Friday, July 16, 2010

Embracing Brokenness

Take a moment, please, and picture this scenario with me if you will: There once was a young girl who grew up in a Christian church. She was always perfectly groomed, and looked beautiful in her flowing white linen dresses. She spent her days thinking about how much God loved her, and how she wanted to live her life to please Him. She kept herself "pure" in the sight of God, and never let a man touch her until her wedding day. She raised 3 perfect children who were always perfectly groomed and behaved. In fact, her family looked just like they had walked off the pages of a Dickens novel. Everyone loved and adored her, and sought out her advice on every aspect of life. She was a shining picture of God's glory!

Now take a moment please, and consider reality! How I would LOVE to say that this is my story. The truth is, though, my story is so far from this fairy tale, that when I read it I laugh out loud! I want you to understand, that in the following paragraphs, I am going to be brutally honest with you. I am going to tell you things about myself that I really don't want you to know. Then, when I am finished, I will tell you why I choose to share such painful memories with you.

Here is the truth: Once upon a time, there was a young girl who grew up in a Christian church. She struggled with other kids. She fought with her best friends. She copped an attitude when she felt shamed or rejected. When she was 10 years old, she made what she thought was a commitment to God, but sadly, she struggled her whole teenage existence with feelings of inadequacy. There was something missing in her life....and she knew it. Not knowing how to fill the void, she tried many things that the world had to offer. She tried to find intimacy in sinful sexual relationships that brought her temporary comfort. She found a refuge in the music that consumed her thoughts and molded much of her view of the world. And, while she never gave in to the temptation of drugs, she tried drinking and found that being drunk was more uncomfortable than it was fun. She spent many nights laying in bed crying because she knew there was a God, and she KNEW that she wasn't good enough for Him!

When she was a young adult, someone gently challenged her thoughts on who God is. You see, I had spent my entire life thinking of God as a big authoritarian in the sky. There was a list of do's and don'ts. Most of my activities were on the don't list! The bigger problem I had was that I loved my lifestyle even thought I knew in my heart that it was wrong! Why would I want to change something that I loved so dearly? It was the only comfort I knew.

Let me just clarify something here. This is not an indictment of my family. I am so thankful for the family that God blessed me with! My parents loved me. They taught me right from wrong. They were strict, and that kept me out of some trouble anyway. We went to church every Sunday. I never felt unloved by my parents! I want to mention this because it doesn't matter what kind of family you came from. You can receive all of the love in the world, and still feel empty.

So, back to my point. Someone came along in my life who loved me enough to ask me questions about my faith. She never (that I can remember) challenged the notion that I was the Christian that I said I was. It was a simple seed that was planted. It was a simple as her asking what church I attended and then asking if I believed that I could lose my salvation. To be totally honest, I had no idea what she was talking about, but it was the turning point that made me want to ask questions, dig in scripture, and really understand her way of thinking. She didn't spend hours following up, and making sure I understood. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit did that for her.

Honestly, I do not know how long it took me to understand. I can't give you a date when I "prayed a prayer" and was saved. It was more of a process. What I began to realize, though, was that as hard as I tried, I could not change myself. I could not make myself into what God wanted me to be. Oh believe me...I spent years trying! What a miserable existence! I do remember laying in bed one night and crying. Then crying out to God. I told Him how unworthy I was of Him. I told Him that I wanted to know how to love Him. I told Him that I needed Him. What was the difference between now and when I was 10? It was HUGE!

My favorite Bible verse to this day was what made the difference. Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." This beautiful verse explains that we are not saved by what we do. We are not saved by our actions, the way we dress, or by looking like the "perfect Dickins family." We are saved by the grace of God alone. Through faith in God alone. We cannot boast in our goodness, because we are not good!! Romans 3:23 say "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." I am a sinner. Well, I knew that! :) What I didn't know was that working to make myself a better person in the eyes of God was impossible. Unfruitful. Painful.

So here it is in a nutshell. God loves you. Whether you believe that you are lovable or not. God doesn't want you to strive to emulate other people, or to spend your life listening to self-improvement gurus. What He wants is for you to trust Him. Trust that you are unclean, but through Jesus death on the cross that HE can make you clean. Listen, only HE can make you clean! YOU CANNOT DO IT YOURSELF! Whew...what a relief. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God reconciles us to Him. That means that at one point, we were not a friend of God. To be reconciled means there was an enemy relationship at one point. Romans 5:10-11 "For if when we were enemies of God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." I know for a fact that I was not a friend of God. Since then, I have come into a relationship with the creator of the universe. Wow, I get goosebumps when I say that!

