Thursday, October 16, 2014

To Belong

This past weekend, the Lord revealed something to me that I didn't know was a lie that had been 'still' hiding inside me. I was sitting at the International Healing Conference on Saturday night and a man named Ian Andrews was praying over people. As I sat in my seat, suddenly Ian said a prayer that pricked my heart in the most unexpected place, he said "I release over all of you a sense of belonging" and just like that, my heart started to hemorrhage pain while my mind suddenly raced with old film reels of my life spinning in rewind right before my eyes. I watched the replay of my youth revealing all the ways I strived "to belong", to every single social circle, to every expectation of perfection, to every standard someone else set, with an incredible desire to please so that I could earn acceptance and never be rejected. When you don't know you're loved unconditionally, fear of rejection is all consuming. The irony is that I spent all those years never actually "belonging", skimming the surface, never sticking my toe in the water for fear of "falling in too deep", lost like an orphan roaming the streets. If I had to be stark honest, inside my heart it was the crippling fear of rejection that drove me to be the straight A student, the hardworking daughter, the athlete, the best friend in every social circle imaginable, the artist, the homecoming queen, the party girl, the funny jokester, the career driven financially independent woman, the super mom, the Christian who can do it all "through Christ who strengthens me", the chameleon that could blend perfectly into any that no one could see my ugly weaknesses! I lived a good portion of my life wearing this mask, finding my value in the accolades of others who would commend me for how perfect my 'mask' was fitting. It would feed this insatiable beast in me; performance = acceptance. A beast that never is satisfied. In all reality, I'm certain the only person who didn't know it was a mask was me.

Sad part is, I didn't realize this wasn't the "real me" until the day I met the most loving person in all existence; Jesus. When He came and found me in the sloppy midst of my screwed up, out-of-control, derailing, messy, pain-filled life, in my most vulnerable hour and loved me unconditionally, extravagantly, passionately, without measure at the simple response to more of a dare than an invitation "if you're real, show me and I'll give my life to you, otherwise it's over for me". He showed up to a supernatural degree, speaking His life into dreams I never dared to imagine would come from inside of me. I felt for the first time in my life something I had never known.... "HOPE". IT WAS POWERFUL, TRANSFORMATIONAL and nothing I was ever able to manufacture all 27yrs prior to that day. Something changed after that encounter, suddenly I belonged and I knew it, from the depths of my bones, I simply knew without having to be graded on my performance I would always belong to Jesus from this moment forward, nothing could change that. Felt like CPR to a flat lining pulse. Felt like "home" for the first time. Whatever this "feeling was" I knew I never wanted to settle for less....I belonged to Jesus and He belonged to me. I am His and He is mine and "HOPE" was the fruit of this exchange and I DID NOTHING TO EARN IT. Such an incredibly powerful awakening to have in your heart, in your soul, breathing life into your dry bones when your whole life had hinged on your ability to perform. And the Lord continued to show up in the most powerful ways, every single time I messed up, fell flat on my face, biffed it hard, that was when I'd have the most radical love encounters with God. Things changed drastically in my life after that, first; I knew I was loved and then I began to dare to learn how to walk the path that was destined for me, even when it was different than everything I had known. Being "different" was one of the greatest risks for me as I lived my life trying to fit into everyone else's story. But the Lord had put desires in my heart so profoundly deep that it was suddenly worth the risk of "being different" to chase this untraveled path through the wilderness to grasp ahold of these dreams too big for me to achieve on my own; dreams of motherhood, dreams of loving orphan children in different countries. And inevitably rejection came and it didn't destroy or define me like I had feared all my life, because God was right there waiting for me in His infinite goodness.every.single.time. Felt good to breath oxygen for the first time instead of living off everyone else's exhaled dreams so that I may "fit in". 

