It Didn’t Happen All at Once

It Didn’t Happen All at Once

It didn’t happen all at once.

I just finished my third glass of water for the day and for me that’s a lot. Until a few months ago that wasn’t near the top of my priority list. But we get older…wiser…and realise these bodies we say we put in service of God should preferably last for a few more decades if we want to do something worthwhile while alive.

And so I changed.

But it happened slowly.

The Idea

Here’s what I knew: I wanted a healthy lifestyle. I wanted to do it all…it didn’t have to be perfect…it just had to be good. But I was so out of balance one would think selfhelp books and blogs didn’t exist.

I saw others getting it right. And I don’t mean the ones posting fake pictures on Instagram. I mean people I KNEW who managed to live optimally in one, many or at least a few areas of life:

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Career
  • Passion
  • Goal setting

Comparing oneself to others is definitely not the way to live, but seeing proof that you can do better is sometimes the motivation I need…to create a goal…to realise your excuses for not even SETTING goals (nevermind reaching them) are really lame.

The Process-The Fight

So I realised what I wanted. Not what society says I should have. What I knew to align with MY purpose on earth. I had the picture and then it came to fighing for it.

Wow – fighting. I didn’t realise it was a fight until I typed it just now.

I had to fight with myself a lot of times:

  • Getting up early to spend time with Him or go for a jog (I don’t gym…hate the places…sorry peeps.)
  • Stopping myself from believing the lies that have been simmering in my mind for years. The lie of not being good enough at something has often been my reason for not attempting a new project…only to feel guilty later on for not pursuing His dream for me. And then fearing that I will simply fail at the next thing. Fear-Inactivity-Guilt: A vicious cycle I had to IDENTIFY and then STOP. Stopping it called for searching for His truths and reminding myself of them whenever I faced a challenging situation. For some this may seem a bit ‘airy fairy’ but for me, the only thing that was stronger than the lies I became accustomed to was what He thought of me. But to get to His truths…I had to do that ‘get up early in the morning’ thing.
  • Fighting to focus on what’s in front of me, instead of what is far away. I have huge, challenging dreams (and promises of what He wants to do in and through my life). But that won’t happen if I can’t have the right mindset in what I’m doing now. This blog…that’s me being obedient. I would like to preach to the nations about His healing power and wisdom…but CONTINUALLY He had to pull me back to what He placed in front of me NOW. Will the big dreams happen? I realise it doesn’t matter. He cares about my intentions, character and actions NOW. And if I lift my eyes from what He’s guiding me to do I’m going to miss the boat completely. Breathe, refocus, diligence. Every day.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
  • Trying my best to make peace with everything I knew I messed up and letting go of the guilt I felt. A huge victory: Realising that He often bring second chances because He’s aware of my total ineptitude and He’s okay with giving it another try. And if He has faith in me…perhaps I should have too?
  • Lying on the bed and hating myself for how tired, weak, stressed and confused I’m feeling…and hearing His voice whisper: This isn’t who I made you. He saw something different…and I wanted to search and find what He saw.

The Challenge

What got to me was how frustrating it was to be in a rut of bad habits, unhealthy routines, lack of wise choices. I KNEW all the right things to do, but I wasn’t DOING them.

Like a business that needed to use all its resources to function optimally, I need to use all He has given me (time, wisdom, food, His Word, people) to live a life worth the label “Daughter of God”. I wasn’t even close.

The Switch

But somewhere a switch started to flip. Was it what He shared with me? The people and information He sent across my path that influenced me? Frustration that turned into desperation to see change?

All of it I think. But one thing definitely kept me going: Being reminded that He wants to take me somewhere. So if you haven’t heard that lately…I pray He whispers it in your ear.

My Third Glass of Water

So now it has been months. I have REALLY tried sculpting a better lifestyle, closer to what I know He wants for me.

Here’s my biggest revelation and realisation I am intensely grateful for. Somewhere during this journey of changing habits, listening to His voice, finding MY purpose NOW instead of jealously looking at other people’s lives and achievements…I realised I don’t have to feel GUILTY for not reaching this milestone earlier.

