Our Nature in Christ Series

So, until this year, battling for my identity in Christ was really hard for me. A few years ago, a leader from a small group gave me a list of 90 items that refer to our nature in Christ. I never looked at it too much, but honestly, I’ve needed it. I tend to get caught up in my feelings, and while I read my Bible a lot, I don’t think I always take time to really digest the Word in relations to my identity.

So, I decided that I think that I want to deep dive into that list. Instead of simply saying each of these things out loud, I’m going to unpack them, and I want them to come alive as the Word promises, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires,” (Hebrew 4:12, New Living Translation).

So, join me! I’m sure most of it will be notes that I find from online resources, but it’ll still be awesome, and hopefully it’ll help you too!

Blogging Thus Far (Advice for the Weary Blogger)

It’s easy to start playing the comparison game without realizing it. While social media platforms can be positive, uplifting resources, they can also break down self-esteem and hinder growth. It usually starts the same: scrolling through different apps to catch up on the lives of friends, acquaintances, and role models. One thing leads to another, and all of a sudden you’re looking at so-and-so’s recent tropical vacation and feeling down and out about your own life. It’s a slippery slope that can bring out negativity and hatred. I think Joy Sussman puts it best: ‘The blogosphere is a big community — there’s plenty of room to support each other.”

-Danielle Williams

Assistant Senior Managing Editor

I picked up an issue of “Artful Blogging” this past weekend, and I have not put it down! (Seriously, you will not regret buying it!) I think the editor puts it perfectly: Whether we have a desire to blog, or sing, or produce, or whatever, there is always that pressure to outperform the “competition.” We have all fallen captive to the lies of “But, look at that blog! I don’t know if I could ever get to that level. It’s probably easiest to just keep dreaming about what I want to do.” My favorite thing about this magazine issue is that so many of the bloggers talk about having to deal with that pressure of overcoming the “Competition” mindset. They talk about getting to their “sacred places” of learning to execute their vision regardless of what it looked like to the world, a place where their blogs felt like home to them. A place where (as one of the featured bloggers expressed) “Your own corner of the internet is your own.”

Over this past week, this issue has inspired me to really do some self-evaluation in making sure that my blog is reflecting the real me, and not who I think will sell. Now, I am definitely not a pro at blogging, but there are some things that I’ve learned during this process of blogging that I think are cool to share whether you’re blogging for the first time or needing to go back to the drawing board:

1. Before you even pick the platform, decide what you want your blog to represent. Whether it be all about you, certain aspects of your life, your walk with God, your career, or your hobbies. Whatever it is, let it be consistent, and something that you’d be passionate about posting about for a period of time.

2. Stick to being you. What makes you you? What is your thing? Go with that! YOUR thing! Your blog doesn’t have to be super over the top because another blogger’s is. I find that some blogs are pretty, but I’m so distracted by the pretty that I never read any of the content (That is just me, though! If you like glitter and frill, GO FOR IT! BE YOU!) You don’t have to impress. You just have to be you. People can tell when you’re genuine, and they’re drawn to it. God has made each of us uniquely different. So, stick to what you know. You are enough.

3. Pick a platform. I’ve found that some platforms are not free, but the freedom to express yourself is awesome (i.e. Squarespace). Some are free but require some work if you do like the girly, frilly things. However, If you’re willing to put in the work and do your homework, you can use websites like WordPress or Blogger and have an amazing blog without it costing so much.

4. Be okay with NOT being perfect! If you wait until you get it together, you’ll never start. So many blogs that I’ve read say that bloggers got their start by just doing it. They made many mistakes. The beginning content was horrible but a year later, it’s so much better than they’d ever imagined. It was through the act of beginning that they got to where they are now.

5. Don’t be afraid to grab inspiration from other people. Obviously, don’t copy, but you can use small pieces from other blogs to test what you do and don’t like. There’s no end to what your piece of the internet could look like. I love that we’re not all the same, nor do we all have the same interests, but we can draw people into our interests without them having to change who they are.  Personally, I’m not a fan of sweets, but recently I found a food blogger that I LOVE. Yes, her food looks great and her blog is cool, but I’m drawn to grab inspiration because I can tell that she genuinely loves her corner and that it expresses her.

6. Pray! Lol! I have to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom all of the time on what to post. “Is this a good idea? Is that fully developed as a lesson in me before I post about it? What are my motives in saying that? Does that look good? What about this?”

7. Don’t forget to express yourself! That’s the ultimate goal, right? How do you see your world? Use photography. Use paint. Use charcoal. Use your words. Use dance! Use them all! Just don’t forget the most important part of your corner is that it’s YOUR. CORNER. We know our worlds. Show us the world through your eyes.

*Bonus*

Maybe take some time away from social media for a few weeks. It’s hard to operate in your lane when you’re constantly comparing it to another’s. It’s okay to get away and to quiet your life for a little while to gain fresh vision and a new perspective. Some time away never hurt anyone!

