Weeding Through My Feelings

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Psalm 43:3

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

John 8:31-32

The Truth Will Set You Free  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 16:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 8:44

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

He’s Not Like That

He’s Not Like That  

Short story based on a dream  2-12-20

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“I felt bad that my faith was not stronger, but I didn’t condemn myself over it,” I assured the older lady sitting next to me. “I know God is a forgiving God, and He understands my struggles.”

“That’s good. You didn’t know God then like you know Him now.” Vanda smiled at me.

“I’ve also discovered that one reason it was so hard for me to trust God when I first started walking with Him was because I was looking at Him like I looked at my earthly father. I think it might be the same with others. How we see God the Father is affected by how we see our earthly fathers.”

“That’s great insight. You need to share your story at our next meeting. People will be encouraged by that.”

I considered it, and then agreed. God had done so many things for me; it was time for me to do something for Him.

For the next few days I pictured myself telling a room full of people how I had come to know God.  I was excited that my story would touch so many people. Maybe it would have great impact in their lives, freeing them to see God as He really is, and enabling them to receive the steadfast love He has for them.

Only it didn’t turn out that way. When the meeting started, there were only four of us. An older man and his wife, Vanda, and me. I was disappointed, but I had agreed, and so I began.

“I was raised in a devout Catholic family. That becomes important later on. We moved frequently through my early childhood. Life changed about the time I entered fifth grade, when we moved away from our large extended family. A few years later my dad lost his job, and got moody. He became increasingly critical and judgmental towards us and towards church. We went to church each week, but it was more of a ritual than anything else. To me it was just bunch of rules that was supposed to bring us close to God, to make us pleasing to Him. There was no life in that but I gave it my best shot during my early teen years, becoming very religious with lots of rosaries and masses. I felt no closer to God and church was too cold for me, so as soon as I could, I quit going.

Life was painful. Broken relationships, confusion, and a extremely poor self-concept resulted in a deep depression that grew deeper throughout my teen years. After high school graduation, when things got as bad as they could get, I gave up. I knew I could not help myself, so I asked God for help before crying myself to sleep at night. But during the days, I ran from anything to do with Him. It was like a game of tag, and He wasn’t going to let me get away. He set me up to have an encounter with Him during a movie I pretty much felt forced to watch. He changed my life, and I began to walk with Him.

He did so many small things – constantly doing things – to show me He loved me. I look back and can’t believe how much trouble I had trusting Him. I know now that it was because I was viewing Him though the lens of the various glasses I was wearing.

One was my father-lens. My dad’s inconsistent attitude towards me – acceptance one day, rejection the next – led me to believe God’s attitude would also be inconsistent. Sure, He loved me on those days when He did something for me. But what about the other days?  And what about when I disappointed Him?

I had a church-lens. The church’s focus on rules and rituals influenced how I viewed God. Things had to be done in the correct way or God wouldn’t be pleased.

And then I had the me-lens. I saw God the way I saw myself. When I was feeling happy about myself. God was happy with me, too. I was acceptable to Him. But I was not acceptable to Him on my bad days any more than I accepted myself on those days.

That was years ago. Many years of struggling to get past those lenses to see God as He really was.  And now…” I paused. I was going to say I no longer struggled. But was that true? I had to be honest. Honest with myself; and honest with these people, as few as they were.

“And now it’s the same. Only different. Deeper. I no longer question whether God loves me. But is He taking care of me when things look bad, and I can’t see Him working?  I no longer believe we have to follow a bunch of rules and rituals in order to get close to God. But am I saying the right words when fighting the enemy? I no longer believe God sees me as I see myself. But I find myself running away from Him when I’m feeling bad instead of running to Him, thinking I’m not acceptable when feeling that way. I guess I haven’t really gotten past my lenses. I just put God’s lens over mine.”  I sat down, disappointed in myself.

No one spoke for a few minutes.

“Well, don’t feel bad. We are all wearing our own lenses under God’s lens.” Vanda said. “It’s okay. God understands.”

“I know,” I responded glumly. “I just don’t like that they’re there.”

“Then get rid of them.”

Get rid of them? Easier said than done.  “How do I do that? I’ve tried for years, and yet they are still there.”

“I’ve heard if you don’t use them, they will slowly shrink away until they are gone.”

I brightened. “That’s it! I’ll just choose not to use them!”

