Posts tagged walking with God
No one really knows what they’re doing...

We live in a world where everyone seems to be playing some weird game called, “I want you to think my life is more put together than it is.”

We think real life is unglamours, unpresentable, and if truth be told - mostly boring.

Our days are filled with dirty houses and laundry and the kids losing their minds at the end of a long summer break and their parents are right there with them.

We love Jesus and want to serve Him but we still have fights with our husbands, we get frustrated with our finances, we worry over every day details all the while feeling guilt because compared to so and so, we are failing at life.

Here’s something I know to be true; not one person really knows what they’re doing, where they are going, how they will get there or how they even got here, for goodness sake.

Everyone is doing their best to raise their kids, sometimes too hard and sometimes too easy. Everyone struggles with relationships, the ups and downs and mostly the what nows. Everyone has a million things they have to do that are not glamorous or Instagram worthy, that make life keep running.

The closer we get to God the more we understand the depth of our need for Him, the more we can say, “I have no idea what I’m doing or what to do now. Help me!”

Most of our lives are lived in the mundane and the messy, but God is there, loving us, teaching us, for us.

We are in desperate need of a Savior every day, not just once from hell. Ou joy is not found in how we think our lives should be, but in remaining in His love.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11 #walkingreflections

But, who will you be? Character is a choice not a response

Tonight my son got in trouble for hurting the neighbor kid because he wouldn't do what he wanted him to do. As we explained to him that this was unacceptable behavior and that we would not tolerate it he just re-emphasized over and over again that he was just so mad. He even felt justified on some level because he thought in some way that he was trying to obey us, do what was right, but in the end it only put him in a position of losing privileges and possibly a friend.

Whether we are taught it or it is something we just sort of pick up is this idea that if someone doesn't see something our way, do it like we want them to do it, that they are saying something is wrong with us. We learn to somehow internalize it, take it personal and until we think others are doing or seeing things our way, we feel jaded. Sometimes we lash out in anger towards them. My son at six is just all of us in little kid form.

For years as I struggled with my depression so much of it was based in my negative self talk. I thought it was my personal responsibility to make sure that everyone liked me and that everyone thought that what I was doing was what I "should" be doing. No one ever asked me to apply for this job, I took it upon myself. 

"Should I say that?", "should I post that?" "will they still be my friend?" "will they still like me?" and I never really knew, so I just became paralyzed. I became so worried about what others thought, I started losing sight of what I thought, what God thought.

So much of this all took place in my head, in secret arguments only I was present for, but they were really getting it in there. No man was left standing once I let them know what was up. And that was yet the other extreme, that I would become angry at them for holding me captive to their opinions. Sometimes that anger would seep out all over the place, all over people who were, many times, just innocent by standers. So I either felt paralyzed or furious, there seemed to be no calming middle ground. Why wouldn't they just let me have my opinion, let me do or say whatever I wanted. Who cares what "they" thought? I did, I cared a lot. In either extreme the reality was, I was the one left powerless but I was never to blame.

I would always here people say things like "don't give your power away" or "people only treat you how you let them" and it sounded all well and good, but what did that even mean? As I started learning more about boundaries, it very slowly started to become clear. And I mean, as slow as a snail, slow. Because it's hard to let go of blame. It's hard to let go of trying to somehow control, even if only in your own mind, what everyone thinks of you, how you are possibly being perceived. I was addicted to approval, of being liked, but the thing about it was, as addicted as I was to it, I never really got it. Over time and falling flat on my face over and over (still happening by the way) I began to realize that I only have control over what I think, over my feelings, over my behavior.

What a concept right? I choose what I think, I choose what I feel about myself, I choose how I respond to people. I was so busy trying to figure out whose fault it was that I was feeling this way that I never considered I was the one ultimately in charge of everything that was pouring out of me. Coming to the conclusion that no matter what others think of me, I know the real me. No matter how much I try and show them how much I love God, how much I am trying to serve and honor Him, how much I have prayed over a situation or thought through a decision tediously, if they still choose to think that I am a less than, ungodly, hooligan, then they are also exercising their choice. 

