Making Peace with Who I’m Made to Be | The Enneagram + Living like an Introvert

Eight months ago, I learnt I was an introvert. The discovery blew my mind, because all my life, I had lived like an extrovert.

Outgoing, bubbly and a performer by nature- large crowds don’t scare me and I’m perfectly comfortable being the centre of attention.

I love being with people! How could I possibly be an introvert then?

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Succinctly, Jess Connolly smashed that notion with her definition of the defining difference between the two:

Extroverts get energy and are filled up by being with people. It’s how they recharge.

Whereas, introverts find people and crowds draining. Some may very well love being with people, but they ultimately need solitude, rest and quiet to refuel- and to process.

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BINGO! That was me…

And yet, all these years (29 to be exact) I had been living, working and loving from the well-source of an extrovert.

You see, every three months (and increasingly sooner in difficult seasons of life) I found myself depleted, drained and exhausted. I wanted to quit life and run away… every three months!!! I battled depression because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t fill back up.

I was empty ALL. THE. TIME.

I battled the shame of being weak and lazy and not good enough – of letting the people I love most down.

I realized in that moment- in discovering I was an introvert -something needed to change.

If I was to find my joy again and the energy I needed to love and serve my people well, I needed to start honouring my body, mind and soul’s need for solitude, rest and quiet.

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God had already started teaching me about peace in solitude, so I was excited to take this next steps.

Slowly and surely, I implemented the following:

  • Creating space in my days, as well as my weeks, for rest, reflection and alone time
  • Prioritizing things that fill me up, like reading, writing, getting outside and doing yoga
  • Working from a place of rest, rather than resting from work  (as my husband put it, “Make rest your priority Kailey, not work.”)
  • Concentrating on one project or work focus at a time, giving it all my energies before moving on to the next
  • Creating an evening routine of solitude and rest, so I woke feeling full, rejuvenated and inspired
  • Pouring into a few people I’m called to, rather than many and everyone
  • Being honest with myself and others about my limitations (saying no to even good things, when I didn’t have the energy or knew I needed to fill up)
  • Leaving blank days on the calendar with nothing scheduled, so I could take them at my leisure

I could write about these in elaborate detail, because quite honestly, it took time and intentionality to figure out how to do this!

It was trial and error in discovering the practice steps and ways of living and loving like an introvert.

Needless to say, I started to breath again. I felt peace return and I could hear my heart sing. It was working!

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Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the Enneagram, during one of Christa Black Giffords Webinars. Why did I need to take another personality test? I balked. But with her endorsement, I checked it out.

Thirty minutes into taking the Enneagram test, I was in tears- like someone had opened my heart’s journal and read every entry.

Staring back at me were my longings, felt needs and idiosyncrasies; my fears and insecurity. Like they were normal and very much ok. I was seen and accepted by this infamous number 4 that so accurately embodied my deeply emotional soul.

All my life I’ve felt different, (in both a good and bad way) battling the notion that I am wrong or bad- shame my biggest enemy. And here I was, learning that this was normal for a 4 and that in fact, it was not only my greatest weakness, but also my greatest strength, if I harnessed it.

For weeks, I listened to The Road Back to You, a podcast devoted to looking at life through the eyes of the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Never had I laughed and cried so hard in forty minutes.

In the same way I felt after discovering I was an introvert, I felt seen, heard, validated, and understood in shared experiences with other 4’s!

Don’t you know these are the basic needs of a four and how they feel most loved?!?!

And my wrestle with shame? The infamous demon in the closet for 4’s!

My goodness…. revelation after revelation. 

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I’ll admit, I am very much still learning and discovering the Enneagram. I am far and wide a newbie at it, but what I love most, is the intricacy and depth of it’s reach.

Not only does it outline my basic nature, but also character development at different levels of maturity and how I function under stress or shame or exhaustion- what the Enneagram calls, your shadow side.

It’s informative, challenging and encouraging. Honouring the person God created me to be, while simultaneously calling me UP, rather than OUT.

With the help of The Enneagram, I’m coming to a deeper understanding of my God given strengths and weakness; honouring them, rather than fighting them. I’m learning to acknowledge the shame that so easily ensnares me, rather than will it away. And I’m discovering how a lifestyle of rest and mothering myself, will help me flourish and come alive in ways I’ve only yet tasted.

My capacity for life these days is SO MUCH SMALLER than I ever dared imagine! But if I want to live in health and joy and rest, it’s necessary and good.

And when I love from that place- from the place of my truest self- I discover the connection, belonging and meaning I aspire to leave as my legacy!

The Enneagram and living like an introvert: my  road back to health; to the wholeness and freedom that’s mine in becoming my truest self- the person God created me to be.

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Get started on your journey:

Introvert Living

Discover the peace and pleasure in solitude and rest- mothering yourself to wholeness of health and mind and joy.

 

The Enneagram

Learn your Enneagram Number and start discovering the way you’re wired. Find freedom in who God created you to be in your truest self.

When you’re defeated and desperately want to quit

 

I took this photo going into my counsellors office last year.

