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

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

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

11/19/15 Morning Musing: Productivity Trap

I have had a really difficult time writing lately. I sit down to do it and think and try to feel inspired and it doesn’t flow like it used to and so it leaves me feeling anxious and with a warm heat in my face that I only experience with failure…shame. From the beginning of this journey with writing, I have felt strongly that it has been a way that the Holy Spirit talks to me…so being without it has left me feeling that he has withdrawn from me. Of course, my mind knows otherwise but it is still distressing to feel this way…evidence that our feelings can be liars, I guess. But truth and reality hit me this morning as I sat down, once again, and tried to force the Lord to write through me again. Did you catch it? The absurdity of me trying to force something on God? Me trying to manipulate the omniscient one? It would be laughable if not so ludicrous and blasphemous. And yet, there it is. I have tried to “American Dream” my relationship with God. Before you get offended, I am a patriot and love receiving the blessings that being an American affords me…but I think our culture feeds into some pretty unhealthy patterns and values in the name of the “American Dream.” One of those beliefs is that you are only as valuable as what you produce…that working and doing are the same thing…that we have to produce something every minute in order to justify our existence. This is how we…or at least I…get caught up in that idolatry that I love to serve so much: busy-ness. 
I am guilty of being one who has, when I have seen people sitting and “doing nothing,” judged them as non-contributors. It is this very thought, this unfair judgement of others, that had held me in-prisoned for years: I was unable to take naps at all when my children were babies because I had a thought in my head that sleeping during the day was something that people who drain the resources of others did…people who didn’t contribute to society…people who leached off of the efforts of others…so I would keep myself awake and super-productive (as productive as I could be while sleep-deprived) during their nap-times as a way to justify my existence. As if the fact that my Creator wanted me to exist wasn’t reason enough. Do you understand how completely absurd that is? It would be as ridiculous as if the benches, that I made recently, decided that they had to learn to sew in order to be valuable. I created them and determined their value…I created them for a purpose that I understand…I spent the time, resources, and energy in designing them with care, all while knowing what I planned to do with them. The benches themselves do not have the master vision that I have as their creator…they don’t have all the information…they don’t understand the joy and satisfaction that I experienced in designing them and carefully making them exactly how I wanted them to be…and when they add pre-requisites of their own to their value, instead of simply fulfilling what I would have them accomplish, they will reduce their effectiveness in what they were designed for.
When I self-impose demands on what I should produce or fulfill in order to earn my value, I am no different than my benches requiring themselves to sew. It’s absurd…and insulting to the one that created them for a unique and beautiful purpose. So instead of earning my worth, today I will quiet myself and receive…I will listen to my Creator speak into me words of purpose and mission…words of love and investment…words of meaning and value…and it will fill me until I can’t hold any more without some of it spilling out of me and that…that bit right there…will be what I contribute to the world…that will be how I am productive…that will be my contribution…and I can’t think of a better one.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you feel like you are in a frenzy to get more and more done? Are you rushing from one thing to another and left feeling inadequate across the board? How about how you see others? Do you place value only on what they can do for you or how hard they work? What if you suddenly were rendered incapable of “producing” the way that you do now? Would you still remain valuable?
My prayer today is that we would all slow down from being so productive and ask God what he values in us. That we would take a good look at the gifts and opportunities he has placed in front of us and thank him for them by investing in them…developing them…and sharing them. I’m praying that we would learn to accept that there is value in each of us and the stories that our lives are meant to tell…and that we would be brave enough to live out those stories. Much love friends,
Beks

3/17/15 Morning Musing:  “Go Ahead and Underestimate Me…It’s All Part of My Strategy!”

