identity

i would say that this last year/ten months i have learned a lot about identifying.

identifying mental illnesses, coping skills, theories, techniques, friends, foes, words, feelings, thoughts, prayers, spirits. the list goes on and one. but i would say the most important thing i have learned to identify is myself. cheesy, i know. but true.

this year, i have had to learn about myself to learn how to be a good clinician. i have had to learn my own beliefs, values, thoughts, triggers, strengths & weaknesses. and all of those things feel external. even though they exist within me, they feel like something i can quantify and count. but this year and this process pushed me to go further. it pushed me to integrate those external qualities and find a place for them inside myself. to identify myself with those things as a part of who i am, not a hat i can take on and off.

if you ask me what my strengths are, 10/10 i would say “hard-working” first. i have always identified myself as hard-working. what a good quality to have. i have always worked so hard at everything put in front of me. it is one of the things i am most proud of about myself.

but hard working isn’t a real thing.

i mean it is. it is a great quality to have. and work towards. see-there is that word again, work. but hard-working doesn’t translate. because when you’re hard working, you get all the work. from everywhere. from peers, from family, from friends, from supervisors, but mostly, from yourself. there is never a break. because you’re always hustling. always running to the next thing. if there isn’t something happening right now in front of you, then you have to find something to throw yourself into. because that’s who you are. you are hard-working.

and that is how i measured my value. by my output. by how much work i could take in and how much i could produce. notorious for working more than one job at a time. working more than 60-80 hours in a week. taking 18 hours of course work and being involved in 10 organizations. as soon as one thing ended, i had the next thing lined up. because that’s how you produce and show your worth, what you bring to the table.

when i told my counselor this she said “it’s almost like you’re running from yourself. from the truth of who you are.”

which is a very counselor thing to say, and seems like it would be #3 on the list of generic responses to tell your clients. right below #2 “Mmmm, that makes a lot of sense”  and #1 “You’re safe here. ”  but i let it go in one ear and out the other. because i definitely have some bad habits, but work wasn’t one of them. work is what made me worthy. it gave me identity and purpose.

but graduate school really turned that idea on it’s head. because there is no way, let me repeat, no way you can finish this program on your own. you just can’t do it. you have to have support, and supernatural help. seriously. as the program got harder, i realized i actually could not do this work, and was going to need some help. so i leaned in. and He helped me. there were so many nights at 3am, crying because i knew i couldn’t finish the 12 page paper due at 8am, because i was only on page 5. but leaning into Him, i surprisingly found 7 more pages to write. and presentations that i had no idea how to even put together, but after a few days, they were done. and sessions and conversations that i didn’t know how to respond to or how to start, that happened. there was trauma that i couldn’t imagine, and grace to hold that space. it was incredible to watch Him work through me, because i really had nothing to give.

at first, i thought He was doing all of this because i was a hard worker, and had committed and obeyed and now He would do these favors for me. but as i got to know Him more, and see the magnitude of what He was doing-the healing He was bringing, and the knockout papers He was writing-i began to understand it differently.

He was helping me based on my identity. but not the one i thought i had. not because i was a hard worker. but because,

i was His daughter.

what dad doesn’t want to help his daughter with her homework? what dad doesn’t what to go out of his way to make sure his girl isn’t alone? what dad doesn’t want to be able to stay up late with her as she works on her latest project and presentation?

and how sweet is that. His help wasn’t something i earned. there was nothing i could do to earn His help. it wasn’t contingent on getting an A or the highest participation rate. it was freely given. all i had to do was ask. literally ask, and rest. and watch my Dad ace the work. every time.

it was a sweet lesson to let Him replace my identity, as a hard worker, with His as His daughter.

now, in this new season, He has called me to rest. to not work in the traditional sense. but to spend time with Him. remembering. reconnecting. healing. processing. it is really hard because my tendency is to want to work. to jump into a job. i cannot tell you how many times i have been tempted to look for a small part time job here. even while i wait. but i hear Him say over and over,

“will you not take the rest I have provided for you?”

He is asking me to really seal in this new identity thing. He is asking me learn more about myself and about Him, without the false identity of a hard-worker. breaking levels of pride and thoughts of “what will other’s think or see?” it is not easy. it is actually a daily struggle to keep my eyes on Him. but His grace is sufficient. and His peace is sweeter than honey. and His presence makes us whole. 

