Being Stripped Down

It seems like it was just yesterday. If I close my eyes I can remember every single detail, every emotion and the way God met me in my weeping to show me that His love for me knows no bounds.

Usually the quiet atmosphere of the small laundry mat was a welcoming change, a time where I could actually be alone. Yet today, I hated that I was left alone. I watched as my clothes spun around and around, echoing all the thoughts in my head. Maybe if I stared intently enough the timer would go off, giving me a reason to leave, to run away.

Yet I knew I needed to face some things and let God speak to me. So as much as I dreaded the confrontation and what I knew was coming, I took a deep and shaky breath. Trying to hold the tears back, I closed my eyes to reflect on the things leading up to this moment.

This week’s topic was Lordship, learning to let go and give God everything. Let me tell you, I didn’t realize how many things I was holding back from God until our speaker started to make a list of the different idols that we can so easily place above God. I knew from day one that God was going to challenge me and that he wanted to strip me down. But I also knew it wouldn’t be easy, and so I tried to ignore the tugging on my heart.

I thought that surely I love God enough and that I don’t have to do anything drastic to prove my devotion to Him. Which is true, God doesn’t want us to prove our devotion to Him, but sometimes He will ask us to let go of things in order to go deeper with Him. Yet I tried to continue on, even though I knew God was telling me that I don’t trust Him and that I need to stop holding onto control.

I did pretty well in avoiding any drastic measures that is until I sat down to talk with my mentor Shealin. In the overcrowded dining hall, we might as well have been the only two people their. Shealin saw right through my many masks, and she knew that I needed a little push in the right direction. Okay, more like a giant shove. As we talked, I started to realize how afraid I was of letting go of control and how many fears were holding me captive.

It started sinking in… God really was asking me to trust His voice and to obey immediately. My tendency is to be mistrusting, because it is easy for me to see the sides of God such as compassion, love and mercy. So therefore I create loopholes, I take what God says and try to rationalize it or explain it so that it fits my situation. I become passive, avoiding confrontation and making it hard for God to go deep in healing.

Shealin challenged me to sit in quiet, and to let God speak. Listening and obeying without asking questions. Which is why I want with everything I have to run away and to avoid the challenge I know is coming.

Yet as the tears pool up in my eyes, I know without a doubt that I love Jesus too much to run away this time. Picking up my pen, I let Jesus take control.

He told me that He loves me and He wants all of me. That He wants to bless me, but how can He when I refuse to let go, when I refuse to trust Him. There is nothing I surrender that He can’t give back in abundance. He told me that He wasn’t going to force me to obey what he speaks, because I have a free will.

The question I knew He was asking was “ am I going to fully trust Him to provide or hold onto my control?”

He started to reveal a lot about my identity. That even though I have been learning and growing in my understanding of who I am to Him, I still hold on to the way I look, letting my possessions define me and give me worth. I have been valuing my outward portrayal more then what God says about me. He told me that He has already worked so much in my heart, but he wants it to be reflected in the outward as well.

Even though I didn’t realize it, my identity was being found in the many things I have instead of Jesus. For example, I have let photography become something that defines me… because it makes me different from my siblings, it is a way for people to notice me and it is something that is special about me. Which isn’t bad, He gave me that love and passion… it is just I have let it become my identity.

At this point there was no stopping the tears that were beginning to fall down my face. I took a deep breath; finally ready to truly listen to the challenge He would bring. He told me to write down what I heard, not questioning it. It would be very challenging and confronting, and I would have to make tough decisions. I wrote and wrote as He so gently spoke to me.

Let me tell you, God speaks so specifically, it blows me away.

He told me not only to give away ALL of my money, but He told me specifically what to do with it. He told me to give away almost all my clothes and who to give them to. As well as my hair bows, which seems so silly… but it was still challenging.

Then came the hardest one… he told me to give away my camera. Oh, I definitely argued with Him on that one, but yet again I knew that I had the choice of whether or not to obey.

I took another deep breath; looking at the list I was overwhelmed and slightly terrified. Tempted to question it, to argue, to rationalize it. Yet I knew that I needed to respond out of my love for Jesus, because He is so worthy of it all.

So I did it. Every. Single. Thing.

And seeing the way He was so specific and intentional and the way that my obedience encouraged and blessed others, made it a little easier.

God told me to give one of my dear friends 200 dollars with a note saying it was for spending money. I gave her that and some flowers. The next day she told me that she had given away her last 200 dollars the night before and was trusting Jesus for spending money.

Another friend received one of my favorite floral scarfs. Later, she told me right when I gave it to her, God was asking her to lay down her family and accept His calling over her life. And when I handed it to her, God reminded her that He provides and He loves to bless us and He wont take away something not to give back better things.

These are just two of many stories of Gods faithfulness and the way He used me to provide. Along with those stories though, I cried more then I knew was possible. After I had done everything He asked, I sat down on my bed with eight cents in my bank account, and I cried even more. I began to realize for the first time in my life I was at a point where I was truly dependent on Jesus. I had no choice but to fling myself at His feet, because for the first time in my life I had no back up plan, no safety net. I realized that it was as if I didn’t realize who I was without all those things. Which is proof of how much I needed to let go, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I cried because it is really hard to let go. To say goodbye to so many things. To let go of who I am in a sense, yet Jesus knew it would be hard and He promises to comfort us.

The last thing I gave away was my camera. I slept on it, because I was hoping Jesus would change His mind. Of course, I woke up knowing I had to give it away. I thought I had already cried all my tears, but when I handed my camera to my kiwi friend, it all hit me and I started crying again. As my fears were being confronted, and the tears spilled out, I also experienced so much freedom. I started realizing that it was the beginning of truly finding my identity in Jesus. That people still like me, even when I cant buy them gifts or don’t have anything to give them. I stared to realize that I don’t have to do anything to be loved, being me is enough. That I am not a burden, but people love me for me.

The other important lesson God taught me was to be transparent and vulnerable, letting people in. When I was doing all this, God told me to not tell very many people, because I wasn’t doing it to make a show or prove I was willing to lay these things down. Secondly, He didn’t want me asking for money or letting people know I was in need. He wanted to provide for me and He wasn’t going to let me put Him in a box. Yet He did highlight a few specific friends who I opened up with, and they let me cry and process all that had happened. I had to be honest, letting them know my fears and doubts. Being honest was scary… and I realized that I so easily try and put on a mask of happiness because I don’t want to be a burden. I was afraid that people wouldn’t understand, or they would think I was foolish. Yet God showed me that I have to let people in and I have to let them see the real me.

Now as I sit here typing this out, I can see in retrospect how God was faithful and the way He provided for me. There wasn’t one single time that I needed something and He didn’t provide, and most of the time I had even more then I needed. Looking back, I love seeing the way He met me where I was at, crying with me. Then lifting me up, teaching me ever so patiently just how much He loves me for me and the way He is committed to me.

It was one of the hardest couple months; so much crying was done as I walked through the painful process of being stripped down. But oh man, Jesus is so worthy. I wouldn’t change a single thing. He taught me so many things, and brought me freedom from things I didn’t even know were holding me back.
Sometimes true healing hurts at first and it can seem impossible. Yet He is trustworthy and He is committed.

So wherever you are at, I promise it will be okay. His love for you knows no bounds. Let him hold you, and let him have all of you. Let go and let His love transform you._DSC6942.jpg

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