When Life Comes to a Halt

When we celebrated New Year’s 2019 on a ship in the middle of the Carribean, we knew we were in for an adventure, but we had no idea the journey we would take. We moved out of our house with a plan. Our plan. One we felt sure the Lord had directed us to do. Move out of the house, live in our timeshare condo a few months, move into a friend’s house they would not be using for a few months, then move into our new home. It should be done by the end of the year and we would have a big Christmas celebration. Celebrating the new home, our last home, the one we’ve dreamed about. Celebrating settledness after a year of unsettled.

Front Elevation of our new Old Town Bluffton cottage 😍

Then January 7th, 2019 happened. The day our life came to a screeching halt. Not as devastating as bad health news or death, but still a halt. The day of job loss. Our only source of income at the time. 14 years of Scott’s life poured into a company, for them to decide his position is no longer needed. Just. Like. That. 

Sccrreeeech….. Call the builder. Hold up. This we can control. The rest?? Well, that was up to us to decide. We did not panic, like before. We breathed. We knew there was a reason for this. Do we control it, or do we “let it go and let God?”  It was an easy decision for us this time. We knew we had to wait, pray and listen. God had a plan. Of that we were sure. We had a choice. The Mary or the Martha? Mary, the one who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to what he had to say. Martha, the one in the kitchen making all the preparations all the while missing the Words of the Savior in her house. Mary, soaking in all the wisdom coming from the Wisest. Martha, growing bitter and angry doing all the work, missing the wisdom. 

Sounds like an easy decision, but it is not. We can be Mary and appear lazy, defeated, depressed to those around us. We can be Martha, running here and there, finding odd jobs, new jobs, busy jobs. In our relationship, I’m usually the Mary, Scott the Martha. I’m used to that. Fully expecting Scott to get on the phone and start calling everyone he knew. What positions are available at your company? Do you know who is hiring? Spending hours on LinkedIn searching. But, he didn’t. We didn’t.

We prayed. Together and apart. 2 months was the “magic” number. Two months to just be still. Wait. Pray. Listen. As terrifying as it was, we were all in. We had 2 months in a condo – well, a couple condos – on Hilton Head. What better place to be told to rest and wait?

March 1, 2019 was the first day of the new job. Can you do the math? Almost 2 months to the day from when it all stopped and the Lord clearly said give it 2 months! That has been a year ago now. I wish I could tell you I’m writing this blog in my new home, but I’m not. I’m writing from a little 3 bedroom apartment we moved into last July. The Lord was not finished with us quite yet. We weren’t ready to stop waiting. We are no good at it! But, we did it. We obeyed. We persevered. And now we are on our way to a new house! Paperwork signed, the builder is starting to move all the pieces and hopefully….prayerfully…eagerly believing we may possibly spend Thanksgiving in our house. For sure Christmas. 

Nothing about this has been easy, but looking back almost all of it has been good. In our mid-50s and still learning. That is good. Submitting to the will of a Heavenly Father. That is good. Beauty and changes in our original plans. That is good. When the road ahead looks grueling and impossible, submit to the Father. Look all around and see all that is good. Focus on it. See where the Lord is taking you. Listen daily. For that is good!

Are you in a season of waiting? Can I pray with you through it? Let me know in the comments!

Is Your First Memory Real?

     What is the very first memory you have? How old were you? Most researchers believe most early memories are not true. We base them on stories we’ve heard or photos we’ve seen. That may be true, but does it make it less of a memory?

     I believe first memories can be foundational to who we are. It must have been an important event, even if a small one. Why would our brains hold on to it if it didn’t really matter? So, it got me thinking about my first memory. Why do I remember it? Why am I holding on to it? Am I making it mean more than it is? Was it real?

