Inside the box

In my life I have always felt that I was different. I felt as if things were never the same for me as they were for others. As a child I tried to blend in and as a teenager even more so. I never had the courage to stand out because I was afraid. Afraid that people would get angry at me. Especially as a teenager I was often excluded, laughed at and at times intimidated. Not just by my peers by also by adults. Trust me when I say, there are certain things that you will never forget.

So out of fear of being excluded, laughed at or hated, I would simply try to blend in. Even when this was not in line with what God would ask from me. God asked me to be a writer – a poet –  but for a long time, I would refuse. Even today I still have moments where I want to give up. These moments are often when people talk behind my back in a negative way and I hear all about it, or when people question me face-to-face. People can be quite convincing. And often I understand their point of view. But then there is God asking something different from me and I get confused about what to do. I remember this one time, when I told my mom: “Life is a battle where it is me and God against the world”. Luckily my mother often listened to me and she would support me in every way that she could. I could really tell her everything because I knew she loved me and I trusted her.

Yet many people are not like my mom. Many people talk behind my back and it is not positive. The prejudices and opinions they have about me are based upon their own insecurity. But still it hurts. Life for me is like living between two fires. The fire of God and the fire of evil. And it is a tough battle.

Still the fire of God is greater. My passion to do God’s will still exceeds everything else. For as long as I can remember I had only one ambition in life; to bring a smile to my Fathers face. And with my Father, I mean God the Father. If I could just put a smile on His face, I would have done the best job that I could possible do. In one of my dreams God said: “the only way that leads to eternity is the small way”. So even if it is difficult to do what God asks you to do, don’t give up. With God everything is possible and God will never leave what He once started. It is better to have faith in God than in people!

Today I wrote a poem about this. It is a poem about my story. I have a huge passion for God the Father, for Jesus and for the Holy Spirit. My love for God makes my heart burst, but so many have tried to stop me through the years. I may be a woman, I may have never been to a prominent bible school or theological study, I may not life up to people’s expectations but I know – with a 100% certainty – that God is greater than my circumstances. God loves me and He will make a way where there is no way. And if you are in the same situation as me? If you feel the same way? Than please know that God is almighty! He loves you! He can and will do amazing things in your life, that may seem impossible. Do not give up! Never! Think outside the box!

Inside the box

Inside the box,
the noose around my neck tightens.
Trying to settle in,
the small nook is too cramped,
and all I want to do,
is to leave this small space.

All eyes tell a different story,
but when they look at me,
all their stories are the same.
Stuck in prejudices and opinions,
war is either neglect,
or fight back.
Who will love me as I am?

Traditions are for keeping,
but not if they suffocate the soul.
When everything is the same,
we are in desperate need of change.
Evolving is teaching yourself to be better,
learning is allowing yourself to grow,
for growth is a never-ending story.

Inside the box,
where I am unable to grow,
I look out into infinity,
where God asks me to live,
in His divine library,
where His great wisdom,
will lead me to eternity.

Enough is enough!

This morning I was thinking about insecurity in life and faith because it is something that I experience at times and I know that so many others do to. So often we are looking at the great teachers, speakers and writers of today and we feel less than them. They seem to have it all figured out. Their wisdom seems incessantly and somewhere deep inside of us, we feel like they are better Christians than we are. They are smarter, know the answers we don’t know, understand things we don’t understand and so many people follow their lead, so they must be “perfect”. In our own insecurity we follow their lead, read their books and listen to what they have to say in order to be as good as them. But our insecurity does not go away. Instead we search harder, try harder and we spend more time finding what we don’t have. This does not happen to everybody of course but I know some of you will recognize themselves in this. And these people, me included, are wondering why we cannot be as good as them. How come they understand everything and I am stuck with so many questions, such doubt, such emotional struggles. When do I reach the end of my search for perfect faith, like they have seemed to reach theirs?

Our faith, as James tells us in James 1 (Holy Bible) is like the sea. One moment it is low tide and the other it is high tide but it is never in balance. The storms come and go, waves grow bigger and smaller but our faith is unstable. To many questions and doubt rush through our minds. Our search for strength, peace and stability seems to go on, while others seem so much stronger than we are.

We have become like beachcombers. We keep searching for the one gem, that one answer to all our questions. We have prayed about it, asked for help, read books, visited conferences and services, we tried worship and we listened to so many family, friends, preachers and speakers that we lost count. But the search does not come to an end. We never stop and be satisfied with what we already have. It is never enough. It can always be better. We do try to be grateful and peaceful but our eyes keep spying the beach for more new treasures.

When are we enough?

Of course it is important to keep working on your life, faith and interaction with one another, but when is it enough? We are like a desert. We drink the water we receive but before the bottle is empty we are already searching for the next because we are still thirsty. Just knowing Jesus and His love for us isn’t enough anymore. We want more…we need more.

When we keep comparing ourselves to others – Christians, speakers, teachers, writers etc. – we miss out on a great truth;

Jesus is already enough. He is all we need!

When are we going to realize that Jesus loves us the way we are? Jesus doesn’t expect us to be a certain way or act a certain way. He doesn’t want us to be like everybody else. Jesus loves us for who He created us to be. All He wants is for us to realize that His love is enough. He is enough! Jesus wants a relationship with you. A personal one where you stop worrying about what the lady in row six at church might think about you and the way you love Jesus! Jesus loves you with your flaws and perfections. He loves the beautiful person that He created you to be.

God created us all in a different way. We are all unique and beautifully made but for many of us that is not enough. We don’t feel enough. We see the way others live their faith and we get jealous. We look at ourselves and see a million mistakes and we wonder, maybe I didn’t pray enough, maybe I need to read my bible more often or maybe we didn’t lift our hands high enough in the air during worship. Maybe Jesus missed us and we just weren’t visible enough. Maybe we just have to try a little harder and be a bit more perfect. Maybe than Jesus will notice us. Maybe then we will be good enough.

