Faithfully Thinking: This Isn’t What I Pictured

This weekend I heard a sermon entitled “This Isn’t What I Pictured” and, boy, was it spot on for where I am in my life right now. I certainly did not picture my life where it currently is, which sounds entirely negative, but isn’t. There are definitely some negative places I’ve found myself, but there have also been some positive surprises along the way.

This sermon brought home for me that sometimes God wants to use us, bless us or grow us in a way we didn’t picture. The problem is not, as the pastor said this weekend, our situation, but that we pictured it differently and because our imagination of what life would be does not line up with what we see, we are stressed. Sometimes we must have faith in what we do not see, which, for me, is the hardest thing to do.

Maybe we thought we’d be a missionary to a faraway country, but instead, our mission field is at home, teaching our children. Maybe we thought God would use as to minister to recovering addicts, but instead, we are ministering to recovering perfectionists.

I know I didn’t picture being 42 and staying at home with my children, homeschooling, without a career to call my own, but it’s where I am and where I am trying to bloom (though I see myself as wilting). And, actually, I’m enjoying this one, even though I didn’t picture it.

I also didn’t picture being 42 with almost no close friends. I thought that I’d be comparing notes with a good friend about our now teenagers, but instead, I’m out on my own, so to speak. I’m not on my own really, of course, because God is still directing and guiding me even during what I see as unexpected turns in my life.

Even Christian often don’t see God in the negatives of life. I know I don’t and I was raised in the church. I rarely that what appears negative to me as something God is leading me through for a greater purpose. Honestly, there have been a couple of situations that were thrust on me that I felt, and still feel, were completely unnecessary.

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I still have trouble seeing why certain situations were allowed by God. The key for me has been realizing it’s not all about me. When I was asking God years ago “why did you let this happen to me,” I would sometimes hear in my heart “It’s not about you.” Even though it wasn’t “about me” it affected me, though, and I often wonder if the same outcomes could have been reached or lessons learned without all the unsolicited pain. 

Often we see pain, loss, or change as a punishment from God, instead of protection. Sometimes God takes away to protect us and sometimes that removal causes pain we did not ask for or expect.

God is always there whether we feel him or not. He’s there in the pain, the hurt, the life lessons.

The worship song, “Here Again” says: “Not for a minute was I forsaken. The Lord is in this place.”

When we feel like God is not in our situation, that’s where faith comes in.

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Do you know how hard it is for me to write that? I am at the worst at feeling like God is in a situation when the situation does not feel right or good to me.

The worship song “Waymaker” says: “Even when I don’t feel it you’re working. Even when I don’t see it, you’re working.”

Even when we don’t think God is in our situation, he is and he’s working and he’s changing things and he is for us. Even when we don’t see him, we can hear his voice. That’s a hard thing to trust in, isn’t it? The unseen.

Sometimes we can’t trust because we can’t hear him through all the noise in our lives – social media, other people’s opinions of us, or our own perceptions of what life was supposed to be at this point.

God is there for us even when our friends are no longer our friends.

God is there for us even when the texts or calls go unanswered.

God is there when we don’t get the job.

God is there when the bank account is dry.

God is there for us when those closest to us reject us, betray us, turn us away.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that is a picture that will never change, even when our lives are not what we pictured.


To see the sermon which inspired this post:

To hear the songs that I quoted here:


Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at Alamy.com and Lightstock.com.

Faithfully Thinking: Is it true God only blesses you if you give money to the church? Can God be bought?

I was listening to a sermon Sunday and the sermon was good until the guest pastor got a little too excited in his bid to convince people to give to the year-end offering the church holds and said “Are you not getting a breakthrough (the new Christian buzzword, in case you don’t know) or aren’t seeing the blessings you think you should? Maybe it’s because you aren’t tithing (In Christianese this means giving to the church) what you should be.”

