how to trade your insecurity for lasting security

security-1

Who am I? Who are you? The easy answer can be found on the ID we each carry around in our wallets, but the deeper answer is more difficult to flesh out. I know at my core I struggle with my identity. I look at myself in the mirror and see a woman staring back at me, but what I see are the hurts and beliefs that I wrestle everyday with because my life–this life–is about God and how he wants me to live not about the effects of my youth that created this uneasy sense of wondering ‘who am I?’

For the last few weeks I’ve challenged my own self-perceptions, sense of belonging and confidence within the context of God’s word and I hope you’ve been challenged as well. Today begins a tackling of another subject–one I’d rather avoid if I’m being completely honest, but needing to address: Security.

My security is not found in my ability to perform because I’ve learned that performance and abilities can fail.  My security is not in my reputation even though my reputation is important.  My security is not in the type of family I come from, my heritage, or my pocketbook, which is a relief because I’m a melting pot of nationalities and my pocket book is usually empty.

The temptation to place my security in temporal things is strong because these are things I can see and gauge and prove to myself that I’m worth something. It’s the compare and contrast thing we do with each other: ‘How am I better than so and so and how am I worse than so and so?’ and so my security rises and lowers based on where the comparison needle lands.

But it’s exhausting, you know? When my security is placed in my own ability or in someone else’s ability, I weave and bob on a floating log in an uncertain river. I go under gasping for breath and come up soaked and shivering, but still clinging to the things that I think will provide my security: performance, people, and pocket money.

I’m learning through mistakes and moments of humility that security has nothing to do with me or with you, but God himself.

What he says about me is more important than how I feel about myself. He says that in Christ, I am chosen, adopted, rescued, complete, and given access to him. This doesn’t change based on the day when I have it all together and I’m rocking the day or the day when I have one giant fail after another.

He says I’m secure in him and this doesn’t change if I have a poor performance, disappoint people, or lost my pocket money. He is the ultimate in security. But how do we begin transferring our misplacement of security in ourselves, and other people to the King of kings and Lord of lords?

It’s allowing three key truths to take root in our heart and allowed to grow.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Satan loves nothing more than to throw my sin in my face and remind me of the shame of it. God says that since I am in Christ Jesus then I’m set free from my sin and I am free to live by him and for him. My security is in knowing that I’m free from the law of sin and death and set free in the law of the Spirit of life.

Life is hard. It just is. There’s pain, cancer, miscarriages, stillborns, death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, or addictions. And sometimes the hard is something we have to face every day and sometimes it’s a memory that lives as though it is our present. Somedays it’s hard to look past our pain to see the possibilities of what is.

And what is is this: you love God, respond to his call and he works things together for good. This concept only works when we frame it with our love and response to what God is wanting to do with our junk. My security lies in trusting God that he will turn my pain into beauty.  I have to look at pain or fear or whatever in the eye and trust God with it and as he works in my heart, my insecurity is traded for security.

To understand the depth of God’s love for us can be one of the greatest obstacles to our security in Christ. Our hearts are prone to cynicism. Our minds towards doubt. We want proof and too often life proves that love is expendable. So to wrap our minds around the concept that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus can feel impossible.

 But what if we tried? What if you and I declared that no matter what happens tomorrow at that doctor’s appointment that we will still believe God loves us? What if you and I declared that no matter who wins the presidential election that we will not be separated from the love of God? What if you and I declared that no matter how much pain we are currently experiencing in our private lives that God’s love is still deep and wide?

What would our acceptance of God’s love look like if we separated our circumstances from God’s love for us? It would look a lot like security.

confidence or confident?

identity-acceptence-confidence

Acceptance.

It’s what I long for, and it’s what you long for. I also withhold it from others and myself and so do you.

I’ve been wrestling with my acceptance in Christ because there’s a part I play in it as well: I have to accept what God says.

I can read his truth and his words, but if I don’t believe them, I’m still lost. There’s a difference between knowing truth and believing truth and it’s hard to believe the truth about acceptance.

When I refuse to accept the truth that God says I am set free from darkness, I stumble and fall even though light is nearby. When I refuse to accept redemption, I abdicate my inheritance of forgiveness. When I refuse to accept completeness in Christ, I give up confidence.

