• Heart Undressed Blog


Updated: Apr 6, 2019

In my last blog, I referenced life events that God has used/is using to “school” me in my identity in Christ. If you’re honest, there’s likely more than one thing on that list that you can relate to: hardship, loss, disappointment, rejection, emotional pain, & physical suffering. These experiences show no partiality. They aren’t respecters of wealth, status or abilities. Seemingly bad things happen to people all the time. Either you believe that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love Him, or you don’t. (Romans 8:28) If you haven’t been born-again, you probably won’t like the rest of this blog.

I want to clarify that the purpose of my sharing is not to prompt comparison of circumstances. Don’t go there. Pain is pain. Comparison is a useless endeavor in our search for answers, comfort & peace. It’s a flesh “reflex,” a distraction, that can stop us from facing an honest appraisal of our own lives. Looking at others puts off accepting the inevitable…about ourselves. God knows us inside out, with an intimacy that is humanly impossible. He is tuned in to hidden motives & desires. He sees our past, present, & future…all in one sweeping glance. Who is wise enough, or powerful enough, to have answers for you in your darkest places of pain? Who is the safest place for your messy, confused brokenness? Only our heavenly Father, made accessible to us through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:14-16) A former pastor once said that if God causes all things to work for good in the lives of His children, then there aren’t any “bad” things—as far as God’s loving purposes for us. I agree. However, hearing it & living it are completely different things. It’s a tough Truth to embrace during inexpressibly hard times, when shocking news sucks your breath away & your chest hurts so much it feels like it’s going to explode.

God has used specifically designed circumstances & situations, to dispel my preconceived notions of relationship with Him, to discern what really matters, & to shatter a false dependence on myself & on other people. My views are just that…mine…based on my life. We all can site different experiences, but we all need to learn the same spiritual lessons—in the long run. As my mind ran a quick review over my life, I could easily pick out my top 3 “teaching tools.” It isn’t possible, or necessary, to relay every detail to share the lesson. You’d be bored & it could turn into a futile, emotional turn for me. But, hands down, I’d pick hardship, loss, & suffering as the sources of my greatest trials. Ironically, they were also the springboards to my most life-changing growth.

Except for 5 years, we’ve lived all our married life working for nonprofits & raising a support-based salary. We’ve often been criticized, misunderstood & rejected. Then others lift us up to an unrealistic podium of faith. They seem to think we have a care-free special “in” with God. Indulge me a second, to address an attitude that’s always irked me: Whether a business/corporation guarantees your paycheck, or you are supporter-funded, GOD IS YOUR PROVIDER! No one should be patting themselves on the back. I will say, however, that because we never know how much our monthly income will be, we’re probably more daily aware of specific needs. It’s our in-your-face reality. This fact doesn’t make us any more, or any less spiritual, than anyone else. The hardship factor comes from living hand-to-mouth while endeavoring to live debt free. We don’t have all the budget categories filled. We don’t assume what many folks consider normal. We shop sales and thrift & our 17- year- old, faithful van is nearing the end. Our couch has holes. Our medical bills are a constant. So, worries & fears?? Sure! We’re human. BUT GOD…we do serve a great God. He’s assured us of our calling. He is daily faithful. And we have today, not tomorrow. Our external dependency is a visual reminder of the spiritual dependency we’re supposed to have on Jesus Christ. Life is never boring, that’s for sure! We, too, have to keep our attitudes “in check” toward money. You don’t have to have an abundance to be tempted to love it. But that only leads to spiritual disaster. The Bible says it more directly. To love it, is evil.

