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Archive for January, 2012

Squeezed my car into a parking space about a block away from the coffee shop. No time to think. Running late. Trying not to attract too much attention as I hurried through the crowds that were leisurely walking down the street that evening.

I burst through the door, and saw they were already there. Sitting at a round table and sipping their coffee. The three women who had agreed to meet with me. They had no idea what I would be sharing with them that night . . . And neither did I. I had no speech planned. No “once upon a time ” story to tell. My only thought was to be factual, not emotional.

I plunged right in. I don’t remember now where I started, ended or what I said in between. I do remember that I was able to be factual, but not without tears streaming down my face. So out of character for me . . . having no control over the anxiety, the broken-ness and the exhaustion that overcame me, and having no choice but to just let the tears fall.

From start to finish, my audience just listened without a single interruption. By the expression on their faces, I had no idea what they were thinking. All I knew was that this was a divine appointment. One that the authentic ME could have never attended any earlier than that night.

When I finished speaking, their responses were all uniquely their own, but each echoing the same sentiments. Surprise? – yes. Support? – yes Strength? – yes. But judgement? – no.

I cannot say that I felt an immediate burden lifting off my shoulders. Truthfully, I was even more scared than before. Asking myself, “What have I done?!” . . . “What if my husband finds out?!” . . . And the inevitable, “Now what?!” . . .

The realization then came to me that, “from now on, I would not choose a course of action because it would ‘change’ my husband or teach him a lesson, but because it was the right thing to do for me . . . for the person I aspire to become.” (G. Pera) And I now had people in my life to keep me accountable to that goal.

Philippians 1:20 For I now live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ as I have been in the past and that my life will always honor Christ whether I live or whether I die.

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Isolation.

Sometimes where I choose to be, sometimes where I find myself without intention.

“I’ve been brought to a place in my journey where I couldn’t go any further without help from others. I’d taken all the steps I could take on my own.” (Thin Places – a deeper story)

. . . Sunday school was about to begin, and as much as I didn’t want to say the words, I knew I had to.

“B, when you have a few minutes, can I talk to you?” I asked.

“Of course, let’s meet up after Sunday school,” was her reply.

My heart was in my stomach and I had no idea how I would begin my story, but I knew it was time to end the isolation that I was living in . . .

“O the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the ungodly or stand around with sinners or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about His law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither and in all they do, they prosper.”

Psalms 1 had been repeating in my head for several weeks and my heart was finally convinced that God wanted me to take off the mask I wore like a second skin and be authentic. He was not asking me to reveal to the world all the issues of my heart, but to find a group of women (three women, to be exact) to be my “Godly counsel”. To keep me accountable for my behavior, pray with me, for me, for my marriage, and my family.

Three women who were not necessarily my best friends, but women who were prayer warriors, women who had spiritual maturity, women who had the emotional availability I needed, and women who were discrete.

Even though I knew what characteristics these women should have, I was clueless as to who they would be.

So I prayed.

And God was faithful.

I approached each woman separately, one in person and two via e-mail. This is what I said:

” . . . You have been in my thoughts and I want to ask you a favor – something to think about . . .”

“I have been going through ¬†difficulties for some time now, and I feel it is time to ask for help.”

“I have felt led to ask 3 Christian women to be my ‘Godly counsel’. Women with whom I can be completely transparent. I’m not looking for women who have all the answers, but who can listen, pray with me, encourage me, and hold me accountable to God honoring responses to the challenges I am facing.”

“I would like to ask if you would consider being a part of this group. I know you are a woman of spiritual maturity, common sense and discretion, but I also realize that you might not be available during this season of life. So I will completely understand if this is not something you feel you can commit to.”

“Please do not feel rushed to make a decision . . . “

It took so much humility for me to approach these women, but it was God’s faithfulness and their responses which truly left me humbled. With love and without any hesitation or judgment, each woman agreed.

“The spirit of Christ will rise up in others when we need it the most. He never intended us to deal with our sorrows alone.” (author unknown)

(to be continued)

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Sitting in the pew during another Sunday morning service. The sun is shining through the glass windows, the music ushering in an environment of worship, the pastor beginning his sermon in a voice that commands attention . . . but I am distracted. Looking around and wondering, “What would they think if they KNEW?”

Looking at myself and my family all in our “Sunday best”, and feeling shame as I admit, “I am so fake.”

Lost in my own thoughts, God begins whispering to my heart. Thoughts that I know are not my own, gently challenge me.

Telling me its OK to be authentic and to let go of my exhausting fascade.

Pointing out it is not only “on the other side of my trial” that I can be a testimony. .

And in my usual ME manner . . . I question Him.

Asking, “How do I be authentic to what I am feeling, but not be controlled by those feelings?”

I am scared . . . of so many things.

He answers my question with His own question and in that “still, small voice” asks me, “How can you be a testimony if you are not authentic?

“How can your life and experiences ‘count’ if you can’t be honest with what is going on?”

There is healing and humility in authenticity.”

Trust Me.”

“I will bring you through.”

“Let. Me. Be. Your. God.”

Antonym of Authenticity ~ Hypocrite. One who bases their actions on external pressures – the pressure to be a certain kind of person, the pressure to adopt a certain mode of living, the pressure to ignore one’s true self. One who ignores crucial facts about their own life in order to avoid uncomfortable truths. (Wikipedia)

Lord, help me
Live without pretending
Love without depending
Listen without defending
Speak without offending

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