Who Told You?

After a long week filled with so many perceived failures, I “lost my crap” Saturday. After a relatively sleepless week filled with way too many demands from multiple directions, I “lost my crap” Saturday. After a week of believing the lies spoken over and to me (see sleepless comment above), I “lost my crap” Saturday. After a week of unstoppable pain, I “lost my crap” Saturday. I lost it. Breaking point. “Hello, life? This is crazy person.” Done. Past the limit.

Between work and personal obligations, I was pulled thin. I was exhausted, in pain, confused, frustrated, hurt, and criticized. Usually, I am able to remember whose I am, but the lack if sleep made me forget, and I began to compare.

Comparing myself to the “good moms”. Comparing myself to the “people who can function without a list”. Comparing myself to the ones who look beautiful and “put together”. Comparing myself to the ones who seem unflappable. Comparing and ashamed.

I love authenticity, but I found myself despising my authentic self. The real me suddenly was less than enough after breaking through that barrier months ago.

Life deals us a doozy of a hand sometimes. We lose focus. We wallow in self pity. We find ourselves too exhausted to pick up the pieces.

After I “lost my crap”, the guilt set in. Guilt is debilitating for me. I blame myself for my struggles, for the struggles of others, for the Cuban Missile Crisis…. Irrational guilt.

Guilt is from the enemy. Conviction is from God. These things I know, yet head knowledge is different from heart knowledge. Guilt tells you that you are less than, worthless, an idiot. Conviction tells you to repent and you’ll be forgiven because you are loved.

I found myself calling myself names and beating myself up over exhaustion. I’ve heard a couple of amazing sermons based on Genesis passages lately that relate to this stellar display of shame (*eyeroll*).

God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25 NKJV)

After eating from the only tree that was forbidden, their tune changed. God was walking in the garden, but Adam and Eve were hiding. When God asked why, Adam replied, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10 NIV). They were ashamed.

God asked Adam, “…Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11 NIV)

A story I’ve known my entire life, yet the question, “Who told you?” finally clicked. Who. Told. Me? Who told me I was worthless? Who told me I was stupid? Who told me I was less than? Who told me I was ugly? Who told me I was a disgrace? Who told me I was a bad mom? Who told me? Who. Told. Me?

I did. I told myself those things. Planted by others along the way, yes, but I chose to believe those lies. I’m sure the enemy was dancing a jig because believing those lies thwarts my walk toward my purpose.

We have free will. We can choose to believe falsehoods, or we can choose to rebuke them. I made the wrong choice on Saturday, and I paid for that choice.

Truths: God created us in His image. Not ours. His. We are his beloved children. We are His masterpiece. We are enough. There is no reason to be ashamed.

I’ve spent the past few days trying to pick up the pieces of that mistake and have repented for my poor choice. He has forgiven me. I’m sure tears fell from His eyes as He watched that episode. But, if I choose to relive that mistake, I am overcome with guilt and shame. Guilt and shame that He didn’t give me. Guilt and shame that try to pull me farther from Him.

Friends, the next time you “lose your crap” and attack yourself and encounter shame, I pray that you hear the question: “Who told you?” Not God. I pray that you are able to feel the presence of God reminding you that you are His. That you are loved. That you are chosen, called, capable. Lay the guilt at His feet and pick up His promises. March forward unashamed.

******

““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27 NIV

A Note on Forgiveness

When we are hurt, it can eat us alive on the inside. Thoughts like, “How could they?”, “What did I do to deserve this?”, and “What is wrong with me?” play an incessant loop in our heads. We are sure that the ones who have wronged us are pleased with themselves and eagerly plotting their next attack.

Sure, sometimes that’s true and those habitual offenders are just mean, nasty, and hateful. Sometimes, however, the people who have wronged us had no intention of hurting us and even unaware of our hurt.

Either way, hurt is hurt. We may nurse our wounds, plot revenge, hold grudges, or shut down. We may even remove ourselves from their lives. None of these approaches are incredibly healthy because none of them make the pain disappear.

It is only through forgiveness that we are released from the pain caused by others.

Many of us are hesitant to forgive because we feel it excuses bad behavior, but that’s not accurate. When we forgive someone, we are simply freeing ourselves from the power they hold over us.

Forgiveness is something we must do for ourselves. It isn’t done for the other person. In fact, sometimes those who hurt us have no desire to be forgiven. It just doesn’t matter to them at all.

We have a choice to make in order to forgive: do I want to allow this person to continue living rent free in my head and creating toxic thoughts, or do I want to move forward with my life? The choice belongs to no one but us.

