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One bright morning, a young woman was talking with an old friend. After a while, the woman’s friend looked at her and sighed. “It must be so nice to have everything in your life all figured out,” she said.

The woman laughed and replied, “Well, not everything.”

Later that day, the young woman unlocked the door to her cozy apartment and sat by her older sister, who asked about her day.

“It was good.” But neither woman was convinced.

A few moments passed, and the young woman fought an internal battle against surging emotions. “I think I need to talk,” she admitted.

Sobs soon broke loose from the young woman. The tears were watery evidence of a breakdown she had suppressed for hours, days and months. It was a culmination of work stress, emotional stress and — at the crux of it all — life expectations that hadn’t been met yet.

Amidst the tears and embarrassed laughter, she uttered the words that had silently been eating away at her: “I don’t know why [insert here] hasn’t happened yet. I know I shouldn’t think this, but I feel like I haven’t earned it yet. I don’t deserve it, so God hasn’t given it to me.”

The sister held her, lovingly offering support and encouraging words about the promises God had given to the young woman.

Eventually, the young woman wiped her eyes and nose, spent some time in prayer and started writing a story.

Spoiler: I am that young woman, and this is my very true, very recent story.

Another spoiler: I don’t actually have everything in my life all figured out.

Weeks earlier, I read Genesis 22, following Abraham and Isaac as they hiked a mountain to offer a sacrifice to God. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice the very blessing God had promised to him years before, an angel appeared.

“‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.'” (Genesis 22:12 NLT)

While reading this verse, I scribbled a note: What are you withholding from God? The thought intrigued me, but I didn’t get any insights from God at the time.

My breakdown came a few weeks later. As I sobbed, I began to understand what God had started speaking to my heart: It’s okay to be vulnerable.

To be honest, this was hard to admit to myself. I tend to keep things to myself. I don’t like to show weakness. I don’t like it when people see me cry. I don’t like it when people see I’m vulnerable. So, I put those emotions and thoughts aside.

And God was like, “Jen, you’re withholding a part of yourself from me.”

Withhold: To refuse to give; to suppress or hold back.

I wasn’t withholding prayer time, Bible reading, church commitments or anything external from Him. This was emotional withholding.

True friends can talk to each other about anything — be it crazy, stupid or #realtalk. Likewise, if you withhold parts of yourself from a friend, you withhold parts of yourself from that relationship. You essentially build a wall around that part of you, blocking it off from anybody or anything.

And we can do that with God. We can refuse to tell Him about our hidden anxieties and feelings — some of which we might not even know exist. But God already knows.

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:15-16 NLT)

Yes, God in His omniscience understands every part of us. But He still wants us to communicate with Him, to build that relationship. David recognized this in his psalm. After acknowledging God’s power and knowledge, he asked God to examine him.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Express yourself to God. It’s okay to be vulnerable with Him. He can handle your raw thoughts, your anger or confusion, your disappointment or shame. We can trust Him with our innermost parts.

When we are weak, He is our strength. When we are defenseless, He is our fortress. When we are vulnerable, He is our trustworthy friend. So, stand firm in your faith that you are in God’s plan, obey His voice and pursue His promises.

And remember: You don’t have to earn His mercy, grace, blessings or love. His grace is relentless. His mercy is unconditional. His blessings are perfect. His love is unfailing. And His thoughts are good.

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17 NLT)

 

You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/

Your attachment to your wishful thinking, longings, and ideas of fairness can trap you in cycles of pointless longing and despair.

Ac-cep-tance n– willingness to believe that something is true.

-the realization of a fact or truth resulting in somebody’s coming to terms with it.

-the tolerating of something without protest

(Encarta World English Dictionary)

Storms happen in life. The unexpected hits suddenly—the loss of a job, the loss of a friend, the end of a marriage, or the end of your ministry as you have known it. In the face of loss—whether disease, injury, accident, set back, crushing event, or the end of life as you know it—we go through stages of denial, bargaining, and finally acceptance.

Acceptance is the place where you pick up the broken pieces and decide how to proceed from here. Regardless of what has happened, moving forward is still an option.

