Invaluable…?

3 brain surgeries and a “pacemaker” (VNS) should’ve killed my desire to live.   

Honestly, I’ve  heard countless times someone else’s opinion that, “there’s no way [they] could survive all that.” But I did… Every trauma became a story to tell and a reason to value joy. 

I grew up getting used to being “friends” with people who loved being around me as long as my parents or siblings were there to catch me when the seizures hit. Not once did I question my value in life. I constantly questioned my purpose… But I kept going. I knew someone thought I was valuable enough to withstand the heartache. 

This past week, I think I’ve gotten my brain around why God allowed so much to happen to me when I was young. Life hadn’t hit me yet, singing Jesus Loves Me still made me smile and gave me hope. His verbal reminder of His grace, power and sovereignty convinced me the first time. 

I rarely shouted at the Heavens for proof. I rarely had fears that I was believing in the wrong thing. 

Now, as an adult, the smallest test of my faith sends my heart into over drive and my tearducts into over time. “What if” becomes thrown at the Heavens with a bitter taste of resentment and absolute fear that I’m just a pawn in a Deity’s game. 

I have no reason to doubt God, but my life has given me lies of other things to view as powerful. Those other things have limitations, but my fear of their impending impact often leaves me unable to see the weakness in their power. 

I’m not proud of my doubts. I can very quickly identify with Thomas and Peter of the Bible as one more test looms close. All I hear God whisper is, “Baby Girl, trust Me.” … Instead of running into His arms to find comfort, I respond with:

“But Jesus! You’ve forgotten what I’ve done. You’ve forgotten who I am. Are you sure you’re bigger than this new fear? Can I trust you?!

And then, I remember the one thing that quiets my heart immediately. I remember where the battle for relationship first began and my value was first declared. 

The Sacrifice of the Son on the Cross spoke my value and future before I ever had a reason to prove Jehovah wrong. Over 2,000 years ago, He saw this timid, terrified girl-within-a-woman and allowed His son to die for me anyway. 

I may have “grown up” enough to make Child-like faith an option rather than a necessity, but this little girl will always need the Father who gave her value in the first place. 

Hurt Forgiveness

Dearest Enemy,

I have no idea where you are; honestly, I have no idea if you’re still alive. I have no idea if I ever come to mind anymore. I pray I don’t. 

You told me once that your greatest accomplishment was taking the place of God in my life. It shook me up then, and saddens me now. You’ve never known what it’s like to serve, only what it’s like to manipulate and control. No wonder you think you’re a god. You’ve never been forced to come to terms with the reality that you are anything but the God you hate.

Three years ago, I thought I’d finally gotten to the point of forgiving you. It was easier to pass you in town, hear you speak my name and bring up memories that used to make me laugh. Three years ago, I was fairly certain I had grasped what it meant to move on and love you from a distance. Today, 5 years after you became a memory instead of a reality, I’ve finally realized how very wrong I was. So for that, if you ever read this, I ask your forgiveness for lying.

Forgiving you means wanting God to rescue you from yourself. Up until today, forgiving you meant I no longer let you control me. Until today, forgiving you meant not being afraid of what you thought with the way God has restored what you believed you’d captured. Until today, forgiving you meant not asking God to use me in exacting justice. Forgiving you meant letting you believe everything was okay and accepting the fact that restoration and reconciliation would never be provided to truly make it okay.

I realized today that I had truly forgiven you when I fought back tears over the reminder that many of my loved ones–often times myself included–struggle to pray for you… and taking such a blessing away from you felt wrong. You came to mind and my heart sunk because I know you still believe you have more power than the Creator. My heart didn’t sink out of fear, anger or resentment; it sunk out of absolute sorrow.

You rarely come to mind anymore. God’s given me overwhelmingly more than I could ever comprehend in understanding what redemption, love and authenticity look like in relationship. Honestly, the chapter in my story that holds your influence makes me value love even more because I know what it’s like to be lied to. For that, though you had nothing to do with the redemption in that reality, I’m thankful for you in that way. I love better because you taught me the difference between love and manipulation.

