Don’t Trip Over Me

I clearly remember the day I decided to leave my childhood church. I had walked away from that particular body of believers (who were and are amazing people) when I decided Christ was the last thing I wanted to pursue. When I returned after my two year hiatus, I was broken beyond recognition spiritually and wanted anyone to tell me the pain dulls someday.

Actually, I wanted more than that. I wanted someone to hear about my wounds and tell me how to heal; because I had no idea how to do it myself. Growing up, I was the picture-perfect Christian kid. I knew the right answers. When Christ renewed my faith, I knew the right answers but my life made those answers feel foreign, unfamiliar and unobtainable. 

I needed help but was given the impression I seemed “fine.” I was experiencing redemption, but I felt anything but fine. The day I told old friends why I needed a fresh start, a few people gave me very vague answers. I heard lines like, “I’ve been there.” “I know why you’re hurting.” 

… But in my childishly adult 20-year-old mind, those particular responses had come too late. I’d sat wounded and feeling alone for months. I had needed someone more spiritually experienced to get me back on track and it felt like that counsel never came. I’ll always remember the confusion I felt when I was told someone understood my struggles right before I walked out the door. I had no clue I had people to go to to get help… until it was too late. They seemed too perfect to include me.

So, I left and “started over.”

That was close to ten years ago now. Christ saw my spiritual hunger and gave me a Body of believers who loved me deeply but didn’t let me get away with anything. Change isn’t always a bad thing, and to this day, 3,500 miles away, I’m genuine friends with people from both churches. 

I was told recently that I seemed like a very “open book.” As a pastor’s wife, that sentiment is both terrifying and terrific. Too little transparency and people feel as if you’re fake. Too much transparency and your ability to co-lead with your minister husband gets hazy. I want to be relateable; I’m afraid of being a stumbling block.

As I struggle with finding that balance as a new wife to a pastor in training, I’m constantly kicked back to how I felt drowned in loneliness when I first came back to the Lord. I let people see my healed and now-beautiful wounds because I’m learning leadership first starts with being touchable. 

You don’t have to be perfect to be in my group of believers. You don’t have to have all of your sin “Christianized” before being a godly impact on others. You simply have to be willing to realize Christ is the source of your joy and your love. When you realize that, your story loses its shame and Christ changes the game by being the Victor.

If you stumble over anything when you notice I’m an “open book,” may you stumble over the Cornerstone of Christ just as I did.

Advertisements

Written By the God Who Sees

Dear Little One, 

You’re seen. Behind the instantaneous smile, the immediate laughter and the flamboyant charm, I see you. I recognize your desire to hide, even when you stand in front of the mirror and challenge Me to prove your value. I hear the brokenness in the laughter, I feel the tears behind the smile. 

You don’t think you can tell Me you’re hurting because you’re so accustomed to playing a part in healing someone else. Stop. I’m not broken. I’m not in need of you. You need Me. Let yourself be broken and hurt in My presence. As your Creator, I can only heal what you show Me. Your cracked heart merely hurts My heart, it doesn’t overwhelm, anger, or turn Me away. But you do have to give it to Me. 

Please? 

I see you when no one does. I hear you cry when everyone else only hears you laugh. I feel your fear when everyone else only sees your confident leadership. You’re not confident, are you? You believe in My power for everyone but yourself, don’t you? 

Why? 

Do you understand that your purpose, value, and reason was found the moment you were conceived? Do you understand that when I breathed life into your lungs, I not only gave you purpose, I gave you My purpose, My joy, My love? Because of Me, your pain isn’t weakness, it’s strength. Because of Me, your identity isn’t found in your mistakes.

You are found in Me.

I haven’t call you to lead alone. I called you to be Mine. Hold on to the fact that you’re Mine. When you feel invisible, you’re Mine. When you feel alone, you’re still Mine; besides, you’ve never been alone a millisecond of your existence. 

You tell people you love the fact you’ve learned I am Elroi, the God Who Sees. But Child, why haven’t you let that Truth sink in when you’ve needed it most? 

I love you. I’m here. You are not invisible to Me. 

Your One and Only Elroi

Emptying Myself

The green trees collided perfectly with the red splattered clouds against the blue sky this morning. Sunrises always make me smile. However, this morning, as I walked down the hill to my favorite coffeeshop, the Creator’s unique painting of the sky gave me pause.

Passing by a house that towered above the other houses, I noticed the sunrise reflected perfectly in the third level window. Every splotch of red and dash of blue was captured in the clean, empty window. As I walked further, the small amount of sunlight was magnified when it hit the window just right. 

