Drowning

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The water is everywhere.  My feet kick furiously trying desperately to keep my head above water.  The sky is so dark, the thunder so loud.  Suddenly, I am sucked under as a wave crashes against me.  My body is tugged and pulled in every direction as I fight, fight to reach the surface again.

Finally some air.  I gasp and breathe it in, hoping I won’t go under again.  Thrashing wildly, I claw at the water hoping to find something, anything.  A life vest.  A piece of wood.  Something.

Not too far away I can finally spy the boat.  How do I get there?  Every time I make progress toward it, the water pulls me back.  I scream, I cry, I yell, but the storm drowns out my cries.  Water pours into my mouth and I start choking.  Please.  Help me.

I am so weak.  I can’t go on.  I need to go on.  I need to get to that boat.  The water is suffocating.  The waves are so high.  I am stuck.  I will never be saved.

Out of nowhere, I suddenly feel a bit of the lifeline from the boat.  Rope.  I grab hold of it, but the waves are so strong it almost wrenches it from my grasp.  The tips of my fingers just barely hold on.  But I can’t let go.  I fight fight fight to keep that bit of rope.  I can’t let go.  I need this.  It’s my only chance of survival.  It’s the only way I can get to that boat.

 —–

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever felt like you were drowning and you were fighting to stay afloat?  I wish I didn’t have to admit this…..but I have.  I have had that terror grip my chest and the discouragement come in waves over me.  I have wondered how in the world I will keep going.  I have desperately wondered if there was any solution, if it would ever get better, or if I would ever see the light of day again.

I am somewhat scared to post this.  I am ashamed to admit it.  But I think that far too few Christians are open and honest.  I bet that if we were vulnerable with each other and shared our struggles, we would find out that there are many Christians who struggle this way.  Depression.  Doubts.  Fear.  Guilt.  Anxiety.

And so I share this with you.  I share it in the hope that someone might draw encouragement.  That someone might know that they are not alone.  That there is hope.

There were times where I felt like I was barely holding on to Christianity.  I didn’t know what was going on, how to process things, or how to even think.  My brain was in a fog and it was confusing to try to think through anything.  I felt like I was hanging onto my faith with white knuckles with all of my strength, trying desperately to not let go of the small hold I had on it.  My sins were the waves crashing against me and the doubts and fears and guilt were like rain pouring down and thunder crashing.

And so over the next few weeks I will share a bit of the struggle I have gone through and some of the ways God has brought me out and is continuing to bring me out.

May God get the glory!

Note: This is a pretty long blog series which I wrote last May/Juneish.  Since it’s so long, I’ll be breaking it up some with other posts. 🙂

-Bonnie

Being Intentional in a New Place

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Before too much longer we will be PCSing (moving) to our new home.  I am looking forward to seeing who God has chosen for us to get to know.  I can’t to see who He wants us to befriend.

As The Pilot and I have talked about several times before, though, we are going to need to be intentional from Day One.  Before we moved to Texas, we knew we needed to be intentional and get to know our neighbors and community.

And we did.  To an extent.

But then life kicked in.  Pilot training was so busy.  I was shy.  I got pregnant and was nauseous.  Our neighbors were in different phases of training, so it was hard to find times to get together.

And that’s fine….life does happen.

But it made us realize that when we move to Nebraska, we truly need to be firmly intentional from the get-go.  We do not want life to crowd out the opportunities we have to be with the people God has placed in our lives.  We do not want to get into our comfort zone and find only a few people to be friends with.

That is one of the reasons that I put some intentional hospitality goals on my 101 list.  I can’t wait to host that block party and those game nights!  They will provide great opportunities to get to know our neighbors and church family.

What do you do to intentionally get to know new people?

-Bonnie

On Loneliness and Friendship

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A while back I participated in a link-up on a Christian Mom blog.  I was surprised to see how many posts had to do with loneliness and friendship….and I had only read the first dozen or so post titles.

It has struck me that loneliness is, unfortunately, a common problem.

I knew I was lonely.  But I thought I was somewhat alone in my aloneness.

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My first move ever occurred when my amazing husband and I moved to TX, nine months after we were married.  Up until then I had lived in the same city my entire life and gone to the same church for about 18 years.  But I honestly didn’t mind moving.  It was great.  We loved being on our own and setting up our own home.  We loved our new life.

A year went by.  And then it hit me.  Last Christmas, a little over a year since we had moved, I started to feel lonely.  Disconnected from friends and family, I felt like no one knew what was going on in our lives and I was painfully aware of how much my life had changed.  And the people who meant the most to me were nowhere close to weep and rejoice with me.

When I was 12 I also went through a period of deep loneliness.  That was my first big life trial.  It was horribly difficult.  I remember God speaking so clearly to me, though, and drawing me to Him.  I found so much comfort from Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  I guess that I thought that hurdle was past.  Loneliness was no longer something that would plague me.

But, alas.  Not so. 🙂

Having a baby I believe was the greatest contributing factor.  My son was 5 months old and both sets of parents hadn’t seen him since he was 2 and 6 weeks old.  It hurt that they couldn’t see our son growing and getting older.

