On the No-Shower Days

Battle-weary from warring with worry, dazed and confused from the hard fall after the rug got pulled from beneath your planted feet, and insulated in isolation from the human interaction you desperately need, you find yourself staring at that familiar image in the mirror.  If only you could sneak in a 5-minute date with the tub.  A little too familiar?  A few too many no-shower days?

When life is providing challenges, it’s easy to fall into a few of Satan’s well-hidden traps.  If we learn to become vigilant and become skilled at recognizing and disarming them, we stay steady on our journey, and the no-shower days don’t hold as much power as they otherwise would.

Let’s visit a few of the deceiver’s favorite go-to snares otherwise known as lies.

Catastrophizing.

This is where you imagine the worst of outcomes.   Your inner Buzz Lightyear is screaming, “This will last to infinity and beyond!”  This present affliction has to be the absolute biggest and baddest of all big and bad things.   In this place, convincing yourself that this difficult day is destined to be repeated for the next 365 comes easy.  Words like “never” and “forever” and “always” ricochet in your brain space, piercing any positivity you might cling to.  You obsess over the current cause of your hygiene hiatus and believe you will never again shower.  Each of us have our own bait-lines that when swallowed, pull us into the abyss of despondency.  What are yours?

Ruminating. 

In an article titled “Rethinking Rumination” in Perspectives in Social Science, the authors give an excellent definition for rumination…

“rumination is a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of distress and on the possible causes and consequences
of these symptoms. Rumination does not lead to active problem solving to change circumstances surrounding these symptoms.  Instead, people who are ruminating remain fixated on the problems and on their feelings about them without
taking action.” 1

If your thoughts have become the equivalent of a bad vine on YouTube, identify them now.

Enumerating.

Keeping track of your woes?  Adding up insults?  Tabulating troubles?  Multiplying misery?  How often do we count our burdens when we should be counting our blessings?  Becoming an accountant for the adversary is nothing but nonproductive.   It’s easy on the sans-bath days to start a lengthy list of all you do for the others in your life.  What are you logging into your mind’s ledger?

Generalizing.

Sweeping generalizations, the labeling of all of life.  One terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day does not mean they all will be.  Even if the present circumstance does permeate more time than we would choose, it will get better.  It will get easier.  We become healthy when we accept, adjust, and adapt.  Have you painted over a brilliant fine line of promise with a wide brush stroke of generalization today?

Victimizing.

It is far too easy to adopt a victim mentality on the hard days.  Human nature seeks to place blame on someone or something tangible.  We step right into the snares called “If only” and “why can’t”.  Here’s the deal;  bad things happen, people fail us, not everything comes with a labeled reason.  No matter what the source of your pain is, you get to choose whether you will live as a victim or victor.  Taking control of your thought life is the first step in becoming the latter.  Who do you tend to “blame” for your no-shower days?

The Solution:  Spirit-filled mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, apart from spirituality, is defined by Psychology Today as:  “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Mindfulness tells Buzz Lightyear that he’s overly dramatic.  When truly mindful, we can be aware that this no-shower day is actually a no-shower hour because we are simply in the moment, hour, day.   It grounds us in this truth:

Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Matthew 6:34

See, even the Father instructs us to stay in the present!

With spiritual mindfulness, we can purposely list our blessings,  identify joy in mundane moments, cultivate a garden of gratitude as children of a loving God who holds the future we fear.

Rejoice always!  Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)

Here’s the best part!  As Christ-followers, we have an abundance of help.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be discerning of our thoughts and motives.  He is waiting to gently and graciously expose those destructive thought patterns which make us so vulnerable to Satan’s lies.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.  Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.    John 14:26 (HCSB)

When we allow The Spirit to control our thought live vs. dialing him up for damage control, our no-shower days aren’t so distressing and the image we see as we pass the mirror is not that of a worried and worn-out woman, but that of a gentle and quiet spirit who just happens to be tired.  Big difference, my friends.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.  And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:26-27 (HCSB)

So, you there with the greasy hair and the baggy sweats, know first that you are loved fiercely by your Father God.  Become obsessed with that.  Ruminate on that.  Count the ways He loves you.