He went on to suggest people need to give money to the church or they will remain stuck in their negative situations. This rubbed me the wrong way, of course, not because I don’t think we should give money to the church. On the contrary, I do believe in tithing and I do believe that God provides us with our money and we should, therefore, give it back to him. What I don’t like is when pastors link that giving to receiving blessing or answers to prayers, from God.

Are they suggesting God can be bought? That God can be manipulated into doing what we want because we give money to his church?. And is it really his church if pastors are telling people they can only be blessed if they pay cash (or they accept VISA and MasterCard too.)?

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It reminds me of these clickbait emails I get from a well-known pastor with subject titles like “Do this one thing and your prayers will be answered.” Or “Five steps to get your healing.” I never even open those emails. That whole vending machine mentality, as I’ve said before, drives me crazy.  It’s like: “Slide this ritual in and get an answered prayer out.”

Is this really what Christianity has become? Some vapid, self-serving, misleading lip service to get clicks and social media rankings? Does God really only answer our prayers if we pray this way or worship that way or give our money to a specific church? I don’t remember reading in the Bible that God only provides if you write a check to a well-known, internationally reaching church, though I do feel giving to the church (as a whole, not a specific one necessarily) is important, especially in a day and age of such absurdity and craziness going on.

My big worry is someone hearing what this pastor said and starting to believe that if they give all their money to the church their cancer will be healed, their husband will stop cheating, or their father won’t be an alcoholic anymore. What happens when their cancer progresses instead? What happens when their husband tell them he wants a divorce? What happens when their father dies in a drunk driving accident? Despite the money they gave.

Will they feel they didn’t work enough, do enough, spend enough to have their situation changed?

What message is that sending? “Come all you who labor and are heavy burdened…but bring your wallets because only then will God give you rest.”? I’m pretty sure that’s not what Matthew 11:28-30 says.

It says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

His burden is light. He doesn’t want to put more burden on you. He wants to help make what you carry through life easier. So why is the church heaping more burdens, in the form of guilt, on its people?

The Church preaches that Jesus died on the cross for everyone and the salvation that his sacrifice provided us is free. They’ll say that you don’t have to do anything to earn that salvation, to receive it, or God the Father’s love, but in the same breath, they’ll hinge your healing, your life change, your unanswered prayers on whether or not you gave money to the church. Something about that doesn’t sit right with me. There has to be a better way to explain that the church needs financial support, so it can continue to help those within and outside its walls without attaching guilt to it.

Oh, wait, that was it. Just say that. Just say: “We need your financial support to help reach those in need and spread the gospel. Give what you can, when you can. Prayerfully consider what you can give and give what you feel God wants you to.”

Remove the guilt. Remove the contingencies. Remove the false teaching that God will not bless you if you don’t give to the church during their once a year giving session. Remove the month-long sermon series to sway listeners to give you their money. It smacks more of manipulation than honesty to me and many others.

Don’t manipulate your church into giving money by acting like you can manipulate God. Don’t lay down little pieces of bread of life-supporting goodness in your sermon just so you can tie it all up with a reminder that next week is the week to open your pocketbooks.

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The one good thing the pastor who spoke this weekend said was to give only what you can give – though he ruined it by adding whatever was given needed to be a sacrifice, which to me still sounds like he’s suggesting church members should give beyond their means if they want their blessing or their “breakthrough.”

We, as a church, need to stop hinging blessings and breakthrough on performance.

We need to stop hinging healing on writing a check.

We need to stop acting like we can buy God off.

No, we shouldn’t stop telling the congregation the church needs them to give and that God does want them to give so the church can continue its work. But when people start believing their illness, their loss, their difficult situation is based on what they didn’t do or didn’t say, we have a communication problem.

I don’t think that’s the message God wanted pastors to pass on — that they didn’t do enough or weren’t enough to be healed, to be saved.

God does love us and he does want to provide for us and it delights him to answer our prayers but we don’t have to do anything for him to do that.

