Hillsong Worship

Willpower vs.Willingness: A HV Lenten Devotional

I heard someone say this about someone else’s ability to resist something: “Man you have good willpower.”

It struck me. 

As a recovering addict, willpower is pretty much no longer in my vocabulary. Thankfully, willingness has replaced it.

Relying on my willpower was too much pressure. It was all me and what I could do and how much I could do it. I don’t say this to brag that I’ve got it figured out. I say it to share how I’ve learned to make a different choice. 

My Unhealthy Voice says WILLPOWER. "You got this."

My WILLINGNESS says, "God - YOU got this. I need you. Show me. Lead me." 

For me, willpower is a killer. I have to be willing to change. I have to be willing to trust. I have to be willing to look at where God is leading me. It’s not a forced will. It’s a surrender type of will.  

Iwas so done trying to cover up my insecurities with willpower. It had simply, not worked. Thinking this: “If I just do this on the outside, no one will see my inside,” could just no longer be my battlecry. 

My new one became, “Hey God, I don’t got this. I don’t have this all figured out. Forgive me for thinking I did. I know you love me, help me Lord cause I need you.” (Or at least today I know that’s where my heart is - but it took me a very long time to get there.) I had to slowly but surely learn to trust, and I STILL do. 

But here’s the beauty of willingness

God meets us right there, right when we become willing. In fact, his SWEET SPOT is our deepest pain. We somehow think with religion that he wants us to get everything right. But in relationship? He wants us to know he loves us right where we’re at. 

Luke 4:18 NLT says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,” That is literally why he came. 

And not only that? He is the Great Healer. Psalm 147:3 NIV says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Yet isn’t it amazing? Somehow - we think we’re the ones who are supposed to bind our wounds to be good enough for him. That to me is why we’re so obsessed with willpower - because we want to get everything right.

My friend, f you are feeling stuck in insanity, you know - doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result? I get it. I been there and so have a lot of other people. 

I don’t know what’s got you. But willpower isn’t going to fix it. 

God will - if you want to know God, and see God and feel God’s presence in your life - you’ve got to find that willingness. Pray for it…

One more thing, I’m taking a class online right now with Brenee Brown and lots of other lovers of her book. I’m learning a lot about shame and how shame doesn’t like to be in the light. It doesn’t want us to talk about what we’re ashamed about, so we cover it up. And when we cover it up, we end up escaping with drugs, alcohol, food, and the like. So we think we’re doing a good job of covering up our junk, when in reality - we’re stuffing it. 

We’re doing the opposite of what we need to do - which is to get that stuff into the light. I don’t mean throw it all on Facebook. I mean become willing to look at it, to feel those feelings and find those people we can share those tough roads in our life with. 

Being vulnerable is freeing - but it is SERIOUSLY not easy. Why? Because we have all been hurt. We’ve all got scars and bruises. We’ve been hurt so we don’t want to trust. I’ve been hurt just like you! And there’s that huge part of me that wants to go into total protection mode, in fact I’m definitely vulnerable to that. But I have to be WILLING to call myself on it because hiding my pain does NOTHING but hide my light.

If you look in the Bible there is quite a powerful verse on shame (the whole chapter is really good actually). This scripture has helped me a ton getting through my shame (emphasis on through cause you don't overcome it by running from it.) I highly recommend reading the whole chapter, and going back to it over and over again because I’m sharing just an excerpt.

“Instead of their shame

my people will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace

they will rejoice in their inheritance;

and so they will inherit a double portion in

their land,

and everlasting joy will be theirs.”

- Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

One last thing, since I always post a song that's singing in my head while I write, this time it's Hillsong United and the lyrics pretty much go with the it. So check it out if you need some worship for your afternoon.

It's Amazing what God CAN Do with Our Brokenness and Why Our Next Generation Deserves a Spiritual Solution

I got this at a Women's Retreat a few weeks back. Thank you Angela Bryant for leading us!

I got this at a Women's Retreat a few weeks back. Thank you Angela Bryant for leading us!

7 years.

I was seven years old when my parents got divorced. I was 31 when I began these last 7 years of life in recovery.

I got to choose. Either I was going to keep walking as the victim on the inside of the loss I'd had as a child - escaping with my drugs of choice - food, alcohol, overexercise - or I was going to find the courage to change. In one instant I got to choose to be victory or defeat. In one moment, I heard God's voice calling me to a new life and I chose to believe. I may have been a victim as a child to a change I couldn't control. But as a grown woman, I could take control of my own life and choices. I could stop reacting by running away (literally and figuratively).

