Confront the Noise

As my kids got in the van for church on Sunday, my girls noticed their car seats were in the wrong place. (Yes, I had to move them.) So, I told them to fix it. Well, apparently one of them didn’t want to. Thus, they began bickering.

I just ignored it, buckled in the baby, started the van, and headed to church.

 Well, the bickering didn’t stop. And then the boys started.

I just ignored it. But it kept getting louder.

So I did what any good mom would do… I decided to turn up the volume of the radio… hoping they’d get the point…

They didn’t. The bickering continued.

So finally, I turned down the radio. “Guys, if I can hear you bickering over the radio, there must be a big problem. Knock it off.”

Amazing. The bickering stopped. The radio was turned back up. We continued to church listening to music and singing along.

The bickering… the noise… it didn’t stop on its own. I had to address it.

confront the noise

I’m not sure what the noise, problem, sin, struggle is in your life. But one thing is for sure, if you don’t address it, it will not go away.

If you continue to pretend like that problem is not a problem, you cannot grow.

If you continue to sweep it under the rug, it will never be exposed. Thus, you are stuck.

I can very specifically remember God telling me it was time to stop sweeping a situation under the rug. It was time to start telling that part of my story.

You see, there was a turning point in my life.  A point in which God became the key player in my life story.

Prior to this point I was doing life my way. I was chasing the world. Trying to find happiness in all the wrong places. I was miserable. I was tired. And I didn’t know why.

I ended up going through some intense counseling. And once the truth surfaced, I was able to fully accept the grace of God that had been chasing me my whole life.

My life began to radically change. My focus changed. My motives changed. The way I saw things changed.

But what happened in the counselor’s office… that was part of the story I didn’t want to tell.

She gave me a pretty serious diagnosis. She helped me identify toxic people, actions, and thoughts.  She helped me tear off all the masks I had been wearing and helped me see who I was.

Though she also lifted the diagnosis, it was part of this story I didn’t tell. I just wanted to sweep in under the rug. I wanted to pretend like it wasn’t a chapter in my life. It was like- I knew about it, learned from it, and am fine now- so everyone else is too.

But that’s not the truth. At all.

And by doing this, I was down-playing what God had done, is doing, and could do.

I thought I was protecting the people in that story by not sharing it. I thought I was protecting my image by not sharing it. But the truth was-I really did not want to deal with the consequences of telling that part of my story. In my mind, I already knew what would happen. It seemed unbearable.

I cried and told God I didn’t want to.

He showed me the Garden of Gethsemane. Guess what, Jesus didn’t want to either.

I cried some more. I got it. I needed to share the whole story. So, I did.

In my mind, it was to help someone else… possibly someone in a similar situation. But as time would show me, I may help someone else… But really this was about freeing myself from a hidden part of my story. I couldn’t just turn up the Jesus and expect the noise to go away. It needed to be confronted, so that I could give God the room to make something beautiful out of the mess.

And just like God always does, He had a message for me the next day at church.

The message just so happened to be covering a family in Genesis- Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac is the son of the promise God had with Abraham. He is the one who would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars. He and his wife had twin boys- Esau and Jacob.  Here’s how the Bible describes their family dynamic:

“27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Genesis 25)”

Did you catch that? These parents played favorites. And it wasn’t just a little thing. It was a big thing. Rebekah actually helped her favorite son steal her other son’s birthright and flea his wrath.

In any other story, this would be soap opera coverage. But this isn’t any other story, it’s God’s story. And these flawed humans are important to God’s salvation plan!

Look the point here is- they were dysfunctional. And God used them anyways. He used them despite their dysfunction for His glory. The Bible doesn’t overlook the fact that they were dysfunctional. It doesn’t hide the favoritism. It doesn’t highlight it either. The Bible simply states it as a fact.  

Fact- Dysfunction is dysfunction. Sin is sin. No matter how big or how small you may think it is. Sin is sin.

Sin separates you from God unless you confront it, confess it, and repent.

God is bigger than your past. God is bigger than your regrets. God is bigger than whatever the fear is that is holding you back from confronting the noise.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that confronting that noise was easy… sharing that part of my story was hard… very hard… It cost me relationships. It cost me the image I had made for myself. 

But what I gained was so much more. Peace- indescribable peace! 

God walked with me through that season of my life. He comforted me. He defended me. And he brought me new meaningful relationships and purpose. 

