Hard Confessions

I met a friend for coffee today.  We went to Leaf and Bean (great food and coffee by the way, it was my first time there) and as we sat there for a little more than an hour chatting and catching up, it happened.

Anxiety attack.

It was a “minor” one (i.e. the room swam a bit and I had that strange “detached” surreal feeling wash over me here and there with slight stomach twinges).  I nibbled my sandwich and sporadically sipped my coffee, talking and trying my hardest to focus on my friend and our conversation while the anxious waves came and went.  During the conversation, I mentioned to her that I have struggled with panic/anxiety throughout my life and hey, as a matter of fact, I am struggling with that right now, yes, at this very moment.  She looked at me slightly astonished and said something that has stuck with me all day.  She said that looking at me that she would never have guessed that I was having any anxiety issues, that I seemed composed and fine (not her exact words, but that was the gist).  I told her that I had grown pretty good at hiding it (maybe “stuffing it” would be a better term.) and that I have also struggled with intense, paralyzing phobias as well since I was 11 but that only a handful of people know because I choose to hide it out of shame and embarrassment (I did, however, fail to mention the “eating disorder” that is a byproduct of said issues).

I made it through our lunch date and my friend was so loving and supportive, even stopping to pray over me before we parted ways.  Then I got in my truck and just began to cry, feeling at first disappointed in myself (my initial thoughts after these episodes are usually self-berating because it happened AGAIN and why can’t I lick this thing for the love of Pete?) and I cried all the way to the store, that ugly, chest-hitching kind of sobbing that makes your face puffy and blotchy.  As I was driving and ruminating on what my friend said another thought came to me: Doesn’t that make me a liar?  To hide it and pretend like nothing is wrong, to not talk about it out of shame or fear of what others will think?  To stuff it and try to ignore it and hope it goes away and not reach out for help or someone to just talk to or pray for me?

See, those were learned responses from a lifetime of dysfunction and self-destructive tendencies, of poor choices, of being rejected and mistreated and yes, even sometimes abused (by others and even by my own hand).  It was a mechanism developed to deal and to cope in that world, in that life.

But that can only last so long before the whole structure built on lies and pain comes crumbling down.  There’s only so much you can stuff down before something detrimental happens.  Before the top explodes.

This is what the Lord has been patiently showing me,  that those mechanisms and habits have no place in His children, that those old nature ways and compulsions and behaviors cannot cohabit with His light and Spirit inside of us. Light and dark cannot have fellowship.  Where one is, the other cannot exist.  Over the last few years, this truth has come to a painful head in my life.  I have (almost) daily struggled with the anxiety/panic/phobias for over two years straight now.  This has never happened to me before for such an extended period of time.  It has gotten better as time goes on, but this process seems to be going way too slow for my taste, let me tell you.

It’s like there’s a tug of war between the darkness that has held sway over me for these last 40 plus years, that wants to keep me under lock and key and the Light that loves me intensely and wants nothing more than for me to be free of these things because they’re no longer needed and they’re all based on lies.  I think the hardest part for me is learning this new reality is really real.  My whole life (since birth) has been fear-based, those fears  always being repeatedly reinforced and so those have been my “truths” for my entire existence.  It’s hard to think of or imagine a life without those things being present because that’s all I’ve known and sadly I think we get comfortable in those places even though we say we hate them and want nothing more to do with them.  We don’t know any other way and change can be scary, even if it promises to be good.  You ever watch Shawshank Redemption?  You get so used to living on the inside, being a prisoner, that freedom seems foreign and strangely frightening.

Jesus came to a man at the pool of Bethesda who had been sick with his infirmity for 38 years and He asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?”   Another translation says “Do you desire to become well?”  This Jesus asks of a man who constantly came and waited by this pool for healing.   It’s telling to hear the man’s response for why he is not healed: because no one helped him into the pool and others just went in before him.  I have to stop and wonder: did he ever ask anyone for help?

