Surrender: one dash vulnerability, take away the pride

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Sometimes I hate social media.

Funny, as my work, my audience, my connections around the world, very much rely on this form of media to connect, maintain and grow all sorts of relationships.

This isn’t a post on the dangers of social media, or SoMe, but only as a catalyst to illustrate my recent lessons.

But we’ll get back to that.

Some of you may remember a book written a few years ago called “If you want to walk on Water, you got to get out of the boat“. Well, boy have I stepped out of the boat recently.

Last week I gave up my apartment here in Stockholm. (This will come as a surprise to some of my local readers)…sorry I haven’t had the chance to tell you.

I gave up my apartment, I’m putting most of my belongings in the storage and moving in with my bestie (in a tiny, studio apartment).

Why?

Because when you want to walk on water, you need to get out of the boat.

AND DANG, that boat is really, really, really hard to get out of. Like, people, I am pretty sure I had put up military-style fencing around the edge. I liked my safe life, my beautiful life, with my pretty apartment and my gym membership and my monthly mail order make up. Except that it wasn’t moving forward. I wasn’t really living my purpose. Too often over the last couple of years things were going off kilter and a line had to be drawn.

So, I tore that fence down and jumped in.

The truth is, aside from a freelance writing contract and a few bits and pieces, the future is a beautiful blank canvas. God has given me tools to impact people around me, make a difference while I am here and a shift needed to happen.

I have to admit, and this is hard, that it’s so easy to look back and go “oh, okay, so I was on purpose here and then…oops I stepped off”. Except, that’s not actually the case. We spend, oh, maybe I just spend too often looking at what we see as missteps, what in actual fact, God has used, planned or not, to refine me.

In order for me to really get out of the boat I had to get to this point. Stubbornly, it may have taken me longer than He wanted, or perhaps, it’s exactly the right time. I don’t believe it’s my concern. I believe only that God has me here, now, in a place I can be completely moulded by Him.

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

If you look up how to make a clay pot you will see that the potter has to have a strong hold on the clay, gently, but slowly applying pressure so that He or She can shape and refine the clay into the desired shape.

The clay, like us, in order to be moulded must surrender it’s natural shape in order to become the master’s design.

We too, have to completely surrender, allowing God to apply pressure and constraints in our lives, in order to become who He desires us to be, in order to best live our lives for His purpose, our purpose.

So what’s the formula? Well, I reckon this is where it comes down to two main areas.

Remove the pride and add a dash of vulnerability (a very big dash).

This is my experience, and feel free to argue. Let’s go back to the SoMe example. We are inundated with images on Instagram and Facebook, and texts about everyone else’s lives. We see the new boyfriend, the new fiancee, the big house, the better job etc…ALL THE INTERNET and our pride swells up. Why doesn’t my life look like that?

Well, first of all because that’s not your life. And secondly, it probably does, to someone else. But that’s a whole other blog…

Pride takes us on a path that is often not ours to take. I have this great sweatshirt that says “Thou Shalt Run Your own race”. When pride takes over, we end up running towards someone else’s goal, we run in their lane and run against where we are supposed to go.

But when we keep our eyes focused on the main thing and ask for, listen to the Holy Spirit things change. Our course changes.

Seriously though, this is hard. Especially when maybe our track was always meant to go this way and then that, but we are still running the way we were meant to last year. Pride sees only what WE as humans see…what we can accomplish. It takes us off track or keeps us on the path when we should have taken a left.

So, now that we are working on pride…let’s make it a bit more difficult and really get in there.

Vulnerability.

Dang that word hurts. Vulnerability, we think, means putting our trust in someone else. In fact, I am realising that it’s so not about other people. It’s about being vulnerable enough to really hear the Holy Spirit whisper and then act on it. If God opens doors that no one can close and closes doors no one can open, then it doesn’t really matter if we are vulnerable with the humans in our lives. Of course they’re the vehicle, but listening to the Holy Spirit allows us to understand where, when and with whom we should be vulnerable with.

So, truthfully this is a blog that has no real ending. These are daily and even hourly lessons I am currently learning. The good old “lay it down” and surrender it all is a constant journey and one that isn’t a chore, but a path to glorious freedom.

To be continued…

 

What I learned about being lost

This guy is a bit lost as well…

She asked me “did you lose yourself a long the way?”

And with tears, slowly rolling down my face, I had to answer yes. Anything else would have been a lie.

Lost myself. 

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines lose this way: to fail to keep or hold (something wanted or valued).

To fail to keep a hold of something valuable.

I lost myself.

I lost something valuable.

I just returned from London where I was at my 10th Colour conference. I know that I know that every year God has something to tell me. I mean, I ask him very specific questions and expect answers, so of course He leans in as I lean in. However, there is always something that surprises me. This was it.

