Monthly Archives: September 2013

Little White Lies

This past weekend I was part of girls’ overnighter where the topic was the lies we believe, and the effect they have on us.  I thought maybe I should post my ending talk here, for today.  It’s definitely a message we forget or ignore all to often.  

Little white lies.  They’re supposed to be no big deal, right?  That’s why they’re called “little” and “white”.  But the truth is, lies – little and white, or big and black – are all lies.  And they hinder truth.  Lies hide things.  Lies cover up mistakes.  Lies cover up sins.  Lies cover up make everything look okay – on the surface.

                But by covering things up, by hiding things, those lies are keeping the world from seeing the real you.  Those lies keep you from healing.  I know it sounds weird, but those lies you believe about yourself, the ones you are acting according to, they are keeping the real you from the world.  And some part of you, whether or not you realize it, resents those lies.  Resents the cover-up, because some part of you, however deep down it might be, knows God created you to shine, and to be seen.  That’s just how it works.  You might think that I’m crazy right now, and you might think I’m crazy for a few more years, but eventually, you will come to realize that I’m right.

                Eventually everything in you will scream to be known, to come clean – no matter how painful that might be.  And you will have to set aside the lies that you might not even realize right now you’re wearing. 

                And you’ll have to face the lie you’ve believed that says your body is too thin, or too fat.  Because that lie has kept you from being comfortable in the skin God gave you.  And this grieves God’s heart.  And it keeps you from realizing just how beautiful you are, and it doesn’t allow you to be the confident woman you are.

                And you’ll have to peel off the lie that says you have to be emotionally strong.  The one that says you can’t show any emotion to anyone, because that’s weakness.  And you aren’t good enough to be weak.  Or that others need you too much for you to be weak.  Or that you aren’t good enough for your tears or giggles.  Because this keeps you from experiencing life to its fullest.  It keeps you from feeling, and allowing other people into your heart and life.  It keeps you from crying your heart out (which can be very healthy) or from giggling like a little girl who was just given her first Barbie doll. 

                And you’ll have to unwind the lie that says you aren’t worthy of love.  Because by believing this one, you can’t accept love from anyone.  Which hurts not only yourself, but them too.  This lie keeps everyone at a distance.

                And you’ll have to rip off the lie that says that you’re too girly….or not girly enough.  Because by believing this one, you are denying the essence of you – the very way God molded you.  You aren’t embracing the woman God purposefully designed you to be, and trying to be someone else.  And by doing that, you aren’t being yourself, the woman God delights in and others enjoy.

                And you’ll have to deal with the lie that God doesn’t love you.  Because if you believe God doesn’t love you, you can’t truly believe that anyone else does either.

                And you’ll have to deal with the lie that you’re needy.
                And that you aren’t smart enough, or that you’re too smart.
                And that you’ll never fit in.
                And that you aren’t pretty enough.
                Or that a guy will never find you attractive.
                Or that you aren’t worthy of a guy’s attention (this one will make you be willing to go so much further physically than you ever would if believed you were worthy of his attention).
                Or that you’ll never understand how to do something.
                Or that you’ll never achieve your dream.
                Or that ….

Well, you get the idea.  All these lies, each and every one keeps some precious part of you hidden away from the people God has put in your life.  Each and every one hides the beautiful, amazing woman you are.  The woman God has called you to be, with a very specific purpose and plan on this planet called earth.

               And so, what do we do with these lies?  Because if you leave them here, they WILL come back and bind you tighter.  That’s just how our brains work.  You take something out, our brains want to replace it with something else, or else our brains dredge back up the lie.  We have to believe SOMETHING about ourselves.

                So, we re-name the lies.  We record over them.  We replace them.  We write over them. 

                Instead of believing that you’re ugly, when that lie floats through your mind (and it will), you remember what God has to say about you.  You write on top of that lie that Psalms 139: 14 – “For I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.  And you say that verse over and over again until you can’t hear the lie anymore.

                Instead of believing that God doesn’t love you, you record over that lie that “you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the depth, height,  width and length of God’s love for you.” 

