Belief Expressions

So after my confession of “bitterness”, repenting before the Lord and asking for His deliverance, forgiving those that I perceived had wronged me, and moving forward into a renewed state of mind… my attitude has totally shifted. Life has felt so much lighter and I feel so much more at peace, even despite a lot of situational chaos and drama going on around me.

The past two weeks have been very busy, full of new experiences and perspectives. I’ve been at my “new” job for about 6 weeks now. I’m finally starting to settle into my different roles at work, as well as my new living space. Additionally, the place where I work hires a lot of international college students for the summer. So I’ve been surrounded by a variety of cultures, with their own set of personalities, languages, religions, and value systems.

It’s not only been highly entertaining and exciting to observe and take in so many unique individuals, but it’s been challenging me as an individual as well. I grew up fairly nomadic, so I experienced a lot of different lifestyles and people from various parts of the United States. It broadened my horizons tremendously, while simultaneously keeping me sensitive to the differences of others and grounded in who I am as an individual.

Yet for the most part, all these “different” people I encountered throughout my nomadic youth, spoke the same language as me. We could pretty much relate on a few different levels and our thought processes were similar. Now, there are not only language barriers that bring a set of challenges, but I also don’t often speak the same “mental” or “spiritual” language.

It’s interesting what something as simple as a language barrier surfaces in a human. There is a lot of curiosity surrounding our interactions, with a bit of uncertainty mixed in. It’s interesting how each has to learn to find common ground when you can’t fully understand the language, but add on to that – trying to understand how another person functions or thinks outside of your own culture. I’ve had to adjust to explaining basic English words or phrases, as well as explain concepts that are not easily explainable to people who understand my own language, much less someone where it’s their second or even third language.

It’s quite fascinating and beautiful, these various interactions. Though we’re each so different, we all share a common need for interaction/socialization… relationship. Why is that? Hmm… I already know why, but that’s rhetorical and I’ll leave that up for personal reflection.

I can’t help but ask a lot of new questions lately, as so many new and unique questions are asked of me.

At one point during orientation, we were supposed to state a phrase or word of what we would want most in life, what we want to be remembered by, or what we wanted to do in this lifetime. There were various things stated around my table which were thought provoking to hear. When it got to my turn to say something, I wasn’t quite sure how to sum up what I wanted to be remembered by, but I ended up stating it in two parts: “to love every person unconditionally” and “to bring hope to the broken-hearted”.

My first phrase “to love every person unconditionally” was questioned by the Russian guy sitting next to me. He looked at me and stated “unconditionally?” I wasn’t sure if he didn’t understand the word itself or what he was asking, so I did my best to explain what “unconditional love” was by its English definition of the word itself. Then he was correcting me a little bit and still attempting to wrap his mind around it and said ‘so you meet someone and you just love them?’

These are the types of interactions that are causing me to pause, reflect, and learn how to state my values and what I believe. I’m learning the importance of not only understanding my worldview for myself, and what I believe about life, love and Jesus Christ… but how to actually explain and express it in such a way to someone who doesn’t speak the same “language” as me or who believes differently. It’s challenging, and it’s good. It’s what I need, I think… because it actually helps solidify what I know in my heart and brings conviction when I have to express things outwardly.

I think that’s why the common theme with humans is relationship… we need each other. God created us as relational beings because He wanted a relationship with us, and He wanted us to experience relationship. Relationships help us grow. They are beautiful and painful. They are awkward and comforting. Relationships take us outside of ourselves… they sharpen us, and we learn to get over ourselves, if we’re open to that. They teach us how to love and serve someone else. They teach us what to value. They challenge our false perceptions. They humble us.

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 2:3-11

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Bitterness & Exhaustion

I have missed writing…

Yet, as much as I’ve missed it, I still cannot bring myself to write consistently. I think because my attitude has been in a steady downward spiral since November, I didn’t see the point anymore. As blow after blow has pounded upon my heart, the enemy was winning…

I’d become bitter.

And that bitterness has permeated my being and poisoned my expressions. It’s apparent in my thoughts. It’s apparent in my words. It’s apparent in my actions. It’s apparent in my interactions. It’s apparent in my energy levels.

It’s taken me 6 months to realize it fully. I had the sneaking suspicion bitterness was taking hold. I felt it altering, changing, hardening my heart. That tenderness toward people was nearly gone – replaced by suspicion, cynicism, and isolation. Yet I turned a blind eye, because I was so bent on being justified in my anger. I had good cause for this bitterness, I really did. Deceit, lies, betrayal on intimate relational levels… from people I trusted most in my life. It was confusing… and then I became angry and bitter at God for it because He didn’t “protect” me or others I love from the pain.

How could you, God? Why didn’t you protect me from experiencing this? Do you really even love me at all? 

As of yesterday, I finally admitted my bitterness openly and accepted it. As of today, I looked up Bible verses on bitterness. As of this evening, I’ve cried about it and am accountable for it. And before I sleep, I will repent and beseech the throne to cleans me of it.

