I must say, this past season has been a pretty intense, very tough but absolutely amazing all at the same time. The transition from one season to the next was gut wrenching to be completely honest (which I usually am). It consisted of hearing some difficult things about myself, some untruths about myself and my intentions, even enduring people seriously letting me down, but also experiencing the leadership in my life expose their love, grace and deep desire for me to understand His heart.
I also learned a pretty serious lesson, I needed to wait on God to build a trusted and wise counsel in my life. I needed to stop trying to MAKE friends happen in my life. I needed real friends, that were REAL. I mean, who doesn’t?
So obviously, I was in transition and well…I felt very strongly God was not just moving me into the NEXT thing, He was moving into a NEW thing. That being said, leaving that season, I was SO HUNGRY to know Him on that next level. In 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul explains to a “secret wisdom” to the church of Corinth. I wanted a double dose, triple, no quadruple dose of that “secret wisdom” so badly!
The difficult part was, to know Him on that next level or to pursue that NEW thing, I had to make time with Him…alone. It seemed next to impossible to find time to do so. Being a mom of 3 in a house with one bathroom, I am lucky if I get to go to the bathroom by myself or even take a shower without a child barging to sling the curtain wide open to ask me for more goldfish. Heck, starting just this one blog post has been an act of God in itself, not to mention the other posts. (And I say that in all seriousness) In addition to that, I am currently in seminary and I made the commitment to separate my (seminary) study time from my (God) study time. How in the world was it going to be possible for me to seriously dive in and get to know Him more? Of course, it was clear I needed to get alone.
So then, God stepped in. Here I was already feeling friendless and lonely, craving….practically starving for meaningful, articulated, educated, adult conversation. It was obvious to me, He was bringing me into a season of SOLITUDE! Seriously?!?!
For 4 years or so I was forcing myself into vulnerable situations, trying to friend others, and exposing some of my inner most difficult trials in life. I was just hoping to find that one thing that would truly connect me to her, I had yet to find her. In fact, some of those vulnerable moments came back to haunt me. This was before I understood the power of vulnerability.
Despite how difficult it was for me to muster up the courage to share my past, it may come at a cost. I knew that in order for me to connect, I would have to be seen….really seen. The thing about this was, I discovered that at the core of vulnerability is the possibility shame, fear and struggle for worthiness. Although, it can be the birthplace of joy, love, creativity, mended relationships and more. If I shut vulnerability down, I will be shutting down the chance of all the things it can birth. This was difficult because the cost was causing me to question the love I thought I had, my sense of belonging and feeling worthy of any connection…even with God. I had to continue to be willing and courageous to share this part of me, without any guarantees in return. Psssh….I can honestly say, after the very vulnerable season I was previously in, I really was not motivated to go back. I WELCOMED this season of solitude He had for me. I did not need anyone….I had God. Let’s do this!
So to recap, lets just be real for a minute. I was 50 pounds over weight, exhausted, frustrated, lonely, and really suffering from a negative self image at this point. Being the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, questioning whether I was worthy of pursuing any connection, in addition to the calling I knew I had on my life, and I was wondering why I had not established any deep and meaningful relationships in my church over the past 4 years. I needed a renewal of my heart, my spirit, my soul, and mind….I needed a renewal of my motherhood, my sisterhood. I was determined to FORGE AHEAD! I am tackling this!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:2
So I decided to really break things down. I knew that I have a creative mind, and that I tend to compare myself, my career, my performance (day to day) to other’s. Being creative, I would base my worth on my performance in my career, being a mother, wife, sister, etc. I would even carry it as far to say, I was comparing my calling and my relationship with God to other’s. I was even comparing my quiet time with pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram, of my friend’s tabletop spread at your local coffee shop, or heck their own kitchen/house (which seemed so impossible) along with the perfect cup of cappuccino, a beautifully written leather-bound journal and their highlighted bible. All the while, reviewing in my head (while my “littles” are chasing each other through the house (screaming) with highlighters and permanent markers), “if only I did not have to wait until night to study for school. I could go to bed early, get up early and get my time with Him”. I wanted SO BAD to grow in a deeper relationship with Him but I knew it was not my season for that tabletop spread. I was really in survival mode every single day.