I felt hopeless and desperately wanted to give up and call it quits. I thought things would never change. Settling felt easier.

Then I walked in and settled on the couch.

In her own words, She said something like this- and friend, it changed everything…

Courage isn’t found in comfort, strength isn’t build in easy places. Both are cultivated in messy, hard soil, which if you persevere, become holy ground: anointed and set apart with purpose and great intent.

They lead us to transformation.

Don’t give up.

Don’t short change yourself because it feels easier.

Push through.

New life is waiting on the other side.

I decided right then and there, that whatever had come to me, had to go through God.

And therefor, it came FOR GOOD.

And I don’t say that lightly- I say that from the most suckered punched part of my heart-made-whole.

What the enemy meant for evil, God used for good: to bring a newness of life and transformation, I never could have imagined– or seen then! It would take months, until I caught a glimpse.

But for the time being, her words were a gift of hope – what I needed to carry on and push through to the other side.

Today, they’re my gift to you.

Carry on, Warrior.

#justkeepswimming #thedifferenceayearmakes #littlebylittle #newlifeiscoming

When you feel scared and you wanna run anywhere but here

We were a mere 24 hours into our trip before the text came in.

“He’s gone.”

…..and then the phone calls one after the other, after the other.

Having left my phone at home to charge, I’d missed ever last one of them.

I was two hours too late. 

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I called him back. “What do you mean he’s gone?! What happened?”

“We were out walking and things were going great! He was off leash for over an hour and then suddenly, he took off… And he was gone.

He ran across the highway and before I could do anything he disappeared. I have no idea where he is! I’m so sorry!”

We had left our city dwelling labradooddle with extended family and while they loved dogs dearly, he didn’t know them too well.

I had told myself countless times he’d be fine, but to be quite honest, I had my suspicions. 

Our dog Guinness was abused and neglected as a pup, and when we got him, his behaviour was nothing short of timid, skittish and afraid. It took us months to get him to come out from behind our feet and even longer to mingle with other people or dogs. But with persistence and a patience love, Guinness transformed into the worlds best dog.

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He was so loyal and well behaved and never did he need a leash. I could leave him outside a store to roam while I picked up groceries. The idea of running away did not allure him because he’d found home and a love he could trust. 

That is until we dropped him off, reminiscent of the times before he’s been neglected and given up by former owners. He knew he was far from home, that we were gone and and he didn’t recognize his new caretakers. And he spooked. 

Not knowing the whole story- that we were only gone a few days and would return to pick him up- he got scared and ran for his life. Except that where he ran was so much worse.

… onto the highway, into the mountains and far off the beaten path! He was out of our will and so far from our plans for him- our plans to protect him and to love him; plans for his good! 

Hours later in the pitch black some family picked him. He was just sitting there exhausted, they said, on the side of the highway, like he’d given up hope all together.

“If we hadn’t stopped, he would never have made it through the night! It’s bear and cougar country on that mountain pass!”

A cuddly, scared, suburban pup; certainly he wouldn’t have made it home… If it wasn’t for that family!

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In his love and mercy, God gave Guinness [our dog] a way out of his own foolishness, and led him back to the safety of our arms. But it wasn’t without a long detour- a 6 hour car ride and an overnight stay in a land and with people he didn’t know; all the while, leashed and restrained – something he wasn’t used to even on his worse days!

And while I sat there shaking my head, I couldn’t help but think of myself;  that I too- perhaps you- have done the very same thing, time and again. 

While I know God loves me and he’ll never forsake me, I don’t always trust his plan. Because let’s be honest, a lot of the time, I can’t quite figure it out! 

In my limited understanding, my fear and my discomfort, I spook and run…. to anywhere but here!

….running in an attempt to take back “control” of my life.

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Like Guinness, when I run from the centre of Gods will, I run head on into the wilderness ; to territory that’s far more dangerous and unknown then where I was!

And yet, the same way God rescued Guinness, our Father rescues us.

Ever faithful in his pursuit of bringing us home, he relentlessly chases after us regardless of where we’ve run. And sure, it’s not alway painless coming home – coming back to the centre of God will and his path for us – and it may require we take the long way home and spend some time in places were uncomfortable…

But eventually we’ll get back. 

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The same way we were coming for Guinness but our return took shy of 12 hours, so too does our walk with God require us to be patient and to trust that he’s working to get us- to save us, to heal us, to change us and our circumstances- even when we can’t see it or feel it. 

Because regardless of the effort and inconvenience we’ve caused God, in spite of our naivety and our tendency to wander,  he always welcomes us home with open arms and a grateful heart…. the same way we welcomed Guinness home.

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He does not look at us disapprovingly, shaming us for our behaviour. He does not question how, after all this time and after all the ways He’s loved us, we’d could still doubt him. He does not get angry at us out of sheer frustration of the inconveniences we’ve caused him. And He doesn’t give up on us, leaving us to fend for ourselves with the bears. 

