Experiencing Life through God

joyContinued from here.

If God had only transformed me from hating to loving myself, it would have been enough. If He had only released me from my emotional bondage through forgiving others, it would have been enough. If he had only healed the suicidal urges, it would have been enough. But those were just His starting points of an invitation to LIFE!

While I am glad that I’m not going to hell when I die, that fact is low on the list of reasons why I am excited to have a relationship with God. He has transformed me from death to life in many areas of my life, and He continues to do this by placing heavily on my heart that it’s time to make yet another change. Every change, no matter how difficult, is leading me to LIFE, and I’m happy to do it, even when it’s really hard for me, such as humbling myself in my marriage so God would breathe new life into those dry bones and submitting to my husband’s authority so God could bless my family as we align with His design for families. None of this has been easy – ALL of it has been life-changing!

God’s ways are LIFE, and the world’s ways are death. Every natural inclination our sinful nature entices us with leads to death. Our sinful nature lulls us into “falling asleep” to the ways of life through keeping us comfortable. I have accepted that I’ll likely never be comfortable in my life again, and that’s OK – I would rather be ALIVE! Life is growing, changing, and transforming into the image of Christ, and nothing about that is comfortable. It involves doing things God’s way – ways that run counter to the culture and are often not popular with the people around you, whose agendas are the ways of death.

I have given up a lot to follow God wholeheartedly – self-loathing, suicidal urges, an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, anger, and bitterness. What I have gained is so much more – a close, deep, personal, and intimate love relationship with the Living God! I had to give up myself and what I want, replacing those desires with what God wants. My daily mantra is this:

Lord, help me not only to do what You call me to do, but to be who You call me to be.”

I have let go of my own plans, dreams, and desires and have made knowing God my desire. As I follow God wholeheartedly, He has changed my heart, giving me new desires that align with His. Of course, I don’t do this perfectly, but I do it authentically. God truly is the #1 desire of my heart – not what He can do for me but being in a close relationship with Him. He is the blessing, and He is who I seek.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling and holding out her arms in joy. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Changing in Response to God’s Love

lifeContinued from here.

The spring and summer of 2013 was one of the best seasons of my life. After 44 years of feeling parched for the tiniest drops of love from others, I was completely saturated in God’s love for me. So many of the rough edges of my personality became smooth in response to experiencing endless love. I had believed that I was “too needy” because of my childhood trauma. I learned that God’s love was more than enough to meet not only my own needs but also the needs of everyone around me. I changed radically over this season, and numerous people commented on it. As Beth Moore had said at the Sacred Secrets Living Proof Live Event, secrets manifest. As I had changed what I did “in the secret” with God, the fruit of my life also changed.

If I could have stayed in this honeymoon phase for the rest of my life, being a Christian on fire for God would have been super easy. However, God wants us chasing Him not for what He gives us but, instead, for who He is. While I try not to compare my own experiences to those of other people, I would not be surprised to learn that experiencing such as long honeymoon phase is unusual. I was particularly broken, so God might have known I needed a particularly long honeymoon to heal enough to get to work. If your honeymoon phase does not last as long as mine did, don’t feel cheated. That was drinking milk, and God wants us moving on to eating solid food as soon as we are ready.

Once God had healed me enough through His unending love to begin eating sold food, God called me to do something I really did not want to do – first to forgive a friend who broke my heart and then to forgive my child abusers. As motivation, God asked if I loved Him more than I hated them. I had declared numerous times that I would never forgive my child abusers, but I chose to believe and obey God by praying for them day after day, week after week, and month after month for well over a year until I realized I had, in fact, forgiven them. I knew I had forgiven them because the pain was gone.

I learned through that experience that God’s ways are always best. He didn’t tell me to forgive because “it’s the right thing to do” – He had me to do it because forgiveness is the path to LIFE! When I declared that I would never forgive, I was declaring my own death sentence. God’s ways are LIFE, and forgiving is the vehicle God uses for healing our emotional wounds. Once I learned this about God, obeying Him because much easier because I learned firsthand that EVERYTHING God commands is to give me life.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing on the beach next to a seagull beside the word, “Life.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God is Found when We Seek Him Wholeheartedly

drawing_heartContinued from here.

I don’t remember how much time elapsed between my deciding to seek God with my whole heart and finding Him, but it did not take long. The only tangible marker I have is that by June 2013 (three months later), I realized that God had fully healed the suicidal urges that had plagued me every minute of the day since I was a teenager. That came after I was already giddy with God’s joy and peace for a period of time, so I must not have had to wait very long…perhaps a few days or weeks.

Part of seeking God involved choosing to believe Him over my own experience, and that was challenging for me. I needed something to do during my quiet time hour after giving God my list of things I wanted Him to do for me and completing my Bible study homework. Beth Moore had said that God loves me wholeheartedly while I believed I was fundamentally unlovable, so I figured that would be a good starting point. I looked up scriptures that talked about how much God loves me. I then downloaded several Christian songs that focused on how much God loves me and started singing along to those during my quiet time. I started looking myself in the eye in the mirror and saying, “I love you” or “you are lovable,” even though I did not believe it. God used all of these simple acts of obedience to change my heart – to remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh.

Meditating on God’s truth that He loves me radically changed everything. I experienced joy and peace as never before. The best way to describe it is that I felt like I had gone through life holding out a Dixie cup, asking people to please spare the tiniest drops of love. Even a few drops could help. Because so few drops ever fell in my cup, I spent my life feelings empty and dry. God poured gallons of love into my cup, overflowing the entire room! For the first time in my life, I actually felt loved, and this came not from someone in skin but from an invisible God who I met with morning after morning. I was so saturated with His love that I had plenty to give to anyone I came into contact with. I had no need to hoard it.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace drawing a large heart. Courtesy Bitmoji.]