Happy almost summer, friends!
It’s been awhile since I’ve been here to visit, but I hope this post finds you well 🙂
Over the past year and a half I noticed a recurring theme in my life, (you know, one of those patterns that keeps popping up in different scenarios?), so I started paying attention to sermons, Bible passages, comments from my friends and family, and repeating thoughts in my own mind. As I started to dig deeper I discovered a solidified foundation of beliefs I had unconsciously started to accept and build my life upon. The thing is, those beliefs weren’t true!
Insecurities, crippling fear, and the insurmountable belief that I was never enough dictated my life and held me captive. And because I think some of the lies I was believing were not uncommon to girls around my age, I wanted to share my journey to healing, true confidence, and security the Lord. And how fear was silenced in my life. I hope you find this post helpful in your walk of life ❤
WARNING: This post is just a tad long 😉
Before moving forward I want to emphasize the word journey. It was not in a single day that all my fears and struggles evaporated, it was a daily healing that occurred as God’s light(the truth of His Word) began to shine on more and more of the cracks and dark corners of my life. We like instant fixes in our day, faster is better for us, but when it comes to healing our brokenness I learned that the slow, daily steps of healing (sometimes so small I couldn’t tell a difference), was God revealing He was going to be beside me for the “long run” not just for a “quick fix”. In retrospect I see that He was revealing different aspects of His character, the first being His unwavering faithfulness to His children.
I hope this part of my story and the lessons I learned(and am still learning!) from it encourages you on your own walk through life.
Debunking the lie
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the photography industry has BOOMED over the past couple of years 😉 Everyone with a phone can become a proficient photo taker and with the platform of VSCO, Instagram, (and even Facebook), we have a place to share our snapshot of on second in time: our photo. I am all about photography, and probably spend too much time watching videos on how to take and edit pictures, but the pursuit of capturing that “one second snapshot” has leaked into our thinking. Think about it movies, videos, and pictures are all edited. We don’t see the real lighting, the real coloring, and even the real moments between a scene or a pose-change. The moments where the person sneezes, changes positions, grabs a water, or bursts out laughing. It sounds a little silly, I know, but it’s these moments in between that remind us those people are real, and like you and me, they are human and they are imperfect.
The silent lie that crept into my mind was that I needed to be perfect. Yes, I went to church and I read my Bible. I knew we cannot truly perfect. I made mistakes, hurt people, failed others, and struggled with who I was. I knew that in my head, of course, but my actions showed a different story. I seemed to believe I needed to keep up a facade of perfection. If anyone were to walk into my life at any moment, they would need to view a jubilant Senait, incredibly excited about life like one those calendar photos above my mom’s desk; perfect hair, great clothes, and a carefree attitude that told the world I knew what I was doing and where my future was headed (a bright future of course). This was the goal, and I needed to change anything and everything in my life that made others view me as less than that ultimate image of “perfect happiness”. It sounds so impossible now, but I wholeheartedly bought into this mindset and went about conforming every area of my life to appear as a beautiful life I loved, rather than be one.
I wanted to create a facade of my life that others would love, when in reality I knew what they saw was not my true state and who they saw was not really me. Real Senait felt nervous about the future, unsure about the present, and afraid of vulnerability. So I kept my chin high and kept up my act, believing I would eventually feel as happy and perfect as I wanted to appear.
you are not a cut flower
A pastor from a church I was visiting began an analogy with the words you just read above this paragraph. He told the congregation to stop being cut flowers. To be honest I was very confused what his meaning was in the beginning, but as he kept speaking I ran with the analogy that he had introduced. I want to share it with you because it helped me understand my thinking (and where it had gone wrong).
Peonies are my all time favorite flowers [second only to sunflowers; peonies pictured above]. I absolutely adore the light pink petals bursting from their green stems. And peonies are prime candidates (as flowers go) for being cut and placed in some sort of bouquet or vase, because their stems are usually not sturdy enough to hold up the blooming flower. The flowers are so full and heavy they bend to touch the ground! But here’s the thing, when you cut a flower it is not really alive any more. Peony bouquets are lovely and perfect for the a camera! But they are no longer attached to what gave them life and what will sustain them through the seasons. These vased flowers are only a snip-it of their full life cycle. Winter they are dormant, resting; spring brings new life as the peony stems rise from the earth; summer reveals the buds open and the jagged petals burst forth; fall coats the grass with the lovely peony petals, scattering them across the yard; then the cycle repeats.