Let’s Talk About It

Much has been written about Admiral Jim Stockdale who was a prisoner of war at the “Hanoi Hilton” for eight years during the Vietnam War. When interviewed by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, the question was asked, “How did you deal with it?” Admiral Stockdale responded, “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.” He said this about a horrific eight-year experience of torture, deprivation, isolation, and uncertainty.

To the question, “Who didn’t make it out?” he replied, “The optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We are going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Stockdale summed it up with this life lesson: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Collins wrote, “To this day, I carry a mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: ‘We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

Acceptance is the ability to look at your current reality and deal with it. Not in a broken and defeated spirit, but with an awareness that you too will prevail in the end.

Live It

In order to thrive in your current reality, you may need to:

  • Examine the problem in a positive light. Turn bad situations into something meaningful—taking action gives you a sense of purpose. The business investment wasn’t a failure; it was a valuable learning experience. Focus on what is good. It will give you strength and energy to work with what is wrong or to simply live with uncertainty.
  • Explore your strengths and re-label weaknesses as growth areas. You will never know the thrill of conquering new territory if you are ruled by fear.
  • Eliminate the negativity. Mentally rehearsing or talking about the bad, ugly, or current difficulties of your life will not improve it. You will prevail because of deliberate daily choices of right thinking.
  • Evaluate your options. You are not stuck. Pray for courage to adjust, make changes, or smile instead of frowning. Brainstorm your choices. If you are miserable in your job or facing a layoff, what are your options? I can join a circus, go back to school, find a new job or…

It may be raining but you have an umbrella!

 

Reprinted with permission from Reflections Magazine.

The world seems to be falling apart. Hate is rampant, pain spreads rapidly, depression smothers and violence rises. All of this junk amasses together until it’s a heavy burden that we, as humans, often feel obligated to carry.

That might not paint the most encouraging picture, but I think it’s a fairly accurate depiction of our times. We need only glimpse at the news to read or hear about the most recent tragedy or law. More and more, I find myself getting so frustrated at the world and at the people who spew hate. But really, more than anything, it hurts my heart, and I sometimes think I can feel my soul deflate.

Even as Christians, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with restricting anxieties, feelings and thoughts — to believe the darkness has won, to have our hope stifled and to allow our light to dim. But it’s in those times that it’s so important to remember God’s promise to us.

“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20 KJV)

I’m sure most of us have heard and read that verse before. But God recently showed me just how relevant those words are now, in 2019. I read yet another news story that detailed a world teeming with hate and injustice, and it really bothered me — my emotions, my heart, my soul, everything.

In that moment, God’s quiet voice whispered to me, spreading through my soul like the soothing Balm of Gilead: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Even when everything seems to be going wrong. Even when good is considered evil, and evil is considered good. Even when you don’t think you can take another step. Even when you don’t know where your next breath is coming from. Jesus said, “Yep, even then. I’ll still be with you.”

Maybe you feel like you’re at wit’s end, unable to continue on, stuck in the mire, about to give up. Maybe you think God doesn’t care anymore or that He’s abandoned you and everybody else on earth.

Maybe you’re discouraged by the perilous times of the last days, where humans are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV)

But Jesus said, “Even unto the end of the world.” And I believe those words hold real meaning for this generation of Christians that are facing the tumultuous times leading up to Christ’s return.

God still cares, and He hasn’t forsaken us.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6 NKJV)

God will not fail you. No matter where you are right now, He sees you. Even though you don’t know what’s in front of you, He does. He is already there. No matter what you’re going through — be it loneliness, discouragement, fear, confusion, disease or whatever — lean on Him. No matter what’s going on in the world around you, He still loves you. He is your peace and your refuge. He is your hope and your salvation.

So, trust Him. Give Him your hopes and aspirations, your wants and dreams, your doubts and worries, your fears and anxieties. Put those in His hands and turn your focus on sharing His joy, love and peace with a world that is hurting and desperate for hope.

 

Article by Jennifer Englishjensrandommusings.wordpress.com