Guilt, Shame, Jesus’ Name

Guilt, Shame, Jesus’ Name

There is no one more critical of me than me. For every person that has thought or said, “who does she think she is” or “what gives her the right” or “I know her past and she shouldn’t be…”, I’ve thought it more. I’ve made a case to God about why I’m not a good fit for the things he’s called me to. My life is a mess and not just because I have four kids, a guinea pig, a dog, and dirty diapers laying in the living room. The mess I am talking about is the choices I’ve made that led to a heaping scoop of shame and guilt.  You don’t just “get over”, “move on”, or “grow up” from shame and guilt because something about them become you- not just a part of you.

It wasn’t a quick fix- or soul healing for that matter- but a long, hard road of continuing to lean into Jesus through these feelings of being unqualified, ill-equipped, the shame of my past, guilt over broken relationships- as if I had the ability to hold them all together. As I continued to hold these feelings against scripture, God continued to be faithful to reveal himself to me.

The very things the Enemy wants to hold over our heads- to weigh us down and tire us out from being poured out like a drink offering- are the very things that make our testimony miraculous.

If I try and pretend like I have it together, that I am somehow equipped to be following Jesus than I’m robbing God of the glory he so deserves. Actually, let me change that to say, “I’m robbing myself of an opportunity to give God glory” because I don’t see how we can rob God of anything. He is God, we are not so he gets glory regardless of us giving it to him.

Somehow through his full knowledge of all of the things that cause such shame and guilt, God is still choosing to pour into me so I can pour out to others. I don’t know how you define miraculous, but to me, this is a miracle.

All of the people listed below are straight from the scripture. If you aren’t familiar with their testimony, I hope you would open up the Bible and get to know them. Then consider this: what would happen if their testimony stopped at their failures? What if all they were made of was their mess of shame, disloyalty, gossip, slander, etc?

I’m not suggesting that they could have derailed their call- quite frankly, I don’t know how all of that works but what I do know is if I could have derailed mine, I would have. I thought I did at one point but somehow God was holding it all together- there is just no other way to explain it. There is some sort of flow to all of this that I don’t know I can explain, but what I do know is there has been a fire lit in my bones for those who are being weighed down by what God has already marked as forgiven and free.

Legitimate lies the enemy could have tormented these faithful servants of God with:

Ill-equipped: Moses

Fraud: Paul

Shame: Samaritan Woman

Unforgivable: Joseph’s brothers

Bad Friend: Peter

Fear: Abraham and Sarah

We must go and tell what Jesus has done for us. The enemy taunts us with our failures and screw ups but these are the things that are often what the Lord uses to refine us- being the very catalyst to the call God has on our life.

Wouldn’t it be the coolest if we didn’t just ask God to heal us but to also do something mighty through the healing? Even if we doubt it can happen, the guts to ask him is a demonstration of a belief that God can do imaginably more. I know firsthand how gutsy and scary simply asking can be. I mean we are asking God to take the most vulnerable parts of us and somehow make them a catalyst for change. Do we even believe he can do this? I’m not trying to convince you of anything other than opening up scripture and just ask, see, and wait…

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)

I’d like to seal this up with the reason why our screw ups never have to be our ending.

Covers it all with restoration: Jesus

“Satan so vehemently despises what Christ has done for mortals that one of his chief objectives is to make the clean feel unclean. Oh, how he desires to stain the beautiful bride of Christ. Satan can't make the bride do anything, so he does everything he can to get her to. How is this best accomplished? He tries to corrupt thoughts to manipulate feelings. Satan knows that the nature of humankind is to act out of how we feel rather than what we know. Second Timothy 2:26 tells us that Satan's objective in taking people captive is to get them to do his will. If we have received Christ as our Savior, Satan is forced to work from the outside rather than the inside. Thus, he manipulates outside influences to affect the inside decision-makers of the heart and mind.” (Moore, Beth. When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. B&H Publishing Group. 2003)

Used Up or Poured Out

Used Up or Poured Out

After Mom and Dad died in the plane crash, I would beg God to use me through the pain. I wanted my pain to be worth it, and I needed it to be more than what my eyes could see which was death and hopelessness. I thought if God could still use me after this that this would somehow be worth it or evidence that there was a bigger plan. I really struggled for six years as I saw God using others and not me. I didn’t anticipate it being six years of silence and pain of wondering “what was the point” if all that was meant for me in this was to hurt and to grieve.

What I’m not saying and what I didn’t see at the time, I had a belief at the core that to be used by God meant I was valued by God. The enemy’s greatest lie in my life has always been “you aren’t seen, you aren’t valued” and he taunted me with these lies in the midst of this personal disaster. Now don’t get me wrong, I had beautiful life events occur in these six years. I’m not disillusioned to think I had it all bad. We are complex and this situation is complex- in my soul, I was deeply hurt while all the while being thankful for the beauty of his creation.

I began to wonder what the point of this tragedy was for me. I’d often hear how God is using others in big ways through this story. I’d witness this myself, he really was using others in “big” ways through this story. There was something in my heart, this ache that seemed to flare up even more when I heard those words though because it left me with the pain that said, “but what about me”. “God, did you have to allow my parents to die to use this story like this? This wasn’t worth it to me, not to me!” I didn’t need this story to be about me but I needed to know that God was about me through this painful reality. 

Here is where the miraculous soul healing comes in.

