January 31, 2013

o for grace to trust Him more

When I began my journey-ish resolution, (one word: "trust"--if you are confused, read this first)  I am not sure what I expected. I certainly expected to learn to trust Him more. "Oh for grace to," I sigh. I envisioned at times these revelatory moments where I would be struggling, then suddenly see the word "trust" on my computer, on my hand, on my mirror, on my notebook, and fall to my knees in prayer. Almost cinematically, God would move in mighty and thunderous ways.

However, God has His own way of teaching us, contrary to our expectations. Obviously, this journey to trust is not going my way. How often we get furious, frustrated, and flustered when life, events, friendships, and just things do not go our way. We get into this mindset that it is our way or nothing without even realizing it. We fall into the trap that He worked this way once, so He will do it the same way. We almost think we can control Him without even being aware of it. "Teach me this truth, Father. Use this music, it applies. Teach me this virtue, Father. Use a sermon in combination with my devotions. Show me now!" Give me, give me, give me.

It is wonderful to want to trust Him. It is wonderful to desire the gifts of the spirit and the beattitudes--basically all the characteristics of Christ. When we become three-year-olds crying "Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee," we lose sight of the beautiful mystery that is God's plan.   He is not Mr. Fix-it, as much as we desire Him to be. Learning to be content with our circumstances, the place God has placed us at this moment is so important. We can desire to learn and grow, but what about gratitude for what faith we have? The home we have? The friends we have? Contentment is something humans have always struggled with. Adam and Eve were not content; they decided to not trust God and rebel to get what they thought they wanted. Turns out they didn't want it so much after they got it.

This is sort of spiraling into all different directions, but I want this, if only this, to be clear. It is so much better to let God work His way in us rather than trying to push our plans onto Him. An old friend told me once that "just because our plans are pleasing to God, doesn't mean they are what He has for us." When we make inflexible plans we miss the fact that this life is not about us. It isn't. I am sorry if no one ever told you that, but you'll have to come to terms with the fact that life is about so much more than us. When we realize this, we let Him take control, and we find His beautiful plan. "O Control. It's time, time to let you go." -JJ Heller

Without realizing, I have come to the end of this post with a new revelation. I have to trust that God will teach me to trust better. I have to trust that His journey for me is better than the naive one I had envisioned. It is a bit mind-blowing to realize that he is teaching me trust in this. This struggle with my journey to trust Him, this lack of screen-worthy moments and abrupt change. Totally unexpected. But beautiful. And so much more effective than my idea. Well played, Jesus. I look forward to Your next move.

The quote that sprouted these growing thoughts was a question a pastor told a crowded room of college students to think about tonight. "Can you trust Me?"

I am working on my answer, or really, He is.

January 26, 2013


I have found a way for so long to pretend to love and live. 
But I am not okay.
I am not okay.

Wow. That was hard to say.
I don’t say it very often.

Usually I just lie.
Usually I just say,
“yeah, I am good.”

I don’t look into their eyes.
I don’t look into people’s eyes anymore.
I am afraid.
Afraid that they will see right through me.
Afraid that my eyes will betray my secrets.

Betray my shame.
Betray insincerity that tries so hard to be sincere.
I fear that should they peer into my eyes,
They will find

And I don’t want to be found.
But I do.
I desperately want someone to find me.
But I am afraid there is no one who can understand.
No one who can ever look at me with love when they know my shame.

So I remain alone.
Locked up by fear and shame.
“They say time is like a healer, it’s more like a concealer for scars.”*
I never get rid of the shame. I never let it go.
I hide it in the box in the corner.
I can go for years forgetting it is there.

Selective thinking.

But I never really heal. 
I just mop up my bleeding before I go out into the world.
Freshen up the paint,
Desperately hoping no one will see the scar.
It burrows in my eyes.

Even those closest never see my deepest shame.
I just can’t tell them.
How can I?
They will never love me the same way.
I cannot bear that kind of alone.

You come in.
You put Your mighty hands gently on my shoulders.

This might hurt, You say.
You look into my eyes, unflinching.
You flood my soul.
I fear I am drowning.
But I find that I can breathe.

You take my shame, wrenching it from the corner.
I had nailed it down, welded it shut.
You rip it open with love in Your eyes.
In all of its blackness, it falls like ash,
The water around turning black.

We stand in it together.

I look away. I look back at You.
You are still looking at me.
Love is still in your eyes.

Your scars begin to bleed, two in Your hands, two in Your feet.
I look at Your face and blood drips from small scratches on Your forehead.
A waterfall of it rushes from Your side.

Red fills the room.
I close my eyes and slip to my knees.
My tears of shame mingle with the blood.

They are swept away.
Where did they go?

Far away.
How far?

Do you know how far east is from west?

That far.
You smile. So do I. 
I even laugh a little. 

Sometimes shame finds its way back to me.
Shame has different faces, 
I keep it because I forget.
Silly me.

I know what to expect.
Yet it still it surprises me.
You always say the same thing.

I love you.
That is what changes me.

 *When I'm Alone by Nevertheless

January 25, 2013


Perhaps my previous post was too hasty.

Worry, fear, and a host of lies have been the army battling my soul. They crept in through my mind, huddling in the corner long enough for me to think them just another box of junk against the wall. How they fooled me.

My tendency to hermit did not serve as an ally. I hid from others for fear of what I might say, do, or hear. I haven't been loving others very well. I knew it was wrong to hide, to run. Fear was simply too strong. Or perhaps it was shame. Probably both. Fear whispered lies and cut deeply. Shame rubbed its poison in my wounds. Painful poison.Confusion ensued.

