0

The Best Way to Clear Your Mind

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I took a walk tonight.

I know. That sounds ….thrilling. But it’s really amazing how much it helps.

I have had a lot going on in my mind over the past few days and I just needed to get out of my room and out of my head. I decided to took a 2 mile walk. I didn’t jog or run. Just walked. It’s been rather cool over the past few days and I know that soon the heat and humidity will come. So I just enjoyed a nice casual but brisk walk around my neighborhood.

It was good to get away from the computer screen and just be by myself for a while. I did take my phone in case of emergency but I wasn’t constantly on it. I just wanted to spend time gaining clarity and letting my mind get clear from all the things that have been running through my head lately.

If you happened to pass me as I walking, you may have thought I was slightly nuts because I was talking to myself but really I was praying. For me, I find it better for me to pray out loud because it gives me a better sense of what I want to say to God.

The other night I was unable to go to sleep due to feeling very emotionally restless about something to the point where I started crying in bed. Since I was unable to go to sleep, I got up and went online to read some devotions and the Bible. Lo and behold the very first devotion I pulled up was just based on this verse: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10b) And I’m like “Lord, are you kidding me? It’s like you knew.” I then just started praying a lot and about an hour later, I was finally able to go to sleep.

The next morning, I look up another devotional site I visit and for that day, the post was simply asking people to tell them in the comments what they were struggling with and needed prayer for, and then asked everyone to pray for each other. So I left a comment and I felt very blessed to know that there were people praying for me at that moment from all over the world. Again, it felt like God knew that I was going to need that.

Therefore I know that God will provide me with what I need when I need it, even when I don’t realize it. And what I needed tonight was just a clear mind and wisdom. I wanted to make sure that what was going on with me now was not something controlled by emotions or being swayed by what seemed rational at the moment. Being trapped in one’s own head can lead to disastrous results and I needed to have clarity before making any decisions.

My walk did just that. I felt all fuzzy headed when I started and by the time I got back I felt at peace. It was a lovely talk with God with no distractions and also felt good about myself. I was able to pray without distractions and I felt God lifting the confusion. Basically I let him know how I felt, what I would like for him to do, and that I was just going to let things go and let him handle it and I was going to choose not to worry about it.

Interestingly since I got back, he’s already answered one of those requests.

So yeah, take a walk. It’ll do you good.

4

That Night God Heard Me and He Answered

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I talk a lot about prayer on here. And many times about unanswered prayer and how there’s a lot of trusting in God involved. But I always seem to give just the first half of the story and you’re left hanging. Here’s a story that does have a part 2.

There once was a weekend where I had a really rough time. The Friday night of that week, I stayed at home. I don’t mind doing this every now and then. I can read, watch a movie, just sort of relax, and not worry about going out. The problem though was that I also hadn’t left the house at all during the day. Heck, I had barely even left my room. So I had gone over 24 hours without seeing or having any contact with another human being. Introverts would have killed to have been in my shoes that day. As an extrovert, I was dying.

The Saturday rolled around. I still hadn’t heard a word from any of my friends or pretty much anyone in general. Now most folks would probably just either 1) go and contact people themselves or 2) go do their own thing. But me being me, I have this rather stupid theory in my head that I get sometimes that if people really wanted to be around me, they would have already contacted me. They have their own lives already (especially those who are married or have kids) and they can only fit me in when they are able to or if they want to. I’m not really afraid of rejection when asking folks to do something but it’s still hard for me to do it. Therefore if people haven’t asked me out, I figure they don’t want me that night. Stupid and petty yes, but this is what runs through my mind.

So as I said, Saturday had come and I hadn’t heard a thing from anyone. I didn’t want to face yet another night of not seeing a single person again but at that point, I just figured everyone was busy and no one wanted me. And it felt really lonely. Like down at the bottom of the pit with no hope of being rescued lonely. There are some of you who may think I’m being over dramatic but if you’ve never felt this way, I can’t really describe it for you. It’s just really awful. I knew I didn’t want to stay in the pit but I didn’t know how to get out.

I spent the next hour both crying and praying. I kept alternating between being angry with God for making me like this and putting me in the situation but then immediately trying to fight those feelings because I knew they WEREN’T from God and my weak spots were being attacked. It was an emotional and spiritual struggle that was happening inside of me

Here’s an excerpt from my journal that night:

I feel like my prayers have gone unanswered. Why bother even praying for the big things when God won’t even answer a prayer of feeling tonight like I’m not forgotten. All I want right now is just ONE person to call, text, gchat, Facebook message, email. Just get a hold of me and tell me “Hey Deborah. I was just wanted to say hey.” Even if they can’t physically hang out, I just want to know what I wasn’t forgotten!

But God can’t even give me that. And I’m so tempted to turn away right now. I’m so tempted to reject him because I am hurt. And I’m constantly feeling hurt. It’s so tempting right now. Why does God hate me so much? What have I done that is so horrible, that is worse than everyone else and yet they have everything? Yes, I know things aren’t 100% perfect for them. I realize their lives have troubles as well, things that I would probably be grateful I don’t have to worry about right now.

