Like Mother, Like Daughter

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Over the past few years we have experienced the death of two marriages in our family. To say that our family dynamics have dramatically changed is an understatement.  To see where we are today is nothing short of a miracle.  Not the instantaneous kind but the kind that comes from wrestling and determinedly walking out your days with God’s gutsy braveness and strength not because you are super spiritual but because there is no other option.   The odds were certainly against us.  The chances of us coming through such huge changes with relationships still in tact were not at all in our favor.

To be perfectly honest, when my oldest daughter came to me and told me she was getting a divorce…I selfishly fought against it.  See,  I was in the midst of my own messy, crazy and hard divorce from her father.  I held it together for the moment and then as soon as I could get away, I hit the carpet in disbelief.  Really, Lord? Why now? This is absurd! I can’t carry her brokenness and my own at the same time let alone my other kid’s brokenness!!  This was just too much….for her, for me, and for our family.  “Like mother, like daughter” was not a phrase that felt good  in the midst of our unwanted circumstances though it would seem fitting, Ugh! Having five children experience the terrible aftermath of the destruction of their own family unit is one thing.  However, to have one of those five children also experience the same kind of loss……in the same season, was inviting chaos of the worst kind to reek havoc in the hearts and minds of ALL my children. Oh my word!! I knew I had to get a grip.  As I ugly cried into the carpet that day in prayer pleading with God to intervene and wallowing in my own pity party,  I was reminded that He knows all things.  This was absolutely no surprise to Him.  His grace would be sufficient.   What seemed like such horrible timing and so messy would be worked for good no matter how things felt or looked from my limited perspective.  I had no choice and I knew it.  I had to embrace what I knew to be true of God and not let my emotions get the best of me.  I had to be strong for all of us.  I eventually stood up with a stubborn resolve but it was only a short time after that the guilt bombs and accusations attacked my mind from different directions. Subsequently, this only gave way to even more stinkin’ thinking.   I went from “please, God” to “oh, no…did I cause this?  Were my children reaping the consequences of my decisions? Was my own divorce giving my precious daughter permission to give up on HER marriage?  After-all, God hates divorce.”  Reality is, I hate divorce and yet here I was on the cusp of the “D” word being a part of my story and now doubly so for my daughter. We all know as a mom,  it’s one thing for life to happen to us but when it hits our kids it’s a whole different kind of brokenness.  They had already lost enough.  The possibility of it being a part of my daughter’s story, too…broke me.  “How dare I claim to be a christian and put my family through this.  Have I opened the door of destruction for those that I hold most dear to my heart?”  This thinking and more attacked every aspect of who I have ever claimed or wanted to be.   I hated the helplessness I felt but I knew  I had no control over outcomes.  This was not something I could fix nor wish away.  In the midst of this overwhelming sorrow, I repented.  I begged for God’s mercy to cover and heal any brokenness in my children that I may have caused.  I was so sorry for my part in all of this messiness.  Then I rehearsed in my mind the road that led me to the decisions that I had made and  I had a renewed resolve.  Now was not the time to question what I had already previously settled in my heart and mind through much prayer and counsel.  I knew what I knew.  I needed to be extremely careful of whose voice I was giving power to.  Did what I was hearing line up with what I knew to be true, if not…then I had to choose to let it go!! Not to say that I didn’t struggle anymore, because I did. I just did not allow those tormenting thoughts to be the boss of me……..I surrendered them to Jesus over and over again and slowly but surely they lost their power over me.  Thank you, Jesus!

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.     John 1:16

Now, several years later we are living out our stories redemption style.  The losses we went through do not compare to the new joys we are now experiencing.  What was meant to destroy us has only made us stronger and has given us a story that shouts of God’s amazing grace and faithfulness.  Only my children know the depths of the chaos and craziness that we have walked through but with that they have also known and witnessed the greatness of our God as He has came to our rescue time and time again!

Just recently, as I had a few precious moments with my daughter before she said “I do”, I was given the opportunity to pray with her.   As the words begin to flow, so did my tears. God so sweetly reminded me of how He had given us each other to share not only in the pain that had been a part of our stories, but also in these specific joy-filled beauty-for-ashes moments.  I don’t know of any mom who would ever plan nor want to go through a divorce at the same time as her daughter BUT not every mom gets the blessing of sharing the season of being engaged and married with her own daughter either.  How precious and how special.  I could not see in the get go, as I poured out my heart beside my bed that day, that God would so graciously weave our stories so closely together and create a beautiful ever after from the ashes we both carried.  I could not see then that God would take the ugliness of divorce and bring a strength and closeness among my children that wasn’t there before.  I couldn’t see then that I would get to meet and marry a special man and have the privilege of being  a bonus mom to two incredible kids and a mother-in-law to a man that would love my daughter and her siblings like no other!

