Tag Archive | Matthew West

Strong Enough

Who determines if one is strong or not?  No one should determine other’s strengths or weaknesses. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, knowing that God has a plan for us.  Every struggle in your life shapes you into the person you are today.  Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger…strong enough!  

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

Many of us have felt great guilt from the brokenness of our past, and present, struggles. We feel, or have felt, that we just have to live under a dark cloud. Through Christ, He became our answer for our brokenness. It was His sacrificial love for us that gives us strength to carry on past our struggles.

For some of us, the healing and restoration from life’s struggles are needed to rightly see God. This kind of healing is available through the power of God who makes us stronger. It may take some time to let those old idols go; but, one may consider the work of the Holy Spirit to heal those wounds—if we let him.

Despite our struggles in life, we can have confidence in knowing that Jesus suffered and died for us.  We can now find restoration and resurrection through him…and all from the hand of God.

We all know that our struggles can wreak havoc within us. They often leave us feeling like we are living in a world of tangled hangers.  Sometimes it’s hard to straighten them out without some kind of help.  While straightening up the “hangers” in our life, they may allow us to find support and comfort from others. Instead of regretting all of our struggles, we should be thankful when God puts others into our lives to help us.

One important question we may have is…does God care that we suffer? Does He enjoy watching us as we fall down? Of course not.

God knows that we suffer.  On our worst day, we are never alone.  Jesus is by our side. Our faith declares that God, our Father, sent His only Son to suffer at the hand of others.  He came into our world to deliver us from evil and give us a future and a hope.

How then does Jesus know about our path of  struggles? Within our faith we have learned how the only Son of the living God encountered real temptations. We know that Jesus overcame those temptations by using His Father’s words…scriptures.  We have read where Jesus suffered at the hands of family and friends. We know that His suffering became worse the closer he got to achieving His goal—to save our souls.

God knows that we are weak and He urges us to pray to Him, dare I say cry out to Him, so that we would be better equipped not to succumb to temptation.  Something happens to us when we take our struggles to the Father. He transforms us, and gives us strength and courage to do things we never thought possible. Even in the midst of our struggles, we can rise up to most challenges.  God would not bring us to our struggles, if He could not bring us through our struggles.  Don’t get off the beaten path, take the path to Jesus… often times the path less traveled.

Finally, I’m reminded of a song by Matthew West, that got him a Grammy award nomination.  It’s called “Strong Enough” and parts of it is as follows:

“You must think I’m strong…
To give me what I’m going through…
Forgive me if I’m wrong; but this looks like more than I can do on my own.

…Maybe that’s the point; to reach the point of giving up.
Cause when I’m finallyat rock bottom.
That’s when I start looking up and reaching out.

Cause I’m broken down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to one thing
You are God and you are strong when
I am weak

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,
and i don’t have to be strong enough

I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up.  I’m not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me.
Lord right now I’m asking you to be…Strong enough.”

God does know that we suffer and that we needed someone to give meaning and hope beyond our suffering. Jesus Christ was sent to enter into our world to deliver us from evil.  He gives us hope when we draw near to Him. Jesus’ suffering lasts beyond the cross to the wonder and glory of the resurrection. He is the Suffering Christ whose grace and mercy has saved us from our struggles today!  He makes us strong enough to carry on.

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I Am More Than a Broken Girl. I’ve Survived.

I was sexually abused growing up as a child; BUT, I am more than a broken girl.  I’ve survived.  I’m a child of God; therefore, I’m not who I used to be!

There’s a verse in Proverbs that says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son,but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”  This text was originally written in Hebrew.  There have been many different translations, and much interpretation; but, in this case discipline was meant to teach or guide, and it was not supposed to be used as a punishment.

I was often “disciplined” by my step father; but, looking back…it was definitely a punishment and not really a “teaching” moment.  His way of disciplining varied from speaking harsh words that I was worthless, to physically hitting me, and he often sexually degraded me.  I never really knew which form of discipline I would be receiving; therefore, I was constantly on edge.

The anxiety that I experienced as a child was often due to the fear of punishment.  My thoughts would be when would my step father come again?  What have I done to deserve this?  Will I ever be good enough to warrant praise?  I thought I must be very bad to be so punished.  I would often feel guilty for upsetting him enough to do such things.  I would associate feelings of guilt with being punished.  Even today, I may apologize for something that I did not do (although I do lots of things that need apologizing for).

Child sexual abuse is the use of sexual behavior in a way to control the behaviors, or actions, of a child.  Sexual abuse acted upon a child can have lasting effects that can carry through to adulthood.  One of the main reasons is that the victim keeps the abuse quiet, and does not tell anyone.  In a child’s mind, if there are no witnesses…who is going to believe them?

