It takes courage to be vulnerable.
You heard me right. Vulnerability. This is what I have been struggling with lately. Only I didn’t realize it fully until about two days ago.
Recently I started a Bible study with a small group of girls around my age. At our last meeting, the leader and I got to talking about our lives and the anticipation we have as we start this study. Mostly good, but partially bad. Let me explain: The book that we are using for our study is The Armor of God, by Patricia Shirer. You might have heard her speak or seen her act in the movie, War Room. Let me tell you, that amazing scene with her beating the Devil that everyone remembers about that movie–that is NOT an acting job. Using the power of prayer is one of her passions, which is what her book is about.
In the first several sessions of the book, she points out that Satan likes to twist what God has told us, what we believe about ourselves, and wants to use the smooth talk of the world to deceive us. He takes all this and mixes it into a package that we will accept; a pill that we can swallow. Sometimes he takes the mess and chaos in our lives and condemns us so that we give up. Sometimes he whispers lies to our heart, so our mind starts listening to those lies when we are alone. And sometimes he sits back and smiles because we have simply forgotten the truths that Christ has instilled in us.
I had one such moment–well, actually a lot of moments like this–in the past several weeks. Nothing terrible was happening in my life, and really, things seemed to be going very well. But I began to believe the lie that I am alone. That I am not quite good enough. That I need to be more. And you know what happened? Instead of trying harder, or reading the Bible more, or praying to the Lord to speak to me, I just gave up. What does that look like in my life? Nothing major. I didn’t go off the deep end and start partying or isolating myself. I didn’t really change anything that I was doing. I didn’t even act outwardly like anything was going on in my heart.Which might have been the problem.
Instead, my change happened when I was by myself. I would sit on my couch, by myself, and evaluate what I had done that day. It didn’t stop there. I would replay conversations that I had had and evaluate what I could have done differently. That was a dumb thing to say! Why didn’t I just stay and talk to that person instead of ignoring? I ate all the junk food in my house, which fortunately is not a lot, but more than normal. Chocolate, Cheese-its (single-handedly ate an entire box in three days), cereal bars, cupcakes (okay, only 2 cupcakes, but both on the same night. After the cheese-its). I slept way later than I normally do. I binge-watched shows. I skipped running for most of the week (and I love running). I debated on going for coffee with friends but decided against it. I can’t afford it. I’m trying to save money. I have no life. 😦
None of this is hugely consequential, but you know what? It affected me. It affected not only my actions, but my thoughts, my mood, even my emotions. I still read my Bible. I still taught LifeGroup. I still encouraged my friends. Then why is it such a big deal? What was I focusing on? In this case, no matter what I was doing, I was focusing on me. I was focusing on what I didn’t have. Let’s go back to the lies I was believing: I am alone. I am not good enough. I need to be more. It’s like my mind got caught in the whirlpool of my emotions.
Guess what? I was wrong. I was believing the lies. I am not alone. Not only do I have friends, family, and community, but I have the Lord! Also, I will never be good enough on my own. Of course not! I’m human! But I’ve also been given victory because I’ve surrendered my life to the Lord, and HE HAS ALL VICTORY! I do not need to fear. That last lie about “being more” stems from fear. What if? What if I didn’t do it just right? What if they don’t accept me? What if I miss out? Okay, maybe I don’t get to do everything, but God is not holding out on me. And He has created me to be exactly who I am. I’m going to say it again. God is not holding out on me.
Can you say that out loud? God is not holding out on me. Powerful, isn’t it? It took me a while to get that. But what a difference it makes!
What snapped me out of this? Nothing as shocking as a bolt of lightning, but I randomly woke up one morning saying, “Thank you,” to the Lord. Kind of strange, right? It wasn’t even part of the dream that I had been having. But it woke me up enough for me to realize, That is it! That is what I need to be doing!
TO BE CONTINUED…