Figuring Out Brokenness

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For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

 ~Psalms 51:16-17

I do not like the idea of brokenness, in fact, I try all day every day to be the opposite of broken–in my parenting, in my marriage, in my friendships, even in my walk with God.  Being broken means my messy parts in all of these areas are exposed, which means I might have to admit I have messy parts.  And I don’t like to do that.

The irony is that in my trying to be a “good Christian/mom/wife/friend” I am actually pushing God away.  Of course he wants me to strive after righteousness, but when I become prideful or self-sufficient in my pursuit of Godliness or the other roles in my life, I fall completely short of His delight in me.  Look at the scripture above.  He does not delight in my material sacrifice–pleasing him with good deeds, striving for perfection, or looking good in my life.  He actually delights in my brokenness and a contrite heart (realizing my need for atonement).  When I stop ignoring or hiding my messy parts–the fight I just had with my husband, the impatient way I snapped at my child, the gossip that slipped from my tongue, the bag of chocolate Hershey eggs that I just frantically consumed, I truly feel the pain of my brokenness.

And I experience the desperate need for a Savior.

It is the place where pride and brokenness meet that God can work His great grace and love in our lives.  There is not room for both, and a broken heart for God must push into that space with greater force.

Sometimes the reality of our sin is overwhelming and impossible to ignore.  We feel crushed and almost hopelessly distant from the love of a good God.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18

Yet, these God-breathed words can wash over us during this time.  He is so near in our complete weakness, because we have no pride to consume all the air we need him to breathe into us.

If we want to experience a deep relationship with God, where we feel his presence, his love and his mercy, then we can rejoice in our brokenness, for it draws Him near to us.  How wonderful to be messy.

 

 

 

Pillow Pet Spirituality

Written By Amy

This weekend I took my daughter, Hannah, to her soccer tournament in Vail.   We arrived late on Friday night to my friend’s house who lives right outside of Vail and Hannah and I, sleepy from our drive up, with stomachs full of Beau Jo’s pizza (yeah!), crashed in a bed in the loft.  As I lay my head on the firm but comfortable pillow I thought, ahh, this feels good.  A few minutes into this peaceful state I rolled to the right and my head shifted onto a pillow pet that Hannah brought with her.  For those of you who are not familiar with “pillow pets” they are pillows, in the form of animals, that are covered with soft fur.  I remember drowsily thinking this was the most comfortable pillow experience I have ever had! Snuggling deeper into the pillow, my cheek resting on the downy fur, I pondered what I had been missing all these years of sleeping on a square, semi-firm adult pillow.

Then my sleepy brain went here (must have been the pizza): What else have I been missing in life?  What else, in settling for mediocrity, have I lacked?  It’s not even settling, it’s just not knowing!  Jen would say I have been missing out on the best cleaning cloth, the Norwex, and my gourmet foodie friends would say I am missing out on amazing foods that I refuse to try.  Sometimes when I step out of my city life and hike in the fresh mountain air, I realize I have been missing out on the power of nature to awaken my senses.

Is there a pillow pet of spirituality I am missing?  I am sure there is.  I often define my walk with God as what it always has been.  The bible studies, the familiar prayers, the community I walk with.  I love all of this.  But what if God has more in store for me?  Once in a while, I grasp this…sometimes in church when the worship is so powerful it brings tears to my eyes, sometimes when God allows me to see a glimpse of his active work in my life and others around me.  There are doors in our spiritual life that open to us on occasion, and if we are connected with God, we see what’s on the other side–glimpses of heaven, God working, hope.

What if I shifted and my head rested on a new experience with God…a capacity to forgive like never before, deeper relationships, greater hope, peace that surpasses understanding, compassion where there was dismissiveness, joy in long-suffering, and an ability to handle better whatever curve balls life throws at us.

When I discovered the lady-bug pillow pet of ultimate sleep, it was a bit accidental.  But in our walk with God we can actually seek this experience out.  Even for those of us who have been walking with God most of our life, we would be anything but humble to proclaim that we’ve seen it all.

How do you find your God-shaped pillow pet?  Seek God with your our heart, mind and soul.  Pick up the bible and read a new book.  Ask someone how you can pray for them–ask someone to pray for you.  Go through your daily life, but with the understanding that God is present and wants to be intimately involved in the details. Step outside of your familiar spiritual life.  Find what gifts God has given you and use them for His glory.  Point someone in His direction.

God has better for us. He has the best for us!

Let’s go find the “amazing” that is there for our taking, and toss the “just fine” off the bed.

Healing

Written By Amy

Healing is an amazing process.  I work for an orthopedic surgeon, and it continues to awe me how a patient will initially walk (roll or crutch) throught the front door of our office in pain and distress, but each week they return there has been healing and mending done by time and our miraculous cellular structure geared to return to health.   The wounds close, the wheelchair becomes crutches, the crutches become steady legs.  The pain and the wounds are fixed by surgery and/or pain medication.  It’s not an easy process, healing, but there are some clear-cut ways to go about it.

It doesn’t seem that straightforward with emotional pain.   

Recently I experienced a painful situation borne out of trying to do the right thing as a mother, and a circumstance resulting in a strained relationship with a friend.  Its messy.  I am at fault for some of it.  I’m not sure it’s completely fixable.  I believe I did the right thing for my child, but don’t ever wish to be at odds with my friends.  Choosing just to sit and process the unfixable situation, it’s uncomfortable.   Every fiber in me wanted to either go back in the future and do it over differently, or have complete resolution right that minute.  I don’t like conflict, and when I can’t “control” the healing, I am just left with a heavy heart. 

