The Strength of Womanhood

IMG_4302

 Philippians 4:13 (NK]V) 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

This scripture is so simple, yet so profound. It has encouraged many of us during our trials in life. As I sit here and ponder what I should share several things come to mind: I could share my past hurts, I could share how I overcame being wronged, I could share how I found strength to forgive, I could even share how God is giving me strength to endure my walk with infertility. 

All of these are worthy to share and they all show that I only overcame these trials by the power of God in me. Yet, I find myself wanting to share something much deeper, my fear. A fear that I have carried for a long time, something that I don’t share with anyone because the fear of rejection is paralyzing. 

I don’t think any of us like rejection, however, some of us can handle it better than others. I for one have let the fear of rejection keep me from doing so many things in my life. I look back and think of all the opportunities I have missed because I just didn’t take that step. I’ve been my own worst enemy for a long time. I know that God has a calling on my life and I know that He has a purpose for me. Unfortunately, I have let myself get in the way of stepping out into the places that He wants to take me. I am a dreamer and I have big dreams, yet I haven’t done anything to make them happen. Why, you ask? Well, because I am afraid. Afraid to minister to someone, afraid to write that book, afraid to teach others because my past will eventually catch up to me and tarnish any good that I’ve done. Afraid that those who knew me in the past will rise up against who I have become in Christ and cause people to question who I am today. 

I have spent so many years just being friendly and cordial to people, but never really seeking a relationship with anyone outside of my husband, family and children. I’ve loved on others, prayed for them, blessed them and done all the right things, but I’ve never encountered that unconditional love from a friend. I’ve never allowed anyone to even get close enough to test those limits, that is until recently. Over the past couple of months a few people have been brought into my life to challenge me and grow me. I began this class not really knowing what to expect, because I didn’t really know anyone, but in this short amount of time my heart has been touched so deeply. I’ve met some of the most amazing people and connected on such a deep level with a few of these individuals. I genuinely cherish these women who have been brought into my life because it is such an honor to be able to do life with them. 

I’m sure by now you are asking the question: what does this have to do ,with any kind of fear? Right? Well, the closer I got to these women, the more I loved them and knew that I wanted to be completely transparent with them. I wanted them to know me, all of me, the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve prayed together, but I needed to know that they would love and accept me in spite of who I was. It’s easy to love people that seem so put together on the outside, so shiny, so confident (as long as you don’t get too close), but what about those that are broken and hurting? Will they still love me if they knew my past? There was only one way to find out, be honest, share my story and see where it goes. So with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I shared something that I’ve not shared with anyone. Only people in my family and from my past know this about me because it isn’t something that I share with others. I don’t share it because I am ashamed and I don’t want to be judged or looked down on. 

My fear of rejection always takes over my wanting to be transparent, so I’ve just always kept my distance. This time was different though, I wanted to be who I was, I wanted them to know me, the whole me. So there we stood in the parking lot and I spilled the beans that I had been married before which I’m pretty sure they already knew that part. The part they didn’t know was that I’d been married several times, I am a three time divorcee. I can give excuses as to why I made the decisions that I did and maybe even convince some that I was right to make the choices that I did, but the truth is, there is no good excuse or reason. I just made poor decisions, and now I carry the burden of those poor choices. It has hindered me from being who God called me to be because I let my mind convince me that I’m not worthy to lead others. I’m not worthy to be an inspiration to others, I’m damaged goods and no one will ever take me seriously. I watched their faces as I spoke, but I seen nothing but love and compassion and the only response they both gave was: “Let it go, God has forgiven you, Stop living in a defeated state of mind”. My heart was overcome with joy, you mean they didn’t sprint to the car with an abrupt “we’ve got to go”. They didn’t look at me as if I was some leper. They helped me see that I was the only one crippled by this truth. They helped me see that in God’s eyes I was worthy and in their eyes nothing had changed. I was no different, then I was five minutes before I told them. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. I knew then that I finally felt the true, genuine love of christian women who will forever, be a part of my life. With this new sense of freedom I was able to share with my life group leader this truth, and the response I received yet again was, “Let it go, stop holding on to that”. I was remirided that we all have a past, some are just more intense than others: So with my friendships still intact and no rejection to this point, I came to church on Saturday with a lighter heart. I came with a heart of gratitude and was able to surrender it all to God. After service I was approached by someone that I did not know who said she felt led to come over and pray for me. After she prayed over me and my husband, with several others standing in agreement with us, she told me that she felt like God was telling her to have me read the Book of John, there was something He was trying to reveal to me. That evening we got into bed and I picked up my Bible and did just that, I read the entire Book of John Saturday night earnestly searching for what God was trying to tell me. I read all of the miracles that Jesus performed and I was reminded that the same God that performed those miracles is the very same God that I serve today. I also know that the miracles He performed in the Bible are still miracles that He can and will perform today for those that seek Him. As excited as I was to read all of these miracles, I was sure there was something more and sure enough there was.