So why would I share all of the skeletons in my closet with you? I have come to realize that my past has a great impact on who I have become today. I cannot change my past. I have a lot of regrets that I would love to wipe out. I have learned that I cannot clean up my past. I can't "clean up" anything. Neither can you. I was broken, but I was unable to embrace my brokenness and place it in the hands of God. Truly that is what we need to do. Admit we are broken, and admit that we are unable to fix it. Then let God do the rest. If my story can help just one person see who God is and help them "embrace their brokenness" then it is worth the pain of admitting my past mistakes.

My story is not of the pure girl in paragraph one. My white dress was so stained with sin, that I never could have cleaned it. However, when we trust Jesus and come into a personal friendship with Him, He gives us clean robes. A robe that can never stain. A pure white robe of righteousness. I can't be stained, because it doesn't matter what we do. What matters is what He did for us. We cannot tarnish His love for us. I can't explain to you the joy that results from the knowledge that God has sealed you as His forever. Joy that replaces pain and brokenness.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Wow, So often I just marvel at how great God is! Even more amazing is looking back at life experiences and seeing the path that He has brought us down, and the resources He brings into our lives at specific times to grow us spiritually. His timing is always perfect!

When I was in 5th grade I attended a slumber party at a friend's house. They were watching a horror movie--which placed my in the next room with my fingers over my eyes catching bits and pieces of the horrific scenes. I was already a scardey cat. The last thing I needed was fuel for my fear. What followed was years of nightmares, intense fear of irrational things, and many tears and pleas to my parents at bedtime to not make me go it alone. I am sure it was frustrating for my parents as they did not know how to allay my fears. It took me into adulthood to get rid of some of those the fear of death, bodily harm, etc.

When my first daughter was born I struggled with the intense fear that God would take her from me. It took us six years of marriage to even conceive her, I couldn't imagine God taking her away after all that we went through! It took months of prayer to shake the fear, and the results were less than immediate. I knew that she did not belong to me, but rather to God. I knew that He had a plan for her life regardless of my plans. I just couldn't shake the fear. My prayers sounded like this: "God, I know she is yours, I know you have only entrusted her to me for a time, but I would not want to live without her, so PLEASE watch over her and don't let anything bad happen to her!!" I would love to say that I prayed and "poof" the fear was gone, but it sure didn't happen that way. It was a process. I thought that I had overcome fear, but as it turns out, it only manifested itself in a different form. The enemy is tricky. We need to stay in the Word if we are to outsmart him!

Right now, I am involved in a Beth Moore Bible study that is probing my heart on so many different levels that it is painful, joyful, and refreshing at the same time. I am amazed at what God is showing me through His Word! Our study last night had me broken before God, in tears, and once again, thankful at the same time. Esther is a book of the Bible that I have read before, I know the story, but I had never studied it like this. We are at the pivotal point in the story right now where she has to face her fears and choose between life and death. Right and wrong. Do I trust God? Even if it means horrible consequences? Even if it means death? We would all hope to make the right decisions in such a situation.

One of the things that has been plaguing me recently came to light last night. One of my daughters has "inherited" the fear that I have always struggled under. I couldn't understand her fears. They are not exactly the same type as mine. I am one of those parents that takes every weakness and fault of my children to heart. I often ask myself what I did wrong to cause these bad traits in them. The truth is, I do not cause them, we are all fallen creatures, but it is partly my job to help them overcome them. And if I cannot overcome my own fears, how can I expect my daughter to overcome hers? What a blessed opportunity I had to talk with her on the way home from Bible study last night about the sovereignty of God and human fear! I want to share with you my future strategy for tackling every fear (thanks to Beth Moore)

It is as simple as this:


The study writer urged us not to fill in the blanks right away. Take any situation in your life that you can imagine and place it in the if blank. If we place God in the then blank, we know that everything will be fine in the end. Even if it means losing someone you love. EVEN if it means someone you love not choosing to follow Christ, the greatest heartbreak I can imagine.


It is so easy to say the words "God is in control." It isn't as easy to reconcile a painful loss in our minds when it happens. Do we trust? We know that God wants us to trust Him explicitly. Esther had to make a choice between right and wrong that could have ultimately cost her life. If the king had not accepted her plea and she had died then it would all be part of her story in history. There would have been a purpose for it. God had something different in mind for her, and her life was spared. BUT the story does not always end that way. Sometimes pain, death, or any other horrible thing you might fear is what God has for us. Did you ever think about that? Sometimes that is what it takes for God to fulfill the plan He has for us and others. Are we willing to accept that? I am asking myself: am I willing to suffer for the cause of Christ? Am I willing to trust that God is truly in control NO MATTER HOW PAINFUL THE CIRCUMSTANCES?

"Lord, give me the strength and courage to always stand in the face of fear trusting you fully and completely. Give me the wisdom to help others, through your Word, to trust you. Thank you for your Word. Thank you that the most repeated command from your heavenly armies is FEAR NOT. You know my heart. You know my needs. You always fulfill." AMEN
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