50 Shades of Red

I’m not as easily embarrassed as I used to be. I’m not exactly a devil-may-care type either, but I’ve come a long way. When I was a little kid, I didn’t learn to swim because I was so self-conscious of my portly figure, I refused to go to lessons. I cried and cried until my parents gave up because it was too stressful and frankly too difficult to heft my chunky body into the car without my consent. Now that I’m an adult, I will wear a tankini and boy shorts even though my legs still have that puffy, stuck together look that cookies get when you greedily scoop bigger spoonfuls of dough than you’re supposed to because one inch balls sound like woefully undersized cookies.

My mother, on the other hand is an open book – well, maybe more like an open library where no subject is declined or off limits. She feels no shame or inhibitions about sharing anything about herself. Whether it’s announcing to the worship team at church that she may or may not feel up to being at the next practice because she is scheduled for a colonoscopy that day, or laughing at herself uproariously while telling everyone that she accidentally walked into the men’s room last Sunday, she doesn’t hesitate to bare all. My mother is not afraid that people will shun her. She doesn’t fear rejection because she believes she is lovable and truly liked.

The love that God, friends and family have invested in my mother have erased any self-doubt and compels her to live out loud and as herself. I too have the support and love of God, friends and family. But if I am honest, any hesitation on my part is my refusal at times to believe in the love that’s been offered.

It’s not without reason that I’ve been reluctant: kids made fun of my chubbiness, people that said they’d be there for me when my dad died weren’t, people that promised to keep my secrets when my first husband was cheating on me didn’t. I have felt many times in my life that my personal garbage was set on the roadside with a “free” sign.

People failed me and caused a lot of distrust, made me guarded. I know I’m not the only one. Who knows your oldest, deepest secrets? Who do you share your happy moments and vulnerable feelings with? Don’t be the friend that no one really knows. Don’t let your favorite color, coffee drink and benign little tidbits of your life be the only parts of your life you’ll share.

When you hold back your true self from people, you will get the same in return. It makes for very shallow, brief relationships. Be yourself, share your heart.  I can’t guarantee that it won’t include some heartache; even Jesus was betrayed by a friend in his inner circle and other friends and family failed him as well. But I don’t see any evidence in the bible to support allowing past hurts to justify cynicism and holding people at arm’s length.

Quite the contrary, the bible holds nothing back. There is no detail too personal or too gritty. The scandals that stain the pages of God’s Word have been penned in the blackest, most permanent ink. Yet the miracles and hope that leap from the words will live on for eternity. Everything we want to know about the character and personality of the God who is our father, friend and Lord is laid out without apology or hesitation – He wants to be known and know us in return.

If you want to know how to befriend and love purely and willingly, be His friend. If you want to live honestly and unmasked, follow His example. If you need faith to accept that it will all turn out ok, read His Word. God is not easily shocked or embarrassed by anything we do and he’s seen it all. Don’t let your hang-ups and past hold you back from enjoying your life, relationships or who God created you to be.

Angie D 6/15/12 ©

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Why Do Some Seasons Drag On?

Winter here in Washington has been disappointing; a gray slurry of soggy grass, deep puddles and overcast skies. Even the few days of fluffy white snow quickly hardened into dense layers of ice encasing every square inch of our landscape.

It has been bleak and tiring, even oppressive at times. The abysmal weather just drags on and on.

Tomorrow is the first day of spring but you’d never know it around here with the alternating bouts of frost, snow and rain throughout the last few weeks. While there have been sunny days here and there just long enough for our pale residents to kick off their rain boots, it doesn’t last long and a cold downpour always seems to ruin the weekend.

It feels sometimes like spring will never come and we will always be looking over our shoulder for signs of rain.

It reminds me so much of difficult times I’ve lived through. You let yourself hope and settle into “spring” and then the clouds come rolling in.

You feel like a fool for believing things were going to change. You promise yourself to never be so stupid again.

When you’re going through a difficult season, unpleasant surprises aren’t just annoying, they tax your sanity. You just want to breathe easy and settle into a life where everything is new and warm.

Before I met my husband, I was in a relationship that was riddled with ugly surprises. He betrayed me, but I forgave him and it seemed like he wanted to change. But then my blue skies would darken over and over again as he would often disappear, sometimes selling my things to fund his escapades, other times draining our account.

We were always broke. Everything I couldn’t pay for reminded me of every dollar he stuffed and every woman that lived off those dirty bills.

Having been betrayed so many times, I was weary and I was done. I just wanted a normal life where what I nurtured would grow.  I was done with always waiting for when my bright day would freeze over and life would become cold and slick.

I finally moved on and stop putting my hope in my efforts and God, but in just God.

It was very hard and sometimes I felt very small and alone. But I had a verse that I know God showed me to give me hope and I would read it over and over:

“For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit – a wife who married young, only to be rejected….Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:4-6, 10)

Here was my story and God had already prepared for it, just as he did for Israel! He promised long before I was born that he would be my husband and redeemer and even though my world would break to pieces around me, his love would never fail and his promise of peace would never be taken away.

He has and continues to remain true to his word – his love hasn’t failed me and his peace is real.

My life didn’t heal overnight, just like spring doesn’t appear in an instant. There are stages – parts that must melt away, roots that need to strengthen, and even rain to wash away the old grit and nourish the new life that will eventually flourish in the new season.

Things can look hopeless, but I am certain of this: Spring always comes; it just feels like forever sometimes before it does. We just need to trust that while we’re waiting, God has something beautiful in store for our future.

 

Angie D 3/19/12 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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