BE MINDFUL OF HIM WHO LONGS TO FILL YOUR MIND!

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth , or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)

Make a plan for your next no-shower day.  Right now!!!  Here’s your have-ready list:

  • Scripture verses that hold great meaning to you personally.
  • A positive statement in BIG letters for a prominent place.  i.e. “This too shall pass” or “I am loved by the King” or “He knows”.
  • A dry erase marker for your bathroom mirror.  Draw a happy face every time you visit that room.  Don’t forget to smile back at it.
  • Start a blessings list now and add to it ON your rough days.
  • A play-list of your favorite inspirational music.

Blessings my friends!

 

(1) (http://drsonja.net/wp-content/themes/drsonja/papers/NWL2008.pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

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Standing in the Pig Poop

Jesus drives out demons.  People drive out Jesus.

 Can you make any sense of it?  I can’t and of course, we can easily condemn the actions of our ancestors in scripture given we have the script in our hands.  Really, what was wrong with these people?

Let’s recap the situation.  There is this demon-possessed man who had run naked and lived among the tombs and hills where he didn’t sleep, wailed day and night and cut himself with stones for what the Bible says was a “long time”.  He was so violent, so maniacal that he repeatedly tore off the irons and chains that the people placed on him.  Imagine this uncontrollable savage whose eyes would have revealed the demonic torment raging within.  Obviously, no one was safe to travel the path that ran past these tombs of terror.   No Hollywood special effects needed, this was the real deal.  Demons.  Not one, not two, but thousands. The Legion. You can read the story for yourself in Matthew 8, Mark 5 and Luke 8.

So, Jesus, fresh from terrifying the disciples by calming the storm with three words, had just arrived to the region of the Gadarenes when this tortured man starts screaming at Jesus.   Remember, “even the demons believe and tremble in terror”. (James 2:19).  They, the demons, beg Jesus not to send them to the abyss but ask instead to be sent into a herd of pigs grazing on the hillside.  So, with his permission, the evil spirits exited the man and entered the approximately 2,000 pigs who then promptly drown themselves.

At this point, the horrified hog handlers book it and they broadcast to fellow farmers and townsmen alike what they just witnessed with their very own eyes.  There was no choice between the fight or flight response.  Unadulterated, adrenaline-laced fear fueled them as the fled the scene of deliverance.

Out come the people to see for themselves, and there he is!  The crazed man is totally coherent.  He is sane.  He is clothed.  He is sitting at the feet of Jesus hanging on every word.  Here’s where the story takes a twist.   The reaction of the people is not what we would expect.  No praise.  No worship.  No gratitude.  No falling on their knees in the presence of the healer.  Just dead pigs in the lake, leftover excrement, and fear.  Fear.  So much fear that they begged Jesus to leave their region. What?  Send Jesus away?  But, I don’t understand!  He just performed a miracle of gigantic proportion!  The whole community benefited from this.

Oh, the fear factor.  I have an intimate knowledge of fear and the sin that springs from it.  I believe it is one of Satan’s favorite tools.

The translation of this particular “fear” from the Greek ephobethesan, is “to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm” and in this case, “of those startled by strange sites or occurrences”.  (Strongs). Let’s look at a couple other instances where this definition of fear is written about.

  • The disciples were seized by it just prior to this scene when Jesus calmed the storm.  (Mark 4).
  •  In John 6, it overtook them after Jesus walked to them on water and caused their boat to instantly time travel to the shore.
  •  The shepherds were hit hard when the angel appeared announcing Jesus’ birth. (Luke 2)
  •  Peter, James and John were brought to their knees at the transformation of Jesus where our Savior’s face glowed, his clothes became dazzling white, Moses and Elijah appeared, a bright cloud covered them all and God audibly spoke.  (Matthew 17 and Luke 9)

Are there any words to describe the terror which strikes at the frail human heart when brought face to face with the supernatural acts of our sovereign Christ?  No, for it is at that moment that we become engulfed by our finite and frail humanity and yes, the flames of spontaneous, sinful fear send us fleeing or, as in this case, begging the Savior to leave our territory.

