Do ever find yourself saying or thinking these things: I don’t have enough time I’ll do it when everything settles down Looking forward to the next …The Invisible Chains of Busyness
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I was numb and I did not realize it. I could not hear well but did not understand why. My vision blurred but not knowing what was obstructing it. When I felt angry, I squashed it. When I felt sad, I pushed it down. When I was lonely and felt rejected, I buried it. When I became stressed, I subdued it.
I sought comfort that lasted only a moment, so I became addicted to trying to find satisfaction. My mind always looking for my next fix my next moment of relief. I became a slave to the need to rid myself of these negative feelings yet I did not know I was in chains. I did not know I was a prisoner because I felt “good” for the brief moments but was left destitute afterwards.
My addiction is not drugs but just as damaging to the body. My addiction is not alcohol but numbs the mind and spirit even more so. My addiction is common and frequent. My addiction plagues many people without them noticing it. My addiction destroys the body, the mind and relationships. My addiction was food, social media, and entertainment.
There is freedom and there is a rescuer. There is a chain breaker and prison wall destroyer. There is an over comer and a healer. There is one who gives life and light. There is one who satisfies the soul and subdues the acid of anger and bitterness. There is one who understands and is compassionate.
His name is Jesus.
Recently, I started writing down my dreams (that I feel have some sort of significance to them), prophecies, and visions. I wanted to keep a log of them so I could come back to them and test them. One of the dreams I recently logged was from high school. It had meaning back then but it seems to have more now as an adult and life lived a little.
The dream starts with me in some sort corral for sheep. I realize that I have a snake on me and it had slithered onto my head. I try to claw at the snake to get it off but it doesn’t budge. It’s as if the snake adhered itself to my scalp. I felt extremely anxious and frustrated that I couldn’t remove it and that it was somehow stuck to me. I then realize on a large rock within this same corral is a Lion. I stand in fear of the lion but I’m not afraid of the Lion. I walk to it because I somehow know that the Lion is the only one who could remove the snake. But the Lion refuses to remove the snake instead tells me to walk with Him. The Lion transforms into a human we walk together by a river. He gives me peace and although the snake is still there I no longer feel frustrated and anxious.
Obviously the snake represents sin or suffering and the Lion represents Jesus himself. Now in light of life lived, I realize the snake is suffering and it is suffering of the mind. The very feelings I felt in the dream anxiousness, frustration, and depression are the very things I battle against. The Lion which only had the ability to remove it chose not to but instead told me to walk with him in that suffering. He gave me peace through it.
Many people battle depression and anxiousness and for me for a long time I thought it must be because of weak faith. Maybe I just wasn’t trusting God enough but after further studying scripture and church history I don’t believe that is the case. It is a thorn just like Paul’s. It is something I wish would leave to be normal and feel normal. But it is there and it is purposed. For what testimony or witness do I have to other hurting moms If I have never hurt before? Gods grace is sufficient.
I am encouraged by scripture in this. King David was all over the map with his emotions. One minute he is praising the Most High and the next he is down in the dumps. I am encouraged by Charles Spurgeon. He was/is amazing person of faith. His books, sermons, and commentary is widely respected. The wisdom given him from God to teach others absolutely tremendous but the man suffered with deep depression.
It is an encouragement to see similar sufferings and realize Christ alone is our help. He may not remove what we suffer with but what he will do is walk with us through it. He gives us the peace we need and comforts the soul. He uses that suffering to glorify himself and give us a testimony to others of his grace and mercy.
I don’t like talking about my feelings on a first person present tense basis. If you noticed my writing are generally done based upon what has happened (past tense) not what is happening. It makes me very uncomfortable to talk about how I feel and doing presently. In part, I have a very difficult time accurately expressing exactly what I am feeling. I call this emotionally constipated and when it does come out…extremely unpleasant. (Sorry for the terrible and gross analogy but it fits best)
Lately, the Lord has me in a position of stillness. I would have to say I’m not a huge fan of it. For one, I feel like I’m a hamster on a wheel going around and around and getting no where or at least seemingly no where. I keep asking Lord what should I do? How should I serve? Give me words to speak something! And there is just one answer “stay still.” And on occasion words to speak. But this morning he brought to mind Psalm 23 and the verses that say, “he makes me lie in green pastures and walks with me beside still waters.” So he has me in this place of stillness and where I am not out “doing” I am required to focus on “being.”