We do not have to be saved by our works because Jesus already did the work for us.

Give to your church what you can give, support their ministries and make giving money a regular act, but never feel that if you are stuck in a situation it is because you didn’t give or do enough.

God never asks us to do or be enough because he is enough through us.

Faithfully Thinking: God isn’t a vending machine

Recently I’ve noticed a couple of things about non-Christian, and even Christians, views of God. Mainly, the view that  “If I didn’t get what I wanted there is no God.”

I’ve held this view in the past, so believe me I understand it. What I don’t always understand as well are the people who don’t follow God but then put in their orders for what they want in life and expect them to fall from the sky simply because they asked.  They deny God, or curse God, almost every day of their life, but when they need something, suddenly He’s real and if they don’t feel those prayers are answered, then He doesn’t exist again.

Yes, the Bible does tell us to submit our petitions to God but it does not say He works like a vending machine.  We don’t put our coins of “good faith” into it and pull a lever and wait.

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I know of a person (I don’t know them well, even though they are related to my family) who posts photos all over social media along the lines of “God says you’re going to have a miracle today” or “God says you will be blessed today” or “God says today all you’ve gone through will be worth it.” This is coming from a person who lives their life for them. They base decisions based on what will benefit them the most.

They don’t live their life as someone who believes in God until they want something. This is a person who texted me the morning they were having surgery asking for prayer the morning of it. I sent a prayer over the phone. The surgery went well. Two months later I never heard from the person again and that was over a year ago.White Red Beauty Quotes Pinterest Graphic

Cha-ching. Prayer submitted, prayer received, move on until the person needs something from God again, I guess. I don’t know that for sure, because only God knows the personal relationship between himself and his children, but it is how it seems from where I stand.

For my own sanity, I’ve made a decision to no longer pick up the phone when people like this call, looking for me to support their vending machine mentality. For a long time, I was the vending machine for a lot of people – needed a place to stay, pull lever; money, pull lever; need someone to watch the kids, pull lever. I finally put the “out of order” sign on the machine and walked away. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard from these people since.

Now my goal is not to look to God to be my vending machine; to practice what I preach.

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God does want us to submit our requests to Him, but he also wants a relationship with us. He wants to give us the desires of our heart, but sometimes He knows those desires are not what is best for us. Ouch. I didn’t even like writing that because I have some prayers submitted these days that are not being answered and it hurts. I don’t understand why I’m in the places I’m in (I mean the places I didn’t get myself stuck in, of course), but God does and one day He will reveal it all for His glory. That’s what I have to try my best to remember even as I struggle with the why questions.

Today I heard a sermon and the pastor encouraged those listening to say throughout their day, as a prayer to God: “You are good. And you are with me.” We need to remember that He is with us, even when we don’t know why we are in the place we are, or maybe we know how we got to a place in our life, but we don’t know how to fix it.

He is good.

He is with us.

But he is not our vending machine of desires.

When you are in the darkness keep your mouth shut.

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Here is some advice I could have used before I rambled too much on my blog about this period of loneliness I’ve been in.

At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…Watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet…When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. — Oswald Chambers

My favorite line of this quote, which I first saw in the Jan Karon book I’m currently reading, is “Watch where God puts you into darkness and when you are there keep your mouth shut.”

Keep your mouth shut.

Ouch.

That one hurt because I know I haven’t done it.

I certainly plan to read this quote over a few hundred times and chew on it for a bit. It was very timely for me and interesting because I almost didn’t read from that book due to being too tired.

If you feel so moved, tell me what you think of this quote. Does it fit where you are now or where you once were? Let me know in the comments.

 

It’s not all just ‘in my head’. It’s in my uterus. But thank you for dismissing me.

I once had a couple of people (who most likely were well-meaning) tell me the anxiety I had, the worry, the exhaustion, the muscle aches, the overall body weakness – everything I had – was in my head and due to my doing the Christian thing all wrong. I didn’t pray enough. I didn’t pray right. I didn’t rebuke right. I didn’t “take authority” over the demons attacking me right.

