Rocks Will Cry Out

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:12

I went for a hike this evening after work. It’s been a very stressful couple of days and I was trying to figure out some healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with the work-related environmental stress.

See, where I work is also where I currently live. Although I’m making a lateral move in the organization, receiving the same pay and still considered an intern, they are requiring me to move to a horrible dorm/community style staff building instead of remaining in the private apartment space I’ve been living in for the past 9 months. It’s unsettling, and it also isn’t fair.

I’ve felt very wronged by the upper management of the organization. I’ve tried to have meetings, but my voice hasn’t been heard here for quite some time. I’m moving into a department that does hear my voice though. This department is the heart behind the organization, the “mission” side of things that works directly with people, so all my supervisors and co-workers in that department are “people” people and relational focused… not business/operation focused.

It’s hard not to get offended or upset when my living space that I thought I’d be in for 2 years is being prematurely ripped out from under me, right in the middle of the transition to a new department. It makes me question whether the organization I’m working for is worth working in when they treat me and other staff in this manner. I’ve taken it personally to be sure and been very offended on a number of levels for a number of different things.

Therefore, when I received the news two days ago that I have to move sooner than expected (and mind you, this living situation has not been discussed with me since December),  within 2 weeks, I was thrown into chaos. I couldn’t sleep and was stressed to my max. I have to balance this while working my full time hours and still working partially in one of my initial departments till they get my replacement in. I was fighting mad yesterday. I texted some friends to pray for me hard because I was so confused, hurt, and offended.

He answered their prayers because I have felt more at-peace today… which is very rare lately because my job has been stress after stress with no work/life balance, being mistreated left and right and neglected, so I’ve allowed my environment and the organization to slowly crush my spirit. It’s been difficult to keep looking up when all of that keeps happening around me.

On my hike this evening, something broke… I was thinking about my situation and trying to come up with a solution. Then I just stopped and surrendered. This was all while I was listening to worship music. I was gradually overcome with peace and joy for no seemingly “obvious” reason. My situation hasn’t changed, but my attitude and my heart was altered by God as I let go and stepped out of the way.

I just started clapping and singing. Mind you, I have headphones in too, so I couldn’t hear how I sounded, but I didn’t care. I stopped by a stream and a little waterfall to take in and overflow with the worship song I was listening to… then I was hit with something beautiful… I was surrounded by rocks…

There were so many! And God recalled a verse to my spirit.

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:40

I was struck with an overwhelming sense to sing louder. I haven’t praised the Lord in so long, and it felt like He was reminding me how much the stones had been praising Him because I had forgotten or neglected to. It was a healthy competition then, I didn’t want them to cry out louder than me! Yet it was as if I was also singing in unison with the stones… so I praised my heart and lungs out! At one point I just started dancing on the trail as I sang.

I learned many different lessons today and there are tons of take-aways from this. But the main thing I wanted to focus on is this… if we don’t praise Him, something will. Then in the end we will be devastated if it isn’t us. So no matter your circumstance, praise His name – He alone is worthy.

Its easier said than done, I know. I have been through the worst year of my life and had distanced myself from God and everyone else. I was reminded today, in the cold woods, that regardless of what I’m going through, I do still have a choice to praise Him or not.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” – Revelation 5:13

Categories: Dancing with Jesus, Life Moments, Personal | Leave a comment

Brokenness

There’s a common theme in my walk these days, and it’s finally coming to my awareness. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s beginning to hit me deeper just how important and necessary it is.

Brokenness.

In my Streams in the Desert devotional this morning, the following sentence hit me like a thousand light bulbs:

The best things in life are the result of being wounded.

It was interesting to read that, and I don’t think I would have even accepted that statement two weeks ago. Additionally, before that opening sentence in the devotional passage, a portion of Acts 14:22 was referenced. It said “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

That part of the verse is actually a direct quote from what Paul and Barnabas were saying to encourage and strengthen other disciples to remain true to the faith. I’m sure I’ve read that verse before, but in this time it was exactly what I needed to read.

I’ve been on a journey toward healing for the past several months. I’ve been very intentional with seeking help this time. I reached a point where I actually needed to seek counseling. Before going to counseling, I was actually mentally dissociating to cope, disconnecting from everything and everyone around me, and trying to construct a different reality in my mind to distract from the pain. When I realized this, I knew I needed outside assistance. So I now attend sessions twice a month.  Counseling was something I never imagined would be helpful, but it is actually liberating to talk to a stranger who has no connection with the other people in my life and will not be affected by what I share. I can glean unbiased feedback and similarly to my times with Jesus, it is a safe place to express my pain, struggles, and brokenness.

I actually used to believe that counseling was unnecessary, that I should only talk with Jesus and confide everything in Him – working through life and struggles solely from our direct relationship. But when I realized my relationship with Him was actually adversely affected by the wounds I experienced due to mental associations surrounding particular events, I sought assistance from a total stranger, a counselor who also believes in Jesus. The fellowship I have in the conversations with my counselor are wildly different from friends or other believers, but it is often-times much more encouraging. I am pointed back to the Cross during each session and slowly my relationship with Jesus is being mended in my own heart and spirit. I also have stopped dissociating.

I have wept and cried at every meeting as I’ve regurgitated scarred and calloused wounds from my youth, as well as the more recent gushing lacerations and bruises I sustained in the past couple of years. Some expression felt like my heart was being torn to shreds or sliced in pieces by a scalpel, others felt like I was internally bleeding, and even the scar tissue that was being re-examined and torn open again was basically like superficial nerve damage. So I couldn’t feel until it went deeper and got to the muscle and viscera tissue. It’s easier for me to describe the emotional and mental pain in physical metaphors, so I apologize for the dramatic and graphic imagery.

