The Secret Life of a Waffler

food-863484_960_720A Waffler, not to be confused with makers of the sweet morning delicacy, is one who bounces between one or more things indecisively; one who is torn; plagued.

I’ve always known I was a Waffler. The battle has existed from the time I was a wee girl, which even then led me to play a role I was never meant to play; the role of the “good church girl”. Growing up in the church, I became bilingual—fluent in Christianese as well as World, but it was a role, not reality.

I wanted my words and actions to be pure of heart, honoring to Christ, but they weren’t always because they were often done out of expectation. I wanted to believe all I heard, but some things begged for answers to questions I feared to ask. I wanted the love songs I sang to the Lord on Sunday mornings to genuinely reflect my heart, but they didn’t. How could I say I loved someone I didn’t really know? I wanted the words in the Bible to jump off the page and penetrate my heart and morph into this intimate relationship with Christ that I kept hearing about, but rarely saw. I wanted God; I wanted to feel Him and when I didn’t, I just kept following all the rules— the self-imposed rules, the subliminal rules, and the rules bellowed from the pulpit week in and week out. Boy, did I know the rules! And boy, did I hope they would lead me to Christ.

As a young girl, I was certain the rules lined the yellow brick road, which would eventually lead me to Jesus.

The-RulesI like rules and boundaries. It makes succeeding—winning– easy. But what I discovered in this quest to know Christ more and who I am in Him is that rules do not equate relationship, nor do they equate salvation or anything else except to meet the expectations of others. And this is where I have struggled—and I think many of us have– because we’ve deceived ourselves into thinking if we _______, then God will ______. We’ve made our relationship with God contingent upon what we do, rather than what He did!

I struggle with my identity in Christ. I really do. I am fully aware of all the things that should disqualify me from God’s acceptance, forgiveness, and love. My defects stifle me and tarnish the relationship Christ desires for me. I do this by believing that Christ sees me as I see myself. In my head, I know this is far from the truth, but my heart consistently clamors to catch up.

I think so much of our Christian faith is spent in evaluation mode; looking inwardly, measuring ourselves against “God’s Standard” (which by the way is often man’s mislabeled standard) or adding and subtracting this behavior or that behavior in hopes to meet…I don’t know…holiness (I guess that’s what we’re after), that we spend more time thinking about ourselves than worshiping Christ.

Holiness means to be “set apart”. God sees us as such; clothed in His robes of righteousness, not in our inadequacies and sins.

I do not have His eyes. I cannot see what He sees.  I cannot even comprehend what He sees, but I believe in Him—and that has to be enough; has to be! As I write these words, I can practically hear the words of Hebrews 11:1 being whispered in my ear:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.

Without a doubt, I believe God’s Word is infallible. I know, to my core, I can trust every word, every promise written. I do not question it. So if I don’t question it, why am I not living as if “He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world” (Romans 8)?

God is FOR us—not against us.

But we live as if He is. We replay our past sins and failures and live from the platform of condemnation when God clearly states that “in Him there is NO condemnation” (Romans 8:1). In order to truly live freely and embrace our identity in Him, we MUST accept and believe this. He did not come to live as man and die a brutal death for us to essentially die with Him. No! He came so that we might have life and life to the full (John 10:10).

I wonder what would happen if I started reconstructing my identity based strictly on God’s Word?

Who Does God say I am?

bible-1068176_960_720God looks beyond my defects, faults, failings, inadequacies and sees something I have yet to comprehend: my worth, my value; that I am His daughter. His beloved. His Delight. In Him, my identity is secure. It’s not contingent on what I do or not do.  It’s based on what He’s done.

I think that’s it…we, like Peter (the dude who walked on water), have to keep our eyes on Jesus because when we don’t, that is when our enemy whispers all our self-doubts, shame, and insecurities over us and we begin to sink. God’s view of us hasn’t changed, ours has.

I am learning I must affirm the identity Christ has assigned me and learn to live from this place for Him. I cannot do this if I keep feeding my insecurities. I am not discounting my past, sins, or failures; I’m just refusing to live from them anymore. I want freedom. I want Truth. I don’t want to waffle anymore.


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Dear Baby I Aborted

Dear Baby I Aborted,

Today is the twenty-third anniversary of the day I aborted you. That decision wrecked my spirit. Going to counseling shortly afterwards, I was encouraged to name you and grieve you properly. I named you Alyshia, which means Truth.

