A way out…

At times throughout my life as I’ve gone through difficult circumstances with an uncertain outcome, experienced a lot of anxiety, or am dealing with a current or past trauma – I have found my thoughts racing or am even bombarded with distracting plans and intrusive thoughts.  My first reaction when those come are usually “what is wrong with me?” or “am I going crazy?” Over the years, I’ve been training my mind to identify what is TRUTH.  The truth is sometimes not all that comforting if I’m honest, especially the truth about myself. I’ve learned that these thoughts and distractions are my mind and heart’s way of trying to run.  God has His persistent plan for me though.

Our proud human nature likes to think we should be somewhere different than we are, that we shouldn’t be battling these same issues still, that we should be more put together, or the worst one…at least I’m not as bad as _____.  FYI…in the right circumstances, you could be.  The “shoulds” are an entirely other issue that we can go into another day, but let me at least say there is no end to them.  The “should” will pin you down and take all your air in the form of hope.  We give ourselves WAY too much credit and power.  When we think we can either lift up our world or take it down singlehandedly, we have the thought that the God of the universe is smaller than us.  It’s not TRUTH.  Thankfully, He is not affected (or angry) by our warped ideas.  His purpose will still go on.

However, the damage done to our own minds is self inflicted and solidifies over time the more we dwell on UNTRUTH.  Kind of like when you eat terrible, smoke, and don’t exercise for years.  Early on, you could likely stop all negative outcomes by just changing those things, but as time goes on, those things begin to have an effect on your body and cause damage.  It’s the same thing.

Pain is…well…PAINFUL! Our natural instinct is to run from it or fight against it.  What I do know, and can tell you has remained a constant in my life –  is that when I stand and look the pain in the face and receive the struggle as part of this journey that God has me on…then I grow by leaps and bounds.  I also have peace.  When we run from it by latching onto distractions in the form of crazy thoughts we obsess on, bad relationships we keep going back to, media we search to find meaningless purpose or love, even the good things (exercise, our children, our spouse) that we use to avoid facing ourselves or what God wants to grow in us.  I have had to face the fragility of my little boy’s life, but for many years I didn’t.  It kept popping up in weird ways letting me know that “reality” wasn’t going anywhere.

What TRUTH have you been running from or fighting lately?

We always assume TRUTH is something that will be revealed about someone else, then we will be justified in our pain, have tools, and everything will be better. Then we will have more ways to control life and avoid the pain.  Yep, it’s all still “running”. Worry is a way of running.  We even fret when we can’t control the circumstances, so we mull them over in our mind until we are heart sick.  Who does that benefit?  No one.

NEWS FLASH!!! TRUTH is often the unfolding reality about ourselves, how we cope, mistakes we’ve made, how we interact, forgiveness we need to seek out, the things we believe about people and mostly about God.  When we embrace the truth and allow it to change us, then we will be healthy and grow.  We will experience peace and contentment.  The quicker you stop lying to yourself about yourself and realize that God doesn’t want to beat you over the head with it either, the quicker you’ll likely get out of the trial or the lifelong rut or bout of apathy you’ve been in.  There’s a reason you don’t feel anything anymore.  Allow this, and the truth about yourself and God’s love and purpose for you, to AWAKEN you.

This weekend in a sermon, my pastor was speaking about “where our treasure is…that is where our heart is also.”  In the battle to find love (knowing that we are truly loved) we chase after so many things.  He said “seek God to your heart’s content”.  I was so thrilled at how I understood that.  For one, I did.  Secondly, that meant that when my heart is discontent, hurting, despairing, questioning, rejected…then I can seek God TO MY HEART’S CONTENT.  Since I am a determined person, I saw the total TRUTH in that.  That meant that if I wasn’t content, I could keep seeking persistently.  Eventually, Jesus will envelop me with His love and will give me all that my heart needs in those moments.

Truth is accepting reality.  We are often avoiding reality because it’s painful. When we do that though, we create our own weird world (like when we think of the worst possible outcome to our circumstances or assume other people’s motives).  I thought I’d share ways that God has given me courage and the grace to exist in my circumstances with a mind that is fixed in truth and reality.  I’m no expert and I’m one in a billion voices these days, but I wanted to encourage people to “be strong and courageous…”, so they can experience all that God has for them and no longer allow the thief steal from them.

Reality is grieving.  It is accepting loss.  The only way to get out of grief is to walk through it.  It’s accepting that things aren’t the way you thought they’d be or dreamed they’d be.  Maybe your hands are tied.  There is purpose on THIS path though.  You may not know all the why’s or like what has happened, but you will see the purpose of it unfolding if you embrace it. The purpose often reaches farther than us and is even intended for someone else at times.

Reality is accepting your circumstances with the right attitude.  This does not mean you won’t struggle.  The aim though, should always be purpose and joy.  Joy is not always happiness. Dwell on God’s great love for you, His love for your family, and search for things to be thankful for.  Are you breathing…then there is purpose for you today.

