When I Thought I Lost Me

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It’s been an interesting five months of recovery from a car accident I was in. New normal for me is less about masks and social distance and more about length of time in a position and type of weights carried.

The first month after the accident I was the hardest patient to have. I didn’t take my injuries to heart as I was under the belief that I was going to bounce back in no time. Its always at the beginning of a struggle that you feel most motivated that this will pass.

Friends, encouragement, prayers, visits, and gifts enveloped me in a shroud of hope and I felt impermeable. I would make plans to go the the beach, worship nights, bowling, meetings, bible study – all of it. Life was the same just take your time and go was how I was treating it. I was undeterred. I was polite to the persons with their recurrent protests to my ideas. “Stacy, you need to rest.” They were so caring.

Rest!

I don’t rest. If I stop I take forever to start back or I don’t start back at all. I was determined that this year I was going to be disciplined, hardworking, consistent. It was my Instagram pre-new years post, and that is a good as a contract, right? Furthermore action is what I do. Action is who I am.

I barely obliged the reminders to rest. No, I didn’t go to the beach. I didn’t go to the worship night… but I still had meetings… WIN: ..Right?.

Covid-19 Blessing?!?

I could do all I could and be all I could be via technology. I set meetings for outreach. I attended meetings for church. I took on virtual speaking engagements. I can do this!

But my body protested and the pain got worse.

False Starts and Hopelessness

I finally began physical therapy as one medical professional braved the first wave of the Covid scare. I aggressively sought out therapies online. I preempted almost every visit with ideas I got from YouTube. Friends offered suggestions and articles made promises. I researched and prayed, and believed and encouraged (myself and others). I changed my diet, began taking supplements and exercised twice a day for strengthening.

Every inch of relief brought hope. I was excited at the prospect of healing. I would always report progress and never setbacks. I didn’t want to let anybody down. They believed so hard. They prayed so consistently. My recurring pain would only cause them doubt. I would bear it myself.

But as the months continued and the pain was still my reality I began to doubt. My hope was faltering. Was I to stop beleiving for healing and start praying for grace to live this reality? The over thinking began.

Dont Take Who I am

What if I can’t do anymore? What if I can’t do the adventurous activities I always planned to do? What if I can’t go back to my daily jogs? What if I can’t dress up and be fabulous in heels? What if I can’t stand or sit at concerts?

Just like Peter on the waves, the gumption to jump out that ship was losing its effects and the water splashes, wave heights and evident distance between me and the finish line began to make me doubt.

Some days I watched dance videos. But with each music video I bemoaned how my once agile body couldn’t even rock from side to side without causing discomfort. The long lost love of dance loomed over my head. I felt ashamed for having delayed on prophecies to get back into it. “What have I done?” I thought. “Is this my consequence for waiting too long?” “God, I’m sorry.” I pleaded. “Please give me another chance.”

Value Plummet

Hope continued to be shaken as other questions loomed in my head. Still the proverbial single Christian girl I analysed my “marketability“. “Who wants to marry the girl who has back problems? What kind of fun would I be?” Rolling on the floor with my kids; a romp in the bed with my husband, all might cause me pain and in the present state seemed improbable. “Who am I with this injury?” My value on the market seemed to plummet in front my eyes.

Oh the folly of the double-minded woman.

During this time I was still at the helm of my organization. We were in the line-up for a grant and I was working assiduously to put things in place. I had zoom meeting after zoom meeting laying down most of the time trying to be a good patient. I created protocols, set up teams, engaged vendors, outlaying a year long plan, researched things I never knew off, completed paperwork.

But one day I attended a training on trafficking, and it looked like they were doing the same program with the same people. I panicked. I felt the wind leaving me. What was happening? We may be working in vain.

Trudging Along

My strength was there. God was keeping me going and I was being encouraged by community, divine recollection of songs, and quiet comforting words of the Holy Spirit. However, the disappointments wouldn’t stop. Pain was determined to manhandle my heart. I wasn’t prepared for the next section of this mountainous terrain – the worst relapse in pain and the resignation of a valuable team member from Pursued . I was pushing but now barely.

The devotions got dryer. I kept doing it. At least I was present. I knew that it was in the times we least desire to be in the Word that we need it most. But the physical pain kept coming in intermittently and sleep was becoming delayed, days were being missed and I was losing connection. I was there but not there. I couldn’t connect with God and I couldn’t connect with people.

It’s easy to look the other way when confronted with grief or to busy oneself so as to not sit with grief long.”

