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Fatherly “Merman” Love

I know. Odd title to this weeks’ blog. Before I lose you, let’s jump right into it. Have you seen The Little Mermaid? If not, it’s a 1989 Disney movie about a mermaid named Ariel, who dreams of becoming human and falls in love with a human prince named Eric, which leads her to making a magic deal with the sea witch, Ursula, to become human and be with him. Pretty intense for a children’s movie, ain’t it?

While there’s quite a bit circulating this whole ordeal and many principles that can be learned and unlearned from the plot of The Little Mermaid, a striking truth unfolds when Ariel gets caught up with the deal made with the sea witch. I apologize if I am spoiling the plot for whoever hasn’t seen the movie, but here you have it. Ariel is forbidden by her father [merman] King Triton, the ruler of Atlantica, to have any interaction with humans. He warns her of the danger, he warns her of the evil but Ariel, in her matter a fact way goes against her fathers’ leading. After the destruction of all of Ariel’s pride possessions that crushes her, she rebelliously seeks the sea witch, Ursula. Ariel makes a deal with Ursula to have her transform her into a human for three days in exchange for Ariel’s voice. Within these three days, Ariel must receive the “kiss of true love” from Prince Eric. If Ariel gets Eric to kiss her, she will remain a human permanently. Otherwise, she will transform back into a mermaid and belong to Ursula. Seems doable, but you and I know that if you make a deal with the devil it probably won’t pan out the way we’d hope.

As fate would have it, on the third day Ariel is too late and Ursula wins. She now owns Ariel however, King Triton intervenes and initially tries to destroy the agreement, but to his surprise, Ariel signed a binding contract with Ursula. Ursula however, was willing to breach contract if the King would sacrifice his life for Ariel’s. In true fatherly love, King Triton, without hesitation give his life for his daughter.


A striking truth of Fatherly love or in this case, fatherly merman love is represented in this great exchange. Cheesy, I know. This Fatherly Love is one many of you may not identify with in terms of your earthly father. You may have grown up without a father. You may have grown up with a father that represents everything but what a father is. Your earthly father may have willingly given you up to the sea witch and gladly live his life without a care for you. Your earthly father may have lost his life. I don’t know what representation you have for a father, but what I do know is that while earthly fathers may not be the greatest, and while we may greive over the lost of this fatherly love you and I have a Father that represents and encompasses true love; an everlating and unconditional love. He has lived and forever will live. Like King Triton, He gave up his life for you and I so that you and I can truly live. While we may be like Ariel, rebellious, difficult and stubborn in our own lust of life and love making deals with the devil, our King, our Father, traded His life in order for us to no longer be captives.

Philippians 2 talks about what this Father of ours did. In His triune nature, he,

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likenes. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (6-8)

Making deal with the devil only leads to our demise. Dabling in sin, entertaining sin, condoning sin only leads to death. We see that time and time but in our lustful nature we tend to forget what we exchange for the quick fix and earthly gratification. Sin is nice. I will admit, but the consequences of sin is not so nice. It scars, it wounds, it destroys and it kills. Jesus however, He came to separate us from sin. He gave himself up as atonement, the greatest sacrifice in order for us to live clean and pure. This Fatherly love represents what love is. Love that sacrifices and cares deeper than earthly words can express and human minds can grasp in understanding.

This Fatherly love is readily accessible to you and I. All it takes is our hearts; a great exchange of our hearts tugging to the world and giving it up to a Father that is true and good. So my question to you is my dear friend, Ariel…. did you make a deal with the sea witch? Are you deep in sin drowning and grasping to escape? Your Father, your savior, whose name is Jesus is not out of reach. If you call on Him, he will and desires to save you. I plea to you… surrender.

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Settled

I am not a fan of change. It can be a great change, but nonetheless, my angst for it remains. I remember always dreading the transition to new schools. I would worry and fear about who my teachers would be, the friends I would make, and really just every detail about the big move. The first day of high school and every new grade following didn’t get easier. Similarly, college was no walk in the park. As each new semester graced itself I mentally prepared for the first day of class and all the what if’s I could muster up to prepare for the unknown. Change for me stirs an unsettled heart. You could imagine what the night before my wedding day was like as I tossed and turned trying to wrap my mind around the wedding day, the beauty of marriage, and the soon covenant blessing I would have to be alone and vulnerable with the man I love. As excited as I was and right as I knew it would be and is, it didn’t remove the reality that my heart was unsettled with the fear of the unknown. All the what if’s stirred my heart trying to rob the beauty of marriage. An unsettled heart comes in the good and the bad. It’s not partial. Often it comes merely to choke life and confine you in doubt, worry and fear.


What are you currently facing or going through? It’s not necessarily always some grand misfortune, rather it can be something minute. What are you facing? Is there something that has you uneasy? Is it something that has ruffled your feathers? It can be something that keeps you up at night. It can be something that you ponder on often. It can be a thought that makes you uneasy that once the thought presents itself your soul becomes unsettled. You become unsettled. Your day is unsettled. Your life is unsettled.


When I am unsettled I lose control of the million thoughts that race before me. When I am unsettled I can’t quite truly see the hope before me. Miracles become non-existent and the power of life becomes meaningless. An unsettled heart is loud. It screams with fear and worry. An unsettled heart dictates attitude and character. An unsettled heart underestimates the power of hope and convinces itself that fear is stronger and more effective than hope itself. An unsettled heart is like a spark of fire. As long as it is contained it grows and consumes you with doubt and fear. It consumes thought patterns, belief systems, character, and attitude. Something as small as an unsettled heart can greatly impact who we are and those around us. 

An unsettled heart is like a spark of fire.

As long as it is contained it grows and consumes you with doubt and fear.

So what really is the opposite of an unsettled heart? It’s a grounded heart is it not? Its heart sees that hope is the only thing stronger than fear. A grounded and settled heart is no longer traumatized by its own life that it can see others and see the truth. A settled heart is established. It is put beyond doubt. It is of strength and hope. It understands and sees in purity. An established heart is firm and unwavering. It’s not moved by what surrounds it. While darts may come and trouble surrounds, an established and settled heart knowns that in discouragement, in frustration, in weariness… that before anything outwards changes the anticipation of who they serve and what He can and will do is the hope they cling onto. An established heart trusts. An established and settled heart sing praises. An established and settled heart waits patiently, grounded in hope and strengthened in hope. An established heart, while surrounded by disparities, declares the truth and proclaimed the good news of righteousness. Their heart is preserved by an everlasting love that their heart fails not. 


