Naming Yourself

I process best out loud.  In college I studied best in a group.  If I was left to study alone I was a mess!  Get me together with a study group and things were clicking, I was more able to organize, I remembered more and retained more.

So, as I’m reading this reading plan in my YouVersion Bible app, sometimes I feel the need to process here.

The particular study I read was about the book of Ruth.   More specifically, about Naomi in the book of Ruth.

Naomi lost her husband, then both of her sons.  In that time, if you didn’t have a man, you had nothing!  She was in bad shape after losing her husband and sons.  She did, however, have two very devoted daughters-in-law.  They wanted to stay with Naomi after their husbands died.  One did eventually go back to her family (after much pleading from Naomi to do so), but Ruth stayed with Naomi.  She left her own family, her “gods”, her everything and stayed with Naomi and adopter her faith.

As Naomi and Ruth entered the land and people Naomi was from, she renamed herself.  She asked everyone to call her Mara meaning “bitter”.  She felt that God had brought such tragedy in her life that she needed to rename herself.

This got me thinking about the names we rename ourselves:

Fat

Ugly

Worthless

Bad friend/wife/husband/mother/father/sister/brother

Failure

Depressed

Broken

Stupid

Hopeless

Unlovable

Judged

No good

Invisible

Forgotten

I don’t know about you, but I have used many of those names on myself.  Some of us have probably been called some of those names to our faces!  Repeatedly.  Others we repeat to ourselves over and over and over.  They become our identity.  We believe wholeheartedly that those are the words that characterize and describe us.  They become our names.

But what if….

What if we looked at the names we SHOULD be naming ourselves?

It’s so much easier to accept these negative names.  We look at our lives, our choices, our circumstances and, like Naomi, think, “God has dealt me this hand.  God did this to me.  I did this to myself.  So why shouldn’t I be named __________?”

And yes, our choices in life do come with consequences.  And sometimes the choices of OTHERS affect our lives and our circumstances greatly.

But what if……

What if we work to look through our circumstances, what if we fight those names and look at what God calls us?  The names He gives us KNOWING FULL WELL what we have done and what has been done to us?

BELOVED

FORGIVEN

CHERISHED

TREASURE

WORTHY OF GREAT SACRIFICE

DAUGHTER OF THE KING

SON OF THE MOST HIGH

BEAUTIFUL CREATION

GIFTED

LOVED

CREATED WITH A PURPOSE

FREE

KNOWN

SEEN BY THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE

HEALED

WORTHY

HOPEFUL

Why is it so much easier to hear, accept, and take on the names from the first list?

The names from the second list are our true identities!

Can we help each other rename ourselves with our TRUE names?

It’s hard!

But if we treat each other as if these are their names, maybe we can help each other to retain our true, God-given identities.  Who knows, you might actually change someone’s life!

YOU are God’s beloved, cherished child!  Live like it!  And treat others as such!  Let’s change our names!

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Leah’s are Adorable too!

A few girlfriends and I meet every other Monday to chat, enjoy each other’s company, and have some “spiritual” conversation.  (Between us we have 7 kids age 1.5 – 8 years old running around too, so conversations are a bit fragmented!) We’ve been using the app YouVersion to read some of the Bible between the times we get together and then briefly discuss some of what we read.  We’ve done this just a few times but I always look forward to my “Girl Time”!

These past couple weeks we’ve been reading from one particular reading plan that includes a “devotional” with each section of verses we read.  We all have found we prefer that – it gives us a little focus of what to get out of the verses we read.

Anywhoo….

One that I read last night (I always do it in bed before I go to sleep…it’s quiet then!) hit my heart big time.  It was about Leah and Rachel.  Jacob fell in love with Rachel because she was so beautiful.  He worked for her father for 7 years to earn her hand in marriage.  But, at the last minute, her father switched her with her older sister Leah and he was married to her instead.  It was not custom for the younger sister to marry first, and apparently her father wasn’t sure he could “marry off” the older/uglier sister.  So, Jacob worked ANOTHER 7 years so he could actually marry his love, Rachel.

