Dear Jonah

You’re probably on the run now. You’re done, you’re tired. You feel a little betrayed. You know how this story would turn out so you will not allow yourself to go through the disappointment or even public humiliation. You can’t afford to believe when you know your hopes will be shattered… again! So you choose to go furthest from where God wants you.

You are hurt, yes you are. Carrying wounds from all the hopes you had, faith in things turning out exactly as He said and despair from the countless disappointments. You know how it’s like to hear from God yet after doing as expected, the results were different. Maybe it’s the jobs you felt Him leading you to apply for, maybe it’s that relationship you got into after praying enough but it left you broken and disoriented. It could be precious friendships brought only to be taken away. Or possibly all the prayers and faith for healing which you thought you experienced but somehow, the same thing is back or something different and worse. How about the prayers you made about school but despite praying and reading; those bad grades keep coming back.

The truth you might not know or are avoiding to confront is that you are wounded and probably feel a little betrayed by God. Oh none of us will quickly admit to being mad at God or feeling like He’s disappointed you enough that you’re hesitant to trust Him with things you hold dear. If you look carefully, you might see how your heart felt slightly stabbed each time you trusted Him with something but it didn’t work out. Yes you know He’s good and said that it is well because He’s in control. What you didn’t know is that each time that happened and you didn’t deal with it adequately, it hurt you deeper and deeper unknowingly. Now you’re like a wounded puppy in a corner and do not want to be touched.

Too many of us carry such pain over time. Yes hope deferred make the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12) and it’s okay to get to the point where you acknowledge what you feel. It could be haboured anger or pain. However it manifests, know that running is not a permanent solution.

Eventually you’ll find yourself drowning in deep dark waters and when that fish swallows you, you’ll have to confront everything and make peace with God.

You see, I know how you feel and I will not condemn your running; whether your running is having left church or being there following the motions yet your heart is detached or simply being in a place where you still do everything expected of a ‘good christian’ but it’s routine stuff.

It’s okay to go through all this. It’s in such a place that you see things you’d never have seen before. You learn that God isn’t threatened by your questions or your doubts. In fact He likes them because you get to walk through it and finally have strong reasons for your faith; He takes you through them and helps you find the answers you need or the peace required when answers are not there.

In that place is where you get to see the beauty of grace, mercy and love. Redemption no longer is a word thrown about but a real experience. You see a God who picks you each time even when you don’t deserve it. Most of all, you’ll see the Hound of Heaven in action; beautifully and constantly pursuing you. He will follow you to the destination you ran off to. He will be there when you’re in the raging waters of the storm. He will send the help you need in form of a big fish and He will be right there in the belly of that fish when you have those conversations you need.

In the end, you will see that running far away from where you were supposed to go, will still lead you right back where you were supposed to be. Sometimes it’s in running that we find ourselves and get to where we need to be.

*Story from the Book of Jonah in the Bible

Where Your Eyes at?

Have you ever had so much going on that your head was left spinning? One bad thing after another; mistakes following each other and you don’t understand how; financial issues; being faced with major decisions; health problems; crippling fear springing up from nowhere and spreading everywhere etc. There are moments where it feels like Murphy was resurrected for the sole reason of unleashing his law in full force.
When waters around you are raging and the roaring winds in the storm are deafening, it’s almost impossible to focus on anything else. Your issues can snowball and become a giant that taunts you endlessly. You become consumed with the weight of it all and spend most of your time trying to find solutions or tracking a way out. It gets to you. Anxiety becomes your best friend. Stress and you are inseparable. The butterflies find a permanent abode in your stomach. Your thoughts become your breakfast, lunch and supper and suddenly, your appetite soars so more thoughts trickle in.

Such times can be overwhelming. The darkness eats up everything around and leaves no prospects of light coming through.

Yet, in all that, we have two options: allow ourselves to be overwhelmed as we indulge our not-so-perfect circumstances or rise above as we change our focus. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. If you’ve been there, you know how it’s almost impossible to focus on anything else. However, that’s where God comes in. Remember the popular saying that you can either tell God how big your problems are or tell your problems how big your God is? That about sums it up.