I once confessed my insecurity to a close friend and she sat open-mouthed and dared me to deny my statement. I couldn’t and she couldn’t believe it.

I’m good at playing the confident woman, but I shake in my boots and hide behind a smile and a sparkle. I don’t see what my friend sees. I see a messy-haired, scared little girl hoping to be accepted, but believing she won’t be and so I pretend. I pretend I’m full of confidence.  I pretend I know what I’m doing. But inside? On the inside I’m afraid you will find out the truth and reject me.

God gives me opportunity after opportunity to strip my confident façade away and fully embrace his acceptance of me because it is only when I rest in his acceptance of me that I am truly confident.

Confident that I’ve been rescued, redeemed, chosen, and given access to the throne room of God. Confidence based in my own ability is shaky and will crumble. It has crumbled. Each time I’m publicly humbled–whether it’s through an editing mistake in a published piece, or my vocals cracking as I lead worship, or singing the wrong lyric at the wrong time–I’m given the opportunity to understand what it’s like to be confident in him.

This past Sunday, as I led worship, I cued the band and the tech team to section three of our opening song. They did their part, but I didn’t. I sang something entirely different. The smiles and laughter in the tech team cued me of my screw up. While the band played their way through my fumbling, I smiled my way through, course corrected, and kept the focus on God.

A few years ago, I would have spent the afternoon berating myself over my ineptness-turning the focus on myself-rather than rejoicing in the ability to learn a lesson in humility and glory.

God doesn’t want to embarrass me, but if I’m prideful in an area, I will be humbled. My confidence should never be placed in my abilities because my abilities are not because of me, but in spite of me. My abilities are gifts from God to be used for him for his people. They have nothing to do with me. They are for his glory.

My confidence is directly related to how well I accept that God accepts me. When I don’t feel accepted, when I feel I’ve disappointed God, either over something little or that thing, like perfect, that keeps cropping up in my life, I reject myself, assuming that God rejects me as well.

I couldn’t be more wrong. He doesn’t reject. He accepts.

Our confidence for living this God-life is directly related to our embracing God’s acceptance of us.

If we embraced this truth, we would confidently leave our old lives behind and embrace the new. We would truly understand amazing grace that’s set our hearts free. We would love without strings. We would confidently walk in the forgiveness God offers rather than in the condemnation we offer ourselves.

Could you imagine the effect you would have in your life if you walked confidently into every situation confident not in your ability to perform, but confident that no matter what others think of you or what you think of yourself that God calls you accepted?

There just might be a revolution.

There would be a revolution in our churches because it wouldn’t be about us, but it would be about following the Holy Spirit wherever he leads.

Our homes and society would revolutionize themselves because our love for each other would flow from the belief that we’re accepted fully and completely by God. We would give our best knowing that God is pleased when we accept and love each other.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Confidence is directly related to our belief in God’s acceptance of us. We might struggle with accepting ourselves with all our flaws and mistakes, but God doesn’t. He offers us rescue, redemption, forgiveness, completeness, and access to the throne of God because he accepts us. This is who you are in Christ: accepted beloved one.

why rejecting ourself hurts and how to accept ourself

identity-2

I’ve been avoiding this post. I’ve worked on other writing projects and even considered cleaning the floors because I don’t want to address the fact that Junior High may not be 25 years ago, but may be 2.5 days ago and maybe I’m not as mature as I think.

In Christ we are accepted, secure, and significant. Today, and for the next couple of weeks we’ll discuss acceptance and what prevents us from embracing God’s acceptance of us: our self-perception, our sense of belonging, and our confidence.

I’ve struggled with feeling as though I’m on the outside looking in more often than on the inside looking out. Whether I was the new kid in a new school and wondering who I was going to talk to or the friends that shunned me for an entire school year or the group of smart looking women who I would love to get to know, but just can’t seem to penetrate their circle of friends.

These memories and experiences led me to believe that there was something inherently wrong with me. I perceived myself as not good enough.

