Hope in the Messes

We are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. Stephen Covey

I’ve had several conversations with my oldest the last year about choices and consequences. How even when we are deeply sorry about our choices sometimes, it doesn’t mean that we can escape the consequences. Maybe it just felt right at the moment. Maybe it was a response to fear. But a choice was made.

If I’m honest, it’s easier to talk to my kiddo about this subject than it is to accept it in my own life. Suffering consequences for my choices, blah. I’d like to skip that part. However, this concept is as old as the Garden of Eden and will continue throughout the story of mankind.

Eve, in the middle of the Garden, is our first example of choice, consequences, hopelessness and God’s plan in the middle of the mess.

Imagine Eve taking a bite of that apple. We know the big picture of that choice. But until a story I read recently, I hadn’t ever considered what that choice meant to Eve on a personal level. I can only assume she was forced to face some deep level pain as she watched her choice unfold into a big fat mess.

The intimacy she knew with her Creator, changed. Her home, no more. Her family, her oldest son killing her youngest. One choice. One bite. Her world unraveled.

Can you relate? Have you ever felt the weight of your choice, your actions as life just seemed to spin out of control? It’s a heavy load when all you can do is utter:

This is all my fault. I did this!

And she had. She allowed the enemy to influence her thinking. Apples are good. Knowledge is good. What could possibly go wrong? So, she let it in, the deception hissed into her thinking as she ultimately took the bite that would change everything.

I imagine she felt robbed of her peace. Hopeless as her mind raced to find a way out, a way back to who she was before. Who they were before. To the future she had planned in the Garden with her man and her Creator.

I have a friend that likes the phrase, you can’t unring the bell. I like the analogy. One you’ve made a choice and acted on it, you can’t undo it. What follows is a direct result. Consequences happen. Relationships suffer. Status or position can change. Credibility is lost. Trust destroyed. Emotional consequences like fear and depression trickle in as companions to the tangible consequences.

This seems kind of hopeless if that’s where the story stops.

But we know that’s not the end of Eve’s story. We know that God already had a plan for Eve. For you and me. He was preparing a way to lead her and the rest of creation back into His presence. His son.

She couldn’t have seen that in the middle of her mess, To know she caused her own gut wrenching pain, despair. Guilt, shame, regret, fear and on and on often become our companions as we wrestle with the gravity of our choices. But, God was making a way. Her vision likely couldn’t expand past her new companions to include God making a way to redeem her story.

When our stories get messed up, when things don’t go like we thought, planned or hoped, it can be very hard to see what God is doing. We think How can such a mess be redeemed?

But God specializes in redeeming our stories for His good. He is masterful at taking what is broken and making something beautiful. If we can hold on to hope, we often see how he redeems our stories and does what we could never imagine.

My parents divorced when I was a toddler. Having now been through divorce myself, I am sure the pain my parents felt must have been heavy. Divorce is hard on everyone. Life must have a felt like a big mess. Blended families. Broken dreams. Single parenting. All of it. So much.

But my character in their story has seen first hand how God took that season, and many difficult seasons that followed, the choice to divorce and worked something so beautiful, my life would not be the same.

I met my best friend as a result of the divorce. We were 10 at the time. We shennanigated our way through our teens. Her family saw me at my worst, but they also saw me grow up and grow out of that phase.

One day, in an unexpected plot twist, our stories bonded us together as a family. We had the privilege of adopting within her family. We adore our birth momma. Her birth momma loves her deeply, she has sisters she gets to know and love, her grandparents have changed my life personally more than I can even articulate.

The blessing I’ve received in my daughter, my friend, her birth mom, her grandparents is more than I ever imagined I could be blessed. My family loves my precious baby girl and shares a connection with our birth family too. I’m certain my parents never ever imagined something so beautiful could come from that season, the pain, the brokenness , the choices. But it did. It has. And it continues to bless my socks off Every. Single. Day!!

So while I can’t tell you that things will be easy in the middle of the mess, I can tell you hope is not lost. Hold on tightly to it. It’s your lifeline in painful and dark times. Hope that your situation can change and life can be good again. Hope that a relationship can be restored. Hope that all is not lost

Look for the good. Grieve your loss. Accept what is but don’t let it define you. Your story is still unfolding. When God is the author of your story, you’re life is a page turner. If you choose to believe He’s writing something beautiful from your plot twist, hope and anticipation of what is to come find it’s way back into your heart.

Out of the ashes, Beatty will rise.

The Gravity of Grief

Imagine a pot on the stove, full of water, set at high heat. It will boil. It’s inevitable. When it spills over, the immediate surroundings are impacted. The surface of the stove gets wet. The burners sizzle as it repels the water splashing down on its hot coils.

Now imagine that is full of the awful ingredients that are simply part of experiencing grief: pain, loss loneliness, fear.  

