Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part Three: Hero Versus Villain

Have you ever wondered where the feeling of abandonment comes from or why we can just never feel quite as beautiful as everyone tells us we are? Our friends gasp at our adornments, but linger on our faces: "Wow! You are gorgeous!" Yet, still, we blush and shy away. It cannot be so, right? Beauty is a curse and threatens our heart's purity. It goes against how we are supposed to be, strong and hard women. Ha. . . Nothing can be farther from the truth. But, allow me to dig a bit further.

It is also a very distinct possibility that though you are surrounded by a laughing group of ladies or a joyous, serving missions' team, you just start to feel that creepy, sickening feeling that you are alone. You aren't really alone, but you feel it. You feel whispers pounce on your heart, declaring that you suffer alone and your suffering is a direct result of something you did. Not only do you feel alone, but you caused yourself to be alone.

All. Lies. And. More. Lies.

Remember all those childhood fantasies or cinderalla stories? There was always a villain. . . always someone that dressed the lady in dull clothes and let her hair become covered in dust. The villain reminded the young woman that she was alone and all alone.

Ladies, there is a very real villain that beats on our doors. He doesn't ask to be invited, but instead whispers under the cracks, tears the door apart bit by bit, and we just stand there. Oh we deny it at first, but as the on slot increases and persists, we find ourselves repeating to our hearts the things he has whispered for years.

I want you to think about it. Satan was once called Lucifer, a name that means morning glory. Satan was not just once beautiful. . . he was absolutely gorgeous, breathe-taking, awe-inspiring. But, he let his beauty and his glory become his downfall. He believed that because of his beauty, he was more like God than any other. He deserved to be God. As a result, he was struck down and banished to hell.

Then, God made the world. When He created the world, He made man in the image of God, but He made Eve the glory of man. Eve was beautiful. Remember in the first part how I described Eve as magnifying the beauty of the Lord? The mystery of the Lord? The hope of the Lord? Have you ever thought, even remotely, that Satan hates Eve and her daughters with such a passionate jealousy that simply does not relent?

If the jealousy of her beauty was not enough, God gave Eve the ability to give birth to life. She became the life-giver and nurturer. Now Satan really hates her. Think of history for a minute. Women were merely property of men for centuries. Still today women are considered property of men in several nations; even looking at a man brings death to her. She is not equal, is not loved for her beauty, but diminished and told to keep quiet, alone and out of sight. Even worst, women suffer more abuse, sexual slavery, and just plain slavery than men ever have or ever will. There has been no relenting on the horrors dealt out to women of all races, nations, tongues, and tribes.

Don't get me wrong. Men face persecution too, and their suffering is not to be diminished. But, just looking at the sheer numbers of women who have endured countless occurrences they never should have had, how many times they have never been sought as treasure, is just heart-breaking. Not only that, but the women that do suffer. . . somehow believe they deserve it. How absurd and how horrific.

The pain you hide away in your hearts, the lies you tell yourself on a daily basis, and the lengths you go to find some warmth from others are all a result of Satan pushing you to do so. Women are targeted and are often successfully kept captive and tortured.

Yet, for every villain, there is a hero. And that hero is God. How many of you have ever walked down a moonlit path and said "My God, my Lover, thank you for all you have done?" My guess is some of you immediately tuned into the word 'Lover.' Or. . . let's say you are praying and all of a sudden you feel a whisper back "I love you too, dearest." That can't be right. . . It's GOD. He's not going to whisper endearing terms like that.

*smiles* Think again.

So many authors tell us that we have a God-sized void that can be filled by none other than Him. We can try to fill it but it will only become a black hole, sinking deeper and darker still. Well. . . you aren't the only one with a big, empty void in your heart. God has one too; one that can only be filled by you. Don't laugh at that. I'm completely serious.

God loves us more than we can fathom in a way that seems foreign to us. But, think about what He does. He wants to be pursued by us so much that He hides from us (believe me, Psalms says so). Not only does He hide from us, but He delights in amazing our hearts, in making us fall so much more in love with Him. He wants us to fall hopelessly in love with Him so much so that when He hides, we never stop running until we find Him. We want to find Him so much that our hearts ache and long. Basically. . . There is a hole in God's heart that you, and only you, can fill.

