Take that Band-aid off!

broken-heartI had the opportunity to talk with one of my students who knows the Lord.  He’s genuinely a good person with values and seems to have had a good upbringing. He always has a positive disposition, always has a smile on his face, and is never disrespectful.  In that conversation, and knowing what I know about people and myself, we don’t like pain.  We don’t want to feel bad and always want instant gratification.  We don’t want to go through the processes; we just want to get over them.  So we resort to covering it up.  Now we know that purpose of a band-aid is to cover a wound to prevent infection and promote healing.  However, think about our hearts.  We fall in love; we get hurt.  You can’t separate the two; you can’t have one without the other.  When the hurt comes, it feels like someone stabbed you in the heart a hundred times.  I believe the pain we feel means we’re alive.  All the same, we use the band-aid to cover the reality of the situation.  That band-aid can’t mend a broken heart; it can’t prevent infection or promote healing.

Now the young man is always in the library with his girlfriend…I mean everyday!  I began to notice I hadn’t seen this couple in a while.  When I thought about it, I hadn’t seen him either.  Finally he surfaced and my inquiring mind wanted to know ,”So, where have you been?  Where’s your girlfriend?” He, being all evasive, responded “She’s around.” Oh Lord!  My probing mind was like, “What does that mean?  Around?”  He said, “Ms. Hall, I don’t want to talk about it.”  I said, “Oh we gonna talk! What’s wrong with you? You ALWAYS talk!  I can’t get you to be quiet, so spill! Y’all done broke up, haven’t you?”  He admitted they had and I asked him why.  He (and I can only take his word for this) said that they were “too serious.”  He said they had dated two years and they were too young to be so serious.  Really?  You think?  I wish I could say I had some consoling words for him, but I didn’t.  Instead I said, “You’re absolutely right.  You have your whole life ahead of you.”  He justified the relationship by saying he brought her to the Lord.  Okay…that doesn’t mean you have to date.  Me being me, I probe and dig a little deeper until he can’t take it anymore.

Another few weeks go by and he’s a no-show, at least in the library.  This week he comes by the circulation desk as I’m sitting there.  “Well, well, well….look what the wind blew in!  Where have you been?”  He tries to be all cool about it, but he can’t.  He was also looking rather happy.  I said, “What are you smiling about?  You and that girl got back together, huh?”  I wanted to be happy for him, but I wasn’t unhappy for him.  I just felt like, according to the young man, if God told you to end the relationship or you felt some kind of way about it, can those feelings have changed that fast?  I’m not saying he didn’t care about her, but I do think he acted hastily.  I say this because it had only been a few weeks and he admitted he didn’t like being alone.  This is what gets me.  He put old girl on a “contract” and what’s worse is she accepted those terms.  I wish some man would put me on contract.  Boy, bye!  In any event, I do not know the terms of said contract, but he wants certain freedoms and privileges.

That’s when it dawned on me that he (and we) want to put bandages on our feelings.  We don’t like the way hurt feels.  We don’t like the way rejection feels.  We don’t like the way uncertainty feels.  So let’s just put a band-aid on that nasty wound.  Like a natural cut or wound, lack of exposure to the elements is not going to make that broken heart or rejection go away.  It has to run a natural course of healing.  That course, my friends, consist of time, prayer, some tears and some more time.  We want that band-aid to carry us OVER the emotional injury instead of THROUGH it.  There is no getting around it.  There are not shortcuts with God.  Besides, don’t you want to be the best you can be in and through Christ?

That young man reconciled on his terms.  That young lady settled for his terms.  They are both doing themselves an injustice by taking matters of the heart into their own young hands.  I encourage them both to continue to grow in their walks with the Lord and to take their time.  If it is God’s will for them to be together, it will come to pass.  In the meantime, don’t be afraid to take that doggone band-aid off!  Your greatest blessing may come through that wounded heart.  Psalm 51:17 (NIV) reads, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”  God has everything you need to heal that emotional wound.  God is the Father that kisses the “boo-boo.”  The blood of Jesus is the band-aid because He covered us with the blood He shed for us.  The Holy Spirit is the Neosporin that comforts, soothes, and eases that wound over time.  We can’t hurry love and we can’t hurry the work and moves of God in our lives.

