Almost ten years ago to the day, I began to believe a lie that I was worthless, a mess, unwanted, rejected and outside of the grace of God.
I believed that I had made a choice that would solidify my destiny, and that I was unreachable.
And I began to live a life of lies, of masks, of walls.
The lies grew and grew between the enemy and me, and though I was acting on the outside like they didn’t bother me, my spirit and flesh were at war. I wanted to believe that I was significant, that I mattered, but everything else seemed to be against me.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12
My heart hardened.
Those who did love me, who tried to reach out, would be blocked by my harsh, hurtful, lashed out words. Those who enticed me, got what they wanted, and I kept sinking further and further into the lies. What was dangerous and scary became fun and challenging. I was in complete darkness.
One thing I can say with grave certainty, is that the voice of the Lord is louder than the voice of the enemy.
One must be still to hear it.
A heart grieving what they believed to be true must admit there may be a possibility they were wrong. A person full of guilt and shame still wants to know they are loved. Even in a hateful, judgmental world. And every hurting person, no matter how much they’ve done wrong, deserves to hear the truth.
In my quiet surrender, in my lonely apartment that became a home, in my repentant heart that was aching so badly for what, I didn’t know…
I heard the Lord. I heard Him, not in an audible way, but in my spirit…
That He just wanted ME.
Me: full of guilt, sadness, shame, blame, accusations, anger, lust, envy, etc., was all, He wanted in that moment.
He didn’t turn His back on me. He didn’t blame me or tell me what I had done wrong.
He stepped into my quietness, in the middle of sobs and declared that:
I was HIS if I would let go of ME.
“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins— even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless.” -Job 11:13-15
I have learned much in the last decade about myself, about those who love me, and about those who don’t.
Some people are strangers because they choose to be. They don’t want to go down the road of risking their heart to love someone that someone else rejected. They don’t want to admit they have too, judged and deemed me unworthy. They stand along the sidelines and just watch. Unsure of what to say, they say nothing. It’s okay. We’ve all done it.
I am not accusing or upset with those who didn’t know how to respond. I’m just aware that we all have moments of uncertainty about how to react when we see someone hurting.
Some people genuinely don’t care what you’ve done or who you were. They see you now. They know that something happened. They just choose not to address it, and love you beyond it. These are examples of grace and mercy. These are direct representations of Jesus.
These people are those who loved enough to risk. They stepped into my world, told me the truth about who God is, who Jesus is and what He did for me, and reassured me that I matter, that we ALL matter, and that every decision I’ve ever made in my life paled in comparison to the one that I made about my future. My ETERNAL future.
Out of obedience, they (and they know who they are) accepted the prodding of the Holy Spirit to not reject me, but love on me. Talk with me. Lovingly share the truth so I could see how I fit into the story of humanity and God’s redemption. They didn’t accuse me. (They didn’t need to- my own flesh/conscience had done that.) They didn’t tell me what the Bible says about the things I’d done wrong. (Again they didn’t have to, I had a Bible in my possession, and when I was ready, I sought the Lord myself.)
They pointed me back to the ONE who spoke into my heart.
There is an ache in all of us for more…more what, we’re not sure of. We keep trying and reaching, running and struggling, but we were never meant to fill the ache with ourselves or others.
There is ONE GOD who hears us. ONE GOD who knows the struggles we go through. ONE GOD who doesn’t reject us, or tell us we don’t measure up, or give us prayers to pray or words to say so we can be acceptable again. He pointed out sin from the moment it began in the garden and still offers an opportunity for repentance. He is so incredibly patient.
The Lord Jesus Christ already LOVES you…from conception to physical death. PERIOD.
“The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost. The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are.” – 2 Peter 3:9-10
God wants all of us to be saved. He is patient. It says it right above. He is waiting because everyone needs a chance to hear about Him. He sent his Son to die and rise again (John 3:16) so HE could limit death and reject the power it has over us. He wants you to know how much He loves you and that you can stop running to find out what is missing in your life.
