I hope everyone had a very merry Covid Christmas! My crew and I did. It was very relaxing, enjoyable and not so full of here, there, everywhere. Now to ring in 2021 full of prayers, faith, love and hopeful anticipation! All while being in our comfy clothes, safe at home on New Year's Eve!
I am currently reading and preparing to lead a group on Facebook in my Love & JOYnaling group on Lysa Terkuerst's book, Uninvited. I am excited to be leading this study and to fellowship with ladies from across the country that I have connections with through life! What excites me the most is that we are a group of ladies of all different age groups, backgrounds and life stages.
As I am digging into the book and study guide, my eyes, heart and mind are being awakened and opened in so many ways. Some of what I am learning, digging into and being opened up to is scary. I am not going to lie! SCARY!!!! To face, write, admit and discover past hurts, rejections (real and somewhat imagined) is scary down to my core. I am loving the journey thus far.
Rejection is something we all deal with in life, right? I am learning just how rejection, real AND perceived shapes the ways I think about myself, speak to myself and interact or do not interact with others. The heart of the matter that I have learned is that God rejoiced at the very thought of me and continues to rejoice, sing, woo, adore and pursue me. My worth should never be based on what others think or what I think they think of me.
I want to share a few of my own experiences of rejection that I have and continue to face while learning so much about God's love for me and how to have an intimacy-based identity through, with and in HIM!
I used to say about a certain someone who I felt rejection from ALL of my life, literally ALL of my life, was that "It's his loss, not mine!" Even though deep down, I felt so many emotions in a very deep wound that even though I believe and feel is healed at this particular stage of my life, I felt terribly unwanted, unloved, unworthy and like a waste of flesh, air and space, REJECTED! How could anyone else want me if he didn't? What was it about me that he hated so much? Why wasn't I worth as much or mean as much as others? After all, I wanted just as much as anyone to have his love, approval, attention, heartfelt effort. So? Why not me but everyone else? Why was I not worthy of a promise being kept? Why was I not worthy of just a shred of pride? I suppose I was given those things, but only when it was convenient. So? Why was I an inconvenience? Why was I an afterthought? About 5 years into my own parental journey, I began to heal. No, I just chose to be numb, so perhaps healing did not begin until just a few years ago when my relationship with God began to grow and flourish. Numbness is NOT healing...….because there is always the possibility, a strong possibility, that those wounds can be ripped open time after time.
These were my thoughts for so many years of my life with no answer ever received. I wasn't entitled to answers as I was made to feel as no wrong had been done and I was to blame.
I used this rejection in healthy ways in becoming who I am, to a true fault though. My high school sweetheart always said to me, "Shalon, your biggest strength and biggest weakness is your heart!" He was right and that statement has stuck with me. I know exactly what he was talking about now, at 42 years old, with so much life experience having had and still so much to have. I love FIERCELY!!!!! I do! If you are in my "circle" I love you and you are IMPORTANT to me! NO question. I was told in high school that I "cried too much." Looking back and looking at life now, yes I did, yes I do. But, that is not a bad thing, I FEEL! And 1 week before entering high school, my Bonus Dad was tragically killed in an accident. I was 14 years old. I had only had him in my life for 7 years! The most important years were coming, high school years! I perceived his death as rejection from God, that I was not worthy of having him in my life any longer. If I had been a better daughter, kid, fishing partner, something, God would not have taken him away. I didn't know how to deal with that type of life changing loss as a teenager. I only knew that I had to be strong for my Momma. I had to pick myself up, dust myself off and go on! So, I guess in the eyes of a fellow teenage girl who had both parents and a seemingly "perfectly intact" life, I did cry too much when I felt so much emotion not only from having to deal with real life, but also deal with "mean girls" in school who looked down on me because I was from the wrong side of a bridge, loved fiercely, felt deeply and so wanted to fit in somewhere, anywhere!
Rejection is real when you are made fun of for what seems like everything. I was teased for being long-legged, high waisted, ugly feet, not being a size 3, having a single Mom, not having a "Dad," not living in the "right" place, so many things. Rejection not just from "friends," but being treating differently by adults at church, of all places. Not being invited or welcomed to activities of peers that I literally grew up with at church. Being told that I was odd, not to be allowed to date certain people because my parents were divorced, all of these experiences hurt. Being rejected for things I had absolutely nothing to do with, no control over and did not understand, "Why me?"
Not long after my Bonus Dad passed away, I was standing in a hallway at school waiting for my Momma to pick me up. A "friend" was standing there with me. I put friend in quotations because after this particular incident, I never spoke to her again and had zero urge to be in her circle. As my Momma pulled in, "friend" asked if she got a new car. I said, "Yes! She did. We love it!" Her response? "The only way you could have gotten that was with your "Dad's" money. Must be nice to have money from his accident." STUNNED!!!!!!! SPEECHLESS!!!!!! SERIOUSLY???? I know, I know, kids say stupid things, but that HURT! I would have MUCH rather have had him alive than anything else and not to mention, my Momma worked full-time, made a good living and did well supporting us! 4 years of high school, I did not speak to this person again. Just a few years ago, she passed away and I felt her rejection so many years ago all over again. I don't even know why! Because I have carried it around as a broken board supporting myself in ways I never knew before diving into this study.
Rejection stings, cuts deep, burns, leaves gaping wounds and just builds in our hearts and minds. Here is the thing about rejection. It is a weapon! Read that again, It is a WEAPON! I know who uses this weapon, why he does it and can now replace my broken boards that he convinced me I had to keep with strong, sturdy TRUE boards of support, love, adoration, ACCEPTANCE, forgiveness, always wanted, cherished of God and my identity in and through Him!
