Vulnerability (are you enough?)

Vulnerability (are you enough?)

The root of overcoming the lie, “I’m not enough” is found in finding vulnerability within community.

M.B.

On Instagram, I asked my followers for suggestions on what they wanted to read about. Ironically, only one of my friends (Jordan Brenize) responded with “vulnerability.” I was, at first, kind of bummed I didn’t get more response on this one, but I believe it brought more merit to the topic of this post. It reminded me that any pride I took from an overwhelming response to one of my posts can be totally stripped away by a lack of response on another.

I realized that my value in that moment was not determined by truth or how God sees me, but rather determined by a number. I was no longer in the zone of creating to create; because my heart aches when I don’t write. I found myself, hungering and thirsting after the approval and applause of others. I even thought of trying to trick or convince people to respond with FOMO without looking desperate.

As silly as it sounds, don’t we all do this in our own ways? we try to cover up what we see as weakness in our own lives so that others will see us in our most refined light. If it’s social media with scenarios like mine, or like some, trying to up sell the fun you’re having so people can see you’re not boring or ordinary. Some of us will act totally different around our bosses then our coworkers if it means impressing them for that praise or raise, while still trying to keep up our image around our co-workers. Some will donate publicly and others will buy expensive clothing or shoes or you fill in the blank. Some will fake an identity to win the heart of a man or woman and end up loosing themselves in the process. Some will hide within themselves, taking on the title of shy or mysterious. They’re afraid of how people see them if they were to actually speak their mind. The main fear behind each of these examples is this; “I’m not enough.” It’s normally posed in question form, “are you enough?” provoking the answer, “no, but what if I (do/become/say) this? then maybe I will become enough. This fear is no stranger or new theory to humanity. The first man and woman felt incomplete, even though they had everything they needed, in the closest community with God and each other.

This lie has started wars, divided churches, separated families, taken lives, caused people to cheat and steal; each act of sin motivated by striving to be someone that is enough. As each of us sells ourselves short, we believe it’s for our better, even if ultimately we know it’s not where satisfaction is found. But Thankfully, we aren’t forced to stay in that mindset, because the truth is, in this moment, you are enough! We all have weak seasons of life.

The root of overcoming the lie, “I’m not enough” is found in finding vulnerability within community.

The thing about vulnerability is it often gets mixed up with transparency. Transparency is putting yourself on the internet, to then hide behind your screen, looking for pity or praise. Transparency is also showing up to a small group or even a stage and sharing all of your problems and avoiding or not hearing out those people you’ve opened up to. In a good, heathy context, opening up to a solid community, or a good couple of friends if it’s a sensitive issue, is the best thing you can do, although part two is the most important step you can make: Let them touch your problems. The Bible says in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ.”

Transparency, like a ship in a bottle, says, I’m here! I’m fragile, but don’t tough me. Take pity, but don’t you dare try and change me. Vulnerability is if that same fragile ship was able to be taken out of that bottle and set on a table before a group of people, knowing full well that if they choose, they can with one swift swing, smash it into a million pieces, or harder yet, point out and help you improve your ship towards greater beauty. It takes humility to let people into your heart and the places we feel dirty or not good enough, or crazy. The amazing part of this, and the reason I say that vulnerability within community is the best way to fight the lie, “I’m not enough” is because a lot of places where we feel alone or out of our minds or dirty or ashamed are the same feelings that other people in your community have likely gone through, are going through or will go through. It gives you encouragement that it won’t last forever, creates bonds with people that you can fight side by side with, and it gives foresight to those who will possibly go through it.

With all of that, anyone can find so much freedom, although, as a Christian, I believe without Jesus as the center of your community, when your community isn’t looking at you through the eyes of Jesus, and if your heart isn’t first going to him for help in times of need, then there’s a higher chance that in your community, those people will accidentally speak something into your life that isn’t true. They will tell you that you’re not enough or that you must be someone or something to finally be happy or free.

