Suffering

I am experiencing something completely powerful and amazing, wild and mind-bending! It is completely shifting my belief system.  This thing has gripped me and I am going to attempt to share it with you now.  So I pray for every person reading this….that the eyes of your heart would be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he has called (Eph 1:18).  Because He has called us all.  Here goes….

How many of us have ever thought or said, “I just want to be more like Jesus?”  I know I have.  A Lot.  For years now, I have prayed that the Lord would help me do this “be like Jesus” thing.  I have literally prayed, “Whatever it takes God!”  And let me tell you, this is a dangerous, dangerous prayer….because He will answer it….in spades.  And it will rock your world.  In powerful and painful ways.

So what does being more like Jesus look like?

Is it telling thought-provoking stories or performing miracles? Is it being more tenderhearted or truthful?  Is it mentoring people and showing great love to those who are difficult to love?  Is it suffering as he suffered?

Boom.  There’s the bomb.

Suffering.

Let that sink in a minute.

Suffering.

How many of us have said, “I don’t believe that God would have me live this way,” when we are faced with mistreatment, injustice, or great pain that causes great suffering?  Have we said this when a spouse betrays us, a child wanders far away from what they have been taught or a friend turns out to not be a friend at all?   And in believing that “God would not have me live this way,” do we reject those people?  Do we throw them away because they aren’t loving us unconditionally? Let me ask you this….are you loving them unconditionally?  No.  Probably not.

What if I was to tell you that I believe we, the church, have had it all wrong?

Would I offend you?

Would you immediately dismiss me and walk away?

I understand if you must move on, but I wish you would stay.  There may be something here that changes your whole life.

This theme of suffering has been running through my life for more years than I ever would have imagined it could, as a fresh-faced 19 year old.  You see, I look back and I realize how good I had it, how very little hard stuff I had to endure as a kid and a teenager.   But then school was over.  I didn’t see it at the time, but I started down a road that would turn into a journey, and that journey has forever altered everything I believe about God.

I have suffered.  A lot.  Most of you know that.  If I wrote a list, those of you who don’t know me, probably wouldn’t believe me.  I’m pretty much a laundry list of Murphy’s Law. But it’s not Murphy’s Law.  Not by a long shot.

How many of you know the story of Hosea?  Esther?  Joshua?  Daniel?  Mary? Paul?  The disciples?

You see, God told Hosea to marry a prostitute and she betrayed him…over and over again. Esther was brought into the harem of a king…she was chosen for her looks, not for who she was.  Joshua was sold into slavery by his brothers.  Daniel was taken away to Babylon. Mary was chosen to be the unwed mother of Jesus.  Joseph had to wrap himself around marrying a woman who was pregnant with a baby who was not his.  Paul, who was first Saul, endured endless suffering as he was struck blind by God and then as a lonely, persecuted, homeless apostle of Jesus.  And the disciples?  All but one was martyred.  But the real question is, How did those stories end?  They all became intimate friends of God because they chose to embrace the suffering.

So let me ask the question again.  Do we really believe that “God would not have me live this way?”  If growing deeper with Jesus really didn’t require suffering, then why did nearly every person that is highlighted in the Bible suffer?  And why did God literally ask many to do things that He knew would bring suffering?

Paul says it.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! (Philippians 3:10-11)  I am coming to believe and understand that suffering truly is a gift, a great gift.  Not a curse.

Through suffering, I become a friend of Jesus.

Let me explain.

In a friendship, the more you can relate to the other person, the deeper your relationship can grow.  When you understand, through experience, another’s road, the more intimate you become.  Jesus suffered in a way that we cannot imagine when he was brutalized and broken on the cross. If we begin to embrace suffering, even in the smallest of ways, we begin to see and experience Him through a different lens.  We begin the journey of relating, and we grow in friendship.  Jesus crawled up on a cross to die.  He didn’t want to, but he did.  He crawled up on that cross and endured that horrific suffering because his Father asked him to.  If I truly want to “be more like Jesus,” shouldn’t I be doingimg_0364 the same? Should I not offer myself up to suffering as He did, so that I can be more like Him, as I have said I want?