But Lord, I hate this so much. I really do. It hurts so much God. I’m hurting. Please help me Lord. Please don’t turn away from me Lord. Please let me know. Please reveal to me that I’m loved. Please remind me that you love me and haven’t forgotten about me. Lord please. I am so weak right now. I need your strength. I need you Lord.

“Turn to me and be gracious to me for I am lonely and afflicted. Remove the troubles of my heard and free me from my anguish. Look to my affliction and to my distress and take away all my sin.”

“I call on your name Lord from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea, Do not close your ears to my cries for relief. You came near when I called and you said Do Not Fear. ”

Don’t abandon me Lord. Help me Stay. Please Lord. Please.

After I wrote that, I closed my journal, stopped crying, and went on YouTube to watch some clips of the Simpsons to make me feel better. I kid you not, less than 5 minutes later, I get a Gchat from a very close friend saying “Hey”. This was without me messaging anyone previously. I reply back “Hey.” Then they responded back, “I just wanted to say hey to you.” That’s when I knew that God had immediately answered my prayer. Because this person normally wouldn’t have done this. Especially on a Saturday night. This was a rare thing that I knew was God answering me because I had prayed.

And not only did God just answer it, He went above and beyond fulfilling it because I ended up hanging out with my friend that night all without my having to prompt or try to make it happen myself. And the Lord showed me I wasn’t forgotten and I was cared about. Yes, by my friend but more so, I knew that night God had heard me and He answered me. It was like “See Deborah, I haven’t forgotten about you. I love you so much. Even for what other people may think is a small thing, I know for you this is what you need and want. So let me show you how much I love you by answering this and doing even more than that so you know I AM the Lord.”

I’m writing this here to tell you, God answers prayers. Sometimes you can’t really tell if your prayer has been answered. Sometimes God really does close the door and say no. Sometimes He tells you to wait. But then there are times when he does answer you. And He makes sure that you know it’s from him. And to Him, nothing is petty or unworthy of asking him for help no matter what you’re feeling. Even if everyone else in the world would look down on you for what you’re going through, the Lord doesn’t think that. So NEVER feel like you can’t go to God. Yell at Him. Tell Him how you really feel. Don’t be afraid for Him to know what you are really going through.

You need to be broken before He can really work in you. Be broken. Let Him heal and restore you.

This song helped me that night. It’s probably going to have more meaning to me now anytime I hear it.

3

The Impossible Girl

The past few years I’ve had themes to describe how the year went for me. The name of the year has a geeky reference but it also perfectly describes how I felt throughout the year.

In 2012, I was “The Girl on Fire“. Much like Katniss, everything was going well for me that year. Other than a couple of weeks where it just kinda sucked, I was having the best year of my life. Almost everything went the way I had hoped and I was the happiest I had been in years.

In 2013, I was “The Girl Who Waited.” Like Amy Pond, I sat there and I waited. I was waiting on God, I was waiting on people, I was waiting for things to happen. I felt a lot of times like I was forgotten because I had been waiting for so long.

It’s taken me several months to figure out what this year was going to be. Obviously I had to wait to see how the year goes before I could categorize the year. Five months in and I think I’ve figured it out. 2014 is the year of me being “The Impossible Girl.”

For all you non Doctor Who fans out there, The Impossible Girl is referring to Clara Oswald, one of the Doctor’s companions. To make a very long and complex story short, Clara shouldn’t have happened. She’s basically born to save The Doctor. It’s impossible for her to exist and yet there she is.

(Picture credit: http://ambrixmuse.deviantart.com/art/You-are-my-impossible-girl-372965800)

So how do I take that and have it refer to me? Because right now, I feel like I shouldn’t exist. And yet here I am. Everything I want for my life hasn’t happened yet. Everything I hope for keeps being out of reach for me. I don’t understand it. I feel like nothing that should be happening is. And I’m getting frustrated.

It’s like everything I want, God keeps putting JUST out of reach for me. He keeps allowing me to have hope only to take that hope away from me. And it’s very easy and tempting to start becoming angry at God. People (and myself) keep saying that if it hasn’t happened then it’s because it’s not the right timing for it. That God has a reason for this and I need to just trust in his timing.

Truth:  I’m tired of this. I’m tired of getting my hopes up repeatedly only to have them crashing down. I’m tired of hoping anymore because it HURTS when things don’t happen. I’d sometimes rather just not have the hope at all. I feel like my entire life has been pointless, yes even with everything that I’ve written about here on my blog. Because what is the point of hoping when things NEVER come through.

There are two things in my life that I really want. Two things that every person in this world wants at least one of. And for whatever reason, God keeps withholding those two things from me. And right now, I don’t know why. I know everything you’re going to tell me. That it’s not my fault. That God has his reasons. That the timing isn’t right. That something better is ahead. And I believe all this. I know all this is true. And I have to fight all the doubts and insecurities that are trying to creep in right now. I know the promises that God has made. And I believe that he will keep them.

