The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.
Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.
Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.
Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.
Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.
*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.
If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.
Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.
I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.
How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.
And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)?
Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).
How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?
What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26
These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.
I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.
Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies
Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.
Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair
The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there
Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might
Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night
And where the rage died, the peace grew
And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through
Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy
The lineage of hatred determines not your name
The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim
Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time
Sweet mercy has another plan in mind
My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14
The stars, the stars above the waters. I looked up and out of the oval glass, then down to the blackness beneath. “God” my thoughts echoed into His silence, “I’m jammed in this metal tube, above your great expanse.” “But your spirit has wings” He answered instantly.
Reaching forward I found the flight information with a touch of the screen. We were still about five hours out of Brisbane. The ocean’s trenches and scattered islands off the east coast of Australia were identified. Seeing the features described made the Sea less foreboding, but no less deep.
“It had to be deep God, for You to compassionately hurl our sins there” another spirit thought spoke (Micah 7:19)
Saturday I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and still thinking about the ocean, “the sounds of Your breathing, the mist of Your nostrils, and yes, the depths of Your love.” I searched the web for those same “trench” names glowing on the airplane screen, instead I found a 3D map of the ocean floor, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-07/3d-map-of-australia-seafloor/5372132
I gazed at the swirls and globs of turquoise and teal clay on the map. I imagined Your hand reaching for Your magic dust. “Do You, the Master of the universe keep Your coloured paints in jars, or do you just think, and it appears?” It was You who first whispered the idea of colour, and their hints and hues into the world and our ears, as life burst forth from the womb.
“Do You have tools like we do, with wooden handles and sliver blades, to scrape the ocean floor and shape the underwater mountain ranges?” I asked and quickly scoffed at my question. “Of course not” I answered myself.
You trace the trenches with Your finger nails, and imprint the basins with the palm of Your hand!
My God, my God – who has “walked the recesses of the deep” Job 38:16.
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
The reason why we human beings fail at love so miserably is because we expect love to be an easy thing. Many of us haven’t healed from past wounds. Many of us drag baggage into our so called ‘love nest”, and expect love to flourish amongst the garbage.
Many times we want love, and not God, and the two are synonymous. God first loved us and because He did, it is possible through him to love unconditionally, without fear, and with forgiveness and faithfulness.
We cannot truly love without the author of love.
All we need is love? The love we need is God, and then everything else will take shape accordingly.
Beware, love grows at different rates. Our friendships, our commitments, our covenants are not about choosing the drive through. Instant love does not exist. Instant love is temporary pleasure, and then you feel emptier than when you first started searching.
God’s love transforms us so that we are able to love others, love our spouses, love our children, and their children and cultivate generations of love.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you believe you need to know God to love? Do you recognize there is baggage in your life, sin that is weighing you down? Perhaps you are all too painfully aware of the baggage you carry, the confusion you brought into your relationship – ask for help. Put your pride aside. I recommend laying out on the floor face down – and ask for help. Don’t trust in your own strength, your own sense of responsibility or lack thereof. We can do all things through Him and by His strength (Phil 4:13).
Walk in His love, and you will be love to others.
Ephesians 5:2 The Message
5 1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
I saw the lovely trio skipping down the street one Saturday morning. More like the little ones were skipping, while dragging their mom along behind. I’m not sure how we struck up a conversation. She was asking for something in particular and I must have thought I could help. I set a time with her to come by her place.
She had given me her number and I called first. The morning it worked for me to go for a visit the sky was overcast and grey. Most of the snow had melted but the earth looked like a dirty carpet. I could hear the brittle ice snap, crackle and pop under my shoes as I approached her building.
I rounded the corner in the sidewalk, and thought I saw God’s little angels painting the earth white again. They were dressed in nothing but summer lace crinolines and black rubber boots. They were hopping on the tiny patches of ice left over from yesterday’s melt, and giggling with glee each time a new crack cried out. They didn’t notice me at first, but I saw the door to their apartment wide open, flapping in a north wind. I could see their breath crystals in the air, and I could see mine.
Quickly, but gently I introduced myself and scurried them inside. Thankfully they remembered my face from our previous brief encounter. Their mother was on the phone, standing at the end of the stairwell. I could hear her deflecting verbal punches from who knows who on the other end of the line.
I glanced to the right where nothing but a large mattress lay on the living room floor. My eyes dared glance to the left where a years worth of dishes and dried food decorated the kitchen counter. Their Momma looked up from the phone, smiled and waved me in to sit down.
I can’t remember what it was I was doing there, but the memories of that morning never fade, and the words we shared gave more insight into her world. Here is the second verse to yesterday’s song “All We Need”.
Winter’s arrived, I find her girls out in their dresses
The look she wears can make you question how she stresses
She married far too young and craved herself a family
Only to starve to death from the silence inside
She’d never harm a flea, but she’ll break on empty
All she needs, all she needs is to be loved.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard it
It’s not the last time I’ll see
It is the all too familiar – calamity.
Where do we find this kind of love?
How do we grow this kind of love?