People often ask me why I have colored streaks in my hair (I tend to keep a streak of purple, pink, or blue on the left side of my hair.) Now, it’s just a habit but it all started a few years back when I was testing for tae kwon do and was really nervous about it.  See, I’ve always had testing/performance anxiety and I have rituals that I go through in order to comfort myself.  For example, I fix my hair and makeup because I feel that if I look better and more confident, I will be better and more confident.  I always want my uniform to look sharp, my skills to look sharp, and for my face and hair to be nice-looking (even though I’m going to become a sweaty disgusting mess by the end of it all).  And while I don’t want to stand out too much, I also feel the need to rebel at least a little bit.  Everyone is in the same uniform (which by definition means the same) and I want to follow the rules but…I also am just not the same as everyone else.  Over the years, I’ve collected a ton of tae kwon do blooper-stories where I’ve proved to be unlike anyone else:  There was the time that I screwed up my board-breaking and somehow miraculously broke it with my calf…still not sure how that happened and I used to teach physics!!!!  There was the time I couldn’t find my senior brown belt and had to stop at home depot on the way to testing for some black electrical tape to transform my brown belt into a senior brown belt (which made my fabric belt look shiny and got me called to go speak to the judges about my wonky uniform.)  And, let’s not forget the “fun flask” which I take to testing and tournaments in order to not throw up on my judges…although when I was first starting out with sparring combinations, I was paired at testing with a large 12 year old boy and when I briefly forgot one of my combinations, I muttered under my breath “Oh no…I think I’m going to be sick.”  That sweet boy replied “If you throw up on me, I’m pretty sure we both pass!”  (I was so tickled by his response that my anxiety melted away and I did great for the rest of the test!)  

Over the years, I have found that if I wear my hair in pigtails with the pink streak, I tend to be under-estimated by my opponents.  People that don’t know me look at me with a look that says “Awwww….look at the little girl…”  I could be insulted that I am so greatly under-estimated in that way or I could utilize it as part of my strategy.  I’ve gone with strategy and decided to score as many points as possible before they figure me out.  In tae kwon do, it is advantageous to be strong, fast, and flexible. I know many people who lack in some of those areas but are very strong in strategy and they tend to be the best at sparring.  

Why in the world am I droning on and on about tae kwon do and colored hair?  Glad you asked!  My point is that, in life, there are going to be times when we are greatly under-estimated…it could be in an activity like tae kwon do, at work by our bosses, by our families who only see us in a certain context, or any number of places.  How we respond to being underestimated will begin to cement not only how those people see us but how we see ourselves.  If your boss sees your strengths as weaknesses and you fold up and decide that you’re going to check out, then you are concreting that idea not only for your boss but also for yourself.  If your family of origin still sees you as the person that you were 30 years ago and you stomp your feet and have a tantrum about it, then you are validating that idea to them and yourself.  

The point is, people don’t determine your value only God does and he says that you are immeasurably valuable because he has placed that value in you.  Being underestimated is not something that should get you down, it is an opportunity…an opportunity to blow those people away…a chance to shine…a time to use your gifts and talents to be fully who you are (a person that nobody else can be) and fill a void in this world.  

So how are you doing with this?  Is there an area of your life where you are struggling because of what other people think?  Are you beginning to believe their misconceptions of you?  What does God say about that area?  Is he asking you to change what you are doing?  If not, how can you begin to shine through your “weakness?”  How can your weakness be used to glorify God?  (Example:  I’ve always been a terribly slow…painfully slow reader.  I don’t learn well by reading and my writing has always been mediocre at best (at least that is what I learned in school.)  Language arts has never been a strength for me but that is the very area that God is using to speak to me and occasionally even to others.  Isn’t that amazing?!  Who’d have ever thought?!)  

My prayer today is that we would get just a glimpse of how God sees us.  I’m praying that we would find a way to be humble and useful in his hands…that we would be vulnerable, and in doing so, would be able to use our apparent weaknesses strategically for the good of others.   I believe it makes no difference if you are weak or strong in an area…if you don’t use it (either way) to glorify God, then you have wasted an opportunity.  Much love friends,

Beks

2/4/15 Morning Musing: Protected Wounds Can’t Heal (If you never read anything else that I write, please read this.)

You guys!!! I just…I just…I can’t even…there aren’t words!!!!! There are times that you can see God working in your life and it’s cool to see…it’s amazing to get to experience life with God in that way…but I have just experienced nothing short of a series of miracles all in quick succession and all undeniably God…and I am just sitting here crying…with joy…with praise…with this feeling of fullness…and…my soul is dancing!!!!! There are details that I can not go into because I am not the only person affected but…oh my…please know that God is good and he cares about our stuff.

