Can He Really Use My Imperfect Parts?

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


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.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Six… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

We all have a story.
Our story matters.
It matters to God, and there are others who can learn from our story.

I feel like I say this to women all the time, because there are so many who are hesitant to share their story, thinking it means nothing, it’s full of shame, it’s full of mistakes, and that none of those things really matter… to anyone, but especially to God.

Sandra Stanley begins this devotional by telling us, “Comparison may be whispering to you the lie that those pieces of your story should be kept hidden—that admitting them out loud would be intentionally pointing out that you don’t measure up, that you aren’t perfect enough.”

His grace IS sufficient for us, and His power IS made perfect in my weaknesses. We struggle to believe this… and we struggle when we think we need to have no weaknesses to be used by Him… and that we must be perfect in order for His power to be made perfect. Stop it.

We’re so wrong when we allow those whispers to speak lies to us.

“God can leverage and use the unpolished, imperfect parts of your story.”

He will if you let him. It’s often in the shattered dreams that we find Him. It’s often in the broken bits that we discover more about Him. It’s often in the questions we ask where we’ll find hope. It’s often in hearing others’ stories where we’ll realize ours matters, too.

Whose unpolished and imperfect parts can be used?

It’s those of us who wonder from where our value comes.

It’s those of us who want to know how a broken heart can heal.

It’s those of us who are living in singleness.

It’s those of us who wonder who else cares.

It’s those of us who have watched our husbands die.

It’s those of us who cry in our quiet moments.

It’s those of us who feel the need to put on the smile mask.

It’s those of us who have watched our marriages fall apart.

It’s those of us who were violated.

It’s those of us who are lonely.

It’s those of us who wonder, “Why me?”

It’s those of us who have lost a child.

It’s those of us who have never been able to carry a child.

It’s those of us who have been cheated upon.

It’s those of us who feel lost.

It’s those of us who don’t know how to get through today.

It’s those of us who don’t know from where our hope comes.

Sandra walks us out of today’s devotional with a wonderful prayer:

“Heavenly Father, it seems a little crazy to me that you’re interested in taking the broken stuff of my life and using it for good. But since you say so, I’m offering all of it to you now. Please give me new eyes to see my story the way you do and to see how I can put it to good use.”

Amen. His grace is sufficient… even in our weaknesses. He uses every bit of it for His purpose, when we allow Christ’s power to rest on us.


 

Finding Hope in Shattered Dreams

Shattered Dreams - Copy

Fantasies and fairy tales are not everyday occurrences. We all know this; the reality of our lives confirms this.

So, how do we find hope when our dreams have been shattered, crushed, or devastated?

I don’t know.

I’m being perfectly honest with you. I just don’t know. A lot of writers want to put out the perfect “do this,” or “rely on this” blog post or book to lead you to the cookie-cutter answers, but the reality of how one finds hope after dreams have been shattered does not come in a neat little package.

What works for one person may not work for another. What worked for me the last time it happened, may not work for me as I see it unfolding again.

Where is the hope?

One of the thought processes I’ve had to fall back upon has been reasoning that the Lord MUST have something better planned for me than what I’ve lost. Before you jump all over me for that reasoning, please let me remind you that my writings on this site are about my journey of surrendering my hopes with the expectation that doing so and doing so unto the Lord will lead me to something better.

Despite the losses, I’ve been fortunate enough to also experience blessings — ones which I might have never seen had my original dream come true. In hindsight, I’ve seen a glimmer of why His answer sometimes seems to be “No.” I just refuse to believe that the “No” He speaks ends with just His “No.” I’ve chosen to believe that His answer is really, “No, I have something better planned for you.”

James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Jesus, Himself, tells us to remain in Him with His words remaining in us, and when we do, whatever we wish will be done for us. (paraphrase of John 15:7)

When our dreams are shattered and it looks as though our plans and hopes — even the fully God-honoring ones — may not come true, how do we reconcile that with verses like these?

We just do. These verses and the ones that surround them and are cross-referenced from them, talk with us deeply about lining up our desires with His will. Our dreams are ours, but “thy will be done” in our lives is about letting go of our hopes in order to make room for His hopes in our life. Just as a good, earthly father wants what is best for his child, our Heavenly Father wants the same for us — His children. He doesn’t fall short, but to grant us our dreams just because we’ve dreamed them, might do just that. We might miss the something-better He has planned for us.

I think a lot of us do miss it. We miss it because of our grief, our anger, our hurt feelings, our inability to forgive, the ease of falling back upon the familiar ways, the focus upon Self and not upon others, and even the vengeance we might hope to sow. The something-better that He might wish to lay out before us might not happen, because we are too tied up and invested in the shattered dream that is now past. The choices we make today are not ones that follow the God-honoring path He had us upon. The choices we make today may just shatter more dreams if we aren’t cautious.

This isn’t what has to happen, though. We can look through the shards of shattered dreams and find pieces in there that look like blessings. These pieces might resemble something of the past, a chunk of the present, or a hope for the future. In the whole messy pile of shards, we can still find joy. Happiness might come from a dream-come-true opportunity, but joy comes from Him. He is our vine; we are His branch (John 15:5). His joy is carried through the vine and dispersed to the branches who seek to thrive and prosper on His Word, His ways, and His will.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,     

neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,     

so are my ways higher than your ways     

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~Isaiah 55:8-9

How thankful are we that His ways are well beyond our ways? So, too, must His dreams be greater than our dreams! Despite the hurt and the devastation, we can rely on Him.