Transition: Are We There Yet?

showers of blessings

I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Exekiel 34:26

The wife of one of my long-ago pastors told a story about her rude and cranky neighbor. After a run-in with this neighbor, she reported being shocked at what had poured out of her mouth, finishing up her story with these wise words: You don’t know what is in your bucket until someone kicks it over.

Transition is good at bucket kicking. That in-between stage of “one foot in what will be and the other stuck in what was” is a stressful place. Uncertainty, impatience and anxiety spills out of our inside bucket, sometimes in a flood; sometimes in a trickle, but out it comes during times of big change.

My mother passed away in September 2017. Being without a parent has been a difficult emotional transition for me. There is no way to describe it except to say it is a very odd and disconnected feeling.

Settling my mother’s estate has been a long and challenging process, requiring me to meet and interact with relatives, lawyers, stockbrokers, real estate agents, estate sales managers, auction house movers and so on. Then, when her house sold, the closing date kept shifting around. I felt like I was chasing a broken egg across the kitchen floor. All my prayer appointments became maybes. (Thank you to all those I pray with for their patient understanding). My settled, predictable life became very unsettled.

When my mother’s house finally closed, I grieved it, unexpectedly. I had no idea what that house meant to me until I walked through it one last time. This was the house where I had visited my mother for 30 years. The house she loved. The house she died in.

So what did Sam and I do in the midst of this life transition? We bought a house! A big beautiful, sadly neglected house that we could in no way afford unless it had been sadly neglected. And guess what? That closing date is shifting around! AND the sellers are in bankruptcy, which was NOT disclosed at the time we made our offer. So, we don’t know for sure when we will be moving or even if we will be moving. And there is an enormous amount of expensive work to do on our new house. What were we thinking?!?

So here I am suspended in transition, painting the windows of our current house, getting it ready to go on market. And like a tired cranky child riding in the backseat on a too-long road trip, I’m asking the Lord: Are we there yet?

Here is how I’m handling TOO MUCH transition. Heads up: it’s not pretty.

  1. Panda Fun got my take-out order wrong. I cried.
  2. Sam stepped in front of me to use the sink while I was cooking, I bit his head off. (Not as tasty as Panda Fun).
  3. I’m spending too much time on Facebook.
  4. I’m restless, unfocused and sleeping poorly.
  5. I’m worrying about the new house. Did we follow the Lord? Have we made a mistake? What were we thinking?!?
  6. I even caught myself watching a mental movie of the previous day’s social interactions while the devil provided a nasty commentary. I haven’t succumbed to that kind of self-hating nonsense in years.

What’s going on besides transition?

  1. The Devil. The enemy requires negative emotional energy (the dark stuff) in order to have any kind of power. He sees transition as an opportunity to amplify any fear of the new and unknown. Fear is negative emotional energy.
  2. Unresolved Historical Pain. Past issues stored in your bucket (the heart) surface during times of anxiety. That unresolved emotional pain mixes with, flavors and amplifies any present-day uncertainty.
  3. The Fall. We live in a fallen world. This means that we are surrounded by fallen people acting in fallen ways. They are afraid and uncertain, too. We feel their distress and add it to ours. Ugh.

Help! Is there help with transition?

  1. In the midst of my distress, the Lord posed a question. He said: “If you were in heaven and I gave you a challenge, like the one you are facing with your new sadly neglected house, would you be afraid?” I answered, “No. I would not be afraid because I would have all the resources of heaven to call upon to help me.” The Lord responded: “You have all the resources of heaven now. It just doesn’t feel like it because you are in the Fall.” I remind myself of this when I’m scared.
  2. It has helped to read the books of Proverbs and Psalms.
  3. Worship is helpful.
  4. If you have unresolved historical pain, work on it. If not, but the enemy is trying to take you back to resolved pain (what was happening to me), recognize what is going on and tell him to get lost.
  5. Sending my angels to bring in the help I need to accomplish the task at hand.
  6. Reciting the Lord’s attributes in my mind (so that I don’t give in to worry). He is kind; He is willing to help me; He is eager to guide and advise me; He wants to share His wisdom with me and so on.
  7. Remembering to be kind to myself, being my own best friend, the friend I always wished for has been helpful.

Let us pray together as we grow together, that our buckets will contain less and less of the nasty stuff and more and more of the good stuff. Because, while we are in this fallen world, our buckets will get kicked.

This time of big transition has been emotionally upsetting AND beautifully humbling. Any notion that I was a spiritual big shot full of faith and confidence is long gone. I still need a savior. And I have learned that when the challenge is big enough, what is in my bucket is going to spill out.

I bless your journey wherever you may be.

Hugs,
Susan
thepool@thepoolministries.org
205.556.4555
(Leave a message when you call).

Please share this teaching if you found it helpful.

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God’s Love Makes You Beautiful (Part 3)

Written August 2017

What are you holding on to? What are you storing inside because you believe no one cares or can help? I was storing grief. Lots and lots of unprocessed grief, because I believed that expressing it just made things worse.

This morning I gave all that grief – years and years of it – to the Lord. Had a howling melt-down in my kitchen. Thank the Lord I stayed home from church and my guys went on without me. Would have hated to have had that noisy, messy breakdown in public!

So now He has my grief and I feel better. If I am going to be loved, I must be known. To be known by God means no more hiding from Him.

So why was I stuffing all that grief? Shortly after receiving Jesus, I joined a Word of Faith church where I was taught that my blessings depended utterly upon MY faith. Well, I didn’t even know what faith was. To be completely honest (and why not?), I didn’t trust anyone to have my best interests at heart. Let’s just say that I brought some baggage into my walk with the Lord. Oh OK! I brought a lot of baggage.

