Silencing the Lies

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The voice of rejection was loud and clear this morning.

I wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t beautiful enough.

I was too emotional.

I wanted too much.

I didn’t want to deal with the thoughts as they volleyed around in my mind. One after the other slowly beating me down, wearying my soul. “If I just keep myself busy,” I thought, “then they’ll just go away.” This obviously isn’t the healthy answer, but I thought it’d bring momentary relief from the mental boxing match I was experiencing.

The thing about lies is that the longer you ignore them the bigger and more believable they become.

Lies, when not dealt with, patiently wait for the best (or rather worst) times to visit unannounced. Things are overwhelming at work? GREAT! Someone close to you is sick/dying/depressed? PERFECT! You’re struggling financially? ON MY WAY! And those are exactly the moments the lies sneak in– using the opportunities that every day life allows them.

The only way to deal with lies is to combat them with the Truth. It’s a simple attack plan, but not always an easy one. Just like weeds, lies need to be pulled out from the root, and sometimes we need people to help us through the process. I was reminded of this as I sat across from a friend at dinner this week. Something had happened earlier that day that brought me some shame and lies and instead of burying the burden I laid it out for her to see. In that vulnerable moment, she spoke Truth to my heart and immediately I felt the weight of it all released.

This is why community is so important: we weren’t meant to fight alone. There are people needing us to remind them of the Truth when the lies have been trying to choke it out. And I get that it’s the 21st century and we are independent and do what we want when we want, but God designed us for community for a reason.

To put it in practical terms, the Truth, or the Word of God, is our offensive weapon when the lies come. It is 100% effective 100% of the time. But we’ve got to use it. We’ve got to declare the Truth when the lies come. We’ve got to unsheathe our sword and go for the jugular. Or in Holly terms, punch the lie in the throat. Either way, silence it with the Truth of the Word of God!

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what. (Hebrews 4:12-13, MSG)

Back to this morning, and the barrage of lies coming at me. As I said, my plan was to ignore and busy myself. In between tasks I sighed out half-prayers like, “Please, God.”

And without any big theatrics, He simply responded: You are my beloved.

“But God, that person doesn’t love me!”

“You are MY beloved.”

“I’m sad and feeling rejected here.”

“YOU are my beloved.”

As I repeated the lies, He repeated the Truth. With each exchange, my heart softened a little bit more and I began to accept that I truly am His beloved. All the lies were silenced with the reminder of who He said I am.

A beloved, according to the great internets, is a much loved person. Reading that again brings such a silly smile to my face. I am much loved.  I find comfort in that and will hold it close to my heart. It’s my ammo for the next time the lies try to beat me down.

“I will call those who were not my people, ‘My people,’ and I will call her who was unloved, ‘My beloved.’” (Romans 9:25, NET)

I’m not sure what lies are beating you up today, but I do believe that the Word of God has the power to silence them. You don’t have to be a slave to them any longer, but can walk in the freedom that God’s Truth brings. Ask God to speak Truth to your heart. He’s willing and He’s more than able.

If you need someone to share some Truth with your heart, just like I needed, then I would be honored to do that for you. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Lies We Believe About Singleness & Book GIVEAWAY

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Singleness is hard.

The struggle takes place in our mind with the same question on repeat, “Why am I single?” I have this list I’ve started with reasons that could try and explain why I’m 30 and still single. Most of them are just silly. For example, I’m still single because I don’t make my bed every morning or because frequently I’ll start a conversation with, “Ya know what I heard on the NPR today?”

There are some reasons floating around in this head of mine, though, that are a lot less funny. Like maybe I’m not beautiful enough for a man to love me or maybe I’m too much of a mess. I mean, there’s got to be a reason and I’m assuming that must mean there’s a problem with me.

When I think these thoughts– these lies– I text a friend for encouragement or open up my Bible and start inserting Truth into my mind to combat those lies.

And reading Allison Flexer’s book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman is the perfect mix of those two things. It’s like I’m sitting down with a close friend over a cup of coffee and she’s listening to me spout off the things I’ve been thinking about concerning my singleness. She hears the hurt, the loneliness, and the lies. The lies that tell me that I’m unlovable and unworthy of love. The lies that tell me that I need to settle because if I don’t I’ll die alone. The lies that tell me that life is in some kind of circling pattern until I get married.

Like any good friend, Allison reminds me where my value truly comes from– that it’s not wrapped up in a man (even a bearded, flannel-wearing man). In her book, she discusses 10 common lies that we can struggle with in singleness. Each chapter brings the Truth to the lie and backs it up with Scripture. We all need reminders of the Truth found in her book.