 Emotional pain comes out of nowhere…an overreaction that hurts someone, an argument, a misunderstanding with a friend that creates a rift, a conflict at work or with a complete stranger.  Or just being misunderstood.  Loss.  Change.  Failure. Regret.

We  do have ways of fixing it….with numbing things like food, or spending, or alcohol or even drug abuse.  We try to be strong and bury our feelings, stuff them, which always results in them rising to the surface, like a bruise after a kick in the shin.  Our whole being is created to move toward peace.  As our bodies instantly begin to heal when wounded,  so do our souls as they strive to knit themselves together as rapidly as possible…by whatever means.

What other choice do I have when I’m in emotional pain?  All I have is the healing power of God.  Someone once shared with me that they visualize laying all of their problems on the altar of God.  They picture God, seated on his heavenly throne, accepting these cares and taking them from us, so that we may know they are now in able hands…that our hearts are in able hands.

I can receive strength from the bible:

“I lift up  my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth”.  Psalm 121:2

 

 “I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me.” Psalm 69:29

 

“But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge”.  Psalm 74:28

Is it possible to release the pain to God?  We can definitely try.  We can pray and ask Him to take our hearts, heal them, give us perspective and strength.  He is the only one with the power to do that.

May God bless you and your heart today, and if you know someone who is hurting, maybe pass this along.

 

 

 

New Beginnings

Written By Amy

After the flurry and excitement of Christmas, there is a lull of quiet during the shift from one year to the next. One stretch of life sheds its old and weary skin, and a new fresh skin emerges as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.  There is something I just love about a new year beginning.  Something inside my soul swells with gratitude that I have another chance for a fresh start at life.

 

For me, January is a time to figure out who I want to be this next year. I have this small window before the rush of life carries me away to reflect and decide what I want to do better.  This always includes spiritual renewal for me, probably the thing I get most excited about having another chance at.  I get to stand before my heavenly Daddy and say, “God, how can I grow closer to you?  What new habits can I develop in this new year that will cause me to know you on a deeper level, to see your footprint in my life?”  I usually buy myself a new Women’s Devotional and look forward to gleaning wisdom from the pages.  I also renew my prayer life, and find myself carving out space in my life to sit before my God and share my life with him.

January 1st is my husband’s and my anniversary.  We have now been married 18 years.  I am blessed to be married to my best friend, and we continue to grow and learn how to be married well.  On this anniversary, Jon and I get to put away the “growth opportunities” of the past year and look forward to a new season of plans and hopes and just simply doing life.  Only a few days ago I was tired and felt encumbered by the stresses of this past year, but suddenly today, with the hands of the clock turning over to a new year, I feel lighter and have a new bounce in my step to rise to a better place in my character. How can I be a better wife?  What stubborn prideful controlling parts of me that reared their ugly heads last year can I subdue in the name of marriage and love and maturity?  What is God gently whispering to me in this area of my life?

There is so much more of my life to reevaluate, but I will be working that out in the quiet corners of my heart.

What does this time mean for you?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”        2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

I am excited for the theme that Jen and I are going to explore this month on our blog.In case you missed it yesterday, our theme comes from a Benjamin Franklin quote “…how to be a better man (woman, child, person!).”  We are going to take a close look at a passage in Romans which shares so much wisdom to help us grow into the people God desires us to be.  It is in this growth that we find peace, joy, and contentment.

Stirrings : Hope

Amy
There seems to be extremely difficult things going on in several of my friends lives right now.  I just received an email from a friend who lives in another state who just last year lost two parents, two grandparents, and a baby they had been planning for two years to adopt.  When they went to pick up the baby they found out there was no child and it was all a scam—and lost all of their money. They are moving to a new state with a new job for a fresh start.  Two of my other dear friends are dealing with some really tough situations in their family lives.  And another is coping with an illness taking their child too early in life.  I know those of you reading this could add your own struggles to this list. 

This morning, as I prayed about what God might want me to write about, I felt the nudge to share His hope and peace to those who might be reading this.  God’s word is the source of this hope….drink it in, rest in it, and know it is a true peace that is real and tangible in our hearts.  God loves us each, his Sons and Daughters, and wants to bring us peace in the midst of a turbulent, unpredictable, unstable and sometimes just unhappy world.  While He doesn’t always remove the difficult situation from our lives, he will carry us through to the other side of our trial.  He does this through a peace that he places in our hearts when we go before him and say, “God, I don’t know if I can handle this.  I need your strength and peace.  I trust that you have a plan for my life and know and see further than I can know and see.”  It is so hard to believe that God is present when we can’t see or feel him.  But that is what faith is all about:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we DO NOT SEE.”
 ~Hebrews 11:1

God has promised us these things:

Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant (the relationship between us and Him) and mercy (his loving kindness in our lives)for a thousand generations who love Him and keep His commandments.
~ Deuteronomy 7:9

For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you,
“Do not fear, I will help you.”  ~ Isaiah 41:13

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91: 14-15

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.   ~Isaiah 43:1-3

Do you see that God knows we will go through trouble?  It does not say “if”.  Yet, he does not leave us hanging…he gives us these promises to cling to.
Because God knows our story, the beginning, the NOW, and the end, what if we were to trust him through it?  He is throwing out a life preserver to us….will we grab on?

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