When You Taste The Bitter Pill

5_Habits_Woman-195x300I finished week 2 of the #5HabitsBook study with #P31OBS. Our second habit in the study was She follows through with her commitments despite how she feels.

It should not have been a surprise to me how the reading last week nudged deep places in this tired, battle weary heart. We all go through these seasons of life where our hearts are under attack, and as the attack continues our hearts stiffen. We go into what the hubs calls “survival mode”. You stop thinking about the future. You stop making plans. You have one goal and one goal only, and that is to make it through today.

The thing about this stiffening of the heart, is that it happens so gradually, we don’t truly realize the effects of it.

Continue reading “When You Taste The Bitter Pill”

Living Life Together With Purpose

Limitless Life Photo CoverI am participating in another OBS through Proverbs 31 Ministries and their Blog Hop. This particular post isn’t being “linked up” due to my lateness in finding the time to sit down and write, however, I am looking forward to Blog Hop Thursdays and the community of bloggers who participate throughout this study!

Speaking of which – this brings us to the first Blog Hop topic!

COMMUNITYWhat does community mean to you? What do you need from community? What can you give to community? 

I view community as a body of people who share life together with purpose. It’s different to me than a “gathering”, because a gathering is for a shared purpose. When you gather with people, you may or may not ever really know them. An example would be in large churches, we gather together to worship the Lord and may never even meet one another depending on how large the church is. I don’t believe that is a bad thing in and of itself, I think the danger comes when that is as far as our idea of “community” goes. Speaking of which, I have to share an image I came across on Facebook this week as I can’t get it out of my mind, especially with this topic….

 

 photo 10294296_832057116821592_2270148698859390552_n_zps93151fcb.jpg

 

I have to chuckle because it’s true. We are imperfect people striving towards the same goal, to be more like Christ, completely dependent on the Grace of God. I want to grow in my Faith and I know it’s the Lord’s Will for me to mature because He says so in scripture (Colossians 2:6-7). A Godly community, people whom I am sharing life with and living together with that purpose, is one of the many ways the Lord helps me to grow.

People who are living their lives together know one another, which means we have the opportunity to love and serve one another, therefore fulfilling God’s Will per His commandments (John 13:34-35). Serving is vital to our Christian growth because Jesus came and served. How can we expect to be like Him without learning how to serve? Community helps us to do this.

Community helps us admonish one another. When we live outside of community it’s easier to get “picked off” by the lone wolf prowling around. Sometimes it’s the wolf within that attacks first. A community of people living with you will know, and will then have the opportunity to point it out and encourage you in Godly love to overcome through Christ. I am most thankful for the women who have admonished me in love and walked alongside me through trials. I know my family is thankful to have had the blessing to walk alongside other families. To know someone on a deeper level, to pray for them, to feel compassion for them, and to act out of that compassion I think gives us beautiful glimpses of what Jesus did when He walked the earth and of the compassion He feels for us.

 

 photo bloghop1_zps27dfe700.jpg

What I need most from community is to give. Giving keeps me outside of myself. It’s so easy to become “me” focused. My culture tells me it’s about “You have to Love yourself” and “You have to forgive yourself”. Neither of these statements are statements I can find in Scripture. Scripture actually points to a completely different idea which is summed up best (in my opinion) in Matthew:

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40

Without getting into a debate about self-esteem (another blog for another time) I think it’s easy to say we struggle more with putting others first. At the very least, I can say I DO. I need to live in Biblical community so I have constant opportunities to put others first. Other Godly women spur me on to Love my husband, children, and extended family. My husband and son spur me on to love others. All of this is done under the covering of Loving God first. It means I give of my talents (spiritual gifts), my time, financially and emotionally, to others in the community who are in need of my giving. It also means there will be others to meet my needs when they arise. It grows me beyond myself, it grows my understanding to love deeper. It grows me to be more like Jesus.

Which I think means community is a precious, complex, beautiful gift from God.

Yes, our human-ness will at times mess it up, bringing sin into a beautiful gift and causing frictions and irritations. The reality is that is a beautiful part of it too. Those frictions and irritations serve as opportunities for us to fulfill other commandments, like forgiving as we have been forgiven. God tells me His forgiveness is ENOUGH, so I don’t need to waste time trying to “forgive” myself. If I could do that, I wouldn’t have needed a Savior to reconcile me before a Just and Holy God. I am however called to forgive others. Community gives me that opportunity as well, as I’m positive others have found themselves having to forgive me. As we forgive, our faith continues to grow. If you really sink into thinking about just how much community can grow you in faith, it’s pretty amazing, and humbling.

Yes. Our God is THAT good to put together such
a remarkable plan for community.
He is Glorified as our Faith Grows in Community with one another.