But in a moment of complete vulnerability, I do feel like I’m not good enough. That something MUST be wrong with me. That I keep either getting rejected or passed over or ignored. And I feel like I have done everything to better myself and it’s still not working for either case. And at this point, I don’t understand why God hates me and keeps rewarding everyone else instead. Because that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s like because I want these things so badly, that God doesn’t want me to have them for some reason. And I wish that he would just remove these desires so that I could do exactly what he wanted me to do instead of hoping for things that will never happen. And people who don’t even want these things keep getting them over and over again. So I just don’t understand why God keeps making everything impossible for me.

PAUSE

Ok funny thing: I wrote the above section earlier in the afternoon when I feeling very low. Obviously you can tell based on what I was saying by my emotional writing. I then remember vaguely praying for the Lord to help me and then just sort of forgetting about it and just wanting to get through the rest of the night. And then God answered my prayer in a way I wasn’t expecting. In fact he went far and above what I was expecting. To the point where I feel maybe not 100% better but at least 95% better than I did this afternoon. I was actually smiling and laughing tonight.

It made me realize that even though I really don’t know why things happen/don’t happen, God does. Not only that, but he also provides what you need when you need it and even if you don’t think you need it. Just like today for me. Even though I hate having my hopes crashed, it is good to have hope and the Lord gave me hope again today. I have to be careful how I handle that hope but at the same time I am able to hope again.

So back to me being “The Impossible Girl” for 2014: I feel that there are things this year that just seem impossible and I’m going to trust God with those impossible things. Because he has told me time and time again that I need to trust him. And he has made promises to me and told me that I need to just let go of all anxiety and fear. I need to just believe that he is fully capable of making those promises, no matter how impossible, come true. And even though it seems like it can’t happen and it shouldn’t happen, because I know they are promises from the Lord, they WILL happen. But if I don’t trust or believe, if I let my faith become shattered because of my doubt then everything is a lie.

God is passionately and intimately aware of every detail that you’re going through right now. He’s paying attention to your every breath. Nothing misses God’s attention. You may not understand why you’re going through what you’re going through, but you need to say this to God: “I know you’re good; I know you’re loving; I know you’re powerful; I know you notice the details of my life; I know you’re in control; I know you have a plan; I know you will protect me.” Then, you need to trust God — no matter what. Whatever you’re going through, tell God exactly how you feel. He can handle it! Accept help from others. Stop asking “why,” and start trusting God for the things you don’t understand. (http://purposedriven.com/blogs/dailyhope/what-to-do-when-it-makes-no-sense)

I’ve said before I want God to use me and my story. And I believe that he will take my situation, these seemingly impossible situations, and use them for His glory. I am The Impossible Girl this year because to everyone else, these things shouldn’t happen. But to the Lord, nothing is impossible with him. Just hang in there. Wait. Trust. And it will be good.

If there’s a passage in Scripture that can sum up how 2014 is and will be for me this is it:

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:17-19a)

8

That Time that God Hit Me in the Head

Today’s blog post is inspired by a writing prompt from SheReadsTruth. Currently they are in the middle of a devotional about “ the life of Christ from His resurrection to His ascension” and how the story doesn’t just end after Easter. Last Friday they asked us this question: 

What holds you back from being available for commissioned moments? When have you experienced a commissioned moment and how did you witness God’s supernatural power at work? 

Photo credit: SheReadsTruth

For the past few years since my marriage ended, I’ve been praying a lot more and my relationship with God has improved a gazillion percent of how it used to be. He’s proven time and time again how if I just trust him then he will be faithful. If I just have faith, he will come through. I have been praying a lot more since then and now, not a day goes by when I don’t have at least one small conversation with God.

Since becoming more aware of this, I’ve been asking God to use me more. I know that even when I moments of self-doubt and uncertainty, God sees me someone worth sending his son to die for. Therefore I AM worthy and I am so grateful that he did that. And I want him to use me and use my story to help others if I can. But because of those moments of being afraid and being worried about what other people will think, I usually don’t want to follow through on that nudge or instinct.

Except there was this one time where I couldn’t ignore it.

I’ve mentioned this briefly before on my blog but it’s still one of my favorite stories to tell so I’ll tell it again. I’m not going to go completely into detail here out of respect for the privacy of others but if you know me in person, I’ll tell you the entire thing again.

Right about the time when my marriage started ending, God brought other people in my life that I needed but didn’t realize at the time. I had hidden what was really going on for the past year to the point that no one outside of family realized that anything was really wrong. But God put certain people in my life to help me open up and see that I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to go through all this alone. One of these people seemed rather unremarkable when we first met but then we soon realized that we had way more in common and were basically like kindred spirits.