There were also some interesting moments with friends.  I was so lonely, so desperate for friendships, that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and start pursuing friends instead of waiting for someone to pursue me.  I knew that I needed to find people to be the Body of Christ to me and that I could be the Body of Christ to.  I initiated with three different people……and all three at first seemed to be excited to talk and we started to get to know each other…..but then, suddenly…it just stopped.  They stopped responding to me.

To be honest, I felt like I was in junior high again, as I analyzed every little word I had said.  Was I overbearing?  Did I sound mean?  Did I come across as desperate?  What is wrong with me?  Do people not like me?  What did I do wrong?  I would read and re-read the messages I sent, wondering what had been wrong with the words I said.

Thankfully, I was able to curb those thoughts before they ran too far.  I spoke the truth to myself.  All I can do is be myself and strive to encourage others.  Obviously there is some reason those friendships have not worked out.  Maybe they simply forgot to respond to my message.  Maybe they honestly didn’t feel like I was someone they wanted to get close with.  Maybe they had their own circle of friends and didn’t know the loneliness I was facing.  Whatever it was….being bitter was not the answer.

It took a couple months for me to realize what the answer is.  And it will sound like a cliche or a platitude but when it comes down to it, it is one of those simple truths that can blow your mind, rock your world, and change your life.

I knew that I needed to recognize my worth in Christ.

God brought so many verses to mind, like the passage in Hebrews I mentioned above, and all the verses about casting our cares upon Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  I was reminded that all I really truly need is the Lord.  He is my joy.  He is my delight.  He is my Friend who never leaves, never changes, and never stops being there for me.

I remember one time I told the Pilot that I knew God was my friend to whom I could tell anything….but I wanted a friend that could talk back.  I felt like I was just talking to space or a big empty wall.  The lack of dialogue or verbal response was hard.

And then I read Spoken For.  This small book was packed full of truths.  Truths about God’s deep love for me.  His pursuit of me.  His delight in me.  It calmed my heart and fed my soul as I realized that God is not empty space or a big blank wall.  He hears me.  He catches my tears in a bottle.  He cares.

I do still believe it is vitally important to be involved in community where you can be the hands and feet of Christ to other believers.  But right now I want to pursue God.  I know that as I follow Him, I will find community on earth as well.

-Bonnie

 

What Does a Godly Relationship Look Like?

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There is so much discussion in the church on the right way to do relationships.  Dating, courting, betrothal, long engagement, short engagement, save the kiss or kiss before marriage….etc.

Honestly…..in some ways I think the answer is much simpler than that.  I recently found this great video by Jeff and Alyssa Bethke.  This sums up a lot of my thoughts well.

Some of my favorite quotes….

From Jeff: “We almost want God to give us the right answer so we don’t need Him.  But especially in dating and in a lot of other areas, we’re promised the Spirit who is with us to guide us and to teach us and in the moments when we need Him the most, He can nudge and He can push and He can pursue and say ‘Hey maybe go this way’ or ‘Maybe this isn’t right’ and when you’re living close to Him, you’ll feel that and you’ll have a better ear for that.”

From Alyssa: “I really want to get to the heart of the matter.  Because if we’re just saying ‘we’ll do this, this, and this’ then it’s almost like a list of behavior modification, which isn’t the Lord’s heart in it.  The Lord really wants your heart and what’s best for you, so the Lord has specific Scripture about not going a certain way.  So one we want to obey the Lord because we love Him and we know He is a good Father, and gives good structure for us and also the person you’re with is a brother in Christ or a sister in Christ, so you want to treat them as such and a friend and somebody that you want to take care of.  So just kind of getting more to the heart of it more than ‘this is a list of dos, dos, dos.’… I think it gives you more joy to obey instead of doing it just out of (frustration).”
Jeff: “Or God’s going to smite you.”

Alyssa: It’s just a struggle because you love the person and you’re attracted to the person, so…lean into the Spirit practically.  Before you go on a date or before you see the person, ask the Spirit to come with you.  And obviously the Spirit lives in us and is with us at all times…But when you’re aware of it, you go into the date thinking, “Okay, God’s here with us and I want to honor Him in it.”

As Jeff said, this isn’t comprehensive by any means, but there are some good points there.  If we are seeking the Lord and getting to the heart of the matter, God will be honored, even if those specifics or “rules” look different for different couples.

-Bonnie

When You’re Falsely Accused

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Photo Credit: Microsoft Office

This post has been floating around in my head for about a year.  There have been various reasons why I have put it off..and even now as I type I don’t know how long it will sit in the drafts folder before I hit publish.

I want to talk about false accusations.  Unfortunately, it seems like this is a very common occurrence…even in Christian circles.  It can be very painful, very confusing, and very discouraging.

In my life there have been several occasions on which I was falsely accused.  Some issues weren’t that big…while others were much bigger in scope.  I have asked myself several times, “Why?”  Why would a person say something like that?  I’ve come up with a few answers to help understand why things like that come up.

