I Finally Decided To Stop Hurting Other People

Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger,

in whose hand is the club of my wrath!… (Is 10:5).

Has your poor behavior, selfishness or bad decisions ever deeply hurt someone else? Mine has. I hate that, but it’s true and as I look back on my younger years I see it more often than I care to admit.
 
You may have heard this popular catchphrase recently, “You do you.” I think this phrase is so dangerous at its root. I can look back on all the times that “I did me” because it was what was best for me or its what I felt like doing or I just wasn’t really considering the other person and it deeply hurt them. Yeah, maybe you do you isn’t the best idea after all. Maybe that kind of thinking just perpetuates the problem that we all have to begin with- a deep struggle to not be selfish.
 
Now that I’ve walked many paths in my life that have ended in me hurting someone else I am more aware and willing to lay down myself so that I can finally stop hurting people. As the old adage goes, “hurt people, hurt people.” Therefore, I must be willing to do the hard work of emotional and spiritual healing in my life with Jesus if I’m ever going to get to a point in my life where I stop acting so terribly selfish.
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I’ve seen this new river at work in my heart since coming to this realization a few years ago. It’s a flowing stream of God’s love filling me as it washes over my heart and mind I’ve seen it now become the river that feeds other people in my life with things like goodness, grace, and mercy. Although I’ve seen this growth, I must constantly be aware of the deep selfishness in my life that at any time could rear its ugly and take me captive once more down the paths of my past.
 
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness so that Christ’s power might rest upon me. You see, beloved, that’s what you need. You need His heart alive in you. Only then, when a river of God’s love is flowing freely through you can you shower others with the beautiful and overwhelming love of God. Thanks be to God that He redeems the messes of our lives and changes us into new and different people.
 
Father, I confess to you that I have a great need for more of your mercy. I am lost without your grace. I will always turn to serve myself, if not for your Holy Spirit at work in me. Abba, I surrender myself to you so that I might encourage and strengthen others through the grace that I have found in you, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Safe Place To Land

Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring:…(Is 9:20).

I often wonder how much of what we’re doing is not actually helping the younger generations, but hurting them. Are our parenting, church programs, extracurricular and sports activities truly accomplishing what we hope they would? Do we even know what that purpose is? Do we hold a true vision for our parenting, churches, and extracurriculars or are we just coasting without vision and direction for the lives of those we are leading?
 
Is our goal really just to help our children become productive members of society who get a job someday or attend college to pursue a degree in something they might not actually end up using? Is that truly the vision of what God has called us to as people who invest in young people? Could it be that there is something bigger at hand? Maybe something counter-cultural?
 
There is one thing that Jesus did, time and time again that I am constantly and consistently struck by. He took time out to simply be with people. He made Himself present to them. He was never in a hurry and He was never doing things out of a need to look good to others. I wonder how much of our investment in young people is truly lived out of a place of rest?
 
As a child, honestly, the things I treasured most were not all my athletic accomplishments, school achievements or whatever else was filling my life. What I valued and treasured most were the adults in my life who were safe people. People I could trust. People I knew had my back. People I could go to when life was hard.
 
Sure, softball, basketball or church might have introduced me to those people, but the game or event was simply an invitation to enter into a relationship with someone who could help me grow, becoming a safe place for me. The more authentic and real they were, the more I was drawn to them. Not because they had something I wanted to climb some sort of ladder, but because they were a safe spot to land amidst a chaotic and busy world.
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I hope someday to be that for my child. I long to be a safe place to land for her and introduce her to others who would be the same for her. Becoming a safe place requires sacrifice, humility and hard work. It means we must teach ourselves to be present with people, sharing and enjoying each moment with them because, THEY MATTER. This is the kind of ministry Jesus shows us and that is the kind of life that I want to live.
 
Father, it is so easy for me to not be fully present with people. Sometimes I just want to be focused on myself. I want to hit the easy button and prop my feet up and spend more time doing things for me. Oh Lord, please forgive me for my selfish actions and make me more like you, becoming a safe place for others to land, in Jesus name, Amen.

What My Blind Spots Reveal About My Heart

…in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates…(Dt 12:31).

The other day I had to ask myself, “Heather, why do you place so much importance on this in your life?” Truth be told it’s really about trying to hang onto control for me. It’s about a deep-seated fear in my life that I’m still wrestling through with Jesus. It’s something that I struggle to trust God with and have or most of my life.
 