How can we be this kind of love?
All we need, all we need, all we need is to be loved.
I met her when I was dating my (now) husband. Back then she was maybe twelve. Powder white skin and long ebony tresses. Not a care in the world. I noticed she liked to care for the little ones at Sunday School, like a Shepherd gathers his little lambs. We got to know her Mom and Dad a little, but when we returned home from our honeymoon, there had been an ugly split in the tiny church plant we’d been attending, and they were no longer around.
Years later I saw her downtown, and she had grown into a lovely young woman in her twenties. She was dating a young man with a high profile career, and excited about life. No sooner had I imagined a lovely wedding and dreamy future for this beautiful spirit, I heard about the break-up. I didn’t know how to get a hold of her to see if I could take her out for coffee and chat.
One day out of the blue I get a phone call. Did I remember who she was? Absolutely. She needed to meet me.
I’ll never forget how I felt holding her hand across the table and watching her tremble. She was addicted to prescription drugs. Her Mother and Father had split. She had a child from a lover, but her child had been taken away. No one really knows how to determine which hearts break and recover, and which hearts crumble and lay down and die. Why had my little Snow White not found her Prince Charming? Why had there not been anyone to protect her from the wolves?
I went home that day and wrote this song. It has never been recorded, but remains to be a favourite of mine. Not that it is pleasant to remember the demise of a dear friend, but it is important to remember there is only a window of time for us to cherish and nurture each unique life.
I wait for her and know our meeting won’t be pretty
She’s cut her hair and tells me she is far too heavy
But I see the twelve year old I knew when I was twenty
Who used her up and left her second hand?
How my soul aches to see her shake drinkin’ her coffee
Once songs were chosen and emailed off to the different worship team members, I sat at the breakfast table and wondered “what next God?” Every day is an open window, a portal to new lessons waiting to be learned.
By the end of the day I wasn’t sure what it was I was supposed to learn. “I may have been better off staying inside with a closed door.” I muttered under my breath.
But there in the middle of an absent answer – was the answer itself. Every phone call, every errand ran, every conversation had been riddled with obvious pain. Maybe it wasn’t obvious to everyone, but I could feel it. I could hear it in their voices. I could see it in their body language, like a crippling disease. As I witnessed and embraced my beloved (those who Christ has blessed my life with) I too felt my bones weaken, and my spirit faint, and knelt to hand my anguish over to God. Prayer was the lesson. Prayer was the answer that always leads to action.
For the addict whose name was the same as a biblical warrior – I prayed for the Holy Spirit to intervene, so that he too could march around his walls of Jericho, and conquer his demons once and for all.
For the mother, I thought of Jochebed, Moses’ mother and how she too had to let go of her son unwillingly, and watch a stranger raise him. I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort her, and remembered Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
And for a friend who is always struggling to make ends meet I thought of the Israelites wandering in the desert, afraid for how they were going to find food and water. God had given them manna with instructions on how to collect it and use it to keep their bodies fueled, but in their disconnect they squandered it and the food spoiled. Their wandering cycle lasted for 40 years and many died on the way to the Promised Land. I prayed for my friend, for the power of the Holy Spirit to help her look up and take hold of God’s provision, and so break the generational cycle, which threatened to end her life and the lives of her children, and their children.
And for me, I cried out to God that I would get up off my knees and act out His compassion, as Christ and the early church exemplified (Acts 2:43-47).
As I wondered just how much we should give, and where the balance should be the words “poured out” tumbled out of my mouth.
Isaiah 53:12b “…..because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Let us be quick to pour out what He has given us, and be slow to consider ourselves.
The song came before the picture, but one of my favourite lines….”if there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’, you’re my waterfall, fill me again.
Standing in a waterfall means all you can see and feel, and hear is the water. Many times life’s circumstances swirl around us and drain us dry. How can we keep a healthy perspective? I suggest you stand in the waterfall…..and for me that waterfall is God. David talks about great grief being swept over him in the waterfall, in the deep, in the waves (Psalm 42:7). But I see God’s waterfall as place of strength, standing on the rock, surrounded by His presence. The water not sweeping me away, but filling me with His truth.
I’ve been here before, not so long ago
Almost missed the signs, now I know, I know
The sky can be blue, the wind can blow wide
But without you here, I’m desert dry
Gotta hear your voice before birds sing
Gotta say your name, as you grow these wings
If there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’
You’re my waterfall, fill me again
I will live by faith and not by sight
Where you roar is great, and the world’s dark night
is a shadow small, and a moment’s pain
You’re my waterfall, fill me again.
Worry’s at my door, thinking he’s at home
Sometimes he gets in, but it’s not for long
He stirs up the storm to empty and drain
But in the waterfall – I will remain
lyrics and music by Cindy Palin @Feb. 9, 2017 All Rights Reserved
One out of four women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This song is dedicated to our little boys and girls, and to our mothers and fathers, to our sisters and brothers who have suffered sexual trauma. May we all continue to work towards solutions. I know there is hope and healing available from our Father’s heart.