    It was springtime. They dressed me in my little yellow dress. I think I hated dresses even then. White hat with a yellow ribbon. White gloves. White patent shoes. It was Easter. I believe it was 1967 which made me 3 years old. I don’t remember church, but I know we went. I don’t remember waking up to an Easter basket, though I’m sure I did. What I do remember is my grandmother’s backyard. I’m sure if I could go back there now it would seem a small postage stamp yard, but then it was the world! Fully fenced with lilac bushes, lilies beginning to bloom, and hedges all along the fence that encapsulated the entire yard. 

I walk out the back door, down the 3 steps with my empty basket in hand and run as fast as I can to the little bushes to the right. I could see the color of the egg peeking through the grass. I grabbed it and put it in my basket. “Found one!” I hollered. 

That is my memory. Just me in the backyard. In that Easter outfit. Looking like a little doll my mom could dress up that day. It’s funny what we remember and why. Knowing my family and our past rituals, I am sure there were others there. Cousins aplenty. I’m sure all the moms were standing on the carport chatting while the kids ran around the yard finding the eggs. But, I only remember myself.

Why?

As long as I can remember I loved pleasing people. I would perform, smile, laugh, whatever it took to make them smile and keep them happy. If you knew my mother, you would know this was no easy feat. But, I remember her happy that day. I’m sure she delighted in what I was wearing. Yellow was her favorite color and I looked like a little doll. Then I would find an egg she had hidden and there was delight in her face; I had succeeded. Then, the part I can’t remember, but I imagine as history dictates, the rest of the time went something like this…

“Mommy, we found them all! Hide them again! Hide them again!”

“No, Barbie. I hid them once. Have your cousins hide them for you.”

And like that it was over. The attention, no longer there. Quick. Fleeting. Just as I remember. 

What is your earliest memory and why do you believe it is the one? Share with us in the comments below. 

Frustrations and Big Girl Panties

Photo by Asa Rodger on Unsplash

Six days into the new year and I’m finally able to sit down and think, ponder, pray. I used to rebel against the “word for the year” thing, but gave in a couple years ago when the Lord laid a word on my heart and wouldn’t let me get away from it! Last year my word was “unhurried pace.” Yes, I’m aware it is 2 words, but if ya know me, then you know…

This morning I went through my journal from last year. Every post had something to do with waiting, moving or transitioning. But, mostly waiting. Not what I expected the unhurried pace to be. Funny, because I don’t remember it as much, but seems I lived most of 2019 in frustration. Waiting is not my strong suit!

Frustrated we had to put house plans on hold. Then we began moving forward and one thing after another held it back. One year later we are ever so much closer but have yet to break ground.

Frustrated my book wasn’t progressing.

Frustrated I didn’t have a permanent place to lay my head (or unpack my stuff)!

Ugh! Frustrated!

Two things I learned about frustration, it can cause you to give up or you can learn from it and move forward. Better. Stronger. So today I felt I had to make a decision. Coming off a year of frustration, what was I going to do about it? I decided to quit!!! Done! Stay in my apartment, watch Hallmark movies and eat bon-bons all day!

Two things I learned about frustration, it can cause you to give up or you can learn from it and move forward.

OK, so that decision only lasted a minute or two, but sometimes it is what we want to do, isn’t it? The easy way. But is it the happy way? The joyful way? The fulfilling way? I dare say not. So, I’m putting on my big girl panties, (and because of the frustrations of the last year they are a bit bigger 🥴) looking back on some of the frustrations, and seeing how I can do better. What was the Lord teaching me? Where are the blessings in all of it? ‘Cuz I guarantee you they are there!

Frustration 1 – still sitting in this apartment when I was sure I would spend Christmas in my new house, or at the least, carriage house. Reality? Bottom line of financing still not signed. Plan approvals still not signed. Not one tree down on the lot, not one scoop of dirt removed. Reflection? I’ve prayed a long time that we can build a house with financing well below our budget that we can pay off in about 10 years. Changes to our plans, changes in the market, created changes in financing beyond anything we could have imagined. If we had pushed and pushed and made this happen 6-8 months ago, none of that would have happened. The apartment life is simple – not much to clean! Our efforts can be elsewhere instead of caring for a house and all that goes with that. What a blessing!