He cradles us in his arms and rocks us like a baby, for as long as it takes for us to trust again, knowing in our heart that we are indeed safe and loved, unconditionally.

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The secret to living at peace in every moment

He has silenced me like a speechless child, overcome by a reality of her parents love. 

A million miles a minute thoughts pour through my heart, yet not a word can form; only tears… 

And they wash over me like a spring of hope, relief and security. Like a running refugee who just found shelter and news of safety, I savour new realities of who I am and whose I am… and what that tangibly means; what it affords me. 

Where my mind once knew it, my heart now believes it: I’m His, through and through. I belong to God and he delights in me. He doesn’t just love me, he actually likes me!

And the same love that saved me, saves me again and again and it can keep me at peace in every moment.

… if I choose it.

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Like the way I love my daughter relentlessly, unabashedly and ever increasingly and I’m not afraid to show it. I want her to know it in her heart and not just her head!

So I’m certain each day to sing praises and affirmation, regardless of what’s unfolded.

Because I want my words to speak life into every crevice of her being.

In doubt, in fear, shame and insecurity, I want my presence to be the love and safety that washes everything else away. 

…. and I want her to be kept there.

… Her heart to stay there in every minute.

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That’s exactly what God’s been doing and teaching me: that I too, can be kept at peace by his love. If I’ll receive it and choose to be kept there, than I can rest in every moment.

As I surrender my expectations and accept the present, whatever it looks like, he’s washed joy over me relentlessly.

As I’ve laid my heart out before him- confessing all in unbroken conversation– he’s placed unending rest and peace within me. 

As I’ve forfeited my responsibility to make things happen- whether it’s to change, to do, or to correct- he’s left me dumbfounded as he’s made the impossible possible… how the puzzle pieces just fall into place.

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I believed it impossible for most of my life- even my Christian life: that peace could be mine in every moment. And yet

As I’ve learnt to abide, He’s put a stop to my striving, anxiety, shame, fear and negative self talk.

He’s showed me the secret of the Christian life; the key to perfect peace. 

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To abide:

  • To remain and stay connected in the presence of The Father. 

  • To accept all that I am and all that I have in Christ, this moment.

  • To expect Jesus to do the work- all the work– of doing, changing, transforming and keeping [me and others].

  • To surrender to Jesus and to wait.

And as I’ve done that, my heart has been kept at perfect peace; at rest in every moment.

It’s mind boggling! 

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I watched as my husband carried and played with her; as he sung delight over her heart, unreserved in his affection. Never have I experienced such love before.

I longed for it my whole life, looking desperately in wrong places. 

All the while, my Heavenly Father was waiting for me to run to him, so he could give me exactly that and more; so he could overwhelm me with his love and affection.

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And I see it in the way she responds to our affection….

How our love affirms her as she receives it.

How it frees her as she realizes it.

How it transforms her as she experiences it.

How it keeps her as she remembers it. 

 

And we’re far from perfect. How much more the Fathers love for us? 

Because perfect love casts out fear; it binds up the broken heart, it sets us free, so that fully, in every moment, we can live at peace and rest in Him.

But we must first choose to abide in Christ. 

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Father God, I surrender myself this very moment to abide, wholly, only and always in Jesus. Thank you that you keep me there and hold me as your own; that each moment I meet you with my acceptance to abide, I am met with your immediate response: your favour, your forgiveness, your love and delight in me… the resulting peace and rest in every moment. I choose to abide in thee. 

When you’re hurting and you feel let down and mad at God

I sat once again on my counsellors sofa. I could feel the emotions bubbling just under the surface but after a week of endless emotional fits before God and nothing to soothe the wounds I’d ripped open, I was reluctant to open the dam again.

I wanted more to numb the excruciating pain from the emotional baggage I keep putting down but somehow keep picking back up.

For seven days, I’d been wrestling God with metaphorical punches and then tender embraces, sharing with him all the ugly unspoken broken I’d been processing. It has taken me two long years of depression, grieving, counselling and the hard work of healing to get here, but I’d finally gotten to the core of my deepest pain: Rejection.

In every significant relationship, whether it was romantic, friendship, familial, business or mentorship, I’ve experienced rejection over and over by the people I most adored and desired connection, depth and intimacy with. The ones I sought passionately to know me and love me from the inside out, have in some form or fashion made me feel cast aside, unwanted, unloved, and ultimately not good enough.

And in the last week, I discovered I was now feeling the exact same way about God!

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1,6, 12, 16, 19, 20, 24 and now again at almost 29, I have experienced deep rejection time and again.

I’ve been unpacking my pain and these experiences of rejection with the help of counselling, The Trauma prayer, Wild and Free, as well as Heart Made Whole and sitting alone for hours on end in prayer and guided mediation with Jesus. I’ve been desperate for comfort and love, but not from anyone, from THE ONE.

I’ve wanted God more than any other time in my life to make himself known in a vary real way to me, as my father, my protector, my comforter, my encourager and my healer.

And yet, I haven’t felt him in any way shape of form in recent weeks.