I know that what stays in darkness festers & rots but I also am learning that in bringing those crusted, infected wounds into the light is when the healing can truly begin.  It’s just hard to take that first step of being vulnerable and admitting to the dark, sad, imperfect things that are a part of you.  I still don’t want to do it, I hesitate to push the “publish” button for my dirty laundry to be aired for any to read but I also know that when I have heard others admitting to their struggles and being transparent about their truths, I realize that I am not alone. I have felt that way more often than not in the midst of this turmoil, like I am the only one going through this thing and no one would understand.  Yet, one thing the Lord has spoken to me recently is that I need to start being honest: to myself, to Him and to others, because anything else is a lie and I can’t become all He’s called and created me to be if I insist on being a liar.

So, here’s to another step in my journey of healing and change.

No, I do not have it all together even though it may seem I do and yes, I am sorry that I wasn’t honest about it.

Thank you for listening and God bless,

Miranda

 

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Heavy hearts in heavy times

I have never seen or heard so much hatred in my years of being on social media.  It’s downright disheartening.  It brings me down, grieves my spirit.

I myself have been verbally attacked because I made statements about that very thing (people justifying hate speech).  I was called a p***y (sorry) and told that there’s nothing at all wrong in wishing someone harm or death.  I mean, hey it’s not like they’re going out there and doing it, right?

Speechless.

I was also called out by name (and workplace) on someone’s page for a long-drawn out debate that they had with several other people.  I made one statement to all those other people, naming no one and not even mentioning anything political, and this person decided to call ME out, questioning my “Christianity” then unfriended me.

What?

Needless to say I decided to stop making any such comments on anything relating to this subject.  I have spent more than my fair share of tears over these things and given it all over to the Lord because quite frankly I just can’t hang onto them and let them break my me.  It’s not worth my sanity.

You know, I certainly don’t agree with certain candidates’ policies, beliefs, etc.  I actually think some are downright wicked.  HOWEVER, that in no way gives me the right to go out and start spewing vitriol and nasty remarks about any of them.  To call them names and wish them ill-will, or, God-forbid death.  I mean, why would you do that?

I understand why the world does it, but the church?  Remember, we are here to represent HIM, not ourselves.  We are ambassadors of the Kingdom, of Jesus Christ and all HE stands for.  We can’t bring OUR opinions and biases into these conversations or statements.  What would Jesus say?  We are supposed to be the oracles of God.  Would God call these people degrading names, even if what they have done is evil?  My guess is probably not.

Jesus died for our sins, all of our sins.  He didn’t die for most of them or for a select few. Nor did He give up His life for people who are “worthy.”  Don’t be tempted to play the game “Well at least I never...” because we all have….. in some form or another.  The Bible says there is no one good, no, not one, and we ALL fall short of the glory.  He died for everyone.  EVERY ONE. Yes, even the evil, wicked candidates or politicians or their supporters who speak nasty awful things to those who don’t agree with them.  We should be PRAYING for them, putting them up in intercession before the throne of God and praying for their salvation.  The hardest people to pray for and love are the one’s who need it the most.

I am not saying I am exempt from this myself; Holy Spirit convicted me of this very thing and I am glad He did, because the last thing I want to do is misrepresent my Lord to anyone ever.  We are sometimes the only Jesus that some people will meet…and I want to make sure that I glorify Him in every way.

And not just in these hot, political climes but in every day life with everyone I encounter.  Those people are all an arms-length away from Jesus….in me.  And you.

Vote prayerfully today.  And please, slow down and think before you speak and respond in love. Press into His presence.  Know Him so you can show Him.

God bless, pray always and be safe….

Miranda

Ephesians 6:12

 

Go ye, therefore…

I was talking to someone yesterday about the heavily charged atmosphere of these current times, especially when you look at what’s happening in the political spectrum.  We also talked about how “churches” have changed, how they’ve “let go” and now follow after their own wishes and created doctrines, changing their beliefs based on what the world says is acceptable.

So, in this conversation I said, “I feel like there’s a winnowing going on right now in the church.”  The person I was talking to felt the same way.  This is where the chaff and the grain gets separated.  The divide between those who truly stand for Christ and those who only think they do is growing larger and more obvious.

