Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When reading this passage in 2 Corinthians, I tend to skip the beginning part about the “thorn” and “messenger of Satan” and stick to the park about “grace” and “power”. But the Lord has been showing me the significance of this passage and its application in my life. He has taught me a LOT, and I would like to share as much of it as possible.

“I created this blog with the intention of it being a place to document my spiritual journey, including the flaws, failures, struggles, accomplishments, victories, and joys of my everyday life. I want it to be a place where I can be real. I want it to be a place where I can share the things that I am learning and ways that I am growing spiritually. I want it to be a place where I can remember the goodness and the love of my Father and the incredible things He is doing in my life.”

I wrote this statement in my very first blog post back in January 2019. I started this blog to make memories. I wanted “to be able to look back on these posts and see how far God has brought me… That on days I am struggling, I will be able to look back and remember the grace of God… That on the good days I can look back and rejoice and praise God for the love he has poured out over me….That the words I write now will be seeds planted that will grow into something more.”

That was my goal. The words I wrote then sting a little bit to read now, though. I was really easy to say I would share my flaws, failures, and struggles, alongside the accomplishments, victories, and joys, but that has failed to happen. Not because I have not struggled or failed in my life. Not because I don’t have flaws. (I have so many more than you could ever know, trust me.) I have not shared them, because I find it embarrassing. I find it humiliating to admit that I am weak, struggling, hurting, making mistakes, and failing. Basically, I don’t like to admit I am a fallen, sinful human being just like everyone else in this world. Because of this pride, I have missed out on sharing some of the most incredible lessons God has taught me. The growth I have experienced in the hard times in my life has been hidden.

My heart is like a plot of land filled with weeds. The soil is good and full of nutrients that allows for growth – it was created that way – but for too long I have given these weeds access to the soil. They have taken over and become unmanageable. I can still try to pull them up on my own, but I do not have the proper tools for it. As I tug at the weeds, they snap off, leaving the roots behind in the soil. Since I don’t have anything but my hands to dig the roots out, a new weed springs up from the same root. No matter how many times I tug on the weeds and try to make my garden look nice, I will never be able to grow anything else in it, because the weeds are still taking over the soil. All I am accomplishing on my own is covering up the things which are now hidden beneath the soil. I will never be able to have things which bear fruit in that garden of my heart, because I do not have any seeds, I could not dig a hole deep enough to plant them without the proper tools anyway, and even if I could, the weeds would choke them out and take all the nutrients they need to spring up and grow.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3:19-21

When I made the decision to follow Christ, my heart was exposed to His brilliant light and glory. This light fell on the garden of my heart, and because of the new light, the weeds in my life began to spring up in the soil again. They were no longer hidden beneath it, but instead became exposed in His light. In an effort to stop the growth, I tried to cover everything up with whatever I could find – trying to block the light so the ugly, nasty weeds would stay hidden beneath the soil. But that’s not how it works when you walk in the light.

Nothing I could do by myself was able to fix the problem I was having. I was incapable of taking care of these horrible weeds on my own. But that is to be expected of someone who is not a Gardener. Patiently standing nearby, offering help, but waiting until I opened the gate to let Him in, was the true Gardener. Finally, when I realized how desperately I needed help, I allowed him to come into my garden and help me. He pulled sharp tools from his bag and began His work on the weeds, but instead of trying to pull them out, He attacked them at the root. As the tools broke the soil of my heart, it hurt. As He uprooted the weeds and broke them away from the ground, it hurt. But slowly, over time, He removed each of the weeds.

He could have stopped there – it would have been more than enough – but He didn’t. Instead, He took a bag of seeds He carried with Him, and began placing these seeds in the soil where the weeds had been. Then, carefully, He turned over the soil, and covered the seeds. He continued like this, day after day, week after week. Sometimes the weeds were rooted very deeply and He would spend more time making sure every bit of it was removed from the soil.

