Wednesday, October 29, 2008

To Conceal or To Be Real

Let's continue with Lisa as we look at the cosmetics for the soul in chapter six and then the feelings we conceal in chapter seven.

Lisa says "we have become experts at concealing things that we feel need to keep hidden; otherwise, we fear we may not be accepted or loved...concealment of our souls robs us of meaningful interactions with people."

You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:16

It's not whether we can conceal or what we can conceal. It boils down to that God doesn't want us to conceal but rather to be real. It starts with being real with ourselves and God, then with others.

I will uncover his hiding places, so that he cannot conceal himself. Jeremiah 49:10

I have experienced real identity theft through my credit report but I've also experienced emotional identity theft. Lisa says "we are losing our identities in the form of our souls." In my marriage, I was held captive by my emotions, satan, and pain. I didn't even know it was happening. Just like Lisa says, it snuck up on me. "We are a day late and a dollar short...full of regret and excuses." (But God has the right change and He's never late so He can more than make up in what we are short.) My heart was hardened and my true emotional state was stolen. Satan deceived. Satan stole. It wouldn't be fair to put all the blame and responsibility on the evil one. I chose to listen to his lies and fall trapped to his deceit but it snuck up on me. I never woke up one day and said, okay satan I see it your way. I didn't even know it was satan playing with me and deceiving me. He's now doing that exact same thing to someone else and this person doesn't know it either. That's satan's power...he's sneaky. A person being deceived by satan does not know he's being deceived!!! That's when God's power comes in, takes over, and removes the blindness caused by the enemy's deceit.

The greatest deceiver himself, satan, has an influence on our big cover up. He is the first to tell us we need to conceal our heart and soul. He speaks to us every reason why we must hide ourselves. Satan is waiting for us to fall into his trap of deceit. As if our self-esteem and self worth is not low enough on our own, satan likes to reinforce that. I hear his lies to me but it takes God's love and His Truth to overpower those lies. "You are not good enough, Paula. You could never be what you dream, Paula. You are not loveable, Paula. You are not worthy, Paula. You have messed up too much, Paula. How will you ever make it right, Paula?"

Society also encourages us to stay hidden. It provides products and services that only aid in the cover up but not to attack the source of the problems nor be real with God and others. Why is society so ready and willing to jump at the chance to aid in our concealment? Because, society is also the one who tells us we must be perfect....emotionally, financially, relationally, spiritually. Oh no, not spiritually because society is not the least concerned with spiritual concerns. So, because we must be perfect, and we are not, then we enter this vicious cycle of concealing.

There's a self help book for every issue. Self-help indicates we can help ourselves with no need of God. Instead, God should be our primary focus and source for help. There is always someone ready and available to diagnose and provide the great and mighty solution. The truth is only God can do that.

Our personal choices also influence what we conceal. My personal choices have reinforced my failures. My biggest and most regrettable mistakes reign in my heart. Those choices make me want to crawl into a hole. Those choices make me wonder how my wrongs will ever be made right. I want to hide my choices because of my shame. Yet, I know I'm forgiven by Christ so others should not judge me nor even those offended by me should withhold forgiveness. But we are human, so I fear I will never be able to live beyond those terrible choices.

Lisa says "our disappointment has caused us to be increasingly displeased with our current situation, and therefore we feel as if we've gotten the short end of the stick in life. Everyone else's journey seems smoother, more exciting, and enviably fulfilling." (Emphasis added.) Beside her words, I wrote this: ding, ding, ding. It seems when we find ourselves in this state, we can literally see something better, smoother, and joyful in every other person's life no matter what their circumstances. As pathetic as it is and horrific as it sounds, I'm going to be real and honest. Real honest. I've even been able to rationalize in my mind how someone with cancer or a debilitating illness has it better than me. At the beginning of my painful journey, I said I'd rather be so-and-so who has cancer but she has the love of her life with her, her beloved husband, her true love (from a human, that is). That is so wrong and sounds sick that I'd trade my situation with a woman who has an illness but has her husband.

