Redeeming Love

Can you remember back to when you were a child in gym class? The teacher would announce a game that the class was going to play and assign two team captains. For those of you who were exceptional at sports this was an exciting time! You had a clearly defined vision of how you were going to lead your team to victory, and everybody knew it. Not only did they know it but they wanted to be apart of that vision.

The team captains would fight over who could go first, so they could get the first pick, calling out the names of those who would be joining their team. The captain who lost the opportunity of “first pick” would let out a sigh and try to realign his team to find the next best player… and hopefully try to get a few good players after that.

For those of you who were not as naturally talented at sports, your main goals consisted of: Being on a friends team, Being on a team with the best players, or not getting picked last. Any of which you would be happy with!

The names would get called one at a time, and with each passing name there was a realization that your goals had changed from being on your friends team or the winning team, to not getting called last. As fewer and fewer people remained, the pressure of getting your name called rose, and hearing your name became a profound sense of achievement. For those of you who were picked last, there was a sense of shame and discouragement that set in. Unspoken words told you that you were rejected and not good enough. Although there may have been some truth to you not being a skilled player, there was still a desire to feel to security of someone knowing your worth and picking you anyways.

Although this specific analogy may not be relevant to every single one of you, there may in fact be a deep wound in your heart where someone told you that you weren’t good enough and my goal tonight is to restore some hope in that area.

When I was younger I struggled in Math… and when I say I struggled I mean that EVERY year when Math class rolled around there was a cloud of doom that would wash over me. Some of you may recognize that agonizing feeling I am talking about. When I got to Jr. High the struggle continued; and by the time High School rolled around it didn’t stop. In my last 3 years of High School, I failed 4 math classes. Since my childhood my teachers would tell me that I wasn’t good at Math, but in all honesty I could have told them that myself. It was reinforced so many times in my internal belief systems, that I never had any hope that I would be good at it. I put in many, many HOURS after school with my parents and teachers. Although at times I would get a passing grade, there was never a moment I felt as though my hard work paid off. It felt as though the Math boat was a sinking ship and once school was over, I could put it to rest at the bottom of the ocean.

Although this was my view on it, I can tell you it wasn’t the Lord’s. To my surprise a couple years after high school, I got hired for a position that I felt completely unqualified for. Not only did I have NO prior experience in the position, but at the time the economy in my city was the worst it had been in years. About 300 people applied for the job, and they choose me… The girl who was told by numerous Math teachers, that I was no good and shouldn’t pursue anything related to the subject. The company made hundreds of thousands a dollars a month, and required ME to look after their accounts, and required accounting skills that I did not have. It took some time at the start, but I eventually mastered the job. Not only did I become fluent at what I did, but I was told by numerous managers that I had done better then anyone had in the last 15 years in the position.

After that job I was hired for another position, that I felt was incredibly out of my league. This job once again required skills I did not yet carry. The position was for both bookkeeping and payroll. Both ironically involving a skill that according to many people in my past- I should not be involved in. I don’t believe that I got either position on my own accord. I think that there were several people who were more qualified, that would have excelled in both positions. However that wasn’t the point. I believe that the Lord picked a seemingly low spot in my life that several people had reaffirmed I would never excel at and graciously pointed out that He is the God of the impossibilities. A lie that the Devil tried to root in me at a young age, God turned around and used it for my good.

I not only believe that the Lord will do it again in my life, but I believe that He will do it in every one of your lives, if you allow Him. Big circumstance or small circumstances. It’s scriptural:

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

The world sees you based on your skill set and what you can give, but God looks beyond. He enables you to do things in your life that without Him you would be unable to do. He shames the Devil with the very lies that He tries to instill in your heart and God turns your weaknesses into strength. A gracious, loving Father has a desire in your heart for you to succeed! Think about it! All the Lord requires from you is your Yes! He wants your heart. He wants you to give over your ambitions and desires to Him, and takes you farther than you could ever have gotten on your own. It’s beautiful isn’t it? He does it for His glory, however through it all you’re glorified as well.

In the gym class the Lord is the coach, and He chooses you first. There is no hesitation when He calls your name. He doesn’t have a long list of qualifications that you have to meet. He see’s you in your weakness and with your flaws and wants you on His team.  He is calling you all into greater levels with Him. The Bible says, “God the Father is no respecter of persons.” Which means what He does for one, He will do for another. He will use every weapon the enemy formed against you FOR GOOD. Take that as your promise tonight.

