Archive for the ‘overcoming’ Category

I witnessed one of the most scary, yet intriguing trends being brought up in adolescent America while I was in high school. I wasn’t just a witness to it, I was also hugely involved in it. It had the ability to tear friendships apart, to break the hearts of parents and make them wonder if they weren’t good enough while raising they’re child, to manipulate the person involved into thinking that everyone around them was the enemy and all they wanted was to report them to the school psychologist. The trend, was cutting.

Freshman year is a confusing time for anyone no doubt. Friendships from middle school sometime come to an abrupt end, new friends come into your life and life itself takes on a whole new meaning within you. It’s the year  most of us spent trying to understand ourselves better. Freshman year was also the year I saw cutting play a bigger role in our society than I ever did before.

Cutting shouldn’t be a trend. I remember knowing people who cut themselves because they thought it was cool and they wanted to fit in. Others of us did it because it was a way of escape from the mess going on inside our heads. Either way, it was becoming something bigger than we thought it ever could be. As it was having its way in my life, I saw what it was doing to others as well.

Once people found out about it, you became part of the gossip train. Some people thrived on that attention. They didn’t want that specific kind of attention, but having people know who they were gave them some sort of thrill. Those who were cutting for deeper reasons, the attention was a nightmare. Their one thing they had that they could control was now exposed to the world. The one secret they wanted to keep was out.

Either way, I saw cutting growing and growing into our society. It was once a well kept secret that nobody wanted to talk about, and soon it was all some people could talk about.

Cutting isn’t cool. Cutting is a serious problem. Cutting shouldn’t be the thing to be doing. Cutting can be dangerous. Either way you look at it, no matter what the intentions of the cutter are for doing it, they need help. Yes even those who wanted the attention; there’s still something there that needs to be exposed.

Cutting shouldn’t be an epidemic.

John 15:16-19
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

There is at this time approximately 6,927,550,209 people in the entire world.  That’s a LOT of people, and when you think about the fact that God chose YOU to be one of His, is pretty overwhelming. It’s kind of funny when you hear people talk about their salvation and relationship with God like it’s something they themselves chose for their lives. Like they just woke up one day and said “God, I’m going to do the honor and live my life for You. You’re welcome”. But isn’t that the self centered attitude we get? When in reality, we didn’t choose anything. God chose.

God saw us, and picked us to be His children. That’s just a mind blowing fact. 6,927,550,209 people and God chose you. It’s like walking around a huge field of grass, and picking just ONE single blade to keep as yours. That’s what God does.

God saw you and decided He needed you to be His. Man, if that doesn’t get you, I don’t know what will. I was thinking about it today, and the thought that I was chosen by Him, put a smile on my face. We look at ourselves in the mirror and think “what could God possibly do with this broken person? I’m a mess, why would He choose this?” I’ve heard this phrase before that says “there’s beauty in brokenness”. That couldn’t be more true. Your brokenness and pain and failures is what makes you real and relate-able to the people around you. If we had it all together, those who didn’t know God would feel intimidated to go to church. That transparency and ability to say “yeah, I’m still struggling, but I know it will be alright because of Gods love and grace is over me” is what God uses to t0uch the other broken people of this world.

God chose you and all your flaws and brokenness, and it all has a purpose. So next time you’re wondering why God would ever even look in your direction, remember that you have been chosen.

In 2 Kings there’s this really awesome story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. For those of you who don’t know the story, let me just break it down for you.

This lady in the town of Shunem always prepared a room for the prophet Elisha, so that when he passed through town he had a place to crash for the night. One day Elisha went to her and spoke over her life that in a year she would have a son. Now, this woman was up there in age so she didn’t see herself having a child. In fact, she objected the idea that Elisha had prophetically spoken over her life. But wouldn’t ya know it, when Elisha came back the next year she did in fact have a son. But unfortunately, her son ending up dying. When Elisha asked her what was wrong when she came to him she ended up saying to Elisha, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?… Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”.

This women had shut her heart off from the idea that she would receive the one thing she always wanted. But this story does something incredible. It shows the power and sincerity of Gods word. We all have things that we once so wanted in our life, but over time have given up on the idea that they would happen. The Shunammite woman had this area of her heart that she had shut off from God. When Elisha had told her she’d have a child she told him to not get her hopes up. I think a lot of the time we do the same thing with certain areas of our life. Especially with healing. If you’re experiencing a sickness in the family right now that looks hopeless then you know what I’m talking about. The person isn’t getting better, but worse. You’ve prayed and prayed to God that He’d do something in them that would slow down the progress, yet it seems like nothing is happening. Eventually, you get to this point of thinking “this person is going to die, I just have to accept it and keep moving.” The Shunammite woman did the same thing with the wish of having a child. It was the one thing her heart desired more than anything, but she slipped into the worldly mindset of giving up that we all tend to slip ourselves into.

