The Mean Pair of Jeans

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There will be circumstances when life slips you a note which makes you feel you are on an uninvited list.  It comes in many shapes and sizes.  But the hemline of rejection is sewn with hurt.  It wounds and makes deep shreds in your confidence and slays your trust…in everyone.

However, as depressing as it sounds, I’m learning more about how strengthening rejection truly can be.  Let me explain.  The chant in my mind used to sound like this….(I can hardly type the words.)

“No one likes you…you are fat….”  Childhood rhetoric.  Empty spaces where my soul longed for acceptance.

There are some hurts that take you a lifetime to outgrow.  Words from unkind kids can be horrible and mean.  It takes a time to heal from a few words at play.  If you are different, or slow, or unskilled, you are culled, separated, and segregated. It’s destructive.

Sometimes people just spew insensitively towards you and you got caught in the crossfire.  Or perhaps it was your finger on the gun that shot the verbal bullets.
No matter who or what, we all have hurts that pile up and make holes.  We live in a world where hate wounds without caring for the casualties.  If you have been rejected, you know all too well how it feels.  And you may not internalize it like I have, but harboring this kind of toxin inside is infectious.
The problem with a mean pair of jeans is when a hole is made a patch only covers up the hurt.
I can remember a time when some old rejection knocked on my heart as I stared at my crumpled pair of jeans on the bathroom floor.  All I needed was one ounce of courage to put them back on …again.  I needed a few seconds of thin bravery to make rejection go away.  I was afraid and I didn’t want it to put my self-esteem back on the emotional teeter-totter.
I prayed, “God, I know you haven’t rejected me.  These jeans, this size, neither define me.   So whether the jeans fit or not, God…I am yours.  No rejection from a crumpled pile of fabric can know me like you do.  May my self-esteem be found in You.”
I could go on and on about the many hallways of my 100+ pound weight loss journey and noticing God in those moments.  My point is when you are emotionally wounded there will be times when rejection will shake your stability.  
I haven’t finished my study of how to fully overcome rejection, but in remembering how God delivered me then helps me handle rejection now.  Haunting rejection can easily slip back into the deep crevices of your heart.  Without describing the landslide of emotions I held onto that day, I do know God comforted me in those moments.
Now, I’m learning to manage rejection and it’s offense appropriately and handle quickly.  I’m also learning to shield my mind and not let it penetrate my heart.  In doing so, I’ve realized a larger portion of joy in myself.  No longer will a “mean” pair of jeans define me as a person nor dictate my self-esteem.  I am more than a size and number to God.
God is not a one-dimensional Being.  He hasn’t created flat people who are measured in numbers, ages, nor years.  The beauty of God is the acceptance Jesus gives you through forgiveness.
You were made by a God who knows your name.  You were made by Love who knew your deficiencies when you are formed inside your mother’s womb.  You were created in such a way  He saw your potential and is cheering for you.  To think  God rejects the things He loves is a lie.
The sum of rejection and the toll it takes on our lives is still being told as people walk out their faith in freedom.  And as you realize freedom, there’s no going back.  The taste of liberation is full of joy no matter the size, weight or number.
I know too much about God to go back on His word. This encouragement brings joy in hurtful situations and when rejection feelings overwhelm me.  And rejection rests in His hands is hemmed by forgiveness and embraced by His love.
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Joyful Heritage of Family

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Practice makes perfect says every mother.  My mom had plenty of “mom-isms” or wise statements that she used to feed into our lives while ironing or doing the dishes.  My mom taught me a lot by what she said but also by what she didn’t say.  Parents have a great effect on our growing up years.

The most influential people affect others by the way they live their lives.

Parents teach independent thinking, problem-solving, critical thinking and how to build a ship out of a cardboard box.  Helping with math homework is one way to teach but living out independent thinking, managing a home, bringing solutions to difficult situations, and teaching survival skills in an outdoor scenario is quite another.

There’s are truths that ring true from every parent at one time or another…”Do what I say, and not what I do.”  Or, “Because I said so!”  I have heard plenty of those sentiments in my growing up years.  Therefore, it’s accurate to say that we all do life as we know it each in our own circles of influence.  It’s assumed we are living each day as best we can with the knowledge we learned as children gained from our parents.

Even though I have a college degree, there are some things that are only learned best in life’s classroom.  College won’t teach you everything.  We use the knowledge we learned as children and/or from our parents as a foundation to draw on when having a family or facing family situations.

Higher education and life lessons only add layers of teaching.

We live, we love, we play, we work and work and work. And through the years you have events that either divide or unite you.   The School of Hard Knocks (my mother’s reference to life itself) is full of crisis moments where you have to lean on each other and draw on your faith.  Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring families together.  When a loss, death, cancer hits and we all need a comforting hug or encouraging touch.

We also need faith to grow a family.  Faith is a heritage gift that keeps a family together.

Being a family takes practice to live in unity in these hard times.   Strength can also be drawn from each other in ways you would never imagine.  Our family recently suffered the loss of both my parents in four months time.  Saying those words brings tears to my eyes especially now that I’m realizing the fast approaching empty seats around our family’s holiday table.