There is NOTHING you’ve done that can keep you from His love. There is NO PLACE you’ve run that He can’t reach you. There is a loving God who is our loving Father who sacrificed His Son and shed blood for our restitution.
You are redeemable.
You are reachable.
I give you this song that warms my heart.
It reminds me of how the Lord stepped into my sadness all those years ago, fought the lies of the enemy in my heart with HIS truth and sought me out so I could see His love as it has always been.
Listen and BELIEVE. You are never unreachable. NEVER!
I was seven years old when I realized that I could not read the words on the blackboard in my second grade classroom. They had become blurry after a few days, and I wasn’t allowed to sit in the back row any longer. I mentioned something to my parents, and shortly after, my mom took me to see Dr. Rowe, a local eye doctor who fitted me for my first pair of eyeglasses. It’s been almost thirty years since that day, and I’m incredibly grateful for the maker of corrective lenses and disposable contact lenses. Without them, I would not have been able to blog my first 60 blog posts (or do many other countless things)!
I was diagnosed with myopia along with astigmatism. Reading close-up or far away truly made no difference. I was unable to do it physically. Seeing underwater is something I’ve never been able to do, nor have I been able to see clearly across the room when removing my glasses at the end of an evening before bed. Had I been born in another time period, I would be considered an invalid. I would not be able to see the computer screen to medically code for the veterans that I submit claims for. I would not be able to drive a vehicle, order lunch from a fast food place, see across the room to whomever had called my name. I had a fear of losing/breaking my prescription eyeglasses (due to my intense prescription), or having a contact lens fall out, and having to drive home from someplace with only one working eye. These are not life threatening emergencies, but realities in the life of someone without 20/20 vision. My hope was to one day be able to see without glasses.
Recently, my husband and I made a financial decision that would allow me to undergo LASIK surgery. So I did.
I have been researching the surgery for quite some time. I had watched a video that showed up close EXACTLY what happens during the procedure, and the follow-up afterward. I spoke with people who had done the procedure and loved the results. I had read reviews online of local surgeons, their staff, and reviews of the procedure, cleanliness of surgical space, and rates of success before choosing a location. I reviewed pricing options, financing options, and reimbursement factors before making my final decision. And ultimately, I found out I had money left over in a health savings account from a previous job that would cover the cost!! SOLD! 🙂
So I had LASIK surgery this past Thursday morning, while my husband and I were off of work. I had to put antibiotic drops in the night before, and I left my home Thursday morning incredibly hopeful, squashing the anxiety I felt in my stomach. It’s silly how our minds wander down crazy paths when we are about to embark on something we’ve never done. Vast were the irrational fears that began to creep into my mind: would I jerk around during the procedure and laser off my nose? What if the numbing drops didn’t work and I could feel everything? What if I woke up after the procedure and my vision was WORSE?!?!
Thankfully none of those things happened.
Below is a picture of my eye before the laser part began.
My husband was fascinated with this:
And the laser part where they began to reshape my cornea:
How wild, right!?!
The end result, however, has been none of those crazy irrational fears I’ve listed above. I had to go through some excessive tearing of my eyes as they adjusted to the corneal tissue growing and reattaching itself, and I also had a few sporadic moments where light sensitivity became an issue. Overall, I woke up Friday morning with the ability to see into the bathroom and I didn’t have to reach over to the nightstand for my glasses. It was a wonderful feeling, and still catches me by surprise!! I’m extremely thankful and glad I did this!
It got me thinking about eyesight and vision in general. Going through this procedure certainly was an example of trust for me. The second that I laid on the surgical table, I could not physically see ANYTHING/ANYONE. I had to trust the surgeon, the nurses, the laser, the pre-programmed measurements, the table, the calming medication, the numbing eyedrops, the outcome, the treatment afterward, etc. I ultimately trusted my Heavenly Father, as this was elective, and I didn’t have to put myself through this unless I truly wanted to. I trusted God with my choice of location, and the decision to do something that would benefit me long-term.