Frustration 2 – this book is not finished! At the beginning of 2019, with my unhurried pace attitude, I wanted to learn all I could about crafting a book. I mean, I’ve written things all my life, but never a book. If I wanted people to read it and understand it, I had some studying to do. But, I still thought it would be complete by the end of 2019. NOT!! Reality? It’s a little over two-thirds done. One section edited by an editor, second section so close to going to her. Reflection? I have learned so much! No one just sits down and writes a book. There is so much involved. I do two edits, then send to my content editor who shows me what’s missing in the story, then I go back and edit that section again. My book is 3 sections, so I do that for each section. Next, I will have 2-3 beta readers who will send back feedback and I will edit from their suggestions. From there, what I will call the completed manuscript will go back to my editor for a complete readthrough. I will do final edits on her thoughts and THEN I should be able to publish. But, publish where? More learning about the publishing industry. I’ve narrowed down some good possibilities, but no final decision yet. Who will read my book? How do I get it in front of them? Well, that’s where this thing called platforming comes in. This… what I’m doing now…. writing a blog. Building Instagram and Facebook followers. Getting my name out there so when there is a physical book in my hand, more than my husband and best friends will want to read it! (Side note – I dislike the social media part of this. But, it is necessary, so I see it as my job. The thing that needs to happen, but isn’t my passion.)

Blessings: New job for my husband that allows for regular travel to NYC and Israel! Because we were “homeless” for a bit, we spent a month with our daughter and her family at the end of her pregnancy and the first few weeks of our new grandson’s life. We have plans for a great house that is everything we could dream of. A good chunk of savings to put into the new house, because we lived in an apartment!

Don’t dwell on frustrations without looking for blessings!

2020 is here. A new year, a new word. I hesitated to pick one, but the Lord laid it on my heart in the first part of December. It came through this Scripture in the Message version.

There it is! Diligence. It’s time to finish what I started. It won’t happen magically, it will take a lot of hard work. But, I have what it takes. I will do what I can, not what I can’t! I am Ready after all. Let’s do this!

If you have a word for the year, share it with me in the comments. I’ll pray for you and your year ahead!

5 Occurrences Pointing to a Messiah

A pregnancy. A young girl. Unwed. It looks like all the makings of a very made-up story. According to commentator Matthew Henry, Luke 1:48 shows us the state of Mary. He looked with pity on the humble estate of His servant. Mary wasn’t just a poor girl, she was likely the least of her family. Unjustly neglected.

It’s God’s M.O. throughout the Scripture. Using the lowly, especially women, for His purpose and glory.

  • Leah – hated by the people – the Lord “opened her womb”. The lineage of Jesus.
  • Hannah – provoked and insulted – the Lord gave her a son, Samuel.
  • And Mary – the lowliest among her people – mother of our Savior.

Just as we lack faith when God has promised us something, I’m sure Mary did too. Just as the Lord needs to give us “signs” along the way, He did for Mary too.

First, He sent an angel. Wow! If a big ol’ angel came down and told you something, I’m thinking you would believe it! But, first, she doubted. After he greeted her with a booming “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28), the Scripture says she was “greatly troubled” and tried to figure out what he was saying.

Lowly.

Mistreated.

Neglected.

She must have thought “Why would an angel call me ‘favored one’? He must be talking to someone else.” As she looks around to see whom else he is talking to. Until she realized there is no one. It is her and her alone. So, she listens. She hears what he says. Still questioning, in the middle of Gabriel’s declaration she interrupts, “How? I’m a virgin!” Gabriel continues and her heart begins to believe. She feels an inkling of hope that the God of the universe has picked her. Nerves swirling inside her stomach, hands trembling, she humbly accepts the proclamation.

