Don’t Sweep it Under the Rug!

Design from Swag

Have you ever heard the saying, “Sweep it under the rug”? This phrase communicates the effort to hide, ignore, or keep something secret, instead of dealing with it directly.  We convince ourselves that if it is “out of sight”, then it will be “out of mind.” I used to think like this when someone hurt my heart.  Thinking that time could heal all wounds, I would ignore the hurt. However, I have found on several occasions that a “trigger” can come and bring these feelings back to the surface. These “triggers” are unavoidable and can be different for everyone.  For me, a trigger can be a smell, sound, place, conversation, or picture that causes me to flash back to another time and place. When I have a flashback, I feel as if these past events are happening in the present.

Can you relate?

The harsh truth is that we are forced to continue dealing with pain we have tried so hard to ignore. In reality, when we sweep things under the rug, we are creating bigger obstacles in our life—obstacles we WILL have to navigate later.

Do you have any obstacles in your life?

  • Maybe you struggle trusting others because someone has betrayed you in the past.
  • Maybe you find it hard to reveal your true identity to others because you have experienced the pain of rejection.
  • Maybe you cling to relationships out of fear of being abandoned again.
  • Maybe you wrestle with self -esteem because others have left you feeling unworthy.
  • Maybe you wear yourself thin trying to please others because you have never received affirmation from someone important to you.

Nothing good comes from sweeping your hurt under the rug.  Ignoring it only causes more pain in the present or future.

Hurt knows no boundaries. It happens in ministry, friendships, parenting, marriages, families, work, and school…

So, how do we deal with our hurts?

  1. We acknowledge the past hurts in our lives and recognize the consequences of sweeping them under the rug. These consequences become obstacles such as: bitterness, loss of identity, fear, poor self-worth, jealousy, stress… All of these things are not of God.
  1. We deal with one hurt at a time. Dealing with hurts can look different for everyone.  It may be in the best interest for some to seek professional Christian counseling. The important thing is to deal with them appropriately to find healing.  I love to journal and pour out my soul before God.  Often He brings a scripture to mind that speaks a truth I need to apply to my circumstance.  Sometimes, I am led to share with a friend that I trust is walking close with the Lord and can offer wisdom and a fresh perspective.  Sometimes, it is a process to get healing from a deeper hurt. (Think of peeling an onion one layer at time.  Getting to the core is a process.)  It does not feel good peeling layers of hurts away, but getting to the core of why we hurt is the healthiest thing we can do. It is healthy because that is where God steps in and does a deeper healing in our lives. (Allowing God to get to the core of my pain has set me free from a bondage that held me prisoner for too many years.) No matter how long it takes, it is worth dealing with one hurt at a time.
  1. As we move forward, change the way we approach new hurts. We should be quick to acknowledge when we get hurt. Stop! Take it to the Lord, and seek resolve before we move on. Ask what God’s word says about how you should handle it.  You may find that you need to forgive someone, either within your heart privately before God, or face to face with the one that hurt you. Maybe with love, talk it through with the one that hurt you. Whatever you do, do your best to not let the sun go down before making amends. I really like how the “Message” elaborates on Ephesians 4:26-27, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

God never promised us that we would be free from experiencing pain.  But, He did guarantee us that we would have trials. (James 1:2) He desires that we cast our cares on Him because He cares about us. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)

Friend, our hurts can crush our spirit, and we can feel alone in them but…

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV)

God can handle what you feel, and He desires to break you free from the stronghold that it has on you.

The beautiful thing about healing is that the triggers that once brought pain now bring peace.  God has not only healed my heart, but he has healed my mind.

Let’s not sweep our hurts under the rug any longer. Let’s roll up our rug and toss it out for good.RUG

 

 

She Was No Angel!

blonde-angelI had a jaw dropping experience at a Christmas parade! The atmosphere was electric with screams of excitement, blaring music, Christmas lights illuminating the sky. Just under one hundred parade floats were slowly making their way through the spectators.  Children were lifted onto shoulders to get a better view of the celebration of Christmas.  (Insert screeching halt here!) Celebration of Christmas? Not so much.  It was nearly void of any celebration of Christ’s birth.  Even the traditional Santa appearance wasn’t the focus of the parade. So, when the float of Angels wearing their wings representing the meaning of Christmas came along, I was excited! Then it happened! One of the Angels tossed beads to the crowd, but someone from the crowd hurled them back at her! Caught off guard, she intently searched for the perpetrator.  When her eye caught the guilty one she turned three shades of red and, if I read her lips correctly, “she was no Angel!”  She nearly came off the float to retaliate!