Our God is truly the God of abundant mercy and grace and He is no respecter of persons.  In the midst of the unwanted parts of our stories, God redeems. He covers our shame with His love and creates within our story HIS story of amazing grace.  His grace is even more beautiful to me now than ever before.  I have been ever so desperate for it and I have  experienced the extravagance of it.   His grace has anchored my messiness to His marvelous perfection and created something so beautifully new.  His grace has truly been sufficient for me and my children and I can assure you that His grace is truly sufficient for you. Believe it, my friend!

I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;  Be strong and let your heart take courage;  Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord. Psalm 27-13-14 

I have set the Lord continually before me;  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

…May grace (spiritual blessing) and peace be given you in increasing abundance [that spiritual peace to be realized in and through Christ, freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts]. 1 Peter 1:2

 

 

 

Fake or Faith?

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Recently,  I had a dear friend transparently express to me that she feels like a “fake” many times as a Christian woman.  Yay! Somebody was finally real enough to say it!  I can so relate and just maybe you can, too! Our feelings and flesh are at war against our Spirit. When life is not going as we had hoped, prayed and envisioned the wrestling is fierce. We put on our smiles and our best foot forward in front of the watching world as we battle against anxiety, stress, pain, anger, unbelief or doubt behind closed doors.

I vividly remember that feeling of “fakeness” during countless seasons of feeling betrayed and deceived.   I sucked it up and lived many of my days pushing aside my brokenness in front of the outside world.  I would intentionally put on my mask like makeup as I headed out the door, all the while hearing whispers about how “fake” I was being.   But what I didn’t recognize at the time was that satan wanted to not only destroy my family but the very foundation of who I was as a beloved daughter of God!   How? By accusing  me of being a  “fake” Christian, time and time again.  For a broken girl who wanted nothing more than to serve the Lord and honor Him, those accusations were felt to my core.   The majority of the time while attending church events, girl’s night out, small group meetings, family gatherings, prayer meetings, etc.,  I was there with my smile in tact but inside I was a train-wreck.   The accusations of the enemy left me feeling even MORE defeated.  Since then, I have gained a different perspective.   It reminds me of the verse in 2 Corinthians 2:11 in reference to satan…”For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  This feeling of “fakeness” is no doubt, one of his “schemes” to cause us to lose our footing and faith and give up all together.

Here’s the deal…I believe that when I chose to stubbornly walk in a room with my head held high,  replacing tears with a smile, forcing one foot in front of the other, faith was winning! Sister, that is NOT fakeness!   Did my smile make me fake?  Did my determination to hit the floor each morning in spite of wanting to give up mean that I wasn’t authentic?   All of this wasn’t because I was a “fake” in my walk with Christ, BUT because I HAD faith even though my feelings were all over the place.

It is true that sometimes, okay…many times, we put on our masks.  Let’s just be honest.  We ALL do it! If we all walked around allowing our feelings to dictate our lives, what a messy and ugly world it would be!  Therefore, we wear our masks.  We wear them NOT because we are fake but because we live by faith.  Faith that doesn’t reveal our brokenness but our hope that our lives can be a testimony of God’s faithfulness to those who need it. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about transparency, sharing our stories and by all means, inviting others into our brokenness….but I believe that the enemy tries to discourage us by telling us that we are less than and not authentic in our walk of faith when we choose to put on that smile while feeling as though we are dying inside.

I am extremely proud of my dear friend that I mentioned earlier. Why?  Because her wrestling proves that she is throat punching the devil every time she chooses to continue to serve Jesus even though behind her smile she may be filled with doubts, fears, anger, pain, anxiety and all that other unwanted yuck that life tends to dump on us.

As women of God, we cannot base our life on our feelings. You may feel “fake” but if you are holding onto Jesus and battling those negative emotions by believing His Word, you are anything BUT fake! You are walking out your faith in a way that trumps your feelings! “Faith it till you make it” wins!  The next time the enemy whispers that you’re living a “fake” life, sweet sister remember this;

Your faith is the very reason you can STILL smile even if it is forced for a season and  even if, behind closed doors, your tears cover the carpet.

Your faith is the the very reason You can STILL get up and show up even though you may not “feel” like it and getting out the door takes all the fight you can muster.

Your faith is the very reason You can STILL worship even though it may be the last thing your flesh “wants” to do as the enemy is relentlessly whispering his lies in your ear.

Your faith is the very reason you can STILL serve and minister in spite of the tears and wrestling that no one sees because your faith is not based on your feelings but on choosing to do the right thing, in spite of them.

It is God’s grace that upholds us in the darkness so that we can display His Glory in spite of our fickle and changing feelings and circumstances.  That is living by faith!

Let God lead you, my friend!  There are opportunities that God places before us for the purpose of being real, vulnerable and transparent that is beyond the scope of  our intimate circle. However, there are many more times that you may need to intentionally put on that smile and put on your faith as you walk out the door AND that’s okay!  You are NOT a “fake”!  YOU, my friend. are a daughter of God Almighty who is walking out her faith in a way to bring honor to her Lord! Keep walking, keep shining, keep putting one foot in front of the other and know that one day your faith will become sight!  Faithin’ it and smiling with you, my sister! Faith wins!!

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7