images
Post

Menopause, make up and public school

Leave a reply

I hate makeup on my face. I haven’t really been one to wear much of it and only started “covering” my face with a concealer because things have shown up that I would like to “conceal”. Menopause sucks in so many ways, in more ways than I anticipated or thought. And public school has been a gift from God!

For the last four years, I have struggled to get my body back in balance. My last child was born 10 years ago and really that was when it all started but the last few years particularly have been hard. I found out last week that I am officially in menopause. That day, I sent a few friends a text message expressing my mixed emotions.

Since this discovery, I have felt some relief because now I know why certain things are happening or not happening, if you know what I mean, but I also feel grief. I am remembering when I had three children under three and a middle-schooler and recall a day when a friend was sharing her discovery of menopause with me while I was pulling my hair out and couldn’t possibly imagine feeling grief over no more babies, while she was mourning her new reality. Now I know…

Between bouts of a need to cry and for what seems to be no apparent reason,  spending money on quality make up to conceal “things”, remembering post-partum blues I experienced after each birth, flashes of my new season of life and then forgetting what I went to the kitchen for, I go back to what I know is true and doesn’t change – God – and for that I weep tears of humility and great love for my King.

Interestingly, according to medical professionals, the fluctuation in hormones during post-partum is the same in menopause – I guess we really do go full circle.

But there are reasons to cry and grieve.

Several things come to mind: first, how I placed my identity in my children or (motherhood), that I came to a point recently when I really wasn’t sure who I was anymore, and that my beauty was more about having babies and being a mom than being Michelle. Indeed being a co-laborer in God’s plan to procreate is something that sets us apart as women but it’s not what makes me beautiful, rather I have an irreplaceable role on this earth and bearing children according to Gods plan was only one part of that role. The second thing that comes to mind is: it’s almost as if the last 22 years of my life (the age range of my children) is sitting in a box in front of me and I have an aerial view of it all! Not that I have an “empty nest” but with younger children still at home, and one grown married child I feel strange sometimes.

I see many mothers around me that seem so worn thin and weary. They are in the box of motherhood and can hardly see above. Which takes me back to the last four years and brings to me to today and a recent turn of events that seems to fit nicely with everything that is changing – we made the decision to send our children to public school and what feels like subjecting my children to Satan yet I see very clearly now that this was straight from the hand of God, that’s right, that’s what I just said, I AM A CHRISTIAN AND USED TO HOME SCHOOL AND I SENT MY CHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL…

You probably don’t want to mess with me on this because I am menopausal!

But I had to ask myself: what type of atmosphere have we created in the Church that I feel the need to be defensive about putting my children in public school, where does all this come from? (I am leaving these as rhetorical questions) I love my children and care very much about their spiritual state and perhaps God asks some of us to entrust our children to him and let them go sooner and in different ways like Hannah who promised God that she would give her only son Samuel to the priest hood where he would be surrounded by Eli’s evil sons!

Obviously I am not saying that one turn of events caused the other but God is using menopause, make up and public school to show me that there are seasons to everything and the only thing that doesn’t change is him!

As I walk through this process and grieve what I have “lost”, I am encouraged to know there are also things to celebrate, like my desire to want to wear makeup. All the while, I am holding onto the hem of His robe!

 

el-roi-the-god-who-sees-me
Post

Rejection

2 comments

I am reading a book on rejection. I think this author is effective. She is a counselor and has written a series on the common areas people struggle. Our writing styles and her approach to counseling are similar in that there are core issues behind the behavior and behind the behavior are patterns of familiar yet unhealthy thinking deep rooted in the heart. She doesn’t go on some religious lecture quoting all these theological complex thoughts, it’s just real life, real situations, clearly and concisely written without compromising the truth!

I have felt conviction and experienced freedom in the area of rejection. About 10 years ago, the Lord showed me wounds deep down. I had responded to those wounds with judgments, that at that time, I prayed through with a mentor and received healing and freedom. Since then whenever situations trigger rejection I have to work through the layers to identify what I am thinking or feeling when it happens.  Recently, the Spirit showed me through what seemed to be unlikely situations in my marriage but demanded certain responses (behavior resulting from what I was thinking) were not really a result of the current situation necessarily rather rooted seeds of rejection that needed uprooting which brings me to the crux of this post.

In striving for affirmation and acceptance we soon discover the futility of looking to temporal things. Clearly, Jesus understood this because we read in John 2 that He “did not commit Himself to them (the many that believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did) because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man,  for He knew what was in man.” (v. 24-25) Ouch, but thank you Jesus, this is so freeing, even Jesus was tempted to look to his friends for applause.