At the same time, I was distraught over my young son being intellectually challenged. When I was told that God would heal him, if I would only believe, then I was on it with all my strength: willing into existence, decreeing, believing, quoting scriptures, making a positive confession, striving, striving, striving, because I believed my little boy’s well-being depended upon my efforts. Eventually, I would become overwhelmed and crack, melting down and weeping for days. Of course, that meant that I had to start believing God all over again, because I had blown my son’s healing by feeling actual human emotion and expressing actual human anguish and doubt. Until one day, after many years of this, I quit trying and the tears dried up.

That little boy is 40 years old now and still intellectually challenged. But, I no longer believe that his well-being is my sole responsibility. Over the years, I have intentionally pursued inner healing and deliverance, studying many different schools of thought, so that I could learn to accept being genuinely loved by my good Shepherd who tenderly cares for me AND for my son. Line upon line, precept upon precept, I have settled into the rest of the Lord. And you know what? He is safe. I can be myself with Him, feeling what I feel and thinking what I think. He is my friend through it all, patiently guiding me into all truth. And you know what else? My feelings and my thoughts – even my perception of reality – are steadily changing, shifting and adjusting until they align with His.

Do I believe God heals? Yes. I really do. Because the Lord has promised and He is not a man that He should lie. Do I stress over it? Not so much.

So now, after my messy, loud kitchen meltdown, I’m feeling better because I have shared my grief with the Lord. If I am going to let God love me, then I must let Him know me.

What are you hiding from the Lord? I think I have hidden it all: unbelief, fear, anger, resentment, pain … and a truckload of grief. No more hiding. He wants to know me and I want to be known.

If the message blessed you, please leave a comment. If it didn’t bless you and you feel the need to correct or scold me, email is a better venue for that sort of thing. Blessings to you all. 

God’s Love Makes You Beautiful (Part 2)

(Written July 2017)

All of us have experienced rejection. It’s inevitable because the world is fallen and we are fallen (though redeemed by Christ). Plus, we have a spiritual enemy who works against us. Recently, I had an unpleasant encounter with a friend and lost that friend because of it. Broke my heart and left me feeling rejected and judged. I imagine she feels the same. Not my friend’s fault or even my fault, just a result of the fall that breeds misunderstandings and wounded hearts.

So, I was reflecting upon that circumstance when the Lord spoke to me. He said:

“I knew when I made you that you would fall, that you would become broken, that you would do stupid stuff. I made you anyway.”

That may not minister to you, but for me, a sick and tired of striving and performing Christian, facing ongoing challenges with loved ones and not-so-loved ones, who fails and flails around trying really hard and still messing up, those words encouraged me. He knew what a mess I would be and He knew how dark and confusing the world that He chose to raise me in would be (don’t understand it, but accept that He has a purpose in mind), and he still chose to make me.

I really do not think that God made me because He needed someone to hate. I really do not think that God made you because He needed someone to crush or reject or despise. He knew our struggles and our failings, and He chose to make us anyway. Let us allow that truth to comfort us in the hard and confusing times, when people push us away, when confusion overwhelms.

Because His love really does make us beautiful.

God’s Love Makes You Beautiful

Written June 2017

The First Evening Meditation after God said, “My love makes you beautiful.”
I hate dressing rooms for a very good reason. They are filled with the emotional despair of every woman who as ever looked at herself in that mirror on the wall. Ugh. Avoid at all costs. But occasionally it is necessary to actually try on the clothes that I am buying, so I suck it up and brave the room of despair.

Such was my state of mind when I stepped into the tiny T. J. Maxx dressing room to try on some summer tops that I desperately needed. My attitude instantly changed when the Lord spoke up. He said to me: “My love makes you beautiful.”

Wooo. I was happy for the rest of the day! That is until I returned home and was met at the door by my squabbling responsibilities. But later that night, God brought the love subject up again and He made a point I hadn’t thought about before. He said that He holds Himself back with me because I hadn’t given Him permission to love me with all His true self. I didn’t like that. I want God, of all people, to be totally comfortable around me, to be free to be Himself.

I realized that being truly loved by Him meant being completely known by Him. I poked around in my heart, looking for why I was shy about letting Him so close and, sure enough, I believed that being known meant being hurt, which led me to the vows I had made to do “whatever it takes” to hide. So I decided to take a risk, break the vows and give the Lord permission to know me completely, so that He could enjoy being Himself with me and I could discover what it is like to be loved down to my toes.

Have you ever given God official permission to love you? I think most of us hold Him off a bit, because to be loved by God is to be deeply known by another. And we are so afraid of being truly known that we have even figured out how to hide from ourselves.

We tell ourselves that we want God to love us at the same time that we unconsciously reject His love. Why do we do this? One reason is because we have accepted with our hearts that we are unlovable for whatever shameful reason. We are like Adam and Eve hiding in the dark woods as God stands in the glorious sunlight, calling to us, “Where are you?”

In that “Where are you,” is the Lord’s offer to love us in the hidden shame of our darkness. It’s an invitation into His all-consuming, completely accepting yet completely honest love. But to be fully loved by God – to give Him permission to love us with all of His love – means being completely known by Him.

Unless we are willing to be known, we will not allow the Lord to love us. Oh, we will let Him trickle out a bit of love here and there. But that’s all our hearts will accept. A little here and a little there.

Where are you? Will you give the Lord your permission to love you with all of His love? If no – because it’s just too scary to be really and truly known – will you give Him permission to work on that for you?