With the perspective that none of us have it in our own strength to be perfect or earn our way to heaven, we can then see we are all enough for Jesus. He sent his son to earth because, in our sin, we deserve death, and he didn’t want that to be the end of the story. Jesus took our place and said, if you come to me, know I’ve created you in my image for a purpose and a plan. Stand by me. Believe I am the son of God and that through me and only me, you can be set free. Turn your face away from all the things that left you lonely and unsatisfied and turn your face to me and I will fill you with joy unending, love overflowing, peace that passes human understanding, and I will even give you a helper, my Holy Spirit, to live inside of you.

That seems like the most no-brainer decision I’ve ever herd, but he also desires and even prays in John 17:20-21 that we (his followers) would be unified, and not just unified, but that we would be one as Him (Jesus) and the Father God are one. That’s a pretty wild prayer, but if Jesus prayed it, I believe it can happen!

In closing, if you don’t have a community that you can trust and lean into for help, please reach out and even pray that God would lead you to one. If you don’t know what Jesus thinks of you or how he sees you, ask him, ask your community, and read the Bible, his word. (If you don’t have one, there’s a free “youversion” bible app thats really comprehensive and easy to use.) Be open with God and others about your questions, insecurities, and fears and let them help bring you towards a place of freedom so that you can confidently be you without striving to fulfill someone else’s dreams. You are enough.

It Will Pass (when we’re not okay)

It Will Pass (when we’re not okay)

Sometimes Jesus revives us in a moment, but sometimes, he gives us eyes to see how he’s been sustaining us through our season of struggle.

Being in a place of hopelessness, or grief, or pain is often accompanied, in one way or another, with questions or feelings helpless. I’m not saying it’s a necessary thing, or that it is a “this, then that” statement. I am saying, due to the human condition, we often revert to negative introspection, especially when dealing with more serious things, like depression or anxiety.

The past few months have been amazing in specific ways, but really challenging internally in different ways, dealing with some mild separation anxiety with my twin getting married soon, some loneliness, but mostly just feeling some connection to the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, and even more specifically the way the Avett Brothers described him in their song “Tin Man”. One line specifically goes, “I miss that feeling of feeling.”

This past weekend I took a spontaneous road trip with my cousin. I knew I needed it. I knew I needed something to jumpstart my feeling and remind me of the joy I had known to be, not just on the outside of me, but deep within me. It’s a joy that leads to tremendous peace, and I hadn’t felt it in a long time.

Throughout the trip, through music, podcasts, conversations and practical love from strangers, something changed within me. My circumstances didn’t change in my life, but after attending Jess Ray’s album release concert for her new album, “Parallels and Meridians” God began to soften my heart to a place I could begin to feel again; something other than tired or anxious. I started to feel the love, and even the community of the church being a singular body. We had no plans on places to stay besides my car, and with that being announced from the stage so graciously by Jess, we were offered 6 or so different places to stay by total strangers. We ended up staying with the first people who offered, went to their place and crashed on their couch bed. When I woke up in the morning, I felt a pease and comfort, something I hadn’t felt in a while, as well as a sense of belonging.

fast forward a day or so, and this evening, at “theOak” (the youth group I volunteer at) I had a realization; Sometimes Jesus revives us in a moment, but sometimes, he gives us eyes to see how he’s been sustaining us through our season of struggle. As I worshipped and sang to Jesus, memories came to my heart from times I wasn’t feeling it, but God was still using and calling me toward himself.

If you’re going through a season, if you feel empty or anything other than joyful and free, remember: It will not last forever. as my pastor said this morning in typical Pastor Ted rhyme scheme, “Your pain has not come to last, it has come to pass.” It will not be everlasting. Push into Jesus. Be honest with yourself and be honest with Him; he can handle it. In a moment or in time, you will see the other side.