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the process: part 1

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

hosea 2:14

it has been a while. things have been busy. after a lot of crying, wrestling with the Lord, unexplainable grace & unfathomable providence, i have moved to good ol’ wacky Waco, Texas to continue my Masters program at Baylor University. this was a really hard decision for me because i was in love with my job in Houston. i loved working with those ladies. Jesus taught me so much in the six months i was there. so many lessons learned. as much as i wanted to stay there for another six months, invest in the company and the ladies, i felt God calling me somewhere else…to grad school. i didn’t want to go. 1) i could not afford it 2) i wasn’t even sure that i needed a masters after spending time in ministry 3) i felt like i was learning so much more in the real world, real field, real mission 4) i could not afford it. but after a lot of prayer, lots of intercessions from my sweet friends and family, and lots of tears, I decided to accept my acceptance letter and beginning a new journey.

i started classes in July-one semester down! praise the Risen Lamb. but just moved to Waco this week. as i spent the little bit of summer i had before classes got rolling preparing for this new chapter, a few really important things emerged.

backtrack: as i was praying about what to do-school or stay working-there were a few things i really heard the Lord speak over me, 1) hosea 2:14 2) “You have learned alot, let Me help you unpack it, let Me be your teacher now.” so this idea of the wilderness emerged. and this idea of the Lord drawing me out into a new place-pretty much alone-and speaking to me really became clear. so as i was discerning what step to take next, I just really felt like whatever I did, would be a wilderness, whatever that meant.  

back to the story. so as i was preparing for this next season, i felt this theme of the wilderness, of letting the Lord teach me and then some new things came up. the idea of healing. the idea of restoration. the idea of preparation. the idea of transformation. all of these words kept coming up in prayer and conversation with others and books i was reading. and i began to feel the Lord explain more about what this new season would be about. yes, it would be about continuing my education. but this degree is for him. it is not mine. it is not for me. it is for His children that He has desired from the beginning of time would receive healing. so yeah, this season is about education. but even more than that, this season was about me and Him.

there was one day i came up to Waco before classes started to go start getting things squared away. i went to adoration with one of my dear, dear friends who lives here already (yay community-that’s a whole ‘nother story). so as we were sitting in our holy hour, i just told Jesus that i wanted this season/year to be just a time for me & Him. i didn’t want to focus on anything else. i just wanted this to be a sweet season of us.

well flash forward to now. and here we are. in a season of just me and Him. He is faithful. I asked for it. before i got here, He was shaking up my heart, getting ready to do some heavy lifting and dirty work. i could feel Him starting to loosen things that had a hold on me. i could feel Him calling me into a season of healing, transformation, restoration, heart work, and process. i have no idea how all of this will unfold. but i know that at the end of this year, i will be a different person. there is no way i can enter into this season with the Lord whole heartedly and stay the same. His love is so powerful it is transforming. i am so ready to be washed in this love. to learn what it means to work on restoration. to begin the process-as messy and dirty and hands on as it will be. He is not scared by my mess. I was listening to a teaching by Steffany Gretzinger and she was talking about that. that God has called us, knowing full well our mess and crap. He didn’t forget about that one thing, and He isn’t worried about it. it doesn’t scare Him. He doesn’t change His mind. in fact, He called us to dive into that very mess WITH us. not to sit there and say “hey, go work on that over there and come back to me and tell me how it went when you’re done.” nope, not Him. instead He says “thanks for coming, I have been waiting for you, let’s sort through these pains, hurts, debris, rumble, wounds, and fears together, one by one.” so patient. so kind. He has been waiting to sit with us and sort through the mess since before time began.

but it is a process. and not an easy one at that. i am entering into the process. and as i do, i am learning that i don’t really know how to “process.” ironically, because about 89% of my job is to help people “process” through what they are walking through in their life. oh Jesus, so funny that one. so i am starting this new chapter, journey, voyage-whatever. but more importantly, i am beginning a new process with the one who made my heart.

sweet Jesus, continue to walk with me, sit with me, cry with me and sort with me as we embark on this process together. i have no idea how to do any of this, but i am asking your Holy Spirit to teach me. i am asking to know your heart better and receive healing in mine. thank you for all that you are and all that you do. you’re so good. 

“i want to leave”

*originally posted in showngreatlove.wordpress.com*

that is the name of the form the girls fill out when they want to leave. a girl finds a staff member, says “I want to leave” and we give her the form to complete saying she wants to leave our needs assessment center.

I have said goodbye to three girls in four days.

not happy goodbyes as they go to another program or shelter. heartbreaking goodbyes as they go back to the very people and situations that pushed them to their rock bottom not even a week ago. they are going back to the lion’s den, but it is the lion’s den they know, and there is comfort in that. as dark, scary, unpredictable and evil as is can be, it is what they know, and that familiarity is what beckons them back.

what is extra crazy, is that these girls were on the brink of greatness. each on of them was doing so good! they were just starting to dig in, and see what a new life would look like. they were doing the work. and then just like that, almost out of nowhere, “I want to leave.” and they were gone. back to their “comfort zone”, their default. it’s like autopilot. as soon as they can see the beginnings of “new”, and they feel sobriety, and they start seeing that it is possible and attainable for them, they run. the control of their trafficker can still pull them back, even without having any contact with them.

