Tag: healing

One Defiant Act You Can Choose This Christmas

I stand outside in the early dawn of my hometown, and tears pool in my eyes.

I am moved by this – the bravest picture I’ve seen this season. A picture of defiance over darkness, hope holding on.

My brother, David died of cancer 2 1/2 years ago.

He was an “everyone is welcome” guy. A “we’ll leave the light on” guy. A “stop by anytime…come as you are” guy. But since his death, the house has looked shadowed, like it was grieving too.

Until now. Until this small act of defiance, by my sister-in-law, Susan. A courageous act of choosing Life.

Susan chose the small, but significant act of putting up Christmas lights.

To me it shouts, “I will NOT let the darkness win!”

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

God made us for Life – life in relationship with Him, now, and forever. There’s nothing the Evil One would like more than convincing us that the darkness of loss and pain are too much, too pervasive, to allow us to ever walk in the light again.

Courage doesn’t mean the darkness doesn’t exist. It means you don’t give it the power to control your life. 

Many of you are experiencing pain, and loss this Advent.

You need to be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to say “no”. Choose what will nurture and sustain you. Draw near to Jesus.

But I also know that you can make choices to courageously light a candle in your darkness. Your tiny light may look like

  • just getting out of bed in the morning
  • finding one thing to thank God for
  • calling a friend
  • listening to worship music
  • serving someone else

Every year our church has a special worship service at the beginning of December, specifically for people struggling with darkness and loss during the Christmas season. Each person who shows up is courageous…choosing light over darkness.

This year we opened with this song. I pray it encourages you.

God will make a way through the darkness. I’m cheering you on as you choose the defiant act of lighting a candle.

What are some ways you are bringing light to the darkness?

 

Three Questions to Ask When You’re Dinged

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I got this scar when I was 16 years old.  You can barely see it in this picture, but it’s there. Trust me.

I wish it was a scar from a bullet I got moonlighting as a spy (cuz I do have those skills you know), but no, not this time.

I was working on a car wash in a church parking lot to raise money for a high school athletic club I was part of.  There was a metal piece of trim sticking out on the side of the car, and as I swiped, it sliced my finger open leaving a deep cut that required stitches.

This is a scar that (almost) everyone can see. But I have “invisible” ones too.  I know you do too.

That teacher who shamed you. That boyfriend who dumped you. That parent who let you down. The friend who said “You’re too…” or “You’re not enough…” That time you were fired or betrayed or overlooked or compared and found lacking.

They may not be physically visible, but these wounds are deep and long-lasting.

What’s an invisible wound or painful memory you carry with you? Continue reading

When You Need Someone to Hold Hope for You

It was years ago now, when the doorbell rang and I dragged my weary, wounded self to open it, my eyes perpetually aching from tears that I could not seem to stop.

I felt destroyed, demolished.  As if a mack truck, driven by a team of people I loved and trusted, had run over me without a thought and as I lay mangled in the intersection folks walked by, happy and oblivious to the damage they had passively assented to.

I was exhausted, and lonely, and tired of battling despair.

Continue reading

When God Calls You to Stop Doing Stuff and Let go of Your Balloons

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t sit still well.  I love a high goal and lots of action.  Lots of people and passion.  “Not somehow, but triumphantly!” is a refrain in our family.

But with some of the people closest to me, lately I find myself saying, “I think you need to be gentle with yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Stop. Rest.”  Easier advice to give than to take.

There’s a friend who experienced an adoption nightmare while trying to be faithful to God’s leading is left reeling, confused, wounded.

A friend battling pancreatic cancer, wondering “What can I do?”

And another who’s been through a season of conflict and unfair criticism at work.

We all go through different spiritual seasons.  Some where we’re growing, others where we’re re-orienting, but often the most neglected are those seasons of rest, when God says, “Sit awhile with Me.  The world will keep spinning without you.” Continue reading

“That” Person

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

I’m betting you have one too.  The person who won’t forgive you.

Or the one you thought loved you, but then betrayed, or rejected, or ignored, or walked away from you.  Or the one who pronounced a judgment that you’ve let define you.

Or the child you love who is making destructive choices, far from Jesus and you can’t control them or fix it and your heart is breaking.

And all it takes is for you to hear a certain song that brings back memories, or drive by a place where you used to feel welcome, or to accidentally see them.  Or not at all.

Continue reading

To my Friends Wounded by the Church

We’re in the throes of wedding planning, with family coming into town this week for showers.  So today I’m re-sharing a post that seemed to strike a chord with many of you.  It will be new to those who have joined us in the last year.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Dear Friends wounded by the Church,

As I write this, each of your faces come to mind and tears fill my eyes.  For you.

And for me.  Because I am one of you.

Maybe it’s because I am that you’ve felt safe to share your pain with me.

You’ve experienced exclusion,

poorly handled conflict,

shaming,

power struggles,

dishonesty,

truth-telling with out grace or hope of redemption

from a church you’ve loved.

From a church that is trying to do its best.

But I think of the particular circumstances each of you have endured at the hands of people who say they love Jesus and mostly I just can’t believe it and I want to rail at the injustice and shake “someone” and make it right, and undo the pain.  But instead, maybe I could tell you a story.

Continue reading

Just Going in Circles?

Last fall I shared some thoughts from a new book by our friend, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker.  This weekend we had the privilege of having him speak at our church.

In the book, one story Mark uses is that of the Israelites who have been wandering in the desert for 40 years and come to Jericho at the edge of the Promised Land.  Imposing.  Six-foot wide lower wall.  50 foot tall upper wall.  Impenetrable.  Overwhelming.  Like many of the problems and dreams we face today.

