Thursday, February 17, 2011


This week I feel led to re-post a couple of blogs. The first is actually at the top of the Popular Posts list, having been read by almost 300 viewers the past three months literally around the world. If you've ever closed your eyes and envisioned the person you long to be, all that you dream you could be…no longer at war within yourself, confident, sure, free of all shame and the labels of your past, both other- and self-inflicted, and wondered how or if it could ever be true, click the link below.

Experience the Height

The second re-post takes our topic last week (The Truth Will Set You Free) a step deeper, and details a very personal experience I had with God a few years ago. It exemplifies what walking with God through freedom might look like. Change the scenery and some of the details, and you can have your own story. I share this post again because I understand what it is like to long for personal experience, and need a little help along the way from others. We draw from each other's experiences, learning from them, gaining hope and courage from them, and faith for our own life. Paul says that we "help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you" (Romans 1:12 NCV). This has played out truthfully in SO many ways and times in various relationships in my life. For this reason I share so openly with you all, that my faith may help you and draw you deeper into Jesus. Click below.

Authentic Experience

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Truth Will Set You Free

Disney’s 2000 movie, “The Kid,” depicts the story of a very successful image consultant, working for the big names in politics, sports, and the media. Ironically, Russ has developed quite an image for himself as an over-driven, selfish, and heartless man. A bachelor, he lives alone in a huge house full of glass with an uncomfortably sterile environment.

Russ’ controlled life is turned upside down when a mysterious kid shows up, bearing the same name (going by Rusty, Russ’ childhood name), the same scars, and the same pudgy body Russ once had. When denial and disregard fail to get rid of the boy, Russ finally acquiesces, and begins asking questions to figure out what truth he must recover from his past to move forward in his future.

The subject of his dad comes up, and Rusty talks about how he gets angry and yells at him when he messes up. In fact, he's carrying a screw in his pocket that he lost a week before and had since found, but was too scared to tell his dad about it. Their conversations take them back to his 8th birthday when the young Rusty ends up in a fight on the playground at school. When his mother comes to retrieve him, we learn from the principal she has been very ill, unbeknown to Rusty. His father unexpectedly meets them in the driveway as they return home.

Watch the clip below of that fateful day.

STOP the video at 2:55. It is important to stop here--you can finish the clip after reading to the end of the blog. Be sure your volume is turned up.

Remember Jesus said, referring to Satan, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10). And the primary way he does so is by lying to us about ourselves, others, how we perceive a situation, God, and more. Jesus tells us the devil was a "murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44b)

What is he after you ask? Our heart. Satan knows who you can be and he fears you. As daughters of Eve, yes, we know now we are bent toward sin, but we were created in the image of a beautiful and glorious, life-giving God. Woman is called ezer kenegdo (Genesis 2:18), better translated as lifesaver. (to understand more see, "God's Love, PartVIII "Experience the Width," October 2010 archive). When we live from our hearts the way we were originally intended, not only are we free, but we are able to offer life to others in their time of desperation.

When we are young we know nothing of Eve's story nor God's plan of redemption, so our enemy seeks to take us out early. While we are freshly wounded and most vulnerable, he pours salt into our wounds with his soul-killing lies. In the scene from "The Kid," we see how Rusty grew up believing his mother's death was his fault. As children, we lack the spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity to process our experiences accurately. Then we are further wounded into believing horrid things about ourselves (Stasi Eldredge, Captivating).

To make matters worse, we end up making all sorts of vows out of self-protection, burying our souls even deeper with every wound, every lie believed, and every new vow. For Russ, he was never going to cry, be weak, or let anyone close to his heart. It seemed too great a risk. Someone might get hurt, and no one was going to find him at fault again. He was in complete control of his life.

The verbal and sexual abuses I endured as a child and teenager left me feeling hopeless, bad, and a constant disappointment (to others and to God); shame had arrested me. Because I believed the crimes against me were solely my fault, I also believed I was a dangerous person. That my desires for love, care, and attention only got me into trouble (God-given desires the enemy had twisted.). I had better stay away from people--don't get too close. Steel walls were erected around my heart, no one was getting in, and this girl wasn't about to get out. As a result, duty, busyness, and control summed up my adult life.

Like Russ in the movie, I had to go back to the places I was wounded to identify the lies and discover the truth. This is not connecting with your "inner child" as some psychologists and new age believers would tell you. This is about your heart. John Eldredge says, "Life is a journey of the heart that requires the mind, not the other way around." Jesus wants to free us from the lies and labels of our past that chain us. We must invite Him in, give Him permission and access to our broken hearts.

Those vows we made as children act as sort of a covenant, a deep seated agreement with the messages (lies) of our wounds. They are dangerous. The key to unlocking them is in renouncing them. We cannot wait until we no longer feel they are true, we must renounce them before we're convinced they aren't true. Renouncing the agreements unlocks the door to Jesus. (Captivating)

Here's an example of how we would pray, taken from Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Jesus, forgive me for embracing these lies. This is not what you have said of me. You said I am your daughter, your beloved, your cherished one. I renounce the agreements I made with [name the specific messages you've been living with. "I'm stupid. I'm ugly." You know what they are.] I renounce the agreements I've been making with these messages all these years. Bring the truth here, oh Spirit of Truth. I reject these lies.