Relational losses are supposedly a normal part of life. We lose people that we love through death, through relocation (both ways) and sometimes through unexpected betrayal. As I grow older, I like change less & less. Life just flies by. Too much change makes me sigh. It’s emotionally tiring. Now, I’ve always been a people person. Of all the ways to relate, give me a good conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. Preferably with a cup of coffee. (Old traditions die hard 😊) Texting & emails are poor substitutes for face-to-face. And my phone doesn’t hug back! In my lifetime, I’ve lost 10 immediate family members to death…most unexpectedly. I’ve lost a few folks who were “like family.” My daughters miscarried 6 babies. 9 years ago, we made a life-changing move away from longtime friends. In the past 4 years, our married daughters & grands moved on to “greener” pastures—a total of 13 souls. The passing of years feels like a BLINK! “How did I get here, so fast, anyway? It was only yesterday that……”

In general, the statement that time heals all wounds is bogus. When you love someone who’s a part of life as you know it, and they die, you only miss them more. And when you love someone, & have invested in them, & they leave—the memories don’t stop. I think the worst feeling is betrayal…in any relationship…but especially when it’s someone who adamantly professed they cared. It makes your heart feel like raw hamburger. Spiritually, in the previous loss scenarios, I knew, in my head, that God had a purpose & plan. Though I didn’t like it at the time, I had no real control over any of it. Death always affects you, one way or another. Any decision we make affects others, good or bad. Sad things hurt. Even good things can hurt. Death causes superficial things to fade into the background as what really matters comes to the forefront. Coming to my quiet place, to honestly work out all these feelings & emotions of loss with my heavenly Father, was very painful. It took me awhile to get past it in each instance. Some things will always be alive in my mind. The love then, or lack of it, is part of the pain now. But He knows it all. And He continues to sift my soul to show me a greater depth in my daily love life with Jesus Christ. I need Him desperately to make sense out of relational changes.

Thirdly, the good Lord allowed some physical challenges, some suffering—for lack of a better word. There is an inner, silent suffering to ongoing pain that no one sees. It can leave you feeling isolated, even in a crowd. No one sees inside but the Lord. Though an active, hardworking person most of my life, my body took a hit at 26 years old & has never been the same since. An exercise injury affecting my back simmered over the years, unknowingly colliding with a congenital arthritic hip issue. As a young mom, hurting was almost a way of life. Over time, I ended up walking like I was 80. Back aches, sciatic pain, chiropractors & ice packs were my normal. Finally, at 48, I became the youngest double hip replacement recipient in AZ…at the time anyway. This was followed by arthroscopic knee surgery the next year & a less than desirable mouth surgery experience, the year after that. Normal aging seemed doable until drop foot descended, resulting from a spasm down my right leg, & became my daily life in 2013. And most of you know about my breast cancer journey in 2017. (See May/June 2017 entries)

This is NOT a “woe is me” roll call. It’s my testimony of how God used my physical body to show me my need for Christ’s life—to survive every day. He created me. I belong to Him. I won’t be cocky & say there won’t be other physical issues in the future. Cancer provided a very heavy dose of my mortality. But no human thwarts God’s purposes. Like Jacob in the Bible, I presently live with a limp that affects a lot of things. I’m always on the lookout for shoes that “work.” I’m frequently replacing brace straps. My good news is--though my body has changed/decayed over the years, God has not! The real me is not my body & I will always be a new in Christ. (2Cor 5:17) Once again, the physical has been, & continues to be, a very practical picture of “I can’t scramble eggs without Jesus.”

One nerve benched me, in certain areas, for life –barring the healing touch of God. (I pray for that, but it isn’t my goal or obsession.) My body challenges have kept me focused on the Truth, & on people, while continually feeding a desperate soul-dependency on the Lord. I’m not exaggerating that desperation or making light of the word usage. It’s true! Sometimes I’m tempted to examine the “whys” & “what ifs,” but it profits me nothing, absolutely nothing. Sometimes I’m even tempted toward bitterness over not being able to wear flip-flops…of all things. I know. Sounds trivial. But shoes are fun. And I loved flip flops. 😊

I don’t know if I’ve successfully communicated my heart’s purpose or not. I had hoped to share how the Lord creatively massaged my spiritual head knowledge to become Truth-lived-out in life experience. I pray at least one heart was prepared beforehand, to be encouraged by my journey.


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