Second, Elizabeth. Mary’s cousin. Gabriel told Mary Elizabeth was with child. Mary knew Elizabeth was beyond childbearing. She was barren. She had to see for herself. It was so important to her, she traveled 80-100 miles through hill country to visit her. Maybe by foot, maybe on a donkey. Either way, not easy. She had to know, and she needed to tell someone. Those must have been the longest 3-4 days to her. Wondering how Elizabeth would receive her. Knowing she needed confirmation, but would she get it? Small, timid, and exhausted, I imagine a tear beginning to stream down her face as she approaches the house. Fear is finding its place in her heart again. Then God. Faithful. Kind. Gentle. Offers the assurance Mary needs. Elizabeth runs to hug her cousin calling her “the mother of my Lord”. Elizabeth telling her the baby inside her lept as she approached. Affirming over her “… blessed are you who believed…”

Third, Joseph. How would he take this? We speculate she didn’t see him until after her return from Elizabeth’s. By then, the baby bump was appearing. When Joseph saw her, he didn’t know what to make of it. He heard what Mary said, but couldn’t quite believe that story! Again, God. In a dream, the angel tells Joseph everything, confirming Mary’s story. God chose him to raise the Messiah. He takes Mary as his wife, humbled, scared, awed. His charge was to protect her and the baby and he would do it well.

Fourth, here come the shepherds. Minding their own business. Doing their job. Then suddenly, the glory of the Lord shone around them. This isn’t like a flashlight turned on, this is doxa, Heavenly brightness! Shading their eyes, looking upward and around trying to figure out where it’s coming from. And the big angel voice booms, “Fear not!” Yeah, right. Yet, a calmness comes over them as they hear what the angel is saying. A birth? A Savior? In Bethlehem? But, if the angel speaking wasn’t enough, an entire angel army appears singing and praising God, proclaiming peace over the Earth. The angels leave and the shepherds make haste back to Bethlehem. They find Mary and Joseph and a baby in a manger, just as it was told to them. Here is little Mary. Just her, her husband and the baby. She had to swaddle Him after the birth. No midwife or mother to help her. Alone in a stable. Only place to lay her baby was in a feeding trough. Doubt overwhelming her yet again. Then shepherds. They tell the story and Mary fades into the background. Finds her quiet place and the most profound thing happens.

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

She pondered the angel. She pondered her visit with Elizabeth. She pondered Joseph’s dream. And now shepherds. There was no more doubt. At this moment. She believed all that had happened, and she treasured it. Stored it deep in her heart. Little did she know how much she would need to remember it all in a short 33 years.

Fifth, and last, just in case there was any more doubt, Simeon. A devout man in Jerusalem, God had revealed Himself to him many years prior, confirming he would see the Christ before he died. On the day Mary and Joseph were taking Jesus to the temple to present Him to God, Simeon felt a nudge to go to the temple as well. He saw the little family, took the baby in his arms and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

~Luke 2:29-32

Mary and Joseph marveled at what he said. Not only did Simeon confirm this was the Messiah, but this Messiah was for all people. Gentiles and Jews.

With so many occurrences pointing to a Messiah, how could anyone not believe? Yet, they didn’t. Many didn’t. We see it from this end and just know we would have believed. But, would we? What is pointing to the Messiah in your life right now? What is pointing to the return of a Messiah today? Luke tells us that Mary was blessed. Well, sure, we can see that. She was the mother of God. Yet, that isn’t why Luke called her blessed. Before the baby bump, before Elizabeth, before the shepherds, she believed. And because she did, she was blessed.

May you believe what the Lord is pointing to in your life. May you treasure and ponder all He has shown you. Then, your life will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine.

Merry Christmas, friends! And a blessed New Year! 🎉

What is Your Reason for Celebrating Christmas?

What is your fondest memory of Christmas? Were you a child or is it more recent? Do you love big family gatherings with friends all around? Or do you prefer small, intimate dinners with a few friends or immediate family?

