|You’re still alive. You still care about others. Others still care about you. Maybe you can’t see that right now because the hole you’re in is so dark.|
I care. I don’t know you so I don’t know how to help you see your worth. But you are worth more than you realize right now. There are people out there who would die for you so that you could live.
Sometimes it’s dark and terrifying in this life, but there is hope.
You are not alone and you are worth more than you realize right now. Maybe someone or something is hurting you and you want a way out. Ending your life is not the answer. If the people around you are not showing you that you are loved and worthy of love, ask God to show you a way to find what you need in this life. We all need to feel safe. We all need love.
God answers us when we really want to know him. And we can’t know him unless we talk with him ourselves. Other people can’t “know” him for us. He is a person. He wants to get to know you right where you are right now. He wants you to talk to him about why and how you got to this place of desperation. And he wants to help.
I have been where you are several times in my life. I wanted to and was ready to take my life many years ago, but God told me that I didn’t have to live my life alone anymore and that he would be with me, that he would live in me if I wanted him to.
So I told God that I couldn’t do it anymore on my own and that I needed him. After that, I was never alone again and I wasn’t so afraid of living anymore.
Someone I love ended his earthly life in 2016. I know if he could take it back he would. He was looking right into my eyes when he shot himself and he was beyond horrified at what he had done. But then I saw a beautiful presence hold his spirit and give him peace before he left this world. God held him and let him know that he was forgiven and loved no matter what he had done. He was worthy of love.
You are worthy of love. You are important and special, just the way you are, no matter what you have done. No matter what has been done to you, you are loved by the most powerful force in the universe.
There are people on this earth who would die to save you.
There was one on this earth who did.
His name is Jesus. I know because he saved me from myself. I am here on this earth knowing that I am worth something ONLY because God answered me when I was in a tub with a sharp knife years ago.
Jesus pulled me from a dark place and brought me into the light of knowing I mattered and that I am important to him and to others. The truth is that you are not alone. The truth is that you matter. The truth is that you are loved.
Good morning God. I’ve already talked to you some this morning but it was before I had my coffee and I was grumpy. I wanted to feel grateful earlier, but mostly I just felt annoyed at having to wake up to my alarm. So I threw out a quick “Thank you for this day” but I didn’t really mean it. And now, I am here with you wanting my heart to be thankful, but I’m still not there.
So I am at the conclusion already this morning that I need you. I need you to help me. Help me understand how to be grateful… really deep down inside, full of heartfelt gratitude, kind of grateful. Because I do know that I have so much to thank you for. You are the Father of lights and all good gifts come from you. I know you are good, but my thoughts are still struggling to focus. Instead, I grouse in my head about being tired or having a sinus infection, as though every detail of my life should be perfect or else you are not good.
You saw how my child groused at me this morning when I told her to take a bath, even though baths are hot and soapy pure heaven on earth! So even though I may not understand why you tell me some things, I do trust that you have a reason for everything that you let happen in this life. And even though I want to understand WHY about everything, I may not be ready for the truth yet. You may be waiting to reveal something deeper by letting me go through something I don’t like.
So really, this morning I need a bath. I need you to take my heart and cleanse it so that I can see more clearly how you bless me and give me more than enough for this life. I can’t see how to be grateful on my own, but you know my heart and you know the how and why of what is keeping me back from knowing your goodness intimately this morning. I really want to be close to you, but when I’m complaining about what you haven’t given me, I am missing an opportunity to recognize who you are.
How can I really know you if I don’t really care to see the good in you? When I have a relationship with someone who only sees bad in me, it is hard to believe that they really know me deeply. So how do you feel, God, when I throw a quick and lackluster “Good Morning” up at you while harboring resentment toward you and doubting your character?
So I’m asking you to open the eyes of my heart and take my self-imposed blindness away. Let me see the good that is who you are. Let me focus on you and how you leave everything time and again to run to me when I am weak and lost. Let me see your wings that cover over me like a baby chick when I am terrified and alone. Let me focus on your love that never fails and never leaves or forsakes me. Let me breathe in deeply and thank you for this life you have given me and these moments where I see you more clearly and my heart fills with gratitude for a good God! Let me see more of YOU and less of me.
Let me wake up praising you for who you are. You are good!
