The Disqualified Christian – Part Five: Comparison

This year I went to a Christian women’s conference, it was the first one that I had ever attended, and to say I was excited was an understatement. As I opened the flyer to read about the speakers, I did the unthinkable; I compared myself. It was unintentional at first, I was searching for any connection – something that would validate my past. Reading the snippets of their bios beside their head-shot, I stopped dead in my tracks. All I could focus on was their qualifications. The things that qualified them to be a speaker, to stand on the stage doing exactly what I want to do and what disqualified me. And, it is ironic because I am very aware that God does NOT work through “qualifications” and that the enemy was leading me to believe the lies that I was disqualified.

Each one of these women stood up on stage and shared stories of vulnerability, stories of fear and stories of how God had shaped or changed their lives. Truly beautiful and honest accounts of transformation in some form. The trials they had suffered were difficult, terrifying and significant. As I sat there listening to them 75% of me admired and respected them and the other 25% told myself “your dream is over, sister! You can never do this. You have too many.” Too many of this, too many of that – just too many!

They had been married for 10 to 25 years. All appeared to have a godly marriage, no mention of divorce or remarriage. There was not a testimony of addiction, sexual sin, anything that would carry a sin-shock once revealed. What would my bio read? Jessica Griffiths. Married & Divorced. Re-married & Re-divorced Again. Blended Family. Sex before marriage … oh ya, I can see the empty arena now. No thanks, I am good!

What impacted me the most though was watching one woman in particular ramping herself up to share her most shameful truth. It was crushing because of the heaviness of her shame, the things that made her feel unworthy or fearful were so minor in comparison to my own past. It showed me that we are so unforgiving of ourselves for the slightest infractions. And, that even someone with her qualifications, her education, status etc. was still fearful to some degree of judgment.

Sitting there impatiently waiting for her to work up the courage to share whatever carried such humiliation and embarrassment for her, I prayed. I prayed for her past to be even the slightest of something that mirrored my own. Is that awful? It sounds terrible to me to pray for something like that – but it was for a good reason, kind of. I wanted her to say something that would pull me into her heart, something that screamed – you’re one of us and welcome here. My need for it to be significant, something that would whisper “I’m just like you” was vital to feeling human, and still worthy of being a christian.

I prayed she would share something that proved that I was not disqualified. That I could share my story with other women, encourage and motivate them, become an author and not just be a flawed woman. But when she shared her truth and testimony, it was nothing like my past, and nothing I would have ever faulted her for nor condemned. In fact to me I would not have even categorized it as a sin. I honored her vulnerability, but dishonored Gods promise to myself. I ended up leaving the conference feeling disqualified. And, my heart broke.

For the next week I wrestled over my feelings. I wrestled with the idea of truly being disqualified. Would God call me to write and share my testimonies if I were truly disqualified? And as soon as I said that out loud, I realized I’m not sharing my testimony. I’m sharing how I survived, how I am saved by Gods grace and how he loves me. But I haven’t told you my actual mistakes. I’m safely tucked behind a computer, a quote or a blog post saying, “I’m a Christian”, “God is real” and that I know that I’m forgiven but I’m not sharing why or how I know this.

Here I am dreaming of the day I am able to speak life into women who are needing validation, desiring acceptance, and deserving of forgiveness – and I am already letting them down because my testimony is incomplete. And, God called me on that, right there in my car. He said, “Show them why and how YOU are NOT a disqualified Christian. Show them what disqualified you before the grace of God. Show them what qualifies YOU and THEM in my heart and that my mercy never fails.”

It was in that moment my heart softened, that overwhelming feeling of clarity and joy overflowed and replaced any ounce of doubt I had. It was in that moment the enemy was silenced and the series – The Disqualified Christian, was created.

There are times what God speaks to us it not meant for sharing, but there are also moments when it is meant for others to know. God is very active and alive within me and I would be disobedient if I did not share this with you today.

God wants you to know that you are not disqualified, that he never compares you to anyone else because he created you to be set apart and unique on purpose. There is not a person, career, monetary amount, sin or any other factor that can disqualify you for his love and purpose. God is not in the business of crushing dreams or hearts, he is in the business of crushing us into position to bear the fruit he planned for the purpose of his glory. There is no glory in heartache, only in love and multiplication.

