Monthly Archives: April 2013

Feelings

Feelings.

Meet my friends Mushy, Gushy, Ooey, and Gooey.  Oh, and let’s not forget Messy and Complicated.

Today I am thinking specifically of feelings of the romantic kind.  And I am going to be speaking primarily to young women, because I am intimately acquainted with our struggles in this area. I am going to tell you something that I hope will set you free. As young women, having and developing feelings for young men is both normal and healthy.

I don’t know what it is about developing feelings for a guy that drives me to an almost immediate sense of shamefulness, followed very quickly by a sense of urgency to suppress or root them out.  I have learned that the shame, suppression, and rooting out are actually counter-productive to effectively dealing with my feelings.  Over the past few years, God has been working in my heart to get my to look honestly at my feelings, and from this experience, I have learned to accept and work through my feelings. I’ve jotted down some observations.

  • Feelings are natural. I used to think that my attraction or feelings for a guy translated directly to lust. Like, if I caught myself thinking, “That guy is good-looking,” I would instantly feel guilty and embarrassed about it. Hormones are a part of my chemical make-up and feelings are a part of my emotional make-up.  I sincerely believe God created me to be attracted to and have feelings for certain men on a very basic level. So now when I see a guy I think is attractive, I don’t beat myself up. I try not to dwell on it, because that does turn into lust, but I’ve learned to recognize God’s hand in what I’m attracted to.
  • Feelings are not always bad. It is generally considered that our hearts are the root of our feelings, and our hearts are “deceitful, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and I grew up with the belief that my feelings were also bad. This was solidified long before I became a believer through a struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts as the people closest to me oversimplified my situation and labeled me as too emotional and negative. After getting out of a bad relationship, I learned not to trust my feelings about guys either. I became a believer four-and-a-half years ago, but  recognizing the validity of my feelings has been a process. Last year, it sort of just clicked for me, and I’ve had tremendous victory in this area. Here’s the thing, since the instant of my salvation, I am not the person I used to be. My heart is no longer rogue, but ruled by Christ. I’ve said this a lot lately, but I’m repeating it because it’s important – Christ lives in me, I have the presence and conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life, so as long as I am surrendered to the will of God in my life, I can trust that God has a plan and purpose even in how I feel.
  • Feelings are not a good foundation for a relationship. Granted, if I am in a relationship with someone I will have feelings for them at some point or another, but  Mushy, Gushy, Ooey, and Gooey are fair weather friends. Those butterflies that flit around in my stomach as I get to know a guy I’m attracted to tend to disappear when we disagree or argue and Messy and Complicated show up.  At that time, I will either choose to act on what I feel towards that guy, or I will act in a way that shows I care for and respect him. Of course, it’s okay and healthy to have feelings for the guy I’m with or just getting getting to know, but if they’re what I base my actions on, I’m in for a shallow and unsteady relationship.
  • Feelings are opportunities for us to rely on God. I learned a few years ago that the best One to talk to about my feelings for any guy is God. I talk very candidly to God, because unlike when I talk to humans, I know He can handle it. God has challenged me when I talk to Him about these guys: “Does he love Me? Does his thinking about Me reflect right thinking?  What are his life and ministry desires, dreams, and goals? Do they match yours? What does he think about your role in ministry and in a relationship? How does he feel about the things that are important to you (missions, adoption, foster care)? Does he share your burdens (inner city missions, artists, youth, foreign missions, college ministry)?” With every guy I have ever prayed about (whether just friends or getting to know each other more intentionally), God has walked with me through my feelings, helping me through them.  Most importantly, He has never shamed or embarrassed me because of my feelings, He’s just given me perspective on them.

So don’t push those feelings away, own them and lay them before God. I’ve been told that can be awkward, and I guess at first it really is.  But He wants to use your feelings to draw you closer to Him.

There is freedom in feeling. Who knew?

Triumphal Procession

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

The thoughts that captivated me this morning.

Pick me! Pick me!

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest'” (Matthew 9:36-38).

