spiritual growth

That One Time You Had to Move Heavy Rocks in the Desert #Beautiful #Growth

This morning in an effort to encourage, my friend reached across the state line via text messaging and shared with me her daily devotional.  I had gone to bed the night before feeling restless and sad.  No one else knew how I was feeling, but the emotions had translated into a lot of tossing and turning in the night. Waking to her encouragement was timely, and I pondered on the passage she had shared.

As I sat with the verses, I could hear God calling me towards humility. I hadn’t thought of myself as being prideful, but suddenly, I could see my need to be humble before God. Alone at my kitchen table, I ate my breakfast and I communicated with God. I prayed out loud and admitted the areas of pride to which I have been selfishly clinging. I asked His forgiveness and sought His help to relinquish my self-imposed expertise on any matter involving my heart. My heart is an untrustworthy vessel, and it will only be through the transformation of the Holy Spirit that I will ever again trust its workings.

In this breakfast rendezvous with God, I remembered that His love is still greater than our failings. God’s mighty hand rules over us in pure gentleness. Like warm syrup falling across a waffle, his love embeds itself into us and into the crevasses we make available to him. The places we allow Him access to will be transformed by His love. The places we hold onto–will not change. We are incapable of change. He does the transforming–not us.

After finishing my breakfast, I looked at my list of things I needed for the day’s task.  My task for today was to begin the backyard remodel in our new home. The first step in our remodel is to move several hundred river rocks from the center of the backyard to the side yard. I was going to need some sturdy work gloves and a wheelbarrow.

Backyard pre-remodel

As I drove to the hardware store to purchase the wheelbarrow, something caught my eye. The streets had a different look about them. The rain had come to town for the last couple days, and now that it was gone–the flowers were in full bloom. When you live in the desert, you don’t miss a new blossom. I smiled at the thought of what the next year will be like–experiencing a new landscape with each new season.

Returning home I went right to work moving the rocks. It was a cooler day–92 degrees at 11:19 AM–so it seemed like as good of a time as any to jump in and make some progress. As I began to move the rocks, I was full of energy. I used each rock as a tool in my current challenge to memorize the book of James. With each stone I would say a word as I tossed it into the brand new wheelbarrow.

“James (clink) a (clink) servant (clink) of (clink) God (clink)…”

photo(2)I was certain that with each stone I moved, I was making a difference in the terrain of our yard. My husband would return home pleased with my progress, and he would be relieved that the heavy work was not all falling to him.

That lasted for about three loads in the no-longer-new wheelbarrow. I had just finished quoting James 2:13, Mercy (clink) triumphs (clink) over (clink) judgement (clink), when I turned to judge my rock moving, terrain changing progress.

River RocksNo change.

I slowly slid to the ground and sat on the hot stones. I used the back of my gloved hand to wipe the sweat off my forehead, and tried not to cry.

THIS IS TOO MUCH. THIS IS TOO HARD.

I could feel the heartache from the night before climbing back up in my chest. It was a determined climb–more determined than it had been in the morning. It was steadfast and mean, and it didn’t need help from a wheelbarrow to make the journey from my heart to my mind and then from my mind to my heart. The passageway was clear for travel. I began to survey the task I was attempting and compare it to what other people were probably doing.

My imagination began to build stories:

  • Other women, women of value, are dressed fashionably today–I am in a tattered, sweaty t-shirt.
  • Other women, women I admire, are spending their day accomplishing great deeds in the Kingdom of the Lord–I am moving rocks.
  • Other women, every other woman in the world, had the foresight to protect her household, to honor her husband, and to treat the people who trusted her with respect–I am a failure.

I sat on the hot river rocks and began to cry.

The tears were unpleasant, and because my hand was gloved, I couldn’t even wipe them away. The moment could have been lovely. In a field with flowers and shade trees–God could come and surround me and give me His comfort. But, not in this desert. There is no comfort among rocks.

“Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

And with the scripture came an image of the color purple. My mind reeled back to the drive I had made earlier in the day. When I had pulled into the parking lot at Home Depot, the shrubs that I had seen several times since moving two weeks ago were blooming with brilliance. It was stunning and I was so moved by the plants, I pulled over to take pictures.