A WORD FROM ALLISON: I started writing Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman when I was 33 years old and very much single. Having just quit my corporate job, I was dealing with a lot of emotions regarding self-worth and my identity. As I wrote, God began to reveal lies I believed and the negative effect that deception had on my life. As I filled my life with God’s healing truth, I wanted to share it with other single women. I’m so passionate about single women believing they are valuable and loved and beautiful. For all of the single women reading this: There is nothing wrong with you. Your marital status doesn’t define your value nor does it make you second class. God delights in you, and He’s the one who can satisfy your deep longings to be fully known and loved.

GIVEWAY ALERT  And because I’ve been encouraged by this book and the truths found inside: I’d like to give you a copy. Well, not all of you, but ONE lucky person. In order to be entered into the random drawing, please share this blog post on FB (there’s that super easy share button at the bottom of the post) and then leave me a comment below. That part is important, because if you win I’ll need to know how to contact you! The drawing will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 2014!

If you’d like more information on Allison, please check out her bio below.

flexerAllison K. Flexer is an author, speaker, and blogger who is passionate about communicating the love of God to others. Her first book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman (Beacon Hill Press), tells the story of her single journey and gives practical steps for letting go of the lies that destroy the joy and confidence of unmarried women. Allison was also a contributing writer for Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman. You can connect with Allison on her website at www.allisonflexer.com or on Twitter: @allisonkflex.

Jon Jorgenson: Thoughts on Authentic Love, Worry & Grace

Jon Jorgenson

A few years back, I stumbled across this video: 

The Truth found in this video reached to the depths of my heart. I immediately knew it was God speaking directly to my insecurities and filling my soul with His thoughts toward me. It was eye opening for me then and now. When I find myself discouraged I’ll take the time to re-watch it letting the love of God wash over me.

The writer (and speaker) in the video is Jon Jorgenson. It’s been a great joy to get to chat with him and get to know him. The guy has a desire to seek the heart of God and he does it honestly and with humility. I hope you enjoy getting to know him through this interview, but more importantly, that you’d be encouraged by what God is speaking to him and through him. 

The Common Queen: What are some themes/ideas/lessons God is currently teaching you?

Jon Jorgenson: This may seem somewhat silly and trivial, but it’s actually been pretty profound for me. Currently, the command, “Do not worry” has been heavy on my heart. I am a year out of college now, living in my own apartment in a new city, and for the first time truly responsible for all financial and technical aspects of my life (rent, investing, bills, ect). As a driven creative, busy work like this drives me absolutely insane. I would rather write an entire book than have to drop a check off at the post office. This type of busy work gets me easily overwhelmed to the point where I become stressed, anxious, and generally not so good to be around. So in the last few months, God has been reminding me of His literal command to not worry, and that I can experience His peace even while paying bills.

CQ: In your spoken word, “A Godless Generation”, you talk about the church and how we should be loving authentically. Can you explain that idea a little more? What does authentic love look like?

JJ: I have spent the last ten years being a part of and working with the younger generation of Millenials. The general perception of this generation is they’re entitled, narcissistic, and totally ungodly. So in general, churches and other older Christians spend a lot of time trying to show young people how wrong they are. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is very effective. If you tell a kid they aren’t allowed or shouldn’t do something, chances are they are going to do it. It’s how we’re wired. And this extends beyond just teenagers. The general perception of Christians in the world is that they shame everyone by telling them all they things they’re doing wrong.

Authentic Love is more about freeing others to love doing what’s right. Authentic love looks a lot more like listening than it does talking. It looks a lot more like compassion and empathy than it does judgement. Authentic love means passing up the opportunity to shame someone for their current mistakes, and instead seeing them for who they could be, who God made them to be, and encouraging them towards that. It’s actually one of the things my first book, “Authentic Love” is about.

CQ: I’ve been wrestling with the concept of balancing grace and truth. Some Christians say that too much grace is a bad thing and encourages people to sin. But too much truth comes off as religious and legalistic. What are your thoughts on this?

JJ: I think that one of the signs of a heart that has truly been changed by grace is a genuine hunger for the truth. If anyone is “taking advantage” of God’s grace by forsaking His truth, I would question if their heart has really been transformed. That’s not grace at all, that’s just a rigged vending machine. There’s no real relationship there. Similarly, someone who claims to know “the truth” but then shows no grace is someone who probably doesn’t know the truth at all. Jesus said “I am the truth” and what is Jesus a symbol for more than grace? The two are intrinsically intertwined. One cannot exist without the other.

CQ: You talked about how in high school you put on a Christian masquerade. What brought complete transformation to your life? What was the defining moment?

