faithful

This Wednesday I will have lived half of my life without my mom in my life. Thursday and every other day that precedes will be days where I have lived more without my mom than with her. And you know what? That sucks. It sucks that from such a young age I was abandoned and mistreated by most influential caregiver a child should ever receive. It would make sense to be bitter and hate my mom, for so many of these ten years, deep down, I think I did. But as I grow and learn how to love people like my Father does, the less important resentment and bitterness and hatred becomes in my heart. Love has taken its place. Yesterday I found out my mom had similar symptoms to a stroke, but the doctors seemingly ruled out stroke and said its likely she has a brain tumor, but she needed a MRI to confirm. All of a sudden, I realized at this rate, the next time I see my mom could very well be at her funeral. But, I don’t want that. I don’t want the next time I see my mom in person to be at her deathbed, but I also don’t think I’m ready to see her now. Will I ever be ready though? More overwhelming thoughts fill my mind—death, funerals, cancer, brain tumor, surgery, chemo, illness, faithfulness. I choose to fixate on the latter. Faithfulness. He who has promised IS faithful, not WAS… He IS faithful. He has been faithful, and He will be faithful, and right now in this moment He IS faithful, even when I can’t seem to grasp the reality of what is at stake. And I choose to focus on that. I think of it like this, if the Lord was a surgeon (yes, He is a healer but let’s think of it in this analogy), this isn’t His first day on the job, this isn’t His first solo surgery. He has been practicing far longer than I have even been alive, and his success rate is 100%. If there was a doctor on this side of Heaven with stats like that, you best bet I’d fly all the way across the country to be seen by him. It’s not much different with the Lord. Because He is faithful and has never not been. He has been at this whole God thing much longer than I have been alive. His success rate can’t even be quantified because He is that big and intentional. We don’t have to travel to across the world to be seen by Him, because He sees us, right now, wherever we’re at, and is already at work in our present circumstances, proving Himself to be faithful… time and time again. And right now, all I have to cling to is the steadfastness of the Truth—He is faithful forevermore. He is for me. He is even for my mom. And whatever the doctor the doctors say, He is still faithful then.

Amen, amen, amen.

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clean

What does it mean to be clean? I’m still uncertain on how to directly answer this ambiguous question, as well as distinguish what living a “clean” life looks like. But one thing I am learning is I am in fact, clean; I’m not tarnished nor soiled, discounted or fragmented. The decisions that were made for me, the words that were spoken at me, the lies I believed for far too long, I believed, ruined me. But when the loving countenance of Jesus looks at this prodigal daughter, he still calls me beloved—not seeing the stained lies that have made their home in my mind, he declares over me that I am his daughter who he knows how to love well, and in his eyes these dirty rags are purified, I am white as snow. What love does that? The love of a father whose love knows no bounds, a love that is not blind to my faults and failures but fully aware of them.

My sweet Jesus, aware of the walls I’ve built, the lies weighing me down, prepared me for a moment of pure vulnerability. He sweetly declared the blood running through my veins may biologically come from my mom, but it is his blood that has sustained my life. It is his blood that runs through my veins. It is his blood that makes me clean. There is no questioning this genetic makeup because I am my Jesus’ and my Jesus is mine. The instability of mental illness no longer has its grasp on my joy, but the stability of freedom found in Jesus does.

 

02/01/18

striving

striving // christ for the nations

“There is no striving
There is no striving in your love
Freely you have given
Freely you have given to us
You have made us yours
You have called us daughters and sons
This is who you are
This is what your love has done
You have given everything my heart could ever need
And all you ask is I believe
And I am resting safe inside your promise to provide
And nothing could ever change your love
Your love for me, your love for me

You never ask that I earn Your affection
I could never earn something that’s free
I never have to fight for Your attention
Because Your eyes are ever upon me
You never ask that I earn your affection
I could never earn something that’s free
I never have to fight for your attention
Because your eyes are ever upon me”

doubt.

I come from a broken home and that has manifested itself into broken view of God. I’m not the girl with an unreliable father, I am the girl, however, whose mother is unreliable. My mom struggles with bipolar disorder, a mental illness that that has stolen too much from my family. When I was born until I was about 9, everything seemed fine. I thought my picturesque view of my family was normal. But as I’ve grown, I realized the household I lived in wasn’t normal. My parents separated when I was nine, but hey, whose hadn’t at that time? It was just me and my dad. My mom had left, and life started to get back to “normal.” Having previously lived in Alabama, my dad and I moved to Ohio. After the divorce had settled, my parents had decided to give it another try, this try lasted a few months, but it ended worse than the first time she left. A few weeks later after realizing the consequences of her actions, she wanted the family life back. This try, however, only lasted a few months. I remember it was the Fourth of July and my mom dropped me off at my cousin’s house and promised to pick me up later that night, but the evening rolled around, and my mom never showed up. She was gone… again. After the second time she left, she met this man who she ended up leaving my dad and I for. Her new boyfriend had a son my age and, in her instability, she told me I was so ungrateful and unworthy of her love, that she was so glad she left me because her new boyfriend’s son was so much more deserving than I was. It got to the point where she would send me pictures of what she would buy him for Christmas, meanwhile I didn’t even receive a card.

