I’ve been thinking about dreams a lot lately. You know how intense my dreams are and always have been. Sometimes I dread going to sleep. I don’t usually remember much in the morning, but enough to remember the theme is nearly always the same: Running from danger, fighting through a disaster, or trying to rescue my son or other people from harm, including myself. Every night, I fight the lonely battles that are never won, or I’m running and running, but never getting away. My earliest memories are dreams about running from danger.
Why? 40 years of running, battles, and rescues (except mine) and I’m tired.
I think what bothers me most is that in all these dreams not once has anyone been around to be my hero. I’m always alone, trying to protect myself in addition to other people. No matter the dream, I am under some type of attack. But I still wonder at the need to feel like I need to be the rescuer in my own dreams. I never expect to be rescued.
I’m tired of running. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of being a hero.
The dreams always end before there is a resolution. I’ve never rescued my son, I’ve never saved my life or the lives of anyone else because I wake up first.
I suppose that’s why I have a natural inclination to want to be a “tough girl.” My motives for joining the women’s shooting club, taking self-defense courses, active shooter training, and joining the local Emergency Response Team, must stem from my deep need to be a “hero”. I never thought of it that way before, but it’s starting to make sense.
Somehow, I have the need to prove that I can make a difference, and seeing myself as a hero is an attempt to satisfy my conscience; but in reality it’s not resolving anything. Why do I feel like I need to be a hero?
Tonight as I thought about what dreams might be awaiting me, I decided I don’t want to be a hero anymore.
I just want to be me.
I want a Sweet Dream – anything besides the exhausting nightly ritual of running from danger. If there is running, let it be for fun and joined with laughter. I want to feel safe and secure. I want to be rescued by You.
Let me dream of pleasant times, beautiful views, sweet smells, and good friends. Life has enough daily stress, let me have a taste of heaven and give my mind a rest.
And when I’m not dreaming, open my eyes to see the blessing I bring every day to people in my life and the blessing they are to me. I want to love like You love. If I am going to be exceptional in anything, let it be in love. I don’t want to be anyone’s hero – that’s Your job.
Father, it’s time for my subconscious mind to realize that…
Motivation is a funny thing. We all have areas in our life that need improvement, whether it is a skill or personal growth. As a parent, I think of ways to motivate my son to stay on task when it comes to homework. Discipline is appropriate at times when learning right from wrong, but is it always necessary for maturity? I can try to motivate him with consequences, and constantly remind him of why he should do something.
However, the best motivation is love.
I can motivate my son much easier when I tell him all the time how much I love him and am proud of him. When he makes a mistake – and knows it – I have learned to walk up to him, hug him in that tough moment, and tell him that I love him and am proud of him. No need to rehash what has happened. He is an amazing person and, at his young age, is motivated to do what is right because he loves my love. I love him the same, even when he isn’t perfect, but my love instead of reproach in those times, is a far better motivator to continue on doing good.
Why don’t we believe that God deals with us in the same way?
I’m not the most loving person by nature. It’s been a long process of learning what love means and I still have a long way to go. However, this week I received a lesson – a revelation – that opened a door to me of incredible understanding.
I have a circumstance in my life that is very difficult. So much so, that not long ago I was begging God to take me, as life was so overwhelming. I couldn’t see a way out. Every day I was taking hit after hit. After years of this, I had become so focused on the situation and the pain, that it was the only thing I could see. I was becoming angry and bitter and hopeless. I hated the situation. I despised those involved. I saw no end in sight.
My hopelessness was so severe that for about 4 months, all I could do to keep my sanity was to whisper and pray in my head, over and over, “Jesus help me. Jesus help me. Jesus help me.” No kidding. Behind my smiles and daily interactions, I was screaming, “Jesus help me!”.
Over time, He has pulled me up and out by taking my face in His hands, like a tender Father, and simply speaking, “keep looking at Me!” He could have chided me for having a bad attitude, for despising people I was supposed to love. God could have rebuked me for being unforgiving, but instead He just loved me.
In His love, I saw how wrong I was to wish I could end my life as He still has purpose for me here. My life is precious to Him, but He didn’t have to get mad at me and tell me I was wrong, I saw it in His love for me.
In loving me I saw how He loved others, even if I had a hard time loving them. So I asked Him to teach me to love them the way He loves them.
In loving me, I saw how I can be happy in any situation as long as I “seek first His Kingdom”.
In loving me, I realized it didn’t matter what other people said or did because in loving Him, I was living for an audience of One.
His love didn’t remove difficult situations or people. I still have them. However, what has changed is the view.
In loving me, He is teaching me to love others. (Love as I have loved you. Jn 13:34)
Softening a heart and loving difficult people in difficult situations takes a daily dose of Him (“give us today our daily bread”). It has been a very long process, but I have seen more permanent progress during the last year-and-a-half than I have experienced in my entire life!
Like the “wax on, wax off” lesson of the Karate Kid, I had no idea the extent of what God was teaching me until recently when I faced, again, my opponent from nearly 2 years ago, despair and discouragement. A well-meaning “word of knowledge” was given that opened the door for my old foe to stand boldly before me.
The word of correction given to me wasn’t necessarily wrong, it was just not the right time (and it taught me a lesson about speaking into other’s lives – that’s another post). That “word” did not motivate me to want to continue in my lesson of love. Instead, it felt like I had done a mountain of progress, only to have someone come by and say, “you missed a spot”.