My hope and prayer is that everyone out there would take off their mask and allow themselves to be transparent and part of God’s community.
Signature

 

 

 

 

 

Want to check out an awesome Online Community of Bloggers who are living lives together with purpose? Check out the link up 🙂 and please make sure to let me know if you blogged about community too so I can drop by and leave some comment love!

P31 OBS Blog Hop

The Emotional Emptiness of Un-forgiveness

Emo-eat. It’s the word I’ve used to describe those moments when my emotions are done and I want to stuff them away with food.

Greasy foods. Sweet foods.
Never vegetables or baked fish.
It’s always something that weighs heavy on calories and low on nutritional benefits.

It’s not something new. It’s not that I’ve only struggled with this for a little while. Or even since adulthood.

It’s been a lifetime of struggle. It started with the best intentions of others as a child, then was fueled by the thoughtlessness of others.
I’ve known for a long time its a problem. I came to the realization last year food easily becomes an idol for me.
This week the bold conviction that over-indulgence is a sin has further hit home my struggle with food. It’s more than just an outward appearance.

It’s a heart matter.

Chapter 14 MTC

This week, the Lord laid a heavy message on my heart. Through Made To Crave along with The Power of a Praying Woman, He revealed to me a hurting heart still clinging to past offenses and pain instead of letting go to embrace trust and forgiveness. Specifically, trusting Him to be the God He says He is, the good and righteous God of justice, and trusting His word that I am called to forgive others because He has forgiven me.

There are painful memories I have held onto with tight fists. Memories that on many occasion have flooded my mind at night, causing me to cry with a broken heart even after a wonderful day spent with my family or friends. The more I give into keeping these painful memories, replaying them over and over, the angrier I become at the person(s) who committed the offenses.  It’s a broken process. It doesn’t change, yet just ingrains itself deeper, inflecting more hurt, more anger, and more pain.

This week I realized something. For a long time now, there have been one or two people whom I know I need to forgive. Forgiveness I’ve learned, isn’t an emotion. It doesn’t just happen because one day I’ll wake up and the sun will be shining and I’ll “feel” like today is the day I was meant to forgive. Forgiving someone is a choice. Choices involve taking action. It’s an active process, not a passive one. As I was sitting and thinking about a particular person, I closed my eyes and prayed to the Lord to show me how to start this path of forgiveness. What He showed me shocked me.

I have a much longer list than just one or two people.

I’ve been placing all of my hurt on one or two people, however, they are not the ones responsible for all of the hurt. There is a list. There is a list I’ve been denying to myself because “I’m a good person” and there is no way I would be that unforgiving to that many people. I don’t hold grudges. I know what Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 6:37, Colossians 3:13, and so many other versus say. I know that I am commanded to forgive others, not suggested, not implied, outright commanded to do it. Somewhere in my mere humanness I’ve thought, “If I’m only struggling to forgive one or two people, then I’m doing pretty good. So this isn’t a heart issue I REALLY need to focus on too much.”

Over-indulgence is a sin. Un-forgiveness is a sin. It is a heart issue, one that requires repentance.

As my prayer began to uncover all of this that morning, the Lord let His light break through to touch the list of people I have not forgiven. It revealed the bitterness and anger towards them I’ve held onto. It brought forth the link between that pain and my weak stance against the temptation to emo-eat. The number of ways I am triggered to emo-eat, caused ultimately by a cycle of hurt and un-forgiveness, followed by the raking emptiness un-forgiveness leaves inside my heart, and then the failed attempt to stuff that emptiness with food.

chapter 14 MTC b

So. I cried.

I sat on my living room couch and cried big fat painful tears of dirty band-aids ripping off of still infected wounds. After the stinging pain of that process was over, I blew my nose, took a breath, and sat down and prayed over my plan. Forgiveness is a choice, and I choose to forgive. It’s probably not going to be easy. I’m sure the Lord will shine light on other dark places I’m not yet aware of, and when He does, He and I will go through the crying-band-aid-ripping process again. It’s only when I get these dirty rags off of my wounds, can He and I start the process of His true healing instead of my insufficient covering.
So I came up with a plan through the resources He has laid before me. Then I told one my best friends my plan, and asked her to keep me accountable this year to work through it. She has my full permission to randomly ask me if I am doing it, and if I say no, to ask me “Why not?”

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Un-forgiveness is a place of emotional emptiness for me.
By the Lord’s strength and love I am no longer going to settle for trying to fill it with food.

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

As part of the OBS I have made various images and scripture screen savers. I will be uploading these to the Blog’s Facebook page. I ask that if you choose to use the images to do so without editing/changing/cropping them in anyway. 

Blog Versus-0032