The Audacity to Ask

This title came to me one morning when I was reading my devotional.  No, it is not something that happens everyday, but I am working towards that.  I’m reading from “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson.  Day 6 is titled, “Shameless Audacity,” and it’s taken from Luke 11:8 (NIV), which reads, “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[a] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

It’s taken me a minute to publish this blog post because I’ve really pondered this.  Audacity.  Boldness.  Persistence.  We don’t have because we give up in our asking.  Sure God hears us the first time we ask, but how are you asking?  Are you asking without faith?  Are you praying without believing?  Sometimes we need to be bold in our prayers.  Prayer is the activation of our faith.  If we never ask, we will never know.  When you ask, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  In asking, I’m not in a worse position than I was before.  I may be in the same position, but at least I have lost nothing materially, but my faith has been activated, and I’m just crazy enough to believe God for the impossible.  As a child of God, I can call Him on His authority.  Yep…I said it!  What I want you to understand is that this is what God wants us to do.  He wants us to ask Him because it’s His reputation on the line.  When I pray God’s word, what else can He do but prove Himself? I just asking what He’s already promised.  By not asking God, we limit our faith.  God is not to be contained.  He is so infinite and so powerful that you can’t put that in a box and expect it not to explode.  He’s bursting at the seams with blessings for us, but we do not ask.

Do you think you will offend God in asking Him for anything?  You offend Him when you don’t.  When I think about my personality, I can tell you I’m a smart-(bleeeeeep), quick-witted, sassy little thing!  I speak what is on my mind, but have gotten better because God had tempered the delivery somewhat.  I take no pleasure in hurting people with words, but I know that I can if I choose to do so.  That is part of my personality.  So, the same way my friends and acquaintances catch it, God does too.  What I mean is that because I have a relationship with Him, I can ask in my personality, in my voice…not in Sally’s, Betty’s or Billy’s voice or personality.  God made us all uniquely individual.  Your wants are not like mine; your needs are not like mine; your questions to God will not be like mine.  I’m authoritative and bossy.  I have to dial that back when I’m talking to God.  Because He and I talk so much, I sometimes forget, and it just comes out.  God is not so easily offended by that.  I figure, “I already thought it and He knows it, so I may as well just say it.”  And I do.  Even in that boldness of asking, I still honor and reverence God.  Sometimes I ask him for something so impossible (not material things but moves of God) that I know that when He answers, my only response will be, “Nobody BUT God!”

In your asking be specific.  God can read your mind and He already knows your thoughts.  Duh!  Really?  By asking you are activating your faith.  God tells us to ask because we will receive; to seek because we will find; and to knock because the door will be opened for you.  I dare you to have the audacity to ask!

Crisis of Identity: Who’s Your Daddy?

blank-mask1Most days I wake up with an awareness of who I am, but that wasn’t always the case.  Much of who we are, our identity, is tied to our parents.  While we know them, we don’t know them.  I know my mother loves me; she provided for me; she knows what I’m afraid of and what I dream about.  However, I was never so sure about “MyDavid.”  That’s my dad.  He’s MyDavid because I’ve never called him “dad,” “daddy,” etc.  He never wanted it.  Maybe in doing that, it liberated him from a responsibility he didn’t want.  I observed the relationships around me and watched my friends with their fathers and wonder how that’s possible.  He doesn’t know my hopes; my dreams; my fears.  I wondered about MyDavid, “Why doesn’t he love me? Why doesn’t he want me? Am I not pretty enough?  Am I not smart enough?”  When I communicated what I needed from him, he would clam up and accuse me of opening a can of worms which, if truth be told, was never closed.  It was always open because I always had questions.  I never understood how he expected me not to have any questions.  What was more bewildering was that I never understood why he didn’t have answers.

