Fixing the Heart-Shattered Life

Ladies, I’ve started using a highlighter pencil to hide the dark circles under my eyes.

I know many of you are saying, “So what? I do that every day.”

Yes, but I didn’t. There was a time when the skin under my eyes was bright on its own. Then darker shades under my eyes gave way to deep circles until it’s reached a point where I rely on a highlighter pencil to fix it. I’m not capable of immediately fixing it on my own, I must use something outside of myself.

The thing is, this transition from light to dark hasn’t been purely cosmetic. It was paralleled by a shift in my spirit as the wellspring of my joy dried up and gave way to what felt like a spiritual desert.

Have you even been there? The voice of the enemy still whispers in my ear that I was justified in this shift – telling me that I’d given God long enough. That He had been indifferent to my tears and begging and pleading. The fact that more appeared to go wrong than right. In my hurt, hope should have been my lifeline. But in my pain, I instead I transitioned my fireplace of hope into a solitary candle that I set in the corner, and boarded up my heart in an effort to make it impenetrable to disappointment.

But, I hadn’t realized how much that fireplace fed my spirit until it was gone long enough for the warmth to die down. I realized that I transitioned from being confident and self-assured to anxious and apologetic. From poised to tense, from giving grace to focused on self-preservation.

I realized that I felt a spirit of condemnation for who I had allowed myself to become – but then, a mentor pointed out to me that it was just that: a spirit.

I’d always expected the enemy’s attacks to be bold and devastating – the kind you could “see” from a distance and defend against. External.

I was guarding the wrong gates.

As much as I believe many Christians view the enemy as rather direct and unintelligent, he is quite the opposite. He is calculating and incredibly cruel. When he stages an attack on you, he’s considered everything and knows exactly where to hit you where it hurts. For me, that was community, self-esteem, anxiety, and guilt.

It’s best pictured as a sword fight, where blow after blow the adversary cripples the knight until the knight cannot stand, and has only the power to call for help.

And my heart started to call. The hope that I held flickering in that corner tried to leap out with all it had left, sending showers of sparks into the room. I remember praying, “Lord, I’m in need of triage. I need you to come get me.”

The thing is – many of us read stories like these and assume that there were outward signs of such inward devastation. When a Millennial speaks to this kind of spiritual desert in Christian circles, there’s a naive assumption that, “Oh, this must have been manifested by behaviors in your life – drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, spending way too much.”

For me, none of those things were true. Outwardly, my life looked like I was a model Christian taking strides forward. Inwardly, I felt like I was dying.

I’d guess that many of you can relate. And, may be using your outward progress as justification that your inward state is alright. It’s not.

You’re out of balance. That’s what it comes down to for me. Sure, there are other external factors that were contributing to my tired state. But it all stemmed from a spiritual imbalance.

So, that was the first thing that I had to (and am still striving to) get right.

Spiritual balance.

Making time for Jesus. Not hardening my heart to the pain, but giving the pain to him. I was anxious because I was trying to control everything instead of giving Him control. I felt like I couldn’t trust His heart, because trust only comes from spending time with someone.

Schedule balance.

I was working two jobs, blogging, taking on responsibilities of a Board Member, and trying to be helpful in additional family challenges outside of that. I’d often be working from 9a – 9p or 10p, getting home at 10:30-11p every night and feeling too exhausted to make dinner, let alone spend time with Jesus. I was working for others, but I was not taking care of myself – getting the eating habits, sleep, or exercise I needed.

And, as a pastor once told me, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re of no use to anyone else.” A-MEN. I had to let go of some things that were hard, and learn how to say, “No” to some things so I could say, “Yes” when it mattered.

Dietary balance.

I was living the lifestyle of “grab-and-go” which is great until it isn’t. I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed to feel fueled and awake. I didn’t have time to prepare meals, so I was grabbing what I could when I could. Huh, reflective of my spiritual life then too 🙂

Intellectual balance.

I was highly “reactive” – trying to put out “urgent” fires and forgetting the “important” things. These are the things that I was passionate about, that fueled my soul. You can’t be entirely immersed in your areas of passion and let the other fires burn – that’s irresponsible. But, I was becoming a “doer” instead of a “thinker” – and, for an intellectual human, that’s dangerous. We must feed that inside of us which makes us feel alive.

That’s just a summary, but you get the picture.

Psalm 51: 16-17 says, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”

I love that. Heart-shattered lives. What a perfect way to describe what so many of us feel. That’s why we need a new heart. In the same Psalm, David asks, “Give me a new heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

David understood that this passion – this heart that we so desperately need – is a gift that must come from outside of us. Not our power, but His. This joyful spirit is a gift that Jesus is ready and willing to bestow to us.

I want to trade my heart-shattered life for this new heart full of life, don’t you? Will you join me in praying for that and striving for balance this week?

Grace & peace. xoxo

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Royalty.

Once upon a time in a land far far away, there lived a young Princess. She had beautiful long hair, bright eyes, and a brilliant smile. She had a joyful laugh that filled the hallways, and her songs carried throughout the chambers of the palace. To her father, the King, she was the most lovely girl in the whole land. She was his world—he ensured she had all that she needed, and she grew up learning to trust him, his heart, and his plans. He would often read her stories while she sat on his knee, and would throw back his head and heartily laugh at all of her jokes. She felt safe in his arms, and protected within his palace.