It was through this friendship that God put all the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that neither of us realized. One day on a way to a friend’s softball game, we were talking in the car about random stuff and somehow the conversation got changed to talking about another friend who had gone through hardships and how you never realized it because they hid it on the outside. And how that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

That’s when it happened. See we hadn’t really talked about why my marriage was ending at this point. I hadn’t brought it up at all because I just didn’t want to talk about it. It was a very messy situation that brought a lot of pain and I just wanted to not bring it up and make everyone else feel uncomfortable as well. But as I was driving, it was at that moment where I heard God tell me “Tell your story.” And I sat there (while my friend was still talking because believe me they can go on forever and not realize I was having weird expressions on my face) and argued back with God, “No! I don’t want to about it.” God responded again with “Tell your story.” And I argued back, “Why? I barely know this person. We’ve been friends for two weeks. Some of my friends who have known me for years still have no idea.” God replied back, this time as I felt a physical slight push on the back of my head, “Trust me.” My response again, “God I don’t know.” Then God literally poked me in the head to the point where I felt my head move forward and my friend noticed.

And so, I told my story. It was the first time I had told anyone the entire story. And I used words and phrases to describe what happened for the first time. At the time, I had no idea why I was even using those words. And I didn’t know why at all I was telling my story. I ended up talking so much that I missed our turn to the softball field. When I was done, the response was like “Oh, um thanks for sharing that.” And I mentally said to God “Why did I do that?” and he responded “Wait. Trust me.” I felt slightly awkward but I knew I had no other choice but to do so. (And thus began how I became “The Girl Who Waited” while “Trusting God When Things Seem Impossible“.

Though it felt like forever, two weeks later, my friend finally told me their story. And as I sat there listening, I understood now why God had me tell my story. Because they needed to hear it from me first. They needed to know as well that they were not alone. That someone else had gone through what they did and could tell the next steps of what to do. And God knew all this. He had planned this entire moment to happen the way it did for this reason. And if I had ignored him and didn’t obey, I don’t know what would have happened. Perhaps somebody else could have done the same thing. But the thing is, God chose me. He wanted ME to do this. He planned that moment to happen exactly when it did because it was the best for BOTH of us. And since that conversation, I have seen so many good things come out of it. I’ve seen so many people positively affected by this one tiny act. It’s been really awesome.

A lot of people could write off the whole thing as a coincidence but I don’t. There’s a bunch of things that make this whole thing not a coincidence. Timing, situations, people having to meet people. There are so many small details that had to have taken place in order for us to meet that it’s one of those “God things” where only he could have made this work.

It’s because of this that God’s placed it on my heart to pray for my friend daily. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I get angry with them. Even when I’ve been hurt by them. God’s shown me the power of prayer through this and what happens when I don’t believe that it actually works. And I don’t know how long I’ll keep praying specifically for them. I don’t know if I will ever see the fruits of my prayer or I’m just supposed to plant the seed. I just know that I am obeying God because he wants me to do this.

I have seen God work so much in this. He’s told me to trust him. He’s answered a lot of prayers. Even when it gets rough, because of everything that has taken place, I have faith in him for what is yet to come. I’ve seen how God has used me and my story and how from the utterly awful mess, He’s created something beautiful out of it. And when I tell people about all this, I know it’s because God wanted me to.

So keep using me and my story, Lord.

0

Living on a Prayer

This past Sunday at church, my pastor finished up his series on prayer. The takeaway from the message was “Why does all hell break loose when we try to enter into prayer? Because prayer is war, and the lack of prayer is nothing less than a declaration of independence from God.”

And it’s so true. When one prays, you get distracted a lot. Random stuff pops up in your head and you get distracted. You feel it can get boring. You get tired. You never seem to find the time to do it. Sometimes you just don’t want to do it at all. But prayer is how we connect with God.

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt God telling me that I need to pray with him. Not AT him. But with him. Because he wants to share that time with me. And usually he’ll make it so I’m basically forced to do it and there’s no way to get out of it. I’ve mentioned this before but my best prayer times usually happen when I’m driving in rush hour traffic. When you’re sitting there not moving, there are no distractions to keep you from talking to God.

Two years ago today, I started a prayer journal that I kept for a week based around a specific prayer. Now I’d been journaling on and off for a while but never had I kept a journal specifically for prayer. That week however I was going through a very emotional time that was causing me to question a lot of things. And there was much fear and confusion. I felt like God was pushing at me to come closer to him instead of withdrawing because of the uncertainty.

And then one morning on my commute to work, I prayed and I just talked to God and let it all out. People next to me probably thought I was crazy because it looked like I was talking to myself. I didn’t care. This is what I recorded later.

4/16 – Day 1 – Surrender

I’m really not sure why I am doing this but this idea came to me while praying so I have a feeling that God wants me to write down my thoughts, fears, hopes, etc.  during this week.  I have never really kept a prayer journal so I don’t know if I am doing the right thing but if God wants me to have a record of this then I am sure that I will end up saying the right things.

Right now I’m listening to “Your Love Never Fails”…which is one of my go to songs when I am feeling down but it’s a REALLY good song about trusting in God and knowing he never leaves you.  “You make all things work together for my good” is the lyric that is now standing out to me the most.  In that God is working everything together behind the scenes even though I have no idea what is going on.

And right now I have a lot of fears regarding this upcoming week.  I have no idea what is going to happen.  I cannot see how anything good can come out of this week.

I am surrendering everything regarding this situation over to you God. I am scared, terrified, afraid, worried but you know what? I trust you in all this.  You know exactly what is going on, what will happen.  You know my fears.  You know everything that is going on in our hearts and minds right now as I type this.  I cannot control anything.  I have to turn it all over to you.