What moved me was that in God’s timing–He had changed the plants. They seemed to have erupted overnight. I had driven through the parking lot two days prior and didn’t see one flower, but in God’s due time, He had created something beautiful. So lovely that I couldn’t help but stop in the middle of the hardware parking lot, among the contractors in their trucks, and snap pictures of the lovely shrubs.

Home Depot, ArizonaLike parking lot attendants promoted to Royalty, they stood proudly, displaying their new attire for the season. After a time of rain, the King had clothed them in splendor. 

Purple majesty in ArizonaHe didn’t require anything from plants for the beauty in which He had so lavishly splayed on them, but they couldn’t help but lift their delicate branches upward–reaching to Him and giving Him the glory and honor that was due.

Bee in flight on lovely purple Arizona flowering shrubEven the smallest creatures were drawn to the beauty of the flowering shrubs. A bumblebee mid-flight snapped shots of the new blossoms, so that later he might Instagram his find. #newnectar #queensdelight

It amazes me how feeble our hearts can be. If we put our trust in the emotions that we feel throughout the day–we can find ourselves in a hot whirlwind of confusion. Lost in the desert, while holding a map and compass. Everything that this world offers proves to be untrustworthy. If we put our faith in the stories we conjure up in our imaginations, if we spend even one moment comparing our lives to the unrealistic life of someone else–we are doomed.  God wants to be involved in every step of this lifelong journey, not so we won’t fail. God isn’t afraid of our failures. He expects them, allows for them, but never, never turns away. He is on His throne in the midst of all that seems insurmountable, and He is also in the dirt lifting us up during those same insurmountable trials.  Through His methods He is transforming our lives from something hard and uninspired into something useful and lovely.

Moving rocks in the heat can feel torturous–but it is, yet, for a season. There is no reason to strive and worry. This is but a season, and each season has its own kind of beauty.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

 

affair recovery · spiritual growth

Getting Rid of Damaged Mirrors

Last week on a particularly hot August day, my mind was my companion as I was in the middle of the organizing and packing associated with this relocation adventure.  Although I was alone, I could hear a phrase over and over in my thoughts as clearly as if someone were speaking to me.

Everything is a mirror,” it called to me over the crunch of the packing paper.

Everything is a mirror,” it whispered to me while I taped a box closed.

Everything is a mirror,” it finally stopped me from all productivity.

I grabbed my pen and my journal. I was going to search within myself to uncover the meaning behind the phrase. As I began to write, I had images of Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. This nonsensical phrase was ringing in my ears and disturbing my day, and I was going to silence it for good.

After some time praying and writing, the voice seemed to have calmed significantly. Through my writing I had gained an understanding to the way I was transferring my own fears onto other people. The concern that I had over letting go of people that I care for, was the realization that they have the ability to let go of me. My fears of moving on were really the greater fear that others will move on without me. It seemed to be very simple. I praised God for allowing me to have this small insight into myself, and I prayed for the courage to let Him continue to transform me.  The voice was silenced, and I could hear my memory work, along with the other familiar household sounds.

I placed my journal on the table, and I made my way to the closet I where I was currently de-cluttering. I hadn’t walked but a few steps when I heard it again. “Everything is a mirror.”

What the heck?

I returned to my favorite place to read and journal, but this time I pulled out my phone. I opened the Google app, and I typed in: “Is everything a mirror” (side note: I would have asked Siri, but she has a tendency to be disrespectful.)

In 0.33 seconds I had 167,000,000 results. I began to scroll through the results. I was on a mission, but I wasn’t entirely sure what it was I was seeking. I closed my eyes and prayed not only for the protection of my heart, but I also I asked our God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, to give me wisdom.