The truth is I didn’t consider you
The truth is I didn’t see you as my daughter
The truth is you were an inconvenience
The truth is you didn’t mean anything to me
The truth is I didn’t love you
The truth is I was embarrassed by you
The truth is I thought you would ruin my life
The truth is you reminded me of my sin, my hiding
The truth is I thought your dad would leave me
The truth is I thought my parents would disown me
The truth is I feared the judgment of the members of my church
The truth is I wasn’t ready to be a mother
The truth is I did not consider adoption
The truth is I cared more about myself than you
The truth is I didn’t understand the value of a life
The truth is I didn’t consider your contribution to our family, to our world
The truth is I thought I could dispose of you and not look back

The truth is I did look back and continue to every single day
The truth is I was wrong
The truth is I am eternally sorry
The truth is your dad and I regret our decision every day
The truth is I could have made it work even if I ended up alone
The truth is you were made in love
The truth is even if I could not have raised you, someone could have.
The truth is I heard your heart beat
The truth is I saw your unformed body light up an entire room
The truth is I hurt you
The truth was blinded by the immediate circumstances
The truth is I didn’t think long-term
The truth is I did not think I would grieve you
The truth is your value exceeds that of rubies and gold
The truth is you are a gift from the Lord
The truth is I see you in my dreams
The truth is I still cry
The truth is I still feel shame and embarrassment, not because of you, but because of myself
The truth is I struggle to function on this date, the day I chose to abort you, every year.
The truth is Satan still uses this against me.
The truth is your life ultimately saved mine because it led me to Christ
The truth is every life has value no matter the circumstances
The truth is you are my daughter
The truth is you would have been an amazing big sister
The truth is I love you
The truth is Jesus died on the cross for me
The truth is I have been forgiven
The truth is I am still learning to live in His grace

The truth is some of God’s people are going about saving babies lives the wrong way
The truth is some of God’s people use hateful words and condemn those who need grace
The truth is a woman in this circumstance needs more love than you can even imagine
The truth is we’re all flawed, all sinners
The truth is even those who call themselves Christ-followers judge abortion harshly
The truth is Church is a hard place
The truth is we need to stop wearing masks
The truth is we need one another where we are and as we are

Thank you, baby, for teaching me about truth,

Love,

Mama

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Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 1

Preface

From the time I was a little girl, I knew I was meant to be a mother. My greatest fear, other than the dark, at nine years old, was that I would die before I would marry and have children. I made my list of “must-have qualities”  for my future spouse and hoped and prayed that such a man existed. To be completely honest, in the beginning, a lot of guys existed that met my simple-minded criteria, but with each new crush or Lifetime movie that aired on TV, my list stretched and evolved into one that vaguely resembled my 1980-something list! Thank God too, or else I would have ended up with someone like Dukes of Hazard’s hottie, Bo Duke played by John Schneider (not that there’s anything wrong with a flannel wearing, muscle-car jumping, justice fighter!!!). Ironically, I did marry a Schneider. I like to think of this as God’s nod my way!
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The good Lord was kind to me by bringing Dennis into my life when He did because I was starting to fret no one would want me, the real me. I was 18, so this thought now, seems utterly ridiculous! Thinking through some of the false beliefs that plagued me back then and the actions I took in response slay me now. In hindsight, I still would have married Dennis because he is such a remarkable man of God and loves me better than I love him, but I would have done things differently—correction, not “things”, EVERYTHING differently. I learned so much about myself, about the beauty of God’s redemptive grace and forgiveness, and so much more that it has 100% changed how I look at dating, my own daughters, and their suitors! To date myself and to channel yet another 80’s TV program, The A-Team, “I pity the fool” who desires to date my daughter! (I’m totally laughing at myself!!!)

Actually, I don’t! Dennis has jokingly said to the girls on multiple occasions,
“God and I will get together and let you know when we’ve found a man worthy of you. Until then, stop looking”.

I don’t want my girls to settle for less than God’s best for them and because they, or at least one of them, is boy crazy like her mama was, I know how easy it is to overlook some traits, justify others, and imagine others are seeds just ready to spring into existence. I know red flags when I see them, quite possibly because they look a little like long-lost friends!

So over the course of the next few weeks, I will be writing a short series of letters to the boy(s) my daughters will someday date. Of course, I will not actually give these letters to the boys. They will serve more as a communication tool for my girls.


Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter,

Before we even met you, we liked you. We liked you because you saw something of great value in our daughter. Sure, her twinkly brown eyes and darling dimples drew you in the moment you saw her. Her readily, contagious, boisterous laugh where you can literally see all her teeth at one time– and even, if you’re close enough—and you’ve no right to be yet—see that she still has her tonsils, made you want to know what her secret is to genuine happiness.

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Look at the joy!