JJ: After I graduated high school, I was invited back to my old summer camp as a counselor and asked to give my testimony. When I stood before those campers, I knew I had a choice. I could ever lie, and keep wearing my mask as this perfect guy, or I could be honest and let them know that I was struggling, lost in darkness, and full of sin. I chose to tell the truth. When I saw that my choice to be vulnerable actually gave other people the strength to do so as well, and that through mutual vulnerability we could find healing together, that changed everything for me.

CQ: What kind of role do people play in your relationship with Jesus? Those within the church? Those outside it?

JJ: I am far from perfect. I do stupid stuff almost every day, and it’s usually those closest to me that feel the effects of it. My girlfriend, my parents, my sister, my small group, they see the ugliest sides of me all the time. Yet they are always astoundingly quick to show me forgiveness. To me, they are a living representation of what God’s grace looks like when lived out and I am unendingly grateful to them for that.

 

Jon Jorgenson is a writer, actor, and speaker living in New York City. Find more from Jon at www.jonjorgensonblog.com or follow him on Twitter @jonjorgenson. Seriously, do it, he would love to talk to you.

You are not a glorified “Elf on the Shelf”.

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Last week, I published a blog letting the world know Jesus is not and will never be Santa.

This week, I’m here to remind you that you haven’t been commissioned by God to be an “Elf on a Shelf”.

For those of you who don’t understand the reference because you live in another country or you live under a rock, let me explain. Mr. Elf is a doll that parents use as a festive way to manipulate their children into obedience during the holiday season. His job is to watch the children and report back to Santa if they’ve been naughty or nice. Santa is outsourcing these days, but Mr. E doesn’t mind because he’s got a few antics and pranks going with the kiddos to keep life interesting.

Truth be told, I find it a little odd. Whatever. I get it. You’re making memories. Awesome.

We were not called to be some glorified “Elf on the Shelf” informants to Jesus where we go around putting peoples shortcomings on display and appointing them to the naughty (or dare we say “sinner”) list. Take your badge off, Sheriff, and get off your high horse.

Here’s the REAL issue for me. I hear a lot of Christians bashing on other Christians– it comes from BOTH camps. The conservatives and liberals flinging mud at one another with their theological stand points. Making sure everyone knows how WRONG the other person is. Sometimes they even call each other names and question whether or not the person is a Christian at all. To make matters worse its happening in public forums– on Facebook, in magazines and other media forums.

This business has got to stop. Firstly, it makes everyone (and I mean anyone who identifies as a Christian) look bad. And dumb. And ignorant. And mean. It looks a lot like friendly fire to me. Don’t we have enough problems as it is without having to worry about whether our brother and sisters are taking jabs at us?

Look, I’m not asking you to agree with these people. There are lots of Christians I don’t agree with, but like every family there’s some weird uncles out there. I am asking you, however, to love and respect them. Let’s take some wisdom from Colossians 3:14 where we are told to “… put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” If you read a few verses before you’ll see we are told to be compassionate and tolerant of one another. Even goes on to say when you have a complaint against someone to forgive it.

Not blast them on Facebook.

Let’s start putting a priority on relationships and unity instead of our positions and viewpoints. 

I know this isn’t a popular point of view. I even know the Scriptures people will use in rebuttal, but in a last ditch attempt let me leave you with this question: “What is your motivation for making a public display of your disapproval of a specific person, their actions, or opinions?”

Jesus isn’t Santa.

Jesus isn't Santa

Jesus isn’t Santa.

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you may have noticed I’ve been asking God some questions– mostly the “Why?” question to be exact. I’ve also admitted that I need help. The struggle has been real. Gut wrenching, anxiety inducing, don’t want to get out of bed….REAL. Praying has been difficult. Hope has seemed just beyond my reach. Regardless of that, I’ve continued to pray, continued to seek Hope and held on for dear life.

Thankfully, I’ve had numerous friends, who are much wiser and much more stable than I am, come alongside me acting as a practical conduit of God’s love. After talking in length to one such friend, she asked me “What lie are you believing about the character of God?”

Huh. Well, you see I went to Bible school. I have a degree in Bible AND theology. I’ve read the Bible through front cover to the maps in the back. Not just once, either. Numerous times. I don’t say that because I think I’m awesome stuff, but to make a point that I’ve made before– I KNOW a lot of stuff about God. Sometimes that head knowledge doesn’t translate correctly. Sometimes you can know all the right stuff, but be living as though that stuff isn’t true.

Like the Truth that Jesus isn’t Santa.

Sure, Jesus wears hippie sandals and a robe (usually a white one). He’s got a beard and hands calloused from a long day in the wood shop. He smells a little fishy, but the kids are ok with it and come to Him anyway. Santa on the other hand wears a furry suit and shiny black shoes. He’s got a beard too, but its white and contains cookie crumbs and milk dribbles. He’s got a labor force to do the hard work for him, but gets all the glory for making the deliveries. Kids like him, too.

