I Call Bullsh**

I was so ready to leave.

So many times over the last year I thought my time in this town was over. I thought God was going to move me on to something else…somewhere else. I even explored where I wanted to go.  I looked for places where I could just be another face in the crowd. If I’m honest, I looked for places where I didn’t have to take care of anyone…places where I could be the one to be taken care of.  But recently I realized that it truly wasn’t about the people, or their needs…it was all about the belief that this place held all my pain…like the ocean holding a drowning man…surrounded, suffocated, trapped.  I just felt like I couldn’t heal here…like I would forever be stuck in all the things that I had been through in this place.  I struggled with the thought that I would never be free. (Take a peak at More Real Than I’ve Ever Been)  And so I looked for places to move.  I looked into jobs in other towns, in other states. I asked God for the release that I thought was coming, but I was met with silence. Absolute silence. What I didn’t understand is that God was beginning to talk to me about something.  But I wasn’t listening.  Not on purpose. I just couldn’t hear Him yet.  But I think I’m beginning to hear Him now.  I think I’m finally seeing a bigger picture to all I’ve had to go through.  And I have begun to burn.

In navigating the hard places in my relationships, God has been revealing something to me.  My selfishness.  All of this pain and heartache I’ve endured have been about HIS passion for this community. A community of people like my daughter, my son. Your daughter, your son.  Not about me.  I know it all sounds so confusing.  Stick with me.

I was brought up with a very clear idea of how the addicted became addicted..and why they stayed addicted.  I knew all the things I’d been taught growing up…about drugs, alcohol…all of it.  I knew what Christians were supposed to believe about homosexuality and gender issues.  I believed what I was taught about all of the things that seem to set off explosions in culture today.  There was always a cut and dried answer to all of it…even if it was confusing.  Please hear me, I believe that there are absolutes written in the Word of God.  But if you hear that, please, also, hear this.  I am not God.  I don’t get to decide if one kind of person deserves His love over another.  I can’t truly see anyone’s heart unless they choose to show me.  And even then, it’s only a piece of it. What I know, is that that old Mitzie believed that if I committed suicide, I would go to hell. No, really. I did. I was told that.  More than once.  But I tried anyway. After my own suicide attempt in 2002, I began to question that belief and many other perceived truths I had about the character of God.  After several years of agonizing over the idea of it, I gave into the impulse to end my life.  It was awful and ugly and very, very real….but not one time did I ever believe that God wasn’t who He said He was.  I just didn’t feel like I could survive the constant pain and hopelessness that I felt in this world.  I never rejected Him.  I never believed that He didn’t love me.  I just didn’t see a way out of it all…other than death.  But God saved me and used that very thing to begin to highlight and free me from the lies.

You see, the enemy wants us to believe things like I believed.  He wants you to think that you have all the “right” answers…that you’ll go to hell if you commit suicide..that you are beyond hope and unworthy of love if you are an addict…that your sexuality determines your value before God…that conservatives are more “Christian” than liberals…that your community doesn’t care about you. That your worth is about how people see you. That the sin you struggle with is making you unlovable and unforgivable.  I am so tired of the enemy of our souls having the loudest say, so I’m calling him out.

And I call BULLSHIT.

I know that I’m nobody special according to the world standard.  I’m not famous in any kind of way.  I’m just a single, divorced mom who’s been through a lot of hard stuff, works a little insurance job and lives in a small town.  And I’m just a middle aged woman who loves Jesus.  But I still call bullshit.  I’m sure there are educated people of faith, who could argue me into the ground and tell me all the reasons I’m wrong…and also call me out for cursing.  That’s fine. I probably wouldn’t enter that argument anyway. But what I do know is that I am that woman at the well (John 4). I’m that woman who has done unspeakable wrongs.  I’ve lied, I’ve had an unfaithful heart, I’ve attempted to end my life, I have wounded my children, I’ve gotten divorced, I’ve held unforgiveness as a weapon, I’ve been unbelievably selfish, I’ve rejected and enabled and I have been a complete coward.  I have also failed…my children, my husband, myself. Let’s face it, I’ve failed everyone at least once…or a million times  And yet Jesus still chooses to sit with me at the well where culture says we aren’t supposed to be.

So here’s the BS.  Showing people Jesus has nothing to do with pointing out other peoples sin as we perceive it. That’s God’s job. We don’t get to decide when it’s time to sit in judgement.  Sometimes God chooses to just sit and be with someone before He ever shows them their “stuff.”  I know this because He’s done it with me.  Over and over again.  But other times he shows it to me quickly…sometimes he rips the bandaid off.  But HE is the one who knows what’s best for me.  At just the right time.  Do we really know or understand the timing of God unless he shows us directly?  Or do we see someones sin and feel the need to shine a spotlight on it as soon as we see it just so that we can save them ourselves?  Like I said, I am that woman at the well.  My sin on his lips has only been one single sentence in a lifetime of affection and kind words from His heart to mine.

