Life is not fair.

blog imageNothing screams ‘Deidre´you are a loser…you suck in life’ louder than when I find myself sitting at the kitchen counter on a Saturday evening, stuffing my face with pizza, all alone while licking my wounded soul. Every fibre in my being is screaming ‘life is not fair!’ “Skrew life!’ I could think of every ugly word in the dictionary that could have me cussing at life and the blow it has dealt me in this moment. I literally hate every person that has dealt me a blow, and more than anything I am deeply offended at life. All I can think is ‘life sucks and it is not fair’.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?(Isaiah 40:27)

I like to think of myself as a nice person. I do the right thing and I try to be kindhearted even when people do me wrong. Deep down I am even a sucker for punishment because even when someone rejects me, I will still go back to bury the hatched and make peace. As the days go by and I am in the process of transitioning back home, back to poverty, back to my parents house…I feel the sting of offense hitting me like a flood. Making matters worse, is the truth that I just walked away from a failing relationship. Someone I thought would be the one I end up with (finally); ended in immense heartbreak and deep rejection. Every part of my soul is dry, barren and broken. All I feel is the fact that I want to reach and clutch to anything that would make me feel better.

As I sit here I keep thinking ‘life is not fair’. The past two years has dealt me heavy blows. I came here thinking this American dream would materialize. One month in my mother is diagnosed with cancer. I go on this emotional roller coaster of her being in and out of surgery. After which my dad is admitted to hospital. My faith is tested and shaken, my life is up and down. My sister goes through a really bad divorce and is left feeling the wounds and spirals into depression. Financially life is harsh back home and I am here watching my life falling apart. I am physically unscathed living in a household of comfort while my family is suffering. Fast forward and I am nearing the end of my time here in the US. I meet an amazing man and things fall apart fast…broken I sit here once again.

My offense at the Lord is at large…breeding under the surface of my composed personality. Before the break up my ex said: ‘you have an inability to communicate how you feel, I can see the pain in your eyes…yet you fail to tell me how you truly feel.’ Like an arrow those words pierced me because I do have an inability to truly be in touch with how I feel. Removed from that truth though, is the work I have been putting into walking out the ability to process and feel my emotions. These 2 years have been nothing but me ploughing my way from the numbness of self into a life that feels. Here I am bleeding and trying to pick up the chards of what remains of my broken soul not wanting to flip the world the middle finger…not wanting to numb out and become self sufficient.

The only thing I can feel is ‘life is not fair God’…’my life is not fair’. Offense is like a festering wound oozing of rejection, abandonment and discontent. Here I am feeling the full fledged anger, pain and sadness of my life. Emotions I would not associate with a ‘godly woman’…it is like a shameful sting to my soul. Above it all I feel this reality above all ‘you wrote these days for my life and it sucks’.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

Now I have allowed my heart to truly feel. I feel the sting of my emotions and it is brutal. I feel ashamed of feeling this anger towards God. I feel angry at myself for feeling angry. Yet there is still a small knowing in my soul, a whisper telling me that this is good because God already knows how I feel…now I can start to walk into the place of healing and comfort. As I sit here this phrase hits me: ‘fair does not produce character Deidre´’. My suffering is like a highway leading me to a place of intimacy into the knowledge of Jesus. It is in the place of internal turmoil that I learn to find my emotions (note: I am not saying suffering is good, don’t get me wrong, suffering sucks and that is not the Lord’s heart to make us suffer – the very nature of Jesus’s suffering is so we would not suffer in eternity). Yet, humanity has a free will and this life produces moments of turmoil and suffering. Being with God and for God does not negate suffering, there are biblical truths that speak this. He is not a magic wand God who takes away all our pain. He has given humanity dignity in the very fact that we choose which way to turn and the dignity to bare the scars and the rewards of our free will. Free will is just that, it is the dignity to live our lives in the good and the bad.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:3-8)

The truth above all else is that knowing Christ is to fully know him. Knowing him in the good and the bad. Right now I am having to fellowship with the Christ who suffered the cross, so that I may reap the reward of what eternal hope looks like on the inside of my soul.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