Over the next week I had plenty of opportunities to choose. And I devised a process to help me intentionally look through God’s lens instead of mine. I couldn’t wait to get back to the group to share it.

Finally it was time.

“Remember last week when we talked about choosing which lens to look through? I figured out how to make that work for me. I hope it works for you, too.

The first thing I did was identify which lens I was looking through whenever I thought about God. Often when a doubt sneaks into my mind, it comes as a vague, uncertain feeling. It’s like trying to look through two lenses at the same time. Things get blurry. So putting that feeling into words helped clarify the thought. And that helped identify the lens. If it was a dad-lens, religious- lens, or a me-lens, I made the conscious choice replace it with a God-lens. I reminded myself He was not like that, and replaced the faulty thought with truth from the Bible.

Here are some thoughts I’ve had this week, and how I handled them.

 

“God won’t help me if the problem is my fault.”

He’s not like that.

Hebrews 4:16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

God’s love is conditional on what I do or don’t do. If I skip my Bible reading, He will withhold His love”.

He’s not like that

2 Timothy 2:13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.

 

“God criticizes me for my failures.”

He’s not like that

Romans 8:1  There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

“God makes promises, but He doesn’t always keep them.”

He’s not that

Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

 

“God doesn’t understand me.”

He’s not like that

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and know me!”

 

“God will get angry at me when I deliberately misbehave”.

He’s not like that

Exodus 34:6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

 

“God is too busy with His own plans to get involved in the smaller things in my life.”

He’s not like that

Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 

“God is far away, watching from a distance to see how I handle things in my day to day life.”

He’s not like that

James 4:8a Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

 

“God is punitive, quick to administer punishment for my mistakes.”

He’s not like that

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

 

“God is not concerned about my mental health.”

He’s not like that

3 John 1:2  Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

 

“God does not care about what I care about.”

He’s not like that

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you

 

“God expects too much from us. We can’t do it all.”

He’s not like that

2 Corinthians 9:8  God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

 

“God may or may not hear me when I call to Him.”

He’s not like that

Psalm 34:17  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

 

“God can get impatient and cranky.”

He’s not like that

1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it’s not irritable or resentful.

 

“As you can see,” I told the group. “The enemy is busy planting seeds every day. But we don’t have to let them grow. God’s Word is a powerful way to combat those seeds before they can grow into a lens. The bottom line is this: God loves you better than you know. He completely accepts you as you are, delights in you, and wants only good for you. Even when you stray or give in to sin, He is quick to forgive when you ask because of His great love for You. You can’t do anything to lessen that love, or anything to increase it. Once you grasp that, doubts will no longer be a problem.”

I sat back down, leaving them to reflect on what I had just shared. And then from deep inside, I heard the Lord whisper, “Are you listening?”

Holy Poison

Something’ was wrong. I didn’t know what it was, but could sense something happening in me. My ten-year-old body was becoming increasingly hot, like I was burning from the inside out. Which didn’t make sense because I wasn’t in the sun. The approaching evening, although not cold, was not hot either. And besides, I was in my bedroom. And yet, I could feel the internal fire growing by the minute. This was not good.

My thoughts flew from the fire in me to the sudden sounds of wild commotion coming from the kitchen. One of my siblings was crying. Maybe more than one. My mom was talking in a higher than normal pitch, And the sound of many small feet running across the wooden floor was accompanied by shrieks and shouts.

It didn’t take long to find out why. We had all been poisoned. All six of us kids as well as my mom. Everyone seemed to be reacting to the poison in slightly different ways. Whereas a few of us felt the fiery poison on the inside, some had no internal discomfort. However, their faces were turning increasingly red, and, as funny as it seemed to us at the time, the only indication of the poison flowing through one of my brothers was his two bright red ears.

My dad, who had just gotten home from work, drove us to the emergency room, where 0526201852 (2)we were all given a small cup of something to drink. “To make you throw up,” the nurse told us. “That will get rid of the poison.” Everyone swallowed their cup of something. Everyone except me. I didn’t want to throw up. I didn’t like throwing up. And I didn’t like unknown liquids. So I held my cup, and wished I was anywhere but there.

As my mom and siblings took turns throwing up, I heard my parents discussing how it must have been the frozen homemade applesauce we had eaten at dinner. They were talking about something bad being in that applesauce. Maybe too much preservative. I don’t know. But whatever it was, we didn’t taste it or see it. And yet, it was definitely hurting us.

