Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If I Were Free From Anger...

Last week my lady's Bible study group started a new study called "Stuck". At first I only signed up because I really like the ladies at my table and wanted to continue through the end of the year with them, and I love that my pastor's wife is at my table. Kelli is one of my favorite people.
Then we actually started the study.

I knew there were some areas that I've been feeling stuck in, but I didn't think they were a big enough deal that this workbook would effect me the way it has. I really thought they weren't that important and would either go away eventually or I could handle them.
The first section was on feeling "Broken" which, coming from an abusive relationship, you can probably understand how at times I've felt broken. That's nothing new to me. That's something I've been meeting head on since I moved back home.
The next section though was on being "Mad". Sure I get mad sometimes. Don't we all? It's a human emotion. I learned something invaluable during my Bible time Monday night. I've been so determined to meet brokenness head on and not let that effect the rest of my life, or effect my future relationships, that I'd forgotten to deal with my anger.

There were questions in "Mad" that brought back that broken feeling, that feeling that took away the years of hard work. It was an area of my soul that I had shoved down so deep that I hoped if I ignored it it would just go away. It didn't. It hasn't.
The fill ins said to Name some of the rights you hold dear. I answered with:
- the right to be heard (who doesn't like being heard. You talk, you want people to not only pay attention, but to really listen)
- the right to be happy (after everything I've been through, it's only right, yes? It would make life fair.)
-  the right to be just as loved and adored as others (feeling important makes us feel good)
- the right to a fulfilling life (I want to make a difference and feel like my life meant something to someone)
- the right to a better life (coming out of an abusive relationship, a better life is only fair..)(apparently I'm a fan of 'fair')
-  the right to condemnation to the people who wronged me (Off with their heads!!...and other such dramatic things...)

That last one took me by surprise. I didn't even realize I had written it until it was already on my paper. I never thought of myself as a vengeful person, but in that moment I realized just how much I wanted certain people to suffer. How I would have been perfectly content to hear of bad times falling on my ex.
And then I felt ashamed.
The author of the study, Jennie Allen, reminded me of Galations 2:20 which states: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The anger I have been holding onto is not godly and it's been holding my heart and soul in this place for so long, for too long. I have been praying for months for God to show me how to be released from this stuck place and I kept feeling a nudge for change, but I didn't know what to change. I was blind to how I was injuring myself.
Jennie then goes on to ask us "Who are you, Lord?" & "What do you want from me?" as a follow up to my above list. I answered:
You are bigger than my past hurts and failures. You hear my every word, my every thought, and know my deepest desires. You are the God, that before I was ever even born, You sent Your son to die for me to have a fulfilling life through You.
You have given me a voice that has soo much love for You and that's what You want people to hear. You want me to push aside and push passed the things and people that tried to break me and remember that You have my back and You are always with me and that Kingdom purposes are more important than dwelling on the past.

At Bible study last night the question "What would change if you were free from anger?" was asked.
I would be free to move on. I would have both hands free to hang on to the promises God set out for me instead of struggling to hold onto my anger and the wrongs done against me while trying to chase my future. I would be free to love fully with nothing holding me back.
Simply put, I. Would. Be. Free.

*"Jesus wants my dignity to come from Him, not how I was or am treated. There is a time and place for action against injustice and a time and place to pursue reconciliation. Whatever attack or injustice I might perceive, letting it wash over me without a fight, looking past my offender and at my God, is radical but the most powerful path to freedom. There is strength and intention in humility."

I left a bad place. A place where I was being used, controlled, and lied too. But I haven't let that place go. I haven't fully forgiven him for the terrible things he did to me, and while this does nothing to him, it's doing everything to me. God has been calling to me for so long now to give Him this place in my heart which I have tried to hide from Him and I never understood. I never knew what I was supposed to be letting go of until I read "Mad", until it was as big as a 10 foot neon sign flashing right in my face.
So while life is not fair all the time, it will be. Because I am finally letting go of my anger, I'm handing it over to God to do with it what He wants. I've learned from it and I know God will use what happened to me as a way to reach and teach others, but that no longer means me holding it inside.

"What would change if you were free from anger?"
I'm free from my anger now, so I will be waiting eagerly to see the things that have been waiting for me.

*From "Stuck"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Restless Passion

Have you ever asked someone about what they want to do in life, what their dreams are, and then sit there as their eyes light up while they tell you about the desires that truly come from the heart? They can't help but smile and tell you every detail they've thought of. Then usually at some point in the conversation of them telling you ideas, and you asking questions that get them to dig deeper into their dream, their eyes cloud over. They look down and start thinking about how silly they sound rambling on about this thing that has always been in their heart and on their mind. The mood changes drastically and you can't help but wonder why they think they sound so silly. Everyone has dreams, right? You have them, I have them, so why feel silly or out of line about wanting to pursue them?