 

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Taking Care of the Bill-Accountability

This week at work a customer came in looking to pick up a order that his boss had made over the phone. Upon searching for the order, me and my co-workers discovered that it was not in our system. This was peculiar, as it was the first time this had ever happened in my time working for my employer. Immediately my mind went to giving him the benefit of the doubt. “What if his boss forgot to call in?” “Maybe the order was done under a different account name?” In the middle of trying to find a solution for this man, he decided to call his boss. Loudly and for the whole company to hear he says, “These idiots don’t know how to do their job and can’t figure anything out.”

Over the phone, the boss describes to this man the person whom he believes helped him place the order. The customer in the store thinks I match the “description” and then of course accuses me of being the person responsible for this problem. Sigh. Thankfully, I am protected by the fact that my job duties don’t include placing orders. As I look across the room I see my co-worker mouthing a name, the name of a business located two blocks away from us. I turned back to the man and asked him if he could have possibly mistaken this other business for ours?  His face went expressionless as the lightbulb turned on in his head and he turned away and left the room without saying another word. This man took no accountability for his actions. He came in called me and my co-workers names, he was rude and felt justified in it. He was proven foolish and in the wrong but still he left without expressing any remorse for what he had done.

One of the biggest lies that we can believe is that we are powerless victims of our own circumstance. We tend to avoid responsibility for our own conduct by blaming others for the contributing factors that led us inevitably to our negative actions. The path to wrong-doing was not our intention, the people involved hurt us and brought events to this outcome so logically we must not be 100% to blame. But does that logic really equal innocence? If someone hurts us in a major way, does it justify our retaliation? Even if our retaliation is small by comparison, can we weigh our slights against each other and find one to be just? Believing we can will only immobilize us, causing us to blame others for what we need to take responsibility for; our own hearts. Yes someone could have hurt you in a situation, but that does not make what you did permissible. Toxic people project their own character defects onto their victims. They do this by accusing the victim of the exact actions they themselves deny. More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. Maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making changes.

Another thing that will stop us from taking accountability is using our feelings to override the truth. You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel. Moreover, your feelings are not always truth. Your feelings can and will lie to you. For example, just because I feel like someone thinks or believes something about me doesn’t make it the truth or a fact. Just because your pain is understandable does not mean your behaviour is acceptable. There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behaviour when he is wrong or hurting.

These are some of the things that you are accountable for:
• The way in which you communicate with others
• How you spend your time
• Your behaviour and manners
• The consideration and respect you show towards others
• Your attitude and thoughts
• The way you respond

Do not apologize for someone else’s feelings. “I’m sorry you’re mad,” is not an apology, it is condescending. Do apologize for your own actions and attitude. “I’m sorry I was rude,” is an apology that takes ownership. Be specific about what you did wrong. “I’m sorry for whatever made you mad” Is NOT going to work. Don’t add an excuse to your apology. I’m sorry I was rude, but I was really irritated,” means you’re not really sorry. You feel justified for the way you acted and you expect to be excused.
Do ask for forgiveness when you apologize: “I’m sorry,” on it’s own, is just a statement. It requires no response. “Will you forgive me?” is a humble request that can rebuild a relationship. When you ask your friend to forgive you, wait and listen. Be prepared for the response, “I need a minute, I’m not there right now.” When you are in the wrong, you are never owed forgiveness but be grateful when you do receive it. Don’t expect a reciprocal apology. For example, let’s say you were in a fight. You were both rude and hostile towards each other and now you’ve decided to be the brave one and apologize first. Do not apologize expecting your friend to apologize equally. When you have done something wrong, take responsibility for your part of it. The end. Do attempt to make a repair. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are relationships. Trust takes time to earn back, it’s a slow process but quitting will not speed it up.
Last but not least, if there are people in your life who avoid apologizing or taking accountability for their actions, I believe there are two things you need to do.
First of all, forgive them. I can forgive someone but that doesn’t mean I accept their behaviour or trust them. I forgive them for me, so I can let go and move on. Stay away from people who can’t take responsibility for their actions and who make you feel bad for holding them accountable when they do something hurtful. Part of relationships means being vulnerable and truthful. The vulnerability that honesty requires is not something that everyone can handle. Lying allows people to be comfortable.
Secondly, create boundaries. Some of you need to do this with family members and friends in your life, not just those who hurt you. Boundaries are not mean, they are created to protect you in relationship and create a place where you and others can be healthy and thrive. What is a boundary? A boundary is a definite place where your responsibility ends and another person’s begins. It stops you from doing things for others that they should do for themselves. A boundary also prevents you from rescuing someone from the consequences of their destructive behaviour that they need to experience in order to grow. It’s only once we can assert ourselves and say “I will not tolerate x,y,z” that we can be whole, healthy and not in bondage to someone else, but instead stand free in a relationship.