I am not afraid of my brokenness. It keeps me humble and grounded in the truth/reality that I am in desperate need of a Savior, and I cannot bring my own healing or do this “life” on my own. The issue is that I sometimes tend to wallow in brokenness or dwell on it, forgetting the other half of the story – the BEST THINGS in life. Streams in the Desert noted that incense must be burned by fire before its fragrance is set free and that the earth must be broken with a sharp plow before being ready to receive the seed.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

It’s amazing to remember that there is beauty from the ashes, and God uses pain to make things beautiful. I hope that I continue to remember this as I walk forward, not wallow in the brokenness, but find joy in the healing… that the fragrance set free from this time is a beautiful display of the truth of God’s character and image in me, so others can see His glory and mercy. I’m ready to receive the seeds of His goodness.

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Openness and Relationship

I wrote part of this post last November, but I’m going to finish it today in June 2016. 2015 was a year of minimal writing, if any. I feel like I’m finally coming out of that again and being restored and taken into a place where I have the energy and means to write once more on a consistent basis.

Last year was like one struggle after another. I would take time to overcome one thing, only to be smacked in the head by the next wave of pain. It was an emotional roller coaster that bled into the early parts of 2016. I don’t think I had ever felt quite that beat up by “life” before.

I had been so tired and overwhelmed back then that I wasn’t even able to pull myself to express things outwardly. So I did a lot of withdrawing and isolating within myself. Even the little that I did, the tone of my writings tended to lean more on the gloomy side.

I was really smarting last fall and winter due to the way people I’d opened up to and trusted chose to treat my heart. If there’s one thing I can’t handle, it’s neglect, disregard, and hidden feelings. I find these far more painful than rejection. I want things exposed and out in the open. It’s so much easier to deal with them in relationships that way.

I spent a lot of time grieving about “relationship” over that past year, and thought a lot of how greatly we’ve diminished it in society, the body of Christ, and as a whole. I am as guilty of this as any. But I can’t seem to stop dwelling on the active living relationships, how we relate with one another in this day and age and society.

There had been multiple breaks in relationship for various reasons that past year, and it was painful. It was painful because I couldn’t air things out for a while, because stirring it up meant potentially hurting other relationships in the process. Or the other party could not handle it being out in the open.

Relationship…

It’s what we were created for… and yet, it’s one of the hardest things for each of us to develop and maintain.

Relationship describes or defines how two or more people are connected to one another. Within relationships there can be distance and intimacy. However, we are built for and drawn toward intimacy.  What else was the Cross for but to rebuild that intimacy in relationship with God?

We crave acceptance and understanding. “Love” is also probably the highest on the list in our human desire/need bank, and we seek it out. We often search for it in all the wrong ways too, sometimes leaving us confused, broken, and hurting when what we thought was love was only a cheap imitation or worse. But it still doesn’t stop our drive, it may hinder it for a while and we isolate, but regardless of what phase we enter on the search – we still want closeness and safety, we still desire relationship.

Yet on this journey for love, closeness, safety, acceptance, and intimacy… there are always risks to discovering where that all resides. And in the process, there is awkwardness, uncertainty, miscommunication, different expectations, and vulnerability, just to name a few. It’s only for the courageous, and those who don’t want to play games with others’ emotions… but who will truly battle through to find what is real. Those who are willing to break off the masks and facade, risk the awkwardness, break through the uncertainty, communicate until there is clarity and understanding, destroy your expectations over someone without giving up your standards, and remaining open enough to learn trust even if you’ve been hurt.

Then you’ll come to find where true love resides… in Christ alone. Then after you’ve discovered Him, you want to be more like Him, and have relationship with those around you like He would.

A friend of mine once said to my sister “marriage is sanctifying.” That phrase stuck with me so deeply and I still cannot get it out of my head. But I’ve changed a word in it to include all of us because what is marriage anyway but a chosen commitment to forge a unique, exclusive, and deeper relationship?

Relationships are sanctifying…

I mentioned this verse in my previous writing, but I actually had included it in this writing back in November.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

How can we be one in spirit and one in mind? We are all unique individuals created by God, yet we’re supposed to be in relationship with one another…

Conflicts always arise in relationship because we are separate from each other, but I think this verse is talking about a journey toward oneness in spirit and mind, by humbling ourselves and valuing another above ourselves just as Jesus did/does.

We learn to love and conduct relationship each and every day. It always looks different, and it’s all helping sanctify us by the grace of God.

I recently brought up an uncomfortable subject to a friend of mine. It took us a few hours to work through and communicate about it fully, but he was willing to go to that place with me. I broke through the uncertainty of whether I should bring the conflict out into the open, he responded by willingly risking the awkwardness of the topic. Then we each communicated until there was clarity and understanding on both sides. Humbly we listened to the other and began to understand the expectations we had over the situation and relationship as a whole. We each expressed ourselves vulnerably and grew in grace. By the end of the conversation, the closeness of our relationship, trust, and safety in the other person had been restored.

While I’m not exactly sure what Paul meant by being one in spirit and one in mind. I feel like my experience with my friend the other night was very close to it. Two separate people coming together to a mutual understanding and acceptance of their relationship and who each individual is with sensitivity to the Spirit of God moving in each of our hearts. We displayed our relationship and responded in openness.

Categories: Life Moments, Love, Personal, Relationship | Leave a comment