Broken Mirrors {Living on the Rock}

This week in my Living on the Rock Bible study, we studied about who we are in Christ, seeking to finish the sentence, “Since God is my source of security, I AM…”

Deuteronomy 33:12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”

I LOVE the picture in this verse: Of the one who is LOVED by the Lord, living in safety, shielded by the Lord, resting between His shoulders.

But all too often, my life is not reflective of this picture of security – I don’t live this TRUTH. Too often my experience is insecurity, not security. This should not be – for me or for you, for any child of the King.

A few years ago, the Lord had me on a journey finally really doing battle for SECURITY. It lasted months, and in many ways I am still learning.

As I spent so much time thinking about our battle with insecurity as women, I kept returning to the image of MIRRORS. A good mirror is going to tell us (accurately) what we look like. It’s good because it tells the TRUTH. But an old mirror, a broken or damaged mirror gives us a skewed view of ourselves.

That is such a perfect picture of the things we look to for SECURITY. We all want security, value, worth, acceptance. And from childhood we learn to find security in lots of ways. We look to the world, to other people, to our own success or abilities to REFLECT security, value, worth back to us.

If I’m looking to something for my security (my value, my worth, my identity), I’d better make sure it’s something that’s going to accurately reflect where my security comes from.

All too often, the things I’m looking to are LIES… I am looking in a broken mirror.

The battle for security has to begin by looking at our broken mirrors. If I don’t know the lie I’m functioning out of, I can’t replace it with the truth. We have to ask: Where are we looking to find our security, and is it going to give us an accurate reflection?

Sometimes we look for security in areas we can’t control and aren’t naturally strong in – that becomes an area of insecurity (appearance, boys’ response to me). That is a problem. But I find it relatively easy to identify those areas.

Heaven help us if we look for security in areas where we are naturally strong, where we have the illusion of control. Because even when we GET a sense of security or acceptance from something, it’s still lying to us. It is false security. And those lies are a lot harder to recognize!

And If we’re going to OVERCOME insecurity, the first thing we need to do is recognize the places where we’re insecure. I’m guessing a lot of you are like me – I don’t know I’m in danger, until I’m IN THE PIT. Once my insecurities have been triggered, it’s awfully hard to talk myself back into security.

One of the reasons INSECURITY is such a trap is that we don’t even realize that we’re looking at a broken mirror. We learn early on to find our security/identity/worth in other things – and then rather than REPLACING our broken mirrors with Jesus (who He is and what He says about us), we try to just stamp Him on top of them (write?). Then we don’t know why we keep ending up in these pits.

I’ve been trying to know myself and see where my danger areas lie – what are the things I look to for security? If I can figure that out before the Lord and let Him heal me and replace those broken mirrors (LIES) with Himself (TRUTH), then I can avoid falling into the pit of insecurity in the first place.

Our focus on externals is a big trap.

HOW HAS FOCUS ON EXTERNAL THINGS CREATED AREAS OF INSECURITY FOR YOU?

I think you can begin to see some of these things by thinking about what you were complimented about or criticized for when you were a child.

If you were criticized for something as a child, it makes sense that you’d grow up with that as an area of insecurity – something that makes you feel bad about yourself.

What were those areas for you? For me, this was my appearance (no one in my immediate family ever said this, but I grew up feeling like my sister was “the pretty one” and I was “the smart one.” Unfair to both of us.) Also, my weight – looking back, I was not overweight, but I was the biggest member of my family, built curvier and sturdier than my mom, stepmom or sisters. Add to that the fact that my mom, stepmom, and sisters were all chronic dieters and it was a recipe for insecurity.

It may sound strange to you that you could develop insecurity about something you’re complimented for. But there is actually documented research about this, surrounding what happens when children are complimented as being “smart.”

I’ve seen it happen with “pretty” too. You like that people like you, attention – but you can’t control how others think of you. And soon you figure out that the world is full of people who are prettier than you are – fake images, magazines, on TV – and you learn that sexy is what’s important, which is objectification. This is a vicious cycle, and creates a brittleness, a place of insecurity.