But see there is a big problem with that… What am I “being?” This stillness has required a silent uncomfortable assessment of myself. A mirror has been laid before me and I have been required to look at myself. Now, let me explain how uncomfortable this is to me. Physically I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. It makes me feel totally awkward and like a total doofus. Looking at pictures of myself makes me feel anxious and frustrated. Watching myself on video…is like dying a slow death. It’s awful!
But having to stay still while God holds up a mirror so that I can see the “inner man” as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:16 is highly uncomfortable. Now, if I was looking at this to find flaw and issue no problem I could pick apart myself with ease. But no, the Lord is not holding it up to find flaw and issue no He is holding up a mirror to change what I see to what He sees. See the Lord knows, why I am so uncomfortable he knows the negative view I have and he knows that negative view of myself is as harmful to my witness and testimony of Him as a prideful conceded view.
The Lord has me in a place of stillness to get me to look at myself and pattern my view according to His word so that I may take that and be built up and build others up. My negative view is like wounded soldier and I can’t fight if I’m nursing wounds and shying away. So this healing and change is required and it’s so uncomfortable.
In other words, my identity in Christ is strictly head knowledge not heart knowledge and now I’m going through an intensive makeover. Ouch. But with all the unpleasantries, good does come out of it. See I am forced to look but not alone. When I look into that mirror the Lord is holding my hand. See before I could even get to the point of looking He had to bust me out of prison. I had to be set free.
Maybe you can relate. Prior to looking into the mirror and being uncomfortable I had to hold his hand and leave the prison and that was very difficult.
The best way to describe a negative view of oneself is this: I was locked in a labyrinth of lying mirrors. Each one a lie the enemy had placed to imprison me. A hurt that had been done would be a door for him to seal with a lying mirror. I had been so surrounded by these lies I was left to believe they were true to the point the enemy no longer had to build the prison I started to build it myself. I built thinking I was protecting myself from hurt. Until Jesus came and broke down the prison door. Breaking down that door didn’t feel like rescue it felt like my world was imploding. Everything felt dark and for first time I recognized I was chained and not free. The Lord gave me a choice I was either going to walk through some dark hallways to get through this labyrinth with him or I was going to choose to stay in that prison of lying mirrors.
I chose to go with Him but I had to walk very dark hallways. Hallways so dark I wanted to cut parts of me off because it was too painful to deal with. But the Lord is good and he walks with me the whole way never letting go even if I can see nothing.
Now that he has rescued me from the prison He doesn’t leave me to heal myself. No, He tends to me. He heals the wounds and he requires me to stay still and recover and restore so that I may go out not just “knowing” I am a new creation but acting as a new creation.
Jesus is good! He is my hope! He is the light! Praise be to Him!
This is a work in progress painting of myself and my daughter nursing. And as I make progress with this painting it brings to mind the progress God has done in me.
Over this last year I have started painting again. I had not painted since I graduated high school. But as the Lord has been at work healing my heart and my lack of understanding of my identity, He has brought back a joy in my life. Growing up I loved drawing, and when I discovered oil painting in high school it was like a door opened to pour out creativity. Not to mention, I had an awesome friend in my class who loved the Lord and was an encouragement to me.
But when I entered into college that expression of joy was pushed way down. I unfortunately did not have the foresight or wisdom to value the talent the Lord had given me. I could not see how “art” would make money or get a good job. Since I lacked direction during that time, I found myself going my own way and eventually quitting.
Now, in Gods great mercy and grace the Lord has blessed me beyond measure regardless of the lack wisdom in my youth. He is a great God and he is full of grace and in that grace he is restoring what I once threw away. In this season of restoration, He has given me the wisdom and understanding of His gifts that he has given me. He is remolding my image to fit his design for me. What I took as a fun but useless talent is being restored for something greater.
The Lord has shown me the importance of artistic talent. The Lord is referred to a potter and we are his clay. He molds us into the shape he so chooses for the purposes he so chooses. Regardless of the clays purpose, it is art formed by the potter. In the same way, the art that the Lord guides me to create is for his purposes. Maybe the art will not be much more than painting my everyday life to be a reminder of Gods beauty in everyday things. I don’t believe that I will become some famous artist but I believe I can honor God through it. I believe God can use art to draw people to himself and bring glory to himself.
I see my own children developing an artistic talent. They have a love of drawing and creating and I have no clue what God will do with that in the future. But I do know God does not give useless talents. He has a purpose for them even if I cannot recognize it. As a parent, my job is to help my children cultivate the talents the Lord has given them and to help them look to Christ for their purpose. He already has a plan and design for them and I am just here to point them in that direction.
I am so thankful that the Lord restores what is lost and that he renews the mind and heart to be more like his.