O soul thirsts for a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1
Lisa is so right when she says "God is always merciful and just, even when He gets really ticked off sometimes with the way we act." Now, ain't that the cotton-pickin' truth. I'm sure the Lord has wanted to ring my neck. I'm sure He's wanted to say "I told you so. I warned you. You didn't listen." But, He has not done that. He has been nothing but loving, forgiving, and merciful. How would I be? How am I? Am I merciful and just when I'm mad and ticked off. Nope, I don't measure up as well. God is showing me how to react more like Him.

So what are we concealing? Lisa addresses the four feelings we conceal: insecurity, jealousy, loneliness, and fear.

Lisa says "We usually do our best to conceal the truth from others. Why? Because of our feelings, we try to conceal these things from others in order to hide what is painful to admit even to ourselves." Oh, how I know exactly what she is saying. I've been there. I couldn't admit to myself the pain I now see had been driving me for two years. I guess it's fair to say, to a degree, I still hide some of these four feelings at times. Although, through this trial in the last year and a half, I've openly admitted these feelings. I've told several blog friends that I envy their marriages and the devotion of their husbands. I openly admit I'm lonely and long for love only found in a marital relationship. I've spoken briefly about my insecurities and struggles with low self-esteem at times. Fears, they are there also and have been admitted to others at times.

Insecurity. I believe insecurity comes from satan. We are secure in Christ if we are believers so He will not make us feel insecure. Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and uncertainty are all the tools satan uses to convince us further of lies about ourselves. Those lies in turn, we must fight to conceal. Satan tells us we are insecure but we don't want to be insecure so we conceal that we are insecure so we don't have to admit we are insecure because we don't want others to know we might have insecurities. On and on and on we go. Boy, I can sure relate to Lisa's statement of causing "us to feel as though we are not as good as the next girl." Oh sister, have I been there. Insecurity can lead to something even more dangerous. What?

Jealousy. With jealousy we talk about friendships. I so hate to say it but I do agree when Lisa says "the reality is that adult females can be more dramatic than any teenage grudge or petty argument." Teens do get over "the issue" a lot quicker than adult women. I've experienced so much hurt from female friends, more than I ever thought possible. I never knew the reality of Lisa's statement until the last couple years. She goes on to say "true friendships are often very difficult to find and much more difficult to actually keep." Wow. Lisa, that hurts. That's scary. That's sad. Tell me it's not so. I've always said I wish I had a sister because then I would have a friend for life because even in fights we'd have to eventually make up. A sister would never abandon me, right? I'm sure many women have experienced estrangement from sisters but in my head, that's why I always wished for a sister, an instant BFF (best friend forever). Jonathan and David give us a wonderful example of friendship in 1 Samuel 18:1-4. What did they have that we may not? They were committed to God, they "let" nothing come between them, trials drew them together not apart and they were the very end. aha. I desire to follow their extraordinary example. Let's commit to doing it their way.

Loneliness. Is it possible to be in a crowd full of people, even family and loved ones, and still be lonely? Oh yes. I don't mean in a concert crowd. I mean in a crowd of those we love the most, those who are dear and special to us, we can still feel such deep loneliness. I'm guessing many people will feel intense loneliness with the upcoming holidays. I dread them this year. For some reason, this year will be worse than last year or least it feels that way right now. I'm always open for God knocking my socks off and surprising me with supernatural peace during these months. I love how Lisa says "loneliness may make the loudest noise, but it can't hinder the mighty arms of God from reaching down and picking up a broken soul who's all alone in the middle of a lonely night." I have discovered that for His arms to do this, at times we have to be committed to looking for Him and His arms before we can receive that comfort. In the depths of my pain, I have missed His presence at time because of the overwhelming pain.

Fear. I think this feeling is the feeling that brought up the least amount of emotions for me. Yes, I have fears. Physical fears of one said creature who has no legs and slivers. Eek. I have emotional fears of desires possibly not brought to life. I have fears of loved ones not receiving Jesus. I equate fears to worry. If we fear something we are really just worrying about it. Lisa put it beautifully: "God recognizes that as finite humans, we fear things we shouldn't. But He has compassion on us because He knows we do anyway." How beautiful is that? He has compassion on us anyway. Anyway!