If our pot is full of grief, it’s going to boil over. It will splash on our surroundings. It will cause a sizzle as its heat burns those around us. They/we want to pour in some love and encouragement in, but it’s too hot. The pot is boiling so hard, no one can’t get near it without enduring the heat. That heat can burn. Maybe even leave scars.

This is why it is so important to be aware of our grief, where we are at emotionally in handling the grief.

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Dealing with Loss

Loss is a normal part of life. It happens throughout all seasons. Lately though, it feels like the losses threaten too suffocate me. I’m tired of saying good bye to people I love. I’m weary of losing things I’ve worked so hard to accomplish, things that bring stability to our lives and home.

It’s been a long season of loss. Yet as recently as the last few days a loss has hit me so hard I feel paralyzed. A loss I never imagined I would know. It’s left me reeling, a roller coaster of emotions and handful of crazy trying to cope with the pain. It’s a lonely and heartbreaking place.

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Forgiveness, Love and Learning

Have you ever made such a stupid mistake it cost you something or someone important? Your words, actions or even inaction caused such trauma you could not find a way to undo the damage.

I’m pretty heart sick because I’ve recently experienced this first hand. I’ve been struggling, a lot. In a nutshell, I’ve allowed fear and insecurity to rule my emotions. Add a dash of hormones and a pound of stress…I took a dive in the deep end of crazy. It’s cost me dearly.

I want forgiveness so much that’s it’s made me even a little crazier. Goodness help me! But I’ve been blocked, I don’t blame them.

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Crossing Your Jordan

After 40 years of wandering, the time had come for the Israelites to move forward into the Promise Land. Don’t you know that they were so ready! Yet, to get there, they would have to trust God to work out the details. They would have to literally step out in faith because the Jordan River stood between them and the Promise.

Joshua 14 – 17 — So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

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Me Too!!

We’ve all said the words at one point or another, I’m Fine. We smile, pretend, and mask our pain. In reality, we are not fine. Hurt, disappointment, and pain might be the season we are in, and yet the words roll off our tongue, I’m Fine.

A friend of mine says that FINE stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. There is a lot of truth in that statement. It makes me chuckle sometimes, and other times it flat out annoys me becuase I’d rather just leave it at FINE. Why? Because I’m, yep, feeling Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional, and I’d prefer to just keep my mess to myself. Geez! 🙂

What is it about grown-ups that lead us to pretend? Our imaginary play mates of youth are replaced with the great game of pretend for big people. We pretend that all is well when we are really heart broken. We pretend that all is just dandy when we are knee deep in sin, desperately longing for freedom. We become great pretenders, masking our reality, hoping no one will know the depth of our heart break.

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Middle Age. The period of life between youth and old age. I don’t feel like I should be in the middle, most of the time, but the calendar tells me otherwise. Oh, no doubt my mind has tried to trick me into believing I’m still in the throws of my youth, but I’m quite certain there is a limit to the number of times we are allowed to turn 21. I’ve reached that limit.

It’s common to enter a stage of evaluating our life so far when we become a member of the middle-aged club. I’ve heard it said that this is a time where we gain more insight about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and begin accepting and understanding much about our lives.

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Broken Together

Can’t shake this! I saw a quote yesterday, made me a tiny sad. So final. So definitive. So, “you hurt me, we’re done”. But hurt people, hurt people, and we’ve all been hurt.

“Friendship is delicate as a glass, once broken it can be fixed but there will always be cracks”

I think “cracks”(brokenness) are excellent for life changing grace to seep through. Richer, deeper, more meaningful, better-than-you-dreamed friendships (relationships) happen in the crucible of brokenness, but not if we see it like this quote – permanent damage. Many do, I know, but wouldn’t it be lovely – more grace, less holding onto junk. Deep think moment over.

Ya’ll, I’ve been given more grace than I deserve, it overwhelms me, blows me slap away! Thankful for my friends…that love me anyhow…shattered glass and all, instruments of grace!

We need our friends. Don’t give up on each other. They are worth it. YOU are worth it! I get grace more than I ever have at the ripe ole age of…. and you thought I’d tell!

Are you withholding grace because you’ve been hurt? Can you allow that hurt to form a deeper bond through forgiveness and understanding? The people we love are worth it and we are better when we fight through what the enemy sets out to destroy. Oh how he’d love to see us never experience the riches of a relationship that had weathered storms, to never have anything more than shallow. What a lonely way to live.

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Stepping Into Freedom

Imagine. You are standing on enemy ground. Freedom’s soil is right in front of you. A soldier is with you. He’s been with you, but the enemy has beaten you so badly you could neither hear nor see him. Sometimes though, you could sense his presence, his protection. You know he is guiding you.

The silence breaks. You can hear a whisper, “This way. Follow me and you will be free.” Light illuminates your darkness, and you can see freedom’s soil only a step away.

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