Navigating Through Land Mines

It hits you out of nowhere. Suddenly these triggers send tears pouring out of your eyes from the what feels to be the deepest part of you.

 

You hold your chest, hoping that the pain inside will somehow go away. Maybe, if you hold on to it long and hard enough, your broken pieces will come back together.
You don’t care about the people in the parking lot around you as you wheeze through the sobs. Trying to control yourself, yet knowing, it’s useless. A dam has broken. This pain needs to come out somehow. You haven’t cried in so long because you grew weary of it. 

Triggers.

Have you been there? Have you set foot on an emotional IED? Have you found yourself crying uncontrollably, not being able to pull yourself together?
I have. It is a hard place to be. It’s a battle to focus on truth. It’s a battle to pick yourself back up after a beating by a storm surge of emotions. You feel as though you’re sucked back to the place you never wanted to be again.
When you’ve experienced pain induced by someone, the aftermath is like walking through a land field. 

Before the harm took place, you walked carefree, and without worry. Then someone overstepped their bounds. They entered your life and caused damage. All of a sudden your world becomes pitted with bombs waiting to go off. You have to navigate through an emotional flare up. 

You walk cautiously, looking around. You step slowly. You try to figure out if the ground looks tampered with. But sometimes, no matter how cautious you or I may be, our other foot hits a mine. We find yourself trying to put yourself together again. Trying to calm yourself down you say, “They didn’t mean it”, “They aren’t the person who damaged you”. 

But anything could trigger an explosion. A trip to the nail salon. A car ride. A trip. A word spoken. A situation. A closed room. As you navigate each explosion, you quickly learn where the triggers are. In a sense, you have to learn, pray and strive after being carefree and trusting again.

If you have been under or around someone who did damage to you, I want to say, I am so very sorry. I’m sorry you have to not just feel the pain in the instance, but also years later.
Life is messy and people are broken. We all know from one extent to another the deep wounds we can experience at the hands of another. Let’s be honest, our world is broken..

If you find yourself in this situation of mining through your triggers, I want you to know that you will have more emotional IEDs. However, I want you to know that while you’re crying, God sees. He is with you through the sobs and wheezing. He is holding your broken pieces. He is truthful. He won’t mess with your mind. In fact, He tells us, “In this world you WILL have troubles”. He also says, “but I have overcome the world”. Yes, He has overcome our broken world.

None of us wish for brokenness. We want to remain whole, but I am learning that the deeper we are hurt, the more our heart expands.

 

Each scenario we face, when we surrender it to God, can be used to help someone else. So although we don’t like hitting land mines, we don’t have to fear them. God knows how to use them for our good and His glory.

 

Remember the worst thing in life is not a broken heart, but a callous one.

 

I heard a song say, “Love as if there were no such thing as a broken heart” (Old dominion). That’s my goal. I am broken, but I’m not useless, in God’s economy that means He can remake me, making me more useful! What someone may have seen as trash, God sees as treasure. What someone may have seen as weak, God sees as strong. What someones else may have seen as an easy target, God sees as a heart to cherish and pursue.

 

Don’t give up friends. We need each other, and we all need more love. Maybe our brokenness is the gateway for more love to occur.

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 4:10
  • “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” Psalm 103:8
  • “The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” Jeremiah 31:3
  • “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you” Isaiah 43:4-5

 

When you feel as though you can’t!


I went to the back of my closet and started to pull out the clothes I have hardly looked at in 8 months.

I put on about four different outfits trying to find the one that would be that much better than the rest. Practical, but professional!

As I thought about this new opportunity, doubt, insecurity and fear rose to the surface. Those infamous “what if” questions started plaguing my mind.

I can’t do this, can I? How? I know I did it once, but I don’t know if I can do it again. What if I can’t handle it? What if it goes south and I have to come crawling back home? What if I am not able to keep up with the demands? What if my boss isn’t pleased with my performance?

The new opportunity seemed to lay under the wet blanket of those “what ifs”. My friends and family say I can do it, and that id do fine, great, and amazing…

So, the day came, I felt like I had taken one step on the field… Then, the hard part came…

He asked. “What are your fears”

I paused …then answered… 

“That I will be ripped to shreds”

“I won’t do that”

I almost cried because the thought of stepping back into the same “game”. That “game” tore my heart wide open. Thinking of going back in seems inconceivable.

Part of me wanted to run in the other direction. I wanted to stand up and yell, “You don’t understand. I just can’t do it again”.

