Restoring Ground

A guest post by Janet Eriksson …

Years ago out of fear, confusion, and lack of wisdom, I made decisions that still have a profound effect on my life. I allowed myself to be a doormat, and the enemy took advantage. I’m still living with the consequences.

I’ve been through a lot of healing, repentance, forgiveness. I started on a journey to walk free of fear, and while I’m still in progress, I’ve come a long way. I have less fear, more wisdom, and I’m discovering that I don’t need to be a doormat. That’s not my true identity. It’s not who God created me to be.

But what about those consequences. Would I ever get free of those? Do I get a year of jubilee?

While my head keeps telling me things are getting better, my heart reflects the lies I still believe. That’s why I love doing prayer ministry  in a community of like-hearted people who can help me recognize and break free of old lies.

Today a friend did prayer ministry with me. I never could have imagined where God would take it.

I lamented that I can’t seem to break free of consequences of key decisions I made years ago when I behaved like a doormat. How I wish I could go back and change things, but I cannot. So how do I move forward?

Inner healing testimony
Photo by Chris Montgomery at Unsplash

In this prayer ministry session, I shared my heart, saying I know in my head that God is a good father and provider, but why do I feel like I’m still being punished for the mistakes I made? When will that end?

The Lord brought to my heart a memory of sixth grade. Our class was hoping for a field trip to Venetian Pools (Miami natives will know what I mean). We had to earn tickets for good behavior in the cafeteria, and we were on our last chance to get that field trip.

The Lord reminded me how the class lost our last ticket for bad behavior, but our teacher fought for us and got the longed-for ticket. We had our wonderful day at Venetian Pools.

The connection was clear: If a human teacher would fight for kids who honestly didn’t deserve the field trip, how much more would God fight for restoration for His daughter, even though I earned my consequences by being a doormat? He has not forgotten me. He has heard my repentance. He is moving mountains for me. Just because I can’t see those mountains doesn’t mean they aren’t moving.

During our prayer time, I also recognized that the enemy took advantage of my being a doormat, and he stole so much from me. Granted, I allowed it to be stolen. I didn’t stand up for myself, and I allowed the ground to be taken out from under me. But the enemy took advantage, and he knew what he was doing. His goal is to kill, steal, and destroy, and he certainly did.

Worst of all, in my fear and passivity, I lay down as a bridge and let the enemy trample not only me, but also move into the circumstances and affect other people. I did nobody any favors by my lack of confrontation and standing in truth.

After repentance, I asked God how to move forward from here. He brought to mind a message He had given me more than 10 years ago, called “Just Stand.” I had saved it on my blog, so I read it again. Amazing how God can give you a message that will speak directly to you 10 years later. The friend who was praying with me kept saying, “Wow” at how closely the message spoke to me today.

I felt like God was showing me to take back the ground that was stolen by standing firmly in faith on that ground … as if it were already there. And watch how God redeems and restores.

Inner healing testimony
Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira at Unsplash

Through this revelation, God changed my perspective on every part of my life today. Where I get frustrated and discouraged, where I feel futile because of what’s been lost, given away, or stolen, God would have me see instead how every action that’s focused on Him is retaking ground.

Even small actions where I get frustrated because they are so limited, God showed me how in the spirit realm every small action is retaking massive ground for His purposes in my life.

This changes how I look at everything. If I choose to stand in faith, my daily life isn’t futile. I’m not lost or penalized by the past. I’m standing on the ground God is restoring right under my feet. As I claim that ground in faith, He is moving mountains that affect not only me but others as well.

Where the enemy has lied to me each day, telling me I missed it and I’m up a creek, God tells me He is building solid ground under me and I get to participate by faith. I can’t wait to walk this out and see how different my heart will feel, and what God will do with those changes, now that I’ve realigned my heart with His truth.

Do not believe the lies the enemy tells you, no matter how real or logical they seem. Let God speak His truth to your heart and tell you how He is moving mountains for you and restoring your true identity. If you need help (we all do) recognizing lies and coming into truth, Transformations offers prayer ministry sessions like the one I had today that can help you discover and step into your true identity in Christ.

*****

Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of nine books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/.