So what makes us think that we are drawing people to Jesus by pointing and shouting at them about their  sin?  That’s not our job.  When we show people love, we show people Jesus.  We’ve got to get outside of ourselves.  I know this is in direct opposition to the culture of the world today…which is to sit in our comfy homes and look at the world from a computer screen and form opinions and ideas without ever coming face to face with a real person. But if we continue to crawl further and deeper into our Christian hole, those who need Jesus will ever really know that they need Him.  All they will see is more shame than they already carry on their own.  We have to get over the lie that says we need to look a certain kind of perfect to be a Christian! We have to stop pushing our idea of “appearances” on people.  C’mon my Jesus lovers! We are light bearers!  It’s time to stop expecting someone else to do it!  It’s time to do it ourselves.

My heart is burning for my community.  Burning.  There is so much pain.  There is so much trouble and heartache.  Addiction has exploded.  Gun violence is invading us rapidly.  Human trafficking and childhood sexual abuse are around every corner.  Do we see it or do we ignore it because it’s not in our house?  Do we pay it no mind until it touches our doorstep?  I say all this because I WAS THIS PERSON.  I didn’t see it in my own home until I had to see it.  I was forced to open my eyes.  And I almost caved.  But then I decided to rise up and refuse to be another casualty of apathy.  The enemy doesn’t have to kill you to take you out.  All he has to do is create indifference, blindness.  And right now he is gaining ground in spades.  We close our eyes because we are afraid that it is contagious…that somehow, by looking at it, we will catch the darkness.  I’m telling you…there is only ONE answer. The blood of Jesus.  His very blood is the light and we are light bearers.  Where there is LIGHT there can be no darkness for The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5.  It’s time to stop being afraid of the dark!

Are we, finally, going to be willing to sit at the well with the outcast, where culture says we aren’t supposed to be? Will we finally face the darkness that is encroaching and say no more? It’s time to stop looking at it only when we are forced to. It’s time to walk in the authority we carry because the same power that raised Christ from the dead LIVES INSIDE OF US! 

So needless to say, I am no longer entertaining the idea of leaving this community.  I am here for however long I’m supposed to be….and I’m all in.  And I call bullshit on us all.

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I gave him to you…

It’s 2 am and I’m wide awake. I’ve read my bible. I’ve had intimate prayer. I’ve cried my requests and gratefulness to the Lord. What more is needed for rest to find me? I pray some more. I search my heart. I speak out forgiveness for things I haven’t acknowledged an offense for. I speak forgiveness for what I’ve already forgiven but I’ve picked up again. I’m searching my heart for more. Then it hits me. Be silent Mitzie. Stop talking and just be silent. It didn’t take long. He just needed my quiet heart.

Many times over my 20 year marriage I have wondered why it has had to be so hard…why I have had to feel so much pain. What’s the point of this God? Why has so much of my adult life had to feel so broken? I finally heard the answer in the middle of a night of tears.

I gave him to you to drive you to Me.

I knew that he would be your wilderness. Even more so than your children would be.
As much as I wanted to give you someone who would meet all the human needs that you have, I could not because you never would have found me as you have in the many seasons of pain. When you have questioned how long you would have to endure, when you have asked for a way out, when you have begged me for a rescue from your pain, I heard you, but I could not let you run away because I gave him to you to drive you to Me. If he was not there, you would be wandering, living on the surface, finding small pleasures in silly things. You are one I needed to call into the deep. Deep waters. Deep intimacy. Deep love. I needed you to have a deep story. I gave him to you to drive you to Me. He is not the issue. I am your issue. I gave him to you to drive you to me.

I told you at the beginning of this current season that you are in, that it’s about souls. I came to seek and save the lost. I desire that none would perish. You always apply that to others. That is truth but I am talking about you as much as them. You put such importance in others behavior and heart condition. Your motivation is pure in this but leave that to me. That is not your concern. It is mine alone.

I needed you to have this man whom I love in the deepest parts of Me. This broken, wounded, beautiful soul. I am using his brokenness and wounded heart to drive you to Me. I did not make a mistake. It wasn’t some random choice of fate. I. Chose. Him. For. You. Many times you have seen him as your enemy but he is your gift, Mitzie, he is your gift.

