Monday, October 24, 2011

Buried Shame, Uncovered Treasures of Truth

There is something very exciting about buried treasure. Remember those infomercials for metal detectors, with those happy retired senior citizens roaming the beach, searching for hidden valuables underneath the sand? Gifts wrapped up in deep boxes and layers of tissue paper can have the same affect, as you excitedly rip away all the unnecessary debris to get to that item tucked away at the bottom.
There also remains the reality that just as much as special, fun, shiny objects can be buried and discovered, there is also a possibility that one may find something not nearly as desirable; a murdered body, a box of hand written love letters that were stolen and never given to the rightful owner, or a secret that has never been shared and festers into fear within the heart of that individual.
More often than not, things that are buried are meant to be buried. There is an intention in the process, whether it be hiding something to keep it safe or in an effort to ignore a painful memory. However, I recently learned the exception to this truth.

"Sarah, I've been doing some thinking, and I've decided that although you do have a lot of strengths, they do not outweigh your weaknesses."
When I heard this statement spoken with such a mechanical, unfeeling tone, I found myself so numb that I, myself, became mechanical in order to digest what I heard. I heard one thing, but it became clear that my heart heard something quite different. Even though I knew that what was said was meant to be hurtful and manipulative, my head and logic was not connecting to my heart. I buried this evil, ugly statement that was spoken to me, deep down in my heart, in a place where only Jesus would be able to uncover it, and make any sense of it.
For over a month, it haunted me. My greatest, unspoken fear of myself was brought into the tangible world to be heard, not just thought in the privacy of my own head. Could it be that despite all my God given gifts and abilities, that my weaknesses were truly outweighing them? Even though on a rational level as a Christian I knew that this was a lie, something wasn't breaking me from it.

This weekend, God revealed to me the importance of knowing the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says: "I've done something wrong" , but shame says: "I am something wrong". When I heard this description, I realized what had happened. When the statement was spoken to me, it was meant to manipulate and make me feel guilty. But in all actuality, it was a statement of shame. I believed that as a person, I was wrong. I had buried that shame so deeply, and in the busyness of life, chose not to dig very deep to unearth it.Friends, how often do we hear something (and by "hear" I don't just mean just with your ears, as our hearts hear things as well) and interpret something as shame? I pray that if there is any buried shame in your life, that by God's power, sovereignty and grace, you would allow Him to uncover it and set you free. As Christians, we have the most amazing promises to claim. One of those promises is that in our weakness, HE is our strength.
"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 the power of Christ can work in me."- 2nd Cor. 12:9We MUST stand on the word. God's word has the power reveal these truths in a world where satan longs to tinge things with evil and shame. Just as Christ has unearthed the shame, He has in turn polished His priceless treasure and made us shine in a world that is hopeless without Him.

Walk in the freedom that there is NO condemnation and shame for those who belong to Jesus Christ. Bury yourself in Him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Farewell, Happy Place

Saying "goodbye" is apart of life. I have often associated a tearful goodbye with a person rather than a place, but this time, it's different. 

About two years ago at the end of January, I put "coffee shop" into my GPS, and was led to a location that I would later affectionately dub as "My happy place". An old train station restored to a Caribou Coffee, my "happy place" was a constant comfort in the midst of all of the change and transition that I experienced since my arrival to Cannon Falls. When I was completing my degree, I did hours of homework. After I graduated, I went there to clear my head, write, journal and spend quality time with my Savior. And then there were those times where life just simply got too much, of which I would run to this refuge of espresso and cozy chairs, find a corner, and cry or just simply close my eyes and try to meditate on the fact that God is faithful and loving, even when you are losing it. I know that God meets us wherever we are, but it seemed that He especially spoke clearly to me within the walls of that nook.

As I am soaking up the last of my precious time in this place, I find that it is also serving as a closing of a chapter in the book of my life. People and relationships are so fickle. They are one of Gods greatest gifts to us, but loving and investing in people is a big risk. You never know when they will turn on you, move away, or simply decide that investing in your friendship isn't a priority any more. However, a building...a special place that one can go to, doesn't change or disappear as easily. Sure, it can get torn down or remodeled after a time, but for the most part it's constant, sturdy, predictable.

I have come to realize and understand that my relationship with Jesus is my true "happy place". He never changes, He never leaves, He never decides to withhold His faithfulness from His children. No matter what life may bring, He is the only constant. He is like coffee for my soul... inviting, satisfying, spreading warmth throughout my body. He invites us to nestle into His word, and listen to His voice in a place where the distractions of this world are put on hold.

May you find refuge in the constant of Christ, and comfort in the certainty that He is and always will be there...and you needn't drive very far to meet Him.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Chapter of Trust

I have always loved the season of fall. There just seems to be this "hush hush" element added to nature that only fall can bring. Although we haven't experienced much of the cooler tempts quite yet, the leaves have started changing their wardrobe from shades of green to the warm, inviting shades of red, yellow and orange. I find it ironic that as nature is making a literal transition, I am also making a similar one. In the spirit of that understanding, I am reminded that the transition from fall to winter is one of the most beautiful, breathtaking times in nature. By the grace of God may I see this in my own life as well.

God has officially shut a door, and a few windows are being cracked open a little bit here and there. As of this Thursday, I will be moving from my apartment in Minnesota to my true home with my mother and sisters, until God reveals the next steps in my life. I am experiencing many emotions as so many things are yet to be discovered and understood, but I do hold on to the truth that His "thoughts aren't my thoughts, and His ways aren't my ways".

A friend of mine reminded me the power of being thankful. As I ponder this thought, I am impressed to communicate how thankful I am that I have a hope in something greater and better than myself. I am thankful for the fact that by God's grace and mercy, I am able to look past the confusing and hurtful, trusting and having faith in the unseen and yet the truly visible presence of Jesus Christ in my life.It seems that no matter what season of life we are in, trust is key. God allows things to happen in our lives to give us another opportunity to trust Him on a deeper level than we did the last time. To trust is to allow yourself to be refined, bent and broken. However, God never allows this to take place without transforming it into something beautiful.

Don't you want that? Don't you want beauty? Whether you are a man or a woman, we all want beauty in some form. Whether it be beauty to hold, to take in with the eyes or to hear, it is something we all desire. As a woman, I have always desired beauty. The older I get, the more I realize that the most valuable beauty is given to me when my Father refines, bends and breaks me.

Beauty is trust, trust is beauty. Maybe, it's just that simple.