We all have boundaries; physical, emotional, relational. Just like our property lines, what happens within where I live is my responsibility. A great quote I have heard is "keep your side of the street clean" meaning, what is happening on their side of the street is up to them, but I choose what my side looks like. No amount of judgement, disapproving look, thoughts or comments from the other side of the street need matter, because they don't have authority to care for my side, only I do. 

I began to ask myself, what does God think, what about my husband, my mom or my sister?What about those couple friends that I know really love me in-spite of all my flaws, what do they think? If they have concerns, I will listen, because I know they love me and I have grown to trust them. Outside of that, no one else really has a say. 

"Who do I want to be?" is the same as asking "how will I keep my side of the street?" I began to ask myself this question and slowly but surely I am answering myself. 
(I told you I have got this talking to myself thing down)

I want to be the type of person who supports and believes in other people.
If someone else has a dream, a call, a heart for something, I want to believe for them big. Follow them, share them, support them, applaud them, even if they never do it back, because that is the kind of person I want to be.

I want to be joyful.
I want to giggle and enjoy life, look for the little things and be silly and laugh at myself. Believe me, I am way too serious for my own good, so I want to be  more of someone who can find the humor in every day life. Someone who is a joy to be around, that is the kind of person I want to be.

I want to be passionate.
I have long loathed my passion and intensity as I looked at myself through other people's eyes. "A little too much, aren't we Ashley?" I would hear the mocking voice in my head say. You know who are too much kind of people; people who care, people who change the world, people who have burning hearts and are compelled to no longer sit silently in apathy but push through to the more. I am not sorry anymore that I love things like taking pictures and social media. I love art and writing and journaling and coffee, and I love Jesus. I will not be more tame and share less of my passion for any of those things because if I did, I would be lying. Someone who is exactly who they were made to be and is unafraid to follow God into those passions, that is the kind of person I want to be.

I want to be loving.
Even when people reject me, push me away, refuse to believe in me or root for me in any way, I want to love them anyway. I want to love people who disagree with me and think differently. I want to talk with respect and patience to the woman checking out my groceries like she is a human and not like she owes me something. I want to move through life with peace and go around sprinkling that junk around like confetti because the Lord knows we need more peace and patience. Someone who doesn't easily let someone else's foul mood  pull me in with them, because it's theirs and not mine. Just because I feel it, doesn't make me responsible for it. I want to be free to decide differently and choose love because that brings me more joy and peace, that is the kind of person I want to be.

I want to be resilient and authentic.
I make a million mistakes daily. I am always worried I am not a good enough house keeper, mother, wife, friend, and Christian. Instead of being crushed under my "not good enough's" and all that condemnation, I want to be honest and real and confess, "I messed up, I did it wrong, I failed" and then try again. I want to admit that I am still in process and get it wrong all the time, but never ever give up, no matter how many times I miss that mark again. Someone who is OK with not being perfect in anyway and let's people in on the secret that it is somehow OK to be still learning what it means to do be godly, loving, passionate, joyful. To be both fully aware that I am not yet fully changed and it's OK to be growing closer every day. **Shhh, it might be a secret but no one has made it to perfection yet, not even knowing how much they need to be. Not a one!***

Other people's choices of how they behave in real life, or online, does not dictate to me who I am going to be. I get to decide every day. I may get invited to join them in some drama or mud slinging, and let's be honest, I might just show up now and then when those old songs sing frustratingly in my soul. But I hope that as the Lord helps me to renew my mind little by little and teaches me over and over again to take my thoughts captive, that I become more and more free, just as He died for me to be.

Intimacy through Disappointment

I felt compelled to take a week off from my series on my depression to write through what I am currently learning and thinking about.

My time at the Love Life conference was great, so many great speakers and the worship was amazing. I do not particularly love huge crowds and 22,000 women leaving at once to return to their hotels was mass chaos, but other than that, it was a great experience.

Coming home and straight away dealing with depression seemed odd to me, but I really should stop being surprised. I have begun to notice that every time I get home from trips, even just an over night trip, it throws me off and I am all over the place emotionally. Until I get back into the groove I feel unstable. Every single time I think "what is this? why do I feel like this?" How many times am I going to have to go through it in order to start anticipating it, I am a slow learner apparently.