Jesus said you’ll know His people by His fruit.  But it seems that the church has been so diluted in the world’s ways and philosophies that they have no idea what that means or what His fruit is supposed to look like, therefore they cannot make good sound judgments on whose fruit looks like what, least of all their own.  Why is that?

Because they go to church.

Well, you may be asking, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?  No, actually, it’s not.  See, if you study out the word  for “church” in the Greek, it’s the word ekklesia and it means “called out from.”  It’s speaking about usWE’VE been called out.  Called out of darkness into light, from death to life, from the world system to God’s kingdom, from sinners to saints, from old creatures to new.  Church is not a building, it’s not somewhere you GO, it’s who you ARE.

You’re not supposed to go to church, you’re supposed to BE the church.

Living stones in the temple of God.  A walking sanctuary.  Carriers of God’s presence.  As the Church, you are supposed to be a meeting place where people can come face to face with Jesus.  We are supposed to be imitators of God.  Ministers of reconciliation. What is the Great Commission?  For us to go out and do all that Jesus did, to introduce people to Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 18:18-20)  And if you read the Gospel of Mark, it says exactly what it is we’re supposed to do as His church (Mark 16:15-20).

It’s so much more than what people think it is or experience it to be.  And they are missing out on a truth that could not only change their lives, but the lives of countless others that need Jesus so desperately.   But that means sacrificing the flesh and all the things that people think they love and need in their lives and that they’d be “missing out.”

Really?  How sad that the gospel has been so watered down and diluted that it’s only about keeping people out of hell.  You know what it’s really about?  Getting heaven into you!

But let me ask you: isn’t He worth the sacrifice?

I hear “Christians” complain all the time about the state of the world and how awful it is….and we the church are supposed to be the change.  We’ve been given the kingdom of Heaven itself and most don’t even know it.

Who will you be?

A church-goer?  Or the Church itself?

“Is what you’re living for worth Christ dying for?”  Leonard Ravenhill

 

God bless,

Miranda

 

 

 

Thorns and Thistles

Yesterday was a “weedy” day.

Whatever do you mean, you may be asking.  In my last (and first) entry I spoke about the thought-life and I likened it to a garden.  Bad/negative thoughts = WEEDS.  So, yes, my “garden” was on the tipping point of being overrun by those dastardly, prickly, blood-letting suckers.

NO GOOD.

To be quite honest, there are sometimes that it definitely feels like an uncontrollable thing.  At one point you may ask yourself, “How did it get so bad?”  Sneaky weeds.  Thanks to the curse, they have NO problem growing at an exponential rate, am I right?  Just ask anyone who gardens.

So, let’s go back to the beginning and look at man in the original garden.  Can we find a parallel there?

First, it says that God gave man dominion over the earth and all things in it.  Dominion = authority.  Remember that.  Genesis 2:15 says: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”  If we look at what the words in the original language mean, you can gain more insight.  First of all, Eden means “pleasure.”  The word “dress” means to work (it) and the word “keep” means to hedge about, protect, attend to.  Ok so protect this garden (a place of pleasure and delight) from what?  From the enemy.  From the one who prowls about seeing whom he MAY devour.  The one who watched man in the garden, seeking out a way to undermine and steal from man the authority and dominion that he himself wanted and tried to overthrow the throne of God to obtain.

Unfortunately, he succeeded.  And how did he do it?  Their thought-life.  Their “mind-garden” so to speak.  He implanted doubts into their minds as to God’s goodness and also to who they were and what they had.  Does that sound familiar?  What should’ve happened was Adam looking at Satan, pointing a finger in his face and telling him to get the you-know-what out of there because he was trespassing.  Adam had the authority to do that and Satan would’ve had to obey.  But because they allowed those “weeds” of doubt and lies to come in and take root, they lost it all and Satan illegally obtained authority over our earth.

And in the process they lost their true pleasure and delight: being at peace and in intimate fellowship with God Himself.  Paradise lost?  More like given away.

