Counting It All As Loss

Recently, I mentioned that it is “difficult for me to share” these intimate details about my past. Many would assume instantly that given the content of my past that the difficulty arises through shame or embarrassment. Yet, Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely get embarrassed, I am an open book so to speak. No, the difficulty comes due to the innate desire within people to look for a reason to enhance their position by looking down on those in what they may consider a lowlier position. For me, in the past, as I have shared my stories face to face, there have been many times that I have witnessed the light bulb of self-righteous illumination in the mind of a person mid-sentence. They realize how much better of they are that me and stop listening for a brief pause to assess my much lowlier position well elevating their superiority. Yes, I can see that process take place in their momentary glazed over eyes followed by a swift shift in expression.

Yet, I continue to share and quickly wrap up my story because I realize at that point I have lost them. They are not ready to hear more because the essence of God’s glory has been lost to esteem their own.

As I share intimate details in what I pray to be God’s timing I am drawn nearer to God. I recall our past together and all that he has done to save me. He called me valuable and pursued me with his beautiful, perfect parenting: teaching and shepherding of my life.

Deconstruction began, rebuilding took place, he was the architect. He knew my foundation, supplies, tools, timeline: he assessed every detail and did everything according to his perfect blueprint. For me, there is no shame that can be made of my past because it is my past with God. Our history has made me who I am. Just as the builder of a beautiful historical landmark doesn’t look at her progress or finished work and consider all the tribulations she endured with regret: rather she considers the beauty of the process, how she triumphed, cherished and found valuable each part of the process with brought her to completion.

So I count as gain everything I once counted loss just as Paul has spoken in Philippians 3:8-10 when he said “[…]Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death[…]. 

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Beauty

So here I sit, pondering what it means to be a woman. When I come to the core of who we are I can’t help but always come back to the word “beauty.” What does it mean to be beautiful? At one time being beautiful meant being tall, thin with large breast and a nice butt. That is not what I refer to as beauty. Today, “beauty” is defined by outward appearance, even more so by a common law of “sex appeal.” As women, there isn’t much that we covet more than “beauty.” We walk through malls and shops spending more money than we have just for a chance at it, we hate other women we believe have found more than us, we flaunt whatever we think we might have in order to test our assets on the nearest unsuspecting but appreciative glance. We pile on makeup, take pills, tuck this or that or let this or that hang out.

All the while we have been so misled in the attainment of, and the desire of, “beauty” that we haven’t stopped to consider that we already may have it. This beauty, that ALL women/people possess is found in our spiritual selves. 

I will tell you, it is not easily attained but it is worth finding.

It can’t be bought at the mall which is bad news but the good news is it is free of charge. Not easily attained but by sweat and tears, it can be brought forth to any person who is tired of always grasping for but never coming close.

The beauty that is undeniable and undefinable comes from the character of a woman’s soul to the depth of her heart via the dedication of her mind.

No one can define her, no one can take it from her and no one gets to decide if she’s, “hot or not”.

Why?- because it’s something that she IS, not something she has.

Who has decided what is beauty?

God has.

God says that its possible to be more beautiful with age.

Yes, with wrinkles and all.

How?

Because He has already defined beauty and its inner not outer. 

16 This is why we do not lose courage. Though our outer self is heading for decay, our inner self is being renewed daily. 17 For our light and transient troubles are achieving for us an everlasting glory whose weight is beyond description. 18 We concentrate not on what is seen but on what is not seen, since things seen are temporary, but things not seen are eternal.

I believe and have found to be true, that without God no human can know themselves fully or be full, completely and perfectly at peace. Similar to trying to get through Europe without a map or knowing the language. Everything would make more sense if you had direction and foundation. God provides both in life.

What we think of beauty is not real. There is no standard that we can attain that appearance brings.

We can be positive that the definitions set before us every day are only a deception to keep us distracted in the mirror rather than at peace in our souls, with one another and with who we are. 

What makes you “feel” beautiful isn’t always what true appreciation feels like, it can just be what we’ve been given thus far.

The Purpose Behind the Blog


                      I decided to start this blog because God gave me life and a story. 

He made something beautiful out of me and not only me but each person he has called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. We must remember and never forget where he has brought us from. His love is so great and powerful that it truly does save! Oh to be humbled by the mercy of our amazing Savior, Father, and Friend.

