Retreat

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This October is a retreat month. I’m not retreating from life, but retreating to recapture and redefine life. Yet these retreats have been hit or miss, sporadic and unconventional. I started the month praying, “God, what would you have me know or experience by the end of the month?” The only response that came to mind was a prayer to remember who I am, God’s daughter.

Two weeks into the month I disappeared for 24 hours. I had hoped it would be 48 hours hidden away among the prairie grasses, talking trees, and babbling brook. But it was just 24 hours that allowed me to reconnect with the stars and my art. I even got a glorious fire. Surely that escape provided the answer to my question, “God, what would you have me know or experience by the end of the month?” Sadly, no, it did not answer my question. Just the gentle prayer, “Help me remember who I am, your daughter.” And a word to meditate on, “Courage.”

And now the last week of the month is here. Once again I have taken time to retreat from the noise, as least as best I can. I have absented myself from Facebook for the week. Well, mostly. A shooting outside my office on Monday was detailed, and articles that I find worthwhile have been shared. Yet I have restrained from checking and filling the void with the noise of Facebook posts. Rather than looking outside myself, I am forced to look inside. It’s what I wanted, what I’ve longed for all month, but now that I’m looking I find the inside is a little cluttered.

The clutter is my old habits of thought and emotion. I find myself tripping over things that no longer have any use or validity. Whether or not I actively purged them from my life previously or not, I’m now seeing them as something unfitting for my life. The house has changed, the layout is different, yet the same old custom pieces from the old place are here. They don’t fit. They stick out, disrupt the flow of space, and simply look wrong in this new setting. Other pieces have been moved in to fill the gaps, but now the old pieces are ill-suited. They must go.

I’m not a big fan of clutter. This might surprise you if you saw the paper on my desk – at work and at home – or the piles of books that line my bedside, yet those have purpose and flow. Some times the piles are bigger, some times they are non-existent. It is “stuff” that I am constantly purging. If I don’t use it, need it, or love it, I lose it. It is now time to lose some soul furniture that I no longer use, need or love.

It is time to immerse myself in the new world of belonging, engagement and kinship. I need to deepen my understanding and experience of what it means to be God’s daughter. I need to learn a new language of inclusion (of myself) and embracing. I need to know what it means to have the courage required to move beyond “just” healing and reconciliation and into growth, expansion and joy.

Embracing the Pain

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I am in physical therapy for a frozen shoulder. First thought to be a problem with my neck, an old injury resurfacing, it is now clear that any pain in my neck is a result of my gimpy and locked up shoulder. Yet for six weeks I was given therapy to fix the neck, though my neck was not really the problem.

The issue became clear when another therapist took over my case. With a new view of the situation, a new course of treatment was put in place. An incredibly painful treatment.

Tonight I asked my therapist how long it takes to “unfreeze” a shoulder. Looking me in the eye, he said, “It takes a long time and it hurts like hell.” Neither of those statements surprised me. I’d already been in pain for many months, and the treatment – especially his – was indeed painful.

I went from a therapist who weighed a 100 pounds soaking wet to one who was more than double that size and with at least double the strength. A key part of my therapy is hands on pushing, pressing, stretching, pulling and all around pain. There is no short cut. And even if there is a short cut, I’m not sure I’d go that route.

You see, although the therapy is incredibly painful and I come away aching, I am also coming away with just a little bit more mobility, a little bit more flexibility. Tiny improvements that give me great patience. I tolerate the pain, grimacing through the exercises and stretches because I know that it is helping. I may try to complain or harass my therapist, but I can’t. He is helping me even as he brings pain.

Of course, my physical pain and this therapy reminds me of all the healing God has done in my life. I had to go through incredible pain, reliving moments of abandonment, neglect and the absence of love, in order to find belonging, acceptance and unconditional love. Just as I endure the pain of working through the scar tissue in my shoulder, so I had to work through the scar tissue on my soul.

I have come to value, even embrace the pain in my life. Without that pain I would not be the person I am today. And quite honestly, the person I am today is someone I love very much. There is a freedom, a strength, a peace, a focus that wasn’t there before. I can embrace who I am, including the areas that continue to need improvement, because I know that God has embraced me. My pain has opened my eyes to all the potential in the world, in others, and in myself.

