There is a lot going on in my life. Currently I am a part of an extremely active church, and I love engaging in everything that is happening in and through our community. We have a film studio, an art studio, a recording studio, a gymnasium, a concert venue, an urban monastic expression called “The Belfry,” we house a school primarily for refugee students called “New Land Academy,” people teach and tutor in our rooms, and we have a beautiful sanctuary. Throughout the week, we have the Crestwood School of Kingdom Ministry, we have a 12 step expression called “Route 12,” we have a group of intercessors and worships that ask the Lord for continued vision known as “Prayer Culture,” we have neighborhood kids that knock on our doors at all hours of the day looking to play basketball, and they have just recently formed a basketball team. Thursdays hold our youth meetings where our young adults can come and be formed to do what Jesus did, and look more like Him. We have worship nights, conferences, meeting, meals, discussions and hangouts. Crestwood Vineyard is a place the Lord is using to help shape His kingdom and our neighborhood. I wouldn't have it any other way.
However, Crestwood Vineyard isn't the only thing happening. We aren't the only ones doing work. Oklahoma City is going through some radical stages of growth. It is a shifting time for a beautiful people.
Recently, something has come to my attention. With all of the “stuff” that is happening, I have begun to stuff my feelings. The out come of internalizing my feelings is trying to work my way out of them. My processing has turned into “be busier.” There isn't a whole lot of scripture to support how the Lord wants us to be overwhelmed by how we are so busy that we don't have room to take a break. Psalm 23 even encourages our rest. Not to mention the many times the Lord invites us to rest in Him. I haven't given myself permission to feel.
I encounter the Lord a lot through feeling.
Not feeling means not interacting with the Lord.
Being numb is a place to interact with Jesus!
“To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.” Proverbs 19:8
We are called to know ourselves. There are a lot of ideas about honoring others above yourself and loving those as you love yourself. If there is no respect or understanding for your own process or challenges, loving others becomes easy and you become completely worthless. Essentially, if we don’t know ourselves, our disfunction or our challenges, we can hinder our growth with Jesus. If you can’t see yourself the way Jesus sees you, then there is work to be done inside of you. We are called to put our flesh to death and to put our earthly desires away. Yes, that means dying to oneself. There is however a huge difference between dying to yourself and killing yourself.
Jesus has poured out grace on all flesh! We are called to receive this grace. By His work we are saved to have our hearts, minds and souls transformed to look more and more like our savior daily. Not knowing ourselves is essentially saying that you don't have anything to work on. Or, it's saying you don't want to work on yourself! “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Matthew 7:5.
The road to sanctification is a life long journey. Jesus has a lot to offer us in every moment. Every day we wake up and have choices to make. Do we sit in our hardship, stuff it and go on like nothing is wrong? Or do we take our challenge to the Lord. Why am I sad, mad, glad or afraid? Why is my heart turned from that person? Digging into these questions is the exact thing that kills your flesh.
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 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 8:12-17.
If this is our identity: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, then our Father has so much more to give us if we ask (Luke 11.) We, in order to love people better, need to love ourselves at a high caliber. If you don’t love yourself well, then loving others as you do yourself becomes obsolete. It becomes worthless! If you think you are worthless, then you love other people worthlessly.
At the end of the day, we have permission to feel our feelings. We aren't to be overcome by them, but ignoring them leads to later, BIGGER challenges. If we address our thoughts and feelings with the understanding that the Lord wants us to meet Him there, then we can play a role in the strengthening of our souls. Loving ourselves means that we allow the love and gift of Jesus to actually reach our hearts. It is the gift of grace and mercy to receive the love of the Father. No one (outside of Jesus), deserves to be loved by such a good Father. And yet, we wake up each morning! We receive our marching orders and we get to do kingdom work.
So for the sake of the world, treat yourself with respect! Love yourself. Love your body. Receive what the Father says about you so you can be a healthy vessel through which the Lord can encourage and empower others. We are called to be salt and light, let yourself be salt and light!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9.