I recently read a book for the book club that the ladies ministry at my church had for the summer called Restless by Jennie Allen. It came at the perfect time for me. When I read the back of this book I knew I needed to read it. It talks about feeling like you are made for more, but not sure what, or not sure how to go about it, or not sure if you will really be fulfilling your purpose.
A couple weeks before the books were announced I had been telling my mom how I'd been feeling lost and like I don't know what I want to do with my life and I don't know how to figure it out because there are so many things to pick from.
Everyone has just kind of assumed that this is something that has bothered me since I moved home 2 years ago and got divorced. False. It has been something that has always bothered me, though getting divorced was a good excuse for feeling lost too. It was a drastic change to my life. But I've always had these dreams that have always seemed too big and unrealistic so I tried to find other things to fill those places in my heart.
At one part in the book it talks about what your passions are. Did I know what I was passionate about? Jennie explained that people have passions mixed up with things that they love.
Passion is Latin for suffering. An intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.
What Jennie was really asking was what am I willing to suffer for?

When I was 13 and becoming really active in a youth group our youth leader Robbie begged the question, what do you want your legacy to be? What do you feel like God is leading you to do to help and love those around you?
I had two dreams after that discussion. One was of serving in Kenya, Africa...and the other...well, it was to make music. To sing.
I brushed both dreams off thinking it was just a random coincidence that I had had them then, but things kept happening that said otherwise. I kept fighting against them though. All I could think was "What are people going to think of me? There's no way I'm special enough to do any of that." So I squished those hopes and dreams for years. They would rear up in my life every now and then, like when I participated in drama, singing for the church where I was apart of the youth, little nudgings about Africa here and there. But I continued to ignore it. I didn't feel worthy of such big tasks.
Then I got the chance to finally serve in Africa. It was incredible. And while I was in Kenya, one of the guys on the trip with us told us about how someone had spoke music over him before he even ever picked up a guitar. Now he is an incredibly accomplished musician and singer. He even has an EP out on iTunes. That was actually really discouraging to me. How was it that he had someone confirm something in his life before he had even considered it, but I had been praying and wondering about this very thing for about 12 years and God hadn't told anyone to speak life over me? (The irony that I was feeling discouraged about one dream while completing another dream was not lost on me)

Then I read Restless. My passion was enough. God doesn't put stirrings in our hearts unless it's for a good reason.
One activity in the book asked about our gifts and sufferings in life and my gifts and sufferings matched up. I am a ridiculously observant person and a great listener, mostly because for a good part of my life I have never felt heard or seen. People find it easy to cut me off when in conversations or just brush off what I say. I like giving people a voice. And in the midst of all this, I find hope in music, in telling peoples stories through song, in letting people be heard. I felt the stirring in my soul even more.
But then I started feeling selfish, like dreaming of such things was simply a fleshly desire and not a calling God would have. But as I continued in the book Jennie talked about all the different ways God uses talents. He wouldn't have created talents if they weren't meant to be used.
I had another dream. This time where both my love of music and my heart for Africa came together. Where I can use one to support the other, and I can use one to give a voice to people that desperately need and want to be heard.
There are moments in my life that I doubt many of the things I long for, but then God gives me a vision or a dream that I am heading in the right direction. Having someone speak over Matt about music was how he spoke to Matt...but that's not necessarily how he has chosen to speak to Jessica.

Some from here on out I will no longer let my smile falter when I talk about pursuing music. I don't know how I am going to do it or what will come of it but I have been nudged too many times to ignore it anymore. I know God has a plan to use it for my passion. I am willing to suffer for it. To put all other things on hold for these things. I will unapologetically say no to other things so I can make way for this thing. I want a free and passionate kind of living. There is not one part of me that exists by accident and I am no longer going to let something stop me from running wildly towards my purpose.

So that is the point of this posting. I am shouting to the world what I am passionate about. What makes my soul tick and what keeps me up at night. I will no longer be afraid to sound dumb, or selfish, or like I just want some kind of fame. That's not why I am doing this. I could care less about fame. I care about people. I love people. And I care about peoples souls. God knows this and he knew how he would have me work in this life. I am no longer going to be restless, but reckless. I am going to run wildly and reckless in the way that God is leading me so that when I die and stand before him I can tell him I used every once of talent he ever blessed me with.
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