Friday, April 26, 2013


i never really noticed this about myself until someone pointed it out recently, but i always go out of my way to make sure i'm conveyed exactly the way i intend. room for interpretation, the art of mystery and subliminal messages are all lost on me. i have no poker face, i'm obvious, i share too much information and what you see is what you get. even when i desperately try to, i can't hide or lie about anything and i'm also the first to point out and confess, "guys, i'm awkward" or "i'm really freaked out." so unnecessary, right? maybe i'm too self-aware and paranoid but the reason is just that i really hate being misunderstood. i'd rather be straightforward and direct concerning important matters than have others read into mixed signals and get it wrong.
while reflecting on why i may overcompensate when it comes to being blunt, i believe it most likely stems from being wounded by misinterpreting others in the past. regardless of who was to blame or if it was intentional or not, it's just a bad situation that i try to avoid at all costs. there's nothing quite as frustrating and disheartening as being misled and duped, but i eventually got over it and moved on. yeah, it sucked but you live and you learn and you grow up. we can typically get by with minimal damage but nothing so detrimental that we can't spring back from.
it's scary, though, when we misunderstand the character of God because we see Him through the distorted lenses of our experience and circumstances. in His word, He is clear about His heart for us- He makes Himself vulnerable to us, pursues us without ambiguity or boundaries, and yet we treat it as something conditional that's based on our mood on any random day. we complicate His promises and read into things that aren't even real. 
i know God's not sitting on His throne in heaven panicking or worrying about being misunderstood but i think it still hurts Him. throughout history He's revealed the abundance of His amazing grace and His relentless love after us. most significant of all He sent His only Son to suffer, bleed and die for us b/c He desperately couldn't stand the distance that separated us. that is love. yet somewhere along the way we got it all wrong and painted God to be someone who's stingy, angry and indifferent. i can almost feel God's anguish as He's crying out, "that's NOT me at all!"
i'm rediscovering who God is all over again these days but i'm so upset with myself for misunderstanding Him for all these years. instead of looking for the truth of who He is in the word and through the HS, i allowed my skewed perception be formed by whatever i chose to make sense to me. i withheld myself from living in His fullness and walking out His purposes and promises for my life. but in true form, He never gave up running after me in the most beautiful and gentle way to remove the veil. He's holding my hand and romancing my heart. and i am still. 

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Your eyes are full
Full of the future of us
The air changes as you look across
At me in that wondering way

It is as if
I knew you before we spoke
Do our hearts know something we don't?
Converging, conspiring, without giving us any say

You sing me to sleep
Talk down my walls
Look through my windows as I wait
You could be the thief
I give the key to

You're ruining me
With secrets and gestures and looks
With sonnets in second-hand books
Playing the chords in me nobody knew how to play

It fits in your hand like the water in rain
Unlocks our two different selves
And shows we are the same
Rather than wait til I
Put me out for the taking
You're breaking
You're breaking
You're breaking into my heart
And I'm letting you

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

we can love the way that we are loved.

as unpleasant or disruptive as it can be, i believe God purposefully allows certain events to occur that will shake and awaken us out of our complacency. we can kick, scream and resist as much as we want b/c it hurts like hell but there's no avoiding God's pursuit of our whole hearts. He will always have His way b/c His love is too fierce to simply leave us as we are. b/c we are relational beings, i know He will strategically place people in our paths who will cause us to violently fight off the deception and lies we subconsciously live under until there is real & lasting breakthrough and freedom.
in my case, it came in the form of the fulfillment of a deep longing in my heart. as cliche as this may sound, the whole scenario played out like i always dreamed and hoped for- with integrity, clarity and purity- the way it was always meant to be. it was precisely everything i needed and desired and yet it highlighted and magnified all the disgusting junk that was hiding inside of me. where did this come from and why the heck is it still here?? i felt paralyzed by fear and helpless to do anything about it. so many mornings i gave into senseless doubts and tried to sabotage myself from the intense peace and joy that threatened to replace it. i even surprised myself with how aggressively my damaged heart tried to deceive me. i naively thought, "ok, i just need to chill out and give this some time and getting used to." but battles are not passively won. there's a responsibility and an authority we have to take all of those false thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ and His truth. (JUST SAY NO).