And living without guilt is…peaceful. And for that I want to cry. Because He came and soothed my soul and bit by bit He put me back together, giving me wisdom to fix many areas in my life:

  • Drinking more water
  • Eating differently to ensure health to one day hopefully carry a child He blesses us with…why? Because He wants the BEST for my child one day and that starts with me being my best.
  • Talking to Him more so His wisdom can shine through
  • Rearranging my schedule so there’s time for Him, my hobbies, my passions, my purpose
  • Being less busy but more productive

Best of all: some of these have become effortless, such as choosing water above coffee or reading insightful literature, rather than silly thrillers. (Please note: I am not bashing ANY reading material. At THIS moment in MY life, I know He’s calling me to change what I read…and so I do.)

Here’s a powerful lie I lived with for a long time: I believed my work always comes first. In a way that was used against me in keeping me so busy that I didn’t make time for other tasks I KNEW He wanted me to focus on. The lies we believe are used by the enemy to keep us off track and even something that sounds good could be the one thing keeping you away from contentment and fulfilling your purpose.

So I just drank my third glass of water.

Somehow He led me to fitting into my daily schedule almost everything I dreamed of a few months ago.

I’m not where I want to be yet. But I’m better. For today, that’s enough. No guilt.

And all glory to Him…as always.

Fear vs Fearful

Fear vs Fearful

Here’s the power of words: It helped me understand myself better…and my God better.

Years ago I was a scared girl, inexperienced and doubting myself in everything. Thanks to amazing friends that God sent across my path, I soon conquered some of my inadequacies. Why? Because they helped me verbalize my thoughts and I started writing them down. Understanding my thoughts made it easier to deal with them.

Okay – there’s a whole psychological discussion we can have about the value of writing and speaking about your emotions and thoughts. But this isn’t what this blog is about.

Words also have the power to help us understand our Maker better. And today I realised the importance of understanding more sides to Him. The more I know and experience about Him and the more stories I have about Him in my life (words), the better it gets.

Examples:

  • He is the Lion, but also the Lamb
  • He is Love, but also justice and righteousness
  • He is understanding, but also expects certain things of us
Fear vs Fearful
Photo by Toni Oprea on Unsplash

Facing only one of these aspects can have us retreat from Him, or take liberty of His loving nature. But when we KNOW He is also the other, it adds a beautiful balance. To me it makes me want to know Him more…and become more like Him.

The process of discovery and putting words to what He does also helped me switch from simply being afraid (fearful) to fearing Him (the latter is the good thing we need to get to).

This Morning

This morning I read a passage that normally filled me with guilt and fear. Reading about how He got angry with the Israelites and sent other tribes against them is frightening. I don’t want Him to feel that way about me, right?

But something different happened in my soul this morning:

  • Reverence
  • Awe
  • Passion for righteousness

Why? Because of what I already know about Him.

This Past Year

I’ve had a very challenging year. Perhaps you’ve read some of my other blogs. But I can also say 2018 has been one of the best years. Why?

  • Because of how He guided me through dealing with loss and change
  • Because He sent people across my path whenever I needed them
  • Because He advised me
  • Because I saw Him help my loved ones

These experiences all got noted in my diary, the words plainly displaying my God’s characteristics. Did everything happen as I wished it would? No. But my God showed His power, care and foresight in sooooo many ways.

Result: I know Him to :

  • LOVE me
  • LOOK AFTER me
  • PROTECT me

Back to This Morning

Now I read about His wrath. He really got mad…and God is unchanging, so He still gets mad. Therefore, if I don’t listen, He will probably get mad at me too.

But looking from the perspective of this past year I know that what He chooses to do, say or feel towards my actions isn’t based on hate.

  • His actions are based on LOVE. If He prompts me to do something it’s because He LOVES the world and wants to LOVE the world through me.
  • When He tells me to become better tomorrow than I am today (more compassionate, less afraid, doing rather than simply talking), it’s because He’s LOOKING AFTER us on earth and He needs me to play my part. I signed up to be His ambassador on earth and that comes with certain expectations and requirements.
  • If He’s telling me to do this or not to do that, He’s probably PROTECTING me (and others) because He knows what’s coming.

These are characteristics I can FEAR, not BE AFRAID of.

Definitions

FEAR (in this context): To respect, revere and trust.