But Gods not like that. He knows, better than anyone else, what it is that our heart longs for. We look at circumstances that appear to not have a way out or a positive outcome, but we need to remember that God is a provider. God is love, and He will give us our hearts desires if we’re faithful to Him. The Shunammite woman was faithful in her hospitality to Elisha. She didn’t have to give him his own room, but it was in her heart to serve the man of God and provide for him a shelter. She opened her home to him and let him stay there. I can’t even imagine that her thoughts while Elisha was staying there was “maybe if I give this man a room, then my God will give me my child”. I didn’t plan on talking about this for this entry, but I’ve realized that that previous statement is the way some of us serve God. We are more than willing to serve His people, but sometimes it’s because we know God rewards the faithful, so we anticipate the reward. When I first started serving God, that’s how I thought sometimes. But then God gave me a heart for serving and helping His people that it no longer became about a reward, but it was just how my heart is.

Those closed off areas of our hearts, is what God really wants you to talk to Him about. Sure, He already knows, but when you yourself approach God and tell Him for yourself, there’s just a more intimate relationship being built. I know every single one of us has an area of our heart that we’re hesitating to talk to God about, because our flesh is telling us that there’s no point in trying because the cause looks as good as dead. But God is the God of impossible. Don’t just look at the stories in the Bible of how He raised the womans son back to life as something that only could happen back then. This is a super cliche Christianese phrase but it’s true that Gods power and love is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So don’t give up on Him.

I spent this past Thursday night with my mom watching LMN (tha’ts: Lifetime Movie Network for those of you who are not familiar). The movie we watched was called Amish Grace. In summary, it’s based off of the true story of a man who went into a one room school house in Pennsylvania, shooting and killing the children in that school; then taking his own life.

No doubt as I sat there watching this, I cried like a little baby. It was intense. One of the main characters, Ida, is someone who we all can relate to. Her eldest daughter, Mary Beth, lost her life in the shooting. Throughout the movie, you see her struggle to forgive the man who took her daughter from her. The rest of the Amish community surrounds the family of the shooter, with love and acceptance. In one scene, three men from the Amish community arrive at the wife’s house and give their condolences for her loss as well and tell her that they hold no anger against her and her family for what her husband, Charlie, had done. That scene blew my mind. Here are these people, who just lost a good piece of their community from this mans rampage, yet they forgave.

Yet Ida is not so forgiving. We watch her go through the stages of grief in this movie. Yet the movie makes such an incredible point. Where Ida remains in her grief is the anger stage. You watch her go from this loving mother and wife, to a bitter woman who cannot find it in her to forgive. Her husband constantly tells her that it is her duty as a woman of God to forgive the man who killed her child and the children of her friends.

This movie really hit home with me. I watched this woman face the struggles of being able to forgive this man, and I saw so much of myself in Ida. I do not know if I could forgive someone who took my child from me in such a way.

You know, in Christianity a huge part of our faith is the whole forgiveness thing. It’s something people try and run away from when it’s their turn to have to deal out the forgiveness. I’ve been there. People have hurt me in the past, to the extent of just me seeing them placed me in tears and anxiety overcame my body. Does that sound intense? yeah of course it does. But I let that hurt fester in me for too long without properly dealing with it. They were people I told myself I would never be able to forgive. That’s the truth. I’m not able to forgive those people. But when I remember God and what He wants of me, I am. It wasn’t on my own I that I forgave them either. God placed them in my heart, said it was time to let go of the hurt. I stood there for a good five minutes arguing with Him about it too. I told Him there was no way I could do it. But He’s persistent in those moments we need Him most. I remember clearly Him saying to me “you’re really going to argue this one with me Jess? You need to let it go. Trust Me on this”. So finally I surrendered, said the prayer that the Pastor was saying for us to repeat, and then I broke. I felt that chain of un-forgiveness coming off of me. It was overwhelming.

So what does this have to do with Amish Grace? everything. This whole entire community of Amish people were able to forgive this man’s family and the man himself for walking into that school house and shooting. Forgiveness is something we MUST do as Christians.

Let. It. Go

As most of you know, I started college this past Tuesday. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. The then some, being way too much reading on stuff I really don’t care about lol. But within the first two days of my glorious school adventures, I got asked the common question, “What do you want to do with your life when you get out of here?”. I always imagined being asked this question after realizing what it is I wanted to do. Before that, I’d give the oh so acceptable answer of “I’m not too sure”. So heading off on this new found motivation journey, I was so excited for someone to ask me what I wanted to do with my life. But, yeah there’s that ugly word that throws off sentences, when I was in fact asked that question, I found I was a little embarrassed to answer honestly.

