mountains among skyscrapers

 

Walking the streets of Santiago with the hustle and bustle of millions of people. The air heavy. Cigarette smoke lingers. Voices, music, cars sound all around. Eyes down, thoughts all over the place, I block it all out. I walk with purpose, on a mission to catch the metro to continue the mundane, until I’m stopped at the corner. I hear myself audibly gasp. A smile spreads and I laugh aloud as I look up, as I look before me.

There they are. The mountains. The Andes. They stand before me, peeking between skyscrapers and above buildings. There they are in all their glory just like usual, but this encounter is different. This encounter changes me.


As I stood on that street corner, the Holy Spirit spoke boldly. The lesson learned, pondered, taught, nearly forgotten, but recently remembered. Full circle you could say.

The lesson was simple: I AM WITH YOU. The picture was breathtaking: the mountains among skyscrapers. The importance was more than I could have known or understood in that moment.


With my eyes lifted, a goofy grin on my face, I knew the truth. The buildings stand tall, but the mountains stand taller. The skyscrapers loom, but the mountains are still present. My fear, my uncertainty, my inadequacy rise to the heights of the Costenera Center. Anxiety and unknowns grow until I can’t see anything else, until lifting my gaze above them is too much. But there they are, those mountains, waiting to be seen. Amidst the chaos of the city, the Andes stand firm, unchanging. Amidst my overwhelming thoughts, God stands. Just like the mountains, He stands unchanging. He stands with me.

Fear grows, but the Lord makes His presence known. Commitments take over, but He is unmoved. Unknowns remain unknown, but He makes Himself known. Uncertainty addicts, but He refuses to give us up. Life overwhelms, but He surrounds with provision and protection. Everything is too much, but His “with-ness” is enough.


“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2

This verse and the picture of the mountains among the skyscrapers all scream this one truth to my forgetful soul: He is WITH me. He is Immanuel. He is GOD with us. It’s who He is.

As the Andes surround Santiago on every side, so does the Lord surround me, so does the Lord surround you.

There will be rooftops moments where the mountains clearly surround like the walls of Jerusalem and our souls rest, in unmistakably seeing their presence, and sometimes all we get is a glimpse of them between buildings. But no matter the moment, no matter the time, the mountains are there. They never change, never move. They’re constant. What changes is our posture. Are we looking up or down? Are we looking around, walking blindly by? To see the Andes around Santiago one has to look up. One has to choose a different posture, that of expectancy. We can always expect to see Him. We should always look up, ahead, between. It is only when we change our gaze to the steady, the unmoving, the Mountain in our midst, that the breakneck speed world turns slow and finally our souls can rest. For when we know the Presence before us, we know the One WITH us.


Despite seeing from the rooftop, I somehow forgot about the mountains, about their faithful presence despite the buildings in the way. I forgot about THE Mountain, the One that is bigger than all of my distractions and uncertainty. But a truth-telling friend reminded me, “When the distractions, the seemingly impossible tasks, the skyscrapers of life start to cloud our view, we are reminded of the mountains; never moving, never changing, never faltering. Just like those mountains, my God never leaves me, never changes, and is always WITH us. Remember THE Mountain, the Mountain forever WITH us.”

I’ll remind you and me now. Whether your view is from the rooftop or the streets below, your surroundings, the mountains, our God, remain the same.  We change. He does not. We move. He does not. We are easily distracted. He is always present. He dwells within and without. He is the Mountain among our skyscrapers. He is God WITH us.

 

 

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thoughts on His love

His love is constant and enduring. It knows no bounds, not of time or place.

His love is a flame that can’t be dimmed. It spreads like wildfire, in the best of ways.

His love is fire and rain. It’s refining and cleansing and quenching.

His love is wind and snow. It’s moving and pure.

His love is among us, a light in the darkness for all to see.

His love is extravagant. He gives us all of His heart not just parts.

His love is not anxious or afraid, instead it calms all our anxious storms.

His love is rest, our safe place.

He can’t be outdone in generosity for He is the God of abundance.

His love is gently aggressive, outrageous and unexplainable.

His love is forever engaged, present in our present.

His love keeps every promise to us until eternity.

His love is good. His love is wild for us. It’s unashamed in its intensity and devotion.

His love is uncontrolled and uncontained. His love is proud of us.

His love is faithful and devoted. He will have His bride.

His love is WITH us for His very essence is love. It’s who He is.

His love is this: “My life for yours.”

not the only but the best

When things seem hopeless, we pray. When life is out of control, we pray. When we feel helpless, we pray. When we’re thousands of miles away, physically separated and unable to do anything, we pray. When souls seem lost to us, we pray. When life and health are on the line, we pray. We pray because it’s the only thing we can do.