There is a relationship that has been damaged in my life and has been full of pain and brokenness for…well, forever. It has been a source of chaos to my spirit, pain in my marriage, dysfunction in how I have related to people (including my kids) and has caused me, as a person, to be…just be…fractured or…splintered or…even shattered. About a year and a half ago, I gave this relationship and this person over to God…I don’t say that lightly…I do not mean that I gave up and said “Ok, God…it’s your problem now.” I had been grasping at this relationship for years and years and was trying to hold it together with my strength…I was white-knuckling it and was trying to keep it in one piece…and my soul was crying and breaking and dying. (Not as in losing my salvation…that’s not what I am saying.) But this sick and twisted relationship was poisoning how I interacted with people, how I viewed men, and how I loved my children. (Not how much I loved them…but HOW I loved them.)

Almost two years ago, there occurred another rupture in this relationship. It wasn’t unlike all the other damage that had occurred…but…something in me was different and I could no longer allow it. I had been growing into a deeper understanding of God and could no longer reconcile being a child of God who Jesus died for…and the abuse and mistreatment that I was encountering in this relationship. These two things were in direct opposition and I came to a place of understanding where they just could not co-exist! As much as I loved the person that I was in the dysfunctional relationship with, I could not fix him…or us…and I could not cover the damage that was beginning to radiate outward to other people that I love. The thing was, not everyone was privy to the source of our damage so when I calmly pulled away and said “No. This isn’t healthy and I can not allow it to continue”, other relationships were affected and suffered as well. From these peoples’ perspectives, it looked as though I was pitching a fit and taking my toys and stomping my way home. I have shouldered a lot of fallout from this decision…I have endured a lot of scorn…and pressure…and even accusations…and that would normally drive me just nuts…but God gave me peace in the midst of it all…un-natural, un-explainable peace and clarity of mind that was contrary to my very nature.

And I sat in it. I sat in my discomfort. I sat in the filth of my doubts of my own motives and my constant re-evaluating of whether or not I was doing the right thing. And I continued to sit in it despite the input of others who believed I was single-handedly destroying things. I told God that I would trust him with this relationship and quit trying to fix it because God was the only one capable of doing it. See, I didn’t need an apology for all the wrongs…I needed the other person to simply acknowledge that I (and others) am a human deserving of basic respect and love…and change his behavior. (That is a big ask! That is bigger than an apology. I needed the other person to have an encounter with God that changed him from the inside.) I knew God could repair and redeem anything…but I also knew that he would not over-ride our wills…so while I knew God COULD do it…I somewhat doubted that God WOULD do it. Does that make sense?

Well, El Roi is my God and he has truly seen me during this time of “sitting in it.” And while I sat…and trusted…and doubted…and prayed…and cried…and wrestled…and grew, he was working. He was “massaging” the heart of the other person. Not forcing his way (I have a good friend, Chad who has referred to God as a gentleman who would not use force to show his love (paraphrase)) because that isn’t his nature…but massaging this heart so that it could beat for God again…softening it so that it could choose to serve God again. And while I can not share the details of how that has come about, I can tell you that it has, in fact, happened. There has been a dramatic change that can not be faked…and I am just…so full of praise to God for this!

Why am I sharing this? What does it have to do with you? Well, first of all, I need to say that there is nothing and no one that Jesus can not redeem. Seriously. Know that! Secondly, there is no pain that is meant to be wasted. Our God is not a sadist, and because he deeply loves us, he does not allow us to suffer pointlessly. Finally, there is no hurt too deep for him to touch and gently begin to heal IF we will allow him access to it. (Remember the gentleman analogy.)

So, how are you doing with this? Who is the lost cause in your life? Who have you given up hope on? (Please know that it is absolutely ok to separate yourself from people who are un-safe…it is not ok, however, to deem them as unworthy of redemption.) Where are you experiencing pain in your life and are you allowing Jesus access to that wound or are you “protecting” it while allowing it to fester. (I picture in my head an incident at the vet clinic I worked at where there was an injured dog that we wanted to help but she wouldn’t let us near her…teeth bared and hackles raised…we had to sedate her to help her because she was so busy “protecting” her injury from those of us who wanted to help her heal.) Are you allowing that pain in your life to be wasted? Are you allowing it to become your identity? Why are you with-holding it from the God who would love to heal it into the most beautiful of scars? A scar that could point others to a God who heals and restores?

