FOUR LIES WOMEN BELIEVE

this past year i've written about all kinds of weighty things, like depression & diagnoses.   about God's love for you & i,  about redemption in marriage.    And about lemon loaf.     

so today i'm just gonna go ahead & bust open a can of New Years worms & speak about what's been brewing in my heart. 
because..........
i've had so many conversations this last year with incredible, magnetic, inspiring women and i've learned something:   we are believing lies.   about who we are, and about who God is, and about who He says we are because of who He is.   i yearn for the day we will be whole, we will be in His presence without doubts and lies, anxieties, depression and sadnesses.  and yet, while we're here, i want to approach these in hopes we'll talk about them.  and in hopes God will move us from places of disbelief to freedom.     so without further ado, let's jump in ..................  Lie #1:

 

GOD DOESN’T REALLY LOVE ME.

this is a big one.  i’ve talked with countless women the last few years who say, at the root, the same thing with slight variances in language — God is angry at me.  God doesn’t even like me.  God is a cruel Father.   He left me. God just isn’t there. 

these words all say the same thing, ultimately:  God doesn’t really love me.  and so so many of us are passing through our days, walking to our jobs, making meals for our families, going on vacations, having hard conversations with our husbands while carrying the heavy weight of this lie around.  it grabs hold of us, it angers us, it breeds despondency and despair.  it breaks my heart.

this is a lie that facilitates addictions and harbors self-hatred.  i believed this lie for a long, long time.  and i lived it out in my life by sleeping with whoever i felt like, perpetuating sexual addiction, because why?  because God was mad at me.  and really, He didn't like me and surely He couldn’t love me.   so why even try?  this lie kept me  tangled up in barbwire,  in a ferocious, mad cycle of doubting Him — doing something blatantly wreckless  then hating myself  — then back to believing He hated me too.    

oh, how i needed to know  He loved me.  i had grown to hate him, after all.  and i didn't want Him.  and i surely didn't need Him.  until life crashed down all around me and left me on the living room floor with nothing left to give, and nothing left to get.   it's then I started reading the Psalms, and God, through His Spirit, graciously and tenderly gave me rest.     the words say:

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good .

He forgives...
He heals...
He redeems...
He crowns us with steadfast love & mercy....
He satisfies us with good.    
and we as women are in such desperate need to know this... to really know He loves you in your deepest, tucked away, raw, messy, painful places.  

my hope is  as you ruminate on these words, take them in and digest them, they will become real to you.  And God's love for you will be real to you.  and you will know surely without hesitation of His steadfast, unfailing, unwavering forever love for you.     which leads me to lie #2 -------

 

i JUST need to love myself  MORE.

i write this to you as gingerly & tenderly as i can, at my kitchen table, with winter’s sunlight streaming into the window.  

                                                self-love is a myth, and will always leave you feeling jipped.  

there, i said it.   i believe this is the most intricate and deceptive lie to untangle ( along with lie #1 ),  because it feels like it feeds us such goodness,  such energy, such power & motivation.  the downfall of believing and pursuing this lie is this:  we are faulty lovers.  we are broken, we are sinful,  we are selfish, we are fickle, we are swayed by fads and our fault lines run more deeply than we want to admit.  and our ability to love other people, as well as ourselves cannot be satisfied by such a wavering source.  we will always want more.   we will do more, try more and try harder.  but our wells are too deep to be filled with fresh water by our strong armed efforts. and our souls, which are created for & crave more than human affection and love aren’t assuaged by trying harder to hug and adore ourselves.  

God is all too gracious and good to ask us to even attempt to be the ones who love ourselves.  

He has given us Himself, as our Love, as our crown, as our Joy, as our Radiance. His love for us permeates who we are & shines out our faces!   because it’s so dang overhwelmingly real & captivating. He is meant for our all, and in turn, because of His perfect and complete love for us we are then able to  freely & graciously love other people, and our little selves.   it is freeing far beyond our grasping attempts to fulfill our longing souls.      which brings us to lie #3, super close friends with lie #2 -------

 

 I’LL BE TRULY HAPPY WHEN  ______________ .

oh, the sooner we just toss this one aside, the sooner we can move on to the real goodness & depth of our life.  this has been a tough lie for me to shake… (see story of hoping to be married someday above).   and although sometimes it’s the big things like:  when i have kids someday. when we get that house i’m dreaming of. when we finally pay off all that debt.  when i finally lose those pounds i’ve gained.     it’s also small things too like when i finally have the perfect bedroom oasis. or when i get that handmade leather bag that will make me look amazing.  

 but  we may not verbalize these desires as the markers of  perfect happiness in our minds, but often when i stop myself from reeling over what i want so badly i realize there’s a place in my heart believing my happiness depends on the bag & the bedroom & the house & the fit body.  and every time, we come up short.                we come.  up .  short.          