But as I was saying, I really think that God wants me to do this.  It doesn’t seem possible, and I am severely doubting this, but I feel that God is telling me that if I can trust in him this week and give myself over to him then the outcome will be good.  I don’t know exactly what that means but that’s how I feel.  And yet at the same time, I am like, there is NO WAY anything good can come out of this week!  so it’s this mass of conflictedness where I am trusting God completely with unknown results.  and i am TERRIFIED!!!!!!  but you know what? God is good. He has yet to fail me and i do not believe he is going to start now (or ever).  so i am praying to surrender.  give up this fear, doubt, uncertainty and turn it over completely to God.

my goal for this journal is to write about my prayers for the next 7 days.  i need to be consistent in doing this.  they don’t have to be long entries but do need to be honest and written from the heart. therefore when I look back on this in the future, no matter what the outcome is, i want to see how my faith grew.  it’s almost like a challenge that I am taking God up on.  i honestly believe that in one week, when i read this again things will be different. and for the better.  This is the most I have ever done in my spiritual walk with God.  And as scared and terrified as i am, I am also excited for the outcome.

 

Then over the course of the next few days, God and I had a lot of praying time over issues such as trust, blessings, clarity/wisdom, self worth, and fears. By spending each morning praying with him and having no distractions, I felt God really speaking to me and working in my life. I discovered scripture that I had never really noticed before that suddenly had an impact in my life. As a music lover, I found songs that matched the topic of each day perfectly. I thought I was going to spend the week praying for someone else. Instead I spent the entire week learning more about myself and my own relationship with God.

4/22 – Day 7 – Acceptance

Well here we are.  The evening of the last day of this challenge.  Wow it’s been quite the week.  Seriously it’s been very interesting.  It’s been totally a week where I have put God first and not anything else.  It’s been crazy how different my entries have been since when I first started.  Looking back, that first entry is filled with terror. I totally remember how I was feeling that day and before.  I was scared to death.  And now…I have to accept whatever comes my way.

Oh Lord, please help me right now.  I need to trust in you.  i can’t do this without you.  I want to do this but I have to have faith in you.  That you will guide me in the right direction and you know what is best for me.  Even though I can’t see it now or in the future, you do.  You are the everlasting God.  You love me more than anything.  Help me learn to trust in you completely.  Help me learn to put what is important first.

I think it is time for me to go to bed.  Whatever tomorrow brings, it is your will Lord.  And I will accept it.  Thank you for everything.

Two years later, I’m rereading over those entries and I see how God answered those prayers. And how that very night after I went to bed slightly scared and worried but still trusting in him, when I woke up the next morning God answered one of my prayers as if he was saying “See, you have nothing to be afraid of.” Ever since then, prayer isn’t difficult for me anymore. And while there will be always ups and downs, I will always have this physical record for me to look back and remember how God answered my prayers.

0

Hey Jealousy

It’s so easy to get jealous. And it’s also crazy the thing small tiny things we get jealous over.

Shawn Lantz, the speaker at the women’s retreat, spent a lot of the first session talking about this. Because as women, we tend to get jealous a lot. And it’s become a stereotype for us. I personally do believe that men get jealous as well, but they are less willing to admit it, at least not publicly. But for women, it’s so present in our lives every day about how we compare ourselves to each other and feel like we can never measure up. It’s a never ending battle we have with each other and with our own selves.

To highlight some of the things Shawn talked about, everything she said specifically will be in quotes.

Four core issues that a jealous heart wrestles with

God, can I trust you?
God, do you love me?
God, are you good?
God, are you just?

“There is no shame in admitting I struggle with jealousy.”

One of the things Shawn mentioned is how it can be easier to admit you have an anger issue than a jealousy problem. And I think that’s true. We’ve been ingrained throughout our entire lives that jealously is wrong and we shouldn’t be feeling it. But yet it still happens. For example, Facebook is the best way to make yourself feel inadequate. Look at all the things other people are doing! They got engaged! They got married! They bought a house! They are pregnant! They had a boy! They had a girl! They went on vacation! They look perfect! And then we feel like we have to one up them….or just give up and admit defeat that we will never have lives as good as theirs look. I probably should just stop using Facebook for a while but I’m not ready to yet.

Maybe there are some people who never have to deal with jealousy. And kudos to them for honestly feeling that way. That’s awesome that you have found a way to never compare yourself to others and want things others have. I’m jealous of you for being that way. HAH.

I had a discussion with one of my girlfriends about how jealously in western culture tends to be visually based. We get jealous of material items and body images because that’s what society throws at us. I do believe however that jealously is universal though. In other parts of the world there’s a different type of jealousy. I think humans crave emotional affection and attention so if we don’t get that, there’s always going to be some sort of envy.

A personal confession? I get jealous. It can be a struggle right now with all my friends who are in relationships and I’m not after attempts to have relationships keep failing. Every time I receive news that a friend gets engaged, while I’m extremely happy for them, I break down into tears. I’m jealous that they have found someone who chooses to love them. And I want that so badly and it hurts when it won’t happen. I feel like something is wrong with me and wonder what they have that I don’t.

