Jumping off the cliff, surrendering it all

Fictional scenario: The pastor announces in advance that he will be preaching on surrender. I suddenly find myself with a prior commitment, most likely Starbucks, and I exit the back doors in a hurry. Proceed out the doors if you must, or buckle up and let’s go for a ride.

The last couple of months I’ve been in the fast lane. How I got here I have no clue. Best way to describe it is that I’ve been driving along and suddenly Father puts his foot on the accelerator of my life and I’m holding on to the dashboard. We are crazily going places that I’ve not been and at speeds I normally avoid.

I am in an accelerated season of surrender. Faced continually with opportunities to “play it safe” and “play it cool”, I could hide behind cleverness and nonchalance. But I can’t. These are vulnerable days for me. But who likes vulnerability? I mean, we love when OTHERS are vulnerable (as long as it doesn’t make us TOO uncomfortable), but heaven forbid WE be the ones to expose vulnerability.

 

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“Strength found in weakness”

The artwork of David Costello

I am utterly weak. God is doing something in me. Over the last few weeks I’ve been laying lots of things at His feet. (Deep breath). Bitterness over being single. Judgements against men and every guy who ever pursued and couldn’t follow through. (I love men, by the way. But it’s easy to carry baggage that you aren’t aware of until the Holy Spirit starts shining His light on it). Control.  That’s the big one.

I had a personal head on collision with control five years ago. Devastating. What I had told the Lord I wanted did not work out for me. I prayed. I begged. I controlled. I wept. I shook my fist in the air and blamed God for my pain. I blamed the unnamed guy for my pain. But now, I see it differently. What I had tried to grasp as my “rights”, ended up taking hold of me. And I was going to have this relationship no matter what, thank you very much. (Oh, and yes God, you can block the doors if it’s not your best.)

He blocked the doors. The tornado had passed through, and I picked through the pieces of a demolished building. My heart. Humbled, I finally could see clearly. Where I had gone wrong? Surrender had taken the back seat. I had forgotten that the One who owes me nothing, freely gives me all things. Father, you have the keys to my life. Give. Remove. Because when you remove, you have something better in mind.

After the guy left, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. I had put my expectations into this relationship. A couple of months later, a very humbled and broken me was starting to tentatively put my toes back into the waters of dreaming with God again. Life indeed was a beautiful thing when you can enjoy it and not choke the living daylights out of it. He suddenly opened up an “impossible” door–something I had only dreamed I could do.  Now THAT is a good Dad.

Surrender takes many forms and I cannot give you the formula, my friends. I can only give you a couple of examples.

Yesterday, for me surrender was standing tall as a daughter of the King and declaring that He is good and His promises are going to come to pass. It was the unshakeable conviction that I WILL see the goodness of the Lord in this life.

Today, surrender has a different face. It is weighty weakness. It is tears. It is laying myself before Him (literally) and refusing to despair. Refusing the lying taunts that God will never answer.  Or He will wait until I’m 60. It’s refusing to close my heart up and hide in my safe tower of isolation. Where nobody can hurt me. It is refusing to lose heart. Thank God that the many times I have “lost” heart, He always helped me to find it again. And again.

Surrendering does not = kill your desires. It is holding them with an open hand. It’s laying down entitlements. Picking up hope. Choosing risk, when playing it safe is more comfortable. Jumping off the cliff of the familiar, when Father is asking for all of your heart. Arming yourself with courage because His strength (not yours) will fight the battles.

Somewhere in the Bible (I’m horrible with references) it says that His promises are backed up by the honor of His name. That means that because He is honorable and trustworthy I can and will trust Him to not dangle a desire in front of me for the rest of my life and fail to deliver.

All this surrender feels a bit like dying; maybe what’s dying is my ability to control anything. Liz is going to ride the river of the unknown and see her Papa God bring her safely (WITH A FULL HEART) to the place of living waters.

(Best song I know of jumping into the arms of our good Father, surrendering it all to Him).

Looking good (for your age)

My niece and her little five year old friend play dress up for hours. Of course this entails trying to look older with makeup and heels.

Well,enjoy it.  Before long you will be trying to go back to those days before forehead lines and cellulite.  When did it happen that I noticed these things?  I think in their 20’s most women are at their prime physically.  So I guess it has been in the last few years I started seeing the signs of aging. Terrifying!  What used to not matter, now REALLY matters.  A friend said to me, “I feel like it just takes more to maintain what I have these days.”  How right she is.  It’s like at age 30+ suddenly the revelation that the clock isn’t going backwards hits you like a truck on the interstate. I’m not really that interested in looking like road kill.  Discussions amongst friends revolve around retinol and always having spf for your face, or a hat if you go outside. Don’t forget to color your roots and exercise your butt off.

