Posts Tagged With: pain

The Realization that will Help you Forgive Anyone Who Ever Hurt You

“It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’ “

-Matthew West, Forgiveness

forgiveness

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, why did he say, “Father, forgive them, they are blind fools they know not what they do.”

How could they not know what they are doing? They consciously chose to be there, to make the long walk up to the Calvary hill, to drive the nails through His flesh. How could they not know?

Maybe what Jesus meant was they didn’t know He was the Son of God, and if they knew, or rather, believed that he really was the Savior, things would have ended differently.

I don’t think that’s all Jesus meant. I think it goes much deeper. He’s not just asking God to forgive the men who hung Him on the cross, He’s asking God to forgive every human and every sin and every hurt ever inflicted.

In most cases it’s not that we don’t know the difference between right and wrong, at least if we really sat down and thought about it. It’s that we are completely incapable of going through our lives without sinning, without doing wrong, without hurting people.

If we could, we’d never need a Savior to begin with.

We are all of us, fallen, sinful, broken people.

Fallen, sinful, broken people in need of Jesus.

Why is this the realization that will help you forgive anyone who ever hurt you?

I propose this because through this lens, you look at your overly critical mother, your absent father, your sibling betrayal, your thief of a friend, your teacher who embarrassed you, your boss who blamed you, that stranger who sexually assaulted you, that trusted mentor who stopped standing up for you…

And on the other side of that lens, what is left? The cross. And our desperate need for it.

Forgiving someone is not saying IT’S OKAY or IT DIDN’T MATTER. It’s saying IT DID MATTER but with the acknowledgement that humans disappoint other humans. It’s saying we cannot hold our fellow humans to the standards only Jesus can meet. It’s simply understanding that the person who hurt us needs Jesus, and He responded and died on the cross for them. He was whipped and beaten not just for our sin, but for theirs too. And once we start looking at them through Jesus’ eyes, forgiveness becomes inevitable. The anger begins to fade and a level of compassion begins to form.

We don’t forgive, because the person deserves it, we forgive, to release them to the cross. We set them free, and in turn become free ourselves. 

That person who hurt you? It wasn’t okay. But God is still at work in them, He’s not done yet. And more importantly he’s not done with you yet either.  Jesus is filling empty seats and holding open doors and mending broken hearts.

Who do you need to forgive? Do you think looking through the eyes of heaven rather than the eyes of the world can help you achieve this?

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This song “Just Another Birthday” by Casting Crowns, is heartbreaking yet beautiful. It’s an example of pointing to the cross in the midst of brokenness and emptiness and allowing Him to fill the holes left in our hearts be fellow humans.

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follow up on Meaning(less)

I realize how tired and dreary my last post sounded. I haven’t written much for several months now, …just a period here words wouldn’t come when I sat down to type. In general, it’s easier for someone to write from pain than anything else I think. But I want to add to what I had said…

Pain is universal. Sometimes illogically. It is necessary, for without pain there could not truly be joy. We all have a yearning deep inside that the world can’t fill, whether we are aware of it or not, placed there by our Creator as a reminder of who we are, what we were made for, and where our home truly is.

I am very vibrant emotionally and tend to feel things intensely. The beauty is, that it comes on both sides of the spectrum. Life isn’t easy, but it is a beautiful and worthwhile ride. I am grateful for this life, and I am grateful that this life isn’t all there is.

Our lives are immensely meaningful and utterly meaningless. Simultaneously. Let me explain…

Every person who ever lived on Earth is interconnected in a spiderweb spanning farther than we can imagine. Every action has a reaction. One decision creates ripples that affect multitudes of others. One smile can change a person’s entire day. One nasty comment or hurtful word can haunt someone their entire life. Our lives-everything we say and do-are immensely meaningful.

We come through life as a vapor in the wind, a grain of sand held next to eternity. Everything material in this world, all of what most of us go through life striving to attain, will fade. Status, titles, money, shoes, clothes, our earthly bodies… it will all fade to dust. It all is utterly meaningless.

Unless…

We walk through life motivated by faith, hope, and above all else, love. THAT is where meaning lies.

