Something New

The dawn is rising. Something new and fresh and pure is being birthed. Formed in the depths of the soil of my soul, new life is growing.

In the agonizing quiet of the darkness, in the midst of tears of sorrow and pain - a work was being done. A toiling of the hard and broken soil, dry ground was breaking. Revealing deep rooted places of fragmented identity, pain, lies, and loss - God was intricately working to turn a fully broken narrative into the most beautiful, whole redemptive narrative.

Much like the signs of a desolate, grey winter are fading into Spring - light is giving way for me. The sun is shining in a way that it hasn’t in years. Hope fills the crevices of my whole self in a natural, instinctive way that would previously take discipline and concerted effort.

Seven years ago yesterday, I stood with my mom and watched her gasp her last few breaths on this earth. Preceding those days were some of the darkest and most confusing days I had ever encountered. I couldn’t reconcile the up close view of my mom’s 50 year old body slowly breaking down until there was nothing but a shell left in front of me. And, yet, the spirit within my mom would ONLY respond to prayer and worship music. The only words spoken by my mom in the last few weeks were the repeated name of “Jesus” and the lyrics to the song, “Revelation Song” - a song that spoke of heaven and the power of God.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around her inability to be cognitively aware of anything other than these moments related to the Jesus she had faith in. Yet, the comfort and reminder it brought was that though hell itself was celebrating on behalf of the pain we were experiencing - heaven was on our side and would conquer in bringing my mom safely home to be with God forever.

As I reflect over the last 12 years of my life - dating back to my father’s sudden and accidental death at a young age - it has - more than ever - become clear to me that a war has been raging. The war for my life, my mind, and my very soul was raging.

There is so much to this story to tell, but the last two years have been the final culmination of a  deconstruction of everything I have known for God to begin to rebuild and restore to whole causing my life to be truly reflective of His redemptive purposes.

All along this journey, there have been marked moments of healing, hope, restoration - so many battles won. But the war would rage on. I would retreat, and have relief - and then another battle would begin.

Beyond the sorrow and pain has been the depression and anxiety. For 12 years I have battled chronic anxiety and depression. About 6 months ago, God spoke clearly and gave me an image of a war between heaven and hell. Hold steady, He said. You have fought well. You need now to only be still. It’s almost over. I’m about to finish this off.

I knew at that moment that something was about to change and a new season was coming.

Since then, I have had a handful of the worst episodes of panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. It has been despairingly dark. But God...

In the warring midst of the battles over the last 12 years, God kept extending invitations to go deeper beyond the surface. Do you want to be whole, He would ask? Let’s do the work. Digging past all of the surface circumstances, trials, and even sometimes good seasons - it was a deep work of the soul - of roots being dug up. And new seeds being planted.

The work to be healthy is worth it. That fight you have been fighting for your health, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually is WORTH it. Every battle, every painful lesson or discovery, every change needing to be implemented, every doctor you are meeting, even medication you may need to take. Every scripture you memorize, every prayer you pray, every fight to see God in the midst of it. It is WORTH it. Because, you see, as you are fighting in the natural - He is fighting in the supernatural and He reminds you - I am fighting for YOU and with YOU.

No matter how dark and silent it gets, no matter how dense and suffocating the air may feel as you so desperately try to breath in and out - I have learned God is present.

There are so many words that filter through my mind. Trying so hard to place them together in a way that would best map out this journey of mine over the last 12 years. The eloquence or refined words often seem out of reach. The full story will one day come together and tumbling out.

But I have to speak for these March moments where, in seasons past, my journals were filled with desperate hope, fighting weariness, and small moments of joy —- I’m standing more free and full of joy than I have been in my life. The hope that fills me is overflowing. It didn’t come with religiosity, spouting faith-filled rhetoric for the sake of pretense. And it didn’t come with emotionally driven glass half full, false wishful hoping for a change to eventually come. It came in the accepting the hard and painful invitation to fight in the war of my soul, mind, and spirit. God said, will you, because I will. And I said okay to the journey.

You guys, the sun is shining and I’m dancing like the weight has been lifted because it truly has. Something new and fresh and pure is being birthed. 

But I have to speak for these March moments where, in seasons past, my journals were filled with desperate hope, fighting weariness, and small moments of joy —- I’m standing more free and full of joy than I have been in my life. The hope that fills me is overflowing. It didn’t come with religiosity, spouting faith-filled rhetoric for the sake of pretense. And it didn’t come with emotionally driven glass half full, false wishful hoping for a change to eventually come. It came in the accepting the hard and painful invitation to fight in the war of my soul, mind, and spirit. God said, will you, because I will. And I said okay to the journey.