FEARFUL: Feeling or showing fear and anxiety.

Going Forward

Reading His words to the Israelites from this perspective, I pick up on passion for them, not simply being mad at them. He wished they would act differently for their own sakes and for the sake of the world. He had a plan and wanted to use them in it.

My God is not distant, apathetic or out for revenge. He is actively and passionately involved in our lives, for the better of us and humanity at large.

My feelings towards my God can be described with words of fear, but also of love and appreciation. This fills me with renewed passion to be the kind of believer He can use.

How to Move from Confusion to Comforting Clarity-Strips of Light

How to Move from Confusion to Comforting Clarity-Strips of Light

I am totally confused.

Half the time? No…most of the time.

Things, people and situations I pray for don’t turn out the way I believe they would. I think I should take more control of my life…but it seldom works out.

That’s the kind of faith journey I’m walking.

And then I ask the questions: Are You really up to something here?

My greatest fear is that He isn’t there with me in a situation. What if I choose things (unbeknownst to me) that He isn’t part of.

And some of the time these thoughts win in my mind:

  • You’ve not prayed enough
  • You’re naive to think He helps
  • It’s all a lie

That’s when I wake up one morning ‘different’. That’s when thoughts bother me but I can’t put my finger on what it is. And it will stay with me until I cry…or pray.

I’ve wondered if it’s a feeling of a premonition. I think it’s more a calling. My being knows there are things to sort out. I’ve learnt those are the times I really need to calm down and concentrate on Him.

This morning it’s a whole jumble of thoughts:

  • The questions from these past few weeks
  • Concern about loved ones
  • Doubts about unanswered prayers
  • Fear about a new chapter in our lives: my hope that He will help us each step of the way

And when I write those words I realise how sad it is that the doubts have won once again. When I stretch my mind a little further than the DIDN’T HAPPENS…I see the long list of YES HE WAS HERES.

It’s like when sun shines through holes in a wall or a curtain is only partly open. Everything you see is reality: Yes there’s a dirty spot on the carpet or a broken toy on the floor. But there’s more.

curtain light

Beside the broken pieces is the glue that fixed many other toys in the past. Or even a new toy. And the rest of the carpet may already be clean.

But the sun is only showing me this at the moment, because I’m not pulling open the curtain all the way.

I wish everything I see in the light can already be answered and solved and happy. I hate the pain and questions and ruined lives I see. That’s what’s right in front of me.

But I only have to turn my head slightly to see happiness and provision and grace. And I’m battling to keep my focus on that. But He is here and present and oh so amazing in how He’s helped me.

I wish it’s easier to get prayers answered. I wish it’s simpler to always see His hand. But not seeing it now doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I’m so frustrated by not getting what I’m pleading for at the moment. I’m so confused at how long His promises take. I’m so scared that things I hope for won’t come to pass.

But His thread of attentive love and provision runs clear. And I know it’s my choice whether I want to see that or the spot on the carpet.

light

I hate struggling. But I do love the lessons it teaches me. I’m praying for enough strength to learn this one as well. Whatever it may be.

I want to encourage you to hold on for your next miracle. Pull open the curtain so your past wins with Him will carry you through to your next one. Good luck. He’s rooting for you.

How to Fight Guilt – Ignore These 5 Lies

How to Fight Guilt – Ignore These 5 Lies

How often do you feel inadequate?

Yesterday a trusted friend gave me insightful, to the point, Godly advice. And she’s been doing this for the past few years. She had me in tears for saying exactly what I needed to hear.

But then I found a new reason for crying. I found out the past year was the most difficult she has ever been through. And I didn’t have a clue. She lives far away and I never would have guessed she’s suffering, because she’s always filled with joy. Amidst her struggles, she finds the time to pray for me and send me spot on messages whenever I need them.

My immediate reaction was to fall to my knees and pray. If she’s helping me fight and conquer my situations, shouldn’t I do the same for her?

But my prayers would have been driven by guilt. And that’s no way to start interceding for someone. I felt inadequate as a believer in not helping everyone that helps me.

And I think feelings of inadequacy stop many of us from living our potential and reaching the goals we and God have for us. It’s an excellent tool the enemy uses against us to debilitate us, steal our enthusiasm and prevent us from acting.

