I was going to skip this week’s post. I told myself posting every two weeks is o.k if I am pressed with work or project deadlines. I’ve extended grace to myself in this season. It is important for me to do that so I do not feel I am failing in my commitment to this blog or to you. I have also discovered that when I have a good, “tea week", I am at my best. My head is on straight and I feel creative and productive. This week, however, has not been a tea week, it has been a "coffee week". Yes, I’m still dabbling in my love affair with coffee but my coffee rendezvous are getting fewer and far between. In defense of myself though, I did try to write this week and be creative. I sat down on Sunday and typed a few fun things, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Yesterday I tried again and nothing inspirational popped up. Now it is Tuesday night, at 7:54, and here I am. This post, however, has nothing to do with tea and I hope that is o.k. with you.
I’ve been getting a little wrecked by God lately, in a good way. I started a new Bible Study in Genesis, through Bible Study Fellowship, and it is taking me into creation. The questions have me thankful for the little nuggets God is showing me about His love, His kindness, His hope. One question had me thinking about shame and how God created us to live shame free. When sin caused Adam and Eve’s eyes to open they became aware of their nakedness. Adam and Eve knew they were naked, they knew they disobeyed and they hid from God, shame caused them to hide. They suddenly experienced the loss of freedom. The loss of the freedom to walk side by side with God, clothed in the covering of His presence. God had to clothe them to cover up their nakedness and an animal died because of it. This is what shame does, it causes us to hide, to isolate. Shame will always result in a form of death as our freedom is stollen through it. Death comes to freedom and we live bound to a lie. As I thought about this, I imagined what it must have been like to walk naked in the garden, completely free, exposed, shameless, clothed in the warmth of God's presence. It was a beautiful thought, taking me into God’s original plan for humanity and the freedom that comes through relationship with Him.
Tonight, I was minding my own business, content with not blogging so I opened my Bible study. I am a little behind, on day 2, when I should be on day 4, but, that didn’t matter to God because lo and behold, He got me again. In the right moment, at the right time, in the middle of day 2 God met me. The study asked the question, “What temptations do you currently face?” Immediately some thoughts rushed into my mind. I collapsed back into my chair, hands landing on my lap, my head finding its comfort on the soft leather back as I started to cry. Gratitude filled my heart and I realized, the things that popped in my mind, the record that would play over and over, were things I did not struggle with any longer. They were so far gone, I haven’t even thought of them in months. There wasn’t anything in the forefront of my mind crippling me with condemnation or shame.
I stayed in that spot a moment and then thought, “Well, what are my current temptations? What am I struggling with in my life right now that can tempt me to do things my way, that can tempt me to take the path of unhealthy behavior, thoughts or actions?” After a few moments of opening my heart to reflect, this is what I wrote in response to the question. “Eating foods that harm my body. Vegging out in front of the t.v. and not being productive or a good steward of my time. Spending money unwisely.” The reason this made me cry was because a year ago I would have answered," impure thoughts, quitting ministry to follow my own desires, smoking a cigarette, gluttony." I hope you can handle my real and raw confessions. I hope you can see the breakthrough, I’m going to share why.
Two years ago I lost hope. My heart was hurting. I wanted my way, the easy way, but my way would lead me away from God and the path He had me on. I became hopeless because I knew I had to give up my idols. I had to stop believing the lie that MY desire would bring me peace, love. I had to choose to believe God, walk by faith, and know that He was good. Not only did I have to believe it, I had to put action behind my belief and that meant giving up the one thing I had waited my entire adult life for. What I didn’t realize was the one thing, was not God’s one thing. I learned He had something different for me and I learned that God’s one thing was His BEST thing.
In January of this year I had a check in with a dear woman who has counseled me over many years and through many broken areas of my life. She has been a healer to my heart and soul. She has been an inspiration and has brought harsh correction to my life when needed. This appointment was no exception. I was stuck, I was hopeless. Compassionately she spoke very harsh truths to me and I heard it. I had never been confronted with truth the way she confronted me that day and I was jolted. The truth exposed my heart, my attitude, my idolatry and complacency. It exposed the lie I was believing. I stopped in my tracks, reflected, cried, repented and cried some more. I told God, "I can’t do this my way anymore, I can’t do life without you." I heard the still small voice speak back to me and say, “That is why you need a Savior.” I cried some more. I went to my room and slept hard, my heart at rest, my mind made up. God encountered me as Savior, He saved me from myself. The next day I brushed myself off and said, "this is it, my day of surrender.' I was full in, completely abandoned to God's purpose for my life. I laid down my desire and the idols that tempted me, never to pick them up again. Since that day transformation has accelerated in my life, freedom has come and shame has been broken. The place where I was half-hearted in my attitude, the broken areas of my heart, suddenly healed and filled with joy. The things I were hiding, the things I hid behind, gone. No more hiding for me! The nakedness of my vulnerability would be worn proudly, I would not hide from vulnerability any longer. I would not cower to fear. I found my strength in the joy of the Lord. I found myself and I clearly saw the path of my future open before me. Purity carried me into the blessing of peace, surrender carried me into the blessing of a life prepared to be fully lived.
I took one step of faith, then another, then another and suddenly I realized what it felt like to be in my skin. I was in the skin of my identity in Christ. The promise of walking in freedom, walking shame free, filled my life with purpose. No longer were my thoughts on my pain, my heartache, my past, my bitterness, my self-loathing or my weaknesses. I could look at myself in the mirror and say, “yes, you are who God says you are and you are free to be confident, successful, effective and beautiful.”
Today a beautiful friend sat with me and listened to some challenges I have been facing. We talked about trust, about betrayal, about the importance of community with women. She talked about the obstacles that sometimes pave our path and the ease of stepping over them or brushing them out of the way when we have God walking with us. My heart was delighted. While in my shame and brokenness, I couldn’t trust, or open up, I hid. Today I received a gift, the gift of the beauty of being free from shame and allowing myself to receive the gift of acceptance and safety through a genuine response to the freedom found through vulnerability.
Where I didn’t feel creative this week to blog, God had another plan. He pulled a suddenly and drew me into what the Word of God should do in our lives. It should take us into the place of self-examination to purge us of ourselves and remind us of His love. It should encourage us to accept community, help, kindness. It should reveal our identity and compel us to pursue it. For that I am grateful tonight, for that I am grateful for new friends, new life, Bible Study Fellowship and purpose.
God delights in you, my prayer for you tonight is that you will live free from shame, free from hidden secrets, hidden sin and hidden agendas. I pray you will have life changing God encounters that reveal God's best for you. Good night my Tea Loving Friends, may the Source of all truth and life be with you!