I felt destroyed when I walked away and now I’m staring the same opportunity in the face.

The wounds have skin covering the cuts to my heart, but it is still so sensitive. The mention of a few words, or a few people, or situations leave me with knots in my stomach…

I decide to take a deep breathe… I tell myself I need to be brave…

The fact is I am not destroyed.

The fact is God is not finished with me yet. 

The fact is I am not in charge of the outcome.

The fact is… I can’t, but with Christ, I can.

He is the one who has gifted me and He wants to use those gift, but I cannot let fear dictate my decisions. I cannot shrink back… God deserves my everything, my life, my all. That includes the broken pieces and sensitive wound 

He didn’t hold back or self protect from me. I cannot do that to Him.

I’ve got to step out knowing He is a God who was the one who caught me when I fell. He was the one who carried me to my healing. He is the one who entered my broken world to show me that He never leaves me. He can handle my brokenness because He himself was broken for me. He is trustworthy, and because of Him I can trust again.

So my friends, if you’re starring that “thing” in the face. If you’re starring the car in the face that nearly took your life, or the one of a friend. If you’re starting a similar situation where you were left devastated or depleted. Or, you’re facing a broken relationship or whatever you are facing…

Know this, to overcome these hurdles, we’ve got to open up those closed closet doors. We need to pull our jersey back out and one arm at a time, one leg at a time, one step at a time get back in the game. If the tears come… let them fall.. there is no shame in broken pieces it’s a part of life.

God is bigger than our deepest wounds. He has gifted you in unique ways. It is often in those gifting that the enemy tries to destroy us because he wants us to quit.

It’s hard, but we’ve got to tell our fears to shove it, and let God’s love to fill the spots of panic.
My friends, we can’t, but God can… Don’t quit… Don’t let fear hold you back anymore. You cannot truly live when you’re held back by fear. Fear is like a balling around a ball and chain around your ankle. Keeping you from the heights God wants you to soar.  

Live fearlessly knowing you’re loved unconditionally

Nothing can tamper with Gods love for you. Through it all, God is with us. He is the one in the stands cheering you on as you step back on that field. He’s rooting for you and He’s rooting for me…

With Christ, our can’t is changed to can!

The Faces I Cannot Forget

***This is dedicated to the Iraqi family I met in Jordan almost a year ago, and to all the refugees scattered all over the world…

I attempted to write a poem about your suffering … 

Then I realized….

I don’t know what it’s like…

I don’t know the fear you lived every time you heard the whistle of a missile. 

I don’t know the panic you endured when you’d hear the destruction of another home… praying it wasn’t someone you knew…. 

I don’t know how many tears you cried… Or how many you couldn’t anymore after you lost loved one after loved one, friend after friend. 

I don’t know how many unseen wounds you carry around on a daily basis… 

I don’t know how if feels to not only lose friends and loved ones, but also your country….

I don’t know how it feels to lose a livelihood, freedom and choice…

I don’t know how it feels to be at the mercy of another people group – another country…

I don’t know how it feel to be stripped away from the language you and your family have spoken for generations, and now having to learn a new one…. 

I’m sorry I have not understood … I cannot imagine your pain… I don’t know what it’s like to suffer like you have, but I know one who did… 

I pray that in the midst of your pain… in the midst of this dark hour… you would know you’re not alone… The one who made you… The one who fashioned your eyes, hands, feet and body…. loves you. 

And until I meet you, you are in my heart… please don’t give up… you have a story the world needs to hear… the lessons of traveling through this dark valley needs to be taught…. 

I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your courage…

The Sustainer

So many things can happen in a single day: a wedding, a birth, a death, a terrorist attack, a promotion, or a life altering injury. The list goes on… Each event, each season we walk through can be similar to another person’s, but for each person it is unique.

My personality, my perception, my emotions will not be identical to yours. We are created, uniquely, and sustained, uniquely.

I’ve been thinking about the God’s sustaining power. No matter what anyone of us face, He is able to sustain us. This doesn’t mean we won’t shed tears. Or that we won’t be heartbroken, or we won’t experience the range of emotions each season, and trial brings. It does mean that He will sustain us through it.

 “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me” Psalm 54:4 NIV

The Greek word for is: Camak. Which means: to lean, rest, support, put, uphold, lean upon, brace oneself, sustain, refresh, revive.

