Tuesday, August 26, 2008


My mother told me recently that one of the difficult things about hurt is that when you are perceived to be a strong person people overestimate how easily you will be able to get through the pain.

I have to agree. I get really tired of those comments "Well, you're such a strong person.", "You'll make it through to the other side of this so strong.", "You'll be fine, honey. Just give it time.", "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..." Blah. Blah. Blah.

What if I'm not a strong person? What if I am that person who screams and whines and writhes in frustration like some little brat kid? What if the other side of my pain isn't strength, glory and beauty? What if I am a blubbering idiot who can't get her act together? What if I just want to quit and move home and let my mom spoon feed me because I'm a wimp?

And what are people basing this idea of "strength" on anyway? I can't remember any remotely difficult situation in my life that I have moved through with any composure. Even when situations were not difficult and I was just going to FFA camp or something I was still...a mess.

I remember a couple of years ago, in a difficult time, I called a friend of mine in hysterics. I was about to have to do something really hard and I wanted to back out.

"I don't have the strength to do this," I cried. "I'm too weak. I'm too selfish. It's too upsetting."

And she agreed.

"You're right. You aren't strong enough. You don't have the strength to do this thing at all."

And then she quoted Galatians 2:20 to me:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

"You don't have the strength to do anything, especially this," she said. "But Christ lives in you. And He can do it. And He will. "

So I got off the phone. And did what I needed to do.

Did it suck?

Was it easy just because "Christ lives in me"?
Absolutely not.

Was I relieved when it was over?
Not really.

But... it did get done.

I read this verse today:
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
-2nd Corinthians 12:9

I gotta be honest. That's good for me. Really good. I feel like I am nothing but weakness the majority of the time. Like I am nothing but vulnerability.

I was created to need God. I was created to be weak on my own and to be, not codependent, completely dependent on Him who knows me and therefore knows how best I work.

And apparently, I work best in weakness.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Optimism vs. Hope

     "We are not talking about a sunny disposition that makes us believe things will be better tomorrow.  An optimist says, 'The war will be over; your wounds will be healed; the depression will go away; all will be better soon.'  The optimist may be right, but unfortunately he or she may also be wrong.  For none of us can control our circumstances.
     No, hope does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world, anymore than does faith.  Nor does hope depend on the ups and downs of life's particulars.  Hope rather has to do with God.  We have hope and joy in our faith because we believe that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world.  ' In the world,' said Jesus, ' you face persecution.  But take courage;  I have conquered the world' (John 16:33).  We follow One who is not limited or defeated by the world's sufferings.
     Hope does not mean that we will avoid or be able to ignore suffering, of course.  Indeed, hope born of faith becomes matured and purified through difficulty.  The surprise we experience in hope, then, is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected.  For even when they do not, we can still have a keen hope.  The basis of our hope has to do with the One who is stronger than life and suffering."

-Henri Nouwen

     I was comforted recently when a friend said to me that God was not just looking down at me and my pain and saying "Oh, this will be good for her."  She said that his heart was breaking, on a cosmic level, for my hurt.  Wow.  

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet is without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:15-16

   Misery loves company.  Part of what makes suffering so hard is that sense that we are going through it alone.  But that's not true.  It's what the Enemy would have me believe (that I am in pain and alone) in order to compound my hurt. 
     But Jesus is not "a high priest" on top of some distant mountain "unable to sympathize" with my weakness.  He hurts too.  A lot.  More than I do even at the things that ache me.
      We had a family friend whose grandchild died at a young age.  Looking back later he said that he would imagine that losing a grandchild is one of the hardest things. You are mourning the loss of your grandchild but you also hurt watching your own son or daughter suffer through losing their child.  
       I imagine that is how Jesus is.  He hurts because He is saddened by our situations, because our losses are His losses, but He is also so hurt watching us suffer.  His child, His creation.  And He aches.  He aches for us.  But the beauty of Jesus, is that because "he is not a high priest" He also aches with us. 

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 3:18

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Am There

A dear friend sent me this and it reminded me that Jesus is here with me.

Do you need me?
I am there
You cannot see me
Yet I am the light you see by
You cannot hear me
Yet I speak through your voice.
I am at work though you do not understand my ways
I am at work though you do not recognize my works
I am not strange visions
I am not mysteries
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self,
Can you know me as I Am.
And then but as a feeling and a faith
Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need me, I am there
Even if you deny me, I am there
Even when you feel most alone, I am there
Even in your fears, I am there
Even in your pain, I am there
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray
I am in you and you are in Me
Only in your mind can you feel separate from me
Empty your heart of empty fears
When you get yourself out of the way I am there
You can of yourself do nothing but I can do all and I am in all
Though you may not see the good, good is there for I am there
I am there because I have to be because I Am
Only in me does the world have meaning
Only out of me does the world take form
Only because of me does the world go forward
I am the love that’s the laws fulfilling
I am assurance. I am peace. I am oneness.
I am the law that you can live by
I am the law that you can cling to
I am your assurance I am your peace I am.
Though you fail to find me I do not fail you.
Though your faith in me is unsure my faith in you never wavers.
Because I know you, because I love you
Beloved, I am there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Answer me.

