Thursday, May 8

In His eyes alone

It was back in November.  I was down in Colorado, sitting under the teaching of Dr. Larry Crabb, in NextStep School of Spiritual Direction, in the beautiful setting of Glen Eyrie Retreat and Conference Center.  It was a Tuesday night.  Our night was going pretty much as per normal - we would do some class time, and a break, and then Dr. Crabb would spend time in spiritual direction with someone that he had selected at the beginning of the week.  We would sit there, and listen/watch, as if we were invisible observers in meaningful conversation.  Two nights in a row, he ended the time a little earlier than most other nights.  I learned so much from him, and one of the things I learned on those nights, was that when you were in meaningful conversation with someone, we were NOT relying on our own strength, or our own agenda, but on the leading of the Holy Spirit within that one on one time with another.  So he ended the night.  We all filed out, as if we were still walking on holy ground.  The thing is, as I walked, I was feeling something welling up within me.  My room was just a short walk down the hall, and as I fumbled with my card to open my lock on my door, I felt like I was holding it together.  I unlocked the door and came undone.  The tears flowed like they had not flowed for a long time.  I wept and wept.  

I realized God was speaking to me about something.  That day in our quad time, (where four of us met for a period of time to work through what we had learned that day) we were talking about what our "prophetic burden" was.  What had we been called to, beyond a shadow of a doubt.   I had not trouble pinpointing what mine was.  After all I believe that it was the same thing that God had me in pastoral ministry for at the church I was at as a pastor for seven and a half years.  
My prophetic burden was to help women see how beautiful and loved they were in the eyes of God.  However, that night, as I came undone in my room - I realized that I did not believe this for myself.  Yes, Joy - the one who could pour into the lives of others - as a wife, a mom, and a granny.  Joy - the one who obeyed God's call to open a retreat ministry for women, and to pour time into the different aspects of the ministry, so that women would come to see their value in the eyes of God.  Yes, me - Joy - the one who already at that time in November, had sat with women and listened, and prayed, and encouraged them as women made in the image of God.  I realized as the tears poured down my face - that I did not believe it.  I did not believe that I was beautiful in the eyes of God.  I did not believe I was beautiful - period.  Now, I am not talking outward beauty, although everything seems to get muddled up in the whole thing.  

It became very important for me that night - to try to remember times when I heard  someone tell me "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL"  … whether it was my dad, who I knew believed that.  Or my husband who I knew believed that.  Or my family, or friends.  
I wept as I poured out my heart to God - my maker.  He knew what was in my heart - and when it would all come pouring out.  I prayed.  I cried out as I wept.  
The floodgates opened and they felt like they would be open for a while.  I fell asleep weeping and woke up in the morning with eyes that felt like they had cried all night.

That was the beginning of many things …. some processing with my "quad" … some processing in class with Dr. Crabb while the rest of the class listened in.  It also was something I talked with Alvin about … and was the basis for a lot of thinking and wrestling with God on ever since.  I think however, the one thing that sticks in my mind, is when Dr. Crabb lovingly said that I needed, (we all need) to go to God as the one who gives us our identity and who is the one we get our worth from FIRST.  That only HE can give us that, and then - if others also pour into our life, into our sense of "feeling loved and beautiful" … it is a sweet bonus.  

I have since, wrestled with this.  I have tried to just "sit" with God on it - to get my worth from Him and him alone.  To not depend on anyone or anything else.  That is a hard one, because let's face it - we do get our worth from others whether we want to admit that or not.  We get our self- worth from our jobs, our friends, our spouses (if we are married).  We get our self-worth from the affirming words of others.  We tend to "feel" beautiful if we are a certain size, or shape … or if we are outwardly pretty.  Oh I know that struggle all too well.  For me, I have seen that the struggle with my ever presence love/hate with my body size/shape/weight directly plays into how I feel about myself - whether I feel beautiful - and sometimes I don't even THINK of being beautiful in God's eyes because I can;t see it in my own mirror!!

I have purposely done some things as little reminders about what the important thing is …  I have a nice coffee cup - it says, GOOD MORNING BEAUTIFUL.  It reminds me of how much God loves me and thinks I am beautiful in His eyes.  First thing in the morning - this simple cup of coffee speaks into my being!!  I am thankful.  

Then I have just recently purchased two rings.  One has my word for 2014 on it - Abandon  (see my post in February called My One Word for 2014) and the other ring has the word BEAUTIFUL.

These two things are visuals.  God knows that I also love to use visuals to continue to point my eyes ahead to Him.  

However in the midst of this, I continue to struggle ….Oh Lord, I am so human aren't I?  I continue to struggle with embracing fully the beautiful woman He has created me to be - I hear it - but I struggle with fully believing it.  I can tell others - and pray for them - but sometimes feel a little like I am wearing a mask - because no one knows the extent that I struggle myself with this.  I have tried to figure out why - WHY is it so hard to believe.  WHY is believing I am beautiful and loved in the eyes of God - so connected with my struggle with my weight.  So many people have told me what I need to do - or how silly it is - or just do it - on and on.  Yet it continues to be my struggle.  My thorn in the flesh.  My thing that constantly pulls me down …  and now, I have put a name on it - and realize it is LIES that I have come to believe over and over and over again.

Today, I have written down the LIES that the accuser wants me to believe.
Lies that I have believed obviously and have allowed to taken root in my life.
And like the thistles that I pulled out last year in our garden - I know that the roots can be big and ugly and need to be pulled out and put to death.
So I have written them down, in black and white … and have given them to God.
You know, satan is not called the father of lies for nothing!!

But then I wrote down the TRUTHS that I know are true and truths that I need to continue to place before me - as I walk this walk.
I realize that God is way bigger than it all - and it is only in Him that I can walk in truth.
I think I will likely still be aware of the struggle, and aware of the daily laying it all down - but what a realization to know HE is in control - and speaks truth over my life because HE IS THE WAY and THE TRUTH and  THE LIFE!!

After I did that, I listened to a song that played in my room the morning after I came undone, down in Colorado.  As I wept to those words then - I also was washed over with his love again as I realized I am held by his love!!  
Only My God can make sense of this - and take it all - and not only hold me, but walk with me.  
One more day in my life - but oh what a life it is!!  I am thankful - because even in these struggles, He is making me more like Him.  

Thank you Jesus - for loving me and for the knowledge that in  your eyes alone - I have all I need - my love and beauty in you.  Only YOU.

May you also know, how beautiful and loved you are in the eyes of God!! 

Bob Fitts

I'm held by Your love
Upheld by Your strength
On Your shoulders You bore me
By Your faith I stand
Cherished by You, Lord
Treasured in Your sight
So close to Your heart
Held firm in Your hands

So awesome is Your love
So mighty is Your hand
On eagle's wings You carry me
Your grace shall be my strength
So perfect is Your love

You sacrificed Your Son
Amazing love reached out to me
With joy to You I come

also wrote some thoughts that also pertain to this on another of my blogs,

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