People of all kinds persecuted for all things. We pray. Loved ones living in darkness, us helpless to reach their hearts. So we pray. People fighting injustice, being the voice, for those who can’t. We pray. Friends grapple with dangerous inner demons. And we pray. Families experience loss and heartache. We pray. The news plays and we feel small, unable to curb the violence and hate. We pray. Strangers across the globe are being bombed out of existence, forced into a rubble grave. And we pray.

Prayer is often viewed as a last resort, a back up plan, what we turn to when all else fails.

In many cases prayer is the only option we have, but what if it’s more than that?

What if prayer was not only the only thing you could do, but also the BEST thing you could do?

That’s exactly what prayer is – the very best thing you could ever do. All that has to happen is a shift in focus, a healthy dose of humility, a realigning with His heart, a surrender to stillness, a commitment to stop doing and start listening.

If we find ourselves busy on our feet more than still on our knees, then fear and doubt have overtaken. If we try everything in our own power before tapping into His, then we have our priorities all wrong. If prayer is not our first response, then pride must be. If prayer has become a back up, then we have become our very own god, we have taken a place we can never fill.

So let’s step down from that place we were never meant to hold. Let’s kneel still and long. Let’s lift voices to Him in desperation, in helplessness, in humility, in praise. Let’s reach hands towards His throne of grace, the place that allows us to both give and receive that very same grace. Let’s pray and expect His presence, His undivided attention. Let’s pray for when we pray we enter that thin place where heaven meets earth and we truly see. Let’s open our hands, our hearts, to so much more of Him.

Because here’s the truth – prayer is not the only thing we can do. It is the BEST thing we can do. Prayer is not a last resort, but our weapon of choice. Prayer is not the back up plan, but our go to. Prayer is our defense against lies and our line of communication with our Father. Prayer is the oldest, most underrated trick in the book. Prayer is powerful, never changing. Constant as the sun rise. Prayer brings us back to humble communion, equips us to keep living and loving. Prayer prepares us to change the world in His name.

Let’s stop doing and humble ourselves to pray. Because when we pray, we not only do the only thing, we actually do the very BEST thing.

 

lessons about us from the view

I imagine God forever in His heavenly workroom with a table covered in clay, a potters wheel, tools, every color of paint and brushes strewn about in joyful disarray. He’s singing, dancing, having a party while creating every piece of earth. He’s carving mountains and painting sunsets. He’s flattening some parts and making other parts rise to heights that leave you breathless. He’s shaping lagoons and sand dunes. He’s coloring the sea every shade of blue. He’s a creative genius at work.

With that image in mind, here’s the thing I thought as I stood exhausted, makeup less with bed head and dirty clothes before a beautiful lagoon surrounded by volcanoes.

God does this just for fun. He does this just because He can. He creates because He’s good and beautiful. And I am part of that good and beautiful. He says I am His masterpiece. He whispers that not even this before me is created in His image like I am. 

Standing before some of the most beautiful views I have ever been privy to and that was what I thought. I have now hiked the Andes, swam in saltier than the Dead Sea lakes, been surrounded by volcanoes, watched too many yet never enough sunsets and seen water too blue for words. Yet every single view has left me speechless, in a flurry of thoughts.

You see, there I was awestruck at His creation, His creativity and glory and I realized something. I am seen as more beautiful than all of this. In that moment the Lord challenged meHow can I declare beauty in everything around me, yet be hesitant to declare the beauty in myself? How quick am I to marvel at the mountains, but how slow to marvel at my own skin? How easily do I gaze at oceans and foliage in wonder and then question my own design?

The thing is, what I marvel at is God’s leftover. He colors rainbows with His leftover paint and fills lagoons with salt water, because why not? But when He makes humans, when He makes you and & I, He plans every detail beforehand to reflect Himself. He takes the most delight in hand crafting each of us with unique characteristics that mimic His. He molds us on the wheel, carving every detail of our being. He laughs when he paints our freckles & birthmarks because they’re part of his creativity. He gets messy with every paint color when He comes up with never before seen eyes & hair. He takes joy in forming our arms & legs because He knows exactly who they’ll hold, serve & the lands they’ll travel. He paints the sky & carves the mountains with the leftovers from His real masterpieces, us. His real creativity & joy comes out in the dreaming up of every man.

