Being intimidated by Jesus and Greatness

I don’t need to preface this article telling you I work and live to bring people to the heart of Jesus. My job is basically me telling the whole world about my best friend, how amazing He is, and that you should hang out with Him (or us) sometime. 

Over the years, I’ve seen how incredibly intimidating that is.  If anyone here has felt intimidated by my presence, or my work, I apologize. That’s not the intention I ever had because I too am intimidated by my friend who has changed my heart. I’ve known about Him since I was born, and I’ve gotten to know His personality better as I grew in age and wisdom, and let me tell you, every day I am still intimidated to approach such greatness. 

I mean how can you ponder the glory of a perfect man who does no evil, was recorded as the cure for someone’s blindness and death, and a man who gathers 100 friends for a journey and when the one friend wanders off and gets distracted He leaves the 99 to go back him and carries him back on His shoulders. This man whose time on Earth was spent for everyone and never asked for something in  return.  A man who, on the night before He was to die, threw a party for His friends, not the other way around. A man who was proud to be seen with anyone, regardless of their social status.  A man who flips tables of the tax-collecting corrupt government because they were collecting money wrongfully and He called them out on it (#savage).  A man who lights up the darkness of a strangers brokenness, courageously calling out something in their life saying, “yo, dude, that’s not right.” or for the women, a tender hug with a “you’re made for more.” 

A man who has done practically everything loving except this… forces anyone to love Him in return.  

I think some people have felt, still feel, the pressure to have to love God and religion, but that was never from God, it was other people or external sources. In other situations, maybe we confuse the pressure to “have” to do something with the deeper longing to want to do something. Trust me, if someone told me I have to do something, there’s a -4% chance I actually will. 

I think intimidation is an understatement at this point. 

Maybe Intimidation is high because for once in our lives there is nothing conditional about this relationship.  There’s no one counting our wrongs. We’re not being watched and seen as a burden.  We’re not rushed in our time spent with Him.  We don’t  have to wear masks or facades.  We’re don’t have to wait to be perfect to approach.  He doesn’t do anything with an aim to get something in return.

The man who would have rather died than stop loving this radically. 

Maybe intimidation is high because you don’t believe in the reality that you CAN adorn your life with beauty and virtue. Sometimes the life we imagine or dream about seems synonymous to a unicorn. 

Maybe intimidation is high because befriending such greatness would call you to step up a little.. Or have feelings of wanting to hide the person or people in your life you know is contributing to your downfall. (#toxic relationships)

Human beings are dependent creatures and we either cling and attach to the toxic things of this world, or we depend and attach to being fed by the beauty  and good and healthy of this world. 

Maybe intimidation is high because goodness can be found in the world without direct correlation to God. 

Maybe intimidation is high because something in you is triggered by truth. Maybe intimidation isn’t high and you just don’t like hearing the noisy nagging from people telling you to convert and be baptized or the commandments my Friend has encouraged for behavior. 

And, of course, intimidation is high because of how incredibly hard it is to unpack the injustice of this world, especially at your expense, when some spirit of the Earth is supposed to be perfect. How dare we possibly go down that rabbit hole to find answers or, worse, consolation. 

The hardest reality, maybe intimidation is high because we have convinced ourselves we don’t deserve to be loved so well, so we settle for the love we think we deserve. 

I say all that because that’s what continues to go through my head practically every time I sit down with my Friend.  Not all at once, but when life knocks me down, one of the following intimidation’s surround me like a group of gnats on a humid, sticky summer day (ew).  

Sometimes prayer is this:  “Hey, Jesus. So my friend said you’re wrong in commanding ‘that’ … what did you mean exactly?”  

Or

“Hey, Jesus, I don’t really feel like I agree with ‘that’.” 

His response, “Ok, let’s talk about it.” 

And sometimes that conversation lasts months at a time. 

The truth is, greatness IS intimidating because it changes your life, but it’s a lie to think it’s unattainable or you’re unworthy to participate in it. 

Sometimes the price of greatness requires responsibility. Greatness sometimes risks failure. Sometimes greatness shows you the smallness of others’ care or concern for your life or dreams. Greatness involves breakups. Greatness requires honesty of true passions. Greatness requires standing with people, not above them. Greatness involves loneliness, and lots of it. Greatness is a spiritual condition and requires surrender. Greatness means bringing something to the table every day to stay on the path. All realities we take one moment at a time. 

Greatness requires trusting in something greater than yourself. And that’s intimidating.


