~Condemnation vs. Conviction~

Differentiating between condemnation and conviction was enlightening for me. Unfortunately, my feelings are generally much more those of condemnation.  I had mentioned that I was in an inappropriate relationship, desperately searching for love and doing just about anything to receive it. The relationship I was in was beyond wrong, and it was not at all love but in fact lust.   I was living with someone who was going through a divorce.  At first he said all the right things to get me right where he wanted me and in a momentary lapse of judgment I gave myself away.  Once I did, I felt like I had fallen so far away from God’s grace that I was damaged goods, unworthy to be loved. I had done the very thing I promised myself I wouldn’t do until marriage, and I continued to give myself away and each time feeling further from God and more dirty and unloved. I had these misconstrued thoughts that by not having sex and note living the way the world was I was ‘missing out’.  I kept telling myself ‘everyone is doing it’, and that right there is what I think Satan uses to lure us in and trap us.  I had this feeling God was holding me back from enjoying myself, and that could not have been further from the truth. So, for almost two years I lived under this immense guilt and shame of condemnation, rarely going to church, trying to desperately convince myself that “I wasn’t that bad” and continuing to live in sin and be verbally abused and degraded. I was told repeatedly that “no one would ever want me now and I would never be happy without him” the strange thing is, the guilt was so heaving and my heart so hurt and battered that I began to believe the lies and condemnation.

If only I had processed things through the conviction of the Holy Spirit instead of condemnation I could have bypassed a lot of pain and been brought closer to God and perhaps even brought the person I was in the relationship with to God.  The Holy Spirit had revealed to me how wrong my actions were on a daily basis and I knew I needed to make changes and did not listen to the God. I deliberately went my own way.  I see now that I was trying to distance myself from God during this period by not going to church and not praying as I should and I was not keeping in touch with my Christian friends because I was so ashamed. The shame kept me from turning around and going back towards the Light, shame and guilt held its tight grip on me, pushing me deeper into darkness and a state of depression.  I believed the lies in my head and was not paying attention to the Holy Spirits’ guidance and direction back toward God.  If I had used the conviction of the Holy Spirit and just believed the truths of Gods Word the condemnation could have been replaced with God’s love and grace. I now will ALWAYS remember how loved I am by God, and that is the only love that matters. His love is priceless, precious, unfailing and unconditional and nothing can ever separate me from His love (Romans 8:31).  I know I failed, I messed up big time (and I will again…daily), but I know that God is restoring these broken pieces into something beautiful. I just have to keep leaning on Him and trusting that He can use this experience for His good, to help and encourage others and to develop a Christ-like character in me.  If I remember these truths restoration can and will begin, now and in future trials.

His Goodness makes me Good Enough!

I struggle with believing that I am good enough in many areas, insecurity has always been my enemy.  I feel I “fall short” as a daughter and professional.  As a daughter I have always dealt with rejection, feeling that I wasn’t wanted from the start and having this feeling that I ‘messed up and got in the way’ of my parents plans. I grew up being  told by my mother that my father wanted her “to get rid of me” before I was even born. I felt unwanted and unloved by the two people who were supposed to love me.  I have these thoughts that, “if they don’t even want me, who ever would?” So, I struggle with feeling good enough and showing love and honor toward my parents, and this insecurity also weaves its way into other relationships.  As a registered nurse, I have fear of being a leader and moving up in my career. There is always this voice saying, “you can’t do that, you won’t measure up, so don’t even try”.  When opportunities arise I talk myself out of trying different positions and believe those lies I tell myself.   

But I know that these are all lies that Satan wants me to believe, I have believed them for way too long and let them hold me back from the blessings God has in store for me. I need to rewire my brain and my thoughts to be in line with My Savior.  My identity has to reside in Christ and not on earthly things that change and fade, if my hope in is things of this earth I will always feel disappointed and unfulfilled.  When I am having feelings that are against me, feelings of rejection and unworthiness I need to remember that I do belong, to the Family of God and I am a child of the One True King.  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1   Even though my earthly father may not have wanted me I know that God is for me, and wants me to call Him my Father and has adopted me into HIS family as His very own child (Romans 8:15-16). These truths that I need to fix in my heart that I belong  and I am chosen by GOD.  I am secure in Christ, no matter what!

When I am having against me thoughts that I am unworthy to love, I need to remember that God is for me and is crazy about me. I am so worthy and He loves me so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for me! (John 3:16).  Not only that, He gave us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.  Even when I was at my lowest, full of sin and ugliness, He died for me (Romans 8:28). His goodness and unconditional love makes me good enough! Even though I will continually fall and fail, there is nothing I have ever done in my past and nothing I can ever do in the future that can separate me from the Love of God (Romans 8:38).  

