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

10/23/17 Morning Musing: Mouths and Heart-Spaces

When I think back over the last 40 years…and think about the times when I hurt others, either intentionally or unintentionally, I can see how my mouth seemed to play the biggest role. Either I said something insensitive and hurt someone with carelessness…or I said something hurtful intentionally to get some emotional space in an argument…or I didn’t say something comforting and loving when I should have…or I felt awkward and did my nervous babbling thing and it prolonged something that I should have let die down. I can remember specific instances of hearing unjust statements made and not speaking against them…or nervously laughing…or…I’m ashamed to admit…contributing.  

I can also remember being cut very deeply by words…and being a people-pleaser for most of my life, the person didn’t have to be in my inner circle to hurt me. I can remember spinning on the words afterward for hours or even days or weeks…not being able to let it go…continuing to re-live the conversation and what was said over and over again…going into “analysis paralysis” where I excavated every possible corner of my heart to see if there was truth to what the person had accused me of (even if they didn’t realize that they had.)
Words matter…and we can’t get them back. Written or spoken. Intentional or not. Once they are sent out, we don’t get a do-over…and we have revealed who we are. 

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭15:18‬ ‭NIV‬

Over the last year or so, I have been broken by the hateful things I’ve seen posted on social media by people that I wouldn’t consider hateful. And there were times that I spoke up against the unjust words in a gentle way in order to not escalate the hurt. And other times, I kept quiet because it wasn’t my turn to speak. Some times I saw others speak up in ways that brought people’s hackles down. And other times I saw others speak up in ways that just threw a hand grenade into an already tense situation. And it occurs to me that what we are putting out there is what is in our heart-space…it is the mark that we are leaving on the world…and it matters. Now, some will say that is why they don’t post or comment…and to them, I say…have a voice of truth…don’t be silenced. Others will say that they encounter so much friction because they are standing up for something…and to them, I say…stand up for someone instead of something.  

I think our mouths were meant to communicate what is in our hearts…and hearts were meant to love people. So how are you doing with this? What comes out of your mouth? Is it loving? Is it truthful? Does it build people up? Does it encourage others to do what is right? Do your words accept responsibility for what you’ve done wrong or do you make excuses? Do your words encourage the hearts of the discouraged? Do your words gently speak truth into broken spaces? Do your words stand against injustice? Do your words represent truth about the one who is The Word?
 
My prayer today is that we would ask for wisdom and wait to receive it. I am praying that we would speak when we are meant to and that we would shut up when we should. I am praying that we would learn to be gentle with our words and that our words would be guided by a heart-space that is taught kindness from God. I am praying that our words would be a tool for healing instead of breaking…that we would build things instead of breaking them…and that we would, once again, love well. Finally, I am praying that we would honor God with what comes from our mouths…because then, we would also be honoring him with what comes from our hearts.

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

9/5/17 Morning Musing: As Is

Last week, I went out and got a new tattoo. The artist was hesitant to ask the importance of the tattoo because it said “freedom.” He was afraid that I would answer his question with sadness and tears about a divorce or leaving an abusive relationship. During our conversation, I told him that my husband didn’t have any tattoos and that was when he felt able to ask about the one that I was getting…if it wasn’t about getting out of a sad relationship (apparently something that he hears a lot about) then what was the meaning? I tried to condense the huge meaning for me to a couple of sentences so that I wouldn’t talk the poor kid to death…because…well…me…y’all know me…there are just SO many words!!!!  

Anyway, I told him that I have spent my entire life as a people-pleaser…that I have always tried to make myself into the person that others needed or wanted…and that finally, at 40 years old, I was learning that I am enough and that there is rest in that. He nodded his head and said “I see…so you are starting to live just for yourself.” Nope…he isn’t getting it…that is ok…I can still explain it better. “Actually, I believe very strongly that I am meant to live a life full of loving others and putting them first…in serving people and doing what I can to help them also achieve freedom from whatever holds them back…basically I believe in following God…but the freedom I feel that I have finally achieved is in understanding that I don’t have to be what someone else wants me to be in order to do those things really well…I don’t have to “try” so hard…I can just be me and offer what I have and know that it is enough without striving to be something or someone better…this tattoo is important to me because it is a reminder that I already am exactly who I am supposed to be…and God loves me and can love others through me right now…as is.”  

