A Gentle Cure for a Faith Crisis

Faith.
A grace-laden word that means so much to a variety of people. And, I’m going to be straight up: I have a tendency to propel into action, rather than riding the seas of the unknown.
The Bible talks a lot about faith, a prime example is in Hebrews when the author, Paul, is beginning a linage of men and women of great faith from the Old Testament, he starts of his list by stating his definition of faith, “(n)ow faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.(Hebrews 11:1)
Unfortunately, his definition of faith has not been totally true in my life. I have yet to see many of things I prayed for, with great, heart-wrenching faith, manifest before my eyes.
My first faith memory is praying for shoes. I was in grade two and they were those jelly shoes that were super uncomfortable to wear. Well, I prayed to get them. In my gentle, naive heart, I believed I would receive those shoes so much, I actually wept for them. I never got those slip-ons. But, a few months later, I actually got shoes that were top-not jelly sneakers. And interestingly enough, I got the runners when I wasn’t focusing or begging for them.
Fast-forward about 20 years later and I’m no longer praying in faith for shoes. But, I am praying in faith for circumstances that are really uncomfortable. Praying for the grief I feel after experiencing losing people. Praying for healing for legs that no longer work like they used to work, leaving me with a lack of mobility and in almost constant pain. Praying for restoration in situations where the people I love, and even myself, have had harsh words spoken against us. And, praying the state of the world. A world that is longing for meaning, a world desperately needing some kind of refuge, a world that is yearning for connection, but on the contrary is in a state of constant fear, judgment, hatred and thinks the solution to this is more external resources. The funny thing about having to have more is that you’ll always have to more. It won’t stop.
So, I wrestle with the tension of my faith-filled prayers and not seeing them take form. But, just like the shoe prayer, maybe God has not answered some of my prayers in my time frame because they were never meant to be answered in my time frame. Maybe, just maybe, God allows me (and some of us) to wait to receive our answers so we know his character more than the gifts we receive. You see, the shoes I received were such a better gift than the shoes I originally wanted. And, I choose to believe that’s how God works: that He makes everything perfect in His timing.IMG_4843

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The Truth Behind Honesty

I am a big fan of people who are candid.  And not just the honesty that is laced with kind words and gentle smiles. But, the awkward honesty; the truth-telling that can make you cringe with the thought, “Did they really just say that?”   For me, these people are a refreshing glass of water, in a society filled with patent answers and responses.

And I’ve noticed it’s in the authentic exchange of misplaced, fumbling words that people have the exquisite freedom to be themselves.  And aren’t we all secretly searching for that?  A sacred space to share our truth with unveiled faces.

During this season I have learnt this powerful truth:  share the truth, even if your voice shakes.  And, let me just state this:  I have said things that may have been better left unsaid, I used words that I didn’t even think were part of my vocabulary and I had to apologize to people for my rigorous honesty, more than once.

But, I showed up for myself regardless of the consequences.

Being honest is intimidating; it can hold fears of potential rejection, abandonment and expectations.  But, speaking light into the darkness allows you to be unbound from yourself.

I believe  God yearns for a deeper level of intimacy with Himself and within the community He created.  We do this by sharing our truth with God.  God yearns for us to tell him everything – from the secrets, to the lies, to the hopes and unmet dreams; He is the One who wants to meet you where you’re at — when we practice honesty with Him we begin to see His perspective into all of our situations.   The beautiful aspect about God is that he’s not going to punish you for speaking your heart, in fact He’s going to welcome and embrace every part of you. And it’s through a healthy relationship with God we can practice the beautiful balance between being safe and being vulnerable with those around us.  It’s in knowing profound truth that we can lean into our story, instead of running from it, and gently encourage others to do the same. Will you join me in seeking raw truth? In standing your position, holding your ground. We are worth freedom.

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The Beauty in the Impossible

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It’s the beginning of fall – the leaves have changed to warm coloured tones, the temperature has suddenly dropped, and the rain has begun to downpour almost everyday, leaving no room for sunlight. In retrospect, I know now the power of light, and when we have those days where the sliver of sunlight has etched it’s warmth into one of our days of consistent rain, I hold those days with gratitude; it’s extremely liberating when light penetrates long seasons of darkness. Yet, as the season changes, like many of you, I am praying for a transition in my life.

