Sunday, December 27, 2009

Being in control of one's self, or giving control to God...?

"The only way we are going to get out of what we are currently in is to see that there is something greater." - Joshua Weir, pastor of The Village Vineyard, Columbus, OH

Today, church was not some "omg, that really hit me hard" thing. However, God was sweet and awesome enough to pull back the veil and show me the work that He is doing, and has given me the "big picture." I have been struggling with alcohol abuse for about a year and a half on and off. I have been struggling with emotional eating as long as I can remember. I have been struggling with lust and impure thoughts for about 5 years. Until recently, I didn't lump these together at all, I simply treated them as separate sin that needed to be dealt with individually. Food, lust, alcohol: all of these things have been hitting me hard in recent months. Assuming it was just one of those times in my life, I have been writing it off as me just not pursuing what God has for me, and areas of my life that need improvement.

I was talking with a guy friend a few months ago about men and their struggle with looking at women lustfully. He said that treating that lustful act alone is not effective, and that it comes from a deeper sin that needs to be examined. I knew that what he said was true, but wasn't sure how his truth applied to my life. Then this morning it all starting ironing out in my head. I am not stopping myself from having just one drink, or none at all. I am not stopping myself from eating food that I really don't need "just because I want to." I am not stopping my mind to wander to places that only a married person should entertain. These are all centering around my lack of self-control.

I can walk away from booze. I can go on a diet. I can stick to G-rated books, movies, and conversations. But, taking these symptoms away will not help me exercise self-control. The only thing that will help my self-control is to understand that God has something better for me than what I am submerging myself into. God has SO much better for me than lust, gluttony, and alcoholism. So much better for me than the life that I could try to create. May I submit to Him, that I might glorify Him.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The first of many vulnerable moments...

Last weekend, I was invited to an ugly sweater party at a friend's house. Looking back, I knew what I was walking into. I think that I was acting in pride, and not wanting to admit that I should have my guard up and set limits for myself. This is what I wrote the next day:

"Sad thing is that I had a blast last night. Sad thing is that if there were a party tonight, every night, I'd go. Sad thing is that I went knowing full well that I was planning on drinking, with no plan. I need a plan. I need to set boundaries. I need to say, "I won't drink this kind of alcohol, because it hits me WAY too hard." I need someone to be hard on me- or maybe I need to be hard on myself. I need to maybe not drink anymore. I think I have a problem that I haven't wanted to admit. Scenes from last nigth are blurry. I remember the night as a whole, but the details are fuzzy. Like, at one point, I remember thinking and saying that I can't drink anymore. Then I got sucked into a drinking game. And, by sucked, I mean, I was asked and I said yes... No peer pressure, no coercing, just a question and an answer. But, yet I felt this gravitational pull to where the fun was about to happen."

After writing this, I texted my friend, who I ride with to church, and decided that I was going, no matter how ashamed I was, or how guilty I felt. I was going to go and face my punishment, meet my Maker, and just accept the conquences for my actions. But, when I got to church, something was different. The leaders were praying over the service, and a prophetic word was spoken over someone randomly as they entered. It wasn't for me, but it was encouraging to me that even though a sinner was in the midst, that God was still working. As worship began, I prayed, "Okay God, I was wrong. I shouldn't have drunk myself into a mess. I embarassed myself, and I embarassed you. Bring on the punishment. Ground me, spank me, whatever You have in store for me." And I braced myself, and waited.


I waited longer... still nothing.

I waited a few more minutes, ready for His wrath-filled lightning bolt zooming from the sky to strike me down. I had my hands open, my arms hanging at my sides. And something fell on me. Something light, free, and warm. I felt God say to me in the midst of this, "This is not Me you speak of. I am love, and I wish to give you mercy and grace." I opened my eyes and looked around. I saw people enjoying His presence. I felt no shame. I felt like a daughter who was the apple of her Father's eye, who was deeply loved and cared for. I felt like the princess that I am.

I can safely say that this was the first time that I felt the fullness of His grace and mercy intercept the guilt and shame that usually sneaks in. That day, the the pastor, Josh, said "It doesn't matter if you are take steps a yard long or a milimeter long, as long as you are moving forward." How true is that. I think back to a year ago, when I was getting drunk six nights a week. I looked around myself then and I saw people that were stuck in life, never moving foward in anything. Never encouraging, never pushing me along, never stepping in when I'd had enough but didn't want to admit it. I look around now and I see a safe community, one that is healthy, and thriving, one that pushing people gently towards Jesus, and one that will call me out if I need it. I am in a healthy place, with people that love me, and with the full knowledge that if I am going to screw up (which I will), then this is where it should be done. I praise you, Father, for Nui Ohana, my Big Family.

A New Season... Healing

I have long since forgotten what it was like to live a care-free Christian life. I am not sure why I how I was convinced that being a follower of Christ meant that life was easier, that it was less stressful, or that everything just kind of was handed to you on a platter encrusted with Christ's face and on a pillow of clouds. I was wrong.

I remember the first time I felt a very real and very heavy spiritual attack. I was getting ready to move from my townhouse in Lynchburg, VA to Waterloo, IA in August of 2006. I had just handed over the keys of the car I had been using. I was packing all of my belongings to move to a place foreign to me, a place where I thought that I would find love, and that the rest of my life would be spent. I started looking around my room, seeing boxes, my makeshift bed (a sleeping bag on a mattress pad), and an empty house (my then-roommate had just moved in with her boyfriend, and out of my townhouse). Something came over me that was oppressive, full of lies, and that hurt deeply. I could not push out of it, and the more I fought the thoughts of suicide, of worthlessness, of being a screw up, the more the lies pushed back.

I called my mentor, who then tried to speak some Truth into me, coming from Psalm 139. It didn't really penetrate my heart. I also talked to my mom about how I was feeling, and tried to explain the suicidal thoughts, but she wasn't really getting it. I felt like no one was understanding, and worse yet, that no one was capable of helping me.

Fast forward three years...

I still fight this. I'm not sure what came over me, or why it still lingers today, but a very dark spirit of despair infected me, and will come and go as it pleases. It does not belong, and I know that. There is no place for it in my life, as Jesus is Lord of me. I am still exploring education in this area, and attempting to develop a deeper level of understand of all things spiritual.

What I do know is that I was not prepared for that kind of battle. Yes, I read Ephesisans 6. Yes, I knew about the armor of God. But, something in me thought spiritual warfare to be something that couldn't possibly affect me (pride), because all I had known was a fuzzy-loving Christ-centered life up until a few months before I decided to move.

What I hope for this blog is not something to shout how awesome my life is, or to broadcast my miseries. I pray that the what God is doing in my life can hit someone where it counts, that they may take home a few things. Maybe I will just seem crazy, or maybe someone can say, "Hey, me too, lady... I'm going through that too..." Whatever the outcome, Lord, I pray you will use this for your glory.