Creating idols

Joshua 1:9 says “this is my command- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Lately God has been challenging me when it comes to trusting him with all of my heart. I’ve found myself leaning on my own understanding more than I would like to admit lately. Trusting in God isn’t always the easiest thing to do but it’s definitely one of the most important. I’ve made a new friend recently that is constantly reminding me to focus on god and treat everything I do as an act of worship. Being reminded of that a lot recently has opened my eyes to how many idols I actually have guilt and shame being two of them. I never really put a lot of thought into how those things can become idols but they really do take my focus off of God. I think it’s a lot of learning how to manage the guilt and shame and not getting to the point where yes they are idols. I listened to a really insightful podcast recently from femperfect and it talked a lot about guilt and shame. Following are a few things that I really found interesting as I listened. 

Guilt moves you towards forgiveness. Shame becomes an idol you serve all of the time. Shame distorts the truth and makes you want to hide. Shame destroys healthy relationships with yourself and God. Shame keeps you inauthentic with your feelings. God wants a Christian that is always strong and humble. Lord I pray that you would show me more of you! Let prayer do the heavy lifting. And last but not least choose joy, it’s a decision. 

Lately god has been opening my eyes to the importance of prayer and the importance of trusting fully in him. I’ve found myself getting easily overwhelmed and I really want to break that pattern. The first step to that: break the idols of guilt and shame! 

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Letting God be in control at all times

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways, my ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:2

“And he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I’ve been struggling lately to feel at peace with where I am right now. These verses connected tonight to me almost as a reminder to just stop and let God take over. The other night I found myself questioning God over why when we grieve do we suppress some of the best times we had with our loved one to focus on how we will never have that again at least not for a while. Case in point: The other night I was talking to my cousin about the last conversation we each had with our grandpa and how our uncle was jealous of that. The divide created between my family has been jealousy oriented more often than not but that’s besides the main point. Anyways I proceeded to think about one of the last conversations that I had with him. I remember it vividly, I was sitting by the sewing machine in the bedroom at their house as he was on hospice, and was holding his hand. He looked at me and said “hug, hug” as in wanting me to hug him. It was one of the best hugs just felt really good especially because that was right around the time that he stopped talking. It brought tears to my eyes just thinking about that moment, don’t get me wrong it was wonderful and comforting but looking back it’s one of the most emotional moments my grandpa and I shared. Oh how I long for another one of those moments but I know that for right now finding peace and strength when I feel weak like that in God is what my grandpa would want me to do.

I don’t know why that crossed my mind the other night but ever since I’ve been feeling pretty emotional. Granted it could be because his birthday would’ve been yesterday and we went out to the cemetery again but it’s been on the back of my mind ever since. Like it says in Isaiah Gods thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, which is hard for us to let go and trust god all of the time but in due time it will be revealed why this has been on my mind so often lately. God’s thoughts and plans for us may be different than what we want for ourselves, but in him all things will work out for our good so long as we find grace and peace through him during the hard times.

Praise God in all times

Praising God when it feels hardest to praise him is beginning to become so important in my life. From realizing that all through these trials I should have been thanking him for the strength will be used in the future to realizing that others actually realize how important it is to praise God when you feel stuck. Lately I’ve been struggling with feeling defeated when trying to encourage others or just look to a friend for advice. I’ve just felt stuck in this whirlwind of life. As I was spending time reading my Bible and the many devotional books I read tonight I stumbled across many points that changed my perspective.

” Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off.” Acts 16:25-26 NLT I’ve never really stopped and thought about that verse quite like I did tonight. While imprisoned Paul and Silas were ministering to others and sharing God’s love with those who didn’t know God personally. Quite a few nights this past week I’ve found myself crying until I fall asleep and reading this and how to use it to refresh my soul really stood out to me. “Prison comes in many forms, one of them being when our hearts seem locked up and we feel totally paralyzed by pain. Many times we feel there is no escape from the hurt our hearts feel. These are real feelings, and the key to freedom is not to pretend pain is not real. The key needed to unlock a hopeless heart is praise.”  Whether it be through prayer, music or reading the word always praise God for he is the one that will bring you through all trials. It may not seem like it especially when you are where I am right now but God sees your tears, he will use them to encourage someone along the way. “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. You may feel defeated and discouraged but God hears every prayer and sees every tear. He will grant you the strength that you need to continue, just run to him.  

The complexity of grieving 

Grieving is such a complex process, things that you don’t even think about can influence how you react to loss. For me those things are being spiritual like my grandpa was and being one of the two family members there when he passed. I’ve found myself lately longing for just one more hug from him and one more smile and to hear him say one last time “that missy sure is a gift from God”. I’m confident that wherever heaven is and whoever he is with he is looking down smiling at the fact that I got a 1,000 dollar scholarship and 2,000 dollar grant for next year. Some might say that that blessing over my whole family can be seen as a hug from him which yes it could but it’s not the kind of hug I am longing for. I vividly remember one night after my grandma passed away in 2011 I was laying in bed listening to music and felt pressure on both of my shoulders like someone was hugging me which was odd because I was alone in my room but comforting nonetheless. Lately I’ve been wishing just one simple thing like that could happen with my grandpa. I’ve been struggling through that knowing that no matter how much I wish for it it might not happen and that’s okay. 