If you have a blind spot, an area of discontentment in your life you’ll do and say things in order to protect it or somehow seek to constantly satisfy it. It’s easy for me to see others live out of their discontentment, but I’ll rationalize and justify my own. Mostly because in the back of my mind I’m trying to convince myself that I’ve got a good handle on this thing. Truth be told though, it controls my thoughts throughout most of the day. It’s something that as much as I wish I had a good grip on and had a healthy relationship with I know that’s not always the case.
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Has your idol ever kept you from engaging in deeper relationships with others? Has it ever stolen away your joy and peace with God? Has it taken precedence over spending time with Jesus? Mine has. Our unwillingness to let go and seek refuge and contentment in the Father is really about control. It’s about a rebellious heart that doesn’t trust God.
 
Therefore, I’m asking Jesus for a different heart because I don’t want to be controlled by things that only steal my joy and contentment in Christ. I want to walk not in my blind spots, but in my freedom. Truly, it’s there that I find rest for my soul that so often seeks refuge in all the wrong places.
 
Lord, you satisfy the thirsty soul. You are so good. Cleanse me now through the power of Jesus. May my heart long for you. May I be forever satisfied in your love, and not my idols, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Feast on His Word

observe everything I command you….(Dt 12:14).

The Lord instructed Israel to observe everything He commanded them. However, in order to do this, they must know and understand His ways. They must be so connected to the Word of God that it becomes one of their greatest joys and deepest delights.
 
I often wonder how much of God’s heart we have lost because we do not know His word. Truly, it is one of the deepest treasures we could ever hold within our hands. It is life and peace to the wanderer and it is joy for the heart that seeks rest.
 
How then, can we follow God without knowing His word, hungering and thirsting for it as our very life breathe? We can certainly try to live the Christian life, but we will only be running at a slow pace without the sustenance and power of the Father leading us as we grow and change.
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There’s something about His word that has become my daily joy and delight. I long to know it, but I know I have so much further to go when it comes to making it my passion. I have not even begun to scratch the surface of how great it is for my life.
 
Dear Christian, just as the devout Jews of Jesus day made the word of God a daily practice I would implore you to drink from it in the same life-giving way. They memorized, meditated and studied Scripture as if their very lives depended on it. I wonder if we a desperate in the same way for His word? I know I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to having the same kind of passion. I get easily distracted by small things or things that wrongfully have my heart instead of feasting on the word of God. I need a changed heart and I’m asking God to change me so that I might long more for Him.
 
Oh Lord, change me. I long to know your word in a way that brings power into my life. The power that breaks chains, strongholds, and addictions. God, grow me to be more like Jesus. Help me to choose your word as the source in which I feast upon instead of my idols, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Overcoming Parent Guilt Through the Grace of the Gospel

Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty…(Dt 11:2).

There are many things that I want to pass down to my daughter. Things like; kindness, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, and grace. As much as I want to pass things these down to her I know that not much will be accomplished if I am not leaning hard into grace. That being, grace for myself.
 
If there is one thing I have noticed these short few weeks of being a parent it’s that parent guilt is a real and powerful force. I constantly hear this voice trying to weasel its way into my heart and mind saying, ‘see Heather, you ARE a failure as a parent.” I cannot live in the freedom of the grace of God and therefore, extend that grace to my daughter if I allow this voice to be the one that directs me throughout the day. You see, this voice makes me respond and act out of fear and insecurity. This voice traps me and makes me overly anxious.
 
I can only imagine how much more intense this voice will become as my child grows. Will I hear that voice of accusation when she messes up at school? Has a bad day in the nursery at church or lies to another adult? I’m sure that voice will ring loudly through the halls of my own heart and mind and if I do not have grace for myself I will fall prey to shame and therefore, pass that shame onto my daughter. But thanks be to God that we are not parenting perfect human beings and thank God this tiny human does not have a perfect parent.
 
The problem is that we place unhealthy expectations on ourselves of what a good parent is supposed to look like. Sometimes even being overly concerned about how our parenting looks to others. If we care too much about the opinions of others and how successful we seem as a parent to them, we will be woefully disappointed and use our child as a pawn in our attempts to look good to other people. Sadly, this convinces our child that they’re worth is found in their performance and that they are a disappointment to us because they can’t seem to get their life together.
 
Truth is, I can’t seem to get my life perfectly together either, so why am I trying so hard to act as though I do? If I want my beautiful girl to grow in grace, integrity, humility, and wisdom, I must be willing to admit that I am bankrupt of all those things if not for the overwhelming grace and mercy of God for a struggling sinner like me.
 