  • I read an unrelated article about the difference between a mirror image and photographic image. (Cameras do add 10 pounds!)
  • I saw the lyrics to a Justin Timberlake song.   (…it’s like you’re a mirror…I don’t wanna lose you now)
  • I found a commentary on Biblehub.com on 1 Corinthians 13:12. (Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known)
  • I read an article explaining why mirrors exchange left for right, but not up for down. (Don’t think about this one for too long–you’ll get a migraine)

Then, I stumbled on an article in Psychology Today, Are Other People Your Mirror?, by Michael Formica. As I read the article I could hear it resonating with the truths I have come to know about myself. I could hear it speaking; it was as if the author knew secrets about myself that I have known for years.

The article spoke of a person’s Healthy Self Perception, in relationship to a person’s “Reflective Self Perception”. Obviously with a healthy self perception we see ourselves in the truest light of who we really are. With the latter, we begin to allow what others think about us to reflect and  dictate the decisions we make.  The more we do this, the less dimensional we become.  In the same way that a mirror is not as full, we become less full and less vibrant. We slowly become a reflection of what we think others think we are.

When a person is controlled by a Reflective Self Perception, they lose themselves. They slowly evolve into what they BELIEVE others think they are. They don’t necessarily become what others think they are–they become the person THEY THINK others think they are. This resonated so deeply with me, I could feel it in the tears that sprang up and stung my eyes.

mirror-image1

For years I have believed that everyone else believes the reason my husband and I are still married is due to his strong character–in spite of the woman I am. This was a belief I held long before I had opened myself up to the advances of another man. This was decades of seeing myself in a negative light. We had faced every parent’s nightmare when our daughter died, and statistically 80% of marriages end when there is the death of a child.  For years I believed that the people who really knew us credited my husband’s faith with being the glue that held us together.

For years I also made every demeaning joke about my sexual past that I could. Because I had made poor choices prior to meeting my husband, I constantly derided myself in a so-called effort to be the girl who could “laugh at her past”. I would jokingly refer to my former self as a “skank-whore” or an “SW”. But deep inside it was really an effort to say what I believed most people really thought. For me, it was better that I say what they were really thinking anyway. People who loved me would tell me to stop, but it was so deeply ingrained–I would think it even if I didn’t say it out loud.

As I read the Psychology Today article, it reminded me of a book I had read years ago, The Art of Racing in the Rain. The book relies on the premise that the things we think about, eventually transpire. For some people that may be a little too New Age way of thinking. I don’t buy into the health, wealth and prosperity of it, but I do think that the things we believe internally about ourselves will eventually surface in one way or another.

racing“The car goes where the eyes go” ~ Garth Stein

In so many ways, I had steered myself right into adultery by devaluing myself. I had driven myself right into the arms of someone else by believing terrible things about myself for so many years. My Reflective Self Perception was so low that I was a car accident waiting to happen. The garage door was wide open for the enemy to take advantage of the situation.

Since that day, I have taken these thoughts up with my therapist and with the people closest to me. Asking them if they see this in me, and if they see this in their own lives. Do we really become what we THINK others think we are? The idea seems to hold weight for others as well.

Since that day, I have been praying over these thoughts, and I have asked God to give me insight and wisdom in how to proceed. The simplicity of not caring what other people think doesn’t hold water for me. If I pull something OUT of my head, I have to replace it with something. As I worked through these thoughts today, the Lord gave me a plan.

1) LISTEN

2) LISTEN

3) LISTEN

It seems repetitive, and perhaps that is because it is really that simple. It comes down to listening to the ones who are willing to speak rather than listening to the imaginary thoughts of people who haven’t made an effort to communicate.

1) LISTEN to the those who are communicating with me. Dozens and dozens of people have reached out to encourage with their belief in me, their hopes for my future, and the good that they still see in our marriage. These are loving people who have taken time to write and tell me what they do think. I need to take the time to go back and read the letters that have been written, and allow them to remind me of the good that is not only in me–but in the heart of a person who would be willing to encourage another person, in spite of the person’s guilt.

2) LISTEN to the man who loves me more than any person on this planet. I don’t understand my husband’s love. I cannot explain to anyone–even to my children. In my lifetime, I have never felt such love and I have never had a person who spoke my language when I needed it more. For several years–more years than I was in the affair–I didn’t value this man or the things he would say to me. I believed the positive things he said to build me up were a testimony to his character, not mine. I believed that he would have loved his wife as Christ loved the church no matter who he had married, and that it had nothing to do with me. He tells me this is not the case.