So I mentioned being one of the only family members at my grandparents house when he passed away, I never realized how significant of an impact that has had on my grieving process. I remember so vividly when the nurse came out and said he stopped breathing, and how I just ran to console my grandma. Still brings tears to my eyes but fast forward to once my mom and aunt got there and we gathered around him and said the Lord’s Prayer something that to this day is hard for me to do but it brings comfort at the same time. The connection that my grandpa and I shared over our religion was pretty deep and I think carrying on his traditions of blessing every meal and being in prayer for the family like he always was can also make it harder on me in that it’s a great expectation to live up to. 

All in all, feelings that you’ve tried to shove down can come back up with one simple word or action. As much as I can post about grieving posting about it and actually processing the feelings through tears are two totally different things for me. My friends often have to remind me that it’s okay to feel sad and cry and lately that’s encouraged me more than anything. Never be afraid to express your feelings odds are someone else somewhere can be feeling the same thing and doesn’t know how to express it either. 

The effects of loss

Lately I’ve been reflecting a lot on how much I strived to make my grandpa proud. Before I ever lost a loved one I always wondered what it would feel like, and if it was really how it was portrayed in television shows. Having just experienced the anniversary of my grandpas passing which wasn’t really on my mind today, until I watched 7th heaven where they were celebrating the birthday of their grandma with a big family dinner and it made me tear up thinking about how many times I’ve felt that and how hard it is every year. I’ve been wishing a lot that I could just feel his hugs and see his smile one more time. I won’t be the first to say that this is one of the hardest parts of losing a loved one but it really is just longing for comfort from those who were always there for you. July 20th marked the one year anniversary of his funeral which weighed down my mind quite a bit but I found comfort in the verse of the day. 

Something always drives this feeling when it comes to grieving whether it be a hard time or a great accomplishment and for me it was a great accomplishment. My grandpa was always so proud of all of us in the family whether the accomplishment was big or small and he would always tell everyone he knew about how great we were doing. I wish so much that I could just feel his hug and see him smile one last time. I find comfort though that when God calls me home to his kingdom I will be reunited with him and everyone else that has gone to heaven before me. But for now, I find comfort in the fact that the loved ones I’ve lost are in heaven looking down on me and smiling over how much ive accomplished. 

Comforting thoughts

I don’t know why but I was hesitant the other day to check my “on this day” on Facebook, just didn’t want to do it and when I finally did I realized that it was because of what I might’ve seen. The first post was a picture of my grandpas obituary, not the ideal first post but after that everything was fine. I don’t know why but lately I’ve just felt okay where I am, just not feeling so emotional like I was and just taking life as it comes. The other day I woke up craving farmer boys which was my grandpas, great uncles and great grandmas favorite and there was just something oddly comforting about being there. Fast forward later that day I decided to go hunting for Pokemon (no shame), and went and bought my mom flowers from one of our favorite little flower shops, and something just felt so right when I picked up white roses, my grandpas favorite. I don’t know why but I’ve just felt comforted by the signs he’s been sending me, going to farmer boys and buying white roses and even looking at the pictures of his casket on my phone the other day somethings just felt right. It’s coming up on a year since his service one of the hardest days of my life but I’ve grown so much and learned so much since then I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Change

July… A month that feels like it just happened yesterday. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year. Last July was one of the hardest months in my life. July second at 3:15 pm one if the most influential men in my life went to be with the lord. I’m glad that he’s not suffering but the void it left in my heart is so great. I can hear him saying over and over “that missy she’s just a gift from God” he meant it every time he said it too. He was so proud of all he witnessed me accomplish. It seems so crazy that it’s already been just about a year, it sure doesn’t feel like it has. It’s so unreal how losing a loved one impacts so many aspects of your life, those things you used to be able to do without a second thought become things that you don’t want to do not because you can’t just because you’re not ready to. For me one of those things although there are many, is saying the Lord’s Prayer. It brings back memories of putting my hand on my grandpas foot and just holding his leg while reciting it in a circle with my family. No matter what my grandpa was facing in his own life he made sure that we all knew that he was praying for us at all times! He was one of the men that supported me and always encouraged me through gods word and I hope that when I find a man that he is like my grandpa was. Sometimes you just need to sit back and reflect on how those that have passed away have impacted your life and just thank god for the memories you created with them while you had the chance to. It’s okay to be sad especially around the anniversary but don’t ever let the good memories slip away. They’ll be worth a lot one day when you start your own family or just when people ask you questions about your loved one.