You’ve seen that she’s strong, determined, and will stand up for herself and for justice at all costs and in the next moment you’ve seen her giddy “as if carried by the wings of euphoria”. She’s a dreamer and adventurer, while being grounded in logic and reality. She loves to push the limits, but also has unfathomable respect for the rules. She loves deeply and quickly all whom she allows into her small, guarded world. She is the perfect balance of tenderness and strength. You see that. You like that. And it scares the crap out of us…because we have to trust you. We have to trust that you’re going to protect her heart. And that means putting her needs ahead of your own. This is hard and sometimes doesn’t seem fair. You’ve no reason to believe us, but we promise, she’s worth it! She really is. We hope you can not only live with that, but find joy in living a warrior’s life.

One of the things that scare us about you dating our daughter is that relationships often begin based on physical attraction, affecting all our senses. And as wonderful as that is—and it is, it leaves a relationship incomplete; empty.  If you base your relationship solely on physical attraction, your relationship will only be as deep as that beauty. It will be pretty…but shallow. We want more for our daughter. We want more for you.

You might not hear many parents say this, but we really want you to get to know our girl from the inside out. This takes time, lots of time. We will give it to you freely. We will not hold you back. We will encourage and support this relationship, but also, like a new bowler, we will put bumpers in place, in hopes to guide your relationship towards its absolute best, not as a way to confine you. It takes spiritual discernment and objectivity to understand and genuinely know a person’s character and spiritual nature, so it is our hope that you take the time necessary to know what makes her heart tick (her innermost beliefs, goals, dreams, desires) and that you will encourage and challenge her to grow to new heights. We desire that she’ll do that for you as well. Relationships grow and change, morph and stretch. When they don’t, they’re in trouble. We’re rooting for you! Don’t get into trouble.

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On that note, you have no idea just how much we have prayed for you over the years (since her infancy).  We know you have your own story, joys, struggles, pains, and past. You will find no judgement here because we know these things have chiseled and deeply etched your heart, bringing to the forefront a character that otherwise may not have been revealed. It is our hope for you, let alone our girl, that your story is being manifested in holiness, honesty, morality, temperance, and commitment. In short, that you are in the process of becoming the man God destined you to be. Not for our girl’s sake, but for yours.
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We should not have to remind you that she is a princess; flawed, certainly, but her identity cannot be found in those flaws, but more so in Who Christ she says she is–and He calls her daughter!  If you do not see that, then it was nice knowing you. I realize that sounds harsh, but life is too short to hope and pray that one day you will see her value. She is worth more, far more, than you are able to see right now. If you do see her as a princess, you know that her virtue is her gift to you and her character is meant to compliment yours. These are only two of the three foundational pieces in which to begin building a relationship. The third? Gosh, we hope we don’t have to tell you!

Faith! You cannot, cannot have a healthy and lasting relationship without Christ being in the center. Ecclesiastics 4:12 points out that “…a cord of three stands is not quickly broken”. Living out your faith together will draw you closer together than any other thing in the world. And not to keep quoting scripture, but Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. It is our hope that the two of you cultivate a beautiful, intimate relationship with Christ and live your faith out loud. We pray that you would stand by one another as you both pursue all that God has in store for you as individuals and as a couple, and that you would be obedient to Him first and foremost. No guy or girl is ever worth compromising your faith! If she pulls you away from Christ in any way, kick her to the curb. Clearly, she isn’t ready for you!

Genuine faith brings forth a servant’s heart and is quick to give to others, go the extra mile, offer help, volunteer in the face of need. Having a servant’s heart is one that lives to give–for others; never for self or to gain. We live to this standard—however, imperfectly. Pastor and author Tommy Nelson says it perfectly when he says, “A godly person with active faith, who is quick to serve has the full stamp of approval by God”. If this is how you live your life, you too, have our approval!
hands-437968_1920We want the best for our daughter. We want the best for you, too. And to both of you, we would advise that you don’t settle for less than God’s best for you. If our girl is not meant to be your someday-wife, that’s OK. We are not putting the cart before the horse here at all! Gosh no! But we would ask that you keep in mind that one day she will be someone’s wife, someone’s mother. How you treat her, speak to her, show her love and respect—she will take with her into each of those relationships. You will be part of her story. If you eventually part ways, leave her better than you found her; leave her believing in herself a little more, and ultimately, leave her a little closer to Christ. But we hope you won’t leave her—because we kind of like you too!

Love,
The Girl You’re Dating’s Parents

 


Like I mentioned in the preface, I am not really sending this letter to my daughters’ significant others. How mortifying would that be for them?!!! This letter hardly scratches the surface of all I would like to communicate to such suitors, but it begins the important conversations.

I would love to hear your stories, the advice your parents gave you, the advice you wished your parents gave you. What would you tell your own son/daughter about dating?