If we seek promotion based on making the best of talents God blessed us with …meaningful. If it is because we want to be better than everyone else …meaningless.  If we get plastic surgery or implants out of vanity, because we can’t accept our body or love ourselves for who we are …meaningless. If we exercise and eat healthfully, and want to look our best, because we want to take care of the one body God blessed us with, and treat it as the temple of the Holy Spirit that we are told it is …meaningful.

It is our choices, our intentions, our attitude in this life that matters.

Essentially it is all up to us…

meaningful or meaningless.

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I’ll be okay even on my weakest days

“Woke up late today, and I still feel the sting of the pain, but I, brushed my teeth anyway, got dressed through the mess and put a smile on my face…”

“I’m done hoping that we can work it out, I’m done with how it feels, spinnin’ my wheels, lettin’ you drag my heart around. I’m done thinkin’ you could ever change. I know my heart will never be the same, but I’m tellin’ myself I’ll be okay, even on my weakest days. I’m gettin’ a little bit stronger.” -Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”

It’s so weird how one can just up and move across the country, but not feel the weight of the loneliness until over a year later. I guess maybe there’s a high in the adventure, in the newness of it all. But eventually, just like everything else, that wears off. Or maybe it has nothing to do with being near or far from parents and old friends, maybe it’s just the weight of the world, life catching up.

We weren’t made for this world. We were made for more, for heaven. Is that really all this is? Does everyone have this pain inside, this hurt, the empty ache? ..and most humans just either don’t even know it or are really good at hiding it? Maybe the people that do realize this hole inside chase around filling it with drugs, alcohol, promiscuity…anything. That’s true, isn’t it?

I don’ t have the energy to run around trying to fill it anymore. Actually, been there done that. It didn’t work. I don’t want to spend my life careening back and forth to and from every temporary fix. Is the only alternative sitting in the pain? I mean, there’s gotta be more, right? Jesus came so we could have abundant life, in this lifetime too, right? Or is it just in this lifetime for some people? Other people?

Jesus came to give hope, so why do I feel like hope is so deadly…

Jesus came to give life, so why am I constantly yearning for the after-life…

Jesus came to heal, so why do I feel like I’m still cut open on the floor bleeding…

If love is the most important thing there is, why is it so absent…

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together. Half the time I don’t know where I’m going in life, and none of the time do I know how to get there. You could call me a mess, but maybe I’m just one of those rare people being honest.  

Truth is we can let the pain, the emptiness, the loneliness rule our lives, or we can choose to live in spite of it. For me, it’s constantly forcing myself to be social and try to do things with other people, even though I may not know these people very well or at all. We need to be with other living, breathing human beings. We need community, companionship. For me it also means, if I don’t have that option, to know it’s okay to have fun on my own…to go see a movie by myself, or a comedy show, or a concert, or go out to eat by myself. It’s learning to be okay by myself.

And really…I’m not actually ever alone, am I? I have a Father who is available at all hours of the day. A Father who wants to talk, laugh, and experience life with me. Maybe I need to learn to enjoy His company more as well. Maybe He’s trying to teach me that in the midst of a broken world, there IS something I can count on, someONE I can count on… Yeah, just maybe…

“I’m done letting you drag my heart around…I know my heart will never be the same, but I’m tellin’ myself I’ll be okay, even on my weakest days.

I get a little bit stronger, I get a little bit stronger.”

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Pain may continue, but He anchors me in hope

So lately I have been wondering where this abundant life is that Jesus came to offer us. We were not promised it would be easy in this lifetime, but we were promised we wouldn’t go it alone, and I believe we were also given the opportunity to live the abundant life in this lifetime and on this side of Eden as well as in eternity. So where is it? The past couple months I’ve found myself feeling the weight of the world and unable to see much but darkness in my surroundings. It feels more like I’m just trying to survive in this world, to get through one day at a time, even robotically, one step at a time. Just to survive this life. Trying to survive the Fall is much different than living the abundant life, though, isn’t it?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone ask, “Where is God in this?” ….. I’d be rich by now. And I’m sure you all have heard that and even asked it yourself. I’ve asked it myself. I still ask it myself, all the time. Through this recent dark tunnel, I have found myself driving home from work at night, turning off the contemporary Christian music coming from my car radio, to instead scream into the silence while tears run down my face, “God!! Where are you?! What is your plan here?!” Many in this world struggle with the idea of there being a loving, all-powerful God, while there is so much suffering and pain. It’s easy to think, “well, if God really loved us, why does He let this happen to us..?”