But the thing is I also know that even if I get this one thing fulfilled, if not handled correctly and I don’t fix where my heart is, my jealousy won’t stop there. Because people who are dating get jealous of people who get engaged. People who are engaged get jealous of those who are getting married before them. People who are married get jealous of those who are single. People who aren’t pregnant yet get jealous of those who are pregnant. People are pregnant are jealous of those who have easier pregnancies than they do. People who have boys get jealous of those who have girls and vice versa. People who have kids get jealous of those who don’t have kids. People get jealous of those who have bought houses, cars, vacations, etc.

There are so many things we get jealous over. And it’s never going to end.

I wonder sometimes how could anyone possibly be jealous of me? I don’t have my life together at all. I never have anything interesting happen in my life. I’ve had really bad things happen in my life. What could you possibly think is awesome in my life that is not in yours? Not trying to be cynical here.

Comparison – we become disgruntled with what once made us content

We believe that our obedience entitles us to more than what we were promised

We want God’s blessings to us to match our desires and/or sense of justice.

Since I struggle with this from time to time, I know at least for me I have to just admit I feel this way vs hide it under a rug and ignore it. And when I admit it, then at least I can face the problem and try to fix it. What usually ends up happening is when I feel it’s getting too bad, I pray a lot.  God shows me what I can be grateful for, but not in a way that makes me feel guilty.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

Jealousy is ugly. It’s not becoming and it’s not a quality trait. I’m not going to lie and say that I never have it. I just need to deal with it in a more positive way.

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That Time God Helped Me Be Able to Forgive

Here’s that serious post about the retreat (though I mean bacon can also be serious) I said I was going to write.

As I said, this was my second time going to a women’s retreat from my church. When I went last year, I really needed it. I had just found out that I didn’t get the job I had set my heart on hours before the retreat started and I was so incredibly down that I almost contemplated not going. But God, in his infinite wisdom, knew what I needed that night and I was so glad that I ended up going. When the topic for this year was announced, “Living With Unmet Desires”, I was like “SIGN ME UP NOW.”

There were so many topics that were shared that I may write several posts about them over the next couple of weeks. That’s what I love about going to these retreats, all the things I learn.

Right now the topic that is sticking to me the most was the session on forgiveness. Because I feel that is what God has been hitting at me the hardest. The speaker gave us this definition of forgiveness: “The relinquishment of my right for revenge against someone who has wronged me.” She spoke about how there are times when the person who has wronged us has no idea that we are struggling with forgiving them. That we will spend hours imagining scenarios where we confront them or have them come begging us to forgive them and we turn them away. And I realize that is something I am really struggling with right now. And I have been for a while.

I felt God speaking to me throughout the weekend that this is something that I need to do. And that it’s holding me back because I’m not letting it go. A paraphrase of something else that jumped out at me from the session: “Your deliverance is going to come through what you suffer through if you allow yourself to trust God fully through it.”

And therefore this is what I felt compelled to do after a lot of prayer over the past few days.

Dear Person who I need to forgive,

You may or may not ever read this. You also may or may not realize that I’m talking about you. There is also an even bigger chance that you may not realize that you hurt me (or maybe you do, and you just don’t care). But that’s ok. It actually doesn’t really matter if you do or not any of these things. Because when it all comes down to it, it’s between me and God and not really between me and you. I don’t really need to tell you to your face that you hurt me or that I even want to forgive you. I just need to actually do it.

A lot of things have been holding me back from doing it. Pride is probably the biggest one. I’ve been feeling that if I forgive you and let it go, it means that you “won”, that you got a free pass, and it won’t ever bother you. Meanwhile it left me hurting even when I tried not to let it. And I was afraid that I needed to be free from the hurt before I could forgive you and the hurt wasn’t going away to allow me to get to that point. To some people what you did probably wouldn’t be a big deal to them and they would just wave it off and move on. But for me, it reopened up wounds that weren’t completely healed yet and it exposed my vulnerability which left me raw and weak and angry. And even though I hid it all on the outside so no one could tell, on the inside there was a lot of emotional turmoil that left me feeling bitter and resentful towards you.

But I don’t want to hold on to that bitterness anymore. I don’t want it to keep building to where it eventually takes over and I forget about why I was even angry/hurt to begin with. It may not ever be in God’s plan for me to ever discuss this particular situation with you or even talk to you again. But I have to let this go. It may not be doing any harm other than to me right now, but if I continue to leave it as an untreated wound, it will grow and fester and becoming poisonous.

I prayed about this a lot today while driving. And I said to God, “This is something you have to help me with. This is something I’m going to struggle with. And I know that I’m going to need help because I will be tempted in the future to want to start feeling bitter and angry. But I don’t want to anymore. I want to be free from this. I don’t want to be trapped in this box anymore. I can’t do this on my own. I want to forgive. Help me do this.”