 Romans 12:6 (MSG)

“Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” 

The Disqualified Christian – Part One: The Divorcé

“So you’ve got a past, who doesn’t? What I need to know is if there is a place for me in your future?” – Andrew Hennings, Sweet Home Alabama.

That is one of my favorite quotes from the movie Sweet Home Alabama. The southern twang, the idea of first loves being our once in a lifetime love and the idea that what’s meant to be will find it’s way. That and I like to imagine that this is God talking to me as well, asking if I have a place for him in my future, regardless of my past.

Growing up all I wanted was a family, a husband, children, sitting around the table eating dinner together each night. That is it. Sure I had thought about what I would do for a living but nothing mattered more than being a wife and mother. My grandfather also told me that I should never date someone who I couldn’t see myself marrying. Which now makes sense, but then it did not. So, I set off searching for my head of the table and my perfect relationship. Blindly, it was a path set forth by generational curses that I was unaware existed. A path littered with infidelity, divorce, deceit, abuse – everything that seemingly disqualifies a woman to herself, a potential spouse and God.

Being divorced again rocked me to my core. All I wanted was a family and it caused me to hide from God, I was humiliated and ashamed. It would take me some time before I realized that I didn’t need to hide what he already knew.

Divorce to some is not a big deal, but to me it was. It meant that I had failed more than once at making a vow to God, and a vow to my husband. It meant I lied, it meant I let the three of us down and under it all – it meant I was impossible to love.

Being divorced once or twice seems more socially acceptable these days. In fact some religions require you to remarry immediately. But it is no secret that God detests divorce, in fact divorce was created by man, not God. So for me it was easy to assume that God detested me as well and I was doomed to hell.

But I was so wrong. In fact for those of us who have faltered and lost our way only to be found and repent, Jesus shed his blood to cleanse us and our sins – ALL SINS not just a couple that he sees fit.

Divorce does not label you as a person. It does not disqualify or discredit you. Maybe your spouse left you and you feel like no one could ever love you – that is not true. Maybe your spouse cheated and you asked him to stay because you wanted to work on things, and the cheating never stopped. Maybe you were unfaithful, you just grew apart, both wanted different things, couldn’t manage finances, agree on children – maybe you had different faiths. There are a variety of reasons that lead to divorce. And, they are all emotionally destructive. Even the amicable ones, can still sting.

My advice to you is just take it to God. Release it and release yourself. God cannot heal what you don’t reveal. And God is the ultimate restorer. You don’t need to carry the weight of yesterday into tomorrow.

Our experiences that did not work out as planned are not a label you wear that reads unworthy, failure or unlovable. Those moments that our plans failed are actually full of love, mercy and grace from God. That was Gods way of saying, “Okay, I let you try your way even though it was wrong and now I’m taking over because I love you enough to close this door for you.” God does not label you as anything but worthy. You say those lies to yourself and allow when others say them to you, to matter. Just like the lies I said to myself each time I failed, “I’m a failure.” “No one will love ever love me.” “I’m too damaged.” “Who wants to marry someone whose been married before?” “God must be really punishing me.” Wrong sister, Wrong!

Try to remember these four important truths when you feel like you failed or are unworthy of self love, Gods love or love from a spouse.

  1. God does not punish, he loves you entirely. All he wants is your heart. All that time I spent hiding away in shame, he knew. It is so funny when you wake up and realize GOD knows EVERYTHING – and he still pursues us. Read Jeremiah 29:11
  2. You control your self-talk. My goal for other women is being the drunk girl in the bar bathroom at 2 am – minus the drunk, and the bar. Those ladies are kind, they compliment, they care, they talk – zero comparison and zero judgment. I want women to feel loved, empowered, and valued just as they are. I need to talk to myself the same way. Try it. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  3. Trust me, there are good men who marry flawed women and vice versa. Oh this one is true. I should know. It took me 14 years of brokenness to find the one person who could hold me together – God. And, then my husband. My husband could care less about my past. He just loves me. And, that right there is proof of Gods grace.
  4. It is important to heal, to sit in your pain for a period and process it. Don’t place a bandage over something that is hemorrhaging – it won’t hold. You can’t move forward when so much crap is holding you back. You want to sort it out, to feel it, to experience the emotions and all that go with loss, heartache, and anger even. It is okay to feel disappointed.

