freedom, Relationships

The Self-Sufficiency Façade

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“What do I need you for?”

I said those words.

To my husband.

It was the worst thing I’d ever said to him. And it haunts me to this day.

Our marriage was in trouble. Our daughter was a toddler. I was earning six figures working full time, and felt I largely parented alone. My marriage was absent of good communication and growing in resentment. I was a mess emotionally, and probably lacking many hours of sleep. So, I felt compelled to utter those hurtful words; I could juggle it all by myself. I was independent and strong. I didn’t need him.

Of course, that wasn’t true, because being independent also meant I was alone. And self-sufficiency—being able to provide for my needs on my own—is a façade that I’d naively fallen for. I needed my husband like I needed oxygen, and I also needed God.

But I wasn’t humble enough to see that.

I had to accept my desperate need for God’s intervention. Only He could teach me how to love well. He could fill me up so I could demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to my spouse: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).

By God’s grace, we’ve been married fifteen years now and that toddler is fourteen. I found my way through my independent and self-sustaining mindset. With a humble attitude, I accepted my need for my husband and strived for our marriage to get better.

But I also sought Jesus, and thankfully, my husband turned to Him too. This journey together hasn’t made our marriage perfect, full of only joy and peace without impatience or irritations, but it got us committed to the same things—God and each other.

I found out then that I will never not need Jesus.I will never not need Jesus. Click To Tweet My help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1). And even when times are good, as heirs with Christ and having the Holy Spirit, we find our joy in Him (Romans 14:17). When we seek Jesus, we flourish and can tackle the most difficult obstacles because our God is bigger than our trials. When we seek Jesus, we flourish and can tackle the most difficult obstacles because our God is bigger than our trials. Click To Tweet

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When we think we can do all on our own, we’re leaving out the biggest Helper of all. Turn to Him and surrender today so you can be free of the stressful drive to be self-sufficient.

Let’s talk about this! Do you need to humbly accept that you can’t go through life without the One who made you? Do you need to humbly accept that you can’t go through life without the One who made you? Click To Tweet

 

Prayer

Praying When Hate or Trials Get in the Way

 

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Hate is a word I never use unless I’m talking about cancer.

It’s a festering, growing batch of cells that leads to sickness and destruction in one’s body. When it attacks someone you love, everything within you rages and aches.

I detest the joy cancer steals, and the life it tries to take. I abhor its effect on families and the financial stress it creates. I especially hate the physical pain it causes and how it can trigger a wavering faith.

I wish it didn’t exist.

But it does. So my hatred is an ill use of my time. And, therefore, I avert my focus from disdain back to what I love— Jesus and my family. Yes, my little sister has cancer, but I choose to concentrate on my adoration of Him and her.

Watching someone I love endure pain erodes my heart a little each day, leaving me on the verge of tears constantly. But as I concentrate on Jesus, the Healer, and my love for my sister, I can rebuild some of that erosion.Watching someone I love endure pain erodes my heart, but as I concentrate on Jesus, the Healer, I can rebuild some of that erosion. Click To Tweet

Although to be frank, praying in the midst of heartache, no matter what kind, is challenging. I’ve counseled many to remember that God is good and loving and kind. But what good is there in this disease? Or maybe you’re asking, “What good is there in losing a loved one?” Or a marriage? Or a career?

My limited, human viewpoint has a hard time seeing through the cloud of grief. Sure, I notice droplets of joy along the way— a new medicine working, a successful surgery, a clearheaded afternoon— but the hardships remain.

So what can we do when we’re feeble and frail? KristenPrayerQuote1

We remember the Holy Spirit is interceding for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

These are heavy verses, so let’s break them down.

When we’re physically tired and spiritually drained, when we have no idea what to ask God for, or when anger confuses our judgment, we can count on the Holy Spirit for help. Click To TweetWhen we’re physically tired and spiritually drained, when we have no idea what to ask God for, or when anger confuses our judgment, we can count on the Holy Spirit for help. He’s our Advocate (John 14:26 & 15:26), who speaks to God on our behalf, and since the Holy Spirit is God living in us, who understands all things, He knows exactly how to pray for our situation. He will and can only plead for us according to the will of God. And since God is fully good and perfect, His will is also good for all.