Everyone knows that Santa is keeping track of who is naughty and who is nice. He’s got an alphabetized list with all of our names on it. He’s always watching us and he’s keeping score. He saw me doing 64 in a 55 this morning. He heard the words I mumbled when I opened my car door and snow fell on my seat. All that before 8:30 a.m. Suffice to say, I’ll be getting coal for Christmas.

With all that Bible knowledge I have, I know Jesus is aware of all that stuff too. He knows my thoughts (I’ve heard Santa isn’t a mind reader), which exponentially increases my naughtiness I assure you. With everything that’s been going on, well, with my entire life as the gauge I’ve been living as though Jesus IS keeping score. He’s so stinkin’ good at math and easily sees I’m not measuring up. Since I’m bad He’s keeping some gifts from me. Like a husband. Like a miracle check in the mail to pay these medical bills. Like a new car.  (Insert whatever it is you’ve been asking for and not getting)

All of that– its all warped. Jesus is very much aware of everything I do, say, and think. He isn’t some sadistic moral score keeper though. He doesn’t take pleasure in my mess ups or failures thinking its one less kid to bless. Actually, He loves to give good gifts. Not the Target clearance aisle gifts either, but the top of the line, A-grade stuff. One of my favorite things to do is find the perfect gifts for those I love and can barely contain my excitement as they open it. We’ve already determined that I’m not perfect or even a very good person, and if that’s how I feel– how much MORE does God love giving gifts. He’s just as amped up with anticipation as He says, “Hurry up! Open it! I can’t wait for you to see it!”

And His greatest gift towards me isn’t a 60k income, a new hybrid Nissan or a sexy bearded lumberjack husband. It’s Himself.

In giving Himself for me, He moved my name from the naughty list to the redeemed list. My sins are no longer counted against me, but have been assigned to Jesus. That transfer makes me wholly accepted and fully pleasing to a holy, righteous God. Not by my works (or prayers) but all because of Jesus.

A perfect fit.

puzzle

Sitting in Youth Group, I noticed her staring at someone across the room. I knew the look well from personal experience. I could almost hear the voices in her head as she examined the other girl.

“Her skin is perfect. Not like mine all blotchy and dry. Is she even wearing any makeup?!”

“I wish my hair was like hers. Why didn’t I try and do something with this hair? Ugh.”

“She’s got such a pretty singing voice. I sound like a dying calf.”

I’ve been playing the comparison game as long as I could remember. Everyone had something I longed for. My sister had athletics and the ability to run long distances and not DIE. The girl sitting next to me in English had the skinny, lean body while my chins could be numbered. He learned languages easily and quickly while I couldn’t conjugate to save my life. She’s married and has a couple great kids while I’m VERY single and no where close to picking out little pink tutus or little jean overalls.

Comparing is breeding ground for pity and I was the Pity, Pity Princess.

I’ve come to learn that one of the problems with this mentality is that each time I play the comparison game I’m telling God : You didn’t do a good job on me.  I’m telling a perfect God that He made a mistake. And to top that, that my feeble human mind knows BETTER.

There are some Truths I believe about God. I believe He is perfect. That He is good. That He is all knowing. All powerful. But I was living as if He was one of those people who has to read the direction on how to make Pop-Tarts. Ya know what I mean? In revelatory fashion, it all clicked. If God is perfect and He made me than He made me perfectly. I’m not one of the “imperfects” marked down on the clearance shelf either.

I’ve got everything I was meant to have. Sure, I’m not musically gifted, my muscle is protected by layers of “cuddle” and I’d much rather run into a Starbucks than run in a marathon, but I’m me. And everything I am and have (in regards to gifts, passions, skills, talents) is exactly what I need.

I’m a unique puzzle piece, but I fit perfectly into MY spot in the big picture. There’s no sense trying to make myself fit in someone else’s spot. It won’t work, but if I understand that being me means that I can connect with the people God has placed around me for this time and for His purpose than I can finally find some peace. That means that even though there are 7 billion people in the world– I am still significant because God made only one me. And there may be over 240 million blogs on the internet– my blog is still important because it will reach and speak to people that other blogs won’t. And no other blog has me…so there’s that too.

Stop looking at everyone else. God did a good job on YOU. You are going to love people I’ll never know. You’re going to do things I could never do. And that’s awesome. We want and we NEED genuine you. Not some weird Frankenstein mash-up of who you think we need or want. Just you– the way God made you. In all your quirkiness. You.