My Heart

Shredded heart, ripped apart
By the war going on inside.
Gotta let go, release control,
and in You always abide.

Confident heart, set apart
For the purposes of God.
I’ve let it all go, released the control,
and in You will always abide.

********************************************

This is one of those poems that was written in pieces. The first stanza was probably written well over a year ago. There are many things that I struggle with, mentally, and the first stanza describes the warring feelings and struggles.

Though I will always have some kind of mental struggles – don’t we all? – running across a book by Renee Swope, “A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises,” caused me to add in the second stanza more recently.

I love how God can take the hopeless start to one of my poems and help me to write a hopeful end to it. This isn’t the first time, and won’t be the last, that I’ve added to a basic poem from some inspiration that God has planted within me. Sometimes I just start with one or two lines that I write into one of my “scratch” notebooks, and later — sometimes years later — those beginnings become something more.

If you’re someone who is looking to find your confidence in God, or maybe if you’re just curious about what that would look like in your life, I urge you to sign up for Renee’s online study, coming this January. Head over to her site today and sign up.

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To Be [a Leader] or Not To Be (or Stop Running in the Wrong Direction)

As I was reflecting on a recent visit with my Team Leader, I thought I would write a bit about what I shared with her, so that I could share my experience with others and to remind myself, for those times when I feel inadequate.

Let me start by saying that I have never, ever, seen myself as a leader; no matter what part of my life we’re referring to (home, work, church, etc.). How am I supposed to lead others with all my shortcomings? There are a myriad of reasons I feel this way, but especially when it comes to being a leader in the church; the first of which is my abysmal, struggling prayer life. Also, I am a shy introvert who shares little of her heart with anyone, even those closest to me. I’m much more content to be a quiet follower. However, this time, God was not content to let me stay that way.

It all started when I clicked a link from one of my daily devotional emails. A new book by Renee Swope was due out in August titled “A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God’s Promises.” I downloaded the sample and, as I read it, became excited for the release of the book. I planned to buy it to read for myself.

Over the next few weeks, I began to feel the pull of leading a women’s group on this book. I could see, in my heart, a room of women all sharing and growing together. I tried to dismiss it because I didn’t feel qualified to teach on something such as confidence, especially since I have none of my own. I ignored the prompting, until I went to coffee with my friend, Angela.

For some reason I felt the need to share about the book and my group idea with her. She immediately began to encourage me to go ahead with it. I sent her a sample of the book and she continued to encourage me and even told other friends about the book and my group. Now, I had no choice to go ahead with the group because others I knew would make sure I did. I do believe God made sure we met for coffee that day, so that Angela could speak encouragement to me. We haven’t been able to get together since then, though I hope both our schedules will allow for some coffee time soon after the holidays.

When group leader signups began at church, I was the first to sign up for this trimester of Bible study groups. I wanted to make sure I didn’t talk myself out of it. I felt peace about it, at that point, and knew that God would send those ladies to me that could most use this study, though I was hoping it would be a small group of ladies. (I’m still an introvert, after all, and the thought of having a large group scared me.)

I have been leading this group now for about eight weeks, and after just the first few weeks, I knew that I was blessed by leading this study. I have a small group of ladies who feel comfortable sharing their lives and we are all encouraging one another. As I mentioned before, praying is a very weak area for me, but God included a couple of prayer warriors in the group, so I can have them pray when I’m not feeling confident enough.

I want to say that, no matter who you are or where you are in your walk with Christ, there is room to lead a Bible study. It does grow you in ways that couldn’t happen by any other means. With the next round of leader signups under way, it’s time for me to assess what my next step will be and if I  am supposed to continue leading a women’s group.

What about you? Is there something God is calling you to do today? Will you follow his prompting or will you try to run? I’d love to hear your comments.

Doubt and Insecurity

I am leading a Bible study group on a book titled, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises, by Renee Swope of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I was writing out the answer to the following question, and decided to post my answer here as a blog post.

Question: Do you ever feel like you are the only one who struggles with insecurity or doubt? Why or why not?

I thought this was a “funny” question to choose, considering I thought most of us [in the group] would say “yes” and “no” as an answer.

I know for me, obviously, I’m not the only one who struggles. I know that everyone struggles, to some degree, with an insecurity or doubt in their life.

But, there are those times when I’m feeling really depressed and I feel like I’m the only one in the world who must feel that way; that no one else is in as deep a pit as I am as I try to scratch and claw my own way out.

As I write this, I am reminded that Jesus too, must have felt some insecurity and doubt as he prepared to give his life for us. Why else would he pray to have “this cup removed from me”? (Matthew 26:39) It is a reminder that He, too, faced many of the same problems and feelings as we face and that He understands our hearts.

Verses 1-3 in Psalm 40 also come to mind, when I think about trying to find my own way out life’s “pits.”

1 I relied completely on the LORD,
and he turned toward me
and heard my cry for help.
2  He lifted me out of the watery pit,
out of the slimy mud.
He placed my feet on a rock
and gave me secure footing.
3  He gave me reason to sing a new song,
praising our God.
May many see what God has done,
so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the LORD!

We may continue to study the Bible, and other books, in an effort to find our way permanently into the light, but we need to remember that many times we must cry for help [pray] to have the strength to endure the journey from the pit and to keep standing in the Truth, even when doubt and insecurities try to take us over and send us back in.

Let us pray…

Dear Lord, you know our hearts; you know our doubts and insecurities. As we study your Word, we cry out for help. Please lift us out of our “pits” and place our feet on secure footing. Give us the strength to continue to stand, even when we feel like falling down. Please help us to overcome our doubts and insecurities and give us a new song of praise to You. Help us to shine Your light so that others will see You and praise You. In Jesus’ name. AMEN!