Tuesday, November 26, 2013

and it broke.

If I'm being honest
I don't even know what to say right now.

All my thoughts are depressing…


That's all I could come up with last night as I sat, tears in my eyes, trying to spend the lonely dark hours of the early evening efficiently by writing.

You see, I've been wrestling with some stuff this winter.  Deeply buried fears and doubts and pains that are made vulnerable by the cold and the darkness.  The winter is a barren and lonely season.  And to quote the Avetts, it must be winter in my heart.


All day, I'd felt like I was on the verge of tears.
And on the drive home, I cried.

In the car.
In the rain.
The cold rain.

Choking on my tears, I sought refuge in my apartment.

The darkness.
The loneliness.
The aching.
The cries.

I had reached a breaking point.

In desperation, I texted a couple close friends, begging for prayers, and moments later, I received these words from a dear friend and mentor:

I WAS JUST PRAYING FOR YOU!!! Go Holy Spirit!!! He loves you so much:)

And in that moment, I broke.
I fell fully into the crashing waves of pain and fear and sadness.
And I cried.
A lot.

It broke.
My heart just… broke.

        Falling further into hysteria
        crumbled on the floor
        face pressed into the side of the mattress
        clinging to the edge of my quilt
        desperately grasping for something to hold on to
        wailing in agony
        screaming to the LORD.


There is a song that has been the anthem of my prayers and the prompter of my spirit for almost a year now: Oceans by Hillsong United.  The lyrics put words to a bold prayer that the SPIRIT has been interceding on my behalf for years.  I so deeply desire to follow HIM with such closeness and intimacy and trust that I will follow HIM anywhere.  I want to allow HIM to take me into the places HE dreamed of guiding me when HE formed me.  I want to be HIS Light in darkness.  I want to speak HIS Love in brokenness.  I want to expose HIS Life in death.

I want to have trust without borders.
I want to walk upon the waters, wherever HE will call me.
I want HIM to take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.
I want my faith to be made even stronger in the Presence of my SAVIOR.


I cried to the LORD, begging HIM to save me.

GOD where are YOU?!
I can't control this!! I can't fix this!!
Why can't I escape this sadness!
My heart hurts so badly, I could rip it out!
I've been trying to trust without borders and walk on the waters…
But the ocean is raging!!
I'm being tossed and torn through crashing seas..
And my faith can barely stand.

I eventually ended up on the phone with a good friend of mine.  I was trying to explain my feelings.  Trying to put my spiritual and emotional anguish into words.  And the more I talked through it, the more evident it became that I was under great spiritual attack.

It may sound strange to say this, but I have a lot of faith.
I really do.
I believe it's a spiritual gift I've been given.
And I love it.
I love faith.
I love how I have seen my faith grow and stretch.
Over the past several years, the enemy has intended to harm me.
He has sought to destroy my faith.
But, thanks to the LORD and the way HE has formed my spirit, the enemy has not succeeded.

To put it nicely, I'm thinking that's ticked him off a little bit.

The enemy has been at work this winter, trying to erode my faith.
He has seen that his big, dramatic efforts have only made me stronger.
So quietly, slowly, discretely, he has been making every effort to wear me down.

In a season I am found most vulnerable, the enemy has declared a quiet war on me.

I expressed these things over the phone:
He has made his attack, and he has weakened me substantially.
And for the first time… ever… I feel like…
I feel like I can't get a grip on my faith…
I'm not certain that I'm convinced HE is going to make it better…
I feel like I'm drowning.
And I'm not convinced HE is going to stop it.
I feel… alone… and abandoned.

It was in that moment
Speaking those last words
That it broke.


The lie broke.
The trap broke.
The enemy's line snapped.

My spirit knew without a doubt, that the LORD my GOD would not abandon me.

I sat up straight, an intensity in my voice as I boldly declared the truth.
I am not abandoned!
My GOD is a GOD who saves!
And yes, I may be weak-- but it isn't my own strength that I rely on!
It's HIS strength!
And HIS strength is even stronger in my weakness!

Angry and determined, like that slight spark had unleashed a raging fire, I rose to my feet.
I was overcome.
Overcome with joy.
Overcome by grace.
Overcome with truth.

This, my friends, is how we overcome!!

And let me tell you, what the enemy intended for harm, the LORD got a hold of and brought about such beautiful good.  My senior high girls were at my apartment for our weekly Bible study just thirty minutes later, and I was able to share a beautiful victory story with them.  And together, we sifted through Psalm 91, Psalm 18, and many other powerful words of Truth that HE has left for us.  We allowed HIS Truth to pour over us.

You see, the LORD alone has the right to rule over my heart, mind, body, and soul.
The LORD alone is the ruler of my home and my life.
The SPIRIT is good to illuminate and expose the enemy's lies.
To remind me of the ONE I love and the extent of HIS Love for me.
The enemy may drag me into a pit, but my heart belongs to JESUS.
And HE fights for me.

"If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you… The LORD says, 'I will rescue those who love ME.  I will protect those who trust in MY Name.'"  Psalm 91:9,14

I feel a warrior spirit coming alive in me again.  I suddenly feel strong enough to stand back up and speak the Truth, not trusting my emotions but trusting in HIM.  HE is strength even in my weakness.  In HIM I will not be overcome by the enemy!  HE overcomes for me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

choosing better: on settling.

HE says to me:
Blind surrender.
If sight is your judge, such temporal things you trust in.

Well, that's part of what HE said to me this past Wednesday night.  This fall, I had the opportunity to teach a women's class at Mayfair.  It was a scary, exciting, beautiful, humbling, delightful experience.  One for which I am very grateful.

