You Are Beloved, Overflow

1 John 4:10-12 (MSG) This is how God showed His love for us. God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love!

1 John 4:19 (MSG) We, though, are going to love – love and be loved, First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

God Is Love!!! There is no way to get around that. You see it all around you, in the beauty surrounding us, in the colors, the sounds of nature, the taste of food, all are meant to draw us in to the greatest love story of all. This beauty is there to woo us into a love story with God. It is not a fairy tale kind of love, but a real, deep, abiding love. God is the place where your soul can rest. When we experience this love, this peace, this rest, we can face things that are too hard to face on our own. There is a lot of dark in this word, but God, He is light. He is the only light that can shine in our deepest, darkest pain.

I know that a lot of people struggle with this concept. If God is so loving, why does He let these ______________ things happen. You can fill in your own blank, everyone has their own questions. Unfortunately there are other forces at work, but we put all that blame on the One who truly is love. He loves like a Father, a friend, a lover and so much more than that. These descriptions of love are such a pale and empty shadow of the love that is incredibly real, life giving, joy bursting, able to face anything kind of love. God can love like no other. He is love, it is His name, His creation, without God there would be nothing, no love. He is the author and creator of love. He is the perfector of love. There is nothing lacking in His love, actually it is too much, too perfect. It is a flood, a storm in it’s intensity. When I have opened my soul up a little to feel His love, I have felt like I am in too deep, like I am in the eye of a hurricane. It is too much for this human heart, but my soul knows this love is good, and craves it. We were made for this kind of love, that is why we search so desperately for it. We won’t find it anywhere else. When I have allowed God to show me His deep love for me, I tremble for the whole day, even when I get a glimpse of it. The intensity, unbelievable!

I have had questions, and felt like I had the right to question God’s goodness. God can see the pain, but He is God, the Creator, He doesn’t have to answer to us. He is the one in authority. We are the creation, not the creator, we are the masterpiece, but we are not the artist. We will never know what God does, we will never see the whole picture. We in our humanness, only see our little bit in the story, in our selfishness, we call God to account for His actions or what seems like inaction. God is patient with us, like a Father is to his child. A child asks a lot of questions, a father answers that child in a way that they can understand. He does not flood a toddler with explainations that are not within their understanding. A good father will expain in a way they can understand, knowing the limitations, and experience that the child has. If he tries to tell the child the answer in a way an adult understands, it is too much and the toddler will not be able to comprehend what is being said to them and become confused. It is the same with God, we are infants in our ability to understand God and His ways and thoughts. If He tried to explain to us our why’s, what if’s, when’s and how’s, we would get lost in His words and thoughts. God knows what we can handle, what we will be able to comprehend. He tries to help us understand, but He doesn’t need to answer to or be held accountable to our accusations. He is God and we are not. We don’t often have the capability to understand, both because we have limited capacity, and also because we are only looking at our piece in the story, we often don’t see much beyond ourselves and those close to us.

I have lost so much, a daughter to SIDS, my dad to Cancer, friends because my pain was just too raw. I have questioned and accused God. I have yelled and ranted at Him. I have hated Him, I have hated what I saw as His inaction. I have blamed Him for my pain, for being far away and not interested. I was so wrong! I discovered within my pain and my questions, that I was not alone, that He wasn’t far away. It was exactly the opposite, I was enveloped in the love and the care and concern of God. I was locked up tight in my pain and self-centered indignation. I couldn’t see beyond myself, not because He wouldn’t let me see Him, but that I didn’t want to or even try to.

Eventually God in His persistant, patient, pervasive love, opened my soul up to experience a love that I had not experienced before. What I had imagined love to be was a farce, it was so empty afer I experienced God’s incredible love. I look back at my empty past life, the life I had before I knew God and shake my head at my stupidity. What was I thinking? Why did I think that what the world offered was good or enough? My limited understanding was so foolish. Why did I think I had the answers? I don’t know. It was like I was blind, or I had severly limited tunnel vision. This the enemy’s doing. God’s enemy wants us to look to ourselves for answers, to ignore God, to deny Him. This is how our enemy plans to destroy us, bringing eternal death. God offers eternal life. When we reach the end of our mortal life we will be able to understand what God sees, we will be able to comprehend what God is trying to say to us, we will be able to see beyond ourselves.

For now though, we need to put our trust in our Heavenly Father, we need to believe that He is incharge, and knows everything. We need to understand that God tries to help us understand but that we have a limited ability to understand, even the smartest/wisest person.When we lay everything in God’s hand, we enter a place of rest, security and incredible love.