I know many people who have experienced deep pain and sorrow. I have yet to find a person who does not see life differently because of their grief. For some, it is still an open wound, tender and painful to the slightest breath. Others have scars, painful and raw but healing. Some, like me, have the faded scars to point to as a reminder, but the pain is rare and fleeting. For us life is stronger than the past and hope triumphs. The scars become beautiful reminders of healing, joy, freedom, and hope. Life is far more precious now because it has been tinged with pain.

Twice a week I endure the physical pain because I know only through it will I find complete healing. Twice a week I remember the soul pain I once endured, and I smile with joy at the life and hope I now enjoy.

Grief Like a Tide

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Like the ocean which ebbs and flows, so does grief. Those acquainted with grief will know that it can come out of nowhere, hitting either like a gentle wave or a tsunami. The longer the time since the loss the more surprising the tide of grief can be.

For the last few days I have felt a turning of the tide. A gentle sadness hit after I had told my story to someone. Sadness is not often the response I get when I tell my story, but in this case, I was reminded of just how much I had lost and just how much I would never have. Granted “never” is a big word but “never” is how I felt…feel.

The sadness lay dormant until I had a couple of restless nights from a painful injury. Sadness, restless nights and pain are the perfect storm to trigger grief in me. Add to that a dose of reality and a dash of stress from work and I was a goner. Unfortunately I did not realize what was happening until it came crashing over me earlier today. Yesterday I simply felt an intense shyness at the thought of going to a church picnic today with a bunch of strangers and a heightened level of introversion at the prospect of being surrounded by people and unable to avoid small talk. These were tremors that a storm was coming, yet I didn’t recognize it.

God has done so much healing and restoration in my life that I did not expect the grief to be so visceral. In addition, it has been 12 years since I lost everything: church, home, baby, husband and mother. They are not exactly fresh wounds or even unhealed wounds. I have so much in my life now, but still the wounds of the past linger reminding me of what was, what could have been and what never will be.

So today as I sat by the lake staring at the water, the picnic going on behind me, I allowed the tears to flow unchecked. Behind the sunglasses I wept. I grieved.

Once I realized where the tears were coming from, I was able to embrace them, embrace the grief. The worst thing I could do is try to stop my feelings of loss, sorrow, loneliness, and isolation. If I deny or ignore how I feel I cannot move forward. Grief is healthy. Grief is a normal response to loss, no matter how long ago that loss was.

Grief means that we loved, that we cared, that we were and are connected to others. Grief means we can still feel. We are still alive, still human.

Grief like the tide comes in but it also goes out. It brings things with it, but it also uncovers little gems of treasure long-buried. Grief helps us appreciate that which remains.

 

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
Is 53:3

Overcoming Bitterness in 10 Not So Easy Steps

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Ravello, ItalyWhat does it take to overcome betrayal and a broken relationship in a Godly way? Is it possible to do it without additional regret and pain? And is it possible to not just recover but actually thrive?

A few years ago, after sharing my own sad saga, I was asked, “How did you not become bitter?” The question was asked because the person needed to know for themselves how to avoid bitterness. Yet their question also revealed the truth that I was indeed not bitter. Despite the betrayal and attack I had endured, I was free. So how did I find freedom?

Below are the 10 not-so-easy steps I took to overcome bitterness. By the grace of God, I made some good choices that set me up to heal and eventually to thrive. Understand, however, the process of recovery was almost harder than the breaking of the relationship. There is no magic pill and nothing fast about it, but a joyful future is possible if you are willing to do the hard and often painful work.

1. Honesty is mandatory.
Complete honesty with yourself is the foundation of relational and emotional recovery. Even the smallest of subterfuges and white lies will derail you from healing. Until you are willing to be brutally honest you cannot begin. Something to note about honesty: it is like an onion. Just when you think you are as honest as you possibly can be, you find another layer that needs to be unpeeled and exposed. Yet with each layer uncovered, God gives you the strength to see the next. It is painful to be honest with and about ourselves, but there is no other alternative if healing is the goal. Can’t be done. You should also know that once the honesty stops, so does the healing.

2. You are responsible for your sins.
We all sin. In a broken relationship, there will always be mistakes you made and issues you brought to the situation. They are there in stable relationships! So own up to them. Until we take responsibility for ourselves, we won’t be able to move forward either on our own or in a new relationship. That “stuff” from that other relationship comes with you into a new one, unless you deal with it and repent of it. Deal with your crap because no one else will.