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me'” (Isaiah 6:8).

In my imagination, I can see Isaiah in the throne room of Heaven, in the presence of God, jumping up and down, waving his hand in the air: “Here I am! Send me!” Or maybe I’m just seeing what I would be doing if I was there.

Over the past three years or so, I have developed a burden for college ministry. Last summer I distinctly heard God’s call in my life to be involved in college ministry, but as I took steps in that direction the door was definitely closed. It was one of the most jading experiences of my life, and as a result, I came away thinking I was hearing things.

I am happy to report I was not hearing things, although I may have misinterpreted the role God wanted me to play. I doubt that I will ever be directly involved in on-site college student ministries going forward, and I am surprisingly content with that.  I have another role to play, namely resourceful networking.

Still. I want to go!

I know, I know. I can have effective ministries right where I am, and God has blessed me to where that is my reality.  And I’m passionate and excited about what God is doing in my life.

But the desire is stirring in my heart. Coming alive.

To go and minister full-time to lost and needy people. Perhaps in Zambia. Perhaps somewhere else. I don’t really know.

I just know my heart cry to God right now is, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Source of Worth

I struggled for YEARS with my worth. The reality is, on my own, I am not worthy. But I’m not on my own anymore! (Emmanuel – God WITH us!!!) I have accepted that Christ is my Savior from sin, and because of that I am justified (or right) before God (Romans 5:1). When God looks at me, He no longer sees the fallen or sinful nature, because at the moment of salvation that person died, and Christ came alive in me. Therefore, because Christ lives in me, and only because of Him, I am worthy. Of course, I still struggle, but I am not obligated to sin, because I have been redeemed (bought and paid for – every part) by Christ and His power is working within me.

It’s easy to get down on ourselves and our flaws, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t grow to be more and more like Christ every day, because we should and we will as we surrender to God’s will for us. BUT a sense of unworthiness will keep you from being and doing all that God wants you to do, which is exactly what our enemy wants. Of course if there is an ongoing sin issue in your life, get right with God – don’t hide out in shame. But if it’s a past sin or failure that you have gotten right with God, don’t continue beating yourself up about it. It is paid for by Christ so that you can experience the fullness of life God intends for you!

Soak it up and own it!

Answers

Last week, I mentioned that I was meditating on some questions relating to God’s presence. This week, I have some answers.

The first question was, “What does it mean that God is with me?”  The verse that I have been thinking about in regard to this topic is Galatians 2:20a, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (emphasis mine). Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, I am the Life.” I have THE Life abiding in me – abundant, triumphant, victorious – coursing through my veins. That is as present as it gets.

The second question was, “How does knowing that God is with me change my life?” I had to modify this question once I answered the first one: “How does knowing that I have THE Life in me change my life?”  Honestly, I became a believer a little over four-and-a-half years ago, and God has certainly been transforming since that point. But the fact that His presence in me allows me to live life to the full is something that has begun to click only in the past several months. Let me see if I can explain.

Over time, I have acquired this idea that if I want something, it must be bad for me. That if I’m happy, I should be waiting for the other shoe to drop. And that my unhappiness and my spiritual growth are inexplicably proportionate to each other.

Lies. All of them.

But because I believed them, I was living a half-life. What changed? I think last year I went through this stuff where I felt like I was dying inside. A dear friend had the courage to tell me that God didn’t want me to be miserable. He wants me to enjoy life, to have an abundant life.

And because Christ lives in me, I have that life. I just wasn’t accessing it.

So what has changed?

I genuinely want God’s will in my life. I mean, there is nothing I want more. Therefore, if I desire something, it doesn’t mean it’s evil. It just means I need to surrender that desire to God and what He wants to do with it. I can take risks and not have to worry about screwing up my life. I can be happy and not bound by anxiety about what may or may not be. And I can grow just as much in the good times as in the hard times.

I am finally living.

Yeah!

The Questions I’m Meditating On This Week

The questions I’m meditating on this week:

– What does it mean that God is with me?

– How does knowing that God is with me change my life?

