Those cringe-worthy moments

You know those Facebook posts from the past that pop up on your feed prompting you to reshare?

I have some adorable ones- past trips with the grandkids, cute vacation snaps, visits with Mom and Dad…

And I have some “Why did I hate my body THEN?” ones when I realize that even though I might’ve been bigger than I’d ever been; it was, in fact, not the biggest I’d ever be.

But the ones that get me the most are the truly cringe-worthy ones. The ones that make me a little sad for the girl I used to be.

We aren’t talking pre-salvation either. We’re talking someone who let a setback or two (work, health issues) derail her to the point where there was no joy and no peace.

Ten years ago, I posted about being so angry at a television character that I turned my tv off. I wouldn’t admit the “lame program” I was watching at the time. I reposted it today, half-curious about what show it was (my money was on something on Nickelodeon since I wouldn’t name the program) and half-embarrassed that I’d ever posted that. To be honest, I’m not even sure why I REposted it except to chastise myself just a little. And give a little grace too….I genuinely felt bad for 10-years-ago me.

Some “kind soul” found it “necessary” to respond to my original post, so I was able to see what I’d been fussing about. It was a teenage gymnastics drama on what was formerly ABC Family. I remember the show- I liked the show a lot- but I don’t remember the character that made me so angry at all.

Imagine that!

For starters, I let it sink in that I was this mad at a CHARACTER. Okay, okay…maybe I do still get a little invested. Dale has to remind me often, as I’m sobbing into a tissue, that those things didn’t REALLY happen. But she ran after him in the rain and he got hit by a car as she reached out to him… (Okay, I made that one up, but you get my drift…)

It was the anger that bothered me the most. Because I remember that time period well. I had been miserable at work and then had major surgery; I was still not adjusting well to an empty nest; and my entire life revolved around lying in bed watching tv. It was all I had. And I was angry.

I was angry at the failing school system I’d thought I could make a difference in. It was the first district I’d been in that didn’t want innovative teaching; they wanted test questions drilled from Day 1.

I was angry that my son was overseas fighting for our country and we couldn’t hear from him for months at a time. I was angry at my girls for avoiding me (in retrospect, I completely understand. You know that one person you dread talking to because he/she is always miserable and it’s draining just to listen to them? That was me.)

So my anger at this tv character WHO I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER was really more about the anger within me. A deep, deep anger.

But how did it get there? After all, I’d let it all go ten years ago. And I don’t mean I THOUGHT I’d let it go. I had.

So how was there that much anger?

Simple, I let it in a little at a time.

Have you ever done a major closet cleaning? Cleared out stuff you no longer wore, put clothes on hangers facing the same direction, maybe even color-coordinated? The satisfaction of a well-organized closet can run deep. It also comes with a vow to NEVER let it get it piled up again.

Fast forward a year and there you are, finding something to wear from the pile of clothes in a jumbled heap. How did it get so messy? Simple. One garment at a time.

Our spiritual closets are no different. They require effort and a daily maintenance to keep them clean. When we do notice a problem, it’s best to take care of it immediately. Otherwise, you just pile more problems on top of each other until you can’t even identify the real issue anymore.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

August…….a time to be set free

Here I surrender lay down every weight 
Remember Your love has broken all my chains 
What You have finished, cannot be undone 
The work of the cross was more than enough

I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

There is a promise written in Your scars 
I am forgiven, changed by who You are 
What you have finished, I will not forget
I’m buried with Christ
I’m raised from the dead

I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind (now) I see 
This is amazing grace 
Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace 
Jesus alive in me

(Oh) I’ve been set free
(Oh) I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power (no power) over me 
Found in Your mercy
(Oh) I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

(Yes) You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

(Set Free….Hope Darst)

I shared a story this past Sunday of this very thing. It was the moment I truly knew I’d given everything to God. It wasn’t when I made a profession of faith at nine. It wasn’t when I threw myself on the altar at church camp at 14, a year after I turned my back on God in favor of a lifestyle that I erroneously thought was protecting me from pain. It wasn’t when I told him how sorry I was and how I wanted to turn my life around years later.

Those were three very real experiences and I meant every word of what I’d said each time.

But there was one time when I took it a step farther. One time when I knew I’d given Him EVERYTHING. The time I learned what it was like to be set free.

I’ve shared this story before, but the song above (featured in this month’s Media Picks) reminded me of that moment.