You guys, the sun is shining and I’m dancing like the weight has been lifted because it truly has.

 

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Deconstructing Assumptions

When your own bias stares you in the face...yikes. Ah, the roles of women. Forever a tension and a work to move past the stereotypes, biases, and messages I have received since I was young. Messages that stated I was supposed to fit this specific archetype for a woman, a wife, a leader, and a mom. While I deeply value my Christian heritage, the traditional and misled values for women are in my DNA and God is forever deconstructing those as He reveals more of His image in me, and forms His hopes and purposes for me - transforming me to understand how He sees me and how He calls me.

Deconstruction at its finest is Christ work in us as He works to transform us from the inside out so that we can best reflect the image of our Creator God.

In my efforts to study scripture and hear the voice of God - God has long sense clarified scripture and His intent for me as a woman. My calling, my ability to hear His voice, to make decisions, and overall relationship is not framed or formed or understood through my husband or any other male. The beauty of Christ’s death and life is that in making us “one in Christ”, He paves the way for each of us to have a direct connection and relationship to Him. I don’t need a mediator, I have the invitation and calling to partner with my husband to spiritually lead our family. And, through Jesus Christ, I have the invitation and calling to make a loving impact on my world in any way, position, or role that God sees fit.

That’s where I’m sitting this morning as I rest with my sick baby girl. I am having moments of clarity or revelation.

My husband wasn’t too keen on me staying home. In fact, he recommended/suggested that He should stay home and I go and lead the service. We walked into the creation of this church, Co-Pastoring and working to clarify roles and what all of that would look like. And it has been a journey. A journey that we are still on.

He felt he should stay home with Havyn and I attend service, because:

  1. I am fully capable of leading the service.
  2. He is fully capable of caring for Havyn.
  3. He also enjoys being with the kids when they are in need.
  4. I was scheduled to lead worship.
  5. We were scheduled for another conversation style sermon with both of us, yet the content leaned more on my side.

To him it just made sense, and we had to spend 3-4 hours yesterday reworking the service so that it was just him.

Which is fine. And God moves in His grace and always works it all out. We don’t stress too much about things that don’t work out as we planned, because it’s God’s thing anyways.

BUT, it wasn’t all fine because as I examined why I immediately rejected his recommendation - I realized I wasn’t participating in this decision based off of spiritually discerning what would be best. I made it off of my practical and logical reasons (and bias) of:

  1. I’m the mom and the mom is better at illness.
  2. I’m the mom, and the mom stays home.
  3. Havyn says I smell better and probably prefers me. (Yes, this is just true, lol)
  4. I’m not as important as you when it comes to the spiritual weight of leading through the whole service.
  5. I know we co-lead, but you are the real Lead Pastor.

The first three undermine Brad’s ability or calling as a father to be present with his child during illness even IF a child has a specific preference.

The last two undermine my calling, anointing, and gifting that has been given by God Himself.

Those last two aren’t about pity or insecurity, mind you, they are genuine messages that run through my mind. They are things that have been told and said to me, and they are things that have been modeled for me. The messages are becoming less and less, but it’s these moments that reveal they are still present. God continues to work to deconstruct these messages and assumptions. And this is the type of thing that can interfere with women fully following Jesus in all that He has for them. These are things that create fear, insecurity, and a paralyzing inability to move in the way we are gifted and called.

In our situation, either decision is fine, really.

BUT, what bothered Brad and I the most was my motivation for the decision. It was another moment where Jesus said, why are you making this decision?

In this journey of learning the Father’s heart for the role of women, I keep seeing my own bias and keep learning ways I have resisted following Him or accepting His invitations for loving impact because of this bias.

He continues to pull up roots, clearing out the fragmented mess that hinders me from following Him wholeheartedly.

This is why it’s important to talk about the role of women. This is why it is important to speak to bias, stereotype, stigmas of ALL kinds. We need ALL people in the body of Christ making a loving impact on their world to their full ability and God-given purposes. God does not desire that we live broken, fragmented lives-He desires wholeness and we have to work through the ways we have fragmented people by our biases, assumptions, and misunderstandings of scripture and God’s heart. As we work through this, God brings wholeness, truth, and the impact on His Kingdom increases.

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