To the ones who feel un-useable,

There is a phrase Christians throw around a lot that is meant to make everyone feel worthwhile. Perhaps you’ve heard it: “God can use you right where you are.”

Am I right? I’ve been struggling with that phrase lately. I feel like I’ve been called to do something, something that will make me vulnerable to a lot of people that I don’t know. It requires opening up about my past…but there are some skeletons in there that I’d rather keep hidden. I spent this morning talking to God about it in my journal. So I’ve decided to share that page of it with you, whoever is reading this. I pray that it helps you take your step forward in obedience, wherever that step may lead….

Lord,

It’s hard to feel like I’m completely useful as I am. I feel like I’ve made too many mistakes to be taken seriously. I feel like You’re leading me to write my story, but I feel like so many parts of it are embarrassing and shameful; I don’t want my family to know most of it. It’s like… it’s okay that You know. I just don’t want to come clean to anyone else. And the weight of that shame and fear is a heavy noose around my neck. 

But then I wonder about the girls out there like me — afraid that their past is going to haunt them for the rest of their life. I hate that I’m more afraid of what man will think of me than I am of not walking in the path You have laid out for me. I know I’m forgiven by You. I know You love me, no strings attached, and I don’t have to pretend to be anyone but me. 

But still…sometimes I wish I could just start over, not make all of those mistakes. I’m sure that people have already forgotten who I was. I’m just still afraid that if my name is out there, I’ll be discredited easily and I’ll be even more useless for Your kingdom. 

Yet, even as I write this, I feel You with me, telling me that I’m not useless. I’ll never be useless. That I was made for Your kingdom. That You knew all I would do, all I’ve done, and all I will do — and You’ve still chosen me to further Your kingdom and to find Your other lost children.

So I will. I will write my story and pray it ends up in the right hands…and I know it will because of who You are. 

Okay, so I edited my spelling errors and tweaked a sentence to make more sense as I typed it. You can’t blame me for that. But I still felt that pang of anxiety as I wrote it for you. I still feel anxious now, wondering what you will think and if it will help.

As for my next act of obedience… I’m writing down my story, starting with where I am now. We’ll see where it leads.

Lord,

I pray that You bless whoever comes across this page. I know Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light (Mt 11:30), and I know the plans you have for me are “plans for peace and not for evil, to give [me] a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). I know that You wrote my story, and every bump I felt was helping me help You. I trust that I can follow Your guidance and that my future will be filled with Your love. So, Lord, I accept Your yoke and Your burden and I place mine at Your feet. 

In Your precious name, I pray. Amen.

Are Christian and Christianity Just Words?

 

The other day I was asked what the word Christian means. And it stopped me for a second before I was able to respond. A Christian is “simply” someone who believes  God sent His only begotten Son to earth, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. A Christian believes  God’s Son’s name is Jesus. A Christian believes  Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. That Jesus then took the punishment we deserve because He loves us that much. That three days later, He was resurrected and told us that it was our turn to step up. That we should share what He did. And because of what He did, we have the ability to have an unbelievable relationship with God. That is Christianity.

I then heard “so everyone who says they’re a Christian believes that?”
And the answer was no. Some people say they are a Christian just get people off of their backs about religion. Some people say it because they want to have something in common with other people. Some people say it but don’t understand what it all means.
Then, there are some people who are afraid to say it. They are afraid of being lumped in with people who are bigots, sexist, racist, and more. They are afraid of this perceived notion of what Christianity is, of who Christians are. Or, they might not feel that they are a good enough person to call themselves a Christian. We have this notion that we need to clean up our act before God will consider liking us.

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you a good person. Actually, there is no true “good” person anymore. The one good person who lived and breathed on earth was Jesus. So stop putting people on pedestals because we will all eventually fall off, and you will be the one hurting more for believing in people instead of Christ. You could technically be a horrible person and God will still love you as much as He loves  Mother Teresa. You could technically believe in Christ and go to heaven but still be a mean, greedy, selfish person. There are no strings attached to salvation.

However, when you truly believe in the sacrifice Jesus made, it changes your heart. The love and hope that God provides settles into the cracks of your soul and heals it. It’s not a forced change. God doesn’t want to force you to do anything. But, when you are feeling that good, it’s hard to hide it from other people. It’s hard to want to keep it to yourself. When God is working in your heart, you will notice the hurting happening in the world. You will want to help. God will guide you to where people are if you are open to it. He won’t force you to though.

That sting in your heart, the ache in your belly when you see something horrible happening, that is God. That fire inside of you, wanting people to unify and act out against horrible occurrences, that is God. God loves you as much as He loves the people who hurt you. God loves the victim as much as He loves the culprit. When you do something wrong, that small twinge of guilt in your head or your heart is His heart breaking for you and the person you wronged. I believe it’s the hardest part about Christianity, about being a Christian. You don’t get loved more than anyone…but you also don’t get loved any less.

