Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

P.R.A.Y.

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is an acronym I learned long ago. It stands for:

Praise God for who He is

Repent of your sins

Ask

Yield to God’s will.

Praising is awesome. It is a time to remember my many blessings and connect with God on a personal level. Praise is all about who God is and enjoying family time with Him. Praise is personal. This is where unexpected answers sometimes come, where Abba Father and I can laugh together. When I enter into praising my Father, He lovingly shapes my heart and attitude. If I come to Him angry but remember to STILL approach Him with praise on my lips, everything changes. He re-orients my heart, my perspective, and pours out grace and humility over me. Praise is crucial before we ask, not to “butter God up” to get what we want, but to remember who He is and align our hearts and minds with His.

Repentance is tough work. If we honestly search our hearts and find nothing awry, this is the time to ask God to reveal any areas in our hearts and lives that need work. Whatever we are struggling with, this is the time to get it off our chest. God already knows every thought we’ve ever had, everything we ever did when we thought no one was watching, when we forgot the One who is with us always and never leaves our side. This is the time to admit we cannot fix ourselves, and we need some help. This is where holy breaking occurs. In repentance, shackles fall away. Walls tumble down. Here we receive strength beyond what we are capable of alone. Here, we find healing and acceptance.

Asking is easy. We always want more from God, but unless we temper our requests with praise, repentance, and yielding to God’s will, if we only talk to our Heavenly Daddy when we want something, we reduce the Creator of the Universe to Santa Clause, or “the great sky wizard” as some of my Atheist friends call Him. Oh, beloved, do you understand how hurtful this is? God loves us. He delights in our little questions. Like any loving father, He just wants to spend time with us. He wants to be so much more than a big spiritual wallet to us. If all we ever do is ask, we are missing out on the healthiest, most stable relationship of our lives. We miss out on truly experiencing God.

Now this last one, this yielding business, I really struggle with this. I suspect many do. “Thy will be done” is so easy to say, but so much harder for me to put into practice. Yielding means letting go of expectations. Yielding means trusting that God knows what’s best, that He is big enough and powerful enough, that He is good and loving. Yielding means praising our Father no matter the outcome. It means praising Him when we cannot see His hand at work. It means praising Him and trusting that He is working all things for good even when it seems our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. If repentance is where we break, yielding is where God rebuilds us, but we HAVE to let Him! Yielding is where we get out of God’s way and just let the Master work! Can you imagine if clay fought in the potter’s hands? If paint wouldn’t stay on the brush long enough to become a masterpiece? Yielding is life, friends, and I forget to do it! We can ask and repent until we’re blue in the face, but if we are not willing to accept God’s “No’s,” His “Not Yet’s,” and His “Father Knows Best and That Ain’t It’s,” then we miss out on healing. We miss out on the greatest love story of our lives. We miss prosperity, peace, and great joy. We miss being a part of something great, something bigger than ourselves. Yielding is absolutely crucial to meeting our full spiritual potential, doing the impossible, knowing God, and I forget to do it! Or I just resist! I hold onto my own desires, stamp my foot and demand my own way. Does that ever work? Would you do me a favor? Would you pray for me? And tell me how I can pray for YOU. Where are you hurting? What are you struggling with? What has God done in your life lately?

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I have completely lost it.

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This is the song of my heart today. It’s times like these you learn who your true friends and allies are. That has always been a very, very short list for me, at times consisting only of God. I am not proud to say that at times, there has been no list. In one particular dark pit, I found myself pulling away from the only One who could help me, the only One who knew the depth of the valley in which I found myself. I asked Him some hard questions, and when I didn’t like the answers, I pulled deep into myself, letting the darkness wash over me and under me and through me. And there I sat, wallowing in my hurt, slapping God’s hand away from my shoulder each time He reached in. But this time, I am fighting. I cling to the One who has never left my side. I am forcing myself to pry the lies and chains of hurt, mistrust, cynicism, and loneliness from my heart and give them over to the Author of Truth and Lover of My Soul. I am forcing myself to trust my husband, to be real with him and let him into my hurts, despite the strong desire to simply fold into myself again and close the heavy doors. I am reaching, and it’s hard, so hard, to the few who are left on my very short trusted list, a list that seems to shrink with each passing day. And I am sharing my struggle with you. Because no matter what seeds of lies the darkness sows, we are never alone. We are made to love, to connect with one another, imperfect beings sharing in our imperfection. We have to forgive, have to. We have to try again and again and keep reaching, keep giving broken relationships over to the Healer and letting Him restore, trusting that He can and wants to, if both parties will let Him. But right now, today, I just don’t have the strength. I’m trying, Lord knows I’m trying. But today, all I have in me is enough fight to cry out to God and to let my husband in. And for today, that will have to be enough. Looking forward to the end of this trial and a period of healing in my body and soul.

