Called To Community

Does the word community scare you?

I’m not exactly a fan of the word, let alone being part of one.  There have been so many hurts in my past due to being in a community.  Some were Christian communities, some not.  After a while it seemed pointless in trying to find my place.  I figured, “If I can isolate in this group of people, why don’t I just walk away?”  I walked away from some groups when the drama became too much, or when I was simply exhausted from trying to fit in and find my place.  The isolation came from that exhaustion and eventually I’d know to count the group as just another loss.  I often questioned why I kept trying with each new group, expecting something different.  Why try when it always turned out the same way in the end?

You see, in return from all of the hurt, I began thinking that I could do life alone.  Then, when I came to know Jesus, I could do life with only Him.  I didn’t need to let any friends in and I didn’t need to ask for help.  I was fully capable of doing life with Jesus.  Forget about the people He had placed in my life to guide me and to help me turn away from my sin.  Nope, I didn’t need any of that and I was going to prove everyone wrong.  Over and over again the wall was built, torn down, and built up again.

While trying to express my want to “do life alone”, I was being told that I needed to be part of a community.  That God calls us to be in community with other believers.  This was something I dismissed, continued to question, and kept trying to come up with reasons why I should walk away.  My wanting to walk away centered on some sort of hurt.  Of course, with every reason I found to walk away, there was always some truth someone had to show me it wasn’t what God wanted for my life.

My spiritual brothers and sisters, if one of our faithful has fallen into a trap and is snared by sin, don’t stand idle and watch his demise.  Gently restore him, being careful not to step into your own snare. ~ Galatians 6:1 (The Voice)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read and heard that very scripture, usually from the NIV.  Something new stood out to me while I was doing some journaling over Galatians 6.  This verse is so clear about calling us into a community with other believers, to be there to help each other, to be there when someone is struggling.  We aren’t told to cast them aside and have them figure it all out on their own.  We aren’t told to tell them they should be better than they are and not deal with a certain behavior anymore because they should be over it.  God calls us to help restore them.

As someone who is in recovery from addictions, “self” issues, and relational trust issues, this is a big revelation.  I have experienced being cast aside.  I’ve been told that I should have let go of certain behaviors by a certain time.  I can also say that I’ve had people reach out and help to restore my life.

It’s because of what I’ve been through that encourages me to act on this verse.  I don’t want to see fellow Christians go through rejection because of their past and their struggle to move on.  In order to move on I needed God and a community of friends who would stand beside me through the ups and downs of the recovery process.  I needed to be around people who had been doing the work God was preparing me to do.  God helped me to find those people.

It’s time to step up and help our fellow Christians that are hurting.  They walk through the doors of our churches every week.  Some may have a difficult time expressing their hurt because of past rejection.  Be that person that someone can come to.  Be that person that someone can trust.  Be that person that can help restore.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  It could help more than you know!

So, who is God asking you to help in the restoration process?

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Letting. It. Go.

I never thought the day would come when I could say, “I’ve let the anger go.”  That day came around a month ago.  Through the words of others, and God leading me to the right places at the right time, I finally let go of anger I’ve held onto for months!

I had attended a one-day women’s retreat, not really knowing what to expect.  The topics of the day were about friendships and relationships, and forgiveness.  Easy enough to figure out why God had wanted me there!  Later that next week I attended two revival services, and again I heard about relationships and forgiveness.  Pile on what the study was over for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) that week and I was getting a very clear message from God.

It was time for my feelings to catch up to my forgiveness!

I had harbored anger towards this person that had hurt me very deeply.  I was not ready to let go of that anger, although in my heart I had already forgiven.  I figured that I was just working through a broken relationship and I was in the anger stage.  Thing was, I was stuck there!  I wasn’t willing to let go and move forward, but God was pointing out that it was time.  Was I really ready for that step?  Over the course of five days God kept speaking to me, through various ways, that it was time to let it go.

It was during the altar call on Wednesday night, the last night of revival, that I knew it was time to let go of the anger.  I had held back long enough and I needed to let myself heal.  So up I went, with the person’s name written on a piece of paper, ready to let go of the anger and be freed.  I dropped the paper where those of us responding to the altar call were supposed to, then just kneeled at the altar and cried.  God took my anger from me and it was as if a hundred pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders!  I was free!