All of this to say you are not disqualified as a woman, in this world or in God eyes for being divorced once, twice or more. In John chapter 4, there is a story of a Samaritan woman at the well. She had been married five times and was living with a man that was not her husband. Jesus sought her out. Jesus spoke to her. And, for the first time in the Gospel of John shared that he was the messiah, to a woman no less, who had been rejected, disqualified and discounted. If Jesus spoke to her, you are no different my friend.

The Hope Buckets

Today I was a contributing writer at Strong and Courageous Women Magazine. Below is a snippet of the “The Hope Buckets” – I hope you enjoy.

I struggle with wanting to be real and wanting to be healed. And, I realize the two go hand in hand. Yet, I shy away at times with being raw and revealing a tattered version of myself because in those moments of transparency and vulnerability – I am broken. I am not whole, and I am most definitely not healed. We do not stay there though, it is a moment in time revealing the road leading up to a certain point, not the end of the road.

The enemy wants us to see the road as a dead end. He wants us to give up and remain broken. The goal is for us to not trust, to question the intentions of those around us and to halt any progress we may be making. Those are the days we stay in bed, the days we listen to the lies and mimic an unhealthy and sometimes jealous self-talk. We tell ourselves we are not good enough, that God may have forgiven me but no one else has. Everyone is keeping tabs on my mistakes. I will never be good enough and I will always be judged.

Read more at Strong and Courageous Women Magazine.

The Weeds and Wheat Parable.

The wheat and tares parable has me enthralled currently. I never thought I would be the girl who not only enjoys reading the bible, but even more so gets personally into the word for a deeper meaning so that I can apply it to my life.

In this parable, Jesus’ is talking about his kingdom and he explains it like this:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Matthew 13:24-30 NIV

Why the botany lesson? And, how on earth does this apply to our own personal lives? Well let me tell you.

The weed in this parable is called a darnel, more commonly known as the “false wheat” because it bears such a close resemblance to wheat and is only noticeable once the ear spikes. Wheat is heavy causing the stem to bend and darnel is light leaving the poisonous weed standing tall. Ironic isn’t that the good plant, the wheat falls bending over and the bad plant, the weed remains stoic as it matures?

What am I getting at? Well, yes the bible is describing the kingdom of god and how his followers are the wheat and the enemies are the poisonous darnel. But personally speaking we are surrounded by our own poisonous weeds in our life currently. Each day the enemy attacks us, our families and our lives by sowing in these tares in the wheat we’ve planted.

Imagine that you and I are the wheat. And the people around us that want to see us fail, who hurt us and deceive us, are the weeds. We don’t see them as weeds at first because they resemble wheat, they look just like you and I. They resemble a friend, a partner or a loved one. Over time as we grow beside them we are equally given the same opportunities that will allow us to grow. It isn’t until full maturity that we realize what or who has been beside us was never wheat at all – or that others see the weed we knew was there all along.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NIV

Sure, we could pull the weeds the second we see the difference but at what cost? Is it worth damaging the wheat? If I am looking at this as if I am the wheat then I risk damaging myself and my own worth and the sustenance that was planted in me. The worth God has sown into me could become uprooted.

Now imagine the opposite. Imagine that we are the weeds. Our seed came from a poison plant. It is in our nature to grow as a strong and deadly weed. Our whole purpose is to deceive and destroy – it is all we know. That is what we were planted to do. Do you believe that a bad seed must remain as such? We both grow in the same ground, with the same nutrients and the same opportunities. Why not allow yourself the opportunity to grow as a seed that supplies nourishment?

If you are anything like me, you have been hurt in your life by someone important to you, possibly a loved one and maybe you’ve even been the weed in someone else’s wheat field as well. But God has the ability to plant a seed of goodness around the seeds of deceit and despair. And, he knows the good seeds among the poison and the depth of the root.

There are days we want vindication, days where we want the poison to be extracted from our lives either as our backstory or a current threat to our crops today. But, it is not our harvest to glean. We must have faith that he will harvest and separate the wheat and weeds when the timing is right. We need only be still in the dirt we were planted in, and keep growing in whatever season God has us in. You may be planted beside a weed for a reason you aren’t mature enough to under at this moment. We have to remember the presence of weeds can never cancel out the power of the wheat. The heaviness of the wheat leads us to bend, and when we do we pray for the weeds to be harvested and planted as good seeds instead.

