300 Pounds…

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” – 1 Peter 3:18

Pain tells us that we are alive. Scars remind us that we have survived. I remind myself of this all the time when I grow weary of life and its twists and turns. I have found that it requires a conscious effort for me to relinquish the hold that my past has over me. Somewhere along the way, I allowed my past to define me. I became that which broke me down. I held on to the very things that God was calling for me to release. I fell to my knees night after night complaining about the magnitude of my problems. I told God all about my overwhelming financial issues, the rejection I felt, the guilt of getting a divorce, the ugliness I saw in the mirror, the life that I flushed down the toilet. I told Him everything. I just knew that He would realize why my life felt so heavy. I knew He would understand. He knew everything about me…so He had to know the weight of my soul as well. I was sure of it.

Then, it hit me. THREE HUNDRED POUNDS. That’s how much it weighed…physically. In reality, it was so much heavier. It literally equaled the weight of the world. His cross. He carried it. While being beaten, spit on, and mocked…He carried it for me. And here I was (here I still am sometimes), slapping Him in the face over an over by complaining about battles that He has already fought and won on my behalf. I was no better than the ones who crucified Him. How dare I speak to God about the size of my mountain when He has promised me that if I just speak it and believe it…the mountain will move? How audacious of me to express anxiety over the amount of money in my bank account when the God that I serve has always provided for me? How ungrateful must I really be to expect pity over consequences faced when I knowingly acted out of His will for me?

Reflecting on the weight of His cross brings new perspective to my life. It offers healing. It represents restoration. It promises salvation. It reminds me that He understands my suffering because He too suffered. He does not judge my brokenness because like Him, I have been broken down so that His goodness can be glorified. I find comfort in knowing that God does not expect me to weather my storms alone. His strength is most evident when I am weak and for that reason, I will embrace the pain that once held me down. I will wear my scars proudly because they tell the world about my deliverance. Most of all, I will handle both my problems and my conversations with God a little differently. Rather than telling my God about my hardships, I will speak to my hardships about the immeasurable power of my God.

Heavenly Father…thank You for Your precious gift of redemption. Help me to never lose sight of the price that Jesus paid so that I might be freed of things of this world and made whole in You. When I feel as though my soul is heavy, give me the strength to take up my cross and continue to follow You. Amen.

Only If He Wants…

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

I just want to love him. I want to love him just as He loves me. I want to love him faithfully and fully. I want to show him that he has my support by helping him to carry the load when it is heavy. I want him to feel my adoration of him each time I place my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat. I want him to witness my patience as I wait with him for his words and work to manifest…but only if that’s what he wants.

I want to heal his hurts by acknowledging the things that he goes through. I want to help him trust by being honest with him. I want to show him that I believe in him by investing in his dreams. I want to be there for him because he doesn’t believe I will. I want to be what he needs…but only if that’s what he wants.

I want to be his safe place when he feels vulnerable and his voice of reason when he gets off track. I want to laugh with him, make plans with him, and grow old with him. I want to nurture his vision, complement his purpose, and be his good thing. I want to fulfill His purpose for me through him…but only if he wants.

See, I believe that if you want a good man, you have to build yours up. You have to be willing to accept his imperfections, but you can’t let him excuse them. You have to challenge him…push him to be the best man that he can be. Cover him with prayer, listen to his big ideas, and hold him ever so tightly so that he knows that someone cares about his body, his mind, and his spirit…but like the saying goes, “You can’t be hotter than the fire.”

You have to know when to hold on and when to let go. Like a fistful of sand, if you squeeze it too tightly, you lose more than you save. He knows God. It was evident when I met him. He loves God too. That’s what I came to love most about him. He knows the way…to find his good thing. He will go that way because he follows Him. So with each step that he takes away from me…I trust that he is moving closer to what God has for him.

I can imagine that the sadness that I feel when my love is rejected by him parallels what God feels when I reject His love for me. The frustration, the loneliness, the betrayal, the discontentment…all things that God feels as He watches me make attempts to maneuver through life looking for fulfillment elsewhere when He has made it painstakingly clear that He just wants to love me. He has shown me grace, mercy, comfort, forgiveness, hope, provision, healing, and sacrifice. Still, I tell him, “Not right now.”

His lips say love. His actions say maybe later. Perhaps he is torn…between what he wants and what he thinks he needs? With this in mind, I am prepared to step aside and clear his path so that he can find and commit to the ONE heart that he believes is worth winning. I understand that He will not force His love upon me just as I cannot force mine upon him. I understand his dilemma. I face it every day. I want to love him just as He loves me, but only if He wants.