So when are we going to realize that we already are enough? When are we going to stop searching on the beach for more treasures than we need. When are we going to stop, stand still and enjoy the beautiful view ahead of us? When are we going to see what is already there?

When are we going to see the view of a Savior who loves us?

All you need to focus on in life is Jesus’ love for you. His love is all that matters. It is all you need. It is important to pray, read your bible and spend time with fellow believers but don’t lose track of the most important thing that you already have; the love of Jesus! Not a soul can take His love away from you. You get it for free and there is nothing that you need to do to earn it. The love of Jesus is free and available. We don’t have to search for it because it is already there. It will help us, guide and sustain us through everything in life. The love of jesus is enough and in His love, so are we!

 I (the Apostle Paul) pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me, but he (Jesus) has told me, “My grace is all you need, because my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most happily boast about my weaknesses, so that the Messiah’s power may rest on me. That is why I take such pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for the Messiah’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12: 8 – 10.

The challenges of fear

Fear is a weird emotion. In one way fear protects us when we are in trouble. When danger is looming and our instinct sends signals to our mind. A signal warns us and we get this ominous feeling inside, we get afraid. Somehow we need this kind of fear to remain alert. But sometimes fear walks out of hands. We cannot shake it off anymore. This is the other side of fear. A fear that is in our way. It became our enemy that we are fighting against every single day.

fear

Fear is a mechanism to protect us in times of danger but if we don’t  control it, it can become our greatest enemy. An enemy so difficult to get rid off that we need the help of therapists and psychologists and even then it is unclear whether we can ever truly overcome it.

But often the fear is not the greatest issue. The greatest issue with fear is the way our environment is dealing with it. If you are lucky, you have people around you who support you. Who cheer you on and help you with your anxiety. This is an ideal picture because in 80% of the cases it is the other way around. In so many of the cases people don’t understand. In their misunderstanding, they wonder why you just cannot get over it. Why you simply cannot ignore it. Why you are making such a problem of something that isn’t even scary or true. They get annoyed with you. Tired of all the times you bring it up again, as if it really is a personal choice. Often the people who should support us most, are our worst enemies, if it comes up to fear. Not because they want to be, or are, but because they don’t understand!

‘Just because you are not afraid, doesn’t mean somebody else cannot be’. 

For people who live with anxiety and fear, compassion and kindness is more than welcome. People who live in fear never made the choice to live this way. Things happened in life that hurt them so much. All there is left is fear.

Let me tell you about my personal situation. I have been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, in short it means that I have multiple fears at multiple places in my life. Growing up, I never had teachers who believed in me, in fact teachers saw me as a dumb girl and in my last class before going to middle (or High) school, they literally told me and my parents this. At home I was overprotected. My parents meant well but it had negative consequences for the future. I never had true friends. I was bullied. Even grown ups, who I was supposed to trust, turned against me. I have been through a lot. To deal with all of this and to improve myself, I have done 2 assertivity trainings, 1 anxiety course, I have had 3 psychologist and 1 therapist. Trust me, I have done my fair share of work to get rid of the fear. And still the fear is inside of me. Not because I choose to but because therapies either didn’t work or because they had a really bad effect on me. Life can be brutal to all of us, but sometimes we find ourselves in a place where letting go of the past isn’t as simple as it sounds.

And even now I have to say that the fear itself has never been my greatest hurt. My greatest hurt has been the way people deal with it. As a teenager I was very insecure. I was a wall-flower, a little grey mouse desperately trying to make herself invisible. It happened so often that, instead of supporting me, people took advantage of me by making fun of me. The times I have been made fun of, or laughed at, I cannot count them anymore. At home I was in a safe environment, where my parents, brothers and sisters-in-law definitely tried to help me, but out there in the world, I was an easy victim. Internship supervisors, grown ups who should know better, made fun of me and even bullied me. I was only 16-19 years old and I didn’t have the tools to stand up for myself as I have them right now. But it created a deep infectuous wound in my soul that I am still trying to mend.

All I ever needed was love, compassion and a helping hand but all I received was indifference. It is the very reason why I am writing this blog today. I want to make a plea to the world. Don’t hurt people with fear. Try to understand that some of us have a problem that we didn’t create and cannot overcome.

‘Instead of ridiculing people with fear, we should lend a helping hand’!

We cannot take the fear away. We cannot make the insecurity less, but we can be friendly. A smile is one of the easiest ways to make a person feel comfortable. A smile is a kiss of love that your heart gives to a stranger!
Greeting someone is not that difficult and can make such a difference. Simply saying ‘Hello’ to someone, even when we don’t like them, can make someone feel welcome and wanted. A feeling this person maybe never felt. People always feel that in order to make a difference in the world, they have to do missionary work in Afrika or Asia. But the greatest difference you can make is right where you are.

Love, kindness and compassion are not that difficult, it just takes a willing heart!

If you read this blog, can I challenge you to be a little kinder to shy, insecure people and to people who are dealing with fear? Can I challenge you be kind to them and to help them? Can I challenge you to stop making fun of people? Trust me, with a little bit of kindness you can make such a big difference in a person’s life!

My kindness came from my last internship supervisor. A lady who went out of her way to give me a little bit of strength. After all of the unkind, and sometimes even mean, supervisors, she was a breath of fresh air. She taught me to stop seeing myself as a failure. She taught me perseverance. Don’t give up when you make a mistake but try again until you can do it. She made me feel one of a team, something I hadn’t felt…ever! She made a difference. A difference I will never forget!