Gina Roes says in her book The Art of Breathing, that “sometimes an IRS letter feels bigger than the years of sermons teaching us to trust God in all times. A negative diagnosis spins us back to our most primal fears. And what to do about a horrible past? How do we reconcile childhood stuff into God’s Story? Was God even there?” These thoughts plague all of us, as human sinners. They plague me all the time. Sometimes when the bills pile up so high you don’t even know where to start, or someone you thought was one of your best friends speaks words of such hatred at you that you have to wonder if Satan himself has possessed her, in a world where people can call themselves Christians, and go to church and small group, and go feed the homeless, but behind closed doors spread rumors and lies, and make fun of others, and pass judgment… where is He? Why is He allowing this to happen? When you think you meet a great man who feels like a gift from God himself, who is perfect for you and unlike anyone you’ve ever met, and then he turns around and destroys your heart without a second thought… Why? In the midst of miscarriage, divorce, sickness, pain, addictions, bullying and harassment, laughter at the expense of another person…

Maybe the problem isn’t God and His “absence” but instead it’s our lack of understanding, and our ignorance. Maybe we don’t grasp how deep the Fall of mankind really goes. Maybe without understanding that we can’t see how utterly and completely His grace covers us and how good He really is. Maybe we don’t see how much we’ve actually been saved from and what the reality of the difference between a before and after life with God is. Maybe only by opening our eyes to that, we can fully experience the salvation Jesus purchased for us, and the abundant life.

God lets these things happen in our lives, yes. But that does not minimize His love for us. In a book that I can’t remember the name of or who wrote it right now, it said something along the lines of.. if you want to live in a world where love is real then you have to give people the option to choose. Gina Roes says, “Love requires freedom. Without a sense of separateness, there can be no oneness. God gave us the ability to be separate from Him so that we could fully and freely choose to be one with Him.” That ability was supposed to bring us closer to God, but by Adam and Eve’s choices, it actually drove us farther apart. “..our God-given desires and needs became cursed burdens that left us lusting for more without the ability to be fulfilled. ..Our legitimate needs can only be met in illegitimate ways. Without God, the entire design is thwarted. …The ‘lust of the flesh’ when ignored, will lead to isolation and addictions. When the ‘lust of the eyes’ is unsatisfied, we will experience the drive for entitlement or, in fear, lean toward passivity. And when we fall pretty to the ‘boastful pride of life’ we forget how to surrender our lives to God’s Story as we try to star in our own.

Gina gives these 5 unhealthy ways we cope with our worldliness, our being cut off from God: Isolation, Addictions, Entitlement, Passivity, and Independence.

Living the abundant life requires authenticity and the ability to be fully present with God and others. This means being fully present in our joy and in our pain. The abundant life is experienced when we offer our freedom to God’s service…freely. Addictions bind us. Addictions force us to ask their permission to serve anything else. To have the abundant life we must resist the temptation to fall into the lust of the eyes that demand we should have all we see. We must not allow entitlement to take root in our hearts as we seek to embrace the freedom and grace that God so richly pours out on us who believe. We must be doers of God’s word, not simply hearers only. If we simply know with our minds what is healthy and right, but do nothing to act on it, we will miss the abundant life that Jesus keeps offering. We need Him in every moment of every breath we take on this planet. Imagine a diver taking one large breath of air and declaring that he has had enough. We need a constant flow of God’s presence to get us through. He is the air we breathe. When we look to our own resources to manage our lives we are declining His invitation. We are living in very competent, very ‘put together’ sin.  (Gina Roes, The Art of Breathing)

I think the hard times in our life are all part of a bigger story. They are not random. Maybe it’s in the pain that we finally start to look up. Maybe it’s necessary for us to be broken down, in order to be rebuilt stronger than before. Maybe loss is the only way He can get us to open our eyes and see what really matters, what is really important, what pieces of Him we are missing. Maybe suffering is required if we’re to discover a desire for God strong enough to help us decline the world’s invitation to an immediately good time, to resist the devil’s suggestion that all goodness may not reside within God, and to see through the false reasoning of the flesh. Only pain exposes our commitment to happiness for what it is, an arrogance that displaces God from His rightful place. Only in brokenness over our refusal to abandon ourselves to God for His glory will we discover our desire to do exactly that.

