Posts tagged Facing your sin
Why You Should Risk The Consequences

 

DIGITAL BREAKS, BREAKOUTS, AND BREAKING UP WITH FEAR

 

It's been 12 days since I've scrolled through Instagram or eaten a piece of bread. Can you sense my slight panic from over there?

I’m in the middle of this 30-day digital and junk food detox (you can read more here), and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it. To sum up my observations simply: the past two weeks have been weird and hard and full of glory.

I’ve cleaned the house every day and gone to bed at about 9 PM every night because I HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO. I finish work early pretty consistently because I’m not wasting my time scrolling. I’ve read 3 books already, and I’m only two weeks into this thing. I think I’ve spent more time talking to God than I have all year. I haven’t needed my inhaler once and my insomnia is basically non-existent. I am so tired of cooking already. I reach for my phone out of habit and then see the absence of Instagram and Facebook, so I frustratingly throw it down (this happens a lot).

 

A brief backstory/confession: when I first felt the Lord nudging me toward this detox, I thought it was a little crazy but reluctantly decided to obey. I put it on my calendar. I wrote down all of the details and shared the plans with my husband. I wondered if I should see a therapist or a doctor because this idea was slightly insane. I started buying paleo-approved groceries and praying about the process.

A day or two later, I was contacted by a few different people in the wedding industry about the dates of some of my design work. And guess what? All of the important dates were in the middle of my detox plan. (For those unfamiliar: whenever styled shoots happen in the wedding business, it is clear that contributing designers are supposed to post about the photoshoot to increase page views and networking opportunities. Basically, I could be missing out on lots of business or future collaborations if I followed through with my detox plan).

I thought through my options:

1) I could change the dates of my detox and start after the important wedding launches.

2) I could take a brief break from the detox to post about the photoshoots and then hop back off social media again.

3) Or I could keep going as scheduled and risk the consequences.

So, I was thinking about these options and leaning toward changing the dates. I hadn’t started yet, after all, and it was the smartest thing to do from a business standpoint. It felt like a good compromise.

But then I heard a voice inside me, “Alex, do you really trust Me?”

 

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt the voice of God before, but whoa—it is an experience. I knew what the Lord was leading me to do, and I wasn’t super thrilled about it.

Dr. Charles Stanley preaches a beautiful challenge frequently, “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.” I want to live like that—no matter how difficult it is for this practical, analytical, rule-following soul of mine. Like the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…” 

__

Something weird happened as Kevin and I started eating clean. About a week in, both of our faces started breaking out pretty badly. I remembered that the same thing happened when we did the Whole30 a while back, so Kevin did a bit of research. Apparently, breakouts happen to a lot of people as they start cutting out the artificial foods. It is a sign that the toxins are trying to leave the body. All of the good stuff starts pushing the bad stuff out. 

I think God is using this media fast in a similar way. He is healing places I didn’t know were bruised. He is uncovering sins I didn’t know were buried. He is calling me out upon the waters, and I am hesitantly stepping forward. He is answering all kinds of prayers that I’m usually too busy to pray about. He is revealing the importance of spiritual disciplines, and I am no longer too distracted to pay attention to Him. He is pushing out fear, worry, and bitterness and then replacing it with more trust, peace, and forgiveness. God is pushing away the bad stuff for His glory.

Don’t get me wrong: His glory doesn’t always feel like our good. I don’t want to pretend that you can just give up a few things for a limited time and life falls into place because that is not the Gospel (and that’s definitely not what is happening here). Most days have been uncomfortable and unsettled. Digging up sins is far from fun. Obeying the Spirit is almost never the easier route. I’m learning to be okay with all of this, though, because God shows up in the uncomfortable places. Awkward conversations are happening in the most beautiful, glory-filled way, and I can’t shut up about everything God is doing over here.

Friends, if you feel the Lord leading you into something, follow Him. Take the step. Make the leap. Ask the questions. Pray the prayer. Bring out the shovel and do the digging. Put your faith in Jesus, and risk the consequences.

Because there’s no doubt about it: He is a good, good, Father.


FRUITFUL FINDS


I'm always looking for sermon, podcast, and book recommendations, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorites from the past couple of weeks with y'all as well. I plan on continuing this recommendation section in my future posts, so be on the lookout for these links if you want to add more intention to your week (and send any my way that you've been loving)!