Image by stokpic from Pixabay
We all deserve respect as human beings with our own unique perspectives and feelings and issues and yet, most of us don’t feel respected. We feel the eyes of judgment; the accusing voices reside in our heads and at our places of worship, our schools, and our workplaces.
We may go to the grocery store and see someone giving us a once over with their eyes or get a formal evaluation at work that tells us exactly where we are going wrong. We check out social media and see a comment directed at our lack of empathy or our lack of style or perhaps someone comes right out and tells us that we have major issues. We may have a conversation that doesn’t go the way we thought it would, so we re-evaluate every word thinking about how we messed up.
If we grew up in church, we were taught that grace covers our sin. What we probably were not taught is that grace covers the sin so completely that we do not have to go around worrying constantly about whether we have messed up or not! God is not looking down on us and trying to see which sins we have committed and judge us. He doesn’t even SEE our sin when we trust Jesus! As soon as we trust him, ALL of our sins are forgiven and God casts them into a sea of forgetfulness. They are further from him than east is from west! Why would he want us focused on our sin when he doesn’t even look at it??
We waste time feeling guilty thinking about something that God never tells us to look at. He says to believe him, trust him, and follow him. He says to come to him with all of our burdens and give them to him. When we talk with Him about what we have done that we feel guilty about, he frees us from judgment and condemnation! He doesn’t want us to dwell on our mistakes, but instead be free from the fear and condemnation that our mistakes cause!
An addiction cycle is when we mess up and feel guilty and then mess up again BECAUSE we feel guilty and unworthy. God doesn’t want us to live there in a place of defeat chained to our habitual mess-ups. He wants us to have the freedom to walk away from whatever is not good for us and others.
Living out of agreement with our conscience is not good for us. We have the ability to know what is right and wrong because of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Before humanity ate of the tree, we lived in perfect connection with God. There was no guilt or condemnation or fear between us! But after the eating of the fruit, the connection was broken.
We began to look at what separated us from God instead of trusting him and wanting to walk and talk with him. Instead, our natural instinct when we mess up is to run from God because we are afraid of condemnation. However, as humans living in the 2020’s, our focus does not need to be sin. We need to put the focus where it belongs – on God himself and his solution to the problem: Jesus. Jesus came to rescue us from the knowledge of good and evil and from the judgments we make about ourselves and others!
Jesus is the one we are following. Did he ever once ask his disciples to look at what they had done and be ashamed? Did he ask them to overthink their clothes, their habits, their food and drink? Did he make everything legalistic and about doing the “right” thing? No.
Jesus made life about following Him. And HE followed His Father’s heart. God the Father led Jesus where he needed to be, all the way to the cross where Jesus showed us the meaning of sacrificial love. He fulfilled the law precisely because WE COULD NOT. He fulfilled the law in his own perfection so that we could be at peace with the fact that we will never be perfect as a human here on this earth. We don’t have to try to be perfect and sit around feeling bad about where we mess up.
God created us for perfect connection with him. When we ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, we began to judge good and evil for ourselves instead of trusting God by walking and talking with him daily. Jesus came to change all of that! We can once again have perfect connection with our Creator, but we don’t get there by being perfect. We get there because we trust that Jesus was perfect and he sacrificed his perfection for us. So we can stop judging ourselves and others continually. Instead, we rely on his voice and trust him to define good and evil once again.
We can once again have perfect connection with our Creator, but we don’t get there by being perfect.
We need to keep our relationship with Jesus at the forefront of who we are. When our conscience tells us we have screwed up, we can acknowledge it and run to our Father and tell him how disappointed we are with ourselves. And HE tells us that he loves us anyway because of Jesus. When we realize what Jesus did to set us free from fear and condemnation, we see how much He loves us and we accept the gift of that freedom.
We step into our purpose each time we follow his voice. And when we run to him and not from him, we find that he is always there loving us. We step into our purpose when we ignore the stares and whispers of those that sit in judgment, when we change our thoughts to loving affirmations rather than condemning and harsh judgments of ourselves and others.
