Bullying

BULLY

Discouragement is a bully.

It comes at you on the playground when you’re running and laughing and enjoying life and delivers a sucker punch that brings you to a heap on the ground gasping for breath and crying silently.

Discouragement is a bully.

It interrupts the moments of contentedness and peace and just when you’re feeling on top of things and like the vision is actually a possibility, it throws a ball directly at your head and it knocks you to the ground and impairs your vision.

Discouragement is a bully.

It yells obscenities at you, tells you you’re ugly and not good enough and confirms your deepest fears. It preys on those fears and taunts you with them and convinces you it’s best just to quit — quit showing up , quit working hard, quit trying.

Discouragement is a bully, and I just realized it today.

When I was a child and in a heap of tears over bullying taunts and jabs, my parents would gather me up and pray for me. And then they would encourage me to pray too. Not just for myself, but for the bully. Not that the bully would receive vengeance, but to pray for love. For peace. That the bully’s heart would change.

All the things I didn’t want to pray, they told me to focus on.

Discouragement is a bully, but the hero is prayer. (<= tweet that)

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The bully showed up unexpectedly yesterday, and picked on me nonstop. Suddenly, everything I saw and read and heard confirmed the bully’s lies. I locked myself in the bathroom more than twice to silently cry and was ready to give it all up — the dreams, the visions, the joy, all of it. The ball the bully threw knocked me out cold and I just couldn’t see anymore.

I believed his lies and I am ticked off today that I fell for it.

Because in my heart of hearts, here is what I know:

“He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” (Matthew 10:30-31, The Message)

When the bully shows up and intimidates me, God gathers me up on his lap and prays that I would realize how the bully’s words mean nothing. He reassures me how much I’m truly worth and reminds me to use my shield of faith to deflect the piercing, untrue words.

“But he [God] didn’t let anyone push them around, he stood up for them against bully-kings: “Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones, don’t lay a hand on my prophets.’” (I Chronicles 16:20-22, The Message)

And when the bully shows up and intimidates me, God deals with it Himself so I don’t have to. When I’m a crushed heap under the weight of words that feel so real, He jumps in and stands up for me and takes the bully out.

And He reminds me to pray for peace. For love. For a heart change. Not for this bully, because he’s unchangeable to the core. But that I would pray it for myself…that I would accept the peace and love God has to give. And for my heart to change so I will stop believing each time discouragement shows up on my playground.

Yes, discouragement is a ruthless beast, bullying its way into every corner of my life that means anything. But my hero is prayer and the One to whom I pray.

My Daddy will always stick up for me.

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Fan of Prayer?

I’m honored to participate in our pastor’s current sermon series, “#1 Fan?” as a guest writer. Here is the fifth installment:

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It had come as a shock. She simply placed her hand on my arm and with sympathy in her eyes and her voice barely above a whisper she said, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.”

I choked back a sob and then tears silently streamed down my face and I spent days in depression. At church one Sunday during worship, I was singing without really worshiping because I knew if I really got into it even for a second, the tears wouldn’t stop. So I stood singing at a whisper begging my eyes to stay dry. And I heard in my Spirit

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)

And I choked back a sob and then tears silently streamed down my face but I suddenly felt peace. And when depression and despair threatened to overtake me again, I used my sword and repeated back out loud

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I prayed it over and over and over until my heart caught up to my head.

Months later I had another shock. This time it was another woman but the words were the same, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.”

I didn’t cry immediately this time but hen the tears did come, the were followed by anger, not sadness. And one day I decided it was time for God and I to have it out. And I sat at the coffee shop with my hat low and my Bible open and forced myself to read even though I didn’t want to. And as I poured out my heart in my journal and absorbed these words from Job, God once again brought peace.

“From out of a storm, the Lord said to Job: Why do you talk so much when you know so little? Now get ready to face me! Can you answer the questions I ask? How did I lay the foundation for the earth? Were you there? Doubtless you know…” (Job 38:2-6)

And when anger and frustration threatened to overtake me again, I used my sword and repeated back out loud

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Why do you talk so much when you know so little? Doubtless you know…

I prayed it over and over until my heart caught up to my head.

Months later yet again, the shock was in seeing an incredibly strong and vital heartbeat. The words this time were “Congratulations! Everything looks great!”

And I choked back a sob and tears silently streamed down my face and I was thrilled and scared all at the same time. And from that day forward, the most difficult part of the pregnancy was mental as fear tempted to overtake me at every turn. Each appointment, each ultrasound and each night I feared the worst. And when my thoughts plagued me, I had to conjure up all the scripture I could and pray over and over. I fell asleep countless nights praying Psalm 139:13-15

You are creating his inward parts and are knitting him together in my womb. I praise you — regardless of how you make him, he’s made by you — fearfully and wonderfully. His frame is not hidden from you. You are weaving together the fabric of his being intricately in the secret place. I choose to believe this and I choose to believe you…I choose to believe…I choose to believe.

It wasn’t until Paxton was born and safely in my arms that I could rest that he was okay. And I held him and poured over him and thanked God continually for giving and not taking away this time.