Finally everyone had purged. Except me. I still clung to that cup of strange liquid in spite of all the encouraging, shaming, bribing, and threatening my parents did. I could handle all that without caving in. What I couldn’t handle was the threat from the nurse: “If you don’t throw up by the time I get back, I’m going to have to give you a shot.” I dreaded needles more than strange liquid, so I downed the cup, and soon became one of the purged.

The next day, I looked suspiciously at the containers of tainted applesauce as my mom pulled them from the freezer. They didn’t look any more evil now than they had looked or tasted the night before.

“Mom, how do you know they’re poisoned? They look just like the good applesauce we’ve eaten before.”

“I know they’re poisoned because I reread the directions on the box of preservatives.  I got the directions wrong.”

“Can’t we eat them anyway,” my brother asked. “They taste too good to get rid of. We can just go throw up again later.”

I understood what my brother felt. It did seem like such a waste of something delicious. But then I remembered the consequence of allowing the bad as well as the good into my mouth. So I nodded agreement with my mom as she told him, “Nope, not worth it, Better to make a new batch, and this time pay better attention to the instructions.”

 

–   –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

 

True story. I might have gotten the timing slightly off, but my mother did accidentally poison us with too much of a preservative in some applesauce she had made. She didn’t mean to, and she felt really bad about if for a long time. But it happened.

As does spiritual poisoning. Sometimes good sounding teachings actually contains poison that will hurt our spirits. Not all, but many of these teachers, preachers, ministers, priests, friends, whatever don’t mean to hurt us. They often don’t even know the poison is there. But if they use the Word incorrectly, such as taking scriptures out of context, they can contaminate their message with what I call holy poison. It looks, sounds, and tastes just as spiritual as the rest of that biblical teaching, except it’s not. We may not recognize it right away, but eventually all who ingest it will pay the consequences.

We can learn to discern holy poison by knowing what the Bible says.  In a way, it’s like when I was learning to hunt shark teeth. At first I was frequently tricked by broken shells that looked like teeth, but the more teeth I found and studied, the easier and faster it became to discern between shells and teeth. The same hold true for God’s Word. The better we know the Bible, the easier to spot something that is contrary to it.

We also need to pay attention to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.  Jesus said His Spirit would guide us into all truth. So, if we are listening, He will alert us when we come in contact with something poisonous to our spirits.

But what about the poison we may have already ingested?  What about erroneous doctrines and ideas we accepted years ago that may be having an effect on our spiritual life now? It’s not too late. If we are sincere in our desire to be cleaned from the poison, and we ask God to show anything unclean in us, He will answer that request. If He reveals something, we can either allow the poison to continue to contaminate our beliefs, or we can accept His cup of antidote and purge it. Purging may not be pretty or dignified, and it will probably cause some discomfort, but – at least to me – it is better than something more drastic. Like a needle. God is a big God. I can only imagine how big His needle is.

 

 

Behind the Story

I wrote Holy Poison with the hope that it may help us, me included, to be more discerning of what we allow into our belief systems, and to ask God to reveal anything we hold on to that we shouldn’t. Years ago He had me examine what I believed, and I ended up I purging some big lies that I had grown up with, such as the belief that only Catholics were going to heaven. Recently He has started working to cleanse me from some subtler wrong beliefs that I’ve held in my heart for years. They sound and feel just as biblical as the rest of my beliefs – many even have scriptures to base them on – and yet they are not true. It turns out that those scriptures had been taken out of context. Facing those errors, and letting go of them, has not been easy or comfortable. But my greatest desire is to be completely pleasing to God, so I will continue to drink the cup and purge until I am clean.

What about you? Has God had you examine your own beliefs? If so, how? If not, how do you feel about the need to know what we believe and why we believe it? If you feel comfortable enough, please comment below. I would love to read your story!

 

 

Scriptures

Ps 51:6-7 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Ps 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.

John: 14:16-17    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you..

John 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

1 Timothy 4:1a Now the Spirit expressly says that in the later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:6-7 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Hebrews 5:13-14 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the world of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Philippians 1:9-10  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ

Amusement Park: Ferris Wheel

Amusement Park: Ferris Wheel

“Are You sure we’re safe?” Amalia sat still, eyes staring straight ahead, not daring to move a muscle, fearing even the smallest twitch would cause the pod they were sitting in to rock dangerously.

