Finding God in a Very Bad Day

By Heidi McLaughlin:

God is with you . . . even when you are having a very bad day.

After my own very bad day — many, in fact — God encouraged me with a surprise vineyard moment. Later as I prayed and thanked my Lord, I felt moved to write my own doxology to Him.

Image by krosseel

Image by krosseel

Heartbreak seems to come in clusters. When one door is slammed shut, I courageously get over it, get on with life because I know there is something better up ahead. The eternal optimist and believer of good things–that’s me.

But when I continually encounter lost dreams, divorce and sickness in the family, an ailing mother, shut down plans and the occasional vertigo; the energy and zest starts to evaporate. I need something powerful to hang on to when I experience a very bad day.

On Labour Day weekend (2010) in Canada, I was walking through the vineyards with my son when we encountered the most gorgeous, unusual hidden treasure. Tucked away in one of the rows of grapes was a banquet table; complete with fine china, wine glasses, fresh fruit, gorgeous colored napkins and table runners and beautiful orange shawls thrown over the backs of the chairs.

I blinked twice to grasp the enormity of this picturesque scene, and my son and I stopped and stared. It was magnificent. Puzzled and yet with smiles on our faces, we continued our walk.

A few days later I got more bad news. Now I was desperately searching for my long-lost zest and hope for better days. The next day I happened to be reading about the Apostle Paul while he was in prison in Ephesus. Now this man was not only having a bad day. He was having a hard life. Yet at the end of Ephesians Chapter 3 the man bursts into a doxology:

“Now glory be to God who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of-infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”

I needed God to do something BEYOND my present horrible, no good, very bad day.  I prayed and asked God to give me a doxology. Here is what He whispered to me.

Yea, though I walk through Your glorious vineyards,

My soul is heavy and dark from disrupted plans and an unknown future.

Yet you prepare an orange banqueting table in the presence of my sadness.

You feast my eyes with delight and fill me with surprise.

Though the dark waves of doubt and lies hasten to engulf me,

You place treasures on my path to remind me:

THAT:

You are the ONE and ONLY true God–nothing is too hard for YOU.

You are omnipotent; yet intimate

You are mysterious; yet full of promises.

You are invisible; yet reachable.

You are unpredictable; yet always faithful.

You are far, but always near.

You surprise me; but you are always able;

You point out my selfishness; then fill my cup.

You break me down; then build me up.

You give me desires, but nothing fulfills me like Your love.

You say I am your delight; yet You are the One who brings me delight.

You woo me, love me, put up with me; listen to me, hurt me and then transform me.

You are 3 in 1; yet you are the ONLY ONE.

You are the door to my future

YOU ARE ABLE

Nothing is too hard for You.

I CHOOSE TO TRUST YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE GOD,

As I was writing this doxology, the tears kept soaking my keyboard. The release of pain was so freeing, and it changed my perspective of my very bad day. I shifted my focus and attention to the ONE whose plans for my life are BEYOND my present troubles. There is always a new season BEYOND what I am experiencing right now.

I am hanging on, trusting, praying and hoping.

 © Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at www.heartconnection.ca, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

Enjoy this inspiring praise music by Gateway Worship- New Doxology, led by Thomas Miller:

 Also,  you can hear more of this music, including New Doxology, via amazon.com, iTunes, or Google Play.

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Finding God: The Dark Side of Seeking Approval

By Heidi McLaughlin:

Unrelentingly  seeking approval can lead to misery and bring out our dark side.

 [Image from kanate / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]


[Image from kanate / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

We all crave to be accepted and recognized for who we are. When we sense we have been overlooked, rejected, put down or devalued, I believe our dark side kicks in. This starts when we are very young and someone gets a bigger ice cream cone or more recognition at a school play. We ask ourselves.  ”Am I not as important or valuable as the other person? How come she/he gets more rewards or recognition?”

When my children were younger and I took them to swimming lessons, they would constantly shout at me. “Look at me mommy; watch me swim. Look at how I can and do the back flip.” If I got into a conversation with another woman or happened to look away, they would remind me afterwards, “Mommy, you didn’t watch me.”