Do you see the connection? Somehow we have believed our lives can be reduced to a single season within the entire journey which was intended for us. We have attempted to cut the blooming flower(our life) in the perfect bloom. But, my dearest, we were not meant to be in full bloom all our lives, and by attempting it we cut ourselves away from truly living. Blooming is only a season. Yes, blooming (times of celebration, victory, miracles, or achievement) is a very sweet and beautiful time, but there is good in the seasons God has intended for your life. This is where you have to let go and trust the one who provides the sunshine and the rain for your life.
Each year, with a good gardener, the flowers will bloom beautifully in their time and the bushes will remain healthy. The pruning, repositioning, replanting, watering, and care of these flowers is not the flower’s role, you must trust your Good Gardner who knows you need these things. And trust his plan, there will be autumns, and winters, and springs in your life, as well as summers. I think we want the blooming season to remain year round because it’s comfortable, but Jesus wanted us to mature (grow!!) and that means discomfort.
Why are we called to be mature (to be uncomfortable!!) you may be asking? Why can’t we just remain continuously happy, always in full bloom and always celebrating. We’ve already mentioned the answer above. God is revealing His character to you and through you. He is provider, gardener, shepherd, protector. He is faithful to your wounds and He turns the hand of time as each leaf regrows and each bud opens. God is the origin of what is truly good, beautiful, and perfect. Revealing Himself in the different seasons of your life: the changing of autumn, the quietness of many winters, the rainy times of springs, and the long bright days of summers, are all ways He shows you who He is, He shows you who you are, and He shows others who He is in the good times and the hard times.
That is why we are not cut flowers. Our lives are meant to tell a story through the changes of time, they were not meant to stop time, for we will change and there is only One remains perfect and unchanged.
Once the pieces of perfection’s twisted lie became clearer in my mind I found myself confronted with the decision of what to do next. Perfection’s lie was a thorny weed that had appeared to be the beautiful promise of a flower. It’s roots had sunk deep into my life and once I saw the blooming plant in my life as a life-stealing thistle(you know, those weeds that spread so quickly and take over the flowerbed!) I wanted it out! So I said to myself, “no more, that is enough”. And I resolved I would no longer water those lies in my life that stole from my the real garden, the flowers intended for growth and maturity.
I wasn’t sure how I would go about silencing the lies running through my head, how I would stop feeding the weeds, but the Lord is gracious and He led me each step of the way until we found green pastures and still waters.
I don’t know what your struggle is, or what area of your life you have seen weeds spring up or drought has overtaken you, but there will come a time where you must say, “that’s enough” as well. A time to refuse watering whatever lie has crept into your life. Say the words out loud (every day if you have to), write them down, and pray over yourself. Tell a friend or sibling and then search, search like the woman seeking the lost coin, until you find the truths and people in God’s word that can help guide you to starving the weeds.
Remember, it’s a journey. But you’re not walking by yourself.
so, what does God say?
Below I want to share some truths I discovered in my search for direction.
- Ecclesiastes 3. This famous chapter of the Bible lists the many MANY seasons of this life that any one of us could (and most likely will) walk through. Here’s a snip it, ‘there is:
- a time to be born/ a time to die
- a time to plant/ a time to harvest
- a time to kill/a time to heal
- a time to break down/ a time to build up
- a time to weep/ a time to laugh
- a time to mourn/ a time to dance
- a time to seek/ a time to lose
- a time for war/ a time for peace’
The author of Ecclesiastes recognizes the seasonal nature of our lives on earth. Not how he speaks. The seasons are not bad things, rather they are appointed times God has purposed for the different “places” He will take us. The chapter continues to say, “He had made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11). This is where trust comes in again. God is the gardener, the storyteller, in the end He will form something that has lasting beauty, not just temporary.
- God’s grace is sufficient. The apostle Paul is a hero of the Christian faith. He teaches the young church how to walk and serve as Christ commanded, and he himself knew what he seasons of life could bring upon him. Yet, in his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul shares a time when God didn’t answer his prayer request with a ‘yes’. Paul pleads with the Lord three time to take away a thorn in his life; God’s didn’t take it away. Instead God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
As we walk through this life, there will be many prayers answered with a ‘no’ or a ‘wait’. Paul pleads with the Lord to take away a great pain in his life, but God responded with a calling to trust in Him, to trust His character. The resilient and trusting faith Paul needed (and us too!) reminds me of the main purpose: God is to be revealed in us and through us through every season of our lives. That may be a season of ‘yes’ or a season of ‘no, trust My plan’.