In the last couple months, multiple people have confessed to me that I have intimidated them in their life. I was like, “Wow, what a common theme just coming to me out of nowhere?” 

I will say it all made me laugh, only because I know my own insecurities and I guess they don’t see them as loud and clear as I do. I laugh also because of the ways they said it, in a “I love you” tone.

Although, the hardest part of hearing that, and on several different occasions, was not because I felt as if I made them feel that way, but for the truth that they didn’t find themselves as worthy, or chosen for greatness, too. That something in their own life spoke in the name of, unworthy

The biggest lie we could ever believe is that God is selective in who He chooses to love. That He is God and doesn’t have concern for us. That God only works for few, and not all. 

Jesus taught us to say the Our Father,

“… lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

By the very nature we are praying to not be led into the temptation, the lie, that God is not Good or Loving towards us. That’s our “daily bread” and the evil we need to be delivered out of more than anything else is the evil that convinces us Love is too intimidating to receive.  

Which is funny because it’s all we really want at the end of the day. 

It’s quite impossible for a Spirit of Love (Love: Total, Total: not holding anything back) to not lavish Love over the whole word. 

But it’s quite easy for us to live a life not receiving God’s “daily bread” of love (not a Panera baguette). It is as easy as it is to decline an offer of human love, a hug, a gift, to ignore someone’s words of affirmation, to not see someone’s goodness with a narrow minded mind, or, even so, to decline a marriage proposal.  It’s quite intimidating to be loved. 

And this will always be hard to address because faith in oneself is the biggest failed attempt in the history of humankind. Faith in one’s worthiness to receive greatness and grace is never just there, it has to be planted and then waters by rain that we don’t produce. We’ve expected love from others, been failed by it (knowingly or unknowingly), and never want to risk an avenue that could satisfy the desires we long for — for that’s way too intimidating. 

The day I befriended Jesus was the day I surrendered the reality that I was unlovable. The day I was tired of my philosophies and needed to adopt some other one. The day I was tired of putting my worth into others, likes on posts, my work, my body, and even my own efforts. Love is dependent on the Lover and if the Lover is myself, welp, no luck there. 

Love is dependent on perfection, right?  That’s why we feel unworthy to be loved because we know we’re not perfect. But perfectionism is something that will never exist within me or you and only exists entirely in who/what Jesus is.

The day I befriended Jesus was the day I asked for Him to Love me. Every day after that was the same petition. 

And we all know what happens when we encounter someone in our lives who loves us and finds us worth dying for…

Nothing is ever the same.

To live fully is to live fully aware that you are loved.

Of course people are intimidated by real love… when you wear this it’s not a feeling or comes easy. To accept that, from God, is the most badass thing you could ever do because of exactly how counter-cultural it is. It is when we know we are loved, protected, supported, and given everything under the sun, that we keep living for Greatness and ultimately, for God (the greatest greatness).

Removing Lies

Sometimes we are running a race to convince ourselves that our inner lies are true… it’s time to erase the lies and live more fully alive in reality, in truth, and our of the darkness we “believe.”

What’s the point?

*date your journal entry and add the title; quarantine day 573,685,079* 

Here’s to another day of feeling unmotivated, downcast in spirit, isolated, ready to delete Zoom off ALL your devices and bake 12 more brownies to add to the 50 cookies and two cakes you made yesterday.

Here’s to when your phone goes off and the notification sound making you think, “Who is it??? who wants to party!!!” but, really, another day thinking what today can become.

On this road of quarantine we are hearing a lot of different, inspirational, and awesome ways to get ourselves motivated or inspired and we have access to it all.  I’ve seen some people inspire me, but I’ve also seen some people practically die of that dark cloud boredom.

I am honestly amazed that we have everything at our fingertips in these bottomless modes of technology and are still bored.  I have to smack myself out of it sometimes. You know what they say, “no one had enough time for anything… and now they still don’t!” 

We have countless methods of “staying in touch” and still end each Zoom, FaceTime, and virtual world of Social Media site so thirsty for more. It’s like we’re craving something we can’t express, so we just crave the feeling of ecstasy and wonder where we’ll get it.

We were stripped of everything without warning and it honestly feels like time has stopped. The good news is God has not, “God is touching Earth’s time with Heaven’s eternity.” 