Let me close this novel (ha) with Lisa's last words. "Whether we are feeling insecure, jealous, lonely, or afraid, our precious Father desires to hold us and tell us we are worthy, important, gifted, never alone, and never to fear. He longs to uncover these feelings we hide so that we can find out who we are, once and for all...without all the concealer." (Emphasis added.)

If you'd like to see what others have to say, visit

Being Uncovered,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spirituality: Performance or Condition

Is spirituality about a condition or about the performance? It's easy to "feel"--or rather appear--spiritual when we check off all those items (attributes) from our list. Attending church and Sunday School. Volunteering. Listening to Christian music. Wearing the Christian button. Praying for missionaries. Going overseas for missions. Giving money. The list goes. From chapter five of her book, Behind Those Eyes, Lisa says: "The point is not that Ms. Spirituality does these things, rather, why she does these things."

Do we mark our spirituality by our actions performed or our heart's condition? The world views spirituality from outside the heart and from what is seen in action. But, true spirituality cannot be "seen". Rather, it is revealed from what bursts forth from the heart. Lisa puts it beautifully: "The problem comes when our performance of these characteristics takes precedence over the actual condition of our hearts." This can be a very dangerous playground. We can get so consumed by doing this, that, and the other. Doing is fine but we must always focus on our being...what is at the heart of our being, what is the purpose of our being? Is it to do or to be? I want to be a Christian at heart and not do the Christian art.

I found it such a revelation that many times what was considered spiritual by the human eyes, Jesus Himself rebuked. Woah. That makes me want to really see what Jesus views as spiritual. I'm out to be pleasing to His eyes and not any human eyes.

So, what does society and the human eye say is spiritual? I've never liked that word. I don't really like to define or describe someone as spiritual. Is Sall-e Q a spiritual person? If she worships Buddha, isn't she spiritual? To be spiritual by the world's standards would mean to believe in the spirit world and a higher power...a door knob if you wish. To define true spirituality is to describe it in terms of a relationship with Christ...serving Him out of the mere act of serving and loving Him with no outward benefit from others.

So should we expect that we can become spiritual just by claiming Jesus as Savior? Well, it does take some "spiritual muscle". I love how James says it. Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 There has to be some walk behind the talk. Some doing behind the reading. Some giving (do) behind the receiving (read). We have to read and meditate on the Word. Do the basics but interpret the specifics for our lives by deep meditation. We are not all called to be missionaries. We are not all called to be worship leaders. We are not all called to be writers or organizers. To do that which we are not called, is to do that which is on the check off list. We are to do what He has called us to do collectively (loving, forgiving, serving, tithing, etc.) and then also individually called to do (preach, write, lead worship, missionaries).

The attributes of Ms. Spirituality aren't the goal but the means by which to reach the goal...true devotion to Christ. When we do all those items on our spirituality checklist, we are not being spiritual but with the right motives we will grow into the condition of spirituality. It won't be about the most we can check off for the sake of doing but rather it will just be the outpouring of our heart to serve, honor, and love Jesus. We must examine spirituality from a different angle. Lisa says: "She is looking at the ritualistic side of her faith, rather than the tangible expression of a deeply rooted love for God."

Lisa touched something in me when she spoke of how Moses was apprehensive and scared to do what God asked with leading the Israelites to the Promises Land. She says: "Though he trusted God, his flesh continued to pull him back to unbelief." Oh my, that is me. I can feel the conviction of God to believe in His power to heal and restore, to do the unthinkable, unlikely, and impossible things in my life. Yet, my flesh, says "How is it possible? What if this? What if that?" Those ugly, ugly doubts that make God work more to convince me of His truths. Moses conquered his fears and doubts and "...his desire to please God superseded his fears..."

