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The other day I read this amazing article sharing an EPIC Facebook rant.
As I read the post out loud to my husband, my voice began to crack and my eyes began to fill with tears. This story struck very close to home.
I’m not a foster mom, but I know a thing or two about judgment, assumptions, poverty, and welfare. In fact, this has been my constant, eye-opening experience, sadly, for the past two years at least.
When we decided that it was time for my husband to get out of the military, we knew we were going to have a period of difficulty as we transitioned into civilian life. It’s been four years, and difficult doesn’t seem to cover it effectively.
Since When Did It Become Sinful to Need Help?
These years have been some of the most difficult, emotionally challenging, uncomfortable years probably of my entire life, and that’s saying a lot.
But, true as this may be, I would not change a single thing. The lessons we have learned in this time have been intense and purifying. And, I cannot imagine not being forever changed by them.
Judgment from the Ones Commanded to Love…
It breaks my heart to remember sometimes. The lies. Sometimes subtle. Other times completely in your face.
When we embarked on this journey into the wilderness, towards an unknown destination, but trusting the lead of our Father, we thought we had to do everything all on our own. Meticulous calculation of every penny. Intense oversight and management over every activity to ensure proper stewardship. We were without income, without health coverage, and scared.
We had savings, yes, but those were being depleted more quickly that we liked. Even when we finally were able to figure out an income source, it was not nearly enough to pay for insurance, so we would not even let the kids ride bikes for fear they might break a bone.
Medicaid wasn’t even an option, because obviously that would be a lack of trust in God to use welfare and clearly we did not want to be one of those people who took advantage of tax dollars at work…or at least this was the rhetoric burned into both my husband and my mind for years through various sources and mouths.
Never did we hear gracious understanding and thanksgiving of such provision as anything that might be used of God. There were no prayers of gratitude and praise that it existed to help the least of these.
Grace did not extend to the system. It was simply corrupt and ungodly, right?
Our life was best described as a constant state of fear and exhaustion. We were doing our best, but still it seemed to leave us hung and dry.
In this time we were encouraged to reach out to friends and family on Facebook to request any financial support that people would be willing to offer. And many did, but this was also when my heart was broken as my worst fears were confirmed.
We were being judged.
An old friend and professed believer said something in a comment on my Facebook post letting people know we were in need. The words stung my soul. I wrote to him directly to determine exactly what he was trying to say.
His perspective, without ever asking us a question nor talking to us to better understand our position, was that clearly we made a bad decision to get my husband out of the military, obviously we are being foolish and irresponsible since I had recently learned I was pregnant with our 7th blessing, and it was basically ridiculous to him that we were asking for “charity” from others to pay for our problems.
My heart burned in anger.
Not only had this person taken zero time to actually learn about our life, reasons, experiences, etc., but he believed entirely that his assumptions were the truth. And, he made no bones about casting judgment.
It hurt. It hurt so much, but surprisingly that experience was incredibly freeing for me. It taught me the ugliness of judgment and assumptions. I experienced firsthand what it feels like to be the one being criticized and assessed from the outside by people who know nothing about the inner truth of a family or home.
And, for the first time in my life, I understood the importance of brotherly love to a degree no sermon could ever produce.
And still we had more to learn.
Not many months later our Abba took us one step further and shoved us into the welfare system in no way I ever expected. My eldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and this life-threatening condition meant that we needed healthcare coverage.
Enter Medicaid. Suddenly I understood how much of a blessing this flawed and imperfect system is. Our daughter is alive because of this system. She continues to live because of it.
And then, two years into our transition season, and without one of our previous sources of income, we were thankful to learn we could also receive SNAP benefits and release a significant financial strain. I felt like I could breathe again.
But, still there was this lingering shame that stirred within me, as though we had somehow stepped into the enemy’s lair and stolen provision. It took many months to sift through these emotions and find the root of the lie.
There is no shame in needing help.
Somewhere in the course of the Church there was planted an insidious lie that people in need are not following God, or that they are obviously responsible for their own suffering. The seed has grown teeth and a voice and now shouts loudly from the mouths of many.
These voices love to attack weakness and struggle and drop-kick a person with arrogant judgements. And, sadly, often these voices are disguised as sheep within the Body, using twisted scriptures and talking points to argue Pharisitical dogma.
Eventually the Spirit helped me to see the wolf in the voices: Pride. Only pride can cast judgment and make such broad-sweeping assumptions as those done against people in the most need of love and provision.
