Don’t See Me

Don't See Me....

 

When our oldest daughter was a toddler, she had this special gift of going blind.  If she were to get in trouble, she would simply, shut her eyes.  In the midst of being reprimanded, she would peaceably close her eyes. Expressionless, she would take on a meditative stance.  It would make my husband crazy.

To add to the mayhem of parenting Maggie, if she were caught in the act of “badness” she would yelp, “Don’t see me!”  For example, I walked in and caught her coloring on the wall. She pointed her chubby pre-school finger at me and said, “Don’t see me!” And when that didn’t work, she closed her eyes and went to her “happy place.”

Strange.

The mystery of sight and perception in children is both humorous and alarming.  Of course, Maggie was way past Jean Piaget’s stage of Object Permanence, which would have taken place at about 9 months of age. Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, was responsible for Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. The theory was based on the evidence that a baby develops in stages of understanding.  It stemmed from the belief that cognitive development was progressive.  That a child grows in their understanding of their world based on experience.  At a young age a child hides his head under a blanket, in his youth he believes he has disappeared, clueless you can still see the rest of him.  According to Piaget, experience would reveal to the child that out of sight doesn’t mean non-existent.  Yes, away from peek-a-boo, Maggie, who was nearly three, was simply in denial.

It occurs to me, as silly as this seemed…  I am no different.

And I certainly am waaaay beyond the stage of development where I function in “out of sight out of existence.” Peek-a-boo makes no sense in a 44-year-old woman.

Still, I play.

I close my eyes and meditate when I know I am sinning.  I pretend… I watch television, or read, I don’t want to change.  I don’t want to hear the words: “Jami, this is wrong.”

With the voice of the Spirit drowned out sometimes, I get caught in the act.  And my reaction: “Don’t see me!”

My spirit’s eyes, my conscious, do not fall for my games. The eyes of my heart don’t want to disappoint my God. Changing the draw of my heart away from my folly and greed is a greater feat than pretending all is well, as long as I don’t look.  Alas, I can stick my head under the couch, with my full bare bum sticking out like a silly baby, still He sees me.

I would like to believe that my behavior could not disprove the great mind and life work of Jean Piaget.

I would love to know that I would learn from experiences, that I would progress.

I would love to see with fresh eyes, that to stay in the dark, to embrace the nonsense of closing my eyes to the truth, written on my soul… written in the Redeemers blood, would be to live a stagnant, immature, and life-draining existence.

He sees me. 

He knows me. 

He discerns my tricks.

 He recognizes the game. 

And so I pray, “Give me Your eyes Lord. Pour out a fresh vision of what this sin looks like to You… You, who died to save me from my drivel. Pry open that which I intend to keep slammed shut. Remove the scales from my eyes and let me bask in the glory of your truth. Let me do so without shade or reprieve. Let only light attack my pupils and warm my eyelids.  Drench me in the purity of Your holiness – let it heat my face, tint my cheeks, and fill me up with the grandness of truth.  See me.  And let me see You.” Amen

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

1 Samuel 12:16
Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!

Dearest Angela, thank you for having me today on your blog.  I am honored.  Your words encourage and bless. Embrace the rest, the recovery, and the peaceable place of being lead by Jesus Christ.  You are loved, admired, and needed.  Love, Jami

jami amerine (7)

 

Jami and her husband Justin live in Abilene, Texas with their (currently) seven children.  Their children range in age from 21 to 6 months. They active in the foster care program. Together they own a 640-acre ranch and they love to travel, wander, cook, and have a house full of college kids over for Sunday lunch. Jami has a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Abilene Christian University.  Her graduate degree is in Education, Counseling, and Human Development from Hardin-Simmons University.  Jami loves to speak, write, and participates in respite foster care.  Her first manuscript Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors inspired the name of her blog. You can find more of Jami and the lunacy she embraces in the pursuit of Jesus at http://sacredgroundstickyfloors.com or on Facebook or Twitter!

When the World Turns Against You

path across water

Today (in)Courage is featuring a post of mine where I share about one of the loneliest times in my life. It was a season when I had few friends and felt as though far more people were against me than for me. Rejection, resentment, and ridicule gouged gaping soul wounds that later twisted themselves into knotty scar tissue, tender to the slightest provocation.

During those dark days, I held tight to Jesus and to all he is and all he promises. I knew he was near. I felt his presence, guidance and protection. I truly don’t know how I would have survived without my savior. I don’t think I would have. But can I get really honest for a second and let you in on a secret I didn’t want to admit even to myself?

Sometimes God’s love confused me more than it comforted me.

I couldn’t understand why he created me to be so unlikable. How could he make something that he loved so much to have it hated by others?

So I loved him and I relied on him; and yet I doubted him. I didn’t question his existence or his power. Instead, my skepticism circled around how he felt about me. I believed he loved me out of obligation, as if he regretted making me and felt only pity and duty toward his deficient creation.