If I reject my own suffering, as if it is a curse, I am rejecting the very essence of who Jesus is.

I cannot be friends with one I reject.

Here is the paradigm shift…

If suffering has overtaken your life, you now have a choice. You can look at this pain, this dark night of the soul, as something that you must hold your breath and grit your teeth to make it through, or you can recognize that the God of the universe, who holds all things in his hands, who loves you beyond what you can fathom, wants to be your friend.  He wants you with Him in the end.  This is who He is.  Will you be a friend of the Bridegroom?

Will you be a friend of the Bridegroom?

 

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Asher Bradley Beyer

On November 21, 2016, what was left of my world as I knew it, crumbled.  Destruction. Rubble. Ashes.  I look back now and I should have seen it coming….but I didn’t.  Not at all.

2 1/2 years ago…at the beginning of a season of deep, deep pain, God set a little light in my life, in my home.  He saved me in ways that words don’t encompass.  And this past November, four days before Thanksgiving, he was taken away from me.  Abruptly. ..with no time to adjust or process.  He was taken to strangers and left to assimilate on his own…with nothing and no one familiar. We did what we could, not knowing who these strangers were, or if they were good.  Four days ago, a judge ruled against me.  She decided that everything I had done and been to that sweet light was nothing in the eyes of the law.  She decided I was just a grandma.  But I know differently.  I saved him.  And he saved me.  And someday he will know that I fought for him.

So where do I go from here…when yet again, everything I pictured for my future was blown to bits in a matter of seconds?

First, I grieve.  I am beginning the process of walking out the excruciating pain of what has been done to him.  To me.  To his Auntie Bug.  To his Opa.  To his sweet Jill.  To our whole family.

Second, I build relationship with these strangers….because they are truly, truly good.  I long for them to be family, no longer strangers.  They are not who I believed them to be. They love our little man.  And it is good for him to be part of their family now.

And finally, I learn to be a regular grandma.  My heart doesn’t want to be regular, normal, typical.  My heart wants my boy like he’s always been.  With me.  In my home.  In his bed every night.  But I see now, that he will not have to grow up wondering why all his friends’ parents are so much younger.  He will not have to wonder why he doesn’t have a dad.  He will have a regular grandma and grandpa, his Oma and Opa.

I will not live in bitterness.  I refuse to be a victim.  I will choose forgiveness.  I just need some time to find my way.

I know in my heart that Asher will never have just a regular place inside of me.  He will not ever be just a grandson.  He was the boy I was scared to raise but who became like a son.  I appreciated every cry, every tantrum, every sleepless night with him in a way I  never understood with my first four.  I was terrified to try again….but I said yes….and I don’t regret a single day.  And I never will.

Oma loves you sweet boy…..and now I will teach you how to Rise.


 

Up Against a Wall.

Let’s just be real. I’ve been hurt. Over and over again. And then some more after that. By lots of people. Most of them family. But before you run away, thinking I’m going to talk about how sorry you should feel for me, don’t. Because I’m not.

But today I feel like I’m barely breathing.  The heart pain has become physical pain.  I feel like I’ve lost everything.  My husband, my grandson, my daughter.  They’ve all been ripped from my hands….and not by my own choice.  I cannot even tell you how easy it would be today, to just let it all fall to the wayside and give in.  Give in to the pressure, the pain, the void….and run far, far away.  Let me tell you, I am on the very edge this day, this moment.  So I go to God.  And I come to you.  And yes,  part of me (the flesh part, the need-for-justice part) wishes I could pour out all the ugly details of the past couple of years, but I can’t.  I won’t.  Because not all of it is my story to tell.  And none of our stories are finished.  There is much more to be written.  So let me just say this.  I am battling to face the fact that there are apologies I will probably never get, trying to let go of the need to be understood, that will never come.  I am clawing with the tips of my fingernails to keep on solid ground, to hold onto hope, and trust that everything comes to an end eventually.  I am fighting to forgive and love and walk with the wounds of being wronged. And they are deep wounds.  I am struggling to not lose sight of the beauty that is in front of me in this life.  Today, right now, I can’t see any of that, but somehow I know it’s there. I am fighting for healing.

