Tag Archives: God’s love

Being real with God.

“Lord, all I’ve got today is tears.” He said, “Then give me your tears.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

I try very hard in my life to be real. To be transparent. And I am always drawn to others who are.

Some people might look at me and say, Oh, that Joell, she is so funny or she is a positive person…and I really am those things, most of the time. That is real, but I tend to keep the not-so-happy stuff to a minimum. To put on my happy face and press on. Nobody loves a Debbie Downer.

There are times when I feel so downcast, and I don’t want to dump that on people. I don’t want to be a whiner. And truly I don’t want to seem too needy. And so, I will hold back. There are times when it is just too painful to be completely bare, and so I save that for the quiet times when I am alone with God and pour that out to Him. He is always my soft place to fall, the lap to crawl up into, a safe place where I know He is always willing to hear me cry. He doesn’t mind if I get whiney from time to time.

Truly, I have struggled with depression in my life. I have had my ups and downs just like everyone, and though I always try to find the silver linings and figure out what God is teaching me, I have still found myself really down in the dumps at times, and sometimes for no apparent reason.

I think of David, who feared for his life and was driven to live in a cave—for years—as a fugitive, and who must have experienced the very darkest despair. I read his songs to God in the book of Psalms—the way he cried out to Him and begged God to have mercy—and I am comforted.

I have often heard it said that God’s Word is His love letter to us, and it most certainly is. It is also his letter of “Hey, I know what you are going through. I’ve been there. Read this. Hear my voice. Stick with me, because I am sticking with you. You are going to get through this.” It is His book of comfort and encouragement. It is also a demonstration of the lives of men and women who walked with God through unimaginable circumstances: Job’s suffering, Joseph being sold into slavery and his subsequent imprisonment, David’s depression and loneliness. God never left them.

He will not delay His love

Because David was in tune to God’s great love for him, David was, as Bob Sorge says in The Fire of Delayed Answers, “secure enough in himself to give honest expression to his real feelings and emotions.” Sorge speaks of his own struggle with depression, and in his emptiness, felt he had nothing but his tears to give back to God. Sorge says, “He doesn’t ask us to give Him something that we don’t have. When you feel empty give Him whatever you have within you, little as it may seem.”

Even if it is your tears. Or your anger. Or your frustration. Or your fear.

Give it to Him. He wants it all.

And what he wants more than anything is your heart and my heart. That is what He is after. He wants it whether we are feeling on top of the world or whether we are living in the cave, like David. God is always real with us. He wants us to know that we can be real with Him.

Even when we don’t understand what is happening or where we are headed or when the fire will be over, He does, and though He may delay his answers, He will never delay His love.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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What now?

Isaiah5410

Like so many of you, I am still reeling from the events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. There are really no words to adequately describe the horror and the sadness and there is no way I can begin to understand the depth of the mourning of those who have been directly affected.

I am praying for them. I am praying for our nation.

And I am trusting in the unfailing love of a God who has compassion for his people and who promises to never leave us nor forsake us, whose love will not be shaken, even when we are shaken to the core. Even when horrible things happen that are impossible to explain.

I believe that God’s heart is broken too. And in the midst of the terrible actions that humanity sometimes takes because of our free will to choose, He holds those of us who are hurting so deeply close to His heart and weeps and mourns with us.

I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know that we live in a fallen world where, daily, man chooses to ignore the laws of this nation. What makes us think that more laws are going to force man to make different choices? The only thing that can cause man to make difference choices is a change in his heart. Angry political rhetoric and blaming guns or blaming autism or blaming mental illness or blaming video games or blaming parenting or whatever else you want to blame, does nothing to change the hearts of men.

Only God can do that.

More important than finding answers, though, I think we need to remember that there are people out there who have suffered terrible loss. We need to focus on loving on and praying for those who are hurting—to try to encourage them and point them toward hope.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” ~Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

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Things that make you go, “Hmmm”.

 

 

On the heels of my mountain retreat last weekend, here’s something to think about:  Where do our perceptions of beauty come from?