Jay Wolf (Hope Heals)

I wanted to keep doing but there was nothing left to “do”. No Pursued, no meetings, no socializing (thanks COVID!). One more disappointment came and it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.. (the irony).

I had no more. No more. I could only just lay there on my bed. I played worship music to soothe my spirit. I couldn’t muster a word. I laid there motionless. In retrospect I can say finally, I suppose. Now I was still.

Journal Entry -August 19th

“I have never not wanted to talk to you, God. I have never lacked motivation. The truths are falling flat on my chest and not sinking in. I am not mad….

I am mad this happened. it never had to. You are Sovereign.”…. .

” I have perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it so that people fear before him. ” Ecclesiastes 3:14

“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

What a response. It was the beginning of me being still and allowing God to process. And what He showed me I needed to see.

Lesson 1: Stopping is Hard

The reason why I couldn’t stop when I got this back issue was because stopping was hard.

Stopping was hard because what I did, my accomplishments all of it became who I was. It was my way of saying, “hey, I don’t have the money like this one, or the looks like that one, but I am doing things for the kingdom”. It became my way of saying to every rejection I have ever experienced that I was worth something. “See, I did it!.”


Not only was it what I used to define me and qualify me, it was also what I used to distract me. With it I could avoid pain. Every accolade and well done was my drug. He didn’t like me, that’s okay, I helped a young girl at school today. I don’t have the house and car, its fine I own an organization. I was addicted to it. It meant more than God. Worse yet I believed it meant God favoured me.

I don’t believe I even knew this. I was too busy doing to see it. I don’t even know if it began this way but that was not important.

My deeper issue of validation and worth was still in need of a Jesus fix. It was just taking a different form. Being still God was able to do His work.

Lesson 2: Boast in the Lord

Journal entry August 28th
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,  but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jer. 9:23-24

“Boast in me. Boast in knowing me. Not intellect, looks, accomplishments. You know Me. That brings you before Kings, opens doors, validates you. I am ALL you need, babygirl. I love You.” These tender words drew me in to the the one who delights in me. It convicted and encouraged. Like the psalmist I delighted in His discipline.

..perhaps in the breaking of precious things, somethings even more precious than we can imagine might be unleashed. Perhaps in the breaking, we can find the healing we long for.”

Jay Wolf Hope Heals.

I scheduled a week off from the world. No social media, no meetings, no plans. Just me and God, tempted though I was with thoughts in my head of things I could be doing. His kind words began to reverberate in my chest. Repenting, forgiving, processing and healing I surrendered expectations, disappointments, rejection all of it. All of which I don’t think would have happened except in the silence of loss.

Journal Entry August 31st
“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The LORD has made everything for His own purposes…” Prov. 16:-1-4.
God, you don’t ask for perfection, You ask for submission. Give me the grace to rest and be in submission., Father

Plans, People, Purpose there is a market to get right, get with and get at all of these things. Good things, some even God things as these gifts are given by the Maker. Some of them being needful and necessary but how quickly they become primary.

This struggle is as old as Genesis where the perfect gift was in a garden centuries ago. Without warning, without the many present day distractions, hard life experiences or disappointments the recipients of this gift turned their eyes towards the things making the temporal their ultimate delight.

The perfect Gift was never the the garden, its trees, and all its delights. It wasn’t their purpose of being fruitful and multiplying though a God given and blessed ordinance. It wasn’t even each other as divine their alignment and a certain gift from God. The gift was always the Garden Giver. I had lost sight. But God came in the stillness of my life to remind me nothing outside of Him is worthy of being primary.

Nothing is.

Its not so bad to be still.

Ghosts of Church Boys Past

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You cannot stay where you are and go with God. Henry Blackaby

This morning I went to have my usual morning devotions and I felt led to get out one of my old journals and read. August 2008 was the start date of that journal so I read intrigued as of course here I am in 2016, approximately eight years later in the month of August. I figured it would be interesting but I was not prepared for the rollercoaster ride to epiphany that I was jumping on.

What I read had me go from feeling shocked, to dismayed, to disgusted and then militant. I read and saw how I allowed guy after guy to draw me from my secure place in God straight to despair, low self esteem and second guessing myself. I prayed for God to guide me but when He did I tried to keep them (the guy) and Him at the same time and eventually He was proven as right as the relationship went up in flames as they moved on to some other version of their ideal Christian woman. Then I sank. I sank into a death spiral of self loathing and sadness wanting to know why not me, who was she and what made her better, more beautiful or more qualified. Why did this look like 2016? Had I not learned?