As I write,  I write to God and to myself for the purpose regaining the passion that I once had and long to have again for the God that saved me on that beautiful day. Not only does he take off the blindfold but he so patiently teaches and walks alongside us through each moment until now. He is still changing us and still merciful to us…..Amazing!!

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power

and the kingdom of our God,

and the authority of his Messiah.

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,

who accuses them before our God day and night,

has been hurled down.

They triumphed over him

by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony;

they did not love their lives so much

as to shrink from death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens

and you who dwell in them!

But woe to the earth and the sea,

because the devil has gone down to you!

He is filled with fury,

because he knows that his time is short.”

~Revelation 12:10-12

Truth

There are some foundation life lessons God taught me that made it possible for me to be free from my past and my sin although this is a continual process. One of these lessons God taught me was to know “truth”. Truth in the world as a whole but more specifically in the privacy of my own mind. This verse was on the dashboard of my car. I must have thought about it 100 times or more a day.

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)

God taught me to differentiate between His voice and all the other voices in my head. It was clear that when God was teaching me he was gentle and his direction was clear and specific. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33). My thoughts were confusing and very feeling orientated. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12) Then there was Satan’s voice, ever condemning and never hopeful. God’s word warns of this. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8)

Even though I have not attained perfection (obviously). God has brought me so far from that girl who was led by emotions and mental instability. I pray with each passing year I will be a daughter who is increasingly faithful to her calling.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Still So Far to Go….

There is instant salvation of which I am assured and comforted in knowing and having my eyes opened to the Truth. As believers and followers in Christ, all find our complete and perfect joy. Unfortunately and fortunately we still have a long way to go from that day forward.

After God showered His love upon me on that beautiful day, I was able to see clearly for the first time in my life. As though a blinder had been removed from my eyes. I knew I had to change everything. I also knew I was weak. How weak? I had not yet known. (“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”~Matthew 26:31)

At the time of my salvation, I had before that day, been a young lady ensnared in all kinds of sin/addiction (Titus 3:3-5). I had previously thought that I was pretty good, compared to some of the company I kept. I reveled in the thought and feeling that I was “free.” I believed I was able to do and live however I chose and no one controlled me. I have heard people say that being a Christian is terrible because of all the “rules” and “regulations. It had never occurred to me until I had decided that I no longer wanted to live this life apart from God anymore. I wanted to honor God. My desires were different and the life I wanted to live was one of real freedom. I had not known how truly enslaved I was but when I tried to not drink or do drugs or date men who didn’t value purity, I found that traps were set around every corner I walked. I could not get free from the very things that I at one time believed were my very freedom. So who is truly free? Is it the person who lives for themselves, doing whatever it is that they “desire” at the moment? Or is it the Christian, who does what God has called them to?

I have been on both sides of this fence. I know that these chains were heavy and burdensome that even when I saw the road I was taking was destructive I could not go another way. It was as though someone else had taken hold of my life and was dragging me willing to my own demise. Until God stepped in and took off the blindfold I was then able to see I was headed toward a cliff. Even after I realized this, I tried to stop doing all the things that God’s word calls sin but I could not. It seemed the road I had traveled for most of my life was such a clear path, I had traveled on it for so long that it was clearly marked for me. This new path that God was taking me down was not yet developed. It was harder to see and travel on. I needed to hold onto Him and rely on him each step of the way. I was willing!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~Galatians 5:1

In the Making

I was born in Chicago Illinois in 1982. I obviously don’t remember much about most of my childhood. At about age twelve is where I can look back now and see who I was beginning to be and I have some memories. To be honest my childhood was filled with fear, nervousness, confusion and the constant feeling that I was not loved. I constantly felt alone and that my family did not see anything good in me. I constantly assessed whether I was loved or not. Apparently, that was very important to me.

At a young age I was constantly observing others; their behavior, their friendships, their sincerity, everything. I saw people that were happy and people that were hurting. It was in many ways like I could feel their happiness or pain. Aside from what life was like at home and the ways that shaped me there was a disposition that was with me from the womb. Sins that were incubated in my life experiences and allowed to flourish.

