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The Door to our Father's Heart

This quote from the book, "The Broken Way" ..."The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father's heart."

As a teenager I can remember never feeling safe. My world and all that I had known and had given me security was yanked away when my parents made the decision to divorce. I remember having to put on a "happy face" at school and with my friends because I didn't want anyone to see the battle raging inside of me. I didn't know how to live with the pain of not only being cut off from my Dad but also cut off from the paternal side of my family. I didnt know how to live with a broken heart.

Later on in life the pain from the scars reared its head once again in the form of an eating disorder. The pain fresh and new as I had ministered to two young women who had the same anxieties, had also been abused by people they had trusted. In helping them my fears, my brokenness came bubbling right back up. Starving myself I thought might starve the emotions I was feeling and yet the thinner I got, the more I felt trapped and paralyzed by the fears that threatened to consume me. the grief from a childhood and adolescence filled with pain was literally breaking my heart. 

One day as I sat in church I listened to a sermon which taught me the importance of surrender. To give my pain, my hurts, my fears all to the One who allowed His body to be broken on a Cross so I could have freedom in Him. The Bible tells us blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. the comfort comes from the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine. After listening to that sermon the next day I wrote down all that I needed to surrender...all the pain, the hurt, the confusion, all I had done in my life that not only caused me pain, nut caused others pain as well and then took it outside and lit a match to it. 

God has inch by inch changed my heart and my soul since that day so many years ago. God never abandoned me, I had abandoned Him many times when I didn't allow Him into my pain because I didn't believe He was big enough to handle it. You see I had tried confiding in people, but they didn't really want to hear my story...maybe because they too had their own stories and didn't feel the need to share their brokenness...they had no need to be authentic. 

I am taking part in an online Bible Study from "The Broken Way" and Ann Voscamp  says, "we need to be able to pour out our broken hearts as it helps us to realize we are not alone...we all have brokenness." And yet even today when I have dared to share pain, brokenness there are those who have pulled themselves right out of my life. They can't handle the messiness of my authenticity. Ann says our brokenness is made to share and to unite us with others in community, in intimacy and yet so often I feel it does just the opposite. Why is authenticity so difficult?

Personally I know the areas that have been most painful for me in my own life are the areas where I have been able to reach out to others. I have tremendous empathy for children whose parents have divorced, for victims of sexual abuse and for abortion. It is from that pain I can share their pain and listen to their hearts. I love what the psalmist says in 42:6 " when my soul is down in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know about you." Yes, when I remember the pit I once held myself in I know how far God has brought me and always it gives me Hope. 

There are people God has placed in my life that I know will love me and be a safe place for me to share my pain, my disappointments, my hopes and my dreams with and I can do the same for them and for others. We can choose to ignore the pain of others and even to walk away or we can choose to be a shelter for them as they deal with the storms of life...and above all else we can point them to the One who will not abandon them. 

I will close with these words from the book: "there is no growth without change, no change without surrender, no surrender without pain, no abundance without breaking. Wounds are what break open the soul to plant the seeds for deeper growth."  Fullsizeoutput_92a


Dying to Self

So many of us go through life wanting to be recognized and caring more about the applause from others than we really care about how God sees us. We build our lives on "sinking sand" when we could build our lives on the One who tells us He is the Rock. I remember as a small child sitting in the enormous (at least to my eyes) Catholic church that I attended and gazing up at the cross. The though that my sins hung him there really bothered me, but I didn't understand then that He saved my soul by hanging on the Cross. 

As a Life Coach one of the things I always do with my clients is a surrender exercise. We cling to so many things in our lives...some of us cling to hopes we had for a child who has gone astray, others cling to their dreams of a bigger home, fancier cars...but in order to have the life God wants us to have we must let go and that requires faith and also dying to self. God needs to be the architect of our dreams if they are to flourish and take fruit. Some times people find it difficult to surrender but always we must remember Jesus surrendered His very life for us. He will do far ore than we can imagine if we take the leap of faith to surrender it all to Him. 

Our chief purpose in life is to know God and to bring Him glory. He has numbered our days here on this earth. John Piper said: "Know Scripture, know yourself, and know the needs around you" and you will begin to see God's will for your life. We are called to respond to the needs we see in the world. So often, it is easier to turn a blind eye to the homeless person on the street, or the young woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy, or the neighbor down the street whose yard is an eyesore. When we reach out and fill the needs that are right before us  you will know this is the work right now that God is calling you to. If we are showing Jesus to the world wherever you are and through whatever you are doing then you are doing His will. 

Three questions we can ask ourselves:

"Am I doing what God needs me to do right here, right now?

"Am I fulfilling His purpose for me?"

"Am I reflecting His image to others in my sphere of influence?"

Communion with God =Compassion

For the past few years I have prayed about an area of my life God needs me to focus on and picked one word which I would do my best to live out. This year after praying and reading  Ann Voscamp's book, "The Broken Way" the word I have chosen is compassion. 

This morning I thought about how we are all broken in some way. We have all been wounded and so often we are alone in our woundedness because we either assume no one really cares or we are afraid to share our hearts. I remember many years ago sharing something very personal and painful with someone I considered a good friend and her response to me was, "I wish you have never shared this with me as I will remember it every time I look at you." It was not what I needed to hear. It left me ashamed that I had  been vulnerable, it hurt me and I decided it would have been better to bury my hurt than to ever risk being judged again.

As I read Ann's book last week I was reminded if we don't share our brokenness, if we don't share our stories there is never really full communion with others. Ann wrote:"Maybe communion happens not only when we're broken and given--but when we give each other our brokenness." I believe it is only when we can share from our own brokenness that others will feel free to share their wounds with us. 

God's Word tells us that our hearts should be broken by the things that break His heart. When we are willing to be vulnerable and to give someone our broken hearts it also breaks our pride and our ego goes right out the window. Recognizing the brokenness in others draws us closer to the heart of God. When we are afraid of recognizing our own brokenness and unwilling to share the brokenness of others it will keep us from loving fully and investing  in the lives of others. It also may hinder blessings God has planned for us.

Compassion is what the world needs more of. One of my favorite stories is that of the Velveteen Rabbit..a rabbit that had been well loved by the little boy who owned him. We become real...we become authentic when we allow the broken moments in our lives and in the lives of those God places in our path to change our hearts. Not only will we connect with them, but we will draw closer to God. We all have talents and gifts and we all make the decision as to how we will use them. When we choose to listen, to be available, to love and to offer hope to someone we become a refuge for them in their pain. Compassion...I pray I will be used by God as I focus on living with intention and to love, serve and care do others whose lives intersect with mine.