Then “Stronger” by Matthew West came on the radio

Well, maybe
Maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I’m finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out

…I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough

I’d like to say that immediately everything was all better and I’ll be perfectly fine from now on whenever I see you or if you ever cross into my mind. But that’s probably not true and I’ll be lying. But I can say that, I do feel a lot better now. And with God’s help, I’ll let go and one day I’ll look back and even though I may never know why all this happened, I’ll understand that it was all part of his plan. And I’ll learn from it. And I’ll be ok.

I don’t need to justify why I did this. And for the record it’s not to just make myself feel better or to shame you or anything. You don’t even need to apologize for anything. I’m doing it because I know I need to forgive, as Jesus has done for me.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

So, person I need to forgive, I’ve forgiven you.

Thank you.

Deborah

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Having Faith In God vs Having Faith in the Results

This past Sunday, my pastor continued his series on Philippians. This week he only focused mainly on two verses:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

As you remember a couple of weeks ago, I have trouble when it comes to worrying. I do it a lot over certain areas in my life. However, in person I hide it pretty well. Even if you know me really well, I’m usually pretty good at keeping it from you unless you ask me. I can be a “ninja worrier”.

That being said this week’s message gave me A LOT of food for thought. Like pretty much a good deal amount of folks in the service, it seemed as if the message was specifically for me. Everyone worries to some degree about something. If you’re a parent, you’re going to worry. Our pastor mentioned that there was a man he met that said he never worried because he trusted God in everything. While I wish that I had faith that strong, I do wonder if he was a parent because I highly doubt that anyone can be a loving parent and not worry about their children.

The takeaway of the message for me was that we need to hope in the Lord and not in the results. Which is what I don’t do AT ALL. My focus tends to be on what the outcome is going to be. It’s hard to not hope for that. If you think something is going to happen, if you want it to happen, if your prayers have been centered around something trying to happen, then it’s no wonder why you focus on the results.

There’s a difference between concern and anxiety. Example: Say someone told you on Sunday they were going to get in touch with you to get together during the week. It’s now Thursday and you still haven’t heard from them. Concern: “I guess that person forgot. Maybe they got busy. I hope they’re ok. But since they said they would take the responsibility for contacting me, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Anxiety: “WHY AREN’T THEY CONTACTING ME????!! Did I do something wrong? What is wrong with me that I keep getting ignored? It’s my fault isn’t it? Or maybe they died? Should I do something about it??? WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME????!!”

Yes I think you can see the difference. (And I don’t mean from the increase of punctuation)

I borrow from tomorrow’s worries a lot. I’m scared of what the future could possibly bring. Unfortunately it’s in my genetic makeup to worry and I have to fight it. I have to trust in the Lord. I don’t know why things happen or don’t happen but I have to trust that God has his hand in all this. And even though I may not understand right now and there’s a good chance that I may never understand until I get to heaven and ask God why (and believe me I’ll have a list of questions), I must have faith that God knows what is best for me.

It’s hard. Because I don’t know what’s going to happen. BUT I am going to keep having hope IN the LORD and not in the results. And keep praying that my desires will line up with the Lord’s and that he will take care of me and provide and protect. And even if what I fear the most does happen, that the Lord will be with me throughout it all.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Deborah

This week in church, the final song we sang in the service was titled “Always”. It’s one of my favorite worship songs because every time I hear/sing it, it reminds me that God is always there no matter what happens.

Oh, my God
He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear
His promise is true
My God will come through always
Always

But sometimes I wonder, even though I know God WILL come through, what exactly IS going to come through? Waiting and trusting are topics that I talk about a lot because that is what it feels like my whole life revolves around. I sometimes get worried that because I want something it’s not going to happen. My biggest fears involve hoping for things but then they won’t come true because God doesn’t want it for me. It’s like God and I have different mindsets and I can never line mine up with God’s no matter how hard I try. Therefore I get scared to hope for anything because it feels like God doesn’t want me to be happy.

I know that’s obviously wrong though. I know that it’s when I’m at my most vulnerable point that is when doubt and fear creep in. And I know it’s happening because the enemy pretty much has found me at my weakest and wants to exploit it to eventually have me reject my faith in God. And let me tell you sometimes it can be very hard sometimes to not blame God for things or why things aren’t happening. I don’t believe it’s a sin to be angry nor even to be angry at God. However, I’ve been learning that I while I can be angry at my circumstances, I can’t stay that way for very long.

I’m an external processor by nature and I can vent like a champ. If you are willing to listen, I will go over something over and over with you so you can help me figure out what went wrong, what I did wrong, how I can fix it or how I can prevent it from happening again. I’ve been realizing that, while there’s nothing wrong with talking about things with others you trust, it may not necessarily be the best thing to do. Sometimes they aren’t the ones you need to go to first with your problems.

I’ve been really working more on my praying and quiet time with God. This means sometimes just having conversations with him vs a long drawn out formal prayer. I’ve been learning to talk to God about everything that’s on my mind. Even though sometimes I feel it’s very trivial, I still tell him. And sooner rather than later, I realize that it’s perfectly fine to go to him with all the concerns I have. Eventually, I begin to notice that a lot of those concerns decrease because I let it go vs holding it back in. Try it. It works wonders.