In this post we are talking about Empowerment, inspiration, self love, motivation after abuse emotional and mental

You deserve better.

Some of us are raised with such convoluted ideals of what is expected and acceptable in relationships. Even when we know better, we don’t choose to do better. We relent, we condone, we allow others to interject their opinions and what they feel our relationship should produce or protect. Truth is – it is not their relationship. I’ve heard wait until you’re with someone for 15 years – that is a real relationship, real dedication, and real love. The hell you say?! Real love, real dedication – has no essence of time. Period. Love is an ongoing action, not a timeline.

Being a self-proclaimed love addict that had the belief that one day, if I put up with enough these disastrous and detrimental relationships would surely blossom into a loving and healthy lifetime commitment was a fallacy. I’ve literally laid down and allowed men to walk all over me my entire life, starting with my own Father. That feeling of worthlessness was like sewage that continued to spill into relationship after relationship. You want to know why that is? Because we believe what we are fed, things like the adage “you might as well stick it out – because the next person has just as much issues as the one you are with.” LIES! People listen here that is completely inaccurate. Did you ever think that maybe all these closed doors, all these U-turns, was GOD saying “Hey, I love you, this is not right for you and you need to go a different direction?” Not, stick around and continue to be beat down.

Everyone has their flaws like leaving their clothes beside the laundry basket, forgetting to take the garbage out, not always helping with the kids, but serious issues, deal breaker issues — there are men/women without them. You can do better!

They say if you want a different outcome, you must do things differently. In each relationship, I tried that. Any previous failures from ended relationships, I would try to preempt and rectify in future ones. If the guy before was unfaithful, I made myself more sexual, more available, more pleasing. If the guy before was unhappy or felt unimportant, I learned to cook, to provide, to take care of. If the guy before was deceitful and untrustworthy, I tried to open more, communicate more, to allow and invite an openness in the relationship. If the guy was emotionally, mentally or physically abusive, I would modify my looks and my behaviors. I would give up my life, my fun, my wants and needs and dedicate myself completely to helping and fixing them. DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM HERE?? The problems and changes to be made were not mine to make. It was simply the wrong relationship. I didn’t trust myself enough, I didn’t listen to my brain or follow my own intuition which was screaming incessantly that this was not okay, I can’t fix this, I deserve better!

It is important for you to realize this: It is not your job to take on the success or failure of a relationship in its entirety. If the marriage/relationship is failing and you are the only one fighting…STOP. Cheaters, cheat. Liars, lie. Abusers dominate and destroy. And Addicts, simply transfer their addictions. You do not need to stay in any of these situations. It is your choice – not God’s choice, or the Bibles choice, because if it was, it wouldn’t hurt you. God would never ask you to sin, or put yourself in harms way. It is not what is best for your children, or what is best for you. You will undoubtedly lose yourself as you continue to lose this battle.

Here is the thing, yes, we tend to fall into relationship ruts, and picking a different type of the same bad guy repeatedly. But you have the ability of modifying and updating your hardwired picker – your picker doesn’t have to remain broken. You are wiser than you give yourself credit for. And, my favorite part is this: Not every person will abuse you, not every person will cheat on you – repeatedly. Not every person will be systematically deceitful, selfish and manipulative.

In my lifetime, I have loved entirely and completely three men – an abusive alcoholic, an unfaithful deceitful younger man, and an honest to goodness good man. The honest and good men, they do exist. I didn’t have to settle. I didn’t have to allow him to hurt me to feel loved temporarily. Or chase him for attention, affection, or temporary stability. He chose to stay, he chose to be kind, to be considerate, to listen, to communicate and to love me for me – even when I feel like I don’t deserve it. And, he makes that choice every day, because he chooses to.

You’ve heard the saying do not compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel, and it is true. Trust me, I lived in a highlight reel life, I boasted and hung tightly to every UP, because I was so tormented by every LOW. I thought I needed to be thankful for the good times, because they made the hard times worth it, which is true to a point – a breaking point. When the hard times are many and the good times are few, you must be strong enough and value yourself enough to look at why that is, and when necessary, draw the line. Enough is enough.