So how can we hate on ourselves while admiring the majesty around us? How can we feel insecure when we are created in the image of a God who made THESE masterpieces?  These pieces of creation are stunning and they aren’t even made in God’s image. They’re just made for His glory & our enjoyment. We are the ones made in his image. We are the ones who display the breathtaking beauty and awe of God himself. We are the ones worth dying for. We are the ones molded around His character. We are not His leftover, but His dazzling design. We are not an afterthought, but His forever first thought. What joy & rest we can find in the TRUTH that we are His masterpieces more loved & treasured than the most breathtaking view in all the world. I dare you to believe it.

The Comparison Trap

Guest writer: Audrey Davis

Comparison is something knit into our sin nature, but through the power of the Spirit we can gain FREEDOM. My dear friend Audrey learned an awful lot about comparison in her summer of some serious boldness and she has thankfully agreed to share what the Lord has taught her. It’s such an honor and privilege to have heard these lessons on comparison (and many more) from Audrey and I’m grateful you get to learn from her too! 

Comparison. We’ve all experienced it. If you’re anything like me, you’re very familiar with it. It happens in the blink of an eye. It’s ever so subtle, so that at first we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  Then before we know it comparison has consumed our thoughts.

The Lord has surely done a number in my heart this summer. He has humbled me, revealed himself to me, brought me near to him, and shown me little glimpses of what He intended life to be like. But of all things he has taught me this summer, the one that stands out among the rest is a lesson in comparison.

Comparison is:

  1. A lie from the enemy.

Satan is a liar. When comparison fills your thoughts, it tends to cloud things, making it hard to see the truth. When you compare yourself to others, know that it is not from God. Jesus is a truth-teller. Jesus is life giving. Comparison is NOT life giving. I think Satan has us convinced that life is a zero-sum game. That if someone else experiences a win, then it must mean that I have experienced a loss. That if someone else is praised, then it must mean that I have failed. That if someone else receives a compliment, then it must mean that I am not good enough. My friends, this is a lie. There is no room for this in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a positive-sum game. When my brother or sister in Christ experiences a win, I also win.

  1. A thief of joy.

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before, but it’s 100% true. Comparison can diminish joy in an instant. One moment you can be confident in who you are, and the next you can be listing off all the ways in which you don’t measure up. We’re left sitting in a puddle of insecurity and doubt. So we try to change ourselves to be more like celebrities, our classmates, or our friends. And what for? So that we can be less than God created us to be? He didn’t make a mistake when He made you. Don’t settle for being a second-rate version of someone else when you can be a first-rate version of yourself.

  1. A choice.

Satan is a tempter. He tempts you and I every day. He even tempted Jesus. Whenever Satan tempts you to compare yourself to others and see how you stack up, it takes a deliberate, conscious decision to say no to that. But the good news is that YOU get to choose which voice is going to be louder. You get to choose if you’re going to believe lies or truth. You get to silence those lies by calling on the name of Jesus (whether that looks like worship, prayer, opening your Bible, or simply loving on a person). The choice ultimately is yours. Don’t let Satan tell you differently.

  1. Centered around me, and not around Christ.

Comparison often stems from a place of low self-esteem.

It comes from the belief that “I am not good enough.”

This lie manifests itself in many different ways.

Maybe for you it sounds like this:

“I am not smart enough to be a doctor/teacher/minister.”

“I am not pretty/attractive enough.”

“I am not spiritual enough.”

“I am not thin enough.”

And do you know what those statements lead to? They lead to a nasty trail of jealousy and comparison. Those statements turn into this (fill in the blank):

“I am not as smart as _________________.”

“I am not as pretty/attractive as _________________.”

“I am not as spiritual as __________________.”

“I am not as thin as _______________.”

The problem with each of these statements? They all start with “I.” They automatically put the focus on myself and not on God. They find every little thing that is wrong with me and magnify it by ten. The equation is simple, really:

Low self-esteem = High self-focus

My mind was blown when a dear friend and mentor shared this statement with me. For the first time in my life, I realized that my low self-esteem was directly correlated to a level of self-centeredness. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Amidst my tears and struggles in that moment, she assured me that God, when he humbles us, does so ever so gently. He does not condemn us, but rather he in his great love invites us into his grace. She also assured me that one could be healed from this disease called pride. All you have to do is simply turn your gaze heavenward. Stop dwelling on all the ways in which you think that you are not enough, and look at all the ways in that He IS enough. Take a moment to stop focusing on self and instead focus on the One deserving of your attention. When you do this, you are free from worry and you are free to listen.  And if you listen, and I mean truly listen, I think we can hear God saying this back to us:

My Dearest _________________,

Why do you compare yourself to others? Why do you wear yourself out trying to see how you stack up to everyone else? Don’t you know that I made you to be YOU? Why are you letting jealousy take root?
Your value does not lie in your abilities. It doesn’t lie in what kind of grades you get. It doesn’t lie in how many likes you get on Instagram. It doesn’t lie in others opinion of you. It doesn’t lie in how many times you’ve failed. And it doesn’t lie in how many times you go to church.