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

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Not a Worry in the World?

I talk a lot about my faith. I talk a lot about it on my blog. I talk a lot about it in person. It’s something I’m not ashamed of. I am considerate of other people and I know when I should and shouldn’t talk about it. But as it’s a part of my life, I am open about it.

However I also worry a lot. In college my AIM screen name was “I Worry Easily.” I have a lot of anxiety in my life because I keep stressing out about certain things. Actually, it’s really one thing I worry about. The rest of my life, I’m quite grounded and stable, and trust God completely with it. I know that my friends get tired of me doing this because it seems to become a repeat scenario in my life. A situation will arise and I gain confidence, become assertive, and get my hopes semi-up (never too high up because I don’t want to crash really hard) only to find out that it doesn’t come through. And I am left in a state of limbo which leaves me in panic mode. I start coming down on myself, become slightly apathetic, and feel the constant need to get advice from everyone to figure out what to do next.

I’ve been realizing that I have gotten so much advice and opinions from so many people over the past few years. Not because I can’t think for myself or that I constantly need validation. But sometimes I just want to confirm that I’m making the right decision or that I’m not missing out on something that is so obvious but yet I’m still missing it. I think I worry so much about making mistakes that I did in the past, that I want to verify that I AM doing things correctly and I’m not an idiot. I trust my own judgment but at the same time I do want some validity. Basically what am I doing wrong, what is wrong with me, why is everyone else able to handle this but I cannot, what can I do to change in a constructive way that isn’t compromising myself?

But ultimately a lot of that advice is also speculation from people because none of us know the true and final answer. And sometimes I think that even when I do get the answer that I feel like I have been wanting/needing to hear, it still won’t be enough. I want to know WHY and WHAT else could I have done or HOW I could have changed the situation or WHEN would there have been a better time. Pet peeve: when I spend time worrying because of someone else and they don’t have a clue in the world of the worry they have caused. Oh to be so bliss filled and carefree without a worry in the world.

One of my friends, who doesn’t share my faith but has known me for over 10 years, called me out on this the other day. Over the course of those years, he’s seen my life go up and down and knows of the struggles and issues that’s been going on in life. So even though we don’t agree on everything, I feel he’s been a good observer of how I’ve changed and how some things stay the same. During a conversation the other day he said:

For a person with your particular faith you worry too much. You can’t put your faith in God and be a worrisome person. It’s contradictory. I’m the last person qualified to check someone’s faith. But here’s the thing. Aren’t Christians not supposed to worry? Through Christ all is possible and the Lord working mysterious ways and all?

I wasn’t offended at all by what he said to me. In fact, I thanked him for it. Because he made me realize that once again I’m not walking the talk I keep talking.

I claim to have strong faith in God. But it’s not just a claim. I truly believe. But yeah, why do I just not trust that God will take care of it all, and regardless of the outcome that I should just have faith that he has what’s best for me. I’m fully aware of all the verses in the Bible about not worrying. I know what Jesus says about it. And yet I can’t stop myself from worrying.

And I’m going to be brutally honest right now. I don’t know why I can’t stop. I’m not trying to be bleak or negative. I just don’t know. This seems like a cycle that just keeps repeating itself. I worry, I trust, I let go, I see God work in my life only to have a new circumstance come up and I repeat that cycle. Except my worry periods last longer than the others. And even with constant prayer, reading Scripture, and just giving it over to God, I cannot seem to stop. I talk to people until I realize they are tired of hearing about it. I journal til I fill up pages and pages with my thoughts that I can’t seem to escape.

Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I have it all together. And I most definitely don’t. I feel very vulnerable admitting this. We always want to look like we have it all together. Anyone reading this blog is probably hiding something that they are struggling with in an attempt to NOT look like they don’t have it all together. And maybe there ARE a few of you who really don’t have a worry in the world. Either way I envy you (yet another not a being a good Christian trait). I have the world’s most horrible poker face and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m risking the fact that you are going to read this and think I have no confidence (which I actually do have a lot of) or that I’m over emotional (that’s not the case either).

I’m asking for your advice here. Can you honestly say that if you are a believer you don’t worry about things? If so, how do you not worry? Do you just accept whatever comes your way? Do you prepare for disappointment or do you just have hope and deal with whatever the circumstances are? How do you not let it overtake you? How do you hide it? Do you just ignore it? Do you just stay busy so it doesn’t enter your mind? Do you get annoyed when someone else is worried over things you don’t think need to be worried about? Do you dismiss other people’s worries? How do you have constant trust and faith ALL the time?

I’m being serious when I’m asking all these things. Because while I’m not going to hide the fact that I am going to have these anxiety and worrisome moments, obviously I am doing something wrong if it keeps happening over and over again.  I know that what ends up happening is we look back and wonder why we worried so much. What I want to do is just have to wonder because I never worried in the first place. I want to get to that place. And for ever person that has told me to just not worry, PLEASE tell me how you don’t worry. I honestly want to know. I’m exhausted from all this.