And let the tears come. Tears validate our pain. They are, in a sense, like healing balm to our weary souls, tired from holding everything in for so long. Let it all out. Jesus Himself was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). Make time for this. I used to get alone in my closet, my car, anywhere private and safe.

You need to give yourself permission to feel again. Many things will erupt. Anger was a first for me. That's okay. Anger is not a sin (Ephesians 4:26). You may also feel remorse, as I did. Deep sorrow over so many years lost. Whatever comes, let it be.

"Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered. It mattered. You mattered. That's not the way life was supposed to go. There are unwept tears down in there--the tears of a little girl who is lost and frightened. The tears of a teenage girl who's been rejected and has no place to turn. The tears of a woman whose life has been hard and lonely and nothing close to her dreams."
(Captivating, p. 103)

Once the lies are broken, "then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Such freedom will reverse the life of control to a life of in the One who set you free.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The One Who Knows the Steps Holds the Key to our Heart

One of my favorite movies is Shall We Dance? Partly because I can relate to the main character, John Clark, who seems to have it all, yet secretly longs for more. Life has become stale for him amongst all the routine busyness, and something is missing…that something is his heart.

Likewise, the lead female character, Paulina (and dance instructor), has a story of her own lost passion—once focused and fiery, now buried and locked away. She hides herself in duty and passionless teaching, short of temper and patience. Her distance is kept by her icy ways of communicating with others, especially John…the one person who has the key to unlock her heart again.

Before we get too much farther, let me pose a question:  how would you best describe your life right now? Alive? Free? Passionate? Or dutiful? Busy? Stale?

At one point in the movie we learn what has brought Paulina to this lifeless state. Exposed was the loss of her first love years before through a tragic scene of events on the competition dance floor. It wasn’t a true love to begin with, and her partner’s selfish intentions were revealed when her fall cost them a highly esteemed title in the world of dance.

Now John threatens to open the wounded part of her that she has worked so hard to protect. Despite her best efforts, he eventually breaks through, as his newfound passion in the freedom of dancing awakens hers once again. Though clumsy at first, John becomes quite the dancer, and finds himself signed up for one of Chicago’s finest dance competitions.

The only one who can take him to the level he is capable of is Paulina. She finally agrees to help him, and they meet one night alone at the dance studio. The music is intense, and so is the atmosphere as his strength begins to unlock her tightly sealed vulnerability. Paulina breaks away in fear and frustration a couple of times, but the reminder of what it feels like to be alive again pushes her to get back in the dance. She finally releases herself and leans into the strength holding her, abandoning herself to the music once again.

When the healing of our heart begins, usually something happens, a crisis of sorts, an awakening, etc. Somehow we begin to see that something just isn’t quite right; life is not the way it was meant to be, and far from what we long for it to be. Also, in the beginning of recovering that life, it can feel scary. Intimidating. Confusing. And we are tempted to push away. There is something so unfair about the way the enemy comes and cuts in with fear, tempting us to believe that the life we want is not worth fighting for.

Early in the movie described, we see Paulina looking out a window of the dance studio. She tries to keep her lost stares and her blank expressions hidden from the rest of the world. Yet hopes of surviving through duty and self-protection are challenged when John comes on the scene. Little does she know at first that the keys to true freedom are at hand.

So it is with God in our lives. After running long and hard away from my past, a few great losses too close together stripped me of all the strength I’d carried. Then my tightly built, self-made walls of security came crashing down around me. It was in that desert place God came for me in the most unexpected ways. And He comes for you just the same, Dear Friend.

“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.”
(Hosea 2:14-15 NLT)

Jesus knows the key to unlocking our heart is found in facing our past. It first takes stripping us of all our destructive ways of survival and self-protection. Then we must go back to the place where we were once wounded and recover what was lost, stolen, and given up there.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
(John 10:10 NIV)

One of the problems, though, is that we’ve believed a lie that what happened in our past doesn’t matter. We fail to see how our past shaped us and made us who we are now. We try to forget the past, but even if we do attempt facing it, well-meaning people tell us to “just let it go.”

Ever wonder what in the world that means? Listen clearly, Friend, letting go only comes in healing. If it didn’t, then Jesus would not have made a big deal out of being the one who comes to heal the brokenhearted!! (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4)

Our minds do not have the ability to forget our wounds forever, and our hearts are not able to just pick up and move on as if nothing ever happened. If we try, we’ll carry the bloody footprints of our hearts with us every where we go. Just look at the desolate woman next door, or the one who fights to be the center of attention at work. Yes, even the one exhausted by controlling her world and almost every person in it. (the latter was me)

As we begin to dig into the recesses of our pasts, I realize how painful some reminders will be. No one wants to go there, but take heart…we are not going alone. Jesus is going with us…He wants to heal us, set the record straight, and restore what has been lost and stolen. Remember, He wants to fix it. (“When Partial Isn’t Good Enough” January archive)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, 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 61:1-3 NIV, prophesying of Jesus)

Only Jesus holds the keys to unlock our heart, and with His healing, bring the liveliness, passion, and freedom we long for. He knows the dance steps, and He leads with a strength we can trust. Take courage. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!