If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully. Exodus 33:13 NLT

Listen to this. I love what Lisa says here: "Moses trusted God, but because of his insecurity in his own abilities, he was in need of reassurance from Him. Like a wise counselor, the Lord knew exactly what Moses needed to hear." That is so me. Sometimes I wonder if I've misread Him. I feel insecure in my ability to hear Him and to know His specific words spoken to my heart for my life. I need His reassurance. I keep coming back to the same convictions and beliefs about aspects of my life and what He's asking of me. So in that, I'm trusting--hoping--that to be God's reassurance. Is it possible to need reassurance for the reassurance He gives us? How many times can we re-ceive re-assurance on top of re-assurance?

Lisa mentioned the story of the bleeding woman from Luke 8:42-48. Oh, how I love this story for several reasons. I have referenced her faith in action and Jesus' response so many times in the last 16 months. Now, Lisa draws attention to her, asking why it was important for this woman to expose her vulnerabilities to Jesus and others. True healing comes from being vulnerable. The woman presented herself before the Lord, vulnerable and desperate for this condition that was perceived very unfavorably. She was revealing her "dirty" self and the shame she felt. She let go of her reputation and showed herself to the Almighty One who held the power she so desperately wanted and needed. And indeed, she received. Her faith healed her. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." Luke 8:48 I'm so glad she allowed herself to be vulnerable as I gleam so much truth and encouragement from this story of her exchanging her reputation and her condition for healing and power from Jesus.

This woman was spiritually transparent. She laid her soul before the Lord. Spiritual transparency freed her. It will free us. It allows us to be real with others and others to then be real with us. Nothing lasting comes from anything fake or less than genuine. Impersonating spirituality without embodying it is dangerous to our heart and spirit. Over time we could come to believe the impersonation and therefore no longer see our need for Christ. To impersonate spirituality also closes the door of opportunity to truly attain it (while still impersonating). We must remove the skin of impersonation before we can savor the fruit. (Think of a banana or orange. For some it may be as easy as peeling the banana for some it it takes more work like an orange or even more difficult like a delicious mango.) If we are pretending to be spiritual then there is no opportunity to learn what real spirituality is and to learn to grow into it. In addition, everyone (including ourselves) will think we've already attained that level of spirituality and therefore overlook us for that encounter to grow.

"Though we seek it, our lack of spiritual perfection may be the best thing in the world for us since it reminds us that we are absolutely nothing without Christ." I just love this statement of Lisa's. Isn't that just like our Lord that He once again uses our imperfection, even spiritual imperfection, for our good and His glory? What is better than a deepened reliance and dependency on Jesus? We are nothing without Him. We have nothing without Him. We can do nothing without Him. Praise Jesus He doesn't require or even ask us to be spiritually perfect.

May Lisa's final words in this chapter penetrate your heart like it did mine...or maybe I should say pricked my heart as it stung a little. "True spirituality is about the awesome power of God showing up in a person's life to the point that people around her notice a difference." Yes, indeed, a truly spiritual person exudes the Spirit of God. To be so is to exemplify all that God is within us. To be spiritual is to be of God. To look into the face of a truly spiritual person is to look into the face of God. I can assuredly say that to look into my face is to truly look into the face of God. I can only hope it will continue to grow me into that.

Lord, I want to trade my spiritual button for the overflow of Your presence spewing out of me. I want to have a heart conditioned for You and not a performance portrayed for others. Peel away any layers looking to trained thoughts of performance instead of looking solely to You.

Are you trading your reputation for repentance? Repentance means true freedom. Reputation means confinement to the perceptions of others...mere humans. May God always bring us to our knees placing our repentance on top of our reputation.

Won't you throw off your Christian t-shirt, and go with me to the Throne of Jesus?
Let us shed our spiritual coat and put on the armor of God.

Loving my Lord,

Check out Lelia's blog to see insights of others.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Angry at God?

Can we be angry at God?

It happens from time to time, from season to season. If we are honest, we've all experienced it. It happens. Even if we don't think it in our minds. Even if we don't feel it in our hearts. Even if we don't utter it from our lips. So, if it's there, why don't we simply express it? God already knows way before the thought is even close to formulated.