Are you unsettled? Are you weary? Are you searching for hope?

My friend, an unsettled heart can only be cured by the one who designed and created it. The Psalmist David understood this well. In Psalm 40 David writes of his God establishing his footing. Verse 2 he writes,

He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Davids’s source, God, established his soul. His God established his footing. His God established hope and settled his heart that despite what surrounded him, his footing remained sure. David’s source, your source, God, can do that for you!

My prayer for you is that your soul will be settled. That no matter what surrounds you, your footing remains sure and your hope remains steadfast. Your thoughts will remain pure, your eyes will see miracles before they are established, your mouth will sing praises, your ears will hear the voice of God and your heart will be filled with hope. May God comfort you and in comfort, you are settled to face whatever comes your way. 

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Letters to a victim

Dear you.

You are hurting. You feel alone. You are overwhelmed and exhausted. You are tired of carrying a shame that was never intended to be yours. You are tired of feeling the weight of your own insecurities. You are tired of feeling like you have no voice. You are tired of reliving the nightmare of your past. You feel as if there’s a demon taunting you inside corrupting your view on life. You are tired of pretending. You are tired of hiding behind your clothing, your talent, your education, your physic, or even your family. You are tired of running. You are tired of running away from whatever resembles the one that made you a victim. You run away from the smell, scenery, sound, and anything that reminds you of the day you were no longer known by your name. You are done. You are afraid. You call yourself a victim and by no other name.


Dear you.

You are beautiful. You are not alone. You have a family. Whether it be your biological or not, you have people. You have people longing to hug you and remind you of your worth. You have friends who while they are silent, are screaming internally for your breakthrough. You are not what you wear. You are not your talent. You are not your educational achievements or the lack thereof. You are not your physic, or even the linage you come from. You are worth far more. You are of strength. You are of courage. You need no longer run. You need no longer hide. You need no longer believe what keeps you up at night. You are free from the cold dark cage you’ve called home. Your heart is free. Your mind is free. You are neither dirty nor impure. You are not to be ashamed of and you are neither too difficult nor too far gone to love. You are bold. You have a voice. You are believed. You are free.


Dear you.

Running away is not the answer. A pill is not the answer. A bullet is not the answer. A leap is not the answer. You taking your life is never the answer.


Dear you.

This may be difficult to believe, but I know someone that loves you. I know someone that cares for you. I know someone that sees no flaws. I know someone that doesn’t see mistakes. I know someone whose love is neither impure nor corrupt. I know someone that hurts when you hurt. I know someone that grieves when you grieve. I know someone that will avenge you. I know someone that wants to heal you. I know someone that can take away all the pain. I know someone that can turn your trauma into triumph. I know someone that is perfect and pure. I know someone that is of joy and mercy. I know someone that can give you life once more. I know someone that can give you a gift far greater than gold and far sweater than honey from its honeycomb. I know someone that knows you by your name and knows you for your worth. I know someone whose love for you is unconditional and requires only one thing; submission. A submission that is pure and true. I know someone that knows you not as a victim, rather as a victor. He calls you free, a conqueror, thoroughly whole and pure.


Dear you.

It is hard to trust. It is hard to be vulnerable. It is hard to believe that there is more to life. It is hard to believe that there is good. It is hard to believe that you can be healed. It is hard to believe you can be whole. It is hard to believe you can no longer be a victim. It is all hard to believe.


Dear you.

Believe with me. Believe there is hope. Believe there is truth. Believe there is life. Believe with me. Believe. Have Faith. With the same assurance you have there is no good, believe there is good. Believe there is life. Believe you are free. Believe you are whole. Believe you are not alone. Believe it with me, because… YOU ARE! He said you are. He said I am. He says it, now. He says you are no longer a victim. He says you are no longer a slave. He says you are healed. He says you are chosen. He says you are free. He says you are pure. He says you have a purpose. He says your life matters. He says He loves you. He says you are!

Dear you.

His name is Jesus.

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Selective Compassion

If someone died from a DUI, suicide, drug overdose, or death sentence, do you have compassion for the individual or family affected by that loss? Often I find that we don’t. We compartmentalize “death” or grieving for that matter. We’ve unknowing placed in two categorize what we should extend compassion towards and what we should spit on. I call this, selective compassion.


I was in elementary school when I first encountered the messy side of compassion. A classmate of mine committed suicide. I remember when I first found out he had died, it shocked my entire class. Many cried and others simply lost for words. When we found out how he died, the atmosphere shifted. It seemed that grieving was no longer necessary and the compassion that was initially there instantaneously evaporated as judgment took place.


We have selective compassion. We will grieve with those who are hurting if it fits our definition where compassion is necessary. Rather than having compassion over those who die from DUI, suicide, drug overdoes, or even the death sentence, we spit on them with our words and calloused hearts. We say things like “well they asked for it,” “that’s what they get,” “good riddance,” and the list goes on. We’ve said to ourselves that their lives don’t matter and their hurting families just the same. While in most cases, it was their lifestyle choices that led them to their demise, it doesn’t remove the urgency for compassion. It doesn’t remove the reality that their lives and the life of their family matter. It doesn’t remove the obligation we have as Christians to love no matter the circumstances. Compassion should never be selective.

Christians are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to showing compassion. We expect to see the Kingdom of God grow however, we reserve compassion for those who we say are good and suffering. On the other hand, we rejoice or are not even phased when someone who sinned or lived in sin suffers or dies. We are quick to cast judgment and in our judgment, we’ve played the role of god determining who deserves compassion and who doesn’t.


In Luke 10:30-35, we read the story of the Good Samaritan. If you aren’t familiar with the parable, here you go:

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him...