So, listen, I know that part of the anxiety I deal with is ‘in my head’ but guess what – the anxiety I deal with is also in my uterus. It’s hormone related. How do I know this? Because one week out of the month I barely have anxiety, I’m not exhausted, my muscles don’t hurt and I don’t feel weak all over. The rest of the month I’m a total mess. It’s definitely a pattern and definitely follows a “cycle”, like a menstrual cycle – get it?

For two weeks out of the month, which, yes, means almost the entire month, I am weak, I have brain fog, my muscles hurt, I’m severely dizzy, I have heart palpitations, my legs feel heavy, my skin feels weird and my brain tells me I’m going to die at any moment or my family is going to be taken away in the blink of an eye. I also feel like I can’t eat. I feel like I have morning sickness when I don’t. It’s a nightmare and I become agoraphobic. Leaving the house is a battle.

Every day is a constant mental battle. During those weeks I am a shell of who I used to be. I am afraid to take photography jobs because I don’t want to pass out or have a low blood sugar moment. I’m afraid to take my children anywhere. I’m afraid to live my life and many days I just don’t.  I don’t do what I want to do because I know one of the weird physical symptoms I have is going to limit me. I’m afraid even when I know I shouldn’t be afraid.

But this week? This is a good week.

This week I got up without anxiety gnawing at my gut. This week I went to an anniversary dinner with my husband and I didn’t think I was going to pass out at the restaurant. This week I took my dog to the vet with my kids and didn’t think I couldn’t breathe or I’d pass out or my legs wouldn’t be able to hold me up.

I don’t understand why I have these symptoms one week and not another. I am almost certain it’s a hormone thing because of some other signs, which I will not share here (I know you’re thankful for that!). I am also almost certain it’s a hormone thing because I’ve met women online who are having the same symptoms

“Go to a doctor!” a family member likes to tell me, (which is perfectly fine advice, don’t get me wrong.)

I did. The doctor looked at me and said: “You’re too young for that..see you in six months.” So right now I am on my own to figure it all out and I am finding things that are helping, some days anyhow, so for that, I’m grateful, but on the days I can’t seem to control it all, I wish I had people in my life, beyond my mom, who had taken the time to understand instead of simply dismissing me as “not enough.”

While I don’t know what exactly causes the hormonal rises and falls and haven’t yet pinpointed a definitive way to manage the swings, what I do know is the worst thing that has happened to me is being told it’s all in my head.

If I had cancer, maybe I would have been treated differently, and not like I was less than for battling these physical symptoms along with the mental. If I had a heart issue, maybe I would have been treated differently and not looked down on. I don’t know and I don’t want to find out.

But because I am a Christian and I have anxiety that is not all from Satan and not all from me being “weak and faithless” I am not worth the time of many other so-called Christians.

If you are a Christian and you have anxiety – don’t let anyone tell you that it’s because you’re not a good enough Christian. Don’t let them tell you that you don’t pray enough, you’re not faithful enough, you don’t rebuke enough. Some of those things may be true, at times, but they aren’t always true. Sometimes there is something physical going on in your body creating these symptoms.

Trust in God to walk you through the physical and the mental trials facing you and tune out the Christians, (some of them well-meaning, with no ill intent) who are telling you that you are experiencing these trials because you are doing something wrong. Maybe you do need to pray more, read your Bible more or tell the spirits of infirmity and anxiety and depression to get away from you, but your physical ailments should never be referred to as a punishment from God.

Maybe you are doing something right by holding on to God as he leads you down a difficult, challenging, heartbreaking path that will eventually prosper you, not harm you.