See, there was once that a friend of mine went for a run. (She loved running. . .I liked walking.) She loved running the city pathways and then going into the fields. Well, around here, something that you never ever see are salamanders. Oh, I'm sure we have them, but I have yet to lay eyes on them. Her story is incredible though. It was nearing dusk and she was just about home when she just started praying.

She had felt so abandoned that day, I later found out. She looked up for just a moment and suddenly looked down. . . The road was littered with salamanders of every size, shape, color and pattern that could be imagine, she said. She stopped in her tracks and just stared. She said she didn't know why but she could only start laughing and thanking God. It was the first time in a while that she heard Him whisper, "Do you understand just how much I love you?"

I remember loving that story, savoring it, wishing it could be mine. But, you know what. . . God doesn't give us all the same message of love. He knows what each individual heart needs. For me, my moment came while walking. It had been cloudy as usual, but for whatever reason, the wind suddenly picked up and the leaves swirled in the most amazing ways on the path that fall. The wind alone could not possibly have spun them in the way they were organized, much less around me. I knew. . . and I loved it. I saw beauty in the wind-spun, frantic blowing leaves while my friend saw it in the still, spotted coloring of animals. I needed wild and rustic. She needed still and sweet.

The point is God romances us in unique ways. Our stories are not going to be the same, but they all have the same principle: God is chasing your heart just as much as you are chasing His. Actually. . . He is chasing yours more. He has a deep longing to fill the void where you always should have been just as much as you want to fill the void where He should always have been.

And we already know who wins the battle in this world. But. . . who will win the battle for your heart? If you just seek Him, there is no way you can resist the way He loves you and pursues you. He and you are part of a romance story. You are His bride, His lover, His fiancé.

Open your hearts to Him and Satan will lose. The oppression dealt out by Satan will not match the romance He writes with your heart and His. Satan cannot touch your love story. The question is. . . will you let Him write it?

6Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 
7And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 
8For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. 
9Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 
10And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 
11I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. 
12And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 
13And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. 
14Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 
15And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. 
16And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. 
17For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. 
18And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. 
19And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. 
20I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. 
21And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; 
22And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. 
23And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. 
Hosea 2:6-23

A Woman's Heart Part Four: Bare Strength

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part Two: Abandonment

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hosea 2:14

I can guarantee there were two types of reactions to Part One: Beauty to Be Unveiled. Either you started to truly believe that you are beautiful or you allowed yourself to simply nod, smile, and let it last for a few minutes. The next day you either arose with a peaceful sigh, thanking the Lord for creating you absolutely breathtaking in sight or you hide your beauty behind what walls have existed for years and guarded your heart.

You made a decision after you read that post. You either took the words to heart or you filed them away for another time, another time when you might feel strong enough to deal with them.

The fact of the matter is that I can tell you how uniquely divine each of you ladies are, but until your heart accepts my words. . . no, HIS words, it will not change lifestyles and beliefs. The Lord delights in your beauty, in His creation, beyond what we can fathom.

Yet, our hearts are absolutely and positively prone to hide, to deny, and to allow suffering to take place where none is needed. You can believe or not believe what I say, but what God says is. . . you don’t have to be alone.

That is our greatest fear, right? As women, we thirst for and thrive in companionship. We long to share our hearts, not live in seclusion. But few seem interested now-a-days. Few seem to delight in our hearts. Instead, we are told lines such as these:
“I could never understand women!”

“Women are just too deep, too fast. They are not worth the effort.”
And it hurts. Just say it. It hurts more than words can express. When we begin feeling and believing the lies of this culture, the perceptions of our peers, we retract. We shelter. We try to find and control our lives when God calls us to lose our live in order to find life.

We seek to control our lives through any means necessary, through believing and eventually speaking the lies of this culture to our hearts. We feel ashamed of our beauty. We feel ashamed of our love. We feel ashamed of our vulnerability. We feel ashamed of our desires. We feel ashamed to be women.

Many wonder why the feminist movement came about and rose up with such ferocity. Women wanted to feel comforted by company, by the joining of hands, but they also wanted to answer a very deep and complex question: Do I matter?