God knows exactly what we need

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even when we don’t.

I live with a physical disability. When my husband proposed, he knew about my assorted medical issues, but he saw I still lived a relatively normal life. He fell in love with this intelligent, resourceful, strong, tenacious, charismatic woman of God who overcame great obstacles. He watched me beat the odds, and when I failed, he held me while I sobbed and then watched me use my failures to accomplish something different. He knew that living with me would present some unusual challenges because of my health. And he proposed anyway, because I was so much more than my challenges. He promised my tearful mother that he would take good care of me, making the multiple yearly ER visits and the various assorted doctors appointments. We loved each other, we were young and optimistic and together, we could conquer anything. But neither of us could have predicted my future inability to function adequately in society.

As my health declined over the past few years, he struggled to accept the severity. And yesterday, he finally did. It nearly killed him. He lost hope in the long, dark night. Then today went just a little bit better. And tonight, while searching through my computer bag, I found something very dear to him that’s been missing since our move. Something he’d lost hope that he would ever see again. I’ve dug through that bag several times since we’ve been here, but it’s a small item and the same color as the lining of my bag. Still, I don’t know how I missed it before. But it was like a tiny love note from God, telling him “See? Anything is possible. I can restore all that is lost. I love you, here’s a small gift. Don’t give up hope.” That may seem silly to some of you, but for my husband it was a win he desperately needed. Some might call it luck; personally I don’t believe in that.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10

We feel like God spoke this verse into my husband’s soul tonight in a way that he could understand. And he let me be a part of it. Little ole me. What a privilege.

And from the cocoon emerged a moth.

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I still wore make-up off and on. Still restricted, but not as severely. The eating disorder still lived in me, but no longer controlled me. I stopped trying to win the unobtainable prize.

A few months after I graduated the outpatient program, I went off of the antidepressant. I got a job that I enjoyed, started dating, and regained most of my privileges. I generally liked my life. A while later I got an internship in my dream career with my target company and took off across the country. Finally, I moved on with My Life, whatever that was.

The internship required a lot of hard physical labor, so naturally my appetite matched my activity level. So I ate. And ate, and ate, and ate. I savored every bite without giving my figure much thought. Food was fuel, and I needed lots of it to work. It was the healthiest time of my life, physically and spiritually. I found a local church and attended regularly. I joined prayer groups, faithfully did devotions, and served the poor. And God began to touch me, teach me, heal me. When the internship ended, I returned home a new woman. Though I still experienced unhealthy thought processes, I lived out a healthy relationship with food and exercise for the first time in my life. Since then I have had a couple of relapses, but nothing close to a full-blown disorder. Right now I’m in a pretty good place and have been for about a decade. I try to eat a reasonably healthy diet, but I allow myself treats sometimes and don’t feel bad about them. I still have an occasional slip-up. Eating disorders are kind of like alcoholism; I will always be “recovering” and will have to remain vigilant for the rest of my life.

The greatest healing came only a few years ago when I got pregnant. For the first time, I loved my body. I felt like I looked “normal” for the first time. I had a perfect little bump, and all the wonders of pregnancy gave me a whole new perspective on my body. I had already landed a husband, and while he found me attractive he certainly didn’t marry me for my looks. I had a beautiful birthing experience and my self-worth, self-respect, and respect for my body skyrocketed. I felt like a rock star. Now, I have saggy, stretch-marked breasts; a saggy, stretch-marked stomach; and stretch marks in places I never even knew one could have them. After subsequent pregnancies, even my stretch marks have stretch marks! And I love them. I love my body. It made the most amazing little people, and it STILL turns my husband on. Through my wonderful husband and the way I see my own children, God gives me glimpses of how He sees me. How He loves me. Through counseling, adulthood, my marriage and motherhood, I have begun to learn about real emotions. My children are allowed to feel whatever they feel and to express those emotions appropriately (ie, in non-violent ways). I still have great difficulty expressing my own needs and emotions, but parenting my children is helping me to learn.

