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?

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.

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.

21-Day Challenge

I know…another post so soon?  This won’t happen often so enjoy it now!  🙂

I’m posting this because I feel so inspired to.  What is the 21-Day Challenge?  Here’s your answer.

Tiffany Thurston posted about this challenge on her blog, and I found out about it through Twitter.  God’s Word and journaling?  Together?  Reading God’s Word and journaling about it for 21 days?  Two of my favorite things together tied into a challenge?  I’m in!

There’s a link to a reading plan on Thurston’s blog, but with Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) starting up on Monday, I’ve decided to follow along with the book we’re studying this year.  My reading/writing will come from the Acts.  I’m so excited about BSF starting up again, and now adding a further depth into it with the journaling will be good for me.

The challenge is from September 9th-September 30th, but it’s never too late to start!  Join in, apply what you read to your life, and see what God shows you!

If on Twitter, use hashtag: #21dayCHALLENGE

Leave a comment if you’re joining in!

You Are Not Alone

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written, but I finally felt the push to do so tonight.  There’s so much that I want to write about, that I feel the Lord is putting on me to write, but I haven’t followed through.

Tonight, this is weighing heavy on my heart.  This “I’m not alone” stuff.  This is me being real about my Christian walk.

Do you ever feel completely alone in a crowd, like you’re completely invisible and no one sees that you’re there?  That you’re even standing or sitting next to them?  That you are only “seen” when someone needs something?  That you just don’t matter to the people that you’re around?  I’ve felt that way many times, in all different types of settings.  Groups, get-togethers, fellowship times, and even at church.

This is a lie Satan loves to get hold of and use against me.  Constantly saying “no one cares, no one wants to listen to your problems, you’re just seeking attention, you’ll become a burden” among other things.  I’ve been told by people that I seek attention, that I need to stop self-serving, that I need to do something for others, and that I need to ask them about the things going on in their life and not always talk about myself.  Satan feeds on that and loves it.  It fuels him to use more lies against me.

So what do I do?  I believe I’m on the right path with God, doing things for others, checking to see how others are doing, and doing my best to put myself dead last in my life.  I lose touch with myself until I’m right back in that pit, wrapped in fear for speaking out truth about what’s really going on in my life.  I lie to the very people I love about what’s going on with me.  I wear a mask to hide the puffy eyes from crying, the frown from showing, the sadness from being known.  I don’t reach out for help.  I try to avoid talking about myself when I’m with a friend.  I get angry with myself when I realize that I have been talking about myself.   Isn’t that exactly where Satan wants me to be though?

Simply put, yes.  The enemy has me right where he wants me.  Now he makes me feel like I really am alone, that it’s just me and I have to deal with all of my problems on my own.  There is no one left to turn to-well, except the enemy.

God speaks Truth against each of those lies from Satan.  God promises to never leave you or forsake you.  Galatians 6:2 tells us to “carry each other’s burdens”.  I can’t carry all of my burdens while carrying the burdens of others.  I have to ask for help and it’s okay to do so.  When I’m able to see where I have gotten, He gives me the strength to reach out and will put someone in my path to ask for support.  And how can I help anyone, show anyone love the way Jesus would, if I am spiritually broken?

In all of this though, God recently spoke a very clear blessing to me, one that I had not heard before.  When I’m in those moments of not being able to turn to a person on this earth, it’s okay, because that means I have to put my complete and total faith in God.  God is my Healer, my Counselor, and my Shepherd.  He is what I have, He is all that I need. He has created us not to go through life without human interactions though, so have that in your life.  Fellowship is important!

I know that I’m never really alone.  The Bible clearly states that God will never leave me or forsake me.  God is with me no matter where I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going, what I’m doing, what I’ve done, what I will be doing.  God is there!  What a blessing that is, that He is there when I need Him.  I need something, God is there to ask, and to answer my need-of course, in the way He sees fit and of course in His timing.  God reminds me of the good I’ve done for people, the ways that I’ve given myself to help them, unselfishly.  God brings the truth, the light, into the darkness that has me surrounded.

Remember, you are not alone.  God is with you, ALWAYS.  Listen to the song “You’re Not Alone” by Meredith Andrews.  It’s my favorite song of hers, and one that I have put on repeat for a good hour or more.

One With Them

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  – 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)

Today, I found out about a ministry voicing support for Christians that face persecution for their beliefs.  The ministry is called One With Them, and is through Open Doors USA.

Can you take just a moment and imagine living in an area of the world where you are persecuted for your belief in Jesus?  In a place where you are not free to worship our Lord, but have to do so in secret? Or perhaps not allowed to worship Him at all?

Is that something that you don’t want to think about?

Thinking about hiding our beliefs isn’t always easy for us to understand.  We’re free to go to church.  We’re free to listen to Christian music.  We’re free to read the Bible just about anywhere we want to.  We are free to speak about our God.  Sure, there are places in America where we can’t always do these things, such as the workplace, but we still have the freedom.  Let us give praise for that!

I don’t know very much about the countries where these persecuted Christians live.  I don’t know what they face daily, what they struggle with.  This isn’t an area I’ve really explored.  What I do know is that it hurts to see people living for Christ, but having to do so secretly.  I can only offer prayer for those affected at this time.  If prayer is all I have, I will put my faith into know that prayer does work.

And This Is Where It Starts…

Here I go…I’m stepping out, starting this new blog, opening some doors.  All because God called me to do this.

Yes, called by God.  I recently attended a Women of Faith conference for the first time.  It was really a life changing experience.  I learned much more than I thought I would, real lessons I could apply to my life.  I gained a new perspective on where my life could go.  I realized that some things needed to change.  God had me there for a very good reason.

Everyone’s walk with Christ is unique.  We all have our own struggles as we go along.  Sometimes we step off that road of life to a broken one of death.  I’ve done it several times, but I want to stop.  I want to stay on the path of life because of all the good and wonderful things I know it holds for me.

Am I sure of where this blog is headed?  Not completely.  I’ve got a number of things that I want to write about, from my experiences and perspectives.  I want to challenge my readers by what they read, make them think about it.  This is only the start of the call I’m answering.