I literally lay in bed for three hours today. (I know it sounds weird, but lay is actually the proper past tense form of lie. sorry for the grammatical side-note.) I came back to my room from lunch feeling tired physically and mentally and emotionally. I reclined on my bed, listening to my "plank-eyed saint" playlist. It has a lot of Casting Crowns music.

"Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet, Oh to dwell and never leave..." I cried without a second thought, for that is all I wanted. No worry, no fear, just Jesus. I fell asleep soon after that song, then woke to another.

"Jesus hold me now, I need to feel You in this place. To know You're by my side, to hear Your voice tonight..." More Casting Crowns goodness. More tears, and more sleeping. Yet still, I felt uncertain of everything and everyone.

I went to the weekly gathering of Christians on my campus later, ready to be admonished for my fear, challenged to do more, urged to live better. I arrived and He shouted at me.

"I LOVE YOU! I really do, Karly. Shame has no power over you except the power you give it. Remember that I love you. You. I LOVE YOU."


I was ready for discipline--I deserved discipline. Still He said "I love you." When will I learn?

So my previous post was too hasty because the story wasn't, well, isn't over. I guess He will be telling me He loves me for a long time. Especially when I don't think I deserve it. His "I love you" is worth more than the fortunes of the world, more than galaxies. His love works miracles; overcomes all worries; destroys all fear. And it melts my heart of stone.

I cannot love other people when I do not believe that He loves me. For it is His love that strengthens my love for others. His love is the source of my love. "We love because HE FIRST loved us." 1 John 4:19. I haven't been loving others well because I haven't been believing He loves me. Even after all that He has done, fear and shame fooled me again.

Don't be fooled. Live loved, friends.

January 13, 2013

how measureless and strong

{Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.}
The Love Of God, a hymn

I am utterly amazed by the love of our God.

I sat struggling a while ago with letting Him satisfy and chasing worldly desires that hung before me, taunting me, begging me to want them. Satan whispered lies--my own heart whispered lies too.

I just wanted Him, so I turned to the Word, the living and active Word of God, ready for chastisement. I prepped my heart for a good scolding, looking to the Psalms. I went there thinking to find the psalms which proclaim the satisfaction God gives, describe boldly how He is all that we need.

I found those verses, but not before finding something else. See, I flipped through, reading parts of Psalms to see if I thought the declaration of God's fulfilling nature might be in there. Every psalm I read, however, spoke of one consistent idea: the steadfast love of God.

When I finally stopped flipping madly through Psalms, I simply cried in surprise and overwhelming confusion of emotion. I turned to Him for discipline, for a reprimand, for words to challenge and empower me.

All He said to me was "I love you."

In a way, His response was a challenge. In telling me this as I fought temptation, He was also saying: "Let me simply love you, child. Only then can you love Me."

A month or so later, I was facing tough doubts about who He is and I have talked about that here. The part of the story I did not tell yet was one that had not been put into perspective until recently with the help of a dear friend. Christmas Eve service was the night that my doubts fell away. Truly realizing the harsh reality of the mighty King coming to earth to be born in a filthy stable that smelled of dung, sweat, and hay, is a shocking reality. What kind of God would do this? Who would come down to this sinful, deteriorating place in such a lowly and incomprehensible way?

Him. "I am who I am" would.

 He could have easily brought me to my knees in fear of His greatness with thunder and armies of angels. Instead He came to me as a young child, born in a ramshackle room as a nobody. He reminded me of His love humbly and softly, in a way I did not deserve. I deserved to be slapped in the face, yet He whispered "my beloved" in the midst of a thousand people holding candles and singing of the dawn of redeeming grace.

Yet my humble experience does not begin to adequately describe the vast love of God. His love has been written about for years, yet still, would we take the sky and fill it with words written of ocean-ink, it would be an understatement of His love.

January 8, 2013

One Word

On most occasions, I am not one to fall into trends on purpose. My friends will tell you I am stubbornly unique. However, I read one of my favorite blogs today and they posted about this One Word 365 thing.  I have been praying that He would show me what to write about for this blog, and this was the answer. So I sacrificed my addiction to creativity to follow His calling, realizing that this is actually a beautiful thing to be a part of.

One Word 365 is a replacement for New Year's resolutions. I never really do resolutions. I am not the most disciplined person, and I fail almost as soon as I begin (just as true this year as any) usually because I don't rely on Him. Well, as I was reading about this movement, a word flashed in my mind, practically in neon lights, throwing illumination on the darkest corners of my dusty mind.


My life verse, which He picked out for me (another story for another day), is the end of Psalm 55:23. I call it Psalm 55:24 because of that stubbornness I mentioned earlier. "...but as for me, I trust in You," it says.

The Fall occurred because Adam and Eve did not trust that God had the best intentions by prohibiting the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They listened to lies and doubted His goodness. The minute we do not trust Him, Satan lies to us. Even more detrimental--we lie to ourselves.

So when I am worried about my future this year, I want to trust. When I am afraid of something--be it talking to someone new, the word "no," or doing what He asks--I want to trust Him. Not necessarily trust that it will be easy or filled with daisies and sunshine, but that it will be okay. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..." note that it does not say easy.

I trust that I am who He is making me to be. That through Him I can do anything. Philippians 4:13, of course.

Think about how hard it is to truly believe all of that in the depths of our souls? It is hard. I know me. I cannot do any of the things He wants me to do. Except through Him, who gives me strength. So I have confidence not in myself, but in Him. I trust Him.

Sometimes I am afraid of who He is making me. My insecurities and fears are familiar and I feel naked without them. But I trust Him. Because as much as I think I know myself, He knows me better. The person He is making me? She is more than I could possibly imagine. "Don't run from who you are," Aslan said.

So I will trust Him. What one word will you walk by this year?