 

 

Maybe you should pay attention when a friend starts posting depressed social media updates after all

This weekend a person in our small county killed three of his family members and then himself. He’d been posting depressing cries for help for more than a month on his Facebook account and people who knew him said he was suffering from PTSD, possibly from his time in the service.

A veteran suffering from PTSD in our area is not new and it’s also not unusual to be reading yet another story about one of them killing themselves or someone else. Almost as common as the obits of young people dying of heroin overdose in our area are the obits of military veterans, of all ages, dying at their own hands.

Comments about this latest case ranged from “what a freaking psycho, I don’t care if he had PTSD or not” to “why didn’t someone help him?” and “how can I help someone who has PTSD to keep this from happening?”

There was a lot of hurt, a lot of anger and even more ignorance about mental health showcased on social media following the murders and suicide. I think one of the most common misconceptions about mental illnesses like depression is that the depressed person is always going to show they are depressed and they are always going to reach out for help, before they do something drastic. Depressed people don’t seek help most of the time, period. What they might do is try to send messages to those around them to let them know how down they are getting. They throw out a lifeline, but many times those lines are never picked up

Hurt people hurt people. Period. The first time I heard that phrase I was angry. I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to think about how or why the person who hurt me was hurting inside. My exact words were “screw that. I don’t care how hurt they are, it never excuses what they did.” And it’s true. Being hurt doesn’t excuse you from hurting others. What that phrase does is explain that people aren’t always simple jerks when they do something that devastates another person. It’s more complex and deep than the person simply being a horrible person.

I also notice in this world that when someone is labeled as “depressed” or “needing meds” it seems to coincide with the feeling they aren’t worth dealing with, worth associating with, worth reaching out to. I guess we feel that if we can’t “fix” a person then we shouldn’t even bother dealing with them at all.

I can’t tell you how many times I posted on Facebook while depressed, hoping someone would pay attention and call me. Was it sad? Yes? Did I feel like a loser trying to get attention? Yes. Did anyone ever call and check on me? No. I sometimes got a comment of “so sorry you’re feeling that way…” but I can not remember even once a friend picking up the phone and saying “What is going on? How can I help?”

The bigger question – was I ever suicidal? No! Thank God, I never have been. Never. I can assure you of this. I’m a Christian but I still fear death, especially if I did it myself. I’d doubt God would smile on that. But if I had been suicidal, there wasn’t one person who would have stopped me. Why? I don’t know. Because they didn’t think I really would? Because they didn’t want to deal with me? Because – they really don’t care if I am here or not? I don’t know. What I do know is that it seems people don’t care until the person is gone and then they feel guilty, when they might have been able to say something before they read the obit or the news story.

Certainly this guy who killed his family was sending messages on social media in the months leading up to the murders and his suicide. And it was clear by comments made after he died that most of the people in his life wrote him off as a freak and never tried to actually help him.

Comments made on the man’s social media page after the crime are why the depressed and anxious continue to live their lives in the dark no matter how many celebrities suggest they “reach out” and “seek help.”

Help?

Or judgment?

Help?

Or mocking?

Help?

Or being told you’re not a good Christian because you’re depressed?

Most of the time depressed people, especially Christians, will not seek help because we know we won’t get it. We will be handed Bible verses to show us we are sinning. Pressure will be placed on our shoulders with statements like “I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with your life through this.” Well, that is just great. Not only do we have to survive a traumatic life event but we also have to somehow use it in the future to help others.

Maybe waiting until the crisis is a little more under control before declaring that the person in pain will eventually share their pain so one day the rest of the Christian community can dissect it and judge it like you’re doing.

Christians who deal with depression are tired of the stigma, tired of being looked down on and really tired of being ignored and walked away from. We know the authority we have over the dark. We get it and we try our best to wield that authority but some days we are tired and other Christians reminding us that our weakness is a sin because the Bible commands us to always rejoice and never be anxious is simply not helping.