I could tell he was thinking about what I had said as he finished up my tattoo. I wish I could tell you that I then was able to tell him all about Jesus…but in truth, time was up and it was time to pay and leave. Since then, I have run through that interaction with the artist many times in my head and I feel certain that he was struggling with his own sense of being “enough.” So, I’m wondering…how are you doing with this? Do you get to be the real you? Do you even know who that is? Do you get caught up being who you think others want you to be or striving to be or to do more? What would freedom look like for you? Does it involve shattering a mold that you feel you keep getting pressed into? Could freedom be something that you offer yourself by allowing yourself to just be? After all, we are human beings…not human doings.

My prayer today is that we would all ask God who he says we are. As our designer and creator, he knows what characteristics and purposes are in place for us. I am praying that we would stop fighting who we are and embrace it instead. I am praying that we would reach a point of freedom and rest when we stop striving and competing so much…because the real me or you is exactly the person that is needed wherever our purpose is.

Much love friends,

Beks

Morning Musing 12/13/16 – The Ache of Being “Handled”

“Well, I feel encouraged and hope you do too.” he said while beginning to stand up…clearly indicating that the conversation was over and it was time for me to leave. Encouraged? Really? Nothing has been corrected. No changes are being put into place. No questions or sharing of ideas…just a bunch of catch phrases that make him sound like he was invested. I’m not even really sure that this two-person conversation required my presence because I certainly was not heard…we weren’t having a dialogue…I was just being…handled…like a problem to be dealt with…like a dreaded chore on a list that you have to muscle through in order to get to the more important things.

I hated that realization…that I was a problem to be handled as opposed to a member of a team…that unity meant “shut up and fall in line” instead of different people bringing different ideas and gifts to the table to accomplish something greater than the sum of our talents. To this man, unity meant uniformity. There was a lack of investment in the present and a lack of value in the people on the team. And that insight into his heart space as the team leader was the beginning of me leaving the team altogether…I just wouldn’t know it for almost a year.

Why am I talking about this weird conversation? Well, I guess it’s because it hurt so much despite the other person involved in the conversation thinking it went fabulously well. I used to think that someone being intentionally mean was the worst thing they could do…but I have since learned that being dismissed as unimportant or as a problem is worse (at least to me.) If someone is intentionally mean, I can chalk it up to their character or lashing out because of circumstances. But when I find that I am just invisible…or worse…someone that must be handled…that plants seeds of doubt into me about my value…about my contribution…about why I am here…or maybe it’s just me that struggles in this way?  

I know in my head that my value is determined by my Creator and not by anything that I can do or accomplish…but sometimes my heart doesn’t listen to my head…especially in this area. My head and heart jive in a lot of ways…but my worth…it’s been a constant struggle for me for a long, long time. A few weeks ago, though, I tried a new tact for getting my head space and heart space in agreement. Instead of coming up with all the ways that I define myself like I usually would do to bolster my confidence, I spent an entire day (from breakfast until bedtime) asking God who he says I am. Instead of yelling at the Creator the things the creation wants to be…I shut my mouth and let the Creator tell me what aspects of himself he lovingly graced me with. And it was the best day ever. Instead of telling him that I’m tough, that I easily adapt, that I’m outgoing, etcetera…I listened to him tell me how I reflect him. I found out that day that I love with a pure and BIG love because I have been loved deeply…even in my most broken places. I found out that I am a forgiver because I have been forgiven of hurts that I have caused. I found out that I was purposely created, and because of that, I can create with a purpose. These things are the essence of who I am regardless of my circumstances. This is how I am an image-bearer of the Almighty…he put some of his essence…some of who he is…into the mix when he created me…and that takes investment…effort. He didn’t just handle me.

How are you doing with this? Do you sometimes feel like you are invisible or that your value is lacking? If so, have you talked to God about it? Have you let him do some of the talking in your conversation or have you been super busy talking at him about who you say you are? Are there people in your sphere of influence who struggle with their self-worth? Could you improve how you interact with them in order to make sure that they know that you value them? Are there vulnerable areas in yourself that you could reveal to them in order to help open their hearts up to a deeper and more healing conversation? In what ways could you be approaching yourself and/or others with tenderness and truth about who God would say you/they are?

My prayer today is that we would not be afraid to ask God for the truth and that we would be quiet in his presence so that we can actually hear his whisper. I am praying that we would value each other and be present with each other instead of handling each other. And finally, I am praying that we would love well and, in doing so, would reflect God’s love to the hurting people around us.  