This is the gospel of Jesus, he came and he bore himself in humility. An example the heart cannot seem to grasp. A gospel that has become offensive to the human heart…bitter to the soul. It is in this place of humility that I find fellowship. It is in this place right now that I am able to feel the offense of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. It is in this place that I feed my soul on the heartache he felt when he had to walk away from his life. It is in this place that I truly fellowship with his weakness as a man and the glory of choosing the cross because he loved me more. I can choose to succumb to the emotional breakdown on the inside or I can choose to feel and dialogue with the Holy Spirit about my pain.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will…Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done…So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (extracted from Matthew 26:39-44)

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

He is able to empathize with my pain only if I would allow him into the struggle. If only I would allow my heart to feel. Yet the hope is that this is not the end of the story. This is not the end of it. Pain and suffering produces a dialogue to be had with the one who has written these days for me. It is from this place of brokenness I am able to not only fellowship in the story of Jesus but also able to fellowship in the glory of being transformed on the inside. It is here where I find strength and where my dignity is restored. This is the place where I find that he truly is a God who walked like a man and who will restore humanity’s dignity in the end. It is in this place where I am able to allow his word to anchor my soul and his spirit to anchor my emotions in truth.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Here I find strength and honor. Here it is that I learn, life is not fair. It never was and never will be. Life was not meant to be fair, because ‘fair does not produce character’. Easy never teaches me to love wholeheartedly. I was made to love fully and he is committed to the process of love.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.(James 1:2-4)

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:15-19)

This is the dialogue in my soul these days:

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-23)

That I would find the revelation of Jesus, that I may fellowship with his character and become like him in love that transcends my vision in this life.

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The ache of the unanswered

There is something awfully delightful about a lonely existence. I delight my heart in the silence I find midst the bustle of life…I marvel in this more as I sit in a coffee shop just taking in the loneliness of how busy life can be. I liken it to sitting in a room full of people fully absorbed by the aching loneliness that lingers within. In this same breathe I am reminded that life is this hollow hole of unanswered questions… a lingering in the heart of humanity that is like a gaping hole in the soul. We find ourselves yearning and searching to fill this ‘need’. Avoiding the silence in which we allow our hearts to ‘feel’ once more…for the fear of feeling is far more overwhelming to the human heart than engaging in the numbing process of self preservation. This very aching of the unanswered ‘why?’ leaves us devoid of engaging with our deepest need. The lingering desire for intimacy often stifled with temporary satisfaction.

Image source: Picography

Image source: Picography

This month I start life with the deep pain of the unanswered God. Let me make this clear that I find my heart disturbed by the depth of abrasive circumstances…yet there are glimmers of a hope so secure it lingers in the intangible God. Many times in life I am asked what it is that keeps me going…it is a simple ‘yes’ to face the day ahead that strengthens my resolve to continue once more. A ‘yes’ I cannot describe other than the intangible God marking me with a fierce tenacity to not cave under the pressure of life….but like most people I too am human and today I sit at this place fully caved in and bleeding. This is the story I long to share.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God? (Isaiah 40:27)

This verse burns my soul for I find myself at the very place of disregard. I feel like I have been lost and forsaken by God. Here is the back story to how I got to this place. I have been living in the US for the the past year and 8 months and for that entire time I have seen my mother battle with cancer. Nothing beats down the soul more than seeing a parent suffer the anguish of uncertainty with a disease destroying her body. My mother is the most amazing person in the world and to see her wounded in this manner breaks my soul. More than anything seeing her cry in a hopeless manner…is so much more than the heart can stand. I have called home and heard her sobbing on the other end…in fear of dying. This has ripped me apart more than words could ever describe. This very unanswered situation has left my faith in God shattered.

