Saturday, December 1, 2012

Philippians 4:8

Sometimes I wish that the human brain came with a format feature like a computer hard drive or a camera disc.  There are so many days I feel like I would give anything to just create a "clean slate" for my mind.  Too many old habits, hurts and heartaches filter in and sully the current day.  It's like bad "swype."  Misspellings from my past pop up automatically even though I know what's right now.

Sometimes I wish I were a different kind of person.  I wish I wasn't so vocal and open.  I wish I didn't wear my heart on my sleeve and I wasn't so "out there" on so many levels.  Sometimes I wish I could go back and be different especially with the newer people in my life.  I feel like the "new slate" opportunity slipped past me, and I find myself cringing with regret.

Sometimes I wish I could just fade back into anonymity, and that my big mouth personality hadn't already created first, second and fifteenth impressions that I always feel like I am trying to overcome.  And sometimes I wonder if the sense of rejection I feel in most areas of my life is really rejection from others or just an issue in my own heart.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't just a thinker.  I wish I wasn't someone who over-analyzed EVERYTHING. "Did they mean that?"  "What did they mean by that?" "What were they really trying to say?" "What did their tone, body language, countenance indicate?"  I wish I was the kind of person who easily assumed the best, never looked for the hidden agenda and didn't spend hours trying to exercise by jumping... to conclusions.  I wish for innocence and naivete.

Sometimes I wish I could easily assume that people like me, that my confident fear that most people are just tolerating me, or worse suffering through me didn't feel so true.  An unanswered message, an ignored phone call, a cut-short conversation-- they all have the power to send me down a rabbit trail of assumption and rejection that I just wish I didn't feel.

Sometimes I wish past hurts and offenses didn't have such a huge bearing on how I respond and relate to people today.  I wish old hurts and offenses didn't make me suspicious of people that held no part in it.  I wish I didn't assume that most people in authority over me didn't approve of me.  I wish I didn't feel like "I'm sorry," had to constantly be on my lips even when I'm just sorry that I am, and not for anything I have done.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to take it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Am I the only one who finds the practice of that verse to feel like a full time job? Because I swear it is more than a nine to five for me and it is exhausting.  Truth be told I feel like I am failing at it most days, and I worry whether the crack in my thought process runs all the way down deep into my very psyche.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure , whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I think this verse is the best hope for the "format" that I am hoping for.  It falls short, because it does not clear the brain, the memory or the emotions, but it is a form of reprogramming that has the hope of the "sometimes I wish's" of life today becoming new experiences tomorrow.  And maybe, just maybe, the other negatives will fade enough with time and experience, that I won't spend so much time struggling under it all. 

What is true? God created me to be the thinker that I am, so there must be some good purpose in it, and if I let Him direct my thoughts, and the way that I process it is meant to be a blessing and not a curse. 

What is noble? I am the adopted daughter of the most High King, chosen and set apart, fully accepted in His Beloved Son. God has plans and purposes for my life that cannot be thwarted and I don't have to be fearful so long as I am under His favor. 

What is right?  God is sovereign, and whatever I have or will face in my life has not and will not touch me apart from his permission.  And whatever another might intend for evil, God intends for good. And He has promised to work all things, ALL THINGS, together for my good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose.  And in the end, he's going to use it to make me more like His Son.

What is pure?  Christ's love for me is pure.  Whatever rejection I may suffer in my life, real or imagined, God does not reject me, He loves me, He gave Himself up for me.  I matter to God. 

What is lovely? I can take my eyes off of these self-loathing thoughts and find truth to meditate upon in God's word.  I can "retrain my brain" to think God thoughts instead of the thoughts of my own corruptible flesh. 

What is admirable? It isn't all about me.  My sole purpose in life is to bring glory to God.  Do I serve others? Yes, but even in that the purpose is to honor and direct others to Him.  And even in my broken state I have the ability to be a vessel of honor if I will am submitted to be used by Him. 

What is excellent?  That these struggles and troubles are "light and momentary" and do not compare to the eternal glory which is to come.  Life is hard, but Christ IS worth it. If my own battles bring one moment of opportunity to minister to someone suffering in a similar way, they are worth it.  God enables us to comfort others with the comfort "which we ourselves have been given."  I have learned fr more about how to love when I have felt unloved.  I have learned far more about how to lead by the times I was mislead.  I have learned the importance to show I care in the many times I felt no one cared for me. 

What is praiseworthy? Christ. No one and nothing else is worthy of our praise.  All that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent-- every bit of it, is rooted in Him.  