You see, this is the wonderful truth of the gospel is that Jesus did not come for the healthy, but the sick. Now, by His grace, He takes sick people, who admit their need and makes them well. If I show my daughter that kind of love and offer her grace for when she messes up, not taking it as a personal attack against me and my worth I’ll help her understand that her value isn’t found in how good she makes her mommy look. Her value is simply found in being a child of God. Now, together, we can praise God that He has great mercy and forgiveness for His children who don’t always get it right.
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Lord, I want more than anything to be a good momma. I hear that voice of shame trying to convince me I’m not a good one. Father, the truth is, I can’t be a good momma without your grace. I can’t be a good momma without Christ’s wisdom and humility alive and at work in me. Help me God to live in that grace, so that I may share it with my daughter as she grows up in you, in Jesus name, Amen.

When My Past Keeps Repeating Itself

In that day the LORD will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria….(Isaiah 7:18).

Has your past ever resurfaced itself to become your present? It has for me. I’ve seen it happen when I never really dealt with the sins of my past.
 
Things come back up again because although I dealt with the consequences of my rebellious heart, I never actually repented of my foolish behavior. Therefore, eventually, with time, my past became my present once again as I was swallowed up by the very thing that held me captive once before.
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You see, when my past became my present, I was struck with the reality that I had never actually repented. God, in His mercy, will take us back in order to move us forward. He’ll keep bringing the things of our past back up, in different ways until we either deal with them or grow cold, hard and bitter towards them. When that happens and our hearts grow bitter, the weight of our past starts to crush us continually because its no longer something that resurfaces over time. Now its something that weighs us down at all times.
 
When God brought Israel out of Egypt it was swift and quick. It was a remarkable deliverance. However, it wasn’t long before they would rebel once again and the bondage that accompanied Egypt was thrust upon them once more. We have a way of leading ourselves into bondage when Christ wants to walk us into lasting freedom. We start to believe that the grass is greener on the other side. If you’re like me, you’ll remember only the good things about your past life and forget the parts that brought you pain and enslavement.
 
You see, when we start to dwell on the past it steals our hearts away from living fully and freely alive in the present. There are times when life hurts and so we’ll daydream ourselves away into a better, different life. Even if that life accompanied bondage with it. The only way to be free from the past is to be thankful for the present, walking in full repentance, trusting God for a better story despite a currently bleak reality. We must learn the discipline of praise and thankfulness in our lives for today in order to be free from the entrapments of our past.
 
Lord, I trust you. Shower your grace upon me. I don’t want to live enslaved to the past. Help me now to walk in your freedom and grace. Fill me with your love, your joy, and your delight, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.
 

Embrace His Manna With Joy

Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years… (Dt 8:4).

God will provide for you. I’ve seen Him do it for me in those desert seasons when my income was drastically cut, my resources diminished and my strength was worn out.
 
I’ve also seen Him provide for me in those small ways. Ways that I often don’t notice. It’s easy for me to overlook His provision because sometimes I come to God with my expectations of what His provision is supposed to look like. Therefore, it’s hard for me to embrace what He has offered me with joy and trust.
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I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at God with scorn because I did not care for His manna. I wanted something else; something different. His manna wasn’t enough for me, because my expectations of Him outweighed my ability to be thankful for what He had given.
 
It wasn’t until I heard Him say, “Heather, am I not enough for you?” And even still, my heart wrestled inside of me. Yes, Lord, of course, you are enough, but this is really hard for me to let go of all the things I wanted and wished for. But you see, sometimes God provides for us in the desert, not what we’ve asked for, but what we need of Him so that we can grow in Him. Manna was His daily provision for Israel. Grace was His daily provision for me. I’ll be honest, sometimes, His grace wasn’t enough. It should have been, but my anxious and selfish heart wanted more.
 
God provides not for those who are seeking it or demanding it, but for those who are resting in it. You see, there’s a difference between someone who is constantly demanding things of God and another person who learns to rest in what He has offered. I had to keep reminding myself that with the Lord is a bounty and I can feast daily upon that. Truly, that bounty is what is best for our souls.
 
Let go of your expectations, they’re only keeping you for rejoicing in the good provisions that your Father has provided for you. I’m still reminding my heart of that on a daily basis. For truly, He loves to give good gifts to His children.
 
Lord, you love me. Thank you for your grace and for providing for me just what I need. Help me now to walk in your truth. May my trust be in you alone, in Jesus name, Amen.