Fastforward back to last Saturday night: When that man spoke the words "belonging", God simply pulled the bandaid off my heart that I had applied to hide the wound that was there and I began to bleed 'real pain' that made no logical sense in my present life. (besides I believed I had handled all this long ago!) And as the Lord always does, He addressed the wound by showing me His perspective which is always far superior than my own. I love that He looks as us so radically different than we look at ourselves or even one another. Instead of pointing out all my faults, He showed me my promise: He said to me "look at those people you know down front praying for others, you belong to them" (you beautiful people who were down front working the altar at the Healing Conference, praying for others, know who you are!), and the walls in my heart began to quake with intense emotion. “I belong TO THEM?!” Then He whispered to me "you know why the generosity, support & love of your church, family & friends is a raw emotional nerve that you simply don't know how to process cognitively...well, it's because you belong to them too" I belong?! Something I’ve never “felt in my heart” before because it was just too much of a risk and it requires going below the surface to truly "belong" to something. I belong. Some of the most powerful words I’ve ever proclaimed over myself. I belong, because of God's love. They weren't "stuck with me”, they didn't HAVE to let me belong, I belonged not by anything I've done to earn acceptance, and just like that BAM I suddenly had a revelation as to why the overwhelming generosity of everyone who's supported us in preparation for this Haiti trip has left me an absolute mess of "unworthiness", because it's simply that = I didn't do anything to perform for your support, I didn't earn it, and I couldn't repay it if I tried. That kind of love is earth-shattering and it makes me all sorts of uncomfortable and simultaneously a glorious mess at the revelation that I BELONG. And without the Lord even having to point a finger on the problem I realized it: for a long time now, I had taped up all the masks I used to wear, slapped a few new Christian stickers on the outside to cover some of the old scratches and carried them right along with me settling back into where I felt most comfortable. When did I get back here, to this masquerade?  HOW did I get back here? Have I always been stuck here? No wonder this has been exhausting for countless months, years. Even more important WHY was I hiding behind this mask again? I wish I had all these answers to wrap this up with a nice neat bow, but I don't, I just have questions and one or two carrots to chase...this is all fresh revelation for me. I'm still running through the maze!

I do know that whatever all this is, all this identity crisis I seem to be encountering, reliving victories that I thought I once owned to realize I was just scratching the surface; like "trust" & "belonging", needing to be battled once again, now on a deeper level to continue the walk of's all for a purpose. I can already see how the Lord had graciously let me camp out for awhile in my 'infancy' thinking that those bandaids could stay on my heart and that I'd never had to address whatever was hiding under there in relation to "people". Once I met the Lord and achieved the first step of these victories through His grace & mercy, learning how to trust God, learning how to lay down my masks in front of God, He's now telling me, the war has not been won, just a small battle had been the victory I lived on for years, but this is not where I set up camp. So for this relationally-dysfunctional orphan-minded girl, the Lord is extending His hand in an invitation to me; it's time I learn to trust PEOPLE; it's time I learn to be vulnerable & real and stop hiding behind performance-based masked around the PEOPLE I belong to; it's time I learn how to be in real relationships with more than just God, I need people! So it's time I dive deep into relationship with the people He has gifted me to walk through life with; it's time I learn how to be "Maria" transparently and allow all those people in my life to fully be themselves, freed from my dysfunctional need of finding worth in their approval and freed from any expectations I've put upon them to perform in return. How freeing that will be for all of us!! To be love and be loved. To simply "belong"...belong to Him as His sons & daughters and to belong to one another as family. Because after all, the Lord already revealed this secret of His heart to me on Saturday night when He whispered to me and said "YOU BELONG" and He showed me face after face of all the beautiful people I "belong to" and so I know this is already a finished work in the Lord's eyes, it's time I surrender the mask, come out from behind the walls I've built, rip off all the old bandaids and learn to walk this out.

Like I've already said, I don't really know why I'm in the season I'm in, but I'm just trying to be transparent "in the process" to encourage others too. I’d much rather be crossing off my busy to-do list in preparation for Haiti, feeling like “I’m ready for this” and being in control of all the details, but instead I’m smack dab in the midst of a full on identity crisis. When the Lord shows up & says the victories I thought I thoroughly owned were just simply scratching the surface and that there's so much MORE, it’s time to take that journey and lay down my own OCD plans. I have peace in knowing it's all for a purpose and He's saying now is the time for this journey, so the packing list has to wait. I'm thankful that He always continues to make my life more beautiful, bringing me more freedom, allowing my heart to be transformed to be more like His, growing my capacity to love people and see people (including myself) the way He sees them, because that's the desire of my heart.

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