So this morning I read something by James Goll, that struck me.  He was talking about his wife’s book, A Call to the Secret Place

When a swallow builds its nest, it will first find a barn or other structure with a supply of mud close by.  It will carry mud and twigs in its little beak, making trip after trip, carefully constructing a sturdy nest on joist, strut, or rafter beam of the barn.  The outside of the mud-dauber-type structure dries and hardens, becoming very solid and secure.  Yet the inside of the nest is lined with downy feathers and is soft, warm and inviting.  The thought struck me:  Swallows build their nests the way they do because, instinctively, they know that the safest place to build is up against the wall.  But we humans use the expression “up against the wall” to describe feeling timg_0198rapped or being out of options, when we have no place to run and no way out.

Spiritual storms, winds, and billows will blow into our lives, pulling us this way and that. Sometimes, in the face of winds and danger, we know there is a place of safety in God, but still we don’t fly to that safe place in Him.  Instead, we fly away, resisting the wisdom that tells us to fly to Him.  Why do we all seem to do this?  I believe that it’s because we all know in our spirits what flying toward Him will mean.  We know it will require first going to the Cross.

Peace, safety, comfort, rest are found in God, but testing and discomfort are also woven into His design.  Therefore, we should turn around and start running toward what is uncomfortable, because that is exactly where we are going to find Him.  We will find our rest only after we choose to nest on a crossbeam.

I. Am. Up. Against. A. Wall.  A really, tall, strong, immeasurable wall.  Everything in me wants to run away.  To get away from those causing me pain.  To extricate myself from this continual cycle of struggle.  And yet, I read this today and see that, yes, I am up against this wall.  Do I , yet again, choose to allow Him to help me build a nest of warmth and safety with Him or do I fly away?  Do I quit before He’s finished?  Today I want to.  But I won’t.  I.  Will.  Not.

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Thy Will

Can I just be done?  I’m tired.  I want to quit.

Sometimes this is reality.  Sometimes God asks me to do things I am all fired up and passionate about in the beginning, but when the rubber meets the road and real life happens, it gets really hard.  It’s a constant fight against what my emotions want and what God has asked me to do.  I think in the past, I have interpreted those kind of emotions as my release from what God has asked….when in reality, I needed to push through what I want into what God promised.  I think I’m supposed to be uncomfortable.  I think I’m supposed to want to quit.  And I think I’m supposed to keep going.  In fact, I know I’m supposed to keep going.

But this doesn’t feel good right now.

And right now, it’s not sadness I feel.

It’s anger.

And I don’t like it at all.  It makes me unsettled and irritable.

My emotions tell me that if I quit and walk away, I won’t have to deal with all the drama anymore and I will feel better.

Finally.

My emotions tell me that what is making me angry is about what someone else is doing.

It’s not.

It’s about me.

I am allowing someone else’s choices, words, accusations, make me angry.  Why?  Is it that I agree with it?  Is it that I feel unknown?  I’ve been working on that one for awhile now.  I think a lot of it has been that somehow I’ve felt that the accusations are correct.  That I really am the person I’m being told I am.  And maybe I was at one time, But I’ve done a lot of work with God in the last couple of years….and those things are changing.

I think it’s more about feeling unknown.

This is a deep, deep barrenness in me.  I have always desired to be known and loved, no matter what is in those deep places.  Most people are built this way, I think.  This has never truly existed for me, except in my sister.  I have somehow always fallen short of what others want in a person.  I understand this.  It is human to want to remove ourselves from people who do not meet our expectations.  Our culture tells us every day that if we are around people that don’t make us happy or give us what we need then we should remove them from our lives.  And we do it.  Because we think it will solve our problem.  Fix our unhappiness.  Relieve our pain.  It doesn’t.  We just keep running into the same kinds of people until we learn how to love. No matter what.