I am now confident that God will work everything out for the good of those that love him. I am confident this tragedy was never meant to be a story pointing to a person, but to a mighty God who did a miraculous work in the lives and hearts of people through excruciating pain. Would I have been so confident of this if he didn’t allow the six years of the pain and lingering question of “do you see me”? I don’t know but what I do know is because of those six years, I’ve never been so sure of his goodness. I wouldn’t trade this confidence for anything- anything.

Although I recognize and am thankful for the ways God has used their death, their death will never be worth it to me. The only death I will ever give thanks for is Jesus’ because it’s the one that brought me life. Any other death is just a reminder to me that this is painful here on earth, it’s an ache in my heart that says “I can’t wait for Heaven”.

Being used by God in this tragedy will never wipe away the pain or somehow validate that God is still good. In fact, my curiosity is taking me down a road with God asking him, “did you create me to be used up by you or to be loved by you?”

Furthermore, does being used by God mean we are loved by him or does being loved by God mean he can use us in some miraculous way?

I’ll leave you with a quote from Zach Neese in his book, How to Worship a King, “God didn’t create you so that He could use you. He created you so that He could know you… God can use anything, but He sent His Son so that He could have relationships with people who believe- not objects” (page 3).

 

Upcoming Blog Post: Scripture study of people who have been used by God answering the questions posted above.

Updated as of 2/9/18: Click here to locate the scripture study

Fear that Produces Peace

Fear.

I simply see the word written on paper and my mind floods with painful memories of times I’ve been in the heat of it. Words like: death, disease, divorce, disaster come crashing into my mind as if to remind me, “Ah yes, you have met fear before. In fact, you have quite a past history with this character.”

But is this relationship- this history built- with fear what God intended me to know, to become comfortable with? Often, I toss my hands in the air as if to say, “woe is me- this is just the cross that I bear”. I take the blows of the fearful situations because I assume they are just the consequences of a messed up world.

I take this mindset and get comfortable with it as if to wear a pair of shoes that don’t fit. Let’s face it, shoes that don’t fit are terribly uncomfortable but, if it’s all you’ve got, you settle in them anyway- especially if they “make the outfit”. The good Lord knows I don’t mess up a good outfit with the wrong pair of shoes.

Could I present you with a new idea about fear- a new pair of shoes if you will?

I don’t know that, as Christ followers, we need to go around wearing these shoes that don’t fit. If we are going to be wearing shoes, it gets to be the shoes that are “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6: 15 NIV) Interesting that the exact contrast of fear is peace, huh?

What if the meaning of “fear” has been tainted and twisted by the enemy to scare us and keep us in bondage to that thing of which we are scared?

What if God does want us to fear, but we have become so saturated with sin that we can’t even locate the authentic meaning of what fear is- the origination of the word by Him, through Him, and for Him.

In Philippians, Paul talks about fear by saying, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12 NIV) Or how about the English Standard Version which says, “…show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”

What if the authentic meaning of the word “fear” has less to do with a result (of a situation) and more to do with a response (of reverence for our Savior)?

Ponder this up and pray this out.

Peace.

Newness through the Pain

Do you ever question how God can make anything good come from devastation? 

No one wants to walk through seasons of deep pain and grief but it is inescapable… the way of a life lived.

As much as I long for Heaven where there will be no more death and anguish, it has been these painful times of my life that have been a catalyst for change. This change has led to a maturing of my faith in the Lord. Navigating my way through this inescapable pain is where scripture became more than just words on a page but the fire that set my feet walking and my heart beating. It seems to be that the Lord has used these times to birth out of me something new…

Newness.
When I think of newness I think of the morning sun, the smell of fresh flowers, the birds chirping, and freshly brewed pot of coffee. I crave the newness each day offers.

It’s a beautiful miracle when this newness becomes more than an experience but the face of a person.

We can change our hairstyle, our makeup, our clothes, our attitude but the real change comes when we surrender and follow our Savior and He makes us new!

Without Him, we’ve just been experiencing a cheap version of what newness really tastes, smells, and feels like.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

 

Journey over to, Stop the Name Calling: from Shame to Beloved, for a proper departure from here.

 

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Facing Your Freedom [Free Download]

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6)

Let’s face it, when it comes to freedom in Christ, we trade our joy for doubt, our tenacity for fear, or (dare I say) our calling for a self-invoked punishment as if we are putting ourselves in timeout until we learn to “behave”. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of defeated living. As women of God, we were made for fire and I want “this little light of mine” to burn wild and free.
This particular piece of writing had me captivated as I was curating it while sitting with my legs curled close to my 20-week baby bump and my left pointer finger twirling a strand of hair as I sat, prayed, pondered and wrote. You see, this piece represents what A Woman Named Free was birthed from, raw and unrestrained life of Maria Bowersock.
I typically do not write poems, so I thought it would benefit you to have some instruction on how to read this piece. (pst…I may be breaking all the rules of poem writing by doing this, so … )
This particular poem starts with statements that I wrestled with at one point or another. I was sure these fierce times in life would slaughter me and yet because of Jesus, I safely stand. The poem then guides you through the time of my life where my feelings collided with Scripture and produce something miraculous; the moment in my life where something wildly beautiful happens. From here, you will walk with me down the road of intimacy as I talk to my Heavenly Father.
Most of these types of writings I ponder up with Him and keep them in the secret hideaway of my heart. Other times, the message relentlessly burns to my bones and needs to be released from my hideaway… {download and read by clicking below}

 

 

 

Facing Your Freedom [Free Download]