I was on my knees, figuratively, once again. Everything was a mess and I wanted to turn it around. It was a familiar prayer and I meant every word. But this time, He knew it was different. It was the lowest bottom I’d ever reached and I was all out of fight.

The calendar….He whispered.

Oh yes, the calendar…

It was several years old at that point and it held the phone numbers of every contact I’d ever need if things went south. Just now, as I’m writing this, I’m struck with the realization of what “going south” means. Going to hell. Which is what that calendar contained….a billion roads to send me to hell.

However, until then, I’d always looked at it as an insurance policy.

If things messed up, if I needed help, if I just needed a little something to help me through…it would be there. I would TRY not to use it but I’d keep it in a safe place as a back-up plan.

I hadn’t even thought about the calendar when He brought it up. But there I was, at the very intersection I call faith and free will. He was going to allow me to worship Him and He would bless me and I would revel in His grace and mercy no matter what I did. But I was tired of being tied to my past. It was the very thing that had kept me in bondage for years.

I don’t think I hesitated for a second. I made a fire, grabbed that calendar and threw it in. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I felt 10,000 lbs lighter. My heart rejoiced. I felt as if angels had lifted me off the ground and I heard the chorus of At the Cross.

…and the burden of my heart rolled away…

I knew that was the lightness I felt. The burden I had unknowingly been carrying around all those years by holding on to something “just in case” I needed it later.

If there is something you are holding onto, something that separates you from God, and you have it on the shelf instead of in the fire, BURN IT TODAY!

Whether it’s a relationship, an addiction, a ball of anger….it will never do for you what God can. And your relationship with God will never be what it could be until you let it go.

Don’t just be free for a little while.

Be free indeed.

Free Rx for the Quarantined

ANOTHER DRAFT POST I DIDN’T FINISH!! (Apparently, my time during quarantine was NOT well-spent!)

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Disclaimer: This is an emotional, spiritual prescription, not a plan to get your meds free during Covid-19, so if the title mislead you, it means I just might have missed my calling as a news journalist.

After talking with my friend Susan last week, I had an epiphany. We need to write ourselves a prescription to relax during this quarantine. I don’t mean relax, as in go to all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas and forget your troubles. A) You can’t travel even if you could afford it right now, and B) Even if you could’ve afforded it last month, you probably won’t be able to by next month anyway. So I’m not advocating a forget-your-troubles getaway.

I’m talking a deep breath, give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack RX.

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This is as far as I got on this post last April. I remember the day well. I was talking to my friend on the phone and I was basically feeling awful. You know the saying Of Saints and Sinners? I definitely felt like that was my quarantined house. There was my husband at the dining room table reading his Bible and studying all day long. (aka SAINT) There was me laying on the couch eating Oreos in my pajamas binge-watching America’s Next Top Model reruns on my tablet (aka SINNER).

And we decided we just needed to cut ourselves some slack during this crazy time.

I’m not so sure I still agree with Quarantine Me.

To a certain extent, yes. Things are different and we shouldn’t demand perfection of ourselves. That’s my number one message to parents who are about to embark on homeschooling or virtual schooling. Opening night always goes bad! I learned this directing plays: it doesn’t matter how great the dress rehearsal was, opening night is going to have kinks! But you don’t stress because no one noticed them as much as you did anyway and now you know what to fix.

But there’s also little things called conviction and accountability.

We can’t discount those. They are to keep us holding our image up to Christ (not our spouses) and be who He intended us to be.

Here are some thought I’ve had…we’ll call this a pop quiz. Which ones require action and which need to go to the trash bin?

  1. I’m not studying my Bible or doing as much as my husband is.
  2. I’m wasting time watching tv when God has given me a writing talent.
  3. I could’ve gotten so much more done during quarantine.
  4. God never will use me again b/c I blew it when I should’ve been writing.
  5. It doesn’t matter- we can’t change the way the world’s going anyway.

 

Of all the thoughts above, only #2 was conviction. We are responsible for our time and talents. #1 is guilt, #3 is regret, #4 is false pride and NOT the way God operates, and #5 is lazy and cowardly. NOW is the time for boldness and courage. Even if you reach just ONE person, you’ve created a ripple chain of events.

Remember…take those thoughts of guilt, shame, regret, and false humility and send them to the TRASH. Not the Recycling Bin!