Awkwardly, I withdrew from God the Father and from the Holy Spirit, but I remained pursuant of God the Son.The more I learned about Jesus … the more I knew Jesus … his character … his holiness … his sacrifice. The truth that radiates from Christ penetrates and permeates a being in a manner that leaves little, if any, room for doubt.

Jesus understands human suffering, because Jesus’ suffering as a human is unmatched.

My question about how God could make something that he loved so much to have it hated by others was answered in one word. Jesus.

I love how Tim Keller explains this in his book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering:

Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.”

By drawing closer to Jesus, I then gained a deeper understanding of God’s heart and his love for those he created in his image. There has never been a greater demonstration of  love than what God accomplished on the  cross. You see, sin is expensive. It corrupts. It bankrupts. It destroys. The payment to defeat it had to incomprehensibly exorbitant. But God loved us … me … you … far too much to leave our sin debt unpaid.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I John 4:9-12.

Loving Jesus more fully also enables me to accept the realities of his adoration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I absolutely cannot claim to love Jesus wholly when I reject what he says about me. I can’t have it both ways. If I believe the old lies that tell me I’m less valuable than others, then I’m not fully accepting that Jesus deemed me worth dying for.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:14-17

So when you feel like no one in this great big, wild, sinful world is for you, please remember Jesus. Remember that His suffering and your suffering are not without value. And remember that even though you are a being who makes mistakes, your being is not a mistake.

When the Sin of Another Slaps You with Shame

pablo(19)

The marigold shag carpet etched its shape into my knees as I leaned over and enthusiastically accepted  my neighbor Adam’s invitation to a coloring throwdown. With a pink crayon clutched in my grasp, I pressed the dyed wax against paper and vigorously shook my wrists.

Snap.

I didn’t mean to break it, but I was only four and the crayon hardly stood a chance against my childish fervor.

The green one busted next.

Then the orange.

I remember many details of an incident that spanned only five minutes and passed nearly 40 years ago:

How I held each crayon so tight that my right palm started to sweat

The low-pitched hum of the fan as its metal blades tumbled fast in a futile effort to abate the mid-summer heat

The deep scowl on the reddening face of Adam’s father

I caught a sideways glimpse of his angered expression and tried to reign in my nervous energy.

“Those are Adam’s new crayons,” he barked. “If you break one more I’m going to spank you.”

Before he finished his sentence a silver crayon buckled under the pressure of my chubby grip. The next sounds I heard were the swish of matter slicing through air and the hollow thud of a strong hand connecting with the small of my back.

My tiny fingernails dug into the base of my neck, desperate for my lungs to accept the air they just punched out.

Spit pooled at the corners of his mouth as he screamed,

You’re a bad girl! Leave now and never come back here again!”

I wanted to run, but I couldn’t even stand. I kept my head bowed and looked at my frenzied scribbles on the coloring page collecting my tears.

Shocked with shame, I sat shaking until my friend’s mom gently helped me to my feet, brushed strands of my butter-blonde hair away from my eyes, and instructed her son to walk me home.

Breaking the crayons was not an act of willful disobedience, rather a blunder of child too young to control her impulses, but my stomach twisted itself into sickening knots. I wasn’t as upset about being struck as I was about the notion that I was deserving of the blow.

I felt blemished by something even uglier than the raspberry hand print plastered across my back.

I had been slapped by shame.

Yes, there was some guilt over my part of the destruction of the crayons, but the guilt that whispered “you did something bad,” didn’t fasten to me like the shame-sewn accusation of “you’re a bad girl.”

The author of Revelation refers to Satan as “the accuser” for good reason. One of his nastiest tricks is to blame the inflicted for sin committed against them. He pummels our minds and hearts with twisted condemnations wanting to shift our focus away from our hope in Christ.

“He would have stayed if you were someone worth staying for,” he tells the abandoned wife.

“Your mama only hits you because you’re stupid,” he hisses to the abused little girl.

“He touched you there because of how you look,” he mutters to the woman fighting off her boss’ advances.

“Your son would still be alive if you realized his drug addiction sooner,” he taunts the grieving mother.

Again and again the devil slaps shame on top of senseless acts, leaving us flailing in a river of remorse instead of clinging to the cross.

God whispers to the hearts of his beloved,

“Don’t pay attention to those feelings of shame—they don’t belong to you. Shame is nothing more than the scheme of  darkness.”pablo(7)

But it’s dizzying-hard to ground ourselves in truth when our conscience directs us toward a lie, especially when that lie seems affirmed by an authority figure.

Still, busted and bloodied as we might be, we need to fight shame with the fierceness of a mother lion protecting her cub from a pack of hungry hyenas.  Word by word … syllable by syllable even … we need to scratch out every shame-laced lie that assaults our soul. Because if we don’t stand up against shame, it will shred us. It’s that viscous. That relentless. That dangerous.

