Brokenness

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Brokenness is for a season
but the lessons from it are for a lifetime.
Keep holding on.

Brokenness is for a season but the lessons from it are for a lifetime. That is a self explanatory statement. Keep holding on is the three-word phrase that sticks into the can of worms that is brokenness like a crowbar prying off the aluminum lid. Telling someone to keep holding on is acknowledging the mess and pain of their brokenness. Telling someone to keep holding on is acknowledging that what they are going through is pressuring them to give up.

Brokenness does that– pressures a person to give up. Give up on life, the situation, the people involved, a dream, any hopes– a person’s brokenness looks different in each life. To encourage and coax them to keep gripping onto hope is to bring a searing reality to the conversation surface and hoping the distant winds of change will cool the burn a little. Brokenness does that– burns and presses a person with the option of giving up.

People who don’t give up are survivors. Often the topic of brokenness entails the examination of the process of the breaking down, and the process coming with brokenness is important. Yet, understanding the pressure brokenness brings with it is as important. The feelings and emotions of each breaking are different. Except when it comes to pressure. Pressure is present at every breaking.

The pressure to give up. Pressure to fold your hand of cards beneath the season of brokenness and resign either your life or your hope or your beliefs. Pressure to snuff out the dull light that’s left in your atmosphere for total darkness. There is no process in the darkness, no acknowledgment of realities being faced, just numbing, black nothingness. This beckons us to go there and give up. To shut out the pain for the dead void of life itself. The pressure to give up. The people who say no to the pressure to give up, those are the survivors.

Often in a season of brokenness the struggle is not always in the details of why brokenness is occurring and sorting out applicable details. Often the struggle in brokenness is the struggle to hold on, to preserver. Even behind the necessary decisions we sometimes have to make as a result of brokenness there is the option of giving up. Giving up on the situation or on life will pull the plug on the whole operation so decisions don’t have to be made. Giving up on hope will pull the plug on the operation so responsibility doesn’t have to be accounted for and so mindless decisions can dictate crucial moments. The difficulty in brokenness is the constant pressure to let go of the hope you’re holding on to, even if you don’t know what that hope is.

Imagine a kettle filled with water on the stove and beginning to boil. The pressure from the boiling water bursts the kettle flab backward and out shoots a cloud of hot steam. You can see the pressure and even hear it as the kettle screams and hisses until the boiling water evaporates or someone removes it from the stove. That constant, loud, hot pressure is like the constant calling one feels to give up during a season of brokenness. All day it screams at them burning their heart. Steam rising into the mind and clouding truth and clarity and thoughts. Maneuvering throughout the day in a season of brokenness isn’t alway the greatest struggle; it’s trying to resist the urge to relieve the pressure inside by shoving the kettle off the stove. The hardest struggle is often to keep existing despite the noise and pressure to give up that stays with you all day every day throughout the season until the season of brokenness breaks.

Keep holding on. Keep holding on.

But, what if the brokenness doesn’t end? What if life at the bottom of the pit keeps going and going–and going? The brokenness has lasted this long, the pressure within to give up has lasted throughout all of life in fact– so what if the brokenness doesn’t break?

A reasonable question.

A season of brokenness carries with it another characteristic besides pressure– short sightedness. Brokenness tends to grip the lenses on your mind and direct them straight inward upon your heart that is shattered in a million pieces–and then brokenness locks the lens there. Not very nice. This is also not helpful.

Staring at the brokenness doesn’t do anything except invite negativity into the situation. The key move to make in brokenness is so accept love from someone else. The love may look like help, a hug, a rehab center, or a word of advice. The point isn’t in what type of love you receive, but in acknowledging that you need to be loved in your season of brokenness and accepting that love. Love is the only thing that will start changing your season and break the brokenness. Accept love from someone if you want the brokenness to end.

I spent the majority of my life broken. I was broken not only when I didn’t know it, but I was still broken after I acknowledged my brokenness. Acknowledging your brokenness can feel like getting punched in the gut (repeatedly). So you would think after all that pain that things would start to change. Nope. Brokenness lingers and is still there even after you’ve looked it in the face and screamed, “I know I’m broken!!!!”