I would love to have you join me and the amazing group of ladies for this study beginning in January! Feel free to search Love & JOYnaling on Facebook, join the group and dive in with us as we fellowship together, love on each other and learn with one another! You will be welcomed, NO REJECTION!!!!
Withstand. What does this mean? what does this compound word mean to society? What does it mean to me as a woman of God heart? This word has been on my mind and heart for months. haven't we all been withstand-ing this whole year? I mean, 2020! My goodness having to withstand all this year has thrown at us has tested all of us in so many different ways! That is true, but not what has been on my heart. I am creating this as more of a guide for you to dig into God's Word for yourself and listen to those things He may be telling you and saying to your heart. I hope that you might even discover some things you had never recognized in your own heart before and be able to take to God.
What does the word "withstand" mean? As a verb (ACTION WORD) it mean to remain undamaged or unaffected by; resist or STAND ground against powerful negative force. Read the second part of that definition again. Resist or STAND ground against a powerful negative force. Light bulb moment in my mind and heart! Being a follower of Christ, I must resist or STAND my ground against a powerful negative force (ie. THE ENEMY).
Okay, so let's break that word down.
WITH means accompanied by (another person or thing) and is preposition word.
STAND means have or maintain an upright position, supported by one's feet. It can also be used as a noun and is an attitude toward a particular issue, position taken in an argument. Also, a cessation of movement or progress or to rest, remain, or set in a usually vertical position.
I know you didn't want an English lesson, so I will move on with my heart and what I want to share with you along with scripture that I want to dig into deeper with you and hopefully encourage you to dig deeper on your own and discover what WITHSTAND means to you and what power you have being rooted, grounded and strengthened in Christ and how amazing that power is even when we don't realize or have never recognized it before! Then I want to share with you my journaling entry as I studied, wrote and heard the voice of God and the vision He gave me as my own heart has, in all honesty, struggled with being able to WITHSTAND so many things in my life. As I sat down to study, create and write, I had a song playing in my head over and over. "On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground in sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand. I know this was God's voice whispering as inspiration and encouragement as well as a reminder of WHOSE I am and where I stand in life!!!!!
What are some of the things you must withstand in your life? Family issues? Any kind of relationship issues? Societal issues? Health issues of your own or someone you are close to or give care? Are there issues within yourself? Depression? Anxiety? Physical disabilities or DIFFERENT abilities? I encourage you to make a list of those things that you feel are struggles you are, will be or have been withstanding.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33 (NIV) "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
In the latter part of verse 32, as He is speaking to his disciples, Jesus states that He is not alone, because God is with Him. A simple, yet, super powerful reminder that we are also not alone if we have Christ! What does verse 33 mean to you in your present withstanding moments? How does this make you feel?
Joshua 10:8 (NIV)-The Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."
This was interesting to me because Joshua was going into battle against a great army and was fearful. I am sure we would be too. The thing about this command from God to him was that this is 2 fold. God gives his command to Joshua, "Do not be afraid," and that command is directly linked to a promise from God, "I have given them into your hand." a guaranteed victory! Wait, what? How would you feel if you knew the battle you were facing was a guaranteed victory for you, all you had to do was to not be afraid or WITHSTAND?
1 Peter 5:8-10 (NIV)
These verses give us specific instructions on withstanding life and our enemy and ALL of his weapons he tries to use against in. Being able to recognize exactly WHO our enemy is in this life, the messy in between two perfect gardens we live and what his game is against us, especially as women of God. Ladies, believe it or not, we are his number ONE target!!!!!! That is a lesson and study for another time though. The promise at the end of these verses is all about be one who WITHSTANDS!
Is this comforting to you? It is to me, for sure.
As much as God has created us for so many things, endowed with beautiful, unique gifts, because we are Christ's and live in HIM, God will restore us and make us STRONG, FIRM AND STEADFAST, which is all you need to withstand!!!!! During these times, we must recognize, embrace and practice our most fervent relationship with God and Christ. WE have been given the authority, a mighty authority because of Jesus and MUST use that authority to resist/WITHSTAND the enemy. He hates it when we use our authority to run him off and to let him know he has zero power over us! DO IT, Sister! Also, the more prayerful we are in our own times of struggle or the enemy's most active moments in our lives, he actually gives up and moves on. USE YOUR POWER!!!! DO NOT FEAR, RESIST, WITHSTAND! Here is the heart of the matter when dealing with the enemy and all of his attacks. The more we first recognize what is going on around us is him and that his efforts are only driving us closer to Christ, the more emboldened we are because we actually claim and use our authority in Christ, the further away from us he will move. There is your guaranteed victory!!! See it? Read it again if you need to. CLAIM IT! It's already there for you.
While thinking on, praying on and studying about "WITHSTAND," I had a vision of myself being a tree and my roots are intertwined and strong because of being in Christ! As I look at my life, both currently and my past and situations that I had to withstand, either due to my own decisions or because of other people and their decisions or just life circumstances that we all live through, survive, face, however you wish to describe it. As I have grown in Christ and expanded my relationship with and knowledge of God's Love Letter and learned so much about what my relationship truly holds and means for me, I wish I had known in my past what I know now. I am sure we all have that same thought because as the old saying goes, "Hindsight is 20/20!" I am ready for the year 2020 to be in the rearview and focus on the new year and all of its potential!!!!
Daughter, Sister, Wife, Momma, Friend, Warrior Princess, Sold out follower of Christ. There is more to me than meets the eye. A beautifully broken, messy, loving, imperfect woman praying to inspire others to find the JOY in this Joy-ney we call life!