I can’t say that I never doubted God through this time in my life, mostly because I didn’t know God during this time. But it is from this moment that this seed of doubt was planted in my mind and from then I thought I would never be good enough for myself or anyone I’d come into contact with. My own mom even told me I wasn’t enough. However, I’m a striver. I strive to be perfect and I strive to please those around me. For so long I have strived to win the praises of others to mask the rejection I experienced from my mom. But the praises of those around me didn’t fill the void I had been carrying with me for all these years. I still doubted how capable I was, how worthy of love I was, how essential to my community I was, all because I allowed my mom’s choices, choices I didn’t even chose for myself, define me for far too long.

I’m not telling you my childhood trauma to paint my mom as this awful person, but I’m sharing this to show where our relationship has been but also where it is going. I hadn’t spoken to my mom in 8ish years up until this past Friday actually. I called my mom and told her I forgave her, that I was interested in a relationship with her. Leading up to this point, I have been going to counseling for the past 2 semesters and I realized that I harbor a lot of resentment and mistrust towards my mom and really most people. But hey, can you blame me? I remember over Christmas break praying for my mom and I’s relationship, desperately wanting reconciliation but not knowing what a healthy relationship looked like, what it could look like. I was so doubtful that anything good could come from pursuing my mom, rather I expected heartbreak and rejection. I didn’t trust God, the one who I definitely think planted this seed of reconciliation in my heart. I remember telling God, “God she doesn’t deserve my love, she doesn’t deserve my forgiveness, she ruined me.”  And I remember after giving God a piece of my mind, this voice in the back of my head asked me, “Heather what if I treated you like that? You are so undeserving of being forgiven, but you have been forgiven.” And it was in that moment that I think I finally began to understand what extending grace should look like. I kept wrestling with this idea of pursuing a relationship with my mom because I really don’t feel like I need her in my life, the mom role had already been filled through my step-mom, and all she could do was hurt me again. I just kept doubting the work that God could do through me within my mom and I’s relationship. And every time I think about a relationship with her it’s like the enemy screams into my mind, “She is going to hurt you again. You will never be enough for her. Why would she want you?” I just couldn’t let my doubt of these “what if” scenarios dominate the hope of what it could be.

I can’t act like this relationship has been reconciled and my family lived happily ever after, because that’s not reality. But I think I’m learning to slowly release my grasp of always wanting to have control and play it safe, and slowly trust God who even started this far-fetched idea of reconciliation to do what He said He would do. God is not scared of your doubts, or your questions, my friend. I think this idea of doubt, specifically in a Christian society is seen as a lack of faith, but you are not a second-class Christian if you choose to be vulnerable with the community around you. I just want to encourage you if you’re struggling with doubt especially in reconciling a relationship whether that’s a parent, a friend, really anyone, me too.

new year, same God.

 

Isn’t there something so beautiful about a new beginning? A new year, a new day, a fresh start; a chance to change and experience growth while living in your new beginning. January 1st brings hope, possibility, and reminds us the decisions we chose to make will affect us in coming years. January beckons us to rearrange our priorities, analyze and reflect on our lives. Do we like who we’ve become? Is there room for improvement? In what areas can we grow this year? If you’re like me, January seems like a safe haven from missed chances and unmet goals. A chance to begin anew, a fresh start of endless possibilities, a chance to better myself, to be better than what I was last year. I’ve been reflecting on my life recently and found myself waiting for the New Year to eat better, exercise more, set my gaze ever upon the Father, and to be more intentional… but why? Why must I wait for a new month, or even a new year to have a chance to recollect, analyze, and reflect on my life? There is really no reason to my incoherent thinking because with Jesus every morning is a chance to begin again, to strive with reckless abandonment, to be better than yesterday. His mercies are new every morning, my friend. Every day you have the opportunity for a fresh start, every morning is an opportunity to extend and receive grace. We don’t have to wait for January 1st to be who we were made to be.

raw + real

I’m learning to be in pursuit of vulnerability is the best route I can be on in this season of 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 the mostly messiest versions of ourselves. How can we say we’re truly ‘living our best life’ when we can’t even talk about the difficult things that got us to the apex. We can’t– at least not honestly. 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. 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 trauma, and periodic 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 becoming 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.