When your eyes are stuck on whatever’s not right, you become aware of how small you are compared to your circumstances. When you shift those eyes to who God is and what His promises are for such situations; everything else shrinks in the magnitude of His truth. You do this by digging out every scripture you can find that will help. You fish out every song that will flood your mind with truth. You speak to yourself (mentally or out loud) and encourage yourself like David did.

It doesn’t mean everything will instantly be okay but you will be okay right in the midst of it all. It means enjoying peace that surpasses all understanding. It means being held when you’re letting go. It means hope when it’s completely hopeless and it means help when there’s little you can do.

Here are a few scriptures and songs to help you get started:

SCRIPTURES SONGS
Isaiah 43:1-7 I will lift my eyes- Bebo Norman
1 Peter 5:7 Praise you in the storm- Casting Crowns
Psalm 46:1 Trust in You- Lauren Daigle
Philippians 4:6-8, 13 Everything Falls- FEE
Isaiah 41:10 Even If- MercyMe
  Shoulders- For King & Country
  Let the Waters Rise- Mikeschair

Death

I woke up thinking about death today. Yeah, you heard that right. My spirit felt heavy and I had such despair and resignation. No, I absolutely have no plans of facilitating the ending of my life. As I lay there in bed trying to force myself to get up and go to work, all these thoughts flooded my mind at once and hopelessness sipped in as rain does through cracked walls. It wasn’t that I was tired of living, I simply had resigned to whatever comes whether a long or short life.

This definitely wouldn’t be a conversation I’d have months or even weeks ago. I love life to bits! I love everything about this imperfect life: the people, the created things and nature. I have carried a certain fear for too many years; fear that life on earth would end before I accomplish the things I’m meant to. The idea of facing God aware of the tremendous potential He placed in me as He lavished me with excess abilities and ideas, yet having done very little or nothing at all; would make me shudder. My greatest fear was being the girl who had such great potential but never got to live it out. The other fear was to leave never having selflessly loved and given my all while allowing myself to receive the same. Then maybe not having the little girl that I’d want to have would be a real bummer. Needless to say, death freaked me out.

A few weeks ago, God had me doing plenty of thinking on this. I was to write a post on it and begin with explaining all the things I’d never get to carry out of this world. I’d been getting a different perspective on life. Being reminded of how the things we’re focused on chasing are temporary.  We don’t get to carry our money out of this place, our cars, phones and social media accounts don’t go, businesses or jobs are left behind and even the marriages we’re too caught up in (either managing the one you have or the one you want), expire as life here does. They all end here. You only get to have you (your spirit and soul), people, rewards for things you’ve done according to God’s plans and your relationship with God.

Back to today morning; I had such peace about the whole thing. God’s gotten me to the point where I no longer fear death because He made it clear that whatever you fear, you become a slave to and it robs you of life. So as I had all those thoughts and talked to God about it, I was okay. I still don’t like the idea of dying young but what’s there to fear when you realise that you’re simply slipping from one life to the next as you reunite with the Lover of your soul, the One who longs for you, the One who made you and the One who can’t wait to introduce you to your real home. As for love, it occurred to me that I have been lavishly loved! As for people, I have loved imperfectly and been loved imperfectly but it’s been beautiful. The friends, family, kids and young people I’ve talked or interacted with have loved me in ways I can’t explain but have learnt to appreciate even more.

Don’t let fear of death rule you; as long as you fear it, it controls you. This crazy myth we keep perpetrating about people only talking about death when they’re about to die, has to end. I have seen how the more you think about death or talk about it, the more you get to live. It changes how you see life, the people around you and your priorities. Maybe we need to have more conversations on this.

Lots of love from me to you!

Rejection

It is almost impossible not to think about this word because my world right now is flooded by reminders. Rejection. One word, innumerable effects.

My devotion this morning had me reflecting on things that wounded me emotionally. This drew up quite a number of memories. Last night, the same thing happened and I found myself asking God to have any of the bits of my heart that were still hurt. From friendships that ended and left with chunks of my heart to guys who whether dating or not, left with bits of my soul. From disappointments and anticipointments, to moments that were beautifully high but left me broken the minute things crumbled.