As we get older and become somewhat more mature, we become better at hiding our desperate need for applause and recognition. Yet it is there, lurking and subtly alive. We control, manipulate and orchestrate life to bring attention to our efforts; always hoping that today someone will notice how special I am.

When the pain of being rejected and overlooked becomes so powerful, the dark side can take over and compel people to do horrific acts of violence just to show the world that they are valuable and need to be noticed. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999 and killed thirteen of their classmates. That was four years after Timothy McVeigh killed 168 fellow citizens in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  It is almost if I can hear them screaming, “I will make you take notice of me, no matter what I have to do.”

The need for our spiritual souls to be filled with love and acceptance is as powerful as the need for our physical bodies to be fed.  If our cravings are not fulfilled, our dark side will kick in and grab onto the thing we need to feel better.

As Christians and leaders in our community, churches and neighborhoods, many of us have trained our minds and bodies to behave and not let this craving be so evident. But I believe as long as we are in our human bodies, this will be one of our many struggles. But the Bible tells us this:

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 MSG).

So what is a person to do with the unrelenting craving?

Unlock the dark side. Be aware that it is there and call it by name. Pretending that it doesn’t exist does not make it go away.

Be aware that it is our motives that determine our actions. Ask yourself, “What is my motive for doing this. Is it to bring attention and recognition to myself or is it to fulfill my God given purpose and bring glory to God?”

God has given us authority and power through the Holy Spirit to live in the LIGHT, which is God.

The bible tells us that “God is Light and in Him in no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 NIV).  As long as we stay close to God, accept His love and life in His truth, our motives will be brought into the light.

Rehearse God’s promises and love for you.

Don’t be afraid to look into your dark side; it will be the beginning of taking it out of the darkness and bringing into the Light.  By doing that, it will begin to lose its subtle, insidious, manipulative power.

 © Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at www.heartconnection.ca, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

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Finding God in Our Loneliness

By Heidi McLaughlin:

These words made the hair stand up on the back of my neck: Loneliness is ignorance.

 

Image by chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What an irreverent and accusing comment about one of the most painful and heart wrenching human conditions. This citation (which came out of a commentary) had such a huge impact on me that I chose to study it in greater depth to try to understand the author’s point of view. It has been a startling revelation. Loneliness is in fact ignorance.

We were created to be connected to our Heavenly Father and to other people; that is the only way we can function in this world if we want to live fulfilling, joyful lives. Nature abhors a vacuum and will do anything to fill it. Water flows into any empty crevice. Fires explode with a vengeance when it has produced a vacuum. When you and I are hungry we need food. When our souls are dry and lonely we will do what it takes to fill them. That is how we are created.  An empty soul is a danger waiting to happen. Loneliness will try to feel better by:

  1. Alcohol; which becomes the friend that numbs the pain.
  2. Any relationship will do as long as it fulfills the urgent need for human touch.
  3. Too much TV for the needed company.
  4. Shopping to fill the pleasure hub.
  5. Too many trips to the refrigerator to find satisfaction through food.
  6. Drugs, mutilation, binging/purging, stealing, pornography, video games…and the technology pleasure hub of your choice.

And the loneliness persists and we wonder if there really is a God.

My heart aches for all the lonely people who feel helpless to move beyond their pain. God is supposed to fill that void, and He does, but he uses His children to be His hands and feet to fill that void. We must first understand that we cannot function as whole, healthy people living in a loneliness vacuum. We need help. This desperate cry for help should be the impetus which propels us to make courageous choices to go out into the world and find some friends. You must; it is not an option.

There are places where lonely people can find healthy connections. Walk into a church and ask to be connected.

Start talking to strangers; at least give them a smile so that they will smile back.

(You may end up helping someone ELSE feel less lonely, not only yourself.)

Join a club, go into a library and look around for like minded people. Make a diligent effort to find a HELP line to get connected somewhere-somehow. Don’t allow the fiend of loneliness to overcome you; it will destroy you.

God loves you. As a matter of fact He loves you so much that He died to set you free from all the sins, pain and wounds you have experienced. (You can find out more about that at GodTest.com.)

He wants to LAVISH His love on you. Let Him do that through your connections with other human beings. God said “that it is not good for man to be alone.” There are people all around you; go and find some and make some friends. You must.

 © Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at www.heartconnection.ca, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

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