There they were, sending away the solution as they stood ankle deep in pig poop, the disgusting waste of Satan’s evil army. No pigs, no demons, just the leftovers.   What is it that made them fear the Sovereign Solution over the remnants of years of torment?   What is it that made them fear the Supreme over the damned?  Why did they not want more of what Jesus had to offer?

It has been suggested that money drove their fear.  Two thousand hogs was a costly loss, and what else was this Jesus going to do; however, I don’t think it was that when we look at the other scriptures where the Greek “ephobethesan” is used.

 I think the pure power that pours from our Lord and Savior frightens us in ways we aren’t always aware of.  Why?  

Maybe because we are always trying to be the ones in control.

 Maybe because we are more comfortable with the status quo than we are with being moved out of our comfort zone.

 Maybe because when we see how unfathomably great our God is, we realize how small we really are.  

Maybe because we don’t believe we are worth delivering.

 Maybe because we are actually afraid of what He may ask of us.  

Maybe, just maybe, its because we don’t truly know the totality of who it is we worship and serve and because of that, faith gives way to fear.

Sit with this question:

 Are you standing ankle-deep in your leftover mess while sending away the solution?  Why?  What are you afraid of?  

Lord, forgive us for sending you, our Sovereign Solution, away.  Forgive us for not falling to our knees in worshipful respect and awe at your power.  Forgive us for not calling on you to exercise it in our daily lives.  In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Venues of Vulnerability.

A little backstory.

I like to write from the promise in my life, from those jagged, rocky places where you come across reminders of God’s goodness, His grace.  Places in the journey where He brings you comfort and peace in His everlasting word.  I write in the hope of encouraging, maybe challenging my reader.  I write to keep myself accountable and tuned in to that which I know is true.

Today, I write from a dark place.  I open a door that common sense says is better left shut.  I let words drip off my fingertips onto the keyboard that are oh, so hard.  It’s time, though.  When the Holy Spirit keeps you up long into the night, and He stirs such a fiery restlessness in your bones, it’s time.  I have chosen to write from an intellectual and experiential place.  Leaving my desire to insert God’s word in all my posts is difficult; however, not all readers will be able to get past their resistance to “religion” to join me in thinking….good old thinking, contemplating, considering.  So, let’s hash out reason.

I am a fully-healed, yet ever-changed victim of childhood sexual abuse.  Not once.  Not twice.  Repeated over the course of my 5th year of life.  I’ve never written or spoken publicly of this because I want to honor my parents who did not know of it at the time.  I waited years to tell them.  So, please allow me to make this very clear, I was blessed with healthy men in my family who loved and nurtured me as God intended .  I was the victim of an UNRELATED male offender.  I’ve even worried about unintentionally implicating all the healthy men I grew up in close contact with.    That’s a victim mentality, I challenge you to look for that in your own life or in the lives of ones you love.  I challenge you because given the statistics,

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old (NSVRC),

many of you reading this have also been victimized.   Here’s the deal though.  You simply can not debate the gender-neutral bathroom push on only an intellectual level.  There is an experiential component to this that, in the world of an abuse victim, supersedes legal arguments.  That, my friends, is why I bare my soul.

Moving on to the issue at hand…

Venues of Vulnerability is a term I’ve given to a place or places where a predator can hang out to gain easy access to his or her prey.  These avenues of assault are everywhere thanks in big part to social media.  A venue of vulnerability can be a sleepover, a bar, a frat party, a bonfire, a car, a taxi, Facebook, Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram…..etc.  Now, it seems we want to add public restrooms and locker rooms to the predator’s playgrounds.  Who gets to join me in the bathroom?  Who gets to sit on the toilet next to me with large cracks in stall walls and doors while I am exposed and vulnerable?  Worse yet, who gets to be there with my young ones?

Can we just lay down angry agendas and this crazy need to categorize ourselves so we can blow the stall door off the bathroom bills and expose the danger lurking under the guise of “freedoms”, “rights”, “sexual identity”?  We can’t “vet” every man that walks in a woman’s bathroom.  We can’t “vet” every woman who walks into a men’s room.  No one is  going to hire security guards for bathroom patrol.  More and more innocent victims of sex trafficking are being enticed by other victims in venues of vulnerability.  We have to close this loophole!

