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My Faith & Transformation Journey

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

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My Faith & Transformation Journey

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.

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A Psalm 25 Study for Personal Transformation My Faith & Transformation Journey

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

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A Psalm 25 Study for Personal Transformation

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

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Poetry

My Psalm 25 Path

My Psalm 25 Path

Defeated and Shamed.
Disgraced and Embarrassed.
Trapped by the past;
setup for failure

Pathway and Choices.
Deceived and Defrauded.
My road of shame;
lying to myself.

Revealed and Revived.
Forgiven and Humbled.
Freed from the past:
the pathway of light.

Living and Loving.
Trustful and Courageous.
Living today;
protected for life

Sharing and Caring.
Restored Integrity.
Joy with laughter.
Faithfully transformed!

© maggiemarcum.com

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My Faith & Transformation Journey

The Path Through the Fire

I have been trying to figure out what God really wants me to do with the stories of my life—surely they are just the things that happened on the path to recovery and wholeness. I know I am supposed to write. I am supposed to share things with people as I meet them. But share the whole thing? Really? Apparently so.

This morning I turned to Psalm 25. It is MY psalm. It has given me strength and courage and helped me heal and let go of the past. I have read and reread is so many times that the page is now falling out of my bible. As I read it and prayed, I finally saw what God has been waiting for me to see. This is my story, this is the story he gave me. From crying out in my pain and shame to understanding that we all make mistakes, and coming to believe that he is still here. He has forgiven me which helped me to forgive me. He has returned my integrity and given me a new life. And that is what I will be sharing over the next few days as I take apart Psalm 25 and tell you how God used it to reshape me.

When I started my journey I was stepping back from a life of heavy drinking and partying. A life of sexual and love addiction. A point where I had broken every, yes every, commandment and felt worthless. Little by little God revealed why I was living like I was. He revealed the childhood sexual abuse. He revealed how I felt invisible in my family. He revealed how my parents violent marriage scared my thinking about relationships. He forgave me, and I myself, for my abortion. He taught me that I didn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul for fun. He showed me I could live with little to have it all.

Come with me on my journey. Hear my story. Share your story with me. Let me weave your story into mine as we grow stronger, because that is what God wants for us. He has inspired me through his words to want change. I am motivated to help others who desire change to see the hope and possibility. I am praying that the words I write will transform your life as they have mine.

“To you oh Lord, I life my soul. I trust in you, my God.”
Psalm 25:1 And so it begins.

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My Faith & Transformation Journey

Inspire Monday

At church we have been talking a lot about sharing our faith and how best to do that. The thought of talking to someone we don’t know about Jesus can be pretty intimidating. This morning as I was reading my devotionals I remembered just how grateful I am for all the changes in my life that are the result of my faith in a power greater than myself. That is what inspires me to share so that others will know they too can have a different life, one that has new freedom and purpose.

I was, and still am, a slow learner. I can also be strong willed and self righteous about the way I live. Thankfully God is patient with me. For years he put me in the right place to hear what I needed to hear. He sent messengers and messages over and over, and waited and waited for me to take the wax out of my ears and respond. Little by little he took my “poor little me” attitude and changed it to an optimist who couldn’t believe the doors that opened for her. Ever so slowly he prepared me to let go of negative behaviors and to accept a better more peaceful life.

Be inspired today by the world and people around you. Watch to see where God is speaking to you; where he is showing you the possibilities for your life. Watch the person who is content and happy in their lives and ask them what inspires them. Take a minute to pick out an app with a devotional and let the words you read inspire you to transform your life. Do it today, don’t wait any longer.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling about me everywhere… Acts 1:8

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My Faith & Transformation Journey Transformation Stories

Back to Basics

I grew up in Germany and lived in an apartment complex with hundreds of other military and government families.There was nothing fancy about it. Most of the furniture was government issued. We had a small storage unit for Christmas decorations and our bikes. Everyone knew everyone in their building and most of the complex. There were few secrets kept and we learned to share the bitter and glorious moments of life together. We were neighbors and friends for as long as we lived there.

Over the years I have had much and lost much. I left home right after high school and soon found myself living on the street. I lived with family for many years, nestled safely under their protective umbrellas. I married more than once in hopes of finding contentment and security. And recently, I gave it all away and came to settle back to the way I grew up. Living the simple life, in a small apartment with a balcony where God feeds my soul everyday that I am willing to meet with him. I have little and yet oh so much!

In Galatians 4: 1-7 Paul talks about us being slaves and the things to which we can become a slave. For many years, I was a slave to proving I was something worthy of notice. I was the invisible kid who never seemed to get it right. I thought that the more I had the more I proved my worth and value to my family, and to people I didn’t even know. I made some serious mistakes. I hurt some people in the process. And once I let go of the chains that captured me, I lost it all. And then I found it all!

I have found freedom in  the words of the Bible. I have found freedom in the stories others have shared about their journeys. I have found a new simple and happy life following the principles Jesus and his disciples shared with mankind. I am far from done with this new place God has set me, but sitting on my balcony this morning, watching the clouds move through, I have hope that I am finally back to basics and free of my old way of thinking.

“Because we are his children god has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out ‘Abba, Father.’ Now we are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, god has made you his heir.” Galatians 4: 6-7