Shortly after the affair came out, he drew me into his arms and told me that he would rather be married to me–on my worst day, than to be with anyone else–even a woman who “would never do something like this.”  He told me that the same part of me that messed everything up was the part of me that he loved the most. This man speaks truth into who I am, and into who I want to become.

3) LISTEN to the One who knows me like no other. Hidden in scripture are verses telling me of God’s passion for me. I have heard them and passed over them time and again. Well, those times need to change. At this moment, I cannot quote even one scripture to you that would remind me of how God sees me–but, I know they are in there. And, as I have been meditating and memorizing on other passages, I have a renewed confidence in my ability to find them and to learn them. I will allow them to swallow me up and transform me.

If it is true that we are all touched a little by the Reflective Self Perception then it’s just time for me to change the mirror that I have been using. The old mirror was damaged and worn, and since I am in the process of cleaning out closets it seems like the perfect time to toss it in the trash or to trade it in for a mirror that reflects not just who I want to be, but who I was always meant to become.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.   2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

 

affair recovery · spiritual growth

What I’ve Learned About Lying

I have come to realize that one of the worst things about lying to someone is what it tells them about trusting the Holy Spirit in their own life.

Having heard the phrase “squelching the Spirit”, but never giving it too much thought, I didn’t realize that I might have the ability to squelch the Holy Spirit’s prompting in the life of someone else. Last year I was fearfully trying to tame the Holy Spirit’s prompts in my own life, and I never considered His presence in the life of someone else.

After everything was out in the open, the truth of how the Holy Spirit had been moving became alarmingly clear.

The Holy Spirit was speaking to several individuals. In different ways the Holy Spirit was bringing thoughts, revelations, and a sense of awareness to them. With no physical evidence, some individuals approached me and asked me very direct questions about the things they were sensing. They mustered courage and trusted the Holy Spirit’s leading, but in an attempt to shut them down and keep them from seeing that they were correct, I flat-out lied to them.

In lying I was doing more than just covering my sin. Without thinking about the long term consequences for them, by lying, I was telling them NOT to trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. I was teaching them NOT to trust what God was so clearly showing them. The Holy Spirit is alive and He was allowing Himself to be revealed to them in tangible ways, but when I lied I was saying “Don’t listen to God; listen to me.”

A longing to see God.

In Exodus 33:18 Moses tells God that he wants to see His glory. It is at the end of a conversation that Moses was having with God. In their exchange Moses speaks to God about his insecurities. Moses is concerned that others may not understand God’s preference towards the Israelite nation. Led by this fear Moses asks God join them so that they will be clearly distinguished as God’s people. God assures Moses that He will indeed join them. Moses then makes the request to see God’s glory, and God complies in the way that Moses was able to handle.

“…I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, you cannot see my face for no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:19-20

God is powerful. He is so powerful that even the Israelite leader with whom he had actual conversations could not see His face and live. This is the same God who created plagues of frogs and locusts. This is the one who created a plague which took out all of the first born males in one night. With His power He parted the sea for His people to pass, and He sustained them for four decades in a desert wasteland. This very same God prompted His Holy Spirit to speak to believers on my behalf in an attempt to bring me to repentance. He was revealing His glory inside of them by allowing them to hear from Him in a personal way.

He was revealing Himself, and I stopped them from seeing His glory.

It’s bad enough that I was willing to let myself travel down a path of destruction and self loathing, but in lying I was also willing to have people who love me feel a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit as He was revealing Himself to them.

Sadly, I am not alone in this, for it is not only those who wear a scarlet letter who have lied.

Many people lie, including some of you who are reading this blog post written by a sinner. Granted, most of our lies don’t have the power to end a marriage, but it does not mean that God is less saddened by the lie. When we lie we are always taking a chance of squelching the Spirit in the life of another believer. When we lie we are saying to them, “Don’t listen to what you may be hearing from God. Listen to me.”