The other trigger was a TED talk I watched on 100 days of rejection that encouraged those of us who’ve felt the sting of rejection enough to make us hide in our cocoon, to expose ourselves to that very feeling. The point wasn’t to get you wounded further or get you hooked to pain. The activity is premised on the fact that the more you expose yourself to rejection, the less it hurts and eventually, you become immune to it. I won’t lie, this sounded exciting; I mean, who wouldn’t want to be immune to rejection? I considered trying it for 30 days and each day I would go request something that I knew would be outrightly rejected (maybe asking for a raise from my boss should have been my starting point, Lol).

When I thought about it, I agreed with several of the things stated on that talk. Most of us fear rejection because of our perceived reaction by the person bound to reject us. We come up with all sorts of reasons why we were rejected: I wasn’t good enough, she’d never accept a guy like me, I am not his type, I am not good enough for this position, they don’t usually consider people like me, it’s because of my background… and on and on we’ll go. However, we’ll never know unless we ask. The guy giving the talk one day knocked on a random door and asked to go plant a flower in the person’s backyard. Of course his offer was rejected and he had all sorts of ideas as to why plus had begun beating himself up for this. Then he decided to ask the person why he refused his offer and turns out he had a dog that uproots things in the backyard so he didn’t want to waste the guy’s flower but he referred him to a lady who loved flowers. Not surprising, the lady was ecstatic about his offer and accepted.

This morning, one of the first things that met me on Facebook was an article shared explaining how guys break the hearts of girls even when they were not dating. This I easily relate with! From my own experiences and those of my friends; in fact if I had a dime for each time this occurred, I’d be a pretty rich woman right now! All the friendships where the guy was sweet, always listening, always there for you, crosses oceans for you, is your go-to guy for everything, always telling you how beautiful you are, willingly stating how much you are missed every so often and practically acting like a boyfriend without the title. Then you fall for him only to realise it wasn’t mutual or discover he started dating some other girl. Rejection stares at you with its big ugly eyes again.

It’s never a funny thing to hope and miss; to put your best effort and be met with a no; to invest so much only for things to fail; to try even against all hope and still be disappointment. It kills something inside of you each time and you either end up shut tightly away from anything threatening or masking your wounds and constantly portraying a picture perfect you. None of that helps and eventually you’ll see that healing is necessary.

Healing starts with exposing your wounds bit by bit, by choosing to step out and try again even when you’re scared. Most of all the ultimate remedy lies with the Maker of our hearts. He knows exactly how that wound came, what shape it took and how to heal it effectively. He breathes onto those wounds, pours out His liquid love to wash them and holds us gently until we’re well.

Purpose For The Pain

I met someone over the weekend; not the kind of someone you think 🙂

The kind of person who puts plenty into perspective. Meaning is found for queries long unanswered. This particular one was a girl in high school. We were at their school all weekend and I had missed students’ ministry. We had just finished facilitating a session for all the girls who wanted to become lawyers. She followed me as we walked out. I didn’t mind; as a matter of fact, I absolutely love those one-on-one conversations.

I initially assumed it was a career related issue since that’s what we were discussing. Wrong. Turns out, while we were winding up, I mentioned how my coming this far sincerely took God and hinted at the crazy health drama I’ve had. That’s the part that got her attention.

She begins to speak and I it feels like she stole the script from the story of my life. She sounds kinda like me and our personalities are too similar; but this wasn’t it yet. She starts to explain all the health issues she’s had. No way! She’s literally stating all the areas of my body that I’ve had trouble with. I listen to her almost speechless. This is more than unbelievable! She’s in tears and I’m almost following suit but I hold them back.

I can’t recall most of what I told her afterwards but I narrated my issues as well and we exchanged experiences that had left us emotionally drained, mentally overwhelmed and on the verge of despair. Things that people around us probably never get. The relief! Seeing that in this world, it’s possible to have someone who truly understands the very lengths, breadths and heights of your pain. Needless to say, we hit it off and became friends.

As I was reflecting on this later, I got thinking that if this was all the purpose to my pain, then it was worth it. Sharing my story with someone who was living it as well and encouraging her to not give up because I too was making it through. Being there to remind each other that all the dark days and all the tears, were not for nothing.

We might never fully see the purpose our tears, break downs, valleys and unbearable moments accomplished; but rest in this darling: it wasn’t pointless. God never wastes our pain. Someone somewhere will survive what you’re going through just because of your story. Hold on, fight through; it sure is worth it.