We aren’t really told much about the man who got robbed. We aren’t told if he was an alcoholic, rapist, or killer. We aren’t told if he was a man of high status or wealth. We aren’t even told of his skin color. We are simply told, he was coming from Jerico, was robbed, stripped, and beaten. We see that neither the priest nor the Levite helped the man from Jericho. You would think that of anyone who should help and have some form of compassion, it would be one of those men. But they didn’t. Matter-a-fact, they chose to walk on the other side of the road ignoring the man in need. They had no compassion yet called themselves men of God. The most unlikely person, a Samaritan who people were not entirely fond of back then, was the one that helped. The [Good] Samaritan did not require an explanation to extend compassion. He didn’t need first to hear the man from Jerico’s story or find out who he was before showing kindness. He simply saw someone in need and was moved with compassion.

In the New Testament, you will find that before Jesus performed miracles He was moved by compassion. Compassion [Kindess] is the catalyst for changed lives. But we’ve missed it. We say we want all to come to know Christ, only if they fit our image of who belongs in Heaven. We walk around patting ourselves on the back. We praise how great we are as Christians, yet we neglect to see the plank in our eyes as we judge the speck in others.

Am I saying that compassion translates to agreeing with the lifestyle choices and decisions of others? No. Absolutely not. What I am saying is that you and I are called to have compassion towards the beggar, the bruised, broken, divorced, suicidal, addict, criminal, and the like. Why compassion? Because in compassion, we remove any grounds of judgment. In compassion, we translate the gospel message that all needs hope. In compassion, is where the catalyst for changed hearts becomes accessible.

Compassion doesn’t agree with the sin or wrong done. Compassion says you are still loved despite the wrong you’ve done. Compassion doesn’t remove the consequences that come with sin. Rather, compassion says in the consequences your life is not over, there is still hope. Compassion is simply and magnificently the heart of God.

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The Darkest Valley – PT.2

One moment of courage can change the trajectory of your entire life. For me, that moment was when I walked through the scary office doors to my very first counseling appointment. If you read my previous blog, you know that it only took two months after first signing up and then canceling my counseling appointment for me to finally gain the courage to do the unthinkable, go to counseling.

In the Christian world, at least the Christian world I grew up in if you went counseling you were crazy. I mean that literally. I understood counseling was made available for people who were mentally not there. People who were borderline suicidal, somewhat crazy, or all-around crazy. I confidently placed myself in the “somewhat crazy” category since I did not fully want to be in counseling but was crazy enough to do it. Now I see how delusional I was to even think counseling was for the crazy. How the tables turned.


I’ve started and stopped counseling a total of three times. The first time was during my freshman year in college. That was the first time I said out loud the awful terrible that had happened. It didn’t come instantly. It took several counseling sessions for me to finally admit to my very patient counselor why I really was in her office. I had walls. Big walls. Hard ones that I refused to have anyone dare to break. Before each counseling session, my counselor prayed and after each counseling session, she prayed again. Every word in her prayer tormented me until I finally broke down and was honest. Completely honest about how that one night changed and wrecked who I saw in the mirror, who I believed I was and the fervid hate I had towards men. I thought I was a monster. A monster for allowing the assault to happen. A monster because I brought it on to myself. A monster for being dumb to think I could trust anyone. And a monster because I held scars that made me see an ugly reflection looking back at me each time I glanced at the mirror. I was a monster that was living a very fake life and in desperate need of counseling.


Counseling was messy. My resistant and impenetrable heart softened after each session that the impossible became evidently possible right before my eyes. I was healing. Every session entailed gut-wrenching, painful, agonizing ugly crying moments of truth. Things I didn’t even realize that were a part of what had shaped my thinking were brought to light which explained the why behind the what. Inadvertently, despite my view of counseling and stubborn heart, I realized, counseling helped. The big challenge after months of counseling was to tell my parents. And just that I did. I asked my brother and sister-in-law to drive me home to Houston. Once there, in my parent’s bedroom, I opened up without shame and revealed what I thought I would never be able to do.


After I word vomited I waited in what felt like eternal silence. I had prepared for the unthinkable. A part of me still believed that no one would believe me. For crying out loud, the lead Pastor told me that so if he said it, it must be true, right? The look on my parent’s faces was not one of unbelief. Rather I saw instantaneous regret and shame. Not in me, rather in their efforts to keep me safe. I remember clear as day that night in their bedroom as they held me weeping and in agony and for a split second I saw myself. The agony I had secretly held to myself for years prior. I knew I had to reassure them it was not their fault and will never be their fault. I knew they had a journey for themselves to take to heal. But that’s their story to tell. I love my mom and dad both. I love them wholeheartedly and have loved them even deeper as we bonded over a tragedy. God always somehow makes good out of evil and that good healed my broken heart.

After telling my parents, my siblings were next. It was hard. They were and are my best friends. Like my parents, I saw the regret and shame they inflicted on themselves. For not protecting me I presume. For lack of foresight maybe. Or maybe from seeing their baby sister wounded by people they trusted and even confided in. But I was no longer wounded. Eventually, they began to see that, but like my parents, they needed time for themselves to heal and walk their own journey. I loved my brothers, but my love and bond for them deepened that day. Again, God always somehow makes good out of evil and that good healed my broken heart.


I went to counseling a couple months after my first breakthrough and then summertime came which led me overseas in Egypt for a lengthy internship. I didn’t sign back up for counseling again until Jarrod (my husband) came into my life. I was treading new waters with now having to reveal the depths of my heart to someone I was beginning to love. Jarrod, in his patience, did not rush or question me. He was patient with me when I asked him to not hold my hands. He was patient with me when I asked him not to kiss me. He was patient with me when I didn’t want to hug or be embraced. And then one day, in his patience, Jarrod loving advised me to go to counseling. He knew I was wrestling and that I needed someone to talk to. He knew that those walls I had up were stemmed from deep wounds that started the beginning stages of healing but weren’t quite there yet. So again, I signed up for counseling. Another messy process. How do I love a man? How do I trust he won’t hurt me? How do I trust he won’t use my body for his needs and take advantage of my innocence? After months of counseling sessions, I took the brave step and opened up to Jarrod who patiently gave me time. The time I needed to be comfortable enough to be vulnerable.