It is not only the large lies that damage another person’s ability to trust in their own intuitive nature and promptings from God. In some ways, the small lies may do more damage–simply because the lie goes undetected. There is no formal announcement to reveal the truth, and often no one is held accountable for the harmless white lie. But for the person to whom the lie was told it could be an ongoing battle for them to be able to discern and trust the Holy Spirit in themselves.

None of us can go back and make a a lie not happen, and there are many lies that will have long-lasting effects on the tellers and the receivers. The damage from a lie may be huge, and it is up to us to strive to make repairs when possible. We can return to the ones who may have courageously confronted us, to apologize and to confirm in them that they were indeed hearing the Holy Spirit. By doing this we encourage them to keep listening to those promptings and to trust those promptings even more in the future.

Through a restless night I rolled these thoughts around, and I awoke feeling awful. Owning the severity of my lies made me feel so unworthy of God’s love.

I opened my Bible and hunted to find answers for times when God’s people longed to be in the presence of the Lord and perhaps had been denied. In Exodus 33:11, I learned that when Moses and God were done speaking, after both had left the tent, Joshua (the aide to Moses) would stay in the tent alone long after. Moses would leave the tent and return to the people–who had been standing and worshiping during the exchange.  Joshua did not return to the camp with Moses. He stayed inside the tent. Perhaps he was soaking it all in. Reading this prompted me to sit in the tent with what I had read throughout the passage.  Tears came to my eyes as God used the same passage for my comfort that He had revealed in my convictions.

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion”

God is the one who chooses on whom He will shower His mercies and compassion. We want to beat ourselves up for the mistakes we have made, and oftentimes we can do more damage to ourselves than anyone else is capable.

Sometimes others in our lives want us to suffer more shame for our own sins. Shame is somehow supposed to insure that we will not sin again. However, shame is not powerful enough to have a lasting impact in a person’s life–shame will only bring temporary outward behavior change.

Mercy and Compassion are the tools for heart change. It was always God’s plan to show mercy and compassion to His children–that is why the words He spoke to Moses are echoed in the book of Romans. God’s plan includes mercy and compassion, and as those attributes wash over us we are drawn to His Spirit and we long for His Spirit to be drawn out and revealed in the lives of others.

 

spiritual growth

June Remembers December

When I was held captive by my sin, I lied to everyone I knew. I lied to my family and my closest friends, and even though I was doing it to myself, it was the loneliest time of my life. There was one area of my life where I couldn’t lie, and that was in my writing.  I couldn’t fake it when it came to writing. I had friends and family who were perplexed by the change they saw in me. “Why aren’t you writing anymore? We miss your blog…When are you going to publish the book you wrote?”

Yesterday in therapy I realized the reason I could not lie in my writing is because it is a place where I commune with God. When I am writing I release myself completely to Him. Oftentimes, I have no idea what I am going to say until my fingers are moving across the keyboard. I may have an idea of the concept, but as we are there together the words fall from my hands. That’s a scary place to be when you are watching every word that falls from your lips.

The attempts I did make at writing felt so fake, it compounded my guilt. This morning, I found one of the posts that I wrote in December 2013, and reading it now I can hear that the Spirit was nudging me towards confession and repentance. Now, don’t applaud–I didn’t obey the Spirit and come forward to confess. I was a cowardly sinner who avoided the shame, humiliation and pain until it was out of my control.

But, as I read my writing, I can hear that I did have faith in the hope that Emmanuel was coming to save me. Sometimes the way He saves us is in the exact way we would like to avoid. We want him to swoop down like Superman and remove us from the storm where we are in exile, but instead God walks with us as we head straight into the gale-force winds. On the other side of the storm, even as we travel through the barren land, there is peace. And, eventually He will take us to the promised land.

I am Israel (originally posted December 2013)

“I am Israel,” my voice bounces off my windshield and echoes through the car. Hearing the sound of my own voice jolts me a little and my emotions rise.

Israel in pain, you turned your eyes from God and focused on other gods to soothe the ache.
I am You in my pain. The ache is deep.
Israel in pride, you walked down the path of rebellion and selfishness.
I am you in my pride. I struggle to submit to God ways.
Israel in captivity, in your rebellion you chose these chains, and now your choices weigh heavy.
I am you in my captivity. The thing that I relied on to ease my pain now pushes me down and towers over me.