The longer our brokenness lingers, the more our mind tries to learn a lesson from our brokenness, and the lessons are good, but the lessons won’t break your brokenness. The lessons just make you think progress is being made out of the weight of brokenness. But, if you’re anything like me, after so many years, it became obvious I couldn’t learn my way out of the brokenness. Rather, I must receive my way out of the brokenness. If you want to spend the majority of the rest of your life out of the brokenness, then you must do more than acknowledge the brokenness, you must receive love into the brokenness. Life lessons don’t end the season of brokenness but love does, and then you will have the life lessons to carry onward with you.

Out of the shade and into the sun, that is your destiny. When you finally make your appearance in the glorious rays of the warming sun, you won’t be haphazard looking or exposed, you will be smiling and your arms will be filled with treasures. Treasures you’ve gained in the shadows despite all odds; life lessons from love.

You may not want to acknowledge the brokenness that is a can of worm festering in your heart. You may have already acknowledged your brokenness and have gotten used to living with the worms. Either way, please allow the hope of keep holding on to pry open your heart to the light of love. Please receive love today. God is love (1 John 4:8), so make sure the love you receive is from someone who gets their love from God. That is the only love that is real and therefore safe. Start saying goodbye to the worms by accepting love.

Perhaps there is no one in your life offering love to you (don’t worry, I’ve been there too), you can go straight to the source. You can ask God to give you His love through this prayer below. I encourage you to speak it out loud and believe in your heart your words are being heard and will not return to you empty.

Dear God, I believe you showed the greatest expression of love for not only the world but also for ME when you sent your only Son Jesus to die on a cross. Today I come before you rather broken, and even though I don’t see a way out, I trust in and receive your love for me through Jesus Christ. I know you are the source of all love, and I desire to feel your love and then be love to others. My brokenness feels so big, and I don’t know if I’m in this place because I did something wrong or something wrong was done to me. But, I do know that I am not perfect and I need you to help me live my life. You can heal my brokenness with your love, and you are love, so I give you all of me, and receive all of you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

And I say with you brother and sister, AMEN. Let it be.

God bless you, and YOU ARE LOVED!

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Ministry

Most of us think we have to come up with our ministry. We think we have to identify a problem, come up with a solution, and then deliver the solution. We think our clever ideas and our hard work analyzing the world around us will lead us to success. I’ve never seen two worse key components for success when it comes to God’s people: our ideas and our works. And talk about a misdirected focus: analyzing the world around us. But that’s what we do!

We take our passion and the glimpses of vision God gives us, and out of fear we will lose that thing we once saw, we try to implement it ourselves. So we attach to our own idea of what sounds good and then we get the latest books and talks and statistics about that thing and we unveil a ten-point plan for our vision’s success, based on everything but the Word of God and the work He’s doing in our lives. If ministry is in your future, and it’s in everyone’s future, you’ve GOT to get your face out of the latest books and read the oldest book– the Bible.

You want earth-shattering ministriesYou‘ve got an earth-shattering God, get to know Him. You want a ministry that transforms lives? You‘ve got a life-transforming God, get to know Him. You want to reach those who have suffered the worst injustices? You‘ve got a Lord who suffered the worst injustice on the cross, and then He went on to be King and save your life and soul– so get to know Him. A ministry without a Savior is just another rehab center, and God isn’t in the business of re-doing anything, He makes all things brand spankin’ new. If you want a redo, go get some self help books. Go get a 10-month diet plan. Go listen to your favorite inspirational speaker. But if you want an entirely new person, a clean, free and better one, then get after Jesus. Get to know Him! If He can conquer death He can conquer your fears about the ministry. If He can conquer the odds of success against His legacy in a world where His message was stomped on yet still spread all over the world with no internet, no news media, no marketing, and still spreads across the earth 2,000 years later and transforms lives and saves lives and makes brand new humans out of used, abused and lost lives, then He is more than able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you can ask or think in growing and nourishing and prospering your ministry. He can blossom your ministry and open impossible doors for you in His sleep, but He never sleeps– so while you sleep! He’s that good! He is the one you want to study, not the problems of the people you minister to. Study the solution! Get close to it, be best friends with it. Learn how to hear and see the solution, to keep it close to you at all times. God is your answer and He is your solution.