….like a little girl who has her arms outstretched ready for her daddy to pick her up and comfort her in her sorrow and he won’t.

…..like a love sick teenager who’s just poured her heart out, waiting in desperation for a response to her love song and hears crickets.

…..like a hurting friend who’s deep in a pit and longs for someone to see her, sit with her and embrace her without judgement of her heart or blame.

…..like an unsure and scared college grad who longs to know their potential and needs someone to speak life over them and tell them what they’re made for!

These are the things I’ve wanted desperately- almost pathetically– from my Father, God.

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And yet I’ve felt nothing but crickets.

As I sat on that couch, I poured out my hurt, anger and frustration at God. I begged to know why I’m so desperate for God’s affection, to just be with him and to know his thoughts- the very things he says he wants from me– and yet I feel like he’s refusing me. It’s like I know he’s there but he wont do anything but stare at me in silence!

My counsellor listened with such empathy, giving weight and validity to my hurt and anger. “Thank you!” I lamented. “I feel like a freak most days; like no one understands and I’m supposed to just shut up, stop acting like a child and move on already. Like I’m selfish and wrong for feeling these things!”

“Kailey,” she lovingly protested, “That would never work for you, ever! Hear me when I tell you that if you approach your hurt and relationship with God in that manner, you will never be able to receive and feel God’s love for you! You’ll spend the rest of your life striving for God’s affection and still feel rejected and like you’re not good enough in your last breath.

Because everything about that mentality and approach to hurt makes the little girl in you scream in tantrum protest. That little girl in you has experienced pain in her life and she needs someone- The One- to hear her hurt and validate it! No one else will do;Only her daddy can soothe that.”

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“But I’ve been doing exactly that and I’ve been furiously protesting everything and everyone who’s trying to hit me with the message of “grow up and get over yourself.” And yet he wont answer me! He refuses to meet me where I’m at! WHY!”

“Work with me here.”  she said, as she proceeded to take me through a guided mediation in which I spoke face to face with my father, God.

I told him everything I had just shared with her and more and then I waited for his response.

To my absolute astonishment and surprise, God revealed that he’d been earnestly trying – doing everything in his power to comfort me and speak life over me- but the fact is I can’t hear him or see him because I refuse to. My anger has my “talk to the hand” thrown up high and no matter what he does or try’s to tell me, it will never be good enough until…

I FORGIVE HIM.

WAIT…..WHAT? Forgive God?!?!

No one has ever even hinted towards the idea that God, my father, would seek my forgiveness for the ways I feel he has let me down, he should have protected me and I’ve been hurt!

I literally sat in silence for an extended period. I was dumb founded…and that’s a feat for me.

And like the weight of a million bricks was lifted from my heart, I felt peace and such relief for the first time in weeks. I actually started to laugh!

Me. Little old me. My God would choose to humble himself and submit to my choices – to MY will! Wow. That’s crazy.

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an all together new idea but in some aspects, it’s certainly not a common theme you hear preached or discussed in Christian circles.

When your heart explodes with love for someone, it chooses to give the gift of affection, which is why God gave you a control center deep within your heart that possesses the ability to either choose to love Him or choose to reject Him. Since He created the human heart, giving it the great gift called free will, He gave all of us full jurisdiction over our inner realm, including the ability to say “no” to His love, His will, and His ways.

Let that sink in for a second. You are the only one who will ever be in full control of your own heart—not God. He will never violate the control He gave you. Our good God will always be present and willing to be your Counselor, Helper, Protector, Redeemer, Savior, and the Restorer, but you hold the final say. God offers you unconditional love and eternal relationship, but then gives you the freedom to refuse His gift. – Christa Black Gifford | Heart Made Whole 

Part of relationship is honesty and God has been very gracious and gentle in allowing me to learn he is big enough to take my messy and sometimes ugly emotions; in fact he wants me to bring them to him!

But never ever have I entertained the idea of two way forgiveness in our relationship.

And yet that makes so much sense!

In every relationship I have, forgiveness is required on both ends, including my relationship with my daughter. While she is only 15 months, I have already on countless occasion sought her forgiveness. And I have no disillusions that it’ll stop. As she gets older with convictions and ideas of her own – no doubt many that will differ, contradict and even challenge mine- there will be times where I hurt her, even if I don’t mean to… even if what I do or say is quote on quote “for her good.” 

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Because the thing is, emotions are neither right or wrong. They simply are. And no one can tell me that how I feel isn’t valid, because it’s my heart that’s experiencing life in my unique way; my experiences and my personality help shape that.

So, whether or not we always understand why someone feels the way they do, it is always the loving and kind response to seek to understand, to extend grace and empathy and if applicable, to seek forgiveness. And on the other end, it is always the hope that the recipient will accept the invitation and offer forgiveness in return.

Because forgiveness always reconciles connection in relationship.

Isn’t this Christianity 101?

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Find a quiet place in solitude. Perhaps wait until no one is home or try the bath, the closet or your car. It’s important you have the time and space to invest in this moment without feeling nervous someone will walk in/hear you or could be pulled away suddenly. 