During the conference I had a beautiful time with the Lord, asking Him for more, asking Him to break more chains in my life, wanting to submit to Him in all areas of my life. In my minds eye I pictured Him on His throne and I was putting my crowns at His feet. In essence saying "here is everything I am, all my dreams and gifts and talents and hopes and dreams. Everything I am or have, here it is, for your worship. I felt like He told me He was proud of me. I so want Him to be proud of me, I so want to do what He wants, and I so struggle with accepting that from Him.

I have only recently remembered that in the last session Joyce said to give God all we are, and especially all we are not. We don't like focusing on what we aren't, on our weaknesses, on all we still lack, but they are always right there, mocking us just under the surface. Perhaps that is why I have a hard time accepting that He could be proud of me. If anyone knows all my shortcomings, certainly it's Him, He sees it all. What does it mean to give Him everything I am not? What does it mean to give Him all my struggles and failures and pride and disappointments? 

Another huge part of the weekend was Beth's talk about asking questions of the Lord and letting Him ask questions of us. With the risk of laying it all out on the table for anyone to see, I want to share my answers to the questions she challenged us to let Him ask us. I answered these after those moments with Him in worship. After I was contacted on Instagram by the Joyce Meyer team to come for special seating with their social media team for which I felt immense gratitude for. (More on that in a minute)

Where are you?
I am at your feet Lord. I want more of you and not just your blessings. You've been through some of my darkest and most hopeless days. You have given me beauty for ashes. I will wait here for your next instructions, for your love and for the laying down of myself. Please accept my tears to wash your feet. They must be really clean by now!

Who told you that?
"You can't do that"-no degree, no connections, no position. Did God tell me these things? No, rather He said "Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night and then you will be prosperous and successful wherever you go. Be strong and courageous.

What are you seeking?
More of you, more understanding of your glory that I will respond to you as I should. More power, more victory, more healing, more influence, more people who "see" me, who can pray for me, speak into my life, believe in me.

Why are you afraid?
I am afraid of being disappointed. I am afraid you will say no and I won't understand. But then...I will get up and will walk on and I'll trust you again. Help me not be afraid Lord, that even your no's are what is best for me.

How much more?
Take me there, Lord. Help me be brave. He me to fight, fight for me and with me. Whatever there is, I want it all and I want to be used to help others want the more too.

There are just some times when you know that the Lord is working and doing things but you can not seem to get a grasp on what they are. I know I continue to ask Him to remove roots from my heart and soul. Things that I believe about myself, things that return to drag me back into the darkness when I am weak and tired. But you can't really let Him address those things unless you let Him reveal it to you, and that, most times, are painful.

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Beth Moore. Now to be fair she is not the only teacher I listen to, I listen to many different teachers in order to get a balanced view of God's word and His body, but Beth is my favorite. For some reason I got it stuck in my head ever since I bought my ticket for the conference back in March that I might be able to meet her. Even writing it seems so silly, I feel stupid for even admitting it, like I am some weird fan girl or something. I prayed so many times that God would allow me to meet her. I just wanted to tell her how much she had meant in my growth with the Lord and take a picture. And I also knew that if this didn't happen it wouldn't be a big deal, she is busy...but then...

When the social media team contacted me out of the clear blue, I just assumed this was the way God was going to answer that prayer. It was more of this intimacy thing with the Lord, like He knows how much this means to me and He is answering this prayer. Maybe in some way it represented to me the years I have brought requests before Him of the dreams I have and desires deep in my heart that only He really knows about, only He knows the true treasure they are to me, and this was Him answering me. I cried and cried, this was Him blessing me and acknowledging my faith, I thought.

But it all didn't turn out the way I was asuuming, although the experience was amazing and I was so thankful for it, all that other stuff, nope. And as I scrolled through the hashtag from the conference I would see that people were able to meet her at her table, in the airport, just randomly. If  He could do it for them, allow it for them, why couldn't He do it for me? Again, writing this seems so ridiculous, but not to address the pain behind it I had with the Lord would just be inauthentic. Because, again, how stupid could I have been? What a stupid thing to pray. What a stupid thing to believe for. And immediately that transferred over to every other part of my life. And a whole bunch other questions then presented themselves.

