Shake! Shake! Shake!
Venice, Italy hosts a wonderful event every year, Venezia di Carnivale. Everyone wears a mask and dresses in elaborate costumes. Identities are very well hidden.
All of us wear masks of one sort or another. Instead of a mask, our disguise could be clothing, make-up, facial expressions, superficial conversation, personality changes, etc. Another word for "mask" could be "untruth".
Some of us divulge or let go of our truths by talking to others or writing. There are those who reveal themselves through art whether it be music, dancing, painting, architecture, etc.
However we choose to express who we are reflects our passion, our calling – who we are and who we were designed to be.
Who is it that you allow to see your truth – the real you? Or…are you currently in hiding?
Make today the beginning of the big reveal. Take a moment to write down a description of who you really are. Then describe your dreams for the future.
Free up that part of you.
Have others placed their dreams for you on the front burner while yours have been pushed to the back?
Reach out and move them forward again.
It's time to tell the truth of who you really are – who He created you to be.
As a friend and I worked together to pull together a non-profit corporation, there were times we both felt inadequate and so overwhelmed. Who in the world were we to think we could organize all of this and end up with something that actually works well?
Sometimes we felt as if we were moving backward.
What God reminded me of (again!) was:
1. He's in control.
2. He blessed us with the idea and the skills to get this done.
3. He will provide the right people as needed.
Our refusal to listen to the negative chatter and asking for help through prayer allowed us to move forward on this project. Playing the doubting Thomas role never "cuts it" when you know God is in it.
Now, understand this. As you move forward in your calling, expect darts. It's a given. However, instead of darts, we have God as our shield and His Word as our sword.
Armed for battle!
Guess who wins?
Let's face it, running with the herd can feel very comfortable. Breaking out from the herd can bring you to a very interesting crossroads.
When I moved to a new home and neighborhood at age 11, I had to make choices. The pressure was on to conform and blend in but for me it simply wasn't possible. The clothing and shoes I wore were not what the bullies in the herd felt was the "norm".
I chose to be myself.
As adults we can face the same pressure, right? New group, new church, new class, new Bible study, new job…new everything. And then the pecking order process begins to rear its head.
Oh…yes…it can be quite ugly.
The competition, the insecurities and yes, the bullying.
Do you feel as if you've disappeared? With encouragement, you can successfully become who God ordained you to be from the beginning. He's got your back.
Commit to reading God's Word in order to understand what He thinks about you. This will empower you to be all you can be through Him. Seek out people who feel the same way and who will support you.
I know, it can be extremely lonely along this journey but keep moving forward. Remember…you are unique and special. He says so.
Never give up on that.
The negative loop playing in your head might sound something like this:
I'm too stupid.
My body is ugly.
No one likes me.
What good am I to anyone?
I'm not good enough.
I am worthless.
I have no talent.
And on and on…
He has a purpose for you.
He made you and set you apart.
You are His masterpiece.
You are a child of the King.
You have been redeemed.
He loves you.
And on and on and on…
Why do we have such a hard time believing He loves us?
He proved it by sending His very own Son to die for us. A man laying down His life for us. It doesn't get any better than that.
So, when you're feeling low, unloved and unworthy, remember that God adores you.
When others despise you, ignore you, leave you….God loves you.
I was asked a question recently and before I gave the answer, my conversation took a little trip of it own into six or seven different areas, none of which answered the original question! After those detours, I finally provided the answer.
My mind simply travels in several directions at once. Pretty normal…for me. That's why I love using sticky notes and a To-Do list to keep me on track and on task.
Disorganized? A little…well, maybe a lot! I'm a heavy duty reader and love to write so I have lots and lots of books and I do indeed hoard them. Love 'em! But sometimes I run out of room and need to share them. So, off they go to a local thrift store. Clutter, especially in the form of books, is a real struggle for me. My home will never look like a museum and that's ok with me.
Now, let's get to the "cranky" part.
Yeah, sometimes I'm irritable but more often I watch what I say. Cranky isn't a big part of who I am but it will definitely rear its ugly head once in awhile.
The beautiful part of all of this is God loves us inspite of our imperfections. He created us and knew us before we were in the womb. He set us apart.
Comparing or measuring ourselves based on what someone else thinks rather than what God knows and sees makes it seem like we're on a hamster wheel. The comparisons are endless and it's a total deadend.
It's time to accept who you are – wonderful and beautiful.
He sure does.
Walking into a women's Bible study group as a first time visitor was downright scary. All eyes were on me which is never a comfortable feeling. Oy.
What I expected to happen was the sharing of stories by the other women. I wanted to hear how they survived loss or how they handled the dreaded "empty nest" syndrome. I wanted to hear from them. Instead, a video was shown, a workbook handed out and our time together was over. Connection was what I was hoping for.
It didn't happen.