Late Night Prose

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Calmly. I saw what you did.

“I know. I’m sorry.” I’m dead inside. Please, punish me. Just let it happen.

“Sorry does not even BEGIN to cover it! Do you KNOW what you’ve DONE?! All the work, all the progress, you’ve UN-done?! JUST so YOU could feel GOOD for a minute?! Well how does it feel NOW, wretch?! Failure! UNWORTHY! YOU’LL NEVER BE WORTH ANYTHING!”

“I know. I’m sorry.” It’s all true.

“No. Sorry doesn’t fix this. I don’t even know if you CAN fix this, you filthy burdensome rodent!”

BUT I. CAN. I. AM. BIGGER. YOU CAN TRUST IN ME. THERE’S NOTHING I CAN’T FIX!

A seed of hope…

“Don’t listen to Him. He’s nothing. He doesn’t care about you. NO ONE cares about you, and they never will! How COULD they when you’re so bad and disgusting?! YOU don’t even care for you, and why would you? Why should you? You don’t matter anyway.”

It stings. It’s true. But Hope. Hope. I can still hear His whisper. Hope. Can I trust Him? I don’t believe everything He says, but I know it’s true. I know it’s true. But I don’t believe it.

FATHER, FORGIVE ME!

Silence.

And light. Blessed, blessed silence. Freedom. Cautious hope. Light. She’s gone, and I am free. For now.

Just Write

I have been abandoned.

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My closest friend trampled me and kicked me off to the side like so much garbage. The one I trusted and loved like a sister, who was supposed to know me, has hardened her heart. I never saw it coming. It hurts. A lot. Like a bad break-up or a death in the family. Sadly, I know this pain well. My dad left us a lot. Mother was emotionally distant. Close friends turned and either left or actively caused damage, time and time again, until I learned to stop trusting. I shut down. I lived in books and daydreams, and I poured my heart out in music. Until high school, when God sent some amazing, beautiful, wonderful girls into my life. This girl. While God sent the others only for a short season, this one stayed. We loved each other through some deep, dark, dangerous woods. And when we came out the other side hand in hand, we partied hard, good girl-style. We prayed, we worshiped, we sang. We took long drives, drank too much coffee, borrowed and lent, and we LIVED. We were life-long friends, and now, suddenly we’re not. Though this SHOULD hurt more than those childhood wounds, because we shared so much for so very long, somehow this loss is different. Instead of crumbling in, I find myself reaching out, not to replace her but to build naturally on existing friendships. We cannot be who we’re meant to be without other people. We cannot minister effectively unless we let people in. We have to take the risk, time and time again, or miss out on fulfilling our God-given purpose. And God has proven to me that no matter the hurt, no matter the betrayal, He is bigger. Though I grieve and wonder how this could have happened, what went awry, I have a strange peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit living in me. I don’t know if we’ll ever mend, and if we do if we can regain what we had, but I know that whatever happens she is in God’s hands. I am in God’s hands. They are the only hands that can bind this wound, the only safe harbor for my heart. Sister, friend, I will always love you, but if our season together ends for good, this time I walk forward with my head held high, trusting my Savior to lead and to heal.

Curve Ball

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Sometimes, you know the other person is wrong. They have HURT YOU, and it’s wrong. You have every right to hurt, they have rubbed salt into an open wound unknowingly or have ripped open a scar. You care for them, want what’s best for them, ache for them. And you are hurting. And so you pray, “Lord, change their heart, open their eyes.” And God whispers into your very core “leave them to Me. Trust Me to take care of them. Let Me work in YOU. ASK Me to work in YOU.” And that is where I find myself tonight. Sometimes, you start out praying for someone who genuinely needs it, unselfishly, but instead of just fixing the other person God addresses your hurt. Instead of saying “yes” and spawning an apology, understanding, compassion, He says “no, beloved. This way. Let it go. I know, you have every right to be hurt. Give Me your rights. Give Me the hurt. Let Me soothe it regardless of what I do with your injurer, just leave them to Me. Forgive, beloved, and let go, and let Me.”  I am not very good at letting go, and God knows this about me. Forgiveness? Sure. But forgetting? Trust? Moving forward? No, those are very hard for me. And so He gives me opportunities to practice, over and over and over again. Often I fail. So we practice some more. And when I fail, He keeps calling to me, gently, Let Me bind up your wounds. But I don’t. So here I am, Lord, struggling to let go, struggling to trust You. Here I am. And here’s my hurt. Help me not to snatch it back this time. Gently pry my fingers open. I want to give this to You. Help me let it go.