I found myself right there in the Book of John … I was the samaritan woman at the well who hung her head in shame because of the decisions I had made. I was the adulteress woman whose life was spared because Jesus reminded her accusers that they themselves were not free of sin. I was both of these women whom Jesus extended His grace, His mercy and His salvation and then told them to: “Go and Sin No More”. He already forgave my sin the minute I gave my life to Him. He not only forgave it, He forgot it. I was the one holding onto it, I was the one letting it hinder my ability to live freely in the grace and forgiveness that He extended to me. I was the one living in fear that no one would accept me, I was still hung up on the shame of these decisions. I kept people at bay not wanting them to get too close because of my fear of rejection. This isn’t God’s plan for our lives, He created us to have relationships with each other. Real relationships with real stuff so that we can grow and learn from each other. So after several confirmations and a word from God himself, I am now free of the bondage of this sin. He has given me the strength to overcome the stronghold that was over my mind. I realize that I am an overcomer only by the power that He places in me. 

A saying very near and dear to my heart is: “My flesh is weak, but He is strong· and His mercies endure forever.” I love this because it is so true, my flesh will fail, but His strength in me allows me to overcome these times and keep on going. God didn’t create us to live a defeated life. He gives us strength to overcome obstacles so that we can be warriors in His Kingdom. We have to be strong in Him in order to fight the enemy and press on even when our flesh is weak and tired. 

God’s word says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, ”My grace is sufficient for you, for mstrength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power qf Christ may rest upon me. I stand on the promise of this word because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. In my weakness He was able to renew my mind as to who I am. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He loves me and has surrounded me with people for such a time as this to lift me up and help me overcome my demons. 

 

 

NOTE: This entry was actually written a few years ago back in 2016. I came across this particular piece today by accident actually and felt led to share it. I do pray that it blesses someone because when this was written, it was during my time of struggling to become a mom.

 

Living With a Heart of Grace 

woman sitting on rock doing heart hand gesture
Photo by Peng Louis on Pexels.com

What do you do when things come against you in life? When disappointments happen, or someone you love hurts or betrays you? Do you get angry? Do you want to lash out or retaliate? For most of us, I imagine our responses being very different and varying in a number of ways. For me personally, I can speak from two different times in my life … Before Jesus and After Jesus! 

Before Jesus, my reaction was anger and hurt feelings. I would close off and shut down from everyone. While I would not confront the issue directly, I would let it seep in and simmer until it was down deep and marinated in my heart. I would move on and keep it buried and never speak of it, just put on a smile until the next offense comes along. The same cycle would take place and finally I am just a walking book of offenses. A book threatening to bust at any moment and recall EVERY SINGLE offense that I had harbored in my heart. As you can imagine, I was bitter, unhappy and not very genuine in my love for others. I purposely kept my distance, careful not to get too close because I didn’t want to feel that sting. 

I think for some of us, maybe even a majority of us, we keep our distance and only put in just enough to keep others at bay. You know, the one that always shows up and plays the part, being kind, loving, generous, helpful and genuine in their efforts to love others. However, they never truly connect on a deeper level. They always leave feeling as empty as they did when they arrived, because they sense the same act being played by others. We have become a world where we just put on the face, play the part and never experience any real change in our hearts or our lives. We stay in the same “safe circles” until strife and division sweep in and tear these circles apart. It is so easy to separate relationships when there is no real substance there. This holds true for our friendships, our marriages, even families are torn apart by a worldly mindset of it being all about “ones self”.  