Note: I wrote this post when I was feeling rejected. I felt that I was in love, but I wasn’t feeling reciprocity. It wasn’t written out of anger…a little disappointment, maybe. Some definite frustration. A sprinkle of understanding. Through this late night reflection I realized that true love is not restrictive. It is meant to free us to do what it is that we are called to do. I had to love him enough to free him. Maybe you can relate. The “he/his” versus “He/His” are deliberate, FYI.

Pain for Purpose

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

She provided a safe place for my vulnerability so I confided in her. I poured out the contents of my heart. Perhaps, I was looking for validation. Perhaps, I sought comfort. Quite possibly, all I was searching for was a listening ear. What I got instead, was a reality check in its purest form. She lifted my chin, looked me square in the eyes, and said sternly, “It is time to get over it. Let it go. You have to move past it.”

I was not expecting her to give me such a definitive, borderline-insensitive response. I was used to her telling me that it was okay to not be okay and reassuring me that my feelings were natural. Her demeanor was different though. It was as if she knew that I was in the midst of an intense spiritual battle and I was on the verge of taking a loss. She wasn’t going to sit by and watch me lose.

Truthfully, I agreed with her words. I was ready to release everything that had me bound. Not because I was so strong or brave, but because I was tired. I was exhausted from carrying around the hurt from my past. It was so heavy and it weighed me down. I feared that it would kill me. If not my body, it would certainly kill my spirit. The problem was, I didn’t know how to move on from it. I didn’t know how to let it go.

My pain had become a part of me. I had gotten so used to being hurt that I began to define myself by the many experiences that had broken me down. Abused. Cheated. Rejected. Abandoned. Betrayed. Denied. Unappreciated. Belittled. Despite the smile that I plastered on each day before leaving my home, I wore those titles like invisible name badges. They belonged to me. I belonged to them. It made no sense to me to let them go because each season of my life brought more of the same…packaged differently, but with the same sting. Still, I heard her words to me…and I prayed desperately for the strength to release my past.

One sleepless night, He spoke to me. He whispered in my ear, “I’m here. I never left even when you couldn’t feel me. Follow me…one step at a time. Move when I say move.” I wanted to argue with Him. I wanted to ask Him why He didn’t speak to me sooner. I needed to explain to Him that I could not move. I couldn’t leave my pain behind because I was responsible for it. It was mine. I needed it and it needed me. After all, it defined me. I wanted Him to understand that if I could have moved on from it, I would have moved already. I tried so hard to scream and shout my protests at Him, but when I tried to speak, no sound came out. Instead of moving my mouth, I moved my feet…one step at a time. Sometimes, I moved them quickly. Other times, I moved so slowly that it seemed that I was standing still. But I kept moving. I moved forward…and I’m still moving forward.

Chances are, my “it” is different from your “it.” However, the message is the same. Your pain has purpose and God is more than capable of guiding you out of the pains of your past and into your purpose in Him. You just have to be willing to move your feet…one step at a time.

Lord, I admit that I am broken and I trust in You for full restoration. I know that I cannot be defined by both You and my past. Help me to release the strongholds of my past hurts and walk into Your purpose for my life. Help me to give my pain a voice so that I may use it to glorify You. Remind me of the promises that You have made for those who believe in You. In Jesus’s name…amen.

Hello Beautiful…

One thing that I rarely ever am, is short of words. Most often, I have way too much to say about any given topic at any given time. I make a conscious effort to keep my thoughts to myself a lot of the time…but sometimes I fail miserably at it. Perhaps, that’s why writing has become so therapeutic for me. I’ve always loved to write. Short stories, love notes, to-do-lists, reflections…prayers even. I never imagined I’d be sharing my most personal thoughts with the world. I never imagined that my healing would come through writing. And I especially never imagined that God would nudge me in THIS direction. But here I am…pouring my heart and soul out from behind a computer screen. Hoping to encourage someone. Help someone. Heal someone. The irony is that the more I pour out via written expressions, the more He fills me up. I feel closest to God when I write. I feel stronger. I feel empowered. I feel purposed.

This blog is for the broken. The misunderstood. The hurt. The lost. The forgotten. I have been…actually I AM all of those things if I were to listen to myself. However, I have decided that here…at smilingbyfaith.wordpress.com, we will acknowledge God in all things. That includes an acknowledgment of who God says that we are. Rebuilt for a purpose. Called. Forgiven. Redeemed. Loved. He knows our names.

Thank you for opening your mind and heart to me as I share with you reflections of my quest to find the God who has always dwelled within me. It is my sincere prayer that if you have not already found Him within you, that this blog may help guide you to that point.

Be blessed. 🙂