Like most of humanity I have chosen to avoid and numb my soul. The Lord however is faithful in his pursuit of my emotions. This past week pressure building on the inside has come to a point of overflowing. I am at the place where I can no longer avoid my anger and my frustration. I am broken by the ebb and flow of prayer and life. I have come to see that I have a yearning to be answered, I have a hole in the depth of my soul that wants to know why. Why God? Why my mom? Why this family? If anything I am coming to the place of discovering my fear of feeling anger. Ideological conditioning has taught me that feeling fear and anger is shameful…somewhere in my life I have been taught that God is angry when we fail at being ‘good Christians’ or that he hates our anger towards him. This lack of dealing with our deepest questions leaves us hopeless and devoid of intimacy…we start making agreements about the nature of God without even engaging in the dialogue.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)

So easy it is to put my hope in the tangible things, when in fact the soul is intangible. My emotions can only fully be satisfied by the intangible God. I find this more and more the reality of my life. Friendships are fallible, no matter how amazing they are…they are deeply fallible and leave you hurt and longing to be touched in a manner that words cannot. I love the friends I have but the deeper they grow, the more I see the reward and the flaws. I am wired in a way that leaves me a tad bit frustrated. I have touched a depth within the Lord than has left this unquenchable need to be fully satisfied. The more I speak about problems with friends I am left feeling both relieved and aching. It is like the words of comfort they speak deeply resonate within me, yet another part of my soul just feels empty…like they are just words. Often I find myself retreating and just sitting and bawling my eyes out. Will anyone EVER understand? This week my heart was reminded again that God is real…it is in the quiet of my room that I find a friend who truly understands…an intangible friend who touches my soul and comforts the ache. The one who I find through the tears, the anger and the desperate attempts to hide. The one who knows what I feel even before I do. The one who draws me to him and accepts me back when I run from him. The one who engages my soul at a level that keeps me hoping midst the barrenness of life.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

When my heart stops a little midst the anger and pain, I find that I can cry and breathe in the intangibility that touches my soul. Trust rests solely on the anchor of his nature towards me when no one else sees me. I have been forgotten in this life by many….abandoned and rejected. Yet in the moments when I am most alone I feel the Lord drawing me in to a place of peace and comfort beyond the confines of life. I am drawn into a deeper knowing that he is. I am marked again and again by the Jesus who was abandoned by his closest friends. He knows my pain and conflict more than I realize most days…today I remember this truth.

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 15:34)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

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Ambiguity

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Life seems to be this ambiguous journey of circumstances, good and bad, adventurous and boring, happy and sad, lonely and not so lonely. In all of life we are absorbed and marred in a manner through circumstances. We find our ideologies shifting as the seasons of life change. I myself find myself at that very fork in the road. I am a loner, always have been. The kind of kid that hides in the background, rather timid and disengaged. The kid you find absorbed in colouring books, creating a world for themselves other than the one they live in. What a glorious gift to childhood…imagination, creativity. The youngest sibling of two amazing older sisters, it was often hard for me to find myself engaged in time with them because I was so far behind in age. I often just became consumed by my internal dialogue.

Growing up was weird for me, because we had so much happening within our family unit. That I kind of found myself wondering off to the side and just existing…in silence almost. I played the role of the ‘good kid’ so well. I could turn that switch on and light up a room with my talents and my creativity. Everyone knew me…or so they thought.  This month I want to embark on a journey of exploiting that facade of loneliness and embracing the reward writing brings to my introverted soul. More than anything I want to bring hope through the ambiguous journey of my life…unto helping others see that God is not ambiguous.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 )

Here is to the start of that jouney:

Pretentious wounds

By Deidre Mackenna

Life has dealt you such an ambiguous blow

You find it hard to find clarity

Broken and battered like an abused spouse

Daily your wounds define you

 

Gazing in the mirror everyday

Disengaged from the person staring back at you

You apply your daily façade

With precision you refine this look

Your smile as crimson as your lipstick

Your eyes darker than the eyeliner you apply

Blusher fails to hide your anemic soul

 

Pretense is better than owning your pain

Cloaked in this guise

Loneliness stains this cloak

The aching growing and feasting on your soul

Externally you are the belle of the ball

Internally you are the girl never asked to the dance

 

The music of your life starts to fade

The beautiful melody of your life drowned out

Ambiguity becomes your song

The feign mark upon your heart

The song that leads you down the isle

As you marry your heart to a lonely existence

 

Life has dealt you such an ambiguous blow

You find it hard to find clarity

Broken and battered like an abused spouse

Daily your wounds define you

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This is why I love

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Finally I get to breathe and write.