The power of words amazes me. In my family, I am a stickler for words and the proper pronunciation of them. I love broadening my vocabulary and using new found knowledge to communicate more precisely and effectively.
But beyond the pronunciation and the enlarged vocabulary it’s how our words are used. The spoken and written word is a powerful force. It can bring life or it can destroy. I think of its power in my parenting to either raise up my children or to tear them down.
James speaks of the tongue:
“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
James 3:8-12 NIV
Our tongue, the one who forms the words we speak is notorious for being a fire. In our human self, we cannot tame this wretched fire that spreads. But the Holy Spirit that lives within the believer can. What flows out of our mouth is what is in the heart, and it is not what enters us that defiles us but what comes out.
How do you speak with your children? How do you speak with others in general? When you are frustrated do you allow an onslaught of insults be hurled at a loved one? Or do you criticize their every move? Do you remind them of everything they did wrong or are you quick to remind them what was done right? When your children are simply being children, are you dismissive? Do you discredit their feelings and struggle because they are young? Or are quick to listen and slow to speak weighing each word through the spirit in order to direct them to Christ?
What about your speech towards others? Do you cut people down or people groups? Are you mindful of the impact your words, your tone and your expressions have on your children or those around you?
We live in a world where words are thrown around without care. We throw insults, criticism and pain without acknowledging the devastating effect. In fact we are so out of touch with words that we have a saying, “ sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, words are far more devastating than sticks and stones. Words especially used by parents to children, develops a child’s perception of themselves. If a parent constantly is ridiculing a child or calling them names, that child will begin to develop the idea that is exactly who they are. And even our speech about others that children listen to also effects how our children view themselves in light of those people and how they view others.
Our job as parents are to encourage, lift up and admonish our children. We are to direct them to Christ through our words and our actions. We are suppose to build up in them who they are in Christ and arm them in how to handle insult and lies from the enemy. We are not to break our children down with our frustrations and insults leaving them to the enemy to have an identity built up in lies and pain. As parents, our words are heavy weighted and as Christian parents even more so. Take every opportunity to speak life into your children. Speak the word of God to them and over them denounce lies that they may believe and build with truth.
One thing the Lord keeps reminding me is the importance of building a relationship with our children.
The Lord is relational the trinity is relational, love is relational. I think about how the Lord parents us and our relationship is with him. He draws us into himself he knows everything about us and invites us to know about himself. He isn’t this big God in the sky sitting and making rules and keeping hands off and until you screw up so he can send down judgement. No, he is a high priest! He understands our suffering he understands our hurt and our pain, he jumps for joy with our triumphs. He has compassion and empathy toward us. He weeps when we weep. There is no need too small for him no concern too little to be brought to him. He wants us to come to him with our little things that are hard so that we will come to him with our big things that are impossible. He isn’t too busy to hear about our days. He doesn’t discipline without encouragement and uplifting us. Always reminding us of who we are in him and that we are not the sum of poor choices but created in him image and made for his purposes.
So, It begs the question does my parenting resemble this loving parenting?
Do I treat my children as a nuisance to my busy day? Do I care to get to know my children for who God made them to be? Do I take interest in what interest them? Do I rejoice in their triumphs? When they hurt do I hurt or do I discount their struggle or emotions as not being much in the scheme of things? When I discipline and have to correct behavior, do I follow up with reminding them of who they are in Jesus and what he has for them?
When we focus on a relationship with our children we indeed are discipling that child to know Christ. When we build relationships we build trust and respect. When we have loving God centered relationships it allows us to speak hard truths in love.
But does this mean that our kids won’t stray? No it doesn’t. God is a perfect and loving father and yet we still stray but he pursues us despite our waywardness. He still holds up his end of the relationship with arms open.
Because of Jesus’s amazing grace and his desire to have a relationship with me (a very sinful person) I am free to go beyond myself and love with that same grace. I can build relationships with my children and with others so that I can better share Gods love for them by my words and actions.
What is grace? Is it a fancy bible word that we throw around as if we understand it. Grace is it a catchy word to plaster across shirts and decor.
Grace is it an excuse to be undisciplined and live by our feelings? Do we really understand it? Can we understand it? Do we accept it fully or do we accept it conditionally?
Is grace something that is involved in salvation alone or is it for every day? Where does work and grace meet? How is grace attained? Is it attainable?
Ugh, grace. Salvation through grace…unearned, undeserved blessing,favor and help. What is this? I’m programmed to work. Programmed to measure my output, my productivity, and my worth. Programmed to list my accomplishments and inadvertently my failures. Programmed to measure others to view what their life resumes hold and whether they are a success in this life and grace…what does it do? It dumps it upside down.
