The Healing Secrets We Keep

These days I am rather transparent about the life I have led and the choices I have made. I share my experiences because many of them, by the Grace of God, are now behind me. I share my secrets so that others might believe that God still loves them. I share my stories that others who struggle may know that a new life awaits them. I share my story so that others don’t make my mistakes, and if they have made similar mistakes, they know it is not the end. I share hope.

All too often those of us who come through the refining fire refuse to share our stories. I think it is selfish not to tell others how God has changed and redeemed your life. I also believe, that the secrets of our mistakes that we keep hidden, could be the stories that save lives. Yet, many still continue to hide behind some veil of shame refusing to tell others this wonderful thing God has done in their lives. Yes, there may be pain in talking about the past, however, that shared pain may just be what another needs to hear as they struggle with the choices in their lives.

Have you lived through an abusive relationship and are now on the other side living free from fear? Your story of courage and freedom may be what someone else needs to hear for their freedom and to save their life. Share your fears and how you were able to get away and are free to live with joy today.

Have you had an abortion and lived through the tears to finally find forgiveness. Would you do it differently today? Your story could save the life of a child today. Your story could help another woman avoid the pain and loss you experienced.

Did alcohol or drugs once control your life? Did you live with someone abusing alcohol or drugs? Have you found recovery and a new day? Get over anonymity! Share your healing story that another drunk or addict might ask to go to a meeting with you.

Were you once so far in debt or without money that you weren’t sure if you could feed your kids? Have you ever been without a home or a car? Are you out of debt and in control of your finances today? Let go of yesterday and share how you did it with someone like me. Teach us how to work a plan.

Is suicide a part of your family? Have you lost, or nearly, lost someone because of mental illness? Is depression something you have struggled with? Is there hope today that you never had before? Tell your life-giving story that someone who wants to die might live. Share so someone who has lost a loved one might come to understand and feel freedom from guilt. Save a life today.

I could go on with examples. We all have a story. Even those of deep life-long faith have a story. Let your testimony be real. Make what God has done in your life something you don’t think twice about sharing. Share your secrets—especially if you are drowning in your secret today. Reach out and share with someone you trust that they may walk with you. Don’t let your secrets destroy you.

Pass along the gift God has given to you. Multiply his mercy and grace. I encourage you to read The Parable of the Buried Treasure found in Matthew 25. Invest in others. Don’t be the one whose gift is lost.

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Slowly Transformed

Walking in the zoo the other day, I saw this tree that was beginning to turn into autumn colors. Way at the top, just a hint of red was showing through. It was surrounded by other tress that were already fully converted to fall and full of red and bright orange leaves. And there were trees around it that remained a stubborn green. And I thought; “isn’t that like us—some just starting to transform, some well on our way, and some who are holding back?”

My transformation journey took me to a few key passages in the Bible which I cling to as my inspiration to change. One is Psalm 25 and the other influential passage on my life is Romans 12:2. I heard it at a youth conference and was so moved that it became my mantra and one I often share with others to encourage them. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (NLT)

Every time I read this passage I am reminded that God wants me to be and do more with my life than what I was and am doing. Every day he wants me to move forward and a little closer to his image. I learned here that God could change me in ways I could never change myself. He could break the bonds to hurtful times in my life and set me on a new path unlike any I was living. He could fulfil my “if only” dreams of a better life. But it had to begin by changing the way I think, or maybe enriching the way I think.

Yesterday I began a list of things I wish I did differently. I wish I gossiped less and complained about people less. I wish I was fully doing what I believe God has called me to do. I wish I could forgive quicker and show mercy faster. I wish I was doing a better job with managing my finances. I wish I gave more time and money to others. I wish I could lose these 50 extra pounds of unhealthy living. I wish I was fully living out God’s purpose for my life.

And then I looked at the things I am good at and the things I have accomplished. I feel loved when I never trusted love. I am better at seeing people as God sees them and not judging them. I am not hiding relationships that I should not be a part of. I have time I never had to change the things above and to answer God’s call. I am being honest about my financial situation and have a plan forward. I am eating healthier and losing a little weight at a time. I have a strong rich spiritual life and an unshakeable faith. I know what God wants from me and I have put one foot forward to get where I’m going. I am happy. I am content. I have real joy.

These things came slowly. Just like the slowly changing tree, I am making progress on my wish list. And some of the things I started to change a few years ago are now full blown and bright spots in my life. And yes, I am still probably digging my heels in on some things—but God will get me on them when he is ready for me to get on them.

Transformation—a process forward. What inspires you to change? What motivates you to take the first step? Where are you heading and how are you getting there? I would love to hear your story and weave it into my God-story. Please share your ideas below.

Blessings,

Maggie M.
© maggiemarcum.com

Digging Out

As much as I complain about winter and snow, there is something cathartic about digging out a pathway through the snow. I usually start out alone, clearing the dusty snow as it falls, hoping to stay ahead of the storm. I will go back at it over and over. My daughter shakes her head at me wondering why I don’t just wait until the snow stops. I tell her it is because it will be too much to do all at once and it is better to clear away a little at a time. Eventually she will join me outside and together we clear the snow away in half the time it took me. And usually there are snowballs involved and much more laughter than when I am alone with my deep thoughts.