Little did I know…it was not “I” who was tackling this…it was my Father, Who was tackling this. He first gave me a deep desire to tackle my weight issue along with a desire to eat healthy again. I live at the base of a small 1,621 foot mountain. God told me to climb that mountain. So with the cooperation and help of my teenage son (BLESS HIM FATHER) watching my two Littles, I started with running up that mountain everyday. This soon after turned to walking up that mountain everyday…my knees just couldn’t take it. Walking 1 mile, turned to 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 4! The first month was difficult. I wanted to quit, I did not want to go but forced myself. I felt Him pushing me harder and harder the more I did not want to go. It began to get easier and easier. Not because it hurt less or somehow the climb up the mountain became not so steep but because I soon realized He was facilitating time with me. He was creating a uniquely designed and orchestrated time with Him that my heart so desired. This was not one of those beautifully designed, Instragram, tabletop times. It was going to be one of those ugly, sweaty, difficult, grueling and messy times that I may or may not post to Instagram!
Once I identified this, IT WAS ON! I asked Him to do an inner inventory like I had never seen. I wanted more of Him at any cost. He began to speak and I would listen. If I did not hear anything, I would listen harder. This did not make this time easier by any means but I was ready to be pressed and stretched. I wanted to grow. If you’ll do what you can do, He’ll do what you can’t do.
Physical Obedience Brings Spiritual Release!
The first thing I did, was learn how I hear His voice…how to “listen harder”. I even took Havilah Cunnington’s Prophetic Personalities Quiz and Course, which was amazing! Was I a Feeler, Hearer, Knower or Seer? After nailing down that I function in all four spiritual personalities (heh….I have multiple personalities), with my dominate personality being a Knower, I started practicing.
Soon after learning just how I hear Him, He very quickly revealed just how serious my issue of “FEAR OF MAN” was. He told me comparison breaks down creativity or just brings it to a screaming halt and if I did not stop, I would not continue this uniquely designed journey. There was no way I was going to let that happen but I did not fully grasp HOW to have victory over this “fear of man”. With this realization, I then knew, I would stay right where I was in my spiritual growth, if not decline, as long as I did not claim victory over these things. I needed to get a grip….actually, I needed to let go. It was so clear, He told me to let go and let Him, then to show myself some grace and to treat His daughter well. He then put things in the simplest terms for me one day. He simply said, “Your fear of man is the opposite of the fear of Me…completely contrary to what I want for you.” He then asked “Who are you trying to please?” THERE IT WAS!!! I was making it so hard, but it was so simple! I decided right then and there that in everything I do, I would ask “who am I trying to please?” The thing about it is, if I am striving to please Him, I can’t loose. He is Sovereign. He defends me when and if I need defending, loves me when I need loving, straightens me out when I need direction. I just need to yield to Him.
As I continued to walk day after day, rain or shine, mile after mile, tear after tear, He began to unfold so much and renew my mind AND the pounds started coming off. Why do we renew our mind? To know God’s will. We want to know His will because it promises complete fulfillment and effectiveness; and that is what I was after. I wanted nothing more than to be in His will. Only the spirit of God can communicate with your spirit in such a way that it leaves you with identity, intimacy, purpose, love, and grace. Until we get really good at understanding His spirit and how it is talking to our spirit, we will always live from the outside in. I am still learning, still practicing but understanding more and more everyday.
Perfect & Unconditional Love
The neatest thing about all of this is, I now understand truly finding my identity in Him. Through His love for me! I am His masterpiece, His greatest work of art. God does not create crap, He creates beauty. Seeing myself through His eyes gave me the image of who I am. It has taught me how to see others through His eyes. I see my sons and daughter differently. I see my husband differently. Everyone! His heart is for us to see us as He sees us. To see His grace for us.
The Bible teaches that God loves us perfectly or unconditionally. His perfect love is not based on our perfection or anything except Himself. God is Love ( 1 John 4:8). He always loves us, but often we don’t receive His love because of guilt about our past and wrong doings. We are supposed to be conscious and aware of God’s love and put faith in it. I even had the words “The Love I know is unconditional” tattooed on my wrist years ago, yet I was continually questioning if God’s love is perfect and unconditional. All because of one moment when someone I love and respected looked at that tattoo in disdain. When I told them it was referring to God’s love, they gave me a look of disapproval and let me know they thought I was wrong. From then on, because of my fear of man, I was not putting faith in His love for me. WELL…NO MORE! There are not conditions on His perfect love. His love for me is what defines me, not my story. The best part is, I can say with every fiber of my being, I don’t have any regrets…NONE! I have seen so much redemption in my life, I have come to truly love my story. It’s a really good one, but I may be a little bias.
The truth of the matter is, vulnerability is what brings us to connection. Whether it be to other human beings or the Living God. The possibility of pain in the process of connecting is so worth it. Not only do you prosper with new and deeper relationships but you develop and receive a deeper wisdom for love and life. We cannot truly love others until we truly understand not only HOW MUCH we are loved but HOW we are loved. Perfectly and unconditionally.