I finally realized that even though I “believed” something, didn’t mean I “received” it. It took me releasing clenched fists and raising open palms to Heaven in admittance of my utter dependence on the one who created me and calls me by name. Savior of the world…Messiah…Jesus. Only then was I able to exchange my rags of ruin for his cloak of grace.
Tag Archives: andy stanley
Fear vs. Faith
I’ve heard it said that where there is fear, faith cannot exist. I don’t believe that to be true. The further into recovery I go, I find that the only real test of my faith is when fear is present.
Andy Stanley just finished the second week of the new series Starting Over. I cannot take notes fast enough to absorb everything he is saying, which is why I watch his talks multiple times.
He highlighted several incredible affirmations in this last message. One that really got me thinking and led to this post was, “You only make peace with your past by owning your piece of the past.” Isn’t that profound and yet simple. Owning my piece of the past.
We all want peace in our lives. There is no better peace than that of reconciling the past. I never thought those two words (peace and past) could be used in the same sentence.
When I first stepped into recovery the thought of facing some of the unthinkable things I had done in my past was too much and almost kept me from ever getting sober. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. And I had every excuse known to man not to complete this task… “What if someone finds this notebook with these things in writing and uses it against me?”
“What if I die before I can go through this process with my sponsor and this is how people remember me?”
“What if my fiancé finds this and realizes I’m ‘damaged goods’?”
Fear. Fear had kept me bound for too long. Fear had kept me sick and spiritually paralyzed for years. Fear was keeping me addicted, drunk and compromised.
Faith showed up. Not in the absence of fear, rather in the midst of it. Six months after starting cleanup on the wreckage of my past, I sat down with Lia, my sponsor and 5 hours later we set those pages on fire and watched them turn to ashes. That was on a Fall California day in 2002.
I remember feeling the ash between my fingers. I couldn’t see what was next. I couldn’t see myself functioning as a productive member of society. I couldn’t see the plans that had already been laid out for me. Then God…
He sent Lia into my life to save me from self inflicted doom. I could have missed the many ways he was protecting and guiding me. She knew what I didn’t know at the time, that everything really was going to be alright. I wonder if she knew just how much better than alright they would be? Andy says, “When you own it, you dethrone it.” He’s right, ya know.
So now, today, in this moment, I ask God to replace my fear with faith. I ask him to direct my thinking and use my story for his glory. I ask him to continue to make beauty from those ashes that I rubbed between my fingers all those years ago.
Don’t underestimate the Creator of the Universe. He has a plan and it’s always better, bigger, and brighter than mine.
What do you think? Can faith and fear coexist or is the one who is fearful lacking faith?
Why balance is overrated
I have used the phrase, more than once, “I just need to find the right balance in my life.” Whether it be with work and home, dreams and reality, me-time and mommy-time, I have defaulted back to this phrase.
If I’m being
perfectly honest, I don’t ever find myself striving for balance. I love extremes. It’s how I’m wired…I guess. If I’m going to play, I’m gonna go all out!
The definition of balance changes from person to person. It’s personal. It’s all about how you look at it and what your capacity is. Am I wrong? (Feel free to disagree in the comments. I love a healthy debate.)
I have been thinking about this so much since having a dream the other night encompassing my fear, doubt and excitement with life in my current circumstances.
I was standing on a plank no bigger than my two feet. It was supported by a metal pole and held by someone I didn’t recognize and couldn’t see from my estimated view of 200 feet in the air.
The fear was so real. I had the bitter taste in my mouth. Recalling it now makes me grateful it was a dream.
Just when I was swaying, trying to get my balance, a friend who was sitting on a wall behind me, reached her hand out and said, “Here. Take my hand. I’ll pull you back on the wall.” I glanced down and felt queasy trying to focus on the ground below.
“I can’t.” I answered. “I have to do this! I just need to get my balance.”
The thought of sitting back on that wall made me wilt. Thinking about it now, I know that’s the place I was before taking this wild leap of faith. I know the friend represents all of the relationships I cherish from the position that I left.
Change is hard and I’m pretty confident this dream was about the big life change I have made in my career. However, it could pertain to several areas of my life right now.
I have some critics who want to see me fail. Those who accost me at every turn with why something won’t work. If only they knew how much that fuels my determination. (I guess now maybe they do?) The great thing about critics is they demand that I be on my game. Their sarcasm and thoughtless remarks provoke my creativity. Don’t get me wrong, I get discouraged and introspective when criticism is presented in any way other than constructive.
I also have incredible support from people who love me and want to see me succeed. Those who speak truth into my heart and mind. When I get seemingly too close to the edge, they offer me a hang glider instead of negotiations.
So now the choice is mine. Who will I allow to influence my future? Who will I give access to my decisions? Who do I listen to?
Here is what I know…my Heavenly Father knows my name. He beckons me with His unrelenting pursuit of my heart. Though everything around me changes, He remains. My Constant…my Deliverer…my Redeemer. He cares about the decisions affecting my life. He cares about my pursuits. When I focus on this truth, the naysayers fall silent and their opinion has
even less no bearing on my present and future.
