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maggiemarcum

Living Life with Purpose

Month

October 2014

Stuck

There are days when the mud seems to rise too high for us to fight it back. Maybe we have become entangled in a net and can’t get loose. Stuck, trapped, snared, and unable to move. We have forgotten what light looks like anymore and we fear we may never see it again; if we ever really saw the light in the first place. It is a hard place to be and even harder to explain it to another.

I can remember those times all too well in my life. I would lie curled up in my bed and ask myself: “how on earth did I ever get into this mess?” Sometimes I knew it was because of the decisions I had made, other times I wasn’t as sure. You know that feeling: your stomach churns and the tears flow and you hide from your family and friends because you don’t want to be a burden? Those are the days when we don’t even want to see our counselor or hit a meeting because we are so sure that even they would never get it.

What if you could see just a sliver of light? Would you be willing to take advantage of that sliver of light and believe that maybe, just maybe there was more where that came from? For me it started with a prayer. Oh, I couldn’t pray it. I had to ask someone else to pray it until I could. Yes, that meant I actually had to answer the phone or the text!!

I needed a rescue. No one I knew could give it to me; however, there were people who would help me to find it. I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling forever and the only way out was to send a distress signal out to a friend. That friend needed to be someone I could trust and someone who I knew would send up prayers on my behalf. I knew my eyes needed to be on God to get out of the mess, but I just didn’t have it in me.

Slowly, I was able to look forward because looking back did no good. I couldn’t change what had happened but I could change the present and thus the future. Those prayers eventually became my prayer. Psalm 25 became my strength. I couldn’t read it all but I kept asking God to show me what to do next, even if next was only getting up and going to work. Hours became days became weeks became months became years.

My ability to stand up and let go of the pain did not come overnight. It came by having someone else help me cut the net from my feet and pull me out of the mud. And once out, it took my commitment and motivation to change. It is a daily struggle, because life is a daily struggle. Today I get out of the mud a lot faster. I tell others quicker. I pray before I slip into the mud bath and I don’t get tangled up like I used to.

Please, please; reach out today if this is your story. If there is no one you know, look up a church with a prayer line and call them. Just tell them you hurt and you need prayer. Get up and find a counselor whose name you like and give them a try. Go to a Celebrate Recovery meeting or other 12 step and meet people who have walked where you have walked. Look up. God is there and you will find his love and his strength until you have your own.

“My eyes are always looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies.” Psalm 25: 15

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I Can See Clearly Now

It takes a deliberate effort, and probably a fair amount of time, to see the truth in our lives. We may hear it and know it, but in our hearts, we just don’t want to believe it. Denial. That’s what counselors and 12 steppers call it. I call it: the lies we tell ourselves because it is easier than facing that a painful change may be coming. In Psalm 25, David asks God to “lead me by your truth” (NLT). David, of all people, knew how hard it would be to face the truth and to turn his life in a new direction. But he was willing to listen to a wise man speak the truth and he was forever motivated to alter his lifestyle.

One of the most difficult areas for us to hear the truth is in our relationships—be they romantic, friendship, or work. There are times when we need to stop and evaluate where these relationships are taking us and determine if they are right for us or not. I walked away from a very lucrative job with great potential—not once but twice—because I came to understand that I was not the right fit. Many people thought I was, but in my heart I knew it was time to move on. I let go of the love of my life because our values were different. He was, and is, a good man, but I need a man to share my faith commitment and the lifestyle I am living today. I had to let go of family that I love dearly because there was no way to resolve our conflict. Rather than continue to hurt each other, we have moved on with our lives, without each other. I walked away from living a life of pretend to a more simple life without the stress of keeping up with the DC or LA crowd.

Each time God inspired me to change, I fought back. There was a fog over my life and I had become comfortable with it. The fog kept me from seeing my true potential and the purpose for my life. When I began to ask God to show me the truth, the fog began to lift. I saw my real calling—my new job if you will. I saw how loved I am by those closest to me and I am no longer on the hunt for that great love. I have done my best to love and pray for my family and God has repaired some relationships. I have a new family in my church. I am surrounded by good people who motivate me every day on my new journey.