When I am having against me thoughts that I should give up, and not even try because if I do I will fail. I am going to remember that the living God of the universe if for me and I am competent in Christ.  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)  The Holy Spirit is inside of me and His job is to accomplish whatever God calls us to do! Finally I know that God has a plan and purpose for me in life and that gives me hope for the future.  (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, it is time to erase those negative against me thoughts out of my mind and start anew with my identity secure in Christ who is 100% for me.

~A Change in Perspective~

I grew up knowing I was not wanted by my parents.  It was a broken, loveless family.  My mom always was very open about her feelings toward my dad, frequently telling my brother and I how much she hated him and would have never married him if she hadn’t become pregnant with me.  She frequently reminded me when I would talk to my dad that “He never wanted me” and wanted my mom to have an abortion, basically she was saying I shouldn’t’ have a relationship with him.  My mom struggled with drug abuse, depression and mental illness as long as I can remember. My mom always tried to be a friend instead of a mother and I grew up with a lot of resentment and anger toward her, because I felt like I was trying to “cover up” her multiple addictions and mental illnesses so everything looked good on the outside, appearance was everything.  My dad didn’t show any type of affection whatsoever, he never hugged me or said he loved me.  I always felt I was in his way, that his life would have been so much better if I wasn’t in it.  So, he worked long hours and was hardly ever home.  The house was split into two levels and my dad lived down in the wreck room and my mom upstairs with the children.  I knew this wasn’t ‘normal’ and part of me always felt I was to blame because I knew they wouldn’t be together if it hadn’t been for me. My childhood was painful and filled with a lot of resentment; I tried to cover up my feelings by over-eating and by high school becoming very obese.  I was a model student and earned straight A’s, graduating salutatorian, hoping to feel significant and accepted by these accomplishments and finally “good enough” to win my parents approval.   That never happened.

When I went to college, I held onto this pain and it made it very hard to believe the promises and plans God had for my future. My relationship with God was not what it should be, many times an after-thought, I was foolishly trying to ‘earn grace’.  Once again, in college I worked for the approval of professors and earned A’s to feel some sense of worth and fill a void. I was in unhealthy relationships with men, in the back of my mind I always had this nagging suspicion that if my dad didn’t love me, why on earth would another man?  I became anorexic and lost all of the weight I had put on throughout childhood, but was not at all healthy, I was sickly and starved.  I still felt unfulfilled and unsatisfied.  My fourth year in college I was commuting to school, I was living back home and driving about a hour each way, living with this boiling anger toward my mother.  Her drinking had become out of control, she was ‘hosting parties’ for my younger brother, it was a mess. I was done, done trying to cover up and clean up her mess and make it look like she ‘was ok’.  I would pray all the way to school that God would take away that anger I had toward her and fill my heart with love.  It took a long time to chip away that anger, I had many conversations with God on the way to college, sometimes even anger at God for the parents and situation He had given me.  But over time I sensed that he was trying to change me, it wasn’t about them it was about me.  I realized I had been trying to help my mom in ways that were not healthy for me or her.  I tried to cover up for her and cushion her fall, not ever really allowing her to hit rock bottom. Finally I realized that she is God’s child and He is in control of her and maybe He wants her to hit rock bottom, so she could finally come to realize He is the Rock at the bottom.  I’d be lying if I said I still don’t have some feelings of anger, because at times it still rears its ugly head, but I know God was trying to change my perspective and attitude and tell me to let it go (the pain of the past, feelings of rejection) and let Him be in control and be filled with the joy of being His child. It finally became clear to me that no matter what my past, I do not have to be a prisoner to it.  I am a new creation in Christ.  I am chosen, adopted, unconditionally loved and forgiven.  He casts my sins as far as the east is from the west.  Those are promises to cling to!

A Heart Surrendered to Christ

Like I mentioned I was introduced to the concept of Christ at a very young age and accepted Him as my Savior at 6 years old, but I didn’t really understand what that meant.  It was many years later when I finally came to a personal relationship with Christ. I had tried being in control of my life, and calling on God when I really needed something.  Otherwise I had this misguided thought, “I don’t need to bother God with this, I got it”, what a joke that was!   I had been missing out on so much, never fully understanding his priceless, precious, unconditional love for me and never fully surrendering my life to Christ. 