If there is noise in your life, pray about it. Pray and listen. Maybe… maybe… it’s time to confront that part of your story you don’t want to share. Maybe it’s time to admit to yourself that you don’t have a perfect life. (No one does- and that’s ok.) Maybe… just maybe you need a Savior. 

Stop turning up the noise and start letting God move in your situation. 

Dietary Restriction

We recently learned that our daughter is lactose intolerant. Let me tell you, I had no idea how hard a dietary restriction was on a four-year-old.

The first week, I felt like I had to make her “a special” meal for every meal… apparently I overuse dairy in my kitchen. Luckily, she was a champ and thought making a special spaghetti was pretty cool…  

I made some adjustments in the kitchen, gathered some dairy-free snacks, and life seems to be moving smoothly…

Until we are out in public and someone offers my kids a treat. Chocolate, cookies, muffins, donuts, cheesy crackers… guess what they all contain- dairy…

Even when they do try to accommodate (and I really do appreciate it), she still feels cheated… I can’t really blame her. What kid wants to eat pretzels while her sister is eating a chocolate chip cookie???

My poor daughter doesn’t understand. She knows she can’t have dairy. But she really wants it. She knows a belly ache is coming if she eats it, but she still really contemplates it.

The world does not really care about her needs. It’s a fact- she can’t have dairy. Yet, everywhere she goes, people will be eating dairy products. I will continue to be the “mean-mom” who tells her she can’t have it, while allowing her siblings to have some. I know it doesn’t seem fair, but they don’t have the same needs. 

There are many people who are just now learning about her dietary needs and trying to accommodate. They are looking for treats she can have and offering them instead. I know as more and more people come alongside her and understand her dietary needs, it will be easier. But the world will still offer diary… a lot…

dietary restriction

I have definitely felt like my daughter during some of spiritual pruning.  Sometimes I know the area God is working on me, and I am striving to align my will with His. But then I see other Christians doing the same thing God is leading me to NOT do.

It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right? Why is God choosing to convict me of gossip while the ladies in the front of the church are sharing not so great information about another member of the church? Why is God convicting me of my love of food, yet every gathering has an unlimited supply of junk food.

The world doesn’t care about our convictions. The world cares about themselves. Knowing this, we can go out in the world prepared to battle that sin.  But it feels different within our Christian circles. We are following the same God, who is a personal God, yet works on us each individually.

The truth is life is not about other people. It’s about God!  The Holy Spirit is leading you in this way so that you can grow closer to God. Your job is not to understand but to submit.  

You have no idea what God’s plan is. Maybe your conviction will change your behavior and help spread His light. Maybe you will help inspire a conviction of other people. Or maybe you will be the safe person that this person can turn to once the Holy Spirit reveals a similar sin to them.

Instead of thinking it’s unfair, pray. Sanctification is not meant to be fair; it’s meant to be personal.  Pray for the strength to overcome this sin. Remember to keep your eyes on the Lord. You cannot ask a neighbor to remove their speck while having a log in your eye. My relationship with God is between God and me. God is completing a good work in you and is faithful to carry it out to completion. 

Guess what? He’s doing the same thing in every believer’s life. It’s our job to love other Christians, walk beside them, and help them in their walk. Remember your convictions are your convictions. Share those convictions, but do not push them. It’s not your job to change another person, that’s God’s work. Clean up your own spiritual diet and allow God to do what only God can do.

We all have a spiritual diet. What we fill our hearts with is very important. Use those spiritual disciplines and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Read you Bible. Pray. Meditate. Yes, even if that means waking up early or staying up late. Find a time. Do it.

Gather for fellowship. We have a very real need to be surrounded by like minded people. Iron sharpens iron.  

Share your testimony. Share your God moments! Share your struggles.

When God first called me to share my testimony. I straight up told Him I don’t want to. I cried wondering what people would think. I cried knowing just how hard it would be to share the pain I have endured.

Then God showed me the Garden of Gethsemane. Guess what? Jesus didn’t want to do it either. He begged His Father to let this cup pass. But He submitted, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  

I, too, submitted. I learned that sharing my testimony may help others. But really, it’s helping me. It’s showing me just how active God is in my life. It’s helping me recognize His activity. It’s helping me leave the old life behind and embrace the sanctification process.  It’s helping me be open in all areas of my life. Yes, being open about my shortcomings, struggles, and faith has also helped some other people do the same. But really, this was about obedience and growing closer to God. Not just about helping others. 

Share your testimony. Share how God is active in your life. Someone else may see their new convictions as a “dietary restriction” and needs to see you holding your head high walking with the Lord. They need to know they are not alone.