“Perfectly safe. You’re with Me, remember?”

“Yeah, but I don’t like heights.”

“You did when you were on the mountain. Remember the view from the top?”

“That was different. I was standing on solid ground, not sitting in a rising pod that could flip over at any moment.”

“It won’t, but let’s say it did. You’d still be fine. Even upside down, with that seat belt, you’re not going down.”

Amalia wasn’t convinced. “What if the seat belt isn’t enough?”

“Is that why you’re holding on so tightly to this handle bar?.” He touched her fist, white from its death grip on the bar. “You don’t have to hold on to it at all.”

“Easy for You to say. If we flipped over, You’d probably stay right there on the seat while I plummet to my death. Gravity has no hold on You.”

“Amalia… Amy, my love… I thought You trusted Me. What did I tell you when we sat down in this pod?”

“You said this seat belt would keep me safe.”

“And do you believe Me?”

“Um… yes…”

“Then why are you still holding on to the handle bar?”

Amalia didn’t know what to say. Jesus never lied, and if He said the seat belt was enough, then it must be. But shouldn’t she also do her part to keep herself safe, like keeping perfectly still and holding on to the stronger-looking bars she could see right in front of her? She knew the belt was fastened across her lap, she had seen and felt it as Jesus buckled her in when they first sat down, but now, with her gaze frozen straight ahead, she could no longer see it. How could she trust something she couldn’t see? What if it wasn’t fastened securely anymore?0522201752 (2)

“Amalia, where is your trust right now?” Jesus asked as they came to a stop at the top of the Ferris wheel.

“It’s on You,” she answered quickly.

“Is it really?”

“Yes.”

“Then let go.”

“You don’t mean that! What’s wrong with me holding on?”

“It shows where your trust really is.”

“But I trust You. I wouldn’t even be here without You. Holding the bars just make me feel better. Like I have some control.”

“That’s just it. You have no control. There is nothing you can do, or not do, that would save you if this pod tipped over. Only the belt I placed on you can do that.”

“Well, if the bar can’t keep me from falling, then why is it there?”

“It forms a sort of boundary. It’s not meant to keep you from falling, but to keep your ride more enjoyable. As long as you stay behind it, there’s little chance of the pod tipping over. But if you go beyond it, there’s a good chance the pod will begin to move in ways you don’t like, and, if it tips drastically, you may experience loss. Not loss of your life, because the belt is still on, but loss of loose things which may fall, such as a hat, sunglasses, or things in your pocket or purse.”

“Oh.”

“Look around, Amalia. There is nothing as invigorating as riding a Ferris wheel with Me. There’s so much you can see from here. It’s almost like you can see into forever.”

Amalia loosened her grip on the bars, but didn’t let go. She slowly turned her eyes from side to side. Jesus was right. The sight was amazing! The amusement park laid out in front of her, leading to streets and highways filled with people journeying towards their destinations, and even further, the greens and browns of fields and forests. And the  endless sky! It was like she was part of it, and yes, it felt like looking into forever.

But could she let go of the handle bars? Could she put all her trust in the seat belt Jesus had fastened on her? Could she let go of her fear, and trust what He had told her?

As the pod slowly descended, she found herself relaxing. Yes, maybe she could let go. Jesus had always been trustworthy. The belt was there. She was safe. And the closer she got to the ground, the safer she felt. She was just about to let go when the pod began rising again. Fear filled her one more, and her fists tightened on their own accord as the ground receded. She knew in her head that she was still safe regardless of what she saw around her, but her heart was not agreeing. Doubts flooded her. What if she had heard Jesus wrong? What if she had misunderstood His words? What if being safe from falling required both the belt and the handle bars? Wasn’t she responsible for doing what she could, too?

“Jesus, help me,” she whispered. “I want to enjoy this ride. I want to trust what You say. But I’m still afraid.”

“Amalia,” came back the gentle voice. “You have to choose. Where will you put your trust? Will you put it in what you do? Or will you put it in what I have done?”

Put that way, Amalia knew what her decision would be. Yet it didn’t come easy for her. Her grip on the handle bars tightened and loosened in time with the rising and lowering of the pod as they continued revolving in the giant vertical circle. Eventually, though, she got tired of the struggle, and knew the time had come. She had to choose. More than that, she had to act on her choice.