In 2003 I was met at a woman’s retreat by my Heavenly Father. I was a mess, full of hatred for myself, washed in self-pity, and horrible self-talk. I hated who I was, I hated the way life had turned out, I was so jealous of others who seemed to have it all together. I had some good in my life, I had a husband who loved me, even if he didn’t show me that the way I needed to be shown. He really tried. I had 4 beautiful daughters. I had more than some had, a house, food, family… Unfortunately often I didn’t see the good. The self-hatred was so overwhelming. I tried to love and couldn’t properly. I didn’t know how. I didn’t love me, I certainly didn’t love God. I obeyed Him or in my limited capacity I tried. I felt hopeless and wrong. God met me in all my glorious mess. He shocked me with His love, He showed me just how lost I was, how locked up I was. He gave me the ability to see beyond my self-pity. He showed me just how loved I was, He showed me that because He thought I was worthy of love, I was loved. God gave a freedom that weekend like I had  never experienced before, I had never known existed or needed before. God became my compass, guiding me out of my mess, He became my anchor in my storm of sorrow of a life lived wrong. My soul woke up. God showed me a new kind of life, a life of love.

During this weekend God gave me a new name, to remind me of His love. It is a name that tells me who God thinks and says that I am. My new name is Beautiful. I always named myself ugly, this was God’s enemy’s name for me. It was a lie. Beautiful was my real name, praise God! I try to remember my real name, sometimes I look back and start calling myself my old name, God then turns my face towards Him and I remember what He has called me, what He says about me.

I know that I am not alone in my quest for understanding who I am. I know that like me, other’s get stuck in the worldly names that they hear and adopt for themselves. I know others are as lost and stuck as I was and my heart breaks for them. I know my Father’s heart breaks for them, for He has given me insight into His heart for those who are broken, those whom He loves, for those who don’t know their real names. God wants all of humanity to hear, understand, and take His names for them. God wants them to live in this life of love, and in turn splash that love over those around them, He will fill you to overflowing, and He wants that overflow to reach others, to show them the love that He has. I don’t understand much when it comes to God, but I trust Him. He has shown me His love, and I want to tell other broken people my story so that they can know, understand and have hope, that God is good and that He loves them and wants to give them a name called in love and a life lived in that love.

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Glimpses of Healing

The last time that I wrote on this blog, I felt overwhelmed by sorrow. I was tired, tired of being sick, tired of not being able to do anything, tired of feeling wrong. This week is not like last week. 

This week I am on a journey of healing physically. As I wrote last week, and I saw how hopeless I was, I was able to crawl to the surface of that really deep self-pity pit. I think that writing about my feelings, make me give myself a shake. I think this was a gift from God. I was able to do some research on my symptoms and try to find a solution beyond medication. The medication I was on wasn’t working for me, or just barely. Even after taking all three inhalers to the maximum, it only allowed a slightly easier ability to breathe. So I did research on Asthma, I wanted to see what it was, and what could cause it to flare up. I wanted to know if there was something else I could do, or if there was something I could add to what I was already doing to make it better, so that I could be even a little bit active.

As I was researching, I discovered that Asthma was an inflammatory disease. There was something causing inflammation in my lungs and that it was wreaking havoc in me. I had recently discovered through allergy testing, that I was allergic to; certain tree’s pollen, weed pollen, some molds, and dust mites (those showed up after the doctor’s appointment and lasted 3 days, it didn’t show up in the 1/2 an hour that I was in the doctor’s office, so dust mites are not confirmed by a doctor). That explained some of my symptoms, the tree pollen and weed pollen were the worst, so the doctor and I wondered why the worst of my symptoms usually happened from late fall to early spring (this year the symptoms didn’t abate even in spring). So I knew that allergies were some of what was causing the inflamation in my lungs. I wondered if there could be more, so I dug deeper. I really wanted relief from feeling helpless, this drove my quest for answers. I am still on that quest, I believe that God is with me in this. He knows what is going on and because of my persistence is helping me to see some things that might be affecting me. 

I believe that God is showing me that stress is horrible on my system, that my worrying, the horrible dreaded what if’s, are causing my body to resist healing, so I am trying to relax and through God’s words and His mercy. I am trying to focus on what God says, who God is and who I am because of Him, instead of the thoughts that plague me. I am not hugely successful here yet. I live in stress. I have always said that I work better under pressure, under stress. I am the master of procrastination and laziness. I put myself into extreme stress as I wait to do something until it is imperative to do it. Like cleaning, I usually wait till someone is coming over before I clean. Even if I have 3 weeks notice, I still wait till I have only 2 days, then I work like mad, mad at myself and my family. I do this all the time, I self sabotage myself in this way. I limit my ability to be welcoming and hospitable. I want to be able to have people over, but I can’t because the thought of the stress that I cause myself seems overwhelming. I keep things looking pretty good for a few days, but then I start slacking and it all slips back to the way it was before. It is crazy that I keep repeating this pattern even though I know that I can relax way more in a clean house than in a messy house.