It was an up-town cafe that showed me just how foolish I was to believe that lie.  This little cafe was quaint and cute and oh so chic and I was not, but there I was, fidgeting in my seat, playing with my napkin, eyeing the set of silverware and wondering if I would remember the purpose of all those forks. And I wondered if I’d ever been in a place that used more than one.

I could hear soft music playing and my head kept telling me to relax and let the music wash over me, but my heart–the one where the scared little girl resides– was yelling at me, ‘You’re going to be asked to leave. It’s obvious you don’t fit here. They’re going to show you to the door. Na, na, na, na.’

Silly, isn’t it? But it was very, very true.

 Our hearts boss our heads around and we’re left worn out because of the mental battle.

So there I was, listening to the fears and lies of my heart, while my head was countering back with, ‘Just relax, sit tall, and don’t cower. You were invited to be here. Heart, hush up and listen to the violin strings. Let them sing a melody to you.’ I willed myself to relax and act normal, but it made me think how my head and my heart do this with God’s word as well.

Our hearts tell us the all-encompassing acceptance of God is too good to be true and our hearts tell us we’re not good enough to be included. 

We can read God’s word, which is the truth, but our hearts cannot or will not accept the truth. We have lies that we hear in our hearts that our mind believes and when we encounter the truth, it’s a struggle to embrace the truth. It can go the other way too. Sometime we know the truth in our heads, but our hearts have a hard time receiving what our heads know.

If we’ve struggled with the concept of fatherhood then John 1:12 will be a difficult verse to receive into our heart. But if we want to be set free from the battles that rage in our minds, then we must begin to learn, live, and love this truth:

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–” John 1:12

If we’ve struggled in friendships, we sometimes believe we’re not the type of person people want to be friends with. Other times we’ll protect ourselves and allow only a certain amount of access to our heart because our histories have shown us that friends cannot be trusted. The countering truth to this lie (that you’re not the friend type) is John 15:15. Jesus calls you friend. The King of the world, the king of hearts, the Lord of lords counts you as friend.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I  learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

If our histories hold choices we’re ashamed of and we’re living with long term consequences of those choices then we often believe the lie that they are unforgivable and unforgettable. This is a lie designed to keep us bound in condemnation and if we can be kept in condemnation then we will not understand the beauty of conviction and redemption. Our hearts need to know that through Jesus Christ we have a been made new.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

I walked away from that cafe with a crack in my mis-perception of myself and God in his kindness, mercy, and gentleness showed me that in him I have a seat at the table of grace. He showed me that by refusing to accept his truth about me doesn’t make it any less true. What’s true is true and God says we’re accepted. 

My heart is believing what my head knows to be true, but sometimes the lies sneak in and I’m back to the outside looking in.  Does this ever happen to you? It can happen in a moment and it’s times like these that I preach the truth to myself. I tell myself that I’m God’s child, I’m his friend, and I’ve  been made new.

You, my friend, can know this truth in your heart as well. Would you take some time to read these scriptures and make them personal by putting your name in these verses? The next time you feel as though you’re not enough, will you remember these truths?

 

 

 

perfect brokenness perfect completeness

perfect-5

You know that ‘thing’ that threatens to break you?

It’s that thing you deny exists and try to run away from? Yeah, that.

It’s okay, you can turn around and face it. There’s hope when you walk towards it and through to the other side because I’ve lived it.

Perfect has been a ‘thing’ for me. I bristle when someone calls me perfect or perfectionist. Perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect performance, perfect response and yet, within the bristle, is a craving for it as well. It’s the craving that made me examine my heart and the hold that perfect had on me.

It has long held me hostage in my relationships, my mind, and in the quiet space of me and God. Perfect has used my fear of rejection to keep me in a place of denial that I really do have issues with perfection.

The deal, though? Perfect became a noose. It became a strangler in my journey towards authenticity in my relationships, with myself, and with my God. As I attempted to break up with perfect, perfect’s hold threatened to break me.

As I began to crumple under the pressure of perfection, God began a different kind of breaking in me. You see, if perfect had broken me I would have been left with shards of perfection that I would have tried to hold and pretty soon my hands would be full and perfect would fail, I would fall and break again into tiny pieces.