Maybe if someone had paid attention to that young man’s pleas for help – no matter how subtle they seemed (though I don’t think letting people know in a Facebook post that a murderer doesn’t go around telling everyone of their plans, they just do it, is subtle.) he and the rest of his family would be alive today. But then again, maybe they wouldn’t because as much as I hate to be judged, I can’t imagine judging the family that remains. Most people who are depressed don’t hurt others or even themselves.

I’m sure that man’s family could have never imagined he’d do what he did and they may have even tried many times to get him help. In fact, I have a feeling they begged him to seek help many times. A person has to want to seek help.

It’s sad to think, though, that maybe one reason he didn’t seek that help was the fear of being treated just like he was in death – like a “loser” who “couldn’t get it together,” and “didn’t deserve to live.”

Why praying for the president – no matter who he or she is – doesn’t make you a bad person

You know the United States has reached a new level of crazy when Christians start flipping out on other Christians for praying for another person.

It’s been happening for three years but I saw it again a couple of Sundays ago when a pastor in Virginia prayed for President Donald Trump. I mean – what a jerk this pastor is. What kind of pastor prays for another human being? His church should be taken away from him. It sounds absurd right? But see, we are in the most hyper-partisan time in history. It started under Barack Obama’s last four years and blew up when Trump was elected. Hatred gripped this country and while fingers pointed at Trump for the reason, half the country followed right along with the man, following the example they said he had set and shooting hate right back at him.

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I’m not sure how some who hate Trump think they are better than him when they act just like they say he acts. Martin Luther King Jr said it best: “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Does that mean you should show love to someone you think is filled with so much hate? I hate to tell you but if you are a Christian, it actually does and I don’t like that any more than you do. Still, it’s what Christ did for us and does for us every day. He looks at our darkness and our hate and he loves us anyhow – hoping to draw it out of our hearts.

Just because a person prays for the president of a country does not mean they endorse all that he says or does. Five or six years ago I was at a National Day of Prayer service and the leaders of our county, state and country were prayed for. A separate prayer was given for then President Obama and it was not a condescending “Oh Lord, fix this idiot,” prayer even though some in the crowd may have disagreed with his policies. The prayer was heartfelt and asked God to give him wisdom and to protect him. It didn’t stop at political lines, just as it hadn’t for other presidents that were prayed for over the years.

Are there many Christians who support a politician and never mention their bad attributes? Yep. Indeed there are, just as there are those who aren’t Christians who also look over some glaring bad points of their candidates. Are there some Christians who act like our presidents are actually Christians because they say something that sounds Christian in one breath and swear in the next? Yep. And I don’t agree with that.

What I do agree with is praying for, over and with our presidents. In the Bible it actually calls for us to do so:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 2 Timothy 1.

I mean, come on, supporter or not – look at the current guy – he needs the prayer. We all need prayer. We are called to pray over our leaders even as we struggle to respect them.

As Christians, I hope we will pray for our president – this one and the future ones to come. It’s what God wants us to do and there are times we must do what we don’t want to for something greater than political ideology.

The state of our world today

I was very anxious about several situations the other night, feeling restless and bitter about the actions of others, in my world, in the world in general. I knew I should be reading the Bible instead of scrolling through social media and seething so I left my phone behind and grabbed my Bible when I went into the backyard to watch the dog. Isaiah has been bookmarked since Easter when I was reading about the prophecy of Christ’s death and resurrection.

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When I read Isaiah 65: 1-5, a few pages after that prophecy (Isaiah 53: 1-12), I felt like I was reading a message for today.

“I was sought by those who did not ask for Me;

I was found by those who did not seek Me.

I said, “Here I am, here I am,”

To a nation that was not called by My name.

I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,

Who walk in a way that is not good,

According to their own thoughts;

A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face;

Who sacrifice in gardens,

And burn incense on altars of brick;

Who sit among the graves,

And spend the night in the tombs;

Who eat swine’s flesh,

And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

Who say, ‘Keep to yourself,

Do not come near me,

For I am holier than you!”

