words matter

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.    James 3:5-6 MSG

let’s think for a second about words.

When I say marriage, a certain image or emotion is attached to that in your spirit. When I say death, you might think of a spider you squished, or your favorite aunt that passed away. When I say love, someone’s face becomes clearer in your mind’s eye. Why do these things happen? It’s really just letters stringed together and sounded out. All the letters come with threads of emotions, thoughts, memories, culture attached to them and then specifically tailored to your own individual human experience. Words matter.


 

I used to be pretty careless with what I said to people. I always thought to myself, ” well i’m only joking, they know im joking, and they shouldn’t take it so seriously.” That was my blanket statement that I used as a defense. I could be as mean as I wanted to be as long as i threw a “no offense” at the end of the rant. Looking back, I wonder how many people I hurt with that mentality. I could mean something totally trivial in jest, but words have weight. They matter. I could have really spoken some terrible things into people’s lives without even realizing it.

I used to be even more careless in the words and thoughts I had towards myself. Anytime I would stumble in my walk, or in life in general, I would berate myself with negativity. I can be my own worst enemy. No one was going to make me feel worse than me. Whether it was my looks, personality, lack of this, lack of that, no subject was off limits in the constant full-on assault to myself. I realized a pattern, the more I would tell myself that I didn’t deserve a good guy, the more emotionally depraved men would come knocking on my door. The more I would tell myself I’ll never fit into that dress, the more I would frequent fast food stops. The more I would tell myself that I deserved to be alone, the more I would isolate myself from my friends. I was speaking those words into existence.

Coming back to Christ really made me think about the weight of my words. If the one who created the entire universe, who laid His life down for me, who believes I am the apple of His eye, LOVES me so much, why on earth would I treat myself and others with anything less? That can be as simple as the words that come out of my mouth.

I think we live in a world that everyone has an opinion and is very quick to share it through the mask of social media. I mean, its kinda what I’m doing right now right?

Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say
But nothing comes out when they move their lips
Just a bunch of gibberish

Dr. Dre

In this world of words, opinions, blogs, vlogs, posts, snaps, tweets, blah, blah, blah what are you ACTUALLY SAYING?! We are witnessing firsthand how 140 characters in the wrong hands can have lasting and huge political implications. Let’s whittle that down to the day to day! Are you constantly grumbling about your job? Are you constantly grumbling about your husband? Are you constantly complaining about your church or the sermon that wasn’t specifically tailored to your every whim? WORDS MATTER. The words we say to each other, the words we say to ourselves, the words we put out into the world. They have an impact.

I want to challenge you as a reader. You’re reading MY words, and I’m actively praying that they WILL strike into your heart. Ask yourself, am I speaking LIFE into my situation? Am I speaking ENCOURAGEMENT into my friends? Am I speaking LOVE like Jesus? Remember that you have the power in that tiny muscle in your mouth to make someones day or ruin it. To save someone’s life or destroy it. Tend to your weapon carefully children of God. It can make or break you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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baby come back

BACKSLIDING

Backsliding is almost like a curse word in some Christian circles. What does it mean? The usual context is someone who “goes back to the world” after being involved in church for a while. Usually over a steaming cup of coffee, your voice lowers to a whisper, and you say, ” have you seen kelly? yea girl, she hasn’t been in service for a month. And her Snapchat? WOAH. She’s backsliding“. Its very easy to sit there from your comfortable, blue, front row seat and judge others from a quick insta-story that you have no context for, isn’t it? But what happens when YOU’RE kelly? What happens when you backslide yourself and suddenly you find yourself feeling farther and farther away from God?

Maybe you didn’t realize it was happening at first. Maybe you went out for a brunch date with your friends and that second mimosa turned into four? Then you texted that guy you’ve been swerving for months, Then you’re on a date with him? And he’s saying all those right things and maybe waiting on God doesn’t seem so appealing? Then you repeat this pattern. Again. And next weekend. And one morning you look at your Spotify history and you haven’t listened to a worship song in weeks? You count down the minutes to the end of service and stop showing up all together. Your Bible sits in your back seat and you’re just having fun. You tell yourself that you’re still Christian obviously, and you can quote the classic Bible quotes but you avoid your eyes in the mirror. A heavy weight sits on your heart because you know you haven’t prayed in weeks.