 

Don’t Force It (It Will Come)

Don’t Force It (It Will Come)

No matter how hard I try to hide it, I want to be Iconic and known for leaving something behind. I want everyone to know that God is real and that they’re important to his heart, purpose and plans. Mixed in, there’s definitely some hope to be seen as important as well. That being said, I’ve also had a lot of opportunities to do things in my life, and because of that, I know I am privileged.

These opportunities that have presented themselves and continue to are, strangely enough, not always “blessings.” I could write a book on what true blessings are, especially from a spiritual standpoint (and I am also sure plenty of people already have), but the point is this:

What looks like a blessing could possibly be a distraction. 

I’ve started seeing a counselor and a part of what we’ve been working through is my desire to help, mixed with a selfish desire to get something in return for the help I have given. I am one that tries to be for everyone else what I don’t have for myself; you might relate.

Through this process, I find myself often trying to solve or fix situations, but never actually finding satisfaction in that achievement once it is completed. I had a moment of reflection a few months ago and checked my gas gage (hypothetically speaking) and saw that my gas light was on. I was so close to running out, I was running on fumes. What I was trying to do was create something impactful without any intention on finding contentment in the process. I was all about making it happen and spreading myself thin in the name of hustle.

I asked myself some questions and pondered some thought:

  • “there’s gotta be something more then living a tired life.”
  • “how can I fix this? all I’m doing it throwing myself into everything and hoping someone will catch my vision.”
  • “How can I be more intentional?”

These are some of my conclusions I came to:

  • Fighting to become something if futile. No one will ever see what all you put in, and having an identity driven goal means you’re in the middle of an identity crisis. That’s possibly a little bit extreme, although it does point to one fact. Your identity is not already secure, and without finding security in yourself now, their will not be security when you get that title,or job, or house, or skill. That grind will wear you down and bring on anxiety and stress.
  • It’s ok to say no. You will have more energy if you take time to rest. (Also, social media and Netflix doesn’t equal rest.) Spend some time with yourself and God! That is where you’ll really be refreshed.
  • Intentionality is key, and is found and rooted in confidence. This confidence, for me, is only found in spending moments with Jesus, if it’s journaling, or reading the Bible, or singing, or soaking and just listening, actually meditating, and resting. Through “waisting” time resting, there is a refreshment that takes place, as well as that confidence to make the decisions that need to be made to achieve what needs to be done, in a healthy, peaceful way.

It’s ok to wait. Some things don’t need to be acted upon exactly when it’s dreamed up. Some things will be ready immediately, but if they’re not, don’t force them.

I have a list of things I’m super excited for in my life. I know most of them will happen, but until then, I will strategize, I will rest, and I will act when it is time.

 

From Honor to Success (And a Little Perspective)

From Honor to Success (And a Little Perspective)

I’ve heard a lot of different perspectives on success and what it takes to succeed. Some measure it with money or fame or happiness; family, specific belongings or health.  I would say it’s not one or none of these. I look at success as always moving forward. That includes losses and wins and has nothing to do with quitting. Many of you probably agree with this.  Something I’ve found as a key to success in living our lives successfully is honoring others.

Google defines honor in verb form as to “regard with great respect.”

In my interactions with people and in my observation of myself, honor is something that seems to be under rated, whether it be social media, job resumes, sports, and so many different places, including our day to day conversations. Everything usually revolves around seeking honor for ourselves. I know that when I see someone seeking attention and praise from people, it does the opposite then what they’re looking for. On the flip side, seeing someone lift up and point out the good in someone else, I not only see the one being honored in a better light, but I see the person honoring in a more positive manner.

Some people say that you have to show yourself off (especially in a job atmosphere) so that they will see how good you are. I struggle with this myself. No one likes to be overlooked, but I like to look at it this way; if we try to exalt ourselves to achieve some sort of promotion or status or raise, we might very well receive it.  I would question, if that were to happen to you, would you be ready for it? I had been looking for some big promotion in the past, but at one point I saw that at the right time, if I would honor others and honor my boss at the time, God would honor me when I was in a place that I would be ready to accept the responsibility.  That has continued to carry over into my every day. I don’t always carry it out, although I always try to bring it into every aspect of life, whether it be in my family, my job, my church, or somewhere I’m volunteering.