                Instead of believing the lie that says you aren’t special, that there’s nothing unique about you, you’ll write over it that “God chose you to go and bear fruit”.  And you’ll remember how very much He wants you to abide in Him and know Him.  And you’ll repeat this verse over and over until the lies are smothered.

                I know, it sounds like we’re brainwashing you.  And everything in you is saying that this won’t work.  So, I ask you to try it for a while.  To honestly, give it a real try – even if you’re skeptical. 

                And I promise you, it will work.  I know most of you think scripture is rather empty and wordy and boring.  And yeah, it sure can be.

                But it’s also God’s love letter to us, and it’s God’s words – so it is powerful.  Like really, send demons running powerful.  So, of course, it can kill a lie or two.  Especially little white ones.  But you have to be willing to listen to it and give it a chance.  And every time, every stinkin’ time you notice yourself listening to a lie, you pull up your verses and sing them or recite them or read them over and over and over until the lie is gone. 

                And then, And THEN girls….you – the real you – the woman God created you to be, can be seen.  And the world gets the honor and privilege of knowing her.  And SHE gets to experience life as she was created to experience it. 

                And that, girls, THAT is a wonderful, beautiful thing! 

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Where Does God Fit?

I was sitting in a circle of high schoolers, listening to them talk about God and life and stuff, when I noticed one of the guys obviously had something on his chest to say.  He listening as well as he could, but he was moving around a lot, and not really adding to the conversation.  When he couldn’t wait any longer; when he couldn’t hold it back, this came out:
“Look guys, it’s fine to say that we’re Christians and all.  It’s fine to say you love God.  But you don’t really mean it.  I mean, I talk to my friends, and they say, ‘I love God’.  And then I ask them why they’re going to the college they’re going to, and they say, ‘Because I like the campus’ or ‘Because they have a good sports program’.  They don’t even bring God into it.  If we really love God, if we really believe He is who He says He is, shouldn’t He be part of that?  Shouldn’t He be part of every decision we make?  A major part of our life?”

And he’s right.  We do lip-service to God.  We say we love Him, we might pray over our dinner, and we definitely pray when things aren’t going our way, but often, that’s about it.  And really, God should be more involved than that.

So, what does that mean?  God’s not exactly in physical form these days.  He can’t hang out at a coffee shop with you and tell you what to do next.  Even if He was, I’m not sure He’d give you the next three how-to steps of life.  But I think He still wants to know.  He wants you to talk to Him.  I know He wants to know what you’re thinking, why you’re feeling the way you are, all of that.  I mean, sure, He’s God, so He already knows.  But…but He likes hearing it from our mouths too.  He desires that sort of relationship with us.  He wants to be one of the people you tell everything to.

But how?  If you can’t sit on a couch with God, or go on a hike with Him, and tell Him face-to-face what’s going on, than…..how?  For me, I journal.  It’s how I pray.  If I don’t write it down, my mind wanders.  If I write it down, at least there’s some sort of physical aspect going on in the conversation, and I can pay better attention.  And if God’s telling me something, I write that down too.

And because I have this relationship with God, I do ask Him what He thinks about the decisions I have to make.  I want to know what He’s thinking.  After all, He’s God.  If we can talk to Him, it makes sense to get His take on things as often as possible, right?

I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I’m pretty sure it’s okay to not ask God which cereal He wants you to eat in the morning.  I know people who pray before choosing which outfit to wear each day.  And sure, it’s great to have that posture of prayer and openness.  But…God also gave you a brain and a fashion sense for a reason.  So it’s okay to not necessarily ask Him about every little thing (“God, do you want me to go to class today?”  Chances are, yes, He does.)  However, when it comes to something you think God might be interested in (like college, or friends, or attitude, or well, you fill in the blank) ask Him!  He might give you direction; He might let you use that incredible mind He gave you and use your logic.