Do any of these lies apply to your life?

1. The Pastor Does this Better than I do

What makes me mad is that you allow one small thought to block all the possibilities of your life.

I ask a friend to pray for me on a specific matter. She starts her message (what she feels on her heart after praying) to me with ‘I’m not good at this, but here goes…’ Two minutes later I’m in tears. Her vivid, detailed message is exactly what I’ve been praying about and she confirms things my husband and I have been praying about for months.

“not good at this”. I think not. Why do you believe the lies that you can’t hear His voice or that what He shows you is only your imagination?

2. I Don’t Help Anyone – I’m Worthless

I felt so bad not knowing about my friend’s challenges. Her husband is struggling with cancer and I’m supposed to give her hope to get through her days. Right?

Maybe…wrong!

The day before she messaged me I was having a conversation with a childhood friend who is battling cancer. I can’t heal her. I can’t relieve her pain. But I could encourage, give her her children’s perspective, as I went through the same struggle with my own mother.

I remember feeling exhilarated while exchanging simple messages with her. That’s when I believe (know) that it’s God’s work at hand. Because He’s more than the One bringing healing. He is also the One providing love, care and wisdom along the way. And that day I could be at least one of those things.

When last did you feel joy rushing through your veins while talking with a friend or while standing in a queue and chatting with a stranger? That was Him using you.

3.  I Don’t do Enough

It’s the quickest way to feel like a useless believer. I look at the score card and see how few people I’ve helped in the past few months.

You must understand: I’m a counselor by nature. I want to save the world from all their troubles. When I don’t, I feel worthless. FEEL worthless…not AM worthless.

Because in the past few months I also learnt valuable lessons. I know I went through a season of recuperation in preparation for some changes my husband and I are planning.

How will I help others if I’m so tired I can scarcely get out of bed? Burnout is a real thing. And I believe God understands the need for rest. That’s why I needed people to support and advise me. 12 months later I’m a revived person who can once again give out love and hope.

And yes, we all fail to listen to His guidance sometimes. You probably miss out on many opportunities to show Him to others. I do too.

But He doesn’t keep score. Forget about yesterday. In THIS moment. What are you capable of? Who is around you? What will you do?

4. I Can’t Help Others While I Have Sin/Problems

This one goes hand in hand with the lie listed above. Does your problems keep you from living your faith?

No one is perfect. Realise that truth. And then see how God uses fallible humans every day. And He wants to use you.

But our beliefs determine our actions. If you BELIEVE He can’t use you, you won’t hear His guiding voice. You won’t think you’re the one supposed to help someone across the street or smile at someone who needs it. What difference can you make, right?

The truth? A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

I’m blessed most by people who aren’t necessarily church-going, Bible-bashing Christians. Their attempts at helping and caring are so pure. Their goodness is seated in innocence because they’re not trying to impress anyone.

This purity in many friends I met after leaving full-time ministry showed me-and helped me believe once again-that goodness still exists in this world.

And I can’t even begin to describe the exhilaration of seeing someone’s eye light up when I help them in a small way. It tells me that my current problem will also find a solution. Soon…or eventually. But it will.

5. I Fail When I Don’t Help Those Who Help Me

Being a community of believers isn’t always a direct reciprocal thing. It needs to be paid forward. Some people help me so I can help others.

A few days before my friend gave me insightful advice I left a Christmas message for another friend whom I never see. She’s in Thailand. I have no idea what’s going on in her life either, but I care for her deeply.

What started as a recorded Christmas message ended up as a long monologue of what I felt God had in store for her. I didn’t plan it. I just felt the joy rush through my veins and knew this is what God wanted her to hear. I could do for her what others do for me. It was a ripple effect.

Look at the start of this article. Can you see I called them ‘feelings’ of inadequacy? Feelings aren’t real. They’re not truths. And if you’re living with a lie of inadequacy, you have to counter it with the truth: that every day you’re doing your best and you’ll find unique ways of living your faith. The opportunities are all around you. Focus on them, instead of the guilt (lie) and see how many lives-including yours-will be transformed.

God calls us to change the world. You have no idea how many ways there are to do this. Go find yours.