He never once judged. Rather, Jarrod looked me dead in the face eyes locked into mine glossy from compassionate hurt. After my word vomit, he gently said “I love you, Vashti. Everything about you. I see you. Nothing but you. The pure heart that first attracted me to you and the pure heart that’s before me now. We will get through this.” And we have. I’ve never felt more safe and protected. I guess his 6’7″ built body has something to do with it, but in all honestly, Jarrod is exactly who I needed.


My last counseling session was months leading up to marriage. The sex bed petrified me. As much as I thoroughly trusted Jarrod, the tinge of fear always resurrected when the nightmares aired their ugly face. All the what if’s resurfaced and again, with time, a very patient soon-to-be husband and counselor we made it to the wedding day. The absolute best day of my life. A day I probably would have run away from had it not been for the God moments perfectly orchestrated and my choice to respond to those divine encounters.


The cross was my answer and still is. Every part of healing pointed back to the blood-shed on the cross. Transgressions of all nature are paid by a perfect man for imperfect people. Every counseling session brought out a new understanding of forgiveness. It brought out a new revelation of God’s redemptive work. It brought out a new understanding of my wrecked heart that desperately craved healing and wholeness. A price I was willing to take for the sake of my wellbeing and sanity.


C.S. Lewis said it well,

Forgiving does not mean excusing… it does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.

I refused to live in hate. I refused to live bitter. I refused to feel like a monster for the rest of my life. I refused to live with insecurities and poor self-esteem. And in my refusal, I had a very tough choice to make. I needed to forgive my transgressors and I needed to forgive myself for the self-hate I inflicted. There’s no excuse for the assault. In time, the consequence will come. Not by my might, rather through Christ my vindicator. What is also inexcusable is living with hate that kills. And I choose not to walk with a cloud over my head the rest of my life.

Even though I have walked one of the darkest valleys, I will fear not. Because I know who is my comfort. I know who is my healer. I know who is for me. And I know who will vindicate and justify me. I know He will do the same for you.

My journey isn’t quite over. There’s far more to the healing that has been left unsaid. In time I may share more, but I will leave you with this.

If you are or know someone that’s a victim of any type of abuse or assault, don’t shy away from speaking out. You owe it yourself and the safety of those around you to be bold. Seek help. Seek counseling and don’t be afraid of the messy healing.

If there’s a verse I would encourage you to study as you walk the tough road to healing, it’s Psalm 23. I actually had to memorize this verse around the age of 5 and haven’t forgotten it since. It’s one of my favorite Psalms and one I fall back on whenever days get tough. I challenge you to dive into all the treasures hidden in this Psalm. You won’t regret it. Healing is right before you. Jesus is waiting on you. He won’t force nor coerce you into healing. Rather, it’s your choice.


The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.
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I’m sorry the church hurt you.

Did you know that,

  1. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
  2. A quarter of male victims of sexual assault were under 10 years of age.
  3. Rape Statistics show that less than 20% of rapes are reported.
  4. Women and men with disabilities face twice the risk of sexual assault than able-bodied individuals.
  5.  Approximately 70 women commit suicide every day in the US following an act of sexual violence.
  6. Over 25% of male sexual assault victims will experience their first assault before 10 years of age.
  7. Over 80% of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance.
  8. Almost 95% of child victims knew their sexual attacker.
  9. The majority (90%) of rape victims are female.
  10. Girls and women between the ages of 16 and 19 are 4x more likely than girls and women in other age groups to be assaulted or raped.

Did you also know that,

In 2019 over 1,700 priests and clergy were accused of sexual abuse. Before 2018, over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania alone were found to be victims of sexual abuse under the Roman Catholic Faith. In 2019, 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Influential leaders like Brian Houston were found concealing child sexual abuse by his father. There’s Ravi Zacharias who has been accused of rape and sexual misconduct. In 2021, Micahn Carter resigned after rape allegations.

Sexual abuse occurs in religious schools, orphanages and missions, churches, presbyteries and rectories, confessionals, and various other settings. Aside from these, sexual abuse in the form of rape, molestation, and emotional abuse occurs in 1,691 different religious institutions around the world. According to the National Congregational Study Survey, there are an estimated 380,000 churches in the U.S. alone not factoring those around the world that house the grounds for some form of sexual abuse.


Often when sexual abuse allegations are exposed, religious institutional members are left in disbelief towards the abuse claims. This has left many wondering why members have greater loyalty to the institution than to the abused victim. The abusers, predators, and sex offenders, they are only human, right? While the claims leave devout followers awestruck, claims eventually turn to whispers and are eventually forgotten.

While I cannot fully articulate the damage any form of abuse can inflict on your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical psyche, what I do hope to provide is hope. The complexity of navigating life and faith after these situations is nearly impossible, but God’s justice is like no other and proves the nearly impossible is possible.


Back home in Belize... 
I was midway through my teenage years when I got hurt by the church. Shortly after worship practice, I was given a ride home by the worship pastor. I hopped in the back seat looking through the window, heart full sitting next to my fellow worship singer friends. There were three of us who were being taken home that night. The first two were safely taken to their home and I was last. I remember saying goodnight to my friends with no care in the world. Little did I know, things would not pan out the way I had ever imagined. Rather than driving towards my house, the worship pastor drove the opposite direction and parked in a dark location. Things like "I've been thinking about you a lot," "You are beautiful," "I've always wanted someone like you," "Don't be scared," were said as he made his way to the backseat. He forced my body on his and his hands explored areas that I had promised myself would be reserved for my husband someday. I remember being stiff, repeating the words "please stop," and my eyes blurred from tears. He started unbuttoning my pants when the door to the truck flung open, and there standing was a man whose face I could not see. He stood tall with a gun in his hand pointing it right at my predator. 
The worship pastor pushed the man, jumped to the front seat, and sped off. I remember sitting in the back seat shaking, holding myself while I kept my crying to a whisper. The truck stopped again. I looked up hopeful thinking I was home only to be in a dark area once more, far from home. The worship pastor hopped to the back seat once more of which I assume to finish what he started. I ignored where his hands went and angrily listened to him saying, "You wanted this," "This is okay," "I've always wanted you," "I've been dreaming about you." He started unbuttoning again. This time I didn't fight where his hands were going. I simply sat numb questioning everything I ever knew. It was then for the second time, the door to the truck flung open and who I presume is the same man as before stood with a gun in his hand pointing at my predator. The man with the gun didn't say a word. I still could not see his face. I saw fear in the worship pastors face and he sped off and drove me home. The car ride was silent. The entire ride home not a word was said. And before he unlocked the car doors to my freedom, he warned me to tell no one and that if I did tell anyone, especially my parents, they would never believe me. No one would ever believe me. That night I lost respect for men. 