                                             our God & Maker who loves us so,  says “I am your all.”  
                                        I am the feast you’re craving, I am the Hope you’re mustering.  
                                                                I am the Fullness you are chasing after.  

He is drawing us & calling us into the real guts of life, while we prefer to keep skimming the surface and settling for the lie that we can hunt down & give ourselves ANY thing & EVERY thing we want.  but you’ll notice that thing we strive for soon metamorphisizes into the next thing & the next & the next and our spirits aren’t settled and we’re tired.   we're exhausted from our own petering efforts.  and the truth is,  Jesus can be your all.   He made you to rest in Him as your all. this is such good, good news for our weary and flighty eyes & hearts.     

 

finding love will be the ultimate experience. 

our last lie is a sexy one.    because if you finally find love, it is sure to give you completeness,  fulfillment,  the truest of truest loves we could ever dream up.   but this is a lie that not only lures us in, but also often cultivates a sense of helplessness & despair.   so many times i’ve read on blogs young women writing about how desperately they want to find love,  how somehow all their friends around them got married and they got left behind and their twenties are sneaking past them smirking & doing the evil laugh while they suffer,  alone,  on weekends and holidays.  i know, because I WAS ONE OF THEM!  

i met Christopher when i was 34 and he proposed on my 35th birthday.  thirty-freaking-four, you guys.   a little “late” by some standards,  but God brought him to me nonetheless, and i was blown away by God's goodness.  but let’s be honest here -  this lie isn’t just for you beautiful single women, it’s also for us married women, too.  because we can idolize our husbands to be the ultimate prize.   and let’s be bold -  

                             finding love does not fulfill our deepest need or bring complete peace to our spirits.  

and i can say that openly because my dear sweet husband who i’m crazy about and who is just plain wonderful also happens to be a human.  a broken, messy soul & body who has the same need i do -  to be loved unconditionally,  perfectly, unfalteringly.  and he nor i are the ones who can give that to each other.  your deepest longings for intimacy and love in your beautiful, broken heart of hearts will only be met and mended by your Maker, your God, the One who is the Constant Pursuer.    

oh sisters, and maybe some brothers too,   i know i've only begun this conversation, and it's one we'll be engaging with for our lifetime.  i'm praying if you happen to stumble on this, and you read these paragraphs and words from Scripture, your heart will be provoked, to ask what lie or lies you might be banking on, and the places God wants to meet you and find you and redeem you.  
 
Send me a note too if you'd like to engage more deeply... i'd love to connect with you.

amy

 

DEPRESSION & THE GIVER

this morning is crisp here in montana, the sky's pale blue deepening in hue and mountains distinct in the skyline so clear they look to me like they've been cut & pasted from a painting .  i'm sitting in a little café on main street, my coffee's steam rising into my face .  you know these moments, the ones where all the details feel right & good?... the sunlight is glorious, your heart is at peace, some moments alone .  if you & i were sharing a cup of coffee this morning -  i wish we could - we might ask each other 'how've you been?' and then, i hope, we would share trustful and genuine of what the week or handful of recent days has been like .  as i've come to recognize my very intimate & personal struggle with depression i've become less apt at hiding it, or wanting to hide it, or pretending i'm always fine .  and the last few weeks have been hard ones, i'll admit . days i'm not proud of, marked by sadness deep enough to make me thankful that today i got up, got dressed, and walked to the coffee shop, spirits lifted, eyes lifted .  this is Grace, dear ones .  another morning, another breath, another _________ .   

depression can press down so heavy it feels like a thousand crashing waves, violent and unceasing . it can hover as a fog so thick can't make it dissipate on your own, or lift yourself out of it, above it, and far from it finding you again .

in that place, Light peeking through is a gift .   the energy to make yourself food is a gift .  a bit of relief in darkness . 