I come from a large extended family. Forty plus people would gather in my grandparents little 4 room house Christmas Eve night. Rooms filled with people and laughter. I loved catching up with my cousins and aunts and uncles. I loved the smells coming from the kitchen – ham, potatoes, pies. I loved not feeling alone; feeling part of something big.

I remember watching the presents build up under the tree as more people came to the house. It was so exciting even though I knew only one was for me. They were for the matriarch. Grandma. When dinner was over and the long awaited anticipation of opening presents was upon us, as many as possible would crowd into that little living room. Grandma would sit in her little rocker and I and my cousins would play the elves and distribute the gifts. I loved watching the pile of gifts begin to tower up around my spry little 5 foot grandmother. As we placed another one at her feet she would exclaim, “You all really shouldn’t buy me so much…” while, at the same time, the glow on her face displayed the love she felt. It was one of two days in the year Grandma was truly honored. Christmas and her birthday. What I remember most about watching her was thinking “I can’t wait to be a grandma one day and be honored.” I did not understand what all that entailed! (One day I’ll blog just about Grandma)

Although there was lots of love and laughter on those Christmas Eve nights, there was very little Jesus. Grandma certainly loved Jesus, but to the others He was for Sunday mornings. I mean we all knew Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it didn’t go much beyond that. There was a small nativity, made of wood on the bookshelf in the living room. Everything else pointed to the red and green and Santa Claus. But, I knew Grandma believed deeper than the rest of us. I watched her read her devotion every day at the kitchen table. I watched her write a tithe check every week to the church. And because I knew, there is one gift, in all the years of gift giving to Grandma, I will never forget.

I had to be around 10 years old; old enough to walk to WalMart and shop by myself. I remember looking at all the shelves trying to find that one special gift to let Grandma know I loved her. And I saw it! A large print Bible. It was huge! I mean, large print takes up a lot of space. It came with it’s own wooden easel stand that you could set on a table with the Bible open to your favorite verse. I was so excited to give it to her. Over 40 years ago. I still remember. Everyone laughed when she opened it because of the large print. But, she looked at me and with a gleam in her eye said “It’s perfect.” That Bible sat open on different verses on top of the console TV until she died over 20 years later. I wish I had kept it, but in my 30s at the time I’m sure I saw no need for a large print Bible.

After I married Scott and had children, it became important to me to honor Jesus on Christmas above everyone else. I would bake a big birthday cake and decorate with the words HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS across the top. I would take that cake to the big family gathering. I know they all thought it a little cheesy, but I didn’t care. It was those years, toward the end of grandmas life, that things began to change. She would ask me to read a poem or a story about the birth of Jesus. She would ask Scott to pray before we all herded through the food line. 

After she passed, Christmas Eve was never the same. Her little house gone, different aunts would host it year after year. There was no matriarch to honor and the Jesus cake and story readings stopped. Although we still prayed before the meal. Eventually, my kids grew and going back to Missouri became more difficult. We began spending Christmases with just our little family, here in South Carolina. I baked the cake a couple of years, but for some reason I stopped. We read the Christmas story every Christmas morning before we opened the presents, but that stopped too. 

I am the matriarch now. Scary! I am the Grandma (the Gigi actually). It’s time to start new traditions with my boys. It’s time to get in the kitchen and make Christmas goodies. It’s time to bring back the Happy Birthday Jesus cake. There is no doubt in our household that Christmas is the celebration of a Savior but it’s time to slow down again and remember. The presents will get opened, the food will get eaten, the movies watched and the games played. But first we remember. We read the story, we light the candles. 