Christian inner healing

 

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Liminal Space: The Act of Observation

I recently had a session with a friend who started out by saying “Everything in my world is spinning.  I can’t get any peace about anything that is happening in my world.”  (It might be important for me to say that this lady has everything in the world to be content.  She has an amazing husband, lives a very successful lifestyle, a beautiful career in a field she is gifted in, and two beautiful children (and this is not an exhaustive list of her blessings).  I was surprised to hear her say how frustrated she was, and I was intrigued as to what we were about to explore.

As it unfolded, she is in a place that I have had the privilege (lol) of being in for going on five years.  This place is called “liminal space.”  Liminal comes from a Latin word, limen, which means “threshold.”  I have heard it referred to as “the space in between the ‘after’ and the ‘before.’  (Go ahead and shake your head and read that again).

I believe there comes a time (or times) in a person’s life where they stop and assess everything they have built.  Whether “successful” or not, there comes a time of reflection, followed by a deep feeling of dissatisfaction, discomfort, and (as she described) irritability.  After we paint the living room, trade in the car, buy another dog, etc. we realize it is not external.  Eventually (if we choose to look inward) we will acknowledge it is inside of us.

What are we doing?  Who are we doing it with?  Am I living my best self?  Am I satisfying God with all of my time, gifts, service, and talents?  Or am I just living day to day, paycheck to paycheck, with no real meaning in my life?  If you look at that truth long enough, you’ll eventually come to a place where you have to (as we say in the country) “fish or cut bait.”  We will decide, I am not going to go through the motions of life anymore.

Christian Inner Healing
Photo by KT at Unsplash

I probably need to clarify that if you don’t know God, or if you know Him but choose not to walk with Him (there is a difference between Jesus being our Savior and Jesus being our Lord), then you might not delve any further into the self-discussion other than to take another drink and shrug it off, or take another puff, buy another house, etc.

But if you really want to live your best life, you’ll pull out all of the stops and wrestle intimately, with the reality that you have spent your entire life pursuing something that is not acquirable:  The “American Dream.”  The wife/hubs, two kids, puppies, and a minivan are not your best self.

After a series of ugly cries, you realize you’ve got work to do.  This is what that looks like.  Begin asking yourself,  Who am I?  What did God create me for?  Am I living my best life?  Is this all there is?  If you survive those questions, you may move on to,  Who do I need to purge? What do I need to purge?  Who can help me with myself?  What makes me smile?  How can I make a difference?  And then, you put it into action.

Wake up each day and ask God what He wants you to do.  Right now, and for the day.  Don’t allow your phone, calendar, or others to dictate your day.  Honor God.  Honor others.  And honor yourself.  Invest in those that are in your peripheral that are worthy of your resources (not the ones that perpetually suck the life out of you but those that you can pour into that will “bear good fruit”).

Change.  Change what hinders you.  Take inventory of yourself.  Find a community that speaks truth and life in you, and invest!  Stay fully present in the work of your heart and soul.  Do the hard stuff.  Speak life.  Rest.  Breathe.  Enjoy the sabbath.

And once you’ve purged (your purse, your car, your closet, your friend list, your activity list, etc.) then practice Presence.  Be still.  Observe.

Study God, study His Word.  Study others.  And when you observe the discontent in others, ask God how you can contribute to their peace.  Do you speak, act, or just pray?  Or maybe all three.  You never know until you ask.

When I ended the session with my beautiful friend, she was at peace.  More importantly, she was excited that “transition” is a beautiful thing.  It means she loves herself, her family.  All of that is enough to do the work to be her best self.  She doesn’t have to measure up or perform any longer.  She can let go and let God have His way with her.

And He will.  The beauty of our “liminal space” was God asking her if He could have it.  All of it.  The beautiful life that she is frustrated with.  He wants it.  He gave it to her to enjoy, and now He wants to teach her how to do so.  So cool.  So God.

 

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Questioning Everything

Inner healing, identity, and dark night of the soul
Photo by _Marion at Pixabay

Have you ever felt like one day you woke up and everything you believed was in question? I’m experiencing this right now but am quite sure I am not yet even fully awake. So, not only am I questioning all of the things that I have always “known” for sure, but I am also groggy from the process of getting here. It took a lot of upheaval to get me here.

About three years ago, after a series of very traumatic events, I found myself questioning everything I had ever believed. I questioned myself, my identity, my “calling,” my choices, my beliefs, my faith, and oftentimes, even God. All those things I had always felt so secure in suddenly weren’t. And, quite honestly, I didn’t know how to respond.