Bitterness is exhausting. It has affected every facet of my life.

The Lord used a dear friend of mine to penetrate my hardened heart a few weeks ago. He’s known me since I was 4 years old, and he’s almost 10 years older than me. I also hadn’t seen him for 10 years, but got to reconnect with him in person again. He gave me hope with his words, and he had no idea what all I had been through. He said that I was still the same as the day he met me.

It took a few days for that to sink in, and I cried so hard when it finally hit me… because there was hope in the Cross and in my Creator… that I was not beyond redemption again. That there was still a part of me that was the soft, sensitive, caring individual that God calls me to be – only by His grace.

The Lord, through my friend and older brother in Christ, was calling me out of my darkness… breathing life and light into me once more. I’m finally feeling the affects of it. Love is becoming real to me again. Slowly, but steadily – His love conquers all.

Praise His name!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

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Questions, Brainwashing, & Pitfalls

I wrote this on my scratch pad on March 4, 2014… not in my typical journal or anywhere I normally write important things because a scratch pad was all I had at the time.

I have to write this out somewhere before I implode. Society as we know it is a fallacy. In mere months and years, all that we know is going to shift and shake every belief we hold on to. Unless these beliefs are rooted and established in truth, that is Jesus Christ, and in deep communion and intimacy with Him, we will fall and chase after the counterfeit and imitations. My heart is burdened, concerned, and alarmed for my generation. We are in the last days. And the great and dreadful day of the Lord is fast approaching. If we are not awake, alert, and ready for it… it’s going to take us by surprise and we will mourn. We will be devastated. I am not satisfied with deception or being deceived any longer. The truth will be revealed, the darkness will be exposed. It is time, and it is about to hit. Be ready.

I wrote that while I was in the midst of a heavy school load during a spring semester… only a few short months after I’d returned to pursue my college career for the second time. I took a break again the fall of 2013, even though I’d come back for a year of school – I wasn’t so sure about any of it. And looking back at that brief raw gush from my heart, I saw it coming, but I still have fallen into counterfeits and imitations of things to somehow try to satiate my flesh or fill the holes I’m told I have by society.

Beware the atmosphere of the college world. I’m still “detoxing” from it if you will, even though I’ve graduated and haven’t been in regular college courses for a full year now. It’s a brainwashing system, much like the majority of the school systems of all levels that have eliminated God from their “knowledge”. It’s hard to sift through what’s real and what isn’t, what’s truth and what’s deception. It’s a powerful and carefully crafted pseudo-reality.

My heart has been heavy and aching for the past couple of years. Perhaps it’s all just cynicism creeping in due to the lack of time I’ve had to devote to my true heart’s desire the past many months, but my soul is in despair and has been bothered for a while.

Is anyone else out there questioning what’s going on? Can anyone else feel this creepy sense of rationalization taking place in their hearts? Or if not in one’s heart, can you feel it in the church or the people around you?

I’m not talking about the “church” as the building or “fellowship” you attend on Sundays either… I’m talking about the real church, the supposed body of Christ… can anyone else sense it – a falling away? A slow fade into oblivion and desensitization?

Maybe it’s just me… I mean me, personally, that this is happening to. I’ve done it. Rationalized, turned my eyes away, succumb to fear and temptation, been desensitized by the world around me. I’ve been brainwashed and fell into believing that I can control my life… that certain cultural or societal functions are what make up a healthy human life of quality… that paying off debt and getting pulled into this cycle of working to acquire money to pay bills to work toward a better living environment, marriage, or acquiring more bills to need more money to work more hours to pay for just “living”…

What is the measure of success in this life?

As a teenager, I had grandiose plans, hopes, dreams, and desires about how I was going to help change the world… impact lives for the sake of the Cross and for Jesus. I was ambitious, determined, passionate and believed that nothing could put out this fire that burned so deep and bright within my soul for the Man I loved with all of my heart and who died on the Cross to free me from my sins. I was courageous and unafraid to share what He had done in me.

What happened here? Where did all of that go? Where’s that girl?

I have felt totally beat up over the past two years. Last year was full of heartaches and trials, things that hit me out of left field, that I never expected. Circumstances, finances, transitions in relationships, and betrayals – my mind, heart, body, and spirit were all impacted by these things. The emotional roller coaster and drama of the human condition, I felt it hard-core. My feelings and fears began to rule over me more than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I’m still trying to figure out how to cope, how to manage, how to balance… and no amount of Christianese or will-power is going to help me. History tells me I should pick myself up by my bootstraps, but I don’t think I’m supposed to do that anymore, it’s only a temporary fix anyway.

I can’t handle any more brainwashing, any more facade, any more traditional religious “self-help” pseudo-doctrine, any more unnecessary fleeting encouragement. I am discouraged right now, because this world it’s coming to its end and we’re all running around wasting time as if it’s a commodity we somehow own. I need raw, real, authentic truth… the blood of Jesus to cleanse and renew.  That’s the only way of deliverance and hope from this destruction… not by any thing I can think, say, or do on my own.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! – Hebrews 9:14

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