Sunday, November 13, 2022

Lessons, Girlfriends, and Running to the Father


Thank you Jesus.

Thank you Cody Carnes.  

This song wrapped up six pages of journaling this morning.  I woke up renewed, after three days in what felt like the tomb.

My girlfriends rallied; my family rallied.  Jesus spoke.

This may be a long post, so if you are one of the few reading, feel free to either sign off now or tag along.  This blog is sometimes my personal journey through life, and today, I am going to share just a peek of what God produced through me today.

Writing is an amazing journey.  Being a Christian is an amazing journey.  Songwriters, Authors, and more are often quoted as saying things "come" to them and they are only the vessel.  I am great at writing first thing in the morning, but I have never sat up in bed and just journaled and poured out what comes to me through the Spirit.

Two days ago, my life pathway altered forever, and I fell into the proverbial valley and inside a tomb.  I decided to get a spiral notebook and start journaling things as they came to me.  Started out with a page or two, but here on only day three, God gave me six pages of handwriting.  Something I'm not even used to doing anymore...what a gift.

Let's start at the end with Cody Carnes and Matt Maher's song, "Run to the Father."  It was the last song from my Church's service this morning.  Cody and Matt penned these words,

"I've carried a burden for too long on my own
I wasn't created to bear it alone
I hear Your invitation to let it all go
I see it now, I'm laying it down
And I know that I need You

I run to the Father, I fall into grace
I'm done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So I'll run to the Father again and again and again and again"

You see, among the other things God spoke to me about this morning through journaling and my Pastor, God said, "Listen; this song is for you."

I've carried a burden FAR [sic] too long.  I wasn't created to bear it alone.  I let it all go this week.  I'm done with the hiding.  I fell into grace.  With laying down my burden and putting it out in the open, my soul needed a friend.

I didn't find one.  My fears were materializing in front of me.

Admitting my burden, that I had never been transparent about before, brought exactly the response I feared it would once revealed - condemnation, rejection, being left.

Pastor Brian preached this morning that planting requires good soil, planting (depth), and growth.  To get growth, you have to plant a seed in soil that is deep (most of the time), go through the difficult process of breaking through the hard outer shell, and then sprouting and growing.  If you don't ever plant the seed, you can't grow into something beautiful.

I planted the seed this week.  It was met with, "I don't want to be the leader," "I don't know how to help you," and (paraphrase here), "You failed; failing equals you don't respect or love me.  I'm leaving."

Sometimes, when planting isn't cultivated, growth does not come; the plant does not survive.  It takes a gardener that helps the seedling make it through the stages of growth and to a beautiful ending.  If we don't help the seed or lead it through the growing phases, the relationship between gardener and garden won't end in beauty.  It will end in death.

"You saw my condition, had a plan from the start
Your Son for redemption, the price for my heart
And I don't have a context for that kind of love
I don't understand, I can't comprehend
All I know is I need You"

I don't know why God's plan for me to learn to be transparent about my "condition" was to materialize my fears.  Maybe it was to learn that although we all have faults and failures, only God is able to complete us and be faithful, true, and loyal.  No matter how great your person may be, they are just a person - also with faults and failures.  And sometimes, when we fail or admit why we failed, we have to realize that not everyone is strong enough to help us (or even wants to help us through our valleys).  And sometimes, your fears do materialize.

I was lucky enough to have a calvary surrounding me - a close knit of girlfriends that surrounded me and lifted me up, held me up.  You know that old saying, "Men leave, but girlfriends never do?"  Yep, it's true.

Even the very best people in the world will fail you at some point.  Even the very best people cannot be trusted to be leaned on always.  Sometimes, when your red flag of distress is thrown up, even the very best people will not help you.

Sometimes, people just fail.

I've had to learn the super hard way that I can only depend on myself and God.  I'm back to where I started.  Back to the first square.

I've found that my small, close-knit circle of girlfriends can be brutally honest, tender, and show empathy.  We can share our "conditions," the things we struggle with, and our wisdom of many years lived and experienced.

I have learned I am not the words that were heaped on me.  I have learned that even at 56, when I chose to be transparent about the knick in my armor (so to speak) and am condemned and left for it, I need to continue to always be transparent, so that I can be who God made me to be and can use my life for His good and on a pathway that will be true, transparent, and honest.

Not everyone that comes into our lives can lead us, help us, or stay with us.  I would love for that to be true - that those we have let into our lives and offered everything to, would lead us when we need advice and wisdom - would reach out a hand and help us when we are in a valley hiding from the world because it's just easier than facing a fear - and would stay with us when we have disappointed them.