Finally, I like to pause on the last word of that verse. Weakness. We don’t like to talk about ‘weaknesses’: physically, emotionally, socially, academically, financially, or relationally. None of it! We’re not only told to look perfect and happy by our temporary-minded culture, we must also lack all weakness. Because in the world’s equations weakness equals unhappiness. But Jesus didn’t call us to be happy, He called us to be faithful, to know and serve Him and to love others. Happiness isn’t the goal, faithfulness is!
This might sound frightening, but if we let go of our death grip on fleeting happiness, we’ll find something of worth. (something to really be joyful for). Paul says, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8, added bold). Why does Paul count all his suffering, his successes, and his possessions as loss? Because He desires the righteousness only faith in Christ provides (vs. 9). To know Christ, to be more like Him, and to make Him known.
- Learn from Leah. The last truth I found so encouraging in the Bible was Genesis 29 and 30. Read the story of Leah, the unloved sister. Watch as she is neglected by her husband and as God blesses her with children for her suffering. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are named after terms that say (in summary), ‘surely my husband will love me because I have bore him another son’. Leah’s heart was still broken and so she sought after the favor of a husband did not regard her with love. Finally, she bears a fourth son and names him ‘Judah’. Judah’s name was not directed towards Leah’s husband, Judah means ‘praise’, and Leah states, “This time I will praise the LORD” (Genesis 29:35). This is a tiny tiny part of the entire Bible, but here’s what I found so encouraging:
We get to see a small change in these short verses of chapters 29 and 30. Leah’s mini-transformation is a repositioning of her attention and worship. Leah grew. She changed. She turned to God for her affirmation and identity. How beautiful is that? But the story doesn’t end there. God saw her ‘little’ transformation. God saw HER. And God decide to further bless Leah, beyond her own generation. God chose to bring his son, Jesus, through Leah, through her son JUDAH. Not Reuben, not Simeon, and not Levi, but Judah. Jesus became known as The Lion of Judah, later on!
Wow! My mind was blown by the incredible attention God has for his children. He knows when they stumble, and he sees when they conquer a foe. And Leah was no different. Here is the truth I found so encouraging: no matter how small your victories may appear to other’s eyes, GOD SEES YOU. He sees his children, and he blesses them. Learn from Leah, and embrace the little lessons God is trying to teach you.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10).
let’s address regret:
Your mistakes and stumblings are not something to wallow in. Let yourself be lifted out of the bog so you may walk forward. Learn from yourself. Become wise and be kind. Learn from your past self, but remain compassionate to the you who believed those lies and made those mistakes. This is so important, not just because you cannot move forward if you do not forgive yourself, but also, you cannot have empathy for another sister or brother struggling with what you walked through. Keep compassion mixed with the hard lessons experience teaches. You must have charity towards yourself. Know that the mistakes you make will be made by someone else, so be kind to yourself so you can be kind to them.
Pray the little prayers
Finally, I had to pray “little prayers”. I would pray for healing, and then I had to pray for God to give me the faith to believe He would heal me. Pray little prayers, my friends, Jesus cares about them too. I started by being honest to myself. If I felt faithless in a moment where I “should have been” full of faith, instead of giving into the “should have been”s, I prayed “will you please” to God. If I felt weak instead of strong, I prayed about for endurance to work and believe God would strengthen me. Take those baby steps of obedience by praying the little prayers.
This is a multi-part post. Before I close out, I want to let you know what is in part II of this post. I want to share more specific practices, habits, and choices that helped me grow oh so slowly, into the redeemed plan God had for my life. Please ask any questions, or share comments if you would like me to address anything. I am not an expert, I am just a girl walking through this life like you. All I can share is my story and what God has taught me through it 🙂
I want to note that many, many of these ideas were not original to me. The Word of God, my mother, my friends, my sisters, Courtney Smallbone, Andrew Peterson, Jennie Allen, Britt Nicole, Sarah Young, J. R. R. Tolkien, John Bunyan, Sadie Robertson, Moriah Smallbone, Michael Jr., and many other written and spoken works by individuals I do not know the names of, have guided my steps as I journeyed. I am grateful to them and do not take any credit for their respective works.
Many blessings! I truly hope you begin to embrace every season of your life. Especially the one you are in right now. – Senait