In my quest to stop the spinning (envision the little icon on your computer when it can’t settle), I felt like the only way I could get any peace was to be very still and quiet. Before long, quiet was the only thing I desired. I was completely raw inside and out. My brain felt foggy, my body lethargic, and my heart broken. I didn’t know how to get out of this experience.

Generally, when I have had a circumstance of upheaval in my life, whether emotional or spiritual, I would just read all of the books, articles, etc. on how to deal with it. This time I had no energy to read, and if I did attempt to read, I was unable to process information. I knew I needed help, so I reached out to a few friends that I trusted knew me enough to help me navigate this chasm of chaos.

I called on those friends to sit in the darkness with me. I didn’t want to be around anyone very often because I found that conversation was exhausting. However, I had been through depression before and just needed to make sure I was safe, still somewhat sane, and didn’t need professional help. “Taking my emotional pulse” kind of friends. I knew these folks wouldn’t discount me when I needed to rant, cuss, spit, and growl. They had no idea what they were in for. God bless them for persevering. I ranted, spat, cussed, and cried for a couple of years. They were enduring to say the least. Most importantly, they didn’t try to fix me. They just sat with me in my pain.

Sometimes we would sit at the barn with the horses, a stray cat, chickens, and a rooster that I’m sure needed deliverance. Or we would sit by the creek with a bottle of wine. Sometimes Susan would treat us to her homemade cookies and infamous chicken salad. They seemed to be completely content just sitting and listening. Wherever we were, no matter what we were doing or not doing, they seemed content to sit in my mess with me.

I called on another couple of friends to counsel me into or out of this experience that I began to think was a mid-life crisis. I didn’t really want to admit it, but that thought ran through my mind. I didn’t google what I was going through. I just knew it was pain. Deep emotional pain. And, quite honestly, I couldn’t remedy it with the things that had worked before: eating, drinking, art, good music, nature, etc. It just kept hanging on like a bad cold. It affected me like a bad cold too. No energy, stuffy headed, just wanted to rest and be quiet.

After a couple of prayer ministry sessions with friends of mine, I began to understand that what I was going through was called the Dark Night of the Soul. The dark night of the soul is just that – a place where your soul questions everything and the Teacher is quiet. The thing that stood out like a siren was the silence of the Lord. I had never gone for such a long time without hearing, being led by, or enjoying the Lord. Not only did I not hear Him or sense Him, but also I certainly didn’t feel His peace or presence. I thought He had abandoned me at my worst.

So, for three years, almost four now, I have been sitting, waiting, resting, arguing, growling, contemplating, wondering where the Lord is and what His intention is in allowing me to be in this place. I still don’t know. But what I do know is that I am not affected by dumb things as much as I used to be. I have way more sensitivities to the things that do matter. I am more at rest. More at peace. I have more tolerance for “stupid” (the one conclusion from the doctor out of my psych test when I went into ministry was that I had no tolerance for “stupid”). I was perplexed (and still am) as I had no idea I was supposed to tolerate “stupid.” Hey, I was just glad for documented evidence that I wasn’t crazy.

Inner healing, identity, and dark night of the soul
Photo by Comfreak at Pixabay

The dark night of the soul is the process of the Lord stripping you of the things that are really irrelevant regarding the issues of your heart. He wants to bring you out of any of the crutches you have depended on in your relationship with Him. He wants you to give up your faith and give up what works and what doesn’t work. He wants to tear down the falsehoods you believe about yourself, others, and mostly the falsehoods you believe about Him. Take you back to the beginning, so to speak, in your relationship with Him. No pretense, no knowledge, just the decision to walk alongside Him blindly without trying to figure things out. Pulling down all strongholds of belief about your religion, your denomination, your worship. He even took away my interest in reading and studying about Him. I just wanted to be still and quiet. And still do.

I understand that anybody who has asked that the Lord use them to any capacity will go through this, and I did ask that. I have always prayed that I wanted to serve Him more than anything. Now, in hindsight, I question what that means. And what did I commit to?

I used to love preaching more than ice cream. I haven’t been able to do that but a few times in the past couple of years. I have always loved leading a group of folks into their best spiritual selves, and He is restoring that opportunity. But I still long for the old days where I sensed Him, heard Him, and almost knew His will. Or did I?

