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Note as of April, 2014: Hello All! I am consolidating my writings into a new blog- Walking in Wholeness: Insights into God, Medicine and Healing. I will no longer be posting to this blog, so I invite you to subscribe to the new one! Thanks and God bless

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lost In Translation

The Bible tells us to renew our minds daily. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (NIV). A renewed mind enables us to live according to God's truths, rather than in the warped and twisted unreality of our unregenerate minds. His truth literally transforms how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world.

If I don't spend time with God daily and allow Him to fill my head with His thoughts, then what I believe and think becomes subject to the whims of my biochemistry, the other aspects of my flesh, and the devil. What's more, my unresolved wounds become a filter through which I translate (and misinterpret) the words and actions of others.

Case in point- about six weeks ago, while at some hot springs in Costa Rica with friends, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in my bathing suit, while walking past a mirror.

Whoa! Dismay filled me at the realization that the slender supermodel figure that Lyme disease had blessed me with (go figure that disease can make you look like a model) was gone.

Although some of the weight gain might have been good for me, it was nonetheless a shock to see myself nearly twenty pounds heavier than what I was less than two years ago. I don't make it a habit to study myself in a bathing suit, so the realization that I was well on my way to becoming a chunky monkey (apparently) threw a wrench in my otherwise happy day.

As I stopped before the mirror again, I wondered, Am I just not used to seeing myself as a normal-sized person?

I felt the voice of Truth nudging my conscience. Come on, Connie, let's be objective about this... It went. But the unregenerate mind would have none of it. Insecurity was the order of the day.

So I approached a male friend who happened to be with me at the hot springs, and asked him the dreaded question that no man hopes a woman will ever ask him.

"Am I fat?"

I picked on him because I knew he would tell me the truth. But as I asked the question, I sensed his discomfort as he shifted in his seat next to me. We were plopped down on a bench beneath a beautiful waterfall.

"No,'ve put on some weight." Was the candid reply.

Alarm bells went off in my mind as my heart picked up speed. "Well, am I pudgy?"

My poor friend. He didn't stand a chance at winning this game. As he squirmed in his seat, silent, I could have imagined what he was thinking- Should he gamble his friendship with his silly, vain friend, in the interest of telling her the truth?

No woman should ever ask a man the fat question. Ever.

But I did. Again. "Well, am I pudgy?"

He looked down. "Um, well, sure, a little."

We all know what the translation is for this, right?

I'm a cow!

Thus ensued a tirade in which I began to bemoan my clumps of cellulite and emerging Buddha belly. How unfair it was that I had put on so much weight, because I subsisted on salads and salmon and exercised- so how dare God allow this to happen to me? And what if my rolls were just getting on a roll? What if this was just the beginning?

Somewhere in the middle of my pity party, my friend looked at me quizzically and said, "What's pudgy mean?"

I stopped the tirade in its tracks. "WHAT?" I said to him, miffed. "You just told me I'm pudgy and you don't even know what it means?"

As I continued to flip out next to my friend beneath the waterfall, he muttered something about needing a drink.

Poor thing. I should have shown him to the nearest bar. Or at least taken my insecurities elsewhere.

"Look, you're not fat, OK? You've put on some weight, but you look good." He finally said.

But my unregenerate mind refused to swallow the truth. Not after he had told me that I was pudgy! (Never mind that he didn't really know what it meant). In that moment, all I could focus on was the fact that I had gained twenty pounds.

Never mind that by most people's standards, I am now an average weight. Never mind that my value and worth shouldn't be in my physical beauty, anyway. I had grown accustomed to the admiration of others. I was used to turning heads and seeing myself skinny as a rail. I didn't like having a real woman's body. Never mind that people still tell me that I am beautiful.

I might have received my friend's words through the lens of truth had I asked God to tell me His truth after looking in the mirror. Or maybe I wouldn't have even asked my friend the fat question. But because I did, I put us both through unnecessary grief. Besides, even if I had been overweight, what would have been the point of asking my friend the fat question? Why did I want to ruin our trip to the hot springs?

Yes, I would still rather be ten pounds lighter. But I'm not twenty-five years old anymore. Besides, in hindsight, I realized that the real question that I was asking-what most women are asking- when they approach a man (especially a close friend, boyfriend or spouse) with the fat question, is, Am I lovable just as I am?

And if the question were posed to God, the answer would be an emphatic, enthusiastic Yes! - Whether we are 120 or 240 pounds.

Living according to the unregenerate mind causes us to mistranslate others' words and actions- just as I did my friend's when I posed the "fat" question to him- and believe lies about ourselves and how God and others see us. And I have found that the only way to rise above the tactics of the enemy and the flesh is by asking God for His mind when my flesh wants to throw a twisted thoughts party.

