I Was the One

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it?” (Luke 15:4)

I love the feeling of knowing that I’m stepping into a different season! Especially when I’m stepping out of a harder season.

I was praying a few days ago, and You took me back to a video I saw months ago of Melissa Helser speaking about the necessity of seasons. As clear as day, I heard you say, “Do not misinterpret my tone or the season I have you in. Season of barrenness can be quiet, but they will always bring clarity. The season you’re in is one of rest, and while it is quiet, it’s not to be mistaken for a season of barrenness. In your season of barrenness, there was a work that I had to do in you. I had to break up the fallow ground in your heart, and there was a lot of fallow ground. Although it was an extremely hard season for you, it has set you up for the next season, because seasons of barrenness will always produce seasons of harvest.”

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;  now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43: 18-19)

As I kept thinking about what You said, I kept wondering why would I misinterpret the season I was in. CLEARLY, I was walking in a new joy and wholeness that hadn’t been there for a while, and I didn’t think that I was carrying beliefs from an old season into a new one. But, It clicked when I remembered You speaking to me a few weeks ago. I was sitting in a night service, and I was tired because I had to be at work at 6 AM. The speaker wanted to pray for everyone, but I wanted to go to sleep. In the midst of my irritation, I heard You say, “Calm down. I haven’t forgotten you.”

BOOM. Plain and simple, there it was. Although there was something new that You were doing, there was a small fear that my life was forever doomed to “finding joy in the hard/hell places.” I’d settled into my heart that I’d either be last, or worst, forgotten. That small seed had been there from the moment I stepped out on faith three years ago. I expected my life to look one way, and because it didn’t, I started to believe a lie, and that lie hit its climax when I moved a year ago.

Pain has a way of really distorting reality, and Satan really is a liar. Gradually, that lie flowed deeper into our relationship, and just as gradually I ebbed further from You. When my relationship with You wasn’t okay, neither was anything else. Best friends couldn’t fix it, and money couldn’t fix it. There were certain things that I knew You’d had shown me, but instead of praying about them, I talked about them. I gave Satan exactly what He needed to attack, and for too long I truly believed those lies about You, the situations You’d placed me in, and the people You’d placed around me.

But, I was wrong.

I was angry.

I was proud.

I hated You.

I isolated myself from the people You placed around me.

I heard You say, “Let them love you,” but my heart was so hard towards You that I couldn’t even see them.

I hurt them, and I know that I hurt You.

Then, You sat me down.

I never thought I’d be on that side of the Gospel. I never thought I’d need someone to rescue ME! I mean, I’d always considered myself part of the ninety-nine, but never the “One,” never the prodigal. But to You, there was no such thing as a “little” wandering.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me (Psalm 139: 5).

You put me in a situation where I couldn’t run anymore. You recklessly pursued me. You never let up. You walked with me through that season of barrenness, and You provided no way of escape from Your love. You hemmed me in on all sides and laid Your hand on top of me. You gathered every piece of my heart, and You healed me and made me whole again, and I thank You for that.

———–

On this side of healing comes maturity. In any season that we’ve walked through with a hardened heart, it’s almost impossible to interpret anything correctly. You cannot understand what God is doing when You don’t trust His heart towards you. You won’t trust His motives, and you won’t trust the motives of those placed in front of you. (Trust me, pride and pain will try to convince you otherwise. I would know) As mature believers, as we are healed we have to choose God’s perspective on what’s really real over what we believed to be real.

So, I challenge you to ask the Lord (as you’re walking into new seasons, or still walking in your own) to dispel the lies that pain convinced you were truths. It’s possible that you can have a wrong mindset concerning a situation that you were convinced you were right about. Humble yourself in preparation for what He’ll tell you, receive your full healing, and do whatever you need to to make it right. He’ll lead you to the truth, and you won’t carry any baggage into a new season.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139: 23-24)

instablog: GRATITUDE & JOY!

 
I walked past this wall a few weeks ago, and heard the spirit of God say, “It IS nice to have you in Birmingham, huh?” This week marked ONE YEAR of stepping out on blind faith and moving to Birmingham. A year ago I wasn’t in a good place, but I’ve learned that the process of walking out my “YES” started years before I ever moved to Birmingham, one. Two, He was more concerned with my character than my comfort. He was concerned with equipping me for the good works He’s called me to before the foundations of the world, & 3, because He’s with me, I am a living threat to the kingdom of hell.

So, wherever you are today in your step of faith, CHOOSE to open your mouth in gratitude and warfare! Be thankful in the middle of it. When it doesn’t look like it’s working out, He’s faithful! When you don’t feel like praising, your emotions are lying to you because He’s faithful! When it doesn’t seem like the promise will come to pass, get your mind off of yourself, & set it on the Kingdom of God because there’s more that He wants to do through you! HE’S FAITHFUL!

So, praise the Lamb for JOY not only on this side of the desert season, but also IN the desert season. Praise God for new seasons, greater vision, amaaaaazing friends, higher callings, the bomb.com church, restoration of everything that was taken, and because He’s faithful, the fulfillment of every promise. 😍 

Year ✌🏾, LET’S DO IT!

A Response to the Girl who Loves too Hard

Father, I pray that we see ourselves the way that You see us. I pray that Your voice is the loudest voice in our lives. I pray that the way that You see us has more influence than the way that the world sees us. Let our identities be completely engulfed in who you say that we are. Tear at the lies that we’ve believed about ourselves. Reveal your mending heart. Forgive us for not seeing ourselves as masterpieces. We are who You say we are. We can do what You say that we can do.

