Who Am I…?

We don’t alwayWho Am I...?s see ourselves the way God sees us. Sometimes, all we see is our flaws or worse the image of who we once were is still etched in our psyche.  And we think, “who am I that God would want to use me?”   Interestingly enough, even with a blatant disregard for anything holy, we can’t thwart God’s purpose. Just ask Jonah or Paul. Or peek in Romans at “and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

I’m not saying that we should live anything less than holy lives because the Word reminds us gently that if we’re “without chastisement we’re bastards and not sons” – but I digress, that’s a whole different blog. What I’m really getting at is that no matter how messed up we think we are God can and WILL use us. I did say us because sometimes I suffer from whoamitis myself.  “I haven’t been in the church as long as Sister Mavis and I know I’m not as saved as Sister Cant Mash Ants.” What does that even mean anyway?

Today, I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Pastor Fessal expound on the lineage of Jesus. Though I didn’t need another reason to thank God, I was reminded of yet another and couldn’t help but say “God I thankkkkkk you, thank you that you look beyond my faults and see me!”  I’m guilty of running all me ‘begats’ into a blur even five seconds after reading them I can’t remember who begat who. Today, my Bible has the markings of my deliberate ponderings.

Thamar the prostitute, Rahab the harlot, Ruth the outcast, and Mary the virgin all make up the lineage of the King of Kings.  Can you imagine prostitute being used in the same breath as virgin? God can! God doesn’t care what we’ve done or where we came from. He just says give me your heart and His blood covers it all! The moment we said Lord here I am save me we became heirs “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”   I don’t know about you but I just shouted gloraayyyy!

Pastor Fessal reminded us that “God’s justice triumphs over gender, our willfulness, racial prejudice, and geographical disposition.” That’s my big great God. So the next time you dare ask yourself who am I? Look yourself square in the eye and answer; I AM a child of the King!

What’s made you say who am I?


Mountain Tops

A doctor once told me, “Your tonsils are so scarred that if you come back to me with them this inflamed I’ll have to take them out.”   I never went back to that doctor. No it wasn’t because of a miraculous healing but more like avoidance. I hate needles, the sight of blood and yes surgery – next best option -self medicate.

I’ve turned the final page on “Get out of That Pit” and today of all days my mood matches the darkness outside and the rain beating on my window. You’d think that reading and writing about pit abandonment would get me out and keep me out. After all, surely I’ve read all the to do’s and what not to do’s.  Yet if you talk to me too rough right at this moment I just may burst into tears for seemingly no reason.

The memory of my bout with tonsillitis brings two things to mind. No matter how high and lifted up I think [emphasis on the word think] I am, I still don’t own a pit exemption card. I may look pit free and act pit free but I have scars, some still fresh.  The strain of the pit disease is still in me and I’m not above another bout if placed in the right environment.  Almost calls for an outer body experience where I look at myself and ask what in the world is wrong with you!?!

It also reminds me that self medication is not the answer. I can self medicate alllllllllll I want, I still would not be pit free and stay pit free unless I gave my scars, my doubts, my hang ups to God, Jehovah Rapha, the only true healer.  A friend said to me “I read that book and it didn’t help, I may need to read it again.” The things is reading books may help get us in touch with ourselves and cause us to look at places and things we’ve kept hidden from others — or even thought we were over, but it doesn’t heal us does it?

Life is filled with so many hills and valleys. How I respond to my valley determines how long I stay there. I’m about to go talk to my God right now and react to my valley as if I’m still on the mountain! I can see the sun peeking out already. Care to join me?

Choppy Waters

The Psalmist David said, “I waited patiently for the Lord…”  Well, I’m ashamed to say that that’s not my testimony.  Mine would read more like – “I waited, grumbled, pleaded, bargained…went back to waiting for the Lord while fixing my problems on my own.”  My Psalm would probably have 300 chapters instead of 150 because all my ‘fix-on-my-own’ strategies backfire and make God have to do extra to untangle me. Sigh…I’m working on my wChoppy Watersaiting skills.

“Smooth living makes for sloppy spirituality,” says Moore in her book “Get Out of that Pit”. How true huh… we never really think of it until we compare our high chapters with our low chapters. When the seas are choppy I pursue God with such a vengeance and then when the waves calm my pursuit falters.  It’s as if God brings storms to tap me on the shoulder saying – “hey hey, you DON’T have this under control ma’am.”  I wish though that we could just by pass all the choppy waves. Won’t it be something if like an editor we could look through the book of our life and delete chapters at will before they even unfold?  I find myself sometimes when I’m going through, pleading with God telling him that I’ve learned whatever  lesson he’s trying to teach me so I could get out faster.  Yes I actually do say this pray…I know I know … I’m fooling no one and especially not God.

“Good stories don’t jump on a page,” — good things come to those who wait…. Yaddy yaddy yah … Such powerful messages that remind us that trials are meant to shape and make us. We know all these sayings and can sure preach them to our sisters when they are going through. But as soooooooon as the shoe is on the other foot, ohhhhh … all of a sudden we feel it’s too tight, bunions flare up and corns start itching.  There I go again with the French and “we” – let me speak for me.

