The Struggle: Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

uninvited

I’m going to be honest here, this is a tough book.  Tougher than I thought it would be.  Someone else who read it equated it to peeling layers off an onion.  Onions make me cry, and this book does too.  It has caused me to face some things square in the face.

uninvitedbook Sometimes people say things right to your face, quick little jabs or slips of the tongue that pierce you like a dagger.

Sometimes, however, there will be people who slay you with their words.  There is a reason that scripture refers to the tongue as dagger, and that words can be equated with murder.  They stand over you, piercing you over and over again.

Then, there are those occasions where you replay those words said once, repeatedly to yourself.  Opening old wounds, unable to heal.

uninvitedbook3Speaking for myself, I have a pretty high tolerance for such things.  I understand we are all imperfect, say things we wish we could take back.  I can extend quite a bit of grace.  I try to extend the amount of grace that I would want to receive.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my breaking point.  When it reaches that level of hurt, when I know this is more than just someone making human mistakes… I cut the head from the snake.  I can walk away completely in order to protect myself from further strikes.  Yet those words still left wounds.

I’ve gone through some very rough seasons in my life, and in a spirit of transparency… I did let them define me.  I know the negative words that I speak in my mind about myself were planted by others.  Every mistake I make is the proof that those words were true, and all of my ambition is probably rooted in a desire to prove those words were wrong.  Or, at least, no longer true.  Rejection in my past has certainly caused suspicion in my present.

uninvitedbook1What I have personally found to be pivotal in the last two to three years is that through a series of people who God brought into my life, and the influence of certain authors (including Lysa TerKeurst)… I am reminded about who I am in HIM.  My identity in HIM, the one who knitted me in my mother’s womb and knows the hairs on my head.

His love is not rooted in anything that I have done, but who GOD IS.  His Word, which I call truth, tells me that despite my character flaws… I am beautifully and wonderfully made.

His Word tells me that I am adopted, chosen, into His family.  The Scriptures describe me as valuable, worthy, wanted, loved, cared for, provided for, and known.  If I believe His Words to be truth, then that means I must believe what God says about me.  Rooting myself,  growing from, and living in His love.

While that sounds beautiful, and IT IS… what does that mean about those relationship that hurt so much?  What does it mean about the words that spin in my head causing self doubt and negative thoughts about myself?  It means that not only do I have to see those wonderful beautiful scriptures as what God feels about me… but also about how He feels about others.  It goes back to extending grace, to others and to myself.

uninvitedbook2The people who are in my life are just as imperfect as me, they have their own character flaws.  I must have a willingness to see past their flaws, and in doing so they too can begin to see pass my flaws.  These are the relationships that have potential, where our unity in the family of believers is important to us enough to push beyond problems and race toward reconciliation together.

Potential can only exist in fractured relationships when there is willingness from each side.  New relationships have potential because they are untainted, but we have to make the intentional effort to not allow the words of our past to haunt us and influence imagined hurt or rejection where there is none.

A friend of mine has read Uninvited twice already, and she says each time the Lord reveals new things to her to work on.  I have a feeling I still have a lot of work to do. Grateful for books like this that help pull back the curtain and expose the truths that are down deep.

Not only can you purchase the book Uninvited, but there is also a study with DVD.  On the Uninvited Book website there are also online resources & bonus chapter you can access!uninvitedbook4

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Ever feel uninvited? Alone? Isolated?

uninvited

It’s no secret that I do book reviews, and that I have cut down on the number of them this year.  I made a conscious decision to not just take anything that looked good or sounded interesting.  Instead, I wanted to focus on ones I would have purchased anyway, recommended to me, or that I felt led to read for a purpose.  Lysa TerKeurst’s book Uninvited fulfilled all three of those litmus tests. I did received a copy of the book for free for the purpose of reviewing, however my views and opinions are my own (in case you didn’t know, legally I have to say that).

Normally, when I do a review, I highlight the entire book.  I will share why I think you should read it, who I would recommend the book to, etc.  But, I want to approach this one a bit differently.  Why?  Because… I think this book is very important for YOU to read.  Yes, YOU.  Whomever is sitting on the other side of the screen.  YOU, the woman who feels alone.  YOU, the husband who needs to see his wife more clearly.  YOU, the parent who is present in body and absent in mind.   YOU, the women’s ministry leader that is shepherding the hearts of women.  YOU, the Pastor that needs a better understanding of sixty five percent of his church body that is crying out for value.

In the years that I have been serving women, secular groups and in the church, I have found a very common thread.  Women who are insecure in their identity.  Women who don’t feel valued or wanted, women that feel overlooked.  Women with baggage that still haunts them and needles away at their insecurities.  Women who feel left out and rejected.  Women who will hide themselves away in a false security.

If this even remotely sounds like you, or someone you love… I think you should read this book.  I think you should take your time reading this book.  I think you should have your Bible next to you as you read this book.  I think you should be writing down the things that jump off the page, your reaction to these words, and the issues it is bringing to head.  I think you need to take this to your spouse, mentor, or accountability partner and talk about it.  And, I think you need to pray as you do all of this with the goal of taking and LEAVING it all at the foot of the cross.

Because, you are loved.  You are valued.  You are created in His image.  You are called to Kingdom work.  You are welcomed.  You are invited to the wedding banquet.  You are adopted into a holy family.  YOU.  With your baggage, insecurity, anxiety, and all of the lies that you have listened to and told yourself.  YOU.

These are just a few quotes from the book, that may resonate with you…

“Broken boards can’t provide stability.” … “for years I’d been expecting stability from a broken identity.”