You see, no matter how I feel or how much I want to quit.  I can’t.  If I do, I will never get to the promise.  It doesn’t mean the path won’t look different along the way, it just means I cannot give in to what I think I want.  I can’t make decisions based on the anger or sadness I feel.  Today the feelings are big.  Today is a hard day.  Today I want to quit.  This is why I write this all out to you.  It reminds me of what is real.  It reminds me that my own voice is not always the thing I should be listening to.  It reminds me of who really has my future in mind.  I think maybe it’s like grief.  You just have to walk the road.  It may seem like it has gone on long enough and that it needs to be finished, but it’s never over until it’s all been done. Some  paths take just a little while to navigate, some are still walking on the road after years.

So I walk this road until I’m done…..

Thy Will

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store

So, thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

Songwriters
BERNIE HERMS, HILLARY SCOTT, EMILY LYNN WEISBAND

 

If it’s not about me, then what’s the point?

I had a dear friend tell me once, that what I was going through was about eternal things.  I thought I understood this.  I thought I knew.  I did not….

So nearly two years later, I was having a deep conversation with a dear friend and God dropped this on me.  Like a TON. OF. BRICKS.  It has become so real in just a few days, that I am completely consumed by it.  It’s all I can think about.  I just keep asking God to keep me here – in the realness of it.  I don’t want this to fade.  Because it changes everything.

“He has specifically placed me in this family….My own family, my husbands family, this life.  He put me here because He knew that I would do what I am doing.  He knew I would say yes.  He knew I would stand.  For love.  For life.  For healing.  For restoration.  He made me for this.  For this season.   If I had said no or I had decided to quit, how many generations would it take for Him to raise up another to do this thing?  Would it take one, would it take four, five generations?  Who would choose to learn love?  Who would choose to stand for my husband?  Who would choose to stand for healing for all of the things that have wounded our generations, for all of the things that are dark and ugly that have created such damage and brokenness?  Who would stand for my children?  Who would fight for their lives before God…fight for breakthrough so that they won’t have to battle the things that our histories say are inevitable?  Is there another who will pick up all the ugliness and bring it before God without caving beneath the weight of its darkness?  It’s not about me being comfortable!  If I have to suffer to change things for my sweet husband, my children and their future generations, then I must to do that. I have to!  My kids will have enough of their own issues to deal with!  Why do they need to have our junk and all the junk of the generations before us?  They don’t!  If I have to suffer for that, then I can finally say I’m okay with that!  It’s about eternal things…not about my momentary comfort in this life!  I’m willing to be uncomfortable in order to affect the lives of my family!”

Does any of this make sense?  It’s not about me and my story.  What is your story?  Are you suffering?  What if you learned how to love in the middle of your suffering and God changed the course of your life and the lives of your family?  What if, by choosing to accept your “thorn” as Paul did, you opened the door for God to completely transform what you have accepted as “impossible”?  What if by choosing to say yes to Him, you made it possible for Him to change everything?  What if?

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I probably don’t know you.  And I probably don’t know your story.  But I do know that God placed you in your family, in your marriage, in your life for a specific purpose.  For real.  That purpose is not just to live a “status quo” life and die.  You are meant to change destinies with your “yes.”  You are meant to be powerful in your stand for God.  Your pain, your suffering…are meant to move mountains. They are meant to change history.  Can you do something hard, something against your grain?  Can you choose to quit running from what hurts and ask God what He is trying to do through your suffering?  Can you stop looking for someone to tell you how to make the pain go away and ask Him what the pain is for?  When we are in physical pain, it is an indication that something is wrong and needs to be dealt with, not avoided.  What if you were the one that God placed right here, right where you are, to change an entire family, an entire generation?  What if?

So this life I’m living, this season I’m in, is not about having the perfect marriage, the perfect family.  It’s not about having a white picket fence and happiness forever.  It’s about eternal things.  It’s about God going to ANY (and I mean ANY) lengths to save a single soul….and probably a lot more. It’s about love.  Period.  And I know the end of the story.  God Wins.

