I’m sitting on the reclining couch with my feet up in my sitting room in my pj’s and fuzzy socks. To my left is a shadowbox side table filled with items you’d find in the ocean; a custom piece someone created for me when I moved down to Florida. On that table I have my phone charging and a cold mug of coffee with 1 Corinthians 15:58 on it reminding me to do everything unto the Lord with excellence. To my right is the book I finished reading today called Unpunishable by Danny Silk. The rest of the house is testament to the fact that we had a house full of people on Thanksgiving and then went out of the town over the weekend. My kitchen table is in a completely different room. My couches are off to the sides of the living room because I had to make room for the tables. The folding tables are still up here against a wall and there are chairs everywhere. My kitchen…I’ll just use the word “yikes” to describe it.
I normally work in my office which is downstairs, which would have been ideal today so I wouldn’t have to look at the mess in the house, but I am determined to “rest” this week. I was a bit busy and overstimulated these last couple of weeks and have learned that to avoid feeling burned out, I just need to take the time to recover after an event. While I can be quite the social butterfly and love to host people, I am an introvert. Alone time to me is not only important but needed. I’m learning what that means and looks like. So, I’m intentionally not caring about the state of my house until I absolutely need to. I guess, I’m learning to prioritize.
I mentioned a book that sitting to my right side that I finished reading today. I read this book in less than 24 hours. That’s how great this book was. We’ve had it for quite a while but there are other books I was reading and studying, so I didn’t have time to get into it, but I knew I would need what was in this book.
There’s a mentorship course for those wanting to write a book that I had come across and had felt strongly that I needed to join. I registered for it as soon as I could and am anxiously waiting for the classes to begin in January. I really believe that this course will be the key to unlock the last few doors to finally finish my book. With that, I continue researching – which includes reading – lots and lots of reading. That’s why I needed to read that book. It’s an aspect to the topic of my book that is very important. Basically, the book teaches on the destructive patterns that are brought on by living a punishment paradigm and how that differs from living out of life of love.
There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
Isn’t that verse so powerful? It’s simple and although it’s truth rings so loudly in our entire being, I can’t help but think “how can something so simple feel so hard to live out?” Do you know what I mean? Is it just me? Do you find this verse easy to live out? For those who know me, my life message is love; perfect love; the Father’s love. I sincerely try to show His love every single day, but this verse…wow! It sure sets quite a high bar…
The more I seek the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to understand and learn what perfect Love really is, the more I discover deeper levels that I need to travel to really understand. If I’m being honest, I was beating myself up all year (again) about how I still haven’t written my book and how much of a failure I am at not following through on this dream that I know God gave me. However, as I pursue Jesus in search of Love in all it’s facets, I am drawn further and further into his love. Not just knowing it or understanding it, but experiencing it.
In preparation for my book I’ve been doing a lot of research and that research has led me into deeper relationship with Him and it has drawn me to a place of complete dependency on Him. I’ve come to a realization that I am incapable of loving as He loves without comprehending, accepting, and living in His love. As I pursue His love, I have been led to a place where I must look into every part of my soul and heart so that every dark place can be exposed to the light of Christ. I know it sounds so beautiful, and it is, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. When Christ shines a light into the dark areas of our lives, we sometimes can experience moments of pain, frustration, disappointment, etc. That’s why so many times we just keep that door closed or the drawer shut. It’s just easier to just not deal with it. Do you have any boxes that you have moved from house to house yet never have opened? Or a drawer filled with stuff in your house that never gets touched? You don’t even know what’s in there. Maybe a junk drawer that desperately needs cleaning, but because you can just shut it and not look at it, it’s easy to keep as is? That’s what I was doing with aspects of my heart.
I was saying all the right things, like “all things are made new, old things have passed away.” Meanwhile I have this box filled with old things that I just never dealt with because the box is closed and away in a corner not bothering anyone. But I’m here to tell you from personal experience, the box is bothering someone. The box was bothering me and I didn’t even realize it because of how subtle it was just sitting in the corner and closed – I could see the box. I even decorated the box to make it look pretty, but what was inside that box never got touched and was always silently tormenting me.