For me, feeling seen, or should I say not feeling seen has been a real wounding place. Lately, over and over the connection between rejection, value and feeling unseen keeps popping up. Not that I just now am seeing (pun intended) where I have been rejected but more so how I have responded to that rejection.

All through Scripture is the usage of God’s eyes:

The eyes of the Lord is on those who fear him; “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,” “the eyes of the Lord are in every place;” let these alone sink into your soul! There’s more though:

I-am-the-apple-of-His-eye-Zechariah-2_8

We are the apple of His eye (Deut 32:10, Zec 2:8);

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. (2 Chron 16:9a)

This list is not exclusive, and we don’t find many other anatomical parts of God in Scripture except a few places like: His “arm” is outstretched and not too short to save for example; his “ear” and hearing our prayers and maybe somewhere there is implication that he is using his feet, but His eye is used over 88 times in Scripture.

The eyes being the pathway to the soul are powerful. Rejection is seen in the eyes. We feel valued in being seen, which is why so often we look to man to see us, to feel accepted and affirmed making rejection the most powerful emotion I believe.

June Hunt, in her book: Rejection: Healing a Wounded Heart says:

“Nothing cuts to the core as deeply as rejection. Even death, while heartbreaking doesn’t leave such lasting wounds!”

Another area I think is prevalent among Christians but appears as humility is looking to ministry to find value. Each week, my husband and I lead (whatever we call it as we are not officially leaders) and host, a community group. Even in this, God has used this to show me where true leadership comes from. When we see Jesus over and over again not making a point to inflate or even tell who he is and yet he had all the influence, He is God for crying out loud! But as I grow in influence, because of who I am in Christ, Christ in me, I continue to be reminded that we live in a performance based society. We crave affirmation from man. Being performance based driven isn’t a new societal issue rather it began in the Garden. We want to be seen, noticed and rewarded. We like to hear how great we are. But in God’s kingdom that isn’t really what fills our spiritual beings.

I believe the only way to be healed of rejection and truly feel seen is by seeing God!

Christianity isn’t what “I do” for God. We don’t read our Bible for the sake of reading, we read the Bible to see God! Ironically though, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In the times that I receive accolades for sharing a word of wisdom, or answered prayers as a result of interceding or helping in a time of need, I remember how frail man is. I remember that one day they may be thanking me and the next I could fail them in some way and they reject me. Grace is free but grace is messy! Love is messy!

I pray we are healed from the wounds of rejection. And that we are set free from the patterns of thinking that lead to more rejection. Lastly, I pray that we see God every time we open our Bibles and press in until we do; that the Holy Spirit would enlighten the eyes of our heart and we would be sanctified and made whole and complete until the day of Christ Jesus because we know we are accepted by God, Amen! (Ephesians 1)

 

Post

Comfort – 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

Leave a reply

I found this verse so fitting for my day and the last untitled post (a result of the day I am having) I just sent out. I never read this version but this just really hit it on the head so I am sharing!

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement.

Cool tree
Post

It’s All an Illusion

Leave a reply

I remember wise counsel I received at the first job I took upon getting out the military. I was in a vulnerable place in my life for different reasons making this even more memorable.  “You see all this,” he says, while pointing with his finger in a circle at all the items decorating each co-workers desk, “this is all an illusion, it’s not real.” Being the analytical person I am, I chewed on this for days. It came to my mind again as I began writing about something that happened the other day with a friend.

This friendship has lots of history. I love and care for her though. She needed something from me. What I was able to give wasn’t how or what she expected from me. Through this situation and others I am learning about healthy relationships. God is doing for me what I can’t do in and of myself – exposing patterns of thinking and behaving that have been familiar, comfortable places for as long as I can remember.

Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:5)

When all this happened with her I felt manipulated and angry. Immediately, I remembered something I read in a book about how to recognize unhealthy, self serving relationships and what steps to take to have healthy, loving ones. Of course it always begins with self and that is where I started. At the point that I felt manipulated and angry I started praying. Once my thoughts began to align with Christ, instead of, “who does she think she is” and “what is her problem” and “I am done with this friendship,” I asked the Lord how to respond to her. So I responded to her in the form of question. The question remained unanswered by her, which I thought was probably a good sign. It reminds of the times that Jesus asked people questions; a word fitly spoken is precious (Psalm 25:11, my paraphrase) and that I prayed… that it would cause her to ask the Lord to check her motives.