God’s breaking is a healing kind of breaking.  And it’s a necessary break. Perfection was so woven into the fabric of who I was that the only way to put me back together again, in the way God saw me, was for him to completely and utterly break me. I needed to be so broken that perfection could be separated from the essence of who I am.

When brokenness happens because God is doing the breaking then he can be trusted to do the putting back together, and the putting back together is the part where his touch can bring healing and a whole lot more wholeness than I ever could bring in my own strength of breaking up with perfect.

God broke me and I was left in shards at his altar.

The initial breaking was painful. Like, I want to never lift my head again painful. It caused sleepless nights where I writhed in heart pain and questions. I would lie in bed listening to the creaking of the old house and the cycling of the furnace and the sound of the coyotes in our backyard and wonder. I would wonder if my heart was repairable. Everything I based my identity on-performance, acceptance, and approval-was suddenly stripped from me.

I was unable to perform to my level of standards in music.

I was failing in church leadership.

Friendships were broken.

I’ve been rejected at the core of who I am.

I have complexion issues, wild hair, and a tongue that’s difficult to control.

I’ve lived through some dark days of groping for God in my own strength.

These were some of my shards and he’s been piecing me back together. He’s filtering through the rejection and discarding the lies that I have long believed about myself.

He is teaching me to say ‘thanks’ for those monthly outbreaks, crazy hair, and to slow down and think before I speak.

He’s showing me that he’s the one who does the growing in my spiritual walk, not me and my efforts.

To be honest, I’ve run from the breaking. I’ve scurried like a rabbit before a prairie fire not realizing that I’m not the rabbit, but I’m the prairie grass that brings life and beauty, and sometimes the prairie needs a good burn.

Perfect.

Only when I’m broken of perfection can I be made perfect by  a perfect God.

Perfect in the biblical sense means to be made complete. My relationship with perfection prevented my completeness in God. God’s desire is for me to be complete in him. I can know him completely and love him completely when I am released from the noose of perfection.

I’ve grown since the initial breaking. I’ve come to see God’s hand in the breaking and to trust him with the healing because as I submit to the breaking and the healing I see how he has discarded the threads of perfection and picked up the pieces of me that glorify him best and he is shaping me into the woman he wants me to be.

So, yes, perfect and I have broken up, and yes, we still get together. But the breaking up with perfect is really done best when I submit to a brokenness before my God and when I do, I find that I receive long-lasting healing instead of the bandaids I apply to my ‘perfect’ issues.

Perfect brokenness is what I strive for now. Complete brokenness before a God who sees me, heals me and loves me enough to break me in order to make me new.

He is perfect and there is none like him and in the security of love he provides I find the true meaning of perfection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

stepping into grace

perfection-part-3

I’m doing a lot of confessing here and it’s time for another one:

I adore fall.

I love the beauty in the changing leaves, the crisp temperatures, and the October blue skies. I love watching the farmers gather the crops and the glow of the setting sun on the dried corn calls to me and awakens a yearning within. But there is another reason I love fall.

Summer brings with it anxiety and self-criticism. I tear myself down about the big and small flaws of a body that’s jiggly from bearing four children which only intense training would repair and said person lives fifteen miles away from any gym. That kind of self-criticism. I battle these thoughts all summer and by the end of the summer I’m weary of reminding myself to stand tall and confident and all I want to do is crawl into my cozy sweaters, jeans and ankle boots.

My perception is not necessarily my reality and I know that my value is not tied to my physical appearance or my productivity, but I still struggle with this truth and my heart tells me the struggle goes much further than just my outside appearance.

I’ve been writing about breaking perfect and I’ve dealt with perfection in my relationships, in my thought life, and now I must address the one area that affects all the others and that’s when perfect interferes with my relationship with God.

Often what we do on the outside indicates issues on the inside and this is true for me. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear more layers and long pants, but when I look at the deep in my heart I see what I’m really trying to do with all my covering up and accessorizing. I’m trying to cover up my imperfections, or at least my perceived imperfections, as if I can distract God with spiritual accessories. I might be able to fool you and myself, but I will never fool God.

Hebrews 4:13 lingers in my heart and reveals my futility in trying to hide. This verse states that nothing is hidden before God and that everything is exposed and laid bare. Everything. My impatience. My anger, selfishness, dissatisfaction, my doubts, and my fears. This verse releases me from the exhausting effort of hiding my weaknesses.

