Hope, Keeping it Real

The If/Then Equation

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our Father God is a relational, loving God. This scripture is found in the Bible after the first temple in Jerusalem has been completed and King Solomon threw a week-long party. That party led to a walk of shame.

Perhaps what He is saying is that He doesn’t want a fancy building or our constant efforts (works) to impress, serve, or get close to Him. He wants our hearts. He wants our trust. He wants to hear from His children. 

He wants us to not call ourselves Christ followers but to be Christ followers. And notice that this scripture points out the if/then equation. Notice that He lines it out very simply.

If we humble ourselves (admit our need for the Savior), seek Him (crave His face, guidance and goodness), and repent (stop doing, saying, thinking and believing the things that lead to our own walks of shame) and call to Him THEN He promises to hear us, forgive us and heal our land.

That’s a sure deal. A sure bet. A guaranteed promise. 

Throughout the Bible, He tells us the recipe for a healthy life-a healthy land is to believe and receive. When He speaks about healthy land He is asking us to get right with Him, with others and to share His goodness with the people that don’t know Him. We have the opportunity to do His work alongside Him. 

We make that far more complicated through our limited understanding and the things that we have experienced or witnessed in the name of Christianity. Even at that, if we repent (the 5-dollar Bible word for turning from our old compulsive behaviors and actions)  He is dancing and celebrating simply hearing our words. 

Every promise and prophecy in the Bible has been fulfilled in and through Jesus. His timing may not be the same as ours, but He does what He says He will do. Every time.

We get things so out of order sometimes. We think we have to get our act together or be better or do better to experience the relentless and reckless love of God. That’s religion.

Jesus calls us into relationship just as we are. In and through Him, we will experience healing. In and through Him we will experience the fulfillment of the if/then equation. Humility isn’t the same as weakness. Humility is surrender and right-sized thinking. 

Thoughts for the day: How have you already experienced the if/then equation with Jesus? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing?

Prayer: Father God-thank You that you that You understand our tendency to do the wrong thing. Thank You that You fulfill every promise You ever make. Forgive me for making that so complicated. Help me to let go of the chains of shame and begin to hold up my end of the deal. I humbly admit my need for You today and every day. Amen

Hope, Keeping it Real

Traditionally Non-Traditional

Someone once said to me that I didn’t have any specific traditions for holidays.  At first, I was hurt by that statement and I really wanted to strike back with, “I DO have traditions, I just don’t have YOUR traditions.” But, I held my tongue captive, and after a while started to think about what she said.

 It still hurt a little, but I have been working hard at not allowing other people’s opinions and behavior to control my own for some time now. I have also learned how to see every bummer first as a blessing…giving power to negative self-talk gives your power to the enemy and frankly, he just doesn’t have the final say in my life.  

See, I enjoy being non-traditional with my traditions especially when I plan it that way. Once it was a coping mechanism, and now it is a normal way of life for me and I give myself permission and space to be okay with that choice. Before a lot of healing and recovery, traditions were attached to dysfunction and wounds of the past. In the middle of that healing process my damaged beliefs said being non-traditional meant not pleasing other people and not pleasing other people equaled failure.  Today, being non-traditional is my choice to celebrate growth and is a healthy decision for me. 

I believe that the unhealthy traditions I had before meeting Jesus have been made into new and beautiful creations. Maybe you can relate. I once held to the tradition of comparing my life and reality to the highlight reel of someone else’s life. I had the tradition of feeling anxious that my holidays would not look like I expected them to, and I had the tradition of making myself believe that that was a bad thing. There was the stronghold tradition of believing that if it was true that it was bad, then that meant I was a bad person. That’s a lot of false belief grounded in trauma.

 One thing I have come to understand in growing up in grace with Jesus is that he was non-traditional before non-traditional was cool. 

As I grew up in His grace, I began to enjoy being against the grain and so much more grateful for choosing to create memories and traditions that were my own and found so much more freedom and life in these moments than I did early on.

I am not against traditional things. I am not against joining you in celebrating your traditions. I celebrate others and their normal whether it is my preference or not within reason. The beauty of freedom in Jesus is that I am no longer a slave to people-pleasing, lack of healthy boundaries or fear of rejection. I struggle, but I am not chained to any of it. 

I have learned from Him who I am in Him and I have discovered the real me along the way. To love and honor myself, choosing to be far more relaxed, calm and loving towards myself and others. I have learned to do what’s right and healthiest for me.

We can choose to incorporate traditions or start new ones. We can choose a place of serenity in that compromise, but not break a promise to ourselves by not honoring our own preferences in the middle of that. We can choose to experience relationships and keep low expectations in the process. 

I do have traditions, they just aren’t yours. I am grateful that my being non-traditional resembles Jesus who teaches relationships over rules. I am grateful that He cares more about my desire to create room at the table more than what is served at the table. 

Let’s talk about it: Have you chosen to bend to the words and thoughts of someone other than God? What’s the first step in changing that today? Comment below. Let’s chat!