Between The Rock and a Hard Place

It occurred to me twice this week
that I ran my hand along the bottom hem of old shirts and found
a hole.
Nothing major, worth concern
Except that it was…see I’d managed to put holes in my clothes
From pathologically tugging and pulling
trying to become unseen.

We all have those things that we do without even trying
Some twist hair into intricate curlicues
Some “…like…” and “…um..”
During conversations formal and non
Not because they don’t know answers
but rather because the world taught them that to be
a woman self assured was to be dangerous.
I…I’ve tugged  on shirts and sweaters
Rarely in the past did I like the way I wore them
Clothes were nothing but a draping on a body
that I fed in shame, sadness, and boredom
Unable to speak my feelings, so I baked them away
In midnight hours
Cooking major meals thirty minutes before bed
Knowing that a healthy cutoff was 3 hours and
just as many self deprecating thoughts ago.

I stopped with the realization of how far I’d come
How much I’d come to love me since I came to love the Son
Still on this journey
Call this stuck between The Rock and a hard place
A glance backward at the hate
A look forward at how His love erases shame
There isn’t a mistake that I can make
Or a pound that I can gain
That can overshadow his Calvary
That can mimic His pain
You mean to tell me Lord
That when you hung you did so
So I’d never have to question my creation again?

What has had you stuck?
Between self harm and healing
Between subjugation and victory
Between hiding your face behind your hair and showing your face for all to see?
Is your hard place regret
Is it racing to stay so busy that you forget that you aren’t married yet?
Is it questioning His judgement
Is it doubting how much He cares
Is it getting frustrated and not stopping for prayer
Because you really don’t get why He hasn’t intervened if He’s there?
Let me remind you that THE ROCK is waiting for you
From Him comes your help
You weren’t made then forgotten
You weren’t destined for the shelf.

OH….How He loves you.

So now, if I come across a shirt
With the tiniest of holes in the hem across the bottom
They serve as reminders that the Lord of all is
sovereign over my insecurities
Not the destruction of cotton
Rest assured that whatever your hard place
The Rock is able and He got them….

Psalm 139:14

Heart Check

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Hello beautiful people,

I am coming off of one of the most spiritually strenuous periods that I have had in awhile, and I am walking a fine line between 1Peter 4:8 (which encourages us to cover each other–and our lapses in judgment–in love) and Luke 8:39 (where the healed man was told to go home and tell of the great things that the Lord has done)

First, a moment of transparency. One of the things that I have fought the hardest against is the pothole of insecurity. There are some people who have never had second thoughts about what other people think of them or whether their current situation is all their fault, I am not one of those people, and after a lot of prayer and long roads, I can say that I don’t envy those people at all. I embrace the fact that it has taken me a while to learn to love myself warts and all because I believe that within that lies my spiritual gift: seeing other people currently entrenched in that struggle, encouraging them, and walking them through it. I am here on Earth to remind the masses that God loves them, that He has gone before them into every circumstance and that they were created for a purpose. Little did I realize how close to home that those conversations would get.

I have someone in my life who is my family not by blood, but by time. When I met her, she was very young, barely a teenager, but she already had a major distrust of people, and a lot of anger as a result. Flash forward to this past weekend, and she emerged from a volatile situation with an ex-friend angry and distrustful again, and saying that she was better off doing life alone. Initially angry at being pulled into the chaos, I tried to pour into her all the lessons that I have learned about dealing with heartbreak. As I was talking to her, I had the thought that this might be beneficial to someone else, so here we go.

Lesson One: We Have GOT To Deal With Our Pain.
Many of us are walking around with serious wounds from our pasts. Father/mother drama, assault, abuse, constant strife, and even pervasive and extreme poverty can leave us with scars that can’t be seen but that can definitely be felt. What often happens though, is that we don’t/won’t put in the footwork to see these issues through to complete healing for whatever reason, and instead we do what I described to my sister as a “Shawshank Healing”. If you have ever seen the Shawshank Redemption, then you know that Andy Dufresne escaped from prison by painstakingly digging a hole to the outside and covering it with a pinup poster. Similarly, a lot of us are not truly packing our issues, we are just covering them. It may not be with a poster, but it CAN be with money. Power. Notoriety. Sex. Relationships. Drugs. Just like the warden found the hole when he aimed a rock at the poster and it tore right through, stress or heartache or missed opportunities can expose the yawning hole in our spirits if we aren’t careful. How do we deal with the pain? You know what’s coming!! Revelations 21:5 says “He who was seated on the throne says ‘Behold, I am making all things new. Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” When we surrender these hurts to God, in its place we are given a freedom beyond compare.

