“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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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Being stuck is a feeling, that most, if not all, have gone through. It’s when you’ve done almost all you can do and there is no evidence to show for it. It’s the frustrating, nagging, almost haunting voice that says, “Do more, keep aiming, keep trying…” It can keep some of us in anxiety-induced insomnia at night, and it can cause some of us to pull the covers back in a shame-induced sleep. It affects all of us in different, but significant ways.

Yet, we have a choice in how we choose to handle being lost in the wilderness.   We can wallow in destructive thinking and habits, or we can alter our perspective. Usually when all the doors are shut tight, there is something trying to be told to us if we choose to be still and listen. So, then what do we do when things aren’t working?

  1. Be Still – What a contrary action to society’s “do more” approach. When we’re able to take a step back, reflect and ask ourselves the honest question, “What is really going on in this season?” It can create room for honest reflection and propel us into the action that would be effective for us.
  2. Stop Forcing Everything – Now, I’m a big fan of continual movement, and the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” phenomena, but if you continue acting in a way that feels forced or coerced, is it really helping with your integrity?
  3. Start writing gratitude lists – It’s a simple concept, but there is something potent when we begin focusing on all that we have, instead of concentrating on the lack in our life. We ALL have something to be grateful for and when we hone in on the blessing it causes a shift.
  4. Be willing to receive direction in a way you may not expect – Sometimes the answers to our prayers don’t necessarily look the way we may have expected, but it’s always for our greater good.
  5. Don’t be afraid to do something different – As we’ve all heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results”. Go out on a limb, be bold and try something outside your comfort zone.

Ultimately, it’s okay to be in a position in life where things aren’t going according to the plan for which we may have hoped. In my opinion, when we can embrace the fact that we’re not in control of this beautiful, magnificent life that was given to us, it can actually allow us to let go of the need to know answers as to why we may be “stuck.”   And at the core of that concept is freedom. So regardless if you may be stuck in this Christmas season, or things just may not be going according to “your” perfect plan, may I suggest we take a step back, be still and refocus on the things that are important, that are life giving and then take the next action?   There’s so much more that awaits for you.

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The façade of perfection

It’s been a weird season. There have been countless blessings and transformative experiences that I would never have imagined for myself, while there have been definitive moments I’d rather sweep under the rug of avoidance. Nonetheless, I’m learning to handle the transition of changed; the key word is “learning”. I’m awkwardly stumbling over my feet, yet with great perseverance I keep getting back up and focusing on God’s promises and vision for my life. And it’s through the art of finding my way that I’m gracefully grasping that I’m not perfect, and I miss the mark countless times. In brutal honesty, I’m untangled, I have messy feelings that like to escape my “perfectly” coiffed demeanor and there are many situations where I cling to things that cause me more harm than good.

Yet through the tiresome striving I realize I’m not being called to be perfect, I’m being called to mature in my walk with Christ. If we delve into Matthew 5:48 it says we are called to be “ perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek word for perfect is “telos” and translations of the word “telos” are “perfect, goal, end or purpose.” In this context, “telos” is used as a path towards an end. In later scripture, the word “telos” is used as a way to describe the mature Christian walk (1 Corinthians 14:20, Corinthians 4:12). Therefor, if this is the case then how can I grow in my walk? I can continue reading the Bible, versing scripture verbatim, writing in my journal, and this isn’t to disqualify the fact I don’t enjoy doing these things, yet on the same pendulum something is missing, I’m craving something more, I’m desiring a deeper relationship with the God of creation. In essence, I’ve hit a wall and I take full responsibility for that. I need to remove the lenses I’m reading the Bible through and exchange them with a new pair. A pair that can honestly only be provided by God. You see I’m yearning for truth; raw, illuminating truth. Therefor during this transition I plan to seek God in different avenues alongside the spiritual guidelines I already follow– for if you earnestly seek Him, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Some options I have are to study the Bible following a specific theme (i.e.: the life of Jesus, identity in Christ, healing, etc.) delve broader into the meaning of the word and then let the meaning penetrate the calloused areas of my heart and establish a richer prayer life where it’s Christ-centered and not Brianna-centered (and it can so easily sway that way). This process for greater intimacy with God will be uncomfortable because growth is never painless, yet staying the same will leave me with the looming question, “What if I didn’t choose to grow?” My question for you is this: in the shifting season how do you delve deeper with God?

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“Do you think I’m fat?” The question effortlessly arouse from my lips. The person answered back with a patent, somewhat comforting answering of , ” No, stop worrying about it.” You see, this question was my way of finding stability in an unstable world littered with diets, restricting, getting rid of food and at times, excessive overeating. I found comfort knowing that those around me found me acceptable in regards to how I looked – it was a safety blanket for every emotion that seemed out of control or unbearable.
But then at the age of 21 I entered recovery for my eating disorder. The harm to others, the self-torture and obsessive thoughts became all-consuming. When I entered the treatment center in Chicago I felt ready to tackle this demon. Staff would escort me to the bathroom, they would patiently watch all the of us clients finish and complete our meals and we were encouraged to talk about our feelings, rather than just our bodies.
After close to four months I left the bubble of treatment and found solace at a sober-living in California. Yet, the war with food and my body didn’t stop – it was clinging for dear life. I still acted out, while claiming sobriety in other areas of my life. I felt like a fraud, and the internal confliction was eating away at my already low self-esteem.
I eventually moved back to Canada and with that move something shifted. I can’t pin-point it exactly, but after years spent in prayers for freedom I was beginning to experience it. I no longer got rid of my food everyday, I would leave my apartment regardless of who I felt about my body and I began the process of acceptance around who I am.
Most of life I was convinced that my weight and appearance lied as the foundation of my identity. But, after some time of spending time in God’s word things started to shifts. I started to internalize my worth, my value. This didn’t come without effort on my part though – I would walk around my apartment declaring His truth of who He is, who I am and His promises. I would wake early in the morning to spend time with Him – writing openly and honestly in my journal and praying for the deepest desires of my heart. I was enthralled by a God who I knew made all things possible.
In all honesty I can say I’m not fully free from my disordered thinking and there are some actions around food I’d rather not do. But, today I accept where I’m at and know that in my weakness, He is strong and can shine brighter in this situation then I could ever do on self-will alone.

Acceptance

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The Power of Honesty

I have been dishonest.

A fraud some would say.

For all those times where I carelessly and effortlessly pointed out your imperfections and labeled you, I possessed most of those qualities myself.

When I called you prideful, my heart was woven with stories of self-centered accomplishments waiting to be told.

When I called you judgmental, my brain wrote tales of your life filling in the blank spaces with hyperboles and misconceptions.

When I cast the first stone, I put on the robe of self-righteousness and disregarded my previous feeling of being ridiculed for my sin.

Some would say this is the human way.

But, I refuse to excuse my poor behavior and place blame on my generational lineage.

Instead I take full responsibility of my errors.

And, humbly say, “I’m sorry for not loving you the way Christ intended you to be loved.”

You were destined to be loved in such a way that removes walls, abolishes fears and suspends judgment.

You are called to experience ravishing love.

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