Lets dive in folks. I think it’s very easy to spit out the robotic Christian phrases like “just come back to God’s warm and fluffy embrace.” But the reality is, how do you start? How do you begin to rebuild that relationship with God? You’ve ignored Him for a long time now. Is He still there? Does He still love you even though you knowingly turned away from Him? From my experience, I believe you should start at the root of the Christian faith. Prayer. The first one might be a little rusty, but LEMME TELL YOU, He can’t WAIT to hear from you. His grace is ready to cover you. His forgiveness is ready to flow. Work work work on that relationship. Tell him what you’ve been up to, vocalize your mistakes, ask for His forgiveness, make a choice to choose strength, and accept His boundless grace. From that moment on, re-commit to your relationship. Make a daily choice to be stronger than the enemy’s temptations. That first step is the hardest but with CONSISTENCY you can do it!!! 

Sometimes coming back doesn’t feel that great. Shame floods your body. Regret floods your thoughts. The enemy puts your Saturday nights on a repetitive movie reel while you’re  listening to a sermon. Don’t let him do that. Honey, the battle is already won. SPOILER ALERT: Jesus wins. His tactics are old and weak and in those moments I take a deep breath and I usually say to myself ” Nah dude, you had me for a second but I’m back where I need to be. I’m going to make you pay for the time you stole from me”.

Surrond yourself with people that truly love God. Fellowship is SO IMPORTANT when you’re coming back. This also means deleting that number that shows up every Friday night around 11pm with a “WYA” or “come thru”.  He’s not your friend, there’s nothing that great on Netflix, and honey, he doesn’t just want to cuddle. Delete. There’s also those texts that pop up on Saturday night around 7pm “Girrrrrrl, we’re going to get wastey pants tonight!! Come out its girls night!!”. Can I be so bold to paint a picture? (yes I can, because this is my blog). You’re going to beat your face within an inch of its life, spend all of your money on sugary drinks, take a million blurry snap chats to make sure everyone knows you’re having the time of your life singing to the latest DJ Khlaid song, your feet are probably going to hurt, and your “BFF” will ditch you for Backwards Baseball Hat she met at the bar. You’ve been there. I’ve been there. At the end of the night as you’re holding your shoes and digging through your bag for that last cigarette, you realize maybe I should have stayed home. WHY PUT THIS ON REPEAT?! God wants us to have an ABUNDANT LIFE!!!! Surround yourself with people that make you laugh so hard your sides hurt and love Jesus. People who text you during the week to genuinely ask how you’re doing. People that spread JESUS JESUS JESUS everywhere they go.

One of the most important things to remember when you’re coming back is have patience. Getting back into the groove of the Christian lifestyle is going to persistence, discipline, faith, and strength. The best part? God loves you. He never abandoned you. He was there the whole time. His grace is unbelievable and He wants to draw closer to you. Open your heart and let Him. Let Him work in your life and repair the damage the world has done.

 

 

Behind the Smile

Ok who’s ready for some testimony? I am. I’m reaching back into some painful memories with the idea that God will use these words to touch someone’s heart. This is gonna be pretty uncomfortable for me in some ways, but I truly believe that God called me to be as honest as I can. I struggled with this subject. What should I write? The Holy Spirit told me, write the truth. All of it. Here I go.

When I was fourteen, one of my family members tried to commit suicide. That was my first encounter with this ugly thing called death. I had to literally talk him off the ledge. I begged and cried “please don’t leave me alone in this life.” I had to call the cops on my own family and as they handcuffed him and carted him off to the crazy house I remember thinking, please let that be a singular experience. Flash forward to a year later and my other family member tries the same thing. I was fifteen carrying someone down the stairs from my bedroom while their drugged feet dragged down the steps of my house. I was angry. I was FIFTEEN. How? How did this happen? I had grown up in the church and the word “suicide” had never even been brought up in a conversation let alone faced head on. When time passed and everyone retreated to their own emotional corners to heal their wounds, I decided repression was the only way I could handle it. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t seek help. I built a mental wall in my mind and in my heart. I stuffed that pain as deep as it would go and tried to move on with my life.