In my research, I have found that diet can sometimes cause inflammation, and can limit the healing that can happen. Garbage in, Garbage out. So I am finally ready to take control of my diet/food choices. I am trying to stay away from foods that have been known to cause inflammation. I am staying away from sugar of all forms, processed foods, fried foods, most dairy, and meat from animals that are raised in commercial feed lots. I will have meat from animal that have been treated the way they were meant to be treated. I am trying to stay to food that is a single ingredient (Apple, instead of apple juice. no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup…). I can put these single ingredients together into a meal, I just don’t want the extra stuff that comes with pre-processed packaged food. I am also staying away from white potatoes, from rice and from most starches. I have lived without gluten already for over 10 years. I have been doing this since the last post (May 30th). I have slipped a few times, especially with the sugar. I love sugar in all of its forms. Those days I have found set me back a bit. I have found that if I have been able to keep from eating the things mentioned above, I have to use very minimal asthma medication. If I have been good about my diet for a few days in a row, I don’t even have to use any inhalers. I can see some success in a diet change for me. Each time I slip and feel crappy, bolsters my commitment to eat healthy. So in my experience, a diet change is working. This is an area where I have to be careful in, there have been so many “unhealthy” diets to lose weight over the years. I don’t want my motivation to just be about weight, or the way I look. I want this journey to be about health, I don’t want to join a fad, I just want to eliminate those food that cause me inflammation. Not everyone has the same food triggers. I know that sugar is a big one for me. It was especially clear, because for the first week I had migraines, that only went away when I had some sugar, sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposeful. The longer I stayed away from, the better my headaches were getting. I talked to my doctor and he is all for this change of diet and is cheering me on in my quest to discover health. He agrees that I really want to get off some of the meds that I am on. He said I will probably lose a lot of weight as well, lol. This time, this is not my goal, it would be nice of course, but health is my goal. As I have stayed away from these foods, I have felt like myself, I don’t feel trapped by my inability to breathe easier. I am not experiencing pain in my joints, I am finding more energy to get things done. I don’t feel as stuck.

The other day I was thinking about this feeling more like myself, I had waves of grief and relief washing over me. One moment I was crying for lost time, and then I was crying because of my gratefulness and relief of the things that were holding me back. I believe that God is in this with me, I believe that He is helping me discover what is healthy for me and what isn’t. God celebrates my successes and mourns with me the mistakes I make. It is with and through Him I am finding truth, strength and courage to make the changes that I need to make. It is hard, I have lived an unhealthy life for a long time. I have not cared for myself well for a long time, I don’t remember a time when I took care of myself, mind, body and soul at the same time. God wants me to take care of myself so that I have the energy and ability to do the work that He has called me to. I am also a creation of His, and the way I was caring for myself was like smearing dirt on a masterpiece, marring it, and destroying its beauty. This is what I was doing to myself. I didn’t feel like I was worth even the basic care, those were the whispers of my enemy over me. His words were not worth it, ugly, waste of time, unloveable, shameful…, but God’s words have always been; you are worth it (see I sent my Son to rescue you, I wanted a relationship with you), You are beautiful (this is the name I have given you, the name I call you by), you are worth my time and attention, because I have said so, I love you no matter what, I forgive you and will wash you clean of all your shame. (I can and am willing to do this for you).

As I am on this journey, the best and most important part is learning about who God is and who He says I am. I am learning about His greatness, His holiness, His glory. I am discovering that He is the Only One whose opinion matters, He is the Only One who deserves my worship, and my life (my whole life, nothing held back). He has given me everything, He has been merciful to be, He has given me incredible grace and love. His attention on me is not something I could ever, earn or deserve. I am human, full of selfishness, I don’t deserve anything, but God chooses to give me more than I deserve, He chooses to give me Himself, a relationship with Him. A journey together through the good and the bad. He has given me an adventure to go on, and a story to tell. Praise God!! My story is to reflect His glory. He gives this blessing to all of His people, but you need to reach out to Him and take what He offers, die to your own self-centeredness, and chose to go on this journey with Him. Your journey will not look like my journey, each person’s is unique like they are. You probably don’t struggle with exactly what I do, you might need healing in other areas and in different ways. Trust God that He knows you and knows what to do. It may not look like what you want, but that is ok, because God knows best. He sees the big picture, we only see our little piece, He is the artist and we can trust Him.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Continue reading “Glimpses of Healing”