Your value lies in the Jesus in you.

So do not worry so much. You are good enough. You are adequate enough. And when you fail, I am there. Where you lack, I will give you strength. I will get glory, even in your weaknesses. Trust me.

Know this:

You are fully loved.

You are mine.

You are valuable & incomparable to me.

I would do anything for you.

 Because that’s who I AM.  A good, good Father. The world doesn’t get that, and you are going to be constantly tempted to compare yourself, my child. But remember, your value doesn’t lie in your abilities. It doesn’t lie in your beauty (which is immeasurable, by the way). It doesn’t lie in who the world tells you you are.

Your value lies in who I say you are.

And I say this:

You are fully loved.

You are mine.  

You are valuable & incomparable to me.

I would do anything for you.

Love,

Your Heavenly Father

_________________________________________________________________

One of my close friends pointed out to me that I’m really good at preaching this message to others, but I’m not so good at believing this about myself. It’s easy for me to see others for who they are in Christ, and not what they believe about themselves or who the world tells them they are. I decided it was time to start practicing what I preach. And do you know what I found?

Freedom.

Freedom from my fears of not being enough. Free from my fears of being disliked. Free from all the lies that the enemy tries to convince me of. Free from the lie that if people knew me fully, then they couldn’t possibly love me. Free from the self-condemnation that comes along with comparison. Free from being so focused on myself. Once I was free from these things, I became free to believe other things.  Free to like myself for the way God created me. Free to trust that he made me on purpose and for purpose. Free to rest in his unending truths. Free to focus less on myself and more on Him. Free to be both fully known and fully loved. Free to see myself the way that he sees me.

My prayer for you today is that you would have the strength and courage to say YES to freedom and begin to see yourself the way God sees you.

what college taught me about food and my body

Last summer, as I was getting ready to start college, I had one huge unspoken fear. FOOD.

Most people are nervous about classes and friends. I was tied in a knot over food. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I would react. I didn’t know who would understand, if anyone. I wasn’t nervous about it, I was scared.

I was scared for months leading up to college. I would sit on my couch in my therapist’s office week after week and go over the same “what ifs.” What if this? What if that? All of my “what ifs” and my fears concerning food and my body were glaring me in the face. The only voices I could hear were telling me, “Just wait. You’ll be overwhelmed and out of control. You’ll eat too little and spiral downward again. You’ll never recover. Or you’ll eat too much. You won’t know what to do. You’ll gain the freshman fifty and no one will love you.” My ears were tuned to hear only fear and failure. My eyes trained to see only what could go wrong.

So I entered college, with these barely exposed fears. I had only just gotten used to my food routine at home and now it was turned upside down, inside out. I had no idea what territory I was embarking on.

I can’t say it was a perfect transition, because it wasn’t. I had a few meltdowns in the cafeteria. I had a few silent cries. I had some subconscious restrictions. A few calls and emails to my home base. Many frantic questions and fears and failures scribbled in my journal. It was not perfect, but I’m okay with that, because it taught me a few of the most important lessons I could’ve learned.

I was reading 1 Timothy 4 and it was as if the Holy Spirit lifted a veil from before my eyes and I could see a new picture of food. “Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars, who forbid people to marry and teach them to abstain from certain kinds of foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and have knowledge of the truth. For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is hallowed and consecrated by the Word of God and by prayer” (1 Timothy 4: 2-5). In the prior verses Timothy says that these things will come from “seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach.” These rules and regulations concerning food are not of God. They come from hypocrites and liars. Food rules and restrictions are not of the Lord. They are of Satan who seeks to use what God meant for good, to destroy us, to leave us unable to serve the Kingdom.

I read this passage over and over again, specifically verse four, because of the truth it spoke.

Food is good.

Food is good. It’s goodness itself. And it’s a central part of how we experience God’s goodness towards us. Food matters. Food is part of God’s new and good creation. He created food and He called it good. He didn’t call some foods good and others bad. It doesn’t say some foods or the “safe” food or even the healthy food. It says everything. (Read verse four again if you don’t believe me). He called them all good. He says everything, all foods, He created are good. Let that truth sink in.

Not only does God call food good for us, He shows it’s good for Himself as well. When Jesus came to earth He ate food. He ate the same food as everyone else. He didn’t have some sort of “perfect heavenly food.” The food here on earth was perfect and literally sent from Heaven. It was, is, created by God in Heaven to be good and perfect for our bodies. Nor did He restrict certain foods calling them “bad.” He ate and drank what everyone else did.  Our food was good enough for the Son of God. I think that speaks volumes.

