|Posted by Alyssa on March 30, 2016 at 11:30 AM||comments (1)|
People hurt people. Most of the time it’s unintentional but it’s the reality of being human.
If you’re alive then you’ve been hurt and you’ve hurt others—maybe even yourself.
So how do we deal with the hurt we’ve given and the hurt we’ve received?
I thought I had a handle on forgiveness.
Gathered in a small pre-school classroom lined with toys and curriculum, two guys from our team took turns sharing in front of church.
Neither of them had prepared, feeling God say, “I’ll tell you when it’s time.” When they got up to speak they both began to talk about the same topic: forgiveness.
There is something powerful about the way God directs two very different people to discuss His topic.
I thought, “Cool, these people must need to hear it.”
God responded, “Yes, you do.”
He opened my mind to mounds of unforgiveness I had buried so deep in my heart I didn’t even know it existed.
“Okay, cool. But what now?”
Then Nico started talking about his own forgiveness journey and the letters God told him to write.
He started with a list, a long list of everyone who had ever hurt him (including himself) and he wrote a letter to each.
Then God told him to burn the letters. Because it was over; it was done.
God can speak through any means but I love when He chooses to speak through His people—when He reminds us we’re not in this fight alone; when He reminds us our stories matter.
And God spoke, “Write—and then burn.”
So I made a list and I began to write. And I started to heal; I started to let go.
And then I lit them on fire.
I did it one by one. As each page lit with red flames my heart released the pain outlined in those pages—rejecting the lies they represented and accepting the truth God poured out on me throughout the writing process.
I saved the hardest for last: my letter to myself.
Due to the number of pages and the unpredictable gusts of wind from the mountain, my letter took the longest to burn. (Symbolic, I think.)
But it burned.
Every word, every lie, every hold it had on me.
It all went up in beautiful flames.
Forgiveness is hard.
We believe forgiveness means it didn’t hurt, it didn’t matter. But it did, and it does. Our feelings are valid—they’re real—but they don’t have to steal our joy. We have a choice.
We can let it go. Let it all go.
Let it burn.
|Posted by Alyssa on March 22, 2016 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
“Stop reading your Bible,” He inaudibly spoke to me.
I ignored Him and kept on.
“Stop reading and go outside,” He spoke again.
I know God can speak through many means but this was my quiet time, my time in the Word, this is how it’s always been done.
“Go, go up the mountain to that spot you like.”
I gave in. Putting down my Bible I slipped on my shoes and headed up the mountain.
It was a very short trek to my spot and once there I sat on a big rock and waited.
“Okay, God; I’m here. Now what?”
You see, at this point in my life I had been going through a lot of changes—working out areas of my life that needed to be given over to Him to fix…to heal.
It was rough; it was painful. But I knew it would be worth it. I knew it needed to happen.
But sitting there on that rock that day I felt like I had been fighting—fighting for a better me and yet never winning anything. When would I get better? When would I see results?
And then I saw and He spoke.
You see, just like the changing season unfolding before me, I too was coming out of a long, cold winter.
It was ending, I was healing; there was green, there was growth.
It wasn’t over yet but He showed me how far I had come and how far I needed to go.
Yes, the grass was radiantly green but it was still amidst the rocks and the dead branches and leaves.
He gave me this real, beautiful visual of my journey. (He knows—He knows I’m a visual person—He knows me. *little girl grin and giggle*)
I spent the next hour soaking in this image—His words to me, His presence—praising Him for all He had done and all He had yet to do.
You see, when God points out an area that needs tweaking (or a complete remodel) He doesn’t just leave it at that.
“You could use work here. Okay, do that, have fun. I’ll be over here when you’re done.”
Like we are useless to Him until we’re “finished”.
Like we are unworthy of His help.
Like He can’t stand to be around us in our junk.
When God points out an area of concern it’s because it’s His concern. He knows you can’t do it on your own and He’s not about to let you stumble through it haphazardly; you’re too important.
So He’s there, walking you through recovery, every single nanosecond of the ugly.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” –Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
|Posted by Alyssa on May 12, 2015 at 6:05 AM||comments (0)|
I have changed more in the past three months than the past three years combined. God has been working on my pride, my anger, my self-criticism, my vulnerability, my love, my trust, and my freedom to be myself.
I am more in tuned with the Spirit, more in love with Christ, and more aware of His presence than ever before.
He has been hard at work in me and I am exhausted. This is the joy of saying yes: serving a God who just wants to love you. He wants the absolute best for us. He brings us through hard times—forces us to face major heart issues—because He wants us to give all our junk over to Him so He can begin restoration.
This past weekend the JAM girls and I attended a ladies camp put on by a local church. God touched on various areas of my life, all revolving around the theme of intimacy with Him and with His people. It was an exhausting weekend.
In one of the sessions, the speaker said, “You can only give the love you’ve accepted.” She went on to explain that so many of us approach God asking for Him to fill our thimble with His love instead of bringing a giant bucket.
Then she went even deeper. “Do you love yourself?” I was shocked to discover that my answer was no. I had believed the lie that I was unlovable. I had been asking Christ for such a small amount of His love because I believed that I didn’t deserve any more. The speaker said, “The Bible teaches, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ We’re not loving our neighbors because we’re not loving ourselves!”
What would our world become if we learned to love ourselves as God loves us?
Seriously, think about it!
How would this one truth change our relationships, our community, our country, our churches? We emphatically say our world needs love but ignore that fact that WE are the problem. We are part of the world, are we not? God doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done so why do we think we have such authority to demand something of the world we have yet to implement in ourselves?
“Okay, but how?”
I don’t have the answer. I can’t overcome 24 years of lies in one day but I CAN accept that He loves me; truly, truly loves me. Sees my ugly, sees my junk, suffered and died on a cross for me—loves me.
And I’m not the only one.
You were a cracked, broken jar of clay. When you accepted Christ He presented you with a brand new jar but you continue to cling to the old.
You are holding on to your sin, your past, your perceived imperfections. You are holding on to a lie that says you are unlovable.
Let it go!
Smash that jar.
|Posted by Alyssa on March 11, 2015 at 6:50 AM||comments (0)|
God’s strength is up for grabs.
Not only is it available but He’s waiting for you to ask.
During this last week, the team and I facilitated a tabernacle for Reach (a group of teens interested in outreach and spiritual growth). The tabernacle was made up of various stations where the teens could encounter God.
We had just finished a crazy weekend camp and we were all exhausted. During the 45 minute drive from our base to the church, our buckie (vehicle) was filled with silence and bobbing heads. On the drive I kept saying to God, “I’m spent, I can’t do this; I don’t want to do this today.”
Once we arrived and were preparing to start, my conversation with God shifted from negativity to a cry for help, “I can’t do this; I don’t have the energy. God you have to fill me. Work through me. Take over. I can’t do this on my own; I need you.”
Two awesome things happened:
1) He said, “I always have to fill you. You can never do this on your own. You always need me.”
2) He supplied. The exhaustion faded and I was able to speak His truth.
Why does His provision always surprise me? He’s never failed me before and He won’t start now.
A couple days later the team and I were helping out in a pre-pre school, Little Lambs. It was our last day and we had all determined to give everything we had.
I awoke that morning feeling lightheaded, nauseous, and tired. For me it was love at first sight with these kids so I was frustrated at how I was feeling.
I know from past experience that when I don’t feel well it can come across as disinterest and annoyance and I wanted to be sure that these kids understood just how much I loved them.
So I started praying, “God, I don’t know why You allowed me to feel this way today but I need Your strength. I am going to give these kids everything that I’ve got (which isn’t much) and trust that You are going to supply the rest. I need You to come through for me.”
And He did. He always does.
In both of these instances, my feelings of sickness and exhaustion returned almost immediately after the task was finished, reminding me that God had done His part just as He had promised.
My first reaction typically isn’t to cry out to God for help. We haven’t always shared the best relationship but for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I love spending time with Him. I love talking to Him and I absolutely flip out when He responds.
God is growing me at an insane pace already and it’s only been one month. I can’t wait to see how He will change me in the next 10.
|Posted by Alyssa on February 12, 2015 at 4:55 AM||comments (1)|
On Tuesday, our training was focused on the Holy Spirit. We watched a video series and heard of the awesome work God is doing in and through hearts in Brooklyn, New York.
Although it was seemingly unrelated to the specific aspects of the Holy Spirit that we were learning, God used this video series to heal hidden pain. He revealed in me deep hurt that had turned to anger.
I was struck by something I noticed in the background of the first video and I had no idea why. I couldn’t get it out of my head.
After the last session we were given a few minutes to allow the Holy Spirit to speak further. As soon as I turned my face toward the floor my eyes began to fill with water.
I was completely taken off guard.
As snot hang from the end of my nose and my sight became blurry I decided that if I was going to get to the bottom of my raw emotions it was not going to happen in a room with 9 other people. I needed to be alone…and I needed to blow my nose.
I went to the bathroom and started praying.
What is wrong with me? What are You trying to show me?
As He revealed the source I broke down even further.
I couldn’t understand why He had allowed those I dearly love to endure such pain.
I asked Him, Why? No answer. I asked again. No answer. The more silence I received the angrier I became.
I managed to collect myself—dry my eyes—but every time I took a step toward that door it all began again.
I slid down the wall to the floor, saying, Okay, You have my attention. What?
Then He finally said, The why doesn’t matter. I love them.
I completely broke down. I had actually convinced myself that God didn’t love them.
And that was it, the core of my anger.
There have been a few times throughout my life where I can recall the Holy Spirit’s teaching but I have rarely, if ever, willingly opened myself to His revelation.
It’s a scary concept. No one really wants to know what’s lying dormant just beneath the surface of their hearts.
It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, painful.
I have felt barriers preventing a full, healthy relationship between God and me for some time and although I think I have at least a few more barriers to break down I have a love for and comfort in God that I haven’t experienced in a very long time.
I gave my anger to Him and He was faithful to take it away.
Remnants of the pain remain—the past can never change—but my anger is no longer present.
Chances are you have experienced great hurt. Like me, you have probably spent endless hours asking God why. But it’s not about the why.
He loves you.
He loves you.
And this is the best thing for you.