  I am not scared of a transgender in my bathroom, but I’m terrified of the pretender! 

All of us should be, no matter what our sexual identity is.

One of the sadly ironic things that we see often in our society is media-fueled, attention-seeking activist’s agendas to “further the cause” of a group who has decided their desires trump other’s rights which in the end, actually bring chaos and destruction to the very groups screaming for equality.  I do not believe the greater LGTBQ community believes these are healthy legislations.  How can they?  Let’s look at how many of them have experiential knowledge of victimization:

46.4% lesbians, 74.9% bisexual women and 43.3%
heterosexual women reported sexual violence other
than rape during their lifetimes, while 40.2% gay
men, 47.4% bisexual men and 20.8% heterosexual
men reported sexual violence other than rape during
their lifetimes. (NSVRC)

Please, LGTBQ citizens, SPEAK against the machine driven to destroy you in the name of advancing you.  Are you all okay with earning the right to use whatever gender-labeled bathroom you feel most comfortable with if that very privilege costs just one precious child their innocence? Many of you are parents.  Are you comfortable with making your daughter available for the sexual predator to gaze upon in a restroom or locker room, perhaps see him performing a sex act on himself while he does so?  Gross?  You bet!  She won’t unsee that, and she won’t unfeel the disgust that the sight of her incited that.  If you feel squirmy reading it, I feel the same writing it. Folks, it is our reality.  Are you really okay standing on the front line of pushy political preference when your freedom to use a certain restroom trumps  religious freedoms of that of a Muslim woman who can’t even uncover her head, let alone share a bathroom with a man?  How does it sync with the greater belief of the LGTB community that everyone is entitled to their rights, be it sexual, reproductive, or religious when I lose mine for you to gain yours?   Private bathrooms?  I’m all for it.  I would prefer that to sharing any day, but we all know how quickly public facilities will be jumping to construct multiple private restrooms.

I truly hear the cry of the bullied.  I just don’t know how a male child dressed in female clothes who insists on using the girl’s restroom or locker room will be any less exposed to suicide-inducing bullying.  Can anyone answer that?  Talk about a Venue of Vulnerability!  Then, to add to the far over-reach of government; here in Michigan, we have a bill that would allow our children to use any name they choose, pick their sexual identity, and the parents will not be entitled to that knowledge.  I was under the impression that our sophisticated society was working to create healthy families where children learned and thrived yet, our schools will help them harbor secrets from their parents encouraging the child to live further underground in their fear and shame.  So, are we assured that suicide rates will drop when the district helps the child hide out?   There is no prescription for how a family deals with finding out their child is gay.  How dare a broken educational system dictate what the one-size fits all fix is and when that occurs.  How dare the system want me involved in homework and academic performance yet my momma hands have to be off my child’s sexuality during formative years.  No!  Can anyone explain that?

One of the things that prompted me to write this now was a “lively” debate with a stranger on social media.  She asked that I read an article titled: Who’s Afraid of Gender-Neutral Bathrooms? by Jeannie Suk for The New Yorker, published January 25, 2016.  I read it.  I laughed.  Let me provide you a quote from the article:

“Perhaps the point is precisely that the public restroom is the only everyday social institution remaining in which separation by gender is the norm, and undoing that separation would f eel like the last shot in the “war on gender” itself.”

Seriously?  She tied this to LGTBQ rights why??  I’m not sure gender-neutral bathroom proponents even know what they are fighting for!  I’m positive they don’t want what they are going to get when these bills pass UNLESS they are just in it because they like a fight, a social cause.  You might win the battle but lose the war at the cost of our innocents.   I can’t even address my opinions on this nonsense because women’s rights and equality should include safety.  The author refers to segregated bathrooms as being a “Victorian phenomenon”.  Not in my 2016 world, so let’s get back to the real issue.

Every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.  Every 107 seconds! (RAINN).

In an article written by Emily Thomas by the Huffington Post in November of 2013, she cited a report from the National Research Council.  Within the pages of stats compiled in the book Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault was this statement.

