disappointing God

“I know you and everything about you. Why would I have an expectation other than what I already know? That would be foolish. And beyond that, because I have no expectations, you never disappoint me”.
~Papa, The Shack

The first time I read this, my jaw literally dropped at this new mind blowing concept. Could this be true? Could it be possible that God was never disappointed in me? In all my failures? In all my short comings?
My mind wrestled with this new idea for months. It kept coming back to this dark hidden belief that I had deep down in my heart that my Father in heaven was surely disappointed in me.
I was a sinner after all. And even when I “confess and repent”... I had to face the fact that I had disappointed him as part of that process.  Right?
Looking at this new concept brought up a truck load of disappointments in my life.
  •  Wasn’t my very existence a disappointment to my biological father (who left the country when he found out my mom was pregnant), wasn’t my conception something that caused disappointment in my mother by her family? By his family? I mean for real… having a child out of wedlock at 15 MUST have been a disappointment! Surely God was disappointed when I was conceived.
  • Wasn’t I disappointed by not having a father growing up? YEP Surely God was disappointed by that too. 
  •  Wasn’t I disappointed when I was abused by a neighbor, by my uncle and by family “church” friends throughout my youth? YEP. Surely God was disappointed by that too.
  • Wasn’t I disappointed when my mom got married and I had to start sharing her? Yep. Maybe God wasn’t disappointed by that, but I sure was at first.
  • Wasn’t my constant mask wearing a disappointment to everyone around me? Or actually, WOULDN’T it be a disappointment when my different groups of friends discovered my masks? This was a fear I hid from for a LONG time! Surely God was disappointed in me for wearing masks.
  •  Wasn’t it my fault when my kids messed up? Wasn’t my “disappointment” in their issues actually disappointment in my own parenting failures? Surely God was disappointed in me more than He was in them.
The list went on and on… times and places where I had been disappointed by others, and I was disappointing to others.  

But here I was, starting to recognize a still small voice negating the idea that God was disappointed.

At first I wanted to hold tightly to the idea that God was disappointed. That’s one of the ways that I had been able to grasp the concept of “when bad things happen”. When bad things happened, they disappointed God too, and someday they’d pay for it!!! 

Wait a minute… looking at this “when bad things happen” to me stuff, shouldn’t I be using a stronger, harsher word than “disappointed”? Some of these things on my disappointment list should have made me downright angry. Some of them legitimately could have made me sad. As I began to explore this concept, I was able to move past the band-aid of “disappointment” and actually deal with my anger and sadness over all the hurts in my life. I also realized that much of my life was being lived in fear of disappointing others! The feeling I had when I thought about disappointing God and others was toxic shame. It didn’t go away easily. 

Sometime later I re-read the Shack, and there it was again.

“I know you and everything about you. Why would I have an expectation other than what I already know? That would be foolish. And beyond that, because I have no expectations, you never disappoint me”.
~Papa, The Shack

This time I could see a loving Father, looking directly into my eyes saying it even clearer.
“You never disappoint me… I know exactly how many times you’re going to mess up before you get it right. Each time you miss the mark it’s a cause for celebration because you’re now 1 miss closer to the time you’ll get it right!”
Sin means we’re malfunctioning. We’ve fallen short of His design for our lives. Sin is a failure on our part. But here God was telling me that when I sin (miss the mark) he’s not disappointed?! 

What if He was pleased just to be in relationship with me?

What if He was pleased that I could agree with him that I mess up (daily!)?

This looks totally different from a God who was disappointed in me for my weaknesses.

Then the word GRACE interrupted my thoughts. I saw the cross. I saw Jesus there, dying for my malfunctions… every one of them. And the big picture became clearer. He’s not disappointed, because He already paid for it. He’s not disappointed because He didn’t expect anything less.
I don’t need to “get it right” to please Him. This love and grace He extends is stronger than all the lies that try to separate us. 

All He asks of me is that I admit that I didn’t get it right. He doesn’t ask me to wallow in guilt and shame for weeks over it… just look in His eyes and “celebrate that I’m 1 miss closer to the time I’ll get it right”.

And even though I don’t know the future, I want to extend this way of life to my loved ones. I am done putting expectations onto the people around me and falling into the despair of disappointment when they fail. People fail us, that’s what they do. I fail too.
But I have (and continue to) experienced the tender heart of a loving God in response to my failures and now I’m beginning to want to do the same for those around me that mess up too.


the yellow brick road

Have you ever felt like part of you really missed out on something in childhood? Like, maybe you weren’t allowed to jump on the bed, maybe you wanted nothing more than to grow up, or perhaps you had a childhood like mine that was robbed of the carefree wonderment of being a kid way too young.
We spend the majority of our lives as adults, and the idea that childhood is fleeting doesn’t become understood until it’s much too late.
There is such simple joy in the way a child looks at life. Such innocence, joy and glee in the eyes of a child. It’s not surprising that Jesus wants us to be childlike when we approach him!
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18: 2-3

Sometimes, life just speeds by and before we know it, we’ve forgotten what it feels like to stomp puddles in the rain.
Even though our job in life is to mature and grow. I don’t think that we really get what that means. Most of us just put on our pretend clothes and high heels and make the most of life by sneaking in an extra chocolate bar here and there hoping that will curb our desire to be giddy like children. Or perhaps we refuse to “grow up” and spend our lives searching for the next “night we won’t remember” with our friends because we think that “fun” times will keep us forever young.