I can see clearly now. There is hope for my future. There is peace in my heart. There is joy in my life. Ask yourself some questions about whatever is keeping the fog in your life:

• How is this relationship impacting my relationship with God?
• How are these friendships supporting me on a right path with my faith?
• Am I hiding something so others won’t be hurt?
• How is this job affecting my joy and my dreams?
• Am I happy where I am and do I see myself happy in 5, 10, 15 years from now?
• How is this lifestyle effecting my financial situation?
• How is this situation affecting my emotional well-being?

Prayerfully consider your answers to these questions. Write down your answers and share them with someone who will objectively listen and ask you more questions. Be honest with yourself. Bring light into the fog. If you begin to see the need to change, start the process by making one small change. Think what that change should be and then do it. Do it for you. Do it because you deserve to live the life God has in mind for you.

“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 New Living Translation

Coming Home

Coming Home.

Coming Home

Shortly after I graduated from high school I moved to Los Angeles and began to live a life far different from the belief system I had growing up. Like most young people, I wanted to get as far away from my parents as possible. I also wanted to make decisions for myself, because at 17, I was oh so wise!

My week-long visit to California turned into years and my journey to “find myself” led me to change my religious commitment. I became enthralled with Scientology and grew to be a new recruit and staff member. I began a journey into what I would later learn was an occult-like cult. I had already opened the door with my Ouija board experience in high school. Scientology simply pulled me further away from the faith I had known all my life. I won’t go into detail now, but suffice it to say, Scientology took control of my life in a way my church never did. I was happy for quite a while living in this community; getting to know celebrities, and throwing my new life in the face of my parents.

Scientology told me I could still be a Christian and believe in God. They even bastardized the crucifix for their symbol to convince believers like myself. And then they told me all the problems I was having in the present were the result of the past. If only I would reach back into the past I could be set free. Of course their past was many past lives, which they manipulated me to believe I had lived. They promised I would be happy beyond belief and have some special supernatural abilities. At that point in my life, I needed to be something more than just the lost invisible child with no future. Anything was better than where I was.

Fortunately, I had praying parents who knew that was all they could do to convince me to come home. During a trip back to Virginia I caught up with some old friends and began to see outside the fog of Scientology. My friends helped convince me not to return to LA and little by little the grip Scientology had on my life was released. As much as Scientology tried to pull me back, I found a supernatural peace sitting in the pews of my church. Although I was back in church most Sunday’s, I worried that others would find out I had strayed and judge me for the disobedience to my faith. I kept a barrier between me and God, just in case this didn’t work out for me either.

Finally, many years later I would be led by our pastor to acknowledge the occult hold Scientology and the Ouija board had on my life. I prayed with others and asked Jesus to be lord of my life instead. I invited the Holy Spirit to be my guide and set me on a new path. I prayed for a purpose that I never had. I discovered that even though I had walked away and broken my relationship with God, he remained faithful and forgiving. On my knees that morning, I discovered the freedom of a loving God and started on the long road of redemption to where I am today.

If something is keeping you from walking back into church, let it go. God already knows all about it and he is waiting for you to come home. No matter how far you have wondered, the door is always open. Sneak in the back if you have to. Sit quietly and wait for that still quiet voice to tell you “welcome home.” Believe that once you cross the threshold into his house, you will feel like you never left. Ask a friend to go with you if it is too hard. Just take a baby step toward God and he will do the rest.

“The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep his covenant and obey his degree.” Psalm 25:10

The Art of Being Me

So today I started to write my blog as if I were someone else. I wanted to be clever and smart and theological. I wanted to sound like someone who is well educated and has had a successful career. I wanted to sound like the people whom I respect and try to gain their respect. I wanted to get the respect of people whom I think don’t value what I am doing. I stopped being the person God made and the person God led to tell this story. I lost my way there for a moment.

You see, there was a time in my life when I tried really hard to be someone else. If you didn’t like my behavior, I stuffed in the closet. If you didn’t like the way I looked, I starved myself and I stuffed the “fat” me in the closet. If someone thought I was too shy, I stuffed quiet me in the closet and let loud loose me out. Little by little I shoved everything I was into a closet so that other people would be impressed with me or happy with me. It got to the point where I no longer cared about anything, except what you thought of me.

And soon I just stopped feeling.