What’s been giving me hope is the truth found in the verse in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible” ( New Living Translation).

You see man/woman has human limitations. We can easily be frail in our best disposition. Wearing masks to suit the needs of society, we cannot save ourselves. Let’s really take a look at this. Would we honestly want to be the answer to our problem?

Some of us can easily error on the side of being judgmental, hypocritical, while desperately wanting connection all that same time.   We brilliant contradictory humans need something more stable, more constant, something more at rest, but can simultaneously give us rest; because most of us are anything, but at rest in our own strength.

And that’s okay, there’s beautiful freedom in admitting that.

You see, when I choose to “…believe ALL things are possible with God” (Matt19:26, NLT) It’s as though I don’t have to strive to make the changes happen.

I don’t have to force healing; trying to manipulate, coerce and problem-solve my way to into freedom.

I don’t have to coerce loving those around me, it’s natural with pure motives.

I can boldly hope.

And, I can take healthy action without fear that will allow me to grow as a person and better aid others.

It’s because I’m relying on a God that can do the supernatural in those around me and myself.

If you’re yearning for change in area of your life this season, I would love for you to know it IS possible with Him. Nothing is too big, too small, too complex, too insignificant or, too overwhelming for Him to deal with. But, sometimes our timeline for answered prayer is not His timeline, and when we grasp that, it creates room for acceptance and a peace that is supernatural.

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My First Passion

I grew up having a passion for all things literature. In fact, the books I read today have coffee splattered stains and are tattered with crumpled, folded pages. My devotion results in hasty reading, absorbing the words etched on the pages as though they provide a means to an unmet need.

This all started when I was an infant – sitting in a closed-off, wooden crib, toys sprawled all around with a single children’s picture book propped to the side, waiting to be held. The book enticed me more than the baby doll, or the rattling toys that made irritating noises.   My mom would awake from her sleep and find me sitting up, scanning the pages of these books, almost yearning for more.

This need for words started young.

I continued reading, clinging to the literary greats as means of escape from a reality that seemed a bit uncomfortable for my tender age of 11. At the time, books became my solace, my safe haven in a world that was chaotic and unpredictable.

Yet, as I got older, and maybe one could say bitter, I allowed the masterpieces that I held so dear to collect dust on my bed side table, only to sweep off the grey film when guests came over.

Reading no longer was a joy, it was a discipline etched into a schedule littered with trivial pursuits of adulthood. Pursuits that left me exhausted and weary, missing the days of my youth — days that held little responsibility, countless moments for never-ending dreaming and a heart full of naive freedom.

However, the books continued to call from my nightstand. They persisted to intrigue me with the remembrance of how their words were craftily strewn into immaculate sentences that left the reader wanting more.

More of the creatively strategic plot.

More from the characters who spoke life into personal circumstances.

More of brilliant metaphors that can only be described through written word.

And, most importantly, more meaning.

So, one night after much longing, I picked up a novel I had read years before, cracked the hard cover spine and slowly began to read. Reminding myself of the passion that was once buried deep.

I became enmeshed, and as the crisp, 2am night air peeked through the slit in the window pane, I knew that I had begun to found what I had thought I lost: fresh perspective into a dismal situation.

 

 

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“Oh, I’m Just in a Dry Season…”

Is God ever distant with us? Most of us eager Bible seekers can answer that with a sufficient, “No.” The Bible is laced with verses that speak of God’s continual care, such as He “is with you always, even to the ends of age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV), that “He will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV) and that He “does not change” (Malachi 3:6, NIV). Yet sometimes – for me a solid chunk of time- our feelings are fickle, and we as imperfect humans can too often rely on our emotions to gauge our relationship with God.   May I be so bold to write that this relationship with a stable, constant God should not be based on the dramatic highs and lows of emotions? Because for me, if it’s based on my mental state I won’t be able to fully trust the relationship.