3. You are NOT responsible for other people’s sins.
Just as we need to own our own sins, we cannot nor should we take responsibility for other people’s issues. In the Book of Job, his friends tried to lay certain sins at his feet, but he kept denying they were his. He was innocent, at least of what they said. It wasn’t until God spoke the truth, naming his real sins, that Job owned them. Own your sins, not what someone else thinks you did. This is part of honesty too.

4. Integrity is more important than reputation.
It sucks when people think you are the one who broke the relationship and didn’t want to make it work. It especially sucks when it is an outright lie. My situation was a little unique since there were facts I was unaware of at the time. I was clueless why the relationship had disintegrated as it had, though I could see some blamed me. It hurt so badly, yet all I could do was trust God to defend me and my reputation. God knew. My close friends and family knew. Everyone else was either told a lie, allowed to believe a lie, or chose to speculate a lie.

Then as now, the most important thing is that WE know the truth – for good or bad – and we know God knows the truth. Integrity is what we know to be true about ourselves and live up to it; reputation is what others think they know about us. Integrity is more important than reputation. Let God defend your reputation; you protect your integrity. God will honor it.

5. Lies must be denounced calmly, respectfully and by living out the truth.
When presented with a lie, I spoke the truth. I didn’t fly off the handle, breakdown in tears or scream, though I really, really wanted to sometimes. I spoke the truth simply and then let the other person be outraged on my behalf. When possible I confronted the lies with words, but most often words were not possible, especially since I refused to go on the offensive. Instead I let my life reveal the truth. I gave myself over to the deepest desires of my heart which were to care for the least of these. In nursing homes, homeless shelters, mission trips and inner city ministries, I was able to live out the life God had called me to. The truth was revealed more through actions than through words.

6. Kindness is the greatest vengeance – and it’s God approved!
Whenever I felt a deep urge to yell, confront, or bite back, which was often, I remembered Romans 12:17-20.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

When tempted to be mean, my “wicked” response was to be nice. I visualized the coals falling with each grace-filled word I said. It was rather fun. Over time the kindness had its own reward because it helped me not become bitter. My actions were able to influence my thinking. Despite how hard it was, and how I sometimes failed, I do not regret being kind to the one who broke my heart. Not one regret.

7. Forgiveness must be given freely and often. Forgiveness does not absolve us from the consequences nor does it mean trust is restored. Forgiveness allows us to move forward. If we have been honest with ourselves, then we need to ask forgiveness from God and from ourselves for the things we did wrong. We will probably even have to go to the person who had wronged us to ask forgiveness of them knowing they may never reciprocate. It’s what is required of those who want to walk as Jesus walked. Taking the first step is painful, but only the brave will find freedom.

We must also grant forgiveness to the person who hurt us so deeply. Betrayal and abandonment have a way of hitting us where we are most vulnerable, especially those of us who have a ’til death do us part’ mentality. The pain and anger rise up when we least expect it. No matter how many times we might forgive, it is necessary to forgive again – and again – and again. Until the rage and anger no longer rise up. Until that bitter taste no longer comes with the very thought of the person who hurt us. This could take years, and probably will. Yet each time rage flairs, forgive. Forgiveness is the road to freedom.

What happens, though, if the person who hurt us doesn’t ask or seek forgiveness?

8. Forgiveness is your responsibility, not theirs.
Granting forgiveness, and even asking for it, is our responsibility. If we want to be forgiven ourselves, we must forgive. The Bible is very clear here. Yet demanding to be asked for forgiveness is not something we can expect, though it would be nice. Think of it this way, you are giving a great gift to someone, but they are unwilling to reach out for it. You know this gift would save their life, yet still they resist taking it. All you can do is place it before them and walk away. You are no longer burdened with carrying this gift around and can move forward with life. Give forgiveness for your sake. Ask forgiveness for your sake. But do not feel guilty or hurt if they never seek it or acknowledge it. That’s their problem, not yours.

9. It’s not about you.
Until my life blew up, I didn’t understand David’s statement in Psalm 51, “against you, and you alone, O God, have I sinned.” Um…hello, David…what about Uriah and Bathsheba? Only when I was ripped apart did I see that the sin was not against me but against God. And ONLY God. I was simply collateral damage. Of course, collateral damage can still kill you, but I was not the real target. Once I realized that, I also realized that Jesus had suffered for this very reason. He knew what I was going through because he was experiencing the exact same betrayal. As I read the passion of Christ over and over again, I knew that my pain was only a small portion of what Jesus felt. See Jesus took on all the betrayal in all the world over all time upon himself. In fact, he even took my betrayal upon himself. Still he loved and forgave me. I found great comfort in sharing my sorrow and grief with the only one who could really know it.

