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.
Ever so often I find myself crying before God and apologizing for my numerous mistakes I’ve made in the past. There are days that I wonder if I will ever shake those painful years. I still live in the shadow of some of those decisions, which is why I get frustrated at times and wish I still wasn’t seeing the impact of past sin.
My frustration starts a circle of remembering, regret, blaming myself, repenting (again), self-pity, and other forms of emotional battery that I lay upon myself.
I was bemoaning to God a few days ago about how useless I felt, again, and acknowledged that I am where I am in life because of choices I made – aka “seeds” that I’ve planted. As I was moved to tears for myself, my brilliant mind realized that I am not useless; somehow my own thinking has disqualified myself from my idea of an effective Christian.
Basically, I’ve been keeping myself a prisoner of my past.
Even so, my little outburst was different than ones I had before. It’s like I was bemoaning my pitiful woes out of habit rather than conviction – and that was a good thing! The chains of regret no longer had the strength it used to. All glory to God. My time reading and speaking God’s truth over me was releasing the hook of past regrets.
What started out as a little pity party turned into a realization that I was being set free. And a little smile finally transformed my pouty lips…
Renewing our mind means taking time to fill our thoughts with the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes we get a dramatic revelation that changes our thinking immediately, other times it’s like pulling back thin layers one at time until one day we realize that old, destructive thoughts no longer have the power that they used to. Praise God!
I picked up my Bible and started reading in I Kings and my eyes caught these words:
“As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress…”(italics mine)
Whoa. I re-read it and the words popped off the page: who has redeemed my life from every distress.
This is David speaking. DAVID.
I’m assuming you know about David’s life if you are reading this blog…but just to summarize his life…
He was the youngest son and the least important in his family.
He was anointed king by a prophet when he was a teenager.
He didn’t become king until a LONG time later and not before the existing king tried to murder him several times.
When he became popular he disregarded his kingly duties…
This led him to commit adultery because he wasn’t with his army like he was supposed to be, instead he stayed home and invited his commanding officer’s wife over for a night cap.
He knocked up someone else’s wife.
He murder said woman’s husband.
He tried to hide his sin.
Parenting wasn’t his strong point, in fact he was a terrible father.
He had lots of wives and lots of kids, and the kids hated each other, raped and killed each other.
David doesn’t exactly get the “parent of the year”, “husband of the year”, or “king of the year” awards by our standards. YET…
God called David his friend. He loved David and made him great promises because “he was a man after God’s own heart”.
Because David had a soft, tender, repentant heart even though he made some horrible choices that caused several people their life: Uriah the Hittite, his newborn son, his son Absalom, his daughter Tamar, his son Adonijah, to name a few. These people lost everything as a direct result of David’s choices. I made some choices that have dramatically impacted many people’s lives in addition to mine. Who knows how that will play out in the years to come?
In spite of this huge mess, David RESTED in the comfort of knowing his life was redeemed. David experienced the power of TRUE repentance. He EMBRACED God’s forgiveness.
The difference between David and myself?
He believed God.
David believed God forgave him so he was able to move on with his life as if his sin never happened. David was the one who penned:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:11-13)
Wow! Wow. Wow! I finally got it.
After I repented the first time God forgot all about it.
What do you regret most in your life? Visualize that regret. Feel the pain of it. Humble yourself before God and repent of your sin. Then wad that filth up into a ball and throw it out!! If you need to do something like that literally then do so. Don’t hold on to it. It’s trash. Who wants to carry around trash?
Now, bask in the immense lovingkindness of our marvelous God and move forward in the calling and blessings of God, which are so abundant!
The perfect segue from this revelation is found in Ephesians 2:10. Paul tells us that each of us was handcrafted by God through Jesus to do His good works. Think of it…God planned good things for me – and you – long before we were born and He wants us to walk that good path.
God has good things waiting for you and for me! The only thing holding either of us back is holding on to that which we have already repented of.
Are you ready to let go and move on into good things? I am!
What is happening in our nation? It seems like every day there is a new crisis! Fear easily creeps in and steals our thoughts and emotions during times of change and unrest. We are seeing crisis on a national scale and the ripples of anger, frustration, exasperation have touched every single person in one way or another.
How do you respond? Do you engage in the bantering and taking on of political cause as a reactionary response to it all? Maybe. Perhaps that needs to be done.
Do you panic because you feel like your world is crumbling around you and fear is gripping your heart? Or it could be that anger is consuming your mind.
Our responses/reaction are based on what we choose to see. So…
What do you see?
We’ve had time to get over our initial reactions, but now can you step back, look at our nation through different eyes and see beyond the surface? Instead of the foul banter that is bubbling up on the surface, what is happening at the core, the source?
I encourage you to refrain from acting out of initial emotion. Knee-jerk responses are never right. But when you step back and look deeper, what do you notice?
This week, I watched, prayed, and was overcome by what I saw. Like a wildfire that blazes through land and destroys everything in it’s path, our nation seems to be reeling from fires in every direction and I don’t think we are quite finished. Yet the beauty of wildfires is that they have a purpose: fires PURGE.
We are being purged, yet the aftermath is beauty and NEW LIFE.
What do I see? I see NEW LIFE.
I am filled with praise right now! Praise!
I see hearts moved to compassion.
I see people uniting.
I see our country being shaken – and it’s good.
I see people falling to their knees in prayer.
I see people changing their perspective and looking to the Lord.
I see people waking up and doing what’s right.
I see people throwing off the deception of lies.
I see people breaking chains of destructive thinking.
I see the goodness of God in the land of the living!
I see God on His throne.
I see fields ready for harvest!
I see healing.
I see a time of OPPORTUNITY!
Do not fear! Embrace these days. Lift your voice in praise. Doors are open for new relationships, for healing, for loving. Stay focused on the new life that is pushing up through the ashes. As the Lord covers you in His love, share His love and reach out to others that are hurting. It is time to share the true love of the true God!
Today I treated myself to one of my favorite activities: Breakfast. All by myself. I gather up my Bible, notebook and earphones. It’s glorious to have a yummy breakfast and time with my thoughts. Continue reading →
The most beautiful aspect of the Bible is that it is alive! So often we read with a deadened spirit and not expecting to receive anything from it. Maybe we pick it up out of obligation or want an answer for something but don’t know where to look.