Learn Him.

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Calling

Instead of saying, “I WANT a ministry,” or “WHERE is my ministry?” Start saying, “TODAY is my ministry.”

Remember, the calling on your life is not going to look like the calling on the lives of those you respect. Each calling is as unique as the individual; if you judge your calling by the ministries of others, you’re telling God that human standards are above His standard, which is not true, and you will most likely never lock into your calling because your vision is off on what others are doing or have done, instead of looking dead ahead of YOU and going in THAT direction.

We do not need two ministries doing the exact same thing. We do not need two Christine Caines! We do not need two Beth Moore’s! That would be a waste of human flesh. We’ve already got one– we don’t need another! We need whatever specificity God has on your life to lock into its position in the larger sphere around you, so that there is not a lack where there is supposed to be a fulfillment.

When you move according to your comfort or according to what others have done before you, you can be sure you’re off mark! Because your calling is unique and there is not one like it, it is going to be unfamiliar to you at first. You’re not going to have seen anything like it, heard anything like it, or done anything like it before. Your calling will drive you to Jesus more than it will drive others to Him. You will see more importance on learning to hear His voice than telling others what He says. Your calling will be thoroughly yours to find and uncover; next to Jesus Christ it’s God’s greatest mystery to you. Have courage. Be brave. You will be walking ground no one else has walked, so instead of being self-focused and wondering if you’re doing everything right, look at the ground you’re walking on and glean some lessons to give to others. You’re where you’re supposed to be. Stop thinking that your ministry and the journey with it has anything to do with you. The whole thing couldn’t be any less about you!

Journey: Not a Detour

Even the journey to get where you’re going, is part of your calling. You were called to not just a destiny, but to the ground attached to it. Don’t discount the importance of today– right where you are now– in the making of your destiny. The journey is not an unfortunate accident. The journey is not a detour before the glory. Let me tell you, you’ll miss the glory entirely if you don’t glory in the blessed breathes God’s granting you today right smack in the middle of the road you’re on.

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Influence

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades? -Job 38:31

When you remember you exist to influence all people and make a difference for good in this world, your capacity for grace and passion in the day-to-day expands. Focusing on the influence God created you for, makes the cares of today– that you will forget tomorrow anyway– get swallowed in the vortex of the injustices around you in the world that you are called and equipped to stop tolerating. You are created for influence and to function as an agent of light, transforming into good that meant for harm.

Day-to-day events that test your patience, grace, and passion are not mundane or exhaustible moments in your life. You are equipped through Christ to rope in any and every daily circumstance so that you impress passion and unrelenting, unstoppable love upon every effort to squelch it. Evil always gives up before good does. Good outlasts evils. When darkness and light are both present, the darkness in the one retreating, not the light.

The Solace in Solitude

My search for solitude started when I was a young girl. My neighbor’s large pine trees provided the perfect escape. Pine needles in enough horizontal layers make a bed. The long, low branches of the old trees create a cavernous dwelling between the sticky branches and green needles. Here in the arms of the pines I spent afternoons napping, dreaming, and managing my pretend home. Many times I would “run away” from home, and I ran with my poorly packed duffel bag to the great pines.

High school taught me to nestle in Barnes & Noble bookstores. Rain, snow, or sun, I left my mother worried at the door in the wake of my determination to get to my place of solitude. I took thunderstorms and snowstorms head on to sit next to the large pane of glass inside the bookstore cafe. I sat reading, writing, and dreaming that one day I might write something that actually mattered.

My four and a half years in undergrad located in west Tennessee taught me to find solitude on the country roads. For hours I’d go driving (until my dad took my gas card away). Windows down, worship music turned up (primarily Phil Wickham), and a clove cigarette crackling at my fingertips. I wrote poetry, music, and stories, trying my hand at each to see where my niche at writing was. Often I parked my SUV somewhere on the brink of a landscape and I’d sit in the back of my vehicle and strum my guitar and sing my heart out to God.