In Larry Crabb’s book Shattered Dreams, he gives 3 lessons of true faith:

  1. The journey to God will always, at some point, take us through darkness where life makes no sense. Life isn’t easy; it’s hard, sometimes very hard.
  2. The felt absence of God is a gift to gratefully receive. During those seasons of darkness He is doing His deepest work in us.
  3. Feeling good is not the goal. When we feel bad, we have the opportunity to do battle against the enemy within that keeps us from entering the Presence of God with no greater passion than to glorify Him.

Sometimes personal pain leaves us feeling utterly alone. It is almost unbearable for someone to come along and invite us to dream higher dreams, instead we just want them to come be with us in our pain and offer their silent presence and company, letting us know that our pain is justified and so too is our loss of hope. An invitation to dream higher dreams is as cruel as talking to a pilgrim lost in a burning desert about water that does not exist. I feel like being in this position earlier this week may have been one of the last straws on the camel’s back to lead to me losing someone who I thought was a friend. I just needed someone to come sit with me in my pain, without judging me or telling me how ridiculous I was being, or how unreasonable my hurt is, or naming all the reasons why I shouldn’t have been feeling that way. Pain can be so tough that the best you can do is just hold on. Nights can be darker than you feared. Your soul can feel so alone, so filled with anguish, so untouched by love, that the most honest thing you can do is just cry.

Where I went wrong here is to dare believe God actually failed me, that He gave me the short end of the stick. I wallowed in the depths of my being where everything revolved around me. What Jesus was going wasn’t good enough, or fast enough. But eventually I remembered, as we all do, that I can only be heard when I admit that I have no right to any good experience, but still come to Jesus humbly longing for it. Involuntarily, I cover my head with my hands. I cower in the corner before a holy God after yelling at Him and making my demands and turning to my sinful ways of coping. I expect lightning to strike because I sure as heck deserved it, but instead I look up and see Jesus. The lightning has just struck Him.

In this moment is when we realize that our deepest need, our deepest desire, is NOT relief from current troubles. Our deepest desire is for a kind of life only mercy makes possible, a life only grace provides. It is for life from God, with God, and for God. And we have it. We have it since the day we accepted Jesus into our hearts and asked Him to forgive our sins. But it takes pain to put us more deeply in touch with what we already have. The pain carries us into depths of our hearts that are still ugly, but the Spirit took us deeper, into the very core of our being, where Christ lives, where we are alive.

Now we pray, not because we’re told to, but because we want to, in the middle of a dark night that has revealed the Son within us.

Jesus,

I want to be the kind of woman who can watch every dream go down in flames and still yearn to be intimately involved in kingdom living, intimately involved with my Father the King, and still be willing to take another risk just because it delights Him for me to do so.  As Kari Jobe sings, “The more I seek You, the more I find You. The more I find You, the more I know You. I want to sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hands, lay back against You and breathe, feel Your heart beat. This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand, I melt at Your felt, it’s overwhelming.”

My Lord and Savior, I ask that you align my will with Your own, and that Your will be done in my life. I ask to be Your hands and feet, and a vessel of Your Spirit and Love. Where You go I’ll go, where You lead I’ll follow. The center of Your will is the most peaceful place in existence and it is where I choose to forever reside. I will make mistakes, and I will come across foreign paths to stumble down, but I am gratefully assured that You will always be right there, offering me Your hand, leading me back home.

Your daughter,

Jana xo

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In my brokenness, Jesus will shine.