The dashboard displays the blinker and the tap, tap, tapping gets louder with each beat until the beating of my heart grabs a hold of the mechanical rhythm.

Emmanuel…Emmanuel
Emmanuel has come.
Emmanuel has come to set us free.

The blinker heartbeat turns to a Christmas carol. I hear the words I’ve known for years as new. Emmanuel has come to set us free. I am Israel and Emmanuel has come to set me free.

Depression cannot hold me down
Fear cannot captivate my nights
Sin cannot control my impulses
Anxiety cannot leave me breathless

I am Israel and Emmanuel has come to set me free.

The traffic light changes. As I turn the steering wheel with one hand, I reach across and switch on the radio. The soft whisper of the song treads easily across my heart and fills my soul with hope.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

David and Jackie Sill with granddaughter Isla

affair recovery · marriage

The Lies We Believe

I am an obsessive researcher, but only compulsively.  Driven by this nature, God spoke to me in a most unlikely place. Through a Google search I wound up on an advertising website reading an article entitled, Changing Beliefs Vs. Changing Behaviors. The article stated that while it is easy for advertisers to change customers behaviors, changing customers beliefs is a daunting task. In other words, if you are a die hard Coke fan, you may purchase Pepsi because it is on SALE–but deep inside, you still believe (and may be willing to argue) that Coke is better than Pepsi.

Now, I am not interested in the cola wars, or even in advertising. What I am interested in is the truth. Recently, I made a lot of self destructive decisions that ended up causing a great deal of pain, and knowing the truth about my motivations matters to me greatly.

One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that my belief about how I felt about my marriage was a major influence. According to Rick Reynolds, Founder and President of Affair Recovery,

“Most of us believe that the path to a better marriage is through better behavior, but that is not the full truth of the recovery process. In fact, it might not even be the most important thing. More frequently, the path to a better marriage is through changing the lens through which we view our mate.”

This is where is gets tricky, because this is where I unload some of my baggage, or “air some laundry.” Prior to meeting my husband, I had a habit of dating young men  who were not chivalrous. I gave myself completely to several relationships, and each relationship followed the same pattern of intimacy & thrill followed by rejection & heartache. My draw towards people who would treat me poorly increased. At the ripe young age of 21, I understood and even empathized with Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction.

Then I met a very kind young man who treated me differently. His composure with me demonstrated the love that my Heavenly Father has for me. He was respectful and faithful. As much as I knew this was a good thing, it was equally confusing. During our engagement period, there were signs that I was struggling. I did not understand why I didn’t have the erratic feelings that I had experienced in the past. What I didn’t know was that the feelings to which I had become accustomed to were not associated with love, but rather with rejection.  I did not understand how to allow myself to be loved rather than used.

Being used was familiar and understood. This was new territory, and while I attempted to understand it–I didn’t talk to anyone about what I had come to believe, because sadly, what I had come to believe was that I had made a mistake. I had taken a vow, and I had started a family–what I felt was irrelevant. I assumed that as long as my behavior emulated a strong Christian wife, my heart would follow suit and walk the line.

Circa 1988

“If I just had the right behavior, it wasn’t important what I believed.”

Over the last several months, that lie has been shattered. I did not make a mistake when I married my husband. It’s a terrible lie and I don’t believe it anymore. It is also true that believing that lie is dangerous. Every single lie we tell ourselves is harmful. Every. Single. One.

Changing patterns of belief may be uphill work, but the Lord is in me and He is driving every step I take. Sometimes it’s unpleasant and ugly, but I am not interested in looking good on the outside and being confused on the inside. I am not interested in presenting a persona that isn’t true to who I am. The only reason I would strive for that would be if I were selling something. And, once again, I am not interested in advertising.

spiritual growth

Text Messaging and Blow Dryers…Instruments of the Lord.

“Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.” -The Atlantic

It was already decided. On Monday morning, between the hours of 10-11 AM, I would seek employment as a Food Server in the hip downtown area of a neighboring city. Working in that atmosphere would fit my personality and still allow me time to pour into my reading and writing. I had already scoped out the upscale restaurants where I hoped to garnish employment, and now I just needed to go in confidently and convince one of the establishments that hiring me was the best choice they would make this month.

Then the alarm went off. It wasn’t an audible alarm–it was an alarm inside of me that had been growing. My hope has been draining over the last few days and the alarming feeling inside was telling me that things were never going to get better, or feel different. My hopelessness was showing through to a few friends, and they were commenting on how important it was that I didn’t withdraw at this time. One friend was bold enough to say, “not allowing people to get close hurt you when it came to having people who would have called you out on the affair, or for you to talk about the feelings you were having.”

ouch.

As soon as I had chosen an outfit for the day, I grabbed my iPhone and worded a text message asking for prayer. I hoped that having others pray would sooth my nerves. My hands were shaking so badly, I had to resort to using the vocal commands to finish the text message. I asked for prayers of confidence. I knew I wanted to send it to a group of people, but I didn’t want to overload anybody’s phone and cause an explosion. I added names, and I deleted names. Satan was having a hey-day even in this simple task of texting. The inner voices started yelling, “She doesn’t want you to keep bothering her!…Don’t text her…she’s got enough on her plate!” and the winner of them all, “Seriously…you are asking for prayer to become a WAITRESS?”

Adding one of the names made me feel especially insecure. She is younger than I am, and busy with her toddler. She was my hairdresser for a couple of years, and I would have continued with her had my daughter not taken over the laborious task of covering my gray. I have admiration for her and her calm spirit, and she has been especially graceful in sending me text messages and in her willingness to pray for me over the last few months. But still…this request seemed so silly. Despite my fears, I added her to the group MMS.

text messaging and blow dryers

The group responded enthusiastically with prayerful responses. My heart was calming down, and I proceeded to apply my make-up with less shaky hand movements. My fears of the younger woman even subsided when she responded to the group text message with a verse:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” 1 Timothy 2:7

I grabbed my blow dryer and began the arduous task of drying my locks. Almost immediately something shot out of the barrel. Then there were SPARKS and SMOKE. The blow dryer exploded and died.

Now, the death of a blow dryer on any occasion is a sad state of affairs, but this was unbelievable. I looked at the plastic carcass of the appliance that had served me so well over the years. Perhaps I should have felt sad for the blow dryer, but honestly, in that moment, I could only think of myself. “Are you kidding me?” I said to the lady with wet hair who stood in the mirror.

The first thing I thought of was the group text message. This was embarrassing. I had asked for prayer, and now it was evident that I was never going to make it to any of the upscale restaurants before the lunchtime rush. I imagined that my unreliable blow dryer would be annoying news to these godly women. I felt like a drug addict telling my sponsor that I had just smoked crack. Still, I had to tell them what was happening. Reluctantly, I typed out a text message sharing the news of my blow dryer’s demise.

Almost immediately, the younger woman responded, “I have an extra dryer if you need it!”

Within 15 minutes I found myself sitting in the downstairs bathroom of my former hairdresser’s home (which coincidentally is just 2 miles from the hip downtown city filled with upscale restaurants). My faithful friend used her blow dryer and her skills to style my hair so that I might go forward with confidence to seek employment.

hair styles

My heart swells and tears fill my eyes at the phenomenal way God works in our lives. The death of my blower dryer was not a surprise to God. He knew my blow dryer was on it’s last leg, and it was His Spirit within me who was prompting me to include her when asking for prayer. I didn’t need to have exceptionally well styled hair to go job hunting, but what I did need to experience was grace and faith in action. This woman was not merely using her words to proclaim that she would be there for me while I climbed out of the mess I had made, she was willing to use her time and her talent. THAT is LOVE. The enemy wants me to doubt myself and live in isolation–but that is not God’s plan for any of us. We are created and called to live in community. Sometimes others make decisions that make finding that community more difficult, but God will use any means to draw us closer to one another if we allow Him access to our lives.