Now I don’t know much of anything except that He desires that I live in this quiet, restful place even among others, amidst chaos, and even when I don’t feel like it. That’s His best. I am much more observant these days, and I watch folks buzzing around with miserable scowls on their faces. Then I think to myself – Is that what I look like? Is that how I affect my environment? If so, I don’t want to any longer. I want to bring peace and rest wherever I go. Most importantly, I want to love well.

I am in the process of recalibrating, trying to follow the Lord as best I can. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing, but I have the best company (a couple of friends, good prayer ministers, a wonderful family, and a couple of dogs – we finally had to lay to rest the demonic rooster). And if I don’t hear Him, sense Him, or feel Him, I can trust that He works all things to good for those who are called according to His purpose. I’m called, and I have a purpose. For right now, I need to be okay with being still and in peace.

 

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Take Off the Masks and Find Your True Self

My name is Kerri Johnson. For the past 20+ years, I have searched for answers to my own struggles. My lifelong passion has been in pursuit of my true identity and the healing of body, soul, and spirit. Out of those studies, Transformations was birthed. Transformations is an interactive healing process and a catalyst for helping people come out of the lies they believe and into the fullness of truth and identity.

Unfortunately, many of us spend our entire lives trying to mask who we are. That’s what we are taught. We are taught that we should hide our scars and shortcomings to survive and thrive in this perfect world. Neither of those statements is true. We shouldn’t hide our hurt, and the world is far from perfect. To be authentic, we have to identify our pain, bring it forward, and offer it on the altar of life to be able to be free. Otherwise, pain is our autopilot in everything we are, do, and say.

Pain is a great teacher and has helped us to be molded into who we are today. Unfortunately, no one teaches us how to embrace our pain and allow it to be a directive of the truth of who we are. We often need help to acknowledge our identity and the lessons pain has taught us, and to embrace our testimonies of how we have overcome life. We have to take every circumstance that has come to us, acknowledge the best of it, and let go of the worst.

We can’t cloak ourselves in pain, bitterness, and lies and expect to live a healthy life. We have to take off those issues and come into vulnerability and acceptance of all of the issues of our life and how those circumstances have affected us. Freedom comes in stepping out of the lies and cover-ups. That is where we will find who we are truly meant to be.

inner healing, pain, and identity
Photo by Lars_Nissen_Photoart on Pixabay

With masks off, we are free to be exactly who God created us to be and we are fully accepted. No more secrets, nothing to hide – the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you have no secrets, there is no fear of being uncovered. Everything is out in the open, and it’s all good. You become an instrument of truth, and folks can’t deny truth. As you’ve always heard, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

God created all of us with a plan and a purpose. With your help, He intends to see that plan and purpose come into fruition. He created us to satisfy His heart – just the way we are. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Far from it. But He does expect us to be willing: to be real, open, honest, and transparent, just like little kids.

Many of us spend a great deal of time doing life. We are living up to the measures of others in an atmosphere where the bar is constantly being raised. That is neither God’s best nor God’s plan for us. Instead, that plan is a diabolic initiative to destroy us and keep us consistently, miserably trying to become someone or striving for something that is not attainable. We have to say: Enough is enough.

We have to realize that we are enough simply because of who we are – bruises, warts, and freckles. We have to learn to accept ourselves and everything that has ever happened to us. We have survived and overcome. God wants to use our stories to help others live in truth. As our authentic selves, we are a unique tapestry of the events and stories we have lived, and in that, we are enough.

Inner healing, pain, and identity
Photo by Klimkin on Pixabay

Often, in the unveiling of our unique, authentic selves, we need someone to come alongside us and help us get back to who we were created to be, like children. Children have no problem walking into a room or relationship with their hearts wide open. As we grow, we start believing the lies about who we are.  Before long, we forget who we are. We forget how to live in freedom and fullness of a healed heart. Life drapes us in counterfeits and lies, so we often don’t know how to get back to that original self.

That’s where Transformations comes in. We can help you take off those masks and frauds and unveil your best self. Your true identity is the only place you will find peace, rest, and true joy. Otherwise, you are just like everyone else, walking around in your pretend world, masked and miserable.

So, if you are searching for your true identity and a tribe of wounded warriors, we are here, waiting to come alongside you in this pursuit of non-perfected, real, authentic testimonies and messages of hearts healed. Join us on this great adventure. You won’t regret it.