 

It Happens Organically

Sometimes as believers we fall into the trap of thinking that we have to make things happen. To grow spiritually. To get to the next level in our relationship with God. To earn favor, right standing, acceptance.

I’ve learned after years of striving. This life in Christ? It happens organically – that is, I am not responsible for making anything happen. Not spiritual growth. Not getting to the next level in my relationship with God. Not earning favor, right standing, acceptance.

You and I are not in right standing before God because of these things. I don’t know about you, but I am in right standing before God because of Christ. And I will never be more right with God than I was at the moment I recognized Christ as the only acceptable atonement for my sin.  There is no effort on my part that can possibly make me more right, or put me in better standing with God.

The pressure is officially off.

But if I’m saved, and feel no pressure to perform rooted in a sense of obligation toward and repaying God, aren’t I in danger of  a stagnant Christian walk?

I desire spiritual growth. I desire to be a woman of Christ-like character, and I’ve long since come to realize character development is a refining process.  God  knows of this desire of mine, and I firmly believe it is in line with His will (Romans 8:29). I used to have a problem giving up easily and taking the easy way out. I recognized this needed to change, and I prayed about it, and I even tried to be patient in my own strength, but it produced no real change. The change came through remaining in a specific God-orchestrated circumstance. I had nothing to do with it. With Christ,  it happened organically.

I desire intimacy with God. I am known intimately by Him, but I long to open more areas of my heart to Him, and to know Him and His heart better.  One of the things I used to struggle with as a single woman was loneliness – not having “the one” to share my life with. I realized that God wanted me to have that romance, that closeness with Him, but much as I tried to cultivate that myself, the emptier I felt.  I only realized just recently, and I’m not even sure how it came to be, that the love relationship between God and I is there. I don’t know. I feel alive spending time with Him, I’m assured by His desire for me. I do know I didn’t have anything to do with it. With Christ, it happened organically.

I desire to please God, not because I want something from Him, but because I genuinely love Him and want to draw attention to Him. I owe Him a much bigger debt than I can ever pay, and thankfully, He didn’t ask me to pay that debt. Sometimes, though, I find myself still trying to get in good with God. He graciously reminds me every time that I am already there. I just live fully and with conviction, and I know God is pleased with that.  With Christ, it happens organically.

I am at peace knowing that God transforms me.

It’s great to have this knowledge about myself. I have honestly never been more free.

But it translates to other believers as well.

I can be at peace knowing that God transforms you. I don’t have to argue with you or pull out my hair because you’re doing different things differently than I do them or you’re not learning the same things at the same pace as I learn them. I don’t have to change you or your mind.

I used to think that if I saw a friend going in what I thought was a wrong direction, I would take it upon myself to rescue them or correct them, usually drawing from personal experience. I started doing this again a few weeks ago with a very close friend, and I’m glad I realized it before I ruined our  friendship. I had been through something similar as her, and I knew what helped me, so I’ve been sharing that with her and even putting a certain level of pressure for her to do the same thing.  But I realized that while our situations are very similar, God has different purposes for our lives, and so her response will necessarily be different than mine. Now, should this friend or any other ask what I think about something, I will draw on God’s Word for my response, but I’m done forcing it down anybody’s throat anymore. Because they have to figure these things out as God leads and guides them.

It happens organically.

 

 

 

Until Now

“Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

Why is it we are so afraid to ask?

Wayfaring Stranger

On Saturday night I had the privilege of seeing the Quebe Sisters Band in concert with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  They performed this number, and it blew my mind. The orchestration was so beautiful with the DSO and this video doesn’t really touch what I heard Saturday night, but it’s so much what has been on my heart over the past several months, so I wanted to share it.

“I am a poor wayfaring stranger
While traveling thru this world of woe
Yet there’s no sickness, toil or danger
in that bright world to which I go

I’m going there to see my father
I’m going there no more to roam
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home

I’m going there to see my Savior

Who shed for me His precious blood

I’m only going over Jordan

I’m only going over home.”