what do you see in me?

a few weeks ago, i went to church and took a seat in my sunday school class. i was exceptionally tired that morning and had some things on my mind, but once the lesson was completed, i went through the motions of social civility and engaged in conversation with those beside me. an older gentleman at my table, suddenly remarked to me, “that’s the first time I’ve seen you smile since you came in here!”

i was a bit taken aback by his comment (even though i should be used to it by now,) but went on to explain that i was tired, and wasn’t really conscious of the fact, but i assured him i was fine.

usually it stops there; but for some reason, he felt the need to go a little farther. “you need to smile more! that way people know you have the joy of the Lord! if you don’t, how else would they know?”

well, guess i missed that memo…

i proceeded to tell him – with all the composure i could muster – that i always have the joy of the Lord, but it generally resides down in my heart.  while he remained to be convinced that happiness and joy was tied together, i told him that i wasn’t given to deceit, and wasn’t going to paste a smile on my face just for show.

maybe people expect that, especially when you walk through those doors on sunday morning. for some reason, it’s not safe to be vulnerable or honest. we have to put a show on for people…regardless of the fact that we’re never promised an easy road, that this world is full of evil, that we’ll be faced with daily heartache and hurt.  for some reason, people have mixed up their definition of things. yes, there is a time and a place for things, but i would rather people see me being honest rather than fake. christians shouldn’t be deceptive in any way, shape or form. the world knows life isn’t easy, so why do some people pretend? why am i even having to explain myself?

more and more i’m becoming indifferent to what others think of me. i’m tired of being judged. tired of wondering if people are willing and capable enough to try and look past what may (or may not) be on the surface and see me for who i am. there are few people i know who seem to appreciate me for who i am, for what i am, and it’s those people i want to draw closer to…and that’s who i want to be. i want to see past the surface in people and appreciate who they are. i want to know them, just as i want people to know me. it takes effort, and i’m trying. i am what i am.

in the end, i know He knows me, and that’s all that matters to me, truly. that’s where my value is.

_______________________________

if you’re curious, here’s how the conversation concluded:

“so, you’re not a morning person, then?” he asked.

“no.

no i’m not.”

sara

looking back

somehow i’ve ended up in a state of reflection. (i love the subtlety of the Spirit. here i am trying to figure out how to hope again and look ahead, only to find myself with a desire to look back.)

i found myself going  back and forth when it came to leadership roles in recovery programs. it was rewarding and healing and i could see God working through me, but somehow my focus would shift, and i found myself exhausted and raw. i wondered if constantly rehashing things was doing me more harm than good, so i would stop and seek to get on with my life. but just when i thought i was doing good and leaving the past behind me, it would get convicted to share again. the last recovery program i went to drove the final stake through my heart, leaving me indifferent.

well, since then, i found myself on the upward path, doing exactly what i wanted to do…and that was move on.

but then He shook my world…again, and i set outto be the broken bread and poured out wine it seems i’m destined to be.

it’s different this time, though. or so it seems. maybe it’s perspective. maybe it’s the support i have. maybe i have grown just a little bit. maybe it’s the upward trend leading to the downward spiral. i don’t know. but lately, i’ve been reminded of how powerful looking back is, despite the pain. i was asked today what the good of it was and why can’t we just move on, and the question struck a cord in me. i have wanted to just “get over it” so many times, but somehow, i end up laying my broken life out for all to see.

i have to remember, i have to be reminded of where it is i’ve come from. who i was and who i am now.  there is no doubt…God is the God of restoration. His promises are real. and we, as humans, forget so easily. i do, anyway.
i was molested. i was beaten. i was manipulated and misguided. i was threatened and deprived. i lived a life of fear and was saturated in resentment. i knew hatred. i felt despair. i was an ugly person.  i wanted to die.

but God

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,  and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” psalm 40:1-4, nasb

i’ve been singing this new song for nearly four years now. my past can almost seem like another life, sometimes, especially as i take in all the beauty i have around me right now

…but then i’ll feel the twinge.  i’ll find a deeper wounds that needs tending. and rub the internal scars that won’t vanish. they serve as reminders that it all was, in fact, real. it was me. but look, look what He has done. and be amazed. as i lay out all out again, as i anticipate a next step that could cut a little deeper, i will trust Him. but whatever may happen, i need to be reminded.

He is God.

sara

choosing to hope

there was a season in my life not too long ago where it was so easy for me to dream and believe in possibilities. i thought i was going to change the world. i thought i knew what i was going to do and how i was going to do it and who i was going to do it all with.

a lot has changed since then.

i’ve hardened myself. mostly because i don’t like the feeling of disappointment. i deny myself things too quickly and easily. it is what it is, so be content. my imagination has essentially become my enemy. for so many years, it was how i coped…my mind was how i escaped from the reality i was living. i’m safe here inside my mind – no one can get in. i can obsess and linger and no one will ever know. but as i’ve gone through recovery, i realized that it couldn’t be my crutch anymore, and so when i’ve caught myself using it, i’ve quickly snuffed it out. so i’ve become afraid of it. and when i find myself struggling with it, i immediately fall back into that all-too-wrong line of thinking that i’m screwed up. who am i, anyway? stopping being ungrateful and focus on what is in front of you. there’s no need to look any farther…there are no guarantees.

i can trace all of those lie back to the past. and – as i’ve recently discovered – when you believe a lie, you’re in bondage. i’m glad i see that now, but now i’m accountable – once again – for what i do with it. so where do i begin?

well, it seems it has something to do with hope. hope is a choice. and it’s essential to faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of thingshoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.  By faith we understand that theworlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” hebrews 11:1-3, nasb

choosing to hope goes against everything i’ve ever done. it goes against every “logical” response i’ve had to things. it’s good. it’s requires trust. it’s draws me closer to Him.

”…in the presence of Him whom he [Abraham] believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” romans 4:16-18, nasb

but i don’t deserve any of it. i don’t want to hurt again. i’m protected here.i should be happy enough with what i have, because it’s by far better than where i’ve been.

all lies, but at the same time, so much easier to hang on to.

i have a long way to go. His word and love are the realest things to me despite everything, and yet i struggle with the idea of hope. seems like i don’t make much sense, but then again, when have i ever?

sara