Prove Yourself

Three people this week have asked me (in various ways) “What/Who are you trying to prove?” The idea is that I don’t need to prove anything.  This was an answer in one of those conversations that I found poetic enough to want to share. Definitely one of my shortest posts but I hope you enjoy it.

I don’t have to prove I have value.
I don’t have to prove I deserve love.
I don’t have to prove I’m right or worthy or good enough.

But

My purpose is to encourage, empower, and equip the sleepwalking children of God to break free of strongholds and pursue their dreams.

That’s not a cute saying, that’s the purpose statement of my life. I am called to wake people up to the purpose they were created to live. And to do that, I want to prove some things.

I want to prove that struggle doesn’t define you.
I want to prove that you can get back up.
I want to prove that gender can’t limit you.
I want to prove that singleness can’t limit you.

And to do those things I want to prove it with my life.

I want to prove my struggles don’t define me.
I want to prove I can get back up.
I want to prove my gender doesn’t limit me.
I want to prove my singleness doesn’t limit me.

I do that by winning.

Not winning someday, today.
Not achieving small goals, achieving big goals. Crazy only-God-could-do-that goals.
Not beating my peers; beating myself. Pulling out the best I have every day and leaving it on the field.

I don’t have to prove anything.
I want to prove everything.

I don’t have to prove to anyone.
I want to prove to everyone.

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One Day’s Strength

A few weeks ago I picked up Freefall to Fly for my morning time with the Lord and part of this study is a journal at the end of each lesson.  The below is excepts from yesterday’s journal, cleaned up a bit.

Last night at the FOCUS conference God showed up. I mean, He’s always there. But it was a unique experience. During the first set of music I started crying. (This is becoming a common theme with music and I haven’t decided how I feel about it, crying is new territory for me.)

Why are you crying? I asked, a bit annoyed but also glad for the darkness that no one could see me. It’s been a hard week, came the response from my soul. My mind rolled over the challenges of the week and my heart began to ache. No one thing in isolation would have been devastating, but enough difficult weeks have strung together and I’m getting weary.

Suddenly I had this inexplicable sensation of being wrapped up in God’s arms, as a little girl cuddling with her daddy. And I just wept for a whole song. Then it was gone.

Chris preached and then the music started again. Toward the end of the 2nd to last song I asked God, “When do I stop getting hit?”

I haven’t given you tomorrow’s strength yet.

“But how many more times do I get knocked down? I can endure, I just want to know how much more.” I was whining but God was so present and I really wanted answers.

I give enough strength for today.

“But when?”

No answer. Just then it shifted to the last song and it kicked off with a declaration that God returns and wins and every enemy is defeated.

And the tears came again. God is with me and He hasn’t abandoned me or left me desolate. He’s stronger than any darkness and more powerful than any struggle.

I hope this is over. I hope I don’t lose anything else or get “hit” again. But if I do, I’m not alone. And God will walk with me through the storm.

Texas is being hit by a hurricane and last night while I was at FOCUS people were flooding the grocery stores stocking up to prepare. But I pay someone else to shop and cook for me so I hadn’t thought about it. I just opened my freezer when I got home and found it full of food.

God is like that. I can go stock up on canned chili and bottled water. But He’s prepared all the delicious, healthy food I could need. And every day my portion is there waiting. He asks me “do you want my food of peace or will you go make your own of fear and striving?”

Today I choose peace. If I get “hit” again then I will look to Him and I will rise. One day at a time, one step at a time, I will walk out my destiny.

Learning to Cry

“What are you feeling as you say that?”

Bob’s question briefly pulled me back to the moment. He always asked that question when my voice would quiver, the closest I ever came to tears in his office. My mind raced for the answer… what is the right answer? What had I just said?

We were discussing how I feel about God being all powerful and all loving… it seemed that He didn’t think the most loving option was for me to have parents. That’s what I had said… but what had I felt? It was gone now, suppressed by an iron will that I could not control.

“Do you feel sad? Angry?” Bob prodded, seeing my discomfort and trying to help.

“Maybe both?” I mumbled, more question than answer. Mental clarity had returned but with it the emotions had evaporated again.

Bob and I moved on to other topics and he reiterated his hope that I would find people that I could cry with… that someday I would feel comfortable crying. I told him that I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with tears… but I may one day learn to stop suppressing them.

But I did cry.

Hot, angry tears poured forth the next morning as I scribbled in my journal as fast as I could write. For the first time, I laid out the hurt I felt toward God for His unwillingness to save my father from dying and for letting my mom die so shortly after.

I trust You to hold the whole world. But caring about me personally… well it just seems like You’re busy being God.

So, there it was: the truth I felt. It looked nothing like the truth that I knew but it had come to the surface at last, fighting it’s way through years of “Barrett’s Don’t Cry” and bursting out to the surface in painful anger.

I know that the truth is that God doesn’t cause pain and that He doesn’t owe me anything. I can provide the theology and the texts that prove God has never let me down or allowed me to be abandoned. But this morning was not about the logic or refuting the beliefs; I was just letting them come to the surface.

Every autothought has a belief that stands behind it and that belief was often formed in times of strong emotion, not logic, often in our earlier years. The third step in taking thoughts captive, then, begins with understanding what belief is driving that autothought.

When my community group came to an end, the reality was that my shepherds were moving out of the country. But my reaction was to close into myself: “I have failed to keep this family together.” This autothought has no basis in reality so where does it come from?

There is a deeper belief: I must take care of myself and everyone around me. This belief was grown in me through emotional experiences where I was left to fend for myself. The responsibilities placed on me in helping raise my siblings in a season when both my parents were working full time. The project I worked all night to complete because my classmates knew I would score them an A without their help.

These events and others grew in me a vine of self-sufficiency that goes beyond responsibility into isolation. It’s a self-sufficiency that is rooted in fear of others letting me down, not faith in my own ability. And it’s a belief that has caused me to take responsibility for what is not mine to carry.

But the third step in taking thoughts captive does not end with recognizing the beliefs that drive our autothoughts. The second half of this requires that we identify the truthfulness of those beliefs. Truths are based on facts and evidence, not positive thinking or hopeful idealism.

So for the week after that tear-stained journal, I sought out the truths that align with those beliefs:

As I meditate on these truths, the other two steps in the process (which I’m still learning so I can’t write about quite yet) transform my heart and reshape my beliefs to the truths. As my core beliefs change, my autothoughts change and my mind is renewed.

So, it begins with a disruption that allows me to realize that I have responded on “auto pilot.” Then I question those decisions to uncover the autothoughts that drive them. Digging deeper, we find core beliefs and we hold them up against facts and evidence.

Some, loosely held beliefs will be transformed at this point.  Others will take more work.  When gardening, some weeds can be pulled with your fingers and others require we dig them up with tools. But diligence and perseverance will create a garden that is free of weeds… for a time.

Our minds are no different. Careful, deliberate cultivation keeps the weeds out of our minds and allows us to live the lives we were created to live.

*Bob is the name I give my counselor in these writings.  I can thank my cousin, Mindy, for the name as that is what she insists on calling him.