My weaknesses are not liabilities and something to be hid, but they are opportunities for me to come boldly to the throne of God to receive grace. Grace is not a pat on the head and the encouragement to keep trying to live right or even the freedom to live as I please, but it’s the empowerment that enables me to exchange impatience for patience. Anger for acceptance. Dissatisfaction for contentment.

I hide behind perfect because I’m ashamed of my failure at my inability to make these exchanges on my own. Hebrews 4:13-16 stops me in my tracks. It shows me how wrong I’ve been for trying to cover up my heart ugliness behind the facade of perfect, and I’m relieved by the exposure because the hiding gets exhausting, and rubs against my need for truth.

This is the truth: God sees all and knows all and will–he will give me grace when I need it. I don’t need to slink, sneak or sulk my way to his throne, but because of Jesus- the one who faced all the same temptations I do and yet did not sin–because of him, I can boldly, with confidence, come to the very throne of God and receive empowering grace.

Grace to face my imperfections and say: ‘thank-you’. Thank-you for my struggles. Thank-you for my fears. Thank-you. Without imperfections in my life, I wouldn’t need God and and I desperately need God.

He’s authentic in every way with me and desires authenticity from me as well. He sees me. He sees the things I would rather pretend do not exist and do not love about me. But he sees into the hidden recesses of my heart and loves me despite the ugly that’s found there.

I can strip myself down to all the ugly and he will receive me and empower me to choose his way of living. Impatience for patience. Anger for peace. Dissatisfaction for contentment. Doubt for belief.

I’ve been invited to boldly come to him and so have you. We don’t need to get prettied up, even though it’s fun to get our pretty on. Ours is the kind of relationship where we can come confidently in our beauty and in our ugly because grace trumps perfect. We don’t need to stay in the shadows, but can walk boldly up the red carpet to his throne, fall at his feet and receive empowering grace. We can exchange our version of perfect for his perfect love poured into us through his grace.

 

it’s a break up that continues

perfect-part-2

I broke up with perfect, but sometimes we get back together. Ugh. Perfect makes itself known in my relationships and it has snared me in the fear of man that steals my authenticity and shapes me into a plastic version of myself.  I confessed I was afraid of you and now I must confess I’m afraid of myself.

I’m afraid of disappointing myself, and I fear failing my expectations. What if I have to buy new clothes because I can’t stick with an exercise program? What if I wrinkle my face into a permanent scowl because I’m perpetually disappointed in myself? What if I try, again, to organize my life into some resemblance of order and once again, fail? Why can’t I have endless energy? Why am I so jiggly? Why am I crabby in the morning and why do they expect me to be cheery? What if I give something my everything and it’s not good enough? What if I’m not good enough?

And there lies the root of my alliance with perfect. If I’m perfect then I’m good enough and the maddening what ifs stop taking over my mind. This is not a healthy place.

Enough.

I am enough. You are enough. But why do we struggle to receive this truth? Why do we wrestle with God over this?

It could be that I’ve confused my ‘fear of not being enough’ with being aware of my sinful nature and the journey toward holiness.  I’m wide awake to my failures and struggles: selfish ambition, fear, impatience, and judgement.  But those aren’t the things that make me ‘not enough’ and overcoming them isn’t what makes me ‘enough’ either.

So what makes us enough? It’s found in the depth of God’s love for us which is a deep, deep well we can draw from and find the sweetest of waters. He loved us while we were trapped in sin and we love him because he first loved us.

If this is truth then where does the alliance with perfect begin? Does it begin when we don’t believe ourselves worthy? Is the idea of a love freely given so far outside our comfort zone that we make ourselves work for it?

Our experiences with perfect are not going to be the same. We live in a society that tells us we can have it all. We reach higher and higher instead of resting in God’s expectations of us. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, but we burden ourselves when we add intentions outside of what he’s called us to do.

It seems easier to beat myself up for failing to follow through on that popular exercise program or that my calendar is still hopelessly disorganized or that I didn’t reach out to a hurting friend because I was self-absorbed with my problems. I failed again.