The Unexpected Dalliance

What would I do if someone I was dating or married to, cheated? If we were dating, then it’s easy: I’d dump you faster than you could assemble the five letters your apology would begin with. With dating, it’s simpler because the two of you aren’t bound legally or spiritually. If they’re cheating when they have the option to leave, how are they to be trusted when the two of you are married? Dating is the nursery bed/seedbed where whatever is planted there is transferred when marriage comes and everything grows to bigger proportions.

If it was somebody I was married to, hmmm, now that becomes a little more complicated. Most people will simply tell you to pack your bags and run immediately, others would advise you to stay and work through it. Yes I am completely against divorce because I strongly believe marriage isn’t just something you walk into and out of at your pleasure; it’s a serious institution.

I personally would first interrogate and find out what it was exactly: a one-night stand or an affair. A one time sexual escapade is easier to deal with; not easy but slightly better compared to the rest. He wouldn’t just say sorry and be forgiven, no we’d involve our best couple (who would have been walking with us all through the years) and possibly, our spiritual authority. Basically people we could trust and those who had been married way longer than us and had the wisdom to handle such things. This is something that would require us talking and finding out why it happened and what next.

If it was a sexual affair, I would still go through the same process. This of course would be much more serious because he made the choice repeatedly. Anything sexual forms bonds, so getting over it would not be a walk in the Park. Sex for women creates much stronger bonds than it does for men.

The one that would worry me the most is the affair where there was no sexual activity but she had my husband’s emotions and mind. The kind where he couldn’t wait to see or talk to her. The type where their minds danced to a similar tune. Where her words had him captivated. The kind where his mind was drawn fully or to such a great extent that it was hard to get out. She who made him laugh. The one who had him excited. The one who he thought truly understood him. The one who listens when he talks about his problems. The one who helps him forget his troubles. The one who becomes his distraction. The one he’s not afraid to tell anything. The one with whom he can be himself. That is the one I would be worried about… and if that happened, then I do not know what I would do.

Clearly, it is true that none of these things are as easy as we think, until it happens to you. For now, I speculate and go with what my single mind thinks, if this ever occurs (and I hope not) then I hope something here will be of use.

All Things Nice and Pink

Nymphaea-Red-Flare

via Daily Prompt: Pink

I must admit, for more times than I’d care to admit, I’d stare at the Daily Prompts and promise myself that one day I’d grab that bull by the horns and write whatever random post that comes up for that day. Then I’d come up with a myriad of excuses. You see this isn’t about prompts that don’t match my general blog theme; I simply chickened out.

Fear’s nasty! It sucks every drop of life in your already frail life. I say frail because you can’t be shackled by fear and assume your life is something. You’re stuck with a slave driver that doesn’t allow you to get anything meaningful from life.

Lately, it became evident that I had turned to this constantly afraid, egg-shell walking, timid creature. I lost my voice (not literally) and could barely speak up for myself. I had this ability to come up with fears the average person would never believe. They ranged from constantly fearing I’d lose my job to fearing my house would collapse during heavy rains (Lol, I kid you not! I even came up with strategies on how to survive that).

Until recently while travelling from home after days of being so sick and battling depression; I noticed just how bad it was. God highlighted the way my life had practically stopped. I didn’t know who the timid girl I’d become was, I had no dreams, hopes or ambitions and had life completely drained. That’s when He challenged me with this little statement: take a risk. I began, albeit slowly.

Yesterday it took a Girls’ date with my amazing pink Prada bag-buying darling to wake me fully to living in the risk taking reality. A gray dress with pink stripes had her drag me out for shopping and from then on, I took one crazy step after another. Talking, laughing, bearing our souls out and good food was the perfect recipe to bring me back alive. I started remembering who I used to be and who I’m meant to be. Life sipped back… no, it gushed backed.

Last night as I got back to the house exhausted but bubbling with life, it took one last experience to crown it all. I decided to make my bed and picked a pink pair of sheets I liked. As I got into that mass of pink and curled myself comfortable surrounded by quantities of pink that would make most people choke (hey, don’t judge), I was suddenly filled with unexplainable joy. Yes pink makes me happy. It always reminds me that I am a daughter and such a girly girl at heart. The bubbly, unshakably confident, happy-go-lucky person arose.

I already feel the difference and I must say: I’m loving this, I’m loving the me.