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For the Weak Pretender

For the Weak Pretender

I’m a wreck.

Deep within me, there’s this desire to be perfect, and perfectly independent. I don’t want to have to rely on anyone.

Because deep down, there’s very few people I actually trust….

So… just let me take care of myself.

I mean, be my friend, yes! And hang out with me. Because I need to know that I’m loved.

Buuut… just don’t make me have to rely on you…. I know the day will inevitably come when you let me down, and that’s painful, so it’s just easier if we keep our emotional distance and I can maintain some sense of control….

But the problem is, so very often, I let my own self down.

I want to be strong, but find that I am weak.

I want to be smart, but realize I missed something when I was planning.

I want to be responsible, but then can’t find the energy to take care of myself or my home.

I want to be loved, but then isolate myself, because I’m too afraid to take the risk of finding that I’m not loved.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 reads:

“Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. We’re persecuted, but we’re not abandoned. We’re captured, but we’re not killed. We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our bodies. “

This does a few things for me:

  • I am not alone in feeling weak. The apostle Paul felt it too. He felt troubled and frustrated. He was persecuted and captured. He experienced weakness and challenges on various levels.
  • My weakness is actually a reminder of God’s presence, and His surpassing power. The power of the Gospel lies within me, but my weakness reminds me that this power doesn’t come from me. It comes from God. And if the power that comes from God lives inside me, that means God lives inside me. He is helping me overcome!
  • It’s when we’re in the hardest situations, that we can see the greatest miracles! When I am at my whit’s end, I have a promise that I will see the life of Jesus Christ revealed in me. It’s challenging feeling weak, troubled, and frustrated. I hate feeling that way. But, when things get the hardest, I often feel Christ the closest. And that is a sweet, gentle blessing!

Child, don’t give up. Keep pressing onward, by the power of Christ! Remember that, in your weakness, you are strong. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

If you feel weak, it’s ok. You don’t have to pretend you’re something you are not.

When you feel weak, just talk to Jesus, and know that He doesn’t judge you. He sees you where you’re at, and He loves you all the same.

Pray something like this:

Jesus, if I were to be honest, I’d say that I’m feeling pretty weak right now. I’m not sure what to do or where to go.

But I believe that Your strength is more vast than the depths of my weakness, and You have everything I need to make it through this season.

I trust Your love for me and I choose to have faith — to believe that, even when I can’t see myself making it through this season, Your love and power are still enough to carry me through.

Thank You that, with You, I can be honest, and I don’t have to pretend I’m someone I’m not. Thank You for loving and accepting me just the way I am! For providing grace on a basis of faith, not works.

Help me love You better and trust You more completely! Help me, and carry me through this season. I trust in You!

 


 

Thanks for reading! May you find grace and encouragement for your journey!

If you liked this devotional, here are some others you might enjoy:

Grace, peace, hope,

–Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

Called Out of Darkness

Called Out of Darkness

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
–1 Peter 2:9-10

How amazing that, as Christians, we have been rescued from darkness!

Except that some of us still feel trapped there…. Life can be seriously hard. I have those days when I simply don’t know what to do, and I just want to curl up in my bed and close my eyes.

Yet He loves me! And He calls me a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own possession.

He loves me! He has called me out of darkness, and transferred me into His Kingdom of light!

Oh yes, He loves me! Once, I was not accepted, but then He came and accepted me! Once I was without hope, but then He came and gave me hope!

He loves me. And He loves you.

How encouraging that He is the One who calls us out of darkness. It’s not some evil being who is calling us out, for judgment and chastisement for all our sins. Instead, it’s an amazing, beautiful Father who calls us in, forgives us (if we have Christ in our hearts), and ushers us into His Kingdom!

How much peace does that bring?

I mean, the deep peace. There will still be anxieties and fears in this life. But we have a kind Father to whom we can bring those things. And He will help us.

Friend, He is leading us away from the darkness. It’s a journey we’re all on. For some, the journey will be fast and breakthrough will come in an instant. For others, the journey will be long and arduous, and true breakthrough might not come until we break through the veil into the Kingdom of Heaven. But either way, breakthrough is coming!

Don’t lose hope, my friend. You can make it. Because He is with you and Jesus will never leave you, not one step of the way.

If it helps, picture His hand holding yours. He will gently lead you beside still waters and, little by little, He will help you on your way!


Thanks for reading! I hope this devotional was a blessing for you!

Feel free to check out some of these other devotionals I’ve written, and as always, please share with your friends!