I don’t know when it became culturally acceptable to shame others for weakness and being in need. Truly, I don’t care. But, honestly, friends, this is not of God. Let’s not associated His Name to such an egregious practice.
All Good Things Come From Above
There is another associated lie connected to this shame cycle, and it is that WE are responsible for our own life situations. The great job, financial blessing, excellent schools, fantastic physical condition, amazing health, etc is believed to be achieved by our own efforts.
But, if we have learned anything from this long season it is that EVERYTHING can be taken away in an instant. In the snap of a finger a job can be lost. Just blink and ones health can be compromised. We are greatly mistaken when we think that we are responsibly for any of our own good fortune.
For those of us who profess belief in a Holy and Good Abba, we must never, never forget that all good things are from Him, and ONLY Him.We believers must never, never forget that all good things are from Him, and ONLY Him. Click To Tweet
We may have our parts in obedience and action, but when we begin to believe that we have anything to do with the actual provisions themselves then we are no different than Moses.
Moses made the grievous mistake to elevate himself to the place of God, next to Him and equal to Him when He proclaimed: “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Num. 20: 10).
His error cost Him access to the Promised Land, a destination He had hoped to see for decades!
Then, of course, there’s Nebuchadnezzar. His pride cost him everything for years, INCLUDING his mental health (see Daniel 4).
Let us not make the same mistake.
The Vulnerable and Weak are Welcome Here
A few years ago I first heard Brene Brown’s heartfelt TED Talk about the blessing of vulnerability. It’s 20 minutes but TOTALLY worth every minute.
Then I watched this beautiful short that captures the amazing virtue of empathy. This video confirmed so much of what my heart and soul yearned to experience. How deeply I desire the safe place where weakness is welcomed and supported, not pushed away and scorned.
I have grabbed several of her books and devoured each one without regret. I adore her work. We need more of the vulnerable and broken-hearted, because when we can recognize these places of weakness we are able to truly grasp the beauty of our all-loving Abba.
I highly recommend these two books (affiliate links in the image, so any click and purchase pays me a small amount. THANK YOU!) to enjoy a great read and heartfelt encouragement to others who struggle with shame and feeling less than. And, let me assure you, you are not at all alone.
When we are honest with ourselves, insecurity is what is normal. And, only when our faith is in a power greater than ours can true confidence settle in, because it comes from somewhere other than our own human state: HIM.
Seriously, you want these books. And you know how big a fan I am of passive listening through Audible (affiliate link, so any click and purchase pays me a small amount. THANK YOU!)! That $15 a month is the most affordable counseling I have ever received…that is if you get quality, help-me-grow kinds of books :::wink, wink:::
We all need some good books in our life. Let’s be real.
Human Beings Welcome
I don’t think that my story is very different from so many others. Life happens. Struggles come. Since when did we buy into the belief that if we follow God and love His Son than that means we will have a life free of struggle.
Seriously. Our SAVIOR died on a cross! How much struggle is in that?!
And, for those of us who do not believe this, why do we live as though our struggles are something we need to hide.
I know the answer though. We learn to hide it. We listen to the criticisms and condemnations from onlookers, whether in the pulpit or in vehicles happily displaying the fish symbol on its rear.
Who would knowingly welcome that judgment?
Truth Bomb Time.
It is okay to struggle.
Often it is the greatest teacher! Trials have a way of helping a concept of love or compassion to sink in and really take root. And, it seems that many of us do better through experience.
Let us welcome the lessons that come with the pain.
But, above all else, let us lift each other up, offer love, support, and help with literal needs (not just sending prayers alone when action can help more).
THESE are the things of a set apart people.
These are the behaviors that will make others stand up and take notice.
Whatever it is that they have, I want some of that!
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. For ourselves. For each other. Because of His constant love. LOVE.
Sweet sister, if you are in a season of struggle, I pray you are also able to experience a community of love around you. And, if not, do not be afraid to ask for help. It is okay to be in need. Do not be ashamed of your humble position, for you were brought there for a purpose.
And, if your season is a more positive experience for this time, may you give thanks for the blessings that you have and remember from whom they have come.
Finally, may we continue to ask for the wisdom to hear the lessons we have the opportunity to learn as each season of life unfolds for us. Our lessons are many. May we learn them well.
Have you ever been the recipient of criticism or condemning words? How did that experience change you? Comment below.