The Ugly Side of Truth

What I say, “I would write even if I only had one person reading.”
What I mean, “I love when I hear that someone has connected with my writing. I hope I have 10,000 more just like them.

What I say, “The number of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, my blog…doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m reaching the person who needs to be reached.
What I mean, “I love affirmation! When I see the number of followers steadily rise it gives me a rush. When I see the number go down it makes me wonder what those people didn’t like about my message.

What I say, “I write as an expression, never paying mind to what people might think when they read my thoughts.” (I literally just laughed out loud at the absurdity of this comment while typing it.)
What I mean, “I hope this changes someone’s life and makes me the hero.

The more “followers” I have, the more I
The more you “confirm” my value, the more I want to hear.
The more “likes” clicked on my status, the more validated I appear.
I want you to think I’m a wonderful person with an endless capacity for charity.
Truth be told, was it not for grace, you would see the wretched person I am.

I realize I’ve just completely sold myself out and admitted that I’m an affirmation junkie, a seeker of self, a slave to ego…then I add Jesus to the equation. I open my hands and ask him to strip away those things that entangle me. I beg him to remove everything hindering my spirit from walking closely with him. I cry out in frustration that I would allow myself to be the one thing standing in the way of complete freedom in my Savior. It’s exhausting!

And then He whispers to my heart, “Worthy, precious, child, if you did everything perfectly, what need would you have for forgiveness? If your every decision was selfless and pure, what need would you have for grace? If when you stand before the mirror, you are without blemish, why did I give my life to set you free? Some days I will give you moments while others will be hours, but not a day will pass where I will not give you the realization that everything good comes from me. Never a day will go by that I don’t show you that the breath you’re breathing and the next breath and the next are not possible without my willing them to be. It does something for your soul to approach me, recognizing your absolute dependence on me.

My journey has been one of gut wrenching pain, inexplicable happiness, bountiful blessing and tragic loss. I know the superficial feeling of superiority when surrounded by people of earthly importance and I know the sacred peace of weeping with a mother whose baby just took her last breath. I am both a woman in recovery who has seen addiction at its ugliest and a wife, mother and business woman striving to make a difference in the short time given on this earth.

I am learning that when my mind attempts to steer me toward self, I choose Jesus. Sometimes it’s just in the nick of time. I don’t say long, elaborate prayers. I don’t always drop to my knees or fall on my face (though at times that’s the only way to find reverence.) There’s no formal monologue. Most of the time it is a word or sentence. It’s simple enough for a child to recite yet powerful enough to calm my anxious heart, “Jesus. My Jesus. Not my will. Not my way. Yours. You are able to do far more than I could ever ask or think. You created me with great purpose and I trust Your plan. You have never deceived me and will never lead me into a place where You are not there waiting for me. Please drowned out all the noise that attempts to distract me from my real purpose. Unshackle me from the bondage of self.

Maybe you can relate to the confessions in this post or maybe you now view me as a lying, Jesus freak. I cannot concern myself with your interpretation, only with my delivery. I can only hope that by sharing my struggle, you will feel less alone in yours.

Need a place of refuge? Visit my friends over at People of the Second Chance. Get connected. You don’t ever have to be alone again.


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The Jumping Off Place

A woman jumped to her death from a balcony in the heart of Buckhead Wednesday, Atlanta police said… Police were on the scene at 1:11 pm. More details were not immediately available.” This was the headline for the story in the local newspaper, minutes after a woman in her 20’s presumably took her own life.

I watched them load her body into the coroner’s van. I saw the police, fire fighters, detectives and medical examiner pack up their things, shake hands and get into their cars to leave. All in a day’s work.

Just like that…a life abruptly comes to an end.

“Who was she? What was her name? What was so bad that the only option was death? Was it an accident? Does she have a family? Husband? Boyfriend? Anyone?”

I wonder what the last thing was that was said to her? What was her final thought? Was she scared? Did she immediately regret her decision?

Things seemed to move in slow motion as passersby continued to talk on their cell phone or with the person in the car with them. People were smiling and laughing, oblivious to the fact that just minutes before, out of desperation, a human being had plunged to her death.

It’s weird, right? I mean, I don’t even know what this woman looked like and yet I feel in my gut as if I just lost a friend.

I wonder if she knew that there was a church just feet away? I wonder if she knew that there would have been multiple people eager to come to her rescue?

In staff meeting today, our amazing campus pastor encouraged us to recognize that there are thousands of people, right here, who don’t know God and have not heard the name of Jesus.

“Was she one of them?”

Just minutes before this happened, several staff were in a meeting discussing reaching people and who we want to be as “the only church that some will ever see.” What does that look like? How do we turn that from just a really great idea into something tangible?

As I turned from the window and walked slowly back to my desk, one of the first things that came to mind was, “The enemy prowls like a lion, ready to devour anyone within reach.1 Peter 5:8.

Honestly, if this did not happen right in front of me, it would have been just another headline. If I had not watched the woman who witnessed the fall weep while recounting the details to authorities, I probably would not have even read the article.

This made real what Billy was saying earlier in the day. We must go out and reach the seemingly unreachable. We can’t assume that someone else will.

Just before the course of the day changed, our staff was spread throughout the auditorium praying for each other, those who have yet to be reached, those who are inside and outside our walls, the rooms in which we meet…

One could argue that this happened because we were intentionally praying for those right outside our door. A jab from the evil one? Perhaps?

Darkness is real. It is lonely. It is haunting. And it is brutal.

The only thing to combat the darkness is light.
As Mother Teresa said, We must love without getting tired. Love does not have to be extraordinary. It must be tireless. Love = Light.

Do you have a jumping off place? You know, the place where your toes (metaphorically speaking) are just beyond the edge. I was standing, looking down from that very place almost 10 years ago when I faced the option to recover or give in to my addiction and allow it to take my life.

What wants to take your life?

Please friend…I beg you…before ever succumbing to the lies of the darkness, bring whatever it is out into the light. There is nothing too awful…nothing…that the cross is not enough to cover.

Have you been effected by suicide or a sudden death? What is the one thing you would tell someone who is walking through unexplained and tragic loss? What can I pray with and for you in this moment and throughout the day?