You make me Brave

Fear should never be the leader of your life, or dictator of your dreams. Yet, fear still holds our voices at times, causing us not to be heard or known. We are afraid of what people will think so we choose not to share our hearts . We stay silent to keep peace and save face. The truth being that we are not called to sacrifice truth in order to protect people’s feelings. Fear is not suppose to outweigh the value of our words.

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak. -Audre Lorde.

You were created to be heard.There are graveyards full of unwritten books and stories that people let slip away because they believed what they had to say wasn’t valuable.

You are carrying a significant gifting on your life. You are not called to act out of fear but be someone who through loving-kindness you share your heart. Love is many things however it is not deceitful. There is nothing toxic that comes from giving and receiving genuine love. You should always be truthful, and in your truthfulness others will find value and the breakthrough in their lives that they so desperately need.

People pleasing hides the real you. The fear of man will ultimately gain you nothing. If you desire people to get to know the real you, it requires you to be vulnerable. Vulnerability will not always be well received, however your words in a situation have the power to change the situation itself. It does not do anyone a favour to hide who you are, because ultimately you are the one who loses the most. If you cannot lower the walls that you have built to protect yourself, it will create an inability to receive love and be fully known. Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of your words until you are able to feel the weight of their release.

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A place that feels like home

Today my question to you is what do you place your hope in? Is it in your own ability? Is it in the Lord? Do you have you hope in your spouse or your kids? Your job? Your money?

Right now I am sitting precisely 1660 km away from Redding California, “The City of Hope”.  I don’t know if I could begin to express how much being there ever meant to me, but I will do my best to try. In 2006 my mom died from a drunk driver crashing into her car. I was 14, and relied heavily on my mom up until that point. My family literally fell apart after.  My dad buried himself in work, leaving his three broken children to try and figure out how to raise themselves. It was one hard year after another- and I lacked in much, but most of all I lacked the affirmation, and care that a mother brings.

Fast forward several years to after high school where you find a very angry , bitter girl who seeks love and affirmation from men because she hadn’t found any in her father. At the time my brother came back from Bethel School in Redding. He was  visiting for the christmas season, and had persuaded me to throw my hat in the ring to see if I could get accepted into the same school. I was accepted almost immediately after applying and the very next year ended up traveling to Redding with my brother.

In the years that I was there felt like I was alive again. A place where I could finally breathe and get the healing I so desperately needed. While there people loved on me so extravagantly that I began to open up and love again. I grew in faith, confidence and finally had a hope for the future. That was until I got a call to return home, my visa had expired in the States and it was time to go. I remember having a week left and  feeling like I was returning home to a funeral.

Hopeless and feeling alone I spent months searching for every possible option to get back to the place that I once was. Nothing worked and no door opened. I had trusted in myself to be able to get where I wanted to go and ultimately failed. The Bible says: “The Lord will open doors that no man can close, and close doors that no man can open. In my case I believe that the Lord so graciously brought me to a place that I felt alive and got healing for my benefit. He made a way for me to go and provided extravagantly for it. He still hasn’t opened the door for me to return yet.

Here’s what I believe about the situation. I believe regardless of the current circumstances and my hearts desires that God is good. I don’t believe he’s cruel enough that he would put dreams our heart and not fulfill them. In the seasons where we don’t see him moving we have to believe that he is for us and ultimately has our best interest in heart. If I would have left when I wanted to leave I would have never met my husband Michael. He’s my best friend and a HUGE answer to prayer. Even though I am not where I currently want to be, I have to believe that it is because that Lord still has a purpose for me here and good things coming, and one day I believe that he will open a door to go back when the time is right.

Today I want to challenge you to put your hope in the Lord. If you have never experienced him as a good father, ask him to reveal himself to you. He is faithful and he is for you. It is not inherently evil trusting in things like your family, money or jobs however they are all things that can fail you. Put you hope in the unshakable one, the one who made you with all your hopes, dreams and desires and can open the doors to bring them to fulfillment in your life.

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