The truth is God made food. He ate food. He calls food good and He desires us to call it good too.

Food is a gift. 

Yep, you read that right. Before college I laughed at the thought of food being good, much less a gift.Food has always been fuel to me, something I need to survive. Nothing more and nothing less. But the Word of God tells a different story. Food is a beautiful, priceless gift to be received with thanksgiving and joy. Food is fuel, but it is not just fuel. It is the sole sustenance of our physical bodies. We cannot live without food.

I always yelled at God for making food. How could He do that? Why did He make me dependent on food? Why couldn’t food be optional or at least plain, bland, unimportant? The answer is that God could have made food just fuel. He could have even made us to be self-sustaining. But He didn’t. And you know why? Because He loves to go over the top for us. He loves to lavish grace, mercy and love upon us. One way He does that is through food. He sees food as a gift, a way to show us how much He cares.

It’s also a tangible way to remind us of our dependence on God in all things. We are not self-sustaining on purpose. We cannot survive without God providing food for our bodies. God made us dependent on food for a reason. He wants food, which we have to eat in regular increments, to be a constant reminder of how much we need Him and how much He loves us.

God hasn’t made food to harm us, but to bless us. God didn’t make food to cause division, but to bring people together. God made food and gave it to us as a gift. Food can seem like a burden, but with a changed perspective, food can become a beautiful, even holy, gift from our Father.

My body is good.

This is also something that I could not have said or seen a year ago. Before college, I made do with my body. I didn’t necessarily hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it. I tried to avoid it as much as possible, although being a dancer made that pretty hard. My body could have been described as “fine” or “okay,” but never good.

Now I can look at myself and say “my body is good” and really believe it. My body hasn’t changed at all. My mind has. My perspective on my body has changed. Slowly, my eyes turned from what my body couldn’t do, to what it could do. From what I didn’t like, to what I did. From reasons to be self-conscious, to the God who gave me a spirit of power and love. The Holy Spirit changed my focus. He realigned my vision for my body, with the vision God has for my body. God’s vision for my body is vastly different than my vision was.

God doesn’t care what size and shape we are. He cares what we do with our bodies. Yes, we are to be good stewards of our physical bodies because they house the Holy Spirit and are a gift from the Lord. However, God cares far more about how we love and serve than how we work out and what size we wear. He would rather us sit in His presence than anything else in the world.

So, yes, my body is good and so is yours. Our bodies pump thousands of gallons of blood a day. They get a bite of food through a complex system of compartments and valves. They know which things are welcome in the body and which are to be fought off. Our bodies are incredible. Not only that, our bodies are vessels of hope and joy for everyone we come in contact with. They are how we communicate the love of Christ to the lost and hurting. Our bodies are incredible. Our bodies are good.

We have to choose to believe that God made our bodies and He doesn’t make mistakes. He cannot. It’s against His nature, contrary to His character. That thing about your body that you think must be a mistake, it’s not. It’s good.

God made my body fearfully and wonderfully. My body is good. So is yours.

God knows.

College taught me that God knows. He knows all about my heart and soul. He knows all about my body. Nothing gets past Him. He knows what foods I like and what foods work for me. He knows what my unique body needs to function best.

I thought I knew what my body needed. I thought it needed less of everything. I thought restricting types and quantities of foods would be best, but God has shown me otherwise. My body is the Lord’s. He is in control of it, not me. Any action that attempts otherwise is a proud attempt at playing god.

The Lord is in control of all things, including my body. I may have thoughts, but His purposes for it will stand (Proverbs 19:21). My body, along with everyone else’s, is in His capable hands (Job 12:10). Though I want to believe that I know best, I have seen the folly in that. When I played god over my body, I sent it into a deep, dark pit, but when God has control my feet are placed on solid rock. God is in control and He knows best.


What was bad became good. What was fuel became a symbol of God’s love and grace for me. What was a grudgingly accepted gift became an opportunity for fellowship with others. What I believed was a mistake ridden body became a way to love and serve those around me. What I thought would destroy me, actually remade me. What I thought would be a burden carried alone became something shared among many. What began as my greatest fear in college became my greatest freedom. 

 

If you’d like to learn more about foods role in lives, read “A Meal With Jesus” by Tim Chester. I read it my first semester of college and it changed my world. I have no doubt it’ll change yours too.

