The Mean Pair of Jeans

jeans

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.

Why are there so many haters?

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:5-8

What could have possibly been in his finished messages that caused such rejection?  Or was it that his true compassionate motives fell flat on the dead hearts of his friends?  Could it be that they couldn’t agree with what he was saying completely and rejected him instead of accepting him?  Maybe this pastor was way off base the normal customs or culture of his day.  Or perhaps, just maybe someone was jealous of him and just mishandled the situation.

In any case, they just didn’t know him.

I found out a fact about Vincent Van Gogh recently, you know the one, the well known artist that created many masterpieces that now hang in famous world art galleries.  I knew he was a troubled man and fought a long battle of depression.  But what I wasn’t aware of was that painting canvases wasn’t his first choice in careers.

He grew up with a passion for preaching, giving of himself and showing Christ to his world.  He aspired to be a minister.

“For  three years van Gogh single mindedly pursued his calling to the ministry, first as a student of theology and then as a missionary to the coal miners in the Belgian Borinage. Deeply moved by the poverty surrounding him, Van Gogh gave all his possessions, including most of his clothing, to the miners. Van Gogh admired Christ’s humility as a common laborer and “man of sorrows” whose life he tried to imitate. “Jesus Christ is the Master who can comfort and strengthen a man,” he wrote.”  (www.davidpaulkirkpatrick.com/2013)

Vincent van Gogh, 18

A member from his evangelical church council made an assessment about his actions and determined that his behavior was outrageous, borderline scandalous, and turned him into the higher church authorities.  In other words in today’s Francis Chan lingo, he had Crazy Love for those who had needs and went all David Platt Radical by giving it all away.  The mishandling of his actions and the incorrect assessments of his motivations literally changed his trajectory for a lack of support and encouragement from the church.  “Although van Gogh was successful in his ministry, the hierarchy of the Dutch Reformed Church rejected him, and at the end of 1879 he left the church, embittered and impoverished. “I wish they would only take me as I am, he confessed in a letter to his brother.”  (www.davidpaulkirkpatrick.com/2013)

I don’t know why this story is so shocking to me.  I’ve seen plenty of good Christians wounded by their own.  I have two words for you…“Stop it!”  While Van Gogh grew embittered with the lack of compassion by organized religion, he did not abandon God as the church had abandoned him. He wrote,” I think it a splendid saying of Victor Hugo’s, ‘Religions pass away, but God remains’.

Van Gogh left his occupation and went on to develop his talent as an artist.  But I dare to think this rejection had to deeply affect his future.  Rejection by comrades in the your circle of influence can do damage in more ways than you think.  And the long term affect if not dealt with properly is depression.

Honestly friends, aren’t we all looking for our place in this world?  Of all places that needs the most open of doors is that of the organized religious church.  With the public headlines today, my heart hurts at how many stones are hurled for speaking out for righteousness and truth.  And how unforgiving actions are fueled by anger and propelled by wounding words.

I dare say I am embarrassed when I hear about it.

Perhaps because I know that if we realized how much power our words have, we would use them wisely and think about what we say first and then decide if they should be spoken.  Perhaps, a bit of encouragement and getting to know the heart behind Van Gogh would have changed his ideas about religion.  Perhaps, he wouldn’t have sunk into a pit of depression that lead to an early suicidal death at the age of 37.  Perhaps, if we knew and accepted him for the brilliant talent that was inside of him, he could have changed us.

Perhaps.

Perhaps if we only loved people where they were, we would show people the love that covers a multitude of our own sins and casts out all our fears.  Perhaps, if we didn’t judge people so harshly and then cast them off as trash or used goods, this world would have more art.  Perhaps if we just loved people who are unlovable 24/7 and those hard to love abusers, well, perhaps if we saw them through the eyes of Jesus, and if we saw our own sin, perhaps we would be more forgiving.

Perhaps Van Gogh could have made a longer difference alive than giving into a depressing death.  Perhaps if we love like Jesus and lead with a heart of love instead of ugly pride we could influence more lives for the kingdom.