“Rape and sexual assault are among the most injurious crimes a person can inflict on another. The effects are devastating, extending beyond the initial victimization to consequences such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sleep and eating disorders, and other emotional and physical problems. Understanding the frequency and context under which rape and sexual assault are committed is vital in directing resources for law enforcement and support for victims. These data can influence public health and mental health policies and help identify interventions that will reduce the risk of future attacks. Sadly, accurate information about the extent of sexual assault and rape is difficult to obtain because most of these crimes go unreported to police.”

Sadly, we will never know the real statistics on rape and assault because it’s estimated that only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities.  Combine that with rape being the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police  (NSVRC), this is not the time to provide Venues of Vulnerability.

How do I end what is an emotionally-charged piece?  Experientially.   Maybe with a request.  At age 5, I did not know how to keep myself safe, and it would not have mattered if I did.   I get we can’t stop all victimization, but all of childhood and some of my adult life was lived under the shadow of fear, mistrust, vulnerability and shame, acutely aware that this world was so unsafe.   It has been through God’s grace and freedom that I am that “fully-healed, yet ever changed” woman.  While I am thankful that my abuse has been redeemed and has provided me with great understanding and insight, I will lift my voice in  a cry of warning and plead with my fellow citizens to shut down this Venue of Vulnerability.  If my words can save just one child, one adolescent, one adult from living under the shadow, then let it be.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center – Info and Stats for Journalists

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

Dance of the Daffodil

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From brown and barren ground, you make your promised presence known.  Enduring icy frosts and winter storms, your growth’s timing is not your own.

And when it seems cruel winter has spoken its last goodbye, stinging snow falls once again through foreboding, greying skies.

Beautiful, brilliant daffodil, you live not your’s, but HIS good will.  So, bend with grace beneath this season’s unfair weight and kinder times anticipate.

Trust in the One with whom you dance.  None of this is happenstance.

Bow your head and take this rest.  Accept the trials, accept you’re blessed.

One day the sun again will shine.  You’ll lift your head and find it’s time, to raise your weathered petals high and sway in praise to Adonai.

Yes, Adonai (our Lord and Master) provides so many lessons in nature.  We can stand in awe of his might and grand design, or like today, we can identify with the tender plant being assaulted by a heavy, late Spring snow.

Is this you?  Are you a tender daffodil emerging from crisis, trying to heal from pain, redefining your life after loss, facing an unknown future?  Please know that with your full cooperation, God will redeem it, meaning he will purchase your pain, disillusionment, fear, whatever you are holding, and he will present you with His peace in its place.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

We get to choose whether or not we accept what he gives when he purchases our pain.  We can stand there at the cash register of life with our arms folded, shaking our heads no and demanding what we think we should receive; or, we can hold out trembling, empty hands extending from battle-weary bodies that house trusting hearts.  We get to choose to  believe what he places in those hungry hands is what we need to grasp for His glory to be displayed in our weakness!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

daffodil in snow

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So today, see your storm as His power being made perfect in your weakness, and see this weight of your circumstances as a spiritual workout preparing you for an eternal weight of glory!!  Doesn’t that twist the tears of sorrow to Yes, Jesus! tears of joy?!

 

 

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The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy of Chronic Illness

If you don’t ask, I won’t tell. That sometimes becomes the easiest way to dance around being in relationship with the healthy while managing chronic illness.  

Please keep in mind that this article is written with the very broad spectrum of chronic illnesses in mind, from mental health issues to debilitating and degenerative diseases.  I’ve written this to both the one who struggles with illness and the one in relationship with him or her.

I had some surgery recently which was the result of one of those perfectly constructed domino displays where treating one problem lead to another to another. Now, I’m smack dab in the middle of missing my “this is working” treatment protocol thanks to one more falling domino. I didn’t tell people other than my family, a sweet lady from church who prayed me through it, and a close friend who happened to be on the receiving end of my “help” text, scooping up my child from school on one of the days where a quick recheck turned into a three hour doctor visit. I privately asked my pastor for prayer and gave him the date of the procedure, explaining I don’t share things on the prayer chain anymore because, honestly, it could be something every week.  