My prayer today is that we would trust God with our stuff. Really trust him. I’m praying that we would love others well by prioritizing our pursuit of our savior. And I am praising God for the many miracles that have been unfolding in my life over the last few weeks! Hosanna! Much love friends,

Beks

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me…To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭61‬:‭1-4‬ NKJV)

12/2/14 Morning Musing: Here Come Those Voices in My Head Again

Last night, I was having a conversation with some people and there was a gal there who, in a moment of real vulnerability, shared with the group about how her mother was always on her back about her weight. You know how it goes…telling her how many calories are in each thing that the girl consumed and basically ensuring that the gal always had weight on her mind. One of the men in the room asked me if I had an opinion about this matter (probably because of my stellar poker-face: big round eyes and mouth hanging open in complete disbelief. Seriously, this face conceals nothing! Every thought I have may as well be written on a sandwich board for me to wear!) I couldn’t believe the words she was saying! This girl…is GORGEOUS! I mean, as far as physical appearances go, she is the freaking standard that other women compare themselves to and find that they are lacking! (which is an entirely other musing about comparisons…but I digress.) On top of that, she is intelligent and remarkably beautiful inside as well…it’s an honor for me to get to have glimpses into her character and thoughts. I was so bothered by this new information for so many reasons: her mother should be her strongest advocate, she is being taught that her value is rooted in her appearance, the mother is ensuring that the daughter inherits insecurities like her own, and then…well, we all know how traumatized women in America are over their body-images. So now, this young woman, is not only taking on life with all the normal challenges, but she is also being saddled with her mother’s baggage. Tragic.

Since I committed yesterday to sharing my advent heart-space preparations with you, you are probably wondering what the story above has to do with the price of eggs. Glad you asked! Yesterday, I talked about hitting the mute button on our schedules (instead of getting busier on our calendars to fit in more stuff, I suggested that we actually clear out our calendars some and do less so that we have the margin to be with people in the moment and experience real life.) I think my suggestion for today is to hit the mute button on ourselves a bit as well. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not trying to silence you…especially if you have been denied the right to a voice in your life…I would never want to add to your mistreatment that way. What I’m talking about are the self-focused thought patterns or self-talk (that frequently are quite negative and un-productive) which usually sound like this: I’m not ___________ enough. I’m too __________. If I could _________, I would be valuable. I need to be the most __________. Once I am __________, I will be satisfied/happy with myself. Now read over those sentences again slowly and see if any of those blanks automatically fill themselves in for you. Seriously…go back and read them.

If any of those blanks automatically filled in with a word for you, then you are plagued by negative self-talk. Whether your development of those thoughts were helped along by someone else or not is unimportant for this particular discussion (however, I would strongly suggest that you identify who that person/people are and create some healthy boundaries with them in a hurry because that is toxic and abusive and it is not ok for your spirit to receive it nor is it not ok for theirs to deliver it.) The problem with negative self-talk is multi-faceted:
First, we are image-bearers of our Creator (I know I talk about this a lot…but it’s important and I was literally in my 30s before this concept took root in my heart.) Every single human being was made in his image, was designed to reflect him in some beautiful way. THAT is where our value lives! In the fact that the God of the universe took his time to sculpt our bodies, design our minds, and breathe life and passion into us.
Secondly, when we develop negative thought patterns, it requires a lot of effort to break them (and the more ingrained they are, the harder it is.) Think of a dog that tends to run a pattern around its back yard (I grew up with a beagle that did this.) Year round, that dog runs the perimeter of the yard, and very quickly, a trail forms. The grass quits growing on the trail as the dirt gets packed down and forms a rut. It becomes a passive thing that the dog no longer has to think about. It just follows the trail without effort. It can take several seasons of not running the trail for the grass to begin to sprout up through the hard-packed earth. Similarly, breaking negative self-talk will require restraint from passively running through the patterns and several seasons of time (during which we may have to frequently re-set and re-commit to breaking the patterns…after all, the pattern is the default at this time…we will return to it when we are tired or worn-down.)