I am finally able to process all my internal ramblings that has transpired post life events. I find myself sitting at the a random Starbucks enjoying the sweet sensation of Jazz and typing to my heart’s content. Being an introvert I often deeply ponder and internalize my situations and find that I always want logical answers…there has to be a ‘tangible solution’. This month I come to tell you that life is full of intangible answers…like a pause to a song that never continues. Often this void is filled with our own solutions to life’s aching and groaning. Allow me to take a minute and share my story with you. It’s easier to ease the pain with solutions than to bleed and be vulnerable to the intangible…to trust the invisible God.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I have always grown up in a household that believed in the Lord…or rather what they believe ‘about’ the Lord. Real questions stifled with ‘the Lord is good’ ‘the Lord is faithful’…growing up in poverty and abandonment you are left aching with the question ‘How is he good when I am left this broken?’. Welcome to the internal questions of my soul. My father is the most amazing man I know on this earth (sidenote: future husband take notes). He is a hard worker, loyal and deeply compassionate. My dad is a doer and he is a fierce lover of Jesus. Never did I question that Jesus is real…ever. Then fast track to my teenage years my eyes are enlightened to ‘real life’…the kind you live growing up in ‘poor neighbourhoods’. A life filled with a traumatic lashing to the soul…the place where kids grow up faster than need be, the place where we live from day to day and the place where we are sold into the slavery of mental conditioning. The place where we make agreements with ourselves that because we lack xyz we are less worthy. The place where we see our parents love the Lord so much and work so hard…yet he is nowhere to be seen…or at least that is how I saw it. I found myself lost beyond measure…often bandaging my soul with ‘self medication’. It was in those days that my heart became marred by the illusion of intimacy, love and self preservation. Midst it all I somehow found a hope in Jesus (which I cannot explain fully) that anchored my soul…I stand tall beyond measure because I have found stability in the one who loves me through the fear, the agony and the loneliness. The kind of intimacy I have found in the pages of my bible, my broken prayers and the endless nights crying myself to sleep, has marked me to believe that he is truly real. So many times I attempted to take my own life and he was there…reminding me why my life matters. I tell this part of my story because I know this is the hardest and darkest story to tell.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

So easily I forget those days…such is human nature I suppose. Fast track down my twenties (haha late twenties…aaaah…I digress) and I find myself coming full circle with a broken life. The past year and a half has been the hardest times in my life. A month into me arriving in Philadelphia my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. I nearly died…I didn’t though. Little did I know that this news would set me on a path of months of anxiety, loads of fears arising and many nights of lonely crying again. My mother had undergone two surgeries in this past time and is alive and well. My mother’s last surgery had happened a couple of months ago and it was successful. In this time I was so vulnerable at the thought of losing my mother in a time where I have barely experienced life. So much anger and accusation stirred in my heart…the biggest lesson learnt is that no anger is to great for the Lord to handle. I found myself many nights screaming at him, waving my fists like a brat and accusing him of her being ill. Angry that he would not ‘take’ this away…he is God after all right? Looking back I am comforted that he loves me this much. Over and over by his word he kept reminding me that he is faithful to heal her disease…each time I would sob like a baby still fearing that she would die before I even have my first child, or even marry. The thought of losing my mother is scary…I have never loved another individual like I do my mom. Through the tears I knew his word was truth and I could speak that and he would move on my behalf…BUT I still doubted in my soul…the beauty of the Lord is that he is unfazed by my weaknesses.

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.Then I called on the name of the Lord: O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:1-7)

Fast track a week later, my dad collapses and is hospitalized. Nothing freaks me out more than losing my dad being so far from home. In this time I was brought to utter weakness. Knowing that my parents are this far from me and that my dad was reduced to such weakness. There is nothing more terrifying than seeing your dad be weak and frail. Dads are made to be strong and brave…not frail and weak. In these moments I found myself back at the place of weak tears. I had nowhere to turn with my bleeding soul but to the Lord. The only place I knew I would find answers that would leave me satisfied. Can I just say that the answers I found was not always ‘nice’. Yet they left me knowing in the depths of my emotions that the Lord is in fact real and intimately acquainted with every accusation in my soul. Again I had to rehash my wounds…’why me Lord? why my family?’…in those moments I found these answers:

  1. Life is about choices and choices have consequences. The Lord values the freedom to choose right and wrong and he also allows the freedom of those consequences to play out. Yeah thats harsh because we want the Lord to love us on our terms. My parents both lived unhealthy lifestyles and this was the outcome of just that.
  2. The Lord is merciful to heal and to draw near the brokenhearted –  When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18) Not only is this a verse…I have encountered this. I have never believed for healing as much as I have in this season…and he has healed my parents. Even when I doubted he came through because I asked through my tears
  3. Regardless of what life looks like there is solid answers in the Lord. I have had this conversation with a friend before…that the Lord is not good because he has not been good in this life…or rather that there are not tangible traces of his goodness. this has left me wondering and just thinking…then I realized that the Lord’s goodness is anchored in the fact that he upholds my life even when I use this life to defile who he is. – He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.(Hebrews 1:3) I have endless stories about my broken life that is a fragrant testimony of the Lord’s love and mercy towards me. Brokenness brings forth that fragrance…when I have had absolutely nothing and no one he was there…this is experiential knowledge I cannot pass on by giving you text from a bible.
  4. Life is a broken place because people are broken. I am so tired of people saying ‘but he is God he should just change us’…think about this for a moment. Would you want to ‘make’ someone else love you? Do you truly want a ‘puppet master’ pulling the strings of your life? Fool yourself all you may…there is no other God that gives you guidelines for a life fully beautiful and says ‘hey you decide…no pressure’.

Last night I finally had a melt down and I bawled myself to sleep literally. Through the tears my heart just gushed at how tired I am of always being on the ‘broken end’ of life. The accusations of loving the Lord and him throwing me this harsh life hit me like a flood. In those moments I was met with such tender love and truth. I could openly bring my anger and weakness before the Lord and vent. In those moments I was met with this reality:

  1. The Lord is humble…he has set the standard of humility by belittling his Son and being slaughtered at the hand of a people who he created. Allowing himself to be led to death on a cross because he loved a people who hated and mocked him – For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-4)
  2. This is the standard of love in Jesus…whether I like that or not. I can choose to walk away and go on my own…but I would never know wholehearted love the way it was intended to be. Love is not the fleeting feel good kind of existence we long for it to be.
  3. Life is not rooted in the tangible things of this world…for now yes…but for eternity…no. I live under this truth because I chose Jesus as my savior. Yes he comforts and he sustains but I live in this life and therefore I will experience the harsh reality of this now. As much as I want to be removed from this harsh reality…it is mine to live. It is this brokenness that refines my character, my ability to stand, my resilience to love and my humility to be vulnerable.

When people look at my life and wonder why I love…this is why I love.

A voice says, Cry! And I said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phillipians 2:5-9)

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:15-19)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

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Heart posture

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This month my heart bares the marks of endurance, patience and more so posture. Posture can be defined as a state or condition at a given time especially with respect to capability in particular circumstances (Merriam-Webster). This week I want to take time and express my thoughts on this word posture. My heart has been shaken, broken and stirred the past few months. It is like the shaking in an unveiling of the weakness of my heart. Unmasking all my fallible attempts at ‘being better’ at certain areas of my being. In a moments shaking I am left gravely exposed and forlorn.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,… (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

Let me take a moment to paint the context of this. For the past year I have walking out sobriety within an area of my life and like a flood circumstances and moments in my life shook my steady progress. Like a flame set to a piece of paper all my attempts and ‘progress’ turned into ashes. Like a pile of dust lying at my feet. I became undone. More than anything else I wanted to soothe the ache of my life and my failure in the comfort of the things I deeply clung to in the past. The familiar ease of my pain and the emptiness that followed became my comfort again. All I wanted was to hold onto the woman I once was because I ‘knew her’…this new me became more and more unfamiliar to me. I had taken a wrong turn and was unwilling to stop, make the U-turn and set my heart upon the truth that I was changing and becoming more of who I am made to be.