Watch this:

Made you say “hmm” didn’t it.  Yep, I thought so. 

The (very hilarious) woman, Margot Starbuck Hausmann, who spoke at our retreat last weekend, showed this clip as a segue into one of her talks.  As the clip ended, I heard a collective gasp make its way through the room.  I sat there, mouth hanging open, ready to catch some flies.  I was completely blown away.  I leaned over to my sweet friend Kathy and said, “Well, if they can do all that, then what in the world do they need live models for?  They can apparently just computer generate them!”  Seriously.  It is shocking that THIS is what we see, every day, as the “standard of beauty” for women.  This air-brushed, computer generated, new and improved, “perfected” end result.  When, all the while, lying there underneath, is a “real” woman, zits and all.  Just like you and me. Only she has been molded and shaped into something that no longer resembles her true self.  Does she even recognize her true self?   

Dove is right:  It’s no wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

And this is what our daughters are learning:  Who they are is simply not good enough in the eyes of the world.  They must cover it up.  They are unacceptable.  They are unlovable.  They are not okay as they are.

This is the message to us, as women, as well.  Don’t think that just because you are beyond a so-called “impressionable age” that you are unaffected.  Oh, far from it.  We, as women, are bombarded with these images all day long, everywhere we look.  We are bombarded by TV, radio, magazines and the voices of others around us.  As square pegs, we are told that we must fit into a round hole.

We live in a world where sex sells and thin is beautiful.  These things are important, we are told. 

Clear skin.  Name brand clothes.  Hollywood hair.  22″ waists.  Sex = Love.  Size 0.  Fresh breath.  White teeth.  Plenty of money.  DD boobs.  The “right” job.  The “right” car.  The “right” nose.  The “Better Homes and Gardens” perfectly clean home.  The “right” schools.  Et cetera, ad nauseam. 

So what is the result of that in the lives of many young women?  Boob jobs.  Depression.  Anorexia.  Bulimia.  Self-hatred.  Self-mutilation.  At the very least, poor self-esteem and not being who we were meant to be.  Even as we are striving and striving, we lie to ourselves, telling ourselves we can never measure up.  And we start to believe the lie.  I start to believe the lie.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all that stuff.  And I am as guilty as the next person.  Probably guiltier than some.  

Here’s where I have to change my perceptions.  I need look at myself the way God sees me. 

Yes, I’m going there. 

God.  The Creator.  Loves me because He created me.  Loves all of us with our big noses, wide hips, post-baby pouches, PMS, crazy hair, bad skin, messy houses, beat up cars, cottage cheese thighs and Mom jeans.  And He looks at us and calls us beloved.  He calls us His children. He delights in us.  We are loved.  Not because the world gives us its stamp of approval, but because the One who created us says we are worth loving.  We can’t clean ourselves up and make Him love us more than He already does.  And that’s enough for me.

So here’s what I’ve decided:

I am a curvy girl and I like it.  I love that I’m a goofball.  I am imperfect, but I do the best I can.  I am a loving wife and mother.  It’s what I do.  I’d rather hang with my kids than swish the toilet.  I don’t want to be who everybody else says I should be.  I like that I can make people laugh and can laugh at myself.  I am imperfectly perfect.  Oh, I definitely have my moments where I forget that I am okay as I am. Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be “good enough”.  I still want to be liked and accepted.  And I get in that weird funky place sometimes.  And I do so long to look cute and to fit back in my size 10s.  But I know that even if I never get back in those size 10s, I am valuable, beautiful and loved.  Zits and all. 

That’s what I want to model for my daughter.  If I’m not okay with who I am, how can I expect her to be?  I want to be the voice cheering her on, saying, “YOU ROCK!  I wouldn’t change one thing about you!  Don’t try to be someone you are not!  Be who God created you to be!”  And I defy anybody else to tell her anything different. 

Hmm.

 

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“The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.” ~Henri Nouwen

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”  ~Leo Tolstoy

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