Three days after this event, I went to the lead pastors of the church thinking they would believe me. I was told my parents wouldn't so maybe the pastors would. I met with the lead pastors and tearfully explained what had happened just a couple nights prior. Bluntly I was told, "You need to take a cold shower," (at the time I didn’t understand what that phrase meant; it wasn’t until I was in counseling did I find out the insult meant by that phrase). I was also told, "You brought this on yourself," "Things like this happen because people like you bring it on yourself," "He struggles with lusting, but you are to blame too." They told me to never tell anyone, especially my parents because I will cause my parent's marriage to end, I will break up the worship pastor's family and I will break up the church. I would be to blame for the destruction. At the end of their "advising," they prayed over me and I left. I left disgusted, overwhelmed with guilt and shame. I left hopeless and confused. I was alone. That day, I lost respect for the church.

I am sorry the church hurt you. I am sorry if reading this brings up old wounds. I am sorry if it brings up pain and resurfaces hurt that was once buried. I am sorry for what you or a loved one experienced. I truly am sorry.


Interesting isn’t it? That all it takes is one life-changing moment to shift the way we think and live. There are many days I wish it never happened. I still wish it never did. Have I healed? Yes (still am). Do I still hurt? Absolutely (I often do). Getting married has recently opened a new side of how this trauma has affected me. Learning to love my husband, learning how to enjoy physical touch and understanding to appreciate the gift of sex without thinking about the day things shifted in my life as a teenager has been difficult.


The “church” failed me and I hated them for it. After the sexual assault, I still went to church because quite frankly I had no choice. No one knew what happened except for myself, the predator, and the lead pastors. I somehow convinced my mom I didn’t want to be on the worship team any longer and volunteered elsewhere. Eventually, my family ended up moving. I had hoped moving far away would leave the past where it was but it followed me. It followed me for years. The hate for the church followed. The hate for men followed. The hate I inflicted on myself intensified. The “church” failed me. For some of you, the church failed you too and I am sorry they did.


In another blog, I will write about how I eventually told my parents, counseling and the healing process, but what I do want to address is you. You and your feelings towards the church. It’s baffling to think one would dedicate loyalty to an institution that failed them, right? It is nonsensical even. But the church didn’t fail you. Before you quit reading, just give me a couple more minutes of your time. Yes, the church on the broader side of things fails by covering up sin, but you know who really failed you? Man. In order to walk back into the church, I had to shift blame from an institution founded on Christ’s love and target the root. The root wasn’t the church. The root was humans. Three of them for that matter. The worship pastor and the lead pastor and his wife. The church didn’t do anything to me, rather the people who led the church violated and stripped away the confidence I placed in God’s people. They convinced me that I was to blame for the violation, and they convinced me that I would be the cause of the destruction of my family, the predator’s family and more so the destruction of the church had I spoken out. And I listened. I believed it for a very long time.


The church didn’t fail you. Man did. Humans did, and humans are awful great at sinning, covering their sin and living boldly in their sin as if nothing ever happened. I am talking to you who refuse to step into a church. I am talking to you who refuse to see God as loving and true. I am talking to you who hate Christianity because of occurrences like mine. I am talking to you because I believed just as you are believing. The church didn’t fail you. Man did.


Let’s get back to basics. What was God’s original intent for the church in the first place? The church is where God’s people unite in diversity as one body. It’s a compilation of unique entities that follow the Biblical instruction and example of Christ. In the church are apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helping, guidance, and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. The church is where individuals who want to be more like Christ communion to do exactly that. There’s of course more to this, but you get the point. The church was founded on Christ’s love and example, but as we’ve seen in centuries past, humans do a pretty crappy job at doing just that. We’ve made it about self and we entertained and covered up sin. We’ve made the church about appearance rather than authenticity. In some occasions, the church has become the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, where correction is absent and “freedom in Christ” is misrepresented with gratifying desires contrary to who Christ is.

I blamed the church for quite some time that I lost trust in pastors and leaders. I was always on guard and for a while never able to engage in corporate worship without reflecting on how the church failed me. This mindset shifted one night when I asked God why He would allow bad things to happen and why did His people fail me. That’s a story for another time, but let me tell you, God met me exactly where I was.


How far I’ve come has been no easy road to walk. Somedays I get overwhelmed. Somedays I feel fear creeping in and the events of the night where everything changed replays in my head haunting my thoughts. There are nights I wake up sweating from nightmares as if I relived that night for the first time. There are days I walk filled with insecurity. I don’t trust well. I am more on guard than I probably should be. I’ve had to learn that my husband’s love for me is pure and not evil. In the dark days, I remember, God healed and God restored what has once been stripped away. God reassured and keeps reassuring.

Before I conclude, if you are or know someone that has been a victim of sexual assault, rape, or abuse, I urge you to seek help and expose the truth. Don’t believe the lie that no one will believe you, you are to blame, and that you will be the reason for destruction. If there’s anything I wish I could tell myself back then, it would be – don’t be afraid to speak out!

I guess in some way that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. After many years of being too scared and ashamed carrying guilt that was never mine in the first place, I have learned the power of exposing. No, not for me. Rather, to bring awareness of the hidden darkness that is present even in the church.

Parents, if you’re reading this, regularly ask your children how life is going inside and outside the church. Listen and watch for signs. Ask the questions and create a healthy environment for honesty. Be especially aware of grooming done by men or women who have taken a special liking to your child. This by no means is a reflection of poor parenting on my parent’s part. I would never in a million years blame them. Simply, just be aware.


And friend,…the church didn’t hurt you. Man did. And I am sorry. Fight the urge to not blame God for a man’s choice. Man’s failure is no reflection of the Father’s heart. In your suffering God is present and He grieves when you do.