“Okay, Jesus. I choose what You did, not what I do.” She took a deep breath, and then quickly, before she could change her mind, took her hands off the bar. Immediately she grabbed Jesus’ hands with both of hers. “Hold me, Lord. I’m completely depending on You.”

“I’m always holding you, my sweet Amalia.” Jesus’ delighted voice washed over her, filling her heart with peace. “Now we can enjoy this ride together.”

As the Ferris wheel continued to turn, Amalia found herself doing just that. Talking about what they saw, snuggling up against each other, and laughing at each other’s jokes, they became totally engrossed in the ride. From time to time, Amalia forgot about – or chose to go beyond – the boundary, and leaned out over the bar to see something that caught her attention, causing the pod to tip. But each time, she apologized to Jesus for rocking their pod, and it would return to the gentle upright swaying that she had grown to love.

Way too soon, the ride slowed and came to an end. Amalia sighed as she exited the pod. Would any other ride here even come close to the joy of this one?

“Jesus, can we ride the Ferris wheel again?”

“Yes, and, actually, in a way, you’ll always be riding it. But right now I have another ride in mind. Are you ready?”

“With You, I’m ready for anything!”

Little did she know how quickly she would regret those words.

 

 

Application:

Have you ever thought about where your trust for salvation is? Or how much of your trust is in Jesus? I struggled with that as a new Christian years ago, and wonder how many other people did the same. I’d love to hear your story!

 

Biblical Basis

Eph 6:14a  Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth… (or in Amalia’s case: “Sit there…”)

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ps 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Two Mirrors

Once upon a time there was a girl. She wasn’t too different than any other girl. Yet she thought she was, and so she acted like she was.

Other girls were pretty. She thought she was ugly. So she tried to hide whenever she could.

Other girls were fun. She thought she was boring. So she quit playing with others.

Other girls were smart. She thought she was stupid. So she quit sharing her thoughts.

She thought being ugly, boring, and stupid made her repulsive to people. And she tried even harder to disappear from everyone around her.

One day, she discovered she was invisible. No one saw her. No one heard her. She was happy, because now no one would have to endure her presence.

But she was also sad. As she watched people, she watched how they enjoyed each other and wanted to be around each other. And how they loved each other. She wanted to be wanted and loved. Yet, how could anyone want or love someone like her?

One day a friendly voice called to her.

“You can see me?”

“Yes. And I like what I see.”

“You can hear me?”

“Yes. And I like what I hear.”

“How can you like me when I’m so ugly, boring, and stupid?”

“Who told you that?”

“It’s what I see when I look in my mirror.”

“Where did you get that mirror?”

“I made it myself.”

“Can I look at it?”

“Yes, but be careful. Don’t hurt it.”

“It’s a lovely mirror. Strong, and well made.”

“Thank you. It took me a long time to make it.”

“I made a mirror, too. Would you like to look at it?”

“Yes, please. I’ll be careful.”

“Here. And you don’t have to be careful. This mirror won’t break.”

“It’s gorgeous. It’s so shiny; it looks like it is glowing! Who is that beautiful girl in it?”

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“That’s you.”

“No, it can’t be. That girl looks nothing like the girl in my mirror.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“Then that must not be me. You must be teasing me. Who is that girl, really?”

“That girl is really you.”

“But what about the one in my mirror?”

“Didn’t you say you made your mirror yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Did you get any help?”

“Well, yes.”

“Who helped you?”

“People around me. But mostly I did it myself.”

“Do you think maybe your mirror might be lying to you?”

“Lie to me? How can that happen? It’s a mirror. Mirrors always show what’s there.”

“Unless they are distorted.”

“You think my mirror is distorted? What about your mirror?”

“Oh, I’m sure my mirror is accurate. No one helped me make it, so there was no chance for it to get distorted.”

“Well, maybe my mirror is not distorted either.”

“That’s for you to decide.”

“How can I decide? Which one do I believe?”

“You can believe mine, or you can believe yours. It’s your choice.”

The girl studied her image in each mirror. She was familiar with the girl in her mirror, but longed to be the girl in the other mirror. She tried to focus on that second girl – the beautiful one – but each time, her gaze returned to her own mirror.

“I like your mirror better. But each time I try to focus on it, my eyes go back to my own.”