I went back the next week and the next and the next…
It still didn't happen.
And it wasn't wanted, believe me.
But after I stopped focusing on myself, the Lord revealed that I wasn't the only one hurting, the only one facing grief and too much solitude. The room was jam packed with hurt. So, while the meeting didn't go according to my plan, it did go according to His.
Building connection takes time. And patience.
When we've been hurt or let down, trust doesn't come easy. It's such a slow process. And building a connection or a friendship can be a long journey. There's strength and freedom that comes with beginning to trust again. Beautiful things begin to happen. The fear of hurt diminishes, new friendships are formed and our spirit soars.
And what the Lord revealed next was maybe I needed to be open enough to listen instead of talking. Open enough to care for others.
Even perfect strangers.
You know, until 2 years ago, I had not read this verse:
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:4-5
As we live this life, throughout our career, school, life, marriage and/or singleness, we are always trying to find or prove ourselves. But, take another look at that verse above. God chose us and set us apart before we were born. We didn't have to prove a thing. He loves us just as we are.
Who on this earth really loves us as we are?
And who really understands the gifts we have to offer the world?
The One who created us does!
There is an exact purpose for us. Half the fun is realizing this and the other half is fulfilling what we are meant to do. It doesn't matter what time of life you're in right now. When we're young, we're concerned with other matters and sometimes we lack wisdom in our decisions.
As we mature in our walk with God, we seek His Will for our lives which in turn provides us with peace and happiness. Walking forward without His direction is "downright crazy". In fact, it may be other people in our lives who believe they know our paths. If we listen and follow their advice, the result can be confusion.
No need for that. Chaos and confusion are not of God. His way is ordered.
Take some time to read thru the book of wisdom in the Old Testament of the Bible named "Proverbs". Pray before you read, asking God to reveal His truth to you.
"You never finish anything!"
"Maybe you'll lose the weight once you get a little taller."
"He's not your type."
"This is my house, not yours – don't forget it!"
These comments are just a few of the type that family may spew and all of it cuts to the core. What they don't realize is they're trying to pass their own hurts on to you. The walls they've built or the inadequacies they feel are shared in the most inappropriate way.
While we do not have the power to "fix" family, friends or co-workers, what we can do is stop listening. We are very able to refuse to sit still while someone continues to bash or demean us. It's time to call a halt to all of the madness.
But what do you do when all of those hurtful words or actions play over and over on a continuous loop in your head? How do you stop all the hurt from smothering your own growth or progress?
How do you "burn those ships"?
First, it's vital that you understand how much God loves you. Read John 3:16 in the New Testament. Even if you've never picked up a Bible, look up this verse on your smartphone, i-Pad or laptop. Ask God to show you how much He adores you.
Second, begin reading God's Word daily. It's spiritual food that you absolutely need everyday.
Third, turn away from hurtful memories or words and ask God to remove them from you.
No more looking back.
No more running from all God has for you.
He is the One to trust and He has your best interests at heart.
In the book, “Replenish – Leading from a Healthy Soul”, author Lance Witt quotes a gentleman he met who said, “The older I get, the less concern I have with what I have or have not done and the more concern I have for what I have or have not become.”
What are you concerned with right now?
Is becoming successful driving you?
Are you taking care of your soul along the way?
And what comes first – the drive for success, the achievements, prosperity, notoriety or the inner you?
One of my first jobs was working as a sales clerk at an accessories store in a large mall. If my mood was a bit off or if I felt a little under the weather, I had to put on a good face. My image had to be what my employer and my customers expected in order to keep them all happy. And while my “outside” image appeared pulled together, my soul was not.
Does your inside support your outside?
That unseen side of you has to be considered very important and taken care of otherwise there’s a real danger of collapse. What is it in us that for a while goes unnoticed by others (and sometimes unnoticed by us) that begins to seep into our outside image?
Is it the suffering and pain we keep to ourselves that we believe our friends or family might not be able to cope with or understand? Whether the pain is from a traumatic event or from the hiding of secrets, sins, our insecurities, “hiding” is what we do in order to keep our image intact. However, the pressure of concealing what is happening on the inside eventually becomes impossible and it can take a real toll on us.
It really is like leading a double life.
So, how about taking a moment with me to do a health check of your all important soul? What is it that remains a threat to your spiritual health? Do you take time everyday to feed your spirit?
Do you confess your sins to God (unloading the baggage) with the full intention of turning from them?
God made you with a definite plan for your life. Have you discovered what that plan is yet? I have to tell you, as scary as it is to begin the discovery of your purpose in life, it’s also a lot of fun.
Give yourself that space for discovery but also give yourself the gift of time to rest and restore. You know, our doctors recommend we have an annual physical, yet we sometimes forget about the need for a spiritual check-up.
When’s the last time you gave yourself a tune-up?