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

this may sound ironic but i'm beginning to realize that desperation for Jesus is such a gift and an amazing invitation. each time i let my insecurities and painful history drive me to my knees before the feet of Jesus, He restores me and transforms me. He takes my ashes and crowns me with beauty. the enemy may have intended to harm me but God intended it for good. as much as i cave into these gross lies from time to time, i know that the light that is instilled deep within me shines brighter than the darkness that looms around waiting to devour me. yes, i'm still so broken but i am stronger than i realize and i do not have to keep punishing myself. He calls me beautiful and beloved and redeemed.
there is so much hope and good news. we can love the way that we are loved- by the One who is love & the author and perfecter of our faith. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19

“In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

we can learn to love again.

i'd like to think i'm an eternal optimist. i'll even go as far as to claim it's one of my greatest traits- i'm resilient, always hopeful and believe in love above all else. or so i thought. it's only until very recently that i discovered that i'm actually quite the opposite- i'm deeply jaded, full of ugly scars and doubts and so quick to give up at the first sign of opposition. the thing is, i can typically anticipate the next steps in a relationship and mentally and emotionally prepare myself accordingly. since i'm naturally a doer and an initiator (gosh, sometimes i feel like such a dude), i almost can't help but be strategic in knowing exactly what i want and going after it. there's a ton of tireless effort that goes into this game- the extra lip gloss, the hair toss, pretending like i'm a lady, for sure not laughing out loud, & def not watching football in the presence of anyone i'm trying to impress or attract. basically, i'm not anything like myself at all, and where i'm lacking i make up for by being bossy and using the power of suggestion. this is all that i'm used to and much of what culminates my past experience so i don't expect anything that deviates from this pattern.
so now here we are and i have no clue what's going on b/c there is nothing familiar about this. it literally came out of nowhere w/o any signs or warning. i didn't even have the chance to try to act cute and sexy and domesticated. i was admittedly indifferent and standoffish at first b/c i didn't believe this was legit. i'm sorry but i still don't. there was no validity in what was professed even though it sounded sincere and heartfelt. i had a good run throughout the years and so unfortunately, i've heard it all and can't tell the difference btwn truth and lies anymore. even now, regardless of how convinced i am of it when i lay my head on my pillow at night, i'm back to doubting again when i wake up the next morning. i'm really great at convincing myself that it's safer to just dismiss any idea or hope of true happiness and possible romance b/c my heart just can't take the bs. it's a lot simpler to be alone and just theoretically believe in love and redemption. i never thought that the prospect of it could shed light on so many painful issues and insecurities.
i've never experienced God through a guy/girl relationship before other than receiving His grace to forgive and desperately seeking His healing and restoration. as evidenced through my own family and best friends, God has clearly made us for relationships and He reveals a tiny reflection of our ultimate perfect union with Jesus through those around us while we're here on earth. my dad is the best example of this. from my very first memory of him to this very day, he has always so accurately displayed to me the heart of God the Father. i'm confident that he will do absolutely everything in his power and ability to love me, provide for me and fight for me. if only all relationships were as healthy and affirming.
even through the annoying hazy filter that clouds my current experience, i'm seeing Jesus all over it. He's reminding me that He first loved me when i was at my worst and had nothing to offer Him. there's no way i can hide all my junk from Him- from the filth in my heart to the impure thoughts that go through my head, but He chose me in spite of it all. He is nothing like i expected or deserved, Jesus is better and more than enough to cover all my faults and mess. but most personally meaningful of all, He pursues me and i just let Him. although it certainly doesn't benefit Him to do so, He convinces me over and over again that He's genuine and He's not going to leave me or change His mind when i wake up. He's unbelievably patient with this erratic heart of mine although i know it hurts Him when i hold onto my doubts and fears instead of clinging to Him. confession: i'm horrible at receiving love and affection from anyone other than my parents. i get nervous and extremely awkward and subconsciously push them away b/c i don't believe it's real. like it's too good to be true and i can already foresee the end right from the start. sad, huh? but i know i'm not without hope. Jesus is still captivating me and wooing me after all these years. it's ridiculous to think i can ever catch up to Him and match His love for me, but i can waste my life trying so that's what i intend to do.