I was told once, as a child, that the reason God called David a man after His own heart is because David always asked God’s opinion before making a decision.  I don’t know if that’s the reason or not, but if you look through David’s story, he did – at least in the beginning, when Saul was out to get him.  There were many times when David’s actions didn’t make sense to the men who followed him because his actions were in obedience to God, not to himself.  And maybe that’s what went wrong.  Maybe sleeping with Bathsheba and Uriah’s death and David’s family issues (talk about dysfunctional!) all happened because David stopped talking to God. Maybe David thought he had it all figured out.  Or got tired of listening, or….I have no idea.  He still loved God, that’s obvious in his response to Nathan’s correcting David after Uriah was killed.  But you can love someone without talking to them all the time.

So, my suggestion is to start talking to God – just a normal conversation during the empty moments of your day that you usually fill with music from your ipod or maybe even TV or video gaming or texting.  Tell Him how your day went.  Ask Him what He thinks about global warming (just kidding.  I mean, you can, but, really?  THAT’s what you’re going to ask Him about?  He’d probably rather you ask Him what shirt to wear tomorrow.  No, seriously, He wants to hear your heart. ).  He’s the God of the universe, the one who created the world, the one who imagined you and smiled when you were formed.  He’s also a good listener.  But don’t just take my word for it – go find out for yourself!

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Check Boxes and String Art

When I was in first grade, my art teacher gave us the awesomest project.  She brought in lots of baby food bottles filled with different colors of paint. And she brought in a huge pile of strings.  With a sparkle in her eye, she gave us all a piece of white paper, some string, and several bottles of different colored paints.  And then told us to paint – with NO paintbrushes!  We were supposed to dip the string in the colors, and then use them as paintbrushes on our paper.  We should take a string, dip it in blue, and make a curly-cue on our paper.  Once the string left its mark, we’d pick it up again, dip it in the blue and make another shape on the same paper.  We eventually added other colors, and by the end our papers had become a glorious first-grade masterpiece of curly-cued lines.  It was SO messy!  But so much fun (I mean, seriously – lots of fun!   After all, I remember it twenty-three years later!!).

Which is a little bit different than when I hit middle school and was handed an “assignment notebook” (a day planner).  We were to write down every one of our assignments, and then, our reward when we completed that assignment was to check it off.  So, I would draw little boxes beside the assignments and then, when I finished that assignment, I proudly put a check mark in the small box.  I always would feel SO accomplished and productive and valuable when I checked off those boxes.  Those little boxes motivated me like very little else (except maybe ice cream) could.

As an adult, I have to admit that learning how to use a day planner was very beneficial.  I definitely use one, though now it’s a little more sophisticated.

The thing is, it’s SO easy to go about life with a “day planner” mentality – especially as Christians.  We have to tithe (check).  We have to be nice to people (maybe check?).  We have to read the Bible (check last week).  We have to give to the poor (check – my church does that with my tithe).  And we have this crazy idea that if we check off all the boxes often enough, God will love us.

The thing is, HE LOVES US ALREADY..  It’s not about how many boxes you’ve checked off.  Or how much you’ve done.  You can’t earn God’s love.  You can only accept it with the joyful abandon of a first grader making creative, messy string art.

I know, I know, you can’t really compare string art and day planners, right?  They’re nothing like each other.  They don’t have the same purpose, look nothing like the other, in no way are they the same.  True statement.

But that’s kinda the point.  Living the Christian life in the day planner style is NOTHING LIKE living the Christian life in the string art style.  They don’t even have the same purpose.  One is messy, joyful, and can be given away (what first grader doesn’t love giving their art to their teacher or parents?).  The other is rigid, stressful, and all about YOU and what YOU’ve done.  Not very much room there for others – let alone GOD.

SO, go live a joyful, messy, love-filled string-art sort of faith.  And I know, telling you to go do that is a bit counter-productive because, really, you CAN’T do that without God.  Which is, I’ll admit, the point.  Ask Him to help you accept His love for you, embrace it, get messy with it, and then give it away.

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Warm Oatmeal and Moss Gowns

You Are

Picture found here 

I woke up this morning with the knowledge of how much I am loved.  There were no roses filling my room.  There was no special breakfast on the table.  There was no sweet note on the bathroom mirror.  But still, in the very core of me, has sat this warm-oatmeal feeling of being completely, totally, absolutely loved all morning long.

I’m pretty sure the cynics out there would say it’s just my hormones slightly outta whack.  But I know better.

