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Friday, August 23, 2013

When You're Down To Nothing

"When you're down to nothing, God is up to something." I've always liked that quote. I'm not sure who said it, and yea I could Google it but frankly I don't feel like it. Today hasn't been the best of days but it hasn't been the worst. I've had good moments and I am clinging to those but most importantly I am clinging to God. I'm sure there's a lesson in all this. My heart and my head may not be in full agreement however I'm not about to let negativity rule my little corner of the world...if you've been reading me for any length of time I'm sure you've picked up on that. I've struggled with it the past few weeks but how's that Mandisa song go...? "I'm an overcomer!"

I write. There's a line in a song that goes something like, "people got their ways of coping and I got mine..." my way of coping is this. I write. I could write in a journal but have y'all noticed my inconsistency here? Yea, a journal is not my thing. Am I causing drama by sharing my turbulent life publicly? Maybe. Am I helping others who have, are or will go through the same or similar experiences? Judging from the comments, private messages, phone calls and emails I have received I would go out on a limb and say yes. And for that reason alone, if nothing else, I keep going. I write.

How does writing help? Well, I guess it's my outlet. Some people are athletes, some are musicians, some drink, some smoke, some party, some pray...everyone has an outlet (at least I hope & pray they do!), a place where they can escape their stress, their reality, their life...for better or for worse: I write. When I don't write I can tell that it's all bottled up inside and I end up losing a piece of myself and come off a few more shades of crazy than I normally am. 

"The good Lord gives and He takes away..." 

I suppose the argument could be made that talents fall into the category of what God can give and take. I pray He never takes away my talent for writing because I can't imagine a life without written words. However, I know that if I find myself "down to nothing," even find I can no longer right, I will still have multitudes of thanks to be given.

At the end of the day, today for example, I may have unanswered questions, I may have doubts and fears (yea, I'm still working on those!) but I have blessings in abundance. I have a Heavenly Father who has already saved me, I have two of the most amazing kids I've ever met (not just my opinion, others have told me as much), I have family that is loving and supportive, I have friends who have become family in every way that matters, I have a man who has opened my mind and my heart to possibilities that I thought I would never look forward to again after shutting the door on a fourteen year marriage that ended in total heartbreak...I am blessed beyond my deserving and no material thing on this earth could ever compare. 

Are you feeling like you are down to nothing? Believe me, my friend, you simply need to take a breath and say thanks for the air that fills your lungs. Then, find a slightly bigger blessing, and so on and so on...I bet you loose track of time by the time you count your blessings! (By the way, if you're reading this, than you are one of MY blessings, and I thank you!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Are You Afraid Of?

Fear. It can influence us without knowing. It can infiltrate its way into the nooks and crannies of our lives, our decision making, our relationships, our faith. Sometimes fear isn't vague, sometimes we know we're avoiding things on purpose because of our fear. Why? Why do we allow this irrational emotion rule any part of our existence.The Bible tells us, "God has not given you a spirit of fear..." (II Timothy 1:7) so one could make the argument that fear is a byproduct of sin...but we have been saved from our sins...

So I ask again, why? Why do we not stand up to our fears? I would venture to guess the answer to this is quite different for each of us. It's hard work to stand up to your fears. It can be draining. It can feel impossible or unrealistic. Sometimes the hardest work is recognizing that fear has control of us and we have to dig deep with a lot of "why" questions to ourselves in order to pinpoint the origin of that fear so we can begin to move past it.

I have been working on this one. I'm a work in progress, I know, and I usually take a few steps forward then a few steps back and so on but I want to share what I think I've learned. I always am hopeful that in doing so it will assist someone, somewhere. Even if only one person is touched or helped than it makes sharing my life and the chaos in my head worth every moment spent typing my thoughts and emotions.

I think my biggest fear (besides my motherly fears of not being able to provide, causing my kids to need therapy later in life, etc, etc) is acceptance. Or rather, not being accepted. I'm a people pleaser, I try to make everyone happy. I know it's an impossible task. Sometimes it causes a bigger mess than it should. I have been working on it though and while I see some regressions at times I am overall seeing an improvement. It took a lot for me to get to the root of that. To admit it to myself. Then to start working on overcoming it. Pray helps. A LOT!

I mention prayer because it is a big part of my life. I don't always think of it as prayer though, I have a conversation with God and since I know He's always with me it's kinda a constant, never-ending one.

I have come to realize that His opinion is the only one that matters. His acceptance is the only one I need. And I already have it, He accepted me, a sinner, and loved me so much His Son paid for my transgressions on a cross a long, long time ago. This of course does not mean I just live my life without considering my choices and their implications. It means that I get myself, my choices, right with God and let the rest of the world worry about themselves.