Have you been caught off guard this season in a way that hurt you? Maybe someone shared unexpected news, something from the past was thrown in your face, or a longstanding Christmas tradition changed unexpectedly…

Whatever it is that caught you off guard did not catch God off guard.  He knew what you were about to experience and He is waiting for you to turn to Him for guidance and peace.  If you react impulsively without considering how God wants you to react, you may end up more like the Angel I mentioned than a representative of Christ this season.

Is that who you really want to look like?  If not…


       
“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.” (Proverbs 10:19-21)

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

If the angel held her tongue and focused on being the light of Christ, how different would her reaction be? Would she forgive the one who hurt her? Would she have held onto her joy? Would she have shown grace?

Maybe you need to forgive someone.  My friend, bitterness can hold you in prison of your own design and steal your joy. But, if you choose forgiveness, you can be free!

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Let’s keep our focus on the reason for the season, Christ’s birth, where you will find hope, peace, and love.

Prayer: Lord, I can be so bitter sometimes.  When ______ caught me off guard, I responded in the flesh.  Forgive me and help me forgive ______. I desire peace and contentment as I work through the things that catch me off guard. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Puppy Love

Puppy Love Picture

Puppy love is officially known as a “temporary love of an adolescent.”  My definition of puppy love, however, has to do with how I feel about certain furry animals. Growing up, my family had a dog named Prissy.  Every year she would have a playful litter of puppies. Each time, I watched her labor and give birth with great anticipation of cuddling every one of them.   As a young girl I have to admit that the process was both disgusting and breathtaking at the same time.  Her labor made me wince as I watched and cheered her on.  On the other side of her pain offered a remarkable thing for me.  It was good. It was a special kind of “puppy love.”

As an adult I often reflect on Prissy and her puppies.  These were my happy thoughts.  These were thoughts that reminded me that good can come out of pain.

Sometimes we are in a painful situation and cannot even dream that it may result in good. I suppose we become so consumed with the pain that we lose hope and cannot see beyond it. One such occasion from several years ago affected me in this way. In the mid-1990s, I had an allergic reaction to a prescribed medication.  The reaction caused my lungs to partially deflate and close up (atelectasis).  It was painfully difficult to breath and every deep breath resulted in coughing that was reminiscent of a “dog barking.”  The prescribed treatment for my condition…breathe deeply (in spite of the pain) in order to reopen my lungs. Should I choose to not face the pain…they told me I could anticipate living with an oxygen tank for the rest of my life.

At first I could not see any good that could come of this, but then I noticed the following:

  • It was bringing my family together and my friends together around a common desire.
  • I was grasping what genuine trust in the Lord looked like.
  • It was causing me to lean on God and allowing Him to be in control.
  • It was an opportunity to share my faith.
  • It caused me to see that the very breath I am given is a gift that cannot be taken for granted.

Good was rising up out of a difficult situation.

With Gods help my lungs were restored and I was delighted to not sound like a “barking dog” with every cough.

While I would not have chosen this condition for myself, I grew from it, was matured by it, and saw God move in it.

 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I pray that whatever pain you are experiencing at this time, that you would take a deep breath (in spite of the pain) and ask God to show you the “good” He intends “through it.” You may never know the reason for the pain, but God is faithful to see you through it and to strengthen you by it.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t always understand what you are doing, but I choose to trust You no matter what comes my way.  Help me see good in my pain and help me accept Your way even when it does not make sense to me.  I pray for peace in the midst of the storm. In Jesus Name. Amen

Don’t Jump Ship!

Dont jump picture

Commit your way to the Lord… Psalm 37:5A NIV

I struggle with committing my way to the Lord at times.  I may be alone in this but I don’t think so. I know what I ought to do, but too often find myself doing things my own way.

I ask myself the question, “If I am a devoted follower of Christ and am to commit my ways to Him, why then do I breach that commitment at times?”

Maybe it is a rebellious spirit.