Much love friends, 
Beks

10/11/16 Morning Musing: More Than This

My husband played baseball his whole life. He went to college on a baseball scholarship. Over the years, I have asked him a few times about locker-room talk…it was nothing like what I heard come out of a presidential candidate’s filthy mouth this weekend.  

Caleb and I had a talk about that recording this weekend…he’s 9 years old…he doesn’t understand those words that were used…he shouldn’t have to…but he knew that me hearing it…well, it injured me. He saw me shaking and saw the tears in my eyes. I talked to him about how damaging it is to someone to be objectified but also about how damaging it is to someone’s soul when they do the objectifying…how they become a little less human…a little less flesh and bone…and become a little more stone. I told him that the reason we objectify people is the simple fact that we are made in God’s image…if we can reduce people to objects, we don’t feel as directly confronted by the affront we are committing to God…we feel less guilty about it because we no longer see them as people…we no longer see God looking back at us as we damage them…we just see the objects we have turned them into. 

What’s my point? Well, I guess it’s that I am embarrassed by Trump’s behavior. I am embarrassed that out of the billions of people available, this is what we have to offer the oval office. I’m heart-broken that a possible leader of our country might teach my son and yours “to move on a woman like a bitch” or to “grab a woman by the pussy.” I’m terrified that my daughter could one day soon be the woman that he was talking about. I’m angry! I’m straight up pissed off on behalf of the woman he objectified in that recording, on behalf of myself for having been objectified in the past, and on behalf of the millions of women and girls who don’t even know their worth because they are around this kind of thinking.  

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this online and I want to make one point very clear: This has nothing to do with what anyone else has done. I’ve heard people…Christians…say “It’s terrible but…”. No but. Don’t try to justify this for him. This is not “locker room” talk. This is dehumanizing talk that shows exactly what is in that man’s heart. (“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. Those are the things that make you ‘unclean.’” Matthew‬ ‭15:18‬ ‭NIRV‬‬.) Please, please be more loyal to your God than to your political party. I don’t care which party that is or who you vote for…just know that your vote is your voice affirming the beliefs and actions of these people.  

Today, my prayer is that we would use our voices to speak truth. I’m praying that we would spend time with God so that we would know truth and that we would refuse to perpetuate lies that destroy souls. I’m praying that we would be a voice for the voiceless and that we would refuse to be quieted. I’m praying for work to be done in our heart spaces.

Much love friends, 
Beks

Image taken from: https://womenwithworth.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/you-are-more/

8/12/16 Morning Musing: An Open Letter to My Daughter as she Begins Middle School

A few weeks ago, we threw a dinner for Michaela as a celebration about entering into a new life stage (starting middle school.) We invited women who are invested in her (family members, teachers, Sunday school teachers, family friends) so that we could come together as a group of women who have gone before her and who really know her and affirm characteristics that we see in her as well as tell her some of the “When I was a teen/middle schooler, I wish I had known…” stories. It was a very special evening and this is my letter to Michaela:

Dear Michaela, 

I may not remember much (or any) of what I was taught back then…but I remember every detail of how I felt. I remember feeling uncomfortable in my own skin…like I always needed to be “on”…performing…portraying who I was supposed to be…although I didn’t actually know who that character was. I remember learning that disagreements meant big nasty fights…and that anything you’ve ever done could be called into question during a fight. I remember being afraid that I would be late to class or get lost and then get yelled at in front of everyone. I remember really wanting to “fit in” but never feeling like I got there. I remember all the other girls getting boobs and periods and me feeling virtually un-female. I remember a letter home to my parents from a teacher who recognized the work I was putting in that he wanted to recognize. I remember lots and lots of anxiety…before tests…before interactions…before going to school…before going home. I remember trying to impress people with how grown up I was by cussing and trying to make every conversation point back to sex somehow…even though I didn’t really know what that was. I remember deeply hurting someone without meaning to and realizing that injuring someone through neglect still hurts just as much as hurting someone through intent. I remember my first real compliment from another girl…not because she wanted something in return…but because she saw something in me that was special and different. I remember that terrible super-short haircut and the humiliation when a boy in the hallway asked me if I was a boy or a girl. I remember having a bit more freedom and a bit more responsibility and desperately wanting to do things right. I remember tight-rolling my jeans and wearing multiple pairs of slouchy socks…and shoulder pads…Lord, why the shoulder pads??? I remember putting on makeup and big earrings at the bus stop because my dad didn’t allow me to wear that stuff…instead of complying, I snuck it…and it made me feel grown up and independent…but looking back, it looked really horrible. I remember riding the bus home, and doing my homework with Bandit in my lap…man, I loved that dog!