10. In time you will know who God made you to be.
In the end, if you are honest and you give yourself time, you will find the beautiful, powerful, grace-filled person God made you to be. His child, born of God and co-heir with Christ. Nothing can take that away from us. We are his and that is what makes us who we are, not our sins, betrayals or hurts. Our identity is grounded and made whole in Him, when once it was shattered and broken.

I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anyone, but I cannot deny the beauty that has come from it.

How can I be bitter when I’ve received so much?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

Beauty Arises

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Beauty arisesNo human can ever know exactly how another person feels. I am me and you are you with our individual lives, so we can never, ever know exactly what each other is feeling. That does not mean, however, that we cannot come close to imagining what another is going through and thus be able to walk alongside them. Coming alongside does require that we have some life experience upon which to draw. An “I’m sorry for your loss” means something more when we know the person saying it understands loss themselves.

About 9 years ago, still in the throes of grief and overwhelming pain, a guest preacher said these words: “Your greatest pain will become your greatest ministry.” I was furious at this statement. I did not want my life to be defined by my abandonment and loss. This statement seemed to minimize the totality of who I was to the one area I had least control over.

A decade on, I see things a bit differently. The truth is my greatest pain is NOT my greatest ministry. Rather my greatest ministry is the triumph through pain and the knowledge that my triumph is a resource for other people’s healing. Because I have come through – not around, over, or passed – my pain, I know what awaits on the other side: HOPE and BEAUTY. I offer hope that pain does not last forever even if the consequences are with us for the rest of our earthly lives. Hope for something truly beautiful does exist.

Our pain shapes who we are and will always leave us different than what we were before. This doesn’t mean we are worse for our pain, though we wouldn’t wish it on our worst enemy. When we have God at our center, we are better for facing our pain head on and going through to the other side. This doesn’t take away the torture of the journey or the very real agony that accompanies our grief, loss, sorrow, and pain. It still hurts. A lot. But there is hope on the other side. The tunnel does eventually end, and light does break through.

My past pain is so much a part of me that I have a very hard time connecting with people who have not experienced some level of heart ache. I am like a dog with a scent. I intuitively find those with grief and pain, and I’m able to connect with them. They recognize in me a kindred, broken spirit, who can make them feel normal in an abnormal situation. Too often when we go through loss of any kind, good-intentioned folks will minimize our pain, thinking that is what we need. The truth is we need to be allowed to feel our pain, anger, grief, sorrow, despair and loathing if we are ever to be free of those emotions. Denying them does not eradicate them. Instead denying our emotions intensifies them until they take on a whole life of their own. Our emotions then resemble something like Frankenstein’s monster set loose on an unsuspecting village. Pitchfork fights are an ugly and painful result.

9 years ago I hated everything that had happened to me. My heart was broken. My past, present and future family were eliminated. I was vilified and ostracized because of lies told about me. I was virtually silent for five years because of the pain and betrayal. Yet it was only by going through another less painful loss (and seeing how far I’d come) and being able to walk alongside someone else as they processed their own loss that I was able to find my voice and my freedom. My pain suddenly had a purpose. While it still took another four years for God’s healing to be fully realized, I was able to help one person find hope in a very dark place. And in helping, beauty arose from the ashes.

Our pain is real. Whether we lose a much-loved spouse to cancer, an estranged spouse to divorce, a pet to old age, a child to suicide, or an elderly father to Jesus’ arms, our loss is valid. Mourn and weep. Remember and learn. Change and grow. Share with those acquainted with sorrow and lean on them. Forgive fully, forgive often, and release the pain to the One who truly does feel our pain. God feels our pain because it is his pain too.

Great beauty comes from great pain when that pain is shared with God. Take God out of the midst and the pain is hell on earth, deforming and scarring. Yet with God at the center of our messed up and painful lives, he is able to transform over time our greatest pain into our greatest beauty. By giving us grace and by us giving grace to ourselves, God creates a masterpiece out of broken pieces. Only then can we reflect the depth of grace and beauty we were meant to have.