What if everything that you think God has called you to is a lie? What if everything you think He is directing you toward is way off? What if you are wasting your time and your heart and your faith, all for nothing? What an idiot. You are not safe with these things. Don't you dare trust your heart, what a fool. And I took the bait, hook, line and sinker. 

And there at the bottom of that line of thinking is another root, a root I believe and operate out of, "unwanted". Because, I figured, if God wanted any of this stuff for me, then He would be opening doors, showing me the path, doing what God does. So, if He is not doing it, then it must mean I need to let go, it isn't what He wants, I am delusional sad sad girl. The realization that I have put so much weight in assuming I know what God wants to do in my life and the humiliation of being wrong literally feels like my heart breaking. And not just humiliation but still feeling in some way that I am not wanted for that dream by God and that feeling of rejection from Him. I know it's a root because the way He is pushing on it hurts so bad. The same root that makes me push people away or keep them at arms distance, because I am not good enough to be accepted by them. That I believe somehow that I will not be enough or even worse, way too much, and that rejection is just sometimes not worth the intimacy. At least that is what I tell myself.

Where is the line between fighting for what your heart longs for and believing truth about yourself the realization that maybe I am holding onto the call or the dream more than Jesus wants me to? Where is the place where every part of us is safe with Him? Even this great fear I have of being rejected from what I think I want most. When it all boils down I believe what I answered in those questions is really what my heart wants, to trust Him with it all. To want Him more than I want a call or a dream or purpose and to let Him shape that, even if it never ever looks anything like I want it to right now.

I can't help but think of Abraham having to sacrifice Isaac. The promise could never replace the promise maker, the promise giver. Abraham didn't know what was going to happen on that mountain, all He knew was that this son who had filled his hearts longing was here, after all that waiting. Following God into the giving up of everything that we hold dear to our hearts is admitting our love of that thing, more than Him. Perhaps nothing can be truly trusted to be handled in our hands until God knows we do not love that thing more than Him. That we love Him more than the things we are praying for. That we can stand before Him raw and spiritually naked and scream, "I am afraid of being rejected. I am afraid I will never be good enough. I am afraid that I want purpose more than you, and I don't know how to let it go. I am afraid of being so disappointed with you that I don't know how to move forward. I am afraid of how bad these things hurt,of being tired and not knowing how to keep fighting. I am afraid that I will never overcome all these fleshy things that I want to just ignore. I'm afraid I really am the weird girl. I am afraid of being wrong and I am so afraid that my life really isn't that special, not the way I want it to be special. All these things, these dark questions that sit at the bottom of my frustration, I tend to want to keep them and work on them when I feel strong and hope they disappear. Instead I think He is asking me for them. All those fears, their darkness, their shame, their brokenness, they can't be trusted in me, but they can be trusted with Him. He wants it all, not just the pretty and organized. Because, even though its hard for me to accept, He loves the parts of me that are yet to be redeemed, the parts of me I try and ignore, the parts of me that are deeply wounded but that I make choices out of every day, the parts I acknowledge and the parts I don't. 

I want more intimacy with Him, but how can I be closer to Him if there are still parts of me that I am ashamed of. Those parts that I feel are unworthy or too trivial to bring before Him. He can be trusted with me completely falling apart. To feel safe to be real with all of it, holding nothing back, even when I know He knows it all. When He asks the man who needs healing "what do you want?" surely He knew exactly what He wanted, but He wants our participation. He wants us to enter in, to recognize our need, to admit it. Maybe the truth is, I don't trust Him as much as I wish I did, but I want to. I don't know why He says no, but perhaps it is what happens between us and where we stand with Him again when He asks us to trust Him, again. 

As Beth said "Asking why is not about getting an answer but the right to ask the question". Letting go of what I want Him to do for me or through me and letting it be Him, and only Him.