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Yesterday, I shared with a group of my local church congregation that I still have issues with being disgusted with my body. The empty skin folds that remain after losing 150 pounds are mostly concealed by my clothing, but I know they are there. I wear them like the chains of Marley’s ghost, permanent reminders of the harms I have done in my past and that I am merely one bite from relapsing into indulging my junk-food addiction. One of my precious friends directed me to a song, which I am happy to share here. It was exactly what I needed.

That’s What Scars are For, by Mandisa

Off plan on purpose

Dear Sponsor,

I am deviating from my plan of eating because I am sick with some sort of stomach bug. I am not at risk of overeating, but I thought you should know that I am eating less than normal. I’ve actually been afraid to eat after spending the night camping on the bathroom floor last night. I have a low-grade fever, but I am much better than I was last night.

It’s been uncomfortable to say the least.

-tl

alabaster jarThe NT in a year reading today contained Ephesians 5: 8, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light”

It caught me that the verse doesn’t say I was “in” darkness, but that I “was” darkness. I am now not merely walking in light, but I “am” that light. The next verse explains it in more detail, that the fruit of light is light. I like it, but I have more meditating to do about that.

Yesterday, I had a thought while at YoGod (a Christ-centered, worshipful, yoga experience). Joye, our facilitator, read about the broken alabaster jar of nard that was poured out onto Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper. The devotional she read pointed out that the jar, an expensive product itself, had to be broken before the precious contents could be spilled out. While that was certainly a picture of what was about to happen to Jesus, the most precious of vessels issuing forth the most precious of anointing, it is also true of me. I more closely associate with the clay pots of Gideon than with any priceless jar, but the fact remains that I must be broken before what is inside, whether actually valuable or just prized by me for a temporary occasion, can be poured out. It is also only then, when I am broken and completely poured out onto Jesus, that I become the blessing to Him I was created to be, and come into the relationship I was built to maintain. I am broken and poured out, so that I can accept, freehanded, what Jesus was broken and poured out. I empty myself of me, and He empties Himself for and to me. I am all I am, and have all I have, for, to and because of Him. I do so love my Jesus! I do so wish to please Him.

Holy Father, make me more like the One to whom I belong – Christ Jesus, Your Son. Thank You for grace. Help me live in it and love with it.

I started today poorly, griping about the sleep I did not get, but You, who make all things new, please help me start again, lovingly sacrificing myself to the world around me rather than trying to claim what parts of it I feel are mine.

Pray, by Sanctus Real

This song captures exactly what is on my heart the last few days.

Pray, by Sanctus Real

Lyrics (courtesy of K-LOVE)

I bow my head to pray, I don’t know what to say
I’m not sure how to fix the things I’m dealing with
I’m in a desperate place, I need to share the weight
But I just don’t know how, to let it all pour out

Though I’m silent, my heart is crying
‘Cause I was made to come to You

So I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

I failed to find the time, but You’ve been calling out
I let the days go by as if I could live without
But it’s gotta be here now, I won’t be pulled away
Cause it’s just You and I, so let the world around us fade

As I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

Father, I’m in a desperate place
Father, I know You can bear the weight
Father, Take me in Your arms as I speak Your name
I lift my hands and pray
I lift my hands and pray

You know my heart, You know my need
And every single part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
More than words, You want my life
Take it as an offering

Emotional emptiness

IMG_3271.JPGThere is a litmus test for indicating what our primary concern is, and it tattles on me every time I get the hollow feeling in me that I have now. When I am fulfilled it is because I have turned loose of selfish fear and embraced God’s provision and grace. When I am feeling empty, it is because I am clinging to something I either cannot have or am afraid to lose. Fear or faith – those are the only two choices that really matter, and they present themselves at every single crossroad.

Working this current fear all the way through looks like this:

  • I resent (Person X) for intentionally avoiding me.
  • This relates to my personal pride, sex relations, my sense of security, and my fear of rejection and abandonment.
  • How have these emotions displayed themselves in defective character? I have been abrupt, impatient, insensitive, demanding, and generally crappy to live with.
  • What are natural responses to behaviors like the ones I have perpetrated? Repulsion. A person so victimized would be wise to limit interactions with such a hurtful character, and might do well to come up with creative alternatives to spending time with me. This is the very behavior I resented in the first place, and it stings to recognize I promoted it.
  • There is one solution: stop the cycle. The more I react in the natural way, the more of the natural reaction I can expect. This insane cycle requires a supernatural solution. That’s where grace comes in!

Grace reminds me that I have been forgiven a whole lot worse things than just giving somebody a cold shoulder, so I can forgive a chilly breeze when it comes across my cheek, and I can do it without the wounded baby passive aggression that seems to come so naturally to me. It means I should be able to suck it up and be supportive of my wife, who may have something completely not me going on in her life right now and, in her own spiritual sickness, might just need a little quiet reassuring rather than selfish demanding.

Holy Father, today, give me grace to forgive, strength to serve without expecting in return, and faith to believe in a better day.

“The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 68).

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The OCD in me wants to point out that this is my 1000th post, but I don’t feel much like celebrating.

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