Throughout my life, before God revealed himself to me, I had some amazing experiences with God. Some people think that your experience with God begins when you are saved. When he comes in and opens your eyes to the war of good an evil that we all live in, but scripture says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

One memory that stands out to me is during the time I was at the train station in Indiana. While I was there a homeless man passed by me and gave me a crack rock. He told me it was worth two hundred dollars and that I should sell it. Not really knowing what to do with it. I wrapped it in tissue and put it in my purse. Later a young man asked me if I would like to smoke some marijuana with him. We went behind a building to smoke it. What I later found out was that it was black expo weekend in Indianapolis. Apparently that weekend they load up the city with a lot of police. Needless to say, we were arrested. It was a weird situation because they took us to the side of a building and interrogated us. After they went through my things and found this drug I started crying. Being seventeen I knew they would call my parents. That was my biggest fear at the moment. I pulled it together and told them that a man gave it to me and told me to hold it for him. I told the officer that I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want him to come looking for me and I had never even seen crack before so I didn’t know if it was like acid which got into your skin, which is why I wrapped it in the tissue (that part was true). Anyway, they eventually let me go. As I got on the train to Michigan I saw a big black billboard with small white letters that read “If you are looking for a sign from God this is it”. I pondered that in my heart the whole ride. I never saw a billboard like that before or after this one.

I could look back and remember countless stories like that where God stepped in and protected me from myself. Even when I didn’t change or give him credit. My mom had always taught us about God. We went to a Catholic church here and there. My mom read her Bible pretty often. There was always a lingering sense of God in my mind. I always told myself “God understands”. I believed he knew that I have to do what I had to do and somehow he didn’t mind. I guess since I didn’t know any other way to live.

Still seventeen and headed to Michigan. I lived with some hippies for a while. Life was “fun”. That was all I really cared about what having a good time and not having any rules. I found peace in feeling that I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This was one thing that kept me single and having a lot of friends that were men/boys with no problem keeping it that way, even though now I realize that the hope of more was how I got them to do so much for me. I stayed with a few different people and eventually met a guy and had a nice dysfunctional relationship who had recently been released from prison.

I eventually made it back home to Illinois.

Many moments I could look back on now and see how my perfect loving Father was with me the whole time.

Throughout the course of this time, I stayed in contact with the guy in Michigan. We saw each other once in a while and I believed I really loved him. He was controlling, abusive and in and out of prison though so I kept my distance. Always waiting for him to change but never putting my life on hold for him. I wasn’t going to settle… permanently anyway.

Fast forward three years, I was now 19. I remember sitting on my front stairs after just thinking about this guy I thought I loved. Maybe I did… I prayed for him. I prayed; “God if you let him out jail… I promise I won’t sleep with him.” Well, God did let him out of jail. A few weeks later I got a letter from him saying that he was going to be released and he wanted to see me. I immediately made plans to see him. Completely aware of the promise I had made, knowing full well what I was about to do.

It wasn’t long before I found out I was pregnant. As you can imagine, this is where my life changed. For the obvious reasons, but also that I knew in my mind and in my soul that this was a crossroad. For the first time in my life, I had to live what I claimed I believed. Was God okay with my life cycle of sinning and confessing? Did God really not care that I “had to do what I had to do”. If God was real and he was watching over me I had to keep this baby. If God did not exist and cared nothing for me then I could have an abortion and move on as many people recommended that I do. There was only a small minuscule moment in time that it took me to decide. In my head and in my heart I knew that this baby was my family and how could I kill my family member knowing that God allowed this and that I was not innocent in these results. I was so scared. I did not know what I was going to do.

Eventually, I had to tell my parents. I remember my mom was in the kitchen. I said, “Can you come outside, I have to tell you something.” Before we made it completely out the door she said, “You’re pregnant aren’t you?” I said “Yes.” We both cried together and she said she would take care of me and be there for me. This was the beginning of God’s restoration in my family. She was there for me and so was my dad. My whole family was on a path to restoration and healing because of this beautiful little baby that was to come into the world.

There was something stirring in my soul ever since I found out I was pregnant. God was reaching out to me. I remember this moment clear as day.

I was in my bedroom alone, aside from God and the baby in me. I felt God’s presence come over me, a complete and amazing feeling of love. God’s love. I saw my past life flash before my eyes and all the evil things I had done. I realized at that moment that God loves me. He had all my life.

I saw all the moments he had protected me and all the ways He had blessed me. Even in my suffering, He was with me. I decided that day to give Him my life. I fully trusted Him, I was fully His and I wanted to have the love He freely offered. I wanted the life that He created me for.