It’s easy to Lose things….Keys….wallet…….sanity. But you might be thinking Mary I always know where I am! As a kid it was a favorite thing for my family to pile into the car on a sunny Sunday afternoon in hopes to get “lost” in our own community. We lived in rural Pennsylvania where once upon a time cows outnumbered people and backroads were a plenty. We even had “special roads” that were only open during the spring, summer and fall. sometimes only summer depending on the weather.
We would always find some new and exciting road that led us to somewhere we already knew BUT it might be a little terrifying in the process. We knew of some hidden roads too. Roads that you only saw when you were on top of them.
It was fun to go on these adventures. There was an adventure to this sad old church. It hadn’t seen a congregation in decades. The cemetary itself was of the thin headstones from long ago. the plots of ground were sunken in where the wooden boxes had deteriorated and turned into mulch. It seemed as though my ad had no idea where he was going at first ut we quickly realized this was a purposeful trip. My dad wanted us to see something specific.
But Let’s Be Honest with Ourselves
As much fun as it is to get “LOST” like that as a kid- getting Lost is a horrible feeling. It’s one thing that both my brothers and I learned about in scouts. it’s a three fold process- 1). How not to get lost and 2). How to stay alive if you get lost. and 3). how to get unlost (yep I just coined that word).
Getting Lost without being LOST
Sometimes we can get lost without physically being lost. This means losing sight of our purpose which is 2 parts, 1) Loving God with all of our Heart Soul, mind and Strength andStrength and 2) Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself (Luke 10:27) I see Christians do this all the time. They compromise their beliefs for a moment of…..you can fill in the blanks. Before long they loose themselves and they start buying a lie that this is now who they are or that they can’t ever get back or that God couldn’t possibly love or forgive them. They also believe that they have to get back on their own (also a lie).
But It’s not just limited to our own personal Choices
The root of this problem are the lies we choose to believe. This is also the case when we may not have made the choices but the choices were made for us. Abuse, illness, an accident, some form of trauma, losing someone close to you, financial problems, mental illness and the list can go on and on and on. We might Geel like this is just how it’s going to be. We lose sight in Who God really is. We can take on the Victim mentality or feel like we are unlovable, unworthy, a failure…You get the picture.
Part of the enemies plan is to distract people from what they are called to do. When we take our eyes off of that we start believing lies. Lies that destroy so much. The enemy wants to keep us from our purpose.
Ever since I was a little girl I could be found writing all sorts of things. Long before Kindergarten I knew my letters. I have a very young memory of my mom in the bathroom getting ready for the day and I was sitting outside the closed door saying “mommy how do you spell……Mom………and my mom would patiently spell out the word. I would write it down. and then I would move on to the next word. I also remember as a middle school student learning that my cousin had this paper to write and I wanted so desperately to have a paper to write too. In high school I found a whole new love that I knew nothing about. Creative writing. I would get lost in my English papers. My favorite was in 9th grade. I had to write to a historical figure and tell them about some modern technology without using words that they couldn’t understand. The possibilities were endless andI was giddy with all the ideas rolling through my head. Clearly I had a bent for writing it was my happy place (it still is). It’s just part of who God created me to be.
The journey Continues
In College is when I hit a wall and gained understanding of who I was. Technical papers were the death of me. I was so frustrated. Now I know that some of those papers I could have changed a bit and gave them more of a creative twist (Kinda like that tabernacle drawing and our Old Testament timelines -I know Dr. S. “Charles Shultz had nothing to worry about”) Let’s just say the prof was less than impressed with our sheep angels complete with wings hovering over the altar- actually I’m pretty sure he enjoyed them.
It was during this time that I learned hat I need to write to clear my brain and that release wasn’t found in papers for class. Creative writing was a release for me The first two years f college I had lost myself actually I had been lost for a while but it became glaringly obvious. It was because I had bought into two lies.
The Two Major Lies
First was this lie that I needed to fit someone else mold SO I became a social butterfly. Yes I had friends in high school but it was different. It was the type of peer group I was in. What did they expect of me? I loved my peer group in College. They were great friends and I am still friends with many of them today. I became a master morpher- all things to all people. I slept a lot. I suffered from horrible headaches. It was just BAD. It was the first time I could explore the many possibilities of ministries too and I threw myself into everything. I tried to do it all and everything came crashing down. I was exhausted. I had no idea who I really was. I just knew that what I was being told is to be successful you had to be outgoing….do lots of things…..be good at lots of things…be around lots of people…..be this…be that……fake it until you make it. Now this wasn’t necessarily the school that said this. Tor my friends. But one group you said this is the ideal and another said that is is ideal and before long You don’t know what to think and you have the extremely unattainable checklist.
Secondly there’s that whole boyfriend thing- which is basically the something as above. And when those voices start in and you let them have control you get distracted from your purpose. And it’s easy to fall in love with idea of being in love.
The Influences I let have my ear were the problem
Between these two things I lost the sense of who I really was- I settled for what everyone else told me to do. Now I am not going to sit here and pretend that I knew who I was or what I was called to do going into college . I mean I thought I did , but I didn’t. I knew I was called into full time ministry and I knew I was supposed to go to the school I was at- and that my friends is all I knew about myself going into college. I had no real talents to speak of .