Perfect leaves no room for failure so I put even more pressure on myself to be everything to everyone, including myself. This is exhausting and impossible. It becomes a merry go round that takes me lower and deeper into the pit of perfect and further and further away from the truth of God’s expectations. 

Discovering God’s intentions has been the most freeing antidote to breaking up with perfect. My problem is that I think I need to add amendments to them creating an atmosphere of scales and balances.  I think to myself, ‘Oh, God says to be perfect? Well, I’d better not make any mistakes and not ever let anyone down,’ while disregarding the fact that God intends for me to be complete in him, which is not some twisted version of perfect that my mind thinks up.

God’s expectations for my life involve making him Lord of my life and doing what he wants me to do. The problem comes when I forget to listen and that’s usually when  perfect and I get back together.

Making him Lord means freedom from perfection because we don’t have to worry about fulfilling the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves. It means we get to find out what he expects of us and release our fears of not being enough because he says, ‘Beloved you are enough. Rest in me, listen for my voice, and you will be complete.’

 

 

why social media makes me apprehensive

battle win may 16

I recently joined the social media scene…..

….for the third time.

I know.

It makes me look rather flibberty-jibbet and totally unpredictable and not dependable. ugh.

Confession? I didn’t like the ‘comparison-itis’ or the slimy, gossipy feeling I had when I clicked off social media or the lack of consistent authenticity in real-life vs. on-line life. So I deactivated. For my mental and emotional health. For protection.

So. Why try it again?

One, I am looking for community with other writers, heart-stirrers, and word-warriors. I have questions and concerns. I want to know if there are other’s who struggle with the pride and insecurity that seem to plague me and if I’m alone and how someone else worked through it. I need your stories.

Two,  there’s the message within me to call hearts out to perceive their brokenness as something beautiful if placed in the hands of Jesus. And there are a lot of other word-warriors proclaiming this truth. I want to know them so we can join our voices together to proclaim truth and freedom and grace and love.

I cannot tell you how many tears I have shed over social media and really? Isn’t that absolutely stupid? It’s real and raw and pretty messy. And social media is neat and tidy and putting our best foot forward. First impressions are everything. Help?

Two years ago, the Lord broke me free from the chain of the people-approval-seeking-junkie label I have worn my entire life and since that freedom day I have been learning to live free. It’s hard. I accepted the freedom breaking on the condition that God would show me how to live without that noose wrapped around my neck because what’s the point of freedom if I’m not going to live free?

So…

Social Media. It’s stirring things long buried.

My twelve-year-old self is screaming, ‘Danger! Danger! One day you will wake up and everyone will hate you.’

My 20-year-old self is whispering, ‘If you be what they want you to be, you will be liked and accepted.’

My 30-year-old self is whispering, ‘Rejection is going to follow you all the days of your life.’

My 37-year-old self is whispering, ‘You’ve been set free. Trust God. Please him–his voice is all that matters. ‘

My current-year-old self is whispering, ‘This is stinking hard, I don’t know how to do this, I am too weak to live free.’

Which brings me to today–staring down my fears that social media is stirring:

To my twelve-year-old self I say: ‘Sweet thing, you need to forgive those girls who rejected you and abandoned your friendship because of a lie told about you. You know the truth. Jesus knows the truth and you are justified through him. Not every girl or woman is going to be like that crowd of friends.

To my 20-year-old self I say: ‘You can try to please everyone, but you will lose yourself along the way and losing yourself to people makes it really hard to lose yourself in God.’

To my 30-year-old self I say: ‘Rejection is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to define you or control you.’

To my 37-year-old self I say: ‘The brokenness and pain was worth the freedom!’

To my current-year-old self I say: ‘The Holy Spirit will give you power to live, only do not be afraid. Look to your God and listen to him. Listen for him and trust him to light the way for the next step. Be faithful and consistent in what he has given you to do.’

God is showing me how to live in the freedom that being the apple of his eye brings. It’s not without trepidation but I am trusting him to hold me close to his heart. Maybe you have voices in your head too–the kind that are tied to events in your past that affect how you make decisions in your present relationships.

Do you have fears that you wrestle with in your relationships, online or in real life? How are you overcoming them?