Is there anything in your life that you are mad at God for? Do you feel he’s let you down or hasn’t been what you believe you needed at the time? We may never fully understand why God allows certain things on this earth, but we can trust that God weeps with us in our sorrow, that he hurts when we hurt and that he desires to have your heart fully trusting that he is for you and that he is good. 

Close you eyes and imagine yourself sitting face to face with God. Take all the time you need to connect with how you really feel. Invite Holy Spirit to remind you of the things you’ve been ponding and wrestling with – all the things you’ve imagined asking him or saying to him one day in hope of answers. Share your hurt, your pain, your frustration and your confusion. Don’t hold anything back! Let every emotion rise to the surface and allow it to fully run it’s course. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, how you sound or even if what you say makes sense. Just say it out loud! 

When you’ve let it all out, just rest in silence and wait. Listen for what he has to say to you. Trust that the things that come to you in your mind and heart are God’s response. 

If you can find it somewhere inside of you, offer God your forgiveness and ask him to restore your heart to his. If you can’t just yet, that OK! Ask God to help you want to forgive him and trust in time, you’ll get there. 

When something feels different and you realize you’re in the wilderness

I’ve felt mostly silent the last few weeks, with little to say other than a few pointed things here and there about subjects close to my heart right now; mainly on the topic of pain, suffering and how we ultimately find healing in Jesus. But besides that, I’ve wanted nothing more than to retreat to solitude, spending aimless hours alone in quiet, prayer and reading.

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In my times of solitude, my heart has felt heavy; the unhealed burdens of my past still hanging on. It’s been a long season of healing for me these past 24 months, but the healing that I’ve been experiencing as of late is different- deeper than behavioural modifications. I’m talking about genuine heart healing, my friends; the stuff of transformations, revelations and head knowledge finally becoming heart knowledge – some of it I’m realizing for the very first time!

I’ve been working through Heart Made Whole, as part of the book’s launch team, as well as, praying Jim and Pat Bank’s Healing and Trauma Prayer each day. To say that I’ve reached new depths of freedom and healing would be an understatement. Words cannot adequately describe all The Holy Spirit is doing in my heart, nor the battle that I have no doubt it going on for me in the heavenly realms! There is some serious spiritual warfare happening in my life right now…

I am so grateful that God has taught me to fight right – in prayer – trusting him to do the rest. I’m so grateful that he’s taught me to simply wait on him for timing and the next step. I’m so grateful he’s taught me that there’s nothing I can say that he can’t handle and nothing I can do that will cause me to walk off the path he has chosen for me.

I finally understand that my faith has zero to do with me and everything to do with God;what he’s already done through the sacrifice of Jesus and what he’s actively doing in the intricate details of my daily life right now. I’m just privy to sit back and watch it all unfold, taking part in his master plan from time to time.

I’m even more so grateful for the people he’s placed in my life to help keep me on the narrow path. Like bumper pads on the bowling lane, he’s put people in specific areas of influence over me to bounce off of, ultimately moving me further down the path without falling off it. He’s made me sensitive to seeing how he is using others to speak direction, conviction, encouragement and revelation at just the right time.

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Just today, I felt compelled to go to the mountain. Now from where I live, it’s not a far journey; a 2 minute drive to be exact. But for this water loving, pretty view seeing lady, craving the forested mountains seems rather “off”. I went with it though, trusting God had a plan and a reason.

As I parked, I felt compelled to ask for prayer from some friends and in typical kailey fashion, proceeded to puked out a vulnerable plea. I walked into the forest and my first thought was bears, then cougars, then every other scary animal I would feel paralyzed at the site of. Fear overtook me and I decided to simply walk a few feet in and then find a spot to rest [some place I wasn’t too far from reality and could easily run from if something tried to attack me]…. city girl living in the country, I know!

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As I sat down, a text came in from a girlfriend who so aptly heard from God and obediently sent me just what I needed to read. The link sent me to the wilderness. And just like that, I recognized what was happening- the season I was entering in to. I had felt it- the shift in my mind and heart- in the last few days, but I wasn’t able to put words to it until now.

I sat there for the next 45 minutes reading and preparing myself for this next season in the wildness. I can confidently say this isn’t my first time, but I have a sneaking suspicious that it won’t be like any other wilderness I’ve experienced before in my faith walk.

But rather than fighting it, I am embracing it and marking my stance in the sand. I’m placing my feet on solid ground and refusing to run for comfort. I’m pushing in and trusting that what waits for me on the other side, is worth every moment of hardship and suffering. God chose me first and I’m choosing him back.

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No scheme of man, no power of hell can separate me from his love!

 

When you know where He’s calling you but you don’t know where to start

As we sat eating dinner discussing, I could feel the weight of reality suffocate me. Truth is, I’ve been feeling it for weeks. 

Everywhere I look, every person I talk to, every article I read, reaffirms how deceived, how lost and confused our world is. 

When God puts a soft spot in our hearts, he’s preparing us for a calling and a commission, if we’ll accept it. 