Deep down in my heart of hearts I know that God’s got me. I know it. Yet before I get to that place of calm assurance I’m in a crumpled ball in my closet misusing my tear ducts. And not just the sniff sniff pat your eyes cry. No I’m talking about the kind where the hurt tortures the very pit of my stomach and my helplessness threatens my very peace of mind.  Have you ever been in that place? Where you just wish that you could detach yourself from the pain until it subsides? Even as I’m writing this it’s dawning on me that this is the key. “MY helplessness” — Light bulb!  In my own strength I’m helpless. If only when I’m in trouble I look up and not around. Perhaps this is where God is trying to take me — mature me to the point where like Job instinctively I say, not just with my lips but with my actions – “though he slays me yet will I trust him…though he slays me —YET will I trust Him!”

A friend said to me I can’t swim, but I can handle my own with my doggie paddle. How are you handling your choppy waters?

Hammock Time!

How to get out of the pit? “You can opt for God” — Uhhhhh – then why didn’t I do that a long time ago? We do God just the same way we do so many otHammock Timeher things in our lives.

When planning my trip back home I packed tons of supplies including an extra laptop – just in case.  A young man recently told me he has four eggs in one basket and four in another – just in case. And just in case God doesn’t deliver us WHEN we want him to we start a Band-Aid Ministry covering sores because we don’t opt for God.

Moore then advises us on three “Get out of That Pit” steps: Cry out, Confess, Consent. I don’t know about you but I sure do have the “Cry Out” piece down pat.  Aren’t you happy just having that calm assurance that no matter where we are or how deep in the pit we are that when we cry out God hears AND answers?  That just puts a yesssssssssss in my spirit.

Marvin Winans sang “…and if I had a dime for every time I tried to call your name. Some tell me, I’d be wealthy…you just don’t wanna know.”

I’m with Marvin on this one, I absolutely hate to be ignored – you know you saw my number on your phone!  Just think, with God before we even finish dialing his number He’s already heard us and answered.  I can just imagine Him tilting His head in my direction saying, “I hear my child calling!” The song writer says “whisper His name and He’ll come to you…shout out His name. And He will run to you.”   One thing to remember here too is that this is between you and God. He doesn’t care if we have the perfect words, the most eloquent prayer, or a prayer voice that shatters chandeliers. He just wants a sincere heart.   

I think I have the confess part down too – note I said think so there’s still room for improvement here.  My real weakness though is in the consenting part. Not that I’m in a pit now, or want to stay in a pit, but I get into pits and stay in pits, trouble, sin, things that aren’t good for me because I get convenient amnesia and forget that God’s will and God’s plan is flawless.  You just can’t beat flawless. Let me go find my hammock so I can lay in kef while God does his “shifting, shoving, and rearranging!”

Consent problems anyone? Which “Get Out of that Pit” steps gives you the most angst?

Make up Your Bed

I’m not sure about you but chapter 5 of “Get out of That Pit” had me abusing my highlight and note taking Kindle function. Side note if you haven’t started reading it, it’s not too late to join us!

Moore starts the chapter reminding us that “we don’t need to deal with our pits we need to get OUT of our pits.”  Duh right?  Still we have many perfectly made beds covering rumpled sheets…

I absolutely love the analogy Beth uses of Reuben saving Joseph from one pit, only to plop him smack dab into another. And Reuben thought he was doing Joseph a favor. In the grand scheme of things I suppose he was, yet it really gives us a vivid picture of how inadequate we are as humans at problem solving. What we ARE good at is creating sinkholes—the kind synonymous to sewer collapses.  

“The trouble comes when we insist upon someone equally human becoming our deliverer…Nothing is more futile or leaves us more fractured than trusting man to be our God”—but  we do it – over and over and…  correction – I do it. Perhaps we don’t do the full gamut of bowing to them or creating an altar to worship, but when trouble comes who do we speed dial?  Do we fall on our knees or reach for the nearest phone?   Oft times it’s not really about anointing fallible human gods but about finding crutches.  We pack our lives with people, things, and activities that fill a void, even if only temporarily.  It’s like the dull throb of a toothache.  Ointment for the gum, a filling, a root canal, a crown – all temporary fixes – some even last for years, but until we yank the tooth completely out we’ll always need to fix it.

“People can help us but they can’t heal us. People can lift us but they can’t carry us.”  Ohhhhhh can we repeat that again – slowly?  I’m about to find a mirror…

 “People can help us —– BUT they can’t heal us…People can lift us…BUT — they can’t carry us.”   No matter how much someone props us up or coax us out of our pits if we don’t get up and put one foot in front the next, we’ll be like a man on a treadmill running but going absolutely nowhere.   While we nurse this thought here’s something else I had to chew on – expectations.  We put so much on people that before they start racing they’ve already faltered. “Only God can hang with us through the length of our need and the length and breadth of our baloney.” And in case you were wondering — yes I have baloney, you have baloney, and even the Queen with her fascinator tilted just right has baloney.

What a comfort it is to know that our unfailing God “knowing all we are, all we feel, and all we hide” – all our baloney – still loves us.

That’s MY God. Is he yours?