Peace, my friend!

–Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

Why I Don’t Hate My Brother

Why I Don’t Hate My Brother

One day, when I was about ten years old, I sat watching TV in the living room. It was kind of a big deal, because we had cable now for the first time!

Suddenly, my older brother came stomping down the stairs and into the living room. Without saying a word, he grabbed the remote control and changed the channel.

“Hey!” I shouted. “I was watching that!”

“Well, I don’t want to watch that,” he shouted back.

We were suddenly thrown into this deep argument. He felt he had the right to do whatever he wanted, even if it inconvenienced everyone else.


Ok, I know… first world problem, right? But this is just one example of a common day occurrence while I was growing up.

Here’s a glimpse at childhood with an older brother who has Asperger’s Syndrome, ODD, and Bipolar Disorder:

  • He threw chairs across the room when he got angry.
  • He punched holes in the wall at least three times growing up. He even got so angry once that he pulled the sliding car door right off of our mom’s minivan!
  • We’d be on our way to a museum or amusement park, when mom would have to turn us around because my brother was having a temper tantrum. I’d have done nothing wrong, but still felt like I was being punished….
  • I was constantly on edge, because I never knew what would set my brother off on a tirade.
  • I couldn’t have friends over because my brother was having a bad day.
  • My brother wouldn’t stop talking about everything I didn’t want to hear.
  • People looked at my entire family as if there were something inherently wrong with all of us.
  • My brother was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility nine times within six years.

Things I remember hearing my brother say to or about me:

  • “You’re wrong!”
  • “I hate you!”
  • “I want to kill her!”
  • “This is all her fault!”
  • “I don’t care what you want!”
  • “That’s not fair!”
  • “You were supposed to be a boy! I wanted a brother, not a sister!”
  • “Life was better before she was born!”

How do you forgive when you have been so deeply hurt?I expect that all siblings have some level of conflict while growing up. But for us… it was constant…. Every single day, since as long as I can remember. And it really tore down my sense of identity.

But today,

I want people to understand

one thing:

I love my brother! And I forgive him!

Whether it’s you or a loved one, navegating mental illness can be challenging and scary, but there is hope!

THE FORGIVENESS JOURNEY

Growing up, my mom constantly told me that I needed to forgive my brother for his hurtful behavior, because it was “just his disability.”

But…

How do you forgive someone who has hurt you so deeply?

No direction was provided…. So, my childhood answer?

Stuff the pain. Ignore it.

Pretend it never happened.

But that didn’t solve anything. It just bred bitterness.

“Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

That is so true! I was dying on the inside.

  • I decided to be perfect, and then fell into deep depression because I wasn’t perfect.
  • But then I kept trying to be perfect, which only created deep seated anxiety.
  • I isolated myself from my family, not sharing my emotions, problems, or
  • I was already self-harming by the time I reached kindergarten!
  • I used food, tv, and sleep to escape my problems, which means I never learned healthy coping methods.

It's hard to forgive.... Forgive anyway.

Getting Away For a Time

In 2006, I moved to Waco, TX and began my freshman year at Baylor University. Within a couple of months, I got involved with a local church called Antioch and joined a lifegroup. For the first time, I was held accountable in spending time with Jesus every day. That changed my life!

I quickly learned that God’s love for me is not dependent upon my ability to be perfect. This revolutionized everything! But what does that have to do with forgiving my brother?

For the longest time, I pretended nothing was wrong, I was happy, and things were great, because that was “the Christian thing to do.” When I realized that God loved me no matter what, it released me to admit that I wasn’t ok.

And admitting that I wasn’t ok meant that I no longer needed to bottle up my emotions. Suddenly I could explore my pain, fear, and low self-esteem, because I knew that Daddy in heaven would love me the whole way through it!

How to choose forgiveness when all you feel is pain.