I’m bringing up all these memories because, on top of increased work load and amidst lots of changes, there were so many new and strange feelings for me in middle school. You too are going to go through a ton of new feelings…some like mine and some completely different…and whatever you are feeling, it’s ok to feel it. There are going to be times when all the feelings are like a big storm that just hits you suddenly and soaks you to the bone and there are going to be times when the sun is out and everything seems fine and normal. It takes a lot of energy to feel all the feels so you’re probably going to get grumpy and snarky at times and I guarantee there will be times that you think your mama is so out of touch that I couldn’t possibly remember what it is like to be a teenager (since I was a teenager back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.) But I get it. And I am on your side…always…no matter what. There is nothing that you can do that will make me stop loving you…nothing that will pit me against you…you are my heart, outside of my chest, walking around in the world…and I could never be against my own heart.  
You’re going to interact with other kids…and sometimes it will be pleasant and fun and light…and other times it will be like absolute torture. People are going to say really mean things…hurtful words and ideas that are shocking to you…and people are going to do really bad stuff…stuff you can’t even imagine right now…and at some point, you are going to be one of those people. Apologize sincerely and make a course correction so as to not repeat the same mistake again. Understand, that just as you don’t want to be defined by your darkest moment, nobody else wants that either…so show grace…forgive…release it. (Carrying around a bunch of drama and hurt and anger is exhausting and it’s exhausting to be around…it hard to be a good friend when your hands are full of anger and resentment…and most people want to be friends with people who are easy to be friends with.) Be kind to everyone…not because of their behavior…not because they are kind to you…but because God made them just like he made you and he deeply loves them. (This is my biggest regret from middle school through grad school…I wish I had shown more kindness to people…don’t wait until your 30s to learn this.) 

Know that the same feelings can look different in different people. For example, when someone is embarrassed, they may get quiet or they could get angry. They could laugh it off or they could cry. It is unlikely that they understand why they are responding this way…so kindness is always the answer. This holds true for kids and grown ups…so give a little grace and kindness to everyone…nobody started their day thinking “Man, I can’t wait to make this a terrible day for myself and I’m taking down everyone else with me.” In the end, we all want to feel accepted and loved and appreciated…we just all implement different techniques for getting there.

Baby girl, you are such a bright light in this world. Your sweetness and compassion are beautiful gifts from God…protect them and nurture them…most people don’t have those qualities for long…they get replaced with cynicism and self-preservation as that compassion gets taken advantage of…decide now not to let that happen…practice it every chance you get.  

You are going to be bombarded with self-doubt so I want to tell you a few things that I see in you that you should never doubt.

You are deeply loved…by us and by God. I love you so much that it aches.

You are smart. Grades don’t always reflect this because they don’t measure intelligence, they measure performance. All you can do is the best that you can do.

You are enough. You are valuable just as you are. There is nothing that needs to change and this isn’t earned. God made you precisely you. So, don’t ever allow anyone to mistreat you or make you think that you need to change to be their friend.

You are creative. Our amazing God is the Creator and you reflect him when you are creative too. Explore this life and try things. Continue to love learning, creating, exploring, and contributing!

You are beautiful! Different people think different features make someone pretty and the only consistency about that is that, over time and from person to person, what qualifies as pretty changes. But you are beautiful! (Sometimes, I sneak up to your room while you are sleeping and watch you…my breath catches in my throat because you are so stunningly beautiful.) There will be people who try to tear you down in life and the first area that they will hit you in is your appearance. Don’t listen to this…it’s the least insightful and the least invested way to insult someone. It’s lazy and malicious. People who aren’t invested in you don’t get a vote in your life and people looking to tear you down don’t get a place in your life. Don’t listen to their lies. You are beautiful.

I’m excited for you as you begin this next chapter. I love you sweet Michaela and I want you to remember that I always have your back! Now, get out there and grab life by the tail because it’s yours for the taking!

Mama