I have also come to realize that my true friends accept me for who I am and will always support my decisions. Those who love me unconditionally will be happy for me and with me if I am happy. I am blessed to have these people in my life. I am ashamed I have not given them more credit. And by that I mean, I should trust them to have my back no matter what anyone else says or does to react to what is going on in my life.

As people learned of my separation and impending divorce from my husband the support that flowed out was overwhelming. The understanding, the love...I had feared the worst and never saw it. So I'm putting it to the test. I'm kicking fear in the teeth tonight. I have been letting the fear of, "what will people think?" and "what will people say?" keep me from talking openly about something positive in my life...

I have met someone. An amazing man that I can only describe as being a blessing sent from God. He is a kind, thoughtful, gentle, caring, generous and God-fearing man who has lit up my world. I could go on and on but I think what my friends would say is important is that I am happy. To say I am being treated well would be an understatement, he makes me feel like a princess. For the first time in my adult life, I feel cherished. It's an odd and wonderful feeling. I, in turn, am cherishing this feeling and this man. One day at a time. God is great. Life is good. People will call me crazy. I like crazy, it's a good place to reside.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Honesty Hour...Human or Hypocrite?

Oftentimes I get friends, family, even strangers coming to me for inspiration. Often I hear that my faith inspires them; my strength in the Lord inspires them; my words inspire them. I am humbled, honored and so grateful for those moments, for the people, for those interactions. That God would choose a broken, battered, imperfect vessel like me to share a small glimpse of His love is the kind of legacy I hope to leave behind.

But…

On days like today…no…on weeks like the past one, I feel unworthy. I feel like a hypocrite. How can I tell of His love, advise to be patient on His timing, praise His name one moment and then a few more moments later I end up telling a friend that I’m not on speaking terms with the Man upstairs?  I sound like a phony, right? Here’s why I think I’m not, maybe why I had to fall into that pit of despair…maybe part of my purpose is to write. Maybe that is how I am supposed to shine God’s love.

Huh?

I have a friend who lovingly jokes with me, we both are convinced that God needs to frequently pull out a 2x4 to whack us on the head before we receive His message. Guess what’s been pulling gently at me for a while? Writing. Guess what’s been really tugging hard at the hem of my garment for the past few days? Writing. You don’t even need a guess as to what I knew I couldn’t go another night without after the day I had today…you’re reading the true-to-Niki style chaos of the results.

Have you ever been in this predicament (as either party): person A asks person B to help out with something but person B says, “Yea, but first…” Person A comes back after a while, person B again, “Oh yea, I will, I will, but first…” and on and on until person A is all, “HELLO???” (The 2x4 to the head, right?)

I have heard from multiple sources the concept that you should be careful what you pray for. A “please teach me patience” prayer can turn into raising a toddler & a tween at the same moment In time. A prayer asking for wisdom and peace to learn to hear His still, small voice can turn into coming to the point where you text your friend, “Well, I would pray for you but I don’t know how much merit it would hold today because He and I are no longer on speaking terms,” and it turns into an hour long conversation, by the end of which I am writing this blog.

I have the privilege of worshiping at an amazing church with a very wise, very humble, very down-to-earth priest. He spoke to us a little while back about the myth behind being “called” to do God’s work/will/etc. I won’t go into it all (partly because this is already half-novel-length but mostly because I wouldn’t do it justice) but it shocked me a little when I first digested it. But the more I played it over in my head, the more sense it made…

God doesn’t need me. If I don’t write, someone else will. If I am not a reflection of His light in the world today, others will be. Does that mean I shouldn’t write? Nope. Should I allow His light to be covered instead of shine through me? Of course not! What it means to me is that while I may not be ‘called’ to write this blog or my devotionals, or anything for that matter, I am called, as His child, to share His love with the world. 

There are many ways to do this, it’s not going to look the same for each of His children, it won’t even look the same to each Christian who writes about Him…but when we share His love unconditionally, when we share His love without judgment, or strings attached, then we are fulfilling His calling, His purpose for our lives. We can do that in a blog, or by paying for a strangers meal; we can do that by volunteering our time or by donating goods; if we do it in love it will ultimately point to Him.

Yea. I am human. I am broken, battered, bruised. Earlier today I was not on speaking terms with God. I felt like He had failed me. I felt like He had broken His promise from Matthew, chapter 28 when He said He is with us always even to the end of ages. I was wrong. Of course I was wrong! I read something last week, scrolling through Facebook, it said something about having to hit rock bottom to learn that He is our Rock.

I hope that sharing my flaws, sharing my struggles and tantrums (because clearly I was having one today if I tried giving God the silent treatment, am I right???) can somehow help. If even one person can find their light renewed, their spirit refreshed from something I rambled out here than I have shared His light tonight. I pray none of you ever has to feel as helpless and hopeless as I did however I equally hope that if you ever do than God will send you an olive branch the way He did for me tonight.