Pain is real. Beauty out of pain is possible. Allow God to take you through it with kindred spirits alongside and see the transformation that awaits. Beauty can arise out of the ashes. Trust me. I know.

2014 – A Year of Trust

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Trust has been a problem for me since childhood. Recently I alluded to a decision I made at 4 years old – yes, I clearly remember it even if I now use adult words to explain it – where I determined I would not let people see my spots. In the case of my 4-year-old self, it was a literal spot on my dress that got me into trouble; as I grew the spots became less physical and more emotional. I hid my faults, not by overt deception but by not sharing who I really was or being the best I could be at something. This is not exactly a great way to grow up, because you can’t grow up. Growing up means failing and achieving, learning and experiencing new things. I limited myself because I couldn’t trust those closest to me to love and care for me as I was, spots and all.

Although I became a Christian when I was 10 and placed my trust in God to care for me, I really did not know what that meant. Since our human relationships teach us so much about how we relate (or don’t) to God, what I thought was complete trust was probably closer to 60% trust. Since I was a child, maybe it was closer to 85%. Kids are generally trusting. Except me. Regardless I trusted God as fully as I knew how to. Over the years my trust levels fluctuated as I lived, loved, lost and kept living.

By the time 2009 and the decision to seek God in a new way came around, I would say I was at 75%. Over the course of the next 3-4 years, that partial trust was tested. You see, God did not want only 75% of my trust because partial trust is no trust at all. He wanted 100% trust. For me, trust of God was predicated upon trusting myself, something I could not do. I was trying to do everything on my own, and it wasn’t working. (Go figure). If I couldn’t trust myself, how then could I trust God? (Hear a bit of idolatry in there? Yeah, me too).

God wanted to change that. So he took me on a journey to break down any residual trust I had in myself and showed me who I thought I was: someone who had to hide who she was, who had to fight for place and standing, who didn’t love herself because others hadn’t loved her as she needed. God then showed me who I REALLY was.

God brought me freedom from the past, freedom from distrust, by clarifying who I am to him. Before I was 10, I was just an image-bearer, a regular human being made in God’s image. When I placed my life in God’s hands, surrendered to him all my spots and all the spots to come, I became God’s Daughter, someone inherently different. John 1:12-13 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those believed in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God – children not born of natural decent nor human decision nor a husband’s will, but born of God.”

As God’s daughter I have distinct standing and value. He lives in me. I bear his name and live out that name. All the shame of the past, things that I did or were done to me that I had not released, were surrendered. I thought I had to carry those burdens. I carried them until they crushed me. Not only could I not carry the burdens, as God’s daughter I didn’t need to!

Without that burden and with a new understanding of who I was, I was able to trust fully. 100%. Of course that trust was and is tested on a near daily basis, so it requires me to remember on a near daily basis another passage from John.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Trust comes in knowing that I can do nothing – NOTHING – apart from God, but through him I can do all things (Phil 4:13). I am not a  puppet on a string, but the force and energy to do anything comes from God. Since he lives within me, I can surrender worry and scheming. When I try to take that control back I become irritable and angry or feel a sense of dis-ease in my spirit. Crazy as it seems, I love when I feel that dis-ease, because it tells me I’m believing a lie from the past and then I can turn from it and remember the truth of who I am and who God is. Sin is kept on a short leash and loses strength each time I renounce it. I have my own finely tuned, ready-made barometer of my relationship with God.

2014 is a year of living out my complete trust in God. It will be vastly different from the prior years, not because I’m now in a new context with new work, but because I am fundamentally new. Or rather, renewed.

Because of this focus, I am changing the name of the blog. Mission is still a core element, but it will be a more holistic, or wholistic, view of what it means to walk as Jesus walked. God’s heart is mission. God’s mission has a Church. The Church are ordinary, exceptional people who have surrendered – or on the way to surrendering – their way for Jesus’ way. I am just such a person.

Mission, trust and healing are all scary things and are all a part of walking as Jesus walked in today’s world. That is what this blog will be about. It is what it has been about all along.

Just ‘Cuz

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Why does God love us? Really. What is it about us – weak, willful, ugly, messed up humans – that makes God want to know us? What is it that makes him go to such extreme lengths to be in our lives?

Just ‘cuz.

God has NO reason to do this. Except he loves us. Like the sunrise, it just is. Yet WHY does he love us?