It happened to Jonah.

Jonah was angry at the Lord's compassion. But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, "O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live." But the Lord replied, "Have you any right to be angry?" Jonah 4:1-4

Simply answered, I say no, I do not have a right to be angry. still happened to me.

Part of the trial I've been enduring the last almost 16 months is maintaining my home by myself while trying to sell it. I truly have a love-hate relationship with push mowing and weeding my yard. The yard with lots of trees, lots of flowers, two ponds, hills, dips, and bumps. I say I don't mind and I don't think I do for the most part. I listen to God's music and try to make it a time of worship, reflection, and prayer.

However, on two distinct occasions that has not been the result. Instead, mowing the yard has stirred up angry feelings about being left to maintain this yard and home by myself. Those feelings led to other intense feelings that come from the emotions of abandonment and rejection.

I've long since repented and turned from any actions that would've caused this rejection and abandonment; therefore, leaving me with the thoughts of why am I still seemingly being "punished". I'm not being punished by God but it can feel that way when I don't see Him rectifying and restoring upon my repentance.

In the past months I've wondered why God hasn't done something as simple as selling my house. I realize that my prayer to restore is much larger, involves others, and will need time and cooperation of His children. However, why can't part of my life just "go on" by selling my house?

So, in the midst of my anger toward those who've abandon me (one in a great way, others in lesser ways), I began to question the ultimate --"God why have You forsake me? Why aren't You doing anything in these two areas of my life? Why won't You simply sell my house and provide a fresh start for now?"

This conversation continued. Going back and forth from being directed at God to being directed at others in my life (or rather not in my life currently). It climaxed with words never uttered, words that break my heart, words that spear my soul, and words that fill my spirit with regret.

"I'm angry at You, God."

Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people. Isaiah 64:9

I've since said I'm sorry more times than I can count. I have felt His forgiveness and understanding while still filled with remorse. My Lord has shown me so much compassion. That evening after this intense emotional release and sobbing fit, my Lord sent me a reminder of His fourth fruit: patience. Who else sent it to me but my realtor whom I also consider a friend since our now 16-month business relationship.

What a timely message from my Abba Father reminding me He is here and for me to wait on Him.

The Lord is good to those who wait on Him, to the soul who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25

As I prepared for church I asked the Lord to give me a heart of worship especially since my heart had been hard, hurt and heavy towards Him the night prior. Tired of listening to the religious program on tv, I switched the station only to have my ears welcomed to one of my favorite worship songs, of which I've forgotten the name. Oh, how that song filled my heart.

Though the sermon at church was titled "Why Now?" and spoke of the reasons for our new building campaign beginning now, I again found the message from God timely and personal. Pastor spoke about God's timing and it refreshed my mind of how pivotal God's timing is in my life. He is trustworthy and His timing is trustworthy.

Speaking of trust, I think it is only poignant to end with my life verse

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Trusting Him and His Timing,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Illlusion of Happiness

Illusion is defined as "an erroneous mental representation".

Continue with us as we look at Ms. Happiness in the study of
Behind Those Eyes. Hold on tight as we look at what some see as the holy grail: happiness. As always, I'm writing this before ever looking at anyone else's post from our study with with Lelia. I'm probably out in left field as I tend to view things in such different ways than others. Is there a chapter on Ms. Uniqueness? ha

Ironically enough as Lisa mentioned, our standards for happiness aren't really that high. Some of the simplest and smallest things can truly make us happy. Why? For the most part, we want even the simple things to go smoothly. We enjoy the simple rewards. Getting through a green light. Having the trash taken out. No back talk from the children. Cooking dinner without any burning the food.

Lisa talked about how we want to seek the source. I had to laugh as she is right. We look for the source of a rotten smell in the garage. We look for the source of a large bang outside our door. We look for the source of a cell phone ringing in church! She says: Our natural tendency is to look for the source of things to satisfy our curiosity and to help us gain a better understanding of our current situation. Oh is that ever true of me. For one, I am a very curious person and I like to know why things are the way they are.

