Tag Archives: challenge

But Mostly, for Help.

brit&ausfeb1013

Tonight i journaled for the first time in what feels like months. And it was with a rawness that has been avoided for even longer. I processed a hard conversation I had tonight and got embarrassingly ugly on the pages of my new, pretty, gold and white hard-covered journal.

My immediate thought after journalling tonight was regarding my Ugly. I wish we could decide on the degree of Ugly we wrestle with. I’m not talking about the Ugly we all love to hate and occasionally brag about; the crooked smile, being a clean-freak, being too loyal of a friend, etc.

Crooked smiles and cleaning habits are pretend uglies that we use to try to disguise our deeper issues. Either that, or they’re our lame attempts at small talk. There is Ugly in us that we don’t even want to admit in our own quiet thoughts. Jealousy, anger, incredible impatience, insecurities, comparison, a lack of care for the needy, etc. These are the Uglies that keep us up at night. Maybe I’m only one of a few, so I’ll speak for myself.

Tonight I let some of my Ugly come out as I processed this hard conversation. I’ve always feared admitting such deep Ugly, even inside a private journal because somehow I felt giving it shape would also give it breath to come alive and start taking over my every thought and word and sooner or later it would be some self-fulfilling prophesy that I unleashed. So, I’ve usually only penned the essence of it, never truly letting it out of its dark cage. It’s been more like holding vomit in my mouth, just waiting for the urge to subside until I decide to swallow it again, ignoring the fact that it will burn and rage internally, causing deeper sickness and destruction, prolonging the inevitable purge that comes before peace while attempting to convince myself I never had the vomit so close to the edge of my lips in the first place.

But tonight I thought about shining light on the dark Ugly. Holding it inside has only gotten me stuck and stressed and it tastes bad, so why not try the exact opposite. Before I could change my mind, I admitted all of it. Ugly thoughts, Ugly feelings, Ugly admissions and Ugly accusations. I felt incredibly raw and frighteningly vulnerable. Like, walking-down-a-dark-alley-yelling-loudly-to-scare-away-potential-threats-and-running-faster-than-I-thought-possible vulnerable. But I made it through unscathed. And not only did the honesty NOT give breath to this Ugly, it actually seemed to suffocate it.

I prayed it all out, really. I trust the God who says to cast all my cares upon Him. So casting I did. In my written prayer I yelled, I didn’t hold back the emotional cocktail of anger and sadness, of disappointment and surrender. I wept and I left nothing unsaid. I opened the vaults and went down the list of scary things I always thought were not okay to admit. I remembered the saying,

if you can’t say it out loud, it owns you.

I will not be owned anymore. I laid every bit of it at the feet of Jesus and asked for His wisdom. I asked hard questions. I voiced disappointments and fears, and I acknowledged his goodness, more as a declaration of faith, if I’m keeping things honest.

My brother has clung to the hope: Beauty for the Ugly. And tonight I am clinging to it as well. I asked God to show me the beauty for all this ugly. Asking, in part, to fuel my faith that there actually will be beauty in exchange. I asked for redemption and restoration. I asked for peace in the midst of chaos, confusion and brokenness. I asked for humility where I’m prideful. I asked for breakthrough, for promises, for joy, for triumph and mostly, for help.

So, tonight I lay bare. Slightly embarrassed of the Ugly I unleashed. It’s not the brag-worthy kind of ugly people love to hate about themselves. It’s a train-wreck-why haven’t-you-gone-to-counseling-yet Ugly. But, I’m very ready to sift through it all for the sake of Beauty. My heart feels a mixture of relief and anticipation. Relief for the freedom this admission has granted, knowing I am in trustworthy and productive, kind hands, and anticipation for God to respond.

He can handle my Ugly. He isn’t shocked by it, He isn’t surprised by it and He isn’t shaken by it. I am so thankful that I, too, am not shaken like I thought I’d be. Turns out, this rock on which I stand is very solid.

Cheers to unleashing the Ugly and not letting it own us. To the beauty and hope that lies ahead, and to all the crooked smiles and clean freaks.

-Bee

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matt. 11:28

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” 
Romans 8:26

“Cast your cares on on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

“He will give a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” Isaiah 61:3

“Call to me and I will answer you, showing you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

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I used a Word document instead.