But maybe, just maybe, “growing up” and “maturing” is not supposed to rob us of our joy, our innocence and our glee.

This year I’ve been on a journey… as I am every year… to get back something that was stolen from me long ago.
I’ve read before that the enemy is always waiting to pounce like a lion... and always wants to steal our joy. And I’ve known it to be true before, but this particular year I’ve seen it play out literally.
You see, a few months ago, I discovered the Land of Oz. The Land of Oz is an abandoned theme park on Beech Mountain here in NC. But in my memory, the Land of Oz was attached to a memory of my uncle molesting me when I was around 5 years old.
Without going all into THAT….. let me just say that because of that one day, I never got to really enjoy the “wonderful wizard of Oz”. This movie was part of my childhood every single year. It always came on the TV once a year and everyone made a big deal out of it coming on. Even me.
I loved the cowardly lion most of all, and each year, when the movie came on, I wanted to be that little girl all over again and JUST WATCH THE MOVIE. I wanted to be able to just enjoy the show.

But every year, I put on my “big girl pants” and pretended that the movie didn’t make me cringe inside. I pretended that I was Dorothy…. singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”… wishing that my own “rainbow” hadn’t been a nightmare. 
“Why oh why can’t I” became my life’s theme!

I LOVED how Dorothy would sing. I loved how she escaped the wicked witch. I loved how she made such wonderful friends along the yellow brick road, and I loved how safe she felt when she made it back home to Aunty Em.
But I didn’t escape the wickedness in my own life. I didn’t make many friends along the way… and I didn’t feel safe.  ~The enemy was successful in stealing my joy.  

“Why oh why can’t I”

Then, years later, (this year as a matter of fact), I got the opportunity to walk on the yellow brick road myself. I purposely went alone. I purposely wanted it to be just me and Jesus making my own trip to Oz. I was hoping it would be another critical step forward in my own recovery from sexual abuse. The morning of my adventure in healing, the Lord showed me a picture. I saw a toddler, just learning to walk. I saw the excitement and eagerness that both the child and the father had as the first steps were being taken. And I saw that child start to squat down as she got tired and decide to sit.
You know what I mean right? Have you ever seen a child’s first few steps? They take 1 or 2, and then plop right down on their butt. Safely sitting, because they KNOW how to do that and it’s much safer than falling!

With this picture, the Lord spoke to me, He told me that I was that child and that when I “sit” -I am no longer trusting Him to catch me. Then He showed me a new picture. This time, the loving Father was walking right with the child. And when the child started that squat position, about to sit on her own… the Father lovingly put his hands down to catch her bottom and push her back up… he encouraged her to keep walking along, and she did.

I totally “got” what He was trying to say to me, and I’m now learning to walk right along with my Father in a spiritual sense. He’s asking me to trust Him, and I’m receiving His “prodding” to keep moving forward, instead of sitting on my own or reverting back to crawling which I’ve already mastered. 

So, off we went to find my yellow brick road.
When I found it, I felt like a giddy little girl again. I couldn’t believe how excited I was. There I was, standing on the Yellow Brick Road walking along the forest with the talking apple trees! If anyone else had been there, they probably would have thought I was crazy… I giggled with glee when I saw the first tree face. This tree was “throwing” snowballs at me instead of apples and all I could do was literally laugh out loud at what was happening.

I felt the Lord there with me, enjoying my freedom to be in my very own Dorothy moment.
And then the enemy was there~ ready to pounce like a lion to steal my joy.
He is a clever enemy…. And he likes to use any opportunity to stop us from connecting with the Lord’s will for our lives.
So, the next thing I knew, my feet were slipping out from under me, and I was falling on an icy section of the yellow brick road! I threw my hand back behind me to catch myself, and broke my elbow in the process.
Instantly, this adventure became a little scary. The yellow brick road no longer looked inviting. The whole place felt creepy… and I started to cringe inside again.
I started to question God too. “Um Hello…. I thought you were the loving Father who would CATCH me if I walked instead of sitting!!!”
But something within me rose up and gave me the nerve to continue on and enjoy my plans for the day. (perhaps it was the cowardly lion who stepped up inside me and actually defeated the enemy posing as a lion!)