When you do come to mind, just know that I do the one thing you detested the most–I pray. Despite the tears, I’m reminded no one runs forever from the grip of Jehovah Jireh. I’m reminded that my sin separated me from God the same exact way yours does now. God provided my freedom, redemption and renewal… I pray some day you let Him provide yours.

Whenever you see me, I pray you only see Him. It’s a daily, moment-by-moment struggle, but I am forgiving you. Though I may not be able to laugh at reminders of you just yet, I can feel God’s smile. His forgiveness of me has given me enough to forgive you. 

— Cass

Dear Church: Step Up

She and I talked about marriage. We were so animated, I’m fairly certain the older man sitting across from us thought we were going crazy. There was a part of me that wanted to tell him there was no wedding being planned… Just so he’d stop looking so entertained at his cup of coffee. 

We were just talking about Jesus. Seriously. That’s it. Jesus. I get excited when I see a marriage that makes it more about my Jesus than about their rights.

Here’s the thing that breaks my heart: America has taken Christ’s place in marriage– let alone the wedding– & put it as “optional.” We’re so gosh-darn-high-falutin’ passionate about our “rights” (WHAT RIGHTS?) and “equal opportunity” that we’ve done our very best to make sure that Jesus is sectioned off under the twenty-second prayer of blessing… If it’s there at all. 

I am no genius. (My forced poor grammar should tell you that.) But with all the fights, arguments and petitions over Gay marriage now being legal… I honestly can’t handle some of the things that are coming out of some fellow-Christians’ mouths. Even, to my shame, from my own mouth at times.

I believe marriage was made between one man and one woman. But even more deeply, I believe marriage is a sacrament which represents a holy picture of Christ and His love for the Church– otherwise known as the Body of Christ. My hands are shaking as I type those sentences. It’s truth that I will always cling to, but I hesitate to share because… Truth hurts, stings and makes me uncomfortable. 

Church, we have stayed silent too long. We rarely — truly — strove to love those different than us, and then we acted appalled when we found out they had a voice. We rarely allowed them to speak to us, so they spoke to those that would listen… Often times, those that do not have the insight and wisdom of the Spirit of God within them. What did we expect? 

Jesus became optional (majority… not entirety, Praise the Lord and Hallelujah) in our marriages. Because Jesus became optional in our marriages, love became skewed, but we stayed self-righteous as every human — Christian or not — is known to do. So we stopped talking, praying and loving the ones that needed it most. 

There’s a way to stick to the Truth of the Word of God but continue to love in the midst of chaos, confusion and change. It has nothing to do with America. It has nothing to do with our Rights. It has nothing to do with traditional values. 

It has everything to do with the fact that we’ve convinced ourselves it’s okay to dance around hard subjects and let opinion trump love and truth. Marriage as a legal stipulation may be “different” but the loving way we handle the people that believe they have something to prove outside of the will of God doesn’t have to be nonexistant

Gosh darn it, Believers. Please… start standing up more. Challenge me to stand up more. It’s becoming less and less a comfortable option to stay seated.

I Dread Nothing

I took one look at my right hand this morning and choked back a sob. Its presence is small, almost unnoticeable, but it exists. It’s only one, but it’s a scratch mark. They’re back. 

Memories of my right hand riddled with scars from night seizures filled my mind. It’s been at least six years since my hand was marked with scratch scars. I never knew the arrival of one scab could fill my heart with such dread. 

I’m 98% positive the scab is from a bug bite I had just scratched absent mindedly through the night. But it’s the possibilities, the fears, the what-ifs of the remaining 2% that held my heart captive. 

I’ve learned not to beg God for a revelation of the future. The few times I could actually say I “saw something coming” were never for personal gain. But just the memories of a terrifying past filled with medical mysteries make my tongue ache with a desire to scream at the Heavens: 

“What?! What next?! Am I… When will I… Can I…? What’s my future, Jehovah?!”

Quietly, the reality of a bug bite flooded my mind. The fear of unconscious seizures gently slipped into the category of “imagination” & I felt my Heavenly Father-Daddy wrap His arms around my quaking shoulders. 

Child… Trust Me. Your future is filled with dread because you rely on fear to feel in control. Trust Me. Learn what it means to smile at the future simply because your past and your future share one thing: Me.