1. Lack of information.  People assume.  Like when people look at me, see that I am thin, and either tell me I have an eating disorder or, bare minimum, I’m underweight.  Or, when people met our family growing up and saw that the girls wore skirts all the time, it must be because our family was part of ATI, a nationwide homeschool group.  Both of those are false.  I have never had an eating disorder, and if you ask the doctors I grew up with, they will tell you that I have always been small…but always very healthy in weight (with the exception of the unexplained weight loss three years ago.  I have since gained back the weight).  Also, my family made the switch to wearing skirts before my parents had even heard of ATI.

2.  People don’t take the time to get to know you themselves.  Back to the skirts thing…after people saw that we wore skirts all the time, it was then clear to them that obviously our Dad was forcing us to do so.  Many, many times this turned people against my Dad.  If there is one thing people want to do to seriously get me upset, it’s to turn on my Dad.  The reason why this is so, so frustrating to me is that people just don’t care to know us.  They didn’t take the time to even ask us.  If they had asked me, I would have told them without hesitation that it was my choice to wear skirts.  Instead, people preferred to assume and then make judgments about our family, calling some/all of us legalistic and judgmental.  (Interesting how judgmental people were toward what they perceived was our judgmentalism.)

3.  Personality.  I think oftentimes false accusations can start because of difference in personality.  I know that I have been guilty of that one.  This can happen in both big and small ways.  Assuming inappropriate flirtations or interactions because if you did that, you would be desperate or just trying to get attention.  Assuming that someone is angry, because if you used that tone of voice you would be angry.  Assuming someone is being arrogant, because when you get that expression on your face you know you’re feeling puffed up.

Oftentimes people mean well.  Like the woman who confronted me and told me that there should be serious reason to doubt my salvation.  I am sure that her heart was to point me in the direction of Christ.  But this woman barely knew me and was basing her thoughts on very little information.  I think that all three points above could be reasons as to why she came to that conclusion.

One of the more recent cases of false accusation in my life left me reeling.  An acquaintance had said some very…untrue things regarding me during the time where the Pilot and I were getting to know each other. I wasn’t offended…I was more just…shocked.  And confused.  The first two days after that, my mind was just spinning.  How could this person say that?  S/he doesn’t know any of the story or what really happened.

So what do you do when those issues come up?  What is the response when you are falsely accused?

1. Forgive.  Don’t hold onto a grudge.  Let it go.  Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting.  God says to strive to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).  An aspect of forgiveness is to put aside your personal pain to the extent that it keeps you from loving that person as yourself.  If you are holding onto your hurt and pain so that you cannot love that person as you ought, whether in your mind or with your words and actions, then you are likely holding onto a grudge.

2. Pray for the person.  One of the greatest displays of God in the last situation I wrote above was when one of my first thoughts was to just pray for the person who had falsely accused and slandered me.  My sinful heart so often turns to bitterness, but God’s grace prompted my heart to love that person through prayer.  The peace that came into my heart was amazing!

3.  Give the benefit of the doubt.  Think about the reasons why that person might have said what they did.  Perhaps it was one of the three reasons I listed above or perhaps it was something else.  Give a minute to think about it from their perspective.

4. Examine yourself.  Is there anything that you have done that would give cause for the person to think what they did?  Was there any grain of truth to the accusation?  Spend time in prayer and reflection.  Sometimes you might realize the answer is yes.  If that is the case, you can praise God that the accusation showed you an area to work on.  Sometimes, however, the answer might be no.  The accusation was completely unfounded.  Be humbly willing to accept either answer.

5.  Guard your own heart against assumption and judgment toward others.  So much pain can be caused by assuming things or by putting your own personality and experiences onto someone else.  If you don’t know something to be true, don’t let it cloud your vision toward that person.  Especially do not spread it to someone else!!  If you don’t know all the facts, take the time to get to know the person yourself instead of just assuming things about them or their character.

Of course, there are much bigger false accusations that can come up.  Sometimes there are much greater repercussions.  There are two situations in my life where I was more of an observer of the whole thing.  Even though several years have gone by, my heart still breaks and I am praying so hard that the truth will come to light and justice will come to bear.  Both situations have, to various extents, seemed very “closed”…but God’s power is not limited and I know that He can still redeem these stories.  Bare minimum, the truth will come to light in heaven.  It is my prayer though that it will yet happen in this lifetime.

If you are in the middle of a bigger situation like that, do not lose hope.  I am almost in tears as I write this, because it hurts my heart so much to see the damaged relationships, the lies that so many people believe.  If that is you, be strong.  Have courage.  God is working.

So there you have it.  A post that has been a year in the making.  😉

-Bonnie

Your Home as a Haven

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My sisters have been doing a series of posts on the fruits of the spirit…and how they can change a home into a haven.  Whenever I encounter a great post in my google reader that was either encouraging or convicting, I generally mark it as unread so it will still be there next time I get on.  So far my sisters have posted about six different fruits of the spirit…and I think I marked almost all of them as unread.

Go check them out!

 

-Bonnie