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free

Awake my soul

Friday, April 5, 2013

the exception, not the rule

i hate that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize you may be held back or disqualified based on the past. the regrettable mistakes and inopportune circumstances that literally took years to actively shake off and overcome unfortunately still lurk around like a foul odor just asking to make us stink all over again. people naturally form judgments and whether we can fault them for it or not, everyone loves to talk about everyone else. i get it. i'm probably guilty of it, too. without grace and much of a second chance, our minds are already made up about others regardless of how well we can fake it to their face. we ask and desire to be more like Jesus and yet we can't even look past and genuinely forgive each other's momentary indiscretions to truly love them. these things are called set backs for a reason and it's the exception, not the rule, when we can be presented as faultless and blameless despite of our pasts.
whenever i question if all the detours and poor choices that i've made throughout my life will set me on the wrong course or cause me to miss out on what He initially intended, i'm reminded of the OT and Jesus's genealogy. it almost looks as if He purposely chose to weave in all the massive failures and disasters to set up the most glorious story of redemption and love. i don't want to imply that He predestines us to fall into sin or leads us on the wrong path. that's heresy. genesis 1 to this exact moment in time is just evidence of how powerful and amazing is His grace. He purifies and refines us until we're never the same. that old self is dead. we don't even recognize that person anymore. we're elevated to where we could never be given our own strength and strategy. it's so like God's character to use the least likely candidates, flaws and failures and all, to bring glory to Himself. the more i seek Jesus and the more He reveals Himself to me, i discover that He just loves to do this. He takes the most miserable and dire situations and shows up so that we're literally on our faces in awe and wonder. i think He likes the challenge and the shock factor.
i was riding the subway yesterday and just reflecting on all the events i have to look forward to in the near future- weddings, vacations, etc. but what takes the cake by far is looking forward to standing before Jesus face to face. i couldn't help but smile really big as i was sitting there by myself. i think i was even blushing. yeah, i know this sounds kinda crazy. i mean, who thinks about this stuff? i believe the HS imparted that to me to this time to remind me of how much i don't deserve Him. it's actually embarrassing how much i fall short. it's scary b/c more often than not i think we run the risk of subconsciously feeling entitled to God's mercy and exceedingly good love. it's so nice and cozy in His presence that we forget the depth of despair from which we were rescued.
it's enough that He presses the reset button and makes everything new with a clean slate. but He doesn't just stop there. Jesus takes our very areas of intense brokenness and deep shame and turns it into something beautiful. He gives us a crown of beauty for ashes. He contradicts the rule and it's completely unfair...and kinda scandalous.

to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

slightly more than your average little girl who daydreams of fairy tales and happy endings, i yearn and long for an epic love story. i'm not even ashamed to admit it anymore. haha, obviously. i am a romantic to the core. although it can be perceived as unrealistic or a hopeless cause, or even a character defect, i believe the Lord made me like this to reflect His original plan. He made us for extravagant love. God is love. by the transitive property, we were made for God.
this is going to get lost in translation and words will never suffice to express that Jesus is my epic love story. He's my perfect, fairy tale ending and fulfills every unreasonable and silly desire of this fickle heart of mine. He is everything i've been waiting and frantically searching my whole life for. He is my sweet redemption and the greatest reward. none of this makes sense and yet it's the only thing that's real and the only thing that matters. He is my exception.