Thirdly, negative self-talk robs us of life and joy because it shrinks our world to encompass only ourselves. That is a terrible place to be! There is so much out there to see, experience, and learn…but when we are focused on ourselves, we miss it! Ministering to others is a huge source of joy for everyone involved (think about it: compare how it feels when you cook dinner for yourself
versus when someone who loves you prepares a meal for you with your tastes in mind. The two don’t even compare!) Thinking outside of ourselves, is where love lives…it’s where we are able share Jesus with others…it’s where life begins and hope forms.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you have some noisy, negative thought patterns that need dealing with? Can you identify what they are? How could you work toward breaking them? What effects have these patterns had on your self-image, relationships with others, and ability to think outside of yourself? If your patterns are well-ingrained, do you have a safe person who could walk through this with you? How has this affected your relationship with Jesus? Here is a particularly challenging question: if we are consumed with ourselves, even in a negative way, it is a form of worship because it dominates our thoughts, emotions, time, and resources…are you giving as much of those things to God who actually deserves your worship?

My prayer today is that we will hit the mute button on the lying voices in our heads that rob us of quiet, peace, love, and joy. I am praying that we will learn to quiet the noise so that we are free to experience life instead of running the same trail over and over again on autopilot. I am praying that the Holy Spirit would help us to hear life-giving truth over the constant chatter of lies so that our world can be the dynamic and vast creation it was meant to be. Much love friends,

Beks

P.S. To the girl whose story I used above: You are beautiful. That goes without saying. But you are so much more than that! So much more! 😘

5/1/14 Morning Musing: Do I Matter?

I was humiliated…I couldn’t believe this happened. I showed up to a party (that I had helped plan by the way) and realized that I was one of the maybe…three people who didn’t know that there had been a change to the attire. I was wearing jeans and a sweater while almost every other woman there was in a formal…I’m talking prom dresses and cocktail dresses while I wore jeans and boots. Now, don’t get me wrong…I am most comfortable in informal clothing…it is something left over from childhood…I prefer to wear something that I can fight in if necessary (not that a soccer mom in Flower Mound attends many functions that require fighting…but still…it’s part of me.) It stung…it really hurt to realize that nearly every person there had taken the time to talk about this and plan this and nobody even considered me when I had helped plan the event! (Groups of them had gotten together during the week and even discussed it.) This was the moment that I realized that, although I did a lot of work for this group, I wasn’t really a part of it. There were many other instances that painfully drove that point home to me…but I won’t get into that now. Let’s just say, I had thought I belonged, and found out in very painful ways that I was simply serving a function…I was not actually included in this group…these were not my people…my community.

Before this experience (and the many more to follow with this group) I would have said that someone intentionally hurting me would be worse than just not being thought of at all. Now, I believe differently. See, if someone is intentionally mean, you can consider that part of their bad character…he or she is not a safe person for you and you can reasonably take their opinions and behavior with a grain of salt. But when a person or people treat you as if the thought of you never entered their heads…well, that is the stuff that nightmares are made of for me. It means that your existence is of no consequence to them. It means that all the things that you have painstakingly done for them never mattered. All of the times that you had them into your home, meant nothing. All the effort…taken for granted. That, to me, is more painful because it rocks your sense of self-worth. For me, this led to my questioning all of my relationships: Does it matter that I am Bekah or do these people simply need me to fill a role? Am I simply a function for them?

This series of events led to a potentially devastating time. But…well…you know I’m going to say it…Jesus was there for me. I remember praying one morning before heading off to a play date at the church: “Lord…please…see me.” I wasn’t in the church for 10 minutes before one of the pastors there, who is now my boss coincidentally, asked me to be included on a committee made up primarily of elders and pastors to help determine some of the direction of our church. I know that sounds like fulfilling a function to many of you…but to me…well, it meant that my opinions mattered. It meant that my vision mattered. It meant that I was seen and valued. It was as if heaven was giving me a hug and Jesus was saying “I see you Bekah. Be where I have you. Be still.”

I don’t know if any of you struggle with these feelings of not fitting in…not mattering…not feeling known…but if you do, I want you to know that you matter. You matter to God and you do matter to the world. Sometimes, the world is extremely ungrateful and callous…but…you matter! Sometimes, the people around you will take you for granted and maybe they will never acknowledge your service to them…but…our God sees you…he loves you…he thinks you are more valuable than any treasure on Earth…and you are.

Praying that you all feel known and valued today.