I confess I started to wonder if all the work of deliberately changing my focus from circumstances to Jesus over the last 18 months was worth it. If the progress I had already made still wasn’t good enough, then what was the point?
As Peter did, I took my gaze off of the Father and looked at my situation, and I sank in hopelessness – disheartened and bruised.
However, my precious Father, my Papa, reminded me to look at Him again. I would have preferred to have received a “word” about how proud God is of my progress in this particular area, like a Fatherly pat-on-the-back, but today I am declaring, in faith, that I know, that I know, that I know >>>
God is proud of my progress. He is holding my face in His hands. He sees me. He sees the difficult circumstances, and He has taught me how to love, live, and thrive in the midst of pain. Also, that in loving Me, I can love back.
When I see God’s love for me, I am more motivated than ever to continue forward.
Do I have a long way to go? You bet. However, my gaze is on my prize: my Papa.
Note: Whenever God is doing a work in you, there will always be an attack or accusation. For most of us, we prepare for something major to de-rail us, but in reality, it is almost always the insignificant and unsuspecting words, actions, circumstances that catch us off-guard. Don’t stay down. Don’t blame others. Remember, it is the enemy, Satan and his demons, who are the accusers. Stand up, declare the truth, be OK with being misunderstood, realize that no one else probably sees the situation like you do, and move forward. My situation that I referred to was completely harmless on the outside. The person speaking to me was not wrong, it was spoken with grace and love, I have no ill-will. However, the enemy knows about battles that others do not and he is an opportunist. Satan took full advantage of a seemingly minor incident, knowing it would result in a major hit. I was sucker-punched. But what Satan meant to harm and discourage me, God has used to teach me multiple lessons that will propel me to greater understanding of love! Amen.
How many times, when it seems like God isn’t answering a prayer, have you thought to yourself, “I guess He just isn’t willing to do this for me”?
Down deep, many of us think that God’s blessings and healing are for other people, but He just isn’t willing to do it for us.
I confess I thought that way most of my life. I always questioned whether God WANTED to bless me with good relationships, understanding, financial stability, authority. I believed He didn’t want to use me because….well, there was something in me that caused Him to overlook me.
For that last year or so I have experienced such freedom as God has taught me otherwise. Still, old habits die hard and occasionally something happens that sends me into a full-on pity party and I question God’s willingness to use me.
A few days ago, my pity party was well under way, complete with tears and whining and yelling at God. It wasn’t a fun party so I grabbed my Bible and threw it open – not caring what I read, I just needed to shift my thinking.
It wasn’t expecting much in my time reading, but it didn’t take long before I came across three words that stopped me in my tracks: I Am Willing. I grabbed my pen and started writing…
And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Matt 8:2-3. Emphasis mine.)
This man’s cry was more than a request to be healed of a disease. Jesus could have easily spoken the words “be cleansed”, went on His way, and the man would have been healed of his disease. However, Jesus did two things before healing him:
Jesus Touched Him
No one had touched this man since he contracted the disease! Imagine no one wanting to touch you. I’m sure the homeless feel this way…rarely feeling a tender or caring touch. Jesus didn’t have to touch this man. In fact, to do so would make him unclean according to the Jewish Law. A tender touch can melt away hard hearts, years of pain, and erase bitterness – especially a touch from Jesus.
This touch went above what the man expected. How much do we realize that God is a good Father and wants to exceed our expectations? He wants to touch us. Look up and see the amazing attention the Father gives!
Jesus Stated He Was Willing
Jesus said, “I am willing”. The biggest question this man had was, “Are you willing to take time to notice me and heal me?”
Isn’t that what we all want to know?
Lepers were outcasts, unclean, untouchable, rejected by society, friends, and family. Many of us struggle with feeling rejected and even unusable. As a Christian, we may know we are saved, but remain in the shadows because we can’t seem to fit in anywhere. Our past may render us “unworthy” in the eyes of the church, other believers – especially ourselves. All of us have a strong desire to be relevant.
We long for our parents, pastors, bosses, leaders, friends, spouses to see gifts, talents and potential in us. Yet, so many experience situation where they are not even noticed. You may even feel like no one would notice or miss you if you stopped attending church or work.
Whatever it is, there are many people who feel unlovable, forgettable, unnoticed, unusable, or have a hard time that God Himself would be willing to use “someone like me”.
That’s what this story is about. The man with leprosy wanted to be healed, but even more, he wanted to know if Jesus was willing. Did Jesus see him as a person? Would Jesus want to give him time and attention? Jesus went above and beyond because He saw the real need. This man wanted to be loved, valued, and noticed – as a person – not as a leper.
Hear me: God SEES you. He LOVES you. God IS willing to bless you and heal you! Meditate on these verses and let God Himself tell you how much you mean to Him!
By the time Jesus spoke, “be cleansed”, I think the man realized that being healed of leprosy was nothing compared to the attention of the Son of God.
Father, thank you for Your attention. Thank you for Your love. I realize that You see me. I am important to You. Praise you for Your gentle touch and Your patience in my moments of doubt, unbelief, and self-pity. Glorious are you Lord! You are a good, good Father.
I suppose you could say tonight’s post is a bit of a vent. It was actually a journal entry, but as I was writing in response to a challenging day and many months and months of frustration and hitting walls, I thought someone might relate???
It seems like most Christians do not believe the Word of God outside of the four walls of church or the security of a Bible study. Instead, they are addicted to talking eagerly about the Bible…but not living it out. Continue reading →