Can you relate to my failed attempts at reaching that perfect balance? When did you discover that it doesn’t exist?
Resources worth sharing:
Andy is unwrapping a series called “Follow” from North Point Community Church. It has given great insight into the things I consistently read, say and do. He made a statement in the most recent message that has been on repeat in my thoughts and prayers as I make a valiant effort to integrate it into my daily life. “When our faith intersects with His faithfulness, everything changes.”
Here’s a great post by the beautiful, talented and wildly successful, Joy Phenix
about “Life Blending” instead of “Life Balance.”
“So often, we mentally put our commitments on an invisible teeter-totter, hoping to distribute our obligations evenly. The theory is that balance brings calmness. The thinking is if we distribute our work evenly, then we’ll be less tired, less stressed, less guilty about our choices, and happier. The problem is, life isn’t even.” read more…
(credit for balancing photo at top of page goes to google)
Just like that, a Mother is born
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.”
I remember that moment when the first cries were heard and the rush of tasks began to care for a newly born baby. The room seemed to spin around the delivery table where I was still lying. Life would never be the same.
The part one might not know about “giving birth” more than once is that the experience is never like that of the other. I went in feeling as if I had never done it before with each of my children. It’s the strangest and most wonderful thing.
We then take the baby home and do the best we can with what we have to 1. Keep them alive 2. Shower more than once a week and 3. Resemble some semblance of sanity.
As they begin to grow we encourage them to start talking by sounding out words and making ridiculous faces. We motivate them to walk by dangling things just beyond their reach. We urge them to hold a spoon in their chubby little hand and feed themselves, all the while entertained by the fact that more of it is on their face and the surrounding area than in their mouth.
And then the day comes, I can’t tell you exactly when, we start shhh-ing them and telling them to “be still.” We scold them for smacking, avoiding their napkin and dropping food on the floor while not “leaning over their plate.” Weird, right?
Maybe not? If you think about it, it’s just how life evolves. In recovery we compare many of our milestones to that of a child. And we celebrate when we reach them as if celebrating a child’s firsts. It’s crucial for our continued momentum.
Today, Andy Stanley is wrapping up a series called Future Family. I have to be honest, I’m rather sad about it. Each week I have walked away with something applicable that I could start doing. Each week at the close of his message I have desired to be a better wife and mother. Each week I have gained knowledge that I will pass on to my children and hopefully their children. Do you know how huge that is?!
For this girl, who was a mother before I had even figured out how to solely take care of myself and who has made more mistakes than I care to mention, to have someone come alongside me and “teach” instead of condemning me is HUGE.
I’m the girl who learns by trial and error so to find something that works without making a lot of messes beforehand is invaluable to me.
Being a mother is hard. It’s wonderful too, but let’s be honest, that perspective usually comes (especially in the early years) when our little one is sleeping. I depend far too heavily on caffeine most days. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to ask one or more of my children to “please forgive me.” I raise my voice too much, I loathe dusting, I don’t “play” enough, at times I feed my children cereal for dinner, I am completely unorganized and I am incredibly selfish. BUT, if you ask my children if I love them, they would say “Yes.” If you ask them if they know who God is, they would say “Yes.” If you ask them if their mommy and daddy love each other, they would say “Yes.” Those three truths are of the utmost importance to me.
So when I have a conversation with my 14-year-old about some really hard “stuff” that I, personally do not think she should have to worry about yet and I hang up the phone feeling like I know nothing at all. I can ask myself, “Does she know that I love her?” Yes. “Does she know that I want what’s best for her?” Yes. “Does she have her own personal relationship with the God of her understanding?” Yes. “Does He have a plan and a purpose for her life?” Yes.
I don’t know why this topic is on the forefront of my mind? If for no other reason, maybe it’s to encourage you, as a parent, to cut yourself some slack. If you’re a total slacker, maybe it’s to tell you to step it up. What I know for sure is that, my children are a gift and that it’s okay that it’s difficult.
Sandra Stanley said something in the message last week (when accompanying Andy on stage) that I will never forget as it refreshed my perspective on parenting. She said, “The days feel long but the years are short.” Realizing that for me, right now, there is no job on earth more important than being a parent is the mother in me being born and coming to life.
What do you think? Do you love every aspect of being a mother/parent? Is it as difficult for you at times as it is for me?
Looking for great parenting material?
Check these mamas out…
Courtney Defeo blogs at Lil Light O’ Mine She uses truth and humor, grace and love, to navigate her way through motherhood. Check out her site, but be prepared to spend some time as you will keep finding material that you love!
Leanne Penny blogs at Leanne Penny She shares her experience, strength and hope to find joy in the journey. She has an incredible story and you will be better after reading her heart.
Lisa~Jo Baker blogs at The Gypsy Mama She has an extraordinary amount of wisdom that pours out on every page. Her life is not perfect, but she has a unique way of turning trials into triumphs.