The Ugliness Inside Me

I hate it when they see the ugliness inside of me.

I hate it when I see it, too. I hate it when I feel it.

They: My family. They see it more than anyone else. My husband. He gets the brunt of it; my kids to a lesser extent, perhaps because they don’t understand it as clearly. It is my selfishness, my careless words used as barbs, my defenses that counterattack the moment they feel threatened. It lashes out and it wounds, and it is full of darkness.

I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Again.

Pencil sketch of two-sided face, one smiling and one ugly and snarling

It is ugly.

But. BUT.

I’m so grateful it isn’t the only me.

That ugliness? It’s what Paul called my “old self” (Romans 6) and it’s the part of me that was ruled by sin. The part of me that was crucified with Christ (6:6) when I was born again into God’s family (John 3:5-7). That’s the good news, folks. That old self? I will be free of it someday.

Yes, I still have human limitations. Yes, I still give in to the ugly part of me more often than I would like to admit, much more often than I wish I did. But I’m so grateful for the new self that God is growing in me, because yes, that is there too. And thanks to God’s grace, mercy, and sanctification, that is the me that will prevail. The me that loves God, is thankful for his forgiveness, and longs to do his will, his work, and glorify him with my life. To do as Paul urges us to in Romans 6:13:

… offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Thoughts & Prayers

Thoughts & Prayers!
so they have been called
mindless hate
bitter fights
senseless online debates

Thoughts & Prayers!
murmured thoughtlessly?
or sent to the all-powerful God
with heartfelt sincerity?

Thoughts & Prayers!
two seconds to type
and then forget
and go on with your life
I’m thinking of you
I’m sorry that happened

(but it makes for sensational shares)
I’m sending good vibes to the universe for you
Typing & Posting to be seen and heard here too

(how else will anyone know I care?)

Thoughts & Prayers!
a sincere heart
seeks an audience before the King
bows before the throne
and to her redeemer brings
it is for those whose needs she sees
that she intervenes
and to that intervention
her Savior adds his own
this the same Savior who sits upon the throne
Your kingdom come, Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

A bible with someone kneeling and hands laid across it as they pray

Thoughts & Prayers!
hollow? worthless?
that’s what many have become:
lies that serve to mask the truth
and keep us from the throne
lies that seek to hide the power in Jesus’ name
lies that deny that he is Creator
maker and Lord of all
lies that deny that he is the Conqueror
Savior and Redeemer for all
lies that try to tell us
he’s not God’s one and only Son

Thoughts & Prayers!
the truth?
the one who conquered death for us
who came so we could live
will move a mountain if you ask
it’s a precious gift to give
a mustard seed of faith
a request in Jesus’ name—
keep offering up these thoughts and prayers
offer them without shame
offer them if it costs you
if and when you’re ridiculed
offer them when you see a need
go to God and intervene
through Him
prayers are invaluable
thoughts are full of life
and every one offered up
can help break through the lies

I have to give credit where credit is due—one of my friends posted online the other day about people using the response “thoughts and prayers” to tragedy, calling this response “hollow and worthless.” He then said, “they should just shorten it to ‘T+P’ (which also stands for Typing and Posting those meaningless Ts + Ps).” I didn’t reply to his comment online—didn’t feel the need to get into a debate with his other friends who don’t know me—but I was bothered. Because in so many cases, in the majority of cases, he was right.

But in a few cases, he was wrong. Dead wrong.

I honestly believe that the phrase has become, in many cases, a weapon of the enemy (yes, I mean Satan) to keep people from turning to God in prayer. The canned response is seen as hollow and worthless because many times it is: there is no real thought, no earnest prayer behind those words.

But our God is powerful. Our God asks us to pray. Our God says that when we believe and ask in his name he will move mountains. And when there is actual prayer to our God behind those “Ts + Ps,” that prayer is invaluable.

More and more lately, I am being convicted to respond online not with T+P, but with prayer. I believe God is calling his people to do the same. Let’s make the sentiment worth something. As followers of Jesus Christ, let’s get down on our knees and offer those thoughts and prayers to God.

(And if you happen to read this, thanks for the inspiration, Larry. 😊)

God-Moments to Remember

Seven people around a table. Night fell, turning an inky black occasionally broken by the headlights of distant, passing cars outside the windows. Tears coursed down cheeks and laughter broke through smiling lips. Hearts broke and healing began, and through it all, God whispered.

God whispered love, in and to and through us.
God whispered release, unknotting old wounds from our heartstrings.
God whispered revelation, speaking to our hearts and spirits.
God whispered healing, sealing over tears in hearts and making them new.
God whispered inspiration, nudging us forward with his creativity.
God whispered friendship, bonding our spirits through his.
God whispered thanks, acknowledging our hearts desires to glorify him.
God whispered affirmation.
God whispered YES.

Sometimes, God grants us God-moments on earth.

Thursday night, around that table, was full of God-moments. What a blessing. What a blessing those moments were, and what a blessing each of you are in my life.

I believe God put us together and gave us those moments for a purpose. He planted seeds of love, of inspiration, of creativity in us to prepare us for what is to come. When God whispered to Elijah, he ministered to his spirit and then gave him his orders: Now GO (I Kings 19). Elijah’s orders were to go back. I think our orders, as a growing group of creatives (including those who couldn’t be with us that night) were spoken months ago and only reinforced that night: Go. Work together and use your talents, use your creativity, and make an impact. Do it for and with me.

Let’s do this!

Gift tag with the words “Make an impact” alongside a book with a photo of coffee mugs on the cover and a half-full coffee mug

And for all of you—the creatives I’ve met over the past year and those who were there Thursday night, I have a message and a prayer:

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way … (I Corinthians 1:4-5)

I continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

❣️What an unusual post—it’s a very personal message to a very personal (and much narrower than usual) audience. But it’s also one I struggled over and soaked in prayer, and the message God whispered to my heart this afternoon. I trust that God will lead those who need this message—whether a part of Thursday night’s group, my larger creative group, or not—to reading it, and whisper his message to your hearts. I’m praying that he will grant you God moments, precious times with him in which he speaks and ministers to you and changes your hearts forever.

❣️For my creative groups past and present, you are my people. I can’t express enough how much I love each of you and am thankful for being even a small part of your lives. Martha, Charlie, Lani, Wendy, Quezia, David, Myriam, Marian, Valerie, Lori, Jean, Jon, Megan, Jeremiah, and Kelly—yes, I mean you! For those I haven’t yet met, I look forward to meeting you someday soon.