So let them look. Let them judge. When our own mind condemns us, let God have those struggles and let them go. We are free from condemnation in Christ Jesus. We follow Jesus. Judgments of our person are not something we need to pay attention to. It is not their business to judge us. It is not OUR business to judge ourselves! It IS God’s business to judge us, but he DIED so that he wouldn’t have to judge us! Instead, he judged Jesus in our place. God chooses love. Perhaps we should think about doing the same for ourselves and others
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?Galatians 3:2 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.Romans 8:1-2 ESV
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.Psalm 103:11-12 ESV
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be savedActs 16:31 ESV
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:8-10 ESV
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.John 19:30 ESV
I have anxieties and fears about so many things and I wonder how did I get this way? Was it something I did or a habit I created earlier in life? I look back at times when I was hurt by those I thought were friends and wonder if I closed off part of myself. Maybe I didn’t trust you enough to care about me, God, so I decided to think out life all by myself.
I used to be afraid of you also. For almost 20 years, I was afraid that you thought I wasn’t good enough for you, that you were sitting in judgment of me, that you would never see the good in me because you were too busy seeing all of the ways I chose the wrong things, thought the wrong things, and behaved in wrong ways.
So instead of turning TO you, I ran AWAY from you. I ran to others. I ran to success and tried to run to money. I ran to my intellect, my musicianship, my personality, my looks, my spouse, my children, my churchy friends. But all of the things and the people let me down. I let myself down. I couldn’t stop my mind from overthinking absolutely everything and I tried so hard to think everything through! I trusted my thoughts to save me from disaster, but my thoughts were not that powerful. And I was left with disasters in my life that I could not prevent. I was left with the fact that I am powerless to save myself from the struggles of this life.
And this morning I woke up thinking about all of the ways that I fail, all of the ways I have disappointed, all of the ways that I don’t measure up to the perfectionistic standards in my head. And now at 10am, I am already exhausted… of making this life about me, of looking to myself for answers that I don’t have, of telling myself all of the “shouldv’e, couldv’e, wouldv’e.” How is it that at 10am on a normal Monday, I am having enough anxiety to have trouble breathing?!
But, you say to bring you all of my worries and cares and that you will carry them for me. So I am bringing mine today. I am talking with you God and just laying it out like it is. I am running TO you this morning and I am declaring what YOU say and what YOU think.
I know that you are FOR me. You have a plan for my life and a purpose in mind. You may let me go through hard times, but you are for me, not against me. Sometimes you use REALLY difficult times to help me look up to you. When I have no one and nowhere else to turn, I am more likely to look up. So I accept that sometimes I don’t feel happy. Sometimes life is difficult and painful. Sometimes I am afraid and even anxious enough that the people around me notice. But I see now that you don’t expect me to be perfect. It’s not even possible for me as a human here and now.
But you say that I am perfect and complete in you. And you tell me that I am good enough for you because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. You tell me that all of my weaknesses and failures are hidden in your strength. You let me rest in knowing that You have a path for me and that you will lead me when I ask. You sing love over me and tell me that I am yours and that you knit me together before I was born. You have a purpose for my life and you’re helping me finish it. I am not alone with my thoughts. So I do not accept “anxious” as my label today. That’s not who I am. I see that now.
And I see the reason I was anxious all along. Overthinking causes anxiety. Overthinking does not cause peace. I was trusting in the problem (overthinking) to find the solution (peace)! No more. Today I choose to trust YOUR THOUGHTS and YOUR WAYS!! I choose not to be overwhelmed by my anxious thoughts, but instead be overwhelmed by your peace.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Romans 8:38 ESV
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:28 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
My daughter made and presented this jar to me after church one Sunday. She demanded that I immediately take out one of the questions she had placed inside and answer it out loud for her. I laughed, “These are personal questions that you can talk to God about”. Her face deflated and she declared, “But I don’t want to talk to God”.
Truth is, it is HARD to be truthful with God…partly because we don’t even talk truth to ourselves. We convince ourselves that our stomachache is from heartburn, when the truth is that we REALLY overate at Thanksgiving dinner. We lie to ourselves about how we spend our time, what we spend our money on, and what we really believe. We lie about whether we cheated in a relationship or on our taxes or talked negatively about a good friend to another. If the stakes are high enough, we lie. We even lie about whether we lie!
It is hard to be honest with ourselves and each other, but honest with God? That can be even harder because we know that God is perfect and in the Old Testament, He comes across as a bit judgmental! Anything we say could be used against us in a court of law! At least that is how it feels. Get your Bible out and put your hand on it. Promise to tell the whole truth and only the truth.
