“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
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.
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
I’m reading this book now, and boy is it speaking to me about the heart God desires. I have also listened to the message that prompted the writing of the book. Here is the link: http://vimeo.com/m/52256169
Originally posted on BEAUTIFUL:
Earlier this month I re-read Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. So good! This book was written out of a talk NLD did at a Campus Crusade Staff Conference in 1995. A friend who was there gave me a cassette tape of that talk in ’97 or ’98. I’ve listened to it countless times, and lent it out to dozens of girls. I still have that nearly worn out cassette, but no cassette player. So when I began feeling the nudge to remember/reconsider some of those truths, I pulled the book off my shelf. So glad I did!
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A friend asked me a few weeks ago “How can you be so open about your life and your struggles?” She heard me share my testimony in my recovery program, I had begun to open up about my imperfections and inadequacies in our single mom group, and I have been writing about my journey through recovery from depression and codependency on my blog.
My answer: I no longer want people to love the mask-wearing, people-pleasing, false version of me. I want them to love the “real” me – the good, the bad, the ugly. I told her that I was exhausted living in a straight-jacket of the world’s expectations. It’s exhausting putting on and taking off masks all day long.
Last night I had a revelation after a lesson on grace. After meditating for a few seconds on a question about the grace I’ve experienced in recovery, a thought came to my mind. Suddenly, I was that 7 year old little girl again watching a biblical movie with my dad (I can’t remember the name of it, but I’m pretty sure Charlton Heston was in it). It was the scene in the Old Testament where Lot and his family are high-tailing it out of Sodom and Gomorrah (Google it). They are warned not to look back at the “evil cities” that are being destroyed. Lot’s wife looks back as they are standing on hill a few miles from the cities. She immediately turns into a pillar of salt (or stone). I remember as a little girl feeling so sorry for her, for Lot, for their children, and for myself. I was sure I would have looked back too, and I was terrified. That image stuck with me for weeks…months…obviously my whole life if it still came to mind at 42 years old.
The revelation was this: before I started sharing my sin, my scars, my inadequacies with the people in my life, I was terrified. I held a deeply ingrained fear that I would turn into a pillar of salt…that being “real” would mean death for me. I’m realizing that a death did take place through these many months of recovery – the death of the false me, and a new life of trusting in Jesus is emerging from the ashes (or shall I say salt?). I realize that the shedding of masks I’ve worn for so long is a type of burial. A painful, but necessary, burial…if I am ever going to embrace the life God has for me, allow the light of Jesus to shine through my weak spots, and be loved for the REAL, mask-free me.
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
What childhood terrors have you found freedom from?
Looking forward to reading this book. Pastor Tullian mentioned it in a recent sermon, so I found this excerpt and recommendation by Pastor Bryan Lowe. Messy Spirituality– Mike Yaconelli.
I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to begin a weekly devotional series based on lines from some of my favorite songs. That line, from Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. – ”When you think you’ve had too much of this life…hold on” has been hanging out in my head for WEEKS. The song was a comfort to me after my dad’s death 15 years ago.
I’ve been there…had too much of this life, and it wasn’t too long ago. I often think I’ve moved past that point, when gush, like a tidal wave, the flood of fears, anxieties, sadness, and the feeling that I’m barely breathing come rushing in (sometimes I have to use my inhaler). They came rushing in this week, the day after I found out about Robin William’s suicide – yes, I typed those words. I heard the news on the radio on the drive home from work. I was initially shocked and saddened, but it didn’t affect me too much that night. I shared the news with my daughter, and she was visibly distraught. I didn’t really understand why she was so sad, and clearly she didn’t want to talk about it (she’s 16). I know she’s grown up with so many of his movies – Aladdin, Happy Feet, Patch Adams, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire and the list goes on and on. I suspect he was like a virtual father-figure to her.
The next morning on the drive to work the tidal wave came. I was an anxious mess all day long. Not just because of the news but because of some other circumstances that I cannot discuss here and now. I put on my trusty mask, only I think it needs to be repaired because it didn’t quite cover up the chaos hiding underneath. I shared with my daughter that night that the news hit me.
I wrote the following poem with hurting friends in mind, but I could just as easily be writing it to myself, aware that there are times when I think I’ve had too much….so I could read these words to remember that there are better days ahead.
To The Hurting One
I suspect the pain runs deeper than you are willing to admit
I’m sure your stomach is in knots and panic has probably set in
I know you want to hang on, but it seems so very hard
I’m sure sleep eludes you, and when you do sleep the terror sleeps right beside you
So many voices are telling you what to do, but even your next breath seems like a major chore
More than likely you wonder if God is punishing you…and you wonder if He has ever loved you
I fathom anger lurks right at the edge and you are one step away from proclaiming your pain to the world
Hurting one, I’ve been there and won’t say I don’t struggle anymore
Hurting one, I see the child in you begging you to take his hand and lead him back into the light
I know it’s so so so very hard to believe that you are loved (believe me, I know), but I pray you discover its true
Hurting one, I urge you to sit in His lap, share from the depths of your heart, let the tears roll, and let Him hold you, for He cries with you
Hurting one, I know it’s so hard to see, but the Light is there…reach for the Light
©Christina Hernandez, August 2014
For more of my depression story, please read my previous blog posts.