When we refuse to forgive someone, we are actually only hurting ourselves. We replay the incident over and over while our anger/fear/insecurities build continuously. We harbor animosity over something that may not have even been intentional. We rob ourselves of an abundant life because we focus on the wrong things.

When we choose to forgive, we free ourselves from the prison of living inside our heads, as well as from the power the other person has over our thoughts. We are able to focus on the right things and move past those painful events.

However, just because we forgive someone does not mean we open ourselves back up to be hurt again in the same way by that person. We can – and should – create realistic boundaries to keep ourselves safe from harm, but not at the expense of isolating ourselves.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing abuse, nor does it mean forgetting the offense. Forgiveness merely means letting go of the hurt and choosing to live an abundant life with an open heart. It means choosing the high road. It means blessing others. It means choosing peace for yourself.

I Dreamed a Dream….

Last night, I had a vivid dream. I was watching myself walk through my life and make the poor decisions as I made them. I felt the emotion of those events, as well as the emotions I faced after the events happened.

It wasn’t a “you idiot” kind of dream. Not even a little bit. It was a heartwrenching “oh, sweetie – you have no idea” dream.

As I retraced my steps of the past, my heart shattered several times, but it also danced with joy on occasion. I watched a young girl – desperate for acceptance – face her defeats – and her victories – from an outsider’s perspective. Since I was that girl, I also experienced every emotion as she faced these events.

My entire life was a struggle for acceptance and trying to be “enough”. Even the victories came from that place. The drive, the fear, the panic, the anxiety. They bombarded me as I slept.

I watched as this younger, thinner, prettier version of me repeatedly fell for the wrong guys, then faltered as she tried to pick up the pieces of her broken heart. Even as a thin (yet muscular) teenager/twentysomething, nothing was ever enough. I was never enough. I was terrified of being second best (or worse).

In a class of 398, I was upset that I wasn’t in the top ten (I think I was 17 in the rankings). I went into a frenzy if I didn’t have straight A’s. I panicked if I was second chair in band. I saw a fat chick in the mirror even when I could see collarbones (I remember collarbones – and I miss them terribly). I never gave myself the benefit of the doubt.

As I watched this replay, I repeatedly thought, “Oh, honey. You just don’t understand. You don’t see how much you are loved. How much you are “enough”. Look up. Just. Look. Up.” I didn’t judge my younger self, though. I just wished she had seen herself for who she was then: a child of God, created in His image.

I think that’s the biggest issue: we don’t see ourselves for who (and whose) we are. We don’t understand that being created in the image of God makes us beautiful, amazing, and incredible. It makes us enough.

God sees us for who we were, are, and will be. I’m pretty sure He smiles at us. I’m positive He laughs and has a sense of humor. He must have a sense of humor if He created that quality, right?

I’m learning that all we have to be is His child. If we seek Him in all we do – taking our issues and joys to Him daily – then He will take care of the rest. The hard part is understanding how to trust Him with it all, but He created the universe, so I’m certain He can handle it all. But, oh! It’s so incredibly hard! We want to handle it all ourselves. We hide when we make mistakes. Maybe we feel insignificant in this huge world. Perhaps we are angry with Him over what has happened.

We can take all of these things to Him in prayer. Even the anger, confusion, and uncertainty. We just have to lay it down and let Him pick it up. He knows anyway, and hiding only increases the distance between us and God, so talk to Him.

This is a journey, but one that we don’t make alone. He is beside us. He shows His love for us in so many ways. A smile from a stranger. A breathtaking sunset. (I hear sunrises are pretty awesome, too, but I tend to sleep through most of those unless I’m at the beach). The face of a baby deer peering at you with curiosity. The love of a pet. Those are all gifts most of us take for granted, but they are His love in action.

When you think back on your past, give yourself some of the grace He has shown you. You’re forgiven for what you have done. Those mistakes form the person you have become, as well as equip you for your purpose. Nothing is wasted in the hands of God.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 NIV

Arise

Arise, sleeping warrior

The time has come to fight

Shake the fog from your mind

Upon Jesus fix your sight

The enemy has no place

In the house of the Lord

Bind up your hearts

And ready your sword

Let no evil darkness

Pierce through your light

Feel His strength

In His glory and might

No source but the truth

No outcome but peace

When His armor surrounds us

The enemy has to flee

We lean upon the Father

And rest in His great strength

His love will always heal us

Despite the mistakes we’ve made

Lay your grief and sorrows

At the foot of the cross

Take up His grace

Freely offered to the lost

Embrace the mercy extended

Grace offered to all

Arise, dear warrior

The Lord won’t let you fall

Arise, dear child of God

Arise, my warrior friend

Arise….. arise

And rest in Him.

– Stephanie Weber 09.25.2017