 

A letter to my brothers…

To my brothers by blood and my brothers in Christ,

You might be wondering right about now, why on earth I’m writing to guys when my blog name is clearly brave GIRL living. But girls aren’t the only ones who need encouragement and truth. Nor are guys the only ones that need to read this article. The reality is we, girls and guys alike, live in the same world and have the same sin and the same Savior. Sin manifests itself differently in everyone, but there are fundamentals that we all need to hear. With that being said, I want to tell you a few things I believe are very important and I hope you listen.

You were made for more.

One little boy I know grows up as we speak wanting nothing more than to be a dad someday, because his five-year-old self sees that as the most honorable of tasks. And you too once had big dreams honor and glory. You grew up believing you would one day fight dragons and save lives. You watched battle scenes on TV and tried to recreate them, to be as fast and courageous as the cowboy and the pirate. You read stories of men who did brave things and saved countries. You heard about people who made discoveries that changed the course of history and you wanted to be like them. You read about great adventures and you dreamed up some of your own. You grew up wanting to be a policeman or firefighter or soldier or cowboy or even president. And you really believed you would be any or all of those things someday, because you believed the truth that you were made for more.

So what happened?

You were made for more than peer pressure and fickle friendships. You were made for more than nights in a bar and mornings with a hangover. You were made for more than cussing and crude jokes. More than your “coolness” factor and your friend group. You were made for more than sex and physical pleasure. More than parties and make out sessions and hookups. You were made for more than lusting for what you cannot or should not have. You were made for more than power and control. More than money and a title to fame. More than the sports you play or the weight you can lift.

You were made for more, because you are more. You are made in the image of the epitome of More. You are not just capable of more, but you were created, hand crafted and set aside for more. But not more money, pleasure and power. No, instead for more Jesus, more of the Holy Spirit, more of your Creator.

You were really made for more courage and kindness. More generosity and gentleness. More patience and perseverance. More respect and faithfulness. More determination to do hard things. You were made for more, but a different kind of more than the world advertises.

We live in a world, where casual sex looks like fun and lust looks like love, but you were made for real love. The all in, no matter the consequences, faithful through thick and thin, Jesus kind of love. The kind of love that fights for what is true, good and beautiful. The real kind of love that is forever and therefore is messy and hard. You were made for more than the typical definition of love, which says love is conditional and based on feeling.You were made for more than that kind of love. You were made for His love.

And yes, I know, His love is not the “cool” kind. It probably won’t win you any points by the world, but it’ll win you the most lasting reward you could dream of.

We live in a world where you are under constant pressure. Girls aren’t the only ones who are trying to be good enough. You feel it too. You feel the pressure to perform, the need to be good-looking and strong and popular and smart and successful and wealthy and accepted. So you drink and you cuss and you party and sleep around and in your vulnerability you take advantage of ours. You seek answers in all the wrong places and all the wrong people. You strive to be enough any way you can, because the world tells you, just like it tells us, that you are not enough as you are. And you eventually get stuck in a rut and feel hopeless and start believing that this is all you were made for.

But the world is the worst kind of wrong about you. 

You were made for more than all of that. When you were little thinking you would fight battles someday, you were right. You are fighting a battle right now. A battle for Christ and the Kingdom to take back what the enemy has stolen. A battle to reclaim your inheritance as a child of God. A battle to reclaim who you are and what you were made for. You’re fighting the real battle. The battle we all fight, men and women, young and old. The battle between the bad guys and the God guys. You were made to fight you just have to decide which team you’re fighting for.

I pray, dear God I pray, you choose the God guy. 

And once you choose the God guy, I pray you choose Him everyday for the rest of your life, because He’s chosen you everyday from the beginning of time. He chose you on the cross and at the resurrection. He declares you a chosen man set aside as His own possession, so that you may proclaim the glory of Him who called you out of darkness, out of the world, into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). The God guy chose you, adopted you as His very own son, and desires you to be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4-5). He has created you like Himself and wants you to walk out of that identity.

Your identity is more.

Your identity is more humility and less pride. More grace and less judgement. More grit and less timidity. More hard Jesus things and less comfort. More friendship and less rivalry. More sacrifice and less self. More Jesus and less world. Your identity is in Jesus. Let that be enough.

Brothers, you were made for more than the world lets on. So get up and fight for the God guy.

Sincerely, your sister in Christ

 

 

 

 

thank you for not being perfect

Perfect daughter, sister, friend. Perfect student, dancer and artist. Perfect body, face, clothes. Perfect christian, perfect life. Altogether perfect. That’s what I thought I needed. Perfection, the unattainable goal, the unspoken expectation.

Perfect so people will like you. Perfect so you can live with yourself. Perfect so God will love you. Perfect. Just be perfect. 

The whispers turn into screams. The desire an expectation. Before you know it the striving has overtaken. Yet you fail at every turn.

