Sunday, December 31, 2017

Am I Enough?

It was the end of 2016 when I heard the whisper for the first time. It was a whisper that began to be repeated and confirmed in the days leading up to January 1st 2017. I had once again been given my word for the year: TRANSFORMATION.

To be honest, I thought for sure the transformation was going to be physical. I mean, how many years have I made that same New Year’s resolution to lose the weight?! I was starting the year with an injury that had reappeared in mid-2016, but I now had a great physical therapist and felt like healing was inevitable. Perhaps this was the year?’s December 31st 2017 and I’m here to say…nope! I still have quite a ways to go for my weight loss transformation.

It wasn’t the transformation I thought it would be, but it was the transformation I needed.

Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I remember one morning this year I was getting ready and God spoke so clearly to me. He tends to do that in the bathroom. It might seem like TMI, but honestly, it’s a time that the world seems still, I’m alone, and I’m having my first conversation of the day.  I think He just knows His girl so well…He knows that I’m having a million thoughts of what I need to do most days, and as I go through those thoughts, I’m usually asking Him, “What about this?” or “I should pray for that, huh?”

Anyway, this was on a Monday and I woke up from a dream that left me in tears. You know those dreams that take your breath away. Feel so real that the emotion is still there even after you open your eyes? Well, it was one of those bad boys and I quickly went into a temper-tantrum with Him. “Why God?” “When God?” “How much longer, God?” I mean, it was every “Are we there yet?” back-and-forth between a parent and a child you’ve ever heard.

Then I heard: “Am I enough?”

My first inclination was “Get behind me Satan! That is not my thought! Of course I’m enough! I’m the daughter of a King! The apple of His eye! I am wonderfully and fearfully…”

Oh. Wait. Hello, conviction.

“Am I enough?” It wasn’t a thought I needed to take captive about myself.  It was a question FROM Him to me. It felt like the record scratched.

“Am I enough? Am I enough while you’re single and waiting? Am I enough in your 2-hour drive? Am I enough in that car that is one rain from becoming a convertible? Am I enough when you have many around? Am I enough when you are so lonely, it physically hurts? Am I enough if you are never someone’s biological mom? Am I enough if your last day on the job is today? Am I enough when you’re betrayed? Am I enough when you have plenty? I know you have questions, Gena, but in this place of obscurity you are going to fully come to understand that I am enough. Not everyone gets to understand it in that way.”

I knew instantly that this was part of the transformation. To fully understand and take hold of the fact that my entire purpose here on Earth is to “get” that. To really, really get that. God is enough. He’s enough in my valley and He’s enough on my mountaintop. He’s enough while I’m single, and He’s going to be enough when I’m married. He’s enough if I never have a biological child of my own. In a world where most people are trying to fill the great big gap, “what-is-my-life-for” question with anything or anybody…I get to answer, “God is enough.”

And bam. Transformation. It doesn’t mean I’m not ever going to question again. Or feel sad again. Or feel disappointed again. Nope, I’m sure those times will continue because shoot…life is rough sometimes. It just means that I have this safe harbor to pull into when the seas get rough. A place where I go when the world gets too much and I’m gently reminded I have everything I need. The simple fact is that when emotions subside and circumstances are what they are: Yes God, You are enough.

Today’s Forecast: Reflecting on my year of transformation.

Silver Lining: God is enough.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

What I Learned About Scary Santa

I came across this picture and laughed to myself as I made a connection I’m not sure I had ever made before. You see, I grew up deathly afraid of Santa Clause. I’m not sure if it came from some scary Santa story my brother told me, or maybe it was just the creepiness of a dude showing up in our house in the middle of the night. I would not even walk on the same floor of the mall as Santa! And the one year my Dad borrowed the company Santa suit to surprise me Christmas morning…well, I guess he had to tear the beard off because I lost my mind when I answered the door only to find Satan…I mean Santa…standing in front of our house. I loved the one special gift Santa left each year that was wrapped in some different paper or had my initial painted on it with glitter (because surely it was from him and not my parents…Mom would NEVER glitter paint our packages!) But anytime he made an appearance…forget it…I was not having it!

This is literally the only picture I have of myself as a kid with “Scary” Santa. Looks like I’m nervous…but I’m not crying. And why you may ask? Well, what I do remember about this picture that even my Mom doesn’t remember is what happened before it was taken. That blue overall set with the matching  turtleneck was a little snug. So snug that my pants ripped the moment I jumped on his lap! Now thankfully, nobody else noticed that this happened, and it was close to the end of the day so I’m sure I just tied my jacket around my waist. But perhaps THIS is where my fear of Santa began!

It’s interesting to think that there was fear associated with the first Christmas. I mean, how could the birth of our Savior elicit fear? But a few years ago I watched The Nativity Story, and it was one of the first times I really connected with what Mary and Joseph went through. I mean if anyone had a reason to be fearful, it was Mary, who found herself pregnant as a virgin in a time where her fiancĂ© could execute her for being so. And could you even imagine the amount of emotions that Joseph must have gone through at that time? Both had to believe that they were visited by angels and instructed on what their next steps would be and they had to choose to obey. I am sure that they had heard, or maybe even been witness to, a woman executed for cheating on their betrothed. Yet, instead of connecting that past experience with their current one, they chose to have faith and believe that they did not have to fear. They had to believe they heard from heaven and they had to have faith to endure. What I also love is that heaven knew how they were going to feel…and they weren’t shamed for it. Instead, messengers were sent to remind them, “don’t be afraid.”