To my dismay, as I looked back over the parts of the garden behind us, the light was causing the seeds to spring up, but along with the new plants were weeds also breaking through the soil. But I realized this time, to block out the light would also cause the new plants to die. The Gardener came to me and knelt beside me near these new plants and the weeds. He lovingly showed me how to distinguish the weeds from the true plants. Then, He took His hands, and showed me how to take out the small weeds from the soil along with the root. And then, He took His tools and worked beside me. As He removed the larger weeds, He helped me to work at the smaller ones so they would not take deep root in the soil again. Over time, from seeing His work, I learned more and more how to tend to my garden. I grew in my understanding and he graciously taught me more and more. I would never be a Gardener like Him – He had understanding of things beyond my imagination – but I could learn from walking beside Him how to be more like Him.

The light continued to expose weeds, but I finally saw the importance of the light as my new plants began to grow more and more and bear fruit. However, as other people walked by my garden, I started to become embarrassed. As they looked, they could see the new plants, but they could also see the small weeds springing up and the large weeds the Gardener was still working on. So I began to build a wall around my garden to block the view. I wanted to tell people all about the beautiful garden I had thanks to the Gardener, but because of the wall I put up, they could not see the beauty and importance of it. In fact, some did not even believe me.

The Gardener again saw my frustration, and gently and lovingly showed me what my wall was doing. Yes, it was blocking others from seeing the weeds springing up and the ones still being uprooted, but it was also blocking other things. First, although it blocked the view of the weeds, it also blocked the view of the new plants which would become beautiful and bear fruit. Second, it also was not allowing others to see the Gardener at work. If others were in need of help and could not see the good work he was doing in my life, they would not know who to ask for help. And finally, as we walked to the other side of the wall, He showed me the wall was casting a shadow on my garden as well, blocking out the light. It was not just limiting the view of others, it was actually interfering with the growth of my garden.

This wall can be many things. For me, though, I have seen lately that it is pride. In an effort to make myself look better and more put together, my pride becomes a barrier. As I limit the things I share with the people around me, I also limit what they can see God doing in my life. If nobody can see the impact the light of Jesus has had on my life and the incredible work He has done to save me from myself, then what is the point of all of this?

As I have been discovering this over the past weeks, I have realized that one part of my life this impacts in many ways is my health. So, in the next couple posts, my hope is that I can begin breaking down the wall I have built up and be more transparent about what is going on in my life in this area. God is doing so. many. amazing. things. and His light, glory, power, and love should never be hidden by my own pride.

Heavenly Father, you are so great and so merciful. You have saved me from the sin, pain, and death that I could never have handled on my own – not in an eternity. That is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. Jesus, you took the death I deserved and gave me life with the Father that you deserved. And not only that, but you have also given me the gift of your Holy Spirit to be with me always. And you have given me so much more as well – a life that is full of your blessings, which may bear fruit as I walk with you in the light. You deserve all the glory, honor, and praise. All I have to offer is myself. So help me, Father, to glorify you, honor you, and praise you with my life. Let your light be visible to everyone around. Thank you for everything that you have done, all you are doing, and everything you will do in advance. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Leaky Pipes

Does it not make a great difference whether I am, so to speak, the landlord of my own mind and body, or only a tenant, responsible to the real landlord?

C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

This quote… It stood out to me so much the first time I read through Mere Christianity. As I have worked through this book a second time, revisiting previous underlines and notes has been such a fun experience. It has also been so incredible to see the way those same quotes and chapters can take such a different meaning or reveal something so new the second time around.

I was fascinated by this analogy. The thought that my body is a home built by someone else that I am simply blessed to be residing in is such a wonderful way of understanding the relationship between our body and spirit. It is also SO important to realize we cannot ever have enough to purchase our own “homes”. They are so beautifully built that only the blood of Christ could pay the price. He has not only created this beautiful home for my spirit, He owns it, too.

As I followed this train of thought, I was so thankful. My body is truly an incredible thing. The fact I have been gifted it is so overwhelming. But as I thought through this, less positive thoughts quickly filled my mind…

Obviously God has created my “home” and it’s beautiful in appearance, but is it really fair I seem to have quite a few “leaky pipes” with my health? They cause so many issues that I seem to always be trying to fix. Why couldn’t I have had a “home” that is perfect?

