a society that lives among each other instead of with each other (think tv, video games, computers, iphones, ipads, etc.) and because we have lost the ability to share ideas without making a character attack. We have forgotten the skill of human interaction…and that is truly sad because our Creator made ONE thing in his image…only one…and we are trading that in for a device.

So how are you doing with this? Are you over-whelmed by the materialism that wants to steal your relationships? Are you taking on lots of debt because your family needs “things” to be happy? What messages do you think your children hear when you fill all of their time with “stuff” and deprive them of time with you? What messages do you want your children to hear? Christmas is in 13 days…it’s not too late to return some stuff and invest in your family instead…

My prayer today is that we would live lives of experiences, and through those experiences, we would be in awe and wonder of our loving God. I am praying that we would learn to live in relationship with the people in our lives…that we would know them and be known by them. Much love friends,

Beks

8/29/14 Morning Musing: When Bad Things Happen To Good People

For about the last three weeks, Michaela has been entering into this new time of being emotionally-charged and easily-frustrated. I know that this is only the beginning of what is likely to be a long road…I know because I went through it myself…I struggled for many years through this stage (and I have had periods of re-entering this stage…even recently, as an adult.) I remember the torture (specifically in middle school) and how everything just seemed so big…so amplified! If I was sad, I was devastated. If I was happy, it was deliriously so. If I was angry, then stand aside…because I’m about to destroy your world. I know I wasn’t any fun to be around…but however un-fun I was to be around, it was even more un-fun to be me. I could see all of this…I could recognize it all happening…but I couldn’t control it. I would see it all come unraveled in front of me as though I were mute and paralyzed and incapable of grabbing the ends of the unraveling rope that I desperately needed to hang on to. And while others were walking away with the rope, I couldn’t call out to them…I didn’t have words…and I didn’t understand why my voice was choked out of me. I felt helpless to get myself out of this pit but I was extremely aware of and able to identify those who were “like me”…those who were experiencing it too…and I gravitated toward them because I felt some kinship…some sort of community…because we all were choked out in our deafening silence and paralysis but we could see it…and we could see each other…and there was community in a way because we had the same struggle.

So, why did my talk about Michaela immediately turn into a talk about myself? Well, it’s not because I am just completely self-focused (although, sometimes I am.) It is because I am empathetic to where she is right now. I know her hurt and confusion. I understand her fears and her doubts. I recognize her need to be accepted and affirmed because I have lived it…for years on end I have lived it. Having endured this pain myself, I am called to walk through it with her whether hers goes on for years or merely weeks. See, people ask all the time “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” I think that sometimes, it is because when other people come around us and love us by bearing under our burdens with us, we are able to see God’s love more clearly. I think that in our brokenness, we get a glimpse of how things were supposed to be…and we might not see that if everything was ok. (A way to wrap your brain around it is this: when we were going through the poisoning, I hurt immensely every single day. It was hell for me. But since then, my health has improved a lot and my life has become much more comfortable. Occasionally, however, I have a bad and painful day…and while I don’t enjoy those days, I can not help but see the contrast and recognize how far God has brought me through this. The occasional bad day helps me to recognize and appreciate the good days and the personal and intentional work God has done in me.)

So, why am I leading you around on all of these tangents? Glad you asked. I think that we are called to minister from our experiences. I think that sometimes bad things happen to good people so that they can become even better people…so that they can become more like the God that they worship. I think when we have survived something, we are called to help others to be survivors…to help them reach toward God…to warn them not to allow themselves to be taken over by the darkness of their circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should pretend to be happy and perfect and as though we aren’t in pain…but we shouldn’t waste the pain because it multiplies. It moves around and infects others and we can help them through it.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you have experience in your past that could speak to someone else’s pain? Have you learned lessons the hard way? Do you know people who are deeply hurting right now? I think you could be an instrument of love in God’s hands for those people. Maybe they need to hear that they aren’t alone or that when bad things happening to them, it does not indicate God’s withdrawal from them. Maybe they need to know that you love them even though they are battered and broken. What person in your life could be silently screaming for help and is not being heard? Do you have experience that allows you to feel what they are feeling? Could you be their community? Could you love them well because in your past, a bad thing happened to a good person?

I am praying today that we will look outside of ourselves and see opportunities to help others in areas where we have struggled. I am praying that we will be instruments of love and healing today. Much love friends,

Beks

P.S. I think this is why I became a middle-school teacher back when I was teaching…it is such an awkward and unsettling time and I have such a heart for people who are experiencing all of that self-doubt, discovery of self and others, and all that while trying to figure out where they fit in the world.