It was a crisp October morning two years ago,  I was driving home from work like I had done countless other times, but this time my life was forever changed. I live in the heart of Amish country, I am very accustomed to seeing horse and buggy’s all over, many times there are more buggy’s than vehicles on some roads.  I was having a candle party and decided to go home past an Amish vegetable stand to pick up some fresh veggies for the party, otherwise I don’t normally go home this way.  Immediately once I turned on the road, I saw a group of small Amish children walking in the middle of the road, with their straw hats on, giggling with each other, and swinging their lunch buckets. So, I slowed down realizing this could be the scenario all the way down this road.  I was coming up over a small incline, the sun brightly shining and suddenly, a horrific sound of glass shattering, and the impact of a buggy slamming into my windshield, the air bag going off and slamming on the breaks, all happened in a matter of seconds. When the car came to a stop, I realized the buggy (driven by four children) had pulled out of the driveway right in front of me.  I finally squeezed out of my vehicle to see the four little children sprawled over the road, screaming and bleeding, and a buggy that was unrecognizable, only bits and pieces of black debris remained.  The one child was brought over the grass and was unconscious, she was bleeding from her mouth noise and ears and her breathing pattern was rapidly declining.  Being a nurse, I knew the outcome was grim for this child. Her mother was kneeling over her crying and saying her name, and it was at that moment, I knew there was nothing I could in this situation. I was totally desperate for God, and it was at that moment that I cried out to God, and I told Him I needed Him to take over this situation.  I totally gave control of my life to Him. I prayed like I had never prayed before, and I felt God standing there with me, holding my hand, telling me “You are mine, I got this”.  In the midst of this chaos, I felt a glimmer of peace and hope, which I knew could only be from God.  I prayed that these children would somehow be okay, that the Master Physician would lay His hand on them and heal them.  The little girl that I mentioned that was given little hope of surviving and was in a coma for days, but by the grace of God, she survived and is a perfectly normal child.  The days and months after the accident were filled with recovering from my minor injuries, but mostly dealing with the guilt of the situation. I wanted to trade places with those children. It was riddled with sleepless nights and panic attacks, but during this period of time, I grew leaps and bounds in my relationship with my Savior.  I clung onto Him, He was and is my lifeline.  I started memorizing scripture and holding it in my heart and claiming the promises of God.  One of the verses I clung to was Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” That couldn’t have been more true!  I think this needed to happen to finally break me to realize my total dependence on God.  I would need His strength in the following several months, my grandmother passed away and my mother tried committing suicide. I know that there is no way I could have ever made it through this period of brokenness without God. It was one of the worst periods in my life but one of best times because I learned of His love and compassion and the need to be totally surrendered to Him.   

A Confident Heart….At the Well

I grew up learning about God in Sunday School, accepting Him as my Savior in first grade during Good News Club, but really never knew what it was to be known and loved by God.  I didn’t understand the importance of a personal relationship. I had this misconception of God as a strict father who never really understood me and was just waiting for me to mess up and punish me.  I constantly lived under an umbrella of shame and guilt.  I had a completely wrong view of God, page 45 in A Confident Heart really spoke to me, ‘You and I are not worthy of His love and we can never do anything to deserve it—but we are worth His love because He chose to give it to us.’  My whole life I had been trying to earn grace and was left empty and unfulfilled.

As a little girl I longed to be a wife and mother and thought that this would fall into place according to my plan. Throughout my adulthood, I had this hole inside of me that I tried desperately to fill with relationships that never left me feeling complete. At the end, I was more discouraged, lonely and disillusioned than when I began.  I can relate to the Samaritan woman’s story, I had drifted far, far away from God and was living a life that I knew was wrong, practically living with a non-Christian man whom was going through a divorce, and every fiber in my being knew it was inappropriate and sinful, but I had this yearning and longing to be known and to be loved. I gave myself away in an effort to receive the love and attention that I thought would fill my heart with joy.  After that relationship ended, I had the harsh reality of realizing there was never an ounce of love there.  I was trying to give love without every really understanding what it meant to receive God’s love in the first place.  I was drawing from a well that was dry, there was nothing there to give, because I didn’t understand the great truth of God’s Word and His saving grace.  After this relationship, I thought God would not want anything to do with me, I messed up, big time. But like Sam in John 4:9, I was surprised that Jesus wanted anything to do with me, and loved me regardless of knowing exactly what I had done. I was thinking, “How could He possibly love me and choose me, much less die for me?!” I can completely relate to what Jesus says in John 4:13, I was trying to satisfy myself with water of this world (through relationships with men) and always coming up thirsty…even dehydrated for that matter! If only I had realized earlier that Jesus still wanted me to be His Child and loved me unconditionally and offered His living water, I would never be thirsty again, not only that I would have eternal life!

Thankfully, I came to realize this amazing love, last year. Now I am 30 and single, which I didn’t think I would be at this point in my life, but I am trying to follow God’s plans and not my own, and that is a daily struggle that I can only do with His strength.  God knows that I long to be a wife and mother, but in the meantime I am focusing on making God the lover of my soul to make me the woman He wants me to be.