 

Rest…

It’s time for me to rest.

I’m not so good at this.

I have been focused and battling and standing for God’s promises over my life for so long that resting is foreign.  Resting brings quiet. Resting brings stillness. Resting brings guilt.

Ohhhh….there it is.  I said it.

Resting brings guilt.

I’m a mom. I don’t rest. Even if my physical body is still, my mind is always, thinking, planning, organizing, solving, preparing, praying, pleading, talking, fixing.

Resting means none of this.

However…..Resting does not mean giving up.

For years, I have been living in constant anticipation in my head – and not necessarily the good kind.  I’ve either been waiting for God to break in, in an extremely dramatic way, or waiting for the shoe to drop.  One could say that both of those things have happened.  But those events did not occur within the box I had placed them in. God has definitely broken in….and He surely broke in because the shoe I feared the most, dropped.

So resting means letting go of the warrior in me for a season and letting God deal with it. I don’t know how to do this.  He had asked me to be still for a very long time, but in that season, He was talking about my mouth, my words, my actions, my thoughts. My mandate was still to pray and fast and intercede for my family….and I could do that. That was something.  It was action.  It was movement. But…

Resting means I stop focusing on the promise and focus on the One who promised…

Resting means I stop holding on to the ideas of how this all is supposed to “end”…

Resting means I choose to stop waiting to be chosen

Resting means I love…

Resting is choosing to just hang out with God and not ask for a thing…

So now what do I do when God tells me to “Let it all go and let Me handle it from here?”

I choose Him over my will.

I let him shift me.

I don’t give up.

I just let go.

I choose the yes.

And I rest.


 

Choosing

Shame.

Today I feel it.

Today I want to hide.

Today I miss human touch so much.

Today I feel broken….

Too broken to love….

Too messed up for reconciliation.

Today the void is really big.

I haven’t felt this in awhile but I know I can’t let it progress too far or I will be under water before I even notice.  So I fight this fight because I know that it is not truth.  I talk about it because I know that we all feel these things at one degree or another.  It is such a hard thing to feel something and yet tell yourself that the emotion is the one lying to you.  It is a hard thing to know truth but feel the opposite.

I need to throw it off of me with these words I write because I hate the way it makes me feel.  It’s like a blanket that is smothering me.  It makes me feel as if I am covered in fine dust that clouds everything and refuses to let my skin and nerves and mind breathe.  It is a perpetual pit in my stomach.  An argument between what is real and what is not.

I hear the words that I am not good enough….That there is  a better choice than me….That I am hard to love….That I make poor decisions….That I am not worthy of walking through darkness with….That I am not special enough to be in the trenches with…..That my history will always dictate my future….That somehow I always fall short. These words are feelings.  And these words are lies.

When I began to understand that I was not chosen anymore, when I began to see my failings that helped lead to this pain,  there was a choice that was laid before me.  And I’ve realized it’s not a choice that I only needed to make one time….It is a choice I must make over and over and over again, until God moves me forward into another season.  And that choice is whether or not I am going to believe what I am feeling.

The truth is, God doesn’t think I’m hard to love and He’s been in the trenches with me since my first breath.  He is not ashamed of me, even when people are.  When I make a poor decision, He walks with me until I find redemption.  He never believes that I am a hopeless case, that I will never get it right. He knows I am the right choice because He is the one who chose me.  And He chooses me every day, even when not a single person notices my existence.

So, even though, in this moment, I don’t see how all this brokenness could possibly be put back together, I am choosing to believe that my feelings are just that.  Feelings.  And feelings are not facts.

So while I am still trying to find my way in this maze, and reconcile what I know to be truth with what my emotions tell me, I will feel and speak and choose breath.  I refuse to live in dust and ashes.  I need to say it over and over again.  I refuse to live in dust and ashes.  As an act of my will, I WILL NOT live in dust and ashes.  I hope you choose the same with me.