Darkness is not dark to You -Psalm 139:12

I’m all over the place as I write this, hang with me, but remember all those moments that shaped your life. Those stories and moments, sometimes years, that gave life a “point”

The time you made the high school sports team.
The time you joined the church Youth Group.
The time you spent with the love of your life.
The time you learned how to do a back handspring.
The time you got into the college you love.
The time you decided what you wanted to do with your life.
The time you self-motivated yourself to workout and work hard for something and felt so accomplished.

Duh, state the obvious we are shaped by these moments, encounters, and experiences because boredom was never present within them. I am going to be a Debby-Downer and remind you that they all ended at one point. Physically, they ended. Chances are some of them ended because of a lil’b-otch called COVID19. So they ended but their memories, their grace, their supernatural touch to your heart, mind, body, and soul is sealed to you for eternity — it’s quite literally still alive in your very soul.

Everything we strive for, get up for, and live for has been lifted. What we realistically lived for was gone, poof. I mean, It’s not “gone” but it’s lost somewhere since it’s not right at our fingertips. Even if you are working from home it’s not the same (and it really shouldn’t be #humanconnection.)

As someone who works out nearly 6 days a week, by week 2 of pandemic I even asked, “why keep working out?” to then laugh 5 minutes later and crush a 50 minute burn-session.  I know the entire point of working out is not for the praise, looks, or fame, but solely for the love of the game and for health of mind, body, and soul. My own health and wholeness, that’s the point.

Quarantine truth 457:  What you love most is going to stick with you this time of isolation. 

If you struggle with an area of your life where you ask, “what’s the point?” I want you to reply with the same response God would.

Every single time you talk to God or ask Him that exact question, His answers stays the same;  You.

You’re the point. 

“God what was the point of that relationship back in 2000?”
You.
“God what was the point of that song coming on the radio right when I turned it on?”
You.
“God what was the point of the 5 days of rain?”
You.
“God what was the point of ending that season of success?”
You.
“God what was the point of that award?”
You.

Your health. Your happiness. Your success. Your priorities. Your growth. Your success. Your kindness. Your love. Your healing.  To show YOU how capable and lovable you are. To show you I don’t just “give you what you want, but what you need.” To show you I am there even when you feel lost. To show you I intervened and fought. To broadcast to you the depth you carry. To show you the love you possess and to gift it to another. To show you the power you have. To show you I actively want to be in your life, and intervene when you need it. 

To show you I love you. 

To show you nothing can take away who you are because within you is everything you need from the very breath of God.

Nothing can rob you of life: not sickness, not isolation, not even, dare I say it, death.

If you are not worth work working for, if you are not worth fighting for, if your heart is not worth rescuing or healing, then seriously Corona is not your issue hopelessness is.  We have received a gift of spending time transforming our whole life by deciding what we are available for and creating time, boundaries, a vision, and decisions to support it.

That’s not boring! No one can run towards a goal, a hope, or a passion that is boring.

“If we know we have life, we know we have the powers of that life.”  

A God of mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, signs that have been smacking you in the face your whole life, IS always ready to do all for you several, hundreds, and countless times (moments) a day then what’s missing is our faith.  A God who does not abandon us in pandemics, leaving us as “the walking dead” proves that His love can be shown in any circumstance

In quarantine or not a God personified, in Jesus, has not changed.  Jesus is still ready to show us the path of life.

The path of Jesus’ whole life was defined by love. That’s all he had. No job, no real income, no stable house (he was always moving), no sense of real food security, no toilet paper and hand-sanitizer (doesn’t mean you should stop using them!), only a body that loved everything and everyone. Jesus was never bored!  He was a body, given up for others in blood, sweat, tears, words, traveling, and suffering to build a sustaining and loving relationship with you. Once this relationship started, fed, and lived,bringing you out of what makes you feel like “the walking dead,” does the boredom lift.

You Can’t Do It Alone.

The one thing Jesus DID put together before He went off in mission (spoiler alert: it’s not a savings account) was to get 12 really solid friends. He needed people. He needed their love and company even if it was imperfect and unstable. And lastly, He needed prayer. Time alone, with the perfect love of The Father to re-strengthen Him in EVERYTHING.

“Like, Jesus’ claim to divine love is an offense, an embarrassment. We would prefer to avoid the choice to believe it or not, for believing is “strong meat”, and disbelieving all of it is calling Christ a liar, which is easier.  We therefore “reinterpret” it, water it down, explain it away, and reduce it to a ‘a statement that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.'” 

Jesus’ whole life was defined by love and so is ours.  If love is low, boredom is high.

