Secret Society

Lately every Sunday is the same for me…

I spend a couple of days before talking myself into going to church on Sunday.

Being raised in the church, my “christian-ese” mind-set tells me how I need to not forsake the gathering of the brethren,

how going to church will help me get through the week, and worse of all my mind plays the trick that I might be missing out on something.

All of these are true in a sense…

But what if right now for me the church is not the safe place I always wanted it to be…

What if instead of forcing myself to go to a building that is not safe, I instead rested at Jesus’ feet like Mary?

What if in the quiet of my own room I poured out my alabaster box and with my tears washed the feet of Jesus and found peace, healing and wholeness there?

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Like I mentioned I grew up in the church and any time the doors were open our family was expected to go. To be real and honest right now I know that my family thought that best for us for many reasons but I can see where many painful events happened for me in the church.

In my personal growing up years the church has wounded more than it has healed.

I need to process through those things, wrestle with it all if I am going to find true healing in this area.

This has always been my place to wrestle.

Most of the time I avoid it because I feel too raw to wrestle through the painful things

but on days like today I know that I need to write.

So Sunday morning dawns,

 and I find I hit the snooze button one to many times.

Then I jump out of bed, get some breakfast, take my vitamins and take a cup of coffee out on the front steps so I can enjoy and calm my nerves with my first cigarette of the day.

(That fact may cause people to stop reading now and that’s ok… this is my real place and

I am tired of hiding from people because I think they won’t approve me which is what I sought after for so many years)

As I am sitting outside dialog-ing with myself on why Sunday is so hard for me right now,

and why all the self-talk in the world can’t work to get me ready in time to go to church,

why my prayer for a will and want too has still gone unanswered in my mind.

And the words start flooding in my mind for this blog post.

I get frustrated with myself

because I want to get them down right away knowing I will forget them

if I logically say I will wait until after church to write.

Again all the “reasons” flood in my mind about why I shouldn’t write instead of go to church

but then…

It’s as if a tiny small voice says… those are the law sweet child.

And its true!

~I should go to church because I need to for my salvation

~I should go to church because what are they going to think if I’m not their for the 3rd week in a row

~I should go to church because what would my mother say

~I should go to church because it’s what the bible tells me to do

And in that moment the still small voice reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha.

Mary was sitting at Jesus feet in a day when men and women did not sit or even eat together.

For Mary to be welcomed and encouraged to remain at His feet went against all cultural norms!

How out of character that must have been!

How our minds want to go with the things taught to us because it’s what has been done for years and years,

But what if we stop and ask ourselves if that is working for us?

I would have to answer a very loud and resounding NO!

The list below is what my church going years have consisted of mostly:

(Again understand that there has been many good times in church and a lot I have learned)

I have been in multiple churches ever since I was 3-4 years old.

My parents allowed the church to raise us when it came to biblical teaching.

A Sunday school teacher told me when I was little that God lets everything happen in our lives.

I was touched inappropriately by several boys growing up while at “church functions”

When I got sick as a child, people came to pray for me, because there was no healing I was told I didn’t have enough faith.

My extended family did not approve of, understand or like our church going practices.

At 16 my parents felt led to leave the church we had grown up at and attend another church.

People who had been like family to us told my parents if they left they would no longer speak to them again.

I was told many confusing things by several youth pastors thus continuing my misunderstandings of God.

Boys at the christian school I attended were cruel, joked about my size and picked on me if I ever liked someone.

When I was rebelling growing up, Pastors basically washed their hands of me because I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so angry

I would search for ways to serve, through youth groups, worship team etc. because I was told that’s what good Christians do.

When I was in need of help, direction, mentoring or anything I was told that wasn’t a possibility

I have been told over and over to be the change I want to see.

I wanted to share my testimony at a church about what God had done for me and the pastor told me that it was just too much for the congregation to handle.