Letting go of anger isn’t easy, especially when it comes from extreme hurt.  Holding onto the anger was just hurting me more, allowing the person who had hurt me to still have some control over my emotions.  I knew that my anger would take control over me completely if I was to see this person again, and that I wouldn’t be who God wanted me to be towards them.  Thankfully, during this anger filled season, I never saw them.

God doesn’t want us to live in bondage to our anger.  Until I was ready to let go of my anger, I was going to keep dealing with extreme hurt that I wasn’t able to move past.  James 1:20 (NLT) says, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”  Really hits home with all I went through during this season.  So does Psalm 4:4 (NLT), which says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Think about it overnight and remain silent.”  I can only imagine the ways that I sinned because of my anger.  How many times do you think about the ways anger has caused you to sin?

Anger is a part of the grieving process, but we aren’t to stay there, in that stage.  We aren’t to let our anger have control of us and pull us away from the life God wants us to lead.  If God is asking you to let go of your anger, are you ready?  What is keeping you from letting it go?

I can honestly say that my life has been more peaceful since letting go of the anger.  I know that, should I ever see the person again that hurt me, I know that I won’t act out in rage.  I can’t worry about the chance of seeing her again, but trust in God that if I do, He will guide me to act in a way that pleases Him.

God, I give you praise for taking away all of my pent up anger and aggression.  I am a new person because of it!  For anyone reading this, I pray that they will release any anger felt towards someone to You.  That they will find healing and restoration for their soul.  In Your Son’s Name I pray, Amen.

I Don’t Trust You

I have had another difficult week this past week and the week before that, and have taken yet two more big blows.  It’s to the point where the will to get up again is nowhere near.  It doesn’t feel good to say that. Life…and the enemy…just have me that low.

I say all that to get to the core of this post.  Through this whole process and grief, I’m to the point where trust is now a big issue.  I feel like I’ve been put in a place where anything I say or do is wrong in front of certain people.  Where it is now best to stay silent than to speak.  That I’m someone not to speak to.  Not exactly a place someone who’s been called to speak wants to be placed in.  Also, I know these thoughts are coming from a very wounded place and they are extreme.  It kind of feels like I’ve been targeted.  Like people just can’t stand that I’ve voiced my brokeness.  I wish I could say more about this, in more detail, but it would only be stepping down to a level that I don’t want to be on. I’m not seeking revenge or tearing anyone else down because someone decided to do that to me.

It’s not really what anyone wants from me, to silence myself.  I’m thankful for the friend that has listened to everything I’ve said to her.  I am thankful that she has walked this very tough road with me.  God doesn’t want me to silence myself.  The good news is that I can go to Him and He will always be ready to listen to me.

When you’ve been deeply wounded and essentially silenced by someone, how do you react?  Do you run, hide, or lash out at that person?  I’ve been hurt enough that it’s easy for me to just build a wall and block people out.  I say something to make them think that I’m okay, even if I’m not, after they’ve done something to me.  I’m not one of those people who deals well with surprises of the negative sort.  There is one thing I’ve learned through all of this and I’m planning on making that change in my life.

Even though I can’t trust many people right now, I know that I can turn to the One, my Father, whom I can trust, no matter what.  It’s been difficult to turn to Him, after taking so many blows.  I know that He didn’t cause them and I’m not blaming God one bit.

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely;
never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.
Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish,
and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Voice)

 

I Have Failed You

God has just revealed something major to me in the wake of what has happened.  I know it is important to share, to not just work it out for myself, but because I know someone will come across this post and need the truth that is found within. So, onto the revelation.

When someone thinks they’ve failed you, but won’t stay around to find out your thoughts, that’s the enemy speaking into their life. Once they speak these words into you life and walk away, the enemy has a way in to kill, steal, and destroy.

Now, this opens the door for the enemy to step right into your life. This is exactly what happened to me. This is what lead to turning back to old ways of coping with hurt and disappointment.  I was dealing with the actions of someone that now seem so uncharacteristic of them. When everything first happened I was so stunned that I had no idea what to do or think. What a perfect chance to attack, especially since I’ve been doing healing work in the area of relationships.

I cried out to Jesus in my innermost pain. I tried to pray but found it to be so hard because of the pain that I was in. I struggled to even open my bible. Yes,the enemy was getting exactly what he wanted. The enemy had used someone else to get to me.  Thankfully I’ve been blessed with some great, safe people that stepped in to pray on my behalf.