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I just naively thought it would feel good…. or easy.

But he’s sending me to hard places and placed a call on my life that’s overwhelming. If I think about it too long or hard, I want to cry. It feels daunting and all together hopeless; defeated before I’ve even begun. 

So for weeks I’m been praying earnestly for direction- for wisdom and discernment –  and most of all, comfort for my worried and weary heart. 

And then he answered, like he always does.

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My bible sat open to Matthew 10 and upon reading the title, I focused in: The harvest hands. 

It was Jesus speaking to his twelve disciples directly after commissioning them to go out and make disciples of all men. These were his words of instruction, of encouragement and of hope as they set out; a handbook of how to’s and why’s, if you will. 

And like medicine to an aching body, his words soothed and numb my fear. 

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Don’t begin by travelling to some far off place to convert unbelievers. Don’t try to be dynamic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right in your neighbourhood. 

Don’t think you need to fundraise before starting. Travel light. You are the equiptment. Stay modest and content.

When you meet people, be courteous in greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in conversation. If they don’t, quietly withdraw and leave. Don’t make a scene. It’s of no concern to you now.

This is hazardous work I’m assigning you; like sheep running through a pack of wolves. So don’t call attention to yourselves! Be as inoffensive as a dove.

Don’t be naive. People will smear your reputation and take you to authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you good; given you a platform for teaching.

 When that happens (not if) don’t worry about what you’ll say. The Holy Spirit will supply the right words.

Because of conviction, people will turn on you; even family. But won’t quit or cave in. It’s not success you’re after but survival!

Be content when they treat you the same as they’ve treated me and don’t be intimidated. Eventually, everyone will know the truth, so don’t hesitate to go public with it now. 

Don’t be silent because of threats. Save your fear. God has your entire life in his hands.

Matthew 10 – The Message 

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I’m no fool to believe it’s only me, friend, because God calls each of us to hard places! He’s equipped each of us uniquely with gifts, to serve and to bless.

So today, in whatever it is you’re facing- in the call God has placed on your life- I pray that together, Jesus’s words would be etched upon our hearts and burned into our mind. Let’s write them on our walls if we have to!

Because the truth is, he’s already answered our every question and given us the information we need.

So let’s not let fear paralyze us any longer or expectations steal our focus. It’s time we take him at his word. It about time we get going! 

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Lord, we confess our fear of man and our pride in expectations. We want to do good and be great for you! But the truth is, we’re weak and our ideas are muddled and confused by the world around us and our own selfish desires. Help us to humble ourselves and go where you are calling us, living out your commission and living by your word. Write them on our hearts and etch them in our minds. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, may our lives and our bodies be vessels of life and light – an offering for the greater good. Amen

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When you hate how you’re feeling but you don’t know how to get rid of it

I define SHAME as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. – Brene Brown

Shame is universal and whether we recognize it or not, we all experience it on a day to day basic.

Things, people, experiences and even our own thoughts can trigger shame and until we learn to recognize them and practice resilience – the ability to move through the shame in a healthy manner and learn from it– we will perpetually live in a cycle of shame and self condemnation.

According to Brene Brown (“I thought it was just me, but it isn’t”) , we experience shame in the following categories:

  1. Appearance and Body Image

  2. Money and Work

  3. Motherhood

  4. Family

  5. Parenting

  6. Mental and Physical Health including Addiction

  7. Sex

  8. Aging

  9. Religion

  10. Speaking Out

  11. Surviving Trauma

  12. Stereotyped and Labelled

I’m not sure about you, but I can check off nearly every box! In each category, there are identities and characteristics I want to be seen as. And most certainly, there are unwanted ones also.

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I want to be seen as a naturally beautiful woman, who is self confident but not arrogant. A woman who works for passion and to make a difference, with a desire to use that money for good – to bless others. I want to be known as a mother who is joy-filled, grateful, wise and undistracted. A person who values family and leaves a legacy of deep, connected relationships. I want to be strong, resilient and a victorious overcomer. I want to be desired by my husband, free and playful in our marriage bed and be known as a voice for healthy relationships and sexuality. I want to be seen as a passionate and committed Christian; courageous in following Jesus. I want to known as brave and fearless; authentic even when it’s difficult. To be seen as self- aware, relatable and pointing others to hope and healing for the hurting. I want to be a contagious spirit – a breath of fresh air for many.

But even on my best days, my unwanted identities can paralyze me. They push me into a cycle of negative self talk, followed shortly by beating myself into submission.

I want to feel good about my body so I force another workout, or resist the food I know I need. I want to seem nice and forgiving, be liked and accepted; so I keep quite or withhold how I’m truly feeling. I want to be happy, so I pretend like everything’s fine. I want to feel capable and accomplished, so I continue to push until it’s done. I want to be normal and move past this, so I ignore my pain and trauma down below. I want to be everything and more – perfect – so I give everything to everyone else with nothing left for me or my family.