Perfect so people will like you. Perfect so people will want to be your friend. Perfect so people will love and accept you. Perfect so guys will like you. Perfect so a team will want you. Perfect so you’ll be successful. Perfect. Just be perfect. 

I saw perfection in people around me. That’s all that was shown, all I had could see. Perfect lives and legs. Perfect scores and successes. But, like most people, I could only see imperfections in myself. I saw that people tend to like people similar to themselves. So I subconsciously decided from a young age that people would only like me if I was perfect like them.

Perfect so you will like yourself. Perfect so you can sleep at night. Perfect so you can stand tall and not cower in shame. Perfect to avoid having to beat yourself up for your many failures. Perfect. Just be perfect.

I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that one could love them self after and despite failure. I couldn’t possibly like myself if I wasn’t pretty and smart and talented and perfect in every way. My self-set expectations  meant to lead me to perfection loomed higher and higher with each passing day. But the more I looked up at them, the faster I fell, the further I failed. I could never live up to myself.

Perfect so God will like you. Perfect so He will choose you and use you. Perfect so He will love you. Perfect. Just be perfect. 

God is perfect. I’m supposed to be like Him. So shouldn’t I be perfect?  Perfectly kind, gracious, joyful and strong. Perfectly patient and loving and put together. That’s what God wants, right? Anything less is a disgrace, a disappointment to Him.

These are thoughts you may have. Lies you may believe. Actually, let’s be real, they’re lies you do believe. But I have some Truth for you. Truth for me. For all of us.

You were not made to be perfect. You were made to glorify God and love Him forever. If you were perfect you would have no need for a perfect Savior. You are not expected to be perfect. God knows that your flesh is strong and you will fail. He knows and that’s why He bestows grace upon you, upon us all. Perfection is not a prerequisite for His love or attention. Our Father loves us in our imperfections. He uses us in them.

Last week, when wrestling with my own perfectionism and my fear and discouragement at my inability to be perfect, my therapist spoke some freeing Truth.

“God doesn’t send perfect people, because perfect people aren’t helpful people. Perfect people are scary people because others can’t relate, can’t understand. Perfect people cause others to stumble, to feel like they’re doing it wrong, they’re not enough. Do you want people to feel that way? No. Of course not. Imperfect is better. Unqualified and imperfect, but empowered and sent is better than perfect.” 

Woah. Amen. Yes. Wow. All the praise hands to that TRUTH. Imperfect is better than perfect.

Look through the Bible. Does God ever use one perfect human? David. Adulterer and murderer. Jonah. Hid from God. Thought he was better than the Ninevites.  Moses. Didn’t believe God could use him. Paul. Persecuted Christians. Esther. Faced fear and doubt. Peter. Proud. Denied Jesus three times. And the list could go on and on. But name one person in the Bible saved by grace and living for the Lord, that was not used. Name one person that was perfect. You can’t, because they are all imperfect. But they were all perfectly used, perfectly loved.

You see God chooses the broken, the failures, the flawed and scarred because those are the people, we are the people, who are needed. We don’t need more synthetic perfection in the world. We need more authentic Jesus-lovers. We don’t need more people who are going to cause others to feel like they’re not good enough. We need more people who will look past each others failures and into eyes and say, “You are magnificent.” More people who will live unashamedly in their imperfections, knowing that Christ made them perfect on the cross. That is what the world needs.

You and I think we want to be perfect. We think that perfection is best. But I’d rather be imperfect in the hands of a perfect God any day.

Loosen your grip on perfection. Lower your expectations. Let your mask fall. Let people in. You’ll find that they’re imperfect just like you.

So thank you for not being perfect. Thank  you for failing and falling down. Thank you for making mistakes and messing up. Thank you for sinning and repenting and asking for forgiveness. Thank you for not being awesome at everything. Thank you for sharing your imperfections and letting others love you despite them. Thank you for having bad days and letting people see those days. Thank you for being imperfect.

old shoes, new shoes

I’ve gone through the routine about a million times. You get your new pair of pointe shoes in the mail. You quickly sew them in study hall or between rehearsals. You don that new pair of perfectly satin pointe shoes and assess how they look on your feet. You then begin the journey to making them ‘just right.’ You might darn the platform or cut the shank and remove the nail or flatten the box or sew down the sides or adjust the drawstring or rough them up with scissors to add friction or hit them on the concrete to reduce noise or a multitude of other techniques to break them in.  Finally, after all of that work, you put them on and jump into class or rehearsal. You wear those new shoes proudly. It’s all fun and dance at first in new shoes. But inevitably the honeymoon phase will end and you’ll realize that those new shoes hurt a lot. They cause blisters and rub that bunion and make your weird fungus hole feel like someone hammered a nail through it. And you realize that you can’t run quietly in these shoes or roll through your box effortlessly or land gently and they aren’t molded perfectly to your feet. You realize all of these things and suddenly NEED to put back on your old, dead pointe shoes. You just really need to. So you pull the dead pointe shoes out of your bag and put back them on, loving how comfortable they are. They mold perfectly to your arch and make you feel much safer, more confidant and comfortable.

