It's a hard thing sometimes- to see where you are in life. There is so much weight and pressure in the atmosphere, things we can't see if we don't know how to look. Think of love for example- it's an intangible thing- and so are these invisible enemies, in this invisible place.
So if it's invisible, how can you know when you're living inside of love verses living inside of something else... some foreign land without a compass?
The first thing I've learned to do, is check in with myself. See how I'm feeling... and then go deeper by asking myself the question, "WHY am I feeling the way I'm feeling" and intentionally facing that truth. This method works whether you're feeling great, indifferent or having one of your worst days ever. But all those feelings (the variations from your best to worst day) will tell you where you are... in love or in hell. Whether you like it or not, your emotions ARE your compass- until you get them in check.
But... sometimes, we really don't want to take the time out to check in with ourselves. It can be hard. Life gets in the way... you get in your own way... we have other responsibilities, even people who depend on us. Some of this is all completely reasonable. But I ask you now- can anyone else fully depend on you, when your glass is half full?? ...think that through.
If you're anything like me, your easy answer is probably yes. Your whole life, you've lived by a certain "code" where you've believed that no matter how you're feeling, when someone needs you, you'll be there. You PUSH because that's the truest way to be a friend- the truest way to show someone you love them.... right?
Hmmm... I can only speak for myself.
One day, after spending years ignoring the weariness I'd been feeling (ignoring the haze that had been slowly consuming me) I heard God whisper something to me. "Serve from a place of love."
I could tell it was an instruction... so it left me confused, wondering... "I thought I was serving from a place of love. I do love these people... your people God. So how could I be doing the things I'm doing for them, from a place other than love?"
And so the adventure began...
Sometime after that, for reasons unknown to me at the time, with the Lord's voice in his ear, my pastor told me it was time for me to rest and take some time to focus on myself.
Something like two years has passed since that day and I've only JUST begun to know how to focus on just me... It took a LONG time for me to go deep enough mentally, physically and spiritually to see the pain my body and most importantly, my mind was suffering. A story for another day... but the summarized version: I truly wasn't serving from love, because I'd NEVER truly learned how to love myself.
I was always doing, giving and being everything I could for others but I'd never noticed the depth of the reasons why... you see- I was a people pleaser- a bad religion (also known as a dedicated bad habit) I still struggle with from time to time... and it all was because I wanted so deeply to be loved by others that I would try to get them to see how much I loved them, by forced action... I did things, joined committees, gave countless hours and services all for the sake of trying to help... while a massive chunk of my heart just wanted someone to see I was worthy...
...and I ran myself ragged in the aftermath: if I made any mistakes or thought the person I was trying to help would be somehow unhappy with me, I would mentally torment myself about it for literally YEARS. If I made a similar mistake, that old one would come back to my mind and I'd be living under the weight and pressure of having to perform better than that last time... and so on... and so on... until I just could NOT carry it anymore...
I was tired. I was afraid... I was hurting... and I was deceived.
The pain... the self-ridicule and resentment was always there... buried just beneath the surface- and I'd had no idea. I'd not had the eyes to see... myself... clearly. But God did... and He loved me enough to say, "Hey daughter... you don't have to be anything for anyone but ME. THIS place, this hell you've burrowed yourself into, is NOT what I want for you. This is NOT who you are and it is NOT where you will find My love... My stillness... My peace. I had long ago decided I wanted you to know the love you so crave. In fact, I created you for that love and to be that love. MY love... MY peace in the earth... and so... let Me show you. Let's take a new path... Follow Me..."
...so I did... and I'm still learning that sometimes God will lead you into dark places. We tend to think of Him as one who only leads you into the light- but how better to show you He IS the light, than to take you where you've never been... and where you can't see without Him?
Oh, the glory! The TRUST and beauty of a God who never lies and never leaves, but only LOVES.
I want to be clear about something... this was not the moment I "met" God. I'd loved Him for many years. I remind you- I'd been in the community, in the church trying to do and be all I could for quite a while by this time- in fact, I was a whole ordained minister...
...a figure of speech that seems to serve perfect purpose here:
"a WHOLE ordained minister"
Give yourself permission (no matter where you are, what you're doing or what your status is in life- to yourself AND even to other people) to be WHOLE. HAPPY. AT PEACE WITH YOUR LIFE. Living fruitfully and with JOY AND PASSION!
THIS IS the living, breathing definition of LIFE more abundantly!
No matter how many people come knocking at your door, they'll never receive your true presence if you don't know where you are in life. So speak up for yourself. If you're tired, rest. If you're suffering, find some time to invite in YOUR peace and joy... whatever that looks like for you.
No- we can't all give away everything we own and set off on a trip with no end in sight... (or can we??? :) but whatever you can do for you... DO IT. Chances are, God will use your journey as exactly what sets free those around you... and just think- you won't have had to do or be anything for anyone but Him... and you.
...HE is for YOU.
...This... where you are right now, with the rain clouds clearing... this... is your place of Love. ........and by living your truth, you're already serving whoever's watching.
Photographed at Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Peace and Love my friends,
love - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.