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A Wilderness Season

Have you ever been “amiss” with God? I know we all get frustrated with Him but I mean, like, nothing, no feedback, lights are on but no one’s home? Not just for a day or two but for a long period of time?

Have you ever longed and cried out for Him so much that you felt like you couldn’t cry or beg anymore? Have you ever felt like your prayers were hitting the ceiling and bouncing back? Or better yet, you felt like God left in the night with no forwarding address?  Have you ever measured your relationship with Him by how well you perform?

If you answered yes to any/all of the above, you may have come into a season called the Dark Night of the Soul. The Dark Night of the Soul is a period of time often described as “A Wilderness Season.”

It’s an amazing experience that I often talk about by saying, “I’m glad I went there, but I never want to go again.” I think anybody who cries out to the Lord for an authentic relationship with Him will experience it – but very few talk about it.

The Dark Night of the Soul is a time when God strips away every false ideal, expression, impression, and opinion (and everything else) you have about yourself and God. In its completion, you will realize the privilege of coming to the “end of yourself.” Most importantly, you’ll find out who you really think God is, aside from your doctrine, faith, and/or experience of Him.

It’s both terrifying and frustrating. If you survive it, in the end, you’ll not only unlearn a lot, but you’ll also slow down. You will sense a “shift” like Paul refers to in Ephesians 4:12 – a “katartismos,” so to speak. You will find that you don’t push up against God with your demands of yourself, others, and even Him. You’ll learn to rest, breathe, and respond instead of reacting.

It’s kind of like a shifting of gears in the Spirit. Cruise control, if you will. You’ll realize that you’re no longer in a hurry or running late. As a matter of fact, you’ll soon recognize that you’re not running at all. Instead, you’re basically just showing up.

You will finally choose to be. And watch God do. Whatever He wants. Without your help. You will finally realize that He doesn’t need you. He really just wants to be with you. And that is really cool.

No expectation, no performance. No rush. No worries. Just you and the Creator, the Most High – hanging out. Together. Quiet. Kind of like finally coming home – to yourself.

The best part is that your heart will overwhelm your mind with a greater experience of who God is and most importantly, who He created you to be. It’s actually a very cool experience. After it’s over.

Here’s a testimony of one of our tribe members, describing her experience in the Wilderness season, otherwise referred to as the Dark Night of the Soul:

“God Wants to Be My Mom?” by Vicki Eitel

For more testimonies and experiences like this, please look around our website.

Or contact me for more info as to how you can join The Journey, our tribe.

God bless,

Kerri

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What Is Your Struggle?

Do you know who you are? Do you know who God created you to be?

Most people don’t know, but they are searching. I call this an identity quest.

How about you? Are you in search of your identity?

You Are Not Alone

If you’re on an identity quest, know that you are not alone. You are in very good company. Many of us are on the same journey. There is a whole tribe of us, and it grows bigger every day.

Getting to know your own heart is a key to discovering your true identity. I hope you will find some keys here to help you along your journey.

When we are not in touch with our true identity, we can experience all kinds of difficulties. These come from the lies we believe, or from things we hold onto that we need to let go of. Our goal with the identity quest is to help find freedom and live in true Peace in all areas of our lives.

In Search of Identity

These are common struggles of people who are searching for their identity and their tribe:

“I feel the emotions of everyone around me and it’s unbearable. I’m afraid to go into a crowded store because I’ll get overwhelmed. I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

“When I hear certain people’s names, I growl. I’ve blocked them on Facebook. I’m still angry at things they did to me. When I see them, I avoid them. When I hear about something good that’s happened to them, I roll my eyes. I have a bitter taste in my mouth just thinking about them.”

“I feel overwhelmed all the time. When the slightest thing goes wrong, I want to curl up in a ball and cry. I feel like everything is too hard, like I just can’t do it. Some things that have happened to me, I can’t get them out of my mind. I feel like I keep re-living them.”

“I have too many things to do and I can’t get it all done. People are always asking me to do things and I can’t say no. I’m worn out. I can’t get a break. Why won’t they leave me alone?”

“When I lie down at night, my brain doesn’t turn off. I can’t sleep.”

“It’s hard for me to feel what other people are going through. I can’t understand what they’re feeling. I can’t relate to them. I end up criticizing them, and I don’t know why. People ask me why I’m so analytical, why I can’t empathize.”

“I feel disconnected from everything. Like I’m always on the outside looking in. I get angry for no reason. I feel stuck.”

