Open Letter to the Brothers & Sisters
1 Timothy 4:6a
If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus...
Who are you?
No, really…. do you allow yourself to know, KNOW you?
When you strip away every responsibility, every job you do, everybody you care for… who are you?
Before you ever knew disappointment, rejection, pain or abuse, who are you?
If you're like many people, you wear what I call an emotional spanx or jock strap that holds everything together so nothing 'jiggles' in your life. But because you've mastered emotional charades, you really can't say who you are...unless its a title like “father” "mother" “teacher” “entrepreneur" "thug" “attorney” (or your chosen job title) “spouse” "employee". Those are roles you play, titles you hold but they don't describe who you are.
You were who you were long before you got that job, had those kids or married that person. Who you are runs much deeper than that. You can't touch it; but it touches every aspect of your life. Where you work, live and who you love is a mere reflection of the real you; who you really are. Those things are the fruit of a tree that has been planted and nurtured within you for years.
So who are you?
You’re the summation of every thought, joy, pain, struggle, understanding, belief, misunderstanding, rejection, kindness, excitement that has been stuffed and stowed away within you.
And you have a container that has collected all of those highs and lows in your life. How you care for that container determines true quality of your life….and truly defines who you are.
That container is your heart!
When the "heart spanx" wasn't enough anymore...
Like many of you, I didn't always consciously "feel" like I wasn't living my best life; I was a Christ-Follower, I had a pretty decent job, nice home, the car I wanted, friends, etc. But despite my successes, deep within, I was riddled with fear, heartbreak, self-doubt, disappointment and uncertainty about the future. It had been growing and growing for a very longtime. Different experiences in my life watered and nurtured it:
a father who I felt prioritized his other family over me
a mother who left town and ultimately left me
a family who it seemed didn't understand me
a strict church-environment where I didn't feel suitable for God's approval
friends who were secretly jealous and envious of me
broken friendships that left my heart hard and bitter
...and an assortment of other things!
I had many nights of panic attacks; waking up gasping for breath with a racing heart in a puddle of sweat. I had many days of insecurity, feeling like I wasn't good enough and fear of impending doom. The spanx just wasn't holding it all together anymore.
Then, in a very supernatural encounter, a woman at my then church (who some of you may call clairvoyant or prophetic) stopped me at an event and said "God says you've been tortured and he's freeing you tonight." She prayed, prayed and prayed some more and by the time she finished, I felt a weight lift...ever felt so free that you just ran? Yeah I hadn't either...til then.
But that was just the first step
Many people have "high" moments of hope, deliverance, clarity or victory...like the one I had with that sister at church that night. In our excitement, we put all of our hope in those hopeful words of encouragement...OR your moment could've been getting married, landing that new job, being accepted to that group, moving to that new city, etc. We have faith that because THAT thing happened, everything else will automatically get better. Has it gotten better? Have your feelings of fear or inadequacy left? Is it possible that that moment was just the starting line? The seed of faith that was planted to produce all your other hopes and dreams?
There comes a time in every 'faith walk' that action is required on your part. My experience at church stopped the pain and emotional bleeding (healed me) but it also started a process of becoming whole. Unfortunately, THAT part of the journey many people don't actively take; with benefits most don't get to experience. Think of some of the older people in your life... you can tell the ones who took action and changed the course of their lives to do great things. They are loving, caring wells of wisdom...versus those who wallow in regret and perhaps anger, sadness or bitterness because of what hasn't happened in their lives. You get to choose today which you want to be.
In the years to follow that encounter at church, I asked God to show me my heart...and my journey continued. All of the fears, illogical thinking, irrational reasoning, etc came to the surface. I got clarity and truth for that assorted list of issues. Line item by line item, I dealt with those things that surfaced. I learned who I was; the good, bad and ugly...it freed me to become who I was always meant to be. I was able to learn:
that my dad always loved and valued me
my mother always wanted and loved me
my family cared deeply for me
my church family was incredibly supportive and I eventually understood received God's grace
I met friends who celebrated rather than tolerated me...And I did the same for them
And the pain from my broken relationships became the launching pad for life as I know it today