raw + real

I’m learning that vulnerability is the best thing I can be in this season of my life. Vulnerability is hard, it goes against everything we’ve made ourselves out to be, up until this time. It’s the raw, unfiltered, and mostly messiest versions of ourselves. How can we say we’re truly living our best lives when we can’t even talk about the difficult things that got us to this point? We can’t. Vulnerability is as necessary as the air we breathe to maintain quality friendships, as well as our relationship with God. Satan can be so cunning to trick us into thinking what we’ve done and what’s been done to us is too much or too dirty to share. Our minds begin to harbor these events and, in turn, we feel the weight of shame and guilt in its fullest capacity. But friend, you and I were not created to live a life bound to the weight of the past. We are a chosen people destined for freedom. Freedom is our anthem… not shame or guilt. This gift of freedom seems so vast and impossible to attain, trust me. But throughout these past four months, little by little, the Lord is teaching me what it means to be free indeed.

I remember being so frustrated with all the people around me declaring freedom is yours, you just have to accept it and walk in it. Though said in good heart, there was something they happened to miss. Yes, freedom is ours and we must accept and walk in this gift the Father intended on us living in; but it is truth that breeds freedom. We cannot go from bound to free until we undo the shackles and that cannot happen until we recognize and acknowledge we are a bound and broken people. Then we must illuminate what Satan loves to keep in the dark, our past mistakes and unfortunate circumstances—the real us, the broken us. Truth really does breed freedom, friend. It wasn’t until I started talking to people about my broken family, sexual abuse, and porn usage that I finally began to understand what walking in freedom truly looks like. Neither I nor you were meant to carry the weight of these burdens alone. We were created for freedom. My voice shuttered, but I spoke. I felt compelled to keep to myself and not throw the weight of my burdens onto others, but I threw them. My words thrown into an atmosphere with nineteen other girls hearing the rawest and messiest version of me… I couldn’t undo what had been spoken. The atmosphere in the room changed, the heaviness I once felt in the deepest depths of my chest began to lighten and I could finally breathe. This heavy-burdened soul was being undone by the undoer himself, and right there, in that moment, I was the best version of myself.

Fostering vulnerability is daunting and, in thought, makes me nauseous. But this where freedom lies. Freedom is found in speaking hard truths that make people uncomfortable, but most importantly, these hard truths remind people that they are not alone. Freedom is found where you speak it into existence. I am no longer bound to the weight of my past—my friend, neither are you.

Free indeed, truly.

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why it is well

I stumbled upon this article from wiltoday.com that discussed when the things of life are not well with our souls, I began to read and saw my own story within the article. Life is hard. Bad things happen, people leave, these are hard, hard, hard things to grasp as a young Christian. If this great big God who is almighty and powerful is good then why is my life falling apart? Why are people leaving? Isn’t His purpose to give me hope & a future? This man calls me beloved yet has allowed all of these things to happen to me? How is that at all good? That’s what my heavy-burdened mind was screaming into my soul. That is what I believed truth to be. God was like everyone else, fickle and only for me when I’m present but against me in my absence.

How wrong was I? Looking back, I see broken pieces of a little girl that were scattered and stepped on, forgotten and abused; all alone. I had fallen victim to Satan’s antics and truly believed I was defeated and alone, a bother to all, unwanted, and unloved. It wasn’t well with my soul. My soul was tormented and dark, I separated myself from people who loved me and drew myself into an isolated hole, destined to never escape. But God. He was for me, He saw my tears and His heart broke for his prodigal daughter who couldn’t see her worth. Little did I know, God fought for me. He was picking up the pieces that were broken, making something beautiful from the ashes of my past hurt. I didn’t know this but He was going to use everything I went through, every negative word spoken to me, every tear I shed only to propel me into the mission he had for me on his earth. I didn’t see this hope nor would I see this hope until my freshman year and truly believe it for myself until my junior year.

I finally understood that life isn’t always happy and wonderful, but it is still beautiful and purposeful and God is still good through it all. I read this article with tears streaming down my face only to be comforted by security found in Jesus alone. I’ll link the article down below but in summary, the author discussed it’s easy to talk about the goodness of God when life seems to be for us, but when tragedy strikes we’re merely just singing “it is well” out of habit and routine instead of understanding and declaring “it is well” even when it’s not. It’s hard sometimes, my feelings are so fleeting and life can be well at the time but it doesn’t feel well with my soul. But as I learn more and more about God it is well with my soul even if life isn’t going as planned- these feelings are anchored truth; unshakable, life-giving.

Knowing that, I wanted a permanent reminder of this truth that life happens and it’s hard sometimes but Jesus will always be good and His promises are yes & amen because He is constant and true, so I got it is well tattoed on my right wrist written in my handwriting. This is my story, who I am, where my identity is found.  It will get better. And if not on this side of Heaven then it will be the next. Jesus hears you, you my friend are heard. He loves you & He is for you. This comfort has been the prayer of my heart: to forever sing it is well because through Jesus, I have the victory for He has already overcome.

Here’s the link to the article!

