Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

The Honeymoon is Over

we do not lose heart

It was bound to happen eventually.  I’ve only been blogging for a few months now, so I don’t really have much experience to go on.  But I think I can say with some certainty that the blogging honeymoon is over.

Blogging, like so many other things in life, was so fascinating and exciting when it was new to me.  Every view was cherished, every comment celebrated.  Some days I would check the blog first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  It’s the truth; I think I became just a tiny bit obsessed! Maybe, just maybe, I even made an idol of it, to my shame.

I do that, though. I throw myself into new things with such enthusiasm, such big plans and dreams.  And then somewhere along the line, it stops being quite so much fun and starts to feel more like work, like just another burden to carry.

Some of you might be thinking, but it’s just a blog! To a certain extent, you’d be correct.  It doesn’t feel like “just” a blog to me, though.  It feels like part of me that I’ve put on display for the world to see.  And there are these nifty little graphs that measure that part of me day by day by day… And some days they just don’t measure up to what I’d like to see. No matter how high they reach, there seems to be this desire for more. And the inspiration isn’t always there.  And busy schedules get in the way.

And sometimes…

I just want to give up.

Let’s be honest.  It happens to all of us!  When that new baby comes home smelling so sweet, and everyone is exclaiming “how perfect”…when that new job is so exciting that you just can’t wait to go to work, and people tell you how happy they are to have you there…when that new ministry that you’ve been planning for and dreaming of finally comes to fruition…when you make that purchase that you’ve been saving up for and it’s just. so. cool….when that mountaintop experience leads you to a faith high that just can’t be matched.

Inevitably, a valley follows that mountain.  That perfect baby that slept so well in the hospital cries all night long, night after night after night.  That new job has its own set of challenges.  That new ministry has flaws, too.  That new purchase grows old or outdated. Thus the mountain gives way to a valley.  And those feelings that had us on cloud nine in the mountains leave us, and we wish for more.

But our spiritual lives are not lived just on the mountain tops.  In fact, those mountain tops most likely add up to a very small part of our faith journey. The truth is that the valleys often naturally follow the mountains , not because anything has changed but because our physiology is built that way.  Our bodies cannot sustain a constant state of  “high,” so we must experience a “low” to bring us back to equilibrium.  And perhaps even more because we were not meant for this imperfect world, so we yearn for something better.

While I know that my faith isn’t built on feelings, as a woman emotions do come into play!  How often I’ve wished those pesky emotions away even though I know they serve a purpose. 🙂

So what’s a girl to do when she just gets a case of the blahs and the blogging honeymoon seems to be over?  She recognizes the valley for what it is – temporary.  She remembers that she is not a citizen of this world. She blogs anyways because that’s what God led her to do,   just like she mothers anyways, she loves anyways, she trusts anyways, she clings to His promises anyways, she speaks truth anyways, she leads anyways, and she hopes anyways.

She keeps seeking.  Sometimes she even stumbles and falls, and she’s so ashamed of her weakness.  But He’s right  there to help her back up again.  Along the way, she learns a little more of the unfathomable depth of God’s grace.   She grows a little more confident in an overwhelming, unconditional love. She grows a little more confident in His timely provision. She grows a little more confident in the work He’s doing within her.

Because He promised that one day, one glorious day, that work would be complete.

And the valleys will be gone.

And the mountain top lasts for all eternity.

And  we see His face.

So we wait, like so many others before us.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,

let us also lay aside every encumbrance

and the sin which so easily entangles us,

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,

despising the shame,

and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility

by sinners against Himself,

so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

And we don’t lose heart.

Jen 🙂

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Through My Grace-colored Glasses

perfectionism, grace, through my grace-colored glasses, work in progress

Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again.  He just won’t leave me alone.

He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord.  Some days I can ignore him and others I can’t escape. And I know it’s Perfectionism and not the Holy Spirit because of his voice.  He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”

I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different.

You see, my husband and I were up much too late because we were arguing about a financial issue.  I felt angry and disappointed and fearful.  The familiar panic of how can I possibly do right in this situation and still get my point across welled up within me, and I knew a battle was swiftly approaching.

I know some of you are chuckling right now, and rightfully so!  It’s the quandary every woman who ever lived on the face of Earth deals with.  To obey the Lord and demonstrate respect for my husband or to take control and make my voice heard?  God’s way or my way?

I have to confess to you, my sisters in Christ, that this right here is why I’ve blogged very little about marriage thus far. I know the way I relate to my husband is so, so far from where it should be, from where I long for it to be.

When it comes to submitting to and respecting my husband, I so often feel like Paul in Romans 7. I know what I want to do, what I should do, yet I feel powerless to actually do it.  I’ve believed so many lies for so long.  But the Lord is faithful, and I know He promises to carry that work in me, in my marriage, until completion in the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6).  I’m so thankful for this Hope, this Promise, and for a husband who is patient. 🙂  So, I’m sharing with you anyways, in spite of my weakness, my inadequacy…but, I digress.

confidentingrace verse

Later, after our apologies were spoken and we both felt at peace, we finally turned out the lights in hopes for at least a few hours of sleep.  And that’s when it happened.  In the stillness of the dark, my husband’s voice broke through Perfectionism’s insidious whispers and stated, “Thank you for being so calm and patient with me tonight.”