 

Austin&Britnie-22

I love to write. I know I can’t be the only one who discovers how I actually feel only after reading what I write. I pour out my messy heart to my journal or my, in this case, Word document. Then I read it. Then I hear myself. Then I understand a little bit more whats been making all that racket inside. I don’t start with it all figured out. But I don’t finish with it figured out either. But I do, in the process figure something out. Even if its how to get some relief. Writing is a kind of unique balm that soothes wounds until they can get some proper attention. It even helps show me where the proper attention should come from. It helps me make sense of my mess. It helps me understand how to label my emotions instead of letting them run wild, nameless and unguided. And I can’t say I’m alone in my writing. It’s always been the clearest way I’ve heard God speak to me. I think that’s why I adore keeping journals. Its like a getaway with me and God.

Writing is also a place where I can be brave. I’m learning to be brave, really. I’m not fully there yet. Here’s some background on that…

I used to keep negative things out of my journal and go straight to the hope and a prayer. If I was blaming anyone in my journaling it was probably myself. But even then, I knew that how I was seeing myself in that low moment was not in alignment with the perfect love my God had and still has for me and that my identity was in Him and not in my mistakes and falling short. So self-hatred never had a chance to shine for too long before my Defender came to my rescue and reminded me who I was and even still, who I am. This fear of writing negativity down didn’t come from a fear you may assume…I didn’t fear that someone would find the gossip between my pages and me, read it and be offended or mad at me…I feared that if I let a negative comment be confessed even in the privacy of my locked pages, that I would start to believe it and give a nasty life and power to its existence. And existence that I allowed. Lies are woven in and out of negativity. Lies about people’s worth, about their strengths and gifts.  Lies about their own hurt and their motives behind their actions that cause me pain. Those are lies I am not willing to believe. About myself or others I do life with. At least, I try not to believe. Sometimes I am deceived.

I have known the power of the tongue since a young age. I have clung tightly to writing kindness and truth and declaring God’s promises that are true instead of hashing out gossip and hatred in my secret written confessions. I’ve not done this perfectly, but since I was young I have been convicted to be cautious with what I write down. I have certainly spoken negatively about others….I will be the first to plead guilty of not thinking before I speak and hurting others in the process. But to me, as irrational as it may seem, there has been something more forever about documenting harshness in a journal. It seems more decided. Like an engraving on a stone. I don’t want to record any kind of bashing of another person whom I should be uplifting and praying for. What if archeologists find my journal hundreds of years from now and all I offer them about the identity of so-and-so is how they always failed me and were incompetent and immature and mean or ________?? I see the double-standard here. I see the inconsistency. Writing vs. Speaking…whats the difference. really? I still don’t have it figured out.

But about bravery. I see that in my habit of not writing negatively, I’ve confused it with not writing honestly. And when I don’t write honestly, I don’t get better. And I want to get better at handling hardship and struggle. I’m talking about the hard stuff. Not just the hard stuff within myself, but with others. I am starting to confess the emotions I’ve always been scared to admit in fear that I’d become some kind of anger-monster that only survives off of entitlement and bitterness. But the ironic thing is that I still have the negative things in my head and they have been eating me alive! They are still working to destroy me. I’m still somehow feeding them and they are growing. They’ve gatta go.

I’ve started to be more raw and real in my writing. They outcome is odd. I don’t always feel better about it; whatever the it is at the time. But I do feel like I take steps forward. I start realizing which aches are from which hurts and the pride I have inside wreaking chaos. And in writing honestly about the hurts caused by other people, I’m challenged with loving them in spite of their behavior…I’m confronted with loving them in the midst of their own chaos and it’s manifestations. Yikes. That gets hard. This is my starting point to healing and to abundant relationships. It’s my starting point to understanding more deeply how the Love of the Father stretched out to me when I too was guilty and offensive and in great need of grace. I need grace everyday. I need to realize these things in order to get better. In order to really love someone else from the purest, healthiest place I can. Being brave and admitting the ugly stuff is hard sometimes. I have to submit my emotions to my God and allow Him to discipline me to not dive into a rant-session, but to surrender my aches and frustrations so I don’t have to be weighed down by them anymore. It’s a fine line in journaling between being upset about something and still move towards health and crushing somebody for their responsibility or involvement in an offense which would be a big step backwards. Crushing people is never a step forward. For anyone.