 

But one day, the King received word that the enemy was attacking, and there was a battle raging on the far border of his Kingdom. Though his heart broke to leave his daughter, he knew he had to go and conquer the enemy to keep his kingdom—and his princess—safe. He also knew that his Princess would never be safe in the palace by herself—there were those would seek to harm her to get to him. So, he sent her into hiding with her trusted nurse in the village. He hugged her, kissed her on the head, and said, “My dear, I’ll be back as soon as I can. Until then, stay with your nurse—do what she tells you, learn as much as you can, and continue to bring joy to the village as you can. Though they may not know, always remember that you are my daughter—the daughter of the King—and I love you very, very much.” And, with tears in his eyes, he rode off to go win the battle.

 

The princess awoke the next morning in the upstairs apartment of a village bakery instead of the palace. She opened the window, and her nose was immediately bombarded with the smell of chickens and pigs and her ears heard the hustling and bustling of the village. “Let’s get ready for the day,” said the nurse.

 

“Alright,” said the princess. “But, who will tie my shoes?”

 

“You will, dear. You’ll need to learn how,” said the nurse, gently.

 

“But who will make my breakfast? And who will brush my hair?” the princess pressed.

 

“Dear one, while we’re away from the palace, you’ll need to learn to do these things for yourself,” said the nurse.

 

The first few days were a challenge for the princess. She had to acclimate to her new situation, and overcome new challenges—waking early, getting dressed, gathering eggs from the chickens, grain from the stable, and milk from the cows—and learn how to make bread for sale in the marketplace. The first few days she fell over her poorly tied shoe laces, burned the bread, and got pecked by a few chickens. But as time went on, she grew to master these tasks, and even find her song while doing them. She looked forward to singing with her nurse and making bread every morning, which she would then take to the customers. She became known as a girl who brightened the village.

 

Seven years later, the King returned victorious—yet weary—from his battle on the Eastern front. He was excited to see his daughter, so he sent out a message throughout the land with his heralds, saying, “The King has returned for his Princess. Will the Princess please come to the palace this afternoon to meet her father?”

 

That afternoon though, instead of one girl, many girls arrived. All were dressed in fine gowns with jewels and silks, tiaras and pearls. The King looked out over the ballroom full of girls and felt weary—where was his daughter?

 

“My soldiers are weary from a long journey,” he said. “Will one of you please sing them a song?”

 

“Let the servants do that. I’m a princess,” said one girl.

 

“I’m so parched from the journey, will any of you bring me a glass of water?” he tried again.

 

“I don’t do that—that’s for the kitchen staff. I’m a princess,” said another.

 

The King sighed heavily and shook his head. But, then, he looked up to see a girl dressed in a simple pink dress step through the crowd. She wasn’t dressed like a princess, but rather in clothes from the village.

 

“I’ll sing for your servants,” she said softly, “and I’ll bring you water after your long journey.”

 

In the grace, love, and beauty of her spirit, the King recognized his true daughter. He picked her up and swung her around, saying, “I love you more than anything else in my Kingdom. You’ve grown into a woman with a heart of grace, mercy and wisdom. You are my true daughter—my heir—and with that, you have access to anything you desire in all of my Kingdom.”

 

 

 

My mother used to read me this story of The True Princess (originally by Angela Hunt) every night when I was a child, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not a book for children. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to see that we live in a world where, as women, we’ve searched for worth and value in the wrong places, and those wrong places give us underwhelming and often hurtful answers. We settle and start to define ourselves by those reinforced perceptions. We can feel empty or materialized, or feel a need to strive to prove ourselves as though our value depends on what we can do.

 

We live in a world where the concept of royalty can be hard to grasp—but that’s just what we are: Royalty.

 

We are Princesses. Daughters of the King. Heirs to His Kingdom. A woman is made in God’s image, as a reflection of His beauty and peace (Genesis 1:27, Song of Solomon 4:7).

 

Here’s three things that it means to be royalty:

 

  • Your title gives you status.

You are a Princess. This means that you can walk with confidence and poise, with your head held high. You are not striving or seeking love, value, or position—you already have it in your King and His Kingdom. Being royal means that you don’t forfeit your dignity—that you don’t listen to voices that don’t recognize your status, and you don’t settle for those who don’t treat you with the respect you deserve. You don’t need validation or to reach out in desperation—you are protected. You are strong. You are secure.

  • Your position gives you power.

Being royalty means you have the right to step into the throne room any time of any day, and ask the King for exactly what you need. You can act in His name, and knowing that you have His power behind you. Not only that, but you can feel comfortable in the throne room because you have a King who loves you, wants to bless you, and put all the riches of His Kingdom at your disposal. You have a King who holds nothing back (Psalm 84:11).

  • Your duty gives you purpose.

As the King’s daughter, the furthering and protecting of His Kingdom becomes your purpose. You are called to be brave, and you will ride alongside Him into battle. It sounds like such a great idea, until you’re asked to wield a sword or face the lions. When those times come, you must remember that they are not a questioning of your position, but rather an attack against your position. The enemy knows your power, and the power of your Father, and will seek to tear you down. But we can go into each battle with the assurance that the victory has already been won (John 16:33). The King is the most powerful, and you are His child. He created you, and He chose you!

 

So, dear hearts, go out today and live like the royalty you are. Remember whose you are, and what you are. Act with the power of the King.