 I still can’t listen to how Jesus was crucified without crying. Without feeling the weight of my sins being nailed into Him. Without feeling the breathtaking release of knowing that I’m forgiven because of it. I still struggle with feeling worthy of such amazing love. Christ loves us fiercely. He is waiting with open arms for us to turn to Him and accept His love. His heart breaks for every extra second it takes. And the most amazing thing is that He doesn’t want anything from us. He doesn’t want us to clean up our act before we ask for help. He doesn’t want us to hide anything. After you come to Him your slate is wiped clean. Your purity is restored. Your addictions are broken. Your healed.

That is what being a Christian is. It’s knowing you’re a mess but trusting Christ to clean it up for you and guide you to your next step. It’s beautiful. And telling other people about being a Christian is Christianity. It’s letting them know that they don’t have to feel alone, be afraid, or stay on the pedestal.

Lord,

If anyone is curious about You, I ask that they open their hearts and thoughts to You. I pray that they accept the love, peace, and understanding that only You can give. Lord, I ask for your healing on everyone who is hurting. I ask that You continue to place them in my life, that I can continue to spread Your love to everyone I can. I know that I’m just one person, and that I constantly ask You for things. I know that I sin every day and to people watching I am not the best Christian. I thank You for Your mercy, for Your sacrifice. I am so grateful that You love me more than I could ever imagine. And I’m so thankful that You love us all the same.

It’s been a while…and this one is sad.

I can’t believe how long it’s been. I’m dealing with a lot of things. Mostly the end of my engagement. Yeah… I had gotten engaged to this wonderful man and then I realized I was being told no by God. Actually, it was more like God repeatedly telling me no and me ignoring Him. I didn’t trust that He had plans to prosper me and not to harm me. As far as I was concerned, I had been harmed two years ago and I wasn’t going to trust Him completely.

I know I’m the one who ended things. I know I gave him back his things, told him when he could get the rest. He’s been so kind, so sweet that I almost want to take it all back and change my mind. Almost. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to focus on just remembering to breathe. It doesn’t matter how swollen my eyes are, or how putting on makeup is a chore because it hurts. It doesn’t matter how empty and cold my apartment feels now that all of his things are gone. It doesn’t matter how much I miss his smile and touch, or his embrace, the kisses on my forehead, holding hands. It doesn’t matter how my left hand has an indention from his ring or how it’s already starting to go back to normal.

This is the hardest bandaid I’ve had to rip off. And I feel like I’ve left some traces of the glue behind. I’m still finding his stuff as I pack up my own. A sock, some shoes, a stupid empty water bottle. And each time it breaks my heart a little more. I realize I left a journal in his car and I want it back, but then I realize it means I have to contact him. So I do, because I just want one more hug. One more glimpse of his face, a small smile. I know that it’s just making the healing process take longer, but I’m not strong enough to say no to those opportunities.

And I know that God is right beside me, rubbing my back like the good Father He is. I know God is letting me cry into His shoulder and hugging me while I’m finally following His direction. It doesn’t make this hurt any less, it doesn’t make me accept it any easier. Not right now when it’s still so fresh.

I keep listening to that Sarah Evans song, “A Little Bit Stronger.” And I keep waiting to get a little stronger. Maybe I have been? I didn’t cry again until he took the last of his stuff. But maybe that was because I knew he had to come back and that was going to be one more hug and smile and face time. And I don’t want him to be hurting, I don’t want him to shoulder all the blame. Things just didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, the way I planned. And that’s okay.

I’m still so sad that we didn’t make it to one more holiday. We didn’t get to throw a Halloween party or even share a Halloween together. We’re not going to have a Thanksgiving together (he was deployed for the last ones.) We’re not going to have another Christmas morning together. Or New Years Eve.

And I just have to trust that God has something in plan for both of us. I have to trust that there is good in this goodbye. That I’ll be able to think of him and smile and know that we grew from this relationship and will treat the next one better. God is shaping us for the people that we’re supposed to become.

And maybe one day we can be friends. We can share where life is taking us, where God is leading us. I pray for that. I pray for him. I pray that he continues to allow God to speak to him, to guide him, to come to learn God’s love for him.

He was the first guy I really let into my life after…things I’ll post about in the future. He was the first guy to make me feel like it was all okay. And I know it will be okay again. So I thank him for that. It hurts like hell right now, but we’ll be okay again.

Lord,

Thank You for being close to the broken hearted. Thank you for binding up our wounds. I know I’ve done a crappy job of trusting in You for all of my desires and needs. And I know that You still love me, You still want to guide me, You will still heal all of my hurts. I need You, Lord. I know I’ve said it a thousand times before, but please help me keep breathing. Help me keep my focus on You and where you are guiding me. Lord, I ask that you guide others who are hurting and seeking wisdom. I don’t know what others are going through, but I pray that their hearts will open to you. I pray that they will accept the peace, love, and healing that You offer. And, God, thank you for this lesson. I may not appreciate it as much as I can right now, but I know that my future and his will be better for it.