“When people say good things about me, I can’t believe them. I can see good things about other people, but not about myself. I keep criticizing myself. I say the same self-defeating things over and over. I can’t seem to break through this.”

What Is Your Struggle?

What is your struggle? Knowing what holds you back is the key to moving forward. You can’t get free if you don’t know what is blocking you.

If you see yourself in any of these situations, or if you simply want to know who you are and to live as the person God created you to be, join us on our Identity Quest.

 

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Dark Night of the Soul

I’ve been wanting to share something that I’ve experienced personally in the past few years. I have noticed a few others going through something similar, so I believe now would be a great time to share.

A few years ago, I went through the greatest season of loss I have experienced (since a divorce 20 years ago). This season has been very similar to a divorce but of greater capacity. This season of loss was not only of my job, but also of a great family of friends and many of those I loved in my own community.

Most detrimental (at the time, but now one that I am learning to be grateful for) was the loss of my identity. I pretty much lost everything that I ever knew to rely and depend on. What was one of the darkest seasons of my life led me to what I later learned was referred to as the dark night of the soul.

The dark night of the soul is when you come to a place spiritually (usually as a result of some sort of dramatic/traumatic shift) when nothing you have depended on before sustains you any longer. 2015 – 2018 was/has certainly been a season of the dark night of the soul for me. It has (in reflection) been one of the worst and greatest experiences of my adult life.

After having been in ministry for over 20 years, I was beginning to dread all sorts of participation in the “process.” I felt my prayer time was not productive. I dreaded leading the service that I was pastor of. I even began to dread worship (which has always been one of my greatest loves) or, at best, longed for something more in worship – more connecting, more transformational, more impacting. I began to feel like I was dead to all things “spiritual.” I no longer enjoyed things that had previously inspired me and revived me.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the folks that I pastored but was starting to question the process of “church” altogether and felt like most of us were going through motions without true transformation. I decided, with much prayer and fasting (and a lot of other circumstances that I won’t go into) to resign from my pastoral position.

Immediately after resigning, I was invited to come on board with a large charismatic church in a nearby county. I was offered an opportunity to grow with an amazing staff who shared a like vision for transformation and living a consecrated lifestyle.

As if that wasn’t enough, I was contacted by a couple who lived in my community and was given a building in the downtown area of my hometown very near the college campus. I have had a dream of ministering to college kids who were searching for healing of their body, soul, and spirit and felt like this was the beginning of that becoming a reality.

Shortly thereafter, I was invited to join an international ministry that I had worked with for over two decades. I felt this was an opportunity to shift some things spiritually and move into a new season of challenge and change, not only for myself but for many others that I had been networking with for over 20 years. I took that position only to resign after a few short months.

Before long, I felt like I had no energy to do anything. I began to feel that I couldn’t carry out what I had so longed for. I slowly began to resign from every encounter that presented itself. I began to resign from ministry altogether, and then, life, altogether.

And with that came the onslaught of many long difficult years of “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” I began what I felt like a wrestling with God that I’m still not sure is over. I couldn’t imagine that 20 years of ministry would leave me having so many questions and feeling so unfulfilled. I was angry and upset that I had sacrificed my life for something that was less fulfilling than a career where I could’ve at least made lots of money. I began an intense battle with God and my identity.

I felt I had “showed up” spiritually for the past few years and was really searching for something more than just “showing up.” Quite honestly, I felt I owed something more to myself than just showing up and I was sure God wanted something more of me than to just show up. So, I didn’t. I basically didn’t show up for anything except my family for at least three years.

I didn’t really do anything. Let me rephrase that. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t read (something I have always – at least in my adult life – thoroughly enjoyed). I couldn’t even listen to music. The only thing I felt I was capable of doing was just being. And, most often, just being quiet. And for those of you that think you know me that wasn’t something that came easily. But that’s what I began doing. Just being quiet.

I found it very comforting to sit in my yard, on my porch, by the creek, pool, inside, outside, in my car, anywhere … just as long as it was quiet. I didn’t want to talk to anybody or do anything. I just wanted (needed desperately) to be quiet. I had a lack of interest in anything. Not even art! And art had been a place of solace for me my entire life. I only wanted to be with my family and hopefully, they would be quiet.