“You haven’t really decided yet. Wanting is not the same as making a decision.”

“I’m scared to decide. What if I’m wrong?”

“Trust me. I wouldn’t show you anything that wasn’t true.”

The girl studied both images again. In spite of the fear that seemed to consume her, she made her decision.

“I choose your mirror.”

As she held the new shiny mirror in her hands, she found laying aside her mirror was still hard. She knew it would take time to get used to looking in the shiny mirror instead of hers, but she had decided.

Little by little, as she looked at the beautiful girl in the shiny mirror, she began to think differently about herself. Maybe she wasn’t so different from other girls after all.

Other girls were pretty. The mirror showed her that she was pretty, too. So she stopped hiding as much.

Other girls were fun. She thought maybe she was fun, too. So she began playing with a few people.

Other girls were smart. She thought maybe she was smart, too. So she started sharing her thoughts with everyone around her.

She thought being pretty, fun, and smart was more fun than what she had been. She quit trying to disappear from everyone around her.

She found out… the new, shiny mirror was right.

And as she believed the image in that amazing mirror, so did the people around her. She was wanted, enjoyed, and loved.

She had one last thing to say to the one who gave her the mirror:

“Thank you, Jesus!”

 

 

 

Romans 12:3 TLB  Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.

Romans 12:3 ERV  You must see yourself just as you are. Decide what you are by the faith God has given each of us.

Bella – part 14 Are You Ready for the Truth?

Bella stared at her plate, regretting her words even as she said them. Now he would question her about them. What should she say? How much should she say? Maybe he didn’t hear her. No, she was sure they were loud enough. But would he ask her about them – or ignore them as he continued talking? She didn’t have long to wait.

“Knew what?” he asked as he bit into a slice of toast.

Stalling for time, she placed a large forkful of scrambled eggs into her mouth and began chewing slowly. Of course he would ask. Did she dare reveal her suspicions of aliens and a giant spaceship? No! She couldn’t risk having him laugh at her too. He’d think she was crazy and she’d lose any further answers about the pastor and his church. So what could she say? She didn’t want to lie, but she also didn’t want to tell the whole truth. Or did she? After all, he was the one to bring up the possibility that Pastor Toby was not human.

She swallowed the eggs, took a sip of her iced tea, then looked up at Andy.

Not knowing which direction to take, she decided to ignore his question and ask one of her own.

“What do you mean ‘for a human’?”

“Humans have weaknesses. We all have good and bad days, and we all have… less than good thoughts about other people from time to time.”

“That’s what I said,” she reminded him.

“And I’m agreeing with you.”

Exasperated, she blurted out, “But what about Pastor Toby? You said he was always good and I said that it wasn’t possible. And you said ‘for a human’. Are you saying Pastor Toby is not a human?”

Andy raised an eyebrow. “Not a human? What do you think?”

“I think this is a waste of time. No one seems to want to give me answers. Everyone just keeps talking in circles. Why is it so hard to get a simple answer to a simple question?”

“Maybe because your question isn’t simple.”

Now it was her turn to raise an eyebrow. “How is telling me who Pastor Toby is not simple?”

“Hmmm… well, maybe this will help. What if I asked you, ‘What is a rainbow?’  Simple question, yes?”

“Sure, but…”

“But is it still a simple question to answer for a 3 year old kid?” he interrupted.

She had to admit he was right.  “So a simple question to one person may not be so simple to another.”

“Exactly. It depends on what they are ready to understand. A child’s brain has not developed enough cognitively to understand rainbows. But yours has. So to you explaining what a rainbow is would be simple. But it would be pretty much impossible to explain it to a young child.”

“I get it. Do you think I’m not able to understand who Pastor Toby is? Is that why you haven’t answered that question?”

“No one knows whether you’re ready or not, except you. I can guess based on things you say, but I don’t know for sure.”

“So, do you think I’m ready?” she pushed.

He looked at her seriously for a few minutes.”I think you might be,” he said at last.

“OK. So tell me. Is Pastor Toby human or not?”

“Not,” he said, still watching her closely.

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Bella was stunned. As much as she had played with the idea that Pastor Toby might be an alien, to be told straight out like that was still a shock.

Conflicting emotions overwhelmed her. From fear and incredulous disbelief to relief that her instincts had been correct and a growing curiosity. If he wasn’t human, then what did he really look like? Humanoid? Insect-like? Or maybe some kind of energy form? Her mind was swimming with a whole new set of questions. Not able to hold them in, she began shooting them off to Andy, beginning with the most important one.