I visited a friend recently that I hadn’t seen for 9 years.  Funny, but even though I obviously don’t have a crush on her I was nervous.  Nervous because I hoped she wouldn’t think I had aged.  There is something in every woman that wonders if she still “has it”.  Let’s get really honest here.  We feel better if we think we look better than another woman.  We feel worse if we feel uglier than another woman. I don’t know if guys realize how bombarded we are multiple times a day by an unachievable standard set by our culture. At times I feel so much pressure I want to rebel.

Forget the makeup!  Wear the frump clothes and boycott hair dye!  That’ll show ’em! And after a day of doing that (and skipping public places too), I’ll feel much better about being a liberated woman.

Do you look at photos and say “wow, I look so much younger 10 years ago”? And then proceed to analyze all the fresh signs of age on your face with your magnifying mirror? I tell you what, it’s not going to help you feel better unless you have money in hand for botox.  (Though I comfort myself sometimes that if I really age I can just go somewhere and get a new face).

Redneck Beauty Salon

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Contemplating the art of beautifying the nations

So, why obsess about what I can’t control?  It all boils down to this.  Whether we like it or not, in the very fabric of our being is the desire for beauty. We crave beauty.  See beauty.  Desire to make things beautiful around us, whether in decorating our house or just by creating a beautiful hospitable atmosphere for others.  Having our own ideas of what is beautiful, it varies in expression.  God made us this way. To carry this and enhance every environment we are in. And what better way to beautify than with our very selves?

Problem is, our vision is skewed.  We get a glimpse at times into our true beauty, but not often enough to satisfy our hearts. Brainwashed by the culture, we feel helplessly less than what we know we want to be. We (singles) then have the chance to panic a BIT (like, a LOT) more and go ‘what if I’m not beautiful enough to attract someone (especially after the age of 30)? When I step outside of myself for a moment, I actually have compassion on Liz and want to tell her that she is so much more than that. That her outward frame has the privilege of containing the most important part of her. Her heart.  And I want to tell every woman (even you marrieds) that this is true of them as well.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. (Song of songs 4:7)

I have a friend who was trying to explain to her boyfriend what cellulite was.  Having all brothers, he didn’t understand what she meant. She paused a moment and then said “it’s like cottage cheese.”  His eyes lit up and he responded with, “Delicious!”

And so it is.

 

 

Am I not enough? Pandora’s box flung open

I am officially breaking my own rules about blogging.  “One per week, I promised myself.  More than that would be overload for readers.” So I thought of writing this today as a draft and releasing it soon. I just can’t do it. Some things cannot be placed on hold.

I have written some pretty vulnerable posts. This in my opinion surpasses them all. But I sense that I’m not just writing this to share my heart. This is for the hearts of many women I know. Ladies, you aren’t alone in this fight.

Liz Brown officially overreacted today. Something wasn’t said that I felt should be said in a conversation and my response was disproportionate to the issue at hand. For several hours I have been fuming and trying to get to the root beneath it all.

I am asking this question:

AM I ENOUGH?

Or maybe the better question is Am I NOT enough?

Sometimes circumstances in life just don’t add up.

So, the doubts pour into our hearts.  Here are some examples (some personal, some from those I know):

If I were enough, why is my husband an addict? (Addictions come in many forms.)

If I were enough, why did my dad not shower affection on me in my childhood years?

If I were enough, why do I have a hard time connecting with other ladies?

If I were enough, why did the father of my child decide not to marry me?

If I am really that amazing, how can I be 5 years away from 40 and still single?

If I had been enough, why did he tell me that he was coming to pursue me wholeheartedly– and then when some issues arose, he left?  Never giving an explanation.  Unable to fight for my heart.

If I were enough, how could he have had the affair?

What if my hair looks like photo when I was really going for: IMG_0234_2

My personal checklist to be the perfect woman goes something like this:

  1. Interesting
  2. Able to keep his attention
  3. Beautiful, but not plastic
  4. Humorous
  5. Always full of mercy and grace
  6. Able to know when to be quiet and when to speak
  7. Desirable above the other competition…for it seems he has many women he could choose
  8. Secure, for who wants to see any insecurity?  Don’t want to scare you away.

It’s endless.  And it is a deep arrow to the heart. I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore.

And I’m angry.  I’m angry for every friend I know who is SINGLE and AMAZING.  The men should be beating the doors down just for the chance to win her heart.  Unless, she’s not worth winning, right?  For this is the lie that comes with the lack of pursuit.