Praying scripture during this season didn’t answer questions I had of God. I still don’t know why God allowed me to get pregnant twice if it was going to end in miscarriage. I don’t know why Paxton came perfectly healthy and beautifully into the world. But what praying scripture did do was make it okay for me not to know. The more scripture I read and the more I prayed, the more it didn’t matter why things happened the way they did. It gave me permission to trust blindly. It gave me permission to feel sadness and depression and anger and fear, but showed me I don’t have to remain stuck in those dark places.

There was power in those dark places. But I had to reach up and out to get to it.

“Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how!” (Ephesians 6:18, The Voice)

Unfighting (Thanksday #77)

It’s been days and days of crazy and confusion and chaos and I’ve felt as though the roaring lion is pacing back and forth and back and forth around my camp. And the fence is high and there’s fire on the fence that’s keeping him out, but he’s still there just looking and seeking any way possible to get in and attack. And I’ve been praying and reading and praying and fighting and some moments I think we’ve turned the corner and peace is restored and then suddenly my head is whipped around again and I’m stunned speechless once more.

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve walked through this kind of attack and back then I failed miserably and opened the gate and the lion came right on in and sat for tea. And I discussed with him rationally how I wasn’t going to participate and he politely agreed but was secretly plotting subterfuge and the next thing I know I was taken hostage. Kidnapped into months misery that almost crushed me.

I didn’t know then that I should fight or how to fight or how to keep the gate locked and barricaded. And I didn’t know it was because the lion was desperate to keep me from the life-changing blessing waiting around the corner. I didn’t know he would do everything he could to take it away from me. But by His grace, God kept it secure and safe until I came through the fire smelling of smoke and covered in soot and singed, but alive.

Because of the intensity of it again this time, I’m fighting harder and praying harder and locking the gate and barricading the fence. But at the same time I’m resting in the Lord and only He knows how fighting and resting work hand-in-hand in situations such as these, but they do.

Because the battle is His (1 Samuel 17:47). My strength only comes from His strength (Ephesians 6:10). If I ask for wisdom on how to pray, He will give it to me. (James 1:5). No weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). And God will work all things for His glory, even this (Romans 8:28).

David knew this delicate balance of fight and rest and seek and learn and said it so succinctly in Psalm 61:2, “From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Having God lead me to that rock and me climbing that rock and getting to the top of the rock allows me to see the situation with clarity and perspective that is impossible to see from the center of the fenced in camp. And on the top of the rock is where there is peace in battling and rest in fighting and all the other anomalies that come from walking this walk called Christianity.

Because He is the Rock. And while the devil prowls around like a lion, Jesus is the lion. Another anomaly.

So I sit at the top of the rock with my face toward the sun and the breeze blows through my hair and it whispers to rest in Him. And I am at rest. And I realize that resting is the best offensive battle I could ever, ever do. For when I walk through the valley He is with me so I do not need fear evil. And for this, I am most thankful.

What are you thankful for this week?

Five Minute Friday #10

Linking up with The Gypsy Mama:

“Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays. We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to finger paint. For joy in the process. No matter how messy the result.”

Today’s topic: COMMUNITY

GO.

We took turns in what we affectionately called “the hot seat.” The five of us would gather around our sister, our friend…each laying a hand on some part of her back, her arm, her knee. We’d speak scripture over her, or lift up a word of encouragement. Most often we’d sit in silence…waiting to see what the Lord would have us to pray. Those were the moments that were the most special…the ones that seemed to shout from the rooftops, “I AM, AND I LOVE HER!”

Often we’d enter into our meeting time without the usual pleasantries…we’d just nod hello, sit down and pray silently. Unloading our baggage from the day, the week, the month. We’d exhale…often very, very loudly…and just embrace the presence of the Lord in that place. And we’d stay silent until it was time to speak. We always just knew when it was time — when it was time to meet, when it was time to pray, when it was time to speak.

God had it all under control.

And then He would speak. And when He speaks, He creates everything.

We didn’t limit our group to just us five…but most often it seemed that we were the only ones that could meet. And we couldn’t have created a more eclectic group if we’d tried. Different seasons of life, different careers, different strengths, different weaknesses. But when we met together, it just worked. As if we were each a point on a star…shooting into opposite directions, but united at the core. As we walked into each other’s houses, our identities, our personas and our facades just dropped at the doorway. We met together as nothing more than women desperate to hear from God Himself.

And that was always more than enough.

It’s been 11 years since we first met. And now we live in different states. Our lives are in different seasons once again…different careers, different strengths, different weaknesses. Different directions, different successes and different failures. Yet, when it’s time to meet, we just know it. We’re united at the core. And we meet. And we pray as we always did. Dropping it all at the door, and simply walking into silence. Praying what the Lord would have us to pray, allowing for moments for God to continue to shout from the rooftops, “I AM, AND I LOVE HER!”

It’s an Acts-generation community. It’s small and seemingly insignificant…just a handful of us, literally, walking side-by-side the best we know how. But it’s changed my world forever. And for the better.

STOP.