 

 

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And while some of my wanted identities are achievable and nobel, parts of it are not. There are parts of my perception that is skewed and my expectations based on lies; truth’s that I’ve learnt from behaviours and beliefs I’ve adopted from others or media.

We need to evaluate where these message come from? Where these expectations and beliefs systems started? Are they good. Are they yours? Are they wanted and realistic? What’s the cost and will it matter in the end?

The truth is we can’t avoid shame, we can only move through it and it starts by taking the time to recognize and acknowledge how we’re feeling, rather than running, ignoring or pushing through. We need to let the fears have a voice, if only for a moment, then assure them and hug them with our truth.

So what is the truth- your truth? What will people miss out on – heck, what will you miss out on– if reduced to those unwanted identities?

Speak it! Dare to say it out loud and back to yourself…

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If people reduce me to those labels I’m running from, they’ll miss out on the woman I once was and the woman I’m becoming. They’ll miss out on my story and that I’ve learn through hard and painful personal experience. That I fight passionately where there are few voices, in arenas that are uncomfortable and countercultural. They’ll miss how much I’ve grown and what I I’ve discovered through the process of becoming a mother. They’ll miss my transformation from a broken, to a healed woman. They’ll miss my commitment and my courage-  bravery in trusting God for miracles. They’ll miss out on Jesus and his Freedom; on deep connection and friendship that is rare.

Because while I’m not perfect and I’ll always be a work in progress, I too am these beautiful things and this is my story.

 

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Lord, I thank you that you make beauty from ashes; that you redeem the ugliest of messes. Thank you that you came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captives free. I pray that you would help us, help me, to speak truth in the face of lies – to shine light when it feels dark – to run to you in my hurt, rather than away from you or it. Help me to recognize shame when it’s heaped upon me and be brave enough to move through it. Give me everything I need to be and to own who you made me to be.

 

 

Delayed Obedience is Disobedience | When God is Silent

Our friends used to say this to their kids, as they taught them about integrity and the value of doing what you say you’ll do – being of your word.

Delayed Obedience is Disobedience.

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It wasn’t until yesterday that I put myself in their shoes and realized how many times I’ve disobeyed God, wrongfully believing that if I eventually got around to doing what he had told me – if I knew I’d eventually get to it – then I was good.

The truth is, I’ve kept one foot in and one foot out for months – six to be exact.

Fear of the unknown, my desire to have a pretty answer for people and my need for control, all kept me from moving when God had showed me clearly He path he wanted me to walk.

But it was narrow, foggy and completely un blazed. So I walked to the entrance gate and hung out there for a while, slowing taking one step forward and two steps back.

It’s been a forward progress, but a timid and slow one.

I’ve delayed starting the treck, walking from the path I know to a new unknown one- one I feel completely ill equipped for. I packed my bags and mentally prepared, but I’d yet to start the journey.

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Yesterday, after six months of God’s silence on the matter, I realized my wrong; my delayed disobedience.

“Why are you not answering me Lord?” as I demanded more from him, one ridiculous fleece after the other. “If this happens, then God must want this.” I’d say.
All the while, unrest and anxiety heavy upon me.

And finally his silence broke.

“I told you already, child. Why are you still asking me?
I told you in September my anointing (blessing) is no longer on this and if you continue down this path, you will be doing it in your strength. I have other plans for you.”

But I wanted him to show me what!

I wanted assurance that what I was about to gain was better than what I was leaving behind.

He had shown me the door, given me the keys, but I wanted the map and a GPS.

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Because what I had – what I had build – I had done with all my heart, mind and soul. I’d given it 1000% of me and all for His Glory!

But truth is, I knew long ago this chapter was almost over. I felt it in my bones.

And yet, in his patience and gentleness, God humoured me. He let me come to my senses and see my wrong for myself. He didn’t have to; He’s God!

He could have ripped it from my hands. He could have turned everything upside down or hit me over the head with it again and again until I listened.

Instead, he lovingly sat with me and waited in kind silence, like a father would.

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Today I finally listened.
It took 20 seconds of insane courage, admitting my disobedience and taking the first step towards obedience. It was hard, it was humbling and some what sad. But I know this, more than anything else:

God’s plans are always better than mine.

The greatest things in life never came easy; they came through surrender.

What do Perfectionism, Control, Vulnerability and Love have in Common?

My pregnancy was the beginning of an unravelling – of finding the end of my rope – and the battle grounds to surrender.

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I was blinded by my own abilities and talents, by my self-discipline and self-motivated ways. If something needed doing, leave it to me. If something needed changing, give me the steps to follow. From my career, to my marriage, to my health and even my faith, I had everything “under control.”

But the problem with control is that it’s simply an illusion, because we are only ever “in control” when things are within our ability to control them!

Read that again.

We are only ever “in control” when things are within our ability to control them!

 

And what is it we can control? Our thoughts, our perception, our attitude, our response and reactions. But that’s about it.

And the problem was, I spent 80% of my life worrying and striving to control things that were out of my control.

