Garden of My Heart


Testimony time! So, last night, I got wrecked. I mean, the Lord really really worked on me. So for you to understand what this was all about, let me go back a few years.

For off and on as long as I can remember, I’ve battled with depression, insecurity, I can’t be good enough, I’m not saved, and who knows what else. Well, it was mostly gone for awhile, until a couple months ago or so. It’s really hard for me to pinpoint all of the details, so I’ll just stick to what’s relevant to this story.

Anyway, lately I struggled with those insecurities yet again. And even found myself holding grudges against people, for little to no reason at all. I believed that no one really liked me, and I had fear that if I did one little thing wrong, people wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore. I was striving for perfection. 

This past week was our youth group’s cabin trip, and while I wasn’t technically delivered from anything, I could tell things were in motion. See, up to this point I hadn’t linked any of this together. But issues that sprout up can often have the same root. You can deal with plant, but without killing the root, another one will simply take its place.

Anyway, after we got back yesterday, I just felt horrible. Like, how did I get to this place? A place where I had little faith. Where I was suspicious of people’s motives. I also realized I had pride and unforgiveness. Where did all of this come from? 

I then realized I had to repent. Of all of it. I had become more me oriented. I was so consumed with my own problems, I forgot how good God is, and how we all have problems and issues we go through. 

After I repented, I felt better. Being a Wednesday night, it was close to church time. During worship I really felt His presence. Then a couple students from the trip gave their testimony, and really shook me. Look at how much I had in common. And look at how much I was just looking at myself. 

When we went to the back for youth, I heard testimonies. Things I would never have thought people in our youth group would be going through. Even people that had been there for years. 

I was being chiseled away more and more after every single testimony. Finally we had prayer, and that’s when I fully broke down. All I can explain it as is it was simply wonderful. 

Then I had another revelation. All those years I was listening to the wrong voice. The voice that said I was nothing. That I should be depressed. That no one cared about me. That I should be insecure. And everything else. 

Satan will always try to get us to listen, but we can’t give him a voice in our lives. He will always try to cause us to stumble, but we must look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. 

We have to kill those roots that don’t belong in the garden of our heart. We have to cast down those thoughts that are not of God. We are Overcomers, Sons and Daughters of the One True King. 

If you’re struggling with anything similar to my story, or anything at all, give it all to God. For His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. 

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Reality

Finally. Finally. I am finally coming to a place I have wanted to be at for a long time. A place where I’m comfortable with myself and the people around me. A place where I love God, and love others as I love myself. A place where I don’t question if people say what they mean. A place where I feel loved, not because I hear it more often, but because I don’t question the sincerity behind those three words. When I hear it I simply believe it. I accept it. I cherish it.

Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s never been more true to me. I always see things more clearly after they’ve gone.

I now see that the reason I had a season of time that I no longer felt love was not because love was absent, but because I simply didn’t believe it was there. I heard it all the time, but I didn’t believe it. I didn’t accept it, therefore, it did not exist to me.

When I feel lonely, again, it’s not because I don’t have friends, but because I don’t believe I have friends. And that’s shocking to me. How can something exist and you not believe that it does?

Why do we watch television? Why do we have video games, novels, music, anything to take us out of the reality we’re living? We do to escape reality, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it’s a good thing to forget your problems, if only for a short time. If there is to be a problem, it will come when we stay out of reality for too long.

We shouldn’t downplay the troubles of the world, for if we “Bury our heads in the sand”, nothing will be done to combat them.

What is reality? Well, google puts it like this: “Reality, the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” Simple right? It’s simply the world as it really exists. Not what we want it to be, or what we work for it to be. It is what it is, really. We shouldn’t downplay the troubles of the world, for if we “Bury our heads in the sand”, nothing will be done to combat them.

Growing up, there were things I didn’t believe, or accept, even though they were fact. Why is that? Only for the fact that I didn’t like it. I didn’t like reality, so I made up my own reality. It could have been anything, from not listening to my parents in what was best for me, all the way to not watching the news because I couldn’t bear to acknowledge the evil in the world. I still believe in seeing the good in the world, but have come to realize you cannot find a solution until you acknowledge there is a problem. And of course, it wasn’t something that was a major part of my life, but it was there. What kid doesn’t daydream, or live oblivious to so many things?

I suppose that’s what happens when you grow up, or at least it should be. We find out so many things that, as a child, we couldn’t understand, or could even care less about. As we grow, we should mature. We should obtain wisdom, and as Christians, we should be continually drawing closer to Christ. And as we do, we must allow Him to continually change us into being more and more like Him.

So just as I have learned so so much just in the past couple of years, about God, about myself, and about others, I cannot wait for the mysteries that await to be unearthed. The questions to be answered. The life to be lived.

 

Seasons


Spring is in full effect, and before long we’ll be cranking the ac and going swimming just trying to beat the summer heat. It’s amazing how we can go from one season to the next, not really knowing what it will bring, but at the same time, we have a good idea just from previous years.