Sexual abuse can be quite confusing to a child especially when the one who is doing the abusing is supposed to be doing the loving and protecting.  It’s a harsh reality and confusing when this takes place.

Looking back, I would say that no one really knew I was being abused.  I had bruises, and when others asked me about them…I would just say that I got them playing sports…or I fell down.  I feared being found out which could lead to more potential pain.

My step father had ways to keep me quiet.  He told me I was worthless, that I was tainted, and that no one would want me.  This caused a great fear of  abandonment within me that I still have trouble with today–when I get depressed.  Many feelings have remained with me stuck in the back of my mind.  It is a sick situation–fearing that no one will want me, like me, or that I will have a spouse to take care of me.  It’s a horrible feeling!

My step father said he would beat me up if I told anyone, and since he already hit me…I did not tell anyone.  I seriously did not give out the gory details until my pastor and his wife recommended a book called “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allender.

It has been three years this month (October) since I began that life changing journey.  I was afraid, even as old as I was, to tell my heinous secrets from my past.  I was living in darkness hoping no one would find out.  The problem was that my secret was beginning to take root inside of me and weeds were beginning to grow.  I was letting the darkness consume me.  The lies I had heard for most of my life were turning me into a sad, broken girl.

I know I have mentioned this before; but my pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that, “By giving into the fear of darkness, it will only compound the pain and evil of what has already happened.  By you keeping things hidden it will gain power over you.  Remember, that God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.”

The Urban Dictionary has two definitions for a broken girl.  A broken girl (lower case) is a girl that has tattoos that show or unconventional piercings. The bigger, or more of them, the more broken she is.  A Broken Girl (capital letters) is a term the redwings use to describe a girl who… is not reputable to tell any of your friends about at all and no one would want to know about.

To me, I felt as if I was the broken girl defined.  I had been told I was worthless.  I felt as if I were a disgrace.  I felt misunderstood.  There are days I still feel like this…of course from my own doing.  On occasion I have a little help from others; but, for the most part…it’s just the lies of my past.

Matthew West has an amazing album out.  He took stories from other people’s lives and he wrote songs about them.  His album, and tour, is called “Story of  Your Life”.  He did a great job writing theses songs about various experiences, and tied them to how God loves us.  Some stories were of praises, and some not.   There is one particular song that he wrote about a broken girl, and it was very real to me.  The good news is that he talks about the Good News.  Matthew talks about how God is Love… figuratively and literally in this song. He says that Love sees us differently.  Love sees beauty, and He can’t be taken away from the broken girl.  Matthew’s words struck a chord with me, and here are part of the lyrics of a “Broken Girl”:

Look what he’s done to you
It isn’t fair
Your light was bright and new
But he didn’t care
He took the heart of a little girl
And made it grow up too fast

Now words like “innocence”
Don’t mean a thing
You hear the music play
But you can’t sing
Those pictures in your mind
Keep you locked up inside your past

This is a song for the broken girl
The one pushed aside by the cold, cold world
You are
Hear me when I say
You’re not the worthless they made you feel
There is a Love they can never steal away
And you don’t have to stay the broken girl

Those damaged goods you see
In your reflection
Love sees them differently
Love sees perfection
A beautiful display
Of healing on the way tonight
Tonight

Like Matthew, I want to reiterate that God is Love.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7

God loves those who are crushed in spirit.  One of my homework assignments when I first met with the Gibbs’ at their home, was to find verses where it said that God loved me.  I found out that I was His Beloved.  I learned lots of things that I had never known.  No one had really taken an interest in me spiritually since I was 16…this was 30 years later.  A lot had happened over those years.  A heart became hardened.  Roots of bitterness were taking over.

I had to make some changes, and quick.   Tom also told me that I must learn to let Jesus love me, and I must love Him in return.  If I don’t do this…it will be impossible for Him to pull my weeds and replace them with flowers.  I have really come far despite my abuse and lack of knowing a lot about the Good News; but, I can cultivate a bigger garden if I let God help me.

I will say that I did question God, in the beginning of my journey, why I had to be naked and exposed?  No child should have to experience this kind of pain alone.  God revealed to me that I was not alone.   He was with me.  Christ suffered with me, and for me. The difference when Christ suffered for me was that I was in the crowd.  I was the one of the ones who shamed Christ.  I pinned him down with my sins.  I was the one who caused His suffering and the exposing of His naked body.  Jesus took my shame.  He did it all for me. The truth is that Christ suffered for me, He showed me grace, and now he gives me hope.

I am more than a broken girl.  I’ve survived.  I have lived through things I never would thought I was capable of, and it was all because of Christ.  His Love has helped me to discover that I’m worth fighting for, and He has given me strength to survive. Christ is healing me, pulling my weeds out to make a beautiful garden.  I am a child of God.  I’m not who I used to be.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3

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