Give your heart to Me

There is a poignant skit used to share the gospel at a street outreach event I was a part of on the east side of Houma Louisiana. In the skit this lighthearted, carefree girl danced and pranced and enjoyed her life. On the stage entered a guy who mimed his affection and eventually asked for her heart. The girl in the skit freely “opened her chest” and handed him her heart. To the audience and the young lady’s dismay he took her heart gave it a precursor once over then… stomped on it. The young lady was left in a crumpled heap crying on the ground as he left the stage all too pleased with his devious and detrimental act. As she lay on the ground wiping her tear streaked face she heard God whisper (from backstage) give Me your heart. She slowly got up and mustered all her strength threw it up to him (remember this was a play for children so it was all imaginary) and He dropped down a new and refreshed heart. Restored and at peace she began to skip happily around the stage her joy intact.

Like a bad rerun, on to the stage enters “boy” again. This time she is watchful of him but he offers her nice things and mimes the right words and asks back for her heart to which she slowly but surely gives it to him. He takes it and proceeds to play basketball with it decimating the young lady, laughing as he saunters of. Again the Lord prods her to give her heart to Him, she does and He lovingly and gently restores. The play continues with this same scenario and time after time her heart got shattered, dirty, and even annihilated (one actor pretended to hurl the heart in the air and shoot it). I remember the children on the street laughing at the goofiness on the stage, as the actors tried to explain the dangers of giving away your heart to others instead of to God .The problem was… and still is that in reality there are so many stomped on, played out hearts on the ground, one of them being mine. I was the girl in the play. I gave my heart away to the charismatic church boy, the silent contemplative leader, and the enthusiastic artist minister and every time God was there whispering give your heart to Me.

I will advise you…

At the beginning of my college career I read Proverbs 4:23-27 and highlighted it as my mantra.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.

Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

I wish I could look back at my eighteen year old self and say yay girl, you did it… but I can’t. I flung open the hedges of my heart, I looked away from Jesus and made attention and approvals deter me. I got sidetracked over and over again from my purpose and God’s voice because I would rather hear the lulling voice of the young man over the phone than to tell him this is not God’s will I must step away. I got caught in the web of he’s a Christian, he serves, this must be right and got left with empty arms, the cackle of voices saying I was there and they engaged only because they were lonely, and my favorite, “you will be a great girl for someone else one day”. I couldn’t blame God, because as His child and according to His promises, He did advise me and guide me. He did warn and admonish me to let go of each guy I turned to, but my heart was before them placed ever so delicately or shoved so unheedingly into their hands as I fool heartedly ignored His wisdom and relied on man instead.

See, I am doing a new thing

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing.”

It’s interesting a verse to ponder on as I write this. I am reading the book of Deuteronomy and the book opens with Moses relaying to the children of Israel the folly of their forefathers in choosing to not go to their promised land because it looked daunting. He gave them a play by play of the mishaps, wrong turns and warnings they received. Like a coach watching a game lost to a previous team to point out pitfalls and missed plays Moses places before them what they did wrong in order for them to do better.  It was time to enter the land promised, they are now having to fight yes but it was time to move, forget the former things, learn from the past and get on to a new thing.

I can’t help but see the parallel to my own life in this scenario. This reading of my journal from 2008 was my play by play. My re reading of history that is so strikingly similar in some aspects to 2016. I can’t and by God’s grace won’t be that girl anymore.  I have grown in some ways in this area but I know I have much more to growth to experience. I think back to a post on Facebook talking about August being the eighth month and expressing that eight is the number of new beginnings. Well, it’s that time. My journal entries from this August and the Augusts to come will be different. It’s time for me to not only have a new beginning but maintain what God has done. I encourage you women to do the same. Choose to guard your heart. Don’t spend so much time with the guy who hasn’t committed to you. Step away if you feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit even if on paper everything about him looks “right”. Choose to honour God with your heart and your time and let Him guide you safely to what is yours. Return to being in awe of your Creator and not get sidetracked by the shiny and the spiritual.  Learn from me and my trip down the ghost of church boys past. J

Look Inward

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority if their husbands. 1 Peter 3:3-5

I love fashion.  Cute shoes, stylish clothing, stunning accessories you name it I am there.  When I first heard the first section of these passages, it was in the form of a lecture by my father in attempt to curb my overarching desire to be a part of the fashion-forward elite, especially when the attire tended more towards the revealing. The product of these encounters was an exasperation and frustration with this verse as I couldn’t understand the disparity between my desire to look appealing and God’s instruction.