Nothing that has happened in your 20 years has been a surprise to Me. I knew it all before you were born. I knew the good. I knew the bad. I knew the pain. I knew what it would take to drive you to Me. Do you not know that it is that way with everyone? I know what it will take for all to see Me. I give everyone what they need to drive them to Me. They always have a choice but I still give them the gift. I always give them the gift.  He is your gift.

Do you see it now?  I gave him to you to drive you to me.

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Do you see it now?  I gave him to you to drive you to ME…..

The Trenches….

Do you look around you and see suffering everywhere?  What do you do when you see it?  Do you get in the trenches with those who are suffering and pray or do you crawl away and pray it doesn’t touch you?  Do you look beyond the agony and find the purpose?  Sometimes its hard to see anything but the pain.  I know.  I’ve experienced my fair share.  It’s easy to focus on how much it hurts and how we just want to not feel that way anymore.  It’s time to shift our thinking to another possibility.

I read a devotional this morning (http://www.intouch.org/magazine/daily-devotion#.VBr8dvldV8E) that shook my thought process.  Then it became the topic of conversation in a group message I have with some dear friends who get in the trenches with me.  It was about sifting.  How Peter was not ready to take over when Jesus left and so he was sifted in preparation.  It is so hard to look past the suffering and see that there is always a reason, a purpose.  There IS. God is not just about allowing people to experience pain for pains sake.  He wants us to experience more of Him, to grow in faith, to grow in love, to get prepared.

So here is the personal nature of God.  After all of this conversation, a woman walked into my office in obvious pain.  She had hurt etched all over her face.  I asked if she was okay.  She was not.  She poured herself out.  I poured back.  We sat here in my place of work and cried while she let me minister to her and love on her.  She needed God to show up today and He did.  He used another woman in pain to be the heart of Jesus.  He didn’t need someone who had it all figured out.  He needed someone who was in the middle of it to crawl into the trench with her.  So I did.

I challenge you.  Crawl in with someone who needs a personal touch from the Lord.  Be bold.  Be vulnerable.  Be real.  Be Jesus.  Not tomorrow.  Not next month.  Right now.

 

My heart hurts….

I had a realization this morning.  My heart hurting is not necessarily a bad thing.  It means I love, deeply, the one that I am missing or am burdened over.  It means that I am not closed off to my emotions, that I feel the realness of raw moments, good and bad.  When it becomes bad is when I dwell with the bad feeling, when I make my bed with it,when I become best friends with it, when I wallow in it.  When I do not turn that emotion into prayer, I am sinning.  It is sin for me because God has shown me what I need to do with it…that I need to bring them to Him first.  When I don’t do this, I am choosing to discount the emotion that God placed in my heart., to turn away from what He has shown me, what He divinely placed inside of me.  I am choosing MY way of dealing with things, not HIS.

For many years I viewed my emotions as a curse.  Maybe I have said this before but I thought I was a freak because my emotions were so all-consuming.  The process of learning that it was something that God gifted me with has been many years in the making.  He placed this thing in me to accomplish His purpose in my life.  He created me for intercession and is constantly teaching me and showing me how to pray.  I wish I could convey to you the depth of His passion about this, but I only have a tiny glimpse of what that is.  What I am realizing is that the only time that my emotions overtake me is when I am not taking them to the Lord, asking Him how to pray.  I had a revelation about a month ago that was the beginning to what I am realizing today.  It is okay to be overwhelmed because real life can be like that…things happen…but be overwhelmed, don’t be overtaken.

For the sake of transparency, however, I have been somewhat overtaken recently.  I have allowed my circumstances to become bigger than what God intended to do through them.  I have forgotten to step back, to breathe, to pray.  In His grace, though, He keeps giving me pieces to this puzzle of mine.  He keeps peeling back the layers and exposing me to myself.  I may not like looking in the mirror, but I will take that any day over the chaos of living outside of Him.  I am facing some things this summer that I know are going to be difficult for me, but He is already showing me how He intends to surround me when circumstances try to overtake me.  He is reminding me to pray.  He is reminding me that He loves me.  Deeply.  Without reservation.  I am not deserving of such mercy, but He gives it to me anyway.

