Healing My Lonely Heart

Healing my lonely heart

Over the course of last weekend I went from having awesome time with friends and Stephen, to realizing that I’ve been lonely lately, and I was lonely once again as everyone returned to their normal lives (some in different cities).

I didn’t know how to process that, and normally I would’ve tried to fix it by spending time with Stephen, but I was housesitting/taking care of 4 kids and we had hardly had time to finish getting back on the same page after a misunderstanding, let alone for my extroverted emotional tank to be filled.

In my frustration, I vented to God a few pages in my journal, then decided to try to get over it until my crazy week was over.

On Wednesday, things started to change.

I got out of class early that afternoon, and found myself with a whole hour between classes, and a lot of sun shine outside! I found some steps to hang out on outside, and realized that I had my journal and one of my Bibles in my backpack (it’s always there actually, I just don’t use it nearly as much as I intended to!). As I reread my prayers from earlier in the week, I was drawn back into my loneliness, and just feeling a little bit lost.

I opened my Bible, and after some flipping around, found myself at Psalm 139, specifically verses 1-12. I memorized this passage ages ago, but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget the meaning behind the words. Read the whole thing, really, but I just want to highlight what caught my attention.

“You have searched me Lord, and you know me.”

A salve for a lonely heart.

I think especially as we’ve been preparing for marriage, I’ve gradually placed more and more mental responsibility on Stephen to be the one who knows me, who sees me, and who understands my heart. When I misunderstood something he was dealing with this week, I felt really hurt, upset that he didn’t understand what I needed. But, the extent to which I expected him to understand me (without direct communication) was selfish and unrealistic.

Something God really said to me on Wednesday, is that this crazy desire to be seen and known I’ve been discovering this week, is good. He made me that way. But, if I look to Stephen to fill that need for me, I will be disappointed. There is no possible way that he, as an entirely human man, will ever completely know my heart, and my thoughts. I’m really excited (and kind of terrified) to spend the rest of our lives building that knowing, but I’m finally figuring out that my need for intimacy is designed to draw me to God.

He knows me. 

He built my heart with all of it’s fears, joys, desires and dark places. He sees it all, and loves it deeply. He sees my heart. The darkness that makes me broken and human are the corners from which He teaches me love, and shows me His healing power. He is the only one who will every truly know me, and I’ve been trying to fill that need from broken people.

I am still lonely, but He is teaching me, loving me, drawing me in. I am so thankful that I’ve got four more months to continue this journey before I marry Stephen. By building intimacy with my God, and learning to trust Him with all of me, I hope I will come to a place where I am a little more ready to be a wife, a place where I can fill my need with God’s presence, so that I can try to love Stephen selflessly and build a healthy, human intimacy with him.

I know I am definitely not alone in my loneliness. I hope that if you’ve been struggling with this, that you’ll allow God to begin speaking to your heart. Find those Psalms that proclaim His love for you, the way that He knows you. Meditate on them, speak them, cry them, whatever it takes for them to penetrate, and begin healing your hurt.

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Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New

Lately I’ve been struggling to get into the Word. It’s always there in the back of my mind, but actually taking my Bible off my night stand and spending time with it hasn’t happened a lot. I felt okay, which made it easier. But I hate “okay.”

“Okay,” is not my goal, Christ is. 

I think one thing that really held me back mentally was school. Talking to my cousin a little while ago, I realized that I am not the only student struggling with this! I used to read my Bible deeply, take it apart and put it back together. I loved seeing the history and context behind things, translating that into my everyday. But, as a student, my more academic, work intensive devotional habits kind of scared me off. I normally loved having structure (hello S.O.A.P. or S.T.A.R. or whatever acronym you learned in youth group!), but put into the midst of papers and labs, it killed my connection with the Word.

So, I’m taking something old – my Bible and a notebook – and doing something new! I’m not giving myself any rules, just time with the Good Book, and whatever else I feel I need to process what He is saying. I found my old markers and crayons, some coloured pens, and I’m hiding away my creative self-consciousness. I’m not doing this to show anyone, just to get God’s words into my heart in a way that is kind of out of my comfort zone. I’m not giving myself a timeline, which is something else out of the ordinary for me, but projects like this usually keep my attention, so I’m not concerned about actually doing it. It’s a nice break from life!