The volumes of the world seemed to speak that men mattered; the pride of the male race attracted attention. The feminist movement, unlike some believe, was not a new notion so much as it was a unspoken notion finally proclaimed and given the attention of the world. It became a way for women to feel like they mattered and to feel like they were not abandoned or forgotten.

Ironically, it only led to tired and frustrated grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. These women were not only exhausted as a result of having found their search for answers to be just as difficult, but now they added a new can of worms to the mix: they needed to control everything involving men's expertise as well as their own.

The need to control is not a new desire in women. Men experience the same need to control, but often in different forms. Because women were naturally born with the tendency and desire to be vulnerable and to be protected and nurtured by their husbands, women seek to control their hearts, emotions, and feelings. Sometimes things just get beyond control and other times you meet women whose hearts seem held in a vise-like grip that will not only refuse to resolve, but to also punish those who dare to draw near.

Mistrust is deeply seeded in our hearts; it started way back when Satan tempted Eve. Eve felt that she was not being given all that she needed, that God was holding out on her. From the moment she believed that mistrust, the daughters of Eve inherited it.

Our culture and men feed the mistrust even more. Culture tells us one thing and then destroys our hopes with even higher expectations. Men draw away from women before they get too close and personal, not wanting to tap into their own fears in order to begin to not only aid and protect but also understand women.

It lives and breathes at the heart of men and women alike: a fear that breathes from Satan himself. It causes men to hold back and to abandon, for they deeply fear failure. It causes women to draw in and close up, for they deeply fear abandonment and misuse.

You want to know something? I live and breathe that fear every single day of my life. I know I do. And I know you do too. We may try to hide it, call it different names, cover it up. . . whatever the case may be, but it’s there.

It haunts us; you and me.

And not only does my heart break thinking about it, but the Lord’s heart breaks even more. He made you beautiful for your vulnerability. He made you precious in your graciousness and loving spirits. He made you divine in your endless desire to serve others, to be a part of all the great adventures of life.

When Eve took the apple at the Fall and believed Satan’s lies, the Lord knew the heart of Eve in that moment; He knew the mistrust that dwelt there; the fear.

And He had to save us. He had to save women. Those longings we feel, those deep, fearful, tearful, painful longings to matter, to be loved, to never be forsaken were placed in our hearts many years ago so that we might see the Lord as our ultimate source of comfort. He knew only His heart could comfort us and give us the grace and love we needed.

Our fears exist so that we may know the truth of His promise: that those who seek Him shall find life. But those who seek their own life shall lose it.

Your hearts, our hearts, are too precious, to breath-taking to keep locked away behind walls, imprisoned and beaten by lies. We are not called to take our fear of abandonment, our desire to matter, and to use them as chains.

Christ is knocking at the door. He’s knocking at the door to your heart. He wants to restore and nurture vulnerability, purity, tenderness, vibrant spirit, dazzlingly starlight, glistening hope, loving fellowship. He wants to restore it all. The question is. . . will you let Him?

Read Part Three: Hero Versus Villain

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part One: Beauty to Be Unveiled

‎"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2

Now, before you all die of shock that I am actually writing about a woman's heart, let me first assure you that I have actually taken some time in discovering what it is all about. I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of it, for that would mean the understanding of my own heart would reach God's understanding of it, that of which cannot be obtained. Yet, I have discovered some recent principles that I want to delve into, ones that I think the Lord has lead me to begin to slightly understand and maybe even desire.

First, let’s go into the history behind this epiphany, so to speak. The fall colors are beginning to appear and the air is transpiring a scent of drying leaves, curling flowers, and musty breeze. It is beautiful. As I stood, staring out the now open window just a few days ago, I finally realized what the primary purpose of nature is: to be beautiful. Nature, unlike many necessities in this world, does not rely on or achieve its purpose through providing for people or giving people things they need in life to survive (it can. . . but bear with me for a minute). The most common reception nature receives is stares, stares of wonder and honor, stares of pure joy and dancing.

Nature is primarily termed the glory of the Lord; it is the masterpiece of creation that displays His beauty in ways that shock us every day we witness them. The water trickling over forgotten falls, the sunset blazing forth in the midst of an endless dessert, flowers creeping and covering a newly placed grave; He provides a feast for our eyes to behold and our hearts to warm to.