Does my life do that, Lord? I thought. Is my life empty enough to reflect You? When people look at me, do they see You? Or do they only see my pride with a small attempt to reflect you on occasion?

I’ve said it a thousand times before. Biblical Christianity is weird. The world strives to teach us that our #1 goal needs to be standing out as an independent, awe-inspiring, basically egotistical, one-man show. The more people act as if we are the end-all to everything successful, the better.

But then Christ calls us to be “less than” in everything. The world calls us to be everything. Christ calls us to be nothing and let Him be everything within us.

It’s scary, being called to nothing. Initially the fear, “what if I’m not enough?” comes up constantly. To be honest, I don’t think that inward war ever goes away. No matter how much Christ comes through, no matter how old we get, there will always be a battle to be “more” so we can prove ourselves. 

Just like the sunrise in the window this morning, though, we start to learn that the more we’re comfortable in our emptiness and weakness, the more Christ can shine. 

Learn to accept being an empty canvas. Christ can fill more space in your life that way.

What God Calls Beauty


It’s not a story you tell your kids. It’s not a story you want to hear over and over. It’s a nightmare. But it’s in the Bible. 

Recently, I’ve been working through a book that focuses on the story of David’s daughter, Tamar, being raped by her brother, Amnon, in 2 Samuel 13

This is where every woman’s heart hurts and every man’s brain is left troubled. There’s rape. In the Bible. Honestly, I praise God for this passage though it leaves me in tears every time. Within these verses God declares He is not blind to the soul deep torment many women go through. 

I was struck by the fact that after verse 1 in 2 Samuel 13, the Bible never calls Tamar beautiful again. Desolate – yes. Depressed – of course. Troubled – well, duh. But beautiful? Nope. In our broken culture, anyone else who observed that small fact would maybe wonder if that was God’s unjust judgment toward Tamar.

“Sorry, Sweetheart, someone else broke you, so, um, yeah, beauty is gone. You’re just Tamar, now. The desolate, forgotten daughter of David. Oh well. It’s a man’s world. I’m still God, Kiddo, so no fears, ‘kay?” 

I am overwhelmingly blessed that such words were never spoken by Elroi- the God Who Sees. But that still leaves me wondering… Why? Why couldn’t God inspire the writer of 1 & 2 Samuel to call her beautiful just once after the evil deed was done? 

She needed that affirmation. As a wounded woman, she needed her father, King David, to look her in the eyes (not write a letter or make a public announcement) and whisper, “You’re still beautiful, you’re still my daughter. Your value hasn’t changed.”

But that never happened. 

I truly believe, in the beginning of the chapter, the author of the book was simply describing the scene. He called Tamar beautiful. 

Beautiful. 

Christians believe (as do I) that every word written within the pages of the canonical Bible was and is inspired by God. In other words, if the word beautiful wasn’t supposed to be there, it wouldn’t have been. If God didn’t believe Tamar was beautiful, she wouldn’t have been painted as beautiful. 

Numbers 23:19 tells us that God never changes His mind.

So, then, why couldn’t she be called be called beautiful? 

(This is speculation, keep that in mind.) Often times in the Old Testament, the author’s approach to a story changes views. They often start out as a narrative and end in first or second person. It’s funny, it’s quirky, but it makes the story of Tamar that much richer. 

In a culture where women were not given a voice, God gave Tamar one through the verses that mournfully tell of the injustice done to her. Her culture immediately called her unworthy of love, respect or even provision after she was violated. 

So, it’s possible every negative description of her presence was the author’s way of saying, “She can’t speak for herself, but this is how she painted herself.”

She listened to her culture. She was told her hands were tied and she was ready for the gallows. If her father wasn’t the king, she probably would have been killed. She knew men no longer called her valuable. 

She never stopped to ask Yahweh what He still thought. 

The story of Tamar is left as an unbearable unfinished sentence. David never avenged his daughter. Tamar never found worth, though she was provided for by her other brother, Absolom. There is no understanding of peace after the storm. 

It seems like that was God’s way of saying, “I know how deep the hurt goes. I’m not immune to how much this nightmare broke you, Daughter. Not everything will make sense on this side of Heaven… This fallen world means evil is present.”

Tamar apparently allowed herself to stay stuck in knowing she was provided for yet never called valuable by those around her. If she had  questioned her God instead of the men in her family and culture, she would have heard one beautiful truth: 

When God first wrote her story, He called her beautiful. That never changed and she still mattered.