I’m starting out in Matthew, because that’s the beginning of the New Testament, a few blogs I’ve read have been talking about it lately, and it’s about the life of Christ. I figure if I want to become more like Him, this is a good place to start!

Matthew 1 said a lot to me about God’s plan. It took generations for His big plan to come to light and centuries later we still struggle with the big picture, but Joseph and Mary didn’t have any of that. They, on faith and at the bidding of a messenger, obeyed. God’s way was probably especially confusing for Joseph, given the consequences taking a pregnant wife could have in their culture, but he listened. And guess what… The Father’s promise was kept! God’s plan is solid, and He may have options we don’t see right away, or that scare us, but they will ultimately be something beautiful! As the countdown to my wedding and married life gets shorter and shorter, this is definitely something my heart needs to be reminded of. It’s not my plans, but His that I truly want to pursue.

So my challenge for you today, is to try something new as you connect with God. Whether it’s something more or less structured, inside, outside or any combination of the above, listen for His heart in a new space. What you’ve done in the past may be great, and something to hold onto, then this will be a nice little “shake it up” moment. Or you might be like me and need to realize that your life has seasons, and what is valuable in my spiritual life changes along with the rest of the flow of your life. My spiritual habits during school may not be the same as those during breaks, but they need to take priority!

Leave a comment with any ideas you have, your favourite spiritual disciplines, or any good devotional blogs you’ve found!

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

My university profs are on strike right now. In a month were I was supposed to have 4 paper due dates, 4 midterms, two presentations and many quizzes, I now have no idea what’s going on! I’ve probably said it before, but just in case you’re new to the blog, I really don’t appreciate unknowns like this. I have no idea when I’ll have class next, or when my assignments will actually be due, and even though my profs were really reassuring beforehand, I find it stressful.

Wednesday evening, before the faculty had posted whether or not the picket lines would be up the next morning, Stephen and I were praying. Have you ever had a moment where you weren’t sure where your prayer was coming from, but all of a sudden you realized you’d just been taught something?

“Thank you, Jesus, for tomorrow. Whatever it looks like.”

I know faculty strikes will not be the scariest uncertainty in my life. As soon as I graduate Stephen and I will face a lot of uncertainty as we try to discern where God is going to take us. So, I think this is a prayer I need to start practicing.

Because, really, are there any tomorrows that aren’t somewhat uncertain? I love Christ, because He is constant. He is giving me tomorrow, whatever it looks like, and He promises to do it with me.

Here is Psalm 34. I love it because it is real. It says that the righteous will actually have troubles, but the whole passage speaks about praising and praying to the Lord in the midst of desperation. I know I can feel pretty desperate in the unknown, but God will redeem those who take refuge in Him.

So I’ll keep praying:

“Thank you, Jesus, for tomorrow. Whatever it looks like.”

We are the Church

We are the Church

It had been a while since I’ve had Not-Sunday Church, but I had Church at work the other night and oh gosh was it wonderful! Have you had Not-Sunday church lately?

It was because I made a new Jesus friend who reminded me of something crucial:

I am the Church.

YOU are the Church. 

Tomorrow is Community Sunday in our church home. It always makes me hungry, and not because we have wonderful potlucks afterwards. We set time aside each month to open up the mic and share. We share together in moments of celebration, times of mourning, and a whole lot of nerves! Our pastors give us the space to be vulnerable together, to experience Church, but it’s really hard sometimes. I get hungry, because I know the Spirit is trying to move in, to be active in the Body of Christ, but there always seems to be something standing in the way. I know, because it’s a wall I run into often.

Fear.

“Again Kayla?” you ask, rolling your eyes.

Yes. Because fear is probably the greatest weapon against the Kingdom, and I wield it. I’m scared to let myself go in the Spirit. I don’t want to be that crazy spiritual girl. I’m scared to use words that may be mine and not the Lord’s.  I don’t want people to think that I’m trying too hard, or putting on a church face, because sometimes I’m scared that I am. I’m scared to welcome people, because hospitality is not my gift, and what if I just make things weird? So I put up a wall, and I let the Spirit hit it.