All I can say is, thank God for the grace and love of my good friend, who forgave me for the fat question. And for Jesus, who has called me- and all of us- His beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, sons and daughters. May His opinion be the only one that counts, when we are tempted to lose the truth in the translation of our unregenerate minds.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Knowing The Power of His Death and Resurrection...

It's been a rough week. But I guess this was a rough week for Jesus, too, 2012 years ago. To put it mildly.

Night terrors, sleep apnea, and relentless insomnia are making a soup of my brain and body. My chest aches, and I push myself to prepare another cup of coffee, in the hopes that I might manage three hours of writing today. I'm weeks behind on my work deadlines.

But I guess that's beside the point. On this sacred day, instead of awakening and bowing my head in reverence and gratitude to my Savior, for giving up His life for me on a Cross 2012 years ago, I emerged from bed with curses on my lips, foul language and accusations against my God. The enemy took advantage of my sleep deprivation to cast me into a litany of lies and melodramatic pleas to God to heal me or take me out of this world.

What demon has taken over my mind today, on this Good Friday? What part of me doesn't understand what Jesus purchased for me at Calvary, and the power that He has given me to overcome?

Opposing thoughts rage in my biochemically-imbalanced brain. It seems God has allowed an army of ten thousand demons to come against me, but where is He as their arrows fly fast and furious towards me? In my delusion, I accuse Him of just standing by and watching, as the arrows penetrate my heart. He waits for me to do something that I decide I cannot do, because the battle against my flesh is too strong.

"Take my thoughts captive, God?" I rail at Him. "You try that when you haven't slept for the better part of five months!" In self-righteousness I build a case against my Lord- as if that should convince Him to pull back Satan's army. As if my begging will move Him to shift a little pinky in my favor.

Yet, in exalting the flesh against the power of His Spirit, and by accusing Him of withholding His love and healing from me, I'm like the mockers who spit on Him when He died 2012 years ago on a Cross at Calvary. But instead of clamoring, "Save yourself, if you are the King of the Jews!" my angry words are, "Jesus, heal me, if you love me so much!" Even as, with tears rolling down His face, and his body hanging limply on a Cross, He softly replies, "I am."

And so it is. I turn up my nose at the lashing of His body, and I spit on the nails in His hands. I turn my back on His anguish and the tears that roll down His face. I shrug my shoulders in indifference, as He cries out to the Father, "Why have you forsaken me?" Figuratively, I do all of this when I treat His sacrifice as if it purchased nothing for me but a free ticket into Eternity.

He has all power to heal me now. But He has also given me all power to be healed by the Holy Spirit, who dwells within me because of His death and resurrection.

He who lives within me was not free. The gift of the Spirit came at the expense of a body and soul that were torn asunder by the world's sin. He came to live in me, and in all who would believe in Jesus' sacrifice. Without His death on the Cross, I-we, would have no power to overcome the devil and the flesh.

It cost me nothing to receive the power of Immanuel- or, "God within me(us)," but it cost God everything. It cost Jesus His life. And yet I exalt the devil and His work above that of my Savior when I curse and accuse.

I mock His sacrifice when I accuse Him of not helping me. He helped me 2012 years ago when He died and was resurrected on the third day. I mock Him when I beg Him to heal me, because that healing was already given, way back when...

I feel His tears today as I shed my own, as He longs for me to understand, for my sake and others, what it cost Him to give me the power to be set free and to have life Eternal with Him.

But, like so many others, I am deceived into thinking that what is real is what I feel, and experience. I am reticent to believe that He within me can overcome a mind and body that have been sickened by a thousand and one sleepless nights; that He whom I cannot see isn't greater than the effects of this world upon my body; that though I am outnumbered in my battle against the flesh, I only need One of Him to overcome the multitudes that rage against me.

The depression remains. But He who remains in me admonishes me to overcome. Because one day I will truly get it- and when I do, no shadow of disease or insomnia will be able to stand within six million miles of me.

Forgive me, Jesus, for what I don't understand. Forgive me for standing among the crowds that forsook you, spit on you, and mocked you. Forgive me for my irreverence and lack of gratitude. I will never know how much it cost You, to take my sins upon You, on that Cross. I will never know, this side of Heaven, the immense and amazing price you paid for me, so that I might have life, here and in the Hereafter. But yes, I don't condemn me for my cursing and accusations. If you did, then Your work would have been for naught.

Thank You, Jesus, for your great mercy and love towards me. Thank You, for dying for all of humanity, 2012 years ago, that we might be freed from all manner of sickness, soul wounds and the power of sin. Teach us that You gave up Your life, not only so that we might live with you in Eternity, but so that we might bring Heaven to Earth today, and every day. May we know that Your authority has been given to us because of Your work on the Cross, and that we all have power to destroy the works of the devil, to set captives free, and to open the eyes of the blind...

Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see, and be healed. Open my heart, that I would daily hold sacred your sacrifice, and not take for granted all that was given to me, 2012 years ago...and today. Amen.