Throughout the procedure (Note: you’re awake the entire time), the surgeon was very good about making sure I was physically comfortable and ready to proceed. He and the nurses would encourage me, let me know what the next step was and how long it would take, and then GO only when I said I was ready. That helped me to feel safe and secure with them. Understanding what was coming and having a guide to know ahead of time was essential in building trust. If every day was like Thursday morning for me, I would be exempt from having trust issues. Wouldn’t that be great? But that is not always the case in life, is it?
I’m about to drop some serious truth here: ALL HUMAN BEINGS are people: individuals created by and loved by an amazing God. Over time and given our family dynamic, we learn and develop how to respond to those around us, sometimes based on personal experience, sometimes based on our parent’s views, sometimes based on other people’s views who have significance in our lives. We inadvertently are shaped by those who we learn from.
Value for every human being should be the same, as we all have value in the eyes of our Creator. Sadly, though, bad life experiences with someone of another faith, religion or color has tainted our view of them as a person. Even worse, shared stories of these events or views help children/others to take in that same tainted view, and begin to see someone through our perspective, as dark as it may be.
We go to the heart’s core function of judgement.
We may not even know someone, but based on what Susan’s sister’s uncle’s brother went through, we may find ourselves in a similar situation. The odds of that happening are beyond slim, but we begin to think irrationally and filter life through others’ eyes.
Is this fair? Should we even be doing this?
The answers, of course, are NO and NO.
How does this begin, how do we end it, and how do we proceed for future generations?
In the original texts of Scripture, Romans 7 and Romans 8 use the word “sarx”, which is Greek and means “sinful nature” or “rebellious nature”. The Bible is stating that we all have within us a nature that goes against the Lord’s value system. We are created, born into a sinful world, and daily fight against the laws of God. These laws are innate, since we are created by HIM. Our nature, however, hates the laws of God, and therefore chooses to reject the laws set in place to protect us. Only when we submit to the authority of God, and accept Jesus’ blood sacrifice as our own, can we be made right with God, and be given a new nature. Until then, we are sinful, hateful, judgmental human beings with an autonomous nature that is inherently selfish. See Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-25,
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.
There is a constant war going on inside of us until it is surrendered to Jesus.
Romans 8: 1-17 tells us this:
8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c]And so he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness.11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.”16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Our flesh (sin nature) and our spirit is at war. We have been blinded by the enemy who longs for us to stay blind and follow him. See John 8:44 and 1 John 1:8-9. To deny Satan’s power doesn’t make him less powerful. It means you’re already under it. He is very much at fault.
Second Corinthians 4:4 states:
4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Without clear vision, we are led to believe that we are here on Earth to serve ourselves, that people’s lives don’t matter, that we can make judgments about each other, slander and degrade each other, hate, murder and kill those that think differently, and assume that there are no consequences.
That is not the truth.
We are born into sin, whether we want to admit this or not. We are sinful people. We will always be selfish and want what is best for us, disregarding the needs of others, or their well-being, because this is how the enemy operates. Our nature and the wiles of the devil cause us to be selfish and have no regard for how we live. The only way to combat this, is to recognize our very rebellious nature that wants what it wants, regardless of how it affects others, and surrender it to Jesus Christ. He has proven Himself to be the Son of God, who loved us in our rebellious state, and died to destroy that sinful nature, and to vanquish the darkness that wants to separate us from God and others.
Seeing sin in others is pretty easy, isn’t it? Do you know someone who gossips, who loves to share news of something that happened to someone else without the actual person being present to agree/disagree? Do you know someone who makes vulgar comments toward a certain type of race, gender, employment status, etc.? Do you know someone who places blame on someone else constantly without ever taking responsibility for their own actions? We are so quick to judge others, without realizing what it truly says about ourselves.
Matthew 7:3-5 says the following:
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Who are you to judge someone else? Do you never make mistakes? Do you never have a bad day and react accordingly? Where is the love and grace for people who have bad days? Where is the lack of stereotyping when someone wrongs you? Where is the forgiveness for actions that hurt?