God tells them to march around the city once a day for 6 days and then on the 7th day, to circle the city 7 times.  He promised after they circled the wall 13 times the wall would fall.  On the 7th day God delivered on a 400-year-old promise.  Mark writes,

Jericho is spelled many different ways…  If your child is far from God it’s spelled salvation.  If your marriage is falling apart, it’s spelled reconciliation.  If you have a vision beyond your resources, it’s spelled provision.  But whatever it is, you have to spell it out.”

For my friend Heather, her Jericho was spelled healing.  All her life she has struggled with a hereditary condition that affects her digestion.  It became more and more complicated, resulting in the necessity for 8 operations and an ileostomy (not something exciting for a beautiful twenty-something woman)

The bottom line was that she landed back in the hospital for both Christmas and her birthday last year with more complications after her 7th surgery.

Confused, grieving, trying to cling to God, the 7th floor of  the U of M Medical Center became the site of her Jericho.  Barely able to hobble, dragging her IV pole she made it her goal to walk around the unit one time each day, and finally, 7 times.

Heather focused on Hebrews 11:1, trusting that God was doing in her body what she didn’t see or feel, and that her faith in Him would carry her if the healing wasn’t physical.

When she walked out of the hospital on March 27th 2011 it was for the last time.  Physically healed.

This was not magic.  This was not a formula.  And I don’t know why Heather was healed and others are not.  We’re in a relationship with the God of the universe and His ways are not our ways, His timing is often not our timing.

Heather would probably tell you that what she learned over the years of waiting, walking and clinging, was as important as her healing.  She is a different woman.  A more peace-filled, confident woman because of her walk in circles.

But I am convicted by this, “When you live by faith it often feels like you are risking your reputation.  You’re not.  Your risking God’s reputation .  It’s not your faith that’s on the line.  It’s His faithfulness…The battle doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to God and because the battle doesn’t belong to you, neither does the glory.”  

We need to look to God’s promises.  Ask, and then listen for Him to whisper the dreams and goals He wants us to trust Him for.  We need to pray for discernment.  And listen.  And do our part in making wise and healthy choices.

But here’s where I also get in trouble.  Often I think I (we?) ere on the side of not naming our Jericho out of fear and uncertainty.  Maybe we can start circling our Jericho with an openness to God’s correction.  An ear to heaven and an eye on eternity…

So today, What’s your Jericho?  Maybe we can circle together.

If you want to hear Mark’s fantastic message from this weekend on Acts 10, and additional study of the topic with Message Gear go here.  (Should be available by Tuesday latest)

To my Friends wounded by the Church

Dear Friends wounded by the Church,

As I write this, each of your faces come to mind and tears fill my eyes.  For you.

And for me.  Because I am one of you.

Maybe it’s because I am that you’ve felt safe to share your pain with me.

You’ve experienced exclusion,

poorly handled conflict,

shaming,

power struggles,

dishonesty,

truth-telling with out grace or hope of redemption

from a church you’ve loved.

And a church I’m sure would say is trying to do its best.

But I think of the particular circumstances each of you have endured at the hands of people who say they love Jesus and mostly I just can’t believe it and I want to rail at the injustice and shake “someone” and make it right, and undo the pain.  But instead, maybe I could tell you a story.

Last summer when I was on a bike ride through my neighborhood on a beautiful warm breezy day, my shoelace got tangled in the gears of my bike and I swerved and was stuck and took a wicked bad fall, gashing my knee gruesomely and dripping blood everywhere leaving quite a trail of evidence for the CSI folks should they choose to investigate.  It felt scary and unexpected and I felt out-of-control.

To add to my humiliation, a bunch of my friends, men, women, and children, were out in their front yard and witnessed the whole awkward debacle.  And I couldn’t even get up because my shoelace was still tightly tethering me to my gears.  The whole group of them ran over to me all concerned and one of them ran back to get a wet towel and a super-hero bandaid which was so sweet.

For days and weeks and months, that wound was tender and though it scabbed over, it got easily bumped and would start bleeding all over again.  I’d experience set-backs in the healing process and I learned to not be around the people who would carelessly stumble into me and my fragile wound.  Instead, for awhile, I needed to choose gentle friends and counselors who loved me and would be patient with my ugly scab and listen to the story of how it happened.

It was some of those same people who, as I began to heal, were able to help me ask about my part in the wounding and where God was, and what He might be teaching me.  In the process I realized that my fists were clenched a lot – clenched in determination to fix things quickly.  And they helped me to unclench them and patiently trust Jesus to do His work.

I believe we get better if we want to.  But today, I still have a very noticeable scar that will probably never disappear.   This scar is my reminder to be careful, wear my helmet, and try to be gentle with other riders.  Oh, and tie my shoes more tightly.

The other day, a friend who’s recently been hurt and disillusioned by the church said, “I don’t see how you have hope and why you keep showing up.”  The church does, often, make me sad, but it’s not the church I trust in.  It’s Jesus.

To my many friends who, like me, have been wounded by the church I would say don’t give up on Her.  Because Jesus hasn’t given up on Her.  Or you.  Or me.  And we are the church.

Speak the truth.  Be gentle.  Look for Jesus.  Admit your own brokenness.  Forgive.  But don’t give up.

For whatever reason, Jesus has said the Church is His Plan A for loving the world.

Ahh but we’re a messed up bunch, aren’t we all?  So it’s a good thing that included in Plan A is  the cross and forgiveness for all of us.

Have you been wounded by the church?  What has God used to help you heal?

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