It’s shame that hushes us when we start to speak out against injustice.

It’s shame that cackles in our face when we attempt to put our brave on and reach toward a dream.

It’s shame that pins our heart against the wall when we try to trust.

It’s even shame that shakes its head no when we muster enough strength to extend forgiveness.

I don’t believe a more formidable weapon than shame exists. It’s stronger than hate and births jealousy, fear, and discontentment. But for all its girth and bullying, shame has an Achilles’ heel.

Grace.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” -Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

Jesus wrestled shame to the depths of hell where He left it for dead.

Shame is beatable. Shame holds no power over grace.

Shame cannot live anywhere grace breathes.

Remember that.

When shames smashes and thrashes and claws at your dignity, send it back to the pit of hell where it belongs. Don’t allow it to disgrace you. Rest in peace-giving grace and rise confident in the One who stands in honor alongside God.

(Dear friend,

Perhaps you finished reading this post, but your heart still aches because the shame you’re slapped with was dealt by your own mistakes and not a sin committed against you. If that’s the case, please know that everything written above applies to your situation too. We all mess up. I’ve slipped  and sinned a disheartening number of times even since I’ve been a Christian. I’ve hurt myself and others and it’s ugly and I hate it and I wish I could find a blue TARDIS and give myself a few do-overs … but I can’t. I can however, allow grace room to breathe … grow … and bathe me new. 

Never forget that no matter what you’ve done, you are forgiven and loved.

Don’t let shame win.

 XXOO,

Angela)

 

What Really Determines Your Worth

Hummer in flight-2

My husband’s grandmother, Mema, has filled several china cabinets with antique glassware. One cabinet in particular contains milk glass, which was very popular in the 1950s and 60s. Some of Mema’s collection always belonged to her, while other pieces she acquired at various sales. Many of the bowls, pitchers, and creamers in her cabinet are valued at more than $250.00 each, yet she never paid even close to that amount of money for any of them. In fact, she bought most items for a few dollars each at local yard sales.

Whenever we visit Mema, she delights in showing me her newest treasure and loves telling me how little she paid for it. Her recollections of how she adds to her milk glass menagerie remind me of the PBS program Antique Road Show where people wait for an expert to assess the value of their garage sale finds. I once watched a lady nearly faint when a little glass egg she purchased for 50 cents was appraised at $2,000.

Thinking it was junk and hoping to get it out of their house, the sellers of the egg unknowingly traded a precious heirloom for pocket change. The worth of the bauble cannot be denied even though it’s value was misunderstood.

Just as we can miss the true value of material items, humans can be terrible judges when it comes to the value of other people.

Nearly 20 years ago, I volunteered at a children’s hospital in Orlando where I spent three hours a week  loving and holding little ones who no one else wanted: the tiny infant addicted to crack; the two-year-old boy with all four of his limbs broken by his stepfather, and a teenage girl who attempted to end her life because she could no longer tolerate living with abusive parents–all are children I will never forget.

Each one of those precious children held immeasurable value, yet each one was treated like a fragment of waste to be discarded. The fact that their worth was miscalculated and overlooked by others, doesn’t lessen the significance of their lives.

I’m guessing that you’d be quick to agree with me about that statement. But how quick are you to apply that sentiment to yourself? Can you boldly proclaim that your worth is not determined by the opinions and actions of other human beings? If your answer is yes, then I am the first to shout “Amen” for you. If you hesitate to answer that question (as I have been in the past), I’m here to assure you that no matter how often you may have been overlooked and undervalued by man, you priceless.

When it comes to antiques, there are historians and other experts able to assign value to the item they assess. When it comes to humans, there is one expert who knows our worth. He has studied the human race from the moment Adam sat up and brushed off some of the very dust that was used to create him. The consummate professor of mankind knows every inch of us because He also is our creator. And He is the only one qualified to assign the price you are worth to Him … and to the world He put you in.

Christ is the living Stone. People did not accept him. But God chose him. God places the highest value on him. You also are like living stones. As you come to him you are being built into a house for worship. There you will be holy priests. You will offer spiritual sacrifices. God will accept them because of what Jesus Christ has done. (1 Peter 2:4-5 New International Reader’s Version)

 

You’re so worth so much to Jesus that he spent three decades away from the adoration of heaven to live rejected in a climate of cruelty. Jesus didn’t step away from glory and allow himself to be nailed bloody and broken on a cross for trash. He came for us, died for us and lives again for us because we matter to him and we have a purpose for him.

Remember that next time you’re wondering if you matter all that much. Remember that anyone who even dares hint that your value is limited, isn’t qualified to judge the masterpiece their looking at. Your importance on this earth was determined long before you gulped that first blast of air into your lungs and your worth is not affected by the opinions of others. Ever.