We as people also go through seasons, trials, times when we’re both dealing with and learning something knew. The important thing to remember is that no matter what it is, we can get through it, and learn truths at the same time.

I feel that I’ve entered a new season recently. It feels like the physical season we’re in now, spring. I feel a newness. A freshness in perspective and attitude. A peace and contentment I haven’t had in awhile. It’s God of course, but it’s also that He’s been changing the way I see things.

Much of the doubt and fear from previous seasons is dissipating. I’m learning more everyday to accept who I am in Christ. Who He has called me to be. And I’m also learning not to listen to the lies of the enemy that I believe I was bound to.

You see, sometimes you don’t even know you’re bound. Because it’s there for so long, you don’t notice it. And if you do, you think it’s normal. But it’s not! When you come out of it, you realize a freedom and peace that wasn’t there before. Then when you look back, you can’t recognize your old self.

When I look back at thoughts, ideas, perspectives from my past, I am shocked. There are so many things that have changed from then to now. For the better, thankfully. 

If there’s one thing to learn in life, it’s to be comfortable being yourself. How else can you serve God and others if you’re constantly looking at yourself? 

From here on out, I hope to be the best I can be, to live bold, and fearless. To put every bit of faith I can muster in Him. And in the end, hopefully it will be enough. 

We all go through seasons, some good, some bad. But it’s how you go through it that determines if and what you will learn, and how you come out of it.

 

Choices

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Doughnut? Cookie? What’s your fancy? Choices. We make them everyday. Everything we do is by choice, from what we eat to how we spend our time. Even when we think we have no choice in a given situation, good or bad, you always have a choice.

Have you ever wondered how life would be different, had you made different choices? Sometimes better choices? I’m sure you have. I’d say it’s something we all have thought about at one time or another. ‘Well if I had only eaten healthier’. ‘If I had only exercised more’. ‘If I had only spent more time with loved ones’. Thinking what if only causes regret. But if you take it as a learning experience, you can say, next time I’ll be ready to take what I learned and make the right choices.

Lately I’ve been thinking about choices, and about actions. I tend to be a very passive person at times, but I’ve been thinking, “How can I go through life being so passive?” It’s like I’ve been in a limbo state where I only have been observing. Observing other people’s lives, and not living my own. It’s also felt like I don’t belong anywhere. Like there’s no where I can feel like I’m a part of.

It’s not that I’m treated that way by people, but the way I have perceived it all has been the cause. It’s like when I didn’t feel loved by ANYONE. There were lots of people who did LOVE me, but I wouldn’t believe it. For whatever reason, I just didn’t believe it. In a similar way, I haven’t believed that I belong anywhere, because I chose to see it that way.

Choice is a powerful thing. The right to choose right from wrong is a huge freedom given to us by God. The question is what will we choose? Will we choose right? Will we choose wrong? Will we choose blessing? Or choose cursing? The choice is ours to make.

I choose to believe what the Bible says, even though there are times I may not understand it or study it like I should.

It’s also my choice to choose action, or remain passive. Not to say that in certain circumstances being passive is a bad thing, but there are times I should act when I don’t, and vice versa. It’s also my choice to believe what I will about God, and about the world in general. I choose to believe what the Bible says, even though there are times I may not understand it or study it like I should. I’ve chosen to try to see the good in the world, the good in people, and pray for what is not. I’ve chosen to believe I am loved, because deep down, I always knew, and really it’s way better than believing otherwise.

Now I’m also choosing to believe I belong, that I’m a part of something greater than myself. I wish I could convey the feelings of not belonging, and how different it is to belong. There’s such an inner comfort in knowing that you belong, and that the people in your life want you in their life. Sometimes my thoughts can get so muddled up that my perception and judgement become clouded, and I can no longer see clearly.

Sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone, and take a leap of faith. Oftentimes the reward is worth the risk.

There are things, ideas, that I look back on from years back that I think, “What? How did I ever think that? It makes absolutely zero sense.” And yet that was my perception at the time. I guess there are just times when reality seems too hard, so you come to believe what you want to believe, and what keeps you comfortable. Sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone, and take a leap of faith. Oftentimes the reward is worth the risk.

Serving God is a choice. It’s not always easy, but it’s beyond worth it! Loving people isn’t always easy, but it’s a choice. There are times when people are so ‘Stupid’, or ‘Jerks’, or ‘Unlovable’ etc, that it can be sooo hard to love. And yet we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, bless those who curse us, pray for those who mistreat us.

It’s a choice. I can choose to love my neighbor, or hate them, but that is a choice that puts my decision into action. Faith without works is dead. Our faith should push us into action. It should cause us to choose what is right. Our love for God and people should push us into being His hands and feet.

Our choices have consequences, and affect others. We can block things out of our minds, and choose not to see, but in reality they affect far more than we allow ourselves to believe.

So before your action, is a choice, and before you choose, think of the outcome.