What are the areas you were complimented on as a child, areas where you learned to find security? For me, this was being obedient, a good girl. Being a good student, an achiever, a pleaser – I did what was expected of me, and to this day the feeling of being “unapproved” by authority figures is a giant insecurity trigger.

My next question is: WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR?

Where am I looking for security? In my own life, I see this where a WANT becomes a NEED. Where a DESIRE becomes a DRIVE. For example, I desire good, faithful friends, companionship. But if I NEED you to be my friend, if I need you to like me and always treat me well, then I’m creating a pit of insecurity for myself.

Some other areas where DESIRE becomes DRIVE:

  • I want to feel cute, pretty, good about myself. Or am I DRIVEN to find confirmation of this – either from compliments… dressing in order to get a certain reaction/response from men… obsessing about my appearance, my weight, being completely put together?
  • As a single woman, I desired companionship, the fun of dating/relationships. Or do I NEED to have a boyfriend? Am I willing to do anything to be in a relationship?
  • As a married woman, I desire Matt’s attention, pursuit, tenderness. And I expect him to treat me well. But do I NEED him to do and say certain things to prove to me that he loves me, that he’s attracted to me? Is he my source of security and acceptance?
  • I like structure/routine, I like to have a plan and goals. Or am I DRIVEN by the need to have a plan, fearful of unknowns, refusing to take any risks or walk by faith?
  • I want to succeed/do my best. Or do I HAVE to succeed? Do I have to be THE best? Am I crippled by the fear of failure because I HAVE to succeed?

These broken mirrors we look to – they are broken because they CAN NOT give us security. My safety, value, worth, identity will NEVER be found in any of these things… Not in appearance…a plan…a certain weight…being approved or liked by others….any relationship.

There’s only ONE secure place, only ONE place I can dwell securely. In the Lord Himself, and what He says about me. That is my BIRTHRIGHT as a child of God. Security is my BIRTHRIGHT as a child of God!

It’s our birthright. The only way anything takes our security away is when we GIVE it. And I want us to stop giving our security away.

  • Maybe I weigh more than I want to, but I will not give away my security or allow my weight to determine how I feel about myself. I AM SECURE NO MATTER WHAT I LOOK LIKE.
  • Maybe my heart has been broken in a relationship. You may reject me, but I will not allow that to tell me that I am a reject – even if you don’t want me, I am WANTED. I AM SECURE WHETHER I AM IN A RELATIONSHIP OR NOT.
  • I may fail. But I will not allow that to make me a FAILURE. I heard a great quote recently: Everyone experiences defeat. But defeat is always a temporary condition. What makes it permanent is GIVING UP. I want us to refuse to give up our security. MY SECURITY DOES NOT LIE IN MY SUCCESS OR FAILURE, IT IS NOT BASED ON MY PERFORMANCE.

In order to do this we need to stop using the people and things around us as mirrors. There is only ONE PLACE to look for security: IN GOD ALONE. He is security.

 

Psalm 59:1  Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me.

Only God Himself can deliver us from our enemy – insecurity. Let’s ask Him to set us securely on high!

Security is our birthright as children of God

Abundance v. Scarcity {Living on the Rock}

This week in Living on the Rock, we are discussing a concept that’s intrigued and perplexed me for as long as I can remember: Jesus’ promise of abundant life.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The Mssg translates this: “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

This week we spent a couple of days looking at the Bible’s promise of ABUNDANCE. And the promise is abundance of LIFE, an abundant life. The word used there in John is elsewhere translated  MORE. It means exceeding, more than is necessary, surpassing, uncommon.