I’m loved – deeply, passionately, love.  Like meat loves salt.

I know, that’s a weird way to say it.   Let me explain.  When I was a little girl who still wore dresses more days than not, I stumbled across this tale in the library, and it’s still one of my favorite children’s stories.  Right up there with The Velveteen Rabbit.

It’s kind of a Cinderella and King Lear combination, where the father has three daughters, is old, and is trying to figure out how to divide his wealth.  So, he asks his daughters how much they love him, figuring he could divide the wealth by the measure of how much they loved him.  The two eldest daughters told him wild stories of loving him more than jewels and riches, but it was the youngest daughter who loved him best.  In fact, it was she who actually even loved her father.  She tried to figure out a way to explain to her father how much she loved him that wouldn’t sound empty and fake, like her sisters’ false claims.  But the only thing that came to mind was how awful meat was without salt.  So, that’s what she told him – that she loved him more than meat loves salt.

I won’t ruin the rest story for you.  Go read it for yourselves.  It’s called Moss Gown and is written by William H. Hooks.

But that being said, I woke up this morning knowing God loves me like meat loves salt.

It has taken me a long time to actually believe that thought.  I know, I know, I’m a Christian girl. I grew up in a Christian household, shouldn’t I have known from a very young age that God loves me?

Well, when I was little, I did.  I knew it beyond a doubt.  But somewhere around the time I became a teenager, I began doubting.  And by the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was pretty convinced that God put me on this earth to be just an instrument of His love.  He didn’t love me as much as He loved everyone else, and part of the reason He created me was to show everyone else how much He loved them.  It was a pretty sick and twisted lie.

I knew it to be a lie, but here’s the thing.  Knowing something is a lie, and then NOT believing it are two very different things.  You might not think so, but they are.

I KNEW God loved me, but I sure didn’t believe it.  And I definitely didn’t feel it. But I wanted to believe He loved me.  I was desperate to believe it.   I wanted Him to do His “God thing”, point His finger at me, zap me with some heavenly electricity and fill me with the knowledge and warm fuzzy feeling of being loved.

But that’s not how God worked.  He waited until I was desperate and broken enough to actually be willing to believe He loved me.  He waited until I was alone, awake, witnessing the stars turn in their nightly orbits as tears cascaded down my face, asking about something else completely.

And then He sat me down and pretty much just hit me over the head with it.  There have been two times in my life when God told me something so powerfully that He practically turned me into a statue.  This was the second time.  I couldn’t move.  I was still crying, but I was crying tears of joy now.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt about His deep, crazy, unbridled love for me.  All I could do was sit there, watching the stars continue in their paths and letting the tears fall down my face.

There have been days when it’s easy to fall back into my old way of thinking, of believing the lie I know to be a lie.  If not in belief, at least in actions.  But once you know and believe something to be a lie, even if you forget for a bit, you remember the truth quickly.

Since that night, when people in interviews or whatever ask me what Jesus means to me, I can never find words.  I always have the problem of the youngest daughter in Moss Gown.  How can you possibly describe this kind of love?  You can’t.  So, you say the closest thing possible.  You say Jesus, to you, is like salt to meat.

And they just look at you weird.  But that’s okay.  Because you know that you know that you know that He loves YOU.  Inexplicably, crazily, unconditionally, passionately LOVES YOU.

I’m not writing this to boast of the God who created the universe’s love for me.  I’m writing this as a reminder.  Because, you see, the wonderful thing is He doesn’t just love me this way.

He loves you this way too.   I would try to convince you, but if you don’t already believe, there is literally nothing on this earth that I can do or say to get you to believe.  It’s between you and God.  I would love to give you a formula to help you understand and believe but we are all too original for God to work through formulas with us.  But, take my word for it – He really does love you.  Promise.  Ask Him to show you.  It might take a while (He has that whole “timing” thing down), but He will.

And when you know that He loves you, sometimes you wake up with the feeling, deep in your innermost core, of being passionately loved.  It makes you feel quiet and secure and snug inside, as if you just ate warm oatmeal.

And that, friends, is when the true adventure can begin!

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