Food For Thought, Part IV

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The counselor was a petite woman dressed very conservatively, but I remember the color of her shirt really brought out her eyes. She had frizzy hair and wore no make up, but was attractive nonetheless. Every once in a while, you meet a person who you can practically feel love and compassion radiating from, filling the room like exquisite perfume. This woman was like that. She just shone. And she had such concern in her eyes. It was beautiful, and it terrified me, because I knew that there was nothing I could hide from someone like her. The Holy Spirit’s presence is so strong with people like this, if you can manage to lie to them it breaks your heart while you are doing it and the guilt eats away at you. You feel as if you’ve defiled something pure. They are just so filled with love and genuine goodwill towards you, and their sincerity is completely disarming. She asked me a few questions, gently, kindly. I answered honestly, heart pounding and sweating, without making eye contact. We set up the time for our first session.

In the days leading up to our session, my inner monologue changed from very controlled and demanding to one of great fear. I desperately wanted to cancel and just disappear, pretend it never happened. But I knew the memory of the counselor’s overwhelming care for me, a total stranger, would haunt me. And I knew I had to get better or die, but I wasn’t ready to relinquish my perceived world where I was DOING something, making a real difference in something. I was accomplishing something real in my body, and I liked the euphoric feelings I got after a “good” work out, or when I’d pushed my body to the limit and begin to black out. I was addicted to starvation. I didn’t know myself without it, or how I would fill my time. It was what I was best at, and hiding it gave me as much of a high as doing it. And I was terrified of getting fat, being seen, having to participate in society. People were cruel, and I wanted nothing to do with them. People let you down, but my highly structured routines and rules remained a constant for me.

The morning of our session, I woke up in a near-panic attack. I gripped my phone, staring at it, willing myself to call and cancel. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I cried. And then, a strange sense of acceptance washed over me. I went through my morning routine with a small remnant of anxiety, wondering when it would change, how many more times I would go through these same motions, and what my mornings would be like after, if I survived. I waited until the last possible moment to walk out of my dorm room, and slowly walked through the cool Autumn air to the health center.

My anxiety increased with each step. I walked in, signed in on the clipboard, and sat down to wait. My heart was pounding. I wanted to leave. And then, out she came with a folder in hand. She smiled, we shook hands and walked back to her office.

She showed me to a very small room. One wall disappeared behind two floor-to-ceiling bookcases, each stuffed with books. Her desk chair, when she pulled it out, sat inches away from the shelves, and my chair was close to her desk, right up against the back wall. Thankfully the room had two large windows (covered with sheer curtains for some privacy) to help keep the space from feeling so claustrophobic. The windows made it kind of cozy.

We spent the first session just getting to know each other. She told me a little bit about herself and her background. I liked her more with each thing she told me, and against my will began to trust, just a sliver. She had some dry questions for me just to get a feel for where I was right then, I’m sure they were partly to determine if she could treat me or if I needed medicinal aid from a psychiatrist, or even hospitalization. She asked about some behaviors and thought patterns, the severity, and the duration. Some of the questions were difficult, but they were really just facts. We didn’t really get into “the hard stuff” that day. I left somewhat relieved, appalled at the things I’d revealed, anxious about the repercussions, yet with a small sense of freedom that the first part was over.

The second session was kind of transitional. We did some clarification and filled in some details based on the results of the first session, but we also started to get into the roots of some of my thought patterns and behaviors. Slowly, my eyes began to open. I learned things about myself and my background that day, shocking things. I left the session in a daze with a lot to process. I walked around in an introspective haze that week, and entered our third session with curiosity. I only felt anxious about what I might learn about myself and my past.

After several sessions, I began to live with a small sense of liberation. I was able to enjoy some small parts of life and truly see and experience them for the first time, or at least the first time in a long time. I gained some tools to deal with some of the thoughts and patterns. Some of the disordered behaviors began to loosen their grip. But then, something went horribly wrong.