Can He Really Use My Imperfect Parts?

CT.4-6
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.


 

You Don’t Know My Heart

CT.2-4
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 the Lord said to Samuel,
“Do not consider his appearance or
his height, for I have rejected him.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.”
~1 Samuel 16:7

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

The Scripture verse for Day Four has to do with God’s coming appointment of David as the future King of Israel. God directed the prophet Samuel to where he should go to find this King, but God did not outrightly inform Samuel who would be the chosen one.

Before Samuel even had begun his review of Jesse’s sons, God cautioned Samuel with the Scripture verse for today. Samuel was a great prophet, respected by many and led by God, but even so, Samuel only knew what God revealed to him, and God reminded Samuel that He, Himself, did not see people the same way the world did.

We can’t see what’s going on in other people’s hearts, but God can. He knows.

The flip side to this is that other people can’t see what’s going on in our own heart, but God can. He knows.

We are so quick to judge others, but we judge them based on what we see from the outside as we try to look into their heart. In real time, we aren’t capable of seeing their heart before we start to make our judgments. Our judgments so often miss the mark, and we can cause a lot of damage with our presuppositions toward others.

Sandra takes us into the intentional game of grace-giving… of making up a justification to take the bite out of our initial reaction to being cut off by another driver because he might be rushing to meet his just-about-to-be-born baby; of gawking enviously at the enormous engagement ring which might just be a family heirloom; or eying up the big, fancy SUV which may have been bought for safety’s reasons after a scary car accident.

Instead of looking at others from my point of view, could I look at them from my choice of view? Am I willing to change my perspective, since I really have no clue what might be going on in some else’s heart? There is a choice, and it can make an impact on others.

It can be uncomfortable to be on either side of this trap of comparison.

You’ve been there… you’ve been on one side at some point, and you’ve been on the other side at another point in your life. Sometimes we eye someone up just wondering (with scrutiny in our own heart) what the real story is. Sometimes we know someone is eying us up (with scrutiny being reflected in their glaring eyes), and we just want to scream, “You don’t know me or my circumstances!”

God knows their whole story, and He knows ours. He knows our heart… no matter which point of view we CHOOSE to take. Be cautious in comparison.

 


 

Finding Hope in Your Story

This photo belongs to DaySpring, (in)courage, and the (in)RL Conference.
This photo belongs to DaySpring, (in)courage, and the (in)RL Conference.

I have a question for you:

Which fairytale creature, mythical being, Muppet puppet, character from “The Princess Bride,” cupcake flavor, Disney princess or “Star Wars” character are you?

If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve seen the silly quizzes your friends have tried and the results they’ve posted. I might be considered a party-pooper, but I haven’t done any of them. If there is a possible answer that would tell me I’m a volcano-climbing, coffee-loving, adventure-seeking, faith-filled, healthy-gardening wife and momma who homeschools her kids, likes good food, can’t get enough of nature and dabbles in writing … THEN, I might check boxes in a quiz to see what the answers reveal.

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Last weekend, I participated in an online conference by (in)courage. The focus of the online conference was for us to feel empowered to share our (in)real life stories with one another.

The speakers were women who had a story.

Does that sound like you? It sounded like me. The women shared their stories. They were all different, but they all mattered.

WHY? Why did all of their stories matter? They mattered because thousands of women tuned in over the weekend to hear someone tell a story that made sense, that held familiarity, that held hurt, that held grace, that held mercy and that He used in some way.

My story wasn’t talked about and neither was yours,
but there were tiny bits and pieces of my story

in Anna Marie Miller’s story (annemariemiller.com),
in Diane Bailey’s story (dianewbailey.net),
in Logan Wolfram’s story (loganwolfram.com),
in Mary Carver’s story (givinguponperfect.com),
in Robin Dance’s story (robindance.me),
in Jessica Turner’s story (themomcreative.com),
in Nasreen Fynewever’s story (nasreenfynewever.com),
in Sally Haukas’ story (who does good stuff over at DaySpring)
and even in Sarah Markley’s story (sarahmarkley.com).
Lots of individual bits of their individual stories sounded like a tidbit of mine.

I could connect even though my story wasn’t told.

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Not everyone is meant to be a writer or a blogger like the women above and those from the (in)RL Conference. But, we all still have stories that matter.

One thing that was said repeatedly in the promos and in the videos was,
“We need your story.” WHO is the “we?” My take-away was…

It’s us.

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.

It’s us.

It’s us. We are the “we” in “We need your story.”

You have a story. There’s someone out there who needs to hear your story.
They need to hear it, because it matters.

WHY does it matter?

It matters because you matter.

You aren’t a mythical creature, a princess or a movie character. You are you.

You also aren’t only one (or more) of those sentences above. You are you.

When we find ourselves in our story, and when we have a heart to become what God created us to be, our story grows and it changes. The hurts, the heartaches and the heaviness in our lives are a part of our stories, but we come to realize and we come to live, because we know that God isn’t finished with us yet.

He’s working on us, in us and through us to make our story all He created it to be.
He’s working on us, in us and through us to make US all He created us to be.

And…even though He isn’t finished with us yet, He wants us to be available for Him. When we are willing to be available to share our story with others who might need to hear it, we continue to grow our story, and that story has the power to impact others. When we can seek and find the hope and redemption in our story, AND we’re brave enough to share parts of that story, that hope and that redemption with others, we offer them a rope of hope…one in which they can grab hold of and use to pull themselves toward Him.

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I attended the (in)RL conference last year, too. The Lord had already begun working in me, leading me to write, and leading me to hope. I had ideas, I had writings, I had a name, but I lacked the bravery to put it all out there, even though I felt Him prodding me forward.

After sitting in the comfort of my own home for (in)RL in April 2013, I knew I had to take a step forward toward where He was leading. Hope Surrendered was born shortly afterward. I haven’t shared a lot of the background of my story; some of you know some of it, but none of you know all of it. I’m very grateful to the people of DaySpring, (in)courage, and of the (in)RL Conference for what was given to us in both 2013 and in 2014, and I am here, in part, because of the courage gained from them to share my story with you.

For a lot of reasons, I’ve not shared much of what is behind me, but do know this: The Lord has used almost all of that in moving me forward. Some of that “moving forward” is here in the pages of this site where I share with you some of the ways I’ve learned from His leading.

Our stories – yours and mine – have many layers. Our Lord can use our stories to help others move past their hurts, to lean into the challenges they are facing and to lay a stepping stone for those whose upheaval might be yet to come. Our stories might plant seeds of hope for a generation to come.

When we surrender our story to Him and allow Him to use us, He will find a way to use our story.

 

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If you are willing, if you are led, or if you need an ear to listen, you are welcome to email me with parts of your story or you can comment below.
I’d be honored to pray for you.
My email address is hopesurrendered@gmail.com.

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Some of the links above are the affiliate links for Hope Surrendered.
When you click through them and see something you might like to purchase,
I receive a small bonus from DaySpring from your purchase. 

This helps me to support my writing, so thank you!

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