Then one day, driving down the road, I exploded. I had no idea what was going on, I just knew I had lost my mind. Nothing was real to me anymore. I resented the people that I worked so hard to impress because in the end, they still didn’t care. My closet exploded and all my dirty little secrets came pouring out for everyone to see. I picked up those nasty pieces and made them mine. I ran from everything I had tried so hard to build into a hole of nothingness. I felt deserted by my friends, my church, my priest, and my family.

But God didn’t abandon me. God never left my side. God never threw me out with the trash.

I began to find myself in the rooms of a 12 Step program. I began to find myself crying in the pew on Sunday morning. I began to find myself in the conversations I had with professional counselors. I began to find myself by letting Jesus be my friend and forgive me. I found myself by letting go of the garbage and letting God heal those dark places. I found myself with dear friends who held my hand through the painful journey. Mostly I found myself by accepting that I am uniquely made in God’s image and no matter what anyone else thinks of me—I am special to him and that makes me special to me! The simple fact that God already knows about all that junk in the closet and still loves me is enough. I am who I am because God allowed me to grow through these dark moments and has brought me out of the fire and into the light.

I don’t have any profound scripture or passage to share with you today. All I have today is God’s story of salvation and transformation for me. I am changed because I reached a hand up and he grabbed it and has never let go. Reach out today, in some way, shape, or form and let God reveal how wonderfully made and loved you are and begin to see the possibilities in your future. Be that beloved person God made you to be. Share your transformation story and see how God changes the lives of others. Open the closet and let the real you spring forward.

Seeing the Right Path

I think we all have times in our lives when no matter what we do we just can’t seem to find the right fit or we think we are stuck in some life situation and we will never find our way out. Fear sets in. Despair takes over. A dark cloud seems to be our only friend. No matter what we do; we just can’t find the right direction to head and all we do seems for naught. We may see the future but something seems to be in the way of getting to it.

Finding the way out can be difficult. We hear that God is “fair and just” and “does what is right” for us, yet we struggle to believe those words apply to us. And yet, if we can take the first step forward, we might come to believe that God will lead us step-by-step in a new direction and place us back on the path of success.

It is helpful if we can develop an attitude of moving toward something rather than away from something. Ask yourself what it is that you love to do and what makes you smile when you think about it. Develop an image of what you would look like if all the pieces fell in place and you were where you would like to be. Now walk back from that ideal situation and ask yourself how you got to that place. Write the story of your success all the way back to where you are today. What steps did it take to reach your goal? Which people did you need to stop listening to? Did you need to go to school? Did you need to network with others in the field? Did you need to stop doing something so you had time to focus on your goal? What did you need to do first?

This method may seem unrealistic to you, but if you have a dream that you have been holding in your heart and not acting on, it may be that God placed that dream in your heart and is waiting for you to take the first step on the path. You may need to take a risk and step forward in a way you have never done before. I am doing that today. I know where God wants me—I have seen the end goal—and today I am taking the first step by writing this blog and getting a new degree to support me.

There is a path for you. God is with you. He will lead you there if you spend some time in prayer with him. Ask someone you trust to help you sort out your journey. Find a spiritual guide or a coach that can help you learn how to see God’s plan for you. Start today by taking one small step, even if that step is just getting out of bed or turning the TV off!!

“The Lord is god and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them his way.”
Psalm 25: 8-9

Finding a New Path

Humbly I come to you, having lost my way.
Wanting your forgiveness for my pride;
I sought my way and stumbled on the path.

Your words call out to me, pulling me back.
Yet I hold on to that which I know;
Hoping you will follow my lead and direction.

My plan has gone astray, the door has closed.
I have no choice but to surrender my will;
I’m left to accept that you have a new plan.

Where now shall I go amidst this turmoil?
How do I trust this new plan you have,
When I can’t yet see the light ahead?

How, O Lord, do I trust you when I have failed?
How, O Lord, do I trust me?
How do I even start anew?

And yet trust I do, as I cry out for your direction.
I breathe in all I know of you and wait;
I wait to hear your calming reassurance.

I wait to take the next step, leaning on you.
I wait; and then I slowly step forward,
Trusting you to open a new door,
Leading me into a new life.