The story of Jonah comes to mind.  Jonah was a follower of God and yet when God directed him to go to Nineveh, he refused! Rather than choosing the “good” that God had planned, he “jumped ship” and was swallowed by a “BIG” fish. He chose to suffer earthly consequences over turning back to God. Afterwards, God used Jonah to bring many to salvation, but boy… he could have saved himself from being “fish bait” if he had only stayed true to “committing his way to the Lord.”

Like Jonah, I do not always like what God is doing. I sometimes rebel and breach my commitment to Him. I choose to “jump ship” and suffer the earthly consequences of my rebellious spirit.

For example…just this year I chose three different times not to be faithful in devoting my way to the Lord. One of those times is when we helped to load up our son and daughter-in-law for their move to Texas. My “mama heart” was in a vise and the life was being wrenched out of it! God tried to comfort me and I rebelled against what He was doing. I knew His action was good, but it was affecting me emotionally and I did not like it. In trying not to become an emotional “basket case,” I kept God at “arm’s length.” I did the same with my husband and my close friends. I convinced myself that if I did not let them get too close, I could “stand strong” and not end up in the fetal position blubbering like a baby.

Did I succeed in being strong? Sure I did…in my eyes. In reality, what I really accomplished was a couple of newly “strained” relationships. I was in a “crazy cycle” of my own creation and could not seem to get a grip on reality.  Choosing to go my way in my flesh ALWAYS produces less than God’s way and the “fruit” in my life becomes bruised. Thank God for His everlasting patience that is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). When I turn back to God, He shows me abundant grace by restoring relationships and taking them to new depths.

Today I CHOOSE to devote my way to the Lord, no matter how uncomfortable it may be (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 37:4). I CHOOSE to draw near to Him so that He will draw near to me (James 4:8) and even if I do end up an “emotional basket case,” God will bring me through it (Psalm 23:4,6). I would much rather live a life of heavenly rewards over earthly consequences. This is a DAILY choice and today I CHOOSE.

Are you doing things in your own way?  How is that working out for you? Don’t jump ship! Ask God to forgive you for your rebellious spirit and commit your way to the Lord.  He is faithful to forgive and start you on your path again, refreshed in Him. (1 John 1:9).

He Set My Feet Upon A Rock

Feet on Rock

Have you ever felt depressed? Have you ever felt like you were in a pit and unable to pull yourself out? I have been there. Not just a pit…but a pit with quicksand at the bottom! I have felt like I was in a pit, and when not in a pit it was like walking through quicksand.  In the pit I felt alone, depressed, and honestly…I wanted to camp there for a bit.  I wanted to be alone. I was depressed but I wanted time to nurse the wounds of my heart. I wanted time alone to process what was changing in my life.  At times sitting in the pit is easier than being outside of it. Being out of the pit meant expectations to perform…to thrive…and that is not the relief I desired. My pit was its own form of “hell” but, at least, it was something I could control.

If you want to be in a pit and you still have expectations on your life, you have to cope. You have to put on that “plastic” smile…but even that is difficult; not to mention, you cannot hide it from those around you who know you. They see that something is off…even slightly off.

The problem with the pit is that if I stay there too long I will begin to feel hopeless. The enemy’s lies start to sound like the Lord’s truth. Slowly but surely…I will begin to decay and ever so subtly…I will wither away.  Scripture reminds us that while a joyful heart is good medicine to the soul a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

I found myself in one of my “pit events” one morning as I was getting ready for the day. There, on the bathroom counter was my Scripture Stand. On that little 3×5 card were these words:

 “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” (Psalm 40:2)

The verse spoke of something already accomplished…a completed action. (When you’re in a pit of your own choosing, a verse like this is like a dart of love shot from the arrow of God’s heart right to yours).  As I chose to consider the implications of this verse, my perspective began to change.

The psalmist reminded me that God already brought me from a deep pit of destruction long ago, and my current pit did not compare to where He had already delivered me from. God had already brought me out of the miry clay that was like quicksand choking the life out of me.  God had already set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm even to this day.

That last sentence opened my eyes to see that I was actually standing on a rock firmly planted.  I embraced “the pit” because my emotions were raw. I was tender. I was pitiful. My emotions led me away from the truth. The TRUTH is that (positionally) I had been lifted from the pit! I was not a captive in my self-designed prison. I was lifted out but living AS IF the quicksand had a hold on my life.