Oh what a messed up broken vessel I am, but I belong to the Lord and HE has purpose for me.  Come what may, my victory is assured because it is rooted in Him.  

Monday, November 26, 2012


I have in my hands the proof of my second book.  I wrote and (self) published two books this year. Part of me thinks, "That's quite an accomplishment." But another part of me feels silly and foolish, and struggles through the whole process. I feel exposed, writing a book (or creating any work of art) is like taking a part of your soul and laying it out for all to see, and for any to judge. 

Self-publishing adds to the vulnerability. It means there is no "professional" involved in any step of the process.  I'm good with transparency, but vulnerability is far more challenging for me.  Laying out both my writing skills and my editing skills to the scrutiny of others is hard, not to mention the story and imagination that are behind them.  Ugh.

If I had a friend who wrote a book, I'd like to think I would support them and read it.  Maybe I wouldn't, but I like to think I would.  I know if I did I would be gentle with my criticism.  These two published works are actually my 3rd and 4th endeavor.  My first attempt at writing a book was thrown by the wayside when a trusted friend, someone whose opinion I valued and respected annihilated my with harsh criticism that in my heart of hearts I know was not related to the book itself, but it was a personal attack at me because of comparisons some else made between us and our teaching/ speaking styles.  I tried to be gracious, and dismiss the hurt. I didn't let it affect the friendship, but I never put pen to page again in that book.  It has four chapters that I never got past.

Homecoming, my first published work, has received some criticism for technical problems.  I'm no English professor.  But out of the same critical mouths, the story has been praised and I've been asked for the sequel.  It's there now, but I don't know if they'll read it.  I know there is one particular critic who will have to hear about the book from someone else, because she won't hear about it from me.  I already know that Fallout (the sequel) isn't perfect either, but I think hope the story is still important enough to tell.

I know because of changes we made in our personal lives (specifically our church lives) over the last couple years that there are people in my life who if we hadn't made those changes, would absolutely read the books and support my writing.  Those same people will now refuse  to read them for those exact same choices.  Of course, part of me feels very certain that if we hadn't made those choices, the books might never have been written in the first place. 

Just as much as there are many who fall into that category, there are a solid few who have loved me and supported me through those same decisions and these same new endeavors, and for the few, I am eternally grateful.  But the practical side of me looks and wonders, is "success" hindered by those who still resent me for being gone?  I can only speculate, and what a dangerous place that is to be.

It brings up a lot of hurt about the loss and changes in so many, many relationships.  Even though God has moved me to a better and healthier place for ME (and my family) it doesn't mean all that was lost has magically been replaced.  As I type that it makes me think of Job.  He lost his home and his children and after a long and difficult season he came out on the other side and God "restored to him" a new family and a new home.  But I can't help but wonder, didn't he still grieve and mourn for the family he lost?  Even if life went on, even if life got good again, he had to have missed those that were lost.

It's different. I didn't lose anyone in death, but there was much loss, and relationships died.  As I wonder about those who have been lost to me, I wonder if they ever think of me too.  Then I wonder if they think anything good.  It makes my heart ache.

It's funny (in a completely un-funny way) that the title of this book is "Fallout," because in essence, that's what I find myself faced with yet again, the fallout of decisions-- my own and those of others. 

I hold my book and find it attached to a plethora of emotion and struggle that it is attached to, and I wonder when whole and healed comes, or if it ever comes.  We are the sum total of our lives and experiences (but God), and even Christians have regret.  Even when we stand and proclaim over it scripture "all things together for good," or "what one intended for evil, God intended for good," we are not absolved from wondering what if or what might be.  And we still find ourselves grieving much of the losses along the way, even when God brings beauty from ashes.... or even as we wait in anticipation of the beauty to come while we stand amidst the ashes.

All I can do is take myself back to God's sovereignty.  He knew. He planned. He filtered. He approved.  Nothing happens, nothing touches us apart from His allowance, and even when it hurts or it is hard, He is still good-- all knowing, and understanding what I cannot-- the truth that EVEN this, He will work for my good.  And even harm that others intended for evil, God intends for good, and for His good purpose, which is so much bigger than anything I can even think or imagine-- His ways are not my ways, His thoughts not my thoughts, so high I cannot attain them.

But still the reality, the struggle, the pain and the loss are here. But I wait, and hope in expectation, for the Fallout that is the ashes I find myself standing amidst, are the ones God promises to some how bring beauty from.  I cannot understand, but I wait and trust in the One who promised it. 

In Jesus' name....