There are several unhealthy relationships that are littered with guarded secrets, ultimatums, unstable foundations, infidelity, deceit and immoral actions. The worst part is that there are people who think this is what they deserve! That this is the best they can have. That no one will love them outside of this relationship. That they have nothing to offer the world, no dream to chase, no voice to be heard, or gift to be shared. They look in the mirror and see failure, ridicule, embarrassment and despair, when instead they should see strength, honor, integrity, beauty, hope and success. And love, damn it! You should look at yourself in that mirror and see LOVE, for yourself.

In my mirror, I can choose to see all those negative things as well, I can see my flaws and imperfections, my failed endeavors, relationships, parental screw-ups, employment mistakes, and lord knows what else. But, you want to know what I see when I look in the mirror? I see my daughter. I see her impressive beauty, her intelligence and witty personality, and her STRONG sense of self-esteem. I see my sons, their goofy ways, kind hearts, and loving souls. The reflection of my green eyes that I love, that have cried tears of happiness more than sadness, and that many have investigated, viewing the goodness of my heart. I see a woman who has been real, honest and fought when necessary and is learning to let most battles go. I see a woman who is beautiful because of my actions, my children, my mind, and my heart – not because of my physical features. And most importantly I see a woman who is gritty, quick-witted, stubborn, hilarious, bold and authentic. There is no one like me and GOD did that on purpose.

That is what I choose to see, and what I will continue to raise my daughter to choose to see. It is what you should choose to see. Choose yourself and take back the ownership of your life. It will be the best investment you will ever make.

Walk all over me, please.

Sometimes I’m genuinely intrigued by people who perceive me as defenseless or even a pushover. It makes me want to say “excuse me,” as I tap on their shoulder, “what is it exactly in my overall appearance ( pointing at myself in a circular motion) or personality that screams “walk all over me” and gives you the idea that I will actually fold and lay flat like a board? Is it my hair? My customer service voice? Ooh ooh, I know… I used to be married to someone you know, huh, and now were enemies for funsies cause your loyal, right?” Truly, I could go on for days as to why people pre-determine my personality traits and worth, but their opinion of me, is none of my business. It all boils down to the simple fact of – you don’t know me! For those that do, know that once I am told I can no longer do something, I’ll do it again for spite.

Some may say it’s a lack in maturity, or what I say, just a blunt reminder that I will do as I please, whether you like it or not. The reason being is that this life is my own, the heart that loves/fights for whatever necessary reason in any moment I choose, is my own. The mind that races at night with worry, concern, memories and plans, again, is my own. As are my actions and any repercussions that follow.

You have a choice to exit my life, at any given moment the door is always open for you to do so. Rarely will I hold for you as you exit, or lock it behind you, but I will most assuredly not prevent you from walking out of it. Your life, if you choose to have me in it, will get easier once you understand I am not going to change. I love the person I am, I love what I fight for, I love what I believe in, and who I believe in. Your absence will never be a loss for me, because there is only more to gain by no longer being surrounded by negativity and people who are bothered by my refusal to be silenced.

My mistakes are just that, mine. If I make mistakes ten times a day, every day, for the rest of my life, they are no more your business from the first mistake to the last. It is my path, and I will travel it by whatever means necessary, regardless of where the hand on the clock lies, and you can’t bet your sweet nosy tush, I will learn something new along the way each and every time. My journey is personal and specific to my growth into the woman I become more of each day. Some days our paths will appear similar, and some days we will take a different course only to arrive at the same destination. The difference in course is how we will come to enjoy the same destination together.

My beliefs are no less important than yours, nor are my priorities, except that to us individually they are significant and critical in the forefront of our lives. They are what propel us forward, the motivation and dedication that burns in our souls. We will not always see eye to eye and I care not to, purposely. My opinions are loud, but they are never one-sided or judgmental – they come from a personal experience of either gain or loss. You decide if my opinion matters to you, and vice versa – individually the person chooses to validate or reject it. The power belongs to the beholder, just as does beauty.

Any relationship I choose to nurture with someone is important and on it’s own merit. If you betray or bring about pain to myself or someone I love and care for, I will not sit in silence, hang my head nor be fearful of speaking up. I will most likely refer you to the second paragraph – and gladly hold the door.

I’m at the point in my life, where the quality of the person, reflects my effort. My children are my main priority, I choose every day to love, trust and believe in GOD, and to live my life without regret. I know my heart, and the goodness it contains, it is not my intent nor desire to persuade you in or out of loving me. I love myself enough for the both of us, and my value will never decrease because we’re in disagreement over my worth.