I used to ask the “am I not enough” question so that I would like myself.  Now I really really like who I am.  I’m comfortable with my massive head of fro hair.  Introverted, yet deeply relational to the core? Love it. Deep feeler who can at times seem unfeeling when I am passionate on a subject? Yep. I embrace that too.

I think the core of my anger comes from something deeper. Perhaps my spirit is groaning for the day where both the sons and daughters rise up. Where my brothers fight for their sisters’ hearts.  Where the sisters value their brothers and build them up. The day that my beautiful friends who I pray for all the time, finally are pursued and their hearts are won.  Not because a husband will give them value.  But because he will SEE the value that is already there.

So the truth is, ladies, that you ARE enough! If we don’t let that reality bring us into rest, we will be in bondage to the lie that there is something hopelessly flawed in us. Tragic. And simply untrue.

By the way, I feel 80% better after writing this. My hope is set on the King of Kings. I am His daughter.  He holds my heart with great value. Whether another ever sees my value enough to pursue, I am saying:

I AM ENOUGH.

(Ok, so I have to say this or I will probably panic. If there happens to be a guy or two who stumbles on this post—PUH-LEASE. I am not writing out my phone number.  This was not intended as a “hey, handsome…I am single and advertising.” ha ha….girl’s gotta cover her bases when she is authoring a blog called thesingleside!!!)

 

 

 

I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful: Lessons from the low places

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25 (NLT)

I didn’t see the adrenal fatigue coming, because it was accumulative.   Stress over issues out of my control was wearing my body down. Decisions made that were wounding people I cared deeply for had begun to take its toll on my physical and emotional health.I admit I’ve perfected the “art” of carrying other peoples’ problems. It is hard for my mercy heart to do otherwise, which creates a ripe environment for codependency.  My working definition of codependency is this:  I care about your problems more than you do.

It is impossible to give the exact day I hit my wall. But over a year ago, I began to see the signs of the adrenal fatigue. Almost zero stress filter, meaning I had to eliminate any activity that promoted anxiety.  No evening news, which is filled with war and tragedy. Prayer requests burdened me. These are just a couple of examples. My antennae was up and I was making a bee-line for the door, so to speak, if I saw stress approaching me. Increasing pain in my abdominal area paralyzed me with dread, because I had lost a good friend to stomach cancer the previous year. At times I’d tremble uncontrollably when something felt stressful. I felt powerless to stop my reactions when triggered. Feeling guilty before the Lord, I wondered where my faith had gone. The role of the adrenal glands is to manage stress in our bodies and when one hits adrenal fatigue it is a real thing. Insomnia, fatigue, and even symptoms of depression (which I now understand is adrenal related) reduced my life to a fraction of what I desired.

I had nothing to give for many months.  Moody and edgy, I missed the old me that loves to laugh and connect with others. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Shame and failure taunted me, causing me to hide from most what I was walking through.

My passion is for others to come into their true identity as sons and daughters and I couldn’t even find Father’s love.  It was a dark place and I didn’t know how to get out. And yet…

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24,b (NIV)

Through all of this, the One who knows and loves me most showed me His faithfulness. I believe He held me many times, though I was unaware. Hindsight shows me many ways He was “ever present”.  Trusted friends encouraged me and held onto hope when I couldn’t. They saw firsthand what was happening and their deep compassion and loyalty was a lifeline on a stormy sea. Family prayed me through it and extended great patience when I was all but pleasant to be around.

Father has been kindly showing me over the past couple of years that shouldering false responsibility produces no good thing. Playing the role of the Holy Spirit in trying to fix people, cripples my ability to walk in peace and trust. And in his loving way, He let me see the effects that stress has on the human body. He carried the burdens of the world on the cross. Only one savior was needed, so I could step down from that position.

Father’s steady love in my lowest place demonstrated that I am still lovable and worth the air I breathe. My comfort was that my Father promised never to leave me; this sustained me giving me courage to make steps toward health. I didn’t need to prove or promise anything to him. He would bring me out of this fog and I would learn much through it.

Sometimes the darkest places in our lives hold the greatest revelations. I treat myself much more kindly these days. If I feel stress coming on, I recognize it. On this road to health (not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually), I listen to myself more.  I pay attention to the warning signs. Sometimes I wish I could wave the wand and never struggle, but I’m oh so human. Desperately in need of my Father’s strength. But what a Father! And what a friend He has been to me.

To read an excellent post concerning boundaries and false responsibility amongst Christians, click here:  http://www.revelatrium.com/freedom-through-boundaries/

 

For more info on adrenal fatigue, click here: