You Deserve More Than Fear

I see you there, trying not to let past experiences define you. Courageously trying to keep your heart open to love and trust and the fragile bond of friendship. But I also see your fear.

And I understand your fear.

I know you’ve been hurt many times in the past. I know you’ll be hurt again. Just as you know you’ll be hurt again.

And it’s hard to hold onto hope when your hopes have been crushed. It’s difficult to take a chance on someone or something that may hurt you. So you accept those feelings of loneliness rather than overcome the roadblocks in your mind. But worse than simply accepting them, you justify them.

You tell yourself that you are strong—that you can stand alone—but we both know that you’re bitter and jaded. And afraid. So very afraid… Of trying again. Of failing again. Of risking rejection for the thousandth time.

Because you’re not strong. And deep down inside you hold onto the belief that one more heartbreak could kill you.

But you know something?

You are more than your fears. More than your failures. More than the clutter that litters your past.

You are strong enough… to break down these barriers. To overcome the insecurities that have confined you for so long.

You have what it takes… to trust again. To hope again. To love again.

You deserve so much more than what your fears have supplied;
You deserve freedom in its most wondrous form.

Today is the day to embrace it. And to live—fully live—free of fear.

The Miracle of Unbreaking

If there’s one thing I’ve learned with certainty in the twenty-one years I’ve walked this earth, it’s that my world is broken. And my greatest fear in this moment is that you may be broken, too.

I know far too many people who have been crushed by the weight of this world. Sometimes I look at the pieces of their shattered lives and nearly fall into despair. Because there behind the haunted eyes, I see a trace of a girl I used to know. And I remember that she was all smiles and potential then. Now she has a past with the potential to drag her down as she drinks of a sorrow so deep it only leaves her empty.

But somewhere beneath the pain and the lies, her true value remains. She’s every bit as beautiful as she was five years ago… only a little less innocent.

And I know that when she looks at her life, she doesn’t see what I see. She doesn’t see the potential that remains in the depths of her soul, begging for release. No, what she sees is a disaster—a disaster so overwhelming, it leaves no room for believing in starting over and second chances and a God who makes all things new.

Because she’s broken.
And I… I don’t just want to fix her. I want to unbreak her. I want to restore the life and beauty that once was.

If I even half believed she would hear me, I’d tell her that the potential is still there. That life is still fresh and bright and beautiful on the other side of the darkness. But her ears are closed to me right now. They’re closed to hope and faith and the impossible things that are made possible through the God of impossibilities.

If I could rewind time, I would go back to the place where she was still impressionable—back to the place where a word I said might have made all the difference—and I would say all those things that I forgot to mention. I would breathe hope and instill courage and whisper syllables of impossible dreams fulfilled.

I would unbreak her.
I would keep her from falling or at least be there to catch her when the ground shifted from underneath her feet.

But I don’t have a time machine, though I am still a firm believer in second chances. So maybe my second chance comes in the form of someone else.

Maybe my second chance is you.

And maybe these are exactly the words you needed to hear at exactly this moment.

Maybe this is the start of your unbreaking.

And maybe there are others who are still waiting to be unbroken. So I’ll look for the girl with the starry-eyes—the one with impressionable innocence that screams of potential—and I’ll take her by the hand and walk with her into the life my first friend forfeited. Because if I couldn’t keep her from falling, maybe I will have at least learned to catch someone else.

And maybe it’s not too late to be part of the miracle of unbreaking.

Love Letter to a Dreamer

Hey You,

Yes, You.

I hope you’ve read over the last month of archives and learned a thing or two about dreams. I hope you were encouraged by these women who have fought with dreams… and won. I hope that you, too, learn to be a survivor–the kind of person who would dare to be more than the world believes you could be.

There will be plenty of people who try to shoot you down. The line of people waiting to throw their stones never gets any shorter. So I started a line of my own. I’m in the line of people who say, “Hey You, yes, You… I believe in you. I know that you were made for great things.”

And I’m sorry to say there aren’t too many people in my line. I’m sorry to say that you’ll dodge far more rocks than embrace words made for comforting. And I’m sorry to say that curses may cling to your soul a lot longer than blessings do. The words you will remember are the ones that wounded you; not so much the ones that carried you.

So I‘m begging you to listen closely. Listen very, very closely to these words I’m going to say. And hold these words. Harbor these words. Let these words shape the very core of you.

You are, in a word, potential. Potential, potential, potential. You could go anywhere and do anything–carried away on the wings of a dream. No matter what the world says–no matter how “safe” and “practical” it wants you to be; know that you weren’t made for anything less than your wildest dreams.

So chase them. Chase your dreams wherever they may lead you. And never stop believing in them–no matter how impossible they may seem. Because the impossible dreams are the ones that are made for coming true.

You know what I want for you? I want you to find the purpose for which you are made. I want you to find your dream and run with it. And I want to jump up and down on the sidelines like I’m your biggest fan. Because I am your biggest fan you know.

And I’ll be here the whole time, cheering you on, speaking words of blessing where others throw curses. You musn’t listen to them, you know. They don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t see what I see. They don’t understand that the Maker has gifted each and every one of us and that you were made to shine.

So go ahead, Fragile Bird, spread your wings. Leap from the nest that has cradled you for so long. It’s time you realize that you were made for flying.

And don’t you forget to dream.

You Are Worth It

Today, I’m at a loss for words. It happens from time to time. I keep typing letters onto the page only to delete them and try again. Still I find that my words are insufficient as everything within my heart tries to rush out all at once. The phrases jumble together. Trip over the next. And somehow I can’t seem to say how important it is that you know you are beautiful. That you understand that God doesn’t make mistakes. That you grasp the depth of His love for you.

But the words are missing and and those kinds of words have conditions, anyway. Not that I’m going to change my mind and take them back the next time you make a mistake, but because you will want me to take them back. Because you will argue that if I only knew who you are… What you’ve done…

I could say it all day in a thousand words or more, but until you believe them for yourself, my words are meaningless. Empty. I may be talking to someone in the world, but I’m certainly not talking to you.

Oh, but I am talking to you. You and you only. You’re the one who needs to hear it. And how I wish I could take your face in my hands like the preschoolers I spend time with every weekday afternoon. “Hey you,” I’d say, “you’re worth it. You are one incredible human being.” And I would mean it from the bottom of my heart. “Hey you,” I’d say, “you’re beautiful. You are one breathtaking masterpiece.” And I would pray those words wouldn’t bounce off of the carefully crafted wall you’ve built to protect yourself – the one that is actually harming you instead.

You’re the only one who can penetrate that wall. You’re the only one whose words are loud enough to force truth into the darkened corners of your wounded spirit. So please, take it from someone who sees what you are somehow missing, and tell yourself that you’re worth it.

Hand Prints on My Heart

A man in the Middle East had a dream. In that dream, Jesus appeared to him and slapped him in the face. He awoke to find a hand print on his cheek. The mark lingered for three days. The doctors couldn’t explain it. Then Jesus appeared in the man’s dreams once more. Again, He slapped the man, this time telling him to seek Him. Three more days, the man’s face bore the mark of this supernatural occurrence. Then Jesus came again and asked, “Why did you not seek Me?”

“I don’t know who You are!”

So Jesus told Him who He is. And He explained how He could be found. And this time, when the man awoke, the hand print of God was not on his face; but on his heart.

A lot of people are surprised by that testimony. Some people have a hard time accepting that Jesus would do such a thing. Some people don’t seem to understand how desperately God desires our attention.

A pastor friend of mine once shared, “I’ve been told that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. I beg to differ; He slapped Paul right off a horse. That’s not very gentlemanly.”

I related with that statement because I’ve heard similar words. Words about how sweet and gentle Jesus is in dealing with His children. I guess there are people who don’t find it difficult to submit to God’s will. And maybe Jesus is gentle with them.

Then there are people like me.

I laughed when my friend told the story about the man and the hand print. I laughed because I’m familiar with the God who throws men from horses and spits in the eyes of the blind. I laughed because I was delighted to find that I’m not the only person who needs a holy slap in the face now and then.

Some people look at God and see His judgment and righteous anger. Other people look at God and are consumed by the depths of His mercy and grace. I like to look somewhere in between. When I look at God,  I see how He inflicts pain in order to bring healing.

So many times He has slapped me in the face, trying to get my attention. So many times I walk away from the encounter with a reminder I refuse to take to heart.

But unlike the man in my friend’s story, I am without excuse. I know who appears before me. I know what it is He wants from me. And that is why I flee. Sometimes I don’t want what God wants. Sometimes I don’t want to face the hurt that leads to the healing. But today…

Today is the day I choose to surrender and let the hand print move from my face to my heart.

God, is that You or am I schizophrenic?

The past two weeks, our youth group has been talking about faith. This week’s small group led to some pretty interesting discussion as I asked my girls for some examples of people in the Bible who had faith. In order to help the girls grasp the concept that they can have faith like these heroes of old, I tried to expose some flaws in these characters. Their doubts, their fears, their struggles… Basically, their humanity. At the mention of Moses, I expressed my gratitude that I’m not the only one who argues with God.

“You can’t argue with God,” one of my students laughed. “He doesn’t talk back.”

Oh, He talks back. Trust me, sweetheart, He does talk back. I know this because I have argued with God and He has answered me. But only after I learned to listen for His voice. Only after I knew enough about the character of God that I could recognize that still, small voice as more than a passing thought.

But I guess the one thing we proved in small group this week is that, if God doesn’t talk back, I’m a schizophrenic.

And so am I!

Shh, be quiet you.

Whoa, sorry about that. But seriously, how many times do you suppose we brush off God’s voice thinking that our imagination has run wild? How many times have you heard someone say, “God doesn’t speak now like He did then”? If God can’t still reveal Himself in a burning bush or a big cloud or a still, small voice that whispers soft but clear, why does the Bible say that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”? (Hebrews 13:8) Why are we so hesitant to believe that God talks back? Is it because we haven’t attuned our hearts to listen?

No, it’s not an audible voice, and yes, sometimes it feels more like a thought. But sometimes that “feeling” is more like a certainty. Sometimes that “thought” is just as clear as anything audible could ever be. If the definition of faith is “being certain of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), I have faith that I can also be certain of things not heard.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to argue with God over yet another one of His harebrained assignments. Though, I’m not sure why I bother. He always wins in the end.

That’s right I do.

Ahem. But He doesn’t always get the last word.

That’s My King

Right on the heels of my post about running, God yet again reminds me of who He is. Bible study yesterday morning started off with this rousing video about my King. I know God’s talking to me, and I hope you’re blessed by this powerful reminder of what kind of God we serve:

I wish I could describe Him to you, but He’s indescribable.

That’s my King.

Do you know Him?