The truth is that so many of us get freaked out when we want to pray because we think that God is up there with a gavel just waiting to hand out His next verdict. Truth is that He already decided the verdict about you. He deliberated about your past, your lies, your drama, your inability to see past your own nose, your dislike of everyone different from you, your desire to overeat, overindulge, and over-evaluate everyone. And He found you……
NOT guilty. (More on that in a sec)
There was a woman back in the 1st century who had a bleeding problem for years. YEARS! 12 of them in fact! She was part of the Jewish culture that Jesus was born into and because of this culture, she was considered unclean. She would not have been in close relationships with anyone considered worthy or upstanding in their society. She would never have anyone or be anyone in that culture.
She had heard about Jesus and how he healed people so she came to where a crowd was around Him. She said to herself that if she could just reach out and touch the hem on his clothing, he would heal her. So she reached out and he did heal her! She could feel the healing. But he could feel the power of the healing also! And then he did something terrifying.
He asked who had touched his clothes and the whole crowd stopped and waited for someone to speak up. She had been willing to reach out to him, but then he posed this question to the entire crowd! What could she do?Would she speak with him? Would she let him know what she was thinking and feeling? Would she trust him enough to let him get to know her?
He wanted more than just to heal her. He wanted a relationship with her. He wanted to hear from her mouth what she had done and why. And even though she was afraid, so afraid that she was shaking, she came and told Jesus the whole truth. She let him in on what was going on inside her mind and heart and body!
When she chose to answer Him with the whole truth despite her trembling and fear, He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” When we do choose to tell Jesus our whole truth, He answers us with the same love and affirmation. We bring the diseases of our body and soul to Him and He listens and tells us that our faith has healed us and that we can go in peace.
I want the kind of healing that comes from laying it all out in prayer with my God. I want the kind of healing that touches body AND soul. And to get there, I just reach out to God and tell Him the whole truth. The truth is that I can’t do good or be good on my own. I can’t stop lying or cheating or calling names without His help. The truth is that I need HIM!
Only Jesus can listen to that level of truthfulness and still call me “Healed”, because He is the only one who can call me “NOT GUILTY”.
A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”Mark 5:25-34 MSG
Yesterday, getting ready to leave the house on an errand that my preteen daughter did not want to go on, I told her that the HUGE stuffed animal she was planning to bring had to stay home. I was tired of her leaving it and retracing our steps to find it. I took the squashable stuffed mint green owl and plopped it onto the couch and watched it fall off. She said that she hated me and that I was mean. “You threw my stuffed animal on the ground and it landed on it’s FACE and you don’t EVEN CARE!”
As we got in the car and began our journey, I tried to reason with her. I tried to help her see logic. I then tried to help her see that I am the Mom and she is not. She, in turn, let me know repeatedly that I was not measuring up to her standard of what it means to be in a relationship with her. In her mind, I was not the Mom I was supposed to be. In my mind, I was talking to God while she raged on. “Why God? Why is she saying this? Am I not good to her? Do I not love her enough? I need You to show me what to do. I’m in over my head with this parenting business. How am supposed to be a mother and a father to this child?! What do I say back to her? I am at a loss.”
As a mother with a fourth child, I have finally learned the importance of taking a break from an upset child who is looking for a reaction. So after my errands, I drove toward my sister’s house 5 minutes away, planning to take a walk there. I deposited my child on the couch at her house with a requirement that she not move until she was done making a ruckus. I made a cup of coffee while the wailing continued. In my head, I continued my conversation with God. “She is testing every boundary I have, God! I need a break. I don’t have answers here! Why aren’t You giving me answers?! Don’t you even CARE about me?!!” My sister came out of her room wearing a sleeping bag. I laughed and snapped a pic. She slumped to the kitchen floor to relax and chat with me as my coffee brewed.
We discussed the situation at hand…the wailing child on her couch, my desire to take a walk. She told me about an article she read that said to tune into what a child is feeling when they are upset. The child is no longer capable of logic and must have their feelings understood so they can reach a point of lucidity and step out of the tantrum. So, taking her advice, I went to my squalling child and tried to use understanding words. I quickly gave up and let her know that if she wanted to continue to fuss, it was her choice. My sister urged me to go walk, so I set out the door determined to get into a better frame of mind.