Grace…it takes the impossible and makes it possible. It takes the measurable and makes it immeasurable. Grace it frees us from the chains of perfectionism and judgement yet in the everyday day life of events I feel as though I turn from it.
Am I my own savior? Surely not. I cannot save my self from eternal judgement, Christ alone and His perfect grace has done that but what about in my today? Am I the savior of today? Am I the super mom of the week? Can I be enough and all for my family and complete and finish all the jobs that I have been tasked with perfect execution? Of course not! But why do I act as if I can? Why do I believe I have to?
The Lord has called me out into deep water I’m far from the boat of comfort but for some reason when I left or at least when I was walking I found myself starting to sink. How did my eye divert from the only one that holds me up. How did I leave grace in the boat?
Why has grace been defined in my mind as an excuse rather than a reason? The fact is I fall short. I am made new. A new creation but I am still in a sinful corrupt body who so longs to live by the flesh and live by the seen rather than the unseen. Even as I write this I think in my head…”how ridiculous you should know and understand this by now.” Ugh, the inner critic! The judge!
But if grace was so easy to accept so easy to live by all would be doing it but few do. No, grace…it’s a call it’s a gift. It beckons it heaters to a life of freedom. A life of freedom from the the chains of judgement and condemnation. It’s a call to be in the process of perfecting not to be perfect this side of heaven. It stands in the gap from missing the mark to hitting the mark. It shows up where I never could and it produces fruit that I could never produce on my own. It opens the door to take steps through doors that are too much for me. It opens path ways that would have otherwise been closed. It makes my worth measured by an immeasurable God rather than by the measure of man.
So, why do I embrace the chains? Are my chains a comfort? And to leave such chains is to live life trusting that what I do and who I am is not measured here but measured in heaven? Can I take steps to embrace the grace that is freely given to me and listen to voice of God rather than listen to those who measure what I do and who I am based upon a measure they have set?
Maybe grace in my every day beckons me to surrender my measuring stick and trust the Lord to to meet the mark. Maybe grace in my everyday, says I quit on trying to run the rat race of productivity and embrace production of eternal fruit. Maybe grace in the everyday says, I live a life I cannot live apart from God. My life is only livable if Christ lives through me and works through me to accomplish his perfect will.
Grace it’s what makes following Jesus possible.
Lately I have been convicted of maintaining my junk rather than maintaining my life. I have had the overall feeling of being burdened. It’s like a weight on my shoulders I could not throw off and it constantly drug me down and sucked the life out of me.
I’m a homeschooling mom of 5 and my life is always busy and full of work. But our homeschooling and mothering does not feel like burdensome work. It is the constant cleaning and organizing of stuff that is accumulated by so many members that is soul sucking. I have even developed a hatred for throw pillows. I just look at them with complete contempt. The fact is cleaning and caring for a home will always be on the list of things to do but how much of my cleaning is because we simply have just too much stuff?
So after bringing this frustration to the Lord, I asked him what am I suppose to do? He reminded me that work will always be apart of life but I can choose what I work on. I can either choose to work on maintaining my stuff or I can choose to work to maintain a life?
The Lord, has already been changing our families heart on the type of lifestyle that he wants for us. We were born and bred suburban neighborhood dwellers and my idea of the perfect yard was a paved patio. But he is calling us to the right opposite. He is calling us to space and land. He is calling us to garden and farm and we have already been taking steps in that direction. But that lifestyle is not conducive with the time sucking management of stuff. I simply cannot keep a lifestyle of a backyard farm with a life style of accumulation of stuff.
So with that being said the Lord showed me that the two lifestyles produce fruit. The lifestyle of accumulation begets accumulation and the lifestyle of life begets life. When I accumulate, my stuff does not produce anything for me. I do not profit from having more stuff. And the more I accumulate the less I seem to be satisfied with and feel the need to accumulate more. (And no I’m not a hoarder lol). However, when I work to plant a garden it yields a crop. When I raise chickens, they yield eggs and or meat. Even cutting grass and grass clippings can be used to help create compost. This work yields produce that not only I can enjoy but others can enjoy and profit from as well.
Work will always be apart of the equation. But I can choose to work to maintain my stuff that brings no joy in my life and only stresses me out. Or I can choose to work on things that produce a fruit. When I work to maintain a life, then I am passing down a life to my children but if I work to maintain stuff then I pass down a life of excess and burden.
“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.””
Luke 12:13-21 NIV