 

 

Unique

 

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Have you ever lived in such a way that you’re only being who you think people want you to be? It’s a hard thing to explain. It’s not that people make you behave a certain way, or force you into something you’re not. But it’s like there’s this unspoken pressure to fit in. ‘Fit inside this box that society has made for you’. ‘Don’t go outside that box’. ‘Don’t go against the norms of what culture says you should’.

As a Christian, I’m already used to being ‘outside the norms of culture’.  But I’m talking about more than that. Even in the Christian community, there are ‘norms’ that people are supposed to stay inside. And it’s not that people do this on purpose, it’s simply that because the average person is say ‘Inside the norm’, that’s automatically expected from everyone.

Mostly though, it’s living a life of trying to please people. But we can’t please everybody. In pleasing some we displease others, and vice versa. That’s why we are to please God above everyone else. Obviously we want to please those close to us, not let them down, etc. But we have to realize that pleasing and obeying God should be our number one priority.

I have realized lately that I have subconsciously been trying to be someone who the people around me will like. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but sometimes we forget to truly be ourselves when we think people won’t like who we really are. It could even seem small and insignificant, something that doesn’t really matter, but if we are not true to ourselves, then who are we? If I am not true to myself, then who am I? It can be like wearing a mask. We pretend we’re okay in front of people, but inside we’re something else. Sometimes it’s a smile to hide a frown. Sometimes it’s a laugh to keep from crying. Yes, real men cry too.

Since when did we become this way? Trying to become like everyone else, we lose our own unique identity. God made each and every one of us different and unique. We each have a special role to play in the position God has put us in.

Sometimes I find myself wishing I had a relationship with God like so and so. While there are similarities with relationships with God that we all share, no two relationships are identical. Just like you have a friend who may have a bunch of friends, each one of their friends will have a different relationship with them just as you do. I’ve heard it said that God doesn’t love us each exactly the same, because He loves us each uniquely. We are all on different levels with Him. Different degrees of intimacy.

Some of us are just starting on our journey of knowing Him, while others have a deeper relationship. It doesn’t matter what level you’re on, as long as you’re pursuing Him, to know Him more. As long as you’re moving closer, as long as you’re progressing, that’s what really matters.

We are all unique. Just as there are tons of interests and personalities and things that make us all different and one of a kind, so does our relationships with God differ from each others. Just as there are similarities between us that make us all human, there are similarities with our relationships with God that make us all His children.

Lately I’ve been learning to be at peace with who I am. It’s the process of changing what I can, because I want to be better and more like the man God wants me to be. And accepting what I can’t change, knowing that He is ultimately in control.

Be transparent. Be who God made you to be. Please Him above all else, and everything else will work out. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. The right people will love you for who you are.

Transformed

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The TRANSFORMATION that has occurred within the past year boggles my mind.

Lately I have been learning to be confident. To put my faith and trust so strongly in God and in the abilities He has given me. To walk in the freedom He brings. But it’s not always easy.

I have always been so fearful of having PRIDE that I never wanted to be confident in anything. Pride can cause you to stumble. Pride can cause arrogance. Pride can blind you. Those are traits I’ve never wanted.

And yet looking back, I still had pride. I had secrets. Things I didn’t want people to know. So caught up in  what people thought of me or caring about my image, more than just being a kid and having fun. Especially being afraid to lift my hands during worship, in fear of who may see.

I always tried to play it cool. I never knew if a crush or potential crush was paying attention to me, so I definitely didn’t want to do anything silly or stupid. But trust me, trying to play it cool and being self-conscious of everything I did became exhausting. It was a cycle of  seeking the approval of others. “Did I do well? Is this good? Is that good?” Those were questions I always had. I wanted affirmation in everything I did.

I would always base my opinions upon the opinions of others. Whether reading a Facebook post, or simply having a conversation with someone, I would continually change my mind on issues based on the last person I spoke to.

I struggled for years, even to the point of not talking to people much, thinking they couldn’t possibly want to talk to me. A feeling would come over me that I would just be annoying them, so I wouldn’t talk to them at all.

But you know, that is no way to live. There came a point when I loved God and people so much, I began to see things differently. Most of the issues all came from the wrong PERSPECTIVE. But my perspective changed. Even if people didn’t want to talk to me, so what? And I actually find that most people do like talking to me.

I finally decided I didn’t want to live being afraid of what people think of me. Or afraid of making mistakes. You have to throw yourself out there. Be vulnerable. Be who God created you to be. If people don’t like it, that’s their problem, not yours.

Knowing that God loves me, means I no longer have to seek the approval of others. Only His. When I strive to please Him, everything else falls into place. You can’t please everybody. And honestly it’s pretty hard to please yourself as well. I’m often judgmental of my own work. I disassemble the words and works I have done during the day, putting them under a microscope, scrutinizing every detail. That has gotten better as well.

But it amazes me at how much things have changed in just the past year. I could write endless posts pertaining to all of the things in my life that have been transformed. It just goes to show, when God heals, He heals everything. When we truly encounter Him, we will be forever changed.