Get low. Get free.

The beginning of 2017 started with me praying a simple prayer, “God, teach me how to love. How to really love.”

Learning to love means learning to get low. Choosing to serve. Choosing anonymity. Choosing to stop evaluating the value of work based on applause or approval. Choosing to do small things with great love for the people around me.

All my life I have felt a tremendous amount of pressure to excel. I have spent my days striving to be acceptable and pleasing.

That life is exhausting, and has left my soul tired. In my search for the approval and adoration of others, I have been chasing after a mirage in a desert, never arriving, all the while getting thirstier and thirstier.

Chasing satisfaction in the praise of people will always leave us thirsty; we are wasting our energy chasing after something that isn’t even real! We buy into the lie that apart from the praise and adoration of people we are invaluable, unloveable, and invisible.

I place my identify far too often in what I do instead of whose I am. But I am learning that there is tremendous freedom when I let go of the need to earn my place.

The reality is that I am not enough. I will never be enough. But Jesus is enough for me. His enoughness is all I need, and in Him is the freedom to stop striving.

When we stop long enough to look to Jesus and ask Him to satisfy us with His enoughness, we can stop chasing desert mirages and experience rich satisfaction and healthy souls. It is in this place that we experience the freedom to embrace who we are simply because He calls us His.

Out of our satisfaction we begin to learn what real love and service are.

We can rest when we stop trying to earn our place. We can experience the fullness of peace God promises when we accept that He really does mean it when He says that we don’t have to earn His favor or love. We can start to enjoy our work when we don’t tie our worth to it.

Living low allows us to find tremendous fulfillment and joy in both the mundane and the extraordinary. Whether scrubbing dishes, changing diapers, working in a cubicle, or  speaking in front of thousands, we can fully embrace our moments with gratitude and a heart full of love because our activity does not define our value or worth.

We can be free to serve without recognition, and we can accept recognition with humility.

I’m learning that living low is the only real way to be satisfied. On my own I will never be enough, but Jesus is enough for me. He is enough for you. He is enough for us.

Get low. Live low. Stay low. That is where rich life, and soul satisfaction are found.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

 

 

Fight for Freedom.

I’m writing this post on Monday, January 19. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and all day I have been deep in thought about his legacy. When I consider how he fought injustice with such courage, compassion, and love I can’t help but be moved.

And broken. Broken that oppression is still a very real struggle for entire people-groups. Broken that each one of us is wounded, and capable of wounding others. Broken that none of us are exempt from the painful effects of hatred and selfishness in our world.

But we are not broken without hope.

Today,  I want to look at how to be free people. Our souls are set free through radical forgiveness. It is in that freedom that we become the people we are aiming to be. It might not be pretty, but stick with me. We must first feel the weight in order for the chains to be broken.

Dr. John Perkins is an African American author, teacher, civil rights leader, and Christ-follower. He was born in 1930 in Mississippi, and at the age of 17 his brother was murdered at the hands of a local marshal. He experienced first-hand the abuse and oppression black people endured when Dr. King was marching in peaceful protest. He became a Christian in 1957. It was then that a man who should have been filled with unimaginable hatred, hurt, and anger was changed by radical grace.

Dr. Perkins has since fought for justice through love, forgiveness, and a deep dependence on the Screenshot 2015-01-19 21.28.41Holy Spirit of God to breathe into him, and to reign down justice. You can read Dr. Perkins’ story in his autobiography, Let Justice Roll Down.

The thing that has gripped my heart with such force is the intensity of Dr. Perkins’ forgiveness. He fought not only for civil rights, and social justice for blacks, but also for whites to be set free from their own hatred and self-destruction bound up in their racism. Dr. Perkins’ saw past his own pain, and saw the pain of all of humanity trapped in sin.

Forgiveness is a powerful force capable of destroying calloused hatred and apathy. Forgiveness is fighting a broken world, and individual broken hearts with active love and compassion. Each one of us, dear friend, needs to both receive and to offer forgiveness if we are to be truly free.

The thing that Dr. Perkins learned that many of us don’t want to acknowledge is that forgiveness hurts. True forgiveness comes at a high cost. When we forgive, we forfeit our own hatred in exchange for our oppressors’ freedom. We give up the right to punish someone else at the cost of our pride, our wrath, and the risk of our own emotional pain. Dr. Perkins once said that “for repentance and forgiveness to work in my life, God had to see me through months of agony and pain.” It wasn’t a quick decision that felt good; it took time. He wrestled with the Lord through bloody wounds. He continues on to say, “The Spirit of God kept working on me and in me until I could say with Jesus, ‘I forgive them too.’”

Dr. Perkins’ story is a powerful one, and it is one that we all need if we are truly going to become the healthy, happy people that we are aiming to become together. And like Dr. Perkins, our ability to forgive must first start with being forgiven.

Jesus came into this world 2000 years ago, taking on the form of mankind, and lived a perfect life. He was beaten, He was spat upon, He was hated and reviled, and ultimately He was crucified—nailed to a cross, a crown of thorns digging into his skull. He could have called down a legion of angels to rescue Him, but instead He gave the soldiers swinging hammers the breath to keep going.

And for what? For forgiveness. For me. For the parts of me that I am so ashamed of that there have been times when I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.

For you. For those things that make your stomach turn when you think about them.

It’s all been paid for. Our freedom has been purchased at a high cost by the Maker of the Heavens that says we are worth it.

Once we have truly accepted that we have been set free and are forgiven, we can learn to forgive those that have caused us the most hurt. I don’t say that lightly; believe me, if we could sit across the table from each other, I would share with you the times that I have been so broken by others that I could not see straight. But I would go on to tell you that fighting to forgive them in response to being forgiven myself has set me free. It is for freedom that Jesus has set us free.

True happiness can only be found when we live as free people. Free people accept that their debt has been paid. Free people fight to forgive others, regardless of the offense. It is a fight. But “John Perkins said it right: ‘Love is the final fight.'” As you go into the rest of your day, take three minutes and enjoy the video below:

Run Hard. Love Strong .

~Haley~