The verses talk about how hurt Leah was because she KNEW Jacob didn’t love her.  His love and adoration belonged to Rachel.  God saw her pain and blessed her with 6 sons which Rachel couldn’t give him children.  Leah thought for sure all these SONS would earn her favor in her husband’s eyes.  But that didn’t happen.

The gist of the devotional was that we all feel like a Leah at one time or another.  For some of us we may feel like her all the time.  Or at least often.

But God doesn’t see us that way.  He looks adoringly at us ALL THE TIME.

We are to look for that love, those glances of recognition and adoration from God and THAT should fill our love tank from the inside.

Speaking as one who has ALWAYS felt like a Leah, that hit me hard.

I’ve NEVER been “the pretty one”.  I’m pretty plain.  And as the years wear on it ain’t getting any better!  😉

As a teenager I remember several times I was passed over by guys I was interested in for close friends and my more beautiful and vibrant cousin.  Guys would talk to me simply because I was with those girls.  I’m totally serious!

My sister is drop dead gorgeous!  She is the younger “Rachel” and I’m the older “Leah” for sure!

And as someone who was cheated on, it’s hard to fight those “Leah feelings”.  It’s very hard to fight feeling like I’m not “good enough”.

But I shouldn’t be looking to what other people think of me.  I shouldn’t even look to Tim to fill that part of me.

I need to work on accepting love from my Abba again.  My Daddy’s love for me needs to be enough.  I need to LET him love me, hold me, heal me, fill me, guide me, even try to believe that He adores me.

The Bible says He does.

I need to make my heart believe it.

I have prayed that for Adara so many times!  I pray that for Caleb as well, but there is something different about that for a girl.  I don’t want her life to be spent needing approval, affection, or adoration from others….ESPECIALLY GUYS!  I want her to be so filled with love from GOD FIRST, and then from her family that she has a sense of security that others long for.

And I need to pray that for me too.

Maybe she and I can work on that together!  😉

Three Years

Three years ago today my life changed forever.

I wish I could say it was the birth of one of my children, or a new job or something like that.

Three years ago today Tim confessed to me that he had an affair.

It’s still hard to type and read those words.  It still causes a knot in my stomach.  It still is hard to believe.  It’s still hard to swallow.

But it’s true.

I wish I could say that the pain is gone.  That our marriage is better than it ever has been.  That the healing is complete.  That I don’t think about it anymore.

But this is still hard.  I still think about it more than I would like to (well, I’d like to NEVER think about it!).  It still hurts sometimes.  Our marriage still needs work.

BUT….

Some things are better.  It hurts less.  I think about it, but less than I used to.  I am stronger.

God is changing me.  I am a slow, stubborn student, but He’s working on me.

I am working on seeing Tim (and myself) as God sees him in Colossians 1:22

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

I am working on being very intentional about choosing to leave my pain at Jesus’ feet and ask Him, in return, to heal my heart.  To take the pain away and replace it with His healing.

God has allowed me to talk about it publicly a few times and use this experience to speak in to others.  He has allowed me to babble on this blog about this journey and encourage others through this process.

We still have a long way to go.  But that’s ok.  As long as we keep moving forward.

Today is bittersweet.  It hurts.  And it heals.

Am I a blessing to my kids?

My littles! I wish Adara would have smiled...she has such a great smile!

My littles! I wish Adara would have smiled…she has such a great smile!

Gosh, I miss blogging!  My computer time is pretty scarce and lately it’s been spent working on VDub Designs projects and revamping my website.  But I’m sneaking a little time to write today.  Hopefully I can get this whole post done in one sitting!  🙂

I have become very lax in my Bible reading lately.  BAD idea!  For me, I need that.

So, I found a reading plan in my YouVersion app and have been using that to get my butt back in gear a bit.  It’s a reading plan about Advent.  So far it’s been looking at lots of different places in the Bible that point to Jesus’ coming to earth, not just “the Christmas story”.

Anyway, it took me to Genesis 22 the other day.  This is the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his ONLY son Isaac and how God provided a sacrifice for Abraham at the very last second.  God was testing Abraham to see what his commitment was and Abraham passed with flying colors!  There are so many things I could say about this story, but as I read it the other day something different jumped out at me.