Speak out and forget not…

He saved them from the hand of the one who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
Psalms 106:10

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She died while reading her Bible to her 7 -month old daughter…

Heartbreaking. Odd, really. When we stumble across news reports like the one I read on Sunday it shakes us up a bit and stirs many questions. Melanie Yates died from a stray bullet shot in her neighborhood in Zion, Chicago. It is said that Melanie was reading the Bible to her 7-month old daughter. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was in her home. She was being a mom. She was loving on her child and loving her creator in the process. How can a good God allow this to happen? Is God really good?

After reading the news report I read people’s comments and thoughts on the situation. Many were extending condolences and others said they were praying. There were comments, however that struck my heart. Here are just a couple that burdened me:

  • let me guess.. that was in Gods plan.
  • this is why I quit believing in God.
  • so if God is all powerful and great, He really let this happen?
  • even when you’re doing the right thing God can’t save or help you!

I get the frustration. I get the anger. I get the why and questioning the nature of God. How can a good God allow this to happen? I’m sure you’ve thought that before. I’m sure there was a time that you questioned if God is really good. I know I have. It’s normal to question. I believe God isn’t offended by our questioning. He loves honesty. It is, however ultimately what we do with our honesty and what [or who] we choose to believe.


In times of suffering, we tend to pin God as our adversary. We blame Him when in actuality, He is our cure. There is not always a clear-cut response or answer to the why behind the what but many of the wrongs occurring in the world are suffering as a result of freedom.

Why did a stray bullet kill Melanie while she was reading her Bible to her child? Why did God not heal your mom or dad from cancer? Why did you lose your sister in that car accident? Why did you or someone you love fall victim to rape? And there are plenty more whys out there. Think about it. Do you have a why that causes you to ponder the goodness of God?

Whenever something bad happens after someone did bad, we justify that as a consequence. However, when it’s someone good or someone who we’ve deemed as innocent, we cannot seem to find an answer as to why the injustice occurred. And in not having a why we blame God hoping that will settle the wrestling in our hearts.

Can I share something with you? This is coming from someone who experienced one of those whys I mentioned above. God is in the midst of all we go through and are going through. He hasn’t abandoned us. The suffering we have or are facing is a result of misused freedom. God could have created the human race as robots. Do as He says and as He does. But that would not be love, right? Love doesn’t force or coerce. In love, there’s a choice. The responsibility lies in our hands to choose right from wrong. Sadly, we don’t always choose right and the consequence of that is many suffering from hurt and pain from someone else’s poor decision-making.


Dr. Greg Boyd says it well in his book, Letters from A Skeptic. He states the risk of freedom is exactly proportional to its potential for good. In other words, if we can love a little, we can hurt a little. If we can love a lot we can likewise hurt a lot. If we have freedom, we have risk in the possibility of failure and hurt. Melanie died as a result of misused freedom. While sickness isn’t entirely related to misused freedom it can when we misuse science, food, and our bodies. But a lot of the suffering from sickness comes from the Fall of Man (Satan bringing evil to roam rampant in the world).


My husband, Jarrod, is a cancer survivor along with a couple others in his family. I asked him that if knowing cancer is a part of his story if he’d prefer to have not existed. His response was firm that it shattered my heart. He said,

Vash, I would never blame God for me having cancer. I would never blame God for not saving those that had cancer or any type of terminal illness. While it was and is hard, God was and continues to be our cure. Cure of hope, cure of faith and cure of eternal life. We didn’t choose sickness, but we can choose how we walk through it and from it.

I will leave you with this, death, sickness, and hardship outside of our control do not translate to an absent God. In a world that promotes belief in everything but God, remember,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [sickness, hardship, the unexplainable], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you - Deuteronomy 31:6

If there’s anything we can cling to it’s the hope of Christ’s return where sickness, hardship, and the unexplainable will exist no more. To those who have lost a loved one, I am deeply sorry. For those battling right now, I am deeply sorry. But more than anything I pray that you can cling to the hope of Christ. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is in your struggle. God is your cure, not your adversary.

_____________

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You are worth(y).

I always thought that earning a degree, landing the dream job, getting married to the “right” person, loosing the weight or acquiring the status was where my worth lied. Let me burst your bubble if that’s your thinking too. You are worth it. You are worthy, now. Not when you earn the degree. Not when you loose the weight. Not when you get married. Not when you have kids. Not when you make a name for yourself. You are worthy, now.

The motive behind a lot of what we do is to receive the recognition, thumbs up or nod of approval from our parents and peers. That nod of approval is often lacking when we get to the place we’ve deemed as our destination of success. We feel as if we’ve failed when the approval we sought after is not given in the manner we desired or believe should have been given to us. I write from personal experiences. Yes, you read that, experiences. Clearly I didn’t learn the first time when I didn’t receive the recognition I desired.


Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Language series, shares that there are 5 love languages that people speak (receive) and give. We are innately built to somewhat depend on these love languages. They are human needs that satisfy and nurture who we are. While we can to some level speak on each love language, we have dominants that we tend to thrive on. I thrive on receiving Words of Affirmation and Acts of service. Likewise those are the top two of the 5 that I enjoy giving. If you haven’t taken the love language quiz, I encourage you to do so. You’ll learn a lot about who you are and the why behind what you do. I will say, while I am not a fan of personality tests that so easily sway us to place ourselves in a box, I do acknowledge the value these tests brings.


My strong words of affirmation and acts of service personality showed it’s face from an early age. As far back as I can remember, I can recall the desire of being affirmed by my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Whether it was cleaning my room, making pastry or completing an art work, I always sought after affirmation. I did not feel whole or complete until I heard the words “You did great” or some form of affirming congratulations that what I did was worth it and in turn made me worthy as a human.

Scary, isn’t it? That I place my worth in someone else’s opinion on whether what I did or who I am is good enough. I didn’t mature from this nature of mine. It’s a working progress. While my words of affirmation side is apart of who I am and thrive well in, it’s not where my value is found. In marriage, my husband gently reminds me after I make a meal or clean the house or complete a project that no matter if what I cooked was good or bad it doesn’t change his love for me, nor does it increase or decrease my value. No matter if I cleaned the house thoroughly or missed a couple spots here or there, it doesn’t change his love for me, nor does it increase or decrease my value. No matter if the project I started was completed or ended in defeat, it doesn’t change his love for me, nor does it increase or decrease my value. You get the point.