The heart is deceitful and wicked above all else, who can know it. (Jeremiah 17:9)

Making matters worse, the next day came and my friend and I were faced with yet another situation, so I was careful and slow to respond. Not to mention I had other things going on that day so I needed some quiet time to work through it. I couldn’t get that quiet time until I was finished with those things, of which she was aware of; making her demands of me why I felt manipulated in the first place. At that point, I was certain the unanswered question I asked the day before would have an impact on what was now happening and it did.  I struggled greatly with how she didn’t see this as a problem.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable and keeps no record of wrong.  (1 Corinthians 13: 4, 5 – NLT)

It was one of those situations where confrontation had to happen, because a kiss from the enemy is deceitful but faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6). And so our conversation began. When she told me that I wasn’t there for her and what I should have done my first thought was to get defensive (unhealthy behavior) rooted in pride (unhealthy thinking). But I stopped myself. I remembered that friends will disappoint and wound! The only one truly faithful is God. We hear and know that in our head but until faced with the dark night of the soul and all that’s left is God it’s not revealed knowledge (wisdom). When we remove hope in people and situations and make God our hope, it frees us to experience mutual, loving relationships.

Her response was one that may be yours now: “But God uses people, you do have a role as my friend, what about the body of Christ, sisters and brothers holding each other’s hands up in the battle.” Of course, this doesn’t excuse us from the call to love. But when we don’t or can’t meet an expectation this doesn’t necessarily mean we haven’t loved. So what do we do when someone hasn’t done what we expected or thought should happen? Therein is the main point of this post.

When the Israelite’s demanded a king from Samuel while lying on his death bed and Samuel knew it wasn’t a good idea, Samuel prayed to the Father first. God told him to give them what they want, appeal to what they think they need (based on what they were seeing – the circumstances, or the appearance of what seemed to be a better idea) and anointed Saul as king.

They ran and brought him (Saul) from there and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. (1 Samuel 10:13)

But what do we know in hindsight about Saul – he went crazy, he was probably just as unfit emotionally and spiritually as Samuel’s sons, who Samuel originally set over the people to judge, not rule or govern as kings do. God’s intent was that His law would be their guide and seen as the “ruler” to live by.

We also know in hindsight all through the books of I & II Samuel and I & II Kings that when we look to man or circumstances (what we see) rather than God, more often than not we end up more disappointed. On the contrary, I think God’s intent as we see in the New Testament (grace and love rather than law and government) is to learn how to trust God in people, and let people serve as the means to come alongside or to affirm what God has done or said in any particular situation. This surely looks different, and frees us, but most importantly keeps God as God and people as people.

God doesn’t want to be our last resort when we find ourselves in dark times.

So after I said to my friend that I can’t always “be there” for her when “she needs me” and she responded that that’s all the church as ever been to her, “not there for her” I remembered the times felt disappointed by church folk, I remembered “the dark nights of the soul,” and that all we have is Him, and that was what I told her. There was brief silence. She said something else in sarcasm, making it clear that she still wasn’t happy and felt that I should apologize or acknowledge my insensitivity to her need and so I said nothing and our conversation ended.

This brings me to the second point, the first being that Love is what’s real and remains and second is the illusion of control (remember the friend at my first job after the military). The control we think we have will get us every time, our needs were meant to draw us to the Father (just go back to the Garden). And because we are created with emotions, our emotions or feelings, if not anchored in truth will cause great trouble. Brian Borgman in his book, Feeling and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life, puts it best:

As we explore how to obey Gods commands that involve emotions, we do not begin with the emotions or an emotional experience; we begin with the mind and the truth. (Chapter 5)

I have been told that I’m more pragmatic and while in some cases I find that very challenging, especially being a woman, but in this situation with my friend I am glad I lean that way. I think it keeps me grounded in the midst of emotional situations; and empathy (my first strength according to Strength Finders test) is my greatest ally, although at times it seems the enemy, it keeps me sensitive to those around me.

Closing this post seems impossible because there is yet no conclusion to the situation with my friend. While we work out our salvation and sanctify our emotions through truth, I am thinking she and I may need to revisit the things said. Its hard work, familiar patterns of thinking don’t just go away once were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Rather as our identity in Christ is revealed to us, we began to recognize patterns of wrong thinking a little quicker, and as a result and through the Spirit working in us are able to respond rather than defend… but they don’t just go away.

I have been praying these verses for those close to me, try reading it out loud, its powerful:

I pray that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that we would walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins.

This verse goes onto say which I think is the most powerful way to end this post: He (that is Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him! (Colossians 1: 9-16) This truth girds and sustains me in times like this!