I desperately wanted to be “Daddy’s Little Girl,” but to no avail.  I would never hold that position in MyDavid’s life.  All through my childhood, young adult years and even adult years, I struggled with not having this special father/daughter relationship.  I wanted so desperately to be pursued by MyDavid, to feel like I mattered and that I was a priority to him.  There were many broken promises and lack of or no response when I was in need.  Sometimes he would say things a father should never say to a daughter.  The words were hurtful and even as an adult, I had a childlike heart, tender and easily wounded.

At some point enough was enough.  I knew I needed more, and was never going to get it from MyDavid.  I dug deeper into my relationship with God.  I knew Him, but I really needed to KNOW Him!  I needed to test Him to guarantee He would always be there.  That came at a very costly, almost detrimental price because of an act of disobedience on my part.  Once God had my attention, He had it!  I had no choice but to call on Him.  He told me, “Your mama can’t help you.  Your daddy can’t help you. Only I can help you.”  Long story short, I was about to marry someone God had clearly told me not to.  The wedding was called off ten days before the date.  I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had been jilted, left at the altar, if you will.  I didn’t want to face anyone.  Most days, I was just a functioning dysfunctional with no awareness of Point A to Point Z or anything in between.

People meant well, and kept telling me, “You’ll look back over this in a year and laugh.”  I thought, “Is this fool kidding me?  I ain’t laughing now and I don’t have a year to waste on this mess!”  So, what was my plan to get through this?  I had no clue.  I just knew I was very broken and could only turn to God.  Once I finally stopped crying so much and began to think clearly,  I would take my journal and head to the park and just sit for hours reading, writing and studying God and His character.  Over several months, I began to realize who I was and who my Father was.  It was Him!  He had always been my Father and He promised He would never leave me or forsake me.  He revealed to me that I was a daughter…His daughter; that I mattered and that He cared about the smallest to the biggest details of my life. In actuality, He is the only Father I’ve ever known.  Do I still have issues?  Absolutely!  Do I still wrestle with my abandonment issues?  Absolutely!   I expect people to always leave me.  The only confidence I have is in God, His word, and the fact that He never leaves me and I am always His daughter. I am no longer fatherless; I know to Whom I belong; I no longer have a crisis of identity.

Flip the Script!

I have always been fascinated by the story of Queen Esther. In part because my maternal grandmother’s name was Queen Esther Hubbard Staton.  Esther was a young woman, who was orphaned and raised by her cousin, Mordecai, and he claimed her as his daughter.  She  never wanted for anything and wasn’t bad on the eyes.  There was also a king named Xerxes.  In some biblical translations, his name is spelled, “Ahasuerus.” Xerxes was the King of Persia.  He was married to Vashti.  One day Xerxes held a large a banquet, a feast, if you will,  and had a little too much to drink.  He sent for her so he could parade her in front of the people and the officials.  Vashti knew they were intoxicated and refused to go to him.  I think Xerxes was too drunk to care.  However, when his “homies” started saying, “Whaaaaaaat?  You gonna let her dis you like that?  Man, if she did it, what will other women in the kingdom think they can do.”  He knew he had to do something.  He divorced Vashti for her disobedience to the king.  Not only was her refusal a slap in the face to the king, but also to the in the provinces of King Xerxes.  After that incident, Xerxes decreed that Vashti would never again come before the king.

Some time had passed and Xerxes remembered his former companion.  It was decided that he should look for a new queen.  Word went out to all the provinces under his rule.  The eligible women were brought to the palace, prepared and trained for twelve months.  Esther’s destiny was chosen by God, even then, as He orchestrated who would help her and how.  Esther was the chosen contender, it was determined that King Xerxes favored her about all others, and she became his queen.