A new path emerges and I see you in it.
All that is good has come from this my journey of change.
Protected Ransomed Refreshed Regenerated

© maggiemarcum.com

Forgiven with Love and Compassion

It took me a long time to accept that this Jesus whom I claimed to believe in would actually forgive me for the things I had done, and would do, in my life. Yet Jesus gave us the prayer in which he directs us to ask for forgiveness—and to forgive others (Matthew 6:9-15). He tells the paralyzed man that he, “the Son of Man have the authority on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6). He even forgave those that crucified him, and yet, I couldn’t believe that he would forgive me and my sins or acts of bad behavior.

I didn’t know about “unfailing love” or “compassion” growing up. There were expectations and measurements for good and bad behavior and I believed I usually fell far below any set standards. I was usually told that I didn’t measure up and would never measure up at the rate I was going. Even after committing my life to Christ in my 30’s, I still felt judged in my churches and less than worthy to be there. I may have been judged by some, but mostly I was judging myself and comparing myself against other people—who were most likely hiding their own shortcomings and failures behind a mask of service and pasted on smiles. I constructed my own roadblock to accepting the love that I read about and believed was only given to the really good people surrounding me on Sunday. I heard stories of change and mercy given but I didn’t think that was meant for me.

And then, sitting in the chairs at a prayer service one night, I finally gave in. I laid down on the floor facing the cross and I said “I’m sorry for what I did.” I cried and began to let go of the things I was holding on to. I began to walk through my youth and my brokenness and to ask God to forgive me for those things. One-by-one, he brought to mind those times I hurt others or hurt myself by my behavior. And one-by-one I felt the burden of carrying that shame lifted from my life. Little by little, I came to believe that God loved me, ME personally, just as much as the nice person sitting next to me on Sunday. Little by little I came to know his mercy and layer by layer he changed my life. I started to laugh again. I could hold my head up. I could smile at someone and reach a hand out and tell them God was there, I was there, and we would make it out of the dark together. Just as I learned to see how God sees me, I am learning to see others as he does, with “unfailing love and compassion.” May you too come to know that peace—it is a prayer away.

“Remember, O Lord, your unfailing love and compassion, which you have shown from long ages past. Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.”
Psalm 25:6-7 New Living Translations

Truth Seeker

I grew up in an era of sweeping things under the carpet and hiding our real lives from our neighbors and friends. It didn’t matter if the whole neighborhood heard the fights and saw the bruises—we did not discuss it. And many of us thus were taught to be hiders of truth as well. We even learned how to hide the good things like promotions and awards that we should have let our friends celebrate with us. Today I still hide the truth to protect those I love; except those stories will soon come to light on these pages as the God who saved me from shame and healed my brokenness prompts me to share more. My desire today is to be taught and to share what I have learned that others may learn too.

Things are different for people in today’s society with social media peeking into our lives every day. We post pictures of our trips and adventures. We post cryptic messages when we are angry or sad. We blast at people who have hurt us. We take self-portraits of our moods so everyone knows if we are happy, sad, or drunk! What we don’t do is talk about how we were abused as children or spouses. We don’t talk about addiction in our family. We don’t talk about abortion or the child we gave up for adoption. We hide our divorces in our new marriages. We hide if we are living with someone or in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. We hide if we want or have a relationship with someone of the same sex. We don’t talk about the missed suicide or the suicide that we deny occurred. We hide that our family is struggling with financial burdens or is crying every night because they don’t know how to help their ADD, autistic, or mentally ill child. Those things we still hide from one another.

I have a new truth today. My truth is that God loves me. He sent his son Jesus to save me from my sins and to give me hope in a new life. This God has inspired me to openly share with you the many many sins of my life, and his redemption of that life. Those things above—he let me walk through most of them. God didn’t heap burdens on me that I might fail in life or feel worthless. He taught me to give him my burdens and to let the Holy Spirit help carry them. He gave me you to lift me up when I thought I should die. I want to learn more from him so I spend time in the Word of the Bible. I spend time listening to your stories and I am motivated because I see the potential for change and growth in our lives.

It starts with speaking the truth. Share your burden with someone today. Ask for prayers. Send me a request—it would be an honor to pray with you. Pray for me too. This journey I am entering is not easy. It has painful moments. But I have hope today, hope for you and hope for me. God bless you and bring you truth and hope.

Maggie

“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:5

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