The same is true when we are seeking happiness. We can look to different sources at different times in our life to find happiness. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but unfortunately, it will never happen. Lisa says: She [Ms. Happiness] is the outward personification of a jovial girl, even thought she is still searching for its inward source. Though able to act happy, since she has never truly found the root of happiness , she is forced to continue looking for it in places it will likely never appear.

There is such value in digging to find the source of joy. Joy is a priceless, precious treasure. It's a rarity and to find the source is to find the pot of gold. It is important to find the real source because until we do, we'll continue to search in the wrong places, consuming our energy, and wasting our time. We will fill our lives with all the wrong things that won't only not bring us joy but can bring us harm.

Do you agree it is our hypocrisy and self-focus that drains us?
Absolutely. Focusing on ourselves is very draining. It is better to give than to receive. That is so true. We can feel so good when we are focused on doing for others and on the needs of others. It is liberating. To focus on our needs and fulfilling our desires just drains the life out of us. Our desires will never be satisfied. It is an endless pit. I believe God made it and us that way for a reason. That is, He made the end result of focusing on ourselves as never satisfying and negative and the experience of focusing on others as positive and fulfilling. Lisa says: We will never be fulfilled when our focus is constantly on us. Often, the more we invest in ourselves, the emptier we feel. The more time you spend thinking about you, the less satisfied you are with yourself or anything else.

Is there a correlation between the lavish lifestyles in the United States versus less fortunate countries regarding happiness? As a whole I believe those in less fortunate countries are much happier. They learn to live with little so they appreciate so much more. To have more is to want more. I have not seen a country like the U.S. so spoiled with so much...too much. There is too much available in this country. To be consumed and lavished with so much has stripped us of the simple pleasures of life. We are too dependent on simple things such as electricity, cable, water, heat, lights, etc. Trust me...I like me some electricity but the recent outage from Ike just showed the deep dependency of it.

Is what you see is truly what you get in regards to Ms. Happiness?
No, it is not. Happiness is not the goal. It should not be the motivator. Happiness is not all that it's cracked up to be. It comes and goes depending on our circumstances. We can be happy at work and miserable at home. We can be happy at church and unhappy at choir. We can be happy at Susie's recital and unhappy at Bobby's game.

Is what others see in me truly what they are getting when they really get to know me? I believe so. What I say, feel, believe--my heart content--is real. Do I at times pretend to be happy and more okay with my life than I am? Yes. Because it is what's needed...what others need. People do not want to be around an unhappy person all the time. Lisa says: Could it be that like Ms. Happiness, we act happy on the outside to please others, silently leaving us to hurt on the inside? Amen, sister. However, if someone takes the time to really get to know me, then I am upfront and honest about my life and the level of happiness in my life. I have never been one to be able to fake perkiness. If I'm jolly, perky, happy, and laughing then it is real. It is real happiness if only for those 2.2 seconds. I've never felt that I falsely put on Ms. Happiness' face but rather at times I do hide Ms. Unhappiness' sad face.

Solomon's struggles are highlighted in Ecclesiastes 2. It is packed with truth. Chasing pleasures and wisdom are meaningless like folly and toil. Solomon tried so many things: wine, folly, projects, gardens, slaves, animals, silver, gold, singers. Do you think he found satisfaction or happiness upon seeking each of those? No. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure...yet, when I surveyed all my hands had done and what I toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after wind. Ecc. 2:10-11 Just as we can chase the wind and never catch it, we can seek happiness and never truly obtain it.

Let me try to explain what some might perceive as doom and gloom negative talk about happiness.

I will never forgot a sermon given earlier this year in which my pastor announced: "I am not a happily married man." Ugh. Everyone gasps inside. "To be happily married means circumstances happen to be happy in my marriage...rather I am a joyfully married man." Whew. This along with what he said following stuck with me. God is not concerned with our happiness but rather our joy. He wants us to be filled with joy and could careless if we are happy.