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive – C. S. Lewis

The hardest part about recovering from the old self is….the recovery process. Submitting myself to the steps of humility and seeking to find solace for my mistakes in Jesus. I once heard these words and it hit me hard, I believe these words have kept me grounded:

‘The desire to quit and walk away is the one thing in life that will take us out of the race.’

I believe this to be so true. At any given time in my walk I can throw in the towel and lose every inch of who I can truly be. This desire to hide and walk away from all the blood, sweat and tears I have put into pursuing Jesus and finding transformation on the inside will forever take me out of the race and the prize of my eternal inheritance in Jesus. It is far easier for me to just quit. This is why:

  1. I would not need to entrust myself to the unconditional love of the Father and the Son. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). It is far easier for me to accept his hatred of me than to believe that he loves me through my weakness. Pride dictates that I am unworthy of being loved eternally because I am this broken. The idea of an eternal merciful, loving and gracious savior offends me.
  2. I would need to admit that I am weak and broken every time I fail. I would need to admit that apart from the Lord I literally cannot make it. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) The constant humility of being within the Lord at all times is hard pill to swallow…pride won’t have me surrender all of me to this label of being ‘weak’.Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
  3. I hate process. Process takes time and I deeply want an instant fix. I once heard these words: ‘You see months, you days…I see eternity’ – Laura Hackett. It rings true to the core of me because I want to be healed now…I want the fix to happen over night even though I spent a lifetime sowing brokenness. I don’t want to embrace the hard work of weakness accompanied with labor…it offends me that I have so much work to do. More than anything it offends me that love and restoration requires my partnership. Sanctification is a process, that takes time…time is the only thing I have to give in exchange for my restoration. The word sanctification implies that of a process, so when we use this word within  a sentence, we say ‘being sanctified’…which implies constant movement…because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. (2 Thess 2:13)

If anything I am learning and unpacking all my preconceived ideas of myself and that of God. I do find that my knowledge of him is rooted in the accusation that he will shun me. In these lies I find truth that because he loved me…he became flesh and paid the price for my sins once and for all. Now as I partner with him in the transformation of myself and cling to the truth that he is far more superior that I. Only in him am I able to see the power to change for good. I have these things to bear in mind:

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:18-8:4)

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. (Revelation 19:11-13)

Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure – 

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true words of God.(Revelation 19:6-9)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (Isaiah 61:1)

There is a deposit of eternity made within my spirit that connects me to the inheritance of freedom and liberty living on the inside. As I renew my walk each day I find strength in the truth that some day I will be a spotless bride. This is my joy, this is my reward…to be with Jesus and to know that I never gave up in the end. This is the heart posture of a bride…she beholds and gazes upon the beauty of Jesus, agreeing with his word and humbly asking him to change her as she walks through this life. Only then will she be found to become that beauty.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

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Love is sober

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Love is sober

Love is not drunk with settling for less

Love will never be an easy decision

Love will never cop out

These words above, resound in my being…like no other this month. There is nothing more bitter and rewarding to the soul than a life alone…it is those moments by yourself that illuminates the deepest fears of the soul. When all the world seems to have moved on and you find yourself alone…in your singleness. In those fleeting moments you are absorbed by the lie that EVERYONE around you has life together. This blog is not about being single it is for the masses of loners out there who are consumed by the lie that you are lonely and that life has handed you the infamous lemon. This blog is for those who feel the Lord has forgotten them…for those drunk on the illusion of what life and love should look like.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. (Psalm 39:12)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:2-26)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalm 139: 17-18)

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Jesus stands enthroned in glory forever waiting, forever wanting our weak attempts to love him. Love is fallible…I am fallible. My belief in my God is shaky…and often I find solutions to my fears in things apart from God. This past month of my life has proven just that. I have hit an all time low in my attempts to find love. I have parched my soul and deprived my heart of finding answers that remain yearning, like a craving for the depths of love. I have reduced love to a mere ‘feels good’ existence. Oh how weak the human frame must be to settle, to be okay with ‘just enough’, when a deeper love and experience of love awaits. A kind of love so vast and deep it pales in comparison to the picture we are intoxicated by. The movie image we have clung to for so long…the one I have romanced my fantasies with for decades. Yet each day awaits a sober kind of love that transcends the confines of this life…