In all of this I am finding more and more that I am in desperate need of my Jesus. He proves himself faithful again and again and again and again and dares me to draw nearer. I can’t figure out life in the big or the small without his guidance and patience and kindness that pulls me into a safe place; without His mighty love that turns my ashes into beauty and my defeated heart into a something strong and courageous. And whole.

 

Perhaps this post is just as messy as my at times nameless and unguided emotions, but perhaps that’s the appropriate layout.

Messy.

  Austin&Britnie-81{{photos via}}

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28, NIV

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:2-5, NIV

bee

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Lessons

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Beij1ng, and now Nanj1ng, have already given us an overwhelming amount to write about, particularly in the area of processing and praying. Given the nature of our goals, it’s unsurprising that there’ve been many fun as well as challenging times.

            We’ve been blessed with a few answers to pra yer since our arrival. Firstly, my bag (with our toiletries inside!) arrived in perfect shape (thank you for your pra yers)! Secondly, we’ve been unexpectedly upgraded to private rooms at two different hostels for a discounted rate as well as given a private place to stay at a friend’s house for a few days. He is so good to us He even cares about those simple everyday things… like where we sleep! These answers to pra yer have come as a confirmation of our call to be here this summer and give us just one more thing to thank Him for. Likewise, Je sus has been using this time to refine me as a man, husband, and believer just as we’ve been pra ying. I’ve found even more that being refined is not an easy process. These first ten or so days have revealed a few particular areas I think He wants to focus on with me: abiding in Him, obeying His word, and giving grace/love.

His blessings of these private rooms have given us special opportunity to be intentional about learning to abide in Him through spending our mornings in His word and listening to His voice without disruption. Though at times it’s been a struggle to make that time, I’ve begun to recognize this practice as being absolutely vital to living the way that He has called me to live. I’m learning that much of the reason I’ve found having a righteous, healthy attitude such a difficult task at times has been because of my lack of abiding. How awesome that His infinite power to overcome our sin nature is right there waiting to sustain us, and how sad that we (I) so often fail to partake in it.  And how awesome still that He loves us without wavering even while we continually choose to live out the destructive patterns we choose instead of Him. He has been beckoning me softly yet persistently to find my strength in him through abiding. Please be pra ying that both Bee and I can root ourselves in the Truth by truly establishing this foundational practice in our lives and marriage.

The second thing I’ve been feeling continually challenged by is my lack of obedience to the Word in certain areas, specifically in the areas of sharing, loving, and giving. I’ve frequently felt the tug of the Spirit to share with or encourage someone (sometimes a random person) and either been too cowardly or not convicted-feeling enough to act on it. It’s the same in the areas of loving and giving. When I see someone in need and feel that tug, I often find myself conflicted about how to respond. Lies run through my mind such as “Well, I can’t just go around helping everyone!” and “They probably don’t even want my help” which, regardless of their (in)validity, only serve to dissuade me from following what the Spirit is leading me to do. Honestly, I think I’ve come to understand that I often place a higher value on comfort than I do on obedience! How miserably self-centered! Psalm 51 must have been written with me in mind. Thank the Lord that He is persistent in teaching me to overcome this. I want to follow the Lord with my whole being and in everything.

Giving grace and love has been another subject that seems to be getting brought up a bit relentlessly. Through this book I’ve been reading, “Repenting of Religion” by Gregory A. Boyd, He has really begun to open my eyes about the/a root cause of many problems I’ve got, including the abiding and obedience issues I mentioned above. The Lord assigns to me (and to all people) unsurpassable worth (completely apart from our “good” or “bad” actions) and proved it through sacrificing His son’s life for me even though I still dishonor Him. I have been forgiven so much and assigned such undeserved worth, yet, like the man whose huge debt was taken away, I so often refuse to forgive others. Instead, I judge them for how they measure up to my understanding of good and evil. But I am not the judge! He is calling me (us) to love outrageously and set aside all judgment. We are to lay down our ‘rights’ and treat each other, as well as others, with the same grace that He gives us (which is inexhaustible). When I treat people as less than having unsurpassable worth, I have forgotten what I have been forgiven of.

            These lessons haven’t been easy, and are not near completion. On the contrary, refinement takes time, discipline, and pra yer (which i could use a lot of). But we are determined to grow in our likeness to Him. Please use this entry to bring further insight into how you can pra y for Bee and I during our time here. Thanks so much! we appreciate your love and support.

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