 I could stop the cycle and get the help.

I'm glad today - BEYOND glad, I got the help.

I am a victor in Christ. I'm an overcomer. Where I am weak, HE is strong. Where WE are weak and can't find our way - HE can be the light...

***

My heart aches for those who are broken on the inside - especially those of our next generation who are deep in the trenches of peer and life pressure with access to substances at every corner. I'm glad to take this opportunity to mark Mental Health Awareness month to share my testimony of getting help and to point out the importance of THEIR mental health. They are our future.

No matter how much we may have materially or resourcefully, or how much our parents love us - we can still hurt at the depths of our soul. There are a lot of kids out there, and grown adults who still struggle with past trauma, with feelings of brokenness, low self-esteem, insecurity and fear that occurred from things like divorce, loss, toxic homes and more. Without another way the quick-fix escape from reality becomes alcohol, drugs, food, cutting, and the like, but they don't HAVE to go there. And if they GO there, they don't have to stay there. They have a choice. But it's up to those of us who've walked through the pain to share the hope.

I am blessed to have found a spiritual program at the young age of 31. It is the program that pulled me out of my spiritual emptiness. It's the program that pulled me out of my destructive thinking, behaviors, and broken heart. It's the program that showed me the way to WALK this life, instead of escape from it. Most importantly -  it is the program of 12 step that opened the door for a new relationship with God that I never knew was possible. It's the program that gave me the space for self-seeking so that God could remove the hurt and the pain in my heart to bring peace.  

I truly believe the solution to all the struggles our next generation face in unhealthy behaviors could be solved by a spiritual solution. Not everyone belongs in a 12-step program, but everyone - especially every child deserves a spiritual solution. I know you and I can be part of that solution. 

 

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of man; it searches out his inmost being.
— Proverbs 20:27

Another thing the program and my relationship with God did was bring me to the Word of God which brings LIFE. Today I find abundance in it and I just wanted to share one of the stories that was brought to me today as I looked up the significance of the number 7 in the Bible and found one of my favorites. I hope it speaks to you....

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
— Matthew 15:29-39, NIV

This story is proof that he heals the BROKEN hearted (like you and me). Not only that - he wants to take care of us. He wants to provide for us. Here are the Disciples going, "We've only got 7 loaves," and he's saying, "That's okay," and just does what only he can do with the little they had. The story is proof, that he can do MUCH with the little we might have. Maybe it's a mustard seed of faith. Maybe it's something in us that we know we can't do enough with - but we TRUST that HE can do, because with 7 loaves he can feed 4000.

***

A little Musical Inspiration

There are two songs that speak to me right now in this stage of my sobriety. I hope you'll watch the videos below and they will speak to you.

The first one is called "Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)", by Hillsong and it is one of those whose lyrics often play in my mind:

"All these pieces broken and scattered in mercy gathered mended and whole. Empty-handed but not forsaken. I've been set free. I've been set free. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see. Oh I can see you now. I can see the love in your eyes. Laying yourself down. Raising up the broken to life....So take this heart Lord, I'll be your vessel - the world to see - your life in me."

It reminds me of the verse that has been speaking so profoundly to me in Romans 12:1-2. "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, please and perfect will."

The second, "Through All of It" by Colton Dixon - I heard last night on the way to a meeting and the words were just so profound. Most poignant were these, "I have won and I have lost. I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not. Life's been a journey. I've seen joy. I've seen regret. Oh and YOU have been my God through all of it."

The last one came on while I was writing and it sums it all up and it's called "Thank you Jesus" by Hillsong. "You've given me life. You've opened my eyes. I love you Lord. I love you Lord. You've entered my heart. You've set me apart. I love you Lord. I love you Lord."

Thank you Jesus.

 

And this is one final shot I had to share to mark the day. This is a picture of from my high school graduation at Gwynedd Mercy Academy in Gwynedd Valley, PA. It is one of my favorites because it's a shot of my two favorite angels always with me on my shoulder - Dad to the right of me, Grandma Cass to the left of me (who was sober when she died). I know they can't read this but today I'm especially grateful for the walks they walked and the doors they opened to my recovery. Forever grateful. Forever changed.

And this is one final shot I had to share to mark the day. This is a picture of from my high school graduation at Gwynedd Mercy Academy in Gwynedd Valley, PA. It is one of my favorites because it's a shot of my two favorite angels always with me on my shoulder - Dad to the right of me, Grandma Cass to the left of me (who was sober when she died). I know they can't read this but today I'm especially grateful for the walks they walked and the doors they opened to my recovery. Forever grateful. Forever changed.