Sometimes I have moments of bravery, and I ask the Spirit to come past my wall. I let Him into my heart, into my mind, and I ask Him to work, to use me. In those moments, I free myself to act as I have been called to and I can act as is appropriate for my identity.

I am the Church.

YOU are the Church. 

It is very difficult to fulfill this on my own. I find this freedom most often on days like Community Sundays, or when Stephen and I are praying together, or when a friend and I have moments of vulnerability. We are called to run alongside each other into the freedom of Christ. When we do this, we are the Church.

When I make a new friend, and we are able to celebrate the things the Lord is doing around us, we are the Church.

When Stephen and I sit together on the porch trying to figure out what God is trying to do through us, we are the Church.

When I sit in a row of chairs on Sunday with my family, and we sing praise together, we are the Church.

When a friend and I cry together, seeking victory in a place of defeat, we are the Church. 

When we are brave, vulnerable, and open to the Spirit’s leading, we will do incredible things, because we are the Church.

Refuse to Fear Judgement

Refuse to Fear Judgement

I have been overwhelmed this week by comment threads. Between more yoga pants/modesty pieces, countless Fifty Shades of Gray articles, and the hordes of women on social media, I should have known better than to go perusing through those deep dark places. But, because I’ve been able to find pieces of wisdom hidden among the muck on occasion, or evidence of more general cultural attitudes, I still did a little bit of looking. This week I’ve recognized a strong trend of defensiveness, especially within the comments on articles about “Christian issues.”

“Don’t judge me.” “You have no right to judge me.” “You don’t know my relationship with God.” “That’s your opinion, I don’t have to share it.”

Sound familiar?

When I read these, I hear the World.

If you read through any secular blog or media piece, it is likely you will encounter something designed to normalize what people may be offended by, or think is wrong. There is this huge movement against judgement in areas of employment, appearance, pregnancy, sexuality, and gender expression. Basically within any area where you could have a different opinion than someone (especially one based on religious values), they are trying to build an “anti-judgement” space.

This really scares me, especially when I see it happening within Christian media.

I understand. Being judged is the thing we seem to fear most. We do our best to avoid it by trying to follow all the rules and avoid judgement (my preferred method), or by proclaiming that none of our choices deserve to be judged. Judgement attacks the places we are vulnerable. It targets our insecurities.

What causes our defensive reactions?

It is the truth. Whether or not the person addressing us is speaking truth, the truth in our hearts recognizes the voice of judgement and recoils. We, as humans, are meant to be judged.

Since the beginning, it has been clear that sin is a part of who we are as people. Wrong priorities, skewed morals, and dark ambitions are just a few of the things that we can’t shake off on our own. Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is some corner in our hearts that knows the Voice of Truth, and is terrified of it. When we feel judged, we are being punched there.

I know, I spent most of my life fearing judgement. Even though I was generally confident, I feared judgement by friends, and began hiding parts of who I was. I feared judgement from a God who could see the sins that no one else could, and I became more and more attached to behaviours and habits that would make me seem better from the outside. I tried to fix myself, to put myself in a place where I could no longer be judged, but the harder I tried the worse it got. Ask my mother, I am someone who easily becomes defensive, always have been. But, I’m learning what that really means for the condition of my heart. When I become defensive, it is a symptom of the pride I’ve built up in my image and abilities. It shows that I may not actually have confidence that I am pursuing truth in a decision or a position that I’ve taken. It shows a struggle that I may be ignoring.

In the past couple of years, I’ve learned something. It wasn’t a sudden realization but a very drawn out process. Looking back, I can see that when I gradually began to understand grace, and to personally, relationally pursue Christ, it went hand in hand with being able to start letting go of my fear of judgement.

Have you heard this story?

There is a King. He rules over all the land, but there was a time in the past when He had no one with whom to share the beauty of life. But, The King had a plan. He gathered up the dust of the Earth, and breathed His life into it. “The Man came alive-a living soul!” The King also gave the Man a partner to work with and love, the Woman.