How sad is that? How incredibly sad is it that I can be SO blessed to have something so beautiful, and I can only appreciate it for about ten seconds before I suddenly feel sorry for myself.

But that’s so easy to do when I feel like I am constantly fighting. It’s so exhausting. I recently made it through another week of poor health. I haven’t slept more than 4-6 hours a night in a week. Lack of sleep and brain fog are making me feel like I’m walking through a dream instead of reality. My joints seem to be screaming at me. Eventually I just reach a point I am so tired and sick of being sick. I come to a place where all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. Cry hard and somehow miraculously come to a place of peace without pain.

It’s draining. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

As I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about this flawed “home”, I heard the Lord say, “Darling, do you realize you don’t love yourself?”

Is it strange to say this almost offended me? Growing up, I had a difficult time relating to other people who struggled with self-image. I never seemed to have trouble seeing the beauty in the way God created me, at least when it came to physical appearance. Even now, when I see others struggling to see the beauty God has given them, it hurts my heart and I so passionately want to help them see it, but I have never had a clue how to understand where they are coming from to start.

So I was confused. How can I not love myself? I know God created me in His image, I know He made me to be beautiful in His eyes… so how can I not love myself?

“Do you realize you can appreciate your beauty and still lack appreciation and love for your physical body?”

Suddenly I saw a picture so vividly. It was an archway- a doorframe- in a home. One I saw in Pinterest months ago that I loved, but forgot to save. It was different than most doorways. Built to be an odd shape, it had exposed brick and almost seemed like someone had knocked a hole in the wall and decided to leave it. It was such an interesting design and so unique.

“This is your health.”

I am made in God’s image. Following this “home” analogy, that means God designed billions of houses, right? And each one is modeled after His own house. Every house contains pieces of the architecture, design, and decoration of His own. They are modeled after His, but unique in their own way.

I was given one of these houses. For free. Because Christ bought it for me. He is the landlord, I’m just a tenant. Well, I obviously really appreciate this house. From the outside, I can see it is very beautiful. The architecture is pleasing. Most of the inside is as well. However, I notice this doorway in my new home. It catches my eye almost immediately. It is not easy to miss at all.

Unfortunately, I decide immediately I do not like this doorway. It looks like something is broken. Actually, what it looks like is someone broke the wall and decided it wasn’t worth fixing, so they slapped some paint on it and called it a day. So, because I don’t like it, I start calling my landlord every day after I notice it. I don’t like it, so He should come fix it for me. In the meantime, I do everything I can to patch it up, cover it up, and get rid of it. But nothing seems to work.

Actually, I get quite irritated because I know the landlord knows EXACTLY what I am complaining about. I can’t understand why He won’t come fix it. Until today. Today, when I call again, very upset about this doorway, He responds saying, “Have you ever thought maybe I designed it that way for a reason? Actually, this house is still mine, and I think that doorway is beautiful. In fact, that doorway is modeled after one in my own home.”

Where my eyes see something broken, His eyes see a work of art. I see something poorly designed, but He sees something that took time and thought to create. My eyes only see a problem which needs fixing, but He sees something beautiful.

There are no leaky pipes. My house is very well built. It was perfectly designed. Unfortunately, there is a part of it I am struggling to see the beauty in. It still looks a bit lopsided to me. But the truth is, it was very carefully designed by someone who sees it as perfect.

Wouldn’t it be so sad if I live in this house my whole life and choose to say I hate it just because of one doorframe I don’t like? It seems like such a big deal even though it’s such a small part of this beautiful house I have been given. Maybe it’s not my taste, but this house doesn’t really belong to me anyway. I’m just blessed to be living in it while I’m here on this earth. Even so, I think if I’m going to live in it my whole life, I should probably take time to try and appreciate the thought and creativity the architect put into creating this whole house. Every single part of it.

It will take time for me to be able to see my health as something beautiful. My body and I don’t get along very well most days because of it. It will take time for me to learn to appreciate something I struggle to see the beauty in. But thankfully, I know it was part of the blueprints for my body. God didn’t make a mistake. He put time, thought, and care into creating me the way He did.

It may take time for me to really know it, but I am beautiful in every way. No leaky pipes.