Pain Is Not Your Portion

Erika is one of the most genuine people I know… like, genuine to her core. Everything in her screams “real.” I asked her to write for me because I’ve seen her up close, and I love her love for the Lord. I remember going through a really tough season where I was very ugly, very hard to love, and I really needed a friend. Erika was that friend for me. She never ceased in praying for me, and she was so honest, constantly encouraging me. She still challenges me in the things that she writes and isn’t shy to confront things that need to be addressed. She is an AMAZING person, and I love this post! Enjoy!!

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Picture this… one of your friends has been locked away in prison because of what someone else has done. Everyone knows that your friend may have been associated with the person who committed the crime, but everyone also knows that your friend is completely innocent and has been wrongfully convicted of a crime that they didn’t commit. Now imagine that in the midst of all of this chaos and confusion, you go to visit your friend in their captivity. You walk up to the jail cell, and one of the first things you notice is a key sticking out of their pocket. Your question is, “What is that key sticking out of your pocket used for?” Imagine they respond, “It’s to the jail cell, but I’m not ready to come out.”

This story may sound a little silly, but at some point in our lives, we have all been the friend in the jail cell. At one point or another, we have all been locked away in a prison of pain whether it be physically, emotionally, or mentally, and many times the pain we feel may not even be our fault. Unfortunately, so many of us have been taught to bury the pain and act like it’s not there, or that it’s “not that big of a deal,” but that was never God’s intention for us. For me personally, I was never taught how to deal with and process the pain in my life, and it nearly destroyed me. Over the years I’ve applied what I am about to share with you and it has been revolutionary to my life! One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that we are not equipped to carry pain, and we cannot afford to play house in these prison cells that hold us captive.

God’s original design for man was a pain-free life. The Garden was a safe place emotionally, spiritually, and physically, but because Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, (and chose their selfish desires over God’s love and His best for their lives) pain entered the Garden. Although we live in a fallen world, see and feel the effects of Adam and Eve’s choices (and our own), because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we have an open invitation to rise above and overcome the pain in our lives. Jesus is our pain-free, safe place.

As believers, it is vital that we recognize the power of the cross and the reality that Jesus didn’t just die to restore our relationship with our heavenly Father. Because of His sacrifice, He has made a way for us to live healed and whole lives on the earth. Although Jesus is in heaven, we have His Holy Spirit here on the earth as our Comforter, Counselor, and Healer. Our Christianity is not only for salvation but also for our liberation.

I don’t know if you know this, but you have permission to fully feel whatever you’re battling without any shame. The beauty of the Gospel is that because Jesus was a man, he can relate to our humanity and everything that we go through. Jesus wants your transparency and vulnerability, that is the place where healing happens. He doesn’t want the fake, cleaned up version of yourself. Jesus is after your whole heart, the raw, real, messiest pieces of your heart that you don’t want anyone to see. He already sees it and isn’t moved by it! As sons and daughters we can completely trust Him, knowing that He would never turn away in disgust, but instead, embraces us just as we are and makes every area of dysfunction and brokenness more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

You see, the reality is that we all have the power of choice.

Surrender is a choice.

Taking the key out of our pocket and using it is a choice

Our ultimate victory and freedom is our choice.

No one can unlock your prison cell for you. 

In the midst of our pain and our struggles, we can either choose to stay where we are, or we can take the necessary steps toward healing and wholeness. I don’t know what you’ve been through and I may not be able to relate, but regardless, I know that God’s plan for your life is full of victory in every, single circumstance. I know that His Will for you is a Will of complete freedom and that He has a plan to see you through whatever may be hindering your life. I also know that He designed you with a specific purpose in mind and that he has created you to be an overcomer by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My heart in writing this is to encourage you and challenge you to at least pray and ask God for the courage to take the key out of your pocket. You cannot do this on your own. You weren’t created to. God created you to rely on Him. You can’t do anything without Him, but when you partner with Him, all things are possible! The world needs you to be the best version of yourself and I know with my whole heart, that if you ask Him, Jesus will give you the resources, plans, and people that you need to live a life of victory over pain. He will give you the grace that you need to forgive yourself, and those who have hurt you (there is no freedom without complete forgiveness). He will give you the courage you need to take the steps necessary, and He will walk hand in hand with you as you go, reassuring you and comforting you with His peace and His presence. I pray that as you begin to walk out of the prisons of pain in your life, and live a life of purpose and freedom, that you will help others to recognize the key in their own pockets.