Just as nature’s primary function is to simply be beautiful and captivating, so is a woman’s heart, from the day she is born, beautiful and captivating. Our culture robs women of their sense of confidence and their ability to understand and behold just how delicately perfect a woman is. We live in a culture where the media focuses on purely physical beauty and tries to tempt us into pursuing their definition of beauty. Then, we seek the church and find that they emphasize the beauty of the soul and spirit and say that such things must be fought for. In the end. . . a group of tired and downtrodden women replace the masterpieces the Lord formed in their mother’s womb, the women that were created as daughters of Eve.

But, a message that is often lost in translation is that the Lord made every woman, every single woman, to be both physically and spiritually beautiful. He made us to rival with nature, to be a masterpiece that few eyes could hold without staring. Yes. . . I know; it sounds odd and many of us women have a hard time truly believing how very precious we are, as a whole creation. Yet, it is so true and it a message that we all need to hear.

When God formed the world, He saw that it was not good for man to be alone. So, He created woman to be his helpmate (more on this later in Part Two).

--- Pause here just a minute and think about that: God said the world was not complete and it was not complete until there was woman. . . woman. You, me, them, her, us. . . woman. If you don’t feel even slightly warmed at the thought of that, go back and try again. You should feel special, very special. ---

While He created man and woman in His own image, they were made to embody different aspects of His character. Man and woman are so very different because we cannot comprehend all the aspects of God. Instead, we see certain aspects of the Lord in one and certain aspects in another. God embodied in woman characteristics such as His heart for relationships and romance, His longing for adventures with humanity, and His beauty, a beauty that is to be unveiled. Life-offering, relational expert, and all tenderness, mercy, and hope. Strength is ever present in a woman, but it does not come fighting with swords; it comes in steadfast mystery.

Women just do not look right pictured in the midst of a battlefield, with blood staining their faces and hands. That is a man’s arena. I am not saying women cannot be there or cannot be fantastic warriors, but something about that picture just strikes people funny. It goes against all the fundaments that a woman’s heart is supposed to be.

You wonder why women are commonly pictured still and tranquil while men are commonly pictured in action and doing something. That is because a man’s honor is in what he creates with his hands, what he works towards. It is against his nature to be passive. Yet, for a woman, it is the beauty about her that speaks to people, the mercy and tranquility. A woman standing still is enough to hold one’s attention for hours. . . a man standing still is enough to hold one's attention for a few minutes.

And when I speak of women being captivating to look at. . . I am not talking about those hidden behind layers of make-up, clothing that hides every aspect of creation or shields that block the sun from shining upon the very heart of a woman. We all deeply doubt that there is anything beautiful about us, ladies. We began to harbor that doubt at the Fall. As women, we are probably more aware than any of our shortcomings, of our imperfections. And even more so, we let those shortcomings swallow our beliefs and tint our eyes to see only the defects. We believe our shortcomings to be all one will see, and we try to hide ourselves all the more.

We ask aching questions. . . we ask ‘am I pretty?’ ‘Do I matter?’ ‘Where can I fit in?’ *smiles* We want to be loved and pursued and told we matter all the more.

Read that sentence again. And again. And again.

Remember when I said that women were made in the image of God, embodied with His spirit? Think of that and read that sentence in the above paragraph again. What does it tell you?

The Lord wants to be loved by us. He wants to be chosen by us. He wants to be pursued by us. He wants to be told He matters more than any other by us. The Lord’s heart cry is a woman’s heart cry.

Wow. And we all wonder how we can truly be beautiful? The Lord tells us how and reassures us how every day we look in the mirror, every single time we give our all to Him. He longs for us. And that longing. . . is the heart cry of women. It magnifies just how much God loves us, wants us, and wants us to relentlessly pursue Him.

That’s what a woman is. A woman is mystery. A woman is beauty. A woman is desire. A woman is passion. A woman is tender. A woman is vulnerable. A woman is heartbreaking.

And for all those women out there who doubt even a piece of this post. . . just think about it. Look at nature. Look at the world. This world was not complete without you. Man was lonely without you. God’s passion overflows through you. You. Are. Gorgeous. Magnificent. Treasured. Desired. Precious. YOU ARE HIS!

Read A Woman's Heart Part Two: Abandonment