I understand the research. I know the effects of trauma.I have studied abuse. I know about the cycle, manipulation, and the pull & control the trafficker has over these girls. but knowing all of this doesn’t make it any easier to watch her leave. it doesn’t feel right letting her go. everything in me wants to run after her, wrap my arms around her and let her know that things will get better. that things are hard now, but worth it. that she is worth it. to stick it out. but instead, I have to let her walk out-as she takes a piece of my heart with her.

my heart is so broken, so hurt. and as I watch these ladies leave, I hear Jesus say

“it hurts Me more, even in the little ways.”

and just like that, it is about me & the ways I turn away from the Lord. the ways I run from  His goodness. the ways I trade His safety, security and abundance for my own sinful ways. He offers me so much, and when faced with the idea of leaving my comfort zone for what He is promising, I run. even in the little ways that I turn my back on Him and choose to do things my way, on my terms. how many times do I say to Him “I want to leave” and He just lets me go? He can see the bigger picture, He can see what is around the corner, but He lets me go every time. what suffering.

my heart breaks every. single. time. a lady leaves. but even in that, it is just a fraction of the heartbreak Jesus experiences when she leaves. or when I leave. even though we aren’t running back to the same story, situation or life, we are both running. we both want to leave. and that I can understand.

So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually on your God.

hosea 12:6

beauty from ashes

sometimes the Lord utterly crushes me with His sweetness and revelations. currently. my heart is realing. in so many ways I cannot even begin to understand. I feel like every day He is revealing new things to me and showing me how He has been preparing and loving me through it all. I could literally talk about this for dayzz. I want to talk about this current call. well. some of the back story. of the Lord’s faithfulness and the way He has been preparing my heart and weaving things together that only He could do.

so this summer at camp the Lord put the book of Esther on my heart. okay. I haven’t ever read the entire thing. I mean I know the story. but I haven’t read it. the other day I looked up the meaning of the name Esther, just out of curiosity. it means “star” of course it does. why wouldn’t it. that is a huge part of my relationship with the Lord, the stars. so of course that would be the meaning. in addition, her Hebrew name means “compassion.” hmm. okay, Jesus. point taken. I also just found a song on my computer called Esther about the Lord loving and healing brokenness and seeks out abused and forgotten. And about loving the invisible and making beauty from the ashes. I’ve probably had this song on my computer since 2008. classic. as I continue to learn more and just read little snippets about Esther, a clear theme of leadership and boldness are rising. so that is also very interesting. very. I bought a bible study about Esther, and will begin that today. so. get ready to hear a lot about Esther.

second. last October, the tenth to be exact, I went to a Kari Jobe concert and literally experienced the Lord’s love and the Holy Spirit in a completely new and radical way. I would probably say one of the biggest messages I took away from that night was the Lord’s immense, unconditional, all covering, consuming love. that night I also bought a penny bracelet. I thought it was cool and different. and I liked the message. to raise awareness about human trafficking victims.

third. also this summer at camp, the Lord really tied my heart to Mary Magdalene. just learning about her and her brokenness and sinfulness but complete devotion to Jesus. also, learning about Jesus’ love for her and how special she was to Jesus. I could literally talk about that for days. and I will later. don’t worry. anyway. while at camp one night, one of my sweet friends shared with me a word from the Lord that she was going to share with another one of friends at camp. she said, “the answer is great love; Luke 7:47” when she told me that, my instant reaction was “does the seventh chapter of Luke even have 47 verses? that seems fake, and not right” oh me of little faith….so we went back to the cabin to look up if that verse even existed. well it does.

“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.*But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” – Luke 7:47

in fact, it s direct quote from Jesus. perfect. well, I thought that was great. the verse is real. let’s tell our friend. cool. it took me a while to realize this was a verse about Mary Magdalene. when she washed Jesus’s feet with perfume and tears and dried them with her hair and kissed them. devotion, I’m telling ya. and as I have been processing so many of the Lord’s revelations, I am learning the insane and immense power in that verse and the intentionality of the Lord to introduce me to it.

the Lord continues to shower me in a great love. since last October, he has been pouring out lavishly on me, a great love. but He has also called me into a great love. challenged me to love Him with everything I have. and, the kicker, called me to love others with a great love. this verse translates into a million stories of my life. billion, probz.

He is connecting for me the night I experienced His radical, great love, and the night I bought a penny bracelet. like only He could do. I am excited for this next journey He is calling me to. He is CONSTANTLY revealing more and more to me about what He is doing and how He is preparing my heart. and, the craziest part to me, how He has been preparing my heart FOR YEARS.

I can see how He is connecting me to some of His strongest women, Mary, His mother, Mary Magdalene, and Esther. what a power team. can’t wait to share more….