I can certainly speak to this mindset from a personal standpoint because I was that person. I’d shut down so fast and avoid people who hurt or offended me. If I allowed myself to be back in that same circle, I’d be cordial, kind and even smile, but my heart was guarded and I never truly engaged again. My feelings were hardened and I looked for any reason or excuse to maintain my grasp on the offense that I was carrying. As you can imagine, this lifestyle was extremely lonely because I had not one person that I could truly count on. I had no one that I could vent to and trust that it would go no further. I learned very early in life to guard my tongue when I was frustrated; because the one whom I thought was a confidant and true friend, only used my words against me any time it fit their agenda for personal gain.

As you can imagine, I didn’t trust very easily and even to this day, I don’t. I am extremely guarded with what I share on a personal level with people who can use my pain against me. It has literally taken years of heartache, failed relationships and trusting my own misguided ways to come to a conclusion that I needed something so much more in life than what I had. I needed Jesus and no not the “just go to church on Sunday” kind of Jesus. I needed a real, authentic encounter with Him. I needed to hear His voice, I needed to feel His presence, I needed to see His goodness. Once I got to that point I could finally accept His grace and in return extend it to others. 

Now I am in a place of living life with an “after Jesus” mindset. After I truly encountered Jesus and accepted His love and grace over my own life, was I finally in a place to start extending that same love and grace to others. This was by no means an overnight process and I still get it wrong, but I can quickly recognize the holy spirit prompting me when I feel myself backsliding. Thankfully, my eyes have been opened to see what God wants me to see in my moments of heartache, and I can hear what He is telling me in my spirit. It isn’t always an easy answer or process and sometimes I have to hurt even more to get to a place of healing. However, finding my place of healing, followed by my freedom is worth every heartache that He walks me back through. 

This post is in my spirit today because of something I am currently processing. A hurt that was brought on by a feeling of betrayal by someone I love. It is never easy when those we love hurt us. I know this hurt was not intentional and I even understand that it came from a place of fear. Regardless of the how or why behind it, it hurts non the less and I am left with a decision to make. I can either be angry, bitter and upset with someone that I love dearly and would break my heart to lose. OR, I can extend the same love and grace that God pours into my life daily, always forgiving me graciously with every hurt and heartache that I inflict upon Him. As a christian and woman of God, I choose to be “like Christ” because that is what His word tells me to do. Is it easy? No, but what would be harder to bear is losing someone I love over an honest mistake. 

The thought I want to leave with you guys today is this … love even if it breaks your heart. 

Love others in such a way that you can easily extend the grace needed when those hurts or disappoints come. I no longer desire to hold on to grudges or file away the offenses in my heart. What I desire is to have someone that is there no matter what, that person that I can disagree with, but still stand together in unity. That person that drives me to be the best version of myself that I can be. That is the person that I will always defend, no matter what! That is the person who’s secrets will always be safe with me, regardless of a disagreement. I will never use their hurts or pains against them, because my Father in heaven never uses mine against me. I spent too many years in a very dysfunctional friendship/relationship that wasn’t healthy on either side and I have absolutely no desire to go back to that. I want genuine, I deserve genuine and so do you. Find that person that you can be real with, knowing that they are flawed just like you, understanding that they will disappoint you and let you down, but in the end will be willing to fight tooth and nail to sustain that relationship with you. That is what living with a heart of grace is all about. Being able to love others where they are, being able to disagree but still stand together and cling to the promise of a better future together than apart. 

God’s Word tells us that the greatest commandment is to Love. You simply cannot have true genuine love for others and not have grace for their mistakes. Not one of us in this life is perfect and we all come with our own set of issues and mishaps. True genuine friendships are so rare so when you find one, fight for it. When someone wrongs you, no matter who they are be willing to extend the same grace and forgiveness that God so readily gives to us. If we all just took a moment to think of the ways we hurt and disappoint God on a daily basis, we might just live our lives with a different mindset. For me I choose to overlook instead of find offense, I will extend grace and not hold a grudge and I will love instead of lose! People that God places in our lives are not disposal, just because of a disagreement or mistake. 

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:25 NLT

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8