I have since given up on my quest for happiness. I do not believe it is truly something obtainable and definitely not for extended periods of time. Maybe this is my state of mind in this season of my life but I don't have a concern for happiness any longer. Happiness comes and goes. Rather, I desire to have a purposeful and positive life regardless if my circumstances happen to be happy. Along with that purpose and positivity, I desire peace and joy. Lisa's challenge question was a challenge to find strength to post the honest answer. After all, I am a child of God, the lover of my soul. Do I have true joy? If not, what is standing in my way?

To be honest, I would have to say no. Either I'm looking for a "feeling" of joy or I just don't know how joy should appear. I just know it doesn't "feel" as thought I am joy-filled.

Circumstances will come and go. There will be bad. There will be good. Some moments will be filled with happiness. However, instead of spinning my wheels and chasing the wind to be happy, I desire to be filled with His joy.

To have joy is to have disregard for our circumstances.
Joy comes regardless of life's situations.

All this I know to be true. So, why do I still "feel" as though I do not have joy? I can only surmise that the deep pain of my life and current trials are filling the spots that God desires reserved for His joy. I anticipate that when my pain lessens and my healing increases, then that spot reserved for joy will be filled with its rightful fruit. Some may say that I should have joy amidst my pain. That very likely is true. Don't get me wrong, I do have bits and pieces of it. I do have joy in knowing there is a purpose in my pain. However, I would not feel right holding back some honesty in this study that is intended to get behind my eyes. If I could do a quick 1-2-3 to "feel" that consistent joy, peace, and contentment I'm suppose to have, I'd already be on 4-5-6 to get it.

I believe with a continued pursuit of Christ and in time, it will come. He will fill my heart with peace and joy as He releases my pain and weeds out more and more of my hurts. I pray He does because they are two fruits of His Spirit that I desire to dwell in my spirit (Galatians 5:22)

Of the five joy scriptures Lisa gave us, this one relates best to my life as it is now. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

I leave you with one last quote from Lisa. The true and lasting source of our happiness comes from the joy that fills our hearts and overflows into the paths of those around us. When we go to the real Source of joy, we find the answers we need to secure our contentment in life forever.

In Pursuit of Joy (not happiness),

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Confident Confidence

What do you think of when I say "confidence"? Do you know some who display genuine confidence and some that are not so genuine, or rather portrayed? Confident confidence, if there is such a thing beyond the Dictionary of Paula, could be genuine confidence...being confident in your confidence.

Through the study of Behind Those Eyes, I'm coming to realize I have mixed emotions when pondering this word of confidence, what it means to others, in society, and to me. Chapter three in this online study with Lelia is called Ms. Confidence.

The first scripture that came to mind during this reading nd repeated itself in my head is 1 John 5:14-15. I remember memorizing this some years ago in a some Bible study but boy has it stayed with me. It also goes along with the residing theme in my life the last 15 months....asking, believing, receiving. It's a bit of a tongue twister but meditate on this a bit. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.
I find it odd that this scripture came to mind, considering the context of this chapter is not in that direction. I guess I will take that as the Almighty Father speaking to me OR maybe one of YOU need those verses.

I was looking up scripture and another verse "popped" of the page. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13. Wow. Maybe this is a personal message to me (and most likely one of you)...a message of reassurance of His goodness that will prevail in my life and situation...and YOURS. Of course this verse just happens to precede a favorite of mine. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 I just love scriptures that remind me to wait as I am in a long season of waiting amidst the pain.

So, let's look at some of those brain-churnin' questions Lisa asks us. What does having confidence mean to me? Well, I thought I knew until I read this chapter and saw a different view of it. Having confidence to me is seemingly different than what this chapter has explained. Or rather, this chapter properly defined confidence. However, the confidence I desire is not one that is concerned with the outward appearance by others. I don't particularly care if a person "sees" me as confident but rather I desire to "feel" confident within my looks, appearance/clothes, purpose, skills, ability to perform, do a good job, share my thoughts, speak up for what's right, about my relationships, etc. I want to look good for me. I want to excel at work for me. I want to live with purpose for me. I want to be kind to others for me. Does this make a lick of sense? I guess because at times I feel my self-esteem is so low that I am just concerned with raising my own view of myself. I am my own worse critic.