Around the twenty minute mark, I looked out over a pond and saw the sunset. The thought entered my mind, “Did I just yell at God and tell Him that He doesn’t care about me?” I was struck by the resemblance my daughter had to me. Do I blame God, my Father, when my day or even my LIFE is not turning out like I think it should? When I struggle, I just want God to make life feel good again. I want Him to do everything to make me happy. It is easy for my daughter to blame me when she is upset, but it is just as easy for me to place blame on my Father in heaven.
Our lives are not easy and we just want things to be easy so badly! We want our life to make sense. We want simple equations like “If I do good things, then I will get good things.” But as we live life, we meet people who defy that logic. I have a friend who worked hard to be good at basketball and then ended up paralyzed from the neck down. I know another man whose little daughter died while he was a Pastor trying hard to help others with their daily lives. I developed lead poisoning at 21 years of age from scraping paint on the apartment I was preparing to live in as a newlywed. We were all working hard to achieve something good and trying not to hurt others in the process. We all ended up in a dark place where we felt abandoned and rejected by God. Was this a “good” place to be? Would any of us have chosen this path at the time?
During our darkness, we felt like God was letting our hearts burn into a pile of ashes. How could this ever cause anything “good”? There was nothing left to salvage and none of us could see any good in the suffering at the time, but each of us came to a place where we realized that we could choose to trust God anyway. Decades later, we can all see that these dark times were a period of life where God was doing something “good” in each of us. We each chose to live life accepting that we are not in charge. Not being in control of our life is a good thing because the One in charge is worthy of our trust. He is the God who raises the dead to life and turns ashes into beauty!
Last night, my sister talked with my daughter while I was on that walk. She used her God-given ability to tune into the emotions of others and reach my daughter in that dark emotional place she inhabited. When I returned from my walk, this child, the one I could not reach, was laughing and playing a game with my sister. I can’t even describe how grateful I felt in that moment…toward my sister, but also toward my God who listens to my cries and answers my prayers. He may not answer in the exact moment I want and He may not always have the answer I want, but I can always trust Him to have the answer I need.
Though he slay me, I will hope in him.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Abba, I need more faith this morning. I need to know that You are here with me and that you see me and know me and still love me. I need to know that I matter to You. And I need direction. I feel like I have no idea what I am doing here on this earth. I need Your hand to guide me and show me what I need to be doing on a daily basis. I am just super lost trying to figure this out on my own. Only You have the whole picture and know what is the best course. I only see through a glass darkly and right now that glass is really fogged up.
I get so worried about the future that I don’t know how to live in the now. It feels like my days consist of sitting and worrying and doing things that are meaningless. I want to know that I am making a difference to someone out there…that I am making a difference for you. I want to know that You think I am doing a good job. I want to feel like I am where I am supposed to be. It feels like I am just dangling over a precipice and waiting for the last terrifying moment when the string holding me breaks loose. I just feel so defeated wondering what the point is to what I spend my time on. Will you lead me? Will you send me where you want me? Right now, my life feels meaningless.
Is there a person out there who is supposed to tell me what I need to work on? Do I need a partner in my life? Do I need a boss at a job? Why do I struggle so much with keeping my life full of things that I find meaningful? Is it because I am still grieving over loss? Is it because I have a personality disorder or PTSD? Am I depressed? Am I not right in the head? Do I need to seek help from other people or is it ok to curl up in bed and just cry because I don’t have the answers? I feel like I am failing the test of life. Is life a test? I know it’s not, but there are a million things that I want to be faithful in that I am not and I don’t understand why I keep messing things up. There are a million things that I do right also, but it feels like they are a drop in a bucket.
So God, since I can’t get it right, I need You. I need Your direction, Your will, Your ability to love others, Your light to guide me, Your clarity for relationships, Your eyes of love on me, Your vision for my future, Your kindness to me, Your favor as I do the things that You guide me into, Your EVERYTHING. Whatever You have for me today….that’s what I want. I can’t do this on my own. This thing I have called life is too much for me. I need Your life in me more than I can say. I need ALL of YOU to fill ALL OF ME, because I have nothing left. I have nothing without YOU.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”