We must decide when and what is “big enough” to call in reinforcements. Doing that too often can cause our dignity to take a hit because no one wants to be the needy one, the reason for a sigh or roll of the eyes amongst friends, the “again?” burden.  

Most likely, the dear one reading this knows this scenario all too well; however, if you are outside of the chronic illness circle, you do not, will not, and should not (because we don’t wish this on anyone) truly understand the persistence of our illnesses or the ways it dictates our days.

This does present some challenges as we seek deep and intimate relationships with others. What do we share? When do we share? With whom do we share? How much detail do we share? How often do we share?

For those of us who are sidelined, social media can be this sweet connection with others in the outside world yet at the same time, awakens a longing for the normalcy our friends enjoy. Jealousy can easily creep in like the sneaky sin it is, as we read of shopping, travels, and schedules brimming with activities. She whispers, “Don’t you wish you could do that”? Judgement can raise her ugly fist when we read “woe is me” posts about passing and temporary illnesses. She shouts, “Are you kidding me, you don’t know how much you should be thankful that all you have is a sore throat, wake up”! Next, comes Resentment or Resignation, whichever you allow to take hold.  

For my fellow Cibs (chronic illness buddies) and those of you who rub shoulders with us, I want to propose that Resentment shows up loud, proud, and aggressive. She is in-your-face opinionated and speaks unapologetically in negative tones. She is angry at living a life she didn’t chose and has not yet embraced any beauty from her ashes. Her unresolved anger at God for allowing her suffering spills into her everyday relationships with fellow humans. She fights a losing battle, exhausting all of her limited emotional and physical resources, against a life lived with limitations she doesn’t want. Resentment is just plain stuck in the mud of self pity.
Resignation, on the other hand, is more composed…..quiet, actually. She has come to a place of acceptance. She may even be able to look for the hidden blessings in her situation and relish the relationship she is developing with the Lord that springs from trials. Healthy Resignation has to be true. It isn’t resignation if it pseudo acceptance.  That, my friends, is the sin of manipulation.

Pseudo acceptance is an act in Satan’s grand theatrical production. God sees through it, and you will never have peace just playing the role of a martyr to your illness.

Healthy Resignation speaks softly from a place of embracing the path God has allowed and trusting in His sweet promises every stony step of the way. Resignation is not superhuman, but she rests in the One who is.

So, back to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy…..yes, we are aware of the drain that sharing our daily battles would place on our relationship with healthy friends and family. When you ask how we are doing, we must immediately weigh out 1) Do you really want to know or are you being polite? 2) Would you understand the medical jargon I would need to explain it in? 3) Have I recently burdened you? 4) Is this the time or place for this conversation? 5) If I tell you the truth, will you pull away from me?  

Know that watching a friend or loved one with chronic illness withdraw may be their well-intentioned attempt to protect the relationship with you they find so precious. It may well speak to how highly they value your place in their life. 

 A tentative friend may be one who is longing to pour out her angst and discouragement to someone he or she loves (you) but when is enough, enough? Better to keep quiet than risk loss?

Breaking the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy takes bravery. It takes a brave friend to take the time to authentically ask, and on the flip side, it takes a brave friend to truthfully tell. No matter which side of the fence you are on, it is a lot to take on in this hurried, surface-skimming world.

 Time and vulnerability…..neither are as highly valued as they should be. Food for thought.

Validation versus Valuation

I saw her on social media.  She was beautiful.  Young, fresh faced, and glowing.  She had a cowgirl hat on and a cute plaid shirt but was pulling her shirt open to one side to expose a lacy, blue bra.  A blatant tease for any male that happened upon it.  A begging for attention albeit only the sexual kind.  She was very validated by men and women alike with comments and “likes”, but all I could see was the longing for someone to value her for what lies beneath the beauty.

It looks  different for us older women, but I fear it is much the same.  Our audience changes and most probably our activities, but the desire for validation remains.

Any of us who spend any time on social media or television see it all the time.  We read it all the time.  As a woman and mother to daughters and granddaughters, I have this urge to scream at the screen…..”you’ve got it all wrong!  We’ve got it all wrong!”
I could expound on the evils of social media, television, advertising, the movie industry, objectification of women, the music industry, the porn industry, etc. all of which feed female insecurity about our bodies, our choices, our style, our individuality, our interests, but I won’t.   That’s all been hashed out hundreds of times.   I don’t want to distract you from the issue at hand:

Validation is not the same as Valuation.