I’ve sobbed to God with misplaced words and disjointed thoughts, finally crying out, “God, You know! You know!” He understands “what we ought to pray for”, and immediately does.

If you’re up against trials, a confusing path, or a hatred you can’t get past, drop to your knees and ask the Holy Spirit to “groan” on your behalf. Jesus knows what you and your loved ones need. Trust Him to get you through your battle.

Let’s talk about this! When has it been hard for you to pray? Share your thoughts in the comments below, so we can learn from and encourage each other.When has it been hard for you to pray? Share your thoughts, so we can learn from and encourage each other. Click To Tweet And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Relationships

Our Innate Need for Community

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God doesn’t want anyone to be alone, and I’m not going to disappoint Him.”

That’s a powerful quote from my grandmother, something she said to my mother when she was a child. They apply, among other things, to how we do life with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God made us to come together and worship Him. Scripture reveals the importance of church community on every page! God wants us to live together and learn from, as well as teach, one another.

Christ-centered relationships, together in a community or church, were instituted by God.

Jesus is the foundation of church. (1 Peter2:5-7)

Paul helped spread it. (Acts 9:20)

And intended for us to continue it.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, He longs for us to do more than simply set foot inside a building, commonly known as a church, to worship Him on Christmas and Easter. Or, maybe, to do more than never set foot in one at all.

Let me be clear in how I define church. It’s a group of believers in an environment who seek to grow in their relationship with, and their understanding of, Jesus through many ways including music, prayer, discussion, and/or listening to a message.

This can be a small group held in a home or coffee shop, or a formal service in a traditional or contemporary setting. It can take place in a small or stadium-sized space, or any time and any day. Scripture shows church as place where people are gathered together to praise and learn about God.

Notice the use of we, us, and our in these verses:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken [heaven], let us be thankful, and so worship God with acceptable reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …” (Psalm 95:6).

According to the gospels, Jesus gave sermons to thousands. He allowed groups to gather around Him as He revealed Scripture. I’m sure these people grew stronger in their faith and leaned on each other in hard times—like when their very lives were threatened after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, the accepted writer of two-thirds of the New Kristen speaker image and quoteTestament, elaborated on this, mostly in letters he wrote to churches. He loved to use phrases like, “Brothers and sisters” and “Dear Friends” when addressing first century believers. In Acts 9:15, we’re told he wanted his ministry companions to join him as soon as possible. They, his friends, were needed by the great Apostle. In Acts 2:42-47 we read an account of some of the first groups of Christians, known as a fellowship of believers.

The question is why? Why is doing ministry together better? I believe God uses us to help and grow each other. To pray for, meet a need for, to celebrate an answered prayer with one another.

God designed us to live in community, to never be alone, as my grandmother might say, in our journey on earth and with Him. In order to live this out, and using the Bible as our example, we must prioritize our time with other believers. We must walk alongside them and help each other worship Jesus and learn about Him.

Where do you stand? Are you heeding God’s call to remain connected with other Christians?

We’ve found, often it’s our fear of rejection that isolates us from each other. But God didn’t create us to live in fear! In Christ, He’s given us everything we need to live Bold and Brave! Join us for one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences to gain tools that will help you develop deep community and walk in freedom. Find our more HERE.

Want us to come to you? Contact us HERE to find out about hosting your own Wholly Loved event or inviting one of our speakers to join you for your next women’s event.

Cover image for Wholly Loved giveaway devotionalIf you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. Plus, when you sign up, as our way of thanking you for your support, we’ll send you a free 30-day devotional (ebook). You can sign up HERE. (If you sign up and don’t receive a welcome email with a link to the free download, please contact us HERE.)

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Related resource: Included in Christ: Living a New Story From Ephesians by Heather Holleman

Resting in Christ

Resting in God’s Grace is Sufficient for Me

What does it mean to rest in God’s grace? Does that sound theological and religious to anyone else?

Consider 2 Corinthians 12. Paul asked Jesus to remove a thorn in his side, something Scripture doesn’t reveal but that made Paul feel weak. Jesus response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (v.9)

Said a different way: Jesus’ undeserved favor is complete and adequate enough for me. His authority over all shines faultlessly in our flaws and feebleness. His unmatched control over the entire universe adjoins with my lowly self and supplies a lifeline to cling to, a safety net to relax in. Because of my weakness, God can vividly display His divine power.