Is there a difference between true confidence and impersonated confidence? Absolutely. True confidence, or as I've labeled it--confident confidence--is being sure of oneself. Someone who has assurance of who he/she is. Impersonated confidence is just a huge mask for insecurity. They are total opposites. One is secure and one is insecure. Of course, as Christians, our assurance and confidence must come from God but we can also feel secure in ourselves, in our skin, in our abilities (provide by God).

To what degree does fear of rejection play into Ms. Confidence's role-playing? I guess fear of rejection could be a significant part of Ms. Confidence. Since I don't aspire to be confident for the benefit of others--that is to mold their opinion of me--then I'm unsure. I don't recall ever portraying confidence because of fearing rejection. But after I read the other blogs, maybe it will jar my memory.

Lisa challenged us to give our own new definitions of six words. At first, I struggled with this. Then with each word, it seemed a scripture or part of scripture came to mind and thus a "definition" followed.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I am fearless because He gives me no reason to fear.

The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Psalm 28:7a
I am strong by His strength.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16b
I am empowered by prayer.

My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Psalm 62:7
I am independent IN Christ alone; outside of Christ I am dependent on Him.

Emotionally Healthy
But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness...Matthew 6:33
I am emotionally healthy when I put Him first and above all else.

In his heart a man plans his course, but God determines his steps. Prov. 16:9
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

I am accomplished when His plans, and not mine, are fulfilled in my life.

The B.Y.E (Behind Your Eyes) questions...
Do I believe I really need only God?
Yes, I do. We really do only need God. Do I struggle with this? Yes, because I desire other people in my life and certain relationships, whether it be spousal, children, girlfriends, family. As women, I think we all desire deep relationships with other women. Most women probably desire a husband and kids. So, I desire to have these relationships but I know now that I don't NEED them. In the human heart, at least for me, it can be difficult to draw the line between desire and need when in comes to certain relationships. I have lived my life feeling I needed others to survive to the point of feeling I'd die without another person. God has proven me extremely wrong. I think until we believe God is all we need, God may shut down, remove, or alter some relationships until we receive the revelation that He r.e.a.l.l.y. IS a.l.l. we need.

Has the fact that I really need only God been tested in my life? Are you kidding, Lisa? That would be a resounding y.e.s.! When my marriage failed and the one believed (still) to be my divine other-half was gone, I didn't know if I could survive. I remember those times of losing my breath, sleepless nights, panic feelings, anxiety, indescribable emotions that I never want to experience in that intensity again. I didn't know how I'd live without this great love God had finally provided me after six long years of waiting. However, God has shown me His love is greater and can sustain the absence of human love, no matter how great, deep, and divine that human love. I am still not absent of deep pain and hopeful desires but neither am I of His love and sufficiency.

The final challenge question didn't seem to be a challenge for me so now I'm wondering "did I get the right answer?"

Is is hard to admit my vulnerabilities in general and to God? Oddly enough, no. I definitely have no problem admitting them to God. For goodness sake, if I don't who will help me? I tell Him in faith that He will make up where I fall weak. Yes, I can admit my vulnerabilities to others also. Through this trial of mine, I have been pretty open on an individual level. I think I've been vulnerable by making certain statements in this post. Though I'm reserved on this open format of a blog, I trust the Lord to use my openness privately, even if I'm too open at times. He is my protector and will shield me from those moments of giving too much of myself.

Confident in Him,

Monday, October 6, 2008

Laced With Grace

You can find me here today.
Any comments left there will be forwarded to me.
His Sweet Blessings to You!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

CWO: Internet Cafe Devotion

You can find me here today. Any comments left there will be forwarded to me.

If you haven't yet read my post about Ms. Perfection from our online study of Behind Those Eyes, see the post below.

Even if you are not studying with us, please read it and feel free to comment.

His Sweet Blessings to You!