Where’s the joy in this family memory?  Lineage is important to know where you have come from but also helps to point out where you are going.  I have great joy they are both with Jesus now.  I also know their minds have been fully restored with the rest of their bodies.  But physically, they are not with us anymore.  As the holidays approach, I have past memories of great jovial times at Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.  This year will be different now that they’re not a part of those earthly celebrations.

Saying those words and telling you helps me accept my faith heritage.

This week, as I thought about the missing pieces of our lives now gone, I kept looking for joy in something that once was.  Once, I accepted that my mom and dad have a grand celebration every day in Heaven, it released my mind to carry more joy into this year’s joyful season.  Upon realizing their joy from Heaven’s perspective, it increased my joyful feelings to be one of anticipation instead of sadness and dread.

Lineage is important to know where you’ve been to keep you pointed towards a joyful end, our eternal home-going.  One of our many rich family traditions is faith.  A tradition I brought to our own family upon the birth of our two children was the practice of faith in our home and work and lives, just like parents taught me.

My parents had an actionable faith and those habits stuck within our family.  My daughter realized it after my father’s passing how important it was to her, now that she has two children of her own.  They recently relocated to Florida and one of the first decisions they made as a family was to find a new church home.

I can remember praying for my children (when they were small) and I asked the Lord to increase my “new parent” faith.  As they advance their family, I see how faith was planted and is now establishing a good foundation for a root discipline.

Faith is established early and obeyed long.  Friedrich Nietzche once said, “The essential thing “in heaven and earth” is…that there should be long obedience in the same direction; thereby, in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” (Beyond Good and Evil)

My parents practiced life by faith, and I have great joy to carry on this living tradition every day.  I’m not talking about rule keeping here.  Not a religious act or strict, overbearing balance of a perfect life.  I’m referring to my long obedience of faith in relationship with my Father God, who has taught me how to walk with Him, talk with Him and live with Him by faith through the rich heritage that my parents laid foundationally in my life.

My faith affects my family through the years and for years to come.

This holiday season is bursting with joy to realize the rich traditions of faith, family and a good, good heritage.  Because it’s important to know where you have been to know where you are going.

 

The Day I Touched the Sky

A photo by Eli DeFaria. unsplash.com/photos/qKXnwCIaULI

The other day I spent some time on some much needed “knee mail.” I confessed my broken heart to the Lord. It was messy and let’s just say I could’ve invested some money in Kleenex stock. Yes, the tears came way too easy and I was overwhelmed. What could possibly cause such a deep emotional response from within?

I let my heart touch the sky and released my pain.

In the last four months I lost both my mom, 91, and dad, 94, to Alzheimer’s disease. We were personally involved in their care for almost three years. I don’t know if you’ve been down this road but it’s hard, specific and each parent required different care.

The details were love-driven but the sentiments were often lost in the details and mostly confusing to my parents. What we experienced as a family was challenging and difficult. But I sit here today to encourage you, if you are looking at a similar situation, there’s peace available to you by the measure of God’s grace that goes before you.

I have many stories I’m collecting in a book which will someday help someone, I just feel it. Role reversal in families is often hard, isolating and intense. However, I learned the most about peace of God who offers this peace by going through it. There are seasons in life only experienced by going through it.

“We do what we have to do.” says every mom.

With any big decisions, and we all face them, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a manual of knowledge with all the answers? You know it would. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know you could just “tube it” to get the answers you needed? The world as we know it is asking “Dr. Google” for everything. I am reminded we do have such a resource to help us figure things out what life sets before us.

We do what we have to do because the Holy Spirit helps us.

Jesus said (in His last few hours on earth) it was best and good for Him to leave so the Helper could come and be our advocate. It is good for man to release what he can’t do and find the Help to cover what man can’t do. That’s not to say you don’t have a part in God’s business, you do. You simply trust God has you covered and He is working out things according to His best plan for you and you do the next thing as He leads. God peace protects you from making wrong decisions. I am grateful today HE is my Shepherd and knows what I need, even before I have need of it.

Yes, He’s so good at being God and our good, good Father.  He anticipates needs before you have any needs. Think about this: God who has NO needs meets ALL of yours. And He knows every one of your needs and is at the ready to meet you and show you. So let us fix our eyes, look to the hills, look up and live a vertical life. Let’s reflect His countenance, and meet Him in the morning and again remind ourselves in the evening. Could it be said if we simply live with God, we won’t be fighting the will of God?

Life is a great teacher and I’m taking many notes. (By the way, I heard a preacher say once there’s a special gate in Heaven for us note takers!) With God’s help, He makes the ways of faith known to you and for you. It’s His grace goes before you and secures your mind. It’s His peace assures you when everything isn’t going okay. There’s comfort in sharing with friends and receiving godly counsel. Encouragement can come in many ways, and God loves to use you to help people too. Hard times teach you to lean upon Him and look to Him to help point the way for others in healing and keeping peace.

Keeping our head up is the challenge, as well as fighting discouragement plus trudging through life on our own strength. There are other times when God loves to grow us through situations which cause us to trust in Him in no uncertain terms, with the eyes of faith. When we believe He leads through adversity by His character, then we see the wonder of who God really is. Only God can give this kind of holy assurance to help us let go of the things we can’t control. And nothing can replace such kind of peaceful assurance!

How have you seen God’s peace in your life?