If you never pick up a Bible in quarantine, just know that Jesus wanted to have relationships. He wanted to love people and be loved. He wanted people to feel seen, known, desired, and personally touched by love. I assume most people agree with this “path of life.”

A majority of the paths we have taken, the plans we have made, and the things that have inspired us are because of the people in our lives.  Basically, we are who we are because of those who loved us, and yes, those who refused to love us.

Communion with others is life-giving and for that quarantine has robbed us of what we need most. You look forward to it, it quenches a thirst, it brings sweetness, it wakes you up. And along with that, we need communion with God. There’s no circumstances or previous engagements stopping us from sitting with Him for a little bit each day. Add Him to your list of people who have shaped you into who you are. Prayer is not boredom, and sharing your heart to God is nothing short of sweet.

In times like this we really and truly begin to ask “what’s the point?” to a lot of things to figure out their exact meaning to us is, and of course God will be one of them.

“Every time time is given to God, it is transformed and tamed. Every time it is not, time becomes a wild beast or a slave driver.” 

Prayer is not “conforming” to some mold of “Christianity,” rather it is just communing with God, honoring Him, believing He will intervene, and worshiping His goodness.  Prayer is the only place on Earth where a person isn’t giving themselves in pieces, but their entire heart. Their entire presence, listening. It’s not a chore. Chores are restrictive. Prayer touches eternity in an infinite way.  Talking to someone you love and sharing their company touches eternity. It’s the same with prayer.

Prayer can go backwards, forward, to the heavens where your deceased loved ones are, it can go to the friend you miss hugging, it can go to the souls of the lost-lovers and visit them with a kiss or a thank-you, it can reach the depths of your own brokenness, it can be as LOUD as a notification, and as subtle as eyes opening at the sound of sun and birds chirping.

God gives us timelessness every moment, in the soul, and since we are STILL not participating in that, we are miserable, unfulfilled, missing something, and still hurting. “We are free to actualize or to sell our freedom to pray. We are free to live in God’s presence or in the presence of large, moving masses of molecule.”  More than anything, prayer gets us out of the revolving doors our days have become. Prayer calls us to something greater; eternity and introduces us to someone greater; God.  And all hopelessness and purposelessness comes when we are not listening to our calling to live something greater than ourselves and our comforts.

Isn’t that love — the greatest and most uncomfortable calling that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Love is the point. You are the point.

Xo, Shannon

Prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit,
Come with Boldness,
Come through the arms of Mary.

Come, Spirit, with beauty and newness.

Rise in me. Shine in me.
Teach me to lose control, to let go of my own ideals and expectations.
Give me, instead, openness to your tender love and wisdom.
Heal the parts within me that are dead, and renew my mind.

Come drench me in love. You are the spirit that conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary, the spirit who rose Jesus from death, come rise up in me and dwell within me, with this same power.

Amen.

 

A letter to my body image insecurity

Dear younger me who is the voice of so many young girls right now,

You were at war with yourself.

I am not sure the exact moment you felt triggered and began to see yourself as disgusting. I don’t think there was an exact moment you decided to believe that you’re too fat or too much to handle.  I guess just a lot of little moments burned you and you turned your heart off and started fighting with yourself.

Oh younger me … you were never meant to carry this.

In some ways, it’s not your fault. Hearing everyone else complain about their own insecurities and their own miseries didn’t help. Seeing their drastic attempts to be fit and look good were exhausting to keep up with. Watching post after post come in of girls in bikini’s is mind-boggling to say the least.   It’s like every woman was filled with her own disgust and breathed that on everyone. Geez, what a world we would live in if instead of all of us shaming ourselves with each other we complimented and encouraged each other? #imaginethat.

It’s not all bad, though. The frustration you felt all those years searching for answers, healing, love, and answers to feeling confident were real and here’s what I wish I could have told you along the way.

I’d tell you that the point of taking care of your physical appearance is not to get attention, post a picture, receive compliments and praises from men, or wear a form fitting outfit or to look good in a bikini.  It’s about health. 

You know what does look good in a dress or bathing suite? A smile. A heart filled with gratitude and confidence. Laughter, dancing, pure love, and freedom. A girl who knows she’s created for curves and fullness. I’d tell you to show me something natural, like stretch marks or tummy rolls. You’re not fat you just have fat. 

I’d tell you that your body is a temple, a vessel of love.

It holds experiences and stories. It has fought battles and has overcome so much, even things no one knows about. It holds love, pain, struggle, victory, and total mystery and no one can see that from an outer appearance or a number on a scale — and since people can’t see whats inside, they have no room to talk or critique the outside.