 

wake up call

Ah- what a beautiful day to wake up & love Jesus & his people! I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t every day a beautiful day to wake up and purposefully serve the Father?” You’re right my friend, but my identity has recently been more securely anchored in the Father’s love. How beautiful is that? To be reminded of to whom you belong and reminded that I can still approach the throne boldly even when my life seems like it’s falling apart.

For so long I believed the lie that a.) my life had to be all-together to pursue Jesus. b.) Jesus wants the polished version of me & c.) I chose repentance.  All of the above are lies that Satan for so long, whispered in my ear. But through grace and learning more about my Father I’ve learned these are so far from truth. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn, meaning we no longer had to have the priest enter the holy of holies on our behalf and our offerings no longer had to be a spotless animal. For the lamb of God himself was spotless and paid the debt of sin we owe in full. I pray I never become apathetic over this extravagant love because it has set me free!

When I first learned about Jesus I was under the impression that moralism and legalism were required for a relationship with the Father- how wrong was I!? As Jesus breathed his breath and spoke “tetelestai” he meant it… it is finished. In order to seek the throne I simply just have to say yes & come as I am- not the prim and proper version of myself that the world desires but the messy and broken version of myself that brings vulnerability and an open mind. For so long I thought I had to pick myself up, figure my problems out, “get right with God” to be in a fully intimate relationship with Him. I read my Bible, didn’t cuss, and loved the people around me bUT THAT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH TO SAVE ME. Salvation comes from Jesus, not a decision we make but the kindness and the grace the Father lavishes on us leads us to repentance. So it has never been about me, the decision I’ve made or the rules I’ve followed-it’s always been about Jesus it will never be about anything other than Jesus. He just wanted me and He wants you too regardless of where you are in your life or what you’ve done because who you are isn’t what you’ve done. I’ll say it again for the people in the back, WHO YOU ARE ISN’T WHAT YOU’VE DONE. You are loved and called and pursued and cherished. Remember that. Walk in that. Say it until you believe it because that is true.

 

constant one

From the beginning of my church going history a “good” service was classified by what songs were sung and how many people “got saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, in my immature baby Christian mind, any service where those components didn’t take place was “bad” and  I assumed “Jesus must not of shown up this time.” Haha, I’m sure you can imagine how hard this mentality was to overcome! Like seriously, the modern-day church classifies the move of God by what was felt and seen. Isn’t God so much bigger than that? If the vastness of His glory can be captured and seen in an hour and thirty minute service then why continue following Him??

Throughout my journey I’ve learned a lot about Jesus and His goodness and essentially the character of God. God is constant and He purses us in our brokenness despite how messy it looks (go back and re-read that sentence because seriously, how affirming is that?! we are pursued y’all!!) Jesus loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to remain the complacent beings we tend to be at times. So regardless of our sinful nature and what our “thing” is, whether it’s lying, gossiping, self-defeating thoughts, or I don’t know murder, sexual infidelity, He regards them the same- sin -the very thing that separates us from His goodness. My entire life I was coaxed into believing some sins were less fatal than others and I walked around believing my gossiping was less destructive than someone else’s affair. How wrong was I?! My “thing” though socially acceptable in our society had the same finishing line as another’s affair… and that finish line is death. Jesus was serious when He said we need to turn from our fleshly desires and pursue truth and remain on the narrow path that leads to our heavenly reward.  Even today I struggle with not condemning others in my minds when I hear about what they did last weekend, it’s hard! People are awful and so completely unaware of the consequences their actions bring about to their spirit. But who am I?? I am fearful, I am judgmental, I am self defeating and gossipy when provoked. Look at me, my actions, the consequences they brought about to my spirit. Why wasn’t this engraved into my mind throughout childhood?? Why did the word sinful stick to other people and not myself? I am sinful and need Jesus. It’s so easy to blame the global church for America’s problems but WE are the church, the two or three million (trillion?) gathered in one mind and one accord, but we are actually the two or three million gathered in many minds and zero accords. When will we wake up and realize we are stressing the things Jesus told us to leave at the cross. We often forget how simple following Jesus truly is because we over complicate everything!

You can love Jesus and still be sinful. But as believers, to fully know and fully love Jesus, when we pursue Him our sinful nature begins to become too heavy for our own grasp. Our fleshly desires start to slip and in this moment we must make a decision: do we let go of the things this world provides so we can tighten our grasp on Jesus or let go of what was holding us together all along but we were too blind to see– Jesus.  The decision is ours and cannot be made lightly. As I walk closer to God I want to want His way and not my own because I continually lead myself to destruction regardless of my intentional nature. I’m continually learning and being reminded of His grace and how His ways aren’t to hurt me but only to prosper and something that’s hard to hear. I am so prideful and I want to do life my own way (but we all know how it ends up).  Spoiler alert: Jesus wins.

I am continually encouraged by this truth that though my perception of Him changes He always remains the same. He is good. He loves you & I too much to allow us to stay where we are right now. He is not destruction. He is not chaos. He only speaks peace because He is kind.

 

This love is good