So my question is WHAT IS ABUNDANT LIFE? How do you have more life than is necessary? What kind of life is that? Continue reading

The trouble with the Goodness of God {Living on the Rock}

Thinking about God’s goodness this week for my Living on the Rock Bible study, I felt like I need a whole list of caveats before teaching. As I worked through the study, time after time I came up against issues and misconceptions about God’s goodness – either in my own heart, or as I imagined different objections and questions I’ve heard over the years.

Practically, the biggest issue I have with this is that Christians so often respond to people’s pain by saying, “God is good.” Right, but His goodness is not very obvious when we’re in pain and trauma.

I wish we would stop doing that. Continue reading

How to enjoy God more {Living on the Rock}

This week in my Living on the Rock Bible study, we talked about God’s goodness.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8)

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO “Taste and See that the Lord is Good”?

We had a great discussion of this question. My favorite response was a friend who shared that it made her think of holding a new born baby. Not that God is a baby – but that when you hold a newborn, you don’t hold her at arms’ distance. You draw her close, feel her fingers and toes, drink in that precious baby scent.

What a beautiful picture of what God is inviting us to do: To draw Him close, to take Him in, to use all of our senses to enjoy and learn Him. Continue reading

A Blank Check {Living on the Rock}

This week in my Living on the Rock Bible study, we discussed the primary name of God: YAHWEH: I am that I am, the name by which God introduced Himself to Moses and Israel.

These simple words, I AM, express therefore eternity and unchangeableness of existence, which is the very first element necessary in a God who is to be depended upon. No dependence could be placed by any one of us upon a changeable God. He must be the same yesterday, today, and forever, if we are to have any peace or comfort.

But is this all His name implies, simply “I am”? I am what?–we ask. What does this “I am” include?

I believe it includes everything the human heart longs for and needs. This unfinished name of God seems to me like a blank check signed by a rich friend given to us to be filled in with whatever sum we may desire. The whole Bible tells us what it means.

Every attribute of God, every revelation of His character, every proof of His undying love, every declaration of His watchful care, every assertion of His purposes of tender mercy, every manifestation of His loving kindness–all are the filling out of this unfinished “I am.” God tells us through all the pages of His Book what He is. “I am,” He says, “all that my people need”: “I am their strength”; “I am their wisdom”; “I am their righteousness”; “I am their peace”; “I am their salvation”; “I am their life”; “I am their all in all.” – Hannah Whitall Smith, God of All Comfort

I love the idea that Yahweh’s meaning, “I AM” is like a blank check that I can fill in with whatever I need .

Not to say Yahweh will give me material things – He’s not that kind of blank check. But what we all need is not material things.

But He is the answer to every real need that I have. I wonder how often we pray for things—wisdom, peace, strength—and think there is no answer. Continue reading

This week in Living on the Rock, we are discussing the primary name of God: YAHWEH. I am that I am, the name by which God introduced Himself to Moses and Israel.

In Exodus 3, God shows up in a burning bush and introduces Himself to Moses as Yahweh, I AM THAT I AM. In this introduction Yahweh says (3 x in Exodus 3) “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” He places Himself squarely in Israel’s history.

This is the God who made Israel a tribe and a people. And He is now intervening directly in their history.

In this first introduction of Yahweh to His people through Moses (Exodus 3), we learn several things about Yahweh:

  • He sees, gives heed to, is aware of their affliction.
  • He responds to their affliction by coming down to deliver them.
  • He hears their cries.
  • He promises to be WITH them (Moses in this part of the story, but the promise is extended to all of the people later.)
  • He has come DOWN to bring His people UP from affliction and slavery.

All of this would have been called to the Jewish mind in the name YAHWEH, as well as what follows this story:

  • Yahweh delivers Israel from Egypt, through the Red Sea on dry land, and leads them over 40 years in the wilderness, until delivering them into the promised land.

In the Jewish mind, the name Yahweh would have brought with it deliverance, presence, a God who intervenes on behalf of His people.