I realize that most people don’t have my particular pointe shoe experience, but the same can be said for street shoes. New shoes are clean and shiny, but the reality is they pinch and rub blisters and need to be broken in.

The same goes for eating disorder recovery.

Before you laugh and say “eating disorder recovery is nothing like breaking in a new pair of shoes” hear me out.

About a year and a half or so ago I was sitting in my therapists office relaying some story of how I failed at recovery. I was admitting to some kind of behaviors and bemoaning the fact that I just couldn’t get over this eating disorder completely and crying about how I felt like a failure at recovery. I’d never eat like a normal person. I would always have these little relapses. I was convinced I’d never be better.

That’s when my therapist interjected with her usual wisdom. She’s really good with analogies and in that moment she told me that recovering from an eating disorder is a lot like breaking in a new pair of shoes.

When you commit to recovering and regaining your health, you receive a new pair of shoes. These new pair of shoes are incredibly uncomfortable. You do NOT like the way they look or feel, but you put them on because you need to.  In recovery there are good days and bad days. On the good days, you kind of like the new shoes. After all, food does make one feel physically better even if it’s hard to make yourself eat it. They’re easier to walk confidently in. On the bad days, you really hate the new shoes. They’re rubbing in all the wrong places; you can hardly stand it. Some days you can deal with the rubbing. You reach out for support and admit you’re having a hard time. You remind yourself of truths and keep doing the next right thing. But some days are especially hard. You choose to restrict or use other behaviors. You just can’t deal with the new shoes, so you head to your closet where the old shoes (your eating disorder) are stashed and you make the switch. It feels good at first. It feels right and safe to have those shoes back on. You know exactly how you’ll feel in them, exactly what you can do in them. But the truth is after awhile of wearing the old shoes, you realize that while they’re known and comfortable and the new shoes are unknown and uncomfortable, they aren’t going to be able to get you where you want to go. Those old shoes are so worn out and now that you’ve had the new shoes on they feel less comfortable, more constricting and distressing. You can’t walk long distances in them or, if they’re pointe shoes, dance for hours in them. You can’t run after kids or go for a hike in the old shoes. You can’t go to a dinner party or the movies in them. Once you realize this (it may be hours, weeks or months), you make the switch back to the new shoes and see that although they’re difficult and uncomfortable at times it’s worth it to be able to live life. It’s worth the effort it takes to be able to truly live.

The wisdom I gained from my therapist through this analogy was this and it’s wisdom that applies to everyone, eating disorder or not. I will have hard days. I will have days where the last thing I want to do is choose recovery, choose life and freedom and truth. I will want to put on my old shoes that are cloaked in the lie that they will satisfy and make me feel good enough. I will want to choose temporary control instead of a life time in joyful communion with Christ. And some days, maybe a lot of days, I do choose the old shoes. I choose lies because I let the devil’s voice be louder than my God’s voice. But Jesus Christ saved me and when He did He gave me that brand new pair of shoes. I can never return those shoes. They were a gift without a gift receipt. So even if I choose to put on the old shoes (my old sinful flesh) for a time, my new shoes (my redeemed by the cross self) will still be there when I realize that the old shoes are not as comfortable as I thought.

The encouragement here for you is that whatever your two pair of shoes are, whether it be an eating disorder, body image issues, addiction, promiscuity, racism, anger, anxiety, etc., you can not lose your new shoes. You might choose to walk in the old shoes, your old fleshly habits, but Christ is always waiting with grace, forgiveness and those new shoes when you realize that the old shoes aren’t as great as you remember. 

That’s the truth. Our old sinful habits always seem fun and fulfilling, but they aren’t. They never were and never will be. We just can’t see this truth until we’ve experienced the grace and comfort of Christ our Lord. 

So if you’re wearing your old shoes, remember that those shoes will not be as comfortable because now, through your salvation, you’ve experienced new shoes and you can never go back. If you don’t have new shoes yet, ask. Jesus is the best shoemaker in all the universe and He really wants to give you a pair, but you have to ask for them. And lastly, if you’re wearing your new shoes, be brave and keep walking in them. I promise they’re the best shoes you’ll ever own and they have a lifetime warranty, free of charge!