Brooke, Juliet, Cass and Sara were talking about worship and miracles when we sang this song. I want to tell you we all came out of that session looking like fashion models, but the truth is that God, in only the ways He can, used that song to speak to 11,000 women individually. I personally ended up removing all make up and starting again…yeah. That pretty.

I digress…

During this beautiful moment I heard the words: “Forget those who rejected you for what you are not and hold close those who love you for who you are.”

Even writing these words causes me to pause as the impact of that drives deep into my being. How many of us have experienced rejection, causing us to question who we are, to undermine the person we are meant to be, to wonder if we are enough, to maybe even lose ourselves for a time?

No one? Just me? Okay, cool I am good if I am the only one.

Except I reckon at least one other person may have experienced this, even for 15 seconds, one day while doing laundry.

So…for that one other person who may have once felt this way, this is your turn around moment or at least I hope it can be.

Hold close those who love you for who you are.

I am a huge fan of not caring what others think. I genuinely try to practice this. Except I realised while I don’t necessarily care what others think of who I am, I do care when they don’t accept me on the basis of what I am not.

Kind of crazy right? Except it’s kind of easy to slip into. While we are off not caring if others accept us for who we are, we are chasing those who find fault in what we are not. So then we end up spending a lot of time trying to be what we are not and undermining the beautiful person you are. Forgetting all the talents and skills you have to offer the world, the person you are and trying to fit into a box that “they” have created.

Michelle, you can speak 5 languages but not this one. Michelle, you are really lovely and everything, but you’re just a friend. Michelle, you have all this experience, except. I can go on and on, but examples don’t really matter.

Because actually…I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And God created me the way I am. He made me for such a time as this, to live out my purpose in only a way I am created to. My skill set and talents are something that I have to answer for. When I step into heaven I want to be able to say that I have used all my talents to the best of my ability.

Now, I am leaving behind those who reject me for who I am not and embracing those who love me for who I am, I have found who I am again.

And so what if maybe I spent a period of time lost. The thing is we are never lost when we stand by God, I believe He just allows us to wander a bit…quietly walking beside us, whispering into our very souls, until we understand once again and find our way back to ourselves, just that much stronger.

And even if you get lost a couple times, you are always welcomed back. Because you belong.

Sometimes I just need to shut up

God will direct

“shut up, shut up, shut up!!” (Black Eye Peas song in your head yet?)

Do you ever scream that at yourself? You can hear yourself talking, babbling on and you just.can’t.stop.

I do. I talk when I get nervous. Recently sitting across from someone, after dinner, chatting, I knew I should just stop talking and enjoy the moment, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t keep silent because I did not know what would happen if I just stopped. I was scared. If I stopped talking I’d lose control of the conversation and anything could happen. (really I’m not neurotic…)

Sometimes I create noise just so that I don’t have have to stop and see what happens next. If I keep going…then at least I know where I am headed.

The thing is, I reckon we do that a lot with God. We keep ourselves busy, we fill the silence with talking, with internet, with music, with thoughts, with whatever distracts us from hearings God’s voice. If we keep talking or keep planning…keep ourselves, busy, then we can direct our lives. When we create a lot of noise then we allow ourselves to remain in control.

We say that we want what God has for us. We say that we trust God. We say that we want His plan but then our actions speak differently.

Recently I awoke early and did not need to get out of bed so I put on some worship music. Playing softly the words of “Oceans (where feet may fail)” filled my room and as I quieted my heart and mind I was again reminded of God’s providence.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

I think of Peter when God called him onto the water. When he kept focused on God’s voice he walked fine. HE WALKED ON WATER! Seriously, this guy just got out of a boat, in a storm and walked on water. Have you tried walking on water lately? I live in Sweden and the closest thing I get is walking on ice. Walking on water is simply not possible without God. In fact, many things aren’t possible without God.

When Peter began to listen to the noise around him, he began to sink. It was more than the fact that he stopped focusing on God. He just could not shut up. While he may not have been literally been talking, the voices in his head allowed doubt to enter his mind and heart and change his direction. In this case, it was actually DOWN…he was sinking. However, when we shut out all the voices, the opinions, the advice and listen to what God is saying, our direction, our paths, remain straight.

God gave us his word to light our path.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6

He said he goes before us and prepares the way.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

We can trust him to lead us and give us the best.

It’s really time to cut out the noise. I am a proponent for good, strong wisdom from friends and mentors. We need community to live our lives and we need input from others. However, sometimes we take that too far and instead of praying about it, searching His word or simply being still, and we just listen to everyone else. Well, everyone has an agenda. Other people do not see your entire future. We exist within space and time and a specific context. While advice and input is important we must keep our hearts focused on the one whose love is unconditional, who knows your days, and the number of hairs on your head. have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?

So, I am learning to just shut up…in all areas of my life…and trust that the next steps are His best for me.

Psalm 46:10 says that we need to be still and know that God is, well God.