Now, the Man and the Woman cared for the Earth, and they lived with The King in true community. But the Man and the Woman were faced with a problem. The King had given them a great gift, called Choice. It was a beautiful gift, but they weren’t sure what it meant. They thanked The King, and He showed them how they were meant  to live and use their Choice. When the Man and Woman found Temptation however, they used Choice in a way The King had asked them not to. They opened the gate of the Earth and allowed Shame to enter, and they hid from The King, for they knew He  was also The Judge, and they feared Judgement.

Because The King ruled over all the land, He knew immediately that Shame had entered His Kingdom. It broke His heart, and He reached out to the Man and Woman. They could no longer live with Him in true community, but He clothed them and sent them on their way unharmed, the beginning of His People. The King knew that it was time to put the next part of His plan into action.

Throughout the following ages, The King tried to love His People. The monster Shame had brought with it Pride, and Greed, Power, and Immorality. When these beasts combined forces, they lured His People away from Him, and built walls of Defensiveness around their hearts. His People did not allow The King to love them, but His plan was still in motion.

Some of His People began to have dreams, and to prophesy that they were going to be rescued from the monsters attacking them. Those who listened lived with hope that The King would rescue them, but they went a long time without hearing from Him, or knowing what He was going to do.

Then one day, The King gave them a piece of Himself. He put His heart into a Woman, in the form of a Child. This Child grew up to become a Warrior. He began teaching His people how to fight Shame and his fellow monsters. He showed them that Truth was the way to free themselves. Those who had built up Defensiveness around their hearts however were unable to see the Warrior as anything but a threat. 

Some of those who had Defensiveness had tried to live as they thought The King wanted them to. They followed all the laws of the land, even creating their own in order to protect themselves from Shame. These were those taken by Pride. There were others who tried to cheat The King, these were taken by Greed. There were still others who ignored The King, these fell to Immorality and Power. Those taken by Shame continued to hide from the Warrior, while the rest spat in His face. 

Those who served Pride were offended by the Warrior, and began plotting to kill Him. They tricked those serving Power into executing Him. What they didn’t know, was that this action was the climax of The King’s plan. Though His People thought they had killed His heart, The King knew that He had defeated Shame.

You see, The King’s heart cannot be killed. In The King’s heart was hidden a second gift for His People, Freedom. When Pride had the Warrior killed, it broke The King’s heart, but it also released Freedom, which healed the heart, and began seeping into the Earth. It welled up as springs of Living Water for His People to find throughout the rest of time.

Those who find the Living Water have the walls around their hearts, their Defensiveness, dissolved. Their service to Shame ends, and they are no longer subject to judgement. They find Freedom, and are restored, welcomed back into true community with The King. 

I have bathed in that Living Water. I should no longer fear judgement, if I have truly accepted the grace offered by Christ. 1 John reminds us what it means to Live in the Light:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

If we are living in the light, we will seek the life that Christ offers us in him. We will understand that while we are sinners, that it is not our sin that he sees, but he sees who we can be in him. When we are living in this truth, it will destroy the defensiveness, our fear of judgement.

If others do not agree with my choices, I should not get defensive (difficult as it may be), but remember that what truly matters is that my choices line up with God’s standards. I should remember that judgment is not something I should fear any longer, as long as I keep righteousness and holiness as my goal.

While not all comments are made from a spiritually healthy place, especially on the Internet, we should seek to be a part of communities where we can receive accountability and perspective within healthy, personal relationships. It is in those spaces we are called to speak life and truth in the choices we make as the Body of Christ. We cannot reject the comments of others, for when we accept Christ’s grace, live with humility, and refuse to fear judgement, the comments of others can reveal attitudes and standards that don’t line up with the way we are called to live. They can also encourage us as we pursue attitudes that do reflect Christ. People cannot judge our eternal fate, don’t give them power that they aren’t given in the first place. BUT, we are called to live within vulnerable, accountability with our brothers and sisters.

Fear of judgement is an attitude of the world, refuse to let yourself be chained by it.

 

The story is mine, written in a style similar to Stephen’s stories. I hope to post mores stories (mine or his) in the future. Feedback would be greatly appreciated!