Flash forward. I’m eighteen years old and I move to St Andrews, Scotland to attend university. For the first time in my life, I felt free! Free to do whatever I wanted! No one could tell me what time to get home, or who to hang out with, or what I could or couldn’t drink. I went wild y’all. As I started binge drinking almost every week, I would lie and tell myself “its ok! This is college! It’s what you’re supposed to do!”. Something super weird started happening to me every time I went out. I would cry. Uncontrollable shaking and tears that wouldn’t stop. I’d laugh it off the next day with friends, blame the tequila, and I never gave it much thought. As the months moved on, the crying increased. Unleashed pain. My entire body would shake violently and I’d crouch over all huddled up on the floor of my dorm room. People started to notice. They asked questions. I went to the doctor (shoutout to the NHS) and he asked me if there were any issues in my past that I hadn’t faced. He suggested I had depression. I laughed in his face. Me? The party animal? The social butterfly? The prankster? With depression? No thanks sir. I started seeing visions of my carefully built emotional stone wall crumbling. I would see these images in my dreams almost every night and wake up in tears. I stopped eating. I stopped smiling. I wanted to sleep all day and drink all night.

Another flash forward to my second semester in college. I was very physically weak and officially was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. I was in a different country away from home and I had never felt so alone in my life. I remember walking home from the hospital after the diagnosis thinking this couldn’t be my life. I had repetitive nightmares of the suicide attempts from my past almost daily. I felt so far from God. I didn’t think He would listen to me because I was so clearly not following His path. Why would God help someone who got drunk every night? On one particular night, I felt the lowest I had ever felt. My “friends” had turned against me and no one could understand why I had turned into a zombie. No one knew I had started taking anti-depressants except my boyfriend at the time and my best friend. The idea of living in this amount of solitude became suddenly unbearable. I remember thinking “ well, it obviously runs in the family. I’m such a burden to everyone. I shouldn’t be here anymore.”

I raided my room around 11pm and took every single pill I could find in my and my roomate’s drawers. I stuffed them in my sweater and headed to the pier. I sat on the edge of the stone pier overlooking the North Sea. It was a full moon. The water was black like onyx and I could have sworn I heard it whispering to me. It was so enchanting and eerily beautiful. Black, black waves that moved and churned. My plan was to swallow every pill and then jump into the ice. I sat and stared at the water for what felt like hours. My feet were dangling off the edge and the icy froth of the waves seemed to reach up and tickle my feet. On the way to grab the first pill my fingers brushed against my cell and I sent one text. I’m JUMPING. Those few seconds is what God used. I felt Him. I felt Him whisper to me, “ you’re not alone”. That’s all I needed. Those few seconds. I sat there stunned, tears frozen on my face. A few minutes later my friend pounds down the pier at full speed screaming my name. He had gotten my text and sat with me while I sobbed.

I was SURROUNDED by the word “suicide” for the next 4 years. So many friends attempted to hurt themselves. In a parallel moment a year later, I was the one running down the street at full speed at 3am trying to save someone’s life, every single cell gripped by fear. I would go on to have another attempt myself. But I never ever forgot those few seconds. “I’m here. You’re not alone”.

Man, listen, I’m not saying it was easy. It was not a walk in the park at all to get though those years. I had my own stint in the crazy house after my second attempt and I was on and off various anti-depressants for years. But those very few precious seconds always stuck with me. God used those seconds as a launch pad for the healing that was to come. I can confidently say God has healed me of my depression today. I carry those scars with me forever but I don’t need to wear my sadness like a badge anymore. God has replaced them with so, so, SO much joy. Even today, I use those seconds as inspiration for all areas of my life. I draw strength from them. No matter what I’m going through, God is with me.

If you’re out there and have similar thoughts of depression and suicide, please reach out to your pastor. Reach out to your parents. But most importantly, reach out for GOD. Honey, HE IS WITH YOU. HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU. EVER. EVER. EVER. He’s with you as you read this, He’s with you while you cry alone in your room at night, He’s with you always.