I’d tell you to eat.

Nourish your body.  Fuel it with nutrients.  Don’t fall for the lie that starving yourself is more beneficial.  Don’t fall into the trap that makes you think you have to starve yourself to keep your “morning skinny,” and don’t fall victim to the late night binge sessions. It’s funny how you would beat yourself up for a slice of pizza, but eat a sleeve of oreos. Ah, perspective.

Moderate balance, my darling. So go out for pizza and ice cream with your friends on a Friday night and eat breakfast the next day after.  You have to fill yourself with lots of water, lots of energy, and lots of goodness — and that comes through food and food is one of our best friends.

I’d tell you that your body is developing in more areas than one so be patient with it.

Life is nothing but a long formative journey and you won’t fully grow into yourself. Mind, body,  heart, and soul are all trying to develop — give them some love and credit for how far they’ve come! Hormones are out of whack, periods are real (so is bloating) — it’s unavoidable. Hips are supposed to be round (because babies are a part of your body’s purpose) and you’re going to have more fat on your body because of it (to house the little babes). 

I’d tell you that no man is actually seeking a Victoria’s Secret model.

(I’d also tell you not to watch the fashion show and tweet about never looking like that.)

I’d tell you that there are going to be guys in your life who love you to pieces and no body keeps them around or promises fidelity.  The guys you date will see beauty and goodness, never a number on a pair of jeans. I’d tell you to thank them, even though there was no wedding with him, for allowing you to feel so beautiful at one point in your life.  Rest knowing you were enough for them to love you. Promise me when I tell you the right man will love all your curves and edges and not just see you for a face and a body, but for your spirit, character, and heart.

I’d tell you to stop believing in the world’s empty idea of beauty because it’ll convince you you’re unlovable. 

Misery comes when you pour your energy into venting about how unhappy you are. Don’t think about how much you’re unhappy just look up, start aspiring toward greatness. Give your heart to the joy of working out, for the balance it provides, the better sleep, less health complications, and overall mood booster. You are what you love and if you love is being shallow and trying to fit a size 00 then you’re going to end up feeling much misery inside because you will never meet that expectation.  Nobody cares about your excuses or wants to hear them.

I’d tell your that everyone is dealing with issues you wouldn’t believe.

Everyone is so self-conscious, and life brings us to our knees. A perfect body is not going to solve the issues we face. In the words of Beyonce, “this is for them sexy somethings, that body ain’t always gonna get you outta everything.”  Exercise can be the place you grow, heal, get stronger, prove yourself wrong, and help your health but it is not the finish line, the ultimate source of all love, the source of all confidence, the place of all acceptance, it is a piece to the puzzle.  Every piece to the puzzle is necessary, but it’s not the whole picture.

I’d tell you that people will help you fight this.

Learn from good role models. God will put people in your life who teach you a thing or two, motivate you, push you, and help you get results you need.  When those people come into your life who you compare your own success to, do me a favor and focus on you and how YOU have come. This is YOUR story, not theirs. For the love of God, surround yourself with people you trust to make you better, not drag you down.

I’d tell you that God doesn’t make junk.

The same loving and creative God who made sunsets, flamingos, and peacocks made you, and your body, and you are a treasure. Your body is holy territory. You are sacred.

Moods and certain experiences can trick us into believing we are disgusting if we feel disgusting but this is a lie. You are worth everything because you were saved and renewed with the blood of Jesus who, when we walk with Him, lovingly kills off the dead inside of us.

Lastly, I’d tell you to hustle.

Not to prove others wrong, not to be skinny, not to look good for a photo opp, not for a date, no, for yourself. Read the first line of this article again. At the end of the day, you’re at war with yourself. You can’t turn against yourself, you have to love yourself, love the way you look, love the way you move, eat, dance, and live — so hustle! Run after it because no one is going to hand it to you.

You are worth fighting for and God has your back!

Sure, you have to deal with all the flaws, the lies society tells, the extra 10 pounds you gain at Christmas, the bloating after a slice of buffalo chicken pizza, and even loosing your motivation because you go away or get sick, and other things get in the way of your routine, but please know that the work you put in, the hope you hold, the beauty you have right in your own body is beyond precious. Don’t regret not loving it RIGHT now. You are lovable and worth the joy right now, not 10 pounds lighter, not in a bikini.

Now.

Let’s get it.
Xo, Shannon