It’s been a messy few months for me. Most people would say I’m exaggerating or that it’s really not that bad, but that’s because they don’t see how I’ve been opening up all the boxes with stuff in them and trying to figure out what to keep and what to throw away – the reality is that there are things that don’t need be thrown away, but to figure that out, I need to go through the things that need to be. Often times we throw away our entire past, even the good things. We have boxes filled with good and bad stuff. It’s really easy to throw the entire box away, but then you are throwing away the good stuff too…and there may be some valuable stuff in there. I desire to live a whole life. A life of shalom and to do that, as hard as it is, I need to go through the items in my boxes and figure out what needs to be thrown away.
So, yeah, my life (internally) the last few months have looked like someone going through spring cleaning. Everything is out and open. You know when it all looks like a mess before it gets clean? The difference is that instead of allowing my trash pile to just sit there, as soon as I see trash and feel it’s trash, I get rid of it; I give it to Jesus and ask Him to heal the space where it was. 5 years ago my life was turned upside down. It took me 2 years to figure out who the “new” me was. I experienced a lot healing after I had an encounter with God’s love, and fairly quickly. I devoted my days to re-learning who my heavenly Father really was and who He said I was. Even so, there were boxes that I left untouched. There were so many boxes that it was just easier to leave some boxes alone and keep them tucked away. But now, as I dive deeper into His love, those boxes were staring me in the face and reminding me that they were left undealt with. While there were painful things in those boxes, there are also treasures in those boxes – and it was/is important that I unbox them.
In some ways, I look at myself over the last 3 years and am thankful to the Lord for how far He’s brought me and taught me. But I also see the failures and, for me, it’s easy to fall into a trap of condemnation. I see how I built walls and called them boundaries. I recognize how easy it is for leaders to hide out of fear of being judged or rejected because of the unrealistic expectation of perfection. I recall the people that I sincerely loved, but was tossed aside when I served no purpose. I, at times, beat myself up not because I could’ve loved them better but because of the pain I felt by their rejection. Somehow I felt like I did wrong by them in being sad and hurt. I know that it sounds silly, but it’s true.
I’m shedding; like a reptile sheds. It’s not that I’m becoming something new. I’ve already been made new in Jesus. I’ve already been born again. I’m just shedding another layer because it’s the only way I can grow. Its uncomfortable. It’s itchy. And it looks nasty, but once the skin is gone – I’m bigger, stronger, and brighter. It’s easy for me to go into a cave and hide while I’m shedding. No one needs to see this. What will people think of me if they knew the real raw stuff I’m shedding? But what I’ve realized is that EVERYONE sheds. We all shed differently, but we all shed. The danger is when we try to hide the fact we are shedding or do everything in our ability to stop the shedding process. What we don’t realize is that we are harming ourselves and those around us. This time, I’m not hiding during this shedding phase. There’s aspects of it that are for privileged people in my life, but there are aspects (like the ones I’m writing about in this post) that are public. Why? Because I know I’m not alone and I want you to know that you aren’t alone. I want you to know that God is not afraid of your junk. If He was, He wouldn’t shine a light on it. When He reveals it to you it because He wants you to take it out and lay it before Him. Be honest with Him about that junk, lay it before Him, repent of it, and then give it to Him. When He takes it, it will disappears. It will be forgiven. It is gone! We can’t say that when it’s still sitting there in a box. Yeah it hurts to look at it and feel it, but now you have a life without an extra box of stuff to carry around.
It’s been a bit over 3 years since God changed my life. I’ve had time to heal, learn, and grow. I’m all settled into my life with Jesus – and what did He do? He said, “You want to learn and be able to teach how to love as I love? First, see those boxes tucked away in the corner? Take them ALL out, open them out, pull every item in the boxes out. Go through everything. You’ve been scared to deal with the trash, but there’s treasure in there as well. Treasure you will need, but won’t ever find until you deal with everything that’s in the box. When you find trash, you’ll feel it (literally), but don’t let those feelings scare you. They don’t scare Me. Just set it before Me and I will throw them into the sea of forgetfulness. But remember, there won’t be just trash. As you get rid of the trash, you’ll begin to expose the treasure. All the gold will lie in the treasure.”
So here I am. It’s been weeks since I opened the first box. I sit in a room surrounded by tons of boxes, some now completely empty, but some with stuff exposed. I kinda feel like a mess, but I know it’s not me that’s a mess. Does that make sense? I’ve definitely felt when the trash has come up and I’ve laid it before Him. I can’t yet say that I’ve found the gold, but I stand on His promises. Somewhere in this mess that surrounds me is tons of gold. I have faith that opening these boxes will produce in me a better ability to love as He loves and to be able to demonstrate and teach how to love as He loves.
To be continued…