Sometimes life isn't fair.  You can accept people for who they are - accepting disabilities, failures and failings, and life choices they make that might not be good.  You may never utter a word against those things or them, but only offer counsel, an ear that hears, and grace. And yet, when it is your turn to fail miserably, hide under a rock, or be transparent about a situation, you are not afforded the same grace.

The fear you had of becoming transparent and failing brings with it all you feared.

I am choosing to take my fears materialized and turn them into a lesson from Heaven.  Be transparent - face your fears - and let the seed God has planted, break free from the shell surrounding you.  Let the roots grow down deeper into the soil and let the growth of new beginnings emerge and grow into something beautiful.

Here's a few questions from Pastor Brian that I am working on this morning, and if you have stayed thus far in my ramblings, I hope they will help you in your future valleys:

  • What is the truth I need?  (I needed to learn to be transparent about why I failed.  Admit my knick in the armor to my partner and then face whatever consequences that might come from admitting my "less than" and failing.  The truth I need is to remember to always be honest with those closest to me, face my fears, and grow from experience.)

  • What do I need to turn from?  (For me, I had to turn away from hiding.  I needed to turn from keeping my anxiety and fear of the unknown and "people" from those closest to me.  Stop pretending to be something and someone I am not.  Admit I am working on being an extrovert [or, let's be honest, less of an introvert] and that I fail miserably at people and relationships every day. I also need to turn from "assuming" those closest to me will stay despite my failure or failings, despite me reaching out and receiving no extended hand.  I have to turn from the expectation that people you love will always stand by you.  Sometimes, people are people.  And sometimes we fail.  Keep in mind.  No one is a solid rock.  Only God can be that for you.)

  • What do I need to turn to?  (This seems like an easy one, right?  God.  Only God will never abandon you; only God will help you climb out of the valley.  Only God is fully and 100% dependable - but that is the bigger, top-of-the-pyramid answer.  What are your daily, physical/mental/emotional struggles?  Mine was - I need to turn to truth.  The ability to say to those in my life, "I'm struggling.  I can't do people today.  I can't do that situation right now.  I'm struggling with being social today.  How can you help me overcome this?"  Truth seems like a great place to start for me in this avenue.)

  • What do I need to do with this?  (For me, I need to take the lesson I learned the hard way and move forward with it.  Take the change of finally - at almost 60 years old - being transparent with my moments of anxiety and "people fear" and apply it.  To take my transparency and the release it felt to finally let it out into the sunshine and apply it.  To create better relationships with people in this new life.  Take the chances you take - whether the people in your inner circle hug you or leave you - and apply them to the future.)

Pastor Brian gave two Scriptures this morning to help us in our battles for transparency; planting; breaking free from the hard, outer shells that surround us (also known as our fears); growing roots; and eventually sprouting into something beautiful.  Here they are: 

2 Tim 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathes and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

James 1:18-21, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Every day, I am growing and learning...and of course, journaling what Jesus gives me.

I failed.  I was transparent about my failure.  I was open and honest with what I need to do to sprout and repair the hurts and failures in front of me.  I was not offered grace and mercy.  My fears of opening up were realized.

I am choosing to not use this experience to keep myself locked up again and say, "See!  This is what opening yourself up to someone else gets you."  I am choosing to take this experience and learn from it.  To learn how good being transparent feels.  Embracing the freedom of admitting my armor kinks.  

Listen.  You cannot control what others think, say, or feel about you.  You can be open and honest.  Admit your failings and failures and choose to let those closest to you know why you failed and what your battles are.  It is up to them to either accept those battles and stand by your side through love together (as a very wise friend told me) or to choose another pathway.

I am choosing to take the pathway my loved one picked and turn it around for healing in my personal personality battles.  Only God - hear me again - GOD is the ONLY one you can admit all your failings, failures, and personal internal battles with and not fear condemnation and rejection.

Do NOT let the people that condemn and reject you control your future.  God has given you the people you love for a reason.  God has put you in a valley for a reason.  If you have taken the very brave step of admitting your battle to your loved ones, embrace that feeling of freedom and release and start your journey of change.  Breaking through the hard outer shell of that seed is going to be tough, but God will put people in your life that will help you, recognize when you are in the valley, and before you know it, your little seedling will sprout and beauty will eventually emerge.

I know I am counting on that.  The shell is broken, but my seeding will soon be emerging from the soil that hides it and beauty is coming.

3:17 Or that you, a man of God,

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