To watch (or listen): Work and Rest (Sermon by Matt Chandler)

To readGoliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio

To sing: The More I Seek You (Kari Jobe)



Ignoring the Weeds

All of the women in my family have beautiful gardens—filled with little white roses and pink peonies and big, blue hydrangea bushes. In the past, they’ve grown giant okra and watermelon and eight-foot-tall sunflowers. There’s usually an endless supply of fresh flowers and blooming, climbing jasmine.
 
I, however, did not inherit their green thumb. I love the idea of having a flower-filled garden. In this ideal garden, I could wander out and trim roses to put in a vase on the dinner table, or watch the ivy and jasmine climb up the side of the house, making our little brick house look more beautiful with every bud.
 
In this scenario, I would also always have an empty laundry basket and be able to fly.
 
But the thing is: I hate gardening. I do not enjoy working in the yard in 90-degree weather (which it almost always is in Alabama). It’s not that I don’t enjoy the outdoors-- I do. Laying by the pool? I could do that all day. Playing fetch with our pup in the backyard? Give me a tennis ball. Reading outside in the shade on our daybed? Yes, please. I love going on hikes and watching the sun set.
 
But pulling weeds while dripping sweat and throwing them in an orange bucket? No thank you. My allergies do not help with the matter. I get all itchy and sniffling and angry.
 
Kevin does yard work regularly and selflessly. I love him and resent him for it. He had been gently reminding me that I was in charge of the flowerbeds for a few weeks, and I had been gently ignoring him.
 
To be honest, I’m pretty good at ignoring things that I don’t want to deal with. The other day, Kevin returned from his work trip and immediately asked about the oversized limb that had fallen off the tree in our front yard.
 
“When did that limb fall?” he asked.
 
“Huh. I didn’t notice it there.” I replied.
 
“How do you not notice a giant limb in the literal middle of the yard?”
 
“I don’t know. I just didn’t see it.”
 
I have supernatural powers when it comes to ignorance.


__

So it’s no surprise that I didn’t put too much thought into the fact that our rose bush was dying at a rapid rate or notice the bright green shoots of weeds that were slowly conquering the flowerbeds.
 
But one Saturday morning I vowed to pull weeds to save my husband’s sanity. I changed into my tank and workout pants, turned on Johnnyswim Pandora on my iPhone, and pulled on my pink gardening gloves. I headed out with my bucket and began to tackle the worst of the beds.
 
It was overwhelming at first. The weeds were lined up like a small army, row after row, staring me down by their infinite numbers. But one by one, I started pulling.
 
Some of them were easy to pull up, and I hardly had to exert effort. But some were rooted deeply, like they were holding on with tight fists to the small patch of earth they inhabited. Some of the weeds were disguised as little flowers, and they almost convinced me to keep them around. Almost, but not quite.
 
Most of them gathered around the bases of the bushes, slowly trying to overtake them completely. This army of weeds wanted to be the star of the flowerbeds, and they wanted to kill everything in its path of domination.
 
And weed by weed, I was defending my little landscape, filling up bucket after bucket of the pesky invaders.
 
I had let it go on too long, I told myself.
 
Much like my sins, I had ignored them and they were multiplying rapidly. They were disguising themselves as being good, like the little purple flowers, but they were really trying to overtake anything that was good.
 
Like selfishness or jealousy or bitterness, they were taking root and gripping on tightly-- and one by one, I finally had to face them head-on.
 
I was pulling weeds, thinking about sins and Jesus and eternity, when I heard a voice right behind me and I jumped three feet in the air.
 
I was so busy thinking about weeds and sins and analogies, I hadn’t noticed my neighbor walking up the driveway.
 
Darn you once again, blissful ignorance.
 
I chatted with my neighbor briefly and vowed to myself to stop ignoring and start noticing. I thought about the truth in The Screwtape Letters, when the demon Screwtape comments to his trainee, Wormwood:

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: In reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” 
 
Blissful ignorance.
 
Satan wants to keep us out of churches; he wants to keep us away from the hurting and heartaches surrounding us. And that sin that keeps popping up in your life? He wants you to ignore it, to push it deep down until you no longer even think about it as sinful. The devil is rooting for us to ignore the weeds in our lives, wanting us to be overtaken without realizing it's happening.
 
But the more we ignore the weeds, the more they multiply and the deeper they take root. We have to address our sins and notice when we stray off the path of Jesus, even slightly. We must constantly confess our selfishness and inadequacies, remaining open to delight in His merciful love. 
 
We must face those weeds head-on with our orange buckets in hand, and then allow God to uproot them.