Sometimes I think my walk with Jesus is like that. I am digging out and trying to make the right choices on my own. I keep going back at my problem area and trying to figure out how to get out of the latest mess, only to find the path covered up again and myself set on repeat. As I have said, I tend to be a slow learner which is Maggiespeak for “stubborn” or “self-willed.” If I say that I trust in the Lord then why do I not trust in the way that he shows me? Why do I insist on doing it my way? Why am I so afraid of accepting guidance or assistance?

My personal focus these days is on my financial situation. Because I made decisions about the path I would take—one that made it look like I was affording to live the upper middleclass life in DC—I am now drowning in debt. Over the years I made some bad choices about where to live and how much I could afford to spend. I put myself in situations that were too costly, hoping that if I had enough stuff surrounding me I could avoid the pain inside and appear to be successful just like everyone else. And it was working—for everyone but me.

Today I am digging out again but this time I am doing it with guidance from God through others. And it is HARD!! I am getting better at giving back to God what is his. I am better at giving of my time to help others. I am better at reading the Bible and learning more about these principles I hold so dear. I am sitting in a small condo/apartment having given most of my old stuff away to people who actually needed it. I am living on cash only and saying “no,” even when my mind says: “buy it, it will be ok.” His path; not my path. His guidance; not my desires. Slowly I am seeing the light. Slowly the snow is not covering up my mistakes and I am resting for longer periods. Slowly God is turning my life around once again. Little by little the path is clearing. I’ll let you know how it goes but I am thinking this time the path may just stay clear ahead.

Show me the path where I should walk, O, Lord; point out the right road for me to follow.

Psalm 25:4 New Living Testament

Managing Energy Drainers

Energy drainers are those things that distract an individual from reaching their goals (Collins, 2009).They may be short-term obstacles that we can handle for a brief period of time without derailing our progress. Other energy drainers may pull us way off track and require us to take specific steps to reduce the negative impact. That said, there are a few things that I have allowed to stop me from doing what I believe God has called me to do and I am slowly finding ways to stop letting these things derail my progress. Some of these will be quick fixes while others will take longer to accomplish and require more of a change in my behavior.

Finances

One of my primary goals is to reach financial security and to get my spending under control. The first step for me was to pray and then to seek out a program that would bring success. I have taken some pretty drastic steps to get the ball rolling, including holding a yard sale to get rid of things that I didn’t need and giving away pretty much everything else. I moved out of a large house into a manageable apartment that costs me a fraction of what I was spending. I am building up my savings for emergencies and have a plan to pay off my expenses. I am more deliberate in my regular giving. It will be a long slow process, but I truly believe this is what God is calling me to do today. And from this will come one more testimony about transformation that I can share with others.

Family and Friends

I have a great relationship with my daughter; however, I have a real tendency to drop everything to hang out with her when I should be focusing on writing or my other tasks.  And I have a bad habit of spending money that I have budgeted for bills or savings on spur-of-the-moment outings with my daughter or with friends. I used to claim it was “single mother syndrome” but really it was just neglectful planning.  I have found it necessary to set boundaries in my relationships—to say “no” even when my heart says “yes.” I am committed to the Dave Ramsey[1]  financial plan which means I have to make changes in my overall lifestyle. Part of that change includes setting new priorities while keeping the focus on reaching my long-term goals.

Emotions

I guess you could say that the primary energy drainer for me is fear and panic. The fear is a byproduct of my financial insecurity and it has kept me from moving forward. I have learned that the most positive thing I can do is stick with my budget plan and continue to pay down my debt without acquiring more debt. And I am working with a spiritual director as well as a healing minister who are helping me to see God’s plan instead of my plan. I cannot begin to explain the newfound peace I have discovered in my obedience to praying, writing, and talking with others.

Home

Ok—I will admit it. The TV probably is the largest energy drainer in my life. When I feel insecure about my ability to step into this new role of story teller and author or I am overwhelmed by my financial situation—I retreat to mindless TV. I may spend hours at a time watching TV and avoiding the world outside.  Additionally, TV is sometimes a crutch for not spending money on things with my daughter and so we will sit together watching movies or TV shows rather than going out. This obstacle also keeps me from being more physically active, which is not a good thing for someone trying to live a healthier lifestyle. For now I will work to set aside time to walk instead of watching an hour of TV in the evening. I am sure I won’t avoid TV completely; however, I do need to set boundaries in this area as well. This may be one of the harder areas for me and it could continue as an energy drainer and stressor if I don’t get it under control.

Reflection

I have found it is useful to identify things in my life that are keeping me from reaching my goals and to consider the changes I need to make in my life. Some of these things were not easy to confront, especially since it made me realize how much time I have wasted.  It also became apparent that I cannot make these changes on my own and that I need to be honest with people who I trust about the obstacles in my life. It is equally important to have people in my life that will hold me accountable and encourage my success. One step at a time, I move forward.

Reference

Collins, G. R. (2009) Christian coaching: helping others turn potential into reality. NavPress. Colorado Springs, CO

[1] Dave Ramsey provides Christian-based financial counseling and provides a strategy to help individuals achieve financial freedom. Refer to: http://www.daveramsey.com/home/