Lesson Two: What We Think, We Create
One of the things that I spoke to my sister about was her desire to never open up to people because people had hurt her in the past. I spoke to her about being angry and resentful in the past; most don’t believe me when I say that I used to have a mouth like a sailor on shore leave. I began cursing my freshman year in high school, and despite many attempts to stop, the habit continued well into my mid-twenties. What this meant was that my love of cussing, fussing, and kicking up dirt made people who also enjoyed these things attractive. We enjoyed being raucous and dramatic–but what I found was that as I came back to Christ, a process called sanctification took place seemingly without my help. Some of the things, people, and places that I used to enjoy began to not only lose their value, but they made me downright uncomfortable. When I wouldn’t release these things and people that weren’t aligned with the changes taking place in my life, often some really upsetting event would take place to leave no doubt in my mind that this person had to GO. The job that was stressing me out would start feeling unbearable or an argument/blowup would start with the person I’d been tiptoeing around and not wanting to formally detach from. However, I started noticing that I wanted to be around genuinely joyful people–in fact, I craved it. There was nothing in me that wanted to spend time around people that did my soul no good. What I told my sister is that life is a process of taking people one interaction at a time, and that the more that her heart heals, the more that she’ll find her self being willing to step out on faith and meet other healed people. 1Peter 3:8 encourages us to be like-minded, sympathetic, compassionate, and humble. What we are, we attract.

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Lesson Three: We Can’t Nourish Others When We Are Starving
One of the final things that we talked about during her refusal to open up was about how important it is to have your own heart in triage and being take care of before you go looking for others to rescue. My sister has burst fully grown into the adult world of job hunting, and she is finding that the process can be difficult. Being a jobless young adult can often mean that your pockets are not at the level that you would want them to be, so I explained this walk of healing as an emotional bank account. A lot of us are walking around with overdrawn emotional bank accounts perpetrating like ballers. We are trying to load other people onto a back that is bruised and broken, and sooner or later, the bough breaks. I asked her “what happens if your account is -1000.00 and you get a check in the mail for $1000.00?” to which she replied,
“if you put it in, the bank is going to take it all!” I said, “that’s true, but what is your balance now?”
Her: “it’s ZERO!!!”

She had this look of confusion on her face, because who wants a bank account with a balance of zero, but what I wanted her to understand is that this is the process of healing. We go from having this abyss of shame and anger and hurt, and then Christ comes in, and with our permission (because Christ won’t change our hearts if we resist Him too hard) He wipes that clean.

She was still looking at me in utter bemusement, so I decided to take it a step further. “Ok”, I said, “so your account is at zero, but what happens if you get a $2000.00 check in the mail now?” She said, after some thought “Now I have $2000.00!”

Exactly love, now you have 2000 dollars. Take away the concreteness of money, and replace it with a spirit and feelings. God has taken away the bad stuff and left us clean so that when we have positive interactions with hope, with peace, with joy, and with salvation, they aren’t eaten alive by the negativity that reigned in our lives for so long. We have MORE now. And how about this: what reigns supreme in your life now is double or MORE what you had to give up and let die.

Final thought: I asked her “what can you do with money that you couldn’t have done before?” Being the recent post-teenager that she is, she excitedly said “SHOP!”…to which I asked “only for yourself?” Off to the races, she said ” nah I can buy stuff for you and Jord–ohhh! I get it!”

Yup, sis. Now you get it. Not only are you filled up, but you have the joy, actually the responsibility, to go spend it on others. Don’t keep all that love to yourself: we serve a God that fills us to overflowing, so we can pour out as we are poured. Psalms 23:6 says that He anoints our heads with oil and our cups run over.

It is never easy to get a heart check, loves, but I promise you that what He reveals in your wilderness season is exactly what someone needs to hear. I learned that all over again this past weekend, and I pray that what I told my sister can also help you.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

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