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

For a long time I have negated the idea of waiting and allowing the Lord to do the refinement in my heart before I moved ahead and found love in the arms of something other. Yet in my broken justification I have allowed my heart to want something else…something that would consume me and place itself in a position to lord over my affections, my thinking and my decisions. Now I sit here utterly shattered by my clutching hand not wanting to let go and allow the best he has for me to unfold. Even as I write this blog this truth stings my soul like peroxide cleansing a wound. Oh how wounded the soul must be that it is this depraved…this hungry to cling to anything. How void the eyes must be to settle on something less fascinating…to settle for second best when the best is yet to come. In the same breath I am utterly grateful for the mercy of the Lord to have broken into my hardened heart and moved with tender love to awaken me again to the beauty of painfully letting go of a love that was not real…for the One that only satisfies. In a moment when I was willing to compromise, He was uncompromising in his zeal for my affections and his plan for my life.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. (Isaiah 62:10)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Truth cuts like a double edged sword separating the need to settle apart from the best the Lord has in store for me. If you are a single woman this blog post is for you as much as it is for me. I envision my life’s journey to be like one standing at a cross road…torn between two paths. Will I choose the path that leads to loving God well in my single existence now or run down the path that leads me to an alternative solution outside of God. My final attempts at this love thing…which one is the right one for me? The answer is never rooted in that question…the answer is rooted in why this need for love lingers, why I want to fill this void that is and endless hole below the surface. Allow me to share my story. For a while now I have been in the beautiful US…loving life and then…along rolls my second year here and I am like…‘girl you still ain’t got no man…still waiting to exhale’. STING….as funny as that sounds typing it…there is a real abrasive burn that lingers behind. How it comes to be that I (Deidre) could have come this far in my life yet still so far from any form of relationship. Could it be that I am not intriguing enough? Could it be that I will spend an eternity without any man noticing me. Could it be that I have been forgotten by the Lord? Fast forward a few weeks and along comes a dashing male…handsome, charming and completely enthralled by me. Yes! FINALLY…

So I engage with said individual and soon find that he in fact is lovely and a great man. Yet the sober decision of pursuing a man that had different moral standards faces me. Like the harsh reality of ‘there’s no Santa’ I stand like a little girl so badly wanting this to be perfect…to work out The core of the matter was that I am a Christian woman who has certain standards and in a whim I had compromised on them. Soon I had my list out (ya’ll know ya’ll got that list too) and I was checking off some things I could ‘compromise’ on…besides life is about making compromises on certain things right? No…not when those things are values rooted in the character of the man Jesus. When those checklist items I scratch off is rooted in my needs to put a bandaid over the deeper issues in my soul. Thank God for amazingly sober minded best friends who will love me the way I deserve to be. Friends who cut it straight in tender love when all you want to do is cut them (sorry friends the struggle was real). I was so engaged in the emotional component of this interaction that I had scales over my eyes that impaired my vision. Why do I share this? I know there are many single /dating Christian woman who knows that the struggle is real. The struggle of wanting to be wanted vs settling for OK just because we fear the best will never come…oh my darling the BEST is yet to come. The Lord is faithful and he gives only good gifts to us his daughters…the ones he deeply loves and the ones he’s deeply devoted to. In this time of having to make a decision to either walk away from this or pursue this and see how far it takes me…I was deeply conflicted. The beauty of love is this…it is sober. Love is a sober choice and the Lord will never violate that choice for me. Let it be said that never in this time did I feel the guilt of the life I was wanting…the desire for intimacy, companionship and marriage is valid before the Lord. How I choose to live that out is my own choice…deep down I knew God would have me either way…yet the sobriety of loving everything I have in Jesus overshadowed my need to find a man that was ‘just good enough’…when I know I have a Father who has absolutely the best in store for me.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