After college my approach for solitude grew cliche. I became part of the majority population that is surrounded by a social life yet existing in an inner solitude characterized by isolation and loneliness. I sought the company of like-minded individuals and young dreamers and thinkers like myself more than I sought my own well being. The idea of solitude frightened me, and I never stopped being in the presence of others in order to avoid myself.

I’m just over a quarter of a century old now. Pine trees don’t appeal to me immediately as a place of comfort to go. Barnes & Noble still charms me, but only occasionally. I no longer have a car so going on long drives isn’t even an option. However, I still have friends… Yet even in that sphere I find myself indifferent. I at least can have solitude again and not fear it as I did in my early twenties. That is wonderful.

Still, peace in the solitude is not the most wonderful. I’ve been blessed to discover that presence in the solitude is the best. God’s presence. His presence transforms solitude into solace.

Often times if a friend or acquaintance or someone I live with is trying to get ahold of me or find me at home, most likely they will find me on the floor in my bedroom.

“What are you doing?” I’ve been asked by curious faces entering my room. A myriad of explanations flow through my mind as I look at them staring at me on the floor:

Talking with my Dad. Worshipping the King. Quietly basking in the glory of God. Imagining I’m kneeling at the feet of Jesus. Talking to God about my brokenness, my hurts, and confusions. Letting go of myself. Confessing. Remembering and laughing with Yahweh. Pleading for an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

I’m never sure who would understand such things if I said them (most of the people I live with that knock on my door don’t believe in Jesus), so I keep my reply Christian cliche, “Oh just praying.”

The truth is, I’m in my new solitude. The presence of God is my new safe place, my new refuge. I crave it; think about getting to it; can hardly wait for it. I say no to other activities so I can get on my floor and feel on my skin the presence of the only One that matters.

The presence of God descends and there is no better feeling place on earth. I am free to rest, and absorb His supernatural healing presence. I am enveloped in an atmosphere flooding with truth evidencing how big and honest and loving and good this God is. The reality of His presence is a confirmation of all I believe about God in the common moments of life when I can’t be on my bedroom floor. Getting on my floor and welcoming the presence of God is like coming home. It never gets old.

My solitude is different than it’s ever been. Mainly because God transformed it to solace by His presence. God loves me too much to let me find a refuge in myself or in isolation. No matter the methods or walls I build around myself to medicate myself, God barrels through them and gives me His presence as the solace I seek.

God is the solace of solitude. I craved to get alone as a young girl because I was looking for something I couldn’t find in anything around me. There is hardly a greater cry for God than that. God found me in my solitude, and He transformed that space into solace.

Stand, Look, Dream, Believe. Write Later.

Hello! I partook in an interesting activity last night. I stood in my favorite section of the bookstore yesterday for about 45 minutes. I stood. Oh wait I forgot– I also looked. I stood and looked.

Occasionally I picked up a book familiar to me and flipped through the pages reading a paragraph here or there. I saw at least five books I intended to buy the preceding six months before last night.

Continue reading

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A Big “Small”

A small tug,
A small twist-
A minor altercation.
“No one will notice this,”
Says a person.

A little lick,
A small taste-
A single piece of indulgence.
“If not, it would be a waste!”
Says a person.

One splash here,
Another dash there-
A sprinkle of the smallest kind.
“It won’t change a thing!”
Says a mind.

One stitch,
One break-
One bargain!
“One time won’t hurt!”
Says idle jargon.

Continue reading

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Audience of One: Faith, Part One

Thousands of heads bob up and down as Jesus looks across the hillside at those gathering to hear him teach. Young and old, sick and well, rich and poor. Masses of people followed him from the previous town, and eagerly congregate, anticipating his next teaching.

Jesus in the midst of many, was only truly known by one. His Father, Yahweh. Jesus spoke to the masses and he loved the masses, but his heart knew that only One was fully present with him. His heavenly Father. His real audience was an audience of one.