I didn’t just wake up one day and forgive my brother. It was more of a combination of many things:

  1. The distance really did help. Things had been fairly toxic growing up. Being able to set some boundaries helped us each gain perspective and decompress. When I would go home to visit, it was normally for short periods of time, maybe just a weekend, and tension wouldn’t have time to build. That meant we were able to develop newer, happier memories. That didn’t mean the bad memories went away, but it helped us begin to create a newer, happier history to help balance out the places of pain.
  2. I realized that he wasn’t the only one who was messed up. I had my own junk and my own problems to work through. I had never been perfect and often made my own mistakes. I’m sure I have hurt him too. Many times. I lashed out. I was mean. By no means was I innocent. We were both just two messed up, struggling people in need of a Savior. Did that excuse the ways he had hurt me? No. But he no longer seemed such a villain when I discovered my own villainy apart from Jesus.
  3. So much of it wasn’t his fault. That might sound strange to some people. I do believe there’s something important about taking responsibility for our actions. And I’m sure some of my brother’s behaviors were simply the result of immaturity, just like many of mine were. Yet at the same time, he struggled with a very real mental illness that impacted his thought processes and behaviors. And suffering from a mental illness was not his fault. It was not the result of some sin that he committed or anything like that. He didn’t ask for it. It just was. Thankfully he’s on a good mix of medication now, has learned some coping methods, and has also matured a lot. Just as I needed to do.
  4. I began praying for him. While I was in college, my brother was not a believer. I prayed almost every day for him to encounter God, because I knew God was the only one who could help my brother find purpose and healing. My prayers weren’t about forgiving him, but that’s still what happened, because the more I prayed for him, the more I received God’s heart and love for him.
  5. I was able to replace the lies in my head with God’s truth. One of the challenges of verbal abuse during childhood is that you grow up internalizing all of the negative things spoken over you. Those lies and negative perceptions become a part of your world view, to such an extent that it’s hard to separate the lies from the truth. As I began exploring my childhood pain with God, the Holy Spirit helped me identify various lies I was believing and replace those lies with truth from Scripture. For example:
    1. Lie: No one loves me. Truth: For God so loved the (entire) world (including me!), that He gave His only Son to save it. – John 3:16
    2. Lie: I’m never going to be good enough. Truth: I’m forgiven and I have been made into the righteousness of Christ! – 2 Corinthians 5:21
    3. Lie: Things will never change. Truth: Things have already changed, for eternity, because Christ took a fallen and broken world, and He saved it! And now we go from glory to greater glory! – 2 Corinthians 3:18
    4. Lie: I am helpless.Truth: I have the strength of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me! – Philippians 4:13 and 1 Corinthians 3:16
  6. God’s truth healed my places of pain. As my thought life improved and my perspectives grew healthier, I noticed that I didn’t experience as much pain when I’d think back on my childhood. Those childhood memories no longer carried the same amount of power. And that released me to forgive my brother as well, because I was no longer living in a place of fear and victimization.
  7. I was able to release myself and my brother into the hands of God. One of the hardest things about forgiveness is choosing to let go. We feel that, if we hold onto the resentment, we can play the martyr, which somehow makes us seem “more righteous or just.” And if we hold onto the resentment, the whole world will somehow know all the terrible traits of the person we hate. But that’s just not the case. If we hold onto our anger, we’ll live a life weighed down by bitterness. We’ll never grow or feel freedom, because we walk in chains, bound to the very person we hate. But if we release our anger, we can fall into the arms of Jesus. And there is no place I’d rather be!

WHY I LOVE MY BROTHER

me-and-my-brother

Let me end by sharing all the things I love about my brother! I want people to know how amazing and wonderful he is!

  • He is a teddy bear! I know that sounds counter everything I described above, but my brother really does have a tender heart, once you get past the surface. And he’s great with little kids! They love him!
  • He is so smart and loves to learn! I’ve had so many fun, interesting conversations with him, and it never gets boring!
  • We enjoy taking walks and just catching up.
  • He wants to know more about God and often asks questions.
  • He looks up to me. That might seem like a prideful thing to say, but it speaks to the change in his heart as well. God has restored our relationship and I’m so thankful! And in awe!
  • We can have awesome, nerdy conversations about things like Stargate, Doctor Who, and Final Fantasy.
  • He’s family. We’ve been through so much, and I honestly think we’re stronger because of it!
  • He loves to dream big. He doesn’t get stuck in the doubts, but pursues the passions of his heart.
  • He really does love us. It may be hard to show it sometimes, and it may come out in … interesting ways … but he loves us, and after everything is said and done, I am thankful!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

HOW DO YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE WHO HAS HURT YOU SO DEEPLY?

One word: JESUS!

Sometimes the places of pain are just too deep. We can’t handle them alone. For those who have been abused, there’s often a level of fear that’s so deep. We just don’t want to open the wound long enough to get out the infection.

You need Jesus! He’s the only One who can heal us. He’s the only One who can help us truly move past our places of fear, anxiety, and prejudice long enough to even consider that a different reality might be possible.

Jesus! We need You!

-Michelle Louise