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I strived to be perfect in everything: to have the perfect career, be the perfect friend, daughter, wife and Christian woman; to have the perfectly clean house and cook x number of days a week; to have the perfect body, eating habits and work out routine; to never get mad, angry or frustrated with people (to their face); to help out and give (time, resources, money) even when it was at the determinant to my personal priorities; over commenting in fear of letting people down; marking every Christian “check box” to keeping and progressing in my faith….

 

I was bound by (my) laws and rules and if I broke even one, I believed I was a terrible person- a failure and surely I needed to try harder.

I tried – and tried some more- until I nearly died. 

And if I boiled it all down, it was all simply an attempt to control what people thought about me and whether they liked me; things that are completely 100% of our my control!
The accolades and achievement were striving to feel worthy. The over committing was striving to be liked. The helping and giving was striving to be accepted. The perfect marriage and body were striving to be wanted. And the perfect faith was striving to be loved.

 

But what was the real motivator behind my behaviour- the master that held me slave to my striving: FEAR; Of People seeing me – really seeing me- of being found out, rejected and ultimately unloved.

Do we see the vicious cycle?
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The reality is, perfectionism – the chase for perfect – is entirely unattainable because we cannot control the uncontrollable. And when we spend 80% of our energies trying to control what isn’t within our abilities, we have no energy left to work on what we can control. And we ultimately end up feeling like a failure at everything!

 

Perfectionism is a myth and a lie. It’s completely and entirely impossible to achieve and in chasing it, we’re setting ourselves up for failure in every area of our life. We will never win the race, we will never arrive and we will never find lasting peace, joy or contentment on this journey.

And every area we struggle in is an arrow pointing to a genuine problem with our heart- a referral pain to the deeper issue down below:
 
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Achievement
  • Accolades
  • Addiction
  • Workaholism
  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Glorifying “Busy”
  • Indecisiveness
  • Sexual Strongholds
What do all these things have in common? Control.
They were an attempt at grasping for control. And while I attempted to balance the spinning plates for years, they kept me blinded to the real problem – pain I’d simply kept pushing down deeper.

 

The problem with pain is that when unresolved it continuously resurfaces in our life, many times deceiving us, because it looks different the last time. 

My perfectionistic ways were simply masks – armour I was using to protect myself from being seen- from having to acknowledge and own the pain from my past.

 

When we choose to hide our real selves from the world- when we omit the messy hard parts of our lives and keep them hidden the world – we cloak ourselves in shame.

 

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Shame is a word we all struggle to connect with or we reserve for people who have done “really bad things.” But the fact is:

Shame is universal. We all have it, but it’s triggers and how it manifests itself behaviourally looks different for everyone.

What it does have in common for all of us is feelings of fear, anger, sadness, depression, blame, disconnection and loneliness.

 

So if we look at the areas in our life where we feel like that, we’ll discover that truthfully, were blanketed in shame; there’s something we’re running from or something were choosing to hide, maybe even from ourselves.

 

And the key to removing the cloak – to breaking free from shame-  while simple in theory, can be extremely difficult in practice.

 

Vulnerability.

 

Vulnerability is the key to breaking the chains of shame- of all the negative feelings we’d rather run from.

 

If we imagine a graph, shame on one end, and acceptance and love on the other, then vulnerability is the dial the moves us from one to the other.

 

When we choose to allow our selves to be seen- when we have the courage to own our stories and share them with others no matter how marred or messy- we give others permission to own their own hard parts.

When we can learn to sit in our own dark cave and not run from it, than we can sit with others in theirs.

And what does that do? It connects us.

 

And connection is the key to feelings of love, acceptance, belonging, joy, meaning and ultimately purpose.
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16-18 Whenever, though, they turn to face God …they suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence.  Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
So what does it take to do this? How can we begin to embrace vulnerability and own our stories?
It starts with taking an honest look in the mirror.
 
  • What do we struggle with?
  • What do we dread others finding out or seeing about ourselves?
  • What parts of our past do we want to hide or are ashamed of?
  • In what ways do we beat ourselves up, harm ourselves or push our selves into “behaving?”
 
It starts there, with a pen and paper, writing them down and choosing to no longer hide them; to own who we really are, right now in this current season, and trusting we’re not alone.

Take just one thing, go and share it with someone.

Might I suggest God first?
He is faithful and just to forgive us, heal us and make us new when we seek him with our whole heart.
 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
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But we must remember, our lives are in a perpetual cycle of learning, growing and ultimately of surrendering control; moving into a deeper relationship of trust and intimacy with The Lord.

 

God knows what we need and when. He’s not impatient or hurried to see us smarten up and get our act together. He is patience, steadfast, gentle and merciful, seeing us not for who we are now or defining us by our circumstance; he sees us for who we are in Christ- for the women we will become and for all he designed us to be.

 

The ultimate rose cored glasses if you will. Not because he’s a fool in love [but he is that too!] but because of our inheritance in Christ- the ultimate gift we’ve been given through his death.

 

God is slowly at work in our lives, ever refining us, purifying our minds and transforming our hearts to be more like Jesus, until the day of Christ’s return.