But, since I did actually break my elbow… the next 6 weeks gave me a chance to decide if I was going to let my joy be robbed or not.
I said “NOT”!
Once I came to terms with that ugly blame question that I silently wrestled with in the aftermath of this situation, I decide to go back. I had come to realize that it wasn’t God letting me down or removing his hand from me… it was an attack by the enemy to make me stop trusting God! A blatant attack, because the enemy doesn’t like it when God’s children start to realize who they are and what they are meant to do. He hates it when our relationship with the Lord becomes close and intimate!
I decided to not let the enemy win. I realized that this journey to Oz was not going to be just another place of wounded-ness that would give me cause to doubt my relationship with God. This journey to Oz was in fact, a step I needed to take to prove that I indeed have a brain~ that receives from the Lord, a heart~ that longs to skip and sing arm in arm with friends, and the nerve~ to overcome any pains the enemy sets out for me.
This time I went with a new friend who also loves adventures. It was still icy and cold, but it was a clear day and I discovered a gift that I didn’t know was mine. The yellow brick road leads to a majestic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that totally blew me away!

The yellow brick road also brought me a new friend to share the curves with, and a new song to sing in my own voice.
There I was, high above the chimney tops, where troubles melt like lemon drops~ and my dreams were really coming true. I, like Dorothy, was realizing that “over the rainbow” is a state of mind. It was a new start, a place to look with fresh eyes at everything around me. A place to face my fears and a place to grab hold of the hand of a friend. Friends that will skip and sing away the dark places and friends that are glad to be together when you’re scared, sad, ashamed AND happy! A place where the winter white washes away the darkness and the mountains sing praises to their creator!

After I got home from my return to childhood…. My heart was full of joy. The whole day was one I will always remember and cherish. I’ve created new memories of Oz that don’t leave me feeling dirty or pained at all. I now have images of majestic beauty covered in snow that I love so much, and this will remain with me forever.

As always, the Lord loves to confirm my journeys with song.  I couldn’t help but smile when I listened to the song “Sing Winter” by my favorite worship artists Jonathan and Melissa Helser on the way home.

"Hear the song of beauty, melodies and sounds. Cover you in white love, a joy you lost but now you found."

I have found a joy that once was lost. I think that is exactly what the Lord wants me to do. Walking, skipping, singing, dancing, even twirling like a little girl in a winter wonderland…. All of these things are exactly what He wanted for me all along. This is how I will enter the kingdom of heaven. This is how I choose to grow up and maintain the joys of childhood forever.
And no enemy can stop me!



 Reading in Nehemiah I couldn’t help but notice that the word “repaired” was repeated over and over again in Chapter 3.
This passage is all about how Nehemiah found the walls of Jerusalem in ruin and was inspired by God to have them rebuilt. Often when I think of “walls” I think of the walls that I’ve put up around my own heart to protect me. My walls have been used in the past to keep everyone out… including those I love, and even for some time, to keep God out too. I’ve spent years learning to tear DOWN my walls. If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you’ve seen lots of references to the REMOVAL of walls!

And here I find Nehemiah with instructions to REBUILD the walls of Jerusalem.   
And over and over again I see that the different sections of the wall were repaired.
The word repaired in my NIV Bible, is translated from the word cHazaq in Hebrew.  And while the word repaired works fine in this picture of rebuilding a wall, I was struck with how ELSE this word is used. cHazaq also means to give strength, to be made strong, to rally strength, to encourage.
So, would God want to have me made strong? Would God want to encourage me, to give me strength? YES!
I kept reading…
It also is used to say “to take courage, to hold onto, to embrace, to cling, to take hold of, to fasten (join together), to be equipped, supported, to fight bravely, to triumph, to be victorious

The same word is used in this verse

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. Genesis 19:16
 And again here

Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 21:18

Sometimes there is a valid reason for needing protection. But God clearly wants to be with us on the inside of those protective walls. He wants to join together with us to keep us safe. He draws a picture of “repairing” that is synonymous with us taking hold of His hand and then clinging to Him. He repairs our heart walls with His strength, His love, and His bracings.
There is no shame in needing repair. Not once does the definition of repair say “fix” in the Hebrew word. I think sometimes we get offended that God would want to “repair” us because that means we need fixing. But this really isn’t about fixing anything is it.
Take the beauty of an old abandoned, decaying barn. (one of my favorite things). If you “fixed” it – it would become something totally different. It would lose some of its character and charm. But to strengthen it to keep it from falling down completely would be a wonderful thing. Especially if you could do it from the inside. Brace the walls, give it support, fortify it from within and it will stand forever.
I can imagine that the way I feel about looking at old buildings like this one is similar to how God looks at me. He sees beauty, as is. Am I weak in places? Yes, of course, but he doesn’t want to just tear me all the way down and start over. He chooses instead to “repair”.  He chooses instead to take what is already here, and give it what it needs to stand strong and triumph.  The story I hold in all my fallen walls is one that deserves to be gazed upon and loved. I choose to also embrace my weaknesses not in shame, but by reaching out my hand to take hold of the One who will give me strength and victory.
 I cry out “cHazaq me Lord! In all the ways it could be defined!”
Repair me Lord
Strengthen me Lord
Encourage me Lord
Support me Lord
Join together with me Lord
Fortify me Lord
Brace me Lord
Embrace me Lord
Equip me Lord
Fight bravely with me Lord
Triumph with me Lord
Be victorious with me Lord