Truth is, I want to be a youth Pastor. Just the idea that God can use me to reach a group of young people and help them give their lives to God and watch them transform into this whole new person they didn’t even know existed inside them, get’s me excited. To see this kid who didn’t even believe in God, or was unsure, to come around to loving God with all their heart and willing serving Him passionately is something I would love to see happen in front of my eyes. And to be a part of their life, a positive influence who’s there to keep them on the right path and to also be there to help them through things, is something that brings me joy just thinking about it.

When people approached me with the question of what I wanted to do with my life, I actually didn’t tell them any of that. In fact, I resorted back to the “I don’t know” response. It’s not that saying “I want to be a youth Pastor” is hard to blurt out, it’s the fact that Christianity, at least in my life, has always been something that people judge. I grew up being one of those people who sort of mocked Christians. I thought they were “Jesus freaks”, who pushed the religion on people. Thank God for my salvation lol. I found myself on the spot, of being the one who was being judged and it scared me. I’m not sure if it’s because I need everyone of my peers to like me, which in the past I would try my hardest to gain peer approval (not recommended might I add, be yourself kids!) or if it’s because I’m ashamed of my walk with Christ in the secular world.

I love God, I live my life for Him everyday the best that I can, there’s nothing more that I love than praising Him and giving Him honor and glory; yet when it comes to the world, I tone down the radical-ness of my faith, a lot. And it’s something I’m working on. Trust me. In high school, it felt like I was the only Christian in the whole building, and that made me feel out of place. But now, it’s different. I found that the campus has a club, a sort of Bible study group, for Christian students. I’m totally going to check it out and become involved and get surrounded by people who have the same beliefs and core values as I do. No longer feeling like the odd ball. So hopefully in the future when asked, I’ll answer proudly with “I want to be a youth Pastor”, instead of “I don’t know”

“If you struggle with self-injury, you are not “a cutter”. You are a person. You are not only your pain. You are not only wounds and scars. You are also better things. You are possibility and promise, hope and healing, daydreams, favorite books and favorite songs. You are the people that you love and the people who love you. You are hope and change and things worth fighting for. This is all your story and your story isn’t over.”– Jaime Tworkowski.

 

I found this quote not too long ago, and it has stuck with me. I love how Jaime puts those words together, to make something powerful; something so meaningful and important to someone who is suffering. We have a habit of sticking the label of “cutter” on someone whom we know is dealing with self injury, and it’s wrong. People make them out to be their flaw and their flaw becomes the only thing people see. They can’t get past the stigma, so whatever issue they are struggling with at that time is now made their identity.

Oh there’s “so and so” the cutter
Oh isn’t that______, the addict?
Oh I know them, they’re the suicidal one right?

I know it’s a name association process, or whatever the proper term is, but we shouldn’t be associating peoples personal struggles with who they are. Fact is, the persons struggle is never who they are. Truth? If you know someone, and have to place that “label” after their name, you don’t really care about them as deep as you might think, and chances are you don’t know them even half as well as you might think you do. I find it shallow actually. In the past I too have associated people with things I had heard about them, but now if I do hear something about them, before I even know them too, I make an effort to know them better. I don’t care who you are, you don’t deserve a label over you.

And if you are going through something that’s painful, Jaime T said it right. You are hope and change. Things don’t have to stay the way they are at this very moment. Believe in yourself, even when it’s most difficult to. If you can muster up even just a little faith in yourself that things will change, that the sun will once again shine even just a ray of light into your world; you will see that change, and that change is possible. I’m a psychology fan, and I remember learning, that smiling releases endorphins into your body, the chemicals that make you cheery; they’re also called the “feel good chemicals”. So when you’re down and out, just smile. I know that sounds lame, but it does work; if you want to be happy and have hope, you can.

this is all YOUR story, and your story ISN’T OVER

Church

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Forgiven, God, Life, overcoming, thoughts

As a Christian who works in an environment with basically all non Christians, I find it hard a lot of the time to talk about going to church and my faith in God. Something was just placed on my heart that I wanted to just throw out there.

I don’t know about any of you, but I am constantly having people telling me things like “If I ever stepped foot into a Church, the place would burn down” or, “I can’t believe they go to Church, they’ve done so many terrible things. They don’t belong in a Church.”

Well, I’d like to place my response on those statements right now. You are NEVER too far gone for God to love you. No matter what you’ve done, if you know in your heart that it was wrong and you repent of your sins and place everything you have in the control of God, you can be set free from all of that bondage. It says in the Bible over and over again that none of us is perfect. That’s why God sent His Son Jesus down on this Earth to die for us (John 3:16) Thanks to Jesus, any and all of our sins can and will be forgiven in we just repent.

Just a short little entry I wanted to share.