Initially, on the external I was living by the first part of this verse. My hairstyles weren’t that fancy, forget expensive jewelry and my parents were the ones who for the most part was instrumental in the purchasing of my clothing, so I had no choice but to look chaste and wholesome. But my heart rebelled. I wanted more and would sneakily borrow and eventually purchase items that I thought were trendy. I never once realized that my heart was what was in the wrong place. You see outside of my desire to look appealing was an underlying heart issue. I was focused on looking appealing instead of being appealing. No, I am not talking about some late night seductress I am talking about an embodiment of the type of temperament that all people can embrace regardless of one’s outward presentation.

What God desired was not a disregard for looking nice. He looked at His own creation and said it was good. He gave Solomon great, beautiful things. What my heavenly Father was after was a focus on being meek. A gentle and quiet spirit is the most attractive thing a woman can adorn themselves with. You know those women; they are so absolutely sweet and everyone wants to be around them. Their mannerisms are so affable and even their general tone is sweet-tempered.

In a society of women’s rights, independent women and single-mother homes such doctrine sounds flaccid and many may think I am making an attempt to shove women back a couple centuries but bear with me a minute and look at the type of woman the Word describes. In the book of Proverbs when the King Lemuel’s mother describes the type of woman her son should seek after she is anything but subservient and weak. On the contrary she is a hard-working ,diligent,  strong woman.

She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.  She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm. She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].  She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit]. She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet. She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is of linen, pure and fine, and of purple [such as that of which the clothing of the priests and the hallowed cloths of the temple were made]

Proverbs 31:15-22

The woman the Bible describes is strong, intelligent, and prudent; the Lord values a strong woman.  God isn’t asking us to swap our amazing God-given talents in order to be gentle. He isn’t asking for mindless weaklings. What He is requiring of us is to have this strength under control. Regardless of our culture, family up-bringing, or level of influence the Lord is calling us to trust Him and accept authority. I hope you caught that instrumental part. We are trusting HIM, not others. The gentle spirit is precious to Him, and pleasing Him is so much more important than asserting our independence. I encourage you my sisters walk upright before the Lord. Seek after a gentle spirit, that type of beautification will always be well-liked, current, and in vogue.

Dear Woman

Dear Woman,
You are a military ally. Your influence is powerful. You are aunties and sisters mothers and friends. God saw YOU as a solution to the problem of man being alone. Dear woman you have been called to be a helper, but culture and translation has diluted the strength of your purpose as a tool for strengthening man. You were made to walk in alliance with him to aid in the bringing forth of the purpose of the Kingdom.
But sin has distorted you. The curse defiled you, and now you hate your men.   You declare them weak and you render them impotent. The hands that rock the cradle fills it with bitterness, and now we rule the world with false pride in our earthen vessels. Our babies suckle on our disappointments and nurture angry men who strive, and strike. Like Delilah you cut our men’s purpose and leave them vulnerable to the enemy of their souls.

You make giving respect oppressive, strip men of their God-given authority. You nag, complain and demand, and in an effort to assert yourselves you cackle and cajole in gatherings and groups and pick and snarl at their efforts and then you wonder why the shell of man retreats to his cave of sports, skirts and sidekicks. We call it women’s lib, and feminist movements yet our femininity has been infected by the sin of envy and our loss of purpose has muddied our eyes to the true nature of the gift we have.

Dear woman, you have influence and since the beginning of time the Liar has swindled you, confounded you and allowed you to hand over that power to him to direct our men away from the purpose in the Almighty. I ask you Dear Woman, look back at the wake of destruction behind you. The hurting man, the lost man, the brother, uncle, father, friend what have you done to help them? Has the strength of your words lifted them or destroyed them.  Has your arms held them up or dragged them to the cesspool of adulterous sheets?

Dear strong, industrious, powerful Woman there is a dual responsibility for the state of humanity. The true enemy in this war has infiltrated our ranks and like a confusion agent disconcerts and turns woman and against man and man against woman and we forget that like Esther we can save countries with our wisdom, we can protect our households from destruction like Abigail and like Deborah we can lay desolate the armies of our people with one strike.

Dear Woman, you are amazing, and insecurity only limits you. So gather your assets, take inventory of your inner resources and stand strong. Adorn yourself but with the potency of a gentle spirit and the resilience of a quiet character…