Too many “Christians” want to see how close to the world they can get without compromising. Its this place that you find yourself slowly entangled in the webs of Satan. To be honest this is the place, that is even questionable to whether you truly love Jesus. When were really sold out, our focus is not how close to the world can we get, but how close to cross can we stay. — Burke Zack

Sometimes in life God breaks us down, or lets us be broken down, so he can build us back up even stronger than before. Today is the first day in, well, at least a month, that I feel the strengthening within. Where I can actually feel like maybe deep down I’m growing. Sometimes when God takes things away from us, we don’t realize it at the time but they are really things of poison… poisonous friendships, distractions… and sometimes he needs to realign us on our path to infuence.

Satan will use those closest to us, friends and family.., to deliver blows to our heart. These are the people we least expect it from and the people who have the capacity to drive the knife the deepest. It doesn’t hurt nearly as bad if a stranger stopped us in the middle of the street and said, “You are a pathetic, ugly, piece of trash that will never amount to anything or will ever be loved.” It hurts a heck of a lot more if it comes from someone you thought was a friend.

Trojan horses come in all disguises in this life. And they are sometimes planted with great planning and patience, even taking years to reveal themselves. I kind of feel like all the trojan horses in my life and confessing to their true identity lately, one at a time, with demons crawling out of them in the middle of the night. As much as it hurts, maybe I need to see this. I need to see the truth, to be made aware of the lies and deceit. It does not only sadden me for me, but it saddens me for the world. Especially when these trojan horses are people who claim to be Christians and are walking this great facade using Jesus to justify their actions and justify the hate being spewed from their mouths. It saddens me that lost people in this world will come across them and think, “Wow, if that’s what JC is about then I don’t want anything to do with Christianity.”

I am at a crossroads faced with two options. I can throw in the towel, cower and hide, and hand Satan my white flag. Or, I can piss him off even more by letting his robots and lies fall on deaf ears, and grabbing the hand of the One who redeems and allowing him to make me stronger than ever through this. Allow him to prune the dead leaves from my life and get rid of the bad fruit, leaving the good room to ripen and flourish.

I may feel alone in this world, but if I have Jesus, I will always be in the majority. Thank you to my good friend, Meredith, for that today. 🙂

I may be misunderstood by many in this world. People may misunderstand and attack my intentions and motives, my character, my faith. But ultimately it does not matter. It doesn’t matter what they think. It doesn’t matter what any human in this world thinks. He knows my heart. He knows me. He gets me, gets what makes me me, what motivates my actions and feelings….and HE MADE ME THAT WAY!!!!!

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Full of temporary highs

I’ve been in this weird funk lately. I’m just not okay. I feel like a robot going through the motions of this life, wondering if this is all there is to it or if there actually is more? Is there more than every temporary high while on this earth? On one hand some argue that we were never promised good in this lifetime. But on the other hand, you can also argue that, while we were told to expect trials and tribulations, Jesus did come for us to have an abundant life here too. Not just in heaven.

I don’t know what I believe on that issue anymore. I want to believe that Jesus came for us to have abundant life NOW, but then I just don’t have anything left in me to get my hopes up about things, or to expect anything good. I can’t believe how pessimistic and cynical I’ve become. It doesn’t feel very good. But then again, being on an emotional rollercoaster of the endless cycle of hope and disappointment doesn’t feel all that good either. And I got to the point where I literally don’t think I can handle that ride anymore. So intead, I’m robotically walking through my days, praying for the strength to take each step in this mundane, petty life.

I honestly don’t know how people make it without Jesus. People who don’t believe in God, atheists, how do they make it? This world is full of misery and pain and if you have no hope in anything MORE, how do you survive? How do you get up each day? I’m in awe. I do have Jesus and sometimes I go through valleys such as this where I still don’t see the point.

In “The Redeemer” by Sanctus Real, they sing, “I’m still a dreamer, a believer, oh I’ve lost my faith in so many things, but I still believe in You.” How true this is. I am still a dreamer. But it’s a dream beyond this mortal lifetime. And I’ve lost my faith in everything BUT Him. I know God is good. I know He is with me. I hold tight to His promise that one day He will make all things right. People may be made in His image, but I don’t have any faith left in us. In anyone. I don’t have any faith in our economy, politicians, nature….