Let me explain.

I have made stupid (for lack of better words) choices based on my sentiments. I’ve quit jobs hastily, I have made critical comments to people I love and I’ve handed in essays more than two weeks late – all on the basis of my feelings. In those moments, and in my self-righteousness, I thought I was justified. Yet, in retrospect I caused harm because I acted out in how I felt at the time. That’s why I don’t always trust my feelings. I consider them valid, but I don’t hold confidence in them.

Therefor, we may feel that God may be distant, but is He? We may sense tension that may seem like separation, but my sweet friends He is still there. What is required of us is to continue seeking Him, regardless of how our current mood may be. And we can do that by going to Him with our gnawing fears, ridiculed doubts and perplexing questions about this period for lives. That’s what an intimate relationship is about – commitment regardless of how we may feel.

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5 Things I Learned in 2015

 

I’m excited for 2016; I have an upcoming speaking engagement, doors opening in other avenues (which will be revealed later) and an overall sense of ease and excitement. Yet, reflecting back on the year 2015, I’ve realized that the past year has been a year of momentum and major learning experiences, and here are five that I have learned:

  • God opens doors and God shuts doors – As much as I love the illusion of control, I can’t control the hand of God. Most of the amazing, brilliant opportunities that were handed to me were God-given and not forced. The ones I coerced and manipulated left me barren and ridden with anxiety and confusion.
  • It’s okay to not have an answer for everything – I don’t have a concrete, full-time job, I don’t know the career path after university and I don’t know why some people do some of the things they do. But, it’s okay to not know. Some things are not revealed to us for a particular reason, and I have to rest in the understanding of this.
  • There is a difference between passion and calling – I don’t know where I learned this from, but it left a lingering mark on my heart. There may be a deep passion in your heart to pursue something, yet is it your calling?   A calling is a “divinely inspired” inner urge to follow a certain occupation/vocation (thank you, dictionary.com).   Listen to the still, small voice in your heart and follow that with perseverance.
  • Be around people who make you feel a sense of safety, peace, yet can still challenge your ineffective, unhealthy behaviour – I’ve learned this year when I’m surrounded by people who illuminate the areas that I’d rather keep hidden, that is when growing occurs.
  • People make mistakes, forgive them and loosen the chain of expectations– If I want to be forgiven and experience grace, I better be forgiving others. Self-righteousness has gotten me nowhere time and time again.

 

In closing, I’ve learned and am still learning some of these lessons.  I’m grateful that 2015 was a year where God dramatically showed His hand in my life in multiple ways and despite some of my choices, never let go.   As 2016 begins, I pray that I gently let go of the things I held on so tightly to in 2015, and go into this year with the hope that He is not yet finished with this story – this wonderful, incredible, story.

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Can a Hairstyle Really Change Your Life?

All of me wants to scream, “YES!!!” to that surface, yet authentic question.  For the previous two weeks I was on the hunt for a new hairstyle– ample free time has that effect on some of us.   I was thinking a highlighted, blonde “lob”, or keeping my long tresses and dying them dark.   And for those of you who may not be familiar with the term “lob”, a lob is a long bob.  Regardless I went with the former choice.   I was genuinely excited about getting a new hairstyle.  It’s been around nine months since I got my last colour, and well, seasons change and that means my hair must too.

Yet if I’m going to be transparent, a “tiny” part of me naively thought my new external representation would cause a ripple, calming effect to the chaotic situations around me.   Looking at previous evidence though my appearance hasn’t always been the defining factor for life’s outcomes. And, if it has been, then sometimes it’s better those opportunities were never granted to me in the first place.

So, to answer the question, no, I don’t think a hairstyle can change your life.  It can alter your mood for a day, maybe a week, but it cannot bring substantial change. Lasting change happens when we stop putting ourselves in predesigned, labeled boxes and accept our individualistic, unique beauty.   Transformation occurs when we embrace God’s unconditional love, and accept right where we are in the moment, because shame and striving has never been a healthy and effective catalyst for any kind of momentum.

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