Where in the Bible does it say you have to be cleaned up before you come to Jesus?  Perhaps we should take a tip from the One who knows us better than we can know ourselves, AND died while we were yet sinners, to sort out the sin tally stuff.  Perhaps Jesus, my Savior is a better sorter of sin.

Perhaps we should use our freedom of speech for noticing the good instead of noticing the no-good in others.

Even when the message of Christ is rejected, and in a world where we are “disheartened by our religious institutions” we shouldn’t give up on the holiness and love found in God.  He never rejects and always reflects a pure love that has room for everyone.

Come just as you are…

What to do when you can’t hear God

giant eye
The 30-ft eyeball in Dallas, TX

“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” ~ 2 Chronicles 16:9

Dear you.

I just wanted to tell you, it’s going to be ok.  You are going to be fine.  I see you where you are right now.

You don’t know it just yet, but I’ve seen your future, and one day you will get to where I want you to be.  You keep asking Me to show you, and there’s no comfort in what you are looking at.  But my dear, you certainly can be a part of what I am doing in you, if you would give yourself back to Me.  It’s not to late for you to become who I designed you to be.

I’ve seen you try to fix everything, your life, yourself and might I say in the kindest way possible, that I can do better for you.  You see you can’t see the whole picture like I can.  Your view of Me is dimmed by your circumstances, doubt and selfish pride.  I see you seeking and looking for answers, there’s more than I can tell you right now.  I do know this for a fact, you’re going to be fine.

You don’t know it yet, but my infinite Love is stringing you along.  You say it feels unstable in your mind and want a new thing.  You say you feel alone, yet I yearn for you to be alone with Me.  You say you feel unsafe, yet I have had you in My grip since before you were born.  You say that you aren’t enough, and don’t acknowledge that I am your strength.  You say you just want to know love, and I have already proven My love for you on the cross.  You feel hopeless, yet you are blind to my hope that overcomes death.  You say…you’ve ruined everything.  While you have made some bad choices, you have never been ruined past My repair.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” ~ 1 John 1:8-10

You are going to be ok, but that is only if you start talking to Me.  You only come to Me when you want to blame something you have chosen on Me.  You need Me more than you know.  You are confused, misled, and need some gentle direction.  You need to see that you can’t do life on your own, you need to see that I created you to need other people.  You need to see that I have gifted you and called you my child.  You need to see that My abiding love never fails.

My Love endures.  You say you can’t feel my love.  That’s true, you get further and further away from it when you go the wrong way, when you steer yourself into a pit of regret, when you don’t include me in your conversations, when you self medicate with food, or drugs, or godless porn.  My heart hurts when you look at other people with lust or hate or jealousy.  You grieve me when you don’t trust what I’ve told you, and certainly when you take credit for something that I have done for you.  I even understand why you look to your flesh to see approval and not to Me.

You have fallen and you can’t get up and or out the pit you are in.  I know, I see you.  But my desire for you is to love you to the end of your days, to fill your life with joy, peace, and patience.  To give you goodness and my faithfulness through my gentle ways.  I have been so kind to you.

Even when you don’t see Me, I see you and love you all the same.

When you take time to look to Me, I won’t change.  I’m your strength.  I am your comfort.  I’ll am your wisdom.  I am your direction.  If you seek me and my kingdom, you will find me.  I want to be your all in ALL things.  I want you to be near but the wrong things you continue to do keep Me separated from you.

If you would just talk to me, humbly agree that you can’t do life without me, and turn away from those things that continually drag you down, those choices leave you in pieces, then you can find the joy and satisfaction that I have created you for.  If you could just look to me when you are temped, I will show you a way out.  If you would just give me the attention that I give you, then we could get to know each other again.  If you would just talk with me instead of shouting at me, you will hear My voice.

Why do I keep reminding you that you need Me?

Because you are so worth loving.  Because you are Mine.  Because I made you from my Love.  Because I love you like no one else can.  ~ Your Pappa.