Reality is listening to the hard things about ourselves.  Sometimes we have caused others pain (intentional or not).  It’s important and healthy to listen to how we’ve injured another person without defending ourselves if they are valid.  It’s usually obvious deep down to us when we’ve made mistake. This is part of being healthy.

Reality is being honest.  In the same way that we need people to be honest with us so that we can see ourselves accurately, we need to be honest with others.  Mostly it comes in times when people tend to manipulate, lie, or side track us from our mission that we need to be really direct.  Maybe we see someone in patterns of harm.  “Love rejoices in the truth”.  We need to be truthful with them which may feel like a conflict.  Conflict in itself is not bad, when coming into it with unity as the end game.

Reality is accepting the hard things about ourselves.  Maybe you’re a complainer, maybe you don’t forgive well or are bitter, maybe you shut people out and assume the worst about people, maybe you’ve been a coward, maybe you’ve thrown people you love under the bus because something better came a long, maybe you appease people because you are too afraid of conflict, maybe you flatter people or are fake, maybe you are critical and judgmental, maybe you’re stubborn and don’t yield when necessary, maybe you’re impatient, maybe you aren’t gracious and compassionate, maybe you are greedy with your time and love, maybe you are selfish, focused on things rather than people, maybe you don’t care and are unapologetic about yourself (yikes), whatever you’re thing is…I’m sure you already know what it is.  Multiple people have probably repeated it to you.

Reality is changing the hard things about ourselves. It’s doing the hard work once we’ve seen the mess.  Haha! Sometimes when I’m cleaning and I move my son’s bed and I see piles of dog hair and dust.  My first instinct is to cover it back up and try to forget I saw it, however because I’m a “work now, play later” person, I can’t let it go.  There are the weeds in the yard that are small now, but will grow and consume everything.  For me, doing the hard work and getting it over with, means I can have sweet peace and unhindered relaxation later.  IT’S THE SAME THING.  When you see the mess, BE BRAVE!  Have courage to do the hard thing.  God does not require you to do this alone.  In fact, the Bible says that “HE who has begun a good work in you, is faithful to complete it.”  Philippians 1:6   He starts things and He finishes things.  He is not like us and thinks “what did I get myself into” and then cuts His losses.  You are valuable and deeply loved, loved so much He wants you at your potential.

Reality is accepting the truth that we’ve been rejected by someone we love (a family member, friend, spouse). They may not accept us, our personalities don’t mesh, they speak badly about us, they may have violated our trust, betrayed us, they may be critical and try to defeat your goals, etc.  Their actions have said “they don’t want us.”  Ouch!  Once we accept that, and let go of what WANT that relationship to look like (grieve) and see it for what it is…freedom.  Love is free and does not force through punishment or manipulation.  We can come to the acceptance that we are not in control and we lack the love we need, but then go to the only dependable SOURCE.  We can control our attitude, to some extent – our environment, and we will likely not want to react from a broken place of desperation anymore.  We will experience the freedom of letting go.  Don’t follow someone who’s walked away and don’t grovel.  We need to be kind and respectful, but ALWAYS REAL. To bury things is to live in a delusional relationship.  If a relationship is difficult there is often a natural consequence of distance.  People don’t want to be close to someone they don’t feel safe with.

Reality is owning your life and giving up on blaming others.  One of the hardest truths to accept without falling into despair is realizing that you may be the main one responsible for where you are at in life.  You may have fallen a long way down or might not even know how long you’ve been there.  At some point, we come to a place when we realize the choices we have made aren’t someone else’s fault (our parents, our spouse, our children).  When we realize the way we are living or acting is unhealthy, blaming other is a brick wall.  They may have created the mess, but unfortunately, it’s yours to clean up.  I honestly hate this one too.  You can’t force others to see their mistakes or sins against you, you can’t make them change, but you can sever the distraction that blaming them creates.  You will stay stuck if you keep blaming.  Ever noticed in an argument, until someone apologizes or admits their fault…then the wheel just keeps spinning?  When you apologize or ask for forgiveness, DO NOT follow it up with anything but a period.  When you own your life it ends and starts with you.

I have two children with significant special needs. God has given me so much purpose in being their Mama!  They both have significant medical and developmental issues, but completely different diagnosis.  In the past 2 years, many devastating things have happened to them, to our family.

As much as I squirm, I find that I just make it more painful.  The more I try to light my own way or push for ways to stop the pain, the more I actually hurt myself.  In this storm, He has not stopped the thunder and the waves…but He has calmed them all inside me.  The more I press into Jesus and bury myself in His love for me even when I can’t see His plan…I experience ABUNDANT LIFE. Abundant life is not what we think.  It is experiencing God’s love for us and sharing it with any others who long for it. It’s not always a cure from a disease, the debt being paid off, the relationship reconciled.  It is not always the happy ending…it’s seeking God when all is lost and when all is found.  The abundant life is being freed from yourself and saved by Love! So much freedom comes when we take our eyes off of our pain and serve someone else.  It’s designed that way. 


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