psalm 3 says : 

'i lay down and slept;
i awoke again 
for the Lord sustained me' .

these words permeated my life this week,  reading them over & over .   
the Lord sustains me . 
the Lord sustains me .

the formal definition of sustain is to strengthen or support physically or mentally . to comfort, to encourage,  to assist . 

my sisters and my brothers too,  i wish with all of me i had a formulaic cure for depression, the crashing waves, the fog, the hopelessness that can settle in so quickly it rattles your mind and spirit .  i don't have a step-by-step-feel-better plan .  but as this on & off battle of mine continues i want to share all i'm learning in these seasons, as sporadic or long-lasting as they may be .  i'm finding in my seeking in darker places i'm confronted with deeper Realities -  essential & altering discoveries about our Maker, our Redeemer, Jesus .

because when you read a verse like the one above you will likely either read it and pause, knowing a reason for holding hope -  or feel a lackluster sigh of disbelief .  it confronts our self-centeredness,  our believing that we are the sustainers of ourselves, and our lives are about us .  

this last week i was confronted with all of the above . and again & again came to these two intertwined Realities, beautiful & true :  

God is our Sustainer, our Redeemer, our only Savior .  and this life is not about us, me or you . it's about Him .  

from the beginning of time, all through the Bible, from then until now continuous, the stories of brokenness & healing, running and rescue, crazy characters who boldly praise or unabashedly abandon - they're all meant to show us God .  pointing us to who He is,  to our desperate need for a Savior,  to His indefinite mercy and faithful love for people who are inherently needing wanderers .   and in our present, in your life today and my life today it's no different .  it's not about us, it's about Him .  

it may sound like a truth too grand or too removed from all the stuff of everyday life to grasp onto or mean anything,  but i just ask you to sit with it awhile . let it marinate your thoughts and permeate what's inside .  

you are awake, breathing & reading these paragraphs because the Lord has given you life,  and He is sustaining you . He is pursuing you, in whatever place you're in,  joy or deep sadness . 

not for your own glory,  not to be more awesome,  but to be broken and know it and look to Him to be your all,  in the dark, in the messiness .  He sustains you because He loves you,  and wants to draw you to Jesus, to look beyond yourself & your immediate reach to know more of Him & His love for you .  His love is far better than anything here,  anything we can conjure up .  And God's love is not a grand notion, far & removed from you & i, but rather the opposite and more - near,  constant, and overflowing . a Love that sees us where we are, intersecting even in the dark places where we feel like hope's gone missing .  


the Lord sustains you . 

this is comforting to me in the day-to-day real life wrestling with depression, knowing He has brought me to another day for Him and His glory, even as laughable as that can seem most days, and though many moments i think ' in all my crap you choose to sustain me for Your glory? '.   what a remarkable and wild Reality .  but it is the truth of what God does - He redeems us surely,  even when it's hard to see, even when we doubt, when we're struggling to get up off the floor, or out of bed .   another morning,  another day that dear ones my hope is you know His sustaining and love for you in the thick of it .  

--- >>    if you want to share your story of depression, redemption, or anything in between, or you want me to pray with you,   you can write me at amymessenger@icloud.com .  

MY GREAT THANKS

to you, for reading .  & to all of you who left notes on my last post, or wrote me a letter sharing your story about your own diagnosis .  there are so many of you choosing to take a closer look at food and natural remedies as a means of healing your body, and for that i am encouraged and inspired greatly . 

DIAGNOSIS OF LONGING

it's the start of february, the start of our longing for something, always something .  the longings that seem to always be there, the ones that just surfaced this morning . a reprieve from winter's chill,  for spring,  for a lover to return,  for a hair cut, a newer car, to see friends in far-from-here-cities,  Heaven .  

the past few days have been a resurgence of longing for me .  a sudden reoccurring of abdominal pain reminding me:  you may not be well .  striking fear in me that i am not well .

i feel heavy, and my feet heavier yet .  tired and weary,  slow . 
the last time i felt this way was in early winter almost a year ago, signaling something was wrong, and prompting me to get to a doctor to find out what it was .  in april the diagnosis came that my cervix was one step away from full blown cancer, cancer cells already forming in the perimeter and needing to removed immediately .  so we made the appointment, walked through the diagnosing, the procedure and the healing in hopes (and feeling certain) it would all be taken care of . 