We are allowing Satan, the Father of Lies to confuse us.  He wants you to search for validation from the world, from people.  He wants you to believe your worth is tied to being validated in the here and now by those around you.   He wants to make you forget your true valuation is found in Christ alone.  You can be validated by words of affirmation or the click of a “like” on your Facebook page but you will never be valued by other humans like Abba values you.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Having others find your words and actions valid is not what your soul desires.  Validation from others will never quench that thirst.  Your soul cries for the deep, undefinable value that comes as a grace gift from God.  Can you accept it?

We live in this global world where lives are on display more than ever before.

The average Josie can plaster herself all over the world-wide web with a quick selfie and a click of the post button.  She begs for valuation but only gets validation that yes, she is beautiful with all kinds of emojis to go along.  God does not value outward beauty.  He values your eternal,  inside self.   The part of you he wants in eternity with Him.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

The average Josie can blog…average self included.  Why all the bloggers out there?  Why thousands of opinions on how to stop a 2-year-old temper tantrum or successfully raise a teenager….Well, we are quite possibly looking for validation from the masses that we do, indeed, have great wisdom and skill.  It is possible God does not value our faulty wisdom, especially that which he has not imparted.  He values our minds and desires that we seek to find Him in every portion of our day, Him!!

The average Josie can share her successes, and those of her kids with all her devoted friends who will in turn be awed and amazed at the stealthy way she navigates the challenges of daily life while they salivate over the delicious meals she serves her family (insert Instagram) while their family eats yet another cardboard pizza.  She is validated by the likes and comments.  God does not value your meatloaf and get this….probably not even your child’s math grade.  He values you!  He values your heart!  He values your child’s heart!  How sadly we unknowingly teach our children to seek validation for works and effort instead of teaching them how very precious they are to Abba both in failure and success.  Visit Mary and Martha in Luke 10.

C’mon ladies.  Be honest.  It feels good to have validation.  I’m guilty as charged!

I’m not saying you need to dump social media, and I am not saying you dump personal responsibility because God values you in any state.   I’m saying you need to know what matters.  I’m saying you need to know WHO matters.  The lover of your soul, that’s who.

Let’s break it down.

Validation is to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of *you*.  Merriam Webster until the *you*.

Validation is something we seek to obtain from other human beings.  It is self serving.  It feeds our hunger to succeed. It is usually self contained and doesn’t place God in his rightful position.  The need for validation increases as we lose sight of our valuation.

Valuation, on the other hand, is how much something is worth, and the estimator who holds the precious object in His hands determines that worth.  You are so highly valued by God that he paid for you with the life and blood of his only son, Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world (You) that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16.

  We freely speak it, but do we believe it?

When we let God’s valuation of us start to sink into the cracks of our public facade, it is God honoring.  It is at that moment when His radiance shines through us and our actions. More of Him and oh, so much less of us.  It is at that moment when our value in Christ Jesus is apparent for our families, our friends, and the world to see.  What great hope for all the wounded and empty women in our upside down world.

Take a moment to ask yourself where you are looking for validation.   Are you chasing it down as some kind of idol?  Now, consider who you are as a daughter of the King who formed every cell in your body by divine design.   Is there anyone you can imagine valuing so much that you would hand your child over for sacrifice to save that person?  No, but you are!  God values you that much.  If we were to start living out this knowledge, what would our homes, families, marriages, churches, jobs, etc. look like?

FOR THE MARRIED ONES:  A reminder…

Far too often, I look to my husband to be the one to value me the way only a Holy and Perfect Abba can.  Women, we need to take that pressure off our men.  They are but mere humans just like us.  We set them up for failure and set ourselves up for a stream of resentment when we look for them to fill the role of God.  I look at my own marriage and must ask myself, “what emotional energy do I require my husband to expend trying to prove I am valuable as Jesus holds his hands out to me with my pricetag still showing on his flesh”?