I also had a couple of friends who insisted in relationship (if it were my choice I probably would’ve removed myself from them as well but they were very tenacious). Instead of dragging me out of my quiet, they joined me in it. We started meeting for “church” in the barn of my neighbor’s property where one friend kept her horses. Every Sunday a.m. we would have a quiet service amongst the chickens, horses, a black cat, and a rooster who needed deliverance.

In hindsight, if it weren’t for my tenacious friends and my saint of a husband, I would’ve dived straight into the throes of depression. I had never been quiet and still before and it was very discomforting. Actually, it felt very much like depression, but not. (I went through severe depression after my divorce in the 90s and this was very similar but very different).

I just wanted everything and everybody to be still and be quiet. I felt like my very being demanded that everything in my environment be very quiet and very still. It was as close to satisfaction as I could get. And it wasn’t very satisfying but somehow seemingly necessary. I learned from my very dear friends who counseled me that this was the dark night of the soul.

I persisted (or should I say, God wrangled me) in my quiet for almost three years. In that place, a shift began to take place: My passions. My objectives. My heart. And, absolutely, the core of my identity. I was experiencing a death to self that I had not invited. And, without the help of friends, probably would not have endured. It was the most painful experience of my life. For the first time in my life, I felt like God had left me.

Now before you go getting all religious on me, let me clarify, I felt like God left me. He did not. But, I felt like it. Much like Jesus when He cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” I very much felt like God had forsaken me. I heard nothing from Him, nor sensed Him for over three years. I say over three years because I am still learning this new place in Him. It’s not like before. It’s very different, very quiet.

I don’t know how to explain it. Before, I would do something because I felt like it was what I was supposed to do: the right thing, so to speak. Now, I don’t really do anything, unless He moves me to do it.

It is a very strange place in that I can sense Him, hear Him, move on behalf for others. But for myself, it’s different. As a matter of fact, in ministry I can certainly see Him as being more powerful than ever, more specific than ever, for others. But for me, it’s a different story. I am still being quiet and still.

I often wonder how long will this last for me? I don’t know. Maybe forever? I know of one pastor who went through the dark night of the soul for nine years and another for almost a decade. I’m not excited about that, but I am hopeful. And that is a change. I, at one point, lost all hope. In everything: people, “church,” even God and His plan for me. I’m getting back to that. It’s been hard. Unless I get real still. When I’m still, I feel like I’m making progress.

I’m still unsure about my identity. I’ve lost a lot of friends, my church. I still have a lot of questions about “the church” and a lot of other things that I thought I was sure of. I’m not sure of much now, other than the fact that God is good and He will work all things to good. But for now, I’m just being still. Being quiet and waiting.

I used to think I knew what His plan was. I don’t. Probably never did, but that’s okay. I do know that I don’t want to just “show up.” I want to be exactly who He desires me to be, doing exactly what He wants me to do. I know who my real friends are, and God is broadening that circle. There are a lot of us out there who are searching for our true identity. (I’m amazed how many aren’t and who are satisfied just going through the motions.) I know my husband is a saint. And I know I’m going to be okay. Who knows – maybe I was supposed to be still and quiet all along?

Now that I’m at least reading again, I’ve learned that there is a name for this place. It’s called “liminal space.” It’s the “place between the before and the after.” Jesus went here, at the cross, before the resurrection. Elijah went here in the cave, before his ascension. Jonah, in the whale before Ninevah, etc. – You get the gist.

I think we all will get to go here, if we are truly seeking God’s best for our lives. It’s a great and terrible place, but I wanted to write this so if you go here, you will know that you are not alone and it’s not a bad place (if you make it out, lol). I, we, you will learn that it’s not about us. It’s a place we all get to go for God to redirect our attention, our interests, most importantly our motives. And, if we all learn to sit quietly, we will learn, it’s all Him. It is all about Him. Once we learn that, He will take care of the rest. And, meanwhile, I’ll be resting. In Him.

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Keys to Being Real

God’s plan for freedom is beautifully simple. He gives us these keys to find healing in our hearts:

Repentance

When we repent for specific ways we have judged people, and for the lies we have taken into our hearts, we find freedom. Repentance allows us to break out of the enemy’s hold on our hearts. We replace lies with truth.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools God has given us. When we forgive, we release others to be who God has created them to be. And we free ourselves to step into healing of our hearts. The article Wash, Rinse, Repeat will help you learn more about the process of forgiveness.