Stunned, my disbelieving heart rejected his kind words and earlier tears returned. “But I wasn’t patient!” I cried. “I was so angry and so disappointed and I struggled, I really struggled, not to say mean things.”

My husband’s reply was quiet, yet firm, “Babe, even though you were angry, you were patient with me. You didn’t bite my head off. You maintained control. You gave me space and that helped me.”

At that moment, the truth of his words broke through Perfectionism’s grasp.  No, I didn’t handle the situation as well as I would have liked; I wasn’t perfect.  Yes, there was definitely room for improvement.  But his words rang true.

What normally would have developed into a full-fledged, hours-long (if not days!) fight was briefly resolved.  By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I saw that we were definitely making progress.

That’s when I saw Perfectionism for what he was – one part self, one part Satan.  Self was prideful, Satan was deceitful, and the combination of the two brought me chains of defeat I no longer wish to carry.

In Perfectionism’s chains, I so often measure in black and white, success or failure, either/or.  Praise the Lord that my Redeemer is teaching me to put on my Grace-colored glasses and see the shades of gray, to celebrate even the smallest steps of progress, to proclaim every small victory because of His work in me.

I hope I never forget that moment.  My husband spoke freeing words to me last night, and the Holy Spirit confirmed them within me.

Jen, you are the good that you so desperately want to be, not because your efforts are so grand and your reach so high, but because you are walking a path of progress, trusting in the Promise of redemption.  I never asked you to be perfect, just willing. At the same time, daughter, you are perfect, not in yourself, but in my Son because He already carried these burdens with Him and nailed them to the cross.  They were buried with Him.  But you daughter, you rose with Him in perfection, a new creation, beautiful to behold, born of His glory.  And now, Jen, you live in Romans 8 as more than a conqueror, confident in the promise that you will never be separated from His love!

new creature

I don’t think I’ll ever ceased to be overwhelmed by these truths, these promises.  In the midst of  my sorrow and my shame, my Savior showed up. He handed me a pair of Grace-colored glasses.

Perfectionism, you’re no longer welcome here.

Jen 🙂

When you feel perfectionism’s hold on you, what promises do you cling to?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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A Savior Who Never Grows Weary

I’m privileged to attend a women’s bible study on Tuesday mornings most weeks.  We’re currently studying the book of Hebrews in depth, and this week the focus was on the latter part of chapter seven.

In this chapter, the author spends a great deal of space demonstrating why Jesus is the ultimate High Priest, even greater than Melchizedek, who was a pillar of the Hebrew faith. Because Jesus is eternal, He is superior.  Because He is perfect, blameless, He is superior.  Because He continues to intercede on our behalf at the Father’s right hand, He is superior.

Hebrews 7

“23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”

When asked to reflect on these verses, the end of verse 25 jumped out at me.  “He always lives to make intercession for them.” That is His purpose at the right hand of the Father, to intercede on my behalf, continuously, for all of eternity.

Did you catch that?  Our risen Savior didn’t just choose us at the cross. He chooses us now; defends us now; redeems us now; intercedes for us now, moment by moment, forever and ever, hallelujah! 

I often grow weary of my children (let’s be honest, now :)). I often grow weary of my husband, of others, and sometimes I even grow weary of my Lord. My love fails.

But His love never fails.  

He never grows weary of being my Savior.

He never grows weary

It wasn’t just a one-time act, that choice to suffer on the cross, that forgiveness of even the most unpardonable sins. He continues to act on my behalf, acts for my forgiveness, over and over again. Today, and the next day, and for all of eternity.

As humans, we cannot even come close to that kind of love!  In fact, even our most sacred vows end with ” til death do us part.” One day we will come to an end, and with that end, our imperfect love will also cease.  We says things like, “I’ll love you forever” but that promise is impossible for us to keep.  And even if we manage to love one another for a lifetime, our love  is full of faults, imperfections, wounds, conditions.

But His love is not our love. He alone can keep the promise of a perfect, forever love.  Our High Priest claims us time and time again. “Father, you see that one right there?  I chose her. I died for her.  Her sin is covered by my blood.  She belongs to us now. I call her beloved.  I love her as she is.”

Oh, the overwhelming grace!  It’s almost painful in its power.  It floods us and we drown in it, dying to self and rising anew.  Rising to bone-deep gratefulness.  Rising to undeserved confidence in our eternal position. Rising to true love.

Grace floods us

If you’re feeling low-down and unworthy today, unloved or under-appreciated, overwhelmed by sin or temptation or trials, or maybe just a little weary of life in general, remember who your Savior is.

He is real.

His love is real.

And it never ceases.

He sits at the right hand of the Father and proclaims, “Covered by my blood, covered by my blood.”

Rise anew, beloved, rise anew.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: A Little R&R

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A Blogger’s Prayer

This weekend marked the one month birthday of this blog, Being Confident of This.  It’s a blog I started, but I’ve decided not to call it my blog anymore because it really isn’t.  It’s God’s blog. The reason I say it’s His blog is because He’s done greater things for it in this short time than I could have ever imagined!

I’m happy to tell you that today “Being Confident of This” is being featured on two other blogs! Exciting! 🙂  My cousin, Angie, at http://www.angieknutson.com/ has been a huge help to me in my blogging journey this far.  She has a wealth of knowledge and has been kind enough to share it with me, in spite of her own busy schedule, on multiple occasions.  I really appreciate her support! Tomorrow she’ll be sharing a brand new post from me about how to handle dreary mornings, so stay tuned for that!!

So far, He’s used this blog to reach others, but even more, He’s used it to reach me.  How often do we set out in life to lead others, to teach them, only to realize we are being taught ourselves?  That’s how I feel about this whole blogging experience so far. 🙂

A Blogger's Prayer

So, here’s my prayer as I continue on in this journey:

I see what you did there, God.  I see how you used that post about Mary Moments in a Martha World to remind me that the best thing is spending time with you.  I see how the post about  being a Transformer convicted me to live out truth in love.  I see that the biggest flaw in our Sanity Saving Chore Charts is whether or not we as parents are consistent in our follow-up.

At the same time, Lord, I’m learning that I have to be careful with this blogging thing.  I heard my little boy the other day when he said I was spending too much time on the computer. I know I need to watch how much time I pour into this.  I have to find balance between my time with you and blogging and family and church.  It’s not easy, but I know You’ll help me.  I see now that it’s part of the process, part of that work in progress.

Father, I’m also learning that you just want me to be me and to trust You to give me the words to say.  When I try to create a fabulous post on my own – it flops. 🙂  When I trust You for the message, it soars.  I see how that works, God, and I’m trying to get out of the way so that You can use me.

I am the vine

I also see, Lord, the potential to find my worth in the numbers (now I know what my pastoring husband feels like!).  I don’t want numbers to be a measure of who I am.  I want who I am to be found in You alone.  Help me to be obedient to You in sharing the messages You give without worrying about how many people are visiting today, tomorrow, or the next day.  Help me to remember that the value is in the obedience to You.

Most of all, Lord, I want to remember that it was Your idea to create this blog, not mine!  Like anything else in my life, it ultimately belongs to You.  Help me to surrender that control!  Help me to remember that You can bring an audience all on Your own with no help from me.  I’m simply the vessel.  Make me a humble vessel.

Thank You, Father, for this amazing journey.

In Christ alone,

Jen 🙂

What is God teaching you lately?  If you feel free to share, leave a comment! 🙂

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My Monday Morning Confession

Image

Yesterday was Sunday.  Yesterday I was so excited about actually starting this blog (and not just talking about it), about the potential to reach others, like myself, and encourage them, spur them on.  Yesterday, I was swept up in awe of God and the paths He leads us down, often paths we might not have chosen for ourselves.  I was typing out oh-so-many ideas at once.  I was working and re-working potential posts and the format of the blog itself.  I was confident.  I was on FIRE!

But today is Monday.  Today brings with it uncertainty and doubt, perhaps mixed with a little fear that I’ve gotten myself in waaaaaaay over my head.  Today, after having looked around at fellow faith bloggers, I’m feeling insignificant, untalented, and overwhelmed.  Maybe even a little foolish.  Today I’m tempted to listen to that voice that says, “What were you thinking??”

Isn’t that how it starts, though?  For one second we take our eyes off of the Father, and suddenly we’re bombarded by these devastating untruths.  Insignificant – it’s an untruth straight from the depths of self and Satan.  Self tells me I need to create something I can be proud of, something of worth.  Self tells me to be careful; don’t let your pride be wounded.  Self makes it about me instead of about Christ.

Then Satan, being the opportunist he is, inserts his voice…insignificant.  Wouldn’t he love for all of us women of faith to believe that?!  It makes his destructive work so much easier to accomplish!

Thank the Lord that we have His word, the Sword of the Spirit, to combat these untruths.  Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  He “knit” us together in our mother’s wombs.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He has loved us with “an everlasting love.”  And His Son Jesus, His one and only, perfect Son calls us His brothers and sisters.  That doesn’t sound so insignificant to me.  These are just a few nuggets from a gold mine of Scriptures detailing the Father’s love for us.

Even more, consider Romans 5:8, which says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  If nothing more, surely that nugget alone makes us significant!  For a Father to sacrifice His only Son in my place while I remained a helpless and unworthy sinner, means that He places great value on me.

And on you, sister.

Monday world

So, if you’re like me today, and the reality of a Monday world has dampened your Sunday fire, remember who you are.  You are the redeemed,

the beloved,

the chosen,

the loved-beyond-measure child of the Most High.  

Put on the full armor of God so that you can confidently conquer that Monday world!

Epheisans 6:10 – 17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Jen : )

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

http://www.katharinesthoughts.net/2013/06/small-and-soaring/

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