How I Learned to Forgive

This morning I was prompted with the question, “How did you learn to forgive?” Without even thinking about it, my response was, “I had to learn how to love first.” (This is where I should let you know that in NO way am I saying that I am perfect at loving people. LOL! I am most definitely not! I am learning, and sometimes failing, every day.) However, I did choose to learn love, the Biblical way, and it’s one of the greatest things the Lord has done in my life. The world will teach you that Biblical love is stupid: you’ll look stupid, you’ll feel stupid, you’ll feel silly. To a certain degree, the world is right. You will feel silly and maybe even stupid, but over time, and from personal experience from being on both sides of needing and giving love, I’ve learned that it’s an honor to freely show people the love of God.

First, I had to learn that love is a choice, not an emotion. Same as forgiveness. You CHOOSE to love and forgive, regardless of how you feel. There were many mornings where I would have to say, “No! I’ve already forgiven them. My flesh doesn’t feel like it, but I love them. Father, help me to see them the way that you see them.”

Second, I made love practical. I used the dictionary and this amazing study to write out what stuck with me. So, copied straight from my Bibles, the dictionary, and my favorite study:

Love is patient: Able to accept delays, problems, or sufferings without becoming annoyed or anxious; long suffering. It doesn’t lose its temper saying, “I’ll give you one more chance.” As we are humbled by our own sin, we learn to be more patient with others.

and kind: Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature; To withhold what harms and to give what heals; Love is not giving everyone what they desire or want. Love is kind but tough.

Love does not envy: feelings of discontentment or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck; True love desires the success of others. The cure for envy is to pray for the success of those you are envious of. To pray for them demonstrates love, and envy and love cannot exist in the same heart.

Or boast: Not big-headed, but big-hearted. When we brag, we display insecurity and spiritual immaturity. The more spiritual gifts we possess, the more loving we’ll be, the less we’ll brag. We have to humble ourselves before Christ and people.

It is not arrogant: Having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities; Grasping for power; Always considers themselves exempt from the requirements of mere mortals; Arrogance disrespects others. We are to serve others and to be gracious to them.

Or rude: Offensively impolite or ill-mannered; Love does not “tell it like it is.”It does not verbalize all its thoughts, particularly if they don’t build up. There is a graciousness that is involved. Love never forgets courtesy, tact, and being polite are lovely things.

It does not insist on its own way: Love is the very antithesis of self-seeking. It is not dominating or stubborn. It listens well and does not talk too much. It is always willing to defer to others.

It is not irritable or resentful: Love does not come with a “Handle with Caution” sign. It is not touchy. It is not given to emotional outbursts, petty annoyances, and doesn’t get under my skin. We don’t HAVE to get irritated if we’re exercising love.

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing: Love is righteous. It takes no joy in evil of any kind. It is not drawn to evil. Psalm 37 tells us that “the Lord will bring our righteousness to light as the noonday… For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.” Being honest, I used to think that this scripture meant that the Lord would strike down whoever crossed a boundary concerning me! Lol! You cross me, you cross God! Lol however, it’s important to remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces. (Ephesians 6: 12) In every situation, we are all children of God, and He never wants to embarrass or “strike down” anyone. What He will do, is bring to light the times the enemy was at work in the situation. Love doesn’t hope that the person is exposed, but that in both your life and in theirs, the Lord lifts the veil to see truth in the situation.

Keeps no record of wrong: Love is not bookkeeping of offenses, waiting to be settled.

Love rejoices with truth: Love must conform to the truth of the Word of God. Truth and love go together.

Love bears all things: Carries, supports; “Bears all things” in the Greek means to “cover something”. It is compared to a roof; a covering of protection to keep out things that are hostile. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8); Love protects reputations. It doesn’t nitpick. It doesn’t criticize in public.

Believes all things: Accepts something as true; Always trusts; People will always become what you believe about them. Choose that they are innocent until proven guilty. Believe the best, not the worst.

Hopes all things: Never gives up on people, despite the circumstance; Never loses faith, despite their shortcomings; Has faith and expects the best.

Endures all things: Suffers something painful or difficult patiently; Hold positions, even to death. Holds fast to people; Perseveres, even in the face of rejection.

Love never ends: Love is an eternal gift. That is POWERFUL in itself!

Heal With Love.

These three words have never had as much relevance in my life as they have now. Seasons have come and gone, and there have been times when the Lord has asked me to let some relationships go. There have also been times when the Lord has blessed me with very dear relationships, and unfortunately, those have also gone downhill. Some of those relationship losses were easy to cope with, while others were painstakingly hard. But, throughout them all, I’ve learned how to lean into God, allow Him to break pride, and heal with love.

Prayer is key. Healing never looks the way we want it to look. Sometimes healing means praying for the other person to keep move forward, even if you can’t be there to celebrate with them or encourage them in their endeavors. Prayer causes us to truly die to our flesh and come to grips with the ultimatum, “It’s either what we want, or what God wants.” We can’t have it both because God is going to lead us into some very painful things to pray. It will test our level of patience. It will reveal the ugly things rooted in our hearts, but ultimately, it will get us to a place where we can pray the purest prayers, rooted in love, and truly be okay with the outcome.