The amazing part about having a mindset to honor others is having no other expectations to receive any honor.  The only failure that can occur is if you aren’t putting everything you can into whatever you’re doing. You then end up blaming someone in order to elevate yourself; Or, instead of honoring another person, you honor yourself or even dishonor the other person.

One positive to this mindset and attitude is that we end up acquiring a more grateful attitude when we see all the amazing things other people do and not look for the bad in them. We also begin to find satisfaction in other people’s successes instead of solely on our own success. There are so many other ways this leads to more joy and fulfillment, but another super cool bonus is that as your heart changes, others will begin to honor you. I would love to live in a place where people are all honoring one another. I heard Andy Byrd (an amazing communicator and friend of God) talk about what it would look like if churches started promoting other churches and praying for their success instead of being so closed minded and selfishly motivated. It makes me think of a scripture from Romans 12:10 where Paul encourages the people to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Success is something we all want, whether we strive for it with everything we’ve got, have given up on it due to fear, or float somewhere in-between.  However, what is the price of success?  Did you really succeed if your success stands on the corps of every person you stole honor from, slandered, or overlooked on the way there?  I would rather stand in a valley with a view of all those who have gone ahead of me, fed by the encouragement and integrity of others and me.

 

Inspiration Re-Evaluated: A Writing When Nothing feels Right

Inspiration Re-Evaluated: A Writing When Nothing feels Right

“From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy.”

I have not written in a while, but it’s not strictly because of being too busy or not knowing what to write about, or taking an intentional break or any other excuse. My issue has been that my mind is a minefield of emotions, and nothing feels right.

Some may trace it to mild depression, pent up pride, writer’s block, shame etc. I think in the back of my psyche, a little bit of each of those might exist, but I trace it mainly to the answer of this one question:

What is inspiring me? 

Say this for yourself, and take a moment before you continue reading.

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.

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Isn’t that a crazy thing to think about? maybe you’re not as wowed by this as me, but there are so many places I find my inspiration. Personally, I love interviews, podcasts, music, sermons, videos, and listening to others opinions and passions. These places can be so beneficial, but also, can be so toxic. I find myself so “inspired” I don’t give myself time to think. Even more scary, I sometimes don’t give myself  time to pray and talk to the original inspiration and creator of life itself.

One way the “mind clutter” (if you will) has affected me is that I find myself in one moment, yet thinking of the next thing or the thing from last week. I see that I am present physically, responding to people, but not fully engaging in what they’re bringing to the table at that moment.

Another contribution that is made by the clutter is apathy toward situations or people. The apathy seems to come from an overstimulation of information mixed with busyness that causes people to become statistics, and hopelessness to brew when we see all the problems and how much time it takes to reach a solution. I’ve found this to lead to anxiety that can cause a shut down, and sudden urge to watch Impractical Jokers and eat ice cream (but maybe that’s just me). But practically, it makes confrontation a chore.

The last negative I’m going to share to air out just a little more of my dirty laundry to the world, is this overstimulation of information, especial from social media, as well as retreating to a vice, can cause some real loneliness. This might sound counterintuitive, but too much absorption most times, leaves us empty. I’ve felt this in many respects. I personally am blessed with some really good friends that won’t let me have a day without a phone call from one of them. What’s more important than having the coolest friends in the world, (something i definitely don’t have, because they’re all super weird, and way more awesome and loyal then they are hip) or being with the love of your life, (something I’m so ready for, yet definitely not rushing) or having everyone like you (something I’ve given up trying to achieve, yet something I wish was achievable without compromising one’s convictions) or having something to do or think about without fear of boredom, is sitting down with Jesus, (don’t tune out please) and talking with the one who created you the way you are for a purpose bigger than yourself. He isn’t judging you right now for who you are or what you’ve done. Right now, he’s longing for your attention in a world full of distractions. Some of us even get distracted by pastors talking about God or by talking all about the deepest parts of what we know about God during the times we need to just spend with him.