the healing process was not pretty... i opted to have the procedure done without going under anesthesia (lowering the cost significantly for those of us without health insurance) which was difficult in its own rite, and healing after - regardless of anesthesia or not- - was downright painful . 

in a matter of time, though, i mended . feeling a sense of relief and thankfulness we’d caught the cells before they had mass multiplied and spread, i walked into my follow up visit with my doctor a few months later with newfound glow & reignited energy in my body . 

she told us news we didn’t expect .

chris was standing next to me and i could feel us both held still, in shock .  the tissue they’d removed showed signs that the cells had spread and they hadn’t removed it all, to finality .  it was still there .

to say that i dreaded going back to the doctor for what felt like the hundreth time for yet another biopsy was a gross understatement .  i didn’t want to go . i had to go .

the biopsy declared what we had feared, that the cells were still there on the perimeter of the cervix, one stage away from being invasive .  i was told i needed surgery immediately, and with that news came a rush-to-action of phonecalls to the surgery center & hospital trying to find out how much it would cost and my incessant reading & gathering information about this second procedure .

but a pointed conversation with the doctor after my second biopsy kept replaying in my mind :
as i was sitting in the room with my gown on, in pain, and trying to hold steady, she said to me :

‘ do you have any children? ‘ . 
‘no’, i replied .
‘do you want to have children?‘
the question caught me off guard, and even hearing the question hurt . 
‘we would like to, yes’ . 
and then she said,  ‘well, if you didn’t want children then i would say we should be aggressive and take out a lot of your cervix . but if you want children then we need to be more careful, given your age, and since after this second procedure your chances of carrying a baby & delivering are quite slim’ .

this conversation didn’t sit right with me, and after getting my results back and faced with making decisions about where to have surgery and how we would pay for it,  i started asking questions, like “isn’t there another way to heal my body and preserve my cervix than with removing tissue or body parts?” .  i started asking,  and i starting finding . 

over the course of about a week i came to the conclusion -  after talking with chris about it constantly, reading books on cervical dysplasia and natural remedies, and going with my gut - i wanted to approach healing naturally,  for a time, and see if it made any difference .  i decided that these procedures would always be there as a last resort . but if i could curb the spread of diseased cells, and give my body what it needed to create new, healthy cells, i could keep my cervix in tact and whole, and make it well again .

i went to a naturopath and the decision felt a lot like jumping off a cliff . am i crazy? what if this doesn’t work?   and yet i felt peace inside and strength in knowing there has been proof that the right intake of food and vitamins can not only halt the spread of diseased cells but also reverse them and bring about healing . 

since that visit i’ve been taking:
myomin, a chinese herb that balances estrogen 
folic acid
beta carotene

vitamin c
a liquid multi-vitamin
echinacea
and eating all the broccoli and greens i can get my hands on .  the naturopath also recommended i eat a vegetarian diet and cut out anything that can cause inflammation like sugar, alcohol, oils, dairy and gluten .

this hasn’t been easy .  i love coffee . and oil . and cheese .  and bread . and pumpkin pie . and sometimes a hamburger, if i knew the cow, or at least knew where he grew up .  but this has been a challenge, to say the least .

and i haven’t been as faithful in it as i should be .  a part of me feels like i’ve failed... like i’m failing my own body at trying .

i'm speaking this verse today:

when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled .    
1 Corinthians 13:10 .

this tangible, physical body makes me long for Heaven, where our every messy need will be reconciled and fully met,   where our aching hearts and bodies will be made new and we will be with the Savior who we truly desperately longed for all along .   

maybe i’ll have to go through another procedure to take out parts of me i wanted to keep .  next month will be more tests to see the progression, or regression, to determine what's next .

i know there is Grace for what we know, and there is Grace for what we don’t know yet . there is Grace for making it through .   

if you’re facing dysplasia or cancer or you have in the past, i’d love to know how you approached it .  or feel free to ask me any questions about my diet & vitamin intake .  you can write me a note at amymessenger@icloud.com .

& a postscript:   my sisters, if you haven’t had a PAP in a while, please go .  i know you dread it, and i know it’s awkward, and for those of you like me, really painful . but that’s how they find things like cervical cancer . 

 

dontgiveup