After Paul heard from the Lord, he decided that his inadequacy was worth it. When he truly surrendered, God could shine brightly through him— which wouldn’t be seen when he relied on himself.

But what does “resting in God’s grace” mean for me? Was I doing a good job at letting Jesus take over when I was weak, allowing His power to fix and heal and love?

I contemplated this as I finally got around to something I’d dreaded for weeks—dealing with my son’s behavior and inability to focus at school. I began researching doctors in our network. I called with questions, made appointments, and emailed my son’s former teacher for more information. All in an attempt to get the ball rolling towards a possible diagnosis.

And I’ll be honest, even looking up doctors who might help my son broke my heart. I felt weak, unknowledgeable, inadequate, and scared. The idea of getting him help should bring me hope, yet, I kept thinking, does this mean something’s wrong with him? Surely not, because God made him exactly the way He wanted him to be…

Jesus’ words came back to me. My grace is sufficient for you. Jesus’ favor, or blessing, for me is undeserved and enough to get me through anything. And more, when I am weak, His power rests on me. To “rest on” means to lean on, adjoin to, combine as one. So, if Christ’s power rests on me, then His power is now on me. KristenQuoteGrace I can be sure that God will help me figure out the best steps to take as a mother, knowing God loves my son even more than I do and will hold on to him tightly. I can relax because if God can take my weakness and use it for His glory and power, then He can also do the same for my son’s weakness. He can turn what is hard for him and make it shine somehow.

I will hold on to this verse as we navigate what’s challenging.

What trial or limitation do you need to surrender to Jesus? Claim His power in your weakness and walk forward knowing He’s resting His grace and mercy on you.

 

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE. 

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Hardships and Trials

How I Exposed the Sneaky Death Trap of Fear

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Fear is a sneaky prowler.

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may be able to recite 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV): “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” I, personally, have recalled and repeated this verse many times. Like when my little sister was diagnosed with brain cancer. Or when our home was going through a short sale and we had to move. We had nowhere to go and would be taking my daughter out of school in the middle the year.

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I recognized my need for God to help with my fear during these life-alternating events, when my future looked bleak, or dread paralyzed me. In those moments, I could confess my lack of faith that God was in the midst of my hardships alongside me and had a plan for my family’s future.

But fear is also a silent, creeping death trap. It’s like a slow breeze caressing your face that you don’t realize is there.

Recently, the spirit of fear snuck into my life. I have a teenage daughter in middle school—some of you sent up a silent prayer for me just then—and a few weeks ago I had to help her navigate some heavy stuff. Think social media at its worst, and you’ll probably be close to imagining what we were battling. And in truth, she seemed to get through it smoothly, to snap out the sadness and hurt quickly. But what about me?

This incident wrecked me—made me physically sick. It felt as if the pit of my stomach was caving in on itself, and I could think of nothing else for days. I walked around in constant, nagging pain. I prayed over and over for God to move in this situation. I prayed for our kids, their friends, their influences, for protection over their lives. I wrote all of this off as a normal part of parenting, a part of the journey.

Then, I ran into a friend. I knew she’d been dealing with some tough situations pertaining to her teenager and asked her how she was doing. She said something along the lines of, “I’m doing okay. I had to release her to God. I can’t be fearful. I have to trust and have faith He’s working.”

In that moment, I realized all my symptoms—physical and emotional—were really fear, masked as what I thought was a standard part of being a mother. The enemy was causing havoc and keeping me bound like a slave. The devil had used my love for my daughter to weaken my faith in God, and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t trust enough and believe enough that once I’d prayed about the situation, He would respond.

Don’t allow the spirit of fear trap you in faithlessness. After I went to God with my pain and lack of wisdom over how to help my daughter, I should’ve trusted that He’d set into motion a plan. And then kept praying that I got out of the way to let Him do His thing and claimed victory over the situation.

We must be careful not to allow fear to control our minds. Recite 2 Timothy 1:7 often, not just in the big events and hardships of life, but in the day-to-day struggles as well. When you feel anxious, pray to God and release the fear to Him. He’s got an outcome, one way better than you could orchestrate for yourself. Continue to pray for faith, direction, and wisdom, but never allow fear to seep in. Claim it’s not allowed to live within you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s talk about this! When have you allowed fear to sneak up on you? How did you deal with removing it from your life?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE. 

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