“Love is patient, love is kind,” (1 Corinthians 13: 4a)

Don’t tolerate pride. During the healing process, the Lord has walked me through extremely hard moments of vulnerability. Nothing kills pride and hastens the healing process more than humility and vulnerability before the Lord. Pride has two extremes: It either wants to constantly remind you of how badly others have hurt you, or it tries to convince you that you’re okay and that it didn’t hurt. Tolerating either is not okay. Those painful thoughts are going to come because… well, it hurt! However, healing comes in those moments of humility. To God, you recognize, “Father, this situation really did hurt me. It hurt so badly. Pretending like it didn’t doesn’t make me tougher. It only helps to build barriers. Because I know that forgiveness is a choice that is not based on my emotions, I choose to forgive all those involved. Heal me in the deepest parts of where hurt has resided. I give you permission to touch and heal the root of the pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen. ”  Pride is not your friend, and it’s not “protecting” you. Not only will pride create a divide between you and others, but it will also divide you and God.

[Love] does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud,” (1 Corinthians 13: 4b)

Ask God to silence the wrong voices. During healing, this is crucial. Just because people love you doesn’t mean that their heart is always in the right place to speak. Sometimes another’s “love” (or their need to defend us) can cause them to speak/act from their flesh. In those moments, the voices we’re allowing to speak into us are actually reaffirming pride that the Lord is trying to break. Often times, they’re helping us to keep rehearsing the offense. Ask the Lord to highlight voices that aren’t helping you to heal. Then, ask for boldness to walk away. When God does a healing work, He’s not just working on the problem at hand, He’s healing the deeper root issues, as well. Wrong voices have the power to help you to keep rehearsing the offense without ever actually dealing with it. Ask God for help. He’ll give you the grace. 

Love is warfare. “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes,” (1 Corinthians 13: 7 NIV). Love always protects the other person involved, and for me, the Lord has been showing me that that means that I will protect their name and their character. I won’t talk bad about them, entertain a bad thought about them, and I won’t allow others to either. Love is making the choice to trust what God says about people, and not what our distorted reality says about them. I was praying recently, and the Lord told me that, “love is warfare.” Not saying what you really want to say in the heat of the moment is warfare. Standing still, not giving into what the enemy wants is warfare. Choosing God’s perspective is warfare. Speaking life is warfare. It makes the enemy so mad when we choose to not give into conflict, even when conflict is coming at us. 

Learn to let the relationship go. This has been the hardest for me, personally. Frequently, I’ll be bombarded with thoughts of, “No! I’m believing for restoration! The Lord can restore!! You’re not fighting hard enough! You’re just going to let it go? Just like that?!” Letting people go doesn’t mean that you are giving up on them, or on what God can do. It’s an incredibly, brave act of love that says, “God, I cannot do this. We had all of the knowledge as to how to fix this, yet we STILL couldn’t make this work. I choose to give this to You to do what only You can do. I choose to relinquish control.” 

Keep moving forward with a pure heart. While the previous was the hardest for me, I know that for some, this may feel like the hardest thing. Satan wants to tell you that you’re abandoning the person. He wants to lie, and tell you that they’re not moving forward, and that they’re going to be bitter with you for doing so. Or, he’ll try to convince you that it’s some type of competition. So, yes, you can move forward, but the goal is to beat them in life. Regardless of the tactic, it’s a lie. Of course moving forward isn’t always easy. The lies will come, and sometimes looking ahead makes the days feel like an eternity, but it’s one prayer at a time. 

It’s dispelling one lie at a time. 

It’s leaning into God, one step at a time. 

It’s trusting that God is going to take care of you. 

It’s trusting that when He says, “Don’t defend yourself,” that He is your vindicator. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12: 9)

Keep your love on. Their actions shouldn’t determine yours. It doesn’t matter if the person never wants to talk to you again, or if they hate you. Even when it’s hard and you feel stupid, keep your love on. Seek God on whether or not it’s His will for that relationship to have a place in your life in the future. From the purest place, pray for them. Trust that God is doing a work in them just like He’s doing in you. Ultimately, it’s the old saying, “Healing isn’t for the other person. It’s for you.” When you allow the Lord to show you how much those relationships shaped the good in you, it’s hard to turn your love off. It actually helps you to love them, and others, in a greater measure. It helps you to heal. One day, you’ll be able to see them without your heart skipping six beats. “Love endures (suffers something painful or difficult, patiently) all things,” (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

Be patient with yourself. Don’t rush it. Trust the Lord’s timing. I think sometimes we are so “big picture” focused, that we grow impatient, not allowing God to heal us fully. When you’ve been hurt, it’s a natural reaction to want to act out of fear, anxiety, and throw up walls of defense. You may think you’re completely healed until you see the person. There’s no need in beating yourself up because you went out of your way to ignore them so they couldn’t see how badly you were hurting, but you should be more realistic with the timing of your healing. (Haha! You may need more than the one week of healing you’ve set for yourself!) However, it’s in those moments that we truly get see God be God because He’s close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)! Lean in on His perfect love that casts out fear. 

Again, it’s one day at a time.

Is it going to hurt some days? Yes. Sometimes, badly.

Will you still miss those people? Of course.

But healing comes so much faster when we allow God to do the work.