This “Ah Ha” moment renewed in me a heart filled with praise to God! My God does not do something “half-way”; rather, God finishes what He begins. He did not start to set my feet on the rock…He did it!  Now as this truth welled up, the praise spoken of in the next verse simply poured out:

 “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:3)

You can only REJOICE when the Living God rescues you from a dark place that has crushed your spirit and dried up your bones. A joyful heart of praise must rejoice!

My heart repented from striving to work through this time alone without giving it all to God.  Instead of pulling away from Him I needed to draw near to Him, knowing that He would draw near to me. I needed be still and remember that He is God. I needed to acknowledge that when I run to Him, my God will pick me up, dust me off, and restore me to Himself as He places a new song in my mouth.

Are you in a dark place…maybe of your own choosing? Perhaps you should recall THAT TIME when God helped you. Ask Him to speak to your heart and open your eyes that you may see through His eyes. Recognize the completed work of lifting you out of the pit and setting your feet on solid ground. He has not changed.

You don’t have to stay in the pit if you draw near to your Deliverer!

 

Remembering A Loss And Fulfilled Promises

Willow Tree Angel of Healing

Willow Tree
Angel of Healing

For those that don’t know October 15th is designated as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day”. I know it is a few days past, but I don’t think it’s too late to share.

Chris and I decided to have a second child.  When I became pregnant our joy and excitement was over the top and we began dreaming of what our baby would look like.  I dreamed of countless hours of holding, loving, feeding, and caressing our baby.  I was only a few weeks into the pregnancy and planning as if he/she was due the next day.  Our prayers and dreams were coming true.

The empty frame on my baby box was awaiting a picture full of chubby cheeks and rolls of fat that you would just want to pinch. I could imagine the fresh aroma of baby lotion filling my nose.Empty Frame

At nine weeks, the unimaginable happened! While at work I had signs that my baby was in danger of miscarrying. For days I took it easy trying to do all I could to prevent this, but it wasn’t enough. On November 28th, eighteen years ago, our baby went to be with the Lord.

I wish I could tell you that my first reaction was to consider this trial as joy (James 1:2), but instead I responded by asking God how “He” could do THIS! He gave me such a gift and then snatched it away before I could even cradle our second child! I felt foolish for having such hopes and dreams.  The emotions ranged from shame and embarrassment, to depression and a loss of all hope. I was empty.

Well-intentioned people seeking to comfort me only made it worse. They offered answers that were not theirs to give. Through the lens of grief I heard, “It all happened for a reason,” and “maybe the medicine you were on caused it.” No less comforting were statements like “Here is a maternity top for the next one,” and “It is good you were only in your first trimester.” Even with the purest of motives and best of intentions, these words were not what I needed. I needed someone to embrace me, grieve WITH me, love me, and to pray for me.  I believe that only in these expressions can true comfort be received.

I needed healing more than I needed answers…and particularly, I needed a sense of closure.

The Bible doesn’t speak very much about losing a child, at least not directly. I did find great comfort reading about King David’s loss of his firstborn.  You can read the story in 2 Samuel 12, but the part that truly spoke to me was how David was comforted by knowing he would be with his son again someday.  David, a man that God described as being after “His own heart” had a confidence that He would be with God in heaven. His affirmation (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) that he would be with his child again, encouraged me that I would see our child one day in the presence of God in heaven.

The Lord God gives and takes away and yet I will find it within me to praise Him (Job 1:21).

God promises to comfort those who mourn and to cloth them with joy (Isaiah 61:1-3, Psalm 30:11-12, Psalm 126:5).

God promises that when we put our hope in Him we will not be put to shame (Psalm 25:3a).

God is El Rohi which means “the God who sees.” He sees us in our afflictions but doesn’t leave us in them.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

The more we press into God and His Word we find peace, comfort, hope, and healing. We find a God that we can trust. The more often you can share about your loss, the more often God will reveal to you that you are not alone in your circumstance. Nearly every woman you know has either had a loss or knows someone who has.  So let’s take time to remember them and honor them in memory.

One of the ways we honored our baby was by writing this poem, which hangs on my wall to this day.Poem