The class was about thriving in GOD's story, and we covered a lot in those nine weeks!  We discussed the enemy's lies, our insecurities, and how comparison is the thief of joy.  We talked about the power of speaking life and truth, to ourselves and to others.  We spent time searching the Word of GOD and filling up on truth.  We talked about choosing better and not settling for the lesser things, and we spent a couple of weeks exploring the beauty and depth of redemption: the hope that is an anchor for our souls.  It was a really special thing to be a part of that class.  I truly believe that GOD guided me as I walked with these women through those two months.

However, I knew that I wasn't intended to have the last word.

HE was.

So the majority of our class time was spent quietly listening for GOD-- writing what HE was whispering to each of our hearts about our own, unique, individual piece of HIS story.

Now honestly, I wasn't really sure how that quiet time would be received, but I knew there was no other way for me to give each individual in the class what they needed...
Only HE could do it.

So I sat-- scared, embarrassed, fighting fear & the enemy's whispers of shame-- and I prayed.

LORD, please speak to these women.

You can trust ME to be all they need.

And then HE said it:

Blind surrender.
If sight is your judge, such temporal things you trust in.
The unseen places are MY domain.
The most beautiful things are found there.

And I knew HE was right.
(Of course HE is right-- HE is GOD.)

So I trusted HE was moving in that room in ways I couldn't see, and I allowed myself to enter the conversation I could feel we were about to have...

LORD, why do I choke the life out of the things I delight in?
YOU don't choke the life out of me.

Trust, my daughter.
I do not fear, because I know I AM able.

Trust ME to satisfy
and the things you delight in 
will be free to flourish.


Beauty is when you let go, Jenna.

(Now at this point in the prayer time, I experienced a very special moment.  A sweet woman who has become a dear friend, leaned across the table, absolutely beaming, and showed me what GOD was telling her.  It was beautiful.  All about letting go.  And rest... It was so special... so beautiful that HE would say some of the same things to each of us.)

Let go.
Beautiful surrender.
That is what HE was leading me to.

Our conversation continued..

You are so inclined to get restless, Jenna.
Root yourself and rest.

LORD, does this mean I should buy a house?
Get my masters?
Trust YOU as I..... settle...

Jenna, settle isn't always a bad word.


Settle isn't always a bad word.
That got my attention.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the word settle is often used in a negative way.

"Don't settle for less than you deserve."
"Don't settle for a job that isn't fulfilling."
"Don't settle for a guy that doesn't treat you right.  Or love you well.  Or open the door for you..." (and every other thing that people say when giving girls advise about finding "the one" and such.)

It's true.
I don't want to settle for lesser things.
I don't think GOD wants me to settle for lesser things.
But am I supposed to maybe settle for something?

I looked up the definition of settle, and I discovered that the word is only negative if the object associated with it is negative.  Maybe we've just been associating the word with the wrong objects!

There are many definitions for the word settle.
Here are a few:
  - to decide, arrange, or agree
  - to come to rest
  - to gather, collect, or become fixed in a particular place, direction, etc
  - to become calm or composed
  - to become firm or compact, as the ground
To settle down:
  - to become established in some routine after a period of independence or indecision.
  - to become calm or quiet
  - to apply oneself to serious work
To settle for:
  - to be satisfied with
To settle into:
  - to become established in

I belong to a generation that hates the idea of settling.
And we're terrible at it.
We can't settle on a major in college.
We can't settle on a job after college.
We can't even settle on weekend plans!

We hate commitment.
We hate being tied down.
Because there's always the possibility of something "better."
There's always the possibility that we could choose something, only to find that the next thing was going to be what we wanted more.

So guys enter serious relationships, freak out, and bail.
And girls enter serious relationships, freak out, and bail.
So people take jobs, and quit jobs, and leave jobs, looking for that arbitrary idea that there is more.
And everyone is looking for something or someone, and there are seemingly endless possibilities that are oh so seemingly accessible, and we think if we wait long for it enough we can have it all.


That is the lie my generation has bought into.
That is the lie that I have bought into.

Waiting for the next best thing NEVER gets me the best thing, because I'm always passing up what I really want waiting for what I think I really want.

I never get to enjoy that which I hope for if I let the fear of missing out rob me of all that is gifted to me in the present.

Do you hear this?
Do you see this around you?
In you?
The flawed logic?
The restless, aimless wanderers that, whether they seem settled or not, they are never settled because they are always looking.

We are a people who never come to rest.
We never seem to decide.
We are scared to establish.
Scared to lose that "freedom."

It is a false sense of freedom.

When I am afraid to settle, I am a slave to my fears.
When I am afraid to choose, I am a slave to indecision.

"To settle for" is "to be satisfied with."
If I settle for nothing, I am not satisfied with anything.

There is a quote that has been hanging on wall ever since I graduated college:

"When you make a choice, you accept the limitations of that choice.  To accept limitation requires maturity.  The child has not yet learned that it can't have everything.  What it sees it wants.  What it does not get it screams for.  It has to grow up to realize that saying yes to happiness often means saying no to yourself."  - Elisabeth Elliot

My heart is inclined to grow restless.
It is easily enticed by all that could be.

But I'm convinced that all the "could be" is making me miss out on now.

So maybe I should tell my restlessness no.

Maybe a lot of us should.



That was HIS Word for me.
And I heard HIM.

So I make my declaration of trust.
Surrendered and waiting.
Trusting HIM enough to choose.
And to live fully now.

I think my heart is ready for the rest that comes with settling.
Settling in my heart, in my spirit, and in my mind.
I want to see what more can come of the seeds we've been planting,
as I let the roots rest in the soil in which they've been placed.