A youth pastor that I liked accepted my help with the youth, flirted with me and then lead mine and many other women’s hearts on until he found his “sugar mama”

I would seek help and healing from all of the above things over and over again through out the years.

And sadly this cycle continued to play out for me over and over again.

Even the ministries I worked at told me that I didn’t have a servant’s heart.

Life fell apart when I found out about Phillip’s death, when I went to the staff vulnerable asking for help to get through the trauma I was advised that I wasn’t there to get help I was there to serve and if I didn’t think I could do that then I needed to go.

When I transferred to a different ministry center and asked questions about pay, living expenses and what my original job description was supposed to be and how it changed once I arrived, I was dismissed and told I wasn’t the one for the job.

So how do I heal from all of this pain and trauma????

I definitely don’t think it’s by making myself go to a church that has not reached out so much as a pinky finger for me to grasp on to as I drown in all that I am going through.

I don’t write all of this out to bash churches, pastors or the people in the church.

I write it to help people to see that the church is supposed to be for…

Original photo not mine. Edited via picmonkey

Original photo not mine. Edited via picmonkey

Yet we are wounding the very ones that Jesus is instructing us to love.

We tell people that they have to get involved in the church and serve if they are to get help

but how can we expect someone to give what they don’t have or haven’t been shown?!

We sit in our fancy padded seats and raise our hands to worship

but are scared to abandon all and do what our heart is prompting us to do for fear of what people will think of us.

There have been more Sundays than not

that I could have just sat at the altar and wept,

times of worship that I could have knelt down, arms lifted in abandon and worshiped,

yet my fear of expectations and what people would say robbed me of the pure joy my heart was yearning for.

The law and the whisper of the rules  kept me in line like the good little christian I was playing to be.

I can’t keep doing that any more

I don’t want to live that way any more!

We sing songs like:

 You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Or

Shane & Shane – Yearn [Lyrics]

 

How can you listen to these songs and not want to kneel down in holy abandon

crying out to God for the desire to yearn for Him and more of who He truly is?

We can’t expect people who are emotionally, spiritually or physically sick

to walk into a church and instantly have it all together

or to know how to insert themselves in what they feel is a

SECRET SOCIETY

that they will always be on the outskirts of.

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When words fail… Part 2

When words fail… Part 2

I don’t want this blog to discourage anyone from comforting a friend in need or feel that their words are pointless. I just want people to be able to see that when we speak God’s word as intended, to lift up the broken-hearted, to bind their wounds instead of laying them bare and adding a few more for good measure thinking that God will use it for His good. Our purpose in this life is not to wound each other. It is to encourage and edify each other through each trial that life brings… So with that being said I want to speak truth…

The truth is

that in this life there will be

trials, heartaches, sadness, grief and losses.

The truth is that it is in those trials and grief that God wants to

and will do His best work if we allow Him to.

It says in James 1:2

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

This coming from Paul who knew more than almost any other person about trials and a rough life. He had been shipwrecked, many assassination attempts on his life, beaten multiple times, exiled from so many places, abandoned by others, imprisoned, stoned, and eventually killed.

And why you ask?

Why would a person be willing to go through so much

heartache, trauma and pain?

Through all of this how did he find the strength to count it all joy?

How did he find the strength to lift up the body of Christ through His letters? What gave him the ability to still find hope, contentment, and a reason to continue on?

1) He kept the perspective that it wasn’t personal.

I know that sounds crazy, as soon as I typed it out I wanted to delete it however I believe that was straight from God and I will tell you why…

I know my whole life I have just wanted to find others love, acceptance and a place of belonging. So much so that many times I compromised on who I was, did what I thought others wanted me to do and sought the approval of others above anything else. This past year was a challenge because no matter what I did there really weren’t many who showed any approval or many who felt I never did a good enough job. Those people who speak those things affect us so much more don’t they?

We take to heart those negative things spoken over us instead

of listening to the people who encourage, accept and love us.