A God who comes DOWN to bring them UP out of slavery. Continue reading

Secure in His Care {Living on the Rock}

This week in my Living on the Rock Bible Study, we took a long, lovely look at Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

No sheep always lives in green pastures, that would have been ridiculous to the first readers. Shepherds were always moving their flocks around – things would get sparse (because the sheep would EAT all the grass), so the flock would move on. We can’t take these as specific promises (I will never need anything; I will always live in lush pastures by quiet waters).

So rather than taking these as specific promises, I think we step back and ask what we learn about God’s character from this Shepherd picture. What’s the big picture promise about who our God is? Continue reading

I shall not want {Living on the Rock}

This week in my Living on the Rock Bible Study, we took a long, lovely look at Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Most commentaries view this Psalm as one David wrote at the end of his life, looking back and reflecting. As he looks back over this life, this is his story: God’s provision, protection, and presence. Despite having seasons of lack, David’s testimony is that God did not leave him in those places.

Some of you might be in seasons of want right now (or just especially empathetic to the suffering of the world, so you feel the want of others) – and so “God is my Shepherd, I shall not want” might really bother you. In a season of want, it is hard to hear an older person look back over their lives and say, “God always provided” – because we want to know WHEN? And WHAT ABOUT ME? Continue reading

Happy Valentines Day!

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
1 Corinthians 13:1 | MSG

And He said to him,  ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:37-40 | NASB

Continue reading

I accept (too) {my heart}

Through God’s plan or just my own random internet wanderings, I came across thoughts from this lovely man this morning, and spontaneously decided to follow his lead by doing yoga for Lent.

Wait, what?

I’ve been contemplating what to do with Lent this year. Yes, I realize that Ash Wednesday was yesterday. This year I actually had it on my calendar and planned to plan ahead. But I just hadn’t found anything that resonated with me this year, mostly because I already know what will get at my heart issues and I didn’t want to do it. So for my Ash Wednesday observance, I ate an entire sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints (among other things). And then last night and this morning, I spent some serious time reflecting.

First of all, I’m not mad at myself. And I’m giving myself permission to jump into Lenten practice when I’m ready, even though that feels wrong and messy and I’m tempted to not do anything at all because I can’t do it perfectly….

Anyway, I’ve been contemplating how I want to observe Lent this year, mostly with the help of my very favorite podcast of all, The Practice (which is a real live thing that happens in Chicago, but living hundreds of miles away, I participate via podcast, you should subscribe too, I love it.)

Last week, Mark Scandrette led them through a preparation time, but I am just now able to sit down and contemplate. (It’s really really good, you can find it here, and there’s a worksheet you can print to work through this exercise yourself.)

I knew that I wanted (well, want is a strong word…I feel compelled) to do something to get at the heart issues that make it impossible to eat less than a sleeve of Thin Mints (among other things.) But on this sheet I was working through, they recommend a mind and body practice for Lent, and also that in addition to practicing abstinence, you practice some sort of engagement – so moving in a positive direction, not just restricting or abstaining. I LOVE THAT. But I wasn’t sure what direction to move in.

Which leads me back to Micah’s post, I Accept. Go read it, I’ll wait.

I haven’t done Yoga in months, and I miss it. Plus, something he said about his very favorite yoga instructor made me wonder if this wasn’t the same yoga camp a good friend has been doing.

Usually I am a planner, especially with commitments – but I decided on the spot I was in, and this was my “engagement”. I’ve done yoga, but never using a “mantra” and I was a little skeptical, and entirely sure it wouldn’t be that meaningful to me.

I was wrong.

The first mantra is “I accept”. So as I went through the yoga practice, I prayed “I accept.”

I accept my body just how it is.

I accept that there are things in yoga that I just can not do.

I accept that there are things in life that I just can not do.

I accept that I have limits.

I accept that you (Father God) are OK with me exactly how I am today, limits and all.

And suddenly I was crying.

I’m not 100% sure yet why the idea of accepting my limits brought me so quickly to tears, but I have an idea. And I’m feeling courageous enough to explore it.