Here’s the thing, we serve a Father in Heaven and roams the earth that loves us and has placed worth in us that in unmeasurable. It’s timeless. It doesn’t require an action on our part. It’s given. That worth was established the moment of conception. You are of worth. You are worthy. Not when you do, or when you become. You are worthy now. If you are like me who thrives on the affirmation of others, can I tell you that you will never feel fully satisfied. Again, I speak from experience. I’ve sought approval and have both received it and was left empty handed. My husband affirms me every day, and even with his gentle love and affirmation he reminds me that my worth doesn’t come from his words, his approval or the approval of others, rather from my source. The only one who can fulfill and provide. The only one who can fill the gaps of yours and my heart.

Here is my gentle love and affirmation to you…

YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU ARE WORTHY NOW!

You are worth it and we can have confidence in this because God is enough and, in Him, we are enough. We should neither worry or fret whether those are around us approve of who we are, how we look, how we dress or how much we have. Jesus states it well in Matthew’s account found in chapter 6 of the gospels. He states:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? [...] Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? [...] But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The key to your worth is seeking your source. Like a child running to their mom and dad for food because they are too young to care for themselves. You too are like children running to the source, God, seeking to be filled. Seek Christ first. Everything else will be added, after.

You are worth it. You are worthy, now.

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Fear: a form of self-absorption

Fear is self-absorption. Ouch! I’m sorry but also not sorry if that offended you. I figured this out a couple of months ago when the days leading to wedding day became fewer each day that went by. Marriage stirred many fears in me like it does in any major life change. Well, if I am honest, change in general stirs fear inside this heart of mine no matter if it’s a big change or not, but that’s besides the point.

I was fearful I would fail. I was fearful of the unknown and I was fearful that this could possibly be the biggest mistake I would ever make in my life. It had nothing to do with my soon to be husband. I was neither doubting or second guessing his character and the knowing our marriage was God-founded. Rather, it had to do with my fears of the unknown. Not knowing can do some real psyche damage to you. We can also fear the unknown because of past hurts resurfacing when said major life changes is approaching. Fears are real. Only they are real not in the physical rather they are real in the unseen areas called our thoughts. We cannot hold fear with our hands. If we could, I would say quite a number of you, like me, would trample on our fears and say “be gone with you.” Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury to trample on our fears in the physical, but what we do have is much greater. Before I get into that, let’s dive into why fear is a form of self-absorption.


What is self-absorption? Simply put, it is the preoccupation with one’s own emotions, interests, or situation. Have you met someone that’s self-absorbed? It’s all about them. Everything is about them. They like to be the center of attention. They thrive knowing all eyes are on them. The world could be falling apart around them, but their “problem” or “victory” is far more important and they are much happier making that known than taking concern for those around them.

That’s not always how self-absorption looks though. For some of us, self-absorption is silent. That’s how self-absorption tends to present itself in me. It’s quiet on the outside and rather loud internally. It’s being consumed by what’s going on in your personal life that all outside conversation and happenings presents itself as white noise. We say we are listening to those around us when in actuality we have been consumed by our own fears that we do not truly hear those around us or can engage in our surroundings. Life is meaningless because our life has been consumed by something “greater”, fear.


Let’s get this straight. Fear isn’t all bad. Fear is what saves many of us from making the wrong move. It helps us not get hurt and saves us from the headache of getting out of trouble. Fear is good in keeping us safe. On the other hand, fear is unhealthy and often times detrimental when it consumes us to the point where we are crippled internally. Common fear triggers that cripple us internally are often found to be future events, imagined events and the unknown. All three, if we are honest with ourselves, are intangible and essentially “made up.” Don’t get me wrong. I have my fair share of fears that feels very real. It can be hard to convince me otherwise, but when I am honest with myself I know that these fears are what I’ve convinced myself are real because I’ve allowed myself to become consumed by the “thought” that my fears are reality.

Why do we do that? Why do we give fear the power to control how we live? Why do we allow the unknown to cripple us? Yeah that’s right, we give it the power. We allow it to consume us. We tell fear they are in control. We say to it, they are the gods. Fear is one of those things that we’ve made ourselves to believe it’s impossible to let go of. We’ve convinced ourselves that they are more powerful than anything else. We’ve convinced ourselves of a lie. And we’ve actively been living in it.

Can I share something with you? One of the greatest disservice you can do to yourself is allow a lie to become your reality. Let that sink in for a moment. What lies have you been believing? What have you allowed to consume you and have become self-absorbed by that you cannot truly live and enjoy life? What lie have you believed that has held you back in life? I will admit, it’s hard to get out of the rut of uncertainty and the known. It’s hard to quit believing something we’ve convinced ourself is truth.

One of the greatest disservice you can do to yourself is allow a lie to become your reality.

From a biblical perspective, Jesus says to cast all our cares (aka fears) to Him. In other words give it Him. He didn’t say this to mock you. Rather, He knew that some of us would greatly struggle with fears and we would need to hand these over in order to not allow them to become our gods. We know as Christ followers we should have no other gods or idols. Being self-absorbed by our fears we are unconsciously giving it (fear) the throne of kingship and god over our life. We’ve removed Jesus as our sole devotion to something that is unknown and ultimately a lie.

How do you cast your fears and hand them over to Jesus? Practically speaking, by first admitting we’ve allowed fear to become the god of our thoughts and living. And secondly, seeking God through prayer and devotion — daily praying for complete freedom. That you may only believe God’s truth and not the lies of fear.

I don’t want to dismiss that mental health is real and fear can distort our mental wellbeing. In that regard, there are practical steps you can take that can help you shift from fear to faith coupled with seeking Jesus. A big step is asking for help. I am a full believer in seeking godly counseling. Counseling has helped me walk through many seasons of change. You’re not crazy for seeking counseling. If you’re like me, who grew up where Christianity said counseling is for the mentally crazy, please forgive the church and their false teaching. Proverbs 11: 14 states,

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Side note:There are a plethora of biblical references that support counseling. When you have some time, I challenge you to do some digging for yourself. 