Yet because of that season, it pushed me towards God, who I didn’t understand and felt was unhappy with me. He was gently trying to speak truth to me, to remind me that even when I didn’t see Him as good, faithful and an ally it didn’t change His character or the truth that He was all of those things and more. It kept me on my knees and in the word so that I could learn who this God was that would make everything yet want to be personal and intimate with me. I am learning that He has never wanted my service, He wants me!

Can you believe that?

He wants the messy, emotional, all over the place,

caring, heartbroken shell of a person that I am.

He wants to know me and

He wants to know you intimately.

Paul knew something that I still need to learn.

He knew how much the world hated Jesus.

He knew that they were bound to hate him as well

because he was speaking truth.

He was speaking of the grace and truth that set people free.

I am definitely not putting myself up there with Paul! Trust me I have so much more to learn and grow in. I don’t think I will ever reach where Paul was yet like Paul I want to share where I am at even though I know I haven’t arrived. I need to get to the point where I know that people may not like what I have to say because it is truth and be ok with that. I want to get to the point in my life where I want to proclaim what God is doing and not worry or fear what man thinks.

2) Paul knew that He was not alone.

God had not abandoned Paul nor was it punishment from God

when Paul experienced trials, heartaches and grief.

We have to quit telling people who it is something that they are doing wrong

in their lives or sin that is causing the trial, pain or sickness.

It says in Romans 8:38

photo not mine. found via pinterest.

photo not mine. found via pinterest.

It is so easy to listen to the murmurings of others that something in your life is causing these problems.

It is easy to start believing that something you say or do can separate you from God.

It is easy to think that you have just messed up again and again which makes Him so angry with you that He would turn His back on you.

My friend those are all lies and those are the people and thoughts that we have to avoid.

Don’t get me wrong… there are times in my life when I was blatantly walking away from a God that died to know me. I was walking in my selfish ways with only a desire to get my needs met. I was choosing sin as a temporary fix to make my flesh feel better.

I am not talking about that.

I am talking about a life that is truly seeking to live a life that shines His light. I am talking about a person that has identified their need for a savior because they know that in themselves they do not have what it takes to enter Heaven. I am talking about a relationship with a God that loves you so very much that while we were still His enemies He sent His son for us.

Paul knew that when he was on the road to Damascus getting ready to go and murder more christians in the name of the high priest that God appeared to him and totally and radically transformed his life.

That is the only thing that got Paul through the trials that would play out in his life.

3) Paul knew that trials would create things in him that he wouldn’t be able to do in his own strength.

In Romans 5 it says:

Photo not mine. Found via Pinterest.

Photo not mine. Found via Pinterest.

As humans we want an easy, stress-free, trial free life.

And when trials come into people’s lives some are quick to point a finger that it must be them sinning and God punishing them.

This is a prime example of where our words and spiritual alcaldes can wound instead

of lift up, mend and offer life.

Paul reminds us that it’s those trying times when our faith is built. It is the foundation that we can build a life that is confident in the hope that we have. Not in any person because we are all just humans.

We will disappoint, fall short and say the wrong things.

But God never will.

He wants to be our hope and stay.

He wants us to come to the realization and understanding that He is not only good, BUT…

He is good to me!

 

Audrey Assad- Good to me

Last but definitely not least,

4) Paul knew that to live was Christ.

Paul knew that he had a God-given purpose for his life. He knew it would be hard, he knew there would be major trials in his life, he knew that his life was not his own. He knew that you and I would need to hear of his pain thousands of years later so that we would not lose heart or quit running the race.

Pain is a megaphone to a hurting world,

It lets us know that we are not alone in this life.

Paul’s chains were for the furtherance of the gospel, He knew it was worth it all in the end.

Paul knew that through it all he would run the race set before him and know that to live was Christ but to die for Him was gain!

Philippians 1:21-24 says:

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.

But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.

I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ,

which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.”

Can I really say that?

I want to be able to.