“Is he dangerous?”

“No.”

“What does he really look like?”

“No one knows.”

“Why is he here?”

“For us. Because we’re here.”

“What does he want with us?”

“To be friends.”

“Friends? Why would he come all the way here just to be friends? Surely he had plenty where he came from. Where DID he come from?”

“Well, that’s a bit harder to answer. He didn’t really come from anywhere. It’s more like he’s everywhere.”

“How can that be? Is he part of a collective consciousness or something?”

“Collective consciousness?”

“Yeah, like a hive mind. A bunch of beings all share the same mind so in a way they, as a whole, can be in many places at the same time.”

“No, nothing like that. He can read other minds, but they can’t read his so it’s not really a shared mind.”

“Does everyone else know about this?”

“No, not everyone.”’

“I mean, at the church. Does everyone there know all about him?”

“Some people know more than others, and no one knows everything there is to know about him, but sadly there are those who don’t really want to know more than the basics.”

“Such as?”

“That he’s there and he loves them. Beyond that, they don’t have much interest in learning more.”

“Why not?”

“Because, the more you learn, the closer you get to knowing him, the more he requires of you. And some people aren’t ready for that. Oh, and the enemy also comes at you harder as you grow in knowledge.”

“Enemy? There’s an enemy?”

“Yes. But don’t worry about that right now. Once you belong to Toby, you’re under his protection.”

Bella didn’t know what to say. Enemy? How dangerous was this enemy?  And what did Andy mean – belong to PastorToby? She didn’t want to belong to anyone. She had worked hard to become independent and was proud of her efforts. If she spent more time with Pastor Toby, would he make her give up her independence? Become his pet or something? And what if he decided to leave? Would he force her to go with him? Are those the plans Jude said he and his dad had for her?

Bella stood up abruptly. This was way more than she was expecting. “I’ve got to go,” she told Andy. “I’m sorry, but… I just… have to go.”

Andy stood up, too. “Bella, I know this is a lot. And it’s OK to be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. I understand. I felt the same way when I first found out. But please don’t let it scare you away. Pastor Toby really does love you. More than you can imagine. And he only wants good for you.”

Andy pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to her.  “When you’ve had a chance to process all this, please call me. I would love to talk more about this with you.”

Bella took the card and slid it into her pocket without looking at it. “Yeah, sure,” she said. “Thanks for…” she motioned to the half eaten food on the table, then, shaking her head, she raced towards the exit door. Good thing she had chosen a booth close to the door.

The nearby exit made a quick escape, but it also prevented her from hearing Andy’s prayer: “Father, I’m sorry. I sure messed this one up. Please be with her. Help her to understand and to feel your love for her. And bring her back to us soon. Don’t let anything I said drive her away from you.”

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13

Bella, part 1 –  Heart VS Brain

Bella paced in her small apartment. She wanted to go, but then, maybe she didn’t. What if that had been a onetime thing? What if they weren’t happy to see her again? Worse, what if it had all been her imagination?

She remembered the kindness in their eyes. Kindness and love. No one had ever looked at her that way before.  And her heart was crying out for another encounter with that love.

After leaving the church, she had gone straight home. She hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone until she had had time to process her experience. What was that place? Who were those men? How could such a thing even happen?

Not finding the answers inside herself, she began searching on line and reading everything she could find on churches that are bigger on the inside. She was amazed at how many references there were to that.  And how many opinions there were about it – from awe such as she had felt to passionate condemnation, and everything in between.

How was she ever going to find out the truth?

“I’m just going to have to go back,” she thought as she paced.

You don’t want to do that.

She stopped as a new thought entered her mind. The thought itself wasn’t too bad, it was the fear that accompanied it that made her pause. Maybe I don’t want to go back there. Maybe they won’t be the same. Maybe they won’t even let me in the door. After all, I had trespassed that day. They might be angry at me, now that they’ve had time to think about it.

And they’ll force you to talk about Disneyworld.

Fear continued to build in her as she thought of Pastor Toby’s question about Disneyworld. What if he tried to get her to talk about it again? What if he wouldn’t let her go until she did?

Shaking now she decided not to go back. Ever. Not knowing what would happen, she couldn’t take the chance that things wouldn’t turn out so good a second time.