The connection I made with my “Scary” Santa incident is that one instance could have been the reason I never wanted anything to do with him. Maybe I wasn’t really afraid of him. Maybe it was just the memory of him and, what could have been, a very humiliating day. Maybe I was more afraid that I’d jump up on his lap again and possibly rip my pants in a way that everyone would notice.

It made me think: Are there areas in my life that I am letting one past experience create fear in a present one? Do I let fear keep me from experiencing life because of that past experience? Have I “walked-the-top-floor-of-the-mall” in hopes that I would not have to face the fear head on?

If I’m honest: yes, yes and all-the-way yes.

Many have said that “fear not” is written 365 times in the Bible. I’m not sure if that’s true (I’ve never counted), but what I do know is that it was said a lot. And it was said by Jesus. And if it was said a lot in the Bible, and said by Jesus, then I know that it’s somewhere I want to be. A place where fear does not paralyze me from living my best life. A place where fear doesn’t stop me from opening up to new people or new situations. A place where fear does not control my decisions based on past heartbreaks or disappointments.

Today’s forecast: Memories tell me, " Don't do it, you  might split your pants again."

Silver Lining: Heaven tells me “Fear not! We know a pretty good Seamstress.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Weight of Invisibility

The first time I saw the musical Chicago was on the big screen. I remember hearing the words to “Mister Cellophane” and just having an all-out ugly cry moment:

"Cause you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I’m there”

I felt like I had been singing the exact same words in my head on repeat for several years. Mister Cellophane understood what it felt like to be invisible and those words summed it up perfectly for me.

This year, I wanted to get serious about my health. God had given me the word “transformation” for 2017, and I was quite certain He meant a physical transformation. I knew part of that would mean finding a new doctor. It has been years since I had a real physical. It seems I had been able to bypass them somehow with the doctor I was seeing for the last 2 years. He was nice...sure. But other than referring me out for an injury, he’d often dismiss any questions I had about my overall health. And of course, losing weight was the answer to all my questions anyway.

I can’t speak for every overweight individual, but going to the doctor hasn’t always been on my top things to do. I always think about wanting to lose weight BEFORE I go in…even when that’s the #1 reason I’m going in in the first place. The dreaded moment where the intake nurse starts moving that part of the scale to the right and I say “Nope, you can move it over some more.” I have been pretty much humiliated at times by well-meaning doctors who take out the BMI scale to show me how I’m way off the charts, then lecture me on how many calories I should be taking in to lose weight. Not to be ungrateful, but I’ve been dieting since I was 9 years old, I could probably teach a class on it! I didn’t want a lecture, or to be made to feel like a fool…I wanted someone who would actually see me and know that there’s much more to my weight issues than not knowing how to count calories or read package nutrition labels. So often at this heavier weight, I have felt “seen through” or “seen past” much like Mister Cellophane. A sort of invisible object that is a part of the backdrop of many life scenes, and often overlooked.

Feeling “seen” hasn’t always been a problem.  As a young child, I remember people stopping my parents to tell them something complimentary about me. Sometimes I'd get teased about it, so I never really took it as a positive, but rather unsolicited attention. I actually wanted to stop being noticed. I started feeling uncomfortable hearing teachers say, “There’s just something different about her.” At some point as I got older, it manifested this need to constantly be “on” in my head. And when I wasn’t able to meet my own expectations of myself as a young adult, I began to do whatever I had to do to be prettier or more well liked. More “seen” if you will. But I often found myself still feeling invisible and overlooked.

This sense of not feeling seen hit an all-time low after having my heart broken in my early 20s. Years passed, and I began to build a wall around me. The wall of weight helped me to explain away the invisibility I sometimes felt. When I feel invisible, it is easier to blame the wall that I’m behind. It’s the excuse for every unrequited crush, for every party I’m not invited to, and for every promotion I’m not extended. It’s the reason I’m “so awesome,” yet I’m never awesome enough to be set up with your friend. The crazy thing is the wall that I held as the barrier to being “seen” was self-inflicted. A continual cycle of feeling the weight of invisibility that I myself created.

It took me until June to make the call for an appointment with a new doctor. I had been given her name years ago, but never made it to her office. I had read a lot about her being kind, and wanting to really know her patients, so I decided to give it a try.

I’m so glad I did.

Within minutes of being in this doctor’s office, I could tell it was going to be different. Her intake survey even seemed to be a nice “Hello, Who are you?” We sat and talked for 45-minutes about everything from my medical history to my reasons for being there to my faith. Yes, we spoke about God and my calling and how the Holy Spirit could be my help through this. It was clear that this was a divine appointment and that this doctor was different from any others I’d seen. This doctor actually saw behind the wall, and started to speak to who I could be. It felt like a hug from heaven...God's way of saying, "I see you - it's time."

The thing is, I know in my innermost being that I’m not invisible. I’ve been gently courted by God who has been so gracious in helping me slowly peel away to the root of the issue. He’s such a good Father, letting me know it’s time to face some things, and at the same time, allowing me to learn more about Him, how much He loves me and probably most importantly, how He sees me.

I know that I am loved, cherished, purposed and highly favored. I’m a daughter of the King and the apple of my heavenly Father’s eye. He has seen me all along.  So now it’s time for my soul and body to line up with what my spirit knows. It’s time to break through the false wall of protection I’ve allowed to go up. I’m done believing the lie that I’m not seen by God or that He has forgotten me. Perhaps instead of being invisible, I’ve just been hidden in the field for such a time as this. A transformation has certainly begun to take place. I’m just realizing that the transformation had to first begin in my heart.

Today's Forecast: There’s a pretty big wall in front of me.

Silver Lining: My God’s pretty good at tearing stuff down.