Understanding my true identity
I think one of the things lacking within the church at least where I was as a teen was fully understanding my identity in Christ and I saw the same thing in other people at college. Matter of fact it wasn’t something really taught at Bible College either. I think it’s the case of everyone thinking everyone else is teaching it. It can be talked about all day long but it needs to be taught. And what we end up with is the Devotions dilemma all over again. We use terminology without explaining what it means. So hundreds of kids hear about the concept of “doing devotions” but in the end have No idea what that looks like. And we can all sit at snow camp hearing about our “identity in Christ and how we should be rooted in that” but until we are actually taught what exactly that is – we go through life grasping at straws. And the two of those problems put together is recipe for disaster.
In college I firmly believed that my identity was in my serving NOT the act of serving but the actual specific ministry I served in. I didn’t know then -that this too was a lie because ministries come and go. I know that we are created to serve God and make him famous. But man when I had to leave that first ministry that I had grown to love so much I was devastated. Then I jumped into a bunch of different ministries that were NOT what I was called to do and I struggled. It’s like a rebound relationship really. (This is repeated later on in ministry on a much bigger scale.)
There have been times over the last 20 years that I haven’t struggled with knowing who I was. I was actively practicing the truths I had learned. It wasn’t easy but what I would later find out is this time was was a preparation for something that nearly killed us as a family. But because I had been applying those truths I was better equipped to trust God. I couldn’t trust anyone else. And as Much as hubby and I were on the same team it shook and tested our team. We too had to trust each other on a whole new level.
A Book that Changed Everything
A number of years later I read a quote that has stuck with me. It was by Renee Swope in her Book A Confident Heart. The quote at the beginning of the book basically says that when you go through something traumatic or a big change we need to take the time to pause and really strive to gain a new understanding of how this has Changed us and who we have now become. This was exactly what my damaged and hurting heart needed to hear. Because I had endured something horrific and horribly damaging and now had no idea how I fit into things: my ministry, my parenting,, society in general. So as I read her book something deep within my soul began to shift like never before and I gained this new thing called God-fidence.
I know that some of my friends think that I coined this term but I didn’t. It’s basically taking my eyes off myself and my own strength and knowing that God ihas got this and that he’s going to use this for his powerful purpose. Ad that meant that I had to be willing to use this horrible thing for his glory. When I did that God opened a whole new ministry- actually two. And I stepped through those doors and things began to happen.
Then the Enemy Stepped In. (AGAIN)
Whenever you take big steps in faith the enemy takes notice. And when he did, he used my biggest weakness…PEOPLE PLEASING. During this time I had stepped out in faith and done some things that were bigger than any ting I had ever done before The first one was something I have always loved to do- public speaking. Yep I am weird like that. God was preparing me to step out in His confidence NOT my own…I did and what ensued was me losing myself to the negativity. The second was being a part of a large conference (as in on the planning team) and the third was to work at a Crisis pregnancy center)
A Misplaced Trust
I had been pushed by people for a number of years to do speak and I was no way ready but through my study of confidence and then influence I knew it was time. I also had been convicted that I needed to speak truth when leading and I became unpopular very quickly. I struggled with this because I was told I needed to be more bold and then when I was it back fired. It’s amazing how quickly people can turn on you. And I let myself be silenced and I began the process all over again. I had to look deep within myself and ask the hard questions. I felt like a complete and utter failure. This was quite the process this go around and it came down to 3 things.
The three things that really changed my perspective
- First I had to be in God’s Word- and not just for knowledge. had to be reading and searching for understanding- that which changes my heart- not just swells my brain.
- Second I needed toast my friends to critique what I was writing and saying. Because I was blamed for being a certain way I had to allow people into my life who would keep me accountable for what I was saying. Even now as I write this I know there are two women and my husband who are going to read this and be honest with m. if Ive gone too far or if I’ve come across in an ungodly way. Considering all that had happened this was extremely hard because I had some misplaced trust before.
- Third- after I had done the hard work of one and two I had a choice to make- Change the way I looked at y writing. I mean I kinda had this perspective before but It HAD to become more solidified if I was going to continue to write- I had to set aside the critics and not let them have power over me……and in that I have to ask myself two questions
- Why am I writing this?
- Does this fit into my purpose? (Hebrews 10:24)
And here we are Day 45
I once read that raising kids is a cycle. You keep teaching them the same lessons over and over again but in new and deepening lessons. Isn’t that the truth but the same is true in our lives. We just keep learning the same lessons over and over again in new and deepening lessons. It gets harder and so we need to keep practicing that God-fidence.
We all lose ourselves from time to time. We all go through stuff and it’s painful. In November We are going to dive into “Our Identity In Christ.” I have a mini-series of posts already in place. It is born out of years of learning this. I have definitely not arrived in any way on this Journey. I hit some major moments where this has been a mile marker in my life but each and everyday there is a need to practice practice practice. I am still working through many aspects of this journey. I know there are plenty of people who will tell you (and me ) they have arrived BUT that is a lie.
And as a friend so aptly put it this morning….we are truly never alone. God is always with us…He will never leave us or forsake us! It’s important for us to remind ourselves of the truths we know ….hmmm didn’t I JUST write a post about that!
A Spark of Joy
One of my favorite things is when talking with an elderly person and they share what new thing they have recently learned about God! It shows me that they are being authentic. They are willing to be honest that they haven’t arrived yet. And that is the greatest testimony of all!!
How about you? Did you ever “lose” Yourself? What changed?
Thank you so much for Joining me on Day 45 of Choosing Courage- My 100 Day writing project! You Can check out the previous posts here.