From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy. God created you for relationship, and he created you for impact. When we “waist” a certain amount of time with the one that loves us fully, we are able to hear his heart for the hurting and outcasts and the people we wish didn’t have to live in misery and injustice. From there, he sends us into the world with assignments of LOVE into the world that may not love us back, but won’t be able to stop the impact.

And if you don’t know Jesus, IT’S COOL! Because he fully knows you and fully loves you no matter what your knowledge is of him. Get to know him, let him know you want to give up all the junk that hasn’t satisfied you yet and even the stull that felt satisfying in a moment, but did not sustain you, for him. Tell him you want to connect to his heart and his family. Ask him to show you his heart and to fill you with his spirit. In him is fullness of joy and freedom.

My life after giving my life to Jesus has been a battle, but when I tap into his strength, I can overcome and when I lean into him, in the easy and the hard times, he gives me peace and fills me with his love.

Won’t you are I put down our devices, and pick up our chins and look to Jesus, fall in love with the Bible, his physical word, and thank him for his faithfulness?

“What is inspiring me?”

Loving Impurely is Still Love

Loving Impurely is Still Love

Picture yourself in a world void of love, something like our social media pages, yet worse. Imagine that every person had no motive that didn’t directly benefit themselves. That every action close to love was known to be fraudulent and skewed, in order for the person intending to use the other to walk over. To some of us, this twisted fantasy doesn’t sound too far off from reality, but none the less, I am convinced that, if acknowledged or not, each and every one of us have received love at one point or another. You may have received it from a parent, guardian, teacher, stranger, partner or friend, but you indeed have received and recognized some sort of love.

I say this because we all love differently. As I pondered this truth, I remember my one friend telling me that when he was into drugs, he would “help out” or show “love” to some of the younger (elementary, middle schooled, freshman) kids by hooking them up with a little extra weed then they paid for. As he has been clean now for years, thanks to Jesus through Teen Challenge and personal encounters with Him, he said he thinks back to that and how twisted his perception of love was.

I see people trying to show love through putting out for a partner because that’s what they want. I see people trying to show love through calling someone a name or bringing them down in the name of good fun. I see people trying to show love by spending all kinds of money, to telling someone their lifestyle is ok even through it is self destructive, saying they’re loving them the way they are. In the same way, I’ve seen people love through serving, spending time, giving, listening, comforting, and so many other ways.

In all these different scenarios, these people are loving the way they have observed another love. If they first hand observed this love or observed it from a video or book or what have you. This really had me thinking; are any of these motives really pure? Can humans really love for the sake of nothing other then the person receiving something beneficial and true without expecting anything in return?

I was hoping to say no, because I can’t think of almost any times I served someone not expecting or hoping for a thank you, money, recognition, friendship, a girl’s reciprocal emotions/interest or any number of things, but I can’t say that the love I’ve shown in these places were in any way malicious. Not to say they never have been, but to love without expectations is perfect love, but love with positive motives, that benefit the other mostly with side effects that elevate oneself is still love.

But what if we want to love more purely? How do we as humans acheve a love that may not be fully pure in motivation, but is really beneficial to another, and is really love? The easy answer? We must encounter love from Love himself!

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Before I encountered Jesus for real, I wanted to give people advice, and it was always fine, but it wasn’t out of love from and for Jesus. As I got to and get to know him more, I am more able to walk out that love. As I read about his life and about his character throughout the entire Bible, I learn even more about how to love. coming back to a previously stated concept, we love how we observe love. I want to observe the number one lover, incomparable to any other, so that my love, though possibly impure at it’s roots, are coming from the purest source of love.