I feel like a robot.

One step at a time.

My weary heart stays alive hoping that Jesus is using me for something, for glory to His Kingdom beyond what my physical eyes can see.

I’m just going through the motions until the day I can see Him face to face. The only thing, the only One, I have any belief in anymore.

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It’s a fine [border]line

“Waiting for the sunrise. Waiting for the day. Waiting for a sign that I’m where You want me to be. You know my heart is heavy and my hurt is deep.” -Lift Me Up by The Afters

Sometimes I feel like I am walking a fine line. A line between hope and pain, love and fear, faith and doubt, value and insignificance, wings and cages.

As someone left carrying remnants of borderline personality disorder, having banished the most profound symptoms, but carrying the weight of those invisible in the deep recesses of my heart, it can be hard to hold a memory of past emotions. Intellectually I know there were times where I didn’t feel this alone or this lost, but all I can FEEL is now. This moment. And it seems as if this is all there is, which of course, Satan would like me to believe as reality. He likes to tell me I’m in a dark tunnel, and then plant himself in the way of the exit, so instead of seeing that light there, all I can focus on is the outline of his horns and tail.

Today I had this thought ruminate through my mind, never really leaving: Will there ever be a time where life doesn’t feel like a daily struggle? Will there ever be a time where I can just sit back and enjoy the ride? …. and I don’t mean it’s all doom and gloom now, of course, there are days, moments, where I can just laugh and enjoy being with friends and company, or good conversation, or the presence of my dogs and horses, but it feels like borrowed time. Like I have a day, or even a week or two, where life couldn’t get any better…but it feels like I’m running ahead with a rubberband attached to my waist and any second I’ll stretch to its limit and be flung back down to Earth. Each time this happens, the impact becomes an oxymoron. I’ll be more numb than before, because I’ve already experienced this and I saw it coming anyway….and yet, it’ll hurt in new and more awful ways than before because of the tender bruising and brokenness that never got a chance to fully recover.

I guess it’s a compliment that Satan won’t leave me alone, that he has such a special hatred for my heart, but in the midst of a war, it doesn’t seem to offer much comfort.

Supposedly all it takes to be happy in life is three things: “Something to do, Someone to love, and Something to look forward to.” I’m still waiting for the three to offer an invitation all at once. In the meantime, I’ll continue to walk my line. The line between peace and chaos, light and dark, life and death. The worst part of it is, it is a line deep within that only I can see. No one else can push me off. And if I lose my balance, there is no one there to catch me.

…of this world at least.

“But when I feel like giving up, you’re reminding me, that we all fall down sometimes. When I hit the ground, You lift me up when I am weak, Your arms wrap around me, Your love catches me so I’m letting go..” -Lift Me Up by The Afters

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Embracing the Storm

It’s raining today. It rains in life. A lot. Doesn’t it?

Rain is a necessary component in nature. Rain restores, revives, refreshes. It can be burdensome and depressing, but yet it washes away dirt and debris and is essential for growth and life. Most people don’t like to be outside in the rain, don’t like to feel the wet downpour soaking them. It may mess up their hair or make them cold or ruin their make-up. But without it, flowers would wilt, land would run dry, life would dwindle…

Isn’t this how it works in our lives as well? Don’t our lives portray seasons similar to this earth we inhabit? We have rain. Sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a torrential downpour. We have summers and winters, falls and springs. We have seasons of prosperity and abundance, and seasons of barrenness and brokenness. Our Creator knew the cold winter would bring before He even made it. He also knew that if we learned to embrace the cold, we’d find the beauty of the snow. He also knows the pain we will feel in the winter of our lives before it happens, but maybe we are doing ourselves a great disservice by not embracing what we are walking through. Maybe we focus on the disappointment and heartache and miss the growth ruminating deep in the recesses of our hearts. Winter is often a time of hibernation, but while black bears may use a physical sense of the word, people go through hibernation of the spirit. And I think, if we choose to allow it, this hibernation time will allow us to travel within depths of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. It will allow us to emerge stronger and braver than before. It can open our eyes and alter perspective. And it is a chance, an invitation, to be embraced by a Father who loves us just the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way.

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