The best is yet to come…

The best comes only when we give up the ‘not so bad, but not the best’. To love the Lord will always require sobriety, sober choices, sober morals and standards. There is no grey area…it is that grey space that will kill your vision for life and your ability to find all you deserve. I came close to sitting in that grey space and vegging out.  You see the problem is not that God does not redeem my time and my past mistakes…but that he values the wise choices I make now to avoid having to be more wounded to the place where I need to come back again and then heal those wounds before I can move on. He values the follow through and the resilience to choose the best he has for me…when all else seems better. I had to choose to end this pursuit of happiness and trust that a man more amazing than this individual would come along, one who values the Lord in the same measure as I do. A man who would lead my heart to glorify God in and through the prophetic image that marriage is. Letting go sucks…there is no better way to put it. I just ended things yesterday and my heart is in tatters. I probably cried most of last night like a girl…yeah I said it…I am a girl deep inside. Yet midst it all I am not hopeless, I know that this is what I had to do in this moment to honor my commitment to being sober in love now and forever. I welcome the day that man enters my life and I know that this decision was the right one. Until such time I have the responsibility to openly bleed before the Lord and to drink truths from his word that will edify my brokenness. My life will always be one that is rooted in the truth that I am living for eternity…the way I choose to express that in this life is my own sober choice.

This verse will probably become my life mantra:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; (Song of Solomon 1:2)

I will say again Love is a sober choice to follow the Lord’s will for my life. Love is a sober mark on the heart that says…It sucks letting go, but I love you more Jesus. Love is a sober decision to love a life worthy of being called a pure and spotless bride even when I fall short.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8)

Love is resilient in it’s walk…Love moves always towards loving God well in the weak decisions and trusting that the best is always the intentions of the Lord for your life. My heart’s cry is to lay hold of a vision for being able to Love soberly…without waver. Love is steadfast…love is not cheap…love will never let go. God is love. The maker embodies the true image of a satisfying kind of love that is able to sustain us in every season of our lives.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11)

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13)

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Love is not perfect, but perfected over time

I have no idea what will flow from my heart today. This I know is that love commits to love. I have had such a hard 2 weeks in every sphere of my life. I have had to face my weakness to love the Lord, my weak ability to receive his love for me and my failure to trust that someday I will commit to the place of loving well. More that this I am more aware of my ability to want to be ‘perfect’ in love. In my mind I am not loving well when I don’t get it right the first time…or the second. Constantly chasing after perfection…I have to do this to get this…I have to love this way in order for the Lord to love me back…right?

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‘Love is not love which alters when alteration finds’ – William Shakespeare

How deeply wrong my thinking is. I have come to see this theme unfold over and over in my life. This week hitting rock bottom I am broken and shattered to find the chards of my definition of loving well. While my love lies there in splintered pieces of pride and stubborn resolve, the Lord comforts me with the truth: ‘God is love’.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:8-1)

I have no disillusionment about the wrestle to pursue loving the Lord well…yet I am more aware of the ability to fail in safety. Knowing that the Lord knows my resolve to ‘want’ to love well is enough to help me get up…collect the pieces of self and keep going.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 John 3:1-3)

There is a security given to me by Jesus. I can come boldly and unashamed when I stumble and fall, knowing the Lord is faithful to help me walk in the fullness of perfect love. As I wage war upon my own frame, I am able to find freedom from shame and condemnation:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2)

No one says it better than A.W Tozer:

The cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers.

Boom….drop the mic…walk off the stage.

When I fall and want to run and hide I need to bring myself before the burning flame of love. I need to face my weakness and know that love sees not the external appearances of my failure…but it looks deeper into my spirit and sees the potential to love perfectly. The Lord will perfect love because he is able to…it will take time and hard work…but I will get there. I refuse to succumb to shame and guilt…I will run into the arms of my Father who knows me…he knows how badly I want to love him the way he deserves. I am weak in love and I will be for a long long time…in these moments I am deeply grateful for the cross and the gift of Jesus. If anything, I am learning that there is no such thing as perfect love…a part from the Lord. Yet the hope for love to be perfected lies in these verses:

…and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified (Isaiah 61:1-3)

This is the Lord’s heart over Israel, yet I see glimpses of his nature in these words for myself and I deeply cling to these truths:

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God (Isaiah 62:1-3)

This will be my prayer for as long as I live:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21)

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