Daniel 2:17-20
"Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision."

So Daniel's life is at stake and so are his three pals. They plead to God for mercy and answers. And God answers... just Daniel. He reveals to Daniel what was in the king's dream so that Daniel can go tell the king and save himself AND his three friends. Can you just imagine how nervous those three guys were? Knowing that Daniel was about to go say to the king, "Hey I think I know what your dream was about." What if he had been wrong? Toast. For all of them.

I know what I would have said. "Hey Daniel, why don't you run that by me before you go talk to the king. I'll ask God to affirm that that's what he told you and THEN you can go make sure we don't get murdered."

And here's what Beth Moore says about all this in her Daniel Bible study:

"I want you to imagine being one of the three who didn't receive (the revelation). Their place was critical. It was on their knees. At the same time, they had to trust that God had given a clear answer that concerned their very lives to someone else. Trusting someone else's relationship with God to the degree that you'd receive a vital message through Him is challenging.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah not only had to trust God; they had to trust Daniel as having heard from Him. Few of our lives have been at stake, but most of us have been in positions where we had to trust God's message to someone else that also concerned us (a spouse, boss pastor, or trusted friend to name a few.

I remember not long ago when I confessed to God that I didn't know whether I could trust ____ to hear from Him in a matter that greatly affected me. He seemed to respond to my heart, 'Can you trust me with ____?' Do you need to fill in those blanks with an invisible name? If so, do it. "


Oh, Beth. Must you point out my control freak ways?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Do people like me??? Really like me????

I just stole this off of Erica's blog. It's a quote she heard.

"It's impossible to want people to love me and to love Christ - that's not the goal or how it works."

Wow. And that just gets rid of so much pressure too.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Doubt and Fear, Fear and Doubt

I'm struggling with doubts that the God of the universe is capable of fixing the messes in my life and of providing the answers that He has promised. I mistakenly doubt that He can relieve pain and restore me even though he has so many times before.

And then I read this story in the book of Matthew where Jesus has just finished feeding two separate groups of people miraculously. He fed the 5000 with five loaves of bread and then soon after he fed the 4000 with seven loaves of bread. And the disciples thought Jesus was ticked at them because they forgot the bread at this shindig.

Matthew 16:5-12
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Suddenly I realized that even though God has performed amazing miracles in my life, even though he has proved Himself beyond worthy of any trust I ever bestow on Him, I still choose not to believe that he will provide in whatever situation I am currently in. I have a spiritual amnesia that refuses to acknowledge the miracles that have been worked in my life. Remember that pain and how God healed it? Remember those prayers that were answered in ways that were perfect but in ways that I never would have chosen for them to be answered?

My inner voice: "NO. That was then. This is now. What's going to fix THIS situation?"

What Jesus has the right to say: "Brat."

What Jesus does say: "I love you. I'm here but you've gotta trust."

My inner voice: (begrudgingly) "O...K......"

Song of the Day

"Less Like Scars"- by Sara Groves

It's been a hard year
But I'm climbing out of the rubble
These lessons are hard
Healing changes are subtle
But every day it's

Less like tearing, more like building
Less like captive, more like willing
Less like breakdown, more like surrender
Less like haunting, more like remember

And I feel You here And You're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But You are able
And in Your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars and more like Character

Less like a prison, more like my room
It's less like a casket, more like a womb
Less like dying, more like transcending
Less like fear, less like an ending


Just a little while ago I couldn't feel the power or the hope
I couldn't cope, I couldn't feel a thing
Just a little while back I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come

And I need You And I want You here And I feel You



Wow.  He will pick up the pieces and in His hands my fears, doubts and hurt goes from dying to transcending.  But only if I commit my life and my situations to His hands.  Otherwise, I am "dying" and "fearing" in my prison.  The prison of my self pity.

That sounds gross.  Who wants to be in a prison of their own self pity?  Well, most of the time that's what I choose by not choosing Him.

Here's to making better choices.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I thought this would only take six steps...

So I've been hosting a Bible study for some lady friends (yes, lady friends) and the book we have been looking at is called "6 Steps to Clarifying Your Calling". Sounds easy enough right?

Imagine my surprise when at the END of the book, the END of the six week study, we get to the following paragraph:

".... finding our calling and purpose is a lifelong adventure. It only makes sense that our Creator would design people who can grow into His plan for their lives as they say yes to the opportunities he puts in their paths that coincide with their giftedness and with His kingdom work. It's a matter of listening to Him and acting on His leading."

I'm sorry, what? I paid $6.79 for a book that would tell me WHAT MY CALLING IS. Blarg.

The verse that has been hitting me in the face lately is Psalm 46:10:
"Be still, and know that I am God."

Sounds easy enough but... it's not. Be still. Sit still, Lauren. Don't do anything. Don't plan anything. Don't worry about anything. Just trust. Just have faith. Be STILL.

I'm working on it. Slowly but surely, it's happening.