I remember reading an article awhile ago addressed to “The Girl Who Loves too Hard.” (Which there are actually dozens of those blog posts now) At the time of reading it, I remember completely relating to every word that the author had written. I mean, I was one of those girls! I was someone who poured their heart out completely and didn’t receive it in return. I felt like the way I loved people was abnormal, that sometimes I was “too much to handle,” that I was clingy, and that there was something wrong with me. I think as long as I can remember I’ve always been a person who has “loved hard,” but recently I’ve found that (as cute as is sounds, in theory) loving hard” slowly suffocates the room needed to fully love myself. Although there really is nothing wrong with loving other people, there is a very real problem: We tend to confuse love and validation. We don’t know what love is. The love that we pour out is self-seeking, looking to be reciprocated, and in loving other people, we neglect to love ourselves.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    

In two weeks, I’m coming up on a year of living in a new city, and I remember for the first nine of these twelve months, the biggest struggle between me and God was, “God, I feel like you NEVER defend me! I moved to a new city because YOU told me to, and what is happening? My closest relationships are now at their furthest! People are looking at me like I’m crazy because nothing is making sense, and I’m wondering, did you move me here just to make a fool out of me!?”

(Yeah, I know. I was real reckless in the way I was speaking. -__-) 

I remember speaking to a mentor one day about everything that was going on, and she said exactly what Holy Spirit had been saying for weeks, “The problem isn’t everyone else. The problem is you. You don’t love yourself. You say you love you, but Alexis doesn’t really love Alexis. If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t accept some of the things you accept.” For the first time, it clicked that the problem wasn’t that the Lord hadn’t defended me. He was good and faithful! The problem was that I had never defended myself. I’d defended everyone else at the expense of me! 

I knew that God called me to a different city, but when opinions came up questioning my decision, I caved to the pressures of other people.

I knew that I’d accurately discerned what God had shown me in tough, challenging moments, but because I was the only person who saw it, I thought, “Surely, something must be wrong with me. Why would God only show me, and no one else?”

I knew the promises that God had laid on my heart, but when the promise was tested, I didn’t want to look stupid, so I just kept quiet, and wavered instead.

The problem is that we place our identity in the validation of others and call it “love.” And some of us have been in so deep, for so long that we actually think that it’s a noble thing to love people like that. It’s not, friend. I know, because I was there. & if we really had to ask ourselves to think about certain situations/relationships/jobs/etc, could we honestly say that we would encourage another friend to stick around if they were walking in our shoes? No.

You know what you deserve? You deserve to hear yourself say, “I deserve better, and I am worthy of love.”

So, how do we let go of the control & insecurity that disguises itself as “loving hard?” Where do we go from here?

We accept God’s love for us, and we accept the way that He sees us. We repent of the lies we’ve believed. We’re made in the image of God, and when we don’t have a right God-image, we don’t have a right self-image.  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love,” (1 John 4:18). God is gentle. He knows each of us intimately, and intricately and He doesn’t NEED anything from us. We have to accept that there is a love that is tailored-made for each of us, and we don’t have to perform, or have the best clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. His love is free and freeing. 

We forgive ourselves.  When we forgive ourselves, it opens the pathway to forgive others, and to allow people be people. For me, I found that one reason I struggled with “loving hard” was that I felt like if they left, it had to be me. I had to do anything I could to keep them and show them that I loved them, but in the end, I realized that it was never them (well, for the most part). I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to forgive myself for not being my own defender.  I had to learn to say to myself, “I deserve respect, and I am worthy of love. So, I may love them, but I’m choosing me.” 

We become our biggest cheerleader, and we speak life. “The Bible says, ‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph!’ That means He MAKES me win. So, that means I AM VICTORIOUS!”2 Corinthians 2: 14 [& Donnie McClurkin]. Like love and forgiveness, seeing yourself rightly is a choice. We are not victims, but victors! We are holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). We are known (Psalm 139 1-18). We are protected (Psalm 91). We are representatives of Christ, Himself! (Matthew 5: 13-14) I’ve learned that it’s great to hear other people say nice things about me, but nothing is as lovely as speaking what my Daddy has already declared to be true about me. I have become so intentional about being my biggest cheerleader, and it’s a choice. I choose to be patient with myself. I choose to be kind. I choose to think good thoughts about myself. I choose to trust myself. I make a decision and I later trust that the decision I made was for my benefit. I hear from God. He trusts me, so I’ll trust me.

We have to learn to keep our cups overflowing to pour into others, and I’ve found that I can only be filled to overflow when I’m looking to the God that fills. If I’m searching to be filled by people, I will never be satisfied. I will always require others to reciprocate the same “hard love” that I pour out. But, when I go to the Father and I’m filled, the love I can pour out onto others is pure with no expectation of what we need in return.

So, friend, you don’t need anyone’s validation. As you learn to love yourself, your need for validation from people slowly fades away. Suddenly, the relationships you always needed to control have little room in your life. The voices of your “mentors” (not to be confused with Godly council) fall in line behind the voice of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, you learn to love and trust yourself, and as you learn to love yourself, it makes it easier to love others because you will naturally set healthy boundaries, and learn to walk out Romans 13: 8, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law,” (Romans 13:8 NLT)