It means that when life is too overwhelming, we can draw on Jesus’ strength. He is the one who helps us stay the course. He is the one that lifts our head. He holds us up when the load of life seems crushing to our fragile bodies, and fragile souls.

Often times, in the midst of our trials, suffering, and heartache, we don’t feel much. The only feeling we experience is desperation. Like a marathon runner, who is only at mile twelve, whose hit a physical wall. And, there are still 14.2 miles left to run. We begin doubting whether we will be able to finish the race set before us.

But it’s when we come through the other side and think, “I don’t know how I made it”, we see it was God’s hand sustaining us. God’s hand guiding us. God’s hand holding us.

It’s the times when we feel as though we have no strength. The times we’re running low on hope, and feel as though we are empty. It is then, that God wants to prove his sustenance to you.

Many times, hardships come into our lives to show us God is able. God is willing. His love for us is greater than any heartache we experience. Our wounds are deep, but His love is deeper. It is in the times of deep despair that we find a comfort unlike any comfort the world could offer.

It is almost as if God kneels down beside our fetal curled body and holds us. He catches the tears. He holds us so close those broken pieces stay in place. He, the God of heaven and earth, cares for our hurts, pains, and wounds. He may not give us the answers to our question, but He gives us His presence in the midst of our worlds crashing down.

He is the Sustainer of our lives. He is the one who carries our biggest heartaches, but also our daily burdens. He will fight for us when we are unable to fight. He gives grace when our souls feel marred beyond recognition.

So if this is a season of great loss, deep disappointment, or life changing pain, remember, you are on alone. Let the tears come. Let the hurt out.

We have a heavenly Father who is beside us and is not afraid of those ugly cries. He is not afraid of our deepest wounds. He is our Sustainer and is the Lifter of our weary head. Hold on dear friend, and even if you can’t, He is still holding on to you, and will never let you go.

A Suffering Servant — A Life Well Lived 

Life is so unpredictable.
Two weekends ago, I was at a wedding, celebrating with one of my girl friends.

This past weekend, I was at a memorial service for a beloved family friend.

Isn’t that life, though? In an instant, everything can change. You could meet the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Or, you could lose the one you thought you would spend the rest of your life with.

In the case of these two events-two contrasting life events. They have something that ties them both together.

They both were celebrations. Of course, you celebrate at a wedding; unless, you disagree with the choice.

A memorial service, is not necessarily one you equate to a celebration. The one I went to on Saturday was.

The memorial service was for a man named Bill Zink. There was an open mic at the service. However, I didn’t feel like I should take up that precious time, so I am writing the impact he had on me here.

I grew up knowing him and his family. His youngest daughter and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. I never knew a time without their family being in my life. His wife was my Sunday School teacher during some of my most difficult teen years.

Mr. Zink’s greatest impact on me was not the words he said, but the way he lived. I started to understand Jesus as a “suffering servant” by watching the way he lived. He was in no way perfect. He would be the first to admit that.

Mr. Zink suffered enormously. For eleven years he fought Churg-Strauss syndrome. His health was up and down. He was in an out of the hospital more times than anyone I have ever met. Yet, when he was out of the hospital, he always had a smile on his face, and a hug ready for everyone he greeted.

Last October I went over to Mr. and Mrs. Zink’s house for dinner. I remember Mr. Zink saying something along the lines of, “suffering is good for us”. That was his attitude. The more he suffered, the more he leaned into Christ. I never remember him complaining about his illness, but only boasting in God’s strength to endure it.

I’ve met people who believe in a “name it and claim it” health. I know God could have healed Mr. Zink. Our entire congregation prayed for his healing. But in His suffering, God shone the brightest. Through his weak and fragile body, God showed Himself strong.

Mr. Zink was a warrior. He prayed hard. Lived well, and endured graciously. He taught me so many life lessons. I pray I never forget them.

If there were a verse to sum up Mr. Zink’s life I think it would be 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’”

The suffering Mr. Zink endure was not the end of him, but it was the beginning. Through his suffering, he became, more like Christ. He became a greater witness. He became a greater friend, a greater husband, and an even greater Dad.

Through suffering, he was going from glory to glory. And now, he is home. He fought the good fight and remained faithful until the end.

That was the impact he left on my life. I saw suffering in a light I don’t think I ever could have, had he not lived it out for me and others to see.

Mr. Zink, I will miss you. Thank you for your faithfulness, your kindness, and your impact my life. Thank you for living out a godly example for me and everyone who knew you!