The truth of the matter with what is happening in America currently is corruption at its worst, and injustice that is out of control. We are allowed to be angry when people are being murdered for no reason. We are allowed to be angry when those who are supposed to protect us are profiling and making matters where there was previously none. We are allowed to disagree. We are allowed to protest these wrongdoings and state solutions that can benefit society. These are still freedoms we are allowed to have here.
What is not allowed is incessant murder in the name of someone else. We are not allowed to let our anger take control and take lives of those whom we deem “inconsequential”. We are not allowed to take weapons and use them on others because we disagree with them, or feel like they no longer deserve to live. We are not allowed to go in front of the justice system and make judgments ourselves. We must wait for these processes to work themselves out in time. But our impatience keeps us from thinking rationally, and our feelings of injustice have us crying out to God that He’s taking too long.
These are judgments that are reserved for God alone. And HE wishes no one to perish without the knowledge of who He is, so He’s not advocating murder when we disagree. Where is the peace and love for each other? Where is the positive dialogue that can happen when we put others first?
We hate punishments, and we hate correction. We want to be right. We want to be heard. But we need to find a new way to do this. And though I would love to provide a clear-cut solution to the hurt in today’s world, I don’t have the one you want to hear.
I have one name:
The reason people are out of control and self-seeking is because they are operating out of their blinded vision. They only see themselves. They have hatred in their hearts and are using their voice as a mouthpiece for justification. They hide behind computers so their faces will be obstructed. They write and spew words that vilify and destroy others.
We, humans, are hateful beings. Read any comments section on any news site and you’ll see people who have never met each other, destroying each other because of a difference of opinion. We don’t care to hear what others have to say when it doesn’t support our own beliefs.
This is not love. This is not mercy. This is not grace. This is not right.
This is blindness.
The only way to clarity is to seek Jesus and His ways. We are so quick to make assumptions about others, or to predict behavior patterns. The truth is that God says none of us know the intentions of another’s heart. So why do we act this way?
I’m reading a book by Ted Dekker called “The Forgotten Way” and in it, he says the following regarding our understanding of Paul’s teachings in Romans:
“Have we lost sight of Paul’s teaching? He made it plain: The preeminent evidence shown by those who know the Father is this: LOVE. And not just any love, but the unique kind that loves enemies, not only those who show us love in return. A love that is patient, showing no jealousy or arrogance, keeping no record of wrong, not seeking its own and not provoked by another’s behavior. This is to love as Christ loves, submitting to each other without judgment.”
The description above is the way to show the world the clarity of who Jesus is, by HOW HE LOVES. He longs to see peace and unity among all of us. Black lives matter. White lives matter. ALL LIVES MATTER! Jesus died for all of them. We are not to be taking these lives away from each other. We are to encourage each other, and show love to those who are unlovable.
Something I learned a long time ago is that hurting people hurt people. Instead of responding with another harsh word or assuming why someone says/does something, why not respond to them in love? Turn the anger away, instead of fueling it. Ask Jesus for the love to give to those who are bitter. No one knows the journey of anyone else, so show grace when someone may not view life the same way. Show mercy when someone deserves justice. The Lord will take care of someone else’s need to “learn a lesson”. It’s not your job.
And let’s begin to ask the Lord to help us see others the way He does. He sees us as we are: by our hearts. If we truly saw ourselves the way He does, we wouldn’t be so quick to judge others. We need Him to transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
Colossians 3:5-9 shows us who we really are, no matter how we deny it to ourselves:
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[a] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[b]7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[c]with its practices
Thankfully, there is a verse 10:
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator
Jesus never leaves us as He found us. He transforms us. We can become NEW in Christ and learn to love with His heart, instead of our sinful, hateful heart. We can see each other through His eyes, with love and compassion for each other, with a yearning for others to know Him and share His gospel of life eternal with God.