Mind you, when this all happened last Sunday, I was coming off a great weekend ladies retreat and a birthday celebration. The enemy wanted to tear me down.  The enemy had found a way in when I had least expected it.

I want to say that I am not judging this person for what they did. I know how unlike myself I am when the enemy has gotten a foothold.  There are times when Satan does try to disguise himself as God to trick us. I’ve had at least one other person confirm that this was out of character.  God has again been clearly speaking to me about this whole thing and that this is not how He would have ended it.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9

This is why I know to be alert. How difficult is it though when we are blindside? While the enemy may have gotten a piece of me, he did not get all of me. Victory goes to God!

 

New Direction

I’ve realized why I struggle to blog here.  I have this idea that I have to come all cleaned up and have some major revelation from God to share.

Not long ago I realized that I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to come to Jesus all cleaned up.  Why should Is show myself as that kind of person here, on my blog?

I’m not perfect. No one is perfect.  It’s time for me to start using this blog for that. It will mean being bold. It will mean trusting God with what I’m supposed to share.

God has called me to speak and I don’t want to put myself out there as some one I’m not.  I’m not perfect.  I have my struggles.  I’m seeing new struggles as I work through my past and how it relates to my future.  I believe that it’s time to stop hiding.

Mother’s Day Is Tough For Me.

 

I’m going to start out by saying that I have no clue where this post is going to go.  I’m writing this from my heart.

I’ve struggled with Mother’s Day for many years now.  I can’t buy my mother a sappy card because the words don’t reflect the type of mother she is to me.  It’s hard for me to celebrate her.

She doesn’t understand my love of Christ, my involvement in church, bible study or ministry work, and I’m pretty sure she won’t understand or support my calling.  My calling is to speak, share my story, and to help others trapped in the same chains that are falling off of me.  I can see God forming a ministry around this already.  Her view of a career is, well, not this, and she has no clue this is what I want to do with my life.  I am thankful for those friends that I have that are supporting me already.

My mother also doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so she doesn’t see life the same way as I do.  I’m not sure if she ever will have that personal relationship.

I love her, but it’s a struggle.  I struggle to pray for her and to ask that she be blessed.  The Bible speaks of loving one another.  God teaches us how to love.  But how do you show love to someone who treats you with disrespect, selfishness, and constantly complains, expecting you to have answers?  Who demands things of you and always wants something in return instead of doing something just because?  Who expects pure perfection because they see themselves as perfect?

There are times that it feels like my own mother is my enemy.  There have been many times when I can see the Evil One using her to try and tear me down, and winning.  With the way that she lives her life, it honestly doesn’t surprise me.  I do what my mother asks of me, most of the time.  Some of her requests are only to gain her something, or to get out of doing something.  I have to walk a fine line of doing what she asks and not allowing her to walk all over me.

As a Christian, I find this to be a really difficult thing to face.  I’m constantly under judgement.  My own mother doesn’t understand who her daughter is becoming.  My own mother won’t take the time to understand.  That hurts me.

If there is someone in your family that you struggle with, know that you’re not alone.  God is with you every step of the way.  Listen to what He tells you to do, where He leads your life.  If someone is against your dreams, stand firm if your dreams are God’s will for your life.  What matters is following God’s will for your life, not someone else’s.  If you’re finding it hard to pray for that family member consider asking a friend to pray for them.  Give yourself a chance to work through the hurt that you’re dealing with.

I guess this comes down to the words in Ephesians 4:18 (NIV) that say, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”  I really think that’s the case for my mother.  I know I can live by the following words from Ephesians 4:20-24 (NIV): “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

All I can hope is that she has seen a change in me, and eventually that God will reveal Himself to her and change her life.

It’s Been Awhile

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written here.  God has really been doing some work lately and I love it.

About 10 months ago I found myself walking through the doors of a local Celebrate Recovery ministry.  I had no idea how much this ministry would change my life, the people I would soon call family, or that it would lead me to a new church.

God has really been stirring a love for ministry.  It’s been a couple of years since I got the call to speak.  I had no idea back then what that would turn out to be.  Okay, I can go talk about things I’d been through, no problem.  I just didn’t know what God was really asking of me.

Ministry.  God was calling me to ministry.  To help others that are going through the same things I’ve found or am finding freedom from.  Things that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge an existence of in the church.

This year alone has been amazing, just the first four months.  And I’m eager to see what God will reveal to me through His Word, discussions with others, and what I’m working on in my own life.