Junk in the Prada

“That Prada bag on someone’s shoulder may look impressive but it still holds junk!” << Can I get two Amens?!

Chapters three and four of “Get Out of That Pit” took me on a journey of self introspection. I’ve always maintained that cheating doesn’t just happen. You know from that first flirtatious conversation exactly where it was going. Runnnn before you slip into a pit — easy enough yes? Funny that I could see this and frown with righteous indignation but I can’t or should I say won’t see all the other seemingly innocent pits in life disguised as dips. The worse thing about pits you slip into is that when you finally do look up you’re so utterly far from God. When you first slip you’re sensitive to God — before you could slide far you’re already begging God for forgiveness. Then the path gets more familiar, the slope less slippery, and with hardened hearts we get comfortable and even make our own make shift sled with cardboard. Don’t you just hate that vacant feeling?  I give myself a mental kick for weakening my connection with God. (I’ve had many mental kicks) Static on the line Lord!

I just love Joseph when he ran from Potiphar’s wife. That’s what I call fleeing from a pit!

You know the other pits we slip into – or at least me — I’ll speak for myself. The ones triggered by a memory we thought we were over. The reality is it was simply buried and just needed the right gust of wind to blow off the canvas. Talk about a punch to the gut. One day you’re soaring then the next you’re gasping for air. I’m learning daily to stay away from things and people that set off my pit sensors.

Ohhhh boy to the pit jumping…  I didn’t need to be reminded of how absolutely stupid I’ve been on so many occasions. When I think of pit jumpers I immediately think of Jonah and his blatant disregard for God’s directive.  I’m ashamed to say that so many times I’ve worn Jonah’s shoes. And like Beth’s friend with the DUI I roll my dice, forfeit my $200.00 and go directly to my pit — right after using my “Get out of Pit Free” card.  Yah that card we use when we lament before God and say, “Lorrrrrrd if you save me this one time I won’t do it again.”  Knowing deep down in our hearts we’re already justifying our next pit jumping actions. Funny that Beth should remind us that God knows our hearts! Hmmm am I the only one who’s made promises to God?

My biggest take away from this reading segment is: “so much of our propensity toward pit jumping springs from the fact that somewhere deep down inside we just don’t trust God.” Who meeeee? Surely not! The reality is, however, that every time I try to fix my problems on my own, or indulge in self destructive behavior I’m telling my God that I don’t trust him. Now THAT is a hard pill to swallow.

What resonated with you in chapters three and four?

Flirting with Pits

Have you read “Get Out of That Pit”  by Beth Moore? You should. It falls right into the category of things that make you go hmmm then hmm some more…

If we were really honest with ourselves at some point while reading the first two chapters of “Get out of the Pit,” Beth struck a nerve…or dare I say three.  The reality is we’ve all at some point in our lives been in the pit or flirted with pit living.  I’ll be the first to raise my hands and say I’ve been in the pit; I made a bed there and even stocked up on some good air-freshner to quell the stench. Today, If I were to be brutally honest, on my worse days I am back there and skate dangerously close to staying there.

In my pit sojourn I remember hurting so much that all I could do is lay in a ball begging the pain to stop — feeling like someone was ripping my insides out — slowly. I remember being in class one day taking notes – the memory is so vivid I can tell you exactly where I was sitting and who the teacher was. That day I sat, and took notes while tears streamed down my face. I absolutely hate crying, especially in public – that day my pain and my tears had a mind of their own. I never left the class – I just kept writing, and crying, writing and crying — oblivious to my classmates.

The worse part of the pit is the battle in your mind when you beat yourself up for something you said, didn’t say, did or didn’t do and you keep replaying it. Self torture is the worse pain, yes? Yet we do it – daily.  I think it’s even worse for us introverts as we can have an entire conversation, (with responses!) in our head.

How did I get out – am keeping out of the pit? It started with acknowledgement. The worse thing we do to ourselves is to walk around like we’re so deep and untouched by anything with our noses turned up in a facade of constipated holiness. Yeah I know I still struggle with that as I don’t like to appear weak. I’m by no means saying cry and lament everyday at every opportunity — not at all. I’m just saying find at least one person you can be real with — let down your guard and be honest. Give yourself permission to fail, permission to cry. We do ourself and our sister an in justice with our masks.

Then rely on God for peace and healing. When I was too broken to pray I’d just keep saying over and over “thou God seest me, thou God seest me, thou God seest me…”  You’d be amazed at how swiftly God moves perhaps not to change the situation but to change your mind set.  A scripture I cling to for dear life is to put on “a garment of praise for a spirit of despair.”  When I’m at my weakest I make a conscious decision to not stay there and I really just begin to praise Him through my tears. Yes conscious because it’s so easy to wallow in self pity.

I am by no mean pit free as when Beth talked about forgiveness I squirmed as if she was talking directly to me. Amazing that we could read about Joseph and pick out the parts where God favored him and ignore the fact that Joseph forgave his brothers. Wow.  You know one thing that made me go hmmm from these chapters? I never once thought that Joseph was flaunting his coat.

What about you? How are you getting out of your pit? And what in Beth’s story makes you go hmmm…