Just ‘cuz.

Is there anything we do that makes us more lovable? Can we do the right things, help the right people, have the right job, do enough good things? What is it that makes God love us? Nothing. He created us from nothing, with no need to fill within himself. He didn’t need companionship. He didn’t need us at all. He simply WANTED us. From creation we are wanted.

Just ‘cuz.

Unfortunately, most of us grow up thinking that in order to receive love, we must do something to earn it. Do your chores – get praise or allowance. Get good grades – get praise or money. Be a great athlete – get praise and attention. Get the right hair style, wear the right clothes, put on the right make up  – get praise, possibly money, definitely attention, and we hope, a bit of love. We are conditioned to seek praise and fulfillment however we can get it. Even in godly families, this can get messed up.

In ungodly families, it is totally whacked.

As a child I unconsciously learned that nobody cared for me or wanted to spend time with me or wanted to be bothered by me. Of course, I KNOW this is not true. My head fully knows this, as does my heart…for the most part. But it is a struggle that I deal with and probably always will. It became one my first assumptions about life.

Because my family was so broken and each of us kids so isolated, we all learned to take care of ourselves. We could never let ourselves feel badly, at least I couldn’t. If I did, a sibling would set me straight. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” The fact is, I felt sorry for them too. I felt sorry for the whole messed up family.

I learned that I was not worth being with or spending time with. Even writing that, while knowing how untrue it is, still brings tears to my eyes.  More than the demands of work, my parents weren’t home or involved. My mom resented her life. My dad, though sober and walking with Christ for decades now, could only be found at one of two bars. We kids learned that we were not important.

This leaves lifelong scars.

For me as a young adult, those lessons showed themselves in pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency. I didn’t need anyone. I could do everything. Weakness was not an option for me. All very American qualities. All very unhealthy and destructive. All very untrue.

I operated within my childish understanding which kept people at arm’s length. This way they couldn’t hurt me. It made it all the harder, however, when I was in fact deemed unworthy of love by someone who had pledged that love ’til death. The pain of that betrayal reverberates through my past and shouts against what my heart knows: I am loved, just ‘cuz.

God is rewriting these lessons. Showing me love and care from the people in my life. Demonstrating “Just ‘Cuz Love.” People have supported me without me ever asking, even before things in the mission were happening. To me, that is grace personified and a true act of God through another human being. Others have encouraged me with prayer, by joining in the mission, by caring for the things and people I care about, by talking to me and being in my life because we matter to each other.

God is also teaching me to ASK. For most of my life, I wanted my parents and family to do things or be a part of my life because they saw a need or desire in me or because they simply wanted to. This, of course, is a recipe for disaster. Passive aggressive behavior breeds dissatisfaction and unrealized expectations. People are not mind-readers, nor should they be. So now I ask. I expose my need, thus my vulnerability, and I ask. Before, asking meant I was insufficient and bothering others. Now asking is welcoming people into my world and trusting that they have enough fortitude to say no, yes or make a counter offer. I want people involved in my life and I want to be involved with others as well. Asking implies receiving. The reality is asking and receiving are still hard.

When I sense God on the verge of doing something through me and in this mission, as he is now, the lies assault me. God is wanting to bring complete healing to those areas of hurt. Last night as I prayed, I saw God opening the scar and cleaning it. Dirt, debris, infection and other toxins that were poisoning my life were washed away. It was painful, but a good kind of pain.

The wounds are still open. They need to ooze a bit. Nice image, I know, but accurate. When we don’t allow full cleansing, the wounds of our lives will scar over but never be fully healed. They can poison our blood and bring death. I don’t want that. GOD doesn’t want that. He wants to bring healing, freedom, reconciliation and wholeness.

So what, you might be asking, does this have to do with the mission? Everything. All that I am is a part of the mission. My ability to see into people’s hearts, to listen, to hear their unspoken pain stems from my own brokenness.

Mission comes out of brokenness.

Imagine a woman broken and beaten down in life by abuse. What would it mean to her to hear, “God loves you just ‘cuz.” I love you, just ‘cuz. What would it mean to someone to know that while I have no money to give them, I’m going to be their friend and introduce them to my friends. Mission is being in real relationship with messed up people, just as God is in relationship with us, other messed up people. Mission is about showing people that God loves them, just ‘cuz.

Just as he loves me.

Just ‘cuz.