I think the biggest tradition in our little family is that we don’t have a tradition! And it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is Jesus. The joy He brings and the reason for celebrating. Can you slow down when you are all together? Be brave. Even start small. Maybe a prayer before the meal. Read the account of His birth in Luke chapter 2. Make a cake. Light the candles. Remember. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

I pray you and yours have a blessed and joyful Christmas!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Is Your Identity Real or Fake? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Identity~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* the distinguishing character or personality of an individual
* condition of being the same with something described or asserted
* sameness of essential or generic character in different instances

I recently learned young people are actually maintaining 2 social media accounts. “Finsta” is the new term for fake Instagram. I knew people weren’t “real” on social media, but to operate the account for that sole purpose? What have we become? Here’s the really weird part – the Finsta accounts are more about the “real” person. The less edited version. Yet it’s the “fake” Instagram??

OK, before you read any further, would you hop down to the comments section and write out one sentence introducing yourself to me? Don’t overthink it, just as you would say if we met at a party. Mine would sound something like this…

“Hi, I’m Barb. I’m a writer. I’m married with 2 grown kids and 2 precious grandboys. I live near Hilton Head, SC.”

Write it, but don’t post it yet. I’ll have you add to it at the end. 🙂 

How we meet people is so telling of how we think about identity. The most common questions we ask are:

  • Where are you from? Identify as a Southerner or Midwesterner
  • What do you do? Identify as your career or life path
  • Are you married? Have kids? Identify as a wife, mother, single

Our identities will change over time, just as our seasons of life change. When I was very young, I identified as a boy. I know that has a whole different meaning now, but for me then, I was athletic and I loved doing “boy” things. I dressed like a boy, cut my hair like a boy. I wanted to be a boy. Then as I grew and went through puberty, I no longer wanted to be a boy, even though I was still a tomboy. Instead, I wanted boys to like me. I wanted to be a girlfriend. 

My favorite identity throughout high school was trumpet player. I loved being known as that great trumpet player, the girl trumpet player. Until a special young man replaced my identity with girlfriend, fiance, and eventually wife. Then those identities melded into Mom. Whatever season I was in was the identity I assumed. And for me, I had a difficult time juggling more than one. That makes it tough to be a wife when you’re all wrapped up into mom. But, that’s a topic for another day!

There were identities I longed for that I would never get to know. I wanted to be a sister. I longed for siblings. Until I got two step-brothers. Ha! What was I thinking? I also longed to be a “daddy’s girl”. I saw a lot of my friends have that identity and it looked so safe and comfortable. It was an identity I never thought I could have.

It took many years for me to understand there is only one identity. The rest are just labels. Labels that can be peeled off or a new one stuck on top of it. But, the core, the identity (reread the definition above), can only come from a lasting relationship with the One that provides it. Even after I had accepted Christ. Even after I began walking alongside Him and learning all I could about Him, I didn’t get it. I would hear people pray and call Him “Daddy”. I would hear messages on being a daughter of the King. Yet, it made no sense to me. 

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” ~ John 1:12

For me, it took knowing who my earthly father was. Just a simple letter telling me all about him, since I could never meet him. It gave me a deep understanding that I had a father. From all appearances, a good man. A man who would have loved me. Somehow, God used that understanding in me to understand He too was my Father. A good, perfect, always there Father. Yes, I am a daughter of the most high King. I am joint heirs with Jesus Christ. I found my real identity.

Now, write your identity again under the first one. Not your label, your identity. If you can’t then write why, so I can pray for you. Praying that the God of the universe would allow that one thing to happen, as He did for me, that will give you that deep understanding of who you are. 

Now it would be weird if I met someone and said, “Hi, I’m Barb. Daughter of the Most-High King. Joint heirs with Jesus.” or “Hi, I’m Barb. I live my life as Heavenly Royalty here on Earth, for a short time, with the sole purpose of introducing people to my Father so they can walk in freedom here and live for eternity in Heaven.” It would be weird. But, aren’t we called to be weird? 

4 Ways We Hide From Who We Are

Every time someone asked me about my father, I got a stabbing feeling in my gut. Like it was my fault I didn’t know him. So many times I would make up stories. 

“He was killed in the war; he was a hero!”

“He was killed in a car crash.”