Presence

We have the privilege every day to just sit still and be in God’s presence. Quieten yourself. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do for your life. Don’t expect it to get easier. It never changes. It’s always hard. But the results are life-saving. Presence. Don’t leave home without it.

Accountability

Find people, a tribe, a community that will help you when you’re good, bad, or indifferent. You can’t navigate your authenticity without it, because you lie to yourself, and the enemy reinforces those lies. You lie to yourself about yourself, so the reality is you only have the Word of God and your people to help you navigate what’s true about you.

Truth

Truth is your greatest weapon against the lies that have taken root in your heart. A lot of people avoid truth because it seems harsh. Here’s the reality: If truth can save your life, and heal you, don’t hide from it. If I went to my doctor’s office, and he discovered I had cancer, wouldn’t I want to know, so I can be healed? What if the doctor didn’t tell me because he was afraid the truth would “hurt” me? Let God’s truth do its work in your heart.

Peace

Peace is a Person (Ephesians 2:14-18; Isaiah 9:6.). As you develop the practice of peace, He, the Prince of Peace (Jesus) will walk with you and teach you how to live in the now (present), in the moment. Shalom is mind, body, spirit in complete unity and rest.

Wisdom

Wisdom is also a Person (Proverbs 1:20-33). She will take up residence and walk with you, after you search her out in God.

Sabbath

God rested on the seventh day. So should we. Not necessarily the literal seventh but at least one of every seven. One hour of every seventh hour during the day.

What does it mean to rest? Quieten yourself, do things you enjoy: art, nature, music, presence. Quiet. Fun. Adventure. Friends. Puppies. Whatever brings you joy … recalibrates you … resets you mind, body, spirit … resynchronizes you with the Creator in rest.

You have the keys to your identity. God has given you everything you need. You are ready to walk out your identity quest with Him.

This is the last article in the Identity Quest series, and I hope you have enjoyed this series. To see all of the Identity Quest articles, you can follow this link.

To read more articles on the topic of Identity (including the Identity Quest articles), you will find all of my Identity-related articles here. God bless you on your identity quest!

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Spiritual Identity Theft

God created you with an amazing identity. He has awesome plans for your life. Jesus wants to give you an abundant life (John 10:10) but the enemy has tried to steal your birthright. How? By trying to weigh down your heart with wounds and dysfunction. The enemy is the ultimate identity thief, and his goal is to replace God’s truth with hurts and lies in your heart.

Do you recognize any of these fruits in your life? This is the enemy’s plan for identity theft. (The links below will take you to more articles on those topics.)

Bitterness
Unforgiveness
Trauma
Fear
Sleep struggles
Emotional upset
Masks
Shame
Performance
Weight of the world
Sick and tired
Lies
Neglect
Judgments
Dishonor
Walls around your heart
Generational sin

No matter what is weighing you down, Jesus is here to bring healing to your heart. He can help you find freedom in each of these areas. You can read that in Isaiah 61.

God provides amazing keys for your freedom. To help you discover some of those keys, here is an article on Keys to Being Real that will show you how to start living in greater freedom.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Keys to Being Real.

If you would like to read all of the articles in the Identity Quest series, you will find them by following this link.

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Personality, Talents, Passions

Personality, talents, and passions direct you into who God created you to be. God has innately deposited a plumb line into your being – a plumb line of your perfect created self. You can seek that out by pursuing things you enjoy that line up with His will, His Word, and His Spirit.

For example, obviously, drugs and alcohol may make you feel good, but they don’t line up with God’s will, His Word, and His Spirit. But hobbies, talents, giftings, or the pursuit/enjoyment of, help you to see and affirm who He has created you to be.

For example, when you listen to music, or you participate in art, in mindless creative artistic projects, you check out of your mind and into your spirit. And so your spirit is in His Spirit, and His Spirit is in your spirit. You are united with Him in the creative process. When you finish, you will realize you’ve spent time with Him, spirit to Spirit. It affirms God as the creator in you, and affirms His identity in you.

As you begin to step into your true identity, you may notice some lies and dysfunctional behaviors holding you back. That is the work of the enemy – the ultimate identity thief. To learn more about spiritual and emotional identity theft, and how to step into healing, this article on Spiritual Identity Theft can help you see what is weighing you down.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Spiritual Identity Theft.

The following link will take you to all articles in the Identity Quest series.

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