Mordecai stayed close to Esther, always keeping an eye on her.  One day he uncovered a a plot by two of Xerxes eunuchs to kill the king.  He went to Esther and told her.   She informed the king in Mordecai’s name.  The eunuchs were hanged on a gallows, and recorded in the book of chronicles in the presence of the king, but the king did not read it.  After all this, Xerxes had a right-hand man,  Haman, whom he promoted and sat him above all the princes.  Haman was arrogant to the nth degree.  For some reason he hated the Jews.  He especially hated Mordecai, who refused to bow down to him.  Why should he?  He wasn’t the king and even still, Mordecai wouldn’t even bow down to Xerxes.  Haman was infuriated by Mordecai’s lack of regard, and began to conspire against all Jews.  He convinced Xerxes that the Jews did not keep the king’s laws.  Without any investigation, Xerxes ordered a decree be written to destroy the Jews.  The decree was proclaimed throughout the land.  When Mordecai learned of this, he was deeply grieved and cried out to God.  He wore sackcloth, fasted, wept, and wailed.  In hearing this, Esther became distressed and wanted to know what had brought this on.  Her maids relayed her message, and Mordecai responded by sending her a copy of the decree for the destruction of the Jews.  He implored her to go to the king and request that he reverse the order.  In those times, the king’s decree was bond.  It could not be undone.  Esther worried what might become of her if she saw the king without him asking for her.  It could mean death for her.

Sometimes it’s not easy to take a stand for injustice.  Why?  Fear.  We have all experienced that same fear at some time or other.  Mordecai reminded her that she was Jewish and that, queen or no queen, that decree included her annihilation, also.  She didn’t have a choice.  She fasted and prayed, seeking an answer from the Lord.  Her response, was this in Esther 4:16-17, “Go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day.  My maids and I will fast likewise.  And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

Queen Esther approaches and is granted an audience with the king.  She wisely invites him and Haman to a banquet, at which she reveal Haman’s plans.  In the meantime, Haman continues to fume about Mordecai’s indignation and receives unwise counsel from his wife and friends.  They goad him on and say in Esther 5:14, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.”  In his arrogance, this pleased Haman, and he had the gallows built.

Remember when Mordecai saved Xerxes life and he had it recorded in the book of chronicles?  Well, Xerxes never read it until one night, he could not sleep and ask the book be brought to him.  This is when he discovered that it was actually Mordecai who revealed the plot to assassinate the king.  Xerxes wanted to know what had been done for this man who saved his life.  The attended answered, “Nothing.”   Xerxes reveals his intentions to honor the man he delighted in.  Arrogant Haman, thought the king meant him, and vainly made self-serving suggestion:  “…let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn…a horse on which the king has ridden…parade the man on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him….Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”  Haman was gushing arrogance and pride.  The king then commanded him to take the robe and horse to Mordecai!  Hit me with a brick!  Haman was stunned beyond belief.  He did as he was commanded.  What else could he do?

At the banquet, Esther attends and serves he king.  He is so enamored with Esther that he begs to know what her petition is and declares he will give it to her.  Esther proceeds to make a petition on behalf of her people and unfolds the plan of Haman.  Haman pleads for his life!  He falls across where Esther was sitting.  Begging for dear life!  Xerxes is enraged and he can’t believe the audacity of Haman.  The eunuchs say to the king, “Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.”  The king said, “Hang him on it!” There hung Haman until dead.

All this to say, your enemies may be preparing a gallows for your right now, but you can rest assured that God is still in control of your very situation and that He will have the last word.  He  is the author and finisher of our faith, not man.  You may not know every detail of the plan, but He’s working it out for you.  Haman prepared the gallows for Mordecai and God turned that thing around and hanged Haman from the very gallows he built for Mordecai.  Who is man that we should ever be afraid?  Regardless of your status or station in life, God is will work it out for you, for this United States of America, for the leadership of this country.  We have nothing to fear and certainly not a gallows built by man for us.  God’s got it! To my enemies, be careful.  The very gallows you’re preparing for me may be used by God in your demise.