“Being hidden made me feel wonderfully secure.”

“I loved the feeling that life could happen around me but not to me.”

“… as long as I stayed hidden, life stayed in control and I stayed safe.”

“Things of this world all eventually reveal what incapable anchors they really are.”

Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

What are you anchoring yourself to? Where are you finding your identity?

Lysa’s book is important because it addresses the root fears in our lives that cause us to pull back from freedom in Christ.  It exposes the lies we believe, and turns our face to God who LOVES us… NO MATTER WHAT.    However, for the confident woman, I believe this book opens our eyes to the struggles that many women face.  It can give us compassion towards our fellow sisters in Christ, and encourage use to extend a hand of invitation.

Last year, I was at a party.  The ladies were going on about plans they were making for the following week.  My husband happened to overhear the women, and spoke up… “Gena hasn’t said anything about that.  Is she not going?”    At the moment, the women didn’t even realize that I hadn’t been invited.   I wasn’t intentionally left out, each had assumed another invited me and I just wasn’t able to come.

When I heard the women speaking plainly about their plans in front of me, I felt excluded.  I was hurt, and I didn’t speak up for myself.  My husband stepped up as my champion in that moment.  He knew something wasn’t right, and handled it in such a gentle way.  This is why I encourage you to not just read the book and take notes, but speak to your spouse or mentor about it.   You have others who can speak for you when appropriate, but can also give you clear perspective on finding your own voice.

It’s a great book, but be forewarned, you are going to have to open yourself up to being vulnerable (even with your self) to glean the best this book has to offer.

Are you ready?

#Write31Days Challenge – Post 27 – God on My Mind

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Some days are just tough, mentally we are at our max capacity.  Our stress levels are high, our emotions are running wild, and our energy is running empty. 

Then there are the days that are just, busy.  It’s not that you are overwhelmed emotionally or even physically, but it just seems like every second of your day has been claimed by some thing or some one.

On days likes these it can be hard to put in some serious Bible Study, we either don’t have the time or the energy to put the mental energy into study.  Our prayers may be short and sweet lists, or even the sigh we exhale as we say “God help me!” as we drop our sobbing eyes into our hands.

Speaking for myself,  I know that when it comes to spiritual practices …. I have good days & bad.  There are days I can accomplish in depth study, first thing in the morning, that will carry me throughout the day.  I also have days where I am on the go, all day long, and it isn’t until those final moments I am putting my head to the pillow that I can stop and pray.

Over the years, I have learned a few tips to help keep God on my mind throughout the day.  I may not getting in 30 minutes of Bible Study or even 5 minutes of dedicated prayer time. 

  • Play worship music on the radio while in the car picking up the kids, or while bustling around the house cleaning.  Often Christian radio stations will read verses throughout the day, replay Pastor’s sermons, or interview of Bible teachers that are worth listening to as well.  Audiobooks and Podcasts are other great options.
  • Pray as you clean, over what you are cleaning.  Be thankful for indoor plumbing as you clean your toilet.  Pray over your children as you fold their laundry.  Pray for your husband’s safety while working, as you prepare to make that doctor’s appointment for him.  Volunteering at the church?  Pray on your drive for the church, the Pastor, or the ministry you are serving on.  In the Parent Pick Up line at your child’s school, pray for the school.  At the gym?  Pray for your health.  At the grocery, pray for those who are going hungry.  As you pay your mortgage online, give thanks for your home and pray for the homeless. 
  • Pray throughout your day.  Instead of sitting down in the morning going through a lengthy prayer session, instead pray throughout the day as thinks pop into your head.
  • Display scripture on walls of your house, either in picture frames or using wall decals. These can be life verses or family mission verses.  Even if you don’t have time to study your Bible that morning, you can focus your eyes on those as you move about your home.  Then can also be fun verses like the ones I have for certain rooms of the house.  In my kitchen the verse on the wall is Psalm 107:9, and in the bathroom is verse Psalm 24:4.  
  • Now this one may make you giggle a bit, however in our old house … I got really creative.   We placed a white board right across from the toilet in our guest bathroom.  Every week I would write a new piece of scripture.  We kept no magazines or newspapers in there, so the only reading material our guests had was from the Word.  We referred to it as “Coming the Throne” (I am convinced God has a sense of humor).
  • Use uninterrupted times to really speak to God.  I find that I am most vulnerable when I am totally alone, away from the noise of the house.  Some of my greatest conversations with God have taken place in the shower, or by turning off the car radio and just speaking with the Lord. 
  • Bring your Bible or Bible Study with you to waiting rooms at doctor’s offices, or even when you are lunching with a friend – particularly if you are generally a person who arrives early.
  • Turn your lunch dates with friends into something more than gossip sessions, and make that your Bible Study time.

All of that said, I would also suggest doing what you can to reduce some of the hectic activity from your life.  Lysa TerKeurst has a great book “The Best Yes” that really helps you take a hold of your life, so that you can carve out time for God, not be overwhelmed by your schedule, and learn to give your best to the things that are most important.

And finally, should you find yourself in a space where you are struggling emotionally or physically with life… please, PLEASE…. see your doctor.  There are many disorders that steal our minds, energy, drive, and make us feel like we simply CAN’T.  Have your primary care doctor rule out physical ailments, and if you need to see a Christian Counselor who can help with the mental aspects.  There is nothing wrong with seeking help or using medication to get you through, and a good Christian counselor can help you do so while leaning on the truth of God’s love.