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Emerald Eyes

So, yay for my first featured writer!! I love Jasmine! In the short time I’ve known her, she has been a GEM! She wrote this AMAZING blog post on something that we all deal with: jealousy & envy! I’ve read many things on this topic, but this one hit home!

Enjoy!

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I was jealous of my friend and it wasn’t until I admitted it, that I could fix it.  For a while, I did not know it was jealousy that fueled my attitude toward her. Initially, I was just upset about a relationship decision she made that I did not approve of and I judged her quite harshly. What added fuel to the fire was that I felt because she was wrong in my eyes, she should be wrong in God’s eyes too, yet I continued to witness Him redeem and bless her. It was not until one day during my prayer time that the Lord revealed to me that I was jealous of His love and grace in the life of my friend.

Now was it that I wanted what she had? No. I just didn’t believe she should have it. Most importantly, I was very selfish and immature regarding my relationship with God. I felt I was the only one He could shower with unfailing love, grace and mercy. I was constantly comparing my life and even worse my testimony to hers because let’s face it, what God was doing in my life was just not enough.

What I failed to realize was that God owed me nothing. My jealousy and envy were birthed out of pure ignorance. I couldn’t see the pure goodness of God because I was consumed with self. I was consumed by what God could give instead of being consumed by Him. I felt entitled, and believed that I was blessed because of my works which was a huge reason I felt that I could tell God how to bless others. The jealousy and envy in my heart towards my friend was not just an issue between me and my friend. It was primarily an issue between me and God. It was a vertical issue.

Jealousy is one of those traits that is easy to recognize in others and hard to recognize in ourselves. That’s because no one likes to admit that they are jealous of someone else and instead of admitting it, we allow it to eat away at us and our relationships like a cancer. Jealousy adds nothing to us. It leaves us naked and exposed, showing our insecurities and discontentment with how God made us….and it ALWAYS shows. Jealousy secretly hates. Jealousy gossips. Jealousy compares. Jealously selfishly competes. Jealousy lies. Jealousy holds grudges. Jealousy tries to provoke others. Jealousy refuses to see the best in others. Jealousy hates when other people see the best in others.

Jealousy picks people apart and shows no mercy. Jealously loves to see others down. Jealousy is vengeful and sneaky. Jealousy doesn’t support or celebrate others. Jealousy is selfish. The most dangerous aspect about jealousy is that it can be masked.

Nothing has changed about the spirit of jealousy since Satan became jealous of God… THE ONE WHO MADE HIM. Nothing has changed about jealousy since Cain killed Abel or since Saul sought to kill David. It’s still destroying families. It’s still destroying friendships. It’s still destroying relationships. It’s still destroying the work place. It’s still destroying the CHURCH. We must get offended by jealousy in ourselves as much as we get offended by it when we recognize it in others. This is not a person trait. It’s a spiritual trait and its root is SIN.

Jealousy caused me to overlook the fact that God had not just saved and redeemed my friend. He saved and redeemed me too! I’ve sinned countless times and the grace of God and work of Jesus on the cross  is why I am alive today. God has been so good to me that I could never tell the half of it. So why was I ever jealous of God being good to someone else? Because I was looking at me instead of God. Yes God has been good to me. He has been good to my family. God has been good to my friends. But with or without us, God is just GOOD, and that is where the shout truly is.

We fight jealousy by surrendering it to God and admitting it’s in our hearts because He knows anyway. We also must constantly remind ourselves of His goodness in our lives and in the lives of others. Then we must look for ways to love, encourage and celebrate others….ON PURPOSE. Today I celebrate my friend and am genuinely excited for the woman that God has created her to be. She is fearfully and wonderfully made with a beautiful story that I am sure will touch so many people and lead them to Christ. I no longer see my friend as a threat. She is my sister in Christ and when she wins, I win, we win. Most importantly, I celebrate her because I no longer just see the goodness of God in her life…I see the goodness of GOD!!