Jesus came as the Second Adam and did all that the first Adam should have so that our authority and dominion could be restored through Him.  Thank You Lord.  He was our example in how to deal with the lies and deceit of the enemy: wield the Word with authority and faith, no compromise, no discussion.  But the Word only becomes a weapon when it becomes completely settled in our hearts that it is absolutely true.  Faith sharpens it’s edges and only then we can cut through the thorny, weedy lies of the enemy like a sharp knife through soft butter.

And yesterday, my sword certainly wasn’t as sharp as it could’ve been.  Our enemy is relentless and sneaky and wicked and cruel, yes, but remember that “greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.”  Sometimes I think we are guilty of putting faith in our faith instead of the One who has given us the gift of faith.  We try to work ourselves up into having more faith instead of seeking the One whom we should have faith in.

So, remember Adam and Eve and their failure to keep and protect their “garden” and be vigilant and persistent in keeping yours.  Don’t let the enemy steal your peace or truth.  Sharpen your sword, seek His face, pull up those God-forsaken lies and remember Philippians 4:6-8.

God bless,

Miranda

Genesis 3:17B-18: “….cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee……”

 

 

 

 

 

A Gardening Parable

So I am just sitting here, twirling my hair (a habit I’ve had since childhood, if you must know), wondering: now what?  Where do I begin?  I’ve got the page set up, I put up some pretty pictures for people to look at, so what do I say ?

Funny, there have been many times where I felt like I’ve had a lot to say that seemed incredibly important and I thought, “Oh, if only I had that blog set up!”.  But, now, sitting here with this vast white space before me, I am…..speechless.

Then, of course there is that little (annoying) voice inside that says that no one is going to be really interested in what I have to say, so why bother?  Who are you, it asks, to publish your thoughts and ideas, to think that any of it matters?  That you matter?  That voice.  I have come to hate that voice but sadly it’s a voice I know all to well, as I am sure many of you do, too.

That voice, it never builds you up but only ever tears you down.  The one whose whispers bring fear, shame, humiliation, defeat, worry, anxiety, panic, mistrust…. you get the idea.  The voice that continually plants the seeds of lies and doubt in your mind and man, do we love to water and feed them.

You ever notice how fast weeds grow?  Pay them little mind and the next thing you know they’ve overtaken the garden. If you’re not right on those suckers, forget it, you’re on your knees weeding all day.  Now imagine how much faster they’d grow if you actually nourished them?  It would completely overtake your entire garden, choking out and killing off anything good and beautiful.  Now, it just full of thorns that prick and draw blood.

This is your mind on gardening, any questions?

Please know that it’s never the voice of God that brings these self-defeating thoughts.  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Your mind is the battlefield and there is a war being fought in and over you.

One of my biggest and longest struggles has been in my thought life and the Lord has told me on more than one occasion: “EVERY thought, daughter.  You must measure every thought by My Word, My character. Whatever doesn’t measure up, you must cast out.”  Do you have any idea how many thoughts you have in a day?  Me neither, but it’s a lot.

This means a couple of things:

1: You absolutely must know the Word in order to know what truth is and what to weigh every thought against.  In order to know the Word, you must (intimately) know the Word (Jesus).  Get it?

2: It’s an active, conscious, deliberate thing to check all your thoughts, all day, every day.  It’s amazing how sneaky they (and the enemy) can be when it comes to this soulish part of yourself.  He is an opportunist and will take any and every chance he can get to bring you down and to keep you from knowing the truth of who you are and what God thinks about you. (There is so much I could say and tell you regarding this subject, but it would take far more than one post to talk about the depths of it, I assure you!)

So, as far as this blog goes, heck, if even just one person reads it and is affected, helped or blessed in any way, good.  “That voice” can go take a long walk off a short pier.  And if you’re on this journey with me, then please, know that God loves you and if you want to know who you REALLY are, seek Him and He will surely show you.

I guess maybe I did have something to say after all.  Was it important?  That’s a matter of perception.

God bless.

~M~

Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 15:13