We need counseling. Each of us do. Whether you know it or not, you currently have someone counseling you. Sadly today, our advice and counseling have been from scrolling through our phones and staring at a television screen. Counseling is important. Who’s counseling is even more important. By seeking counseling doesn’t translate to you being demon possessed or evil. Counseling means you are human. And in our humanity, we need godly counsel.

If you’ve allowed yourself to become self-absorbed by fear, I challenge you to seek Jesus and seek counseling. There’s freedom and liberation in living fearless. You choose to give power to fear or trampling over it and saying to fear, no more. I am rooting for you friend. You can do it. All it takes is you making the first step. Living outside of the lie is difficult, but every step you take becomes increasingly easier as you actively choose truth. Don’t believe me? Try for yourself.

What fear have you believed to be truth? How has this held you back? What are you going to give Jesus today and exchange for freedom?

Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
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Restore

There are things we’ve learned to live with. There are things we’ve passed as normal. There are things that were once rare and now a commonality. We’ve made them apart of the mundane day to day living. We’ve passed these things as “just the way things are.” I’m not referring to things we cannot change. Rather things we have complete control over. We’ve become comfortable with the way of life that we are too afraid to restore what we’ve learned to live without. While there are many things we can talk about here, the three areas in life I’ve seen many become comfortable in is the lack of peace, lack of joy and lack of love.


Peace has been replaced with anxiety and fear. We’re consumed by the worlds unknowns, stressors and triggers that we live day by day without peace of heart and mind. Think back for a second. Can you remember the first time you lost peace? Can you remember the moment in life when peace was replaced with anxiety and fear? How is it that an instant in life shifted your entire posture? Granted, there are things we go through in life that stirs us. It makes us question the goodness of God. It could be a loss of a loved one or opportunity. It could be a near death experience. It could be someone violated you or your family that the anxiety and fear of history repeating itself haunts you each day. Peace is hard to restore once lost. It’s hard to regain when life scars us and ruins what once was. But can I share something with you? It sure isn’t impossible to restore.

Peace that passes all understanding is what most of us crave. If you’re honest with yourself, you’d probably say that while the hardship you went through cannot be reversed or erased, you do want to live anxiety and fear free. Maybe you’ve even attempted to restore peace but failed only for anxiety and fear to show its ugly face and intensify it’s terror even more. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, what I do know is that there is a source for peace. Just as you’d go to your local supermarket for food, there is a source for peace. You’ll find out later in this blog though. Keep on reading.


Joy and peace somewhat go hand in hand with each other. Without peace, you probably do not have joy. If you have joy, it’s probably very little. When we don’t have joy we live in misery and despair. Life is oftentimes meaningless. Many times, when we lack joy we are forced into depression or depressive episodes. Like peace, something triggered you into defeat. You’ve given up on your dreams, your goals, and maybe even so on life. Something happened to you or your family, that all hope is lost. There is neither triumph or victory, rather defeat and sadness. Someone did you wrong, and maybe that someone you are blaming or pointing fingers at is yourself. Maybe the person you are pointing fingers at is, God.

It’s hard to have joy when life did you wrong. We’ve dwelled on the wrong done to us that to find joy in the little things is quite a task. It’s hard to find good in each day because we’ve made the misfortune in life become our god. We worship the loss, the wrong done, and the pain and hurt we faced. The past repeats itself daily in our hearts and minds. We cannot shake it no matter how much we try. Pain has ruled your being. An emotion rules you rather than you having control over it. And we’ve become quite okay with that.


Lack of peace and joy often times makes it difficult for us to love others and love ourselves. Many times though, we dare not love because what presented itself as love has ruined us. We love not, because what was meant to be an example of love has scarred and ruined something meant to be wholesome and beautiful. In turn, we live life lacking peace and joy because love is nonexistent within us. We hate, speak in rage and walk in defeat. Love often times presents itself in hopeful speech and living. Love looks a-lot like faith, assurance and confidence. Love, is powerful when existing. When removed it is likewise powerful as it shakes the very core of who we are.

We all crave love. We all desire to know we are loved. We all desire the warmth of love. When we lose love or the concept of love is distorted, it damages how we love those around us. It damages the way we view life. Many times the reason why we lack peace and joy is because love is absent. It’s because we know not how to love and are consumed by anger and hurt. I’d say the best way to restore joy and peace, is to first tackle the restoration of love.


Restoring love. It’s not as easy as someone telling you they love you and all is fixed. It’s not as easy as telling yourself you are loved and all peace and joy is restored. Restoring love is more than action or word. It’s knitting together peaces of your heart making what was once broken, whole. Restoring love is not having the broken parts of your life glued back together, rather it is a healing of the heart where those broken pieces find life and restore it’s position and function in the heart. How do you go about that? How do you restore what you’ve learned to live without? Go to the source.

If you are a Christ follower, you know that the source for healing and restoration is our creator, God. If someone is the creator then naturally, they will be able to restore what’s broken or reestablish what’s gone missing. God is exactly that. He restores, heals, reestablishes and can even refurbish. There’s nothing too big or too small for Him. When all love, joy and peace is gone, He’s your stability. The issue is we refuse to seek the restoring. We’ve become comfortable in our filth that we’d rather live day to day in complaining in misery, downing in doubt and fear and living in hate and anger.

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means trying to appear callused. I understand there are difficult things to walk through in life, but the matter of the fact is we choose whether to dwell on the past and lose an eye or fix our eyes on Jesus. Dwelling on the past produces an impaired vision. Fixing our eyes on Jesus shapes perspective and character. Bad things happen because we live in a world where people choose to do evil things. The good news is that God, our creator, can make good out of evil.

For what it’s worth, I suggest, give God a try. If you blame Him for your lack of joy, peace and love, take it to Him. Let him know how angry you are. That is perfectly okay. And then wait on Him to respond. He will. Whatever hurt you have held on to that has you okay with living without joy, peace and love, it’s time to say no more. It’s time to restore what you’ve learned to live without. And the source for restoration is, Jesus. Don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Have you learned to live without peace, joy and love? Do you want these restored? How are you going to seek the source today?