You and I stand before an audience, our lives being the platform. We speak and do in front of the world… and yet, really we do all things in front of an audience of One: God. The crowd goes home after the gathering; people are absent for the struggle; friends don’t know the suffering. Who really, do we fully live in front of other than God? No one. We live, and there’s an audience of One. Thankfully, God is the one that matters.

Hebrews 11 chronicles feats of faith. Giant steps of normal humans. Hearts of vision larger than eyes of sight. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and Rahab to name a few of the faith-filled individuals Hebrews recounts. Each person lived in front of the audience of their time and now the audience of the world for ages, and yet, what mattered was how they interacted with their true audience of one, God. The decisions they contemplated (e.g. Abel and the type of sacrifice he would make), their responses to knowledge (e.g. Noah and his divine warning of danger), and their steps (literally) into a new life and land they could not see or comprehend (e.g. Abraham and Sarah) were the pivotal moments in each of their lives, and they didn’t carry such moments out sitting in front of crowds of people. The decisions they made were kneaded within their hearts in the solitude of their tents and the open space of the fields. These witnesses of faith communed with their audience of One. These witnesses of faith each made their life-altering decisions based on their audience of One. Their decisions counted the audience of One as present, and their faith flowed from that. Hebrews 11 says, “he who comes to God must believe that He is…” (11:6, italics added). The faith that pleases God starts by believing He is; He exists;  He is present.

Several months ago I stood in my living room and faced the fireplace. My heart churned deeply and my mind felt refreshed by my new beautiful house and the new place of provision God brought me in to. I was finally living a stable life externally, so I zealously figured I’d start manifesting my calling by practicing preaching. My action came from a good heart, although as usual, I was ahead of myself. As I paced throughout my living room “preaching,” imagining a future audience, God reminded me that not only right then, but always, I was first and foremost talking in front of an audience of one–Him. Such a revelation quickly halted my unrestrained zeal and highlighted the minimality of all that I am. I thought, boy, I better know what I’m talking about and I better be saying the right things about God, especially if I’m talking about Him and He is listening to me. Similarily, these witnesses of faith in Hebrews 11 knew before their faith journey began that God was their primary audience. They addressed God in their hearts and worked things out with Him there, and from that moved forward in faith.

Evidence of these giants of the faith quietly making their life-altering decisions in front of their audience of one is in Hebrews 11. “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (11:11). Sarah judged God as faithful. Sarah contemplated what she knew of God before deciding, judging, God was who He said He was and faithful. The Word says Sarah had the faith to receive strength for pregnancy because she judged God. The Hebrew word in this passage for the English word “judged” is hégeomai, meaning “I think; I consider; I am of the opinion of; I esteem.” Sarah thought about the situation before she arrived at her conclusion God was faithful. She weighed the visible reality of her and Abraham’s old age and the invisible miracle they would conceive a child. There was thinking before the faith. The point that’s important, is that she concluded her thinking in the judgement that, yes, God is faithful. Therefore, her faith was birthed and that invisible blossom of faith led to the birth of her son Isaac, a very visible boy. Faith doesn’t mean: No brain. Faith comes after we consider to either believe or not believe God is who He says He is– that He is (11:6)– and we decide: Yes indeed, He is.   

Jesus looked at the thousands of bobbing heads on the hillside knowing he really stood in front of an audience of one. Only one truly saw him. Those witnesses we have of faith-filled feats kneaded their minds in with what they knew in their hearts of God, and like Sarah, judged God as the real deal. Thus, her audience of One, has turned into an audience of millions as worlds since have read her story written in the Bible.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather start before an audience of One, than an audience of thousands. We are each constantly before an audience of one. God. May we believe He is there (here) with us, and from that may the promises of heaven be knit in our hearts as we step in faith before the world, and always in front of the One.

A Surrendered Heart

God,

I’m not giving up. I won’t be held back by old, deficient ways of thinking. I won’t tolerate comfortable lies. I will walk in righteousness no matter the outcome, because it does my soul good. Your ways are better, and Your ways last. I’m tired of being tired. I’m sick of living with an ache in my chest–so now I get down in the dust and wait for You. I love You. You’re all I want and need.

Your Daughter, from a grateful, surrendered heart,
Heidi