Are you interested in receiving and giving this kind of love? (me too, I’ll always mess up and need to return to this!) Ask Jesus to show you his love, beyond just his rules, but show you his love! Admit your wrongs and ask him to take all of the weight that goes along with them, and take a step of faith! God honors a humble heart and responds to a willing heart! You’re never too far gone, you’ve never crossed him too many times, cures with his name more then he can handle; you’ve never said he’s not real or worth it enough to stop him from wanting your life, your heart, your spirit and all of your insecurities and shortcomings. He is patiently waiting for you. Give it all to him! It will not always be EASY, but you will NOT regret it!

 

Contact me or comment if you want to talk more about this life changing decision! God bless you.

My Life is NOT My Own

My Life is NOT My Own

Life.

This word has been presented to me year after year by platform after platform. I’ve been told it’s found in letting go and I’ve struggled with the thought of my life being out of my control, my life not being my own. This notion has always been in my mind because of repetition in teaching and songs, written in my poems, but never being written on my hear in more then dry erase on a white board.

Since a young age, I lived for the spotlight. Being the youngest, being told go away, you’re too young or not yet were sucker punches that to me then, didn’t make sense. When your identity is in being along, being alone doesn’t leave much identity in the mix.

As grew up, where acceptance lacked, I gained in grit, and a determination to find a way to be known by the likes of anyone willing to notice. With each step into a new year, I tied myself to a new tactic, from sports like baseball and gymnastics to humor and wow factor. I pursued women, lust and pornography to try and fill the empty feeling my shallow friendships and rejection from the last girl couldn’t fill within me.

This lead my into a hatred of myself and my own body, my own mind and identity. My christianity was my life in the light, my vice in conventions and retreats, but it was my shame in the evenings and in the deleted history from my phone screen, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to delete that history, the memories and shame would never delete.

My comfort soon came to me in routine. This routine was comfortable, like being in a prison cell. The routine creates normality, but not because it becomes better, but because there is survival in the numbing, but no, no there is not living. I would start out the week with a community, broken, yet free, spotted with others like me. I would fill my mind with words and quotations, to later fill my schedule with anything that would give me my fix, pick any from above, whatever one I could get. If it was the word of God, I’d meditate on it, to later forget, and be filled with loneliness again, to turn to another vice much more destructive.

See, religion is all fine and dandy, and in the scripture, there are rules that have helped frame me into a moral human being, but without Christ Jesus, those were just words. Words that cut me open and showed me how dirty I really was inside. But oh how life is different on this day!

FLASH BACK: 2014, filled with pain, emptiness, and a glimmer of hope.

FASTFORWARD: 2015,  a year of thanksgiving, renewed life through Jesus Christ, realizing not just everyone else, but I was loved and adopted by my creator, nothing inside could change that he is love and he is light. I became a friend with my savior.

FASTFORWAR: 2016, the pain and emptiness had not been dealt with in full back from 2014, and struggles came and went, and complacency was my reality, but not my intent. Perseverance and self control were in the development stages, as I re-indulged myself in some of the sin I claimed freedom from just a year prior, as I re-applied shame and condemnation daily, like that old Coppertone sunscreen. It went on thick, but the more I rubbed it to try and hide it, it sunk deeper in to the pores of my being.

FASTFORWARD: 2017, a year starting with not wanting any friendship with complacency, not just interested in intimacy with my creator and king, but desiring to give him everything.

NOW: My identity in him is the only thing I’ve ever found to be satisfying, and as I give away my life, I find myself so alive, a truth that only God knows why, but he promises it to all who are willing to give Him their hears. Now when I start to fall into thoughts or actions of lust, personal condemnation, self pity, or identity in people and things, I come back to Jesus quicker then ever, with surrender. I know where life is, I’ve known where life is, but I now confess it with my mouth AND believe it in my heart; Jesus Christ is Lord!

I am not only saved, but set free. If you can’t say the same, I challenge you to join me.