Sacrifice

Today I have a dear friend that God so graciously placed in my life who is embarking on the same journey we started not long ago….only hers is so much more than mine.  I sent one son to serve but had 3 beautiful kids still at home.  She is sending her two sons, her only children to boot camp at this very moment.  She will walk back into her home to be greeted by silence.  There will be no more crazy game nights playing chicken foot…no more arguments about silly sibling things…no more birthday cakes…no more family drives to Texas…no more lots of things like Easter, Mother’s Day, Birthdays…but there are new things that will bring joy too…

There will be pride in what her sons have chosen to do…there is the absolute unadulterated joy at that first letter in the mail and every one after that….there is the feeling she will get when she knows her boys have passed one stage, and then the next and then the last and hardest; the Crucible….there is the moment she will hear their voices for the first time since they left home…there is the sight of their new, manly faces after 13 weeks of the hardest recruit training in the military…there is the first hug that feels like home….there is the hours spent on family day just staring at their beautiful faces…there is the new way that they walk through the world…the way they stand at ease no matter where they are…there is walking through the mall and having a stranger thank them for their service…there is their presence in her home for a few precious days when it is all over.  It is like nothing else and there will never be anything else like it.

So as her boys swear in and say goodbye, I thank her.  I thank her for her sacrifice, for her way of being graceful in the choice her children have made.  I thank her for allowing herself to be drafted when they made that choice.  I thank her for the children she and her husband raised…the way they are strong and willing to do what others cannot do.  I thank her for giving her boys to our country, because that is what she has done.  They will always be her sons, but she has given them to us so that we may remain free.  I thank her when thanks is not enough.  I pray for their well being…that they remain healthy and strong…that they hear the voice of their Father in Heaven when they are struggling…that they lean into Him when all else fails.  I pray that they have the strength to put one foot in front of the other when there is nothing left inside to continue on. But most of all, I pray that they feel the love of those who are far away but stand behind them in everything they are endeavoring to do….that they would know without a shadow of a doubt that they are not forgotten and that they are loved!

Today

I have this friend.
She is beautiful.
She is kind.
She is strong.
But today she hurts.
Today her world seems harsh.
Today she is overwhelmed.
Today she feels alone.
But she is not.
She is not because I will pray.
She is not because God gives grace to the humble.
She is not because feelings lie.
She is not because He loves her.
There is nothing she can do that will move her from His heart.
There is nothing that she feels that He has not felt.
There is no betrayal that is unknown to Him.
There is no pain that is foreign to His heart.
He is the God of all comfort.
He is close to the broken hearted.
He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Emotions are fleeting.
God is forever.


A Momma’s Broken Heart…

Sometimes I think I share too much…isn’t the unknown sometimes safer?  It’s like Tyler going off to boot camp.  As scary as it is, you don’t know exactly what to be afraid of so you find that maybe it’s not quite as bad as you’ve imagined.  I have thought several times that if I had done what he is doing, I could not have gone forward if I had known what was ahead of me.  Sometimes the unknown is not so bad.

But here I sit, wondering if I have given too much of a glimpse into what lies ahead for some people.  Have I only talked about the hard parts of it or shown only the pain of it?  I have to admit, at the beginning, despite the pride in the choice that he made, there weren’t a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings.  It was hard.  Really, really hard.  But I made it through that part.  It went fast.  It didn’t last forever.

But what if you are about to say goodbye to what feels like your whole family?  What must that be like?  I said goodbye to one son.  I moved one son into the rest of his life.  What if it was all my children?  All at the same time?  God didn’t ask me to do that.  I have someone so dear to me who is facing that.  God has asked her to let go of all of her children all at once.  They leave home on the same day.  They start the journey my son is on all at the same time.  Together, with each other.  She must say goodbye to them both and send them into the rest of their lives.

I know some of you may say I am being dramatic, but when she came to see me today, I saw it in her eyes.  It is there.  The fight within her heart to do what is right and let her boys go, to let them grow up, to do what God is asking her to do…to give them back to Him.  But her momma’s heart is breaking.  It will never be the same and I think she knows it.  I know she will do what is best, but this is the part where I wonder if I have said to much, given her a glimpse at the hard part of it, made her see what is so hard to see with clarity that she doesn’t want or need right now, made it harder for her to let go.  I talked about the end of boot camp, the end of boot camp, the end of boot camp….then it was over and then something else came…the realization of this new life – that it wouldn’t be over after boot camp – there was still so much more to go through.  And now she must walk this road times two…and all at the same time.

Maybe I have shared too much.  Maybe I was so focused on what I was going through that I didn’t think of the consequences for someone else, but I know that God gave her to me for a reason.  So even if I did share too much, I can now be there for her the way she was for me.  I can love her, I can cry with her, and most of all I can pray with her for her boys and for her.  I will lift her arms up when she cannot.  I will stand when she cannot rise up.  Because you see, we have  Christ in the middle of us, so whatever the mistakes or wrong steps, He can make it all work for good.  This I believe.  I love you Patrice.