What Changes Us: A Daddy or a Drill Sergeant?

This is a Father’s Day message. Yes, I know Father’s Day was months ago but this message, that I heard for the first time today, really really really touched my heart for many reasons. It’s not your typical “shape up, dad” message, but is a message that reveals the character of our Heavenly Father. You will want to have Kleenex handy.

Click here to access audio:

Pastor Jean Larroux III sermon – What Changes Us: A Daddy or a Drill Sergeant?

Random Insane Thoughts

Puffer Fish

Disintegration

It is amazing how quickly I can disintegrate and wind up in the pit. The disintegration can be triggered by a memory, a visit to my bank account online (oh crap (yes I’ve been known to say crap)..I forgot about that automatic debit!), a text, a phone call, or something posted on social media. It can lead to a panic attack, binge-fest, or a deep desire to find a cabin in the woods and become a hermit.

Anger

I’ve noticed something – I bloat up like a puffer fish when I get angry. For those of you who don’t think it’s possible for me to angry – think again. It happens, and when it does it’s not pretty. My problem is I usually hold it in for days, weeks, months, years…very unhealthy. I hold the angry thoughts in my mind where they mate and have little angry children thoughts – suddenly my mind is so full of thoughts that they start pushing on my skull and that not so pretty thing we call a migraine makes an entrance into my life. This is happening today…so anything I post today can be blamed on that. I’m so not in my right mind. My body bloats up too. I start feeling like the insane version of the Pillsbury Dough Boy and wish someone would poke my belly so hard that my “loving oven” would explode so I can breathe again. (Note: I didn’t even know that puffer fish existed until Finding Nemo)

Feelings

I just love how the world encourages me to bottle up my feelings – NOT. A history of bottling up my feelings is what led to my downfall…okay, one of the many things that led to my downfall. I guess it also led me to recovery, which is good. In recovery I finally feel safe enough to share how I am truly feeling deep, deep down inside. Plus, I get 3-5 minutes of UNINTERRUPTED time every week to do it…and even more than that if I’m in a step study. And guess what? My sharing buddies are discouraged from trying to “fix” me because we are reminded every week that we are not God and that God is the healer. It is glorious!

Expectations

I can’t live up to your expectations. Period. The End. Okay maybe not, because I need to share this quote: “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” Author Unknown

Tears

I used to hate tears. I thought they were wrong…until I came to terms with the fact that Jesus wept. Although I don’t often have cry-fests in public, I’ve learned to embrace the gift of tears and give them permission to flow. Why would I deny myself or anyone else the God-given gift of shedding tears?

Cubicle Life

I work in a cubicle. I like my little cubicle walls that surround me and keep my safe, but my cubicle has an opening where people poke their heads in and ask me questions ALL DAY LONG (okay, probably exaggerating here, but I’m an introvert so more than 5 times a day is too much…sad excuse I know). I shouldn’t complain, because that must mean I’m needed which keeps me employed, but I’m going to continue anyway just cause I have this platform where I can share and hopefully release some of the bloat (see Anger). I also get to enjoy the cubicle orchestra which includes humming, chomping, gossip, conference calls, hacking (as in coughing up a lung) and clanging spoons. Oh, and the fluorescent lighting adds to the orchestral ambiance. Please see Anger above –  I am in the early stages of a migraine – so you can only imagine. PS – I am very grateful for my job, today has just been one of those days.

Food

I gave up bread, pasta and sweets over a week ago. Just another reason for you to forgive me for this insane post…or not.  My body is screaming “What are you doing to me?”

Disclaimer: The lesson I am working on in our step study this week is Sanity. As you can probably see, God is really helping me get in touch with my insanity so I can delve deeply into that homework.

I am a ragamuffin…and He loves me

Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning helped me to glimpse (I say glimpse, because I will never fully comprehend it) God’s love and grace in amazing ways. Manning knew the depths of the pit intimately but discovered the depths of the father’s love in his suffering. He’s on my top ten list of people I want to meet in heaven.

The following video snippet comes from a longer, amazing sermon Manning preached. I’ve watched/listened to that sermon numerous times when I was either already deep in the pit, trying to crawl out of it, or if I just need a reminder of His love. So, in case you forget like I do, here you go:

Failings..and falling asleep in peace

I have come to the realization that in every area of my life I am failing in some way.

  • I fail to be the mother I always hoped I would be
  • I fail in the daughter, sister, aunt department
  • I fail daily in the faith arena
  • I am failing at keeping up with the demands in my job
  • I fail in my finances
  • Colossal fails occur in my relationships
  • I fail in keeping up with car maintenance
  • I fail at clutter-control
  • I fail in my words…and sometimes I even cuss
  • I fail at taking care of my temple…and boy, this really brought the tears last night as I looked in the mirror
  • I fail at honesty and vulnerability
  • I fail in worship
  • I fail to say no when I should
  • I’m failing to love those who have hurt me in the way I should

And the list goes on and on…

I talked to my best friend Jesus last night about all of these failings in a state of panic. You know what he told me? He gently said “It’s okay sweet girl, my grace is sufficient.” I know I shouldn’t argue with Jesus, but I said “But, I should be better.” He reminded me again “My grace is sufficient.” (I think I failed at punctuating this paragraph properly)

A few nights before that panicked conversation, with quivering lips and trembling hands, I prayed Psalm 139:23. Next to the prayer for patience, many people (count me in) try to avoid this prayer.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

He answered my prayer. He searched my heart and showed me my anxious thoughts. What is amazing, though, is He didn’t tell me to buck up, to get my act together, to try to be better, to strive for perfection, to pray the Our Father 20 times, to just slap a smile on and pretend to be something I am not. He told me that He is enough. What He did for me (and everyone) on the cross is enough. I can crumble into His arms and He accepts me just as I am. He calls me His sweet girl.