Verses 15-18 say:

15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. 18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

Verse 18 stuck out to me.  His descendants and all nations would be blessed because Abraham obeyed God.

It made me wonder if I live my life in such a way that my children are blessed.  Do I obey God, do I live in a way that extends blessings unto them?  More often than not I would probably say no!  😉

It really made me stop and pray much more often throughout the day.  I ask God for more patience, more wisdom on how to parent them.  I ask God to help me be more calm and peaceful with them so I don’t yell or get frustrated.  Sadly, it seems just minutes after praying, I’m back into my old ways of impatience and frustration!  So, I have to stop, regroup, pray, and start again!  Over and over and over and over!

What parent doesn’t want blessing for their child?  And I’m not talking about THINGS.  I’m not saying that if we parent “better” then our children will have it easy or have more stuff.  I want Caleb and Adara to see God!  I want them to be blessed with love, patience, grace, goodness, gentleness, self control, wisdom, compassion, courage, boldness.  I want God to shower His blessings on them so that they can grow to be the most amazing people you have ever come in contact with!

Now, do I think that if I’m a bad parent that God won’t love them or give them “blessings”?  No.  God loves them so much more than I do.

But, if I can help ADD blessings to their lives, I would love nothing more!  I want to be a good mom for THEM.  So that they can grow and develop healthy and secure and knowing God in their lives.  They have both been through a lot in their little lives.  I want to do whatever I can to pour love, blessings, and God into them.

This parenting gig is serious, hard work!  But lots of smiles, giggles and snuggles too!!

Prostitutes, Strippers and Porn Stars

I’m a little nervous to write this post.  It’s been rolling around in my head for a few days, and I think I need to write it.  But it’s hard.  Partly for the feelings it brings up, and partly because it makes me hold myself accountable to change.

Sometimes thoughts, pain, memories, etc. pop up related to Tim’s affair.  It’s better than it used to be.  But things still surface at different times.

Tim made a comment a few days ago that brought a lot of it to the surface.  He never meant it to.  It was in no way related to the affair in any way.  But what he said quickly created links to the affair in my brain.  In an instant.

I tried really hard to just put it aside and not think about it.  But that doesn’t often work well.  We are trying to actively work on our relationship in some areas, so I figured it best to tell him how that comment hurt and why so he can understand how his words have weight.  I’m sure he never would have seen the link from what he said to the affair for me, so I needed to explain that to him.

(I hope this is making some sense.  I know I’m being vague, but the details aren’t really necessary.  Hang with me for just one more minute and I think it will make more sense!)

In my anger I referred to the women he looked at online for years as “whores”.

Later on I was praying and asking God to help me to forgive Tim, to help me get past my hurt feelings, to take that away and heal me once again.

And all of a sudden I was impressed with my use of that word.  That I called those girls whores.

No one should be called that.

Those girls are his precious, beautiful, beloved daughters.  They are not what they do.  They are unique and wonderfully made by a Father who loves them as unconditionally as He loves me.

We (society) I think often looks down on them.  We look down on anyone who sells their body or shares those sacred parts of themselves with anyone who wants to look.  We think of them as stupid, careless, worthless, or worth only the parts of their body they are willing to show.  They deserve no respect.  They can’t offer anything but making a man (or woman) feel good momentarily.

I have to fight anger.  I’m angry they were there for Tim to look at.  I’m much, much more angry that Tim looked at them.

But when I think about it for more than a minute, I’m sad.  Sad that those beautiful souls feel that they have to expose that to anyone who wants to look.  Sad that they have these momentary, meaningless “relationships”.  Sad that they feel that’s what they’re worth.  Sad that they don’t know that they are Princesses of King God.  Sad that they may not have anyone in their life showing them their worth, all that they have to offer beneath their skin.

And I’m not sad in a pity sort of way.  I’m sad that I can’t hug them all and give them all that they need.  The same way I’m sad that I still don’t totally “get it”!

This experience just made me remember that people are God’s children, no matter what they’ve done.  We can’t look at ANYONE as what they do, or what they’ve done.  That’s not the way God sees them, and if I’m working to become more like Him, then that’s what I have to do.

That includes the woman Tim had an affair with, the women he looked at, and it includes Tim.

And it includes you and me.