That’s a smart decision. You are so wise.

Feeling self satisfaction creep in, replacing the fear, she tried to ignore the cry in her heart. Her heart had led her wrong at times. It was her brain, her intelligence, that she needed to rely on. And her brain was telling her the wise thing to do was to forget about the church.

But way down deep inside, she could hear another voice.  One calling to her heart as if responding to its cry.  “Come back,” was all it said. But it was enough.

Undecided, she stood in the middle of the room.  What should she do? Should she chance returning to the church? Or take the safe road and stay home?

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(Bella’s first visit to the church is found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 2 )

 

 

 

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day Three

This is the third and final day of the Three Day Quote Challenge, which I was nominated for three days ago by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God 

This challenge takes place over three days. Each day (or night), I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day to continue the challenge.

My third quote is this…

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“God is good even when you don’t feel it. ” from iBelieve.com.

So much of what we think is based on how we feel. This quote reminds me God is bigger than my emotions. His truth doesn’t change based on how I’m feeling.

God is GOD. He doesn’t fit in any of my boxes. He’s not bound by my feelings. He’s not limited by my understandings.

He is GOD.  And I am not.

The security that provides me is beyond measure!

 

My last nominee for the Three Day Quote Challenge is Amy Blount, at A New Life. I love how open and honest she is in her blogs. Such a strong, courageous, and encouraging woman!

Muddy Purity

She read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

“God, I have a problem. My heart is not pure.”

“Yes it is.”

“It sure wasn’t when that driver cut me off in traffic.”

“True, you could have handled that differently. But your heart is still pure.”

“No way, not after I yelled at my kids for not cleaning up their stuff.”

“Yeah, they told me about that. It’s something to work on, but your heart is still pure.”

“How can You say that after the way I ignored that homeless person holding up that handwritten sign on the corner last week? I didn’t want to give anything to him so I pretended I didn’t see him. I’m so ashamed.”

“Now that you’ve experienced that sorrow, maybe next time you won’t ignore the pleas of the poor. But your heart is still pure.”

“How can my heart be pure if I’m doing all those things? No matter how much I don’t want to, I keep sinning.”

“Sinning is not the same as purity.”

“Huh?”

“Maybe this will help. Imagine holding a diamond, a pure diamond without any flaws. IMG_20180415_052040472Now picture dropping this diamond into some mud. Is the diamond still pure?”

“Yes. The diamond didn’t change. The mud is only on the outside. Inside, the diamond is still pure.”

“That’s right. The mud cannot get inside the diamond. The mud can make the purity hard to see, but it’s still there.”

“So, my heart is pure. But my sins make that hard to see.”

“Exactly.”

“I don’t know. That’s a good illustration, but my heart sure doesn’t feel pure.”

“Purity is not a feeling. It’s a fact.”

“How do You know that?”

“Because I’ve said so.”

“You did? When?”

“That night I ate supper with my disciples just before Judas betrayed Me.”

“Wasn’t that when you talked about the vine and branches, and when You prayed for us? I don’t remember You talking about a pure heart.

“Sure. Read John 15:3.”

“It says, ‘You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.'”

“What do you think I meant by that?”

“Um, I guess I thought that meant our sins were forgiven.”

“You guess? Maybe you should look it up in a dictionary.”

“OK, here it is. Clean. There’re two definitions. The first one says ‘free from dirt, marks, or stains’. That would be the mud, right?  My sins that you’ve forgiven?”

“Yes. What does the other definition say?”

“It says, ‘pure, innocent’. Oh wow, I never associated clean with pure.”

She thought for a minute.  “So in John 15:3, when you were telling them that they were clean – pure – you were talking about their hearts and not their behavior.

“Yes.”

“And nothing they did, no sin they commit, changes that purity?”

“Right. It can be hidden under a lot of mud, but it’s still there.”

“That’s all well and good for the apostles. But I wasn’t there.”

“It applies to you, too. Read the rest of the passage and you will see that it applies to everyone who abides in Me.”

“Oh, right.” She was embarrassed that she had already forgotten that connection. “So, You said it and my heart is pure.”

“I did and it is.”

“No matter how muddy I get.”

“No matter how muddy you get.”

“Amazing,” she thought as she pictured that diamond in a mud puddle. “Simply amazing!”