“My mom and dad are divorced.” 

That last one, the divorce one, in the 70s, was about as bad as not knowing him. But, it was so much easier than saying “I don’t have one.” Of course, I have one right? Even 4-year-olds know that! But I just couldn’t face explaining to people I didn’t know him. I learned to hide who I was in as many ways as possible. 

Lying

The first was lying. Each of those statements above was a lie. But they diverted the real issue, and it worked. So I learned, lying works. It takes the attention off the negative. It ends the conversation. Until it doesn’t. Until the truth comes out and you’re in a deeper hole than when you started. I would lie that I didn’t take any cookies from the cookie drawer. This lie would lead to many years of dysfunctional eating. I would lie that I was spending the night at my girlfriend’s house when instead we would be out partying all night. 

Then as I aged and matured, I would lie at church and in my groups that my marriage was great. We did all the things right. We had date nights, devotions, regular sex, deep conversations. The reality? For a while, we had none of that. 

Those things weren’t happening because of the lie I would tell myself. The lie I would tell my husband. The lie I would tell my best friends. 

“I’m Fine!”

Oh, sister, how many of us live in that lie? We say it enough until we believe our situation is fine. When our reality is anything but. We believe the lie. 

Seclusion

When I realized it was too hard to keep lying, I secluded myself. If I hung out in my house, just me and the tv, no one could know. How often do we drive home every day, park in our garage and close the door? Close ourselves in. Away from the world. 

As an extravert, that only worked for so long. Yet, I found ways to stay secluded, even out in the world. I would busy myself with the kid’s school. I would walk around a shopping center or the mall. Anywhere I could hang out with people yet not be asked questions. I was the loneliest I had ever been amid a sea of people. 

But, you introverts, can hole up for days. Even though you too need some human interaction, there are words that keep you hidden. 

“I’d rather not talk about that. I’m a very private person.”

Interpreted – “I will not let you into my pain. I will deal with it myself so you will think I’m ok.” 

Shame

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid from God. This is the first account of trying to hide from Him. 

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Why were they hiding? They had done the one thing He asked them not to do! They were ashamed. They thought if He couldn’t see them, couldn’t see their nakedness, He would not know. 

We speak so many words over children that can bring on a lifetime of shame. 

“Putting on a little weight aren’t you?”

“Stop slouching!”

“How can you be so stupid?”

I heard so many of these things. I would wear oversized boy clothes to hide the little pudge I was developing at age 11. Then I would sneak an extra Twinkie at night because it made me feel better. I would make up stories that would make me sound smarter. Steal clothes that we couldn’t afford so I would look more normal. All the while developing ulcers because I was so ashamed, knowing I was wrong. 

The worst feeling was making up stories about my mom. Stories that made her look like a strong, caring mother. Stories that would show the world I didn’t need a father. We were better because we didn’t have one. Didn’t need one. The truth? I was so ashamed of not having one, I couldn’t bear anyone knowing it. 

All of this led to the biggest way I found to hide…

Performance

I read something in a book the other day that rang so true for me. I don’t remember it exactly, so I’ll paraphrase. It said something about wanting to be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Man, that was my childhood. I was an only child, but I had a slew of cousins around a lot. I loved most of them like siblings since I didn’t have any. Yet I always felt like an outsider. I learned the best way to get the attention I so desired was to perform. 

If I performed well, nobody saw the pain inside me. Everything looked so good and accomplished on the outside. Except for my hair… it never looked good! 

One cousin always called me spoiled. He talked about all the games and toys I had. What he didn’t understand was I received those things when I performed well. So it fueled the wrong thinking –

The only way someone will love me is to put on a smile and perform well.

If I didn’t do those things, they chastised me. “Stop crying.” “Stop whining.” “Try harder.” So I hid behind the things I did well. If I couldn’t do something well, I quit. And that is the attitude I carried into my adult life of marriage and children.

Until next time, ponder what this means,

 “May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.   ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5