The panic died down and I fell asleep in His comforting embrace. Thank you Jesus!

Grace

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“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!'” Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations

Who can you trust with your tears?

Guilt

Wednesday at lunch, I was driving and listening to K-Love. The announcers were talking about “5 ways to connect with your child.” I was rolling my eyes and ready to change the dial to classic rock (yes, I love classic rock), not because I don’t want to connect with my child, but because those type of to-do lists drive me crazy. Why? Because most of the time, instead of encouraging me, they usually succeed at making me uncomfortably aware of all the ways I’ve failed my daughter and fallen short of the world’s standard of the perfect mother. Despite my foreboding, the radio dial remained and I listened, sure of the impending guilt trip. The guilt trip came…but instead of leading me into a shame storm it led me to an apology to my daughter and the realization that the Lord is changing me, he is softening my heart.

One of the points was, loosely quoted by me: “Let your child feel their emotions. If they are upset and crying, instead of trying to get them to stop crying, let them cry and feel, they are trusting you with their tears.” Immediately, tears welled up in my eyes. Those words “they are trusting you with their tears” hit me hard.

I meditated on the sixteen years of my daughter’s life and realized that at one time she trusted me with her tears, but after too many moments of dismissing her wounded heart and telling her “don’t cry”, I believe I may have lost that trust.

Thursday morning I made amends to my girl, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be more compassionate, loving, and understanding in the future.

That one “to-do” also got me thinking about who I can trust with my tears. Who allows me to feel without feeling the need to quickly “fix” the situation so they don’t have to see me cry? Who trusts that God is working in whatever situation I am facing and can sit with me, hold my hand, and let me cry? I am grateful that I do have a few safe people I can trust with my tears. I also thought about whether my friends trust me to do the same for them? I know I have often shut their feelings down just like I did to my daughter. I’m so very sorry to those who experienced that treatment from me.

I’m learning about the healing one can find through tears. Do people forget that Jesus wept (John 11:35)? Does the world think God made a mistake when he gave us tear ducts? Sometimes I wonder by the world’s response to tears and sorrow. Tears are a healing, wonderful gift given to us by our Creator God.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8

How do you feel after a good cry? I know I feel like a fresh rain has cleansed my heart and the sun is shining in my soul.

Don’t be sorry for having breath in your lungs

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I say sorry a lot

Often I say it too much

My good friends have told me so

Sometimes I’m sorry for cutting someone off

I try my best to say I’m sorry when I’ve messed up

But the Lord lovingly tells me “Don’t be sorry for having breath in your lungs.”

For far too long, I was disappointed in the life I’ve lived. Because of my many world-defined “weaknesses”, and mistakes that I’ve made, I thought I was defective, not worthy of the breath in my lungs. Somehow, I thought God made a mistake when he made me…because I’ve been listening to the voices of the world. I have always been ultra-sensitive…and the “world” doesn’t much like ultra-sensitive. I have always been creative – and for too long I thought being creative, by the “world’s” economy, was a waste of time. I’ve never been a clean freak – and the “world” says “cleanliness is next to godliness” (nowhere does it say this in the Bible, by the way). I have never been very organized – and the “world” doesn’t much like clutter or the people who create it. I have struggled with depression and anxiety – and the “world” tells me to snap out of it.

I’ve accumulated a collection of masks over the years so that I can switch them out depending on the person I am going to encounter. I put on the “I’ve got my act together” mask when I encounter the person who thinks that sharing feelings is for weaklings. I grab my “our apartment is clean and spotless” mask when that friend or family member who majors in “inspection” calls that they are coming in 30 minutes (check out the closet). I put on my “no, I haven’t been creating art” mask when I encounter that person who thinks art is for elementary school kids. You get the picture.

But when I am still and quiet and listen for His voice, God tells me to shut off the voices of this fallen world. He says:

·         You are my beautiful, beloved child.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

·         Don’t despise your weaknesses.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

·         Many of my children have suffered from depression (Elijah, David, Peter, Paul). Don’t be ashamed of this gift that brought you to your knees and instilled a deep hunger for My presence in your life. I will use your suffering for good.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given usus.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

·         I love you.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

·         Don’t be sorry for having breath in your lungs.

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10

I’m so grateful God’s economy is the total opposite of the world’s economy. Thank you Lord for the blood-bought breath in my lungs.

“There is a mighty battle going on for control of your mind. Heaven and earth intersect in your mind; the tugs of both spheres influence your thinking. I created you with the capacity to experience foretastes of heaven. When you shut out the world and focus on My Presence, you can enjoy sitting with Me in heavenly realms. This is an incredible privilege reserved for precious ones who belong to Me and seek My Face. Your greatest strength is your desire to spend time communing with Me. As you concentrate on Me, My Spirit fills your mind with Life and Peace.” Sarah Young, Jesus Calling