These are smoke in My nostrils,

A fire that burns all day.­”

Isaiah 65: 1-5

Things aren’t great in our world right now. We have a lot of hatred, a lot of horrible things being said by people who are supposed to be leaders. We are at a crossroads in our nation and sometimes the choices we have to make are frightening, but none of this is new to God. There has always been upheaval in the world.

There have always been people who have denied him and even spit in His face, figuratively and literally. There is nothing new under the sun for God. He created this world, He gave humans free will, He knows our past and our future. He knows the time He will send his son to gather us home.

Sometimes it is hard for me to remember all this when babies are being torn from their mother’s wombs and people say they aren’t babies they are blobs.

It’s hard to remember when babies and adults are dying at the borders of nations, not only our own, looking for a better life, but politicians won’t agree on how to help them.

It’s hard to remember when so many children are lost and looking for their identities, impatient to grow up and state too soon who and what they are.

But even in those moments, God is here.

I don’t know why He doesn’t pluck us all out of this confusion and set us straight, stop all the sadness and horror from happening in the world; it’s something I argue with Him about often. What I do know is one day it will all make sense and one day those who deny Him won’t be able to anymore.

Faithfully thinking: I may not think, speak or do things like you but God can still use me

“To be honest, I don’t know why I even write anymore,” I thought to myself one morning. “I don’t know much about anything and I’m full of very little wisdom. I’m a mom and a wife and I take photos for myself and that’s about it. I’ve never written a book, I don’t have a thriving business and last school year I was called a bad parent and it makes me try too hard at this blasted homeschooling thing.”

Cleaning the house? Don’t get me started. Actually, if you did get me started I would be completely overwhelmed and would end up in a fetal position crying and still nothing would get cleaned.

Cooking? I try my best but I often find myself imagining that cardboard with salt would taste better than my dinners.

Parenting? Last week my daughter bit her brother in the shoulder because he was sitting in the chair she wanted and my son is addicted to Minecraft. I have a huge “Fear of Missing Out ” (FOMO) problem but it’s mainly focused on my children because I already know I’m missing out and I’m so tired every single day of my life I don’t even care.

In other words, I’m a mess, or so I feel most days.

My one comfort is knowing I’m not alone, that I may be a train wreck but somewhere in this world there is another mom in another house feeling as inadequate as me.

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And despite how we feel, the truth is we are loved, we are worthy and we can be used by God even when others have written us off. I express doubts often and recently, after three weeks of trials stacked one on top of another on top of our family, I tossed out a few words of doubt on Facebook about whether or not God even cares for us.

I received an admonishment from a fellow Christian who told me: “Repent of your thinking” because nothing comforts a person dealing with trials by telling them they’re falling short in their Christian walk.

Those scolding comments are something that tends to make me pause and decide I’m not worthy to talk about faith or Christ, wonder why I even thought I should, and lead me to withdrawal within myself and vow to keep my inferior opinions to myself. The truth is, though, we are all on our own journey and on that journey we are going to stumble more than once.

DSC_5409Maybe God can use me even if I have doubts and I express them and I say things that don’t fit your idea of what a “good Christian girl” should say or should be. Maybe I show my weak moments when you hide yours but that does not exclude me from being used by God.

Maybe I show my weak moments when you hide yours but that does not exclude me from being used by God.

Those comments that don’t sound “Biblical” to you or don’t fit your personal narrative, those comments I throw out there in a moment of frustration or under the heavy burden of trial after trial after trial in a short amount of time, don’t dismiss me from God